Mystery Man

Disclaimer: Not mine obviously.

Spoilers: Basically a post Fragile story….the episode got me thinking.

Pairing: Clark/Lois

Summary: Lois is keeping a secret and Clark's determined to find out what it is

AN: Sorry if I got any names wrong, couldn't remember things perfectly. And I'm still working on 'Hurt' this is just a quick little piece that I thought up.

Part 1

Something was up.

Or more aptly, Lois was up to something.

The first few times it happened Clark hadn't thought anything of it. But two months later he was beginning to worry over the pattern forming. Chloe was really who had tipped him off; she had mentioned that for the second straight week Lois had declined her invite to hang out in Metropolis. Although Lois' new position as his mother's Chief-of-Staff had her working long hours, he could hardly see her turning down time with her cousin much less a night in Metropolis.

What sealed his suspicions that a mystery was afoot was the evening his mother had invited Lois to stay for Saturday dinner to go over some personnel reports and recent press releases. Not only had she declined to work but more importantly she had turned down one of his mother's meals. At that point he had gotten a sneaking suspicion that Lois was dating someone in secret, kept from prying eyes of a small town and her rather inquisitive cousin for nothing else made sense. The jealous ache he carried for the few days following his conclusion had him flustered and confused. Coupled with the nightmares of finding her in his driveway with her throat slit by a glass shard didn't help his tenuous grip on sanity. For he was sure he had lost his mind; it was the only plausible reason he was jealous of the mysterious man Lois was dating.

But that all changed the evening he attended a party of his most recent rescue; who also happened to be Lois' date. The jealousy blossomed within him, seeing her finding interest in another man; yet they had only just met so he couldn't have been the man she was seeing. Suffice it to say, weirdness prevailed and Lois' latest suitor was history in no time which left him with a growing attraction to the 'bane of his existence' and a mystery still to solve.

For three Saturdays out of every month Lois was nowhere to be found. Whether it was Chloe's influence or his rapidly growing Lois interest he wasn't sure, but on the Saturday Clark decided he would follow her and get to the bottom of her secrecy.

By nine on Saturday morning Clark was watching Lois toss her purse onto the passenger seat of her car, dawn her sunglasses and take off for parts unknown. He kept a safe distance from her traveling vehicle, tracking her by the rather loud Ben Harper CD she was playing. He wasn't sure what he expected but trailing her car further into the rural countryside and away from any major city was not in the 'realm of possibilities'. Landmarks began to appear familiar to him; however, when Lois finally turned into a driveway off the main road Clark was left more confused than when he had set out that day.

He had been to that house before. It belonged to Maddie's grandmother.

Staying hidden, he saw her park the car and open the car door. At the same time the front door of the old house flew open to release a ball of blonde energy.

"Lois!" Maddie shouted, racing to the spot the woman in question stood by the car.

"Hey Kiddo!" Lois returned with equal fervor and a wide grin. She pushed her sunglasses up off her face to sit on her head. Her hands dropped down just in time to catch the girl charging in for a hug. "Miss me much?" She teased.

The two girls laughed at whatever Maddie had responded with until the front door opened again to reveal Maddie's smiling grandmother.

"Hi Mrs. Michaels." Lois nodded to the elderly lady.

"Good morning Lois." She smiled at the joy shining on her granddaughter's face. "So what do you two young ladies have planned for today?"

Maddie looked up expectantly at Lois. "I figured the two of us could check out the Museum of Art in Metropolis then head back to Smallville to hang out." She shrugged. "What do you think?" She asked Maddie who replied with a simple 'awesome'.

Her grandmother urged her to run into the house and grab a jacket to ward off the cool morning air, leaving her and Lois alone on the driveway.

"Lois, I don't know how I can ever thank you for taking an interest in Maddie. Changing schools in the middle of the year and coming to live here hasn't been easy on her."

Lois grinned. "No problem Mrs. Michaels. Maddie's a cool kid. It's been refreshing to hang out with someone who doesn't have an agenda after dealing with politicians all week long."

"She's always at her most talkative after her days with you." Mrs. Michaels confided, still battling the little girl's days of complete silence.

"Yeah, we're working on that." Lois laughed. "I think she's figure out that the only way to get me to stop talking is by speaking up herself." The girl in question reappeared and rushed over to join her grandmother and Lois. "Alright Kiddo, let's get this show on the road!" She clapped her hands together. "We've got a couple thousand years of art to look at."

Clark almost blew his cover, so shocked at the interplay between Lois and his young friend. He vaguely heard her tell Maddie to buckle up, the music changing to Hillary Duff and his superior hearing getting a shock at the volume. In the last possible moment he blurred from sight as the two girls traveled down the driveway.

At home, he grappled with the shame at having used his abilities to follow a friend, only to determine she was spending her time with a girl he had come to care for. He had spoken to Maddie a few times since she had moved to her grandmother's but never had the girl mentioned Lois' presences in her life and Lois had gone out of her way in some cases to avoid being discovered.

Martha Kent walked into the kitchen in search of another mug of tea and found her son hunched over the island, boring holes into a sandwich. A chuckle escaped before she could sensor it how obvious Clark was to read; that position had long indicated he was trying to work something out in his mind and he was waiting for someone to bounce ideas off of.

"Something the matter Honey?" She turned on the kettle.

A sigh sounded behind her, she knew that Clark was raising his head to address her. "No not really." His hands shifted over the bread on his plate. "It's just Lois…." He trailed off, not sure how to form his thought for his mother's ears.

Martha covered a grin by spinning toward the counter to toss teabags into the pot. Since the official demise of Clark's relationship with Lana she had seen a shift in his interactions with Lois. His eyes followed her movements more closely than ever before, his easy smile almost a fixture at her mere presence and his frequent errands that would take him wherever Lois Lane happened to be was all the evidence she needed to know that her son was falling hard.

"What about Lois?" She kept her tone light and conversational.

"Haven't you noticed that three Saturday's out of ever month she's unreachable?" Clark asked, his brow furrowing.

"Not particularly. She's been here almost every Sunday since becoming my Chief-of-staff, going over recent depositions and she works late most nights with me." Martha shrugged.

"What about last week? You needed her to come over to work and she said she had other plans. And Chloe said that she hasn't seen her for over a month." He pointed out.

"Clark, Lois' life is her own. She has my office running like clock work so I don't begrudge her any time she wants to take for herself. She puts in longer hours than anyone else on staff; to be honest I'm glad to know that she's taking some time for herself."

"So she hasn't mentioned why she's incommunicado on Saturdays?" He pushed.

Martha cast a suspicious eye at her son; he was fishing for information but not with the same urgency of someone who had none themselves. Whatever Lois was doing, Clark knew and was interested to know if she did. For a fleeting moment she wondered if it were anything illegal that would shed a negative light on her political position but she quickly reminded herself of whom she was thinking of and that the girl who ran her office like a drill sergeant was hardly criminally minded.

"No. I assumed she was catching up on errands and spending time with her friends. And if I needed to know she would tell me."

Clark's shoulders slumped at his mother's response. His troubled gaze returned to the untouched sandwich on the counter as though it could provide him with the answers he was seeking.

By four o'clock Clark had decided to take a run to the lake, finding the farm too stifling for his turbulent thoughts. It didn't make any sense. Why had Lois not told anyone about her weekend activity? She was giving her time to a young girl who had loss everyone close to her and was trying to settle into a new life with a woman she had never met; what was so awful about her actions that she had cause to omit the information. And he wondered not for the first time why it bothered him so much.

He was jealous. Of Lois, who had managed to build a friendship with the child and Maddie, who was afforded so much time with Lois. He wanted to know what it was about Maddie that elicited such devotion of time and spirit from a woman who kept herself quartered off from anyone she met.

Just as he reached the lake's clearing he heard laughter; one lilt he recognized instantly while the other sounded familiar but its owner elusive. He moved to get a better vantage point in order to see through the trees toward the dock jetting into the water. Focusing his hearing, he managed to pick up the conversation between the two people seated on the wooden planks.

"I'm telling you, he cut off his ear!" Lois announced between chuckles.

"Who would cut off their own ear?" Maddie tipped her head back in utter disbelief at what Lois was telling her. "His pictures are so calm, not scary like some of the others." She commented.

"Well I don't know why he did it!" Lois gestured wildly with her hands. "Maybe it was an accident." She thought for a moment, taking a bite of whatever she was eating. "At least you learned something today."

"What?" Maddie mirrored her actions, chewing on what appeared to be a piece of bread.

"Never give yourself a hair cut; you might lose an ear." Lois smirked, sending Maddie into a fit of laughter.

It looked as though they were eating take-out, allowing Clark to sigh in relief that Lois hadn't subjected the poor girl to her cooking. She had been traumatized enough already. For a few minutes the only sounds he could hear was the chewing of the two girls and birds chirping on the other side of the lake. When they were finished their meal Lois wrapped up the garbage and placed it on the side of the dock.

"So what do ya want to do now next?" Lois leaned back on her palms and stretched her legs out in front of her.

Maddie shrugged, suddenly appearing self-conscious, a far cry from the laughing little girl of earlier. From his position within the foliage Clark could just make out Lois biting her bottom lip, obviously mulling something over.

"I have an idea." She jumped up from the dock, startling Maddie slightly.

Lois went about readjusting the blanket she had brought with them on the dock and lined up the empty bottles they had used during their lunch on top of it. Hoisting Maddie up, she led her to the other end of the platform, a safe distance from the bottles.

"How 'bout we practice this glass breaking thing of yours." She shook her bangs from her eyes.

Maddie immediately backed up further, her head dropping as she withdrew into herself. Seeing her reaction, Lois dropped to her knees beside the young girl and took hold of her shaking hands.

"You don't have anything to be scared of Maddie, it's just you and me out here." She assured her, unknowingly sending ripples of guilt through Clark.

"But what if you get hurt?" Large eyes turned glassy and the shaking increased until Lois pulled her into a hug.

"I'm not going to get hurt." She stated simply. "You know how I know that?" Maddie shook her head against Lois' shoulder. "Because I trust you Maddie."

Without moving from the embrace Maddie looked up at Lois. "But it's bad. I shouldn't do it."

"What you can do isn't bad Maddie but unfortunately some people use their gifts to do bad things. But you can do really great things too; you told me that once you put glass back together that had broken; that's a good thing." Lois smiled. "I know it seems scary now cause you don't have complete control over it but maybe if we practice a little bit controlling it will be easier." Lois sat down on the dock, pulling Maddie down beside her. "I think what you can do is really cool Maddie. Don't be afraid of being different; it's what makes you Maddie and I happened to like her very much." Lois smirked, wrapping her arm around the girl when she leaned in for another hug.

"You really aren't scared of it?" Maddie watched her for any signs of fear, not wanting to do anything to lose her friend.

"Nope. When I was living in India I once saw a man stick ten mental rods into his body and then get up and walk away; this is nothing." She shrugged.

Clark watched the two as Lois coached Maddie to break one of the bottles only and then attempt to bring the pieces back together. She was having difficulty with the latter activity and the frustration was beginning to show on her young face. Just as the second bottle began to shake with Maddie's anger, Lois made a comment about her allergies being worst than usual and that she had suspicions Clark had Shelby roll around on her bed just to torment her. Maddie's shoulders relaxed and the bottle built itself back up.

Lois was quick to praise the little girl, high-fiving her and rising from the dock. She announced that Maddie had practice enough for the day and if she was going to be seeing Shelby soon she should be ready for a game of fetch. The two girls were already on their feet and off the dock with Lois showing her young charge the finer art of throwing a Frisbee from different grips when Clark's feet finally got the message to move.

He spend out of the lake area, not wanting to encroach on the girls' time and definitely not wanting to be caught spying by Lois. Back at the farm he sat in his loft with Shelby at his feet, thinking over what he had discovered.

Lois was taking time out of her busy schedule to play big sister and mentor to a stranger. He recalled her guilty admission after finding out Maddie hadn't been responsible for the death of her foster mom but he doubted that alone would be enough for her to spend almost every Saturday with the young girl. Furthermore, Lois had single-handedly taken on the role of teaching Maddie to hone her abilities so that she wouldn't have to fear them any longer and had even called them 'gifts'.

Clark had spent so long wondering what Lana's reaction to his secrete would be that he lost sight of the other people around him who still weren't aware of his other worldly status. After seeing Lois with Maddie that afternoon he began to contemplate how she would view him. When Maddie had first displayed her abilities Lois had been spooked but then at that point she saw Maddie as a threat to their safety. Now it would seem that she not only accepted her but was doing everything in her power to make Maddie accept herself.

Lois was a puzzle. He would find the place of a few more pieces and while the theme was beginning to appear, the whole picture was still elusive. And he liked it. He had lived his life for so many years predictably; Lana was safe, a girl he had known forever. But life wasn't meant to be safe.

"What do you think Shelby?" The dog tilted his head when he realized he was being spoken to. "Lois is pretty awesome isn't she?" Clark's lips rose on one side when his question was met with a quick bark. "Yeah, I think so too."

With an image of Lois firmly implanted in his mind, Clark went about plotting what he was going to do with his information regarding her Saturday activities. And if he played his cards right, he and Lois would be getting to know each other in a new light before the week was up. She wouldn't know what hit her.

1/6

Please R&R if you get the chance.