shallowness: Margaret Hale of North and South adaptation sitting at desk writing (Margaret North and South writing)
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Title: Epicinium
Fandom: Smallville
Rating: Teen
Characters/Pairing: Lois, Chloe, Clark, Gabe, Lana.
Summary: The aftermath of the eighteenth birthday party that Lois and Chloe don’t remember.

Disclaimer: I don’t own these characters and don’t profit from this fanfiction.
Author's Note: 2,682 words. Coda for 4.8 ‘Spell’. Potentially triggering references to non-consensual sex/lack of consent issues. ‘Epicinium’ is Latin for aftermath or afterwards. Written because Chloe didn’t get to enjoy her birthday party, all Lois’s work was for naught and I wanted to recognise that. I hadn’t seen beyond this episode when I started writing this fic. This fic hasn’t been beta read, so constructive criticism is welcome.


Epicinium: shallowness


Lois glares at Clark’s back. He’s dressed in his usual plaid, but she, Chloe and Lana are wearing someone’s wet dream of what sexed-up Wicca practitioners would wear, with a dusting of cave floor on their skin to make it even more diginified. The idea of getting out of these caves appeals to her, especially because she doesn’t remember entering them, but once she’s outside, she’s going to need explanations. From their expressions when they came to, Chloe and Lana must be just as confused as she is, which leaves Clark, who is dressed like himself and may have the answers.

Later, without the misdirected anger, Lois will remember that Clark had a pretty haunted look and will wonder if he suggested they got outside as a stalling tactic, while he worked out how much he would tell them.

Outside, there’s the hint of dawn in the sky, but when Clark starts to talk, it turns out their eyes aren’t adjusting to the dawn of the morning after Chloe’s birthday. Oh no, Lois and Chloe lost just over a day, and Lana lost even more time.

They look at each other in mute horror.

It’s like a nightmare, Lois can’t speak, letting the other two – mainly Chloe – ask questions. Then Clark tells them that what he meant when he said ‘You haven’t been yourself’ was that their bodies were taken over by seventeenth-century witches, one of which was Lana’s ancestor, Isobel.

“That’s ridiculous!” Lois exclaims, finding her voice.

Clark looks at her with those impossibly sincere eyes and says, “That’s what happened, Lois.”

“Oh, come on, Smallville! Witches? We were drugged or something.”

She turns to her cousin for some support.

“Remember, we drank some wine, I think, from glasses. You called us out to the woods, Lana, and you wanted us to— You don’t remember.”

Lana has a puzzled look on her face and shakes her head gently. Lois realizes that she’s just accused her of roofieing her and Chloe, which may be more plausible than what Clark is saying, but doesn’t seem likely from what she knows of Lana Lang either.

“It must have been a potion or a spell,” Lana says. “But it wasn’t me.”

Lois can’t stay still at this. This is unreal, crazy, but Chloe and Lana seem to be accepting it. Lois strides towards Clark’s truck, parked anyhow. The others talk, snippets of their conversation washing over Lois as she comes up with a dozen scenarios that make more sense of this gap in her memory. But there are the clothes – a choker, dangling earrings, a top that pushes up her breasts like an offering for any guy with working eyes. These are clothes she would never pick, just like Lana wouldn’t knowingly offer anyone a glass of drugged wine. Clark is carrying a gun, like he expected trouble from them in their altered state. These are all things that it’s tough to reconcile.

Despite her pacing and a good dose of rage, Lois is getting cold, there are goosebumps along her arms, so she tries one of the truck’s doors, finds it open and lets herself in.

How did they get here? Lois mutters ‘broomsticks?’, but there’s no-one to hear her with the door closed. Chloe and Lana, looking so incongruously sleazy, from the hair to the make-up, are still talking to Clark.

Lois watches him give Chloe his cell phone and she figures out Chloe is calling her father. Without thinking about the cold, Lois opens the door and walks towards the others to listen in.

“It’s me... No, I’m okay. We’re okay. Lois and me. We’re at the caves with Lana and Clark...Clark’s going to bring us home... I know, Dad, this is one more Smallville X file, but I’ll explain when we get home. Love you.”

After ending the call, Chloe grimaces and hands the phone back to Clark. The gesture makes Lois realize that they have no stuff of their own - Chloe’s car might still be out in the woods or it might be anywhere in the county. She has no idea where her cell phone is or what happened to the last clothes she actually remembers putting on.

She is furious. The trouble with seventeenth-century phantoms is that you can’t lay a finger on them.

*

Gabe is waiting for them outside the house. Chloe stumbles out of the car and rushes towards his hug. Lois thanks Clark for the ride.

“I know you think it’s crazy, but I’m telling the truth,” Clark says.

“Honestly, I don’t know what I think,” Lois says. There’s no harshness in her tone. Her mind has tired itself out thinking of plausible scenarios for what she woke up to and her emotions have been all over the place, until falling back on numb acceptance. Whatever happened, happened. It’s good to be back on familiar ground. “Goodbye.”

“Goodbye, Lois.”

She’s all too aware of how she has to look as she walks towards Chloe and Chloe’s dad.

Lois doesn’t argue when Chloe offers her the first use of the bathroom, where she wipes her face and takes the clothes off as quickly as she can. Turning the temperature of the shower up beyond what she can usually bear, she rinses who-knows-what out of her hair and off her skin.

She’s reluctant to pick up the clothes she’d left in a pile on the floor. The fact that there’s no underwear there makes it even worse. She didn’t knowingly wear them, it sounds like it was someone else in her body, and she has no idea what that other person did in them.

Hooking the clothes up with one finger, Lois throws them into the laundry basket, although she’d be equally happy burning them – even the boots too. Then she wipes the finger on the towel.

*

Lois wakes in the Sullivans’ spare room, aware that it’s later than usual, and then she remembers everything, which includes what she doesn’t remember. Her mood plummets. The boots lying against the wall where she left them are confirmation. She glares at them. Why do they have to be there? Why can’t her bag be by the side of the bed? Why couldn’t it all be a nightmare?

*

Lois knocks on Chloe’s door before going downstairs. She has no idea what Chloe has told her father and she doesn’t want Uncle Gabe cross-examining her.

After some sleep, Clark’s explanations have settled into Lois’s brain, along with the facts of where they were and what they wore and what she remembers. She isn’t sure she believes that witchcraft was involved, but she can’t crack jokes about it either. And, after all, this is Smallville.

Lois used to dismiss Chloe’s stories about the place as the effect of too much sunshine and fresh air on a Metropolis native. Truth was, that attitude stopped the moment Lois opened Chloe’s empty coffin for herself. Lois remembers Chloe’s cheerleader phase, and how, almost hubristically, she observed people’s personalities change. But everything seemed to revolve around that meteor rock that time.

By hurtling into university life at Metropolis, Lois had almost managed to forget all the uncanny, unexplained things about Smallville. Now the thought of forgetting anything on purpose both attracts and repels her.

When Chloe opens her door, Lois sees that her cousin has also chosen to wear long sleeves and trousers in reaction to the barely-there outfits picked out for them.

“Did you sleep?” Lois asks.

Chloe nods and lets her in. “You?”

“Yeah, like a log.” Lois sits down. “So, what did you tell your dad?”

“As much as he could handle,” Chloe says.

“Well, I have to say I’m not handling this well.”

“You—“ Chloe exhales loudly. “You have to hold on to the fact that it wasn’t us.”

“I know,” Lois forces out. “But—possessed by witches?“

Chloe shrugs.

“You told him that?” Lois asks, sceptically.

“No,” Chloe admits. “I just said we hadn’t been ourselves. He didn’t ask too many questions. This isn’t the first time stuff has happened that I can’t explain because I don’t remember it, sadly.”

Her voice falters and Lois takes in the emotions flickering across Chloe’s face, most of which Lois shares, even if she doesn’t want to acknowledge them. Sadness is one. Lois knows Chloe is mentally tracing the gap where happy memories of her eighteenth birthday should be. Instead there are missing, stolen hours.

The idea that her younger cousin has been through this before and has some experience to help her cope is not reassuring Lois at all.

“I don’t know if we’ll have to apologize to anyone for what they did,” Chloe says. “Clark said we went to the party, after all. There’s a lot we’re not going to know. Normally it would pain me to say that, but, right now, I’m okay with processing what we do know.“

“I’m not sure that I’m there. And—” Lois sighs and changes tack from what she was going to say, although she knows she’ll have to raise it. “I just wanted you to have a good party. It’s not been the easiest year for you—“

Chloe makes an assenting snort that’s more like her.

“And you’re eighteen, in your last year at school.” Lois is remembering all the eighteenth birthday parties she’s attended that were part of her inspiration when planning. “You deserved a fun party that you remembered, from what music was playing to who you danced with, how you came home—”

“Hey, I may not remember the party, but I do remember that you planned it like one of your dad’s exercises or missions,” Chloe says, sitting up and putting her arm around her cousin. “That means a lot.”

Lois smiles and leans her head against Chloe’s, but goes back again mentally to where it went wrong. Lana, who’d been her co-conspirator by phone and e-mail, let her down at the last minute, except that that it wasn’t Lana who’d made Lois start worrying that being a party planner was turning her hair grey. Just like it wasn’t Lana who offered her a glass of wine.

She wonders what happened with Clark’s Princeton interview, because he said the party got a little wild, and Lois has the feeling that he could answer a lot of her questions about how bacchanalian it was. Would he answer them? Does she even want to ask? But she kind of has to.

“Chlo, I think we may need to make an appointment at the medical center.”

“What? Are you still looking for another explanation for our amnesia? Because I don’t think medical science is going to be able to help us, really—“

“That’s not what I meant,” Lois says. “The body-snatchers partied hard, right? And there’s a lot of hours unaccounted for.”

Chloe flushes as she realizes what Lois is implying. “I don’t think it’s necessary, but if you feel we should—”

Lois sighs. “Maybe I’m being paranoid. I don’t physically feel like I had sex, but I don’t remember. You’re right, we should ask Clark first about the party, but—“

Chloe nods, her mouth a straight line. “This is one thing we need to know for certain.”

Lois wouldn’t mind the pain in her hand if she could punch whatever had taken her body over.

Later, she will wonder if this is when she begins to accept, like Chloe and Lana, that it was magical possession.

*

Breakfast is weird. Uncle Gabe is hovering and it’s so late that it isn’t breakfast. Chloe wants to go find her car. It’s where they left it, which gives Lois a momentary feeling of euphoria, but their bags, clothes and the car keys are nowhere in sight.

That’s when Clark calls to tell them their stuff is at the Kents’ barn.

Lois considers stealing the phone and asking Clark if he remembers whether she and Chloe got too much into the party spirit, but decides to spare her uncle who had to drive them over. It’s probably a question better asked face to face.

So, they get back into Uncle Gabe’s car and drive over to the Kent farm.

“Hey, earth to Lois.” Chloe turns around to face her cousin. “Let’s just plan how awesome my next birthday party is going to be, okay?”

“Okay.” Lois says slowly. “So, it’s not going to be a surprise party, I take it.”

“Absolutely not. Full disclosure,” Chloe assents. “You run it all by me. The playlist, the invitees, the location, even the gifts.”

“You’ve got it.”

*

Clark has cleared the barn, mostly, by the time they get there. The lights and streamers are all packed away in boxes, which impresses Lois because she remembers all the work involved in stringing them up and making sure the lights didn’t fuse. There’s a pile of gifts stowed away for Chloe that make her face light up. Then Clark brings them their stuff. There’s a message on Lois’s cell from her father and one from Gillian about a study group. Lois is relieved to miss her when she calls back and leaves a message saying she had to stay in Smallville longer than she thought.

Lois drags Clark away from loading the gifts into the car.

“I have to ask you something—“

*

“What do you want to do with these?” Clark asks, his voice having returned to normal, although he doesn’t look at Lois as he waves towards the boxes. “I haven’t finished clearing up.”

“Um, can you store them for a little?” Lois asks.

“Sure,” he says. “It won’t take long to get everything packed.”

Lois doesn’t want his sympathy. He told her that he remembered ‘Chloe’ and ‘Lana’ dancing and dancing, mainly with him, until he collapsed. That he couldn’t tell Lois what her body was doing for most of the party isn’t great, but she holds on to the fact that she didn’t feel sore.

When she will get the all clear, she will go back to her dorm, collect the plastic bag containing the clothes that her witchy body-snatcher chose and go out and burn them.

Chloe’s reaction to seeing her banner on the top of a box demands Lois and Clark’s attention.

“You got me a banner?” The look on Chloe’s face takes Lois back to the morning of Chloe’s birthday, when Chloe’s father brought her a candle-lit cake.

“I remembered you saying once that Smallville loves its banners.” Lois says, reaching for and finding her usual level of snark.

“That’s true.” Clark murmurs.

“Well, I approve of banners when it’s your party,” Chloe says, holding the banner up. “It lets you know there’s a party with your name on it.”

The echo of words she said before hits both Chloe and Lois. Lois has the memory of what the barn was meant to look like and how the party was meant to go. Chloe doesn’t even have that.

They both look away.

*

After a long journey to rescue Chloe’s car now that they have its keys, they pull in behind Gabe, who is already out of his car, looking like he wants to speak, but he gets a good look of their faces and settles on suggesting they bring the gifts inside, where Chloe can open them and finish the cake. Lois promises herself she’ll savor every bite. On Chloe’s birthday, after the first bite, Lois had kind of crammed the cake into her mouth, because it had taken so much time for Chloe to blow out all eighteen candles, tease her dad for putting them in and then remove them so they could cut the cake.

“There has to be coffee too!” Chloe says, but she’s smiling. Lois thinks the smile is a little strained, but it’s something. They’re all going to try to find some celebratory spirit.

“You guys go and fix that up, I’ll bring in the gifts,” Lois says.

What happens next isn’t a party, it isn’t all Chloe’s friends singing ‘Happy Birthday’, but Lois will never forget it and she hopes Chloe won’t either.

Fin

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