By Julie Stars <stars_Julie@hotmail.com>
Submitted: December 2007
Summary: Lois finally faces up to a few things.
I bite my lip. He's talking to her by the coffee machine, on the soft chairs. They're supposed to be talking about the Church case, but they're not. I can tell. The Church case is not that funny.
I don't care. If that's how he wants to spend the day, he's welcome to it. I go back to typing. 'As well as the police, a statement was issued-'
"--by this little park, they serve the best desserts."
I look their way and glare, even if they're not looking in my direction. They can at least keep their conversation quiet.
She's talking about desserts. Bill Church doesn't own a restaurant. Not one I'd go to, if he did, anyway.
I'm not jealous. I don't care. It's not like I like Clark or anything. *That* way. He's just a friend. I just wish my partner would at least look at this article; we got the story together, the byline will have both our names on it -- the least he can do is care.
'There was no hope, witnesses say.' I type the last few words into my word processor and turn my head again. He's just gotten up, and they're shaking hands. She's holding his hand for a few extra seconds. They finish shaking hands, and now...
Now he's coming this way.
I turn back swiftly and pretend to be reading over the piece.
He puts a hand on my shoulder. He always does that when he's reading my screen. "Nice. I like the line about Costmart. Building has a U in it," he says and points out.
I roll my eyes. He always edits my copy. "That's why you should have been here twenty minutes ago," I say through semi-gritted teeth. "You know, help write it so you can earn the byline?"
This time he rolls his eyes. "Lois, I was interviewing her! She's the DA's assistant; she was giving me information!" His tone is a bit scolding, but the way he strokes my shoulder lightly and makes a shiver runs down my spine takes the bite out of it.
"Whatever. Any input?"
"No, looks great. You got everything. Good job."
Just as I turn to say something, I see Mayson walk over, swishing her blonde mane of straw. "Hey, Clark, I'm going out to lunch now. Want to join me?" she asks with a falsely hesitant smile. I sneer inwardly.
And that's when I snap. "Clark is busy," I say firmly.
He shoots me a warning look. "Sorry, Mayson, no -- we have some work to do here," he then says to her. She looks disappointed.
"Oh, well, it's okay. Tomorrow, then, maybe?" She sounds hopeful.
I crush her hopes before he says anything. "No, sorry, he's busy tomorrow too."
She looks at me, puzzled, and then looks at him again.
Clark is looks ticked. Maybe at me, maybe at her. Probably a bit of both. Okay, probably me. He searches for words and then says, "It looks like we're having a busy week, but we'll see." He wears an apologetic expression.
I glare at her.
"Ah, okay," she says quietly and then, mercifully, leaves us alone.
Clark turns around. "What the heck was that all about?"
I can't believe he's asking that. "We do have work to do! Stop flirting, that's not what you're paid for!"
He looks shocked. "Flirting? Is that what you think? Interviewing females is now called flirting?"
"No," I reply. "But you spent an hour with her when you could have been done in twenty minutes. And talking to her instead of writing the story with me -- your partner! -- and then almost going out for lunch with her, is flirting!" I click 'save' and 'send,' and the story is on its way to Perry. "And desserts by parks are not some of the key words on this case."
He moves to sit, leaning on my desk so we face each other. "Lois, I wasn't going to go anywhere with her, and who said she was asking me out? She was being friendly!"
Yeah, and I'm the Jolly Green Giant. "She was not."
He looks at me askew suddenly. "What do you care, anyway?"
I don't. "Because I just do. Because you're my friend." Why won't my mouth say what I want it to?
"Well, thanks for your concern," he says and I have trouble, determining whether or not he's being sarcastic. Suddenly there are tears in my eyes.
I get up. "I'll be right back," I say as confidently as I can and then turn my back quickly so he doesn't see what feels like pools in my eyes.
"Lois!" he calls after me, when I'm halfway between him and my destination. "Wait! I'm sorry."
There's nothing to be sorry for. It's not like he hurt me. And I don't like him -- that way -- so there's no reason for me to be jealous or anything.
I stop dead in my tracks, take a deep breath, blink a few times and then face him again. "There's nothing to be sorry for. Forget it. I need to use the bathroom." I resume my stride in the opposite direction.
He catches up with me and grabs my arm. Gently. It feels nice and sends warm tremors through me. I hate how he can do that.
I don't like him. He's my friend. I am most *certainly* not in love with Clark Kent. He's my partner, my best friend. Relationships are overrated; I am perfectly content with being best friends.
He slides his hand down my arm -- it feels so nice -- and I struggle to maintain control. I don't know why, but I suddenly want to cry again.
He didn't hurt me. He didn't.
"Conference room," he says quietly, and leads me there.
I imagine the whole newsroom is looking at us as we make our way.
Once we're in the privacy of the conference room, Clark lets go. I feel a little chilly. He looks at me. "Okay, the blinds are down, we're out of their sight. What's wrong?"
I look down.
He tries again. "Why are you upset? What's wrong?"
What's wrong? Everything is wrong. He is *my* partner and *my* best friend, and he's being a jerk today. Or maybe... maybe my fuse is just short today.
"Nothing." Why won't my mouth say what I want it to?
"Lois." He gives me one of his I-know-you-and-don't-you-try-to-pretend-I-don't looks.
Why can he see right through me? "Clark, forget it." I wait for him to say--
"Something's bothering you, Lois, come on." That. "What's wrong?"
It's nothing that I won't be over by tomorrow. "Everything. You're my partner and you prefer to spend an hour interviewing -- or not -- some blonde, when you could have been writing, with me," I say indignantly. Oh, God, why won't my mouth listen to me? Was I born with a faulty set of lips? Sometimes I could swear that's exactly what happened.
Clark is looking like he thinks I'm beating a dead horse. I am. I know I am.
"Lois, what's *really* bothering you?"
Nothing he's going to find out about.
"What's bothering me is that you're my best friend and I'm not supposed to have feelings for you but I do, and if I do anything about them I put our friendship and partnership at risk and I can't do that, because I can't stand to lose you, and the more I try to tell myself that I don't have feelings for you, the stronger they get, and every time I convince myself that I don't have them I see you and I get butterflies in my stomach and I feel like I'm fifteen again! And then you touch my arm or my shoulder and I get shivers down my spine, and... and... I didn't ask for this and I hate this!" I didn't know I could speak this fast.
I can't believe I just said all that.
I pause and wait for the Earth to swallow me. Or for lightning to strike, whichever happens first. And the first thing I plan to do when that happens is give God a piece of my mind about certain facial features he dealt me. It's getting ridiculous.
I'm looking at the floor. Tears are welling up in my eyes for the third time, and this time it looks like they're not going back down.
Clark must be looking pretty shocked. Why would I go and develop feelings for my partner? But I couldn't help it. It's his fault for being so great.
I rejected him just six months ago.
I sense him stepping closer to me, and before I can do anything about it he tilts my chin up with his fingers and... kisses me. For real. Hard. I breathe hard; he caught me off guard.
My eyes close, and a couple of tears run down my face into my -- our -- mouths. My lips start moving by themselves, and my stomach clenches so hard I think I won't be needing the ab-machine at the gym this week. I can feel my blood pumping in my temples. Clark probably hears it too, it's so loud.
He stops and breaks the kiss; his hands are on my arms. He leans his forehead on mine and whispers, "You won't lose me. I promise."
I breathe out. I didn't even know I'd been holding my breath. My lips twist into a tense smile. I can't believe this just happened... it feels almost unreal.
I think I might keep this mouth of mine after all.
"Shut up," I whisper back and, wrapping my arms around his neck, pull him down again.