By Chris Carr <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted August 2000
Summary: Clark has a revelation for Lois, and she reacts.
Chez Michel was a deservedly well-regarded restaurant located in one of the older neighbourhoods of Metropolis. The setting was intimate and the ambience tranquil. Moreover, its chef was widely regarded as being one of the best in the city; his chocolate desserts in particular were legendary.
Chez Michel was popular with couples; diners had to book months in advance for a table on Valentine's Day. For a normal weekday evening, such as tonight, it was still necessary to make a booking several days ahead.
Fully cognisant of these facts, Lois had been charmed by Clark's choice of venue for this particular date. Of course, what she hadn't realised was that Clark's careful planning had gone beyond the choice of venue. He had also spent the last few days preparing himself for the precise moment when he would tell Lois the truth.
It had taken more courage than Clark had thought he possessed to do let Lois in on his secret, finally blurted out inelegantly over dessert.
As far as Lois was concerned, his announcement had come as a complete shock. Clark had watched in horror as the dream-like delight that had suffused her face as she took her first mouthful of the rich brown concoction dropped from her face in an instant. Her half-closed eyes had jolted open and she had let her fork clatter against the fine porcelain of her plate. Then she'd begun to speak. No, Clark amended, she'd begun to rant.
Clark watched her, the look on his face a curious mix of disappointment, fear and vulnerability. He hadn't known how she would react to this most personal of secrets. He had feared she would be disbelieving, embarrassed or bewildered. He had hoped she would be understanding.
What he hadn't accounted for adequately was that this was Lois. Lois, who reacted to every unsettling nugget of information with a defensive anger. And right now she was very angry indeed, accusing him of having been unduly secretive and of engaging in calculating behaviour.
"Calculating?" asked Clark. He couldn't deny the charge of secrecy, though he'd hoped that she would have been more sympathetic about that; after all, it hadn't been easy for him to lower his barriers enough for her to tell her his secret.
"Yes! Calculating! If you'd wanted talk properly about this, you'd have found a nice quiet spot. Somewhere private. You wouldn't have told me in the middle of a crowded restaurant! How can we discuss this with all the seriousness it warrants, when anyone might overhear us? I mean, this is big! Really big!"
"Lois…" protested Clark weakly. "It wasn't a calculated choice. I mean, it was, but not in the way you're implying. I just wanted to create a nice atmosphere… I wanted-"
"You wanted to soften me up, you mean. You wanted-"
"Okay. I admit that I wanted you in a good mood. I mean, it wasn't going to be easy to tell you… Well, you know. And I knew this wasn't going to be an easy discussion-"
"That's the point, Clark! We're not having *that* discussion here. We can't, because if I tell you what I really think about your… your… revelation, the whole restaurant would hear, and your secret would be out. I think you didn't know how I'd react, and you thought that I would be less likely to be… difficult… if we were somewhere public. You knew I wouldn't want to make a scene. And I bet you thought, if you told me here, that by the time we got somewhere more… intimate… I would have calmed down. Of course, you're quite right. But that doesn't make it fair!"
Clark frowned slightly. He hadn't set out to ensure things happened that way, no matter what Lois thought. At least, he hadn't done so consciously. Subconsciously, however? He didn't know. Feeling unaccountably guilty, he said, "Look… do you want to go somewhere else now?"
"I- That's just my point! No. I don't want to go somewhere else to discuss this. I want to feel free to react to this news now! I want to be able to sit here and talk about it. But we can't, because you've chosen to tell me something so deeply personal *right in the middle of Metropolis's most popular restaurant!*" Despite her best efforts, Lois's voice was beginning to rise.
"Lois," said Clark, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. "People are beginning to stare."
"So, let them stare!"
"I thought you didn't want to make a scene."
"I don't. Didn't. Whatever. Why didn't you tell me this before? I mean, I can understand why you didn't tell me in the beginning… but what about when we started dating? Didn't you think I might want to know? Did you think I'd see you differently? Change my mind about you? About us? About our relationship? Just because-"
"Lois… I told you — it's not something I felt comfortable talking about. I mean…" Clark trailed off into silence.
He ducked his head, allowing his shoulders to slump dejectedly. He focused on his hands, watching his fingers as he plucked desultorily at his napkin. He didn't look up again until he felt Lois's hand lightly touch his forearm.
"I'm sorry, Clark," she said softly.
The change in her tone suddenly made Clark hopeful that this conversation wouldn't end in unmitigated disaster after all, that they could get things back to normal — or as close to normal as things ever got for them.
Lois smiled gently, sympathetically, a hint of embarrassment tingeing her cheeks with pink. "I don't mean to be hard on you. It's just… it's just… Well, it's not every day a girl finds out the man in her life is," she mouthed the last words, "a virgin."