Notes: UST, mostly. Told backward. Some fifth season spoilers and some speculation that has since turned out to be false. Damn. Any feedback would be appreciated.
The roof of the Daily Planet can get cold, and Lois rubs her arms, wishing she had remembered to bring a warmer jacket. The view is, as always, stellar, but that's not why she's here. She's here because he asked her to wait here, and he's late, and Lois has a deadline, so really, she's about five seconds away from finding a better story to go after.
This is still an exclusive, though, and Lois isn't ready to give that up. It's him, too, and of course it would figure that Lois would get a crush (and what the hell is up with that? She's Lois fucking Lane not a sixteen-year-old girl) on an alien. It might even be more proof of the "all men are dogs" school of feminist thought.
She wonders where Clark's off to at the moment. He always manages to miss the good stuff nowadays. Kind of strange considering how he always managed to be in the thick of it in Smallville. Oh well, his loss. She runs a hand through her hair, willing it to stay in place.
She wants a cigarette. The nicotine would be really nice right now. Make her less twitchy.
There's a scuff mark on her right shoe, white against black, and she doesn't really care if it's unprofessional to stare at your feet. He should be here right now. He should have been here five minutes ago.
Maybe there was a cat stuck in a tree. He does that sort of thing, doesn't he? She thinks she remembers reading a story like that. She thinks remembers writing a story like that. She rubs her arms again. Still chilly.
There's a shadow overhead, and Lois turns up to look at him, red and blue backlit by the sun. "Hey," she says, a girlish grin finding its way onto her face completely against her will.
He smiles a strangely familiar smile, and suddenly, despite the cool breeze, she feels warm.
No one can blaze a path across the Daily Planet like Lois can. It's nice to know that people know they should get out of her way. Lets her feel a little less bad when she knocks them over.
Today, she's just caught wind that Perry wants to assign her a partner, and really, that's been a bad idea since the last partner, who really shouldn't have been trying to poach her story, and it really wasn't her fault that he got stuck at the airport during a hostage situation. That was all his own fault.
When she gets to Perry's office, however, she's a little stunned to see a familiar face sitting across from Perry's desk. "Smallville?" she asks. "What the hell are you doing here?"
He's wearing glasses, clunky ones, with thick rims, and they change the shape of his face, the sharpness of his eyes. His suit is a little too big, especially around the shoulders, and the way he held himself at Smallville High, like the big shot football player he was, has almost completely vanished. He's hunching. It's wrong, somehow, a step back. The nerdy kid is supposed to grow into the calm, confident man, not the other way around.
She raises an eyebrow at the change, and he shrugs, a little of the irritating-boy-scout-farmboy she remembers coming back to his features. "Nice to see you, too, Lois." Still, it's sort of like he got a complete personality transplant in the last five months. And Tibet couldn't have been that weird.
She folds her arms across her chest and glares. "Don't even try it, Clark." She leans in close so she can look him in the eyes, and to her surprise, he squirms like she's giving him a lapdance, pulling back when he'd usually look her in the eye.
"I'm on to you," she mutters, just loud enough for him to hear it.
When Clark asks her if they can meet up for dinner while he's in town, she laughs and says yes. Despite their adolescent whatevers, they were friends at the end of it all. Of course she has time for him. They get a table at a Chinese restaurant she really likes and spend the night trading stories. Hers are mostly about Perry and Jimmy and Metropolis. His are mostly about the intrepid life of the world-traveling freelance journalist.
"Africa's big," he says, eyes wide. "And the pyramids are amazing." It's amusing, the way he's traveled the world, and yet never loses his sense of awe. Lois lost hers at the age of six, after seeing her fifth ridiculously important, ridiculously old temple/building/artifact.
She laughs. "Always the farmboy," she says.
He kicks her lightly under the table. Lois kicks him back.
"I made sure to pick up the Planet where I could. You're doing well for yourself," he says, as he cuts a piece of General Tso's chicken, deliberately casual, though Lois doesn't know why.
She rolls her eyes. "You know how it is. Break a big story or ten and then suddenly everyone's all over you." The fawning, while quite nice at first, has really begun to wear thin. She's a reporter. She's supposed to go after the stories.
It's Clark's turn to laugh, deep and heartfelt. Lois decides that she likes it. "I really did miss you, you know," he says quietly, and there's something in his eyes that makes Lois a little uncomfortable, something she's really not ready to deal with yet.
So she shrugs it off. Ignores it. "I bet you say that to all the girls, Kent." She pokes him on the nose with a finger, and he still laughs, but the something in his eyes recedes. If Lois was in the mood to be honest with herself, she would say that she wanted it to stay.
He clears his throat, changes the subject. "So, how's Chloe doing? Every time I'm in New York, she's on assignment or in Smallville or visiting you..."
Lois loves Mrs. Kent, and it's working with her that makes the Talon somewhat bearable.
She took the day off, however, due to a cold, and Clark is here in her place. It's ten, late by Smallville standards, and the Talon is closing for the night. He's counting the cash in the register as Lois mops the floors. She can hear him muttering to himself behind the cash register.
She finds a dark coffee stain in the corner that refuses to come off the tile, and she gives up after rubbing for five minutes. It's not like anyone's going to see it anyway.
The senate race is over now, and a quiet sort of disappointment hangs around all of the Kents, even Clark. Lois really wishes she could throw things at the TV every single time Lex's smug face shows up on TV.
"I'm going to take that asshole down," she announces to the mostly empty coffee shop with no real clarification as to who or what she's talking about, and she can already feel Clark's grin, even though she can't see it.
"And how are you going to do that?" he asks, amusement obvious in his tone. The banter between them has become easy, and Lois likes that she's somehow managed to carve a Lois-sized hole into the Smallville framework, just enough for her to find things easy. She doesn't belong here, not really, but it'll do for now. And Clark isn't that bad once you figure out his patterns. She can practically see him shaking his head in disbelief behind her.
It's a challenge, and Lois never backs down from a challenge. She doesn't have a plan yet, not really, but that's never stopped her before. "Just you wait and see, Kent," she says. "Just you wait and see."
Lois hates graveyards more than anything in the world, and this one more than most.
It's a pleasant Kansas day. Dry and sunny and warm, with just a hint of dust. The air is almost stiflingly still, and Lois wishes it didn't feel so stagnant at the moment.
She cries over Chloe's grave, and the sobs feel like weakness. Maybe it's the General's programming, maybe it's because she hates being an overemotional whiner. She's not sure she cares. She just hates crying.
Clark shows up dressed and reasonably sane. She thinks he might be having one of "better at faking it" moments, however, especially when he starts insisting that Chloe's alive, even though a minute earlier, he seemed perfectly content to look sad and mopey over her death.
She walks back to car, ready to ditch this popsicle stand. "Where are you going?" Clark yells.
"To the safehouse to look for clues," she yells back. She doesn't know why she tells him. He'll just slow her down, and really, does she need that?
Clark jogs up to her car and gets in the passenger seat. "I'm coming with you," he says.
Lois starts the engine, puts the car in reverse. She glances at Clark, just to see if he's buckled himself in, and she thinks she catches a glimpse of something on his face, a spark that would catch Chloe's eye, but it passes, so she ignores it and smirks at him instead.
"Only if you can keep up, Smallville," she says.
And, much to her surprise, he can.