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Fic: Siren Song (MotS one-shot)

Title:  Siren Song
Pairing/Characters: Clark/Batman, Lois
Disclaimer: The boys belong to DC and to each other, but not to me.
Notes: A stand-alone story in the series "Music of the Spheres." Other stories and notes on the series here.
Rating: PG
Summary:  Lois and Clark are in Gotham for some investigative reporting.  The mugging is just bonus.
Word Count: 1,400

Lois Lane stretched her aching back as she stood up from another set of file cabinets.  At the moment, she almost regretted wheedling access to the files in the Gotham University library from the friendly curator;  she and Clark had been down in these archives for--she looked at her watch and almost gasped--four hours now, searching in vain for...well, she wasn't sure exactly what, but she knew she'd recognize it when she found it.

Her compatriot was still sorting through the thousands of heavy ledgers, filled with nearly-indecipherable scribbles from the last hundred years of Arkham history.  Lois rubbed at her back and watched as Clark flipped the pages.  He must have been getting tired too;  as Lois watched he started to flip though the pages faster and faster.  "Hey, Kent," she said, "I know it's boring, but you have to actually read those ledgers."  Clark stopped, sighed, and returned to a reasonable reading speed.

Lois clapped hands on his hunched shoulders and he grunted in surprise.  "Chin up, Clark.  It'll be worth it for the report we're going to do on the history of abuses at Arkham.  Some bright light and truth might help clean that place up, just a little."

Clark pinched the bridge of his nose.  "We can hope.  Reading about that place always gives me a headache," he muttered.  "They should just raze it to the ground and sow the land with salt."

Lois leafed through her notes.  "Its history is appalling.  So many abuses, so many tragedies...the very stones there must be soaked with insanity."

Clark made a tired noise.

In the distance came the sound of someone snapping a light off.  "Ms. Lane, Mr. Kent?"  came the curator's voice, "I'm sorry, but I have to close up for tonight.  You're welcome to come back in the morning, though."

"Thanks!"  Lois said as cheerfully as she could manage.  She wasn't sure she could stand another minute of reading about Arkham.  Clark was still staring down blankly at a random page in a ledger;  she reached out and snapped it shut and he looked up at her, blinking.

To her embarrassment, her stomach chose that moment to growl so loudly it almost seemed to echo through the stacks.  Clark smiled wanly at her.  "Did we forget to eat supper?"

"Looks it."  Lois clapped her hands together.  "Is there any place in this crazy town that can serve us some good food at ten o'clock at night?"

Clark's smile brightened into something close to genuine.

: : :

"It was kind of our first date," Clark explained around a mouthful of falafel.  "Bruce was showing me what he loved about Gotham."

Lois swallowed happily.  "This is fantastic, Clark!" 

"Alfred can make almost anything, but nothing can outdo this place for falafel."  Lois looked puzzled, and Clark explained, "Oh, Alfred is Bruce's butler."

Lois snorted laughter and Clark looked slightly hurt.  "I'm sorry, Clark, I just can't get over the fact that your boyfriend has a butler.  It seems totally unreal."  She sipped scalding hot coffee and smiled, mostly to herself.  "And here everyone said I was the starfucker."

"Lois!"  Clark protested, aghast at her language, but Lois just laughed.

"I've been called worse than that, hon."  She popped a stray piece of falafel in her mouth, sighing in satisfaction.  "I guess this town isn't entirely a lost cause after all Now if they just could make a decent pizza, maybe fewer Gothamites would go screwy."

Her tone had been joking, but Clark bristled visibly.  "There's a lot more to Gotham than Arkham, Lois.  There's good as well as bad, and a heart--a real heart--that keeps the good going even when it looks impossible.  She's not perfect, but she's got her own beauty."

"She?"  Lois arched a quizzical brow, and Clark blushed a little.

"You can't really spend any time here and not start to see this city as an almost living entity.  And very much female," he added wryly.

"Sounds complicated," Lois said, taking another bite of falafel.

"It is," Clark said slowly.  "I...hated Gotham at first.  But I think--"  He paused, staring out the flyspecked restaurant window at the lights of the city beyond, glowing murkily in a gathering haze.  "I think maybe we've come to something of an understanding.  We do seem to have some things in common," he said with a smile, finishing off his coffee.

Lois indicated his clean-polished plate.  "Like a fondness for falafel?"

"Like that, yes."

: : :

Clark offered to escort Lois to her hotel before heading to the Manor for the night.  They made their way through the Gotham streets through a mist that thickened, slowly and ominously, into a fog that obscured all landmarks, wrapping them in white.

"I think it's this way, Clark," Lois said, heading confidently despite his protests down a street that turned out to be a dead-end alley.  "Whoops," she said, staring at a blank brick wall. 

"Whoops," Clark echoed. 

Lois turned around to find a man in a ski mask pointing a gun at the two of them.

"Not from around here, huh?" A snarling chuckle.  "Gimme your wallets and nothing bad's gonna happen to you."

Lois put her hands on her hips in exasperation.  "Oh, come on.  What is this, a bad cliche?  Getting mugged in Gotham is like getting your picture taken with Mickey Mouse at Disneyworld."

"Lois," said Clark nervously, "I'd rather you not taunt the mugger."

"I warn you," Lois noted, "that I've studied Judo."

"Yeah?  Well, I've studied Shooting Mouthy Broads."

Clark made a squeaking sound of protest just as the man dropped his gun with a curse, a sharp pinging noise ringing through the alley.  The thug tried to run, but some kind of bolo tangled his legs and he fell on his face.  A dark shadow fell on him and his curses stopped abruptly.

Batman rose from the unconscious body like a vampire in an old B-movie, the mist swirling crazily around him.  His cape rippled, caressed by tendrils of fog.  He ignored Clark and stalked up to Lois.  "Be.  More.  Careful," he rasped, jabbing a finger at her.

"Yes, sir," she heard herself say, any possible quips sticking in her throat.

Batman spun abruptly to round on Clark, who took a hasty step back until he collided with a crumbling brick wall.  "And you," growled the vigilante, "I'm sure your pretty little boyfriend is anxious to have you back in his bed where you belong."  Something like contempt etched his voice, and he leaned in far too close to Clark, whose eyes were very wide behind the thick glasses.  "Do us both a favor and don't keep him waiting."

Batman stepped away from the reporter, still glaring at him. 

The fog curled around his dark form like a lover, and he was simply gone.

"Well," Lois said, finally remembering to exhale.  "I guess we have a little something extra for our story, don't we?"  She stepped over to nudge the unconscious mugger in the side with a toe.  "You seem to be rather famous, Clark.  Though I suppose it's no surprise he knows you, dating the Prince of Gotham and all."  She frowned.  "Still, I'm disappointed that he seems to be homophobic.  That tone was totally uncalled for."  She glanced over at Clark, who was staring rather glassily at nothing.  "Clark?"

"Uh?"  Clark seemed to pull himself together.  "Well.  No matter.  It's not his job to be nice, is it?"  He offered Lois his arm gallantly and helped her step over the thug's body.  "Let's get you to your hotel so I can hurry home, like the man said."

"True.  I doubt the Bat will save us twice in one night, and I don't want to have to defend you if you get us lost again."  Lois shook her head as they left the alley.  "Gotham.  Crazy place.  I'm amazed you can stand to be here so much."

From somewhere not too far away there was a faint rustling noise, silken and caressing.  Clark looked up into the fog, a tiny smile on his face, and pushed at his glasses like a salute.

"Like I said, she and I have some things in common."


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