By Cindy Ray (email@example.com)
Summary: On a date with Dan Scardino, Lois can't get Clark out of her mind.
In Which Pooh and Piglet almost see a woozle…
Lois watched the door close behind her and slowly sank onto the small, upholstered chair. Covering her face with her hands she took a deep breath. *Get a grip, girl,* she firmly told herself. *You're on a date with a sexy guy, one who thinks you're great and has been very attentive. What's your problem?* Unfortunately, Lois didn't have to think hard or long to figure out the answer to that one. Since the whole situation with Lex last year she had busied herself at work, not wanting to open herself to that kind of humiliation again. She grimaced. *Lois Lane, prize winning investigative reporter, total failure at relationships…* Why, even Clark had known more about Lex than she had. Of course she hadn't listened when he'd tried to warn her, which made her humiliation all the more complete. And set in stone her resolution not to date at all for a very long time…
Which was why Clark's statement that he wanted her to go out on a date with him had thrown her so badly. True, they had been working together more closely than ever, and spending more of their free time together, but she had so firmly closed herself off to the idea of having another relationship that she had been completely surprised, and not a little confused. Surprised by the unexpectedness of it, and confused by how inviting the idea had seemed, once she actually had given it some thought. And the date, once it had happened, well it had been almost too good to be true. Which was making _this_ particular evening even harder. *Ok, pull yourself together, Lane. You've been in here long enough, and I wouldn't put it past Scardino to come barging in, even if it _is_ the ladies room.* With a deep sigh Lois stood up, checked her reflection in the mirror, opened the door, and slowly walked back to her waiting date.
It would have been hard to miss the look of appreciation in Scardino's eyes as Lois walked back up to the table. Lois didn't mind being looked at appreciatively, but he almost made her feel like she should have chosen a dress that was a little less revealing.
"Lois, are you ok? I was starting to worry about you."
Lois almost laughed at the mental image of Scardino storming the ladies room. "I'm fine, thanks. Still a little tired from everything that's happened, though. It's not every day one of my closest friends tries to kill me."
"If you're too tired to do this we could just order some takeout and eat it at your apartment…" Scardino offered.
"Oh, no," Lois said hastily. Somehow she just couldn't see eating takeout at her apartment with Scardino as a comfortable situation. This way, at least, they were in a public place. "Eating is something I can always do, no matter how tired I am. And here I won't have to do the dishes, right?"
As the waiter approached and took their order, Lois mentally reassured herself that this date was the right thing to be doing. *So what if I haven't known him that long. He's a nice guy, he's helped me out of a couple of tight spots in the last few weeks, _he's_ never run out on me…" All too aware of where that last thought was leading, Lois quickly asked Scardino, "So how long are you going to be in Metropolis?"
"Well, you remember I told you that originally I was here without agency sanction, right? But when they heard about some of the things going on here in Metropolis, they decided maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to leave me here for a while. They haven't specified a time frame yet, which is just fine with me…it's nice to be in a place with no memories, if you know what I mean."
"Yeah", said Lois slowly. "Last fall Cl…a close friend of mine was shot. Superman was able to save him, but for two days I thought he was dead." Lois' eyes clouded over with the memory. "I don't know what I would have done…"
Fortunately for Lois, their food arrived just then. *I will NOT remember how I felt when I thought Clark was dead… I'm mad at him, and I'm going to stay that way for a while.* She picked up her fork and attacked her pasta as if it were Clark. *And I _will_ enjoy this date, whether or not I have a good time.*
Had Lois been asked later what she and Scardino had talked about at dinner, she would have been hard pressed to come up with more than one or two things. The whole evening had been a mental blur. Trying not to mentally compare the whole evening with her date with Clark, trying not to wonder what he was doing, trying not to wonder if he was hurting as much as she was. When Scardino asked Lois what she wanted for dessert, she assured him that she _never_ had dessert, and was much too tired to start on this particular evening. She was relieved when he picked up on this not-to-subtle hint, and offered to take her home.
As they walked out to his car, Lois was surprised to see that it was not yet 11:00. Funny that she was so tired, it was still pretty early. But that was yet another comparison she was not going to make. Instead, she concentrated on making small talk on the brief ride back to her apartment, and as he walked her to her door. *I hate this,* she thought, as she slowly turned the key in the lock. *Without a doubt this has to be one of life's most awkward moments. The last minute of the first date.* As she opened the door and stood in the doorway, holding tightly to the door, she had an overwhelming sense of deja vu. This was exactly the way she had held the door the night of her date with Clark. The only difference was that with Scardino, she was afraid that if she let him in it would take forever to get him to leave. With Clark that night, she had been afraid that if she let him in, she wouldn't _want_ him to leave.
"Thanks for the dinner, Lois," said Scardino "I haven't enjoyed myself so much in a long time. Maybe we can do it again sometime."
"Yeah…maybe," Lois said unenthusiastically. "Goodnight, Daniel."
He bent forward to kiss her, but she had already turned towards the apartment, and he just managed to brush her cheek. *So that's the score…* he thought as he walked down the hall.
Lois locked the door behind her and slowly made her way into the bedroom. Taking off her dress and heels she dropped them in a pile and slipped into a soft brown robe. She tied the belt tightly as she walked into the kitchen, opened to freezer, and took out the open tub of Rocky Road ice cream. Sitting down at the table, she absent mindedly took one bite, then another. To her surprise, the ice cream didn't seem to make her feel any better. *Darn that Clark Kent,* she thought angrily. *He's ruined everything.* She shoved the ice cream back into the freezer, slammed the door, and went back into her bedroom. Throwing herself down on the bed, she pounded her pillow until her arms were tired, then she gave in and wept.
Outside her bedroom window a red cape fluttered in the slight breeze. Clark watched Lois weep with anguish in his eyes. Obviously her date with Scardino hadn't been too great, that much was a relief. But it wasn't too hard to guess what was wrong now, and the knowledge that he had caused this was unbearable. Unfortunately, the only solution he could think of was to tell her the truth, the _whole_ truth. As much as he wanted to, he still hadn't figured out how to do it. He could tell, though, watching Lois fall asleep with a tear-stained face, that he'd better figure something out soon. If he wanted Lois in his life forever, and he did, he was running out of time…