Word Count: 1,308 words
Summary: Assigned a puff piece to write, Lois gets a little help from Chloe in understanding the odd phenomenon of shipping wars. Cracky fluff! :)
Author’s Note: A birthday fic for chickadilly. Thanks for beta help from mark_clark and van_el.
“There’s no way I’m going to write this story, Perry!” Lois tossed the printout onto the Chief’s desk, glaring in outrage. “A puff piece? When I could be getting us the story of the century?”
Perry White picked up the sheet of paper and held it out to her. “You’ll write this, Lane,” he stated flatly.
Lois didn’t even look down at the offending paper, matching Perry stare for stare. “All I need is a bit more time, and I can nail this guy! I promise you, I’ll have the proof--”
“That’s just it. You’ve been working on this story for over three weeks, and you haven’t turned in a scrap of decent work in all that time.” He stepped closer, bearing down on her. Lois refused to move, tilting her chin upward in defiance. “And so you’ll write this ‘puff piece’ I gave you, and prove that all the rumors I heard about Lois Lane before I took over this paper are actually true.” He snapped the paper in the air in the small space between them.
Lois waited a beat, fumes almost seeming to radiate from her... and then she snatched the assignment from Perry’s hand. Spinning on her heel, Lois strode out of the office door with a bang.
Perry’s voice chased her out, easily audible in the newsroom beyond. “And I’d better have that by deadline!”
The few who might have commented were turned away by the stormy expression on Lois’ face, except one. “What is it this time, Lois?” Chloe asked, not bothering to hide a smile.
“All I need is a little more time...” Lois grumbled. “And now he wants me to write something better suited for a junior intern... or Clark, here.”
“Hey!” Clark complained amiably, adjusting his glasses. He had only been on staff a couple of months, but he was used to the abuse. It annoyed Lois that Perry had basically skipped him over the intern phase, even the probationary period. All because of a couple of exclusive scoops he had brought into the new editor. Never mind that Lois had gotten her foot in the door much the same way a few years ago.
“Still trying to sell him on the ‘mysterious vigilante’ story?” Chloe shot Clark a surreptitious glance.
“Yeah, do you really still think he exists?” Clark added, with just a touch of incredulity. Maybe a bit much -- Chloe elbowed him gently.
Lois, who had been angrily shuffling files on her desk, and missed that little non-verbal exchange, suddenly looked up. “Of course I do! And you would too if he -- or she -- had been saving your life regularly! Not to mention all the criminals that’ve been left practically gift-wrapped for the police...” At their completely blank looks, Lois exhaled noisily. “Not that it matters to Perry.” She tossed the assignment sheet over toward the edge of the desk. “You see this tripe he’s forcing me to write instead?”
Chloe lifted the page but Clark was the first to read the topic aloud. “Shipping wars?” His eyes glanced quickly down the page, his eyebrows drawing together in a puzzled frown. “This is newsworthy?”
“What are you talking about, Clark?” Chloe laughed. “For some people, this is the only thing worthy. Oh, my God, I remember back in the day how much I wanted Scully and Mulder to end up together...”
Lois threw her hands up. “You should be the one writing this, Chlo.”
“Hey, I’ve written my share of pieces on online culture... but I’ve got my own story to get turned in on time...” At Lois’ pleading look, Chloe added, “But I’ll get you started, all right?”
“Fine.” Lois pulled out her yellow notepad -- she always did most of her brainstorming by hand, less chance of anyone stealing her ideas, since her handwriting was nearly illegible -- and clicked a mechanical pencil to begin. “You said Scully and Miller...”
“Mulder,” Chloe corrected. “You know, The X-Files?”
Lois scratched out the name and corrected it, but simply said, “What characters’ relationships have been the most popular?”
“Well...” Chloe bit her lip, trying to think. “You know what, there are so many...”
“What about your favorites, then? He didn’t say this had to be a masters’ thesis.”
Chloe pulled up a chair beside Lois’ desk. “I guess some of them would have to be... hmm, Han and Leia from Star Wars... Mal and Inara, Wash and Zoe from Firefly... a bunch of different ‘ships on Buffy...”
Clark came to sit on the edge of the desk, grinning. “Is there anything that isn’t fantasy or sci-fi on your list...?”
“Growing up in the Meteor Capital of the World, you would guess anything else?” she shot back. “Anyway, that’ll start you out.”
Lois nodded, and Chloe began to walk back toward her desk, Clark stepping back to let her pass. “Wait a second... why would anyone get into online wars about these people?”
“Oh...” Chloe stopped and turned. “Well, for every one of those ‘ships, there’s another group of fans who want the characters paired off with someone else. Like, instead of Buffy and Angel, they want Buffy and Spike. Or instead of Han and Leia, they want Luke and Leia...”
“Weren’t they brother and sister?” Clark asked, horrified.
“Like that makes any difference to people. There are whole subgroups of shippers for ‘family relationships’ in some fandoms...”
Lois simply shrugged. “Okay, so people get really worked up about their couple, I guess.”
Chloe nodded. “You wouldn’t believe how much.” Then she suddenly gasped. “Oh! I totally forgot about Harry Potter! Those were the worst of all!”
“The children’s book?” Lois asked with surprise.
“Yes, that Harry Potter.” Chloe came back around the desk to kneel in front of Lois’ computer. “The worst debates were between Harry and Hermione fans and the people who wanted Ron and Hermione together. And then there were all the other ones...” As she spoke, she quickly typed in a search, and showed Lois a long list of different pairings. Clark came around the other side to peer at the list. “You could probably write your article on that alone, if you wanted to.”
Lois blew out a breath. “All this fuss over make-believe characters?” Lois shook her head.
“It’s not only fictional couples, but real ones, too. You know, like those celebrity couples who get Portmanteau names smacked on them. ‘Brangelina’ and ‘TomKat’ from a few years ago. Some people even write ‘RPF’ -- Real Person Fiction about them.”
Lois placed her hand over her eyes to rub at her temples. “This is cruel and unusual punishment. When I bring home that vigilante story, the Chief is going to regret putting me on this...”
Chloe gave her cousin a grimacing smile and a pat. “Sorry. At least you’ve got plenty of angles to try out.” She stood, and finally made her way back to her desk, Clark doing the same.
The three reporters worked in relative silence for a few minutes, Lois’ subvocal grumbles the only noise in their area.
Then Chloe suddenly spoke, a teasing edge to her voice. “You know, Lois...”
“What?” Lois said, chewing on the end of her pencil.
“When the two of you work together, you make a pretty good writing team. I bet someone out there even ships you with Clark.”
Clark blushed and looked down at his tie.
“Yeah, right,” Lois drawled. “I mean, no offense, Smallville, but you’re not exactly my type. Even with those cute glasses.” Not that she’d really figured out what type that was yet.
Clark gave Lois a small smile. “None taken.”
Chloe’s eyes twinkled. “I bet they’d even give you some Portmanteau name, like ‘Lark’ or ‘Kane’... or...”
“Clois,” Clark put in.
They all laughed lightly. Just before going back to her article, Lois took a swig of coffee. “Sounds like a cough drop.”
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