A Little Off the Top

By Sarah Luddy <meerkat_comments AT aslandia DOT net>

Rated: PG

Submitted: December 2005

Summary: After overhearing Lois's opinion of his haircut, Clark decides to go for a more fashionable look to see if he can impress her. The results are a little more dramatic than he expected.


"Oh, Clark, don't cut it," Martha said with a sigh. "It's so cute like this… look, you can even make a little ponytail!" She twisted a bright pink scrunchie into Clark's hair to show him.

Clark grimaced. "I think the 'cute' aspect is *why* I want to cut it, Mom."

Jonathan glanced at Martha and shrugged. "Oh, honey, he is an adult now. You can't tell him how to cut his hair anymore."

She glared back. "I can if he still expects me to make meatloaf for him every Thursday."

"Speaking of meatloaf… is that what I smell burning?" Jonathan asked, trading an innocent look with Clark.

Martha shrieked and took off running for the kitchen.

"Geez, twenty-eight years of living with me and she still can't tell the smell of burning hair from burning meatloaf?" Clark said, holding his head perfectly still as he aimed his vision at the mirror.

"The meatloaf wasn't—agh! Clark, what did you do???" Martha cried as she stepped out of the kitchen.

Clark blanched and looked up at his father. "What? Did I make a bald spot?"

Jonathan chuckled. "No, I think she's just horrified that your hair doesn't touch your collar anymore."

"He'll never get a girlfriend now!"

Clark stared at his reflection in the mirror and didn't respond.

"That's why he's cutting his hair to begin with," Jonathan said in a stage whisper.

"He has a girlfriend?" Martha looked unflatteringly stunned.

"No, Mom."

"No, Martha. He overheard a certain domineering, uncompromising, pigheaded, brilliant woman saying his haircut was ridiculous."

"What? I never said such a thing!"

Both Clark and Jonathan looked at Martha steadily. She blushed. "Oh, that was Lois. Right."

Clark scowled, and his laser vision bounced the wrong way off the mirror, scorching the leaf of fern in the nearby window.

Martha and Jonathan glanced at each other and took a step away.

Clark sighed. It was almost painful to think back to that morning, when he'd heard just how low an opinion Lois had of him.

He'd had to make a quick rescue as Superman and had just been returning when he had found himself around the corner from the coffee machine and overheard Lois talking with Cat.

"Where's that partner of yours?" Cat asked Lois, her voice sickeningly sweet.

"He's not my partner." Clark could detect Lois's annoyance. "Perry just set him up as a tagalong on *my* story."

"Whatever. All I can say is, I hope you don't scare *this* one off."

Lois sounded suspicious. "Why?"

"Because he looks delicious!"

"He's not interested."

"He may not *think* he's interested, but that's just because I haven't turned on my full charm yet."

Lois choked on her coffee. "Spare me," she said. Her voice grew a bit fainter as she leaned towards the coffee machine to adjust the filter.

"Don't tell me you haven't thought about it."

"About Clark Kent? You *must* be kidding. He's a hack."

"He's a *gorgeous* hack."

Lois scoffed. "Hardly. His hair looks like he's still living in the seventies, and trust me, that is *not* a good thing."

Clark touched his hair, stunned. Did it really look that bad?

"I suppose that's true, but a man can be induced to get a haircut. Besides, even Superman has longish hair."

"On *Superman* it looks okay. And I truly doubt a mere haircut would be enough to transform Clark from zero to hero."

"Maybe with different glasses," Cat said. "Is that Perry waving an article and trying to get your attention?"

Lois gulped down the last of her coffee. "I'm outta here. If Perry asks, I'm off on a huge story, and anything bad he's heard about me is completely unsubstantiated."

She hurried off, probably before Cat could stop to ask her what unsubstantiated meant, and Clark heard Cat give a throaty laugh. He waited until Cat was safely back at her desk before entering the room and walking to his own desk.

It was then that he'd realized that something had to change if he was going to make the impression he wanted. Lois's words had hurt in a way that Cat's couldn't, because he cared about what Lois thought of him. But he didn't really blame Lois.

He didn't blame her, despite the pain, because he thought he understood. Lois was so determined to keep a space between herself and anybody else that she couldn't let herself like or trust anybody, or let anybody think that she'd come to care about somebody else. Her image was of a woman who was tough as nails, and her survival in the world she'd chosen depending on her retaining that image.

And so, here he was, taking a short break from trying to adjust to his new, more stylish glasses to trim his hair.

"It's looking good," Martha ventured, peeking out from around the corner.

Clark stopped for a moment and turned the mirrors to a new angle to see how it looked.

"You do look like those men on… what's that magazine? GQ?"

"You read GQ?" Clark asked his father with surprise.

Jonathan blushed. "No, it just happens to be right next to the Farmer's Weekly at the library."

Clark put down the mirrors and picked up his new glasses. Placing them on his face, he examined his image in the mirror. He did look very different… more attractive? He could only hope.


"Good morning, Lois," Clark said pleasantly as he passed Lois's desk.

"'Morning, Kent," she replied, hardly giving him a glance. His face fell in disappointment. He'd purposely worn his favorite suit, along with the new haircut and glasses, to impress her. But how was she supposed to be impressed if she didn't even look?

But before he could be too disappointed, he saw her head shoot back up. She stared at him, looking stunned, for a long moment. It seemed to take her some effort to pull her gaze away when she dropped her eyes to look back down at her desk.

Clark grinned, leaned back in his chair, and whistled.


Clark had definitely been on some sort of emotional high today, Lois noticed as she walked with him off the elevator and back into the newsroom. He'd been whistling, grinning, swinging his arms, smiling, and laughing all day. And she had a feeling she knew why.

She hadn't been able to keep her eyes off him. It wasn't entirely the new haircut, the new glasses, or the new suit, although she'd noticed all three. They definitely did give him a stylish look he'd never really had before. But it wasn't so much the change they made, as the fact that they'd brought to her attention something she'd never really noticed before—Clark, her newbie partner, was handsome. Absolutely drop-dead gorgeous.

There was something else, though, that made her really stand up and take notice. Part of Clark's appeal was… his pure joy. When his eyes twinkled, it made her want to laugh and hug him. His happiness was contagious.

It was imperative that she not let on how he was affecting her… the problem was, that was easier said than done.

She knew she'd been staring at him all day, laughing at his jokes, all the inane things she thought she was immune to. It was disgusting. Ridiculous, really. But she couldn't stop.

Lois glared at him as she sat down hard onto her desk chair and pretended to type busily. His resultant hangdog expression made her feel guilty, though. It wasn't his fault she was desperately fighting a sudden attraction to him. She gave him a weak smile to make up for it, and his face lit up. Her heart leapt, and she sighed.

On her desk was a picture of Superman from that morning, in his first rescue of the day. She'd asked for a copy because she wanted to look at him as she wrote the story. Besides, she liked to see all the pictures of Superman before they went into the paper. She couldn't help feeling just a bit possessive about the superhero.

Something about the picture caught her eye. It was a profile view of Superman as he soared up to the top of a burning building. Something about his profile looked… wrong.

Then she realized what it was. He'd cut his hair.

Somehow she'd never thought it would be possible for Superman to cut his hair. He was invulnerable, after all. His hair had to be invulnerable, too. Else how could he fly into that burning building and back out without getting his hair singed?

So, if he was invulnerable, how did he cut his hair?

Lois leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes for a few minutes while she thought. He must… he must not be invulnerable to himself. Maybe?

It was the only thing that made any sense to her. Maybe he could blow on his hair, freezing it, then break it off. Or burn it off with that laser vision. Or maybe he had some other power that she didn't know about.

She opened her eyes and found herself staring across the desks, yet again, at Clark Kent. He smiled at her, then fanned his keyboard, which appeared to be smoking slightly. She frowned.

Clark had gotten a haircut last night, too. What was it with men? Did they all time their haircuts? Or maybe they used the same barber.

Lois laughed aloud, earning some strange looks and a "cuckoo" symbol from Cat.

The same barber. That was ridiculous. Although they *had* both gotten exactly the same hairc—

Lois sat up fast. Clark and Superman… they'd both had pretty much the same haircuts yesterday… She shuffled through the papers on her desk, pulling out a picture of Superman from a few days ago.

His hair was slicked back, so it wasn't as obvious. But it was definitely as long in the back as Clark's had been. And if Clark had slicked his back, it would have looked exactly the same. And then today, both of them had had haircuts. The slicked-back look made it hard to tell, but she thought they both had about the same length and style of hair now.

And their skin and eye color, along with their hair color, were the same. Except for the glasses and the muscles, they could be the same person. The muscles…

She looked up at Clark speculatively. Was it possible?

"Clark," Lois said sharply, standing up and walking over to him, "take off your shirt."

She could see his Adam's apple bob as he swallowed hard. "Why?"

"Because I want to see your muscles."

She heard a wolf whistle from Jimmy, and Cat gave a throaty chuckle. "I knew you'd give in, Lois," she called.

Lois had managed to forget they had an audience. She flushed, grabbed Clark by the tie, and dragged him into the conference room.

Once she had him alone, she stepped back a few feet and looked him up and down.

It was his turn to flush at her scrutiny, but to his credit he didn't flinch or ask her what she was doing.

He was Superman. He had to be. Much as she'd wanted to ignore the view she'd gotten of his muscles that day in his hotel room, she couldn't deny what she'd seen. He had the muscles to be Superman, the same hard muscles she'd felt against her when he'd carried her into the Planet.

Which meant that Clark was not only the most attractive man she'd ever known, but was also the superhero who'd swept her off her feet.

The thought of actually dating Superman had never really crossed her mind. She'd daydreamed about him bringing her flowers from the Amazon, or taking her to dinner in Paris. But dating wasn't all flowers and dinners out… there was a lot more to it than that, she was pretty sure. And what would a superhero be like then? Dealing with her when she'd had a tough day at work, or making her feel better when she had cramps? And what would they talk about, anyway? It wasn't like they could go out in public without being mobbed… it would be like dating a celebrity.

Superman was a nice fantasy, but he wasn't really anything more real than that. It was funny, but it had taken a haircut for her to realize that. The moment she had realized that her superhero was nothing more than an ordinary man with powers… she had realized that the superhero was just a fantasy.

It took more of a superhero to be a real person, with real fears, real hopes, real dreams, and a lot to lose, and yet to sacrifice yourself and your time day after day in a futile effort to change the world, one rescue at a time.

She took a step towards Clark, then wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled his face down to hers.

"I was thinking maybe you could ask me out sometime," she said softly, her eyes only inches from his. Why hadn't she ever noticed what gorgeous eyes he had? Superman's eyes… no, Clark's eyes.

He opened his mouth, closed it, then opened it again and cleared his throat. "I thought you'd say no."

"Try me."

"Lois, will you—"

"Yes," she interrupted. "And now that that's taken care of…"

She touched her lips gently to his. Attracted as she was to him, certain as she was of his attraction to her, she still felt her heart beat faster, not just with desire but with fear. If he rejected her… if he pulled away.

But his lips moved under hers, caressing her back. He sighed softly, and wrapped his arms around her to pull her close.

"Oh, Lois," he whispered. Lois felt a sudden tightness in her chest. He did care about her! And with Clark, she had a feeling it wouldn't just be lust… he was the type of guy who really knew how to make a woman feel special… maybe beloved, someday. She could only hope she could do the same in return.

A chorus of whistles and yells suddenly burst out in the newsroom, and Clark and Lois pulled apart, startled.

The conference room didn't give much privacy, Lois realized, if one didn't remember to close the blinds. She and Clark, by silent conspiracy, each went to close the blinds. When they were all closed, as if by some sort of magnetism, they were back in each other's arms.

"Lois," Clark whispered, "there's something important I have to tell you. It might—You might get mad."

Lois smiled beneath his kiss. "Tell me tonight. I won't get mad," she promised.

He looked a little surprised that Lois wasn't jumping at him, desperate to know his secret. But he didn't seem to mind getting back to the important matter at hand—kissing. And tonight, he could tell her about his secret identity, and she'd confess that she knew. It might take some convincing before he was willing to accept that it was Clark she'd come to care about, not Superman. But he had to accept it eventually, because it was the truth.

She was dating a superhero, Lois realized, dazed. But more than that… she was dating Clark.