I own none of these characters, and I'm making no profit.

As requested, I bring you the sequel to Recrimination...


If he'd known what he was getting into, Clark reflected morosely, he definitely wouldn't have agreed to it. It seemed simple enough. Harmless, even. Chloe had approached both him and Lois and asked for a favor; she'd promised a second couple for a double date, and she hoped the two of them would bail her out. Still, he could have said no. He could have run screaming in the other direction.

But, of course, he'd agreed to do as Chloe asked, even though he knew it meant pretending to be Lois's date for the evening. Though he wished he could share the responsibility for his current predicament, he knew it had all been his own doing. He had no one to blame but himself. And it had all started with such an innocent-sounding plea.

"Please?" Chloe begged, after cornering both him and Lois. "You know how I feel about this guy, but he's…well, he's shy. It would mean a lot to me if the two of you would be there on our first date, and I know it would make him more comfortable to have you along."

"Oh, come on, Chloe! You have to have other friends who are actually engaged in some sort of relationship who could double with you. Why pick on Smallville and me? Of all the people you could have paired up, do you think you could have picked a worse couple?" Lois huffed in reply, crossing her arms over her chest and giving her cousin an implacable look.

Well, that stung. But, actually, Clark understood what she meant – even if, as usual, she presented the argument in the worst possible way. He and Lois were like oil and water. No, worse. They were like two chemicals that should never, ever be mixed unless an explosion was the desired outcome. As Chloe threw her companion a devastating dose of puppy dog eyes, he tried to think of a good example for what those chemicals could be, but none of the ones that came immediately to mind were quite dangerous enough.

His musings, irrelevant that they were, were interrupted when Chloe interjected, "Come on, you two! You know there's nobody I love more than you…"

Lois interrupted her, "Which I'll gladly remind you the next time I need a huge favor."

Continuing as if Lois hadn't spoken, Chloe said, "And it would mean the world to me if you'd come along. I mean, What if the date is absolutely horrible and I need someone to bail me out?"

"That's what the bathroom window is for," Lois said flatly, her expression turning stern.

"Loooooooiiiiiiiiiiiiis," Chloe entreated, drawing out the word in as pathetic a plea as she was capable. Clark could begin to see how Lois had once ended up dancing for a roomful of men, dressed in that infamous "sailor" suit. "I've already told him the two of you would be joining us!"

And that was the moment that Clark would come to rue having opened his mouth. He could have left well enough alone. Maybe Lois would have been successful in withstanding her cousin's pleas. At the very least, even if she'd caved, he could have avoided getting stuck with the blame. But, no, of course he had to try to be a good friend.

"Chloe," he said (oh stupid, stupid man), "If you really need our help, I'll do it."

Turning on him, Lois demanded, "What? Are you crazy, Smallville? Do you have any idea what you just agreed to?"

"An evening spent pretending to overlook your personality," he replied, his teasing words met with a glare that could curdle milk. Unfazed, he said brusquely, "Oh, come on, Lois. You know you're not going to be able to turn Chloe down for long. You never are. I'm just going along with the inevitable."

"You know what, the next time you feel like helping me out, Clark? Do me a favor and resist the urge." But Lois sighed in defeat and rubbed the back of her neck wearily. "Okay, okay. I guess if the farmboy over here can suck it up for an evening, so can I. But, Chloe, you owe me so big for this. We're talking, like, you owe me one of your kidneys or something."

"Thank you!" Chloe cried out gratefully, throwing her arms around her cousin and pulling the older woman in for a tight hug. "If you ever need one of my kidneys, it's yours!"

Lois rolled her eyes, but though she was trying to keep the aggrieved expression on her face, Clark could see the hint of a smile on her face. "Promises, promises."

So that was how he, Clark Kent, had made the biggest mistake of his life. And now, here he was, at a dinner he should have avoided at all costs. He would have avoided it, too, if only he'd known what was going to happen.

But how could anyone have foreseen any of it? He had no way of knowing that his downfall would not have one day come on the heels of some momentous occasion. It had happened in but a moment.

"I figured dinner was about ready," Lois's eyes were shining as she continued a story of one of her many kitchen catastrophes that she'd decided to share. "I opened the oven door, and flames…and I do mean flames…came shooting out towards my face. So there I was: standing there, staring at the rapidly incinerating dinner, and trying to figure out what to do. Well, first thing's first: I had to get off the phone, right? So I told Clark I was going to have to call him back…"

"Actually," he interjected, cutting Lois off, "What you said, exactly, was: 'I'm going to have to call you back, Sm-sweetheart. I think I've just set my kitchen on fire.'"

"Well, there was no point in panicking at that point, was there?" she demanded of her companions as they laughed at Clark's deadpan impersonation of her in a crisis.

Chuckling, Clark shook his head at the woman seated next to him. He'd known her for years, but she was still a mystery. It made no sense, how she could panic when faced with a rapidly approaching deadline but be perfectly calm when she had the business end of a gun shoved in her face. He didn't understand how her mind worked, and he doubted he ever would. Still, he grudgingly had to admit that he admired her fearlessness – even though it also frequently terrified him.

"Anyway, so I hung up the phone, and there I was, staring at the flames shooting out of my oven, when it occurred to me that I have a gas stove. I figured gas plus fire equals something really bad, so I grabbed my oven mitts and managed to get a hold of the casserole dish (only getting slightly singed in the process, by the way), and then I threw the whole thing in the sink."

She paused to take a sip of her water to let her companions get a hold of themselves. Everyone was laughing; Chloe was almost in tears. "So what'd you do about dinner?" she asked when she'd finally regained the ability to breath sufficiently to do so.

"Well," Lois answered, her grin growing wider. "I didn't have much time, but actually, most of the meal seemed to have survived the experience – once I scooped off the incinerated breadcrumbs, of course. So I serving it to Clark and hoped for the best."

That sent Clark's companions into a gale of laughter that he doubted they would recover from any time soon. He would have joined in, except the memory of that meal was still fresh and somewhat painful.

"Don't tell me you actually had to eat it!" Dan cried in disbelief, turning his attention to Clark.

Lois smirked. "He even had seconds," she practically crowed as she threw Clark a satisfied smirk.

Chloe looked amazed and took the opportunity to interject, "Wow. You must really love my cousin. I mean, I love her, but even I wouldn't have gone near a meal she'd personally prepared."

When he saw Lois's eyes narrow at these words, Clark offered a wry smile and tried to deflect his date's attention. "Actually, as Lois's cooking goes, it wasn't half bad. Though it did have a certain…charred taste nicely baked in. " In reality, he'd choked down two helpings because she had gone out of her way to try to prepare him a special dinner for his birthday, and, though he wouldn't admit it (certainly not to her), he didn't want to run the risk of hurting her feelings by refusing to do less.

With a sharp cry of indignation, Lois punched him lightly on the arm. He turned and watched his date as she joined their companions in another round of unrestrained laughter, and it was then that Clark realized with a start that there was something captivating about her. Maybe it was the atmosphere, maybe it was the flush that her humor had brought to her cheeks, but, at that moment, she almost seemed to glow.

He might have still managed to get away from the evening with his heart intact if she hadn't chosen that moment to embrace her role in their little charade. Leaning towards him, she brushed a soft kiss across his cheek and murmured, "Thanks for salvaging my fragile ego, though, Smallville."

She was enchanting. Oh, this was a disaster. Of all the people he did not need to find bewitching under any circumstances, Lois was at the top of the list. Actually, Lois pretty much was the list.

But once the idea entered his mind, he found he couldn't get rid of it. Every time he heard her laugh, he wanted to join her. Every time looked her way, she took his breath away.

It was a very good thing she couldn't read minds (though she knew him well enough that it sometimes felt uncannily like she could at least read his); he never would have lived down his thoughts that evening. As it was, he toed a very dangerous line, and the only thing that saved him was that Lois and he were supposed to appear attracted to each other.

So if he'd stroked her hand as she placed it on the table next to his, if he leaned forward occasionally to whisper softly in her ear, taking the opportunity just to be close to her, if his gaze held hers just a fraction too long or if he found himself smiling softly over at her for no reason …well, he wasn't bewitched by the woman by his side. He was simply a good actor. A very, very good actor.

But, damn it, whatever spell she'd put on him that night still hadn't faded. He'd seen her almost every day since then, and he still found her enchanting. She still took his breath away.

As Clark crossed his hands behind his head and gazed up at the ceiling, resigned to yet another sleepless night, he told himself severely that he had to get over this stupid infatuation of his. He had to. She would never feel about him the way he felt about her, and he didn't think he could bear to have to pretend every day that he was interested in nothing more than her friendship.

If only he hadn't had a chance to find out how intoxicating it would be to be the man by Lois Lane's side – even if it was only for one night, and even if it was only pretend. Then, maybe he wouldn't have to know what it might feel like to have something he would never truly have: the love of someone breathtaking, untouchable…and utterly bewitching.