By L.H. (MSBC49D@Prodigy.com)
Summary: Lois witnesses a tender father-daughter moment as Clark reads a bedtime story to their 3-year-old daughter, Ariel.
This is my first attempt at Fanfic, so keep that in mind as you read this. I have enjoyed so many other stories that people have written, I wanted someone to enjoy mine (and I hope you do). This story takes place a few years after the last episode "Family Hour." I'm assuming the baby that came to Lois and Clark was a girl, even though it has been said that it was a boy. Feedback would be greatly appreciated. :)
Lois awoke suddenly that night, not particularly knowing the reason why. She turned over to see that Clark was not in bed. Curiosity getting the better of her, she slid out of bed and quietly tiptoed downstairs. The house was dark except for a faint glow down the hall. She walked in the direction of the light, and as she got closer heard Clark's soft voice:
"And the baby duck said, "quack quack" …
As she approached the room, she surreptitiously peeked in and saw Clark sitting in the wicker rocking chair with their 3 year-old daughter, Ariel, snuggled securely on his lap, thumb in mouth. They rocked back and forth as Clark continued on with the "Animal Book," and Ariel's eyes grew heavier. Lois smiled at the sight. She was daddy's little girl. Since the day they found her in the tiny bassinet, a sparkle shone in Clark's eyes each time he looked at her. And as far as Ariel was concerned, her daddy was the greatest man alive, she did not yet know that he was also the strongest, but it wouldn't have made a bit of difference to her. She loved him for him, which is the way Clark had always wanted to be loved.
Lois' mind flashed back to a time when she saw them just like this. Clark in the rocking chair, with Ariel peering up at him. She had only been a tiny baby, but even then the relationship was the same. She remembered seeing Clark look at her with such awe and wonder, her tiny hand wrapped around his finger, looking so small in comparison. She watched them this way, rocking back and forth, until both were sleeping peacefully, Ariel's small head resting on Clark's strong chest. The memory brought tears to her eyes as she thought of how she used to dream of this kind of relationship with her father. Granted, Sam was trying to build one now, but that still didn't make up for the times when he chose to tinker with cyborgs in the garage instead of reading her bedtime stories, and it certainly didn't make up for the fact that he left them when they needed him most.
Her mind was brought back to present when she saw Clark pick up Ariel as if she weighed nothing and lay her sleeping body gently on the bed. He leaned over her and gently kissed her on the cheek saying:
"No more bad dreams, princess."
A bad dream. So that's what he was doing up. Lois was surprised she hadn't heard Ariel come into their room, but she had always turned to Clark when bad dreams arose. Normally, she would have been jealous of the close relationship between them, but she had her own special relationship with her daughter, and knew there would come a time when she was older that she would need to turn to her mother. Clark continued to watch her sleep and Lois headed back to the bedroom, knowing Clark would return soon.
Lois lay in bed still thinking of her father. Even though time had passed, the wounds had still not completely healed. She thought of all the happy memories she had missed and barely managed to muffle a sob as she heard Clark return to bed. Her back turned to him, she felt him softly caress her cheek, and a tear slowly made its way to her pillow.
The next morning was bright and busy in the city of Metropolis. Clark awoke to the sounds of traffic and city life below. He turned and looked at Lois, looking beautiful as always. She looked as though she needed her rest, so he let her sleep. After he showered and dressed, he went down to the kitchen to make coffee, and when it was finished he poured himself a cup and sat down with the morning edition of the Daily Planet. Soon he heard the pitter patter of little feet coming his way. He turned to see Ariel, her hair tousled and the smile on her face that made him melt.
"Daddddy," she said, jumping into his arms.
"How's my princess this morning?"
"Good, Daddy, what's for breakfast?" But before he could answer she ran off to retrieve the box of sugar-loaded cereal he'd finally given in and bought her, even though he knew Lois would seriously object to it. She held the box in front of her, looking at him with those big brown eyes and he just couldn't refuse.
"O.K.," he said reluctantly. "But don't tell mommy!"
"Don't tell mommy what?" Lois suddenly appeared in the doorway. Ariel tried to hide the box, but she wasn't fast enough. Lois caught sight of it and took it.
"Oh, Clark, don't tell me you were honestly going to let her eat this stuff, it's nothing but sugar!"
"But, mommy, it's goooood," Ariel said.
"Yeah, mommy, it's goooood," Clark echoed. Both gave her pleading looks, and as much as she tried to stand her ground, she gave in.
"O.K., but just today, I mean it," she said.
"Thanks, mommy, you're the bestest," Ariel said, climbing into a chair.
Lois looked at Clark and couldn't help but smile.
Later that day at the Daily Planet the newsroom was abuzz with the breaking news of government scandal. Being his top reporters, Perry had quickly assigned Lois and Clark to cover it. Up to their eyeballs in research, Sam Lane walked in.
"D..daddy!" Lois exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm in town for a medical convention. I was wondering if you'd like to have dinner with me this evening. Oh, and by the way, don't look so happy to see me."
"Oh, I'm sorry, daddy, Clark and I are working on this really big story that's all, I'm just surprised."
"It's O.K., princess. So I suppose this means you're working late tonight, huh? Well, I could swing by and pick up Ariel from day care and watch her until you get home. Lord knows I miss her."
"Oh would you, daddy?" Lois said. "That would be absolutely perfect, Ariel will be thrilled to see her Grandpa!"
"Anything for my girl" he said. "I'll use the key you gave me to get into the house."
Lois smiled, relieved that Ariel was taken care of, she kissed her father good-bye and went back to work.
It had been a long and tiring day. The investigation had taken much longer than they had thought, and they still came up with zip. It was nearly 11:00 when they had finally reached home. There they found Sam and Ariel, both sleeping soundly on the couch.
"Looks like Ariel wore daddy out," Lois said smiling.
She walked slowly over to them and shook her father gently. He stirred, looked up at her, and smiled. Sam kissed Ariel on the head and Clark walked over and scooped her up, carrying her to bed.
"Sorry we're late, daddy, had to follow a lead, it turned up dead," Lois said
"It's O.K., sweetie, I had a great time with my granddaughter, sorry about the lead," he replied.
"Happens all the time. Anyway, since it's so late, why don't you stay in the guest room, I worry about you driving to the hotel so late."
He reluctantly obliged, and seeing him so tired, Lois responded quickly to fixing up the guest room. He followed to help her. They chatted as they made the bed, and when they were finished he thanked her and kissed her goodnight.
Hours later Sam went downstairs for a glass of water. He saw a light in the living room and peeked around the corner to see his daughter sound asleep, a mountain of research on her lap. "Always the feisty one, never gives up," he thought. He smiled to himself as he remembered the day she told him that she wanted to become a reporter. He objected, of course, wanting her to follow in his footsteps and become a physician. She refused, saying that it was just not her, and being persistent and headstrong, finally realized her dream. He couldn't be more proud of her now, becoming one of the nation's most notorious newswomen. He just wished he been there to watch her grow up to be the beautiful woman that she was. He wished he could erase all the pain he caused her and go back to make up for all the time they had lost. But he couldn't, he only had now, and that was good enough for him. He looked down at her one more time, his princess, daddy's little girl, then covered her up and turned out the light.