Chapter 7 -part 2
The blare of car horns mingled with the everyday sounds of city life, carrying on the wind to reach the lone figure that protectively watched the bustling streets from his high perch.
Allowing the familiar sounds to wash over him, Clark took a calming breath as he attempted to forget his abrupt departure only minutes earlier. He couldn't imagine what Lois had thought of him sprinting from the office like a scared child.
Sighing to himself, Clark raked his fingers through his hair. She probably hadn't even noticed, her mind too busy with images of Superman. He couldn't help but snort in disgust at his thoughts. He was jealous of himself, it didn't get any more pathetic than that.
Months ago, he had finally come to terms with her feelings for his alter ego- at least he thought he had. Now, it seemed as though all those conflicted feelings had re-emerged with a vengeance, hitting him harder than before. He didn't bother wasting time analyzing those feelings, countless hours had already been dedicated to that. Besides, it wasn't hard to determine the real reason why his troubled thoughts had once again found their way to the forefront of his mind.
She had become distant.
In the days that followed the incident, as Clark had taken to calling his fantasy that had come to life, Lois had become cool, cold even. Sure, she was still friendly in her own unique way, but it was in the same impersonal way she regarded the mailman. Her overly polite attitude stung more than any harsh words she could ever throw at him.
He had given her space, hoping the entire situation would blow over and things between them would return to normal, but it seemed that with every day that passed she became more closed off from him. The only thing worse than her aloofness was her outright determination to get close to his alter ego.
His fragile hopes that she was finally beginning to see past the façade of the mild mannered reporter had been dashed with each attempt she made to catch the Man of Steel's attention.
Still, his heart found solace in the perplexed and often glazed looks she sent him when she assumed he was too engrossed in work to notice. It was clear that her interest was no longer solely centered around the caped superhero, but he was finding it impossible to gauge her feelings for the timid, and more often than not, bumbling partner she had come to consider a close friend.
Quite frankly, he was confused and extremely frustrated with the entire situation. It didn't help that temptation itself had taken form as his sinfully desirable partner.
He could feel the tight control he had on his self restraint slip with every breath she took, her chest rising delightfully to strain against the thin material of her blouse. Then there were the soft sighs that would pass over her red, luscious lips as she dutifully typed away at her computer.
He was quickly losing himself to his primal urges and knew it was only a matter of time before the taut rope that held abay his rampant desires snapped.
Clark shuddered at the thought of all the pleasurable things he yearned to do to the lovely ace reporter. If he had stayed one moment longer with her so close in that secluded office… there was no way he could have controled himself, especially when she spoke his name in that breathy, siren's call.
At the sound of approaching footsteps, Clark jerked from his introspection and moved further into the large shadow cast by the famous Globe atop the Daily Planet.
"Clark?" Chloe called as she made her way to the ledge, scanning her surroundings for any sign of her friend. "You out here?"
"Did you need something?" A deep voice spoke from behind her.
Jumping slightly, Chloe spun around with her hand pressed against her rapidly beating heart. Looking up at the sight of her friend casually floating down from the Daily Planet globe, Chloe rolled her eyes. "Jeez, we've talked about this before, give me a warning next time, would you?"
Shrugging sheepishly, Clark nodded; his eyes instinctively drifting to the hectic steets below.
Chloe sighed softly, sensing that his mind had already moved elsewhere. "So you wanna tell me what you're doing up here? Or maybe why you practically mowed down a handful of our coworkers to get away from my cousin?"
Startled at the mention of the woman who had been plauging his thoughts, Clark's eyes darted to his best friend. When he made no attempt to appease her curiosity, Chloe rolled her eyes. "Seriously, is anyone going to tell me why my best friend and cousin have been acting weirder than normal this week?"
Gulping, Clark looked down; suddenly unable to meet the blonde's eyes.
"What is it?" Chloe asked, more than a little distressed by his refusal to meet her eyes. Clark had always confided in her, if he was finding it difficult to do so now, then something terrible must have occurred. With worst case scenarios running through her mind, she ignored the slight tremble in her voice. "I can help you fix whatever's going on, but first I need to know what happened."
Clark shook his head, his cheeks heating at the memory of what it was Chloe so desperately wanted to know. He honestly didn't think he would be able to recount that afternoon and still keep his dignity- or his tightly wound control. "I can't it- it's private."
Blinking rapidly, Chloe's eyebrows rose in confusion at his choice of words. She had been positive her best friend was in trouble, but it was quickly becoming obvious that her mind had jumped prematurely to dire straights. Judging by the rapidly spreading shade of pink Clark's cheeks were sporting, his distress had everything to do with her abrasive cousin- because only Lois Lane could ever make Clark Kent blush so completely.
More than a little curious, Chloe couldn't suppress her inner reporter's inquisitive nature. "How private?"
At the slight glare she received in response, she knew the information she was about to pry from Clark was going to be good.
"I can't help you figure things out if I don't know what happened." Chloe stated matter of factly, grinning at the hesitant look he shot her. "Just pretend you're talking to Shelby or writing in your journal."
As he searched his mind for any excuse that would dissuade the blonde, Clark realized he could use advice from someone who knew the inner workings of Lois Lane. Besides, he had known Chloe long enough to recognize the determined look in her eyes, the one that meant she would stop at nothing until she recived the answers that satisfied her numerous questions.
His reluctance obvious, Clark sighed in defeat and began recounting the events of the steamy encounter - leaving out the more private moments he had shared with the woman he loved.
As Clark shyly began his story, her eyes narrowed as one detail in particular caught her attention.
"Wait, four days ago?" Chloe gaped at her friend, suppressing her annoyance at not being kept in the loop- especially when it came to something as juicy as this. She couldn't believe her dearest friends hadn't told her immediately. She was the one they both confided in on a regular basis, so why had neither of them felt the need to share such a monumental event with her?
At his annoyed expression, she bit her lip sheepishly and waved a dismissive hand at him as she realized it wasn't the best time to focus on such an insignificant detail. It was hard enough for Clark to tell her in the first place without her interrupting.
Fanning herself, Chloe felt the growing heat in her cheeks as Clark continued the detailed account of the events between himself and her cousin. The raw passion in his eyes as he relived those moments was enough to make her shudder. Jimmy had always said when Lois and Clark finally got together it would be an inferno- it seemed her fiance had been right on the mark. Before she could seriously contemplate finding Jimmy to celebrate, Clark's words snapped her out of the giddy haze enveloping her.
"What?" Gasping his chin gently, she forced his face in her direction and stared at the sorrow filled depths that met her gaze.
Baffled by the sweet man looking pleadingly into her eyes, begging for forgiveness; Chloe shook her head in confusion. She couldn't have heard him right. It was absurd that such a kind and selfless man could believe such a thing.
Pulling away from her, Clark raked his fingers through his dark locks as he studiously avoided her probing eyes, shame pooling in his stomach as he finally allowed himself to acknowledge why his heart clenched everytime he thought of that afternoon. Beneath the rampant desire that filled his mind at the mere mention of what happened, there was a darker emotion looming over him.
He had tried so hard to ignore the sickening pull on his conscience, but with every thought of Lois, his guilt mounted to new levels of condemnation. It had kept him awake at night, remorse gnawing his insides as he thought of his reprehensible actions.
It was the main reason he was hiding from the world, unable to meet the eyes of those under the false impression that he was noble. He didn't deserve to be in their good graces and he most certainly didn't deserve anything from the woman he adored most.
"It couldn't have been that bad." Chloe said consolingly, placing a gentle hand on his arm.
"Chloe." Clark chided gently, refusing to look in her direction. He couldn't bear to see the disappointment on his best friend's face when she came to the realization of what exactly he was trying to impart. "I took advantage of her." His voice was gruff, the words hard to form around the huge lump that had lodged in his throat. "She was vulnerable and looking for a friend..."
Watching as a mist began to cover his unfocused eyes, Chloe pressed her lips in a tight line; trying unsuccessfully to hold off a grin. Even though it was a serious moment for the man infront of her, Chloe couldn't contain the giggle that slipped from her lips. She knew it was insensitive, but she honestly couldn't help herself; the riduculous image of the overly cautious Clark Kent being too forceful with her headstrong cousin was too much for her.
Glancing up at him with a witty retort on her tongue, she snapped her mouth shut, stunned silent by the sight of betrayal in her friend's eyes. The hurt that she was laughing at him displayed openly on his face.
"Nervous laughter?" Chloe supplied quickly, sighing in relief when he merely nodded in understanding. At the moment, she was thankful for those unfortunate incidents when she had indeed let out a giggle at the most inopportune times- they certainly gave credence to her excuse.
As Clark continued with his guilty lament, the firm belief that he had done something unforgivable written clearly across his sharp features, Chloe narrowed her eyes in contemplation.
Honestly, after years of dealing with the famous Clark Kent guilt parades, Chloe was positive the entire situation was being blown way out of proportion. Clark always did have a tendency to make mountains out of molehills.
In her unbiased opinion, it had sounded as though he had been nothing but tender, if a little over eager, during the little interlude, but being the honorable and sometimes too responsible man he was, he had taken all blame for any indiscretion upon himself and had twisted the events to portray himself as a villian, while painting Lois as the innocent damsel. Chloe inwardly rolled her eyes, Lois would drop kick Clark to the moon without a second thought if she could hear where this conversation was headed.
Nodding in approval at her conclusion, Chloe surmised that more than likely, her scenerio was the accurate one since she couldn't even begin to imagine that Clark could be objective when it came to the lovely Lois Lane.
This whole thing was actually reminiscent of his Lana obsessed days; Chloe would have smiled, if it hadn't been so tedious the first time around. She was positive her pyche couldn't handle another go around on the never ending ride that was Clark Kent's love life- especially considering this time was destined to be more intense than anything that had come before.
After all, her cousin could never be mistaken for the passive aggressive Lana. Lois was known to speak her mind, damn the consequences and then there was Clark who still hadn't yet learned the art of resisting the gravitational pull of the Lane fury. At least Clark had learned some very useful tips in his years as housemate to the moody brunette. He also had the advantage of being older and wiser than his years in Smallville, thus he was no longer blind to the faults of the woman he loved. That, in itself, had been the deciding factor to Chloe that the feelings Clark held for Lois wasn't some over dramatized crush. He knew the true Lois Lane, dysfunctional issues and all, and it merely made his feelings for her stronger. It was a love that could endure anything. Now, if only her cousin was let in on that fact, then things could move past the teenage angst and into the blossoming relationship that had potential for so much more.
Beyond exhausted with the entire situation, Chloe narrowed her eyes in determination. She wouldn't allow her best friend to torture himself over something as inconsequential as a massage- no matter how heated it had turned out to be.
Chloe sighed, wishing her cousin was here to set him straight. Lois somehow always seemed to know just how to show Clark the truth of things while at the same time pulling him from his brooding ways.
Besides, if her cousin ever found out he was berating himself over what had happened, the fiesty brunnete would have some choice words for the farmboy. With that firmly in mind, Chloe straightened her shoulders and prepared to make him see reason.
Holding up a hand to halt him midsentence, Chloe took a deep breath before speaking; her voice stern as she voiced her thoughts. "Clark, I've known you for years and not once have I ever known you to treat a woman harshly and more importantly- I've known Lois my entire life; if she didn't approve of what you were doing, then superpowers or no, you wouldn't be alive to tell me about this incident."
Taking a moment to let her words sink into his thick skull, Chloe continued. "Were you brutish? Not even a little. Inappropriate? Yeah, maybe, but knowing Lois, that might have been for the best…" Chloe trailed off, waiting for Clark to understand what she was implying. When he continued to stare at her blankly, she sighed in frustration.
How could he not understand what she was trying to say? Chloe rollled her eyes, barely holding back a snort. She had only been giving him the same advice for two years! If he wanted to gain Lois' attention he had to be bold, and inappropriate just so happened to be a very close sibling to bold.
For almost two years she had been forced to endure Clark's lovesick glances at her oblivious cousin, who just so happened to be moony eyed over him without realizing it- and that wasn't even including the whole Superman drama.
Sure, Lois wasn't as obvious as Clark, but the hints of deeper feelings were there; in the smile she reserved just for him and the innate way she knew his moods- sometimes before he did. It was actually eery just how intune with each other they were. Although, neither of them realized it.
The only funny part of this entire situation was that Lois had no clue about how she truly felt. Chloe sighed, her cousin just so happened to be in a serious case of denial.
Chloe had been close to the point of pulling her hair out when Lois had developed a not so minor, or secret for that matter, crush on a certain caped hero. The combination of Lois' dreamy rants about Superman and Clark's kicked puppy attitude had Chloe seriously preparing for a nervous breakdown that would culminate in the death of her two dearest friends- a crime she was positive the jury would understand when details of the bizarre love triangle were revealed.
She had tried to explain to Lois that the cape was just a costume, that love wasn't real if she didn't even know the man behind the Superman persona. Lois being the stubborn pain in the ass that she was, had insisted that Superman was just as he appeared to be and even went so far as to laugh at the idea her not knowing who hero truly was.
The only thing Chloe could account for her cousin's inherent blindness to the identity of Superman was that quite plainly; she wasn't ready to deal with the reality of the situation. Deep down, Chloe was positive her cousin had made the connection, but her instinct for self preservation had pushed it to the depths of her mind, never to be thought of again.
Her many attempts at logic had also failed when it came to Clark. She had tried to talk some sense into him; stating bluntly that he had no claim on Lois whatsoever and she was free to pursue anyone she wished. Chloe might have been a little more sympathetic had Clark made even one attempt to follow her advice over the years and ask the intrepid reporter out on a date. As it was, Clark seemed content to watch from afar and wonder why his lady love didn't suddenly wake up and see the truth before her very eyes.
Chloe couldn't help but think this whole massage fiasco was actually a blessing in disguise. After all, how many hours had she wasted urging Clark to just take the leap and do something, anything, to gain Lois' attention. As usual, he had refused to listen to her sage advice. Maybe some inappropriate behavior was just the thing to snap Lois out of the land of denial she was happily residing in.
"Chloe?" Clark asked, interrupting the blonde's musings.
"I mean it, Clark. You're too willing to beat yourself up over some supposed wrong. Obviously, Lois doesn't blame you or else you would've already gotten an ear full." Sighing tiredly, Chloe made sure her friend knew where she stood on the issue. "I, for one, don't think you did anything wrong. Seriously, what happened was unexpected, but it wasn't anyone's fault."
If the little grin that had been randomly appearing on her cousin's face this week was any indication, than Lois had more than enjoyed the massage he had given her. Chloe bit her lip in a conscious effort to hold back her observation. At this point it would only confuse Clark further, which would lead to more heartfelt conversations and Chloe honestly felt she had met her quota of those for the day.
Clark studied his friend's eyes, searching for any doubt hidden across her delicate feaures. Sighing in relief when he found nothing but sincerity, he allowed himself to believe her, trusting her opinion more than his own. "Thanks, Chloe."
With an apologetic smile as the familiar distant look took over his eyes, Clark quickly became a blur. Chloe watched with a grin as the Caped Hero appeared where her best friend had been only moments earlier.
As she watched the colorful blur speed off into the sky, Chloe allowed herself to slump against the ledge behind her; the headache that had been threatening all morning finally making an appearance. "I should be getting paid for this."
It was exhausting playing therapist to both Lois and Clark, especially when neither listened to her infinite wisdom.
Rubbing her now throbbing temples, Chloe frowned in disgust as her fingers encountered a small line marring her youthful skin. It couldn't be and yet it was; a wrinkle. Her eyes widened in shock as she quickly concluded the stress of dealing with Lois' blindness and Clark's passiveness when it came to their respective love lives was becoming detrimental to her skin. With one last worried touch to the newly discovered line, she let out a pathetic sigh as she made her way to the elevator.
The idea of abandoning her strenuous life in favor of a long, relaxing vacation on some remote island, preferably one where flying men and cunning reporters couldn't reach, was becoming increasingly tempting. With a quick flick of her wrist, Chloe hit the button for the groundfloor; if she couldn't hide away on some idyllic beach than she could at least endulge with a nice, hot bubble bath.
Tomorrow she would try to set things right in the soap opera-esk lives of team Lane-Kent, but for now, she needed a much deserved break. It wasn't as if things could manage to get any more complicated.