Title: Louis and Clara

Author: pristineungift

Rating: T

Summary: A reimagining of the pilot episode of Lois and Clark with one major change: Louis Lane is a man's man, and Clara Kent is the Woman of Steel.

Note: Any scenes I skip over, you can assume went the same as in the pilot episode. I'm more interested in writing the parts where the character study would make things different than rehashing scenes that would be substantially the same. ^_~ Also, special thanks to the scripts resource on the message boards!


Louis and Clara

Part I: The Daily Planet

Louis Lane knew that Clara Kent was going to be trouble the instant he laid eyes on her. She was hunched in one of the chairs in Perry's office, black hair in a tight French braid that screamed country bumpkin, wearing an unflattering suit that Louis strongly suspected had at one point belonged to her mother. The whole unbelievable outfit was topped off by a really too sweet oval locket with a flower engraved on the front, probably a hand me down from Meemaw. But all that wasn't why Clara Kent was trouble. Oh no.

The trouble came in with those great big brown doe eyes, peering at Louis from behind unfavorably thick glasses. (If Clara's suit used to be her mother's, those glasses had probably once been her father's, Louis would bet on it.) Those eyes said that Clara was a naïve country princess who would be broken by the city in a mere matter of weeks, and worse, there was an expression there when Clara looked at Louis that could only be described as worshipful.

"Louis Lane, this is Clara Kent," Perry introduced them, after getting a few shots in at Louis for interrupting Clara's job interview. Louis had taken them without comment. At the end of the day, he had the goods, and the news waited for no man. Not even Perry White.

"Louis Lane," Clara Kent stood and held out her hand. Louis noted that, unlike most of the city women he met, Clara's nails were plain and uneven. She'd probably never even heard of a manicure.

Louis ignored the outstretched hand. He'd had his share of simpering admirers in the years since he'd begun making a name for himself as a hotshot reporter. He didn't need a woman dragging him down. Every time he was tempted, he could hear his mother's voice echoing in his ears, calling his father names – calling Louis names, for the crime of being Sam Lane's son – and see his father storming out to carry on affair after torrid affair, leaving Louis to try to find some way to teach his little sister Lucy how to be a decent person, something most people would agree Louis himself was not. So Louis was not in the market. He'd no intention of living up to his father's legend as a womanizer, and he was well aware that he possessed all of Sam Lane's bad traits to an extreme – workaholic, uncompromising, occasionally rude… the list went on.

So he barely gave any woman the time of day. Better that than waking up in ten years, and finding he'd driven her to alcoholism and she was blaming their son for their sham of a marriage.

And besides, he had Lucy to consider. Lucy was too fragile for the real world, and Louis had spent his entire life being her guard dog. Mad Dog Lane. Everyone thought that nickname had something to do with Louis' tenacity when it came to journalism, but the truth was the nickname dated all the way back to high school. Some jerk had broken Lucy's heart.

Louis had responded by breaking the guy's face.

Louis got detention for it, and more than an earful from Ellen Lane, but after that the word was out. Mess with Lucy Lane at your peril. You'll have to face Mad Dog.

"I think there's something to this thing with the Messenger, Chief, that guy…"

"Louis! What happened to that mood piece I gave you?" Perry responded, giving Louis the Evil Eye that had sent many reporters meekly scurrying after their assigned stories. Fortunately, Louis was a master at dodging the Eye. "The one about the razing of the old theater on forty-second street?"

Louis made a show of checking his watch, saying casually, "I wasn't in the mood."

"Not in the mood!" Perry exclaimed. Louis could feel an Elvis story coming on.

Jimmy knocked on the office window.

Saved by the bell, Louis thought. "I've got to go, Chief," he called, striding from the room. He was going to get an interview with Lex Luthor if it killed him. And he was going to get to the bottom of what was going on with the space program. He was Mad Dog Lane, after all.

So well did Clara Kent fade into the background, that Louis totally forgot her presence, sparing her as much thought as the office furniture.

-l-

"Metropolis isn't the outback, you know. People in the city are always out to make a quick buck. If they find out about you, they'll put you in a lab and – "

"And dissect me like a frog, I know Daddy," Clara sighed, holding the payphone of her shabby hotel room to her ear. "I'm being careful."

Ever since Clara could remember, her father had been warning her about letting people see her powers. And about boys. And about big city people. And a thousand other things. It was funny, in a way. As far as she and her adoptive parents, Martha and Jonathon Kent, knew, nothing on Earth could hurt her. But Daddy was still as overprotective as they came.

"Be patient with your father, Clara," Mom's voice sounded tinny through the phone. "You know he still thinks of you as his little girl."

"His little girl who's strong enough to stop a city bus," Clara muttered.

"What's that, dear?"

"Nothing, Mom. Look, I'm sure I'll be fine. I'll see you both next week."

"I'll wire you out some cash, sweetie," Jonathon said.

Clara sighed. "Dad… thanks. I'll pay you back."

Hanging up the phone, she started shrugging out of her uncomfortable business suit, tossing it onto the lumpy mattress that masqueraded as a bed. Frowning at the boxy jacket, she fingered the lapels. The maroon skirt suit was probably at least a decade out of fashion, if it had ever been in fashion at all. Somehow, Clara had never noticed before. No one much cared about fashion in Borneo. Or Smallville, for that matter.

Maybe the suit was why Perry White wouldn't give her a chance.

Maybe the suit was why Louis Lane, one of the greatest reporters of their time, wouldn't shake her hand.

Or maybe it was part of the Good Ole Boys attitude still present in journalism, whether the men involved were aware of it or not. After all, how many women had Clara seen on her way through the Daily Planet newsroom? Just two, and one of them was pretty clearly some kind of secretary or administrative assistant. The other, Clara recognized as Cat Grant. She liked to read Cat's column in the paper, and the occasional articles Cat contributed to women's magazines. Cat was very vocal about women having the right to enjoy active, judgment free sex lives in the same way as men, if they so chose. Clara agreed with the sentiment, though she herself did not so choose.

Part of it was the fear of discovery. Part of it was the stigma associated with sex before marriage in a rural community like Smallville. And part of it, a big part, if she was honest, was that Clara thought sex should be about love.

She'd gone to one of Cat Grant's guest lectures at Met U once, and been happy to see that Ms. Grant was just as flamboyant, just as… larger than life as she seemed in print.

That does it, Clara decided, getting her battered suitcase and digging through it for an outfit suitable for both flying and interviewing.

She was going to go down to that old theatre, the one Mr. White mentioned during her interview. The assignment that Louis Lane didn't want. Clara was going to do that assignment, and she was going to march back into the Daily Planet and get a job, and become Cat Grant's best friend, and Louis Lane was going to read her articles and look her in the eye and tell her what a good reporter she was, and then, since she might as well go all out in this fantasy, he was going to be suddenly shirtless and riding a horse and declare that he'd been waiting all his life for her.

Giggling, Clara flushed. She'd been reading too many of her mom's romance novels. Though Louis did certainly look like he could grace the cover of one, with that dark hair and strong jaw, and all those muscles… He must go to the gym a lot. And those sleek black suits! Everything about Louis Lane was polished sharp edges, from writing style to wingtip shoes. Clara should think he was an arrogant jerk, after the way he'd ignored her when they were introduced.

But instead she just smiled a dopy smile, and silently thanked him for unknowingly giving her a second shot at the Daily Planet.

Putting her glasses on, Clara opened the window and drifted out into the sky, shooting up high and fast so that she wouldn't be seen.

-l-

You need to get out more, Louie, Lucy's voice swirled around Louis' head. Stop worrying about my dates, and start having some of your own!

I get out plenty. I have dates, Louis had countered.

You have interviews! It's not the same thing! You need to stop being such a big brother all the time. Not all women are going to break, you know. We're not all Mom. And you're not Dad, Louie.

Louis had left the apartment rather than continue talking, proving, unequivocally, that he was just like Dad.

He scowled, remembering what had brought about that particular conversation. Louis still needed a date for Lex Luthor's White Orchid Ball. Louis' usual social partner, Michelle, had called to cancel, and dang it, Louis needed a date! If he was ever going to get that Lex Luthor interview, he'd need some camouflage. A piece of eye candy to dance with, to hang on his arm, to distract Luthor so that by the time he noticed it was Louis Lane escorting said piece of eye candy, Louis would already be in striking range.

He surveyed the newsroom. Cat Grant was right out. She'd expect more attention than Louis was willing to spare, and she'd be insufferably smug at his asking her out after years of rebuffing her advances. There was a copy girl milling around the bullpen, but it seemed bad form to ask her out without knowing her name. Where was Jimmy? Jimmy would know the copy girl's name…

"Lane!"

Louis looked up to see Perry sticking his head out his office door. "Come in here, I want you to hear some copy."

Louis went, assuming that Perry wanted his opinion on an editorial.

Instead, he found Jimmy standing in the chief's office, along with that farm girl from the day before, still in her mousy suit and dorky glasses, and that braided hair so girlish that it might as well be pigtails. Was she a new intern or something? Maybe Jimmy had finally moved up the totem pole, and this mousy girl was here to be the new gofer.

"…She came to say goodbye, as we all must, to the past, and to a life and a place that soon would exist only in a bittersweet memory," Perry read from the article in his hands.

Louis arched a brow. Had the chief given Jimmy the piece on the theatre?

"Smooth," Jimmy said, winking at the farm girl, who gave a bright princess smile.

They all turned and looked at Louis. "If you like that sort of thing," he said, feeling that they expected him to speak. To be truthful, he was a little surprised that Jimmy had prose like that in him.

Perry stuck out his hand. "Clara Kent, welcome to The Daily Planet!"

The farm girl shook Perry's hand, her smile cranked up to superhuman levels.

Wait.

What?

"You wrote that?" Louis burst, looking at the, the… schoolmarm standing in front of him.

She shrank in on herself, and for a second Louis felt like a bully and that made him angry because it wasn't his fault if she was a doormat – and then Clara Kent straightened up, her chin level with his shoulder, and looked him in the eye. "Yes. I wrote it," she said defiantly. But then her expression clouded, and she bit her bottom lip. "I heard you tell Mr. White you weren't in the mood. I didn't mean to steal it."

Highly aware that Perry and Jimmy were watching, Louis fought down the irritation that this Little Miss Apple Pie thought she could possibly have stolen a story from him, and pasted a smile on his face. "No problem, Farm Girl. I didn't want it."

The chief sent Jimmy to get Kent set up at a desk, and Louis retreated from the editor's office, going to look through his notes on Lex Luthor.

-l-

Jimmy was being really nice and welcoming, Clara thought. She was sure that they would get to be friends. And she would have friends this time. This time she would stay. It was everything she'd ever wanted, this job at the Daily Planet. She'd find a way to make it work.

And it doesn't hurt that your desk is right across from Louis Lane's, whispered an inner voice. Talk about tall, dark, and handsome.

It was just a shame that he also seemed to be kind of a jerk. Still, maybe he'd warm up to her. Some reporters were like that, acting like dogs fighting over a bone. Yes, Clara convinced herself. Louis would calm down once Clara had proven herself.

"Honey," a deep alto voice made Clara turn. "I have got to take you shopping."

"You're Cat Grant!" Clara exclaimed, finding herself face to face with the tall auburn haired beauty. Then she fiddled with her glasses, embarrassed. Good going, Kent! Way to convince them you're not a rubbernecking tourist…

Cat laughed. "Have we met before?"

"I went to one of your guest lectures at Met U, Ms. Grant," Clara replied, pleased to have something semi-intelligent to say. "Slut Shaming in Modern Media. It was a very interesting talk."

"Please, call me Cat." Cat slipped one of her arms through Clara's. "It's refreshing to meet someone who knows about that side of my work. I'm underappreciated around here."

"We'd appreciate it if you wore something under those leather skirts of yours," Louis called from his desk. "Or at least, I certainly would."

Shocked, Clara opened her mouth to retort, not sure what she was going to say, but certain that she was going to say something.

"Don't mind Lou," Cat cut Clara off. "He's always like this. Compensating for something, you know."

Cat's waggling brows left no doubt as to what exactly Louis was supposedly compensating for.

"For the last time, Cat. My name is not Lou. My name is not Louie. My name is Louis."

"Fine, Louis – "

They were interrupted by the volume being turned up on one of the many television monitors in the bullpen. Clara turned to look just in time to see an explosion. The news anchor was talking about a space shuttle pilot, and the possible reasons for a launch failure, but Clara didn't hear. She couldn't focus on anything past the ringing in her ears.

Couldn't feel anything but a familiar wave of guilt.

Every time something like this happened – an earthquake, a storm, an explosion – she always wondered… Could she have done something to stop it? With the powers she possessed, could she have saved lives? Didn't she have a duty to help where she could?

Dissect you like a frog.

With great power comes great responsibility.

It was a familiar tug of war that never failed to depress Clara.