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Thread: Bed of Roses

  1. #76
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    So happy to see you listening to me! He he he........My daughter will tell you, I'm evil!

  2. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigRed67 View Post
    So happy to see you listening to me! He he he........My daughter will tell you, I'm evil!
    I don't know, I think I might have you beat with all the evil cliffies I have in my stories, haha. Just ask Meg (gem65) how evil she thinks I am

    And just so you cannot accuse me of teasing, although I am VP of Teasers Anonymous so I do have a reputation to live up to, I'll be posting the latest chapter in a minute or three.

  3. #78
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    a/n: I have taken a little from canon, just FYI

    Chapter Six

    “Nell?”

    “Right here,” she called back.

    Clark came out of the office, a couple of ties in his hands. He frowned at them.

    “Which one looks better?” he said.

    Nell studied the ties. One was black with white diagonal pinstripes and the other was a mid-blue.

    “Is that the shirt you’re wearing?” she asked, indicating the white shirt patterned with grey pin-stripes.

    “Uh, yeah,” he said. “Is it wrong?”

    “No, honey, it looks great. Wear the blue. It brings out your eyes.”

    He bit his lip.

    “Are you sure you’re okay with this?” he said.

    Nell hugged him and smiled.

    “Baby, I’m more than okay with this. Like I’ve said before. You’re not cut out to be a florist. Don’t get me wrong. You’ve been a wonderful help to me the past couple of years but you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t take this opportunity.”

    “I’m still not sure about this. I mean, Lex …”

    “Honey, I know you’re worried about Lex, but don’t. From what I hear about Perry White, he won’t let someone like Lex influence his decisions. If he offered you this internship, then it’s because he thinks you have potential. Which I always knew.”

    She took the blue tie and knotted it for him, making sure his collar was straight.

    “There. You look so handsome, Clark. I’m so proud of you, baby. I know your parents would have been so proud of you too.”

    He missed them. It had been nearly fourteen years since they’d died, but he still missed them every day.

    The bell above the door rang and Clark looked up, smiling at Mrs Kinsey, who had come in looking for irises, as usual.

    “Hello Clark, my dear,” she said. “Don’t you look handsome.”

    “I start my new job today,” he told her.

    She nodded. “I’m so happy for you” she told him. “You’ve always been so kind to me. I know you will be the best reporter at that newspaper in no time.”

    Clark glanced at Nell, who grinned and shrugged. It looked like Nell had been telling practically everyone in the neighbourhood. Not that he minded too much.

    The door bell rang again and he glanced toward it.

    “Smallville, you coming?”

    Clark heard Nell snickering, even as she helped Mrs Kinsey pick out some flowers. He’d spent an afternoon working with Lois, getting the layout of the Daily Planet and seeing how she worked. She’d very quickly begun using the nickname.

    He grabbed his sport coat and joined his new co-worker in the car she’d clearly borrowed from the newspaper pool.

    “Uh, so what exactly are we doing?” he asked.

    “I have an interview with Simon Westcott.”

    Clark frowned. “Who is Simon Westcott?”

    “He’s a client of Safetex Security.”

    His frown deepened. What did that have to do with the story she was working on about the robbery of Lex’s charity function?

    “Look, all the people who have been hit have been clients of Safetex Security, which, FYI, is a subsidiary of Luthorcorp.”

    “And?”

    “And Mr Westcott is one of the few clients who haven’t been hit yet. I’ve already interviewed all the others who were hit and they all shut up like clams. Wouldn’t even confirm or deny they were hit, yet my source tells me not only were they robbed, they also gave sizable donations to charity shortly after.”

    “So, how is interviewing Simon Westcott going to help you track down the robber?”

    “Well, it’s not. Not exactly. I really just want to get a look inside his house.”

    “Why?”

    “Look, all the things taken in the robberies so far turned out to be valuable items stolen from various museums and private collections. From what I heard, they were sold on the black market. Last time I checked, Smallville, buying stolen property, knowing it was stolen, is still a crime.”

    “Yeah, but that’s difficult to prove,” he pointed out.

    “Still, it’s worth a shot. Anyway, the only thing I’m interested in is tracking down this hooded guy.”

    Clark frowned at her.

    “Why? What’s so newsworthy about him?”

    Lois bit her lip. “I think he might be behind all these robberies.”

    “Then you should stay away from it. He sounds dangerous.”

    “Smallville, I’m not about to stop investigating just because something might be dangerous.”

    “I don’t know, Lois,” he said dubiously. “I mean, what if this guy comes after you?”

    “Look, if you’re all that worried, then maybe you should go to the office and hide in your little cubicle.”

    Clark sighed and sat quietly in the car as she drove the rest of the way. It wasn’t so much that he thought she couldn’t handle herself. Lois Lane struck him as the kind of person who feared little. From what he’d seen of her articles, she didn’t shy away from tough situations. She’d covered a few stories where she could have been seriously hurt.

    He decided that if she was going to pursue this, then the best he could do would be to make sure that he kept her from getting hurt, even if it ended up making him look like an idiot.

    A maid let them in to the study at the mansion a few minutes later and left them waiting while she went to find Westcott. Clark looked around, quickly noticing Lois was doing the same thing, peering into every little nook and cranny. The difference between them, of course, was that he could use his x-ray vision.

    At first he didn’t see anything that might fit the profile, until he saw a room off the study which seemed to be heavily secured. He saw several small mechanisms installed in panels just below the ceiling which he guessed contained some kind of laser, since the beams were actually invisible to the naked eye.

    Inside the room was a statue which appeared to be Egyptian in origin, with a necklace around the neck. It was gold, with a large amulet adorned with the picture of a scarab.

    “Miss Lane?”

    Pulling back on his vision, Clark turned and looked at the millionaire. Simon Westcott was in his late sixties, slightly overweight with thin white hair and wire-rimmed spectacles.

    “Mr Westcott. Thank you for seeing us. This is my partner, Clark Kent.”

    “What is the purpose of your visit today, Miss Lane?”

    “Well, I wanted to ask you about the congressional hearing,” she said.

    The man’s expression changed from one of polite curiosity to downright hostility.

    “I’m afraid, Miss Lane, that you have wasted your time. I have no comment on those hearings.”

    “Not even on the supposed accidental spill from one of your oil tankers, Mr Westcott?”

    The millionaire turned away from her as if the discussion was final. Clark stared at her, then followed reluctantly as Lois walked out.

    “What was that?” he asked. “I thought you were going to talk to him about the robberies?”

    “That was just a smokescreen, Smallville. He had a secret room off the study, didn’t you see that?”

    He looked at her, biting his lip. If he said yes, then he was just adding fuel to the fire. If he said no, then he was going to look stupid. Lois huffed.

    “Whatever.”

    “So, what? This was some kind of fishing expedition?”

    “I’m betting that within a week we’ll hear about some big donation he’s made to some charity.”

    She drove back to the office at a speed which had Clark hanging on to his door handle. Since he was invulnerable, he knew he wouldn’t get hurt in a crash, but it was still worrying. There were moments when he wondered if she even knew how to drive with the way she kept dodging in and out of traffic like she was on a racetrack.

    He knew if he said anything, she might not appreciate it, so he kept his mouth shut.

    Since he was an intern, he was assigned to the bullpen in the basement, whereas Lois had her own office. She had told him she had been promoted from the bullpen about six months earlier, and it had taken over two years of hard slog to earn it.

    Lois left him in the bullpen to start digging into the matter of the robberies while she went upstairs to talk to some of her sources. Clark found a desk to work at and became thoroughly absorbed in the task until a glance at his watch told him his shift was up and he needed to get to his first class.

    He took his print-outs upstairs to her office intending to just leave them there. He saw a tall blond in her office, sitting on her chair and frowned at the visitor. The man looked up and smiled.

    “Hey,” he said. “Lois is just in the ladies’ room.”

    “Oh. Well, I was only dropping this off,” he said, holding up the folder.

    He studied the other man curiously. He was certainly good-looking. From the looks of his clothes, he was fairly wealthy. Not that Clark paid much attention to fashion, but even he could tell the clothes were expensive.

    The other man seemed to be sizing him up as well.

    “So, um, how do you know Lois?” he asked, clearing his throat.

    “Oh, we met the other night. At the charity ball.” The man stuck out his hand. “Oliver Queen.”

    Clark’s eyes widened. He might not have much of a social life, or know much about the world of high finance, but he knew the name. Oliver Queen was the CEO of Queen Industries which was listed on the Fortune 500.

    “Clark Kent,” he said. “I … uh, I’m an intern,” he added, thinking just how lame that sounded.

    “Well, I just came to ask Lois out to lunch.”

    Clark instantly felt a little jealous. Lois hadn’t shown any romantic interest in him, so he knew it was irrational, but she’d also said she didn’t have time for romantic entanglements. So why did it bother him so much?

    “Clark?”

    He whirled at her voice.

    “Uh, I, uh, I was just dropping my research off,” he stammered, feeling completely embarrassed. “Um, I have to get going. I have a class in about thirty minutes.”

    Lois took the folder with a smile.

    “Sure. Thanks. So, I’ll see you tomorrow?”

    “Bright and early,” he promised, turning and walking away before he could embarrass himself any further.

    ***

    Lois stared after him, wondering why it bothered her that he seemed so anxious to leave. She turned back to Oliver.

    “Uh, so where were you thinking of going for lunch?” she asked.

    “I know this great little Moroccan place. You like Moroccan?”

    She smiled at him. “Actually, I’ve never tried it, but I’ll try anything once.”

    He laughed and placed a hand on her arm. Unlike Lex’s gestures, his didn’t seem so proprietary.

    Still, she had to wonder why he’d decided to drop by her office. After the exchange she’d heard between him and Lex the other night, she thought perhaps he was asking her out only because he knew Lex wouldn’t like it. As handsome as she thought he was, she didn’t like the idea of being caught in the middle.

    There was one advantage though. Oliver might be able to help her find out what had happened to her father.

    The restaurant was dim inside. The interior was decorated in a mix of red and what Lois assumed was a cinnamon colour, full of warm tones. As they were led to a table in the centre of the room, she noticed the lamps in the middle of each table. Each lamp was a different shape made in a pewter frame. The shades were each decorated in what looked geometric patterns until she saw their one up close. The sides of each shade included a violet teardrop.

    “This is nice,” she said, putting her bag down on the floor and hooking the strap over her chair. Conscious of the stories of items being stolen from under customers’ noses, she made sure the bag was placed where she could feel it against her foot.

    The waitress put a carafe of water on the table and Oliver poured some into glasses for them both.

    “So, tell me about yourself, Lois,” he said.

    “There’s not much to tell,” she told him. “I grew up an army brat, decided to become a muckraker.”

    He grinned.

    “Muckraker, huh?”

    “Well, that’s what the general calls it. I love my job though. There’s a certain satisfaction in knowing I help put bad guys away.”

    “Still, it’s dangerous work,” he said.

    She frowned. He was the second person today to comment about the dangers in her job. It felt like she had to justify herself somehow. Her father had been over-protective to the point where he would grill her boyfriends and ask for background checks on them.

    Funny though. She didn’t mind it so much coming from Clark. She might have teased him about hiding in his cubicle, but she had to admit she liked the thought of him worrying about her. With Oliver, however, it was annoying. After all, she barely knew the man.

    Lex might be just as aggravating with the way he acted like he owned her, but at least he knew better than to tell her how to do her job.

    “I can take care of myself,” she said.

    “Oh, I’m sure you can,” he replied, sipping his water. “You wouldn’t have got this far in your career without taking a few risks.”

    The waitress returned to take their orders. Oliver ordered a dish they were obviously meant to share and sat back.

    “So, you and Lex,” he began.

    “What about us?”

    “He implied you were dating.”

    “Is that what he said?”

    “Not in so many words. Hence the term ‘implied’.”

    “We’re just friends,” she said, sipping her water.

    “I got the impression it was more than that. On his side at least.”

    “I don’t have time for relationships Mr Queen.”

    “Oliver, please.”

    “Fine. Oliver.”

    He looked her over, his brown eyes serious.

    “Your intern seems rather smitten.”

    She frowned at him, but couldn’t help the way her heart rate jumped slightly at the thought that Clark might return her attraction. Not that she would ever admit it, she thought. She’d been honest when she told him she wasn’t interested in a relationship. Not right now. All she could think about now was her father.

    The subject came up once they’d finished eating. Lois had lived on a few army bases, but she had never been to Africa, so she found the food to be very different from what she was used to. Still, like Chloe, she liked to think she was adventurous.

    Oliver seemed very interested in her father’s disappearance.

    “So the military brass aren’t coming up with the goods?” he asked.

    She shook her head.

    “They keep saying it’s classified. I mean, what’s classified about a tour of inspection?”

    “If you don’t mind, I can try a few of my contacts. See what I can find out.”

    She nodded. “Thank you. Lex said he’d see what he could find out, but the more the merrier.”

    Oliver’s expression darkened at the mention of Lex’s name. She was curious to find out what exactly had gone on between the two men to engender such hostility, but she didn’t ask. She figured that was something she could either research or ask about later.

    When she returned to the office, she looked through the notes Clark had made on his research. He had been thorough. There had been reports of the mysterious hooded figure in both Star City and Central City for the past few years but nothing to say where he had come from.

    Since he’d been in Metropolis, there had been at least three robberies with a similar M.O. Each time, the robber had entered from the roof, bypassing all security systems. His equipment must be very sophisticated, she thought, since those he burgled or robbed had the latest Safetex Security had to offer.

    The company director, Milo Janis, had sent out a message to all their clients assuring them that they were investigating the thefts and they would find the hooded man. Lois had a contact who had been fired from Luthorcorp about five years ago who had told her that Safetex had offered a reward of twenty thousand dollars for information on the man. There were plenty of people who would sell out their own mother for that kind of money.

    She had a feeling Simon Westcott would be joining the victims soon enough, but she wasn’t going to wait around to find out after the fact. She wanted to know who the mystery man was and she was determined to unmask him.

    Lois had already decided what she was going to do. She was going to stakeout the Westcott mansion. Perry would object, of course, since he didn’t like her doing these things alone, but what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.

    She did think of calling Chloe and asking her to come along, but she remembered that Chloe was going out on a date.

    Armed with a thermos of coffee and sugary snacks to help her keep awake, plus a video camera to record any activity, Lois parked her car half a block away from the mansion and settled in for a long night.

    ***

    Clark enjoyed his first class, even if it was an introductory class to college. When he’d first talked to the dean at Met U, he’d been told he would need to take a couple of introductory courses, as it had been a few years since he’d graduated high school.

    As he walked home, armed with study materials, he recalled the meeting with Oliver Queen that afternoon. He’d felt like such an idiot next to the billionaire. Maybe he wasn’t ready to date anyone, but still, how would Lois ever take him seriously next to someone like Oliver? He was rich and famous, whereas Clark was just a nobody from a small town.

    Still, Lois hadn’t exactly treated him like a nobody.

    He smiled to himself as he remembered when Perry had sent them off to work together.

    “Let’s get one thing straight,” she’d told him. “I didn’t work my buns off to become an investigative reporter just to babysit a wet-behind-the-ears …”

    “I’m twenty-three,” he told her. “I’m hardly wet-behind-the-ears.”

    “Don’t interrupt, Smallville.”

    “Smallville?”

    She punched him in the arm. “Yeah, Smallville.”

    He shrugged. He could live with it, he supposed. He had a feeling that Lois was the type of person to keep her feelings close to her chest, so to speak and giving someone a nickname was about as close as she got to showing any kind of affection.

    “How about this,” she said. “I’ll show you the ropes, share the benefit of my experience and maybe let you work with me on this story. After that, you’re on your own.”

    He nodded, grinning at her. Something told him that working with Lois was never going to be boring.

    Clark made a light dinner and ate it in front of the television before changing into his ‘Guardian’ outfit. He left the apartment, intending to just walk around the city, not planning on doing any major rescues.

    He found himself about a block away from the Westcott mansion a couple of hours later, not sure what had led him to this point. Hearing the scraping of what sounded like leather on concrete, he looked up and saw a man in leather on the roof of the building opposite the mansion.

    As he watched, the man fired an arrow across the street, which lodged in the wall somewhere near the top floor of the building. He then used the zip line to move across and disappeared on the mansion’s roof.

    Clark knew he had no choice but to try and stop the man. No matter how the amulet came into the older man’s possession, it was still wrong. He used his super-speed to get up to the mansion’s roof, then followed the hooded man, watching as the other man used an arrow with a diamond head to divert the lasers. Clearly the man had a few resources at his disposal if he could afford such sophisticated equipment.

    As the man in the hood bent to take the amulet, Clark moved, blocking the entry. He had no idea if there was another exit but he figured he was fast enough to stop the man before he could get away.

    “I can’t let you do that,” he said.

    The man looked up in surprise.

    “Well, I’ve heard of neighbourhood watch,” he quipped, “but this is ridiculous.”

    Clark frowned. The man’s voice seemed distorted. He was clearly using a modifier of some kind. He supposed that made some sense, if only to hide the thief’s identification.

    “Put the amulet back,” he demanded.

    The hooded man hesitated, clearly looking him over, then started to walk past him. Clark grabbed the man’s arm, taking the opportunity to study his face. Dark glasses hid his eyes but he couldn’t hide the chiselled jaw or the dimple in the chin.

    The other man tried to shove him, but Clark shoved back, sending the man flying. His opponent groaned and got up, aiming an arrow at him.

    Clark saw the small projectile coming and grabbed it, much to the alarm of the other man, who stared at him in shock.

    “What the …”

    Clark quickly examined the arrow. The head was small. It appeared to have a small electrical charge and he guessed it was just meant to stun, not injure a person. It seemed the man in the hood did have at least some conscience.

    He was distracted by a man coming in behind him. The man yelled and Clark whirled. By the time he turned back, the hooded man was gone. Along with the amulet. Not wanting to get caught himself, Clark sped away.

    ***

    Lois dumped her bag on the table, grumbling. Of all the worse luck, she thought. She’d gone and fallen asleep in the car while on the stakeout, while apparently something had gone down, but she’d missed the whole thing.

    Still grumbling, she went to the fridge and took out a bottle of juice, opening it and downing some of the contents, before thrusting it back in. Stomping back to the table, she took the memory card out of the camera and inserted it in her laptop, uploading whatever footage she’d taken.

    She fast forwarded through the couple of hours where she’d actually been awake to watch what was going on, then slowed it down to normal speed. Leaning her chin on her hand, her elbow on the table, she sighed and began going through the footage.

    Just when she was about to give up the whole thing as a bad idea, she spotted movement on the roof. Pausing and reversing, she carefully watched the screen. She realised she was watching the hooded thief zip-lining over to the roof of the mansion. Seconds later, something blurred past the camera.

    “What the hell was that?” she asked herself, reversing and slowing down the action to about four times as slow. She watched, fidgeting in impatience as the thief zip-lined again, then the thing moved past the camera. It was still moving too quickly for her to see more than a blur, but she did see enough to realise it was a man in black, his form barely lit by the street lamp above.

    “Holy crap!”

    Were there two thieves or had she just captured the Guardian on camera?

  4. #79
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    Thanks for the notice via PM. Never would've realized so soon that you updated. Now that I've read it - WTF Leanne? A lunch date? I told you to keep the Ken Doll away from Lois. Let him go find another blonde to play with who likes leather just as much as he does. Ollie needs to leave Legs alone and let Smallville be smitten. You know what Sherry likes to see when she reads scenes with Lois and Oliver - Pants! Pants on everyone!

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    Quote Originally Posted by tua33915 View Post
    Thanks for the notice via PM. Never would've realized so soon that you updated. Now that I've read it - WTF Leanne? A lunch date? I told you to keep the Ken Doll away from Lois. Let him go find another blonde to play with who likes leather just as much as he does. Ollie needs to leave Legs alone and let Smallville be smitten. You know what Sherry likes to see when she reads scenes with Lois and Oliver - Pants! Pants on everyone!
    Oh Sherry, you really make me laugh. All I'll say about that lunch date is, don't read too much into it. Lois is interested in only one thing and that's getting to the truth about her father. If she has to make nice with another billionaire, then that's what she'll do. Notice though, she kept comparing him to Clark? She's definitely smitten with someone and it's not the blond Ken Doll.

  6. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by phoenixnz View Post
    I don't know, I think I might have you beat with all the evil cliffies I have in my stories, haha. Just ask Meg (gem65) how evil she thinks I am

    And just so you cannot accuse me of teasing, although I am VP of Teasers Anonymous so I do have a reputation to live up to, I'll be posting the latest chapter in a minute or three.
    Yeah I know ALL about you and your evil cliffies my girl, and your evil play mate Meg!! And I agree with Sherry, pants on everyone! But we all know who Lois is really thinking about.....

  7. #82
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    Great chapter.

  8. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by phoenixnz View Post
    I don't know, I think I might have you beat with all the evil cliffies I have in my stories, haha. Just ask Meg (gem65) how evil she thinks I am

    And just so you cannot accuse me of teasing, although I am VP of Teasers Anonymous so I do have a reputation to live up to, I'll be posting the latest chapter in a minute or three.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigRed67 View Post
    Yeah I know ALL about you and your evil cliffies my girl, and your evil play mate Meg!! And I agree with Sherry, pants on everyone! But we all know who Lois is really thinking about.....
    You better believe it.

  10. #85
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    Omg, the cliffies...I need to know what's going to happen next...ESPECIALLY now that we know Lois has warm and fuzzy feelings for Clark!!! *breaks into a happy dance* Now I'd like to see Clarkbar bust-a-move and ask Lois out!

    And yessss...I agree with everyone! Ollie knows where he stands on the relationship front and needs to pick up bird watching. I do like that he's offered to help Lois out regarding her father. Unlike Lex, he'll actually share valuable information instead of lies.

    Can't wait for more. Update soon!

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    Quote Originally Posted by TeamClois View Post
    Omg, the cliffies...I need to know what's going to happen next...ESPECIALLY now that we know Lois has warm and fuzzy feelings for Clark!!! *breaks into a happy dance* Now I'd like to see Clarkbar bust-a-move and ask Lois out!

    And yessss...I agree with everyone! Ollie knows where he stands on the relationship front and needs to pick up bird watching. I do like that he's offered to help Lois out regarding her father. Unlike Lex, he'll actually share valuable information instead of lies.

    Can't wait for more. Update soon!
    All I can say is, neither one of them are ready to take that leap yet. As for Ollie, Lois has made it pretty clear where he stands, and yes he will be a big help where her father is concerned. More soon.

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    Chapter Seven

    “You wouldn’t believe what happened to me last night.”

    Clark looked up and frowned as Lois dumped a bag on his desk.

    “Oh?” he said.

    “I went on a stake-out.”

    This did not sound good. From what he’d heard, stake-outs were actually quite tedious. Nothing good ever came from a stake-out.

    “Shove over, Smallville,” she said, grabbing a chair from another desk and sitting down beside him.

    “Uh, why?” he replied.

    “Because I am about to show you the scoop of a lifetime.”

    He watched as she unzipped the bag and took out a small camera, along with a USB cable, hooking it up to his computer.

    “I uploaded this to my laptop last night, but your system won’t let me hook up the other computer,” she explained.

    Still curious, Clark watched as she grabbed the mouse and accessed the memory card on the camera, bringing up a video file. She skipped about two hours of the video and set it to play.

    “What exactly are we …”

    “Shh,” she said. “Just watch.”

    Clark glanced at her, then watched the video on the monitor. He saw the hooded man zip-lining down to the roof of the Westcott mansion. A few seconds later, he saw himself speeding past the camera.

    “I don’t see anything,” he told her, hoping it would deter her.

    He forgot just how sharp Lois Lane was.

    “What are you? Blind? Maybe you need to get your prescription checked, Smallville, because I’m pretty sure that’s the Guardian.”

    “The who?” he said.

    “Are you kidding me? Haven’t you seen the news reports about the mysterious Guardian saving people all over the city?”

    “No,” he said, wincing and hoping she hadn’t caught it.

    “And you call yourself a reporter.”

    “Um, no, I call myself an intern,” he said.

    Lois huffed noisily and returned the video to the original point, replaying it at slow speed. Clark grimaced. He was still nothing more than a blur, but the shape was definitely more recognisable as him in his ‘Guardian’ clothes.

    “We need to take this to Perry,” she said, closing the video and removing the cable, packing the camera up again.

    “But … how do you know it’s this Guardian guy?” he argued.

    Lois had leaned over the table to zip the bag up and he couldn’t help noticing the lovely shape of her backside in the pencil skirt she was wearing. Lois turned her head to shoot him a derisive look and frowned, glancing behind her.

    “Are you checking out my ass, Kent?”

    He gazed at her, fighting the urge to fidget in his chair, having been thoroughly caught in the act.

    “Nooo?”

    “Is that a question or a statement?” she said, her smirk showing she was more amused than angry. She leaned forward so her lips were close to his. “But just so you know, two can play at that game,” she said softly.

    She straightened up, grabbing the camera bag.

    “Meet me in Perry’s office in ten minutes, Smallville!” she said, walking away with a sway of her hips.

    Clark swallowed hard, his eyes growing hot as he watched her going up the stairs. She paused and looked at him for a moment with what he could swear was a ‘come hither’ look. He pulled at his tie which suddenly seemed too tight around his neck, his body feeling like it was on fire.

    He got up from his desk and crossed to the water cooler, grabbing one of the disposable plastic cups and pouring himself a drink of icy cold water.

    ***

    Lois knew he was watching as she walked away and added a little more sway to her walk. That would teach him for checking out her ass, she thought. She paused on the stairs and glanced back at him, a teasing smile playing on her lips.

    Poor boy, she thought. He looked so uncomfortable at having been caught out. She supposed she could have let him off the hook, but she had to admit she rather liked seeing him all ‘hot and bothered’. She watched as he rose from his chair and crossed to the water cooler.

    Yep, turnabout was definitely fair play, but in her case, she got way more out of it. He might be a farmboy from the sticks but oh boy, if the ass was anything to go by he was definitely hot stuff. Lois pushed back a lock of hair and coughed, resuming her walk up the stairs.

    Phew, is it hot in here or what? she thought, fanning herself.

    As she returned to her office, she saw a bouquet of red roses on her desk. For a moment, she thought Clark had sent them, but it was far too expensive for an intern’s salary. She supposed he could have got them at a discount from Nell’s shop but she just didn’t think roses were his style.

    As she looked at the card, she knew she’d been right. The roses had come from a more upmarket florist which specialized in expensive arrangements. Lois had been to that florist once and she’d found the staff to be rather snobbish and very unhelpful. She much preferred the smaller shop.

    Had a great time yesterday. Would love to do it again sometime. Oliver.


    She sighed. She liked Oliver, but she wasn’t interested in him romantically. Sure, he was rich and handsome but it was a pretty good bet he had just got his assistant to order the flowers online. Clark’s arrangement might not have been hugely expensive, but he’d at least put some thought into it.

    She called his office number.

    “Queen Industries, how may I direct your call?”

    “Uh, is Mr Queen available?”

    “No, ma’am, he’s in meetings all day. Can I take a message?”

    “Sure. Tell him it’s from Lois Lane. Tell him ‘thank you for the roses’.”

    “Of course, Miss Lane. I’ll make sure he gets it. Was there anything else I could do for you?”

    “No, that’s all. Thank you.”

    She hung up and glanced at the time before hunting through the pile of papers in her briefcase, looking for the print-out she’d made the night before of a frame of the video.

    Perry was not impressed.

    “Great Caesar’s Ghost, Lane. I told you to go out and get the scoop on this hooded guy. What the hell is this?”

    Clark looked uncomfortable, scratching the back of his head.

    “It’s just what I said,” she told her boss. “It’s the Guardian.”

    Perry poked a finger at the image.

    “This dark splodge?”

    “It’s still in the shape of a man.”

    The editor-in-chief sighed.

    “Lane, how many times do I have to tell you? You need hard evidence. I print this, I’ll be a laughing stock.”

    “But I …”

    He threw the print-out on the desk.

    “It’s utterly unprintable,” he told her. “Now you go out there and find this hooded guy! You too, Kent. Out!”

    Lois glowered at Clark as they left the office.

    “Thanks for the back-up in there,” she hissed angrily.

    “But, I … Lois, it’s not that I …”

    “You wanna work with me, Kent, then you better back me up.”

    It was his turn to glower at her. He took a deep breath.

    “Sorry, Lois, but I agree with Perry. You know, just because you’re the senior partner in this, uh, relationship, it doesn’t mean I’m just going to automatically agree with you. Especially when I don’t. Agree, that is.”

    “Relationship? Oh, you wish, Kent!”

    She turned on her heel and flounced off. Her annoyance had cooled somewhat by the time she got to her office, although she was still fuming. She switched on her computer and got to work checking leads, muttering to herself.

    “You know, you really shouldn’t grind your teeth like that.”

    She looked up. Lex lounged in the doorway looking almost like the cat that got the cream. He strolled into her office.

    “I heard you had a lead on this Guardian character,” he said.

    “Word travels fast.”

    “No. Perry’s just got a very loud voice,” he replied with a grin. “So, let me see this infamous photograph.”

    “It’s nothing. A splodge.”

    “I’ll be the judge of that,” he said, holding out his hand.

    Lois bit her lip. The last thing she wanted was for Lex to go digging into the Guardian. There was probably a very good reason why the man chose to help people anonymously, and she, for one, was trying to respect that. All she wanted to do was find proof that the Guardian was real. She wasn’t out to expose him.

    Lex, however, had been very outspoken about a couple of so-called vigilantes, saying they were a menace, taking jobs away from sworn police officers and creating more work for greedy lawyers who had a field day defending clients who had been apprehended without due process.

    The bald billionaire was still holding his hand out and she reluctantly gave him the photo. He frowned, turning it in his hands.

    “Well, I hate to say it, but Perry’s right. There’s nothing printable here. If you still have the video file, I can get my tech experts to look it over and see if we can clean up the image.”

    Lois had the sinking feeling that Lex would copy the video file from her computer somehow. She had no choice but to hand over the memory card.

    Lex took it and smiled at her.

    “Have you heard any more about your father?”

    She shook her head. “No one’s talking.”

    “I’m sure something will turn up,” he said, patting her hand. Lois fought the urge to pull it back.

    “Anyway, I was wondering if you would accompany me to the opera tonight. I have a spare ticket.”

    God, how could she refuse without looking like a total b*tch? She hated opera, and the last thing she wanted to do was go on an actual date with Lex.

    “Thanks,” she said, “but I already made plans with … Clark!” she continued, her voice rising an octave as she spotted the man in the doorway. “I was just talking about you.”

    He looked at her with a puzzled expression on his face.

    “I was just telling Lex that I couldn’t go out with him tonight as we already had plans to go to the movies.” She shot him a pleading look. He seemed to immediately understand.

    “Oh, yeah. The movies.”

    Lex was glaring at Clark with an expression that bordered on hostility, but as soon as Clark glanced his way he put on a friendly smile. Sure, Lois thought with an inner snort. Friendly for Jaws.

    “Well, isn’t that nice,” Lex said with barely concealed sarcasm. “It seems you two are getting along famously.”

    “Well, Lois is the best reporter this paper has ever had,” Clark returned, sending a smile her way. “I’m already learning a lot from her.”

    If Clark wasn’t so sincere, the cynic in Lois would have thought he was just kissing ass. She sent him a smile which prompted his smile to become wider and so blinding it was like the sun had come out. God, that smile made her tingle all over.

    “So, Clark, why don’t we check out the listings and see what’s playing,” Lois said, hoping Lex would get the hint and go away.

    “Then I’ll get out of your way,” the older man said. “I’m sure we can see the opera another time, Lois.”

    Not if I can help it, she thought, but nodded and smiled at him. Clark brushed past Lex as he entered.

    “Uh, so … movies?”

    “Look, you don’t have to. I mean, I appreciate you covering for me, but you’re not obligated in any way to go out with me. It’s just, well I really hate opera and I was trying to let him down gently. Like I say, you really don’t have to if you don’t to …”

    Clark snickered. “Lois, you’re babbling.”

    She was, she really was. She hated babbling. She turned back to her computer and accessed the local cinema complex listings, hoping it would give her time to get rid of the blush she could feel forming. What was it about Clark Kent that made her blush so much?

    ***

    Clark sat down beside her, listening as she rattled off some of the choices. She had a very becoming blush on her cheeks, but he chose not to embarrass her by pointing it out.

    He’d come by to apologise for speaking so rudely to her. He couldn’t admit to her that he was worried about just how much she was going to find out about him. He hoped that he knew her reasonably well enough that she would not expose him if she did find out the truth, but others weren’t so scrupulous.

    He spotted the bouquet of roses in a vase beside the computer. They looked expensive. He thought about commenting on them, but didn’t want to come off as nosy.

    The phone rang and Lois picked it up.

    “Lois Lane. Oliver, hi. Yes, I got them. Thank you, they’re beautiful.”

    She laughed and Clark was instantly jealous. Great, he thought. Oliver Queen buys her expensive roses. Sure leaves my tulips in the dust. He knew it sounded bitter, but really, how was he supposed to compete with that?

    Lois hung up the phone and looked at him.

    “Oliver,” she said, as if he hadn’t heard her side of the conversation. “Sent me roses to thank me for lunch yesterday. He wanted to ask me out again.”

    “Are you going to?”

    She chewed on her lower lip.

    “He’s nice and everything, but, like I said, I don’t have time for relationships right now. I mean, what with my dad …”

    “Have you heard anything?” he asked, still feeling guilty about what he’d overheard. He knew he should tell her the truth, but he had no idea what to say.

    She shook her head, sighing as she leaned back in her chair.

    “I don’t know what to think anymore. It’s been weeks.”

    “I’m sure your dad will be okay,” he said reassuringly.

    “Yeah, my dad’s a tough nut to crack all right.” She smiled wanly. “Uh, anyway, so, how about I pick you up at your apartment tonight. Say, seven-thirty? That’ll give us time to get to the theatre for the eight o’clock showing.”

    “Sounds good,” he said. “I should get back to work.”

    He couldn’t help grinning as he left. He had a date with Lois!

    He left the office late that afternoon and sped home, putting a frozen casserole in the toaster oven to warm up. Nell had taught him to cook but she still insisted on making various dishes he could put in his freezer. She was a good cook, but he remembered his mom had won prizes at county fairs for her pies.

    He went to his bedroom to check his closet for something to wear for his movie date. He was still searching through his shirts when he heard a knock on his door.

    Clark was surprised to see who his visitor was.

    “Mr Queen?”

    The blond smiled at him, looking cool and casual in a white t-shirt with black and white striped shirt and designer jeans.

    “Can I come in?” he said.

    “Uh, sure,” Clark replied, moving hastily to clean up the papers on the couch.

    “So, you live here? Rather a rough neighbourhood.”

    Clark cleared his throat.

    “Yeah, I, uh, well, I can take care of myself.”

    “I’m sure you can,” the older man said softly. Clark looked at him, puzzled by the remark.

    Oliver picked up one of the papers on the table as he sat down. Clark had been looking him up on the ‘net, just out of curiosity, and he’d found an old newspaper article about the disappearance of Oliver’s parents.

    “Interesting reading,” the blond commented.

    “Well, I …” he began.

    The other man raised his hands.

    “Hey, I’m not knocking it. Always interesting to know who your rivals are. You know, what makes them … tick.”

    What the heck did that mean? Clark thought. Did Oliver think he was a rival for Lois’ affections or was it something else?

    “Why are you here, Mr Queen?”

    “Oliver, please.”

    “Fine. Oliver. You didn’t answer my question.”

    “I was just curious, that’s all. I’m rather surprised, actually. You see, you’re not the only one who’s been doing a little research. I did a little on you. Grew up on a farm, parents died when you were …what, ten? Married your high school sweetheart.”

    “I don’t really think that’s any of your business, Oliver.”

    “Like I say, it’s always good to know who you’re up against.” He sniffed the air appreciatively. “Something smells good, although I would pull that out before it burns.”

    Crap! His dinner! Clark moved quickly to the kitchen and grabbed a towel, conscious of the older man watching him. He took the casserole out of the toaster oven and put it on the cracked and worn counter-top, shaking his hand as if the dish was too hot for him.

    “Well, I should leave you to eat your dinner in peace,” Oliver said.

    Clark watched him leave with a deep frown, not knowing what to make of the visit. There was nothing he could do about it until Oliver put his cards on the table, but he made a note to do some further research on the man in the morning.

    He ate his dinner, watching the news broadcast before cleaning up the kitchen. A glance at the digital clock told him he needed to get a move on and shower before Lois arrived.

    ***

    Lois frowned at the building. Clark lived on the sixth floor of a walk-up in what she considered to be one of the roughest neighbourhoods in Metropolis. Why would he choose to live here, she thought, glaring in disgust at the graffiti on the walls.

    She walked up the stairs, glancing at her watch. It was seven twenty-five. She knocked on the door of number nineteen, pulling her coat around her, still feeling uneasy.

    The sight that greeted her knock had her legs turning to jelly. Or almost. Clark was wet from the shower, a towel slung around his waist. She gazed up and down, admiring the muscles rippling as he lifted his arm, running his hand through his wet hair.

    Merry Christmas to me, she thought.

    “I said seven-thirty. I thought you’d be naked … agh, ready.”

    He stared at her. Lois heaved a sigh. Either he hadn’t caught her little Freudian slip or he was polite enough not to call her on it.

    “Sorry,” he said. “I didn’t realise the time. I’ll be right out.”

    Lois entered the apartment and watched as he disappeared through a doorway. She looked around. The apartment was tiny. Living room barely big enough to hold a couch and a little fourteen inch tv, kitchenette with a toaster oven, small cooktop and fridge with a small freezer.

    She opened one of the cupboards. Not that she was being nosy, she told herself, but she was just curious. The cupboards were loaded with canned food and sugary snacks. Lois had done a couple of stories on conmen in the diet industry and while most of it was a crock, even she knew that eating nothing but canned food and snacks loaded with sugar wasn’t good. Not unless you were working out for about two or three hours a day, she thought.

    Clark came back out, fastening a watch around his wrist. She had no idea how much time had passed but was sure no one could dry themselves off that fast. She shrugged it off, moving to the door, then looked up at him.

    “So, let me get this straight. You eat like an eight-year-old and you look like Mr Hardbody. What’s your secret and can I have it?”

    He just looked at her like she was speaking complete gibberish. Lois rolled her eyes and left the apartment.

    They’d decided to see a movie which had been a contender for the Oscars. It was a drama, but not a chick flick, which Lois had always hated. Clark was a perfect gentleman the entire time, buying her popcorn dripping with butter and soda, even though the movies had been her idea.

    They seemed to be totally in-synch when it came to their tastes. They both laughed at the same jokes and gasped at the same twists in the plot.

    Afterward, they walked together along the street, comparing notes about the movie.

    “I thought it was good,” he said. “I can see why it was nominated.”

    “Yeah, me too. I mean, I’m not into car chases and you know, porn thinly disguised as drama, and I’m not big on chick flicks.”

    “So, what else do you like to do?”

    “Monster truck rallies,” she said with a grin at his stunned expression.

    “Really? Monster trucks?”

    “What about you?”

    “Well, football, I guess. I mean, I never got to play at school. Nell worried that I might get hurt.”

    Lois bit her lip, wondering why she had the feeling that that wasn’t strictly the truth.

    “What about your wife? What did she do?”

    “She used to compete in horse shows. Dressage, stuff like that.”

    From his expression, she didn’t think he liked it very much.

    “When she got pregnant, of course, she had to stop all that.”

    They continued walking. Lois wanted to ask him why they had got married so young, but knew it just wasn’t appropriate. Clark sighed heavily.

    “I sometimes wonder if things would have worked out between us if she hadn’t got pregnant. The day she died, she was leaving me.”

    Lois could hear the grief in his voice but didn’t comment.

    “She didn’t know if she was going to come back. We were fighting and she just … she just couldn’t take it anymore.”

    “I’m so sorry,” Lois said.

    “I loved her, but there were times when I just didn’t know if I loved her enough to be married to her. Does that sound bad?”

    “No,” she said. “No, it doesn’t.” A cold breeze blew and she shivered.

    “Are you cold? Do you want to go?”

    “No. Should we get a coffee or something?”

    “Sure. There’s a café on the corner. We could get some hot chocolate.”

    “Mm, that sounds good. Not sure I should be drinking coffee this time of night,” she added with a smile.

    “Probably not the best idea,” he said. “I remember Chloe practically mainlining the stuff when she was working on an issue of the Torch. She did pull a lot of all-nighters.”

    Lois nodded. Chloe was fairly dedicated to her work. Or maybe obsessed was a better word for it, she decided.

    They sat in the café and ordered hot chocolate. The café was pretty, with modern but comfortable décor. Lois sat back in the booth and gazed at the handsome man opposite her.

    “I got engaged once. It didn’t last.”

    Clark looked sympathetic.

    “What happened?”

    “He broke it off. Not long after he met my dad.”

    The waitress brought over their drinks and she sipped it before leaning forward.

    “My dad used to vet my boyfriends by giving them a list of chores to do.”

    “Like what? Scrubbing the bathroom floor with a toothbrush?” Clark laughed.

    “Among other things,” she chuckled. “I used to think he was doing it to test them, but then my sister Lucy got engaged and he did the same thing to her fiancé. Lucy stood up to him and told him he couldn’t behave like that.” She laughed again. “That’s when I realised it was a test for her and me. I guess that’s why Wes left, because I never said a word to my dad. I realised later he was right to leave. I didn’t love him.”

    “Your dad sounds like a handful.”

    She shook her head. “Nah. He’s just, you know, over-protective. It was hard for him, losing my mom. I don’t think he’s ever dated anyone else since.” She sipped her drink and looked at him. “Have you ever thought about it? Dating again?”

    She didn’t want to assume that meant her. No matter how much she told herself she wasn’t interested in a relationship, she couldn’t help but be anxious for his answer. The truth was, she liked Clark, a lot. When she thought about a future, he was the kind of man she could see herself with.

    “Someday,” he said. “Nell keeps telling me that Lana wouldn’t want me to be alone and I guess she’s right. So, yeah, when I’ve got myself established, I guess.”

    Outwardly, Lois just smiled and nodded but inwardly, she was practically leaping for joy. There was hope for her yet.

    a/n: Yes, I did steal a couple of lines from LnC

  13. #88
    Posting Pro BigRed67's Avatar
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    Oh Merry Christmas to Lois indeed! nice way to start a 'date' huh? And how funny the pair of of them checking out each other's butts! I think Lois got more than she bargained for there. As for Oliver, well he's being a nosy so and so, poor Clark has no idea, yet, who he really is. Checking out the competition indeed. Lex is the bigger worry of course he's just so slimy and we all know he's up to no good in relation to the Guardian. Can't wait for more Leanne!

  14. #89
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    So, Leanne, something tells me Mr. Kent answered the door in a towel on purpose to tease Miss Lane. He was soaking wet and wanted her to be as well.

  15. #90
    aka EB phoenixnz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigRed67 View Post
    Oh Merry Christmas to Lois indeed! nice way to start a 'date' huh? And how funny the pair of of them checking out each other's butts! I think Lois got more than she bargained for there. As for Oliver, well he's being a nosy so and so, poor Clark has no idea, yet, who he really is. Checking out the competition indeed. Lex is the bigger worry of course he's just so slimy and we all know he's up to no good in relation to the Guardian. Can't wait for more Leanne!
    I thought the checking out each other's butts thing would be funny. Oliver certainly is nosy and Clark has no idea how much Oliver really knows about him. As for Lex, you should definitely be worried.

    Quote Originally Posted by tua33915 View Post
    So, Leanne, something tells me Mr. Kent answered the door in a towel on purpose to tease Miss Lane. He was soaking wet and wanted her to be as well.
    I would like to say yes, but Clark just got caught up in other things and didn't realise the time. Honest! Am I that much of a tease? Don't answer that!

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