The Gauntlet

By Little Tornado <>

Rated: G

Submitted: March 2007.

Summary: What if when Lois challenged him, Clark had verbally let her know that he had taken it on? A semi-rewrite of one of the scenes of the Pilot episode.

Author's Notes: First off, I apologise if anyone else has the same nickname already. Let me know and I'll change it or something. My first L&C Fanfic — I like getting inside a character's head, especially when they babble, which is why you have some jerky phrased sentences — I wanted to convey that she was nervous and thinking fast rather than actually just say it. Also, I have always loved the look that Clark gives her in the Pilot episode so I wanted to write something I thought would be more likely of Lois' reaction. I was aiming for something different to happen in the end but I realised it wouldn't work out like that. I also wanted to leave it open ended to fit in with the rest of the episodes after — so you can pretend that Clark understood that he would have to try hard to impress her and that she was open to it or that he thought she wasn't and decided to work on being her friend as he did in the series. Sorry that it's so short. Cheers, Little Tornado.


She did not like that look he was giving her.

Well, ok, if she was being honest, she did like it, but she'd be damned if it didn't scare the living daylights out of her. She was not ready for this. Not that she hadn't expected it — he had been mooning over her like a lost puppy the whole day but she had expected a few days before she had to make things abundantly clear.

Think fast, Lois. Think fast. Diffuse the situation — now. Before it explodes into … into what? Into something she was too afraid to handle?

Knock the grin off his face. That's what she had to do. Snappy comeback. Snappy comeback. That's what she needed.

"Don't fall for me, Farmboy. I don't have time for it."

Yes, that should nip that in the bud.

'Nip what in the bud? Something potentially nice? Exciting?' Why couldn't she shut this voice up? Why was it still talking now that she had handled the problem? Shut up, shut up, shut up, she told herself.

At least the grin on his face faded and that look had dimmed. His brown eyes had dropped to the floor — since when did you notice the colour, Lane? — momentarily before they swung back up to catch hers.

Oh, dear God. Problem not nipped in the bud. His eyes had a twinkle in them that she oh-so-definitely recognized.

This was not fair — she had not thrown down the — the whatsit. 'It's 'gauntlet', Lois. He can make you forget your words, isn't that interesting, Lois? Even in your thoughts, he makes you flustered.' Shut up, shut up, shut up. She had made it clear that she intended to shut things down, not put the ball back in his court. Well, it obviously wasn't clear enough.

"Too late."

"What?" she choked out, staring at him.

The grin was back. "Too late, 'City Girl'," he repeated.

For a few seconds, she could only stare at him. No one had ever tossed her verbal sparring back at her. Most made attempts that were really vocalised leers to which they then got the satisfaction of a slap or knee in the groin and the rest gave up or cowered in fear, but nobody — nobody — had tossed it back at her so comfortably. She was at a loss as to how react.

She should have cottoned onto Kent before. You didn't toss such hard comments at this kind of man — you took him aside and soothingly explained things and then he felt obliged to act in their assigned roles for fear of making you feel uncomfortable.

But you can't play that card now, her mind piped up again. Now you have to continue this and win. Find his weak spot.

What was Kent's weak spot? He had just admitted that he felt something for her. He hadn't even denied her interpretation of the look on his face. Could she use that? 'You could,' the voice said, 'but do you want to?'

No, she didn't. The fact that he felt something for her didn't scare her at all. 'No, it's the fact that she felt-' Shut up!

She looked at him, raised an eyebrow and said, "'City Girl'? That's the best you could come up with?"

But he had been prepared. "I thought I'd follow my partner's lead — 'Farmboy' isn't exactly the most original I've heard!"

'And the current score is Lane nil, Kent two,' the voice informed her, oh-so-ever helpful in doing so. Damn the man, she was not going to lose this.

What would happen if she did lose this?

No more control. That's what. No more control — no more top banana. No more getting her way and making sure — making sure she didn't get hurt.

Why would she get hurt by Kent if she didn't feel something for him? It would be him getting hurt instead of her, no matter who was in control. And instead of backing down and covering his slip, he had challenged her when he should be protecting himself.

What a rookie. Even if he was a masochist, she wasn't going to be the one to hurt him.

'Hadn't she been trying to do that earlier?'

She ignored the voice.

"Count yourself lucky, Kent — I was trying to let you down gently." Ha! Let him chew on that for awhile!

He blinked. She crowed internally — she had thrown a curveball at him. Now what was he going to do?

Wait, when had she started enjoying this?

No more time to ruminate on such matters. He was saying something.

"What if I don't want to be?"

What? What was he saying? The curveball was suddenly swinging back in her direction.

"What are you saying, Kent?" she looked quizzically at him.

He took a deep breath. When he looked at her again, she noticed that for the first time he looked vulnerable. "What if I don't want to be let down gently?" he said, his voice much slower and softer.

This was getting scary again. But now, she realised, it was only scary not because she was afraid of being hurt but because she didn't want to hurt him. She hadn't expected this at all — they had had work to do, they had gotten take-out and he had showed off about his knowledge of the Chinese language. By all rights, they should be working, not having a battle of wits that was suddenly becoming a confessional. And now she had to ask, though she was afraid of the answer.

She stared at him, for a long moment. "Why not, Clark? Why wouldn't you want to be let down gently?"

Now he looked like a scared rabbit. He had obviously been hoping that she would let it drop or toss something else at him to spar with. And she had used his first name in addressing him, hoping to show him that she actually wanted an honest answer.

He was fidgeting. She couldn't do this to him.


He looked up at her and swallowed nervously. "I don't want to be let down gently because I don't want to give up on it." He relaxed as he said it, but he was watching her intently.

For some reason, she wasn't as afraid as she thought she would be. Instead, somewhere inside her mind, something was turning cartwheels in joy. He didn't want to give up on her, and she didn't think he was talking about a simple roll in a haystack but something much more. But no, if this hayseed was saying what she thought he was saying, then no matter how nice his eyes were, she would not make it so easy for him. She grinned to herself. He'd won this round but Lois Lane wasn't going to be beaten so easily.

She gave him a cunning smile — a smile he would from now on know as one that indicated that he was in big trouble. Right now it floored him. Lane had an ace up her sleeve that she was going to play.

She leant forward and lowered her voice dramatically. He felt his heart rate speed up. "Well, if you won't give up right now and cry for 'Mercy', Kent, then from now on the gloves are off."

He could only stare at her in shock as she sat back nonchalantly in her chair as if nothing had happened and shuffled through the papers in front of her. He seemed to be completely out of it, to her delight, as he only came to life as he realised that she was handing him a set of notes for him to go through and saying something.

"You go through this report. I am still trying to make sense of this one."

She smiled to herself. Not only had she won this round, game, set and match, but now watching Clark trying to win this challenge was going to be so much fun.