Recrimination

It was all Clark's fault, Lois decided irritably as she tossed her purse on the table by the door and flung herself into a nearby chair. And when the disastrous situation escalated to a catastrophic level, she was not going to take any of the blame. It was all his fault.

Angrily, she kicked her shoes off and tried to relax against the back of the chair. How could he do this to her? She'd thought they were friends. She'd thought things were just fine between them. And then he had to go and mess it all up. Wasn't that just typical?

Everything had been perfect until one stupid night a couple weeks ago, and now it was all just…wrong. Totally and completely. And it was all Clark's doing.

She didn't know how, but he'd made her fall hopelessly, helplessly, irrevocably in love with him.

Damn him.

Lois gritted her teeth as she groaned in irritation at herself. How had this happened? How had he managed to make her stop seeing him simply as her best friend and start seeing him as someone who could be something more? And now every day with him was sheer torture, because, in usual Clark Kent style, he was completely oblivious to the fact that her pulse started to race every time he came near. She'd tried to deny her feelings, and, when that didn't work, she tried to mercilessly smother them out of existence. Neither action seemed to work, so here she was: stuck mooning over him and his stupid, oblivious self.

Had she cursed him yet? In case she'd been remiss in doing so, she did it again. "Damn the stupid…idiotic…blind…farmboy…hick!" she growled in frustration. There really was no reason for this. There was absolutely no cause for her to feel this way. She was simply not the type of person to get all hung up on some guy – even if that guy was her best friend and one of the best people she knew, with a smile that could light up a room and a kindness that touched her every day.

"He isn't even all that wonderful, anyway!" she said emphatically, trying to convince herself that her words were true. Sadly, a little voice in her head had a rejoinder for everything she said. It took the opportunity to whisper, Yes, he is. "He's…he's always late. Always!" she growled, trying desperately to drown out that irritating voice. But he gets away with it, because you think he's adorable when he's contrite, it contradicted her. "He broods entirely too much, and he has a savior complex that is frankly not healthy." He cares about everybody, and he genuinely wants to save the world. How can you hate that? "He…he…he wears plaid on a regular basis!" she exclaimed with far more enthusiasm than the declaration called for. My, don't you think we're trying a little too hard? That's just pathetic.

With a muffled shriek of aggravation, Lois jumped to her feet and started pacing back and forth irritably. She couldn't seem to get over this, and it was all his fault! Well…his and Chloe's. Yes, Chloe definitely should share the blame. And Lois thought her cousin had always loved her. So why, she had to wonder, had Chloe gone through such extremes to set this entire situation up. And Lois was convinced that the younger woman had known what she was doing.

"Come on a double date with me, please?" she grumbled, mimicking Chloe's pleading tone. "I really like this guy, but he's shy. I think he'd feel a lot better if there's another couple along."

How could she have fallen for it? "Stupid, Lane. Stupid," she reprimanded herself. Unable to withstand Chloe's puppy dog eyes, Lois had agreed to go along with the charade. She and Clark not only went to dinner with Chloe and her date, they pretended to be a couple while they were there. Chloe apparently couldn't leave well enough alone and had already told the guy that Lois and Clark were together.

Stupid Chloe. Stupid Clark. Lois had told him he had to pretend to be her boyfriend over the course of the dinner. She told him he had to pretend to be in love with her. She didn't tell him to be so damn good at it. Sure, Chloe's date was convinced. The problem was, for a moment, Lois almost was as well.

Stupid, stupid, stupid…Lois. Stupid girl, getting all worked up over Clark Kent. Stupid girl, losing her heart to a guy who had never once looked at her in the same way. Stupid girl, wanting something she was never going to have. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Well, one thing was for sure. She was never going to tell him how she felt. She scoffed as she pictured that incident. Oh, yeah, that would go over well. It wasn't that she was worried that he'd laugh at her. No, he'd probably be entirely understanding about the whole thing. Damn him. He'd say just the right thing to make her feel better, only it wouldn't, because it couldn't, and then it would just…be there, filling every silence between them.

Or, worse, she was afraid he'd…pity her. Pity poor stupid Lois Lane for her unrequited love.

Well, she wasn't going to let that happen. Wild horses couldn't drag a confession out of her. She'd pretend that nothing was different between them. She'd pretend they were still just friends. Of course, her heart would probably break every day. But if she had to push him away a bit in order to stop it from shattering entirely, that's what she would do. Because she could never let him know how she felt about him. She could never let him know that, when it came to him, she was just…stupid.