By Mary Potts AKA Queen of the Capes <QueenoftheCapes@gmail.com>
Submitted April 2008
Summary: While following a man under surveillance into a costume shop, Clark finds his interest turns to buying something for Lois.
This was done for a guess-the-author competition; I wrote something racier than my usual fare in the hopes that it would throw people off. Alas, it didn't work as well as I'd hoped--people still knew it was me, and so I need a *new* plan for next time.
Out of all the skimpy, sleazy, fetish-based costumes in the store, Gebbler had chosen fox costumes.
Clark had been trailing Rhett Gebbler for the better part of the day, waiting for him to meet with his contacts. So far, Clark had surreptitiously accompanied the man grocery shopping, bowling, and other small, meaningless errands. He'd grown suspicious when Gebbler had suddenly driven to a small, seedy borough in east Metropolis, and followed him into a building that had no signs.
The building turned out to be a dimly lit shop, one of those hole-in-the-wall places that no patron ever admitted to entering. Clark had waited a few moments before following Gebbler inside, then he'd immediately melted into the shadows upon crossing the threshold. Gebbler was completely unaware, though the large man working behind the counter had noticed him.
Clark found himself surrounded by racks and shelves packed with costumes, as well as a few other "recreational items." He watched Gebbler browse, silently hoping that the meeting with his contacts would take place any second now. Part of him feared that Gebbler might be onto him, and was merely trying to make a fool out of the pesky reporter, or at least embarrass him into not following anymore.
Nevertheless, Gebbler seemed blissfully unaware of his shadow as he meandered about, picking through the racks of colorful, skimpy rags. Finally, Gebbler had come to a wall lined with freshly-stocked shelves. After perusing the goods for several minutes, he selected two eerily-realistic fox costumes and approached the front.
Clark watched in disbelief, and perhaps a fair amount of distaste. He kept waiting for a secret sign to pass between Gebbler and the store clerk, or for Gebbler's contacts to suddenly enter the shop. When neither seemed to be happening, he cursed.
Gebbler must have heard him, for he suddenly turned around. Clark ducked out of sight before he was spotted, and while Gebbler stood scanning the room, Clark snaked his way carefully to the back of the store.
At last, he was safe, hiding in a corner behind a rack of Batman and Robin costumes. Careful not to touch anything, the rack of Batsuits in particular, he watched Gebbler through the curtain of hanged clothing.
Gebbler stood looking in his vague direction for what seemed an insufferably long time. After turning his head and silently scanning the rest of the store, Gebbler warily started toward the exit.
Clark let him leave, resolving to wait a while before following. Gebbler had obviously been spooked, and it was likely that he'd spend a few minutes watching to see if anyone did indeed try to come after him. Allowing himself a small sigh, Clark waited for the appropriate amount of time to pass.
He really didn't want to make much eye-contact with the rack of suits that were serving as his shield. A glance in another direction, however, resulted in a scalding glimpse of red and blue that made his face flush. Scarlet from the neck up, Clark turned to face the corner.
A small display had been set up in this corner of the store. For a while, Clark stared at the wall, not really seeing anything due to his intense embarrassment. Gradually, though, he allowed himself a glimpse at the small tables in front of him.
A mannequin stood in the center. It wasn't especially life-like. Rather, it was a kind of gray, faceless statue with just enough features to show what the articles of clothing covered -- and what they didn't.
It was dressed in what seemed to be a stylized parody of a Japanese schoolgirl uniform. 'Sarafuku' -- a 'fuku' based on a sailor's uniform. A short, tiny skirt barely draped over the area that was meant to designate the hips, and fanned out slightly. The top was white, tight, and very figure-hugging, with a plunging, bordered neckline that culminated in a large bow.
As if his imagination needed more encouragement, a poster had been helpfully pasted up on an empty wall behind the display. It showed two young girls, drawn in anime style complete with unrealistic hair color. Each wore a similar outfit to the one on the mannequin. Their arms were wrapped around each other in an odd sort of hug, and they were smiling out at him. Somehow, their outfits seemed a bit more modest than the actual ones on display.
What caught his attention, though, was one character's haircut.
One of the girls on the poster had her hair cropped very short. The style was, in fact, quite similar to how his wife currently wore her hair. Clark found himself picturing Lois in one of those outfits, and found that the image was--strangely--not altogether disagreeable...
He turned to the mannequin again, staring long and hard as he tried to imagine Lois in its place. Lois in a short skirt that barely covered her essentials and fanned out when she moved. Lois in a cute, tight sailor top with a plunging neckline, an adorable bow hiding and yet calling attention to her--
Somehow, Clark found himself holding one of the folded costumes as he walked to the front of the store.
He gingerly set the clothes down on the counter, as though their weight might trigger a hidden booby-trap. The man behind the counter gruffly picked them up and scanned the tags.
"They come with accessories," he said as he stuffed the articles into a bag. "Do you want them?"
Clark silently nodded.
The man asked for a shoe size. After Clark provided that information, the clerk disappeared into the back of the store and returned a while later with a pair of high-heeled boots, long white gloves, and a golden headband. "The boots okay, or did you want the pumps?"
"They're fine," Clark squeaked. He cleared his throat. Since when did Superman squeak?
He pulled his credit card out of his wallet and handed it to the waiting clerk.
When Clark finally left the store, he couldn't help looking cautiously over his shoulder with each step he took. His grip on the innocuous paper bag tensed as he headed for home, completely forgetting Mr. Gebbler.
The store clerk was surprised but unfazed when, some time later, the door to the shop flew open and an irate brunette stormed in, dragging his last customer along by the ear. The paper bag was in her other hand. After looking around and spying the counter, she shoved the bag into her captive's arms and pushed him toward the counter.
"Return it," she seethed.
She folded her arms. "Return it, or I'll make you wear a squid costume to match."
The clerk grunted. "We're out of squid," he said.
The couple turned to stare at him.
"There's one Netherdemon costume in the back," he said helpfully, "but it's a size 48. We also have a few octopi and crustacean suits over there." He pointed to a shelf on the far wall, by a rack that was marked 'Clearance'.
After a few minutes of baffled staring, the woman turned to her companion and slapped his back to propel him forward. With a sigh, he stepped up to the counter and pulled the costume and accessories out of the bag. "I'd like to return this, please," he said.
The clerk nodded. "Do you have your reciept?"
The man nodded and reached for his wallet. Meanwhile, his lady friend had quietly wandered into the bowels of the shop.
Clark waited for the Clerk to process his return. It took a while, since the machinery had suffered some kind of glitch. By the time they were finished, Lois was once again standing next to him.
He sighed. "Okay, Lois. I've returned it, and we need never speak of this again..."
"No, Clark," Lois said tentatively, "It's...okay. You can buy it."
Bemused, Clark turned to face his wife and saw that she was holding something. His heart pounded as he caught the glimpse of black material draped over her arm, and he automatically glanced in the direction of the Batman and Robin rack. For crying out loud, surely she didn't want--?
"But we're getting this, too, okay?" She set the costume down on the counter, and Clark saw that it was, in fact, just an ordinary black leather outfit.
He smiled, nodded, then turned to the large clerk who patiently agreed to reprocess his purchase.
The store clerk picked up the schoolgirl outfit and scanned the tags again. "Accessories?" he asked.
Clark glanced at Lois, then nodded.
The clerk placed the outfit into the brown paper bag again and carefully added the boots, gloves, and headband. "We just got these in stock," he added, reaching under the counter and producing a large, ornate wand that somehow seemed to be more than just decorative.
Clark looked at the shiny cardboard tag that dangled from the end of the wand. On one side was an anime-style picture of a girl with two long, blonde ponytails, wearing a skimpy sarafuku. She held a version of the wand aloft and was posed in such a way as to allow a seemingly-accidental glimpse of pink underwear underneath her skirt. Clark flipped the tag over. On the other side, printed in a calligraphic font, were the words 'In The Name Of The Moon, I Will Punish You!'
Clark's face turned red. "Um, pass..." he said.
Before the clerk could put it away, Lois picked up the wand and inspected it. She shot Clark a mischievous grin. "I'll take that," she said.
The clerk all but winked at Clark as he rang up Lois' purchases. Clark suddenly felt very warm from the neck up. By the time he accepted the freshly-stocked paper bag, he'd been completely robbed of speech, and it was up to Lois to handle the credit card.
She accepted the receipt, and they both turned to go... only to freeze in place when they saw the young man standing behind them.
Jimmy dropped the sheep outfit he'd been holding, and for a while, the three just stared awkwardly at each other.
"Um..." Jimmy stammered at last. "This is for Ralph. I mean--" His face turned scarlet. After a few seconds of choking and gurgling, he finally turned and ran crying from the store.
Lois and Clark watched him go. They glanced at each other, then Clark turned to the clerk. "Thanks very much, but I don't think we'll be coming back here again."
The clerk nodded. "It's okay," he said as they turned to leave, "no one ever does."