By Katie Sizer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted July 2002
Summary: What if Lois really tried to figure out what Clark meant when he told her she was the blind one in the episode "Churches of Metropolis"?
Many thanks to my wonder BRs Laura, Elena and Wendy for looking over this so quickly for me! And also for their kind, helpful and encouraging comments. You're all great! :))) Thanks also to my GE, Carol, who was very kind and patient to work with.
Lois and Clark stood in the conference room, a tense atmosphere surrounding them. Clark waited expectantly for Lois to say something. After she'd dragged him in the conference room, he'd assumed she would start yelling at him for something, something she did often. However, when she didn't instantly fly off the handle with him, he raised his eyebrow at her, a silent way of asking her just what she wanted.
"Clark, she's dirty," Lois told him, not bothering to say Mayson's name; she knew that Clark would know just who she meant.
"Show me the proof," he told her, a little more curtly than he'd intended.
"We don't have any proof on Snell, but you're willing to go after him," she replied, matter-of-factly.
"That's different," Clark said quickly, not able to tell her the real reason he was going after Snell. "I told you, I have a… a source."
"I'll tell you what's different, when Snell bats his eyelids, you don't get quite so giddy," she retorted, the words tumbling out of her mouth before she really had a chance to think about what she was saying.
She cringed internally when she realised she'd just let Clark, her partner and best friend, know that she felt jealous of Mayson. There was no way he'd ever let that go! And she wasn't… was she? No, Mayson was a dumb, airhead woman; nothing to be jealous of at all. And besides, it was Clark! How could she ever be bothered about some woman fawning over Clark? It wasn't as if she were attracted to him or anything.
She put her response down to just pure sarcasm, nothing else, and looked at Clark, hoping he wasn't going to dwell on what she'd said. The last thing she wanted was Clark thinking that she was attracted to him.
<But would that be such a bad thing?> a voice inside her head asked. She attempted to dismiss it instantly, but found herself not totally able to let go of the thought.
"Wait, wait, are you jealous or something?" he asked her, his eyes widening.
"Of what?" Lois asked, disappointed that he had decided to pick up on what she'd said. Trying to put him off the subject, she continued, "We're friends, we're partners, what you do away from me is… is…"
"Yes?" Clark asked
"Is whatever you do," she finished. "I don't care — except when it affects our job."
"How is it affecting my job to say I disagree?" Clark asked, becoming irritated by Lois's accusations against Mayson, ones that seemed to come about by jealousy. "To say you have no proof that Church is the head of Intergang and so no proof that just because Mayson worked for Church she's part of Intergang? We've got to stay on track."
"You're not staying on track!" Lois told him, her voice having risen in pitch and volume. "You're saying stay away from your girlfriend."
"She's not my girlfriend," Clark said, keeping his voice low.
"Whatever she is, she's got you finger-wrapped and blindfolded," Lois retorted back.
Letting his anger show, Clark gave in and moved towards the door. "If there's anybody around here that's blind, it's you," he told her, before turning around and storming out of the conference room, letting the door swing shut behind him.
"What's that supposed to mean?" she shouted at him, already knowing that he was too far away to hear her.
Lois watched Clark storm out of the room in sheer disbelief, and put her hand on the table to steady herself. What on earth made him think that he could get away with speaking to her like that? It wasn't as if she'd said anything wrong — she'd just told him of her suspicions about Mayson. And yet he'd been so quick to fly off the handle with her.
It had to be because he was attracted to her, she concluded. That was the only reason he'd be angry with her for voicing her suspicions. Had it been anybody else, he'd have helped her to try and find proof. But not Mayson. Obviously she was more important to him than his work, and the story… and her? Was Mayson more important to Clark than she was, his working partner and his best friend? A lump developed in Lois's throat as she began to wonder if she really did mean less to Clark than that dozy Mayson.
She thought Clark cared about her. But he was accusing her of lying! He trusted this person that he'd known for two minutes more than he trusted his own partner! They'd investigated people without proof before; it was something they did often. It didn't seem like it would be the case this time, though. If she wanted to investigate Mayson, she would have to do it without Clark.
Would he even believe her, though, if she did find proof? Or would he be too obsessed with his new 'girlfriend' to even bother examining the proof?
Lois sat down, still alone in the conference room. She saw Clark sitting at his desk, acting like nothing had happened. Well, of course, nothing had happened to him! She hadn't yelled at him, or stormed out of the room. No, he was perfectly fine. She hadn't upset him, or made him feel second best to anyone.
She felt hurt. She'd come to love Clark like a brother since they'd begun working together, over a year ago. He'd always put her first, even before himself. He'd always shown her such care, and would protect her whenever she was in danger. She still remembered when Sebastian Finn had tried to kill her. Clark had been there for her then. What had changed between them? She knew that he'd never have tried to hurt her before. But there was venom in his voice when he'd made that last remark to her. It was a remark she didn't even understand! What did Clark mean?
Perhaps it would be better to think about it later, though. She didn't have the time or the privacy she desired at the Planet — already she could see people glancing into the conference room, and nudging their buddies. She didn't feel that she was making a show of herself, but for some of the Planet employees, the fact that she was on her own and not doing much work was good enough gossip fodder.
And they still had the rest of the day to get through. They obviously couldn't ignore each other, seeing as they were working on the same story. Lois was unwilling to do that, anyway. Being cool towards Clark would surely only drive him further towards Mayson, and that was definitely something she didn't want. He was already close enough for it to get in the way of their work.
<But what else does it get in the way of…?> another voice questioned. Lois ignored it, telling herself not to be so stupid.
Clark sat at his desk and processed the argument he'd just had with Lois. Why had he gotten angry with her? There was no need for him to have lost his temper with her. He glanced over to the conference room and saw her sitting in silence, her head hung down. Great. So he'd upset her with his thoughtless comment. And just what had that meant? Why had he said that Lois was the blind one? He wished now that he could take it back. He doubted that she'd want to talk to him for the rest of the day now.
No doubt she'd also be angry at his accusation that she was jealous of Mayson, too. After all, why would she be? Lois had made it pretty clear that she didn't have any feelings for him. He knew that thinking she had only started to investigate Mayson because she was jealous was a ridiculous idea, but it wouldn't go away. What other possible conclusion to her comment about 'batting eyelids' could be drawn, though? It wasn't just some random remark she'd made. It was obviously something she thought about a lot.
Could Lois actually be jealous of Mayson's advances on him? It didn't seem possible, but it would certainly explain things. If it were true, it meant that his comment back to her had to have hurt some. He needed to apologise to her… but how would he approach the subject? At least he'd have time to think about it, he mused wryly — she wouldn't be talking to him for a while, he was certain.
He turned his gaze back to the conference room, back to Lois. She was still sitting quietly, obviously deep in thought. She didn't seem very happy, but it was hard to tell from so far away. He decided against using his zoom vision to read her facial expression more clearly — he didn't want her to look up and see him staring intently at her.
But before he had time to look away, he saw her rise from her seat, gather the paperwork she'd taken into the conference room and head out of the room. He expected her to storm over to his desk and demand to know why he'd behaved in such an appalling way, but, surprisingly, she didn't. Instead she came over to him calmly, and placed some of the paperwork on his desk.
"I guess we should get on with some work?" she asked, trying to keep her calm. It would have made sense for her to shout and scream at him, and demand that he tell her what his last little comment to her had really meant. But as she'd decided in the conference room, that would surely only drive him further away from her. So as much as she wanted to ask him why he'd been so cruel and hurtful, she resolved to wait until he said something to her about it first. After all, knowing him, he'd be apologising pretty soon.
"Okay," Clark replied, not questioning her calmness. Maybe she wasn't really angry after all? It didn't seem like Lois, though. She probably just wanted to wait until they were somewhere private before having it out with him. "Let's get to work!"
The rest of the day went by slowly, and the tension between them seemed to increase all the time. Lois has tried her best to be civil, even nice, to Clark, but found it hard to forget the sharpness of his tone towards her earlier. They both knew that fighting would get them nowhere, though, so nothing was said about the argument.
Now the day was over, and Lois wished that she'd said something to Clark about what had happened. She wanted to know why he'd said she was the blind one. And the longer she left to ask him, the more she'd be thinking about it. She sighed, knowing that he'd probably be rushing off to Mayson soon, and inform her that she was being investigated. And then they'd have dinner, and he'd kiss her… and why did that bother her? Clark was a free man, he could do whatever he wanted. And it wasn't as if it mattered to her what he did with Mayson.
Knowing that it was time to return home, Lois wondered if she should offer Clark a lift home. Maybe he would then explain his behaviour that afternoon? Or maybe the jeep would just be filled with more of the uncomfortable silence they'd had for most of the day. Either way, she still wanted to spend a little more time with Clark. There was always the chance that he would start to talk to her.
When she saw Clark beginning to put his coat on, she asked, "Clark… would you like a ride home?" At his slightly surprised look, she continued, "I mean, it's pretty cold out, and I wouldn't want you to catch flu or anything. And it's been a long day, so you're probably tired…"
"Thank you, Lois," he said, smiling at her. He was taken aback that she wanted to give him a lift. He was sure that she would have wanted to get away from him. Today had obviously been a struggle for her. There hadn't been any of the teasing banter they often shared; there had hardly been any conversation at all, and many a time they'd found themselves in the middle of an awkward silence. But Lois had tried her best not to be angry with him in the middle of the newsroom, and he had to give her credit for that. The Lois Lane he'd met when he'd first joined the Planet would have no doubt set off without a second thought. She'd changed an awful lot in her manner towards him, and towards everyone else.
He'd planned to fly straight to Smallville after work and talk to his parents. Their advice always proved invaluable to him, and now was one of those times where he really needed to speak to them. However, he had the feeling that Lois had asked him if he wanted a ride out of more than general politeness. Somehow he could sense it. So he would have to wait to see his parents — there was no way he was going to disappoint Lois now.
"That would be great," he finished, noting her small smile, which she hid as quickly as it appeared.
As she had suspected — and dreaded — the ride was conducted mostly in silence. Clark had made no move to talk about, or apologise for what he'd said earlier. He hadn't made any move to start a conversation at all, though surely he must have realised how uncomfortable it had been in the jeep. Maybe he was just thinking of his precious Mayson? She bit her lip at the thought, and wondered again just why she was thinking of him and Mayson so much.
She pulled the jeep up in front of Clark's apartment, and smiled at him. "Well, I'll see you tomorrow, Clark," she said, thinking that maybe he'd invite her in where they could talk properly.
But it seemed he had no such intention. "See you then, Lois. Thank you for the lift." He contemplated asking her in for coffee, so they could talk properly, and sort out what had happened earlier. But he figured they both needed some time to think. He first needed to figure out what he meant when he'd told her she was the blind one around here. He knew that it had to mean something, but he just couldn't work out why he'd said it. Before he could begin to explain to Lois why he'd said what he had, he needed to have it clear in his own head.
He saw a brief look of disappointment on her face, and suddenly wished he had asked her in. Was there still time? "Lois," he began, but saw her rev up the engine and prepare to drive off.
"Take care…" he told her, sighing. He'd have to wait until tomorrow to discuss this with her.
Lois put her foot on the gas and drove off, tears blurring her vision slightly. What had happened to them? Why hadn't Clark apologised to her for earlier? Maybe he just didn't care any more. He'd found Mayson, and she was obviously more important to him than his partner was. It seemed that he still thought she was in the wrong to go anywhere near Mayson, and that entitled him to say whatever he wanted. He still hadn't explained his behaviour earlier, and it was starting to upset her.
Still, she couldn't think about it while she was driving. The tears were beginning to distract her from the road, so she quickly wiped her face with the back of her sleeve, and returned her attention to the traffic in front of her.
Just a few minutes later, she pulled her jeep up in front of her apartment, and quickly got out. She rushed up into the apartment building, desperate to have some time to herself.
When she got into her apartment, she removed her coat and hung it up, not bothered when it fell back onto the floor. It had been hard to keep up the facade of not being angry with Clark, when inside she was furious with him for behaving like that towards her, especially when she'd done nothing wrong. And then when she'd driven him back to his apartment… if he'd truly wanted to make things up with her, he'd have invited her in and they could have talked about things. But no… all he'd said was a quick 'See you tomorrow.'
Walking over to the sofa, she felt her blood boil. She'd thought he was her friend. Obviously an eyelash-fluttering blonde meant more to him than his best friend. He was probably getting ready to go out with her right now, she mused. At least she'd have the time to sit down and think about what Clark had meant before. She didn't have any research to do for work, as it had all been done in the newsroom, so the evening was free to try and work out what that remark was about.
She wondered why it was so important to her anyway. Why should she care what Clark thought of her? If he thought she was blind to something, then that was his problem. In the past, it had never mattered to her what somebody's opinion was. If they didn't like her, that was it. But now… oh, she didn't want Clark to think ill of her! He was her friend. She'd never had a friend like Clark before, someone who would be there for her whenever she needed help or comfort, and someone who accepted her just as she was. That was what she'd always thought.
Yes, she knew that he knew what her flaws were, but he'd never said anything before, other than in a teasing manner. But this time was different. He'd accused her of being blind… but what to? She was still puzzled over that. To how he really felt for Mayson? Maybe there was more to it than he was revealing? But no… it couldn't be! She was sure Clark wasn't that type of person.
Lois wondered if he still had feelings for her. Not so long ago, he'd declared that he loved her — but then of course, he'd taken it back. At the time, she'd really thought he had been lying about it, but afterwards, she wasn't so sure. And she *knew* that he'd been attracted to her when he first joined the Planet. But… when they had been sprayed with the pheromone compound, he hadn't fallen madly in love with her… but that was beside the point. She was sure that before Mayson came along, he'd been attracted to her. But had those feelings gone?
Surely his attraction to her that had lasted over a year couldn't fade so quickly, could it? Mayson wasn't that special. While she was pretty, she was no more so than herself. She didn't seem to have much personality, though. Lois struggled to tell herself that she was overreacting and that nothing was happening between Mayson and Clark. But she knew she was kidding herself. She'd *seen* them last night in Clark's apartment. They'd seemed pretty comfortable then! Mayson had made herself look quite at home. And they'd kissed… it was only a brief kiss, but it was still a kiss.
When she was being honest and truthful to herself, she had to admit that seeing Clark and Mayson had made her feel very jealous. But that didn't mean she felt anything for Clark, did it? Deep down, she knew that it did. She remembered after her disastrous wedding with Luthor, she'd been ready to pour her heart out to Clark, and tell him that she felt more than friendship for him. But he'd told her he was lying about his feelings, and she'd accepted that, pushing her own feelings for him to the back of her head.
It might be too late now, she thought sadly. She told herself that she was only thinking this because she was feeling hurt and rejected and that in the morning, she'd chastise herself for ever thinking she had feelings for Clark, but she knew that was a lie. As hidden as she kept them, and as often as she tried to convince herself that they weren't there, she knew she wanted more from Clark. And now he was in Mayson's claws.
Maybe she could tell him how she felt? But that was a stupid idea. She was supposed to be angry with him, anyway! But her anger faded as sadness overcame her from the thoughts of Clark and Mayson together. It was so unfair! Why did she have to come along and take Clark away from her? No doubt their friendship would lapse if Clark started seeing Mayson on a more frequent level. He wouldn't have enough time to watch movies and eat pizza with her, or just hang out and chat. No, he'd be too busy entertaining Mayson. Did this mean that they might not be best friends any more?
She shuddered at the thought and once again had to fight away tears. She tried to stay positive about things and hoped that she was just reading too much into the situation with Mayson. Anyway… wasn't she supposed to be figuring out what Clark's 'blind' comment meant instead of dwelling on Mayson? Focusing her attention back to that, she put her hand to her head, as if to will the answer to come forth.
What other possible things could she be blind to? It had to be something to do with him. But what about him? He'd seemed to be pretty upset, so had she offended him in some way? That brought her back to Mayson, but somehow that just didn't seem to add up. Realistically, he hadn't known her long enough to get so upset over her that he would storm out on his best friend like he had this morning. That was the truth.
So, chances were it was something to do with her. But what? Was he upset that she let it slip she was jealous? Or… could it be that she'd then rectified her mistake and told him she wasn't jealous? Maybe she'd given him just a glimmer of hope that led him to believe she had feelings for him, and then had taken it away. It didn't seem likely, but it was a possibility. It didn't explain what he said she was blind about, though.
Unless he was implying that she'd read the situation totally wrong? It could be his way of letting her know that nothing was going on between him and Mayson at all, and she was just looking way too deep into it. It was something she tried to convince herself she was doing, but never quite succeeded. Maybe it was true, and that was what he was trying to tell her.
But why was she blind? Blind to Clark's true feelings towards Mayson… that didn't sound right. Blind to Clark's true feelings towards… her?
That was it! It had to be. He had been saying she'd read the situation wrong — Clark didn't feel anything for Mayson, because he had feelings for herself. And she hadn't known, she hadn't realised. She'd just assumed that he was attracted to Mayson. Everything suddenly fell into place. The way Clark acted towards her, how caring, loving and gentle he was. The way he always put her before himself. She could hardly believe she hadn't noticed it before.
It was the only possible thing she could think of. And it did seem to make so much sense! She'd let him know that she thought Mayson was Clark's girlfriend, when in actual fact he had feelings for herself. He'd let her know she was blind to how he felt about her. Lois processed the revelation with some excitement. It felt great to know that Clark didn't really have feelings for Mayson after all; it was just something she was imagining.
<What if it's just wishful thinking?> a small voice questioned, but Lois ignored it. That *had* to have been what Clark meant when he said she was blind. There was no other plausible explanation for it! But what about the kiss between Clark and Mayson? Lois paused, and thought about it. Why would he do that if he had feelings for her? It was something to ask him about later. Maybe he was just being polite? After all, Mayson had made no secret of the fact that she wanted Clark. Maybe she'd just given him that pathetic, desperate look of hers and he'd felt obliged to kiss her so she wasn't disappointed.
She needed to talk to him. Before she could allow herself to think Clark had these feelings for her any further, she needed to make sure that was what his comment had meant. If she allowed herself to carry on thinking this, and then only later found out it hadn't meant anything of the sort, it'd be a nightmare. She'd be so embarrassed! No, it was essential that she talk to Clark. It seemed like a good time to phone him up, and maybe ask him to come round so they could discuss it. She didn't think she could wait until tomorrow. And besides, Clark still owed her an apology. Whatever his comment meant, he still had been needlessly rude to her when she hadn't deserved it.
Lois reached for her phone, and dialed Clark's number. She wasn't even sure what she was going to say to him; she wasn't even totally sure what her feelings for Clark were. She'd already concluded that she was attracted to him, but now she was faced with the question, did she want their relationship to go beyond friendship? It was a scary prospect, and one that really needed much more time to be thought about. But she needed to get things out in the open with Clark, first, and make sure she hadn't totally misunderstood his remark to her.
But her heart sank as the familiar message of Clark's answering machine rang in her ears. Feeling dejected, she hung up without leaving a message, and chastised herself for being so unbelievably stupid. How could she have allowed herself to get her hopes up in such a childish manner?
He must have gone out with Mayson.
Clark watched Lois drive away from his apartment, knowing that he'd angered her by not asking her in to discuss things through. The way in which she'd set off, tyres screeching, told him as much. He saw her speed out of sight, and walked into his apartment, running a hand through his hair. The last thing he'd wanted to do was upset Lois further. He'd just wanted to get things clear and then he could properly explain to her why he'd said what he had.
Sitting down on the sofa, he sighed again, what seemed like the next in an endless stream. The day had been quite interesting. It had started off fine, but then when Lois had made those accusations about Mayson, it just totally went downhill. Maybe he should have just agreed with her, to keep the peace. He wondered if there was any specific reason why he didn't think Mayson to be guilty of anything. But she just didn't seem like that kind of person. But why would Lois make something like up? He didn't think she would.
But then Lois said she didn't have any proof about Mayson. It still didn't mean she'd invented it, though! As she'd pointed out, he didn't have any actual proof about Snell. Well… he did, but none that he could share. There was no way that he could tell her about his encounter with Snell while dressed as Superman. So he'd just have to act like there was no proof. As for Mayson… well, he couldn't prevent Lois from investigating her, but he didn't really want to take part in it. He trusted Mayson and didn't think that she was dirty.
But why did Lois think that Mayson wasn't being honest? He'd accused her of being jealous, although it wasn't as if he hadn't had a reason. Her remark about Mayson 'fluttering her eyelashes' made it sound like she was jealous that he trusted Mayson. She'd tried to make the remark seem casual afterwards, but it hadn't quite worked. But no… that was stupid. Why on earth would Lois be jealous of him and Mayson? Lois didn't have any feelings towards him, so why didn't she want anyone else to go out with him? Besides, he wasn't dating Mayson in the first place!
Part of him protested that maybe Lois did have feelings for him, and that was why it made her jealous that he was sticking up for Mayson instead of agreeing with his partner and helping her to investigate. It would make sense… but then why would a woman like Lois have feelings for him? She'd made it clear that she didn't before. When he'd confessed to her that he loved her before her wedding to Luthor, she told him that she just didn't feel that way about him. That had hurt him so much. That had told him in no uncertain terms that she felt nothing for him. He felt a stab of pain at his heart as he relived the pain he'd gone through while Lois had been engaged to Luthor.
But there was no point in dwelling on the past. It wouldn't help this situation any. So where was he? Lois's feelings. It was possible that she was attracted to him… after all, she'd been affected by that pheromone compound. She'd fallen desperately in love with him then; he remembered that the person needed to have some attraction in the first place for it to work. That thought had always made him hope that one day Lois would want to be more than friends, until he had eventually realised that Lois's attraction was no doubt meant towards Superman. It wasn't her fault she'd directed it at him as Clark — in her drugged state, she was just the same. The drug had made her choose him, not her herself.
But then why did Lois appear jealous? Maybe she just thought Mayson would take his friendship away from her. He knew that she relied on him a lot more than she'd ever let on. Whenever she was in danger, she'd go to him for comfort, and he was always there for her, no question. To her, it must seem like he was choosing Mayson over her. He'd never do that to her. No one could ever replace her, and besides, he still held hope in his heart that one day she'd realise she had feelings for him, and they'd date. He didn't want anyone else.
He needed to tell Lois that. If she was upset with him because she thought he was putting Mayson first, than she needed to know the truth. He had to make her realise that he wasn't seeing Mayson. Just because he didn't agree with her over her accusation didn't mean he didn't care about her anymore, or that he put Mayson before her. She was his best friend.
Figuring out what his comment meant would have to wait. He hated the thought of Lois being upset, and it made it worse that he was the one who had caused it. He needed to go over to Lois's apartment and see her and reassure her that he was still there for her no matter what. But as for the investigation… he wasn't sure he could do that. He trusted Mayson. Maybe Lois would let it drop once he told her in no uncertain terms that nothing was going on between him and Mayson — that was, if she was only making up accusations to get him away from Mayson. He didn't think Lois was that shallow, though. Much as he trusted Mayson, he hadn't known her that long, so there was every chance that there could be something in Lois's accusations.
If only he'd acknowledged that earlier, before snapping at Lois! Then they wouldn't have had that argument and he wouldn't have said that stupid remark about Lois being blind. It had sounded so good at the time, and yet he had no idea what it had meant. He could only concede that he had been annoyed with her and had said the first thing that came to mind to shock her. It had certainly worked; the argument had ended abruptly. But he couldn't forget how forlorn she'd looked sitting in the conference room afterwards. He wished he could take back that hurt he'd caused her.
Deciding that he'd already wasted enough time, he picked up his jacket and headed out of his apartment, ignoring the ringing phone, knowing his machine would pick it up. He wished he could go over there at super speed, but seeing as it wasn't so long since she dropped him off, he knew that he couldn't. He just hoped she was willing to listen to all his explanations.
After Lois placed the phone back, she felt tears fall from her eyes and try as she might, she couldn't hold them back. Her head fell into her hands as she realised just how ridiculous her musings were. Why did she let herself believe so quickly that Clark cared for her in a way that was more than just friendship? Of course he didn't! If he had, he would have told her so during the day. He wouldn't have let her upset herself thinking over what his comment could have meant. Or he would have told her after work. They had plenty of alone time in the jeep! He would have reassured her then about what he had meant.
Why didn't she take that into account? Instead of just rushing to conclusions and assuming that Clark felt something for her! She should have known she was just hoping. After all, she had seen him kissing Mayson the previous night, but had stupidly dismissed it! How could she have thought that it didn't mean anything? Kissing wasn't something that Clark went around doing for fun, she knew that.
It was hard to believe that she, Lois Lane, had allowed herself to think he was attracted to her. And to be excited about it! It didn't bear thinking about. She was glad he was out, actually. What would have happened if she'd told him she'd figured out what he meant, only for him to tell her she was totally wrong? She wouldn't ever have been able to look him in the face again.
Lois brought her knees up and hugged them to her chest. It was so unfair! Why did Mayson have to come along and ruin their friendship? Her tears continued to fall, but now she made no effort either to stop crying or to dry them up. She didn't know what to do now. She still had to talk to Clark, but, of course, he needed to work talking to around his schedule of seeing Mayson. But what could she say to him anyway? There wasn't much she could say! She couldn't tell him how hurt he'd made her by dating Mayson. She wanted him to know that she didn't want to lose him… but no way was she going to beg him to be her friend! If he cared more about Mayson… then it was his loss.
She sobbed harder as soon as she'd thought that. It was her loss, too. Clark was like a brother to her… but she wished he could be more. Now she knew that he was safely in Mayson's clutch, it seemed easy to admit to herself she'd wanted more from Clark. He was the kindest man she'd ever known — nothing like any of the others. And they'd become best friends. He hadn't just wanted to jump straight into bed with her; he hadn't even tried, unlike all the other men she'd known. Yes, a relationship with Clark might have been very nice indeed. And now it was too late.
The doorbell interrupted her thoughts, and she cursed whoever had decided to visit her. Wiping the tears from her face, she got up and unlocked the door, not bothering to check who it was through the peephole. She just didn't have the energy, and had the intention of getting rid of whoever it was as quickly as possible.
As she opened the door, she saw Clark standing outside her apartment and gasped. What was he doing there? Wasn't he supposed to be with Mayson right now? "Clark…" she began, unable to find any more words.
"May I come in?" he asked her quietly, sensing she didn't know what to say.
"Okay," she replied, holding the door open. He entered her apartment and she shut it behind him, trying to disguise her deep breathing and her tear stained face. "Make yourself comfortable," she told him, waving towards the sofa. "Would you like a coffee or something?"
"No, thank you, Lois," he answered. He wanted her to come and sit next to him on the sofa but she seemed to be reluctant to do so. She'd obviously been crying; there was no way he could miss that. Her eyes were red and her face was still slightly wet from the tears. There were faint black lines running down her face, from her mascara. He couldn't believe that this was all his fault. He'd made her cry and from the looks of it, she'd been crying pretty heavily. He knew that Lois Lane was a person who rarely let her feelings show, and yet here she was, signs of her hurt and upset blatantly showing.
Lois fidgeted, and he sensed she was feeling uncomfortable. He decided it was best to just approach the reason why he was here — to apologise to her, primarily. "Lois…" he began, looking at her with soft eyes.
Something about him reassured her and she joined him on the sofa. He gave her a small smile, and continued. "I wanted to apologise for my behaviour earlier. What I said to you was completely out of order, and I shouldn't have gotten so angry with you."
She was tempted to tell him that he was out of order and she didn't want to talk to him, but she knew it was a lie. If she told him something like that for the sake of making him realise how wrong he'd been, then she might drive a further, unnecessary wedge between them. That wouldn't help either of them. He'd had the decency to come and apologise. To be honest, she hadn't expected anything less of him. She knew he would have apologised eventually, because that was the kind of person he was.
He was looking at her expectantly, waiting for a response. She wasn't sure what to give him, but began to speak regardless. "Clark… I won't lie and say that you didn't hurt me, because you did. The way you acted this afternoon upset me, as you can probably tell," she said, a humourless laugh added on the end.
He winced. "I'm so sorry, Lois. I never meant to hurt you. I don't know what got into me. It's just when you started making those accusations against Mayson, I…"
"Mayson," she interrupted. "So it was okay to say those things to me because I accused *her* of something? Why is she so special, Clark?" she asked, venom filling her voice.
"Lois, no. You know that not what I meant. It's just… I trust her, Lois. I really don't think she's capable of any of the things you were suggesting." He kept his voice calm, desperately not wanting to upset her as he did earlier.
"Do you… do you trust her more than you trust me, Clark?" she asked, dreading that he would tell her 'yes'.
Clark was shocked at her question. Was that how he'd made her feel? He understood how she was feeling — of course it would seem like that! He hadn't known Mayson for very long and he wasn't trusting his partner's instincts that Mayson was dirty. He knew that Lois was very insecure under her hard exterior. She'd mentioned briefly before she'd had bad experiences with friends letting her down, so naturally something like this would make her think that he didn't trust her.
"Of course I don't, Lois! We're best friends."
"Then why won't you believe me, Clark?" she asked, her voice showing her vulnerability.
"To be honest, Lois, I don't know. She just doesn't seem like that kind of person. I know that I haven't known her for that long, but I think I know her well enough to know that she's not bent. She cares about her job; I don't think she'd do anything to jeopardise it."
"Okay," she said quietly, before growing quiet. She wished she knew how he really did feel about Mayson. When she'd called him tonight and he wasn't there, she'd assumed a little too quickly that he'd gone out with Mayson, but instead he'd been walking over to her apartment to apologise to her. So maybe he wasn't dating her?
He was definitely her friend, though. He'd just established the fact that he knew quite a bit about her. But what did that mean? Would Mayson take over as his best friend? Lois knew that Mayson wanted more from Clark; she didn't exactly try to hide it. But if Clark wasn't willing to give her that, there was every chance she'd stick around and try to get her out of the picture. The thought of losing Clark upset her. She didn't know what she would do if Clark was taken away from her, especially by someone like Mayson. It was hard to believe how much she'd come to rely on Clark over the past year or so.
Tears began to form again as she tried to think of her life without him as her best friend, and she quickly tried to hide them from Clark. He'd obviously been watching her, though, and his arm came up around her shoulder in a gesture of comfort and of care.
"Lois, what's wrong? I'm so sorry… looks like all I'm doing is upsetting you further," he said, surprised that she wasn't shrugging his arm away from her.
Lois shook her head in an attempt to convince him that she was fine, but knew it wasn't working. "It's just that… oh, it's so stupid!"
"If it's something you're getting upset about, Lois, then it's not stupid. Please tell me. There's no use holding it up inside of you if it's something you're worried about."
His voice was kind and gentle, reassuring her to continue. "Oh, Clark, I don't want to lose you!" she exclaimed, her head falling into her hands.
He'd never seen her like this before. She'd been upset, crying and vulnerable in front of him before, but nothing quite like this. And it was all his fault. Obviously she thought that Mayson was going to take over as his best friend. But why? Because he'd told her that he trusted Mayson? He trusted lots of other people, but none of them had made her upset like she was now. What was so different about Mayson?
Whatever it was, he had to try and find some way to reassure her that she wasn't going to lose him. Didn't she know she meant everything to him?
His arm around her shoulder tightened, holding her close to him. "Lois…" he began slowly, waiting until she raised her head to look at him before continuing. "What makes you think you're going to lose me?"
"It's just… well, you've never mistrusted me before. And now *she* has come along, you'd rather believe that she's straight than believe me when I say I think there's more to her!" she told him, tears still flowing down her face. "I'm worried that you'll find that she's a better friend and lose me along the way."
Instantly she was fully in his arms. He held her tightly while she sobbed against him, her hands gripping him back as hard as she could. There was silence for a few seconds, seconds which seemed to last an eternity to Lois as she waited for Clark to respond. She'd just let him know some of her most private concerns, feeling stupid and embarrassed directly afterwards. But Clark had taken her into his embrace and comforted her, easing her fears. She still wished he would say something, though — while she knew it'd been no time at all since she'd finished speaking, the silence was almost unbearable.
He finally found words in response to what Lois had told him. Still hugging her tightly, he began to speak. "Never, Lois. You're the best friend I could ever have wished for. There's no way I'd ever try and replace you," he told her, stroking her hair gently with one hand. As he felt her relax and the sobs quietened, he continued, "Mayson is nothing to me. It's purely professional — when I see her, all we do is talk about the case. She could never take your place, Lois. I wouldn't allow it."
"Thank you, Clark," she told him quietly, her voice half mumbled by his shirt. Her hand came up to wipe her eyes and she sat up on the sofa, smiling at Clark.
"I'm sorry that I made you feel like that, Lois. I truly didn't mean to hurt you," he told her, his voice showing his regret.
"I know," she told him. It was good to know directly from him that he and Mayson were only talking to each other on a professional level. It was a great weight off her mind. But… what about the kiss? She'd told herself not so long ago she'd ask Clark about that and yet now it was the perfect opportunity, she didn't want to ruin things. She knew she had to know, though, to be totally at ease with the relationship between Clark and Mayson. After all, why would they share a kiss if it was only a professional relationship?
He sensed that she wasn't entirely comfortable. "Is there something else, Lois?" he queried.
She looked down at her hands, trying to prepare to ask him. Would he be annoyed? After all, he'd just told her that there was nothing between him and Mayson. But no, Clark knew that she upset and wouldn't be angry with her, she was almost sure. No, she was certain. "Well… yeah, I guess there is. Yesterday, when I came round to your apartment, I saw you kiss Mayson. Not that I'm saying that's anything… but is it?"
He wondered how she'd managed to see that — she hadn't arrived until after Mayson had left. But, of course, she could have seen them through the window. He cursed Mayson for kissing him. It wasn't something he'd wanted her to do; she'd just kissed him anyway. How that must have looked to Lois! "Nothing is going on between us, Lois. I know that you've noticed Mayson is attracted to me, but that's as far as it goes. I don't feel the same about her. Yes, she did kiss me. But I was as surprised as you, Lois!"
"I knew she was after you," Lois said with a small grin.
Clark laughed, but quickly grew silent again when he saw Lois's smile fade. "Are you okay, Lois?" he inquired.
"I am. I'm feeling more reassured than I was earlier. There was something else that I need to ask you, though," she told him.
He just knew that it was about his final comment to her in the conference room. In his hurry to come and assure Lois that she wasn't second best to Mayson, he'd bypassed figuring out what that had actually meant. Meaning he had no idea about how to explain to her. He hoped that he could think of some way to explain it to her on the spot that she'd be satisfied with. His comment must have hurt her a lot.
"I was just wondering what you meant when you said that I'm the one who's blind around here? I've been thinking about it, but I can't seem to figure it out," she told him. She made the decision to leave out the part about thinking she'd discovered what it was. After all, she'd been wrong there.
But had she really? When she'd phoned Clark up to talk to him, she'd assumed that he'd gone out with Mayson and only because of that did she think she'd guessed the meaning of what he'd said wrong. He obviously hadn't gone out with Mayson, instead he'd come around to her apartment to apologise. So could she have been right after all? It was entirely possible — and yet for some reason, she couldn't believe it as she had done before. Maybe it was because she'd already felt disappointment once this evening. What was the need in building her hopes up if it was only wishful thinking again?
She saw Clark hesitating slightly and began to get worried. What was he thinking about? Whatever it was, she was desperate for him to tell her what he meant. She didn't dare assume anything again.
He looked her in the eyes as he began to speak. "Lois… I honestly don't know what I meant by that. It was just a comeback that sounded good at the time. I was irritated, and when you told me Mayson had me blindfolded, I automatically retaliated with the first thing I could think of." He hoped his explanation would be satisfactory to her, but seeing the sudden drop of her gaze to her hands, he knew something was wrong. "Lois?"
She'd tried not to let herself hope again, but it had been deep within her. She wasn't even sure what she would have done if Clark *had* said that he was attracted to her. But although she'd tried to tell herself before he'd explained that it was probably nothing, she'd wanted him to tell her that he meant he had feelings for her. But no. It had just been a random comment. The first thing he could think of, as he'd said. She tried not to let it affect her. She should be grateful that it meant nothing. After all, it'd sounded very spiteful in the conference room when he'd said it.
Gaining awareness of Clark saying her name and staring at her, she raised her head. Her attempts to keep calm didn't work, and tears involuntarily began to flow again. Her hand yet again came up to wipe them away, but Clark caught her face and turned her head towards him. "I'm sorry," she said, sniffling.
"Lois, I know I must have hurt you with what I said today, but I didn't mean to do it. The comment meant *nothing* I can assure you. It just sounded good at the time," he told her, ashamed of himself for yet again having upset her. "And there is no need to apologise for being upset! I'm so sorry for doing this to you."
"Oh, Clark, it's not that! I'm glad it meant nothing, instead of something mean," she told him, not wanting to reveal why she was upset.
"Then what is it, Lois?" he prompted.
"It's… it's nothing important. It doesn't matter!" she exclaimed, wiping the tears away, as if to try and convince him that she wasn't lying.
He could see right through her act, however. "Lois, don't think you can fool me. I can tell there's something wrong. If it's something I've done, then please tell me so I can try and rectify the problem."
"It's not. I… I just don't really want to talk about it, Clark," she told him. How could she possibly tell him what the problem was? There was no way she could stand the embarrassment. What would he even say? Would he tell her that he was sorry he made her feel like that, but just didn't feel that way about her?
"Well, Lois, I just came to apologise for my comments earlier, so if you're sure nothing is wrong, I'd guess I'd better go," he told her. He hoped that telling her that would make her change her mind and she'd open up to him. He knew that it was unfair to her, but he knew she needed someone to talk to. But, of course, she was too proud to open up to him on her own, it seemed. He stood up from the sofa and began to gather his things.
He was going? Had she really driven him away by not telling him why she was crying? She didn't want him to go — she was still upset and needed comforting. "Clark, wait! I mean, do you have to go?"
He sat back down again — so she wanted him to stay. That was good news, after all. Maybe he could get her to open up. "Sure, Lois."
"Thank you," she told him, giving him a small smile through the remaining tears. Maybe she should tell him what was wrong. Even if he wasn't attracted to her and told her that, at least she wouldn't be bottling things up inside. Would she be able to take it, though, if he did tell her he wasn't attracted to her?
Besides, why did she need to tell him anyway? She hadn't even figured out what she would do if he told her he was attracted to her. She'd be happy, of course — it would mean she hadn't got her hopes up for nothing. Just why had she gotten her hopes up anyway, though? Yes, she might be attracted to him, but did she really want a relationship with him? She'd vowed to keep away from men after her experiences in the past. Why cause herself more pain on purpose? Her heart protested that Clark wasn't like that, though. He wouldn't do what they had done.
So would a relationship with Clark be such a bad thing? She had to admit that being Clark's girlfriend could prove to be very interesting and a lot of fun. So the only problem was now that neither of them knew how the other felt. Being totally honest with herself, she knew that she'd give her and Clark a chance if he was willing.
Taking a deep breath, she finally decided that if there was to be even a chance at anything happening, she needed to tell him how she felt. "Clark," she began, deliberately keeping her head down so he couldn't see her facial expressions, "I'm ready to tell you what's wrong."
Clark wondered whether he should pull her into another hug while she was preparing to tell him, but that could come later. He sensed that she felt embarrassed, and no doubt closeness to him wouldn't make her feel any better. "Yes?" he asked, his voice soft and undemanding.
"Well, it's to do with what you said to me earlier. After I dropped you off at your apartment, I did a lot of thinking about what you meant by that comment. And at first, none of it was too coherent — you should have seen some of the things I came up with — but eventually, I came up with an idea for what you meant."
She paused and glanced out of the corner of her eye, trying to catch his expression, but found she couldn't without moving her head, so continued. "Anyway, I thought that… well, I thought it might have meant…" she trailed off, trying to find words.
"You thought it meant what, Lois? It's okay, you can say," he told her reassuringly.
"I thought you might have meant I was blind to your feelings for me," she finally said, her voice quietening at the end.
Clark was taken aback. "What do you mean, Lois?"
"I thought you might have meant that I thought you had feelings for Mayson when in actual fact… you had feelings for me," she told him, feeling her face flush. "But that was before I knew it was some random comment."
As Clark took in what Lois was telling him, he became confused. Why did that upset Lois so much? The only reason that it would possibly upset Lois was if she *wanted* him to have feelings for her… but why would she want that? When he'd told her he loved her, she had told him she didn't feel like that about him, so why would she be upset now if she'd thought he'd had feelings for her and then was wrong?
Did Lois really want him to be attracted to her? There was no problem with it; he'd been attracted to her ever since he first met her. It was hard to believe she was disappointed because she thought he wasn't, though! "Are you saying you're upset… because you think I'm not attracted to you?" he asked.
Lois just nodded her head. For the second time that night, she found herself instantly being held by Clark's warm embrace. "Oh, Lois, don't you know that I've been attracted to you ever since you barged into Perry's office during my interview?"
She looked up at him, looking deep into his eyes. "You have?" she questioned, dazed by his revelation.
"Of course I have, Lois! You continue to enchant me every day I'm with you," he told her sincerely.
She leaned against Clark, shocked by what he'd told her. So he had been lying when he'd taken back his declaration of his love for her! She processed this new information, unsure what to say next. That was what she'd wanted. And she was so pleased that Clark had told her he was attracted to her, but what should she do now? She'd already decided that dating Clark would be very nice, and now it was a real prospect, it seemed even nicer. She knew she had to tell him that she was attracted to him, but she'd already told him what she thought would be the most embarrassing part without too many problems — surely this couldn't be too hard?
"I was also thinking… well, I've realised that I've become increasingly attracted to you, Clark, and hadn't even realised it until I thought about it today. I phoned you earlier after I'd thought your comment through and came to my conclusion, but nobody answered the phone. That's when it really hit me. I assumed you'd gone out with Mayson and I realised how jealous I was at the thought of somebody else being with you."
Clark released her slightly from his grip in order to get a good look at her while he spoke. "I'm so sorry, Lois. I did hear the phone ring, but I was in such a rush to get to you, I ignored it. You wouldn't have gotten so upset if I'd have picked it up."
"It's not your fault, Clark! You were trying to get to me, as you said; there was no way you could have known it was me calling you," she told him reassuringly.
"I guess," he complied. "Anyway, what do you want to do about this, Lois?"
"About what?" she questioned, momentarily confused.
"About us. I was thinking, would you like to go out on a date some time? We could go for a meal," he said, smiling.
Lois smiled back, her previous tears now looking like tears of joy. "That sounds great, Clark," she replied.
Clark rested back against the sofa, letting one arm slip from around her, leaving one arm behind her in a comforting gesture. He glanced over at Lois, who was sitting with a smile on her face. She looked much happier than she had earlier. He himself was also very excited. After their argument that afternoon, the last thing he thought they'd be doing that evening was talking about going on a date. He still found it hard to believe that Lois had found herself attracted to him. It was something he'd only dreamed of ever since he'd met her and, while he'd held the hope of going out on a date with her, he'd known there was a chance it might never happen.
He noticed she was staring right back at him, jolting him out of his thoughts. She looked so amazing — her eyes were red, her face puffy and tear stained, but he didn't think he'd ever seen her looking as gorgeous as she did then. He felt an urge to kiss her and wondered what she'd say if he leaned forward and…
Lois saw him looking down at her, his eyes studying her face. She was sure he was thinking about kissing her. His lips involuntarily parted ever so slightly, making him look so adorable. Sensing he wasn't going to make the first move, she leaned into him and pressed her lips onto his. It felt so good, better than she'd ever remembered any of their ruse kisses to be. She pulled her body into his as they kissed, wanting to be as close to him as possible. She moaned softly into his mouth as she felt the sensation of his lips on her go through her, making her feel weak and dizzy. One of his hands rose to the back of her hand, gently stroking her hair and pulling her closer to him, to allow better access to her lips. She parted them, letting him in further and moaned again into his mouth, causing him to kiss her harder. Kissing Clark felt so unbelievable, she couldn't believe it'd taken her this long to experience it.
After a few moments of kissing, they broke away, breathless, still holding each other.
"Wow," Lois uttered, barely more than a whisper, then grinned widely at Clark.
"What's so funny?" he asked, bemused at what on earth she found funny after *that* kiss.
"Nothing… it's just that this afternoon, I'd never have thought I'd be doing this tonight," she told him, still grinning.
"Me either, Lois," he replied, before pulling her in for another heart-stopping kiss filled with soft moans and giggles, and occasional talk of their forthcoming date.
Hours later, both sated from the kissing session, both Lois and Clark fell to sleep dreaming of the other and wondering why it took an airhead blonde woman to make them realise they were meant for each other.