Clark was not spying on Chloe's date.
Okay. Sure. Technically he was 'keeping an eye' on the situation, but it wasn't out of curiosity as to what would happen or anything like that. No. Chloe had been getting death threats lately and this was all in the name of keeping her safe and sound… even if she didn't realize what he was doing. What had honestly made him feel better was that once he'd gotten there he'd realized Maera was at the same strategically located position he'd chosen, and when he'd asked her what she was doing there she'd announced she was spying.
That meant Clark was keeping an eye out on Chloe, and on the spy, so really, he was doing everyone a favor here. It had nothing to do with the fact that Chloe's coffee dates with Bruce had become dinner dates. No. Chloe's dating life had nothing to do with him. If she wanted to try it again with Bruce despite it OBVIOUSLY not working out with him the first time (she'd married someone else for crying out loud! How much more - IT DOESN'T WORK - did she want?) that was her prerogative.
"So, why are you so interested in spying on this date?" Clark asked as Chloe and Bruce talked over the main course.
"What has Chloe told you about me?" Maera asked in return.
"Not much," he admitted. "She said that if I wanted to know more I should ask you myself."
She smirked. "What did you know about AC?"
This was an interesting question change. "He was a meta human who had water abilities. And he, uh, could talk to fish."
"It's a bit more than that, actually," Maera informed him dryly. "AC was the heir to Atlantis, which is where I come from. When we realized he was alive we came to urge him back home so he could become king, but he had no desire to rule Atlantis. He was married by that time. I stayed behind to convince him."
"Wait, Lois told me that you and Victor met through Tinder," Clark remembered, very confused.
"Chloe and AC knew about me but kept quiet because they knew I had an attitude problem back then… I thought all land walkers were basically monkeys. Victor really did meet me through Tinder, and it's sort of how I 'came out' I suppose you could call it. And after AC died I forced my way into working for Chloe because how else was I supposed to protect Atlantis' future heir?"
Clark blinked. "AJ is a prince?"
"And Chloe's the Dowager Queen," Maera announced and made the whole thing even weirder.
"Then why haven't you tried to take them back to Atlantis?" Not that he wanted her to, but the question was definitely there.
"Atlantis is in unrest, it isn't safe for them there right now. Once AJ is older, an adult, and I have trained him in his powers, then yes, I will press for him to return to Atlantis." Maera proved right there that beneath that brash outside was a calculating and very patient inside. "Until then I will remain on land protecting both Chloe and AJ, and the work that we do here is helping my people. The waters have grown so contaminated of late that it's been killing the weaker of us. We're working to fix that. My people will benefit from my many years away from them, and that is what makes it worth it."
Clark stared at Maera in awe.
"Yes, I know, I'm awe-inspiring," she snarked before returning her gaze to where Chloe and Bruce were both eyeing something on the screen of his iPhone. "It's not an actual date, by the way."
"What?" Clark turned to her in surprise.
"It's a publicity thing," Maera replied after she rolled her eyes. "Wayne Enterprises has been getting some backlashes due to Bruce's public persona, so he's trying to calm it down. Chloe get added recognition and brand-promoting from this whole thing, since her and the company will be mentioned by those interested in Bruce's dating life, so she's agreed to do it. Plus, considering the public know that they dated back in the day their relationship would seem more believable."
"Oh." He took that in before his gaze went to Chloe and Bruce. "Why didn't she tell me?"
"How is it your business?" Maera wanted to know.
Clark opened his mouth and then closed it when he realized he really couldn't answer that. Chloe was a big girl who could decide who she wanted to date, it really wasn't his business, and yet a part of him assured him that yes, it definitely was his business… hadn't it always been his business?
That question continued to plague him for the rest of the night.
"Isn't it because you have feelings for her?"
Clark had been spending a lot of his free time with Diana lately, and it'd taken him a couple of days to muster up the courage to talk to her about the situation which had been bothering him of late. As an alien living amongst humans on a planet very far from her own, Diana was probably the only other person who could truly understand him.
"She's told me off in the past for being a big brother type around boyfriends, so I guess you're right," he mumbled unhappily from where he sat drinking coffee with her at the coffee shop Chloe had gotten him addicted to going. "But still, I mean—-."
"Oh, you misunderstand me," Diana interrupted him. "I mean: isn't it because you want to be the one to go on dates with her."
Clark looked up from his cup of coffee, wide-eyed and throat clogged. "Me? Go on a date? With Chloe? Me?"
Amusement colored Diana's eyes as she turned their bright blue hue on him. "Yes, you, Clark Kent, want to take her, Chloe Sullivan, on a date."
"I do not!" Okay, so maybe it would've been more convincing if his voice hadn't broken at that very moment and left what he'd said too shrill and uneven to be convincing.
Diana's laugh was delightfully chime-like, and usually Clark liked the sound, but right now he pouted at it. "Come now, Clark. You truly cannot be denying the fact that you're in love with her!"
"She's my best friend. I love her. I just—-."
"Decided to work with her in her enterprise despite having many other options you could've pursued?"
"Five years have passed, it helped to be in a place with someone I knew I could trust."
"Spend as much time with her out of work as you do in work?"
"She's my best friend."
"Hover over her like a mother hen?"
"Have you spent two minutes with her? She's constantly getting herself into trouble"
Diana tilted her head as she eyed him curiously. Some odd expression covered her face for a moment before she took a long sip of her coffee, almost as if to give herself a couple of minutes silence. When she finally looked up at him, it was with that same look Lana had been giving him recently, which was a much nicer, more muted version of the looks Lois and Maera were giving him. He had no idea what in the world that look meant and was too wary of the women involved to ask them to explain.
"I'm not in love with her," Clark felt the need to reiterate. "I'm her best friend, and we're basically family. Plus, I'm AJ's godfather and they need someone to help them so it's my duty to be there."
"So you're always with them out of duty," Diana announced as if she'd suddenly gotten something.
"No." He quickly shot that down. "I like being with them. It's the best part of my day."
Diana raised an eyebrow at him and took a long sip of her coffee.
Her lips twitched. "You know, my home planet is made of pure women. I've never faced this sort of problem before. We're more in tune."
"With what?" His confusion was growing.
She merely took another sip of coffee.
"I'm not in love with Chloe."
Diana continued to drink her coffee.
"She's not in love with him."
"Oh yes she is," Lois Lane countered, ever the contrarian, as she lounged on the chair in his office. "They used to go out together all the time, and it was hard on her when they broke up, and now they have a chance to be together again and give AJ a family. She's seizing the bull by the balls and—-."
"Horns," Clark corrected.
"—getting herself some of that sweet Wayne action!" Lois completely ignored him as she bulldozed on. "And not only is it a great move for her, but strategically speaking we could do so much more with Wayne Enterprises and Atlantis joined together as allies."
"So basically you're marrying her off to Bruce Wayne for financial gain and stability?" He hadn't realized his grip on his pen was so tight until he heard it start to break.
"I'm marrying her off to him because he's got a great butt, and his face doesn't hurt either," Lois corrected in a sage tone. "But his megabucks don't hurt either." She smirked. "And if she's in love with him, that makes this all the better."
"But she's not in love with him," Clark pointed out for what felt like the thousandth time.
"Says who?" Lois crossed her legs.
"Says me." Clark leaned forwards against the desk.
"Exactly." Lois made up her face. "So excuse me if I don't take your word as law."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Taking in a deep breath, Lois raised an eyebrow at him. "C'mon Smallville, if I want some insight of relationships, or anything romantic in particular, you and Chloe are probably the last people I'd go to." She did not look at all apologetic for the insult. "Don't get me wrong, you both are brilliant in your own ways, but when it comes to romance you're the dumbest human beings who exist on this planet."
Okay, he was insulted by that.
"You pined after Lana for forever even though she had no idea you existed," Lois counted on her fingers, "you totally had no clue Chloe was in love with you, and then didn't realize when Lana returned your feelings. Chloe, on the other hand, never realized Pete was in love with her, or when you started having an inkling of a feeling for her - which she totally cut down after the tornado incident - she didn't notice a lot of guys who liked her after you left either. Bruce was the first guy to get on her radar… and then AC came along and, well, AC was perfect."
At the silence that stretched, Clark fought his insult long enough to glance over at Lois, and that insult gave way to curiosity at the look on her face. Lois stared unseeingly ahead of her, seeming to have forgotten him and their conversation. She was clearly lost in thought as she twirled her wedding ring around her finger, and whatever she was thinking had her scrunching up her face. There was pain in her eyes, as well as pity and anger.
"You just don't understand, Smallville, you weren't there." Even her voice sounded distant, as if she were alive in whatever memory she was in, and her voice was a mere echo. "She was happy. I'd never seen her so confident and secure and content. I hate cliches, but AC completed her, he brought her alive, made her glow long before the pregnancy. I was so happy because I knew she would be protected and loved by a good man. She deserves a good man." Lois looked up at Clark and seemed very tired in that moment. "I just really want that for her again."
He opened his mouth to let Lois know he wanted Chloe happy too.
"I just can't imagine raising my son without Ollie there by my side," Lois admitted as she leaned back in the seat. "No one should have to go through that. Has she told you AJ's a prince? There are people in Atlantis who don't want him as their future ruler because he's part human. Those same people will stop at nothing to make sure that he doesn't come of age to take the throne… if he wants to. And even if he doesn't, they wouldn't want to allow him the chance to change his mind, or to father children who might decide to reclaim the throne - their birthright." She turned his attention back on Clark. "They attacked Chloe and AC when he was still alive, it's how they found out Maera and some other Atlantians were protecting them in secret."
Clark couldn't believe all that he hadn't known.
"Of course, we didn't find out any of this until Maera confided in Viktor. He told us and we were furious. Bruce and AC had a screaming match, their fight was so bad we were worried the League wasn't going to be able to handle the fallout."
Silence fell upon the duo.
"Bruce is a good match," Lois whispered as she returned to their previous debate. "He's been there for her in the past and he'll be there for her and AJ in the future. Even when they weren't together he was a constant, and he could help provide AJ with the structure and protection he's going to need. He can teach him—."
"Bruce doesn't understand having a special ability," Clark interrupted. "No amount of gadgets can compare."
"Then 'Uncle Clark' can step in and help in that direction." She pointed to him as if this should be obvious. "You can help in the areas that 'Daddy Bruce' can't."
"She isn't in love with him, Lois," Clark assured her.
Her hazel eyes turned away from him. "She could fall back in love with him, especially if it's what's best for her son." She took in a deep breath. "And especially if she knows she has your blessing."
His eyes narrowed on her. "Why would she—-?"
"Because she hasn't forgiven herself for what she did to you! For helping Lana and your father get together!" Lois glared at him before she seemed to realize she was mad with the wrong person, and calmed down with a groan. "She hasn't said anything but it's obvious. She pushed you towards Tinder. She tried hooking you up with Diana. Chloe's trying to right how she wronged you. She's trying to find someone for you to make up for taking Lana away from you forever. And until you're happy and settled down with someone she's not going to allow herself the chance to do the same!"
Clark stared at Lois and wondered if that was the case. Was that why Chloe was pushing him to go on dates? Was she trying to 'right the wrong'? Would she really not allow herself to be in a relationship until she'd secured one for him?
"She's a big girl, Lois," he finally spoke. "Let her decide what to do with her own life."
Lois looked away and sighed deeply.
"Just like she can't force me to date, you can't force her," Clark announced. "I'll protect them."
"What happens when you finally find someone and settle down, Smallville?" Lois asked. "What if it's too late for her because she wasted all her time dedicated to you?"
Before he could answer there was a knock on the door, and Chloe peeked her head in. "Lois. Stop bugging him, he's working." She grinned. "Plus, I have to get your opinion on something."
In an instance Lois hid her worry and frustration behind a too-large smile. "That's what I'm here for! See you Smallville." And with that she hurried to Chloe.
Long after they'd gone, Clark remained looking at the door with a frown on his face.
"Lois really needs to butt out of other people's business," Lana muttered around a spoon of ice cream later that night.
Clark couldn't believe that he was coming to Lana of all people to discuss this situation. Had he honestly gotten over her to this degree? And yet here was was, seated on a kitchen stool opposite hers, both of them stealing spoonfuls from the carton of ice cream on the island between them.
"She's always been too nosy for her own good," Lana continued to complain as she pointed that spoon at Clark. "Did you know her kid started another fire the other day? She needs to pay more attention to him and let Chloe be."
"Maybe she has a point though." It killed Clark to admit that. "Maybe Bruce is the best option for Chloe."
"If he were they wouldn't have broken up and she wouldn't have married someone else," Lana informed Clark sagely. "Those two are great as friends, but they want and need different things in life. Plus, Chloe would never be able to get used to what life as Chloe Wayne would give her. And she'd have to move to Gotham, which is probably the most dangerous city in the world. She's worried about AJ's safety as is. Chloe's a planner. There's no way she hasn't weighed all these options already."
Lana made many very good points, and for some reason Clark felt better already.
"Plus, she's got her job - and you - here," Lana added as she eyed the carton and how much they'd managed to eat already. "She's not going anywhere."
Clark scooped out another spoonful.
"Don't worry too much about this, Clark, don't overthink, especially when there's no reason to," Lana advised him. "Just let things happen. I can promise you Chloe and Bruce aren't really getting back together. This is all for PR and they plan on breaking up in a couple of weeks once they get what they need out of it."
"Has she told you this?" Clark didn't look up from his spoon.
"Yes," Lana confided. "Bruce needs the illusion of a girlfriend right now, I can't really tell you why, but he does, and as I said before, this is great PR for her. So they're doing each other a favor, plus, they're very good friends. They get to enjoy each other's company while scratching the other's back. It's a win-win."
Clark made a face at the thought of Chloe and Bruce scratching each other's back.
Lana giggled and lowered her gaze to the carton.
The alien wondered what she found so funny, but was too wary too ask.