Disclaimer: Still don't own Smallville
Summary: He's been gone for months, what makes him think he can just pop back into her life.
Setting: "The Legs We Stand On" Universe.

*Never Run Out On A Lady*

Someone should have written a manual, "On how not to irritate your co-worker" or "What do to when your co-worker is plotting your death." Clark was sure they would have made a fortune. He'd buy them for sure. At least all the copies that included a chapter on Lois Lane or an military brat with Daddy issues and a chip on her shoulder. He promised her he'd find Chloe and bring her home, who knew that she'd put a time limit on it. Chloe was safe and sound, what more could she want? Obviously, whomever had been his 'temporary' replacement had rubbed her the wrong way because Lois was about as agreeable as a parana.

"Not that I'm not grateful that you're back from where ever it is that you disappeared too. But am I ever going to get an explanation out of you? Chloe's fine by the way, in case you were wondering," Lois drawled casting an narrow glare at his head for emphasis.

Clark was sure that if she had laser vision that he'd be incinerated right now. "I had a lot on my plate, Lois. I was trying to track them down. Davis was a serial killer remember. So I got a bit turned around trekking through South America, I dare you to try finding your way out of the Amazonian jungle on your own." The lies just seemed to keep coming with him. He'd fed the story to Tess and she'd given him that creepy half smile and stared at him as if waiting for the real answer. To his credit, all the training with Jor-El had been good for something, he hadn't even blinked, squirmed or stuttered under her cold assessing eyes. She'd waved him off with a simple, "Give me a puff piece on the local culture and you can have your old desk back. Lois keeps eating all my replacements anyway." Maybe he would have benefited from a little backpacking through the rain forest before entering the basement again. It might have given her time to cool off from her last encounter with Superman at least.

Lois shot out of her chair. "Give me a map and a compass and I'll find my way home from anywhere, Smallville."

"I bet you could." Was he trying to get her mad or did Kal enjoy making him squirm. It just slipped out, sometimes he wondered how she reduced him to eight grade bickering. It was a gift. Yep, as he noted the proverbial steam began pouring out her ears, he knew he should have left Clark lost in South America a few more days. Kara had certainly peeved Lois off enough that she'd need a minor disaster to distract her from her current target. Namely him.

Lois slapped both her hands down on the desk and leaned toward him, her eyes glittering dangerously. "You don't want to tell me what you've been doing or where you've really been all this time, that's fine. Keep telling yourself that nobody cares, that it's none of our business. But remember Clark, one day you're going to need someone to cover for you, to watch your back, and if you keep pushing people away. Well guess what? There's not going to be anyone there to save you." Straightening, she collected her jacket from the bag of her chair, her handbag from her bottom drawer and left the basement without a backward glance.

Clark watched her retreating figure with a tense feeling in his gut. A lot of things she'd been saying left him with the impression that her trip to the future may have given her insight into a few truths about himself that he had yet to share with her. He wondered if should continue to play innocent or if he should tell her. If she knew already then it meant he could trust her, but what of her safety. considering her track record, her regular brushes with death, did he really want to add to those odds?

When he couldn't find her anywhere in the city, he'd asked J'onn for help. The Martian had told him that he couldn't sense Lois at all. That meant that she was either dead or not in their time. The second thought had occurred to him much later and he'd cursed the mental dampeners warring in his head for not thinking about it sooner. Not that he could help her at all. He'd searched the Planet and Tess' office and the Luthor Mansion but found no sign of the ring. The joy he'd felt at seeing her name in the paper had him just about tearing into the Daily Planet with complete disregard for the fact that he was in full Superman get up. Instead he waited at the phone booth she passed by every night, and called. It was their first conversation as Lois Lane, the reporter and Superman, once known as the Red Blue Blur.

He felt a little less guilty with the thought that while she was angry with him, she really had no reason to worry. She'd known where he was all along and what he'd been doing, she'd covered dozen of his saves. But that all hinged on the notion that she knew he was Superman. Something he wasn't prepared to admit or explore just yet.

Lois climbed the stairs one at a time. She'd hoped that when he'd finally decided to show up dressed in that crisp white button down shirt and ugly pinstriped tie, with Sires dress pants that he must have been ready to tell her everything. How stupid she'd been. How utterly hopeful, foolish and naive of her. She'd thrown herself at him. Again. Only this time she was in completely control of faculties and remembered every detail with embarrassing clarity. He'd kissed her back all right, but the second she loosened her arms he'd run so fast that she hadn't even seen a blur in the distance.

She hated that Chloe was all the way in Gotham City. It meant that she couldn't just drive over and crash on the couch with a pint of Ben & Jerry's while she let her cousin reason her troubles away. It was crazy but now that Clark was back, she actually felt more alone that she had before. Lois curled her hands into fists at her sides and marched up the rest of the stairs to the ground floor with her chin held high. She'd promised herself that she wouldn't mope or feel sorry for herself. While he definitely felt something for her, he obviously wasn't on the same level that she was. If Clark cared, he knew where to find her but she was done being his fan girl and press agent. She would try to be his friend as she'd always been and she desperately hoped that would be enough to quill this crazy desire she had for something more. Because that future, the one she'd happily believed in, seemed like an impossible dream right now.