A Trio of Haircut Challenge Stories

By Tank Wilson <tankw1@aol.com>

Rated: PG-13

Submitted: January 2005

Summary: Does Lois really look better with short hair? Tank Wilson's responses to the Haircut Challenge.

Author's note: As I was going through my hard drive in preparation for switching over to a new computer I came across these three haircut challenge shorts. As most of the gentle readers are aware, I'm an advocate of the short-haired Lois Lane. And as such, it has become somewhat of a trademark of mine to include a means for Lois to get a haircut if the season setting doesn't normally provide me with a short-haired Lois to start with.

A while back, the challenge thread of the message boards entertained a brief run of haircut stories as a means to allow other writers the thrill of barbering our favorite reporter. The key to a proper haircut challenge story is to incorporate the haircut as a logical story element. The plot, or situation, the story utilizes provides a reasonable excuse for the 'new do'.

The three shorts presented here were my contributions to those message boards challenges. You'll find they cover a wide range of story type. The first one is a typical 'Lois is on the trail of a big story' type tale. The second has a more humorous bent to it, and the final one can, I suppose, be classified as an evil vignette (though not dark).

Hopefully, the gentle readers will be able to embrace these shorts as the entertainment they were meant to be. And if it helps them come to the proper realization (that the short-haired Lois is more desirable) so much the better.

As always, all trademarks and copyrights are assigned to their respective owners. Any and all comments are welcome at TankW1@aol.com

And now… On with the show!


Taking One for the Team — A challenge Vignette

By Tank

Lois idly tucked the errant strand of long hair behind one ear as she tried to concentrate on the information that was displayed on her computer screen. After wearing her hair in shorter styles for a time she'd decided that she wanted to grow it out again, if only for the variety. It was now back to the length it had been when she had made the decision to cut it the first time.

She knew that Clark liked her hair shorter, but had supported her determination to go for a change just like he always did. He never imposed his own likes and dislikes onto her. In personal matters he always deferred to her choice. If it made her happy then it made him happy was his mantra.

She reached up, having to tuck another errant lock behind her ear, as an annoyed frown stretched her lips. Maybe it was time to think about cutting it again.

"Kent! In my office."

Perry's bellow rang through the bullpen causing everyone to glance up at the Daily Planet's editor and chief. Perry stepped back into his office, his message having been delivered. Lois looked quickly over to Clark's desk in time to see him shrug and get up from his chair. Without a second thought, Lois got up also and followed him into Perry's office.

The Chief raised a brow as his best reporting duo entered his office. "Ah, Lois, if I remember correctly, and I could be wrong since I'm getting old and probably bordering on senile… but I thought I asked Kent to come into my office. Is your name Kent?"

Lois gave her boss a smug smile and held her left hand up, wiggling her third finger. "Actually, it is." She laughed at his grimace. "Come on, Perry, you know that Clark will have to tell me everything said in here as soon as he leaves anyway. Might as well save the time and trouble."

Perry just shook his head and waved the two of them to the chairs in front of his desk. "Okay, here's the deal. How familiar are you with that new religious organization, the Soldiers of the Savior?"

Clark shrugged. "Just what I've seen on the news. They've only been around for a few months. Spend most of their time on street corners passing out pamphlets and preaching brotherhood. They seem harmless enough."

Lois shook her head. "I don't know. I began doing a little background investigating on them when they first appeared, but had to shelve it when Clark and I got a line on the rebirth of Intergang. I never got a chance to get back to it." Lois bit her lip and tapped her finger on the desk as she tried to remember some of what she had uncovered. "I couldn't come up with anything concrete, but some of the parts just didn't seem to add up to the public whole."

Perry nodded and pointed at Lois. "Bingo. An old source of mine lives down where this group has their sanctuary, as they call it. He told me that there are some funny things going on at that place. A lot of late night activity, with trucks moving in and out at the strangest times."

Clark spread his hands in question. "So, why doesn't your friend go to the police?"

Perry answered Clark's gesture. "With what? Late night traffic? The group has broken no laws that anyone has seen. The police don't have any reason to roust them. It's not as if they're disturbing the peace, or anything. They are just acting out of character, and as someone who used to be plugged into the street, it just smelled funny to him. So he called me."

"So, you want us to investigate this group?" Lois piped in.

Perry leaned back into his chair. "Actually, I can't afford to send both of you in on this so I want Clark to go undercover and infiltrate the group. See what he can…"

"No! Ah, that's not a good idea." Lois had suddenly become panicky hearing Perry outline his plan and watching Clark nod in agreement. "I mean, I've already done some initial research. I have a better feeling for this organization. I should be the one to go undercover."

Perry shook his head. "Now Lois, honey, I can't ask you to…"

"No, I want to." She quickly interrupted.

"How dangerous is this?" Clark asked, looking at Perry than at Lois. She silenced him with a glare.

Perry looked confused. "Lois, you realize that you'll have to…"

"I know." She cut him off again. "It doesn't matter. I'm best suited for this story. I'll keep you updated on my progress." She stood up and headed for the door. "Come on, Clark." She exited Perry's office.

Clark appeared shell-shocked. "What was that all about?"

Perry shrugged expansively. "How should I know? She's your wife."

Clark caught up with his frenetic wife at her desk. She was busy at her computer keyboard. "What was with that performance in Perry's office?"

She didn't glance up at her concerned husband. "It's simple. You can't infiltrate the Soldiers of the Savior."

Clark sat down on the corner of her desk. "And why is that?"

She typed in a couple of more characters. "Ah, hah. There, the Soldiers of the Savior web site. Tell me, what do you notice, physically, about our little group of missionaries?"

Clark studied the picture that Lois had brought up on her screen. "They look pretty typical of this type of group. They are all wearing sandals and plain robes. Obviously to denote their rejection of material wealth."

Lois nodded. "And?"

Clark frowned for a second than the light came on. "Oh, I see, they all seem to be wearing the same haircut."

Lois patted him on the hand. "That's right. In my earlier research I found out that all new initiates, men and women alike, undergo that ceremonial haircut prior to admission to the group." Lois glanced up at her husband. "It would be a little hard for a man who needs heat vision and a mirror to cut his hair to infiltrate a group with that requirement."

Clark frowned as he studied the picture more closely. "It appears as if the members have adopted an old monk's tonsure as their signatory look." Lois bit her lip and nodded. He reached over and ran his fingers through her long silken locks. "Are you okay with this? You don't have to do this. We can ask Perry to assign someone else."

Lois looked up at her husband and saw the uncertainty on his face. "I'm fine. This could be a very important story. I don't think we can trust it to someone else."


Lois shook her head. "Do you remember when I was first agonizing over whether to cut my hair? Do you remember what you said?" Clark nodded as Lois just went on. "You said that it didn't matter to you how I wore my hair. You would still love me whether it was down to my waist or if I was shaved bald."

"I remember."

"Well, I guess you're going to get a chance to prove it."

Clark leaned down and captured her lips with his. She could tell he didn't want there to be any doubt in her mind how he felt.


Lois stood in a short line of new hopefuls. It had only taken her three days to convince the 'elders' of the movement that she had potential as member of their cause. She had kept her hair tied back and wore heavy rimmed glasses just in case someone might recognize her as Lois Lane.

She had approached the Soldiers of the Savior at one of their rallies, indicating that she believed in their mission and would like to join their ranks. She gave them a fake name and a back story that seemed perfect for a group like that. She claimed to have no living family and had just recently come into town. She was broke with no job, no prospects and no place to stay. In other words, one of the invisible people that no one would be missing.

They had put her through the paces of being a menial servant to the other members of the group. It was to teach her humility she was told. Lois subverted herself to the task and was properly subservient and compliant. But she also let her native intelligence show through. Thinking they had found a bright, quick study, who they could bend to their will, she had been recommended for initiation in a remarkably short time.

Lois had been glad for that because she didn't know how much longer she could continue to swallow her bile while dealing with these people. It was obvious to her that the Soldiers of the Savior was as bogus an operation as was Costmart's fronting for Intergang. True, there were many gullible innocents who actually thought that they were missionaries for peace and brotherhood. But there was a definite hierarchy in the organization, and she could feel the sleaziness of many of the leaders whenever she came in contact with them.

She knew that there was something rotten going on, but she hadn't been able to get close enough to get into those areas where she was sure the proof would be kept. She had no illusions that becoming an initiated member would bring her into the confidence of those who actually ran whatever it was that this group was into, but it would allow her much more freedom of movement. And she hoped that would be enough to allow her the opportunity to seek out and discover the information she would need to blow this operation sky high.

She knew that Clark was keeping a watch on her as much as he could from a distance, but she hadn't had any chance to make any contact with him. All the potential initiates were housed in the same room so she was never left alone, nor would there have been any chance to sneak out since it seemed someone was always awake. But now the time had come. She, along with two other fellows were to go through their initiation ceremonies this evening and she would be granted the status of soldier. That meant much more freedom of movement, and that's what she'd been waiting for.


She moved forward at the false name she had given them was called. They were on a small stage-like platform that was flanked on three sides by rows of chairs. It was certainly their meeting hall. She knelt in front of the man who had called out her name. There were no formal titles in the group but this man was the obvious leader. Everyone else deferred to him.

His voice was deep, and surprisingly warm. "Lost child, do you renounce the sins of materialism and vow to embrace the tenets of peace and universal brotherhood?"

Lois affected a slight quaver to her voice. "I do."

He reached out and undid the loose bun that Lois had placed her long hair into. It fell loosely about her head. "Hair is vanity, let this ceremonial cut proclaim your acceptance of a life dedicated to the service of higher ideals and spiritual values."

Lois had to stifle a gasp of surprise when she felt something being placed on her head. She couldn't believe it! They were actually going to use a bowl as a guide to cut off her hair, and not a particularly large bowl at that. She could feel the hard rim of the bowl pressing against the upper part of her ear.

She heard more than felt the snick of the shears as the long hair on the sides and the back of her head was scissored off just below the rim of the bowl. She bit her lip as she watched the long severed tresses falling to the floor in front of her. As bad as it might look now, she knew that worse was yet to come.

A few moments later, the bowl was removed from her head and she felt the man's large hand grasp the back of her neck in a firm grip. She suppressed a shudder as she heard the buzz of an electric clipper being snapped on.

The humming sound of the device changed to a much deeper growl as the blades were pressed to the top of her skull and began to chew through the dark locks up there. The leader made pass after pass with the hungry clippers while Lois worked hard to hold onto the vacuous smile she noted most of the members seemed to possess. Finally the man thumbed off the electric clippers and set them aside. He pulled Lois to her feet.

"Soldiers may I present to you, Wendy, the newest recruit to our ever growing ranks of missionary servants of peace and brotherhood."

A young woman came up and led Lois off the stage amidst loud applause and cheers. She was just relieved that the ordeal was over, and thankful that there were very few mirrors in the place.


Lois lay on the small cot in the tiny room which she shared with one other young woman named Kay. She was clearly only twenty something but had been with the group ever since they first showed up in Metropolis. It was obvious that this woman bought into the public image whole-heartedly.

In their earlier talks Lois became convinced that Kay was not 'in the know'. If this had been the nineteen sixties the young woman would have been one of the flower children. All peace and love, and without a logical brain cell in her head. Lois had suffered through a couple of hours of inane conversation until she felt she could claim that she was tired and needed to get to sleep.

Lois had closed her eyes and listened. Her insides were churning with impatience, but she knew she had to wait. She had to wait until her roommate had fallen asleep, and for most everyone else to also. Not that she didn't expect there to be people up at all hours. Those who had something to hide, generally provided a means to guard whatever that was. Lois just didn't want to have to avoid any more folks than she had to.

After listening to the steady, even breathing of Kay for several hours, Lois finally felt that it would be safe to sneak out of the room. Being careful not to bump into anything, which wasn't much of a problem since there wasn't much of anything to bump into, she silently opened the door and let herself out into the corridor. Lois paused, holding her breath, to listen for any signs of activity around her. There were none.

In the few days that she'd spent there she had figured out which areas of the building seemed to be off limits to the regular members. Areas where only the higher ups would ever be seen going. Lois headed for those.

She made her way unseen to a rear stairwell and carefully climbed to the top floor of the place. The door to the floor was locked. Lois reached down and peeled a piece of flesh colored tape off the back of her ankle. Stuck to that tape was a miniature set of lock picks. She quickly made short work of the old key lock and let herself into the hallway. She was now on the top floor. The restricted floor.

Again she listened as she crept silently through the corridors. She was surprised by the apparent lack of activity she was coming across. Sure, it was probably two or three o' clock in the morning, but she thought that, like the pursuit of truth, evil never slept either.

Coming around a corner she was finally rewarded with a light seeping out from under a not quite closed door. Looking all around her before moving, she gradually made her way up to the door. Placing her exposed ear up to the door she could hear the sounds of someone in the room shifting around in a chair and muttering.

She couldn't make out any words but the tone of his mutterings was one of irritation or frustration. Suddenly she heard the definite sound of the chair being pushed back and the dissatisfied grunt of 'that's enough for tonight' coming from the room. She hurried back to the corner she had come from and watched the doorway.

In a few moments she saw the light go out and the door open fully. The man who had served as her barber earlier in the evening stepped out and shut the door behind him. Bending over, he locked the door, then moved off down the hall in the opposite direction.

Lois waited a few moments, until she was sure that he was gone before she moved back toward the doorway. This lock too she made short work of. Smiling to herself she acknowledged that she was getting better and better at this breaking and entering stuff.

Letting herself into the room, she closed the door behind her and risked turning on the light just long enough to see the lay of the room. She then switched off the overhead light and moved over to the outside wall were she had seen the desk was. Locating the desk lamp and finding the switch only took a few moments. She waited a couple of minutes for her eyes to get used to the dim illumination provided by the small desk lamp. Then she began her quest.

The desk drawers yielded nothing of any interest. Mostly just office supplies like staples, rubber bands, envelopes and the like. A couple of file folders were in a bottom drawer but they appeared to be legitimate tax and lease records on the property.

Lois then turned her attention to a large file cabinet in the corner. It was locked, of course. And it was quite sturdy. No way she would be able to just force it open with a letter opener like she had been able to do with some of the cheaper cabinets she had come across over the years.

Once again she had to take out her lock picks. This was a bit more difficult, though, than just an ordinary door lock. The smaller key entry proved to be a bit daunting and she was unfamiliar with the way such locks were constructed so she was working entirely by feel. It took several frustrating minutes before she finally heard the satisfying click that signified success.

She pulled open a drawer and randomly pulled a file out. It contained a memo on Costmart stationary. Intergang! Lois had hit the jackpot. She quickly scanned the memo, then reached in and pulled out more files. Everything she read pointed to the fact that the Soldiers of the Savior were nothing more than another arm of Intergang. Drugs, illegal betting, smuggling, the whole smear.

Lois was so engrossed in what she was reading that she never realized she had company until she heard him speak. "What are you doing here?"

Startled, Lois turned around, files still in hand, to face the man who she had watched leave this room only minutes before.

"I don't know who you are, but it's really unfortunate that you have seen those." He reached into his pants pocket, having shed the robe long before, and pulled out a small revolver. "I'll have to ask you to come with me."

Lois stared at him for a few seconds and then glanced toward the ceiling. "Superman?"

The man didn't have time to look confused by Lois' reaction before a loud crashing sound filled the room. Suddenly there was a new skylight in the old building and a familiar figure in red and blue was standing in front of Lois. Superman quickly snatched the gun out of the leader's hand, crushed the pistol and dropped it to the floor.

Superman turned to Lois. "Are you okay?"

Lois' hand went involuntarily to her shorn hair. "You're kidding, right? Give it a few weeks and I'll be okay… I guess." Lois gave him a wry smile and pointed behind him.

He turned to see the man trying to sneak away. "Not so fast, buddy." Superman grabbed the man and using length of cord from the window blinds tied the fellow to the chair.

He turned back to Lois. "What do you have there?"

Lois smiled at the superhero. "It seems that the Soldiers of the Savior are nothing but another front for Intergang. I don't suppose you have a cell phone on you so I can call Henderson do you?"

Superman smiled back at her. "How about using their phone?" he said, pointing to the phone sitting on the corner of the desk.

"Works for me." Lois moved over, and grinning at Superman, began to dial.


"Come on, Lois, it's not that bad." Clark came up behind his wife who wouldn't come out of the bathroom. She'd been staring at her reflection for quite some time.

She was biting her lip as she stared at the strange looking woman who stared back at her in the mirror. "Yes it is… Omigod, I look just like my father!"

"Lo-is." Clark tried to put his arms around her, but she pulled away.

"Okay," she said as she fingered the fringe of dark hair that surrounded her head. "I suppose I can get by in public by wearing hats, berets, and scarfs, it will just seem like a real short style. But what about at home? I'm not going to want to be wearing those then." She looked up at her husband, a tear threatening to sneak out of the corner of her eye. "How are you going to stand to look at me? I look freaky."

"Lois you do not look freaky." He reached out his arms again. "Come here."

Reluctantly she came to him. He enfolded her in his arms and leaned in to kiss her. Their lips met and everything else was forgotten. The mutual affirmation of their affection for each other lasted for several minutes. As soon as one of them broke off the kiss, the other would initiate another.

Finally Clark pulled back and captured Lois' eyes with his own. "I told you that it wouldn't matter to me. I love you because of who you are, not what you may look like at the moment." He slid his hand along the short fringe that encircled her head. "This is only a temporary aberration. It will soon just be another story to tell in the long list of the Adventures of Lois Lane — Investigative Reporter." He wiped the lone tear away with his thumb and went in again for another quick kiss.

Breaking again, for a breath Lois frowned as they stared at each other and she noticed that Clark's smile was getting wider and then began to turn into a grin. "What? What's so funny?"

Clark tried to cover his grin and shrugged apologetically. "Well, now that you mention it… you do look a lot like your father."



One Good Turn

A Haircut Challenge story

By Tank

Lois was bored. Somehow the Kerth ceremonies just weren't as much fun if she wasn't up for an award. She had to admit that she was proud of Clark winning his first Kerth. After all, she had been the one to train him, so in reality that Kerth was partially hers anyway. Besides, the way that Perry keep partnering the two of them up, neither would be in a position to win any Kerths, without the other's name on it, for the foreseeable future.

It was just as well that the festivities were practically over; she had a desire to go home and 'check out' her own Kerths, just to see how they were doing. She hoped they wouldn't be too disappointed not to have another sister joining them this year.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the press." Lois' attention was drawn back to the stage, and the podium, where the master of ceremonies was speaking again. "We are often accused of putting on a rather dull, and stuffy awards presentation." He got the smattering of polite laughter that was expected. "But this year we have decided to add a little something to our program. We have gathered here tonight to honor excellence in reporting, and news writing, within our professional community. All the nominees and winners are well deserving of our praise and congratulations on their achievements. But what about some of the more overlooked aspects of the reporting game?"

"Clark do you have any idea what the man is talking about?" Lois had leaned over and whispered at Clark.

He just shook his head. "Shhh, listen and maybe we'll find out." Lois glared at him, but let her attention drift back to the stage.

"So tonight, in order to redress that oversight, the Kerth committee has instituted a whole new set of awards — the AltKerth awards." The MC grinned at the sea of perplexed faces. "What exactly are the AltKerth awards you ask? I think what they are will become quite obvious as I announce the categories, and the winners." He picked up a sheet of paper and rattled it a bit for effect. "So without further ado, I will announce the first category. For the most catchy headline, the award goes to — The Metropolis Star, for their front page report on Councilman Andrew Yonkers nervous breakdown, and the headline 'Yonkers goes Bonkers'."

Lois dropped her head into her hands and groaned. How could the Kerth Committee have stooped so low and perpetrate these juvenile 'gag' awards on the group.

The MC continued to drone on. "For the most unique fashion accessory, the award goes to — Clark Kent, for his impressive inventory of *unusual* ties."

That snapped Lois out of her lethargy. She roared with laughter along with the rest of the group. Clark blushed as he stood, and moved toward the podium to accept his small plastic statuette.

"And I see he hasn't disappointed us tonight, either." The MC laughed along with everyone else as Clark took hold of his award. "Next…"

Lois tuned out the parade of silly awards as she greeted Clark's return with a big grin. "So, I see that your distinct fashion sense has not gone unnoticed by the city, at large."

When Lois finally paid attention to the speaker again, she noticed that not all the awards were gags. Some were for legitimate, if frivolous, items. One that made her narrow her eyes in repressed anger was the best dressed award. At first, Lois had smiled at Cat's insistence that she was going to win that one. After all, who dressed better than Cat Grant? Lois' rejoinder had died on her lips when Linda King had been announced as the winner. How could anyone think that bargain basement floozy was a good dresser?

Lois let a few more awards slip by her notice as she fumed about Linda King. She finally shook it off as the MC's voice was able to intrude into her conscience again.

"And, now," he began. "The award for the best hair in news reporting."

"This has got to be mine." The vehemence in Cat's voice startled Lois just a bit. She really didn't care if Cat did win this one. As long as Linda King didn't.

"And the winner is — Lois Lane."

"What?" The response came immediately from the lips of both Lois and Cat.

Cat stared daggers at her, but Lois, who wasn't expecting anything anyway, suddenly found herself grinning smugly at Cat. Considering how much Cat enjoyed rubbing her face all week in the fact that Lois wasn't even nominated this year, this was going to be worth a *lot* of ammunition in their verbal sparring in the months to come. With a last smug glance at Cat, she rose and marched up to the stage to receive her award.


Clark watched with more than just a little concern over the actions of Lois at the party, back at the Planet, after the Kerth Awards. Not only did Clark win his first ever Kerth award, but the Planet had garnered two others for its consistent excellence and reputable reporting. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, even Lois. But that was the problem. Lois seemed to be having too good a time. Clark knew that she was disappointed in being left off the Kerth short list this year, but she was hiding it well. Too well.

She actually seemed to be almost reveling in her AltKerth win for best hair. Well, actually, she seemed to be enjoying flaunting it at Cat. Both women had been drinking a bit more than normal and were constantly sniping at each other all evening. Clark, more than once had to step in between the pair to keep the peace.

Now the two ladies were marching toward him, determined looks on both their faces. Clark closed his eyes briefly and groaned. This was not going to be fun.

Lois laid a possessive hand on Clark's chest. "Come on, Clarkie, tell Cat once and for all that you think I have much better hair than she does."

Cat slinked up next to Clark and purred into his ear. "You can tell her the truth, Clark. You really like my hair better. After all, it is longer, and I know that men all like long hair on women." Cat sneered at Lois. "Not like that Buster Brown, college girl look that Lois likes to call a style."

"Hah!" Lois retorted. "Shows what you know. My hair may be shorter, but it's shinier, has more bounce to it, and is definitely more professional looking. I don't consider a hooker hair style appropriate for a modern, independent woman of the nineties."

"Why you…" Cat made a lunge for Lois who was ready to answer.

Clark stepped in between the two of them. "Lois! Cat! Stop acting like children. You both have nice hair, now just…" Clark gave Cat a studied glance. "Say, Cat, is your nose shining just a bit there?"

"What?" With a shriek, Cat ran off toward the ladies room.

"That was a pretty clever way to get rid of the old kitty cat there, Clarkie." Lois giggled, then hiccuped. "Ohhh, suddenly I don't feel so good." She placed her hand to her forehead and winced.

"Maybe you'd better sit down, Lois." Clark helped her over to her desk and got her seated. "I'll see if Perry has something for your headache."

Clark left Lois sitting at her desk as he went in search of his boss. The party had mostly died out by now. Only a few die hards like Perry and Jimmy were left, besides himself, Cat, and Lois. Clark came up to his boss, who was regaling Jimmy with another Elvis parable.

"Ah, Chief, sorry to interrupt," Clark interrupted. "But Lois seems to have a headache and I was wondering if you have any aspirin?"

"Great shades of Elvis. The way her and Cat have been drinking and bickering all night, it's a wonder her head doesn't explode." Perry waved his hand toward the far wall. "I think there is some in the first aid kit. Where is she?"

"I left her sitting at her desk."

Perry looked over then raised a brow. "I think you're a little late with that aspirin, son."

Clark looked over and noticed Lois slumped over, head down on her desk. The three men approached. Clark shook Lois' shoulder. There was no response. He shook it a little harder.

"Lois, Lois, wake up. It's time to get you home." Clark looked up at his editor and shrugged.

Perry laughed. "She's out like a light. You aren't going to wake her up now. Just let her sleep it off. It wouldn't be the first time Lois fell asleep at her desk." Perry turned and clapped his hand on Jimmy's shoulder. "Come on, Jimbo, I'll give you a ride home." He glanced back over his shoulder and saw Clark still standing over Lois, frowning. "You might as well go home too, son. I've seen Lois drunk before. There is nothing short of an atom bomb that will wake her now. She'll be all right. We'll let Eddie down in security know that Lois fell asleep at her desk again."

Clark glanced at his boss, at Lois, then back at Perry again. With a sigh, he shrugged off his tuxedo coat and, folding it over a couple of times, slipped it under Lois' head. He glanced at her once more, then followed them up the ramp toward the elevator.


Cat half stumbled out of the ladies room. She couldn't believe she had fallen asleep in there. It had only been for about twenty minutes, but it still made her feel foolish.

She immediately noticed that only the overnight lights were still on, and that the place seemed strangely empty. "Hello? Is anybody still here?" Only her own echo answered her question.

It appeared that during her short nap, everyone had gone home. Of course, she thought, once the life of the party wasn't around, there would be no more reason to stay. The others must have figured she'd had enough of Lois' witless comments and had gone home. It was then that she spied Lois slumped over at her desk. She could tell by the gentle snoring that Lois was sound asleep.

Cat walked over that stared down at her nemesis. Just how asleep was Lois, she wondered. "Hey, Lois, wake up!" Cat nearly shouted, but there was no response. She reached down and grabbed Lois by the shoulders and set her upright in her chair. There was still no response. Lois' chin gradually fell forward until it was resting on her chest. This caused her hair to fall in front of her face. "Oooh, the Kerth committee should see little Miss *Best Hair* now."

Suddenly an evil smile began to form on Cat's lips. She began to hunt around in the nearby desks looking for something. The ironic thing was, she found it on Lois' desk. Sitting in her pencil and pen cup was a pair of scissors. Cat pulled them out and opened and closed them a few times, all the while staring at Lois' head. Did she dare? Cat swayed a little on her feet, and somewhere in the back of her mind, knew that she was emboldened by the alcohol, but what the heck. It would serve Lois right for giving her so much grief tonight about winning that stupid award. An award that should have been hers.

Cat played at studying Lois for a bit. "Seems to me, Lois, if you are going to go for that Buster Brown look, you should go all the way. That means you need to have bangs." Cat moved closer and carefully slipped the blades of the shears into the hair that hung over her forehead. She caught the long strands that fell away from the blades as she snipped above Lois' brow line. Setting the handful of dark hair on the desk, Cat turned to look over her handiwork. She, originally, hadn't intended to do any more than that, but she was suddenly overcome by an urge. Cutting Lois' hair had been fun. And it's not as if she didn't have it coming to her, for all the nasty things she'd said to Cat about he own hair, and other stuff.

Cat's evil smile turned into a barracuda-like grin. Oh why not, she figured. In for a pound, or whatever the heck the saying was. She reached down and gathered a sizable chunk of the dark hair into her hand. Overcoming one last lingering doubt, Cat quickly sliced through the locks and set the severed hair on the desk. With the last of her inhibitions having been conquered by the alcohol, and her own desire for revenge, Cat set to her task with a devilish glee.

Within a short time the pile of dark hair on Lois' desk had grown quite large and the hair on Lois' head had become quite short. Stepping back to admire her barbering skills, Cat gave a decisive nod of satisfaction.

Cat carefully lowered Lois' head back down onto Clark's coat and then as a last bit of whimsy, placed the scissors in Lois' own hand. "Good night, Lois. Sleep well." With a laugh, Cat plucked up Lois' award and placed it on her own desk, then sauntered up the ramp and to the escape of the Planet's elevators.


Lois slowly dragged herself back to consciousness. It was a long and painful process. Little details began to filter through to her mind before she could muster the strength to open her eyes. She was seated, but bent over, her head lying on some kind of folded cloth. So, she was still at her desk. Her last semi- coherent memory had been of Clark leading her over and settling her into her chair in front of her desk.

Her head ached fiercely. She'd been drinking. More than she normally would in such a situation, but not enough to have wiped out her memory of the night before. It had been a nasty evening once they'd all gotten back to the Planet. She and Cat just couldn't stop sniping at each other. Cat's earlier digs at Lois for not being nominated had really bugged her. So, of course, Lois had felt it necessary to retaliate all evening using that stupid AltKerth award she'd won as ammunition to get Cat's goat. It was all very juvenile, but then that is often what things devolved to when it came to her and Cat. They just couldn't seem to interact on any level without there being some sort of friction between the two.

Lois became more aware of herself, and was beginning to be able to focus on something besides her pounding head. Her neck was stiff. Probably from the angle her head rested on her desk. And for some reason, there was something in her hand? She finally pried one eye open to check it out. She was holding a pair of scissors?

Instantly she flashed back to the strange dream she'd been having. Forcing her other eye open she was greeted by a great deal of long dark hair piled neatly in the center of her desk. Her eyes grew wide as she recognized the pile for what it was. She dropped the shears as her hands flew to her head.

She let out a shriek as her fingertips confirmed what her mind had feared. The strange dream had been true. Her hair was gone! Well, not all of it, but a fair portion of her normal silky page lie on her desk top and not hanging from her head. What had happened? Slowly, so as not to have her head fall off her shoulders, she raised herself to a full upright position. Then with equal care she levered herself out of her chair and carefully made her way to the ladies room. She had to see.

Once inside the bathroom she apprehensively approached the mirrors on the far wall. Her breath caught in her throat as she surveyed the ruin that was her hair. How had this happened? She had dreamt of someone or something cutting her hair, but that had just been a dream. Could she have done it in her sleep? She'd heard tales of people who'd managed to do all sorts of things while apparently still sound asleep. But she'd never had any history of sleepwalking. And even if she had, why would she cut off her hair?

Lois stumbled out of the ladies room and into the graying light of the newsroom. It must be between shifts, because no one was there. Nearly all the overnight crew worked at the other end of the building, so there wouldn't be anyone in the main bullpen anyway, but she couldn't see, or hear any activity going on in that direction. The only thing she could do was go home, and try to figure out what had happened, and what she could do about it.

As she headed back toward her desk to get her wrap and bag, she passed by Cat's desk. A frown crossed her face as she noticed her little statuette from the night before sitting on the desk. Suddenly, like the proverbial light coming on over one's head, it all became clear to Lois. It was the only logical explanation.

Cat had also been drinking last night. A lot. The alcohol must have made the miffed gossip columnist bottle brave. It was the only way she would have been brazen enough to do what had been done to her hair.

Lois knew that when she passed out after drinking too much, she could sleep through a tornado. The others must have left her to 'sleep it off' at her desk. It's not like it would have been the first time Lois fell asleep at her desk. Cat must have waited till all the others had left, then taking advantage of Lois' condition, had decided to restyle the winner of 'Best Hair' to satisfy her own need for retribution and vengeance.

Lois ran a hand through the short, ragged remains of her once nearly shoulder length locks. Nothing she could do about it now. She'd have to get in to see her stylist first thing, to see what could be done to 'fix' the mess Cat left, but after that…

After grabbing her bag and her wrap, Lois eyed the scissors that had obviously been used to cut her hair. She stared at them for several moments, her mouth pursed into a tight line as a determined look came over her face. She reached over and plucked the shears from their resting place on her desk and tucked them into her bag. Then, suddenly resolute, she made her way up the ramp to the elevators.


It was late morning before Lois was able to make it back to the Planet. She'd managed to talk her friend Cindy into an emergency styling session that morning — but not before she had taken care of another necessary errand.

She came off the elevator and was immediately self-conscious. All eyes looked at her. Her hand, involuntarily went to her head. Doing her best to ignore the scrutiny that she was receiving, she strode down the ramp toward her desk. Before she was able to sit she was surrounded by Clark, Perry and Jimmy.

"Lois?" Clark began.

She turned at gave him a noncommittal look. "Yes, Clark?"

He waved his hand vaguely in the direction of her head, then toward her desk. "Um, I take it from your current, er, look, that the hair on the desk is yours?"

She gave him a slight smile. "Why yes it is. I really should have cleaned it up this morning." She grabbed her waste basket and with a single sweep of her hand deposited all the dark locks into the trash bin. She set the basket down and did a quick pirouette for them. "So, boys, what do you think? Do you like the new Lois? Tell the truth now, I can take it."

Jimmy looked embarrassed. "Well, Lois, I don't know. It looks okay, I suppose. But I guess I'm just a long hair type of guy."

Perry bent down and gave Lois a quick peck on the cheek. "Lois, honey, you know I think you're a beautiful young woman. Before you were a beautiful woman with shoulder length hair, and now you're a beautiful woman with short hair. It really doesn't matter to me, darlin', as long as you're happy with it."

Lois smiled at her mentor. "Thanks Perry." She turned to Clark and her brow rose a fraction. "And what about you, partner. You willing to be seen in public with your new, *butch* partner?"

Clark frowned at Lois' self-deprecating remark. "Lois, that's not funny," he admonished her. "Yes, your new hairstyle is short, but it's hardly masculine looking. Nothing on you would look masculine." Clark ran his hand through his hair. "I'll admit I was stunned when I saw you come off the elevator. It is quite a different look for you. But now that I've had a few moments to adjust to the *new* you, I think it suits you. It's casual and probably easy to care for. I would think that would appeal to someone as active as you are." He let a smile creep onto his face. "And if it's all right to say so, I think it looks quite sexy."

Lois blushed. "Thanks."

Clark spread his hands in a gesture of confusion. "So, I've got to ask." He pointed at the hair now piled in her waste basket. "What… happened?"

Lois sat down in her chair. Perry and Jimmy had drifted off, but didn't stray too far. They didn't want to miss out on the explanation. "I woke up at my desk this morning, a pair of scissors in my hand, and a pile of my hair on the desk. Oh, and thanks for the coat, by the way."

Clark shook his head. "Don't mention it. Are you saying that… you cut your own hair — in your sleep?"

Lois laughed. "Oh, no. I suppose she just wanted me to think that."


"Cat. She's the one who cut my hair off last night."

"What?" Clark sounded shocked, but Lois didn't know why. Considering all that went on last night, it should be obvious. "Are you sure?"

Lois rolled her eyes. "Of course, I'm sure. It was a simple and logical deduction. Besides she told me she did it… eventually."

Perry had wandered back over to Lois' desk. Jimmy trailed behind, like an obedient puppy. "Ah, Lois, I can't help but wonder. You seem to be taking this awfully well. Don't take this the wrong way, but that's just not like you."

Lois waved off Perry's comments. "Look, Chief, I admit that I was a bit upset when I first woke up and discovered what Cat had done. But what's done is done. There's nothing I can do now but make the best of it." Lois grinned at her boss. "Besides, I kind of like it this way. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some research to do."

She rose from her chair and began to walk toward the other end of the room. After only a few steps she stopped and turned toward the trio of perplexed men. "Oh, and Perry, you might want to send Jimmy over to Cat's apartment — to untie her."

"Lois," Clark groaned. "What did you do?"

Lois affected a mock look of innocence. "Moi?"


"Hey, you know what they say. One good turn…"

Perry just shook his head. "Just tell me one thing, Lois. Will Cat still be able to mingle with the rich and famous, so she can do her job?"

"Perry," she said with just a hint of exasperation. "Oh course she can." Suddenly an evil smile tugged at Lois' lips. "She has plenty of wigs."



Hasty Words — A Haircut challenge Evil Vignette

By Tank

"Shoot!" Lois Lane cradled the phone receiver with a little more force than necessary, a frown marring the beautiful face of one half of the Daily Planet's top reporting duo.

"Lois?" Clark Kent, the other half of that duo looked away from his computer screen toward his partner and friend.

Lois turned her head to meet Clark's questioning gaze. "Oh, that was Senator Anderson's office. They had to reschedule our interview to one o' clock this afternoon."

"So?" Clark shrugged. "We didn't have anything important to do this afternoon."

"Well, you may not have had anything important to do," Lois countered. "But I had a hair appointment at 1:30 and now I'll have to cancel it. That's the third appointment I've had to cancel in the last two weeks." Lois ran her fingers through her shoulder length locks. "I'm beginning to look like a sheep dog."


"Don't give me tone, Kent. You've known me for nearly a year now and you know that I'm not vain…"

"If you say so." Clark had a devilish smirk on his face.

Lois glared at his interruption. "As I said, you know that I'm not vain — but a woman likes to have her hair looking good."

Clark shook his head. "Lois, you look fine. Your hair looks fine."

Lois got up and came over to her partner's desk, sitting on the edge of it. She swatted him lightly on the shoulder. "You're not exactly the most impartial judge. I know you, Kent, and as my partner and friend, you'd probably tell me I looked fine if I walked in after being caught in a hurricane."

Clark grinned. "What can I say, Lois, I think you're beautiful and it wouldn't matter how you wore your hair." Clark placed his fist to his chin as if thinking deeply about something. "I don't think I'd like you as a redhead though."

Lois gave her partner a searching stare before she finally answered. "Well, for you, I guess I'll forego the dye job I had planned then."

"Hey, I've always said I like you better in long hair, Lois." Jimmy Olsen, his hands full of photos came up to the pair. He'd obviously caught the tail end of their conversation.

Lois gave Jimmy an exasperated but amused look. "Jimmy, you've never seen me in short hair."

"Oh, yeah." Jimmy blushed.

Lois rolled her eyes. "Men!" she said dismissively.

Lois, anxious to change the subject, pointed at the stack of photos in Jimmy's hand. "So what have you got there, Jimmy?"

Jimmy looked down at his hands as if just discovering he was holding something. "Oh, these are a bunch of shots of Superman I've taken over the last few months. Perry wants to go trough them to pick out four or five for the tribute article in this Sunday's supplement."

Clark groaned as Lois again swatted her partner's shoulder. "Now, Clark, I don't understand your jealousy of Superman." Lois' face took on a dreamy quality. "I think Superman deserves all the credit and praise we can give him. Sometimes I think people take what he does for us for granted." Lois plucked the photos from Jimmy's hand and spread them out on Clark's desk. "Let's see what you have here."

"There are some nice shots here, Jimmy."

Jimmy puffed himself up a bit. "Thanks, Clark."

"Yeah," Lois added. "Some good shots. Look here's one of me and Superman at the Nightfall press conference. And here's another one of us during that heat wave crises." Lois fingered first one, then another photo.

Jimmy pointed out his favorite. "There's this one of Superman and me that I took with a time delay a couple of weeks ago." Jimmy frowned as he gazed at the scattered pile. "You know, there doesn't seem to be any pictures of you and Superman, CK. I'm not sure if I've ever seen any."

Lois waved her hand in a dismissive nature. "Well, Clark always seems to miss out on the action."

Jimmy picked up one shot. A picture of Superman just standing alone, smiling at someone out of frame. "It's kind of funny," Jimmy ventured a little hesitantly. "But, don't CK and Superman look kind of alike?"

Clark leaned back in surprise and opened his mouth to say something but was interrupted by Lois' laughter.

"Come on Jimmy, get real, Clark and Superman?" Lois broke out in more laughter.

"Well they do have the same basic coloring, and Clark does have a pretty good build…"

"Yeah, and Perry's been told he looks a lot like Nixon, but he's never been to the White House." Lois said between snickers. She looked over and saw the frown on her partner's face. "Look, Clark, no offense, you're a good looking guy with a nice build, but Superman?" Lois giggled again. "I wish!"

Suddenly an all too familiar bellow came from the direction of their editor's office. "Olsen!"

"Ooops, gotta run." Jimmy scrambled to gather up his photos and left the two reporters on a dead run for Perry's office.

Clark fixed a still grinning Lois with a calculating stare. "So, I'm not Superman material, huh?"

Lois patted Clark on the hand as she stood up. "Oh, don't fret about it, Clark. You have your own good qualities, but let's face it. Who can really compare to Superman?" Lois glanced at her watch, then grabbed Clark's arm and dragged him out of his chair. "Come on, there's time for us to go and get some lunch before we have to be downtown for our interview."

A few minutes later Lois and Clark were alone on the elevator heading for the street level of the Planet. Clark studied Lois as she fussed with her hair.

"So you don't think a mild-mannered reporter could be masquerading as a tights wearing super-hero in his spare time?"

Lois turned her head to stare at her friend. "Clark, what is it with you and this? As I've said, you're a *super* guy in your own right. You don't have to be embarrassed that you, or anybody for that matter, can't measure up to someone like Superman. Now can we just drop it, I have a call to make."

As they exited the elevator, Lois pulled her cell phone out of her bag and called to cancel her hair appointment. She didn't notice the sly smile that came over Clark's face as they exited the building and strolled down the sidewalk.

"I guess that means you'd be shocked and surprised if I were to reveal to you that I'm really your favorite super hero?"

Lois sighed and looked skyward. "Look, Clark, the day I discover that you are secretly Superman is the day…" She turned her head sharply toward him. Her hair flew in front of her face. She tucked it back behind her ear in irritation. "Is the day I — I shave my head." Lois noticed a puzzling change come over Clark's face. The corners of his mouth twitched like he was enjoying some private joke that no one else got. "What?"

Smiling, Clark just shook his head. "It's nothing." He pointed to a little cafe that they were quickly approaching. "Manny's all right for lunch?"


It had been a weird day and Lois was glad to be home. Not only had her conversation with Clark earlier about him and Superman been silly, but the stupid interview had turned out to be nothing more than another campaign speech by a Senator worried about his re-election. He artfully dodged any question with any hint of controversy like the pro that he was. It had been very irritating.

She had already shed her work clothes in favor of a pair of jeans and an overlarge, soft sweatshirt. She stood by the phone contemplating which take out place she should call for dinner when the front doorbell rang. Not expecting anyone, Lois curiously walked over to her door and peered out the peephole. She quickly undid the safety latches and opened the door.

"Clark, what are you doing here?"

Clark stepped through the door. He was also dressed casually. He had a couple of brown paper bags with him. From one of them came some enticing aromas. Leave it to Clark to bring her food.

"I thought some Chinese take-out would help soothe the frustration of that pointless interview we had to endure."

Lois took the one bag from Clark and placed it on her table. "Smells wonderful. What's in the other bag?" Lois reached for it.

Smiling a mysterious smile, Clark pulled the bag away from Lois' grasp. "That's for later. I, um, have something I want to tell you — after we've eaten."


The meal passed in pleasant companionship. The partners discussed the lack of any real news stories lately and how, while it might please the authorities not to have any current crime waves or other problems happening, it was death for the paper, and her reporters.

Lois stuffed all the excess trash into the original paper bag that Clark brought the meal in and deposited it all into her garbage. She then came back to the table and sat down looking at Clark expectantly.

"You said you had something you wanted to tell me?" she asked.

Clark took a deep breath. "Lois, I want you to know that this is something I've been wanting to tell you for quite some time now, but I've never felt the timing was right." Clark took another deep breath. "I've finally realized that if I keep waiting for the *right* time, it will never come. There will always be some excuse as to why I should wait."

Lois was clearly baffled. "Clark, what are you talking about?"

Clark sighed. "Lois, I've been keeping a secret from you. It's a big secret, but it's one I want you to know." Clark ran his hand through his hair. "You have to know that I haven't told you before this, not because I didn't trust you, but because this secret comes with some heavy considerations for more than just me… and you."

Lois was getting edgy. "Clark, you're scaring me. Just say it."

Clark reached down and pulled up the other bag he had set on the floor near his chair. He slid it over to Lois. At her questioning glance he indicated she should open it. Lois reached in and pulled out a colorfully printed box.

She stared, uncomprehendingly, at it for several moments. "The E-Z Cut home hair cutting kit?" She looked up at Clark. "I don't understand."

Clark pasted an apologetic look on his face. "Well, it wasn't the way I planned for this to go, but given what you said this afternoon outside the Planet, and knowing what a person of your word you are…"

Many emotions played across Lois' face as she tried to place the conversation Clark was referring to. Slowly her look turned from confused, to disbelief, to wariness.

"What is this all about, Clark?" Her tone was guarded, almost as if she was afraid of what he might say.

Clark stood up and backed away from the table. "Perhaps it'd be best if I just show you."

Suddenly Clark began to spin. He immediately became a blur that quickly changed colors from the green and tan of his shirt and pants to a bright blue and red. A few moments later he stopped and the person standing in Lois' kitchen wasn't Clark anymore, it was…"

"Superman!" Lois put her hand to her mouth.

He came over and pulled her hand away from her mouth and gave it a squeeze. "I know this is a shock, but I didn't want to hide this any longer. I thought you deserved to know."

"You — Clark — are Superman?" Lois watched in shock as Clark levitated a couple of feet off the ground and eased himself back to the floor. "I don't believe it."

Clark nodded sadly. "I gathered you'd have a hard time believing me after the way you talked earlier today."

Lois looked from Superman's face to the 'little present' sitting on her kitchen table and back to his face. She began to shake her head. "Oh no, you don't really think that I would… Clar,er, Superman that's crazy."

Clark frowned. "Please, Lois, call me Clark because that's who I really am. And as far as the hair cutting kit. I don't know what you will or won't do. I just know that you have always been a woman of your word so I thought that maybe…"

Lois jumped up from her seat. "Oh, I get it now. You knew I'd be upset when you told me this so you bring this cheap hair cutting kit over with you because of a silly remark I made. You figure that you can deflect my righteous anger by pretending to call my bluff."

Clark shrugged. "Lois, I know you have a right to be upset, but believe me I …"

"Sure, that's it isn't it. You figure you can sidestep the heat by putting it back on me. You're convinced I'd never do it so you bring this over." Lois points to the kit lying on the table. "Just to, to — I'm not sure what you are trying to do? But I do know that you no more want me to shave my head than I do." Lois stalked around the room briefly. "No, you don't think I have the guts to actually go through with it. You think that if I go back on *my word*, as you say, that it will allow you some similar sort of excuse as to why you've been lying to me all these months." Lois reached out and grabbed the box from the tabletop. "Well, the joke's on you, buddy boy."

Lois ripped the cardboard box open and spilled the contents on the table. The kit consisted of a pair of shears, some plastic attachments, an instruction booklet, and a pair of electric clippers. Lois picked up the clippers.

"You don't think I'll do it do you?" Lois walked over to the kitchen sink and plugged the hand held appliance into a handy wall outlet. "I'm going to do it you know."

Clark sighed and shrugged. "I guess if you feel that's what you have to do, Lois."

Lois stomped her foot in exasperation. "I'm going to do it." She thumbed the switch and the little clippers sprang to life with a throaty buzz. "Here I go." She placed the whirring little device on her forehead. "Another moment and it will be too late."

Clark nodded sadly. "I know."

Lois stared at Clark as her hand stayed frozen in place. "Clark, I mean it… I'm gonna shave my head… Clark! Aren't you going to stop me?" Her voice dropped to a plaintive cry.

Clark had a hard time hiding his grin as he came over and took the clippers from her hand. "Tell you what, Lois. I know you are someone who won't accept it if I just ask you not to do something you said you would do." A sly look came over Clark's face. "So, how about a trade. You don't shave off your beautiful hair in exchange for a promise to not get angry with me for keeping this Superman thing from you for so long. We can discuss it, and I will answer all your questions. But we have to do it as rationale adults, without any tantrums or fits of pique." He switched the clippers off and set them on the counter. "What do you say?" Clark watched as Lois' brow furrowed and she didn't say anything for several moments. "Lois?"

"I'm thinking!" She pushed away from Clark with a sigh. "Okay, you win this time. Savor the victory, Kent, it will never happen again."

Clark grinned. "I think you said that to me once before, Lois."

Her eyes flashed daggers. She pushed him toward the door. "Now, spin back into Clark and go home. I may not be able to get mad at you for this, but that doesn't mean that I can't spend some quality time with myself breaking things."

Clark slid his hand along her cheek. "Okay, Lois, I'll leave now. It is a lot to take in, but tomorrow's Saturday and we're both off. I suggest we get together and discuss this matter further… calmly, like two adults."

"Yeah, whatever." She pushed him again toward the door.

Clark laughed and spun back into his Clark Kent outfit. Lois still couldn't believe it.

"Wow," was all she could say.

"Good night, Lois." Clark quickly let himself out.


Clark found himself puttering aimlessly about the apartment. He knew that he and Lois agreed to discuss his being Superman in an adult, reasonable manner, yet he was still nervous. He'd had to stop himself from calling her three times already. It was still too early, and he felt it best if she initiate the contact. A knock on his door brought him out of his musings. He opened the door to reveal Lois standing there. She had on sweat pants, and a hooded sweatshirt tied tightly against the morning chill. She was slightly out of breath. She probably had been out running and had decided to come over.

She stepped into Clark's apartment and handed him a small paper sack. "Since you were so thoughtful to bring me a *gift* last night," she said by way of explanation. "I thought it only fair to bring you one." She didn't wait to be invited in, but walked into Clark's living room.

Bewildered, Clark opened the small sack and reached his hand inside. A quick little chill ran through his body. The sack was full of hair. He pulled out a handful and saw the long strands of silky dark tresses clasped in his fist.

"Lois, you didn't?" Clark stared at her in horror.

Lois struck an ingénue pose and whipped back the hood on her sweatshirt. "Ta, da… do you like it?" Her voice held a slightly mocking tone.

Clark stared, dumbfounded, at Lois. The shoulder length locks she had been complaining about the other morning were gone. Her head was covered with a fine dark stubble no more than a quarter of an inch in length.

"I couldn't quite bring myself to shave it all off, but I think this buzz cut will qualify as keeping my word, don't you?" She came closer to Clark and reached up and closed his mouth with her finger. "Actually it was sort of fun once I got over the shock of the first pass with the clippers. It was liberating in a strange way."

Clark'd had to swallow a gasp when Lois had pulled back her hood. He was thunderstruck. It took several moments for him to regain a semblance of his voice. "But, Lois… why?"

"Because I said I would."

"But, Lois I thought we agreed…"

She placed a finger over his lips. "I know what we agreed and I thought about that last night. I though about that a lot." She began to pace. "Clark, you know I have issues with trust, and nothing pushes my buttons more than being lied to. I know you think you might have had reasons for keeping the fact that you're Superman from me, but it still hurts. I'm hurt and I'm angry that you felt you had to lie to me." She ran her hand quickly over her dark stubble. "This is just hair and in time it will grow back." She shrugged. "I've worn wigs before, I can do it again. But I'm only going to get one chance at these feelings I'm having about this big revelation of yours. I want — no, I need to be angry with you over it. I can't just try and submerge it until it festers into something that could ruin whatever it is that we really have between us."

Lois came over and placed her hand on Clark's chest. "We need to have this out like it's meant to be. I have to be able to yell, and cry, and make silly accusations until I can get all the bottled up emotion out of my system. Things will be uncomfortable for a few days but eventually I'll get over it and we can move on to whatever future we have together. That won't happen if I can't get my release." She bit on her lip before continuing. "I hope you can understand that."

Clark nodded. "I think I do understand, Lois." He held up the bag. "But you could have just told me, you didn't have to cut off your hair."

Lois sighed. "Yes, Clark, I did. I know that you would never have forced me to cut my hair just because of some remark I made, but as well as you know me, there are things about me that you still have yet to realize. There are certain things that take on an extra importance with me." Lois took a moment to take a deep breath of her own. "As silly as this action may seem to you, it was important that I do this *my* way. I hope my somewhat *radical* reaction hasn't turned you away from being my friend?"

Clark stroked Lois' cheek with his hand. "Of course not, Lois. I'll always be your friend… always."

Lois stepped back from him. "That's good to know, because believe me you are going to need to remember that once we get going here."

Clark looked confused. "Lois?"

Lois turned away from Clark for a moment. Her shoulders rose and fell as she took another deep breath, then she turned back to face him. "Now about all those times I thought I was confiding in you about my feelings for Superman and vice versa. I bet you had quite a few laughs at my expense there!" Lois stormed forward and stuck her finger into Clark's chest.

Clark sighed, and rolled his eyes heavenward. It was going to be a long morning.