By Catherine Bruce <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted October 2007
Summary: Lois discovers that some pastries are best left unattended.
This is all Laura S's fault. We were chatting the other day about teachers we had a crush on, and I told her the story about my (very yummy) eighth grade English teacher. She mentioned something about how that would make an excellent Lois and Clark story, and yesterday was a slow day at work, and so… Voila!
Thanks as always to Laramoon for the kick-butt betary, and to Laura S for looking it over and for the idea in the first place.
It had started out as a celebratory dinner on a Friday evening between two coworkers over the success of their latest story. A couple of pizzas, some movies and a six-pack or two of beer (Sam Adams Boston Ale, only the best would do) between the two of them for a job well done. The night ended with Lois, who was by this point more than a little tipsy and pleasantly full, snuggled in the crook of Clark's arm snoring softly.
Well, actually, it ended about an hour later, when Clark finally found the will to pull away from his warm and cuddly partner. Not having the heart to wake her, let alone sending her home in a cab this late at night, he carefully removed her shoes and tucked her in with an old cotton blanket on the couch. He was almost afraid that she would wake up when he lifted her head to make room for the pillow he had grabbed from his bed, but all she did was roll over and snuggle sleepily into the worn bag of feathers.
After a brief moment of wishing he was a bunch of chicken fluff instead of her 'love you like a brother' partner, Clark headed for his own bed that suddenly seemed far too cold and way too empty.
Lois woke up the next morning with a large ball of cotton shoved in her mouth and down her throat. Groggily she sat up, and after catching her head before it fell off her shoulders, she realized that her mouth was just painfully dry. However, it did taste as though a cat had snuck in during the night and used her mouth as a litter box substitute.
She stood up with some difficulty, trying to figure out a way to stop the thousands of tiny jackhammers chipping away at her skull and brain. Since when had Clark's apartment transformed into the teacup ride? Lois stumbled her way towards his kitchen in search of a glass of water when she realized that the tiny jackhammers were actually Clark's shower running in the other room.
Lois was too miserable to worry over the fact that she seemed to know where the glasses were in the tiny kitchen better than she knew where they were in her own apartment. Instead, she filled the glass she had pulled from one of the cupboards and drank greedily, before swishing a mouthful in a futile attempt to wash away the bitter aftertaste of cat poo.
Feeling slightly better, she began to search around for Saltine crackers, which had proven more than once to be the Holy Grail of hangover foods in college. She found none, and the sight of normally tempting junk food caused her stomach to lurch and roil. Finally, she settled on an unobtrusive box of Pop-Tarts. Lois was fonder of the brown sugar kind, but all her partner had was the frosted strawberry stuff.
After popping two into the toaster she found behind dust-covered pots in one of the floor level cabinets, she headed for the bathroom where Clark was undoubtedly all soapy this very minute.
*Whoa,* she thought. *Tummy too rumbly for those thoughts.* Not that she *had* those sorts of thoughts about her partner, of course. Normally, she would have waited until he was done showering and had finished toweling off that surprisingly soft skin of his (damn it brain, *focus!*) but her mouth still tasted awful. If she had to endure it a moment longer than necessary, she was certain she would soon be having a conversation with his trashcan that would prove to be more intimate than she cared for.
Tentatively, she knocked on the closed door. "Clark?" she called through the wood. "I'm sorry to bother you, but do you have a spare toothbrush lying around? My mouth tastes icky." Lois couldn't help but add this last part with a slight whine.
A few seconds passed before she heard the twang of the shower door and the click of the lock. "Um… Sure, Lois. There's one on the sink."
Carefully, she opened the door before closing it quickly again. She had forgotten that he only had a clear glass door shutting his shower off from the rest of the room. Granted there was a towel strategically draped on a bar to cover all the important bits, but it was still quite disconcerting to see him like that. *'And pleasantly so!'* her inner voice couldn't help but add.
"Sorry," she called out through the now safely closed door. *'Too bad I don't have Superman's x-ray vision,'* the inner voice stubbornly added.
*'Shut up, Inner Voice!'* she angrily retorted.
"Uh, it's all right!" His voice sounded a wee bit higher than usual, and she wondered if she was just imagining the shocked expression on his face when she had opened the door. "You can still brush your teeth, if you'd like. I promise I won't peek!"
She stifled the sudden giggle at his words, wondering if she should make the same promise. *Do you really want to?* Ignoring her stubborn and obviously hung over brain, she contemplated waiting until he was done. But then that horrid taste only seemed to intensify with the thought of waiting. "Well, okay. And um, I promise I won't peek either."
This proved to be more difficult than she would have liked. That pesky inner voice kept daring her to break her promise and there was more than one time on her seemingly endless trek to the sink where she just barely managed to stop herself from peeking. Although, she *did* manage to have a very nice image of his back burned permanently into her retinas.
Fortunately, the act of removing the toothbrush from its packaging and scientifically dabbing just the right amount of toothpaste on the bristles took all of her concentration away from tempting views. And as soon as the brush was in her mouth, she momentarily forgot about everything around her but the taste of cat excrement being cleansed away from her teeth and tongue. Unbidden, she let out a slight moan of pleasure as a sensation of cleanliness washed through her and she suddenly felt rejuvenated.
The sudden scuffle in the shower made her remember where she was. Concerned, she turned to see her partner hopping on one foot as his hand rested on the shower wall. It seemed to her that there was a crack in the porcelain, and she wondered how long it had been there and when he planned on getting it fixed.
"Are you okay?" she asked around the toothbrush and foam, before realizing she wasn't supposed to be peeking. Turning back to the mirror, she quickly spat into the sink, hoping he didn't hear, before rinsing her mouth out.
"Um, yeah, I'm fine. Just stubbed my toe on the drain is all." Lois winced at the strain in his voice. He must have stubbed it pretty badly to sound like that.
"Okay, well, I'm done." Automatically she turned to him, and her mouth, even though she had just rinsed it out, was suddenly dry. "With the teeth brushing. So I'll go now. I made some Pop-Tarts, I hope you don't mind. And um, I'll just be in the kitchen." Making a hasty retreat, she barely heard his delayed reply that she could have whatever she wanted.
On her way to the kitchen though, she instantly became on alert. All images of Clark's yummy back vanished from her mind — well, for the most part — as the smell of smoke filtered into her nose. Panicked, she raced into the kitchen and shrieked in horror.
The toaster was on fire and a cloud of thick smoke billowed towards the ceiling. Before her very eyes, the flames seemed to dance higher. "Clark!" she cried out frantically, turning to go get him when she bumped into his chest. Not bothering to wonder how the heck he had gotten out there so fast, she frantically pointed towards the kitchen.
The flames began lapping at the underside of the cupboards, eagerly trying to eat their way through the veneer finish all the way to the tasty wood beneath.
Clark got in between her and the flames and for a moment, she was distracted by the beads of water that ran down his back. In his haste, he had managed to only wrap his towel around his waist, though she found it odd that he had managed to remember his glasses at a time like this. Was the man really that blind?
He seemed to contemplate the fire for a moment before taking a look back at her. There was a calculating look in his eyes for a brief moment before it was replaced by a small reassuring smile. Turning back around, he seemed to take a deep breath, as though he were about to blow out the flames.
"Clark!" Lois exclaimed, as she slapped her hand against his damp back and she could practically see him rolling his eyes. "This isn't a birthday cake!" Taking a quick glance around the kitchen, she groaned. Typical bachelor. "Don't you have any towels around this place?"
Before she could react, there was a towel in his hand. He began to beat at the flames just as they were about to finally reach their tasty goal. Lois could only gape as she realized exactly where the towel had come from, and before she could stop herself, her eyes traveled downward.
Flustered, she tried to look away from the sight of her partner beating out the flames in his altogether, but her eyes seemed to have a boomerang effect on his body.
Finally the flames were out, and breathing heavily he turned towards her. She tried to look away — honestly she did — but there was another image that was burned permanently into her brain.
"Lois? Are you okay?" When she responded with what sounded like a chipmunk on speed, his eyebrows drew together in concern. He placed a gentle hand on her arm, oblivious to the cause of her discomfort. "Lois?"
She gave a burst of near manic giggle before forcing herself to look at him. No, look at his face! Giving up, she squeezed her eyes shut and patted his hand. "Um Clark? Can you do me a tiny favor?"
"Okay." He sounded slightly confused. "Sure. What is it?"
"Can you um… Can you put your towel back on, please?"
There was a brief moment where the air stood on end before he jerked his hand away. "Oh geez!" There was a brief fluttering sound of terry cloth and she felt it safe to peek.
He was redder than she remembered ever seeing him, towel wrapped snugly around his waist. Flustered, he hopped about as he stumbled out several apologies and exclamations of disbelief before he all but hopped back towards his bedroom.
The sheer absurdity of the situation forced one lone bark of laughter from her. Then another. Soon, she had to hold her sides from the ache as she all but collapsed in a fit of giggles.
"Gee, I didn't think I looked *that* funny." The sulky exclamation she heard from the bedroom did nothing to ebb away her laughing fit. It only served to add fuel and feed her humor until she was practically howling.
What he didn't get, and would never hear from her, no siree, was that the funniest thing about the situation was that he didn't look funny at all.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
*'Quite yummy, actually.'* For once, she decided to agree with her inner voice, albeit silently.
Jimmy backed slowly away from Lois, wondering if the stress of her job had finally caused her to crack. One moment, she seemed ready to bite anyone's head off if they so much as thought wrong, and the next she was spraying coffee all over her screen and laughing so hard that he was afraid she would fall out of her chair. He heard the ding of the elevator and turned in frantic hope, which welled in his chest when he saw Clark strolling out into the bullpen whistling an odd tune that sounded strangely familiar.
"Oh man, CK! Am I ever glad to see you!" Clutching the small white carton in his hand, he raced over to his friend in the hopes that he would know what was wrong with his partner. "There's something wrong with Lois!"
Clark's friendly and open smile vanished as he glanced at the woman's desk in concern. "Why? What's wrong?"
"I don't know man, one minute I'm afraid she's going to disembowel me, and the next…" He gestured towards her in bewilderment. "The next, she's acting like she got doused with laughing gas."
"Did anything happen to cause this?" The concern had lifted a little, but Jimmy could still see it behind the taller man's glasses.
"Well, I figured that her blood sugar was probably a little low, because sometimes she gets really crabby when she doesn't eat, so I offered her something for breakfast."
"What did you offer?" Jimmy was surprised at the accusing undertone in the man's voice, and wondered if Lois had any idea just how protective of her Clark was.
"I only offered her some Pop-Tarts!"
Clark's face was instantly red as he stammered about needing to get something from the supply closet. He was gone in a flash, leaving an even more confused cub reporter in his wake.
"Man. Those two *definitely* need a vacation." Shrugging, he opened a package of the pastries and began to eat.