Catalyst

By Sam Jackson <samjbham@yahoo.co.uk>

Rated: PG13

Submitted: April 2005

Summary: When Lois is upset by her coworkers, she knows where to go to cheer up. Clark turns her fury into something else…

With huge thanks to Seema and Mirage, for doing a fantastic beta-reading job on this, and to Julie, for being an equally brilliant GE!

***

"That's settled then. Steve, you'll cover the Trade Conference all this week. Ed, you look into the spate of muggings on MetU campus. If either of you need help, Jenny will be free anytime after Tuesday. Okay?"

Perry White ticked off another two items on his list as the reporters in question nodded their assent. He glanced at his watch and noted with satisfaction that the staff meeting had progressed far quicker than he had expected.

"Right then, I've got one last thing I need to assign out," Perry told the group of reporters. "I was thinking this one might be right up your alley, Cat!" he said, with a chuckle.

At the other end of the table, Lois Lane rolled her eyes at her partner, Clark Kent. The staff meeting had gone on far too long already, and she wasn't feeling particularly receptive to the chief's dismal attempts at humour. Clark grinned sympathetically at her, before turning his attention back to Perry.

"That new dating agency that appeared a couple of months back, you know, the one that became popular after that TV actress admitted to being a member of?" he asked, checking that the gossip columnist knew what he was talking about.

"Oh, yeah," Cat Grant drawled from where she sat draped on the windowsill. "And let me tell you, she's not the only one from that show who's been looking for a bit of help in the dating department. But her co-star is looking in slightly seedier places, if you care to catch my drift!"

"Well, maybe we won't go down that road. This isn't the National Whisper you know!" Perry replied. "Anyway, apparently they say that they match people by putting the information they give into some computer program that finds how compatible they are, by — well it's all in here," he said, passing over a glossy brochure to Cat. "But rumour has it they've been scamming people, and that they just randomly pick up a couple of members and send them out with each other without even looking at the profiles. I want you to look into it and see what you can find."

Lois scoffed to herself loudly, before turning it into a cough as everyone turned to look at her. Clark gave her a nudge with his elbow and frowned at her when she looked up and caught his eye.

"Is there a problem, Lois?" Perry asked, as Cat shot daggers across the room.

"Not at all, Chief! I suppose *someone* has to do that type of story," Lois replied airily.

"And what's that supposed to mean?" Cat snarled.

"Come on, it's hardly hard-hitting journalism, is it? A corrupt dating agency? Puh-lease! Still, I guess it *is* right up your street!"

"Do you want to help me with it, Lane?" Cat enquired in an innocent tone, one which contradicted the steely glint is her eyes.

Lois turned on her most withering look as she stared at the older woman. "Sorry Cat, I'm going to be busy doing *real* reporting!"

"Oh, I just thought that maybe you'd want to be in on this. After all, miracles do happen — you might get a date out of it!"

It was almost possible to hear the sharp intake of breath in the deathly silent conference room, as everyone looked back at Lois to see how she would respond to Cat's taunt. Standing in the corner, Jimmy Olsen muttered "Oh man!" as he waited for the tornado to hit.

Eyes flashing dangerously, Lois struggled to keep her voice at an even level. "Really?" she replied. "And here I was, thinking that you wanted help with your writing. I mean, if you go undercover you might have to write yourself a lonely hearts ad, won't you? And words like desperate, rough, wanton, loose; well, they're hard to spell, I know!"

"Desperate — you're familiar with that one, aren't you, Lois?" Cat snapped back, as she slid off the windowsill and slowly walked towards where Lois was sitting.

Lois got up from her chair and continued as if she hadn't heard her, "Though I guess you could just shorten it all and use just the one word; sl-"

"Enough!" Perry intervened. "Now I won't have you two behaving like teenagers in my staff meetings!"

"Come on, Perry, not even a teenager would dress like that for work," murmured Lois, looking Cat up and down.

"Lois!" Perry roared. "Are you listening to me?"

Lois recognised the irritation in Perry's voice and sat down quietly, satisfied that she had gotten the last word.

"Well, okay then," he went on. "I think it's about time you two learned to get along a little better. So here it is. You will both work on this story, *together*."

"But, Chief!" a horrified look crossed Lois's face.

"You heard me! I am partnering you up on this. No buts!"

"What about the mini-mart raids? Clark and I are busy working on those, Chief!"

"Kent can handle that on his own. You are working with Cat, as of right now," Perry replied.

"But…" Lois racked her brains to come up with another excuse. Nothing came.

"Anymore questions? No? Good, meeting over! Now go out there and bring me some stories!" Perry wrapped up the meeting, and the conference room began to clear.

"I can't believe you're doing this to me, Perry," Lois said softly as she sank back in her chair. Perry ignored her, and held the door open as Cat sailed past with a wide grin on her face.

"Come on, Lois, you've got some copying to do before we start! And then I'll brief you on how *I* like to work," she called over her shoulder.

Lois leapt up and followed Cat out of the room. "Excuse me?! I'm the senior reporter here, I call the shots!"

"Ahh, but it was my story first, sweetie…"

Perry could hear them continuing their argument as they stormed across the newsroom. He winced at a particularly choice phrase from Lois and sighed. That girl would be the death of him one day. Turning back into the conference room, Perry saw Clark and Jimmy still behind him.

"Was that really a good idea, Chief?" the young researcher asked, eyebrows raised.

"Sure, son! They'll either become best buddies, or they'll hate working together so much that they'll never interrupt a meeting again! It's a win-win situation!" Perry said, though he didn't look as confident as he sounded.

"Or they might just tear each other into little pieces and you'll be two reporters down…" Clark replied, as he got up to leave the room.

"There is that, I suppose," Perry nodded, looking slightly more anxious.

Jimmy joined them at the door. "But if they do that, you won't have to worry about more interruptions in your meetings!" he said, trying to cheer his boss up.

Perry snorted. "There's still Ralph…" he said darkly.

Jimmy peeked around the doorframe, towards the faint sounds of the ongoing argument. "You know, Lois is going to be mad," he said apprehensively. "Really, really mad. I sure hope they don't need my help with anything on this one!"

"Aw, you'll be fine, son! See, Lois, she's brilliant and all, but sometimes she just needs taking down a peg or two. Why, I remember when the King…"

Clark beat a hasty retreat as Perry wrapped his arm round Jimmy's shoulders and began his story.

***

Later that evening, Clark sat at home, watching the sports channel. He wasn't particularly interested in the game, but it was just nice to be able to relax a bit at the end of the day. Superman had done a patrol of the city earlier, and things in Metropolis were unusually calm. He had checked the news and there were no major problems elsewhere, so Clark had taken advantage of the peace and quiet to have a little downtime.

Just as he was getting comfortable, however, there was a loud knock at the front door. As he lowered his glasses to check who his visitor was, the groan at the back of his throat died, and was replaced by a wide grin. Bounding up the small flight of stairs in one stride, he threw open the door to let in his partner and best friend. Smiling down at her, he noticed the precariously balanced pizza box and took it off her hands, leaving her to deal with the files tucked under her arm.

"Lois, you know, if you were short on cash you only had to ask! You didn't need to start delivering pizzas as a second job!" he said cheerfully.

Lois threw him a scornful look as she swept past him into the apartment.

"I am going to kill Cat Grant!" she announced to the room. "I am going to throttle her slowly and painfully with that piece of rope she calls a skirt, then I am going to dismember her with my bare hands, and throw the bits into the filthiest part of Hobbs Bay!"

"Hi, Clark, how are you? I'm good, Lois, how about yourself? Oh, I'm fine, thanks for asking!" Clark muttered to himself. As he closed the door, he turned away from his partner to hide the smile spreading across his face.

"Clark, I didn't come here to be polite, I came here to rant! And sarcasm doesn't suit you, by the way," Lois retorted as she strode into his kitchen and started rooting through the cupboards. Pulling out two glasses, she resumed her tirade.

"What was I saying? Oh yeah, do you know what I'm going to do after I throttle Cat to death? I'm going to kill Perry! She may be the one driving me up the wall, but he put me on this story with her in the first place! What the heck was he thinking? He knows I can't stand Cat! Is it some kind of inbuilt sadistic editor trait that makes him think of the worst possible ways of torturing his star reporter?" Lois moved over to the refrigerator and filled the glasses with soda before setting them on the table.

"Anyway, I'm going to beat him to death with one of his Elvis statues," she continued, as she sat down. Suddenly she realised Clark was still standing over by the door. "Clark, what are you doing? Sit down, bring the pizza!" she ordered. "Hey, you haven't eaten already, have you?" she asked as an afterthought.

"No, not yet," he replied, joining her at the table. Actually he *had* already eaten, but Lois didn't need to know that! He was fairly sure he could manage a few slices of pizza to round off the chicken he'd had about an hour ago. Super-metabolism did come in handy once in a while! Besides, it would be rude not to eat something after Lois had gone to the…uh…trouble of bringing food. Okay, so picking up a pizza wasn't exactly much trouble, but by Lois's standards, at least it was an effort!

As they ate, Clark watched his partner surreptitiously over the table. Although she had foregone any further outbursts in favour of eating, the tension in her face was plain to see. She had clearly not enjoyed her day as Cat's partner! He debated the wisdom of asking her about it, as he was slightly worried she would either blow up or break down. However, his curiosity won the battle. <Better out than in anyway,> he thought to himself, and swallowed the last morsel of pizza.

"So what was so bad about working with Cat, exactly?" he asked cautiously.

"Oh God, Clark, it's horrible! She has no idea about how a proper reporter works, and Perry ordered that I have to go along with her ridiculous methods, as it was her story first! That's another thing I have to get him back for, by the way," she said.

"Still, it is only this one story. You can hack it till you're done, no problem." Clark tried to be positive.

"Clark, you don't understand! She's decided we have to actually *join* this dating agency, to see 'what kind of service they provide'! I wanted to break into the office, find this so-called super computer program and try it out, but she insists on working from the outside! Like we're going to find anything out that way! I wouldn't be surprised if she just wants a couple of dates out of it," Lois sneered in disgust. "Not that she has dates; our resident man-eater tends to skip that part of a relationship!"

Clark tried to hide his smile at the thought of Lois joining a dating agency. "Come on, Lois, she may be a bit…frivolous, but even Cat wouldn't just use a story like that. Besides, I don't want to be rude, but she doesn't exactly need an agency to help her find dates!"

"Well, that's true. After all, she walks into a room, clicks her fingers, and men jump straight into her bed, don't they, Clark?" Lois snapped, getting up from the table and moving towards the sofa.

Clark sighed at the expression of disgust on her face. Why was it that people refused to believe that he hadn't been with Cat? He followed his partner out of the kitchen and sat down next to her on his sofa.

"Lois? Please look at me, Lois," he said softly.

She turned her head to meet his eyes.

"I swear to you that I have never slept with Cat. I know what she says, but it's not true. I don't know why she spread around those rumours, but I promise you it didn't happen," he said earnestly.

Lois looked at his sincere face, and knew he was telling the truth. <Thank God for that!> she said to herself. She didn't know why the thought of Clark with Cat bothered her so much, but she couldn't ignore the relief she felt knowing that they hadn't done anything! It was probably just because she didn't want her best friend to have been treated like dirt, she thought. Yeah, that was it. Nothing more than simple concern. Although, it was vaguely worrying that she felt the same 'concern' whenever any woman showed interest in Clark…

"It's okay, Clark, I believe you," she told him, patting his arm gently.

"Great!" he replied, in a relieved tone. <Crisis over>

"But that doesn't mean I have to like Cat any better!" she added, remembering why she was so furious. "She just makes me so mad! I know I shouldn't let her wind me up, but she really does get right under my skin!"

<Spoke too soon, Kent> Clark thought to himself. "Whoa, calm down, Lois," he said. He pulled lightly on her shoulders, turning her to face away from him. Gently he began to massage her shoulders, feeling the tension in her muscles. "This stress isn't good for you, you know," he informed her.

"Mmmmm," she murmured distractedly, as she felt the tension slip slowly away from her body. <Clark is so good at this!> She loved the feel of his hands moving across her shoulders and back. Subconsciously, she leaned back further into his touch, and relaxed.

<He always knows how to make me feel better,> she reflected dimly. She had been in such a foul mood when she got home earlier, and throwing things around didn't help much, so her next thought had been to come here. Even if he couldn't help, Clark was always willing to listen, whether she wanted to vent all her fury or just burst into tears over something stupid. The time she spent with him was always the most enjoyable part of her day, so much so that she found herself looking for any excuse to visit him lately. They had been good friends for a long time now, but recently Lois had started to feel an even stronger bond. And, to be honest, that scared her a little.

Still, she knew she didn't really have to worry. Even if Clark could feel it too, she knew he would never try and push it. Not after the last time he put himself on the line for her and spelled out his feelings. Lois shuddered. She felt so guilty about how she had hurt Clark's feelings that day in the park. Stubbornly, she pushed those feelings back into that little box in the corner of her mind; that box labelled 'The Luthor Disaster: Do Not Open'. Anyway, as Clark wouldn't take the initiative, she could take her time and examine these new feelings properly. <Or, instead, just ignore them completely!> she told herself. That had always been a popular strategy for Lois Lane.

So there was no rush. She got the feeling Clark would always be there, waiting. And when she was ready, perhaps they could be more than friends. Someday. Not now. <Soon, though?> came a voice in the back of her mind. Lois thought about that. <Yeah. Maybe soon.>

***

Ten minutes later, Lois started as she felt Clark's hands leave her shoulders. A flash of disappointment coursed through her, but she immediately pushed it away.

"Better?" he asked.

"Oh, yeah. Much. Thanks, Clark," she replied.

"You're very welcome, Lois," he said. "Can I get you a drink? I'll open a bottle of wine,"

"Sure, that would be nice,"

Clark got up and strolled towards the kitchen. He pulled a bottle of wine from the rack, got out the glasses and set them on the counter to fill them. Noticing the files that Lois had set down earlier, he called over to her.

"Hey, what are these for, Lois?"

She looked up and glanced at the files he indicated. "Oh, well, the top one's for you. It's all the stuff I had lying around my desk on the mini-mart raids. I guess I won't need them anymore!" She pulled a face before continuing. "And then the bottom one is the stuff I've got to do for this dating agency farce!"

"Really? Let's have a look then!" Clark tucked the file under his arm and brought the wine back over the sofa. Placing the glasses on the coffee table, he opened up the file and flicked through the forms he found in there.

"So when are you joining up then? I might do it myself at the same time, just to see if we get paired up!" he told her with a mischievous grin.

"Clark, it's not funny! I'm supposed to have all those filled in by tomorrow, and they're absolutely ridiculous!" she said.

Clark began to read through the top form. "Basic Personal Details," he read aloud. "Name, age, address, blah blah. Well, this doesn't look too complicated," he concluded in a surprised tone. From the fuss Lois had been making, he had expected something a lot worse.

"Keep reading," Lois said in a resigned voice.

"Shoe size is a *basic* personal detail?" he asked.

"Oh, yeah, apparently so. But keep going; it gets better!"

Clark read on. "What?! They can't ask that!" he spluttered.

Lois glanced over to see what he was pointing at. "Well, they can and they do!" she said.

"But what are you supposed to write if you're a man?" he asked.

"Move on to question 27," she informed him, then giggled as his jaw dropped onto his chest. "Now you see why I'm so mad at Cat, for making me do this!" she said, flopping back onto the sofa and closing her eyes.

"Definitely," he mumbled, as he flicked through the rest of the forms. 'Likes and Dislikes', 'Lifestyle', 'Relationship History' (he winced at that one, thinking how Lois would answer some of the questions), 'Personal Preferences'; they just kept getting worse! Finally he came to the last one, a blank sheet entitled 'Profile'.

"What's this?" he asked, waving it under Lois's nose.

She opened one eye and gave the sheet a fleeting look. "Oh, that one is the worst of the lot! You have to write yourself a profile for prospective dates to read. See, they feed all the info from the other short questions into this computer, it comes up with any matches, then you get the profiles of the people you apparently match up with to read through and choose which ones you like. It's got to be a page long, and include a description of yourself, hobbies and interests, and what you're looking for in a partner," Lois shuddered. "I'm still trying to decide on the best way of making the words 'Brunette serial killer looking for next victim' fill up a page."

Clark laughed at the matter of fact tone she adopted. "Well, that's good, but it's not exactly accurate, is it?"

"So? I don't care, Clark. I just want to do it and get it over with! I don't want to spend hours thinking of clever little ways to describe myself, to get a date that I don't even want!"

"It wouldn't take hours, Lois!" he replied.

"No?" she scoffed. "Go ahead then, you write it for me!"

Clark looked at the flash of annoyance in his partner's eyes. Grinning to himself, he decided to have a little fun with her.

"Right, okay then, let's see," he thought quickly. "Here goes: Good looking, domineering female, late 20's, dark hair and eyes, petite build. Stubborn and uncompromising, likes to be in charge-"

"I am not stubborn!" Lois butted in loudly.

Clark laughed and continued. "Interrupts other people and can be very economical with the truth at times. Has a scorching temper and uses sarcasm as her weapon of choice."

"Clark Kent, I'll have you know I'm in control of my temper at all times!" Lois said indignantly.

"Sure you are, Lois. And I'm sure Cat would agree with that, after this morning's meeting," he replied pointedly. Laughing at the expression on her face, he continued talking.

"Has a penchant for dangling above the jaws of death, and a natural predisposition for getting into trouble. Has been described as a tornado or, perhaps more accurately, Mad Dog. Hobbies include collecting death threats, chasing dangerous criminals, and spreading fear throughout her colleagues and quarry alike."

"I don't deliberately spread fear, Clark! It's just a happy accident," Lois said with a sparkle in her eye as she caught on to his game.

"Likes include being right all the time, practising martial arts on people who disagree with the fact she is right all the time, chocolate, driving like a maniac, breaking and entering, giving orders, destroying property, and persecuting cab drivers. Dislikes include rules, cooking, police officers who get in the way of a story, holidays, sitting still and a certain gossip columnist."

"You missed off smart-ass hacks from Kansas on my dislikes," Lois noted in a bored tone, and made a point of yawning loudly.

"Would like to meet straightforward guy, who doesn't mind not calling the shots. Must be bright enough to hold a conversation, but not bright enough to ever win an argument. Must respond well to orders, and be able to accept never being allowed to drive the Jeep. Preferably should have his own lock picking kit, a direct hotline to police headquarters would also be useful. Criminals, psychopaths and men with any sense of caution need not apply," Clark finished his monologue and winked at Lois.

"You're not funny, Clark. Not funny at all!" she told him with a stern look.

Clark raised an eyebrow and said, "I wasn't trying to be funny, Lois. I just say it like it is!"

"In that case then, I'm offended and won't be speaking to you for the next week!" she retorted, trying to stifle the laughter building inside her. But as soon as Clark began to laugh she couldn't help but join in.

When the hilarity had subsided, Lois's mind turned to more evil activities.

"Right, my turn now, Kent!" she said with glee.

"Huh? But I'm not joining the agency!" he replied, looking like a deer caught in headlights.

"I don't care, you've had your fun, and this is payback! Okay then: Mild-mannered, overgrown Boy Scout from Kansas, tall and well-built, dark hair and eyes. Slightly nervous and geeky demeanour, likes to blend into the background."

"Geeky? I'm not geeky!" Clark said grouchily.

"Clark, you do have a slight inclination towards geekiness sometimes," she informed him. "Anyway, stop interrupting, or I'll just get ruder."

"Really? Is that a promise?" Clark asked, and winked at her suggestively.

"Oh, behave!" she replied, smacking him lightly on the shoulder. "And don't start something you can't finish!" she added, before continuing her description.

"Okay…likes to blend into the background. Na´ve and trusting, sees some virtue in even the most hardened criminals. Too nice and polite for his own good, and has a frankly bizarre taste in ties. Eats far too much junk. Has very questionable sense of humour. Answers to the name of Farmboy. Hobbies also come under the weird and wacky title, Cheese of the Month Club being a good example." She paused briefly to think, and Clark took the opportunity to respond.

"You know, I don't actually *answer* to the name Farmboy," he pointed out grouchily, before dropping back into his usual wide grin. "And what's wrong with my ties?!"

"Oh, please, Clark! Most of them look like they were caught up in an explosion at the paint factory! Anyway, didn't I tell you not to interrupt?"

"Well, actually, I told you first."

"But the same rule applies to you, Kent. So pipe down!" she ordered.

"Yes ma'am!" he said, saluting her smartly.

Lois rolled her eyes and chose to ignore the teasing. "Where was I? Oh, yeah, likes include being pedantic over grammar, disappearing at a moment's notice, using stairs instead of elevators, being cheerful at all times — *including* mornings — and being nice to everyone, whether they deserve it or not. Very few dislikes, due to the aforementioned annoying habit of seeing the good in everything. Has an irrational apprehension over breaking the law. Seeks blonde woman with similar sunny outlook, who would enjoy the small town attitude in a large city. Must have overly positive nature, and be firmly on the side of justice. Intelligence would be a bonus, but sweet and cheerful personality is more important. Should be an excellent decision maker, because the man in question goes along with anything, as he is afraid of hurting other people's feelings."

"Isn't that a good thing?" Clark asked, puzzled.

"Hmmm…to some extent. But sometimes you just need to assert yourself, Clark! Anyway, that's it, what do you think?" Lois asked him.

"Is that what you really think my ideal woman would be, Lois? Blonde, sweet and jolly? That would be Mrs Santa Claus, not Mrs Kent!" he said, laughing.

Lois chuckled at the mental image of Clark in a big red suit and white beard. "Well, I exaggerated a little, but yeah! You always go for blondes, and someone as nice and cheerful as you would be a perfect match! Don't you think?"

"Actually, I don't think you get further away from my ideal woman if you tried! That's all shallow surface stuff, isn't it?" he asked, suddenly serious. "I want someone who goes a little deeper than that. Someone with passion and a strong personality. Someone who I can talk to and not worry about being Mr. Nice Guy all the time," he replied, looking at her intently.

"I could see that too," she said softly, staring right back at him.

Looking into his eyes, Lois could see something hidden below the surface. She got the feeling he was trying to tell her something, without using words. His eyes bore down on hers and she felt like she was looking into his soul. But she still couldn't quite get the message. It looked something like longing, and a bit of tenderness and maybe…love? <He's got beautiful eyes> she thought to herself dreamily. Slowly she leaned in closer towards him.

Suddenly the rustle of papers distracted her. She looked away and pulled out the dating agency forms from between their bodies, which had somehow got much closer together. Suddenly embarrassed, she smoothed them out on the table, and stacked them in a neat pile. She tried to ignore the shaking of her hands. Taking a deep breath she looked back up at Clark. He was staring straight at the wall opposite and she realised the spell had been broken. She heard Clark clear his throat and shift away from her slightly.

Attempting to alter the intimate atmosphere that seemed to have descended upon the room, she took another sip of her wine, and hurriedly started talking again.

"Anyway, although you seemed to find that highly entertaining, Clark, it still doesn't help me write this stupid profile! Because there's no way I'm writing that! 'Scorching temper' indeed!" and she rolled her eyes at the unfairness of his description.

Clark shook his head, attempting to clear his mind of the fog that surrounded it. For a second there, he had thought Lois was going to kiss him. <Dream on, Kent!> he told himself. He must have imagined it. Hadn't he?

There was definitely a spark between them, but then, he'd always thought that. But this time, Lois seemed to have noticed it as well. Not only recognised it, but also she'd started to respond to it. She *definitely* did lean closer to him. He wasn't imagining it. But then she'd withdrawn, like she always did. He needed to bring her back, to find out what exactly had almost happened there

"Okay, you want a serious profile that you could use?" he asked, throwing caution to the wind.

"Yes. But it's a lot harder than it sounds!" Lois complained.

Clark cleared his throat again, and took a deep breath. "Beautiful and brilliant woman, late 20's. Long dark hair and gorgeously deep eyes, perfect body. Passionate and fiery, has a wonderful energy that reaches out and grabs everyone around her, drawing them in. Has a fierce loyalty to her friends, and a strong sense of responsibility to society as a whole. Has the talent and drive to succeed in whatever she wishes to do. Witty, intelligent, dedicated and compassionate. Committed to making the world a better place, and does so by simply being a part of it."

"Oh, Clark!" Lois whispered quietly, swallowing the lump in her throat. He refused to look at her, and ploughed on with his description.

"Seeks a soul-mate. Good-looking man of similar age, 6 feet tall, nice build. Must have similar passion for life, and for love. Intelligence and consideration are must-have traits. Needs to know when to step back, and instead, when to hold her in his arms and not let go. Should be able to calm some of the wilder impulses, without ever trying to change the wonderful person she is. Must be willing to participate in a completely equal relationship, be trustworthy and dependable. Good sense of humour required, as is an easy-going, yet strong, personality. Must be in it for the long-term," Clark fell silent, and got up from the sofa as he felt his cheeks colour with embarrassment.

>From her position on the sofa, Lois gazed at him in astonishment. "Is that how you'd really describe me, Clark?" she asked. She couldn't believe that was how he saw her. Sure, they were best friends, and as she herself had decided earlier that night, possibly even more, but that was…wow. Over by the window, Clark silently nodded. Lois got up and went over to him. Placing a hand on his shoulder, she tugged him around to face her. She wrapped her arms around him and pulled him into a tight hug.

"Thank you," she whispered against his chest.

Clark stroked her hair with his hand. "It's all true, Lois. Never doubt that for one moment," he said softly.

She answered him by tightening her grip around his back. After several moments, she leaned back slightly to look at his face.

"Hey, Clark?"

"Yes, Lois?"

"I don't suppose you know where I can find that guy you described, do you?"

He laughed and released her. "You'll find him, Lois. He's around," he replied, adding silently to himself that hopefully, she'd realise the guy in question was standing right in front of her.

Lois contemplated his answer quietly. The tone of his voice had been a bit strange; yet again it seemed like he was trying to tell her something. But she still couldn't work out what, exactly. He had sounded absolutely certain that she would find this guy. 'He's around', Clark had said. Well, the only two guys that were 'around' who Lois would even consider a relationship with, were Superman and Clark himself.

She smiled, as thought about the two men in her life. Superman was the classic 'ideal guy', and Lois had held a torch for him for a long time. But lately, that torch had been fading. Actually it had been happening at around about the same pace that her feelings for Clark had begun to grow. <Go figure, Lane!> she told herself wryly.

Sure, Superman was an ideal guy. But that was the problem. He was too ideal. Despite her crush, Lois knew she didn't really know him. And if she really thought about it, she couldn't ever imagine having a relationship with him. He was just too…unreal. She couldn't picture doing any of the things normal couples seemed to do with him, and truth be told, she couldn't think of much common ground between them.

Not like Clark. All the attributes that made Superman into the ideal guy, Clark had too. He fitted the bill perfectly. And she could picture having a relationship with Clark; no problem at all…Lois blinked away the images that had suddenly invaded her head. Looking up, she caught the gaze of the man who starred in those images, the man who was still standing in front of her.

It was right at that moment when it hit her. What on earth was she waiting for? She had been ignoring all her feelings, all her gut instincts. Lois Lane was famous for following her gut instincts, and usually being right. So why was she ignoring the one that told her that Clark was the man she had been looking for all her life? She supposed she had been hesitating because she was scared.

Okay, so she had been hurt in the past. But that was no reason to give up. She didn't do that in her professional life, so why should she in her personal life? That was another thing Lois Lane was famous for — jumping straight into things, usually without checking the water level. In this case, she *had* checked the water level, and it was fine. But she still hadn't jumped. She'd held back. She knew that Clark would never deliberately hurt her. She knew he was probably the nicest, most sincere guy she had ever met. So where was the danger? Okay, so no relationship was without a risk, but she would be hard pressed to find one with such little risk. And yet, she had almost let it slide right by her. She must be absolutely stark raving bonkers. Completely crazy. *Galactically* stupid.

Just then, Clark made a move to walk away from her. She reached out and caught hold of his hand, stopping him in his tracks. Taking a deep breath, Lois Lane finally decided to stop wasting her life and jump in at the deep end.

"Clark, you know, you're pretty intelligent."

"Uh, thanks…I think!" he said, with a slightly puzzled expression.

"And you're definitely considerate," she went on.

"I try."

"And you are a calming influence on me."

"Well, it's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it!"

Lois laughed. "You're dependable too," she continued.

"I like to think so, Lois," Clark answered, feeling his heart start to race as he began to realise where she was going.

"And you're easygoing, trustworthy, strong and *very* good looking," she declared, gazing up at him.

Clark blushed under her scrutiny, and ducked his head slightly to acknowledge the compliment. Her next words were spoken so softly he would have struggled to catch them if it weren't for his super- hearing.

"So, I'm starting to think that maybe you could be that guy?"

Clark stopped breathing. All he could do was stare into her wide- open eyes; those spectacular eyes that almost made his heart stop every time he looked deep into them.

"I could be that guy," he breathed, as those eyes came closer towards him and their lips met in a gentle kiss. He felt her freeze under his touch and, for one horrible moment, thought she was going to bolt right out of the door. But instead, she wrapped her arms around him, pressed herself closer and deepened the kiss. As their lips moved against each other, he was overcome with sensation, and couldn't resist trailing his hand upwards from her waist to caress her neck, run his fingers through her hair, and finally come to rest cupping the soft skin of her cheek.

***

Clark had no idea how long their kiss lasted, nor did he care. In fact, he would have been quite happy to stay in that exact position for the rest of his life. And, from the expression on Lois's face as she finally pulled away, he guessed she felt the same.

Lois sighed as she laid her head against Clark's chest. "I think you are that guy, Clark," she told him, as she recovered from his kiss. She had kissed Clark before, but that was something else! If she'd known Clark could kiss like that she would have jumped into his arms months ago, and probably never let go.

"That's good to know, Lois, but are you sure you don't need to test that theory out some more?" he enquired.

Lois laughed at the innocent expression on his face. "Well, it couldn't hurt!" she replied, pulling his head down to kiss him again. Breaking away she noted with satisfaction Clark's innocent air had disappeared to be replaced by something that looked a lot like…desire. <You and me both, Kent!> she thought to herself. She shook her head slightly. A quick change of track was needed, before they got carried away. Pushing away the images that had flooded into her mind, she suddenly thought of something else Clark had said earlier.

"Clark? Why did my soul-mate have to be six feet tall?" she asked.

"Six f…oh right, that! Well, you're 5' 6", so therefore you fit perfectly in the arms of a six foot guy," he told her, with a grin.

"Oh," she replied, absent-mindedly drawing small circles on the back of his hand with her fingers. Just then, a suspicious thought popped into her head.

"How tall are you, Clark?" she enquired.

"Six feet," he replied, with a perfectly straight face.

Looking up at Clark with narrowed eyes, Lois said; "If I didn't know you better, Kent, I'd say you deliberately described yourself in that profile, just to have your wicked way with me!"

Clark laughed and raised his eyebrows. "And what if I did? Are you complaining?" he asked.

Lois thought about that for a long moment. "No," she finally answered, before capturing his mouth with hers again, and pushing him backwards towards the sofa.

***

The next morning, Lois was in a far better mood than the day before. Sitting at her desk in the bullpen, she found herself sneaking small glances over at Clark. Every now and then, she'd catch him doing the same thing, and they would grin stupidly at one another, until they were distracted by one of their colleagues in the busy newsroom.

Even then, Lois found it difficult to wipe the smile off her face. Last night had been fantastic. She and Clark had spent hours curled up on his sofa, talking, laughing, and doing a little bit more kissing as well. Ok, she amended, a *lot* more kissing! They had made plans to have dinner tonight, and Lois was already counting down the hours.

As her mind wondered off into a pleasant recollection of the previous evening, she was rudely interrupted by the arrival of Cat Grant. Lois groaned as Cat flounced down the newsroom ramp, wearing a top that had less material to it than Clark's latest fluorescent tie, and a skirt that was surely cutting off all the circulation to her legs.

"Lois!" Cat yelled across the room, beckoning the younger woman to her with a regal wave of her hand. Lois's eyes darkened and her hands balled into tight fists. If Cat thought that Lois Lane was at the beck and call of anyone who hollered, then she had another think coming!

"Breathe, Lois. Remember that you're in control of your temper at all times!" came a quiet voice. She looked over her shoulder to see Clark smiling cheerfully behind her. She threw him a sarcastic look, and strolled over to Cat.

"You screeched, Cat?" she enquired sweetly.

"Good morning, Lois, how was your romance novel and tub of ice cream last night?" came the retort.

"Oh, the romance last night was very good indeed, thanks," Lois replied, glancing over at Clark. She could have sworn there was a blush creeping up his face after her comment, but surely he couldn't have possibly heard what she was saying? Shaking her head, she turned her attention back to Cat.

"How sad," Cat remarked. "Anyway, where are your forms for the agency? We're going there this morning to become members."

"Yeah, there's a slight problem with that. I won't be joining up. You see, my boyfriend wouldn't like it," Lois said.

Cat gave a delighted laugh. "Boyfriend? Lois, you do know that once you hit fourteen, you're supposed to give up the imaginary boyfriends and move onto the real thing?"

"No, no, he's very real, I can assure you," Lois told her airily.

"Right. Are you sure you're not mixing up the words boyfriend and interviewee? Because, let's face it, the only men you talk to are the ones who have a story to tell."

Just as Lois opened her mouth to make a snappy comment about Cat not actually *talking* to men, Clark walked past, mug in hand, on his way to the coffee machine. <Excellent timing, Clark!> she told him silently. Grabbing hold of his arm, she stopped him in his tracks.

"Sorry, Clark, but could you make me some coffee too?" Lois asked him, keeping his arm linked with hers.

"Of course, Lois, no problem!" Clark replied in a slightly puzzled voice. Actually, he was already planning to make her a mug too. He always made coffee for Lois; she didn't need to ask!

"Thanks, honey," she said, before stretching him up and kissing him soundly on the lips.

"You're welcome," he mumbled dazedly, before heading off towards the machine.

Lois turned to see Cat open-mouthed in sheer astonishment. "Sorry, Cat, you were saying?" she asked.

"Kent? You're…? You and Kent?" came the hoarse reply.

"Oh, you didn't know? Sorry, I just assumed you of all people would have known. Guess I overestimated even your talent for gossip." Lois smiled as her barb hit the mark, turned and walked gracefully away.

Soon, Clark came back with the coffee. "Did I just hear wrong, or am I being used so you can get at Cat?" he whispered in her ear as he leaned on the back of her chair.

"Ah, so now you're the one who's complaining?" Lois murmured in a sultry tone, running his tie through her fingers, and pressing a small kiss on his lips.

"Not at all, Lois, not at all!"

THE END!