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24 March 2012 @ 03:28 pm
Love and Other Headaches: The Tiny Threads That Connect [Chapter Four; Part One]  

Despite a few drawbacks this week, here we are. We also have a cast list for the newer heroes that you're meeting that will grow as time goes on. ;) It'll be posted after this.



It was a lovely Saturday afternoon for a day out with the girls, and after the news she’d heard earlier in the week, Lois needed it.  The situation in Gotham was never far from her mind, or from Clark’s.  He was gone more after, trying to keep an eye on Bruce, and when he was home his mind was still in Gotham City.  But she couldn’t dwell on that; there was nothing she could do at the moment, so she had to keep up appearances and live in the moment.  Which that afternoon meant going for their regular girls’-night-out.

Lois sometimes marveled at the fact that she’d been able to maintain such long-standing friendships.  Lucy was her sister, of course and Lana—well, she couldn’t get away from Lana, given the way the family was arranged, even if she wanted to.  Cat Grant and Tobie Raines had known her since college, and if they hadn’t driven each other away with their competitiveness by now, it wasn’t going to happen.  And the friendship between a police inspector and a reporter had yielded too many clues to too many cases, so in spite of their occasional arguments about ethics, Maggie Sawyer wasn’t going anywhere.

Still, it amazed her sometimes.  Lois didn’t consider herself good at relationships of any kind; she knew she’d gotten lucky finding Clark.  Star-crossed as all hell, with everything they’d been through, but still lucky.  Richard was a major stroke of luck, too.  There weren’t many men in the world who would love a woman enough to propose to her, and then love her still more to let her go.  Privately she guessed she’d done something amazing in a previous life or something to have so many people who cared so deeply about her.

But this wasn’t the moment for reflecting.  “Pull!” Lois called, bringing Maggie’s Browning Citori 725 over-and-under shotgun to her shoulder.  Luckily for her, it had almost no kick; that right shoulder didn’t need any unnecessary stress.  Behind her, Maggie pressed the button that launched the clays—two this time.  Lois tracked the low target and blasted it out of the sky with the little visceral thrill that skeet-shooting always gave her, then followed up on the high one.  She had to hurry to make the double, but managed to break the second clay.

“Nice,” Maggie said, and Lois moved to the eighth station for her final two shots of this round.  They didn’t always get out to the skeet club Maggie belonged to, but when they did, she was one of the better shooters.  The rule was that the winner had to buy dinner for everyone, and Lois found herself paying quite often.

Lois missed the low shot at station eight, and swore pungently.  Since it was the first one she’d missed, she got to re-shoot it, and blasted the clay target with especial vengeance.  Then she handed the gun over to Tobie for her turn and joined the group who’d already shot or were still waiting to go.

Cat, who’d gotten a double this time and was still excited about it, beamed at Lois.  “When the zombie apocalypse comes, I’m hiding at your place.”

“Nope, I finally kicked the kids out, I’m not letting you move in and eat us out of house and home,” Lois retorted.  “If the dead start walking the earth, go freeload with Mags and Tobe.  They have more guns, anyway.”

“Yeah, but you have the penthouse.  It’ll be a lot easier just barricading the stairwell,” Cat replied.

“Someone’s been watching too many horror movies,” Lucy chuckled.

Cat rolled her eyes.  “Blame Richard.  He’s the one who waxed poetic to Ian about 28 Days Later.  In the last two weeks I’ve seen that, the sequel, Shaun of the Dead, a couple of older films I don’t even remember, and now he’s recording The Walking Dead.  It’s gotten so I feel weird if I don’t dream about zombies attacking the city.”

Lois couldn’t help chuckling while Lana apologized.  Richard’s love of horror films was her favorite target of blame for Kala being Goth, and now it looked like he had something else to answer for. 

Finally shrugging, Cat said, “It could be worse.  Ian could be stuck on German Expressionist films again.  I do love him, but I’m starting to think all film geeks should have a warning label just so we know what we’re getting into.  I can’t rent a movie anymore without thinking about the cinematography and how the director is expressing his particular style.”

They all shared a chuckle at that, and then Lana remarked, “Cat, you said you wanted to ask us all something when Lois got done shooting.  What was that?”

“Well….”  Cat trailed off, looking over at Tobie, who had worked her way through the stations during the conversation.  Skeet was a relatively quick sport, especially for experienced shooters.  Tobie had just missed a double and cursed in aggravation.  “Okay, I don’t want Tobe to feel left out, but you guys all have some qualifications that she doesn’t.  So … do you think I’d be a good mom?”

Lucy, Lois, and Lana all looked at each other for a moment in utter surprise, and even Maggie turned her head from where she was managing the trigger on the traps.  That made Tobie look around, too, and she lowered the gun to call, “What?  Jeez, woman, don’t tell me you’re pregnant.”

“How did you hear that with a shotgun next to your ear?” Cat complained.

The brunette kept the gun pointed at the ground as she turned around and propped her free hand on her hip.  “I didn’t need to hear you.  I felt a disturbance in the freakin’ force.  Whatever happened to Cat the wild and free, no commitments, you’ll date the guy for years but you won’t marry him because it’ll ruin the relationship?”

“Ian and I aren’t getting married.  And I’m not pregnant,” Cat retorted, blushing.  “See, this is why I didn’t want to tell you.  You’re just going to be an ass.”

“You also suck as a reporter,” Lois jeered.  Any time was a good time to refresh their rivalry.  “If you hadn’t been an editor so long, you’d remember Cat did that piece last month on those kids with disabilities that are stuck in foster care.  You thinking of adopting, Cat?”

The blonde sighed.  “Well, there was this little boy.  Adam.  He was in the second segment, and he’s just the sweetest thing.  And I remember some ASL from that one guy I dated who was deaf—you remember, right?  So I could talk to Adam some in between takes, and I think we really connected.  And….”  She shrugged helplessly.

The other five women shared a significant glance.  “Go for it,” Tobie finally said.  By that point no one was especially interested in finishing the round, and no one else was waiting to use the skeet range.  “I mean, if you’re still thinking about him a month later, it means he’s really important to you.  Me, I’ve never really been into the kid thing, but I think you’d be good at it.”

Lucy mused, “You do have a way with kids.  Lo’s twins never went to anybody they didn’t know, at first, but the day they got here you were carrying Jason around like his long-lost aunt.”

“You should do it,” Lois affirmed.  The idea of freewheeling Cat with a child was kind of mind-bending, but not in a bad way.  She’d done a lot of growing up in the last ten years or so: getting sober, advancing her career, actually staying in a relationship for more than a few months.

Cat was still fretting though.  “I don’t know.  I mean, I don’t know the first thing about raising a child.  Looking after you guys’ kids for a few minutes or a few hours is nothing, I’m pretty sure I won’t break them and I can always send them back to you, but adopting a child is a huge, huge commitment.  I’m not thirty anymore, either. And I don’t have any way of knowing if I’ll be any good at it!  I just … I don’t know how to be a mom. ”

Lana put an arm around her shoulders, leaned in close, and stage-whispered in conspiratorial tones, “Neither did we, but our kids survived.”

That got them all laughing.  Finally Lois said, “Motherhood is the one test where you’re encouraged to crib off everyone else’s answers, Cat.  And you’ve got all of us to ask for advice.”

“Including how not to panic when your kid comes home from college and casually announces she’s moving in with her boyfriend next semester,” Maggie said, arching an eyebrow.  Jamie Sawyer’s romance with Lee Escobar, an engineering major she’d met on campus, had been the topic of the day at their last meeting.

“Yeah, Adam’s nine.  Girls still have cooties.  I think I’ve got a ways to go before worrying about him moving in with anyone else,” Cat joked.

“Oh, I miss the cooties stage,” Lucy sighed.  “Michelle’s just now discovering that boys are the same species.  Nora’s getting married this year, and Sam’s talking about having a baby.  I don’t think Sarah’s quite ready yet, but he is.  And then every time Joanna calls she’s talking about someone new.”

“Well, she is traveling a lot,” Lana said. 

Lucy sighed.  “Yeah, when your ambition is to paint every inspiring coastline from Maine to the Florida Keys, I guess romance takes second best.  Oh, speaking of the artist lives-like-a-gypsy gene, hey Lois, what’s new with Kala?”

Lois groaned.  “So I hear the new one’s named Alan, and his idea of date-night conversation is telling my daughter all about his sword collection….”

 

 

There’s nothing like an audience yelling your name, Kala thought.  She felt super-charged, like she’d been sunbathing for hours, rolling on the adrenaline rush.  Sebast and the boys were scattering to their various vices, and Kala smiled wickedly as she took off her own makeup and changed into plainclothes.  After being in a corset for the last five hours, that meant jeans and an off-the-shoulder blouse, clothes she could breathe in.  The she headed backstage to find Alan.

He’d finished his set earlier; her group was gaining popularity, so they sang later in the night.  By the time Kala got to him, Alan had ditched the stage makeup and was halfway through a bottle of his favorite beer.  “Well, hello beautiful,” he said at the sight of her, a broad smile curving his mouth.

“Hello yourself,” Kala laughed, and kissed him.  She was still wearing boots, so she didn’t have to stand on tiptoe to do it.  Alan frowned slightly; Kala knew he was touchy about his height.  He’d once proclaimed that he would never, ever date a girl taller than himself.  She thought five feet ten was perfectly respectable for a guy, even if it was only a little more than her own height.

Kala let her knees go a little slack and her shoulders fall rounded, just enough so Alan wouldn’t notice she was easily looking him in the eye.  She’d learned that trick from her father.  To further distract her boyfriend, she said, “Well, we’re free for two days.  Wanna go out tonight?”

“Sure.  I hear there’s a pretty good club in town, too.”  Alan slung an arm around her waist, waved to his band, and they headed out.

Predictably, his hand dropped to the curve of her hip when they reached the door, and Kala caught it there to forestall his typical ass-grab.  He only pulled that nonsense in front of his band; once she got him alone he’d be a gentleman, but around the boys he acted like he had something to prove.  Laughing, she leaned into him.

The pretty good club turned out to be more like mediocre, full of angry Goths who just wanted to unleash their frustrations in the mosh pit.  Kala decided not to dance based on that.  She could kick higher than their heads, but with her luck one of the would be the mayor’s maladjusted kid or something and she’d wind up in jail.  So she settled for nabbing a booth as soon as one opened, snuggling with Alan in the corner.

Luckily the music wasn’t so loud as to make conversation impossible.  Alan rambled about his band and how well they were doing … and the fact that they’d auditioned a second bassist.  “Hey, Alan, you know I need one of those too,” Kala interjected.

Alan paused, disconcerted.  “Oh, yeah, right.  Well, I don’t think you’d like this guy.  He’s kind of a rough-cut person, you know?  Very … unpolished.”

“Believe it or not, neither I nor my self-image are made of glass,” Kala said, irritated.  Just two days ago she’d had a long conversation with Alan, and he’d promised to send any talented bassists he met her way.  Bass wasn’t Morgan’s strength, he preferred guitar, and besides he really didn’t want to be living in cheap motel rooms playing third-rate tours like this.  He’d rather stick to garage bands and teaching, or make the leap to actually getting signed, but this kind of grunt work wasn’t for him.  Morgan was only sticking around as a favor, and Kala hated to drag him into this.

Alan knew all that, he’d promised her, and then he hadn’t even told her until his band was auditioning someone for a second bass.  Sighing, Alan took her hands and looked down, then forced himself to meet her eyes.  “I’m sorry, babe.  It was thoughtless of me not to at least send him over to you first.  It’s just … I don’t think he has the right energy for your band, anyway.  You need someone with balance and talent and tact.”

More than halfway mollified—he had incredible eyes, lashes thick and dark as a girl’s, and Kala melted every time she looked into them—she still said archly, “Are you saying I’m a diva?  I need special handling?”

“No, Kala, you’re not a diva.  But Sebast is.”

That got them both laughing, which got them past the awkward moment, and then Kala reported on her drummer.  Ned was settling in nicely, though he hadn’t quite become a friend yet.  He would, eventually.  Caravanning and sharing motels and eating breakfast at Huddle House at 3 AM so they could hit the road before sunrise didn’t leave room for ambivalence.  In those circumstances, people either became friends as close as family, or bitter enemies.

As the hour grew later, the music in the club became slower and more melodic, and Kala leaned her head against Alan’s shoulder.  He’d been in the midst of telling her about a sword he wanted to buy on eBay, but someone had kept outbidding him, so he used some software workaround to get in a bid at the very last second, winning the sword by three cents or some such ridiculous margin.  Kala’s conscience prickled at that, but she kept quiet.  It was Alan’s life, after all, and he’d never had ethics lessons from Jor-El.  Still, she figured it was his mom’s money he was spending, he could afford to raise the bid more than an insulting amount.

“Hey,” Alan said, tilting her head back with two fingers under her chin.  “You’re real quiet tonight.  Something wrong?”

“Nah,” Kala demurred.  “Just tired.”  Strange how she’d been so energized earlier, and now she wanted to curl up in bed.

“Wanna head back?  I could tuck you in,” Alan offered, with that little grin she loved so much.  Every time Kala saw it she wanted to kiss him.  And he was a very, very good kisser.

“Mm, why do I think you have in mind a lot more than just tucking me in?” she teased, eyes sparkling.

“Can’t blame me for trying.”  Alan shrugged.  He never got embarrassed; she liked that too, that he was secure in himself. 

That was how they ended up going back to the motel, Kala with a nice little buzz—but not much more, even after a couple of hard ciders.  Alan didn’t need to know how well her body processed alcohol, though, so she made herself a little unsteady on her feet.  The rosy flush in her cheeks and the way that everything seemed funny, that she didn’t have to fake.

They were both staying in a Hampton, much better than the no-name fleapit across the road that the tour had booked, and Alan walked her to her room, his hand at the small of her back to steady her.  Kala leaned against him more than was necessary.  He wasn’t a big, husky guy like Jason; leaning against her brother was like leaning against a warm and forgiving brick wall.  But Alan was strong in a streamlined, supple way, the build of a martial artist rather than a prizefighter. 

At her door, Alan turned her around and cupped her face between his hands.  “Kala,” he said quietly.

“Yeah?” she said, lifting an eyebrow and leaning back against the door.

“What is it with you, hmm?  You have some kind of … special powers or something?”

That turned her spine to ice, instantly sobering her.  Oh, shit.  How the hell did he figure out…? 

In the next second, though, he smiled and continued, “Every time I see you, it makes my day better.  I can be exhausted, pissed off, whatever—seeing you makes everything right again.  How do you do that?”

Oh, jeez, I’m such a paranoid dimwit, she laughed at herself.  He had no clue he was dating a girl who could light cigarettes with her eyes and win races with sports cars and fly.  “Alan, honey, if I told you…”  She leaned in close, practically nose to nose, and lowered her voice.  “…I’d have to kill you.”

Alan laughed, and kissed her. 

Five minutes later he was still kissing her, his hands ceaselessly framing her body from shoulders to hips.  Kala had her hands under his shirt, and he had the great six-pack abs she expected.  She could’ve gone on kissing him for the next hour or so, easily.

Except, her phone chirped.  That got her attention, and she pulled away from Alan reluctantly to see who was texting her. 

The message on her phone’s screen was ‘Hot or not?’ and it was accompanied by a photo attachment of a grinning blond boy in a dark club.  ‘Hot enough,’ Kala replied quickly, and dropped the phone back in her pocket.

Alan was less than thrilled at the interruption.  “Let me guess.  Sebast.”

“Hey, it could’ve been important,” Kala said defensively. 

He just sighed.  “You two are way too joined at the hip.”

“Alan, he’s my best friend,” Kala explained, for what felt like the fiftieth time.  Every single boyfriend she ever had ended up jealous of Sebast, even the ones he hit on.

“I know.  I just don’t like anyone coming between us.”  He sounded resigned.

“No, you don’t like being interrupted while making out with an extremely hot chick,” Kala pointed out mischievously.

“That, too,” he admitted.

For a moment, just a moment, she thought about inviting him in.  They hadn’t slept together yet, and she didn’t want the night to end quite so soon.  But practicality reasserted itself; there were more important considerations than getting her groove on.  It was all fine and dandy for the boys to stay out all hours of the night drinking; they’d be hung over and miserable tomorrow, and Kala wanted no part of that.  “I hate to say this, but we should both be getting some sleep.  On the road again tomorrow morning.  At oh-dark-thirty, too.”

“Yeah, we should,” Alan sighed, clearly let down but seeing the sense in it.  He caught her face again, and kissed her, this time sweet and simple.  “Good night, Kala.”

“Good night,” she purred back, with a little lift of her eyebrows and an extra sway in her hips when she turned to open the door. 

Alan’s appreciate chuckle followed her to bed.

 



 
 
On the Verge of: blahblah
Beautiful Noise: Placebo-Pure Morning