Title: Deductive Reasoning
Authors: VisionGirl & Sunrei
Summary: Takes place after the events of Selective Memory. There will be no sequel to this sequel.
"Will you stop that?"
Clark swatted at Lois' determined finger as it zeroed in for another jab to his ribs. He cradled the phone's receiver with his shoulder as he turned his back to her. She wouldn't give him a moment's peace when he was sleeping or doing chores or even showering, so he was hardly surprised that she wouldn't grant him the small courtesy of a single private call.
Still, it was annoying.
"I need to use the phone," Lois explained needlessly as she continued her assault on his midsection.
"Well, you'll have to wait," he ground out, once again lifting the phone out of reach.
The two sets of eyes met in gridlock as they stared at each other in dogged silence. And then -
"Lois!" Clark finally snapped.
"Lois?" The tinny voice on the other line echoed.
Clark fumbled with the phone, surprised. He quickly recovered, plastering on a bright smile he hoped would translate. "No, Lana. Hi."
Clark shot Lois one final dirty glare before turning his attention back to his call. Lois simply shrugged and continued to hover.
"Um, how are you?"
"Good," Lana said, a little breathlessly. "Sorry, I was just getting in when you called."
"I was visiting Aunt Nell for the weekend. She had a table at the Metropolitan Flower Expo and needed an extra hand."
Clark frowned. "And you were there all weekend?"
"Yeah. Why? Is something wrong?"
Clark hadn't been expecting that. When he and Lois had discovered the CK + LL = FOREVER burned into the loft's large wooden support beam, it had been his first instinct to call Lana for an explanation.
In truth the whole thing had his stomach in knots. And not for the usual reasons Lana tended to make him nervous. He knew that those burn marks hadn't been made with any soldering iron, or butane torch, or even the sunlamp and magnifying glass Lois had suggested, but with his own heat vision. Taking Lana out of the equation meant that his secret was still safe. And that was a comfort.
But he had to wonder. If she hadn't even been around, what had prompted him to do that?
Beside him, Lois tapped her foot impatiently.
Clark shook himself out of his daze. "No. I was just calling to say hi. You probably have some unpacking to do. I'll, um, let you get back to that."
Clark cut the line. Lois once again began her poking, doubletime.
"Trouble in LanaLand?"
Clark glowered. "My love life is none of your business." He thrust the phone at her. "Here."
"What was so urgent that it couldn't wait two minutes?"
"I can't find my cell phone. Need to call it." Ignoring his icy look, she punched her number into the handset and waited. "Look alive, Smallville. We're gonna put that famed Clark Kent hearing to the test."
Lois hit send and, much to her disappointment, the living room remained silent save the muffled ring of the phone she already held.
Clark tilted his head, engaging his super-hearing in time to pick up on the familiar, static-y notes of "Survivor." From what he could tell, they were coming from outside by his mother's begonia bed.
Lois looked to him hopefully. "Do you hear anything?"
I'm a survivor, I'm not gon' give up, I will survive and keep on survivin'.
Clark smirked. "Nope."
Lois continued to carry the phone around like a divining rod, maneuvering through the room, craning to catch any stray bump, clink, or hiccup her missing phone might emit. As she circled the couch for the second time, she dropped to her knees and put her ear to the cushions.
"Maybe it's on vibrate."
Clark rolled his eyes. "It's the front door, Lois."
"I knew that," Lois huffed.
"No. You thought your phone was ringing the doorbell."
"Aren't you gonna answer that?"
On the front porch, a UPS man stood waiting with a large box. He greeted Clark with a polite smile and offered him the electronic signature pad.
"I have a package for Lois Lane."
Hearing her name, Lois popped out from around Clark, snatching the box from his hands. Clark quickly finished signing and followed her speedy retreat.
When he got to the kitchen, Lois was already tearing into the box with a long serrated knife.
"What is it?"
"My mail is none of your business," she mimicked, opening the folds. After a minute of digging through the foam peanuts, Lois pulled out two pewter monkey statuettes.
"Huh." Lois eyed them carefully. "Well, I guess we know how I spent my lost days. They're kind of attractive in a hideous sort of way…"
As she handed one off to Clark, he frowned. They were possibly the ugliest things he had ever seen. As he went to place the monkey back into the box, stuffing it deep and out of sight, an inscription at the base caught his eye.
"I had my own bookends engraved? Seems a little tacky." Lois turned the figurine around until she found the text and read, "To LoLo. Happy propping. From your…Clarkbar?"
Clark's eyes went wide. "Your who-bar?"
"Oh! Monkey bookends!" Chloe exclaimed as she entered the kitchen. "Hey, now you can finally get those books out of storage."
Lois quirked an eyebrow at her cousin's abrupt entrance. "Didn't you just leave?"
Chloe nodded as she took the bookend from Clark. "And now I'm back." She looked up at her now empty-handed friend and waggled her eyebrows. "Did you see the loft yet, Romeo?"
Before Clark could answer, Lois piped in again. "As much as I hate passing up the chance to lay into Clarkie here, you skipped the part about why you're back."
"I was getting to that. When I was finally able to check my email I had one from you." She pulled a paper out of her bag and handed it to Lois. "Seems like we were gearing up for a big heart to heart earlier."
Lois looked down at the printout and began to read, "Chloe, when you get a chance I really need to talk to you. It's important."
"Good job with the vague, by the way. I tried to call you but you weren't answering your phone." Chloe snorted when her inspection of the figurine finally led to the inscription. "LoLo?"
"Clearly somebody's idea of a sick joke." Lois pinned Clark with narrowed eyes.
Clark held up his hands. "Don't look at me." He jerked a thumb towards their petite friend. "Maybe Chloe did it."
Now fingered, Chloe hopped on the defensive. "No I didn't! Well… I don't think I did."
"I don't really see myself as a 'bar'," Clark balked.
Lois rolled her eyes. "It's a term of affection. A pet name. You don't have to see yourself as one. Someone else does." At Clark's raised eyebrow, Lois continued, "And just to reiterate, that person is not me."
Chloe began to dig through the contents of the box, producing a small blue receipt. She skipped down to the payment information. "These were charged to your credit card, Clark."
"There's your smoking gun, Smallville." Lois smirked. "Or are you now going exclusively by Clarkbar?"
Clark folded his arms, tossing back, "I don't know, Lois, what term of affection do you prefer?"
Defensive positions held, the two ping-ponged heated glares.
As Chloe studied her two best friends, a stray thought began to nip at the back of her mind. It was so vague, so amorphous she couldn't classify it as a memory. Or even a moment of deja vu. Just a … feeling.
"You don't think…" She began tentatively, as if testing out the next thought on even herself. "Something happened between you two."
That got Lois' and Clark's attention. Quickly.
"What?" "Hell no."
Despite their protests, Chloe plowed ahead, her idea now snowballing. "You have to admit the preponderance of the evidence is tilting that way. The mysterious email. The bookends. The barn burnings."
"Clearly that was meant for Lana."
Clark stuffed his hands in his pockets and stayed silent during the exchange. No one needed to know that Lana hadn't been there all weekend. Least of all Lois.
Chloe shrugged. "Or she's not the double L in question. Face it Lois. This is Smallville. Stranger things have happened. Maybe this weekend you guys… connected."
"Only if my amnesia is post-traumatic." As Lois looked back to make sure the barb had landed, she saw Clark's face fall slightly.
Lois felt a twinge of guilt. Her aim had been to rile him, not hurt his feelings. Clark wasn't a bad guy, in fact he was one of the best she had ever met. But the two of them were friends and that's where it ended.
"Maybe this place can fill in some of the blanks." Chloe pulled out her cell and called the number listed on the receipt. After a moment she shook her head. "They're closed for lunch."
"What kind of crackpot place closes for lunch?" Lois asked.
Chloe just shrugged, grabbing the box off the counter and placing the bookends back inside.
"I think Clark and I should head up Metropolis and talk to the shopkeep in person. He might have a better chance of remembering something if he can put a face to the name."
"Why you and Clark?"
Chloe's eyes snapped to Clark's. "It'll just be… faster."
As her two friends looked anywhere but her direction, Lois suddenly felt like she was the only one in the room not in on some privileged information. She was about question her cousin when it hit her. "Oh. I get it."
Chloe shifted. "What? Get what?"
"No way am I letting you two skip off to Metropolis to get the real story without me so you can come back and mess with my head."
"Lois we wouldn't-"
"We're all going." Lois snatched her keys off counter. "And I'm driving."
"Okay. Where's my car?"
The three friends stood dumbly searching the empty driveway.
"Was it here when we got back?" Clark asked.
Lois scoffed. "I didn't think to look."
"First your cellphone and now your car. Gee, Lois, seems like your personal possessions have finally pulled off their great escape," Clark teased, earning him a swift punch to the shoulder.
Chloe began to rummage for her keys. "Maybe I should just drive."
"We are not going anywhere until I find my car," Lois demanded. And then, as an afterthought added, "Bonus points for the phone."
As the girls wandered off in different directions, Clark super-scanned the perimeter, sweeping the bushes, the back forty, the loft until finally -
"I, um, think I see something."
Chloe followed Clark to the back of the barn where they found Lois' Focus parked up to its wheels in mud.
"What the hell?"
Lois sprinted past them to get a better look at her mysteriously relocated car.
"What did you do?" Chloe whispered to a baffled Clark. "I mean, that's a little extreme as far as pranks go."
"Where are the tire tracks?"
Before Lois could investigate that thought, Clark quickly changed the subject. "You know, we should probably go. It's three hours to Metropolis, we don't want to risk missing the clerk ."
"Shotgun!" Chloe called out, making a move for the handle. She caught Lois' eye on the way in. "Or are co-pilot duties reserved for your Clark-bar?"
Lois' expression darkened. "It's getting old, Chlo," she warned, slipping into the driver's seat. Clark stayed silent as he buckled up in the back.
"But, Lois - "
"For the last time, nothing happened between us. This so called evidence has just been a strange, and highly unfortunate, series of coincidences. That's it. The way I felt about Smallville yesterday was the same way I felt about him a week ago. Or two weeks ago. Trust me, there is nothing romantic about Lois and Clark."
Lois turned the ignition, and suddenly the car was filled with the double-barreled guitar assault of an earnest power ballad.
Is this love. That I'm feeling? Is this the love? That I've been searching for?
All eyes were on Lois as she sighed deeply.
"Eh tu, Whitesnake?"
Desperate to put an end to the recrimination that was pouring out of the speakers, Lois hit the eject button five times in quick succession-to ensure that her point was made. Perhaps, though, her stereo hadn't appreciated the rough treatment because her jabs only succeeded in starting the song over-five times.
She turned the sound off completely... and was met with the smirking faces of her passengers. No doubt [i]this[/i] would lead to a pleasant conversation...
Choosing the lesser of two evils, she turned he volume back up and hit the accelerator. The wheels spun futilely in the mud.
"Someone's going to have to push." Chloe opened her door and looked at the sloppy mess below. "Um, draw straws?"
"Chloe, don't be ridiculous. Whoever tries to shove us out of this is going to get filthy," Lois said. "Clark, you do it."