Title: SCORCHER STRIKES UNSUSPECTING METROPOLITIANS

Category: Movieverse/Superman Returns

Prompt: #068/Heat (written for the LiveJournal Community 12daysofClois)

Rating: T for language and content

Word Count: 6013

Summary: Set in the summer after Superman's return. Lois still doesn't know Clark's secret and things get a little hot.

Spoilers: This story contains spoilers for the movie, Superman Returns.

Author's Notes: Thank you to htbthomas and butterscotch82 for the beta, but more importantly for the encouragement. Erin, especially, my dear twin, so much would be lost without you. Please go check out the LiveJournal community, the link is in my profile!

HEADLINE: SCORCHER STRIKES UNSUSPECTING METROPOLITIANS

By: ECABS

I sat back in my chair comfortably — unlike the rest of the office. The central AC of the building had broken down the day before, smack dab in the middle of one of Metropolis' hottest heat waves of the year.

Several people had brought fans to work, and the constant whirring was a small and welcome distraction from the sights and sounds coming from Lois' direction. Of course, the sight of her and the sound of her voice were beacons to my lost heart.

Over the past months we had grown closer, sharing personal time together outside of work. The time spent with both Lois and Jason was extremely treasured. However, guilt and regret for missing so many years was always a tough cocktail to swallow, and it affected my daily sobriety.

Lois choosing to spend some of her free time with me warmed my heart, and I held on to the feeling. Granted, she was obviously in love with Superman — but it was nice to be wanted for more than just sources. But the more time I spent with her, the more opportunities I had to tell her who I really was. Kal-El. How Kal-El and Clark were both in love with her. Not to mention the fact that they were the same person. As time went by, the harder it seemed to say the words that were always on the tip of my tongue but didn't venture past my aching lips. The situation was like a giant primary-colored elephant that was only visible to my eyes.

I wanted to scream at how destiny had made me the secret keeper again. Wasn't one big reveal enough for a lifetime? But this had nothing to do with destiny or a higher power playing havoc with my love life. I had enough power to destroy my own happiness, superman or not. That damn amnesia kiss. Sometimes I really hated my powers.

But if I took a moment to stop my own pity party, I knew there was a clear shot at a 'redo.' A chance any person with a brain cell would want. So what was the problem? Well, I didn't need a day's reflection to figure it out. I had had years to relive the whys of my cowardice. Being nearly invincible, I didn't feel that emotion very often. But it was fear that had crippled me the first time. And nothing had changed. If anything, it had only become more complicated now that we had a child. Both would be in danger this time, not just Lois.

I turned to look at her again. It was easier not to pay attention with the help of these small distractions, but it was hardly an easy task, considering our proximity in the office and the fact that every sound and stolen glimpse of her had my undivided attention. My eyes and ears only begged for more like a desperate addict.

My lips ached to tell her the truth, to touch hers, to brush across my son's hair as I tucked him in at night. I didn't know how long I could hold out. The moral duty I held myself to had stopped me before. That excuse wasn't valid anymore though. Lois and Richard had split months ago. Despite the opening in her dating schedule, I was still sitting behind my cheap particleboard desk pining away for Lois like a coward.

I wished this imitation wood was the only thing between us. But it was, wasn't it? Plus a few yards that I could cross in a millisecond — and then we could be together, as a family, as we should be. She was the mother of my child after all; how complicated could it be?

"Dammit, where the hell is maintenance? How the heck are we supposed to work in these conditions?" Lois all but growled, and I stared at her, her hair starting to frizz with the humidity and her blouse clinging to her damp skin. My mouth went dry from the tempting sight of her. Suddenly a memory assaulted my mind — her glistening skin from our passionate night so many years ago. The night that Jason came to be — the miracle of my life.

A bead of sweat trickled down her neck and slowly slid forward, pausing on the delicate curve of her collar bone. I watched, rooted like a tree, the heat suddenly rising within my body — perhaps I was going to suffer like the rest of the office after all. The air hung thick and sticky around the office, and I suddenly felt strangled by it.

My eyes tunneled in on that bead of sweat, watching it build momentum as it crested her collar bone and plunged further down the front of her chest — heading for the soft skin that I had once held and caressed myself. I watched as it collected more perspiration from the sheen that covered her exposed skin, slinking down in a lazy 's' pattern.

The traitorous drop fell into the warm recess between her breasts. A place I would die to be. I tried to clear my throat and tear my eyes away from her body, but I failed on both counts. My throat was tight and other parts of me were beginning to strain. I enviously imagined touching her as that droplet of perspiration had.

I closed my eyes and took deep breaths to calm myself. This was not the time or place for these thoughts. The sound of Lois' heartbeat moving away from me made me look up. I watched her retreating figure head toward the janitor's closet. I felt like a lovesick teenager as I studied her. She marched off hotly, her heels making an angry clicking against the hard floor. To follow her as she turned the corner I switched to x-ray vision. I was even more spellbound when she was like this — angry and frustrated, her eyes flashing with a steely fire, her small frame tense and emitting an iron-willed power that even frightened the strongest of men. Heck, she made me feel weak.

Lois slammed the door to the janitor's closet and slipped off her shoes. She wiggled and gyrated as her hands pulled up her skirt and I quickly turned away, determined to give Lois privacy as she hiked her skirt up.

I cleared my throat and looked around nervously. Why did I suddenly feel like a silly little boy with his hand caught in the cookie jar?

"Don't be stupid, no one knows what you're doing." I mumbled to myself, and then looked around again before focusing my hearing on the closet. I didn't know what she was doing in there, but I couldn't violate her privacy. As much as I wanted to remove all of her restrictive and binding clothing, I couldn't do it like this. Not unless she willingly wanted to show me more.

"Of course, it would help if she knew how you feel about her, you idiot," I berated myself.

"Ouch… oh… dammit." I heard Lois huffing and then a loud clanging noise rang from the small room. Worried that she was about to hurt herself, I focused my vision on her again, hoping she would be decent. Lois was hopping on one bared foot as she yanked her panty hose off the other.

"This is a new low for you, Clark," I grumbled and hung my head. But I was hopelessly in love with her; how could I keep my eyes off her? I covered my face with my hands and groaned.

"Clark!" Lois shouted as she came up behind me.

"Oh hey, Lois, ho—" I tried to stand quickly but banged my legs on the edge of the desk, thankfully not hard enough to destroy the entire imitation. In the process, I knocked a stack of paperwork and a pen off my desk. I quickly bent down to pick up the mess of sheets littering the floor, and I had to get on my hands and knees to get the pen that had rolled out of reach.

"What do you think you're doing?" she demanded.

I banged my head on the underside of my keyboard tray for "Clark" effect and turned to find myself eye-level with Lois' gorgeous bare knees.

Looking up from my position on the ground, I said, "Ahh… wh—what do you mean, Lois?" I croaked while pulling myself to my feet, adjusting my glasses, and rubbing the back of my head.

"This!" She poked me in the chest and then fingered my tie. "It's close to 95 degrees in this office, and here you are with your shirt and tie. Aren't you burning up, Clark?" she asked incredulously. Before I could comment, she continued, "I can't stand this heat; I had to take these stupid pantyhose off." She held up the flesh-colored stockings. As hard and fast as a bullet train came the visual of her creamy skin as she had yanked her skirt up. The glimpse I had stolen before turning away would be carefully stashed away with all my other intimate memories of her. I was disgusting.

If I had to clear my throat again today, someone was bound to offer me throat lozenges. But because I was a sick voyeur, I would choke on one. I felt the heat rise into my eyes as the image of her bare legs refused to go back to storage. This hadn't happened since my teenaged years, yet here I was a grown man unable to control these urges.

Before I could form a coherent response, she continued, "These useless maintenance guys better get this fixed soon, otherwise I'm going to have to go fix it myself. And Clark, loosen this tie will ya?" She grabbed for it and started to pull, creating enough room to reveal the top button of my collared shirt.

"Geez, Clark. It's even hotter over here!" She looked up and around her, as if she was looking for the source of the temperature increase. "Are you that uptight that you can't even loosen this tie?"

I averted my eyes from her body and wiggled under her grasp, grabbing for the tie. "I... I… um, I'm okay, Lois. You know us Kansas types, we're used to the heat," I replied with a squeaky giggle.

"Oh, hush, it would do you some good to try and relax." She had the button between her fingers and was deftly opening my shirt.

I looked down at the pen in my hand and felt it go soft from my heat vision, causing it to start to ooze blue ink. I quickly held it up in front of my face.

"Oh, Lois, I think I have a blow up here…" I frowned, focusing on the pen.

"Clark! It's leaking all over the place! You'd better not get that on me!" She took a step away, giving me room to adjust my shirt with my one clean hand and keep the suit hidden — the suit she would have uncovered if she'd had a few more seconds.

"Gosh, Lois, this one is a real bleeder! I'd better go wash this off." I lifted up the hand now coated in ink and brought it closer for her to inspect.

She took another step back. "Sure, Clark, you do that. I'm going to go find out what's going on with the AC. I'm sure the morons could use some direction."

I headed for the men's washroom to dispose of the limp pen and wash my hands. I soaped up my hands and scrubbed vigorously, trying to remove all traces of the blue ink. At the last second I decided to ditch the suit in case I ran into Lois again.

Grabbing my notes of documents I had to retrieve from the basement, I headed for the elevators. Still a little frazzled at the thought of Lois uncovering the suit, I leaned back against the rail next to the control panel. Just as the doors were about to close, a small delicate hand shot between the two doors. Lois.

"Going up?" she inquired as she pushed the doors firmly apart. I shot upright but didn't move to help her. Like a complete Neanderthal. Idiot. Idiot. You idiot, you could at least help her get in the elevator.

"Ah, uh, no… umm… down," I croaked and stuttered authentically. I cleared my throat. "Just going down to the basement actually." I wanted to bang my head against something and just this once, actually feel it. I was such an oaf.

"Oh, well. I guess I'll make the trip down with you, then." She smiled, and it warmed my heart. Considering she was out for blood just moments ago, it meant so much more.

"So did you find those maintena—"

"Maintenance, my ass. More like Morons For Hire. I actually had to tell the meatheads where the central AC system was. Hello… it needs to be outside. It's on the roof by the elevator shaft. God. How do these people function on their own?"

We stood awkwardly as the elevator slowly made its way down. Five floors from the basement, the entire car screeched to a halt and Lois staggered forward. I grabbed her around the waist and steadied her as she reached out her hand to grab my forearm.

We both looked up to the ceiling as if the answer was there, and then at the control panel. Silence. And we weren't moving.

"This is not happening! Those yahoos! It has to be those cretins I helped!" Lois positively growled as she went up to the doors and pounded on them.

"Lois, let's not jump to any conclusions." She turned and glared, and I knew it was my cue to keep my mouth shut and maybe she'd let me keep my tongue. God, she was beautiful like this.

She wrenched the telephone receiver from its little compartment, nearly destroying it in the process. I gave her a wide berth, pressing myself against the car wall and watched.

One hand on her hip, she tapped her foot as she waited for someone to answer. She threw off her shoes, like she knew we were in for the long haul and lifted the hair from the back of her damp neck.

I blew a gentle, but subtle, stream of cool air. I shouldn't have, but I couldn't… not. I had to do something to ease her. She purred in satisfaction and I felt a little buzz shoot through my body. I wondered if it was so wrong of me to send a silent thank you out to the not-so-handy handymen. This was going to be torture, but the kind I would line up for.

"Arrghh! They're not answering!" Lois turned toward me.

I shrugged my shoulders. "We'll try again in a few minutes. Maybe it's just a temporary outage?"

"I doubt that, Clark. You didn't see the guys with the power tools. I wouldn't put it past them to shut down the whole building," she huffed in momentary defeat and slid to the ground. She pulled her legs up, leaned her elbows on her knees, and held her head in her hands. She looked so small and… delicate in that position.

Although she was strong-willed and determined at work, I knew first hand the softer, sweeter side she reserved for the ones she loved. I had seen it when she was around Jason. Experienced it myself — years ago.

The last nine months had been hard on her, with Superman's return and her breakup with Richard and the feelings associated with both. Jason was dealing the best he could, and I knew from my conversations with Lois that she was concerned about the effect the breakup would have on him.

I felt like a wretch. Although Lois had told me that the breakup was mostly amicable and they both had their reasons, I knew that a large part had to do with Superman. No matter how much I stayed away, it still hadn't been enough. I might have been miles away from the couple, but my flesh and blood was still in their home. And bloodlines were hard to erase. I had learned that growing up.

So not only had I left her pregnant and alone, but that single most regretted decision of my entire life turned out to be the gift that kept giving. It wasn't enough to just break her heart once, but now that I was back, she couldn't stay with the man she once loved. It didn't matter that they had been growing apart anyway.

Where Lois was concerned, there were just one too many failures. Superman staying away made her angry, I knew. I had done it hoping it was the right decision. Yet at times like this, I wish she knew she had the support of someone who loved her. And now here she was, tired and exhausted, trapped in an elevator with the one person she did confide in, who was also the person she needed the truth from.

Lois looked up then. "Sorry, Clark. I'm just tired. And this week has been stressful, what with the Emerson story and Jason's problems at school. I'm just glad he's done for the year now. I'm hoping we can get away during the summer. Get his mind off things, you know?"

I nodded. Yup. I was a wretch. They deserved so much better. Jason deserved to have a father. I couldn't take back the last six years, but it was never too late to try and make things better.

"Maybe I could take him camping or something?" And maybe by that time we could all go camping — as a family — because Lois would know the truth.

"I think he might actually like that. That's really sweet of you to off—" She was cut off by the phone in the elevator ringing, and Lois lunged for it even though I was sitting on the ground next to it.

"Yes," she snarled into the mouthpiece. The voice on the other end was frazzled, and the man was explaining how they had accidentally cut through the wrong electrical wires.

"You idiots! Well, how long is it going to take then?" The man was obviously afraid. I held in the snicker at the tremor in his voice. I knew what it was like to be at the receiving end when Lois handed your ass back to you. Before there was a howl of pain – undoubtedly his partner playing Mr. Fix It with the tools – he managed to inform Mad Dog that we would be stuck for at least an hour. Thank you to whoever had hired the duo. One hour with Lois… without interruptions.

Lois slammed the receiver back into its compartment. "Well, we're stuck here for an hour — at least. Surprise, surprise, they don't know how to fix the elevator and now they have to call someone."

"Oh. That's terrible." I tried to sound disappointed. It was a good thing Lois was too distracted to pay attention to what I was saying. She was prying on the doors to pull them apart. "What are you doing, Lois?"

"Well, if we could," she huffed as she put her weight into pushing one of the doors aside, "just get these apart, maybe we could wiggle through and get out."

"Oh, Lois, I'm not sure that's safe. The car could start moving at any second. Or you could lose your grip and fa—"

"Smallville. Just get over here for a second and help me. It might be pointless, but we should at least look."

I went over and placed my hands above hers and we pushed together. The doors moved easily apart, but I scrunched up my face in effort anyways. Through the opening we could see we were stuck smack dab in the middle of two floors, and there wasn't enough room to squeeze through on either side. I sighed in relief.

"Dammit. I guess we really are stuck here. Do you realize our life is in the hands of those two dimwits?" she said as we both let go and the doors closed firmly shut.

I had to laugh, I couldn't help myself. Lois really had it out for those repair men. I hoped she wouldn't run into them after we got out of here. "Lois, they've called for backup… I think it'll be okay."

"Well, if we're stuck for an hour in here, I'm getting comfortable. I hope I don't offend your sensibilities, Clark." She was taking a jab at my small town upbringing, which wasn't new. I didn't mind though, as I watched her deft fingers pull out the blouse from her waistband and reveal creamy skin. She unbuttoned her blouse, leaving only one tiny pearly-white button fastened in the center — no doubt for the benefit of my eyes, which were just about ready to pop out of their sockets.

I looked away, doing my best to keep all my body parts relaxed and neutral. Even though it was tacky and cliché, I really wanted to gnaw on the back of my hand. The site of her skin was intoxicating.

She paced back and forth, lifting the bottom of her blouse up and down to get some air to her skin. Every time she would lift her shirt the smooth skin of her stomach was revealed. I tried to keep my eyes to myself, but since I was standing, looking down at my feet was too obvious. I slid down to the ground and tried to pretend like I was studying the control panel.

"So what's new, Lois?"

Lois looked over and gave me a withering stare.

Maybe I should start. "You know that new Chinese place down the street that opened up?" I didn't wait for her to respond. "It's really quite good. I had lunch there today. We should go sometime," I threw in casually.

"Good thing one of us got lunch today," Lois said in a way that made me think it really wasn't a good thing. Unless I was misinterpreting the clenched teeth and snarl.

"Are you hungry? I still have the fortune cookie from lunch. Do you want it?"

Lois came towards me hesitantly, not sure if she should play nice or just take my head off. With one finger still in her mouth contemplatively, she snatched the cookie from proffered palm.

She ripped open the wrapper and let it fall to the ground. The fortune was still clutched between her fingers as she chewed furiously.

"Thanks, Kent. That was better than nothing." She gave me a small smile.

"What does it say?" I asked, indicating the little slip of paper in her hand.

"This better be good," she sighed, and pulled apart the little note.

Her brow furrowed. "Take the stairs, it's good for you. Don't smoke, it's bad for you." She looked up incredulously.

"Who the hell writes this crap?" she demanded as she crunched up the fortune and tossed it into the corner.

I shrugged helplessly. If she knew the truth, I could get out us of here. Ironically, I used this very airshaft frequently. I looked up at the emergency panel on the ceiling. All I had to do was reach up, push it aside, grab Lois by the waist and fly out of here. Then I could add elevator save number two to Lois' dossier.

Lois startled me out of my daydream. "This isn't working. Sorry, Clark, I know you need to keep your reputation of being an inexperienced — I mean, gentleman — but I feel like I'm suffocating. My clothes are sticky and wet. They're strangling me." She had undone the one remaining button and was pulling off her blouse.

Right before I turned around, I caught a glimpse of the ivory swells trapped beneath a very lacy black bra. Groaning softly, I chided myself for wanting this type of torture. I was sure that I was going to tear a hole in either the elevator or my pants. And right now, the elevator looked like it had a better chance of survival.

With no hope of getting away from Lois and her tempting body, I did the only thing I could. Beg. "Lois, please don't take your shirt off."

My request gave her a moment of pause. "Why?" she asked, instantly suspicious.

I was grasping at straws here. "Well, what if someone sees you?"

"Come on, Kent. Seriously, who's going to see me even if the doors do open? We're in between floors."

Still turned away from her, I stripped off my shirt and held it out to her. "Here, just take my shirt. It'll be long enough to cover you. Plus it'll be nice and loose and it won't strangle you." I shook it in her direction, all the while keeping my eyes from her body.

"Fine, whatever." As she snatched the shirt from my fingers, I let out the breath I was holding and waited for the rustling of fabric to stop.

Clark - Thirty minutes later

Lois was resplendent sitting on the floor in my shirt. Her hair was damp around her face and her skin was aglow with a delicious blush. I shouldn't be enjoying her discomfort as much as I was, but she was… sexy. And I was in love with her. It couldn't be helped no matter how much I tried.

Is this what she had looked like after she delivered Jason? Her skin rosy and her body sweaty from the work she had done to bring our son into the world? My heart swelled and broke at the same time. The only woman in the universe I loved had given me the greatest gift, and I hadn't even been there to hold her hand through it. Would I ever be able to forgive myself? Would she? I paced as I contemplated my choices of past. The choices yet to be made. My future. Our future.

"Clark, take your pants off." My head shot towards her and my feet stopped mid-stride.

"Huh?" I said lamely.

"Your pacing is making me hot. And seeing you work a hole in that carpet while wearing all those clothes is making me sweat. So off they go."

"Lois, you already have my shirt. And what clothes? I've just got my pants left."

"No. You have your boxers. Or briefs. Let's find out, shall we? Now strip. I can't take it anymore."

"But, Lois, this is grossly inappropriate." I tried to argue; but she had that look in her eye, and I knew I'd be one garment short of my birthday suit no matter what I said.

"We're stuck in an elevator with no air conditioning. I've had a long week, and I should be off work already. And to top it all off, I'm hot and irritated. Trust me, you do not want to argue with me right now. Pants. Off. Now."

I unzipped and let the fabric fall to my feet. I avoided looking at Lois as I sat down across from her, doing my best to keep superboy from pitching his tent or escaping it. I could sense her eyes on me, and I squirmed involuntarily under the scrutiny. At least I had gone with a new pair of dark XXL Hanes. When you had nothing but a patch of cotton between you and all your glory, the little details were important.

Lois - 35 minutes later

When I asked Clark to strip, it was for my benefit. But when I saw what the Farmboy was packing under his suit, the temperature had gone up a notch or two. Who knew that juicy, defined, firm muscles could be achieved by eating your Wheaties and baling hay? The dizziness kicked in after counting Clark's six-pack for the umpteenth time.

"Clark, I'm just going to lie down here for a minute. I feel kind of dizzy." The pounding in my head didn't help the situation. The fact that I had skipped lunch to investigate my next story wasn't boding well. I sighed and willed my heart and breathing to slow. I was trying to imagine my happy place, which today happened to be in the arctic, when I heard Clark very close to my head.

"Lois, are you okay?" His voice was alarmed, and I tried to raise my arm to swat him away.

"You don't belong here with the polar bears. Back away." I knew I sounded whiney, and my usual conviction was lost, but I didn't have the energy to fight him.

"Lois, you're not making any sense. I think you might be suffering from heat stroke."

"How long did it take you to figure that one out, genius? Obviously I'm suffering from heat stroke! It's bloody hot. And I'm thirsty. And we're stuck in this tiny little sweat box!"

I lay back down again and closed my eyes, hoping my little tirade would keep Clark from messing with Santa and me. Santa was taking a giant ice slide down into the glacial water pools, and I was next.

Suddenly I felt coolness against my cheeks. It was like a breeze on a dewy spring morning. It was glorious. My eyes flipped open and I watched as Clark flapped my silk shirt at me and blew.

Closing my eyes again, I turned my head from side to side so I could get this refreshing air over the hot and sticky spots at the base of my neck.

"How are you doing that, Clark? The air is actually kind of cool. This is so nice…" A tiny moan of pleasure escaped, but I was too lost in the sensations to be embarrassed. The sound came rolling out of me again, and I wondered faintly if it was making Clark uncomfortable. Probably, I decided, but I didn't care. It felt too good.

After rolling over to have the back of my neck cooled, I returned to my back feeling much cooler and coherent.

The blowing stopped, and I felt a searing heat on my shoulder, "Feeling bet—"

I didn't let Clark finish. "Don't touch me with your hands! You're too hot. Just keep blowing."

Clark seemed startled but continued the Cleopatra routine anyways. I twisted and turned for him, all the while moving closer, as he moved away to keep from touching me.

We were both standing now, and I lifted the front of Clark's shirt so I could get some relief between my breasts. "Down here." I directed Clark.

Surprisingly, Clark obeyed without further comment. He seemed to be enjoying this as much as I was. So for good measure I threw in, "And don't be trying to catch any glimpses of my assets."

Clark choked and almost snickered, it seemed. "What's so funny, Kent?"

"Oh, nothing, Lois. It's just that… well, you're wearing next to… I mean… it's not like I haven't already…"

I decided since he was being such a good slave boy, I would cut him some slack, "It's okay, Kansas, you get a free peek this time. But don't think you'll be getting another look-see any time soon. Now could you do my legs, please?" I added sweetly while lifting my foot to one side of Clark. I rested it on the bar against the wall and watched Clark go to work.

After having my legs cooled, I urged Clark back up to my face, lifting my chin up to meet the cool hair coming from his mouth.

"Thanks, Clark, I don't know what I would do without you," I mumbled as I moved closer and rose on my tiptoes.

"Sure, Lois. Glad I could help."

"Shhh," I put my fingers to his lips, "no talking, just blowing."

As I was moving in towards him, he was doing his best to keep his hot skin away from mine. When there was nowhere else to go and his back was pinned to the elevator wall, I stopped, inches from his body. From this distance I could easily feel the heat radiating from him.

"Just a little more, and then maybe I'll blow you, okay?"

Clark cleared his throat a couple of times but kept up the fanning and the stream of air from his mouth. I didn't bother to open my eyes to see if he got the frog out.

My lips parted and I licked my lips. The wetness followed by the cool wind was almost as good as a tall, cool glass of ice tea.

I leaned in closer, wanting just a little more of that nectar. My mouth opened a little further, and I faintly realized that our lips were inches away. Just as my eyes fluttered open to reveal a very blue, very intent gaze on my face, the car lurched and I went careening into Clark.

My head collided with Clark's chin and my body pressed up against his — from head to foot. It was one thing to look, but another to touch. And I realized how firm and solid Clark really was. But before I could let my mind wander down that dirty gutter I realized all I was wearing were my undergarments and Clark's shirt.

"Shit. My clothes!" We both looked up at the needle that indicated the floor we were on, and it appeared we were heading up.

"Oh crap! We were heading down before!" I scrambled for my clothes, quickly shoving my legs through my skirt and stuffing my feet into my shoes as I tried to pull up the zipper.

"It must have reset or something," Clark said as he hopped on one foot to get his shoes on. His pants were on but still unzipped. We had maybe another ten seconds before the elevator would reach our floor. Either it would continue up or, knowing our luck, open to the bullpen.

I stuffed Clark's shirt into my skirt, figuring there was no time to get into mine. The last thing I wanted was for all my coworkers to get a glimpse of the bra I was wearing.

For a second, it actually seemed as though my prayers had been answered and the elevator was going to bypass our floor. But then my hopes were promptly squashed when it came to a lurching stop. There was a ding and the familiar whoosh of the doors opening. I ran a hand through my hair one more time for good measure.

I realized it was hopeless when I stepped forward into the bullpen's small lobby and caught a glimpse of my reflection. A rake wouldn't fix this mess. My hair was completely disheveled and unkempt, Clark's shirt was twisted sideways with a tail hanging out of my skirt, and I looked completely flushed and ruffled.

It was like the gears of a giant windmill had been ground to a stop — I could almost hear the screech of metal — as the entire bullpen turned in our direction and gawked. I smiled tightly and then decided to chance a look at Clark.

Clark had his pants zipped up, but he was clutching my burgundy top to his bare chest. His hair was even more tousled than usual. He put his hand up and did a little finger wave to the silent office.

"Has anyone seen Clark or Lois?" Perry was shouting. "What the hell is wrong with you people?" Perry looked at the stunned faces of his employees and then turned in the direction of their fixation.

He was nonplussed for a nanosecond. Then he barked, "Clark! Lois! In my office. Now."

My head held high, I pounded down the aisle in the infamous Lane stride. I didn't turn back to look, but I could sense Clark's unease as he clutched my silk shirt to his big body. I didn't know what his problem was — burgundy was a good color for him.