A/N: This is the first of a series of challenges I'll be doing with a friend of mine. She sends me three story titles and I have to pick one and write a story with that title. I then send her three story titles and she has to write a story based off one of those (which won't be posted here, as I won't be writing them).
This thread will be composed of several short stories which stand independent of each other. This will not be one ongoing multi-chapter fic.
For this challenge, I was offered the following three prompts:
1) Not Quite a Husband
2) No Compromise
3) Illusions of Love
I decided to follow the second prompt. This particular drabble is rated K. Remember that the following stories in this thread will NOT be continuations of this story; all will be independent of each other!
Challenge 1 | No Compromise
Brady tapped his pencil against his sheet of paper as he looked around the newsroom. He had a story on a policeman's ball to assign, but all of his reporters were working on other stories. He was just trying to decide which story to put on hold when the elevator doors slid open and Lois came charging into the bullpen, Clark hot on her heels.
"Absolutely not!" she said in a voice that carried easily across the room to his desk. "I already told you, my source is worried about his identity being blown! He said to come alone or he's going to bail on me and I'll never get to the bottom of this!"
Clark sighed in exasperation. "And the fact that it could be dangerous doesn't bother you at all?" He groaned before she could reply, "Don't answer that. Of course it doesn't!"
"Lois!" Brady yelled as he jumped to his feet, the piece of paper with the ball's information on it clenched in his hand. "Kent! I have a story for you!"
She tossed her coat over the back of her chair and spun around to grab the paper out of the editor's hand. "No," she said with finality, shoving it back towards him. "Not doing it."
Brady looked at her in astonishment. "I'm sorry; I'm still your boss, aren't I?" he asked with an ostentatious look towards the nameplate on his desk. "At what point did you get the impression this was a democracy?"
She grinned, not the least bit taken aback by his remark. "The ball's tonight, and I've got a meeting with an informant."
His eyes narrowed on her thoughtfully, trying to determine if she was telling the truth or if she was just trying to get out of a story she didn't want to do. "Big story?" he asked suspiciously.
She smirked with pride. "Huge. Front page. Above the fold. Not to brag, but it may even be Pulitzer material." She paused and her grin spread wider. "Oh, okay. I'll brag."
Brady felt his heart race with excitement at the thought of the Planet getting the exclusive on such a story, but he tried not to let his expression give him away as he turned to Clark. "All right, Clark, I guess you're it," he said, holding out his piece of paper again.
Clark didn't even bother to look at him. Instead, he crossed his arms over his chest and glowered at the woman at the desk across from him. She didn't seem the least bit impressed by his glare; in fact, she pointedly ignored him as she booted up her computer and rummaged through the papers on her desk.
"Can't," Clark said tersely. "I'll be busy. Making sure Lois isn't getting herself killed."
Brady sighed and looked between the two of them. "What part of 'I'm your boss' do you two not understand?"
Clark's eyes darted towards his editor. "You won't get your story if she doesn't live to write it," he pointed out.
It was with a flash of irritation that Brady realized Clark had a point, but he wasn't ready to give up yet. "She says she's got it under control and I'm inclined to believe her. If she wants to go alone –"
Clark snorted. "Of course she says she's got it under control! Out of curiosity, how many times has the Planet's insurance had to pay out in the last two months on something that Lois said was under control?"
"Everyone's a skeptic," Lois muttered under her breath as she jumped to her feet and strode towards the archive room. Clark followed on her heels, arguing the entire way.
Brady looked down at the piece of paper in his hand. Damn it, he had a story, he'd already told two of his reporters to take it, and they'd both blown him off! He was going to get this story assigned if it killed him.
He stormed towards the archive room just as Lois came charging through the door, a folder under her arm, Clark still hot at her heels. "– all the time! Last night, you wanted Indian food; I wanted Chinese. We settled on Italian!"
"That's not exactly what I had in mind," Clark said with a sigh.
"Lane, Kent! One of you two is taking this story! I mean it!" Brady bellowed.
Lois darted a quick glance in his direction, seemingly surprised to find him there. "Can't," she said simply, pushing past him to reach her desk.
"Not a chance," Clark growled. "She's going to get herself killed, and I'm going to stop her!"
"Hah!" Lois cried, slipping into her coat and slinging her purse over her shoulder. "You know, I think it's really cute how you think you can stop me from doing anything it takes to get a story!"
He shook his head. "I don't think I can stop you from putting your life in danger. I can do everything I can to stop you from actually getting killed."
She grinned as Brady spluttered at the realization that two members of his staff so blithely ignored him. "I'm not going to risk my story getting blown just because my boyfriend isn't comfortable with a little risk in life!"
"Seriously, you two! The policeman's ball!" Brady tried again.
They both shook their heads, not even bothering to look at him this time. "I'm not just your boyfriend. I'm your partner. And I'm not going to let you get yourself killed, not even for a front-page headline."
Brady liked the sound of that. Front-page headline. Pulitzer winning front page headline. He lost a few seconds dreaming of accolades coming the paper's way when they broke whatever story Lois had brewing. From the gleam in her eye, he could tell it was going to be good.
Except he was the boss! He was supposed to be handing out the stories! He wasn't supposed to be ignored like this!
Lois stared intently at Clark, either oblivious to or simply concerned with her editor's mounting frustration. Though she looked vaguely annoyed, she sounded faintly bemused when she said as she strode to the elevator bay, "You know I'll just meet with my source without telling you first."
"It won't work," he warned her, throwing a warm smile at her back. "You'll be surprised how good I can be at tracking people down when I want to. And in the past few years, I've gotten very good at learning how to keep an eye on you."
She pursed her lips thoughtfully. "Sounds like a challenge."
"Sounds like one of you needs to take this story I've told you both to take! Several times now!" Brady bellowed, waving his piece of paper in the air as he trailed after them.
"If you want to think of it as a challenge, you can," Clark said evenly, completely ignoring Brady as he followed Lois onto the elevator. The doors slid shut as he continued, "It won't change anything."
Brady's jaw hung open as he stared at the gold paneled elevator doors in front of him. This was the fifth time in two months that he'd tried to assign Lois a story and she'd brushed him off, convinced she knew better. Of course, it was particularly galling to find that in each of those five cases, she'd been right. The story she (and typically Clark) brought in was much bigger than the one he'd been trying to assign.
But still. He was supposed to be their boss!
One of these days, their story wasn't going to pan out and then he'd…well, he wouldn't fire either of them. They were just too damn good, and he knew it. But they didn't have to know that he knew it, and so at least he could keep a little leverage over them, even if it had to be with a bluff.
"Ron!" he bellowed, charging towards his desk, stopping only long enough to slap his piece of paper on the reporter in question's desk. "Congratulations! The story's yours!"
"But I –" Ron tried to protest.
"I don't want to hear it," Brady snapped, flinging himself into his chair. With a heavy sigh, he muttered darkly to himself, "I've still got to be the boss of someone around here!"