Author's Notes: Ohh, Smallville. Ohh, Clois. Ohh, Tom Welling.
I like it here
My soul craves water, but my heart wants wine. – Eric Bibb
Since he was eighteen, Clark Kent has had Lois Lane's four favorite dresses hanging in his closet, her four favorite shirts in his drawers, her four favorite shoes under his bed, and her four favorite movies stashed on his shelf. He's not sure how they keep getting there, because he never sees her bring them over, but within a week of every time he's ever moved he's opened his closet to find them dangling from the rack.
In fact, sometimes it seems like he has an extra roommate no matter where he is. Sometimes he comes home late to find her curled up on his couch, watching his T.V., drinking his hot chocolate (which, of course, is always her favorite brand). Despite the fact that she lives six blocks away she still manages to use all his hot water for her marathon showers, still sleeps in his too-big shirts, and still eats him out of house and home.
He'd call her a mooch but she isn't; she buys him more cocoa when she drinks it all and does the laundry when it piles too high. (Very) occasionally she cleans. And she's the only alarm clock that he can't ignore, the only one without a "snooze" button.
Once he asked her why she showed up so often, particularly since she had long since declared his fashion sense, personality, and general company completely unbearable. She'd looked at him quietly for a second over the top of her box of Kung Pao Chicken and said with a shrug, "I like it here." And that was it.
Sometimes he comes home after long fights with Lana and she's already there, trying in vain to do a crossword but unable to spell the answers to the clues. On those nights she wordlessly pats the seat beside her on the couch and they watch Star Trek reruns on the Sci-Fi channel, making fun of the sweet uni's or making Spock's hand signal into something obscene. She waits until he's been laughing for a ten straight minutes to ask what happened, and then twists the situation until he's laughing again and it seems somehow trivial.
Clark's not sure how to explain it, but Lois Lane has somehow become the glue that keeps him and Lana together.
Of course, she's also unbearably stubborn and has a tongue like a string of barbed wire. She picks fights when she's bored and forms obsessions the way that most people form mild opinions. She rarely lets him finish his sentences and punches him in the exact same spot on his arm every single day. She bosses him around and ranks insulting his fashion sense as number two on her list of favorite hobbies.
She can still get a rise out of him quicker than anyone else he knows. But … that's just Lois, you know?
"By the way," she says offhandedly one morning as she's making coffee, "The movers are bringing my stuff over tomorrow. As a housewarming gift, I bought you a futon."
He blinks, still too asleep to quite comprehend what she's telling him. "Beg your pardon?"
"Keep up, Smallville. I said I bought you a futon. And don't worry, it's the comfy kind you like so much. And big enough for two, in the event Lana ever chooses to spend the night."
"Lois," he says slowly, "You aren't moving in with me!"
She shoves a mug of coffee at him, rolling her eyes. "I practically live here anyway," she points out, grabbing her purse from the counter. "The only difference is that now we split the rent."
She gives him the same look she did all those months ago. "I like it here," she tells him with finality, and then leaves him to attend to whatever morning ritual he has. For a couple minutes he just stares dumbly at his coffee, wondering what the heck just happened, and then sighs. Far be it from Clark Kent to understand the mind of Lois Lane.
He never really gets around to telling Lana, and Lois hardly ever feels the need to fill people in on aspects of her life she doesn't feel like sharing. Even his parents don't hear the news. Clark figures that she practically lived with him anyway, it's not like there's very much of a difference. And everyone would make a bigger deal out of the situation than needs to be made; she's just Lois. That's all.
They develop a new routine that's almost the same as the old one, except now she pads around in those stupid bunny slippers and turns off the T.V. when he's fallen asleep watching The Tonight Show. They split his closet in half (although she still has four dresses hanging on his side) and he's long since stopped trying to store anything under his bed. Anyway, she throws clothing at him in the morning (having long since surrendered to his love of flannel) and they eat out every Saturday (because by that time the leftover takeout has run out).
The day that Clark gets a job at the Daily Planet they go out to celebrate with Chloe, Lana, and Jimmy. "I have to say, I never saw you as a reporter, Clark," Lana admits with a tender smile, squeezing his hand. "Chloe's rubbed off on you."
"Well, he's plenty good at finding trouble," Chloe counters with a proud grin. "If anything, Clark won't have to investigate to find stories. They just fall right into his lap."
At Jimmy's questioning look it turns into Smallville-Freakshow Variety Hour, filled with stories from home. Clark spends most of it poking holes through Lois' outrageously exaggerated plot bubbles and warding off praise. By the time the evening's over he's a solid strawberry-red and Lana strokes his cheek after she kisses him goodnight. They get into Lois' car and drive home bickering and wave simultaneously at the doorman.
"Evening, Mr. and Mrs. Kent," he says cheerfully. Neither of them bothers to correct him. They're sort of used to it.
Eventually Lois starts to feel guilty about his sleeping on a futon, so she makes him convert the living room into a living-bedroom. He's got a bed and a coffee table and his own armoire (which still has four of her favorite shirts in the top drawer). Now they use his bed as the couch, and if oftentimes they fall asleep together watching T.V. it doesn't really count as "sleeping together". Lois takes to bringing her own pillow ("Because you're such a hog, Smallville!") and he learns that if he wants to make it through the night without having the covers stolen he's got to take the offensive and make a preemptive strike of wrapping himself in a cocoon before anyone falls asleep.
On his birthday Chloe throws him a surprise party at his apartment. By the time he gets there everyone shouts "Surprise!" and then his mom immediately pulls him to the side to ask when he broken up with Lana, and why, and how come he didn't say anything, and oh, by the way, Lois? Really?
He explains calmly that he's still with Lana, just living with Lois. That somehow makes sense in his mind now, even if it didn't nine months ago, and he genuinely doesn't understand when Lana gets angry.
"I know you're not the cheating kind, Clark," she says, looking up at him with sad eyes, "But you have to understand why I'd be suspicious that you're living with another woman and didn't think to tell me."
He looks at his hands. "I don't know, it wasn't like we made the decision to move in together. It just sort of happened little by little. I can't explain it."
Lana shakes her head, dropping her face into her hands. "I can't do this anymore, Clark," she whispers, tears in her eyes. "I love you, you know I do, but I can't—I just can't. We've been through so much together and I can't lose you again. We're just going to lose each other."
"I don't understand," he says slowly. "Is this because of Lois? Lana, nothing is going on. It's—it's Lois!"
"I know, Clark," she interrupts patiently. "It's not because of Lois. We're not good for each other, Clark, not as—not as more than friends. We just hurt each other. It's no one's fault, we're just… not meant to be." She pauses, reaching out to grab his hand. "I want to still be friends. I don't want to lose you. I just can't be with you." She smiles sadly. "Besides, if you don't let me stay in your life who's going to repair all those rips you get on your Superman costume?"
He laughs, his heart breaking just a little, and hugs her. She smells like lilacs, just like she always has, and he's thinking about how they've always been together, even when they weren't, and he has no idea how to live his life without her in it.
She leaves and he goes back inside and instantly Lois is there, telling him he seriously needs to leave whatever pity party he's at and come back to this one, because she's spiked the punch and his mother's having a generous sip. And in ten minutes he's stopped thinking of the breakup as a step back and more as a step forward.
The problems don't start until Lois meets Superman. Then suddenly he's faced with a whole new host of problems he hadn't expected: like how pretty she is when her hair is wet, and how she grabs his hand when she's nervous or scared during movies, and how she sings off-key in the shower and he somehow loves listening anyway.
"You can't lead her on, Clark," Chloe tells him firmly, her hands on her hips. "You're my best friend but she's my cousin and I am not going to let you hurt her." He hesitates for a moment too long. Chloe's face is suddenly lit up and her grin entirely too Cheshire in its nature. "Oh, my God!" She shrieks, slamming her fist onto his desk, "You totally like her! You're in love with Lois!"
"Shut up!" He hisses, leaning in towards her. "Geez, do you have to yell?"
"Absolutely I do," Chloe sings back, beaming. "This is the funniest news I've heard all day. Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Who'd have thought?"
"Well it's not about Clark and Lois," he tells her miserably. "It's all about Superman and Lois. I'm still just Smallville, remember?"
Chloe waves the thought away. "That's because Lois doesn't have two eyes. Just tell her who you are and it'll sort itself out."
He rolls his eyes. "Oh, sure. I'll just go ahead and tell her my secret. Not a problem."
Lois has been rubbing off on him.
"She's going to notice one day, Clark," Chloe scolds lightly. "I mean, the absences, the open windows… the Superman costumes you have hidden? She's a natural-born snoop and once she suspects something the whole jig is up. It's better to be ahead of the game than behind."
The thing is, he knows she's right. But he still can't make himself do it. Because Clark knows that telling her would change everything, no matter what Chloe says. For one thing, it would change the camaraderie that they have around the apartment; no longer would she feel comfortable walking around in boxers, his big shirts, and bunny slippers; no longer would she come out of the bathroom with toothpaste on her chin; no longer would she make him buy her tampons.
She'd be Lois: girlfriend and not just… Lois.
So he keeps quiet. For a while, it sort of works. She gets into too much trouble and he gets her out of it, and then they settle down for Pad Thai and watch rented movies.
Lex almost kills Lana two months after she begins dating another handsome billionaire named Bruce Wayne, and Clark comes back to the apartment vomiting kryptonite dust. Lois pretends not to notice the flakes and lays him on the couch, berating him for worrying her, calling him the biggest idiot she's ever met and if she ever catches him doing something that stupid again she's swears to God…
He shuts her up by gathering her in his arms and they fall asleep like that, her head on his chest, kryptonite blowing out of the windows. He wakes up slowly and doesn't move, liking the way her weight feels.
She wakes up to find him looking at her and for once doesn't say something sarcastic. She just smiles at him and rests her chin on his chest. She pulls a throw blanket over the both of them and pressing the power button on the remote. They're watching Star Trek. "Comfortable?" He asks, amused.
She nods, curling her fingers in his shirt. "Yeah," she agrees. "I like it here."