By Elisabeth <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted December 2007
Summary: Lois asks Clark to be her date at Luthor's costume ball. Does she have costumes in mind?
"So do you want to go or not?" The way Lois said it made it sound more like a challenge than an invitation.
Clark debated for a moment. On the one hand, going on a date with Lois, even a working date, was a dream come true. On the other hand, it was pretty obvious he was her fifth or sixth choice. If he accepted now, maybe it would come across as so pathetic she wouldn't be willing to agree to a real, non-work-related date later on.
"Well?" Her nervousness was obvious. Even in a darkened, empty newsroom, her personality filled the place. She was a wonder! When she was excited, it emanated from her until the entire universe danced in victory. When she was hot on a story, the world backed out of her way to watch the marvel of a master at work. And now, the cosmos jittered in place, waiting for his response.
"I'm thinking," he calmly informed her without a hint of annoyance in his tone—she wouldn't be Lois Lane if she weren't in a hurry.
She sighed and crossed her arms. "Never mind," she mumbled, turning on her heel to depart in humiliation.
In the heartbeat he had to decide, there was nothing Clark could do but agree. He would just have to charm the socks out of her on their date. He would leave her wanting more. That would solve everything.
Still, it was important that he didn't sound as desperate for her presence as he really was. He didn't want to scare her off, after all. "I had planned on going to bed early tonight," he explained indecisively.
"Are you crazy?" she sputtered, gesturing angrily. "This is the hottest social event of the season. Reporters sell their children for tickets to this thing. And you—you're going to bed early?"
He kept his face at a deadpan. He was toying with her now, but he couldn't seem to mind. "If it's really important to you, I suppose I could change my plans," he hesitantly agreed. "But you'd owe me one." He was playing with fire, but the prospect of getting burned couldn't scare him in the least. "You'd have to be on your best behavior, though. No funny business."
Watching her squirm was delicious entertainment. Her squinty-eyed glare could make his heart stop cold in his chest.
"It's a formal costume party. Can you handle it?"
"Seeing you in costume? I think I can manage."
She rolled her eyes at him. "What size do you wear?"
"I'm not sure," he answered honestly. "Did you want to measure me?"
Her eyes flashed, even as her cheeks burned red. "Mmm handle it," she muttered as she launched herself toward the elevators, tossing in parting, "I'll pick you up at seven."
Clark flipped through the racks in frustration. Lois had asked him to handle it, but try as he may he couldn't find anything he was sure would please her.
She was certainly no Dorothy from Oz; she was far too full of confidence and direction. Neither would the Elvira, goddess of the night costume do; she was far too classy to wear such trampy fare.
He lifted his eyebrows as he glanced at a flesh-colored body suit with a floor-length wig. She would kill him if he brought home a Lady Godiva costume for her. He thought back to how her eyes had flashed at him earlier, how her spine had straightened at the mere mention of a challenge. He had no doubt that she had the daring to pull off the awkward role like few women could. Still, he had always enjoyed having his head firmly attached to the top of his neck.
Besides, he didn't want her to think that he only noticed her for her body. He pushed the costume aside.
The pixie costume was equally tantalizing, with glittering tights under an array of transparent pastel leaves. The suit itself was cut like that of a ballerina. With her long legs, he had no doubt she would be magical in that costume. But Lois' kind of magic was quite different from that of the forest-dweller.
He continued down the rack. She definitely would rather be dead than wear the chicken costume, although the naughty cut would certainly make for an unforgettable evening.
He paused at the Cleopatra costume.
Lois frowned in disgust at the array of costumes in front of her. She had told Clark she could handle it—and she would—but the truth was she was in way over her head. She didn't even know what size he wore.
The costume she had previously rented would definitely not fit her co-worker. Mitchell had the body of an anorexic accountant, but Clark was built more like a Marine—thin waist, ripped abs, broad shoulders… She forced herself to focus. She didn't have time for these distractions.
It wasn't just the size that had her flummoxed. Her own costume had to be perfect if she were to catch Luthor's eye and land the story of the century.
Clark was such a hayseed, he would probably just show up in a pair of bib overalls with straw sticking out of his mouth, left to his own devices. No, this was a job for Lois Lane. She could do this.
She threw the powdered wigs and the Lincoln costumes out of her way; she wanted something young and vivacious. She zipped past Spiderman and Batman; young was one thing, but those made-up comic book fools lacked sophistication. She was looking for a real hero, not those fakes.
Elvis was way out. With all due respect to Perry, the guy was dead.
The Klingon costume was a joke. She envisioned grown men with beer bellies still thinking they were twelve years old speaking their secret Klingon language and yelling, "May the force be with you!" to anyone who got too close. No way was she associating with that nonsense.
She paused way too long at a toga costume. Sure, Clark would kill her, but dancing with him would certainly be interesting. Of course, it didn't serve her purposes well. She didn't want all eyes to be on her partner. No, she would demand it for herself.
Clark rounded the corner and noted his co-worker in surprise.
"Kent, what are you doing here? I told you I'd manage," she spluttered, hastily stuffing a costume back onto the rack. In her hurry, she missed the rod. The garment fell to the floor in a mess. He knelt down to retrieve it for her, carefully winding the fabric back into place.
"I think you'll look great in this toga, Lois," he confessed, "but what do you expect me to wear?"
"I didn't… I wasn't… Give me that! I was just moving it out of my way to get to the more interesting items." She grabbed the offending item from him and jerked it back onto the rack, giving it an extra tug to ensure that it stayed submissively in place this time.
He wrinkled his nose as he offered her his own find. On the rack it had seemed like such a good idea, but now that Lois was here it didn't feel as right.
"Cleopatra?" She didn't sound convinced.
He tried to shrug it off. "All of the top banana costumes were taken."
She frowned at him, but it didn't reach her eyes. "Cleopatra," she mused thoughtfully. "Well… she was a queen."
Clark brightened, leaning against the door to the changing room. "My thought exactly. And she always got her way."
She nodded appreciatively. "There is that." She looked more closely at the dress and spluttered in surprise. "It's a size 12! Do you really think I wear a size 12?"
"Well…" he hedged, not knowing quite what to say. She was clearly offended, but he couldn't understand why. "I wear a 16-1/2 inch neck, so I figured yours would be a few inches smaller. I take it you wear an 11?"
She rolled her eyes and stuffed Cleopatra between an elephant and a donkey. "Don't you know anything about women's fashion?"
He shrugged. "Mom was always more of a small, medium, large kind of a gal. You wear a 10?"
She didn't bother answering. Inspiration flashed through her mind. She had made her decision, and she wasn't going to stick around to shoot the breeze anymore. She glanced at her watch and grimaced. She had wanted a full hour to do her hair and make-up; she definitely wouldn't be getting it.
"I know just the thing. Come on! We don't have a lot of time." She pushed him toward the door. "You have a tux? Never mind, what was I thinking? You're going to have to find someplace to rent one, and fast. I'll buy a mask for you before I go. Tux and a mask—the perfect formal costume." She pushed past him to make her purchases. "We're going to have to change plans. I don't have time to pick you up. I'll meet you there!" she hollered over her shoulder without pausing to ensure that he had heard.
fifty minutes later
Clark edged past Little Bo Peep and Nixon, searching for his date in the crowd. Perhaps she hadn't arrived, yet. The jumble of bodies and the fusion of fragrances—perfumes, colognes, appetizers—was disconcerting. The flickering of lightning and the rumble of rain only added to the disorder. In the sea of unfamiliar faces, he searched expectantly for the only one he cared about.
He accepted a glass of wine from a passing waiter, if only to blend in a bit better.
Finally he made her voice out from the midst of the crowd. He fixed his attention to the sound, trying in vain to locate its source in the pandemonium of the party.
"Lex Luthor!" she demanded. "You haven't returned my phone calls."
Clark slipped past a very informal Porkie and Petunia Pig, noting with surprise that it was the mayor and his wife, as he headed closer to where he had heard Lois's voice. Excusing himself, he crept around a cowgirl, trying not to notice the scent of alcohol in her sweat or her flirtatious grin.
He bumped into a Rockette, but caught hold of her glass before it spilled. "So sorry." He shrugged and returned her wine glass.
He found himself at the base of the stairs where his date had been only a few minutes before, but by now she was gone—having been swallowed up by the crowd. He closed his eyes, listening intently for her every comment but, for what was probably the first time in her life, she was strangely silent.
The orchestra swelled as they finished one song. A moment later they began a slower dance. Clark's climbed a few steps of the spiral staircase, his eyes sweeping over the dance floor.
His breath caught in his throat as he found her. She was wearing a black, satin dress with a black, satin mask. It was simple, yet elegant, making his heart stop in his chest.
His feet found their way across the floor, until he stood in front of her. At this distance, he could see how cleverly her hair hung around her face, with twin cat ears peaking out. Her face practically glowed as she spoke to the man she was dancing with. Her lips looked full and red. She made whiskers look sophisticated.
"May I cut in?" he couldn't help but ask.
A missed heartbeat later he found Lois Lane in his arms, and his every dream came true.