Standard disclaimers apply. Unbeta'd. Happy anniversary, Boo.

You'd Love Me Less

A blur of red and blue moved away from a small patio on an upper floor of the Metro-Atrium towers. The whirlwind sucked everything on the patio towards it, the dark blue tablecloth, the half-empty bread basket, the taper candles blew out then fell out of their holders, into the Caesar salad. The hair of the patio's lone occupant whipped into her face, and she almost didn't catch the wine glasses as they attempted to follow the other member of the tiny dinner party off to whatever new disaster had erupted and interrupted the couple's time.

Finishing off the contents of her own disturbed glass, Lois Lane tucked her wind-tussled hair behind her ears somewhat ineffectually. Sighing as she watched the sun sink below the buildings in the pink evening sky, she took Clark's glass and finished the rest of his wine as well. She knew that one day a year alone with her husband was too much to ask the universe for. Things happened when they happened. However, she felt particularly insulted that things seem to always happen whenever they were having a quiet moment alone, and not, say, the twenty-two or twenty-three other hours a day when they were both rushing around, as busy as heck, and nothing was on fire, blowing up, or being invaded. No. These interruptions usually happened right before the main course.

In disgust, she contemplated leaving everything as it was. It wasn't like the remainder of dinner was going anywhere. Of course, if she did, and birds got at it, and did their business on the patio again, she'd be in trouble. Again.

He'd been looking at her with that "I really could just strangle you now and feel absolutely no remorse" look he sometimes got. When he was cleaning up her messes.

But he'd been so absolutely adorable, his white shirt sleeves rolled up past the yellow rubber gloves. She'd told him so, which had made him shake his scrub brush at her, which was also incredibly endearing. Then he'd gone on and on and on (and on!) about how he shouldn't have to clean up her messes, and he was tired of doing it, and some other stuff that she wasn't paying attention to because she'd tuned him out as soon as he bent over the railing to scrub the outside of the railing. It was a distracting backside, so it wasn't entirely her fault. It was just so...

Pinching it, he spun around, sticking the grey soapy scrub brush in her face in exasperation. "I swear, you do this stuff on purpose."

What? "I got a call from Jimmy that there was a story breaking loose and rampaging down Central Avenue. Pancakes were really low on my priority list right about then." And by the time she'd gotten home several hours later, not only had the damage been done, but it had turned to a nasty white cement. She WOULD have cleaned it up, really. But it wasn't like she could hose it off, or even dump hot water on it (Mrs. Frisch a floor below would probably set Lois on fire if one more thing came reigning down upon her porch). It was going to take good old-fashioned elbow-grease, something she'd happened to be in short supply on, after hanging from a flag pole for like fifteen minutes until Clark could FINALLY tear himself away from the demonic giant robot to save her.

Lois had wanted to just avoid the whole thing, and contemplated scrubbing away, even though her arms felt like they were going to fall off, or paying someone to do it. She was married to Mr. Elbow Grease himself, but it was far easier to just skip the whole lecture. Unfortunately, before she could make up her mind on what to do about the... rather crappy situation... he'd come home. Oh yes, before she could even grab the phone to dial a service, or Simon, the kid two floors down that would do just about any grunt service for a price, he was standing there on the freshly adorned patio. Well, he wasn't standing there. He was just hovering above the mess, feet dangling down, cape hanging in staunch disapproval, arms crossed over his massive chest. It was a look that would have made Luthor cringe, but it was reserved just for her.

Wincing, she'd waved with just her fingers, an embarrassed laugh leaking out from behind a frozen smile.

And so, after Clark changed out of his slightly smoky and charred costume (which was after The Lecture about household duties and responsibilities and a bunch of other stuff Lois hadn't been paying attention to), he'd snapped on those funny rubber gloves and was scrubbing away at an even pace while making his point abundantly clear, even though he could have been done in ten seconds with the whole thing. There was some implicit message she was supposed to be learning with the "explicit message" of responsibility, duty, and "Is it really so hard to just carry your plate in with you? You were coming inside anyway. It's the only way to the front door. You weren't going to wash it off, because you never do that. The least you could have done was not leave it outside to be bird food. Pigeons do two things, Lois, they eat and they poop. They ate, and they--"

Nose scrunched, Lois folded her arms over her chest. "I think I hear someone calling for Superman," she interrupted, "In Siberia."

Clark pointed at her with the now-ruined brush. Its bristles were frayed and crushed, not to mention a nasty shade of grey. "I don't understand why I always have to be the one to clean up your messes."

Lois pointed an index finger with a broken nail right in his face. "Because I never clean up your messes. Lets see, clothes in random doorways throughout the apartment. All the crap you leave all over the place and half done when you zoom out of here to save kittens from sewer grates and Batman from himself, and whatever the heck else it is that you do when you leave the laundry half put away, dinner burning on the stove and music blaring on the stereo. You never, ever EVER rush out of here. EVER."

They degenerated into senseless bickering until Mrs. Frisch hollered up at them to complain about the herbal smell coming from the dish soap. It was making Fluffy have little doggie sneezes.

Lois picked up the bucket of dirty water and walked to the edge of the patio but Clark snatched it away.

Mrs. Frisch shook a finger with an enormous gold ring on it up at them as Clark hid the bucket behind his back. "We're all done here, Mrs. Frisch," Clark announced politely, gesturing for Lois to go back inside. "We just had a little accident we needed to take care of."

Eyes wide, Lois made her disapproval known by wildly gesturing for him to dump the bucket while the old lady down stairs gave Clark a lecture about rubber gloves, and how they'd kill him one day. Or something like that… Lois was still waxing dramatic with the charades. "If you love me, you'd dump it on her dog," Lois whispered.

When Lois reached for the bucket, Clark held it above her head. "Thank you for your concern, Mrs. Frisch. I'll look for that brand like you said. You have a good afternoon…" He put a hand on Lois' chest and pushed her gently back through the sliding glass door. Closing it behind them, he cleaned up in a blur of white and yellow, then stood in front of her, hands on his hips.

Lois shrugged. "Oh, THAT you can do at super-speed."

The "Strangle you now" look had been replaced with amusement. "You can't kill the neighbor's dog."

Nose in the air, Lois looked down it at her husband. "'I have no idea how that dog died, officer. You can't prove a thing.' Damned yipper dog. Besides, you'd love me less if I weren't this hostile towards dogs with allergies and the crazy old ladies who indulge them."

Moving past her in a blur, Clark slid into his corner of the sofa, digging around for the remote. "Just block him out. I do."

With a pouty sigh, Lois curled up next to him. "I never get the remote."

"You get it when I'm not here."

"I want it when you're here. I want to flip through the channels, and you have to watch what I want to watch." She didn't press her luck, though. He had just cleaned up a ton of bird crap for her, and there was that whole thing where he rescued her from an eternity of dangling from that flag pole. "Sorry I left my stuff outside," she conceded finally. "And I'll try not to do it again."

"Otherwise you're cleaning up your own mess," he informed her.

Holding back a moan of contempt for that idea, Lois put her head on his shoulder. "As long as you quit leaving clothes around. And if you leave something because of an emergency, finish it when you get back."

Clark rested his head on hers. "How did that, out there, become about me?"

"You'd love me less if I weren't this argumentative," Lois assured him.

The sun had dipped behind the surrounding buildings and the sky had turned from a fiery orange to a mellow purple twilight. It was starting to chill off a little bit, too.

Yeah, they never really fought for long, and they really did have good time making up, in bed and otherwise. But she still hated to be on the receiving end of "the lecture." She really should clean this stuff up, before she ran off to see what her husband had gotten himself into this time. Sure, she'd make sure he was ok and all that stuff a wife was supposed to do. But mostly she just wanted to get a story in with a single by-line. He'd done it to her last week, so it wasn't like he wouldn't know what it was all about, when he saw it.

Looking at the table and the half-eaten salad littered with bread crumbs, Lois sighed, not really sure where to start.

Hearing a scraping, lurching crash followed by the yawn of metal scraping on metal, Lois looked up and down the streets until she saw a cloud of black smoke billowing in the distance as power started clicking off in buildings about ten blocks down. Oh to hell with it. Another bird invasion would be worth a by-line without his name on it. It wasn't a great anniversary present, but it was a sadistic one, right on par with his completely horrible birthday present of the story he wrote…about her. The only thing that would be better is if she could somehow tie the concussive crashes and lost electricity to Clark leaving dirty clothes in doorways in an expose for the entire world to see.

Two separate magazines had run that piece he wrote for her birthday. Dashing back into the kitchen, she grabbed a few more pieces of bread off of the cutting board and tossed them on the table out of loving spite. She just had to make sure he cleaned up the mess on the patio before he saw the morning edition.

Without a care in the world, Lois changed shoes, grabbed a jacket and dashed out the door, hoping Jimmy was getting pictures of whatever was causing that thick acrid smoke to float down the streets. A cover piece with color photo and only Lois' name on the story. It was all there in her head, like a prophetic vision.

Chuckling, she thought of the "strangle you now" look, and just how adorable a throbbing forehead vein really was on him. Because really… when it came down to it…he'd love her less if she weren't this vengeful.