Summery: Maddie's life is good, living with her grandmother But someone is after her for her abilities and she knows her only safety is with the one person who could ever protect her. But can Clark save her again? His nightmares say otherwise.
Disclaimers: I don't own Smallville, anyone, anything, or any place in it.
Feedback: Oh, yes! I accept feedback of all shapes, sizes, and nationality! Including flames! Criticism is welcome and praise is, of coarse, a lovely confidence booster so bring it on!;)
Time Frame: Just after "Fade"
Note: There is no bad language, sexual content or innuendo, or slash in this or any of my stories.
"Maddie, please come take out the trash for me?"
"Sure, Grandma, I'll be right there," Maddie called back cheerfully, shutting the lid on the hat box she'd been rifling through. There were a lot of pictures in the old stuffy attic and Maddie had made it her personal mission to track down one of her mother.
She'd expected to be a little more emotional about it but somehow, the concentration involved in searching so many boxes hidden in every corner of the attic was enough to keep her mind off it. She still remembered the day too clearly.
It had been dark and she'd been in her car seat, watching the slow rain come down as they waited at a stoplight. She remembered her mother's voice, talking on the telephone. She'd been upset about something but Maddie had only been three when it'd happen so she didn't remember that her mom had been talking to her father.
The eleven-year-old could remember her mother getting very scared about something and pulling Maddie out of the car, sliding her under it. And then there had been the sound of shattering glass.
Maddie hated that sound. And she always would.
Her feet hit each of the mettle rungs on the ladder up to the little attic and when she got to the bottom she folded it up and pushed it to the ceiling where she could barely tell where it was except for the string hanging awkwardly down in the middle of the narrow hall.
The light downstairs was a light golden color which never ceased to lift her spirits. She walked into the kitchen and made a b-line for the sink, under which was hidden the white trashcan. She opened the cupboard and her grandmother walked in.
"So do you miss school at all?"
"A little maybe… the kids don't -" she stopped, suddenly very interested in the trash bag she was tying shut.
"Don't what, sweet heart?"
"Like me… at all."
"Oh, they're just jealous."
Maddie smiled in spite of herself, lifting the bag out of the can. "Yeah, but you have to say that, you're my grandmother."
"No, I have to say that because it's true." she smiled and it made Maddie smile, too, as always. "Well, I'm glad to have you home with me. But I don't want to keep you stuck here all summer, is there anything you wanted to do with your free time?"
Maddie shrugged. "I dunno… I'd really like to find a picture of my mom."
"Oh…" Grandma came up and ran a hand down Maddie's cheek. "Honey, I'm sure I can help you with that. I loved your mother, you know. I thought she was the best thing that ever happened to -" for Maddie's sake, she didn't finish but her granddaughter had already finished in her head and it made her shiver. Her father.
"I'm gonna take this outside," she mumbled, dragging the bag out the back door.
It was hot today and the lake a mile or two in the distance looked particularly inviting as it wavered through the steam between it and her. But she didn't have the energy to run all the way down to it so she sighed long-sufferingly and went back inside, pushing all the discomfort of her father out of her mind. He was in jail. And he was going to stay there. There was no reason why she should ever have to think about him again.
When she opened the door, the kitchen was empty so she put another bag in the garbage can and walked brightly through the hall and into the living-room and over to the boxy old computer. She double clicked on the link to the internet, got up and walked off.
The Macintosh '97 was probably the slowest computer in the world and it would be a few minutes before the page loaded.
By the time Maddie had gotten the email box loaded, she'd finished eating her lunch and done the dishes.
But her waiting paid off and she felt a rush of excitement that can only be given by receiving mail and was enlarged upon when she saw who it was from.
"Clark!" she clicked on the email and, as if the computer read her excitement and took compassion on her, it loaded without a great deal of waiting.
I'm writing because Lois is driving me crazy and I want your advise. Should I lock her in the barn or just sic Shelby on her? J/K ;)
So I guess summer vacation is starting for you today, huh? I miss high school sometimes, especially working at the newspaper with Chloe.
Alright, the real reason I'm writing is because somebody let it slip that your birthday is this Monday and I just wanted to tell you happy birthday and that I'm going to be kidnapping you sometime around six in the morning on said day and you have to wear pajamas.
Of course, I suppose it's not a real crime if I asked your Grandmother first…oh well, we can't have everything. ;)
See you then!"
Maddie grinned to herself. She wanted to go tell someone the good news, but there was no one to tell so she exclaimed enthusiastically to the stained glass window, "Clark's coming!"
"Here." Chloe held out her finger with a small piece of scotch tape fluttering on the end of it. "Where'd Mrs. Kent go?"
"To the store, she needed to pick up the cake." Lois jumped down off the ladder and surveyed their work. Her eyes stopped half way around. "Why is there a shower in the middle of the room?"
"This just coming now?" Chloe joked with a curious look.
"Really. It's a dumb place to put a shower and it looks silly."
"Well, look at the bright side, it could be just inside the front door and then you could never take a shower. Now hand me that balloon, the one over here is smaller than all the other ones."
"What about Clark, wasn't he supposed to be in charge of the thing?"
Chloe shook her head as much as she could with out jerking the tape away from the wall. "I'm not sure but I remember him saying something about us not having any plates…or maybe it was he was going to be late or something."
There was a knock on the door and Lois went to answer it. "How's it going?" asked Martha with a smile as she walked in, bearing the cake. "I hope there's room in the fridge still."
"I'll make room, I'm good at that." Lois took the cake from her and disappeared into the kitchen and Chloe finally got the balloon to stay put and climbed down.
"So, what do you think?"
"I think it looks perfect." they stood, taking in the magnificent décor for a minute and then Martha sighed and turned a sparkling smile on Chloe. "We really appreciate the help from you and Lois."
"Oh, no problem, this'll be fun. I've always loved decorating."
"Well, and not just with the decorations and everything, but also for lending us your apartment. I really would have just had it at the farm but by the time they get the electricity fixed it'll be too late to start. That and we barely have any windows, all the new panes are still in the barn. Clark said he might need to stall just for us to have everything up and running by tomorrow. Will you two be here?"
"Definitely!" said Lois, returning with a poorly hidden triumph making her face glow. "Wouldn't miss it."
"Thank you both so much." Martha smiled again and left the two girls alone with their pink streamers and yellow balloons.
There was a brief silence. Then Lois said solidly, "Orlando."
"Keanu. Period, it's my turn."
"You did, last night when I loaned you thirty bucks, read'em and weep." Chloe laughed and ran into the living room.
"Aw, c'mon!" Lois followed, stepping on one of the balloons (which exploded) and making Chloe laugh even harder.
Her lead broke and she sighed heavily, reaching for the cylinder-shaped pencil sharpener. As she twisted the little pencil around in the hole, she glanced at the red glowing numbers on the alarm clock on her shelf. 5:34am it read.
Another half an hour to kill. She'd gone to bed on time but somewhere around three in the morning, she'd realized that the idea of sleeping was a ridiculous one and she'd given up hope of ever managing it, so she'd gotten out her drawing pencils and started scribbling away.
She'd considered going up to the attic and start going through some more boxes but the noise of the stairs coming down would have woken Grandma.
Picture after picture was produced from the end of the eighteen stubby pencils that were far past their expiration date and obviously well used. Mostly they were pictures of Shelby, but some were landscape or the Windmill out by Chandler's Field. Some were of the trees that were just visible beyond the brown dirt road that led up to Hastings Road and the faded blue house perched upon it.
The clock now read 6:00am. Maddie jumped up and pulled her pink jacket on over her pajama shirt and pushed her feet into her shoes, already half running to her bedroom door. She thumped down the steps as softly as possible in her excitement and through the hall. She halted in the living room and listened.
The soft whinny of a horse could now be heard outside and her heart leaped. She ran up and opened the door.
Clark was grinning and holding the reins of both Shadow and Buttercup who were stomping expectantly and whinnying in their impatience. "Madam, your chariot awaits."
Maddie ran across the short distance between the porch and the two horses and reached out a hand to Buttercup. "Oh, Clark…" she sighed. "Are we going riding?"
"Nah, these two are just for decoration." he winked and helped her on to Buttercup. She looked around at the dew sodden ground and the gray sky.
"Are we the only ones up?"
"Seems that way, all of the other residents of Smallville probably have better things to do at six o'clock in the morning." he slung up into Shadow's saddle. "Shall we?"
She bit her lip and nodded, hardly concealing the girlish pleasure she felt. They galloped away off towards the woods. It was still foggy in amongst the trees but in an early-morning-cheerful sort of way, not spooky or anything like that.
Maddie breathed in the crisp fresh air deeply and felt the end of her nose start to get pink. "Where're we going?"
"You'll see. C'mon, I'll race you to Crater Lake!" he took off and Maddie laughed and followed, pressing her knees against Buttercup's sides to try and at least catch up even if she never could ride as fast as Clark.
The horse kicked up dew off the plants and in no time her pajama pants were completely sodden on the hems but she didn't even notice. She halted at Crater Lake and stared. Clark was no where in sight and she wondered if perhaps she'd outrun him for once.
She gazed around, waiting, while Buttercup shuddered underneath her and bent down to chow down on the river grass.
Maddie found herself looking around at the cliffs that bordered Crater Lake. They were high and reminded her of castle walls because you could look up and see the edge of each cliff but not the hills on the other side so it was just grass and trees and other foliage silhouetted perfectly against the sky.
She was just contemplating how she might draw a picture of these trees and cliffs when her eyes froze on a lone figure standing at the top of one of them. She squinted but in the dim light of the morning and through the steam rising from the lake, she couldn't see the person's face. She squinted, feeling more and more nervous.
Suddenly, she heard footsteps behind her and she snapped her head around and nearly screamed.
"Whoa, hey!" Clark rode up to her and came to stand beside her. "Are you okay?"
Maddie looked back at the cliff. It was empty of everything but the usual trees and shrubs. She looked around at all the other edges of the cliffs and across the lake to the opposite bank. There was no one.
She could feel Clark's eyes watching her and she turned Buttercup away awkwardly, still searching around the lake and desperately hoping it'd been her imagination. Clark rode Shadow up next to her.
"Hey, you sure you're okay?" he watched her face tentatively but she nodded and forced a smile.
"Yeah. So where are we going?"
He hesitated but decided not to press the issue for now. "Follow me." he led her up on top of one of the hills and down the other side of it, through the two fields that divided the lake from town and down into the road. They rode for a long time, chatting about different things, school mostly, and then finally reached the small shops that lined the street sides.
They trotted at an easy pace down into the near-empty side walk, past the old flower shop that still had "Nell's Flow r hop" emblazoned in faded orange letters on the front window, and right up to the Talon door. There was a sign reading "Closed for the day" hanging on the other side.
"This is us," said Clark, smiling mischievously at her. He jumped down off his horse and Maddie followed suit, still incredibly curious. Clark took both horses' reins and led them down the ally and around the corner behind the building, out of sight. When he came back, he couldn't help but smile at the confusion Maddie could easily feel on her face. He came up and opened the door. "After you."
She grinned and walked inside. The Talon was empty which didn't surprise her due to the "closed" sign and the fact that was still only a quarter after six in the morning. Clark followed her in and strode across the room towards the stairs. She followed.
"Clark, where are we going?" she laughed as he stood, poised dramatically with his hand on the doorknob for the entrance into the Talon's apartment.
He paused and smiled at her. "Happy Birthday, Maddie." he swung the door open.
Maddie jumped and stared. Chloe, Lois, her Grandma, and Mrs. Kent all stood in their pajamas, beneath a pink banner on which was written in pale yellow letters, "Happy Birthday!", all around the room hung pink streamers and yellow balloons, and when Maddie turned, Clark was beaming at her.
He came up and gave her shoulder a little squeeze. The smile on her face made her jaw ache but she didn't care. This was defiantly the best day of her life.
Okay, there's the first one! I know, it's kind of fluffy right now but bear with me and reviews of all kinds are more than welcome!