By Barbara (Bml44@aol.com)
Summary: Lois and Clark fly off to Kansas to share some good news with Martha and Jonathan — and also to get some advice about something that's been concerning them. They know the Batman's secret, but Batman doesn't know theirs. Should secrets be shared among superheroes … and their wives? A continuation of the author's fanfic "Beginnings," and the second story in her "Variations on a Theme" trilogy.
Author's note: Since our last 3 episodes have been held hostage for so long, I thought I would finally finish editing these stories. They have been neglected far too long. For those who were nice enough to write and ask for this next installment, I'm sorry it has taken so long … work kept getting in the way. Hopefully I'll have the final part posted next weekend.
This is the second part of what I've begun calling the 'Variations on a Theme' trilogy. The first part of the series was 'Beginnings,' which introduces L&C to Bruce Wayne and Vickie Vale. This second installment explores the similarities in this and a few other relationships (You can find 'Beginnings' in Rhen's FTP site if you are interested, but it is not necessary to read it to follow this story.) This is set in my own alternate L&C universe. One where L&C were married directly after the arc (we all remember so well) at the Kent farm in Smallville. As always, these characters are just borrowed for a bit of fun. All rights belong to ABC, Warner Bros., TNT or whoever has them now …
It was a beautiful night for flying. The sky was clear and the round, full moon shone brightly, lighting their way. Even so, Clark was flying a little slower than normal. They had been flying in silence, Lois staring up at him, just enjoying the serenity of being in his arms.
When he didn't answer, she put her hand on his cheek and turned him to look at her. "Clark."
"You had the strangest expression on your face … somewhere between awe and … panic. Where were you?"
"I don't know … you … my parents … the baby … the day we met in Perry's office … our wedding day … "
"Oh, is that all?"
He smiled at her. "I can't wait to tell them, but I don't know how to find the words. It's so … so … "
"That too. It's just that it's a little scary when you are holding your dreams in your arms and watching them come true."
Lois' eyes began to well up with tears at his words. "You know, for someone who says he can never find the words to express how he feels, you do a pretty incredible job." She pulled his head down to her and kissed him, trying to express just a fraction of what was in her heart. "I am so thrilled to be having your baby."
"I still can't believe it. It has been something I have wanted for so long and was so afraid would never happen."
"Do you want to wait and tell your parents after dinner?"
Clark looked at her, still just amazed that she was finally his wife. "Yes, if we can wait that long, but Mom is going to know something is up when we walk in the door. It's true what they say about pregnant woman glowing. You are positively radiant."
She reached up and kissed him again. "I'm so glad I asked you to marry me."
The couple had been so caught up in each other that Clark inadvertently missed Kansas altogether. He came to this realization as they were quickly approaching Hawaii. He couldn't help but laugh.
"Okay, Clark … what gives? I expect a certain reaction from you when we kiss, but this isn't your normal response. Am I missing something?"
Clark stopped and floated in the clouds, pulling Lois back into his embrace. Kissing her softly, he looked down and whispered, "You do this on purpose, don't you?"
"Distract me while I'm flying."
Lois looked up at him incredulously. "Oh, so that's all I am to you now … just a distraction. I see, get me pregnant and then toss me aside … " She overacted her words by tossing her hands out to her side.
"I didn't say I didn't like it … I just said you did it on purpose," wickedly raising his eyebrows to match her dramatic tone.
Lois gathered him back in her arms and whispered in his ear, "Any port in a storm. I'll admit to using any and all means to get some time alone with you."
"I take that as an approval of my methods?"
He slowly turned and began flying back towards Kansas. "Yes … definitely. Now if we don't get to Mom and Dad's right now, we won't be getting to Mom and Dad's at all."
She laughed at his intense expression and snuggled back into his strong arms. The only response she could manage was to affirm his "Ooh."
They returned to their peaceful flight, both lost in thought and emotion. Lois reflected on the first three years she had known Clark. She still couldn't believe that she had been so caught up in her work that she almost missed Clark Kent. She had even convinced herself during their first assignment that the only reason she was drawn to him was that, if left alone, he would be eaten alive in the big city. And after meeting Superman, well, she knew that no other man would ever capture her heart. She was right, but now she knew it had nothing at all to do with superpowers.
When she finally admitted to herself that she was in love with the man behind the glasses *and* the cape, it seemed that the gods were set on keeping them apart. She began to fear that she would never be able to fully share all of Clark Kent. Never could she have been more wrong. She was connected to Clark on a level she never knew existed. She had never been able to be so open or honest with anyone in her whole life. Nor could she have predicted how incredible being that close to someone could be. And now, to actually be looking forward to having a child? Yes, there was definitely more to Clark Kent than she could have ever imagined. The most remarkable thing was that she had to remind herself that he was Superman. Now that was ironic.
Clark had always been amazed at the depth of his feelings for Lois. From the first moment he saw her, he had fallen hopelessly in love. The most amazing thing was that no matter how much he loved Lois, every day he seemed to love her more. He was connected to her in way he had never thought possible. After traveling all over the world, he had convinced himself he would never truly fit in anywhere but with his parents. And then, to be instantly drawn to one woman? It was more than he could comprehend. He had first written it off to being Kryptonian, that it was just another one of his differences. He couldn't let himself believe that anyone would respond to him in this way. It almost killed him to watch Lois' loving gazes at Superman and long for her to respond that way to Clark. To have her love him, and now having his child, kept him on an emotional high from which he never wanted to fall.
As if able to read each other's minds, they both looked at each other and uttered simultaneously, "I love you."
It had taken Clark three tries to find Smallville by the time he finally set Lois down on the porch of the Kent farmhouse. Unable to erase the silly grins from their faces, they paused to compose themselves before entering.
"Okay, Clark. How do you think we should tell them? Ooh, I can't wait to see Martha's face."
"Let's wait until after dinner."
"Okay, but I want you to tell them."
"What? *We* need to tell them."
"Clark, they have wanted this for you for so long. I want you to have the joy of telling them they are going to be grandparents."
"Lois, we are having this child … I certainly couldn't do this without you … for more than the obvious reasons. *We'll* tell them."
"Okay, after dinner, *we'll* tell them."
Hand-in-hand, the next generations of Kents walked into the warmth of the family kitchen. "Hi, Mom!"
Martha turned from her dinner preparations to give them both a big hug and ushered them to the table. "So, how was your first anniversary? I'm dying to know what you finally ended up getting one another."
Lois looked dreamily at Clark. "Well, Mr. Devious here had an incredible weekend planned. He arranged for us to return to the island where we spent our honeymoon. He even had an artist paint a watercolor for me of the view from the bedroom window of the villa. It is so beautiful. I can't wait for you to see it."
Clark turned to Martha with a mischievous grin. "I thought about having her paint another part of the island, but since that was all we saw of it … "
Lois looked at him with daggers in her eyes, her cheeks beginning to show a faint shade of red. "Clark … "
"Honey, I think Mom has some idea of what we did on our honeymoon."
"I know, but we don't have to tell her about it."
She looked up at Clark and then back to Martha. "We did see other parts of the island, Martha, he just … "
Martha cut her off and gave a disapproving glance in Clark's direction. "Lois, honey, ignore him. He gets that particular brand of humor from his father."
Lois, who's embarrassment was beginning to fade, returned to her earlier tone. Taking Clark's hand, she stared back at him with a silly grin. "Well, I guess I'll have to keep him … he's such a sentimental softy."
"Oh, yeah, *I'm* the softy? Mom, she took cooking classes to learn how to make an incredible dinner to recreate our first date. She even bought us tickets to see a group I know she hates."
Martha just grinned. They had really come such a long way in their relationship. The Lois she first met would never have just told of the gift she received without pointing out the finer points of her own gift. And her son had never been so comfortable with anyone before. She loved seeing him not having to be on guard around Lois. "Well, it certainly sounds like you found some creative ways to get around the *paper* gift problem."
"Martha, ask him where he hid his gift."
Martha grinned as she watched Clark begin to laugh. "Up in the attic, right?"
Clark was stunned. "How did you know?"
"Your Dad and I found it when we were cleaning out some things for a charity sale. Neither of us had ever seen it, so we assumed it was yours. We thought it might be a gift, so we didn't mention it."
"Well, I see where he gets this devious side, Martha."
The three of them were sharing a laugh when Jonathan came storming into the kitchen, covered with mud from head to toe, muttering under his breath.
Martha got up and turned to him. "Jonathan, what on earth happened to you??"
Lois tried to smother a grin. "Hi Jonathan!"
He turned to Lois and Clark with a forced grin. "Hi, kids." Turning back to Martha, he tried to remain calm. "Martha, that … that … animal … of yours has got to go. I have had enough. It's either him or me." He was still muttering under his breath as he left the room to go upstairs and wash off the mud.
The three looked at each other, confused as to what exactly had worked him into such a state. But, exchanging glances, they all finally broke down, unable to contain their laughter.
Once she was able to speak, Lois couldn't resist commenting. "Martha, I didn't know mud wrestling was a common farm practice. Clark failed to mention that during the corn festival."
Martha just laughed, remembering her first meeting with Lois. "Yes, it's a well kept secret. But, since you know about the cross-dressing, you might as well know it all. Welcome to … the … family." Martha could hardly get the words out between giggles.
By the time Jonathan returned to the kitchen, the trio had composed themselves and were busy getting dinner on the table. Martha had explained Jonathan's trials with their latest barnyard addition. A neighbor had to get rid of a young goat and she had agreed to take it in. Being just a *kid*, the mischievous animal was constantly eating Jonathan's hat or gloves or, as was probably the case this time, sneaking up behind him and bucking him in the rear. Martha guessed Jonathan must have been fixing the sty during their latest battle.
In a much better mood after his shower, Jonathan came up and gave Lois and Clark a hug. Lois was ready to lighten the mood, but was stunned to see that there was no need. She marveled as she watched Jonathan sneak up behind Martha and give her a reassuring hug, seemingly making amends. This was one of the things she loved so much about Clark. He was always coming up to her and holding her, reassuring her. And Martha was right … he really did take after his father. And to see his parents so much in love after 35 years of marriage, she was certainly glad he did.
Dinner progressed with the usual small talk. Clark caught up on farm events and friends from high school; Lois and Martha talked more about the young couple's anniversary and the decorating of their new house. Clark quickly finished his dinner, too anxious to wait another minute to break the news. He turned to Lois and gave her a wink, nodding in Martha and Jonathan's direction. Lois nodded her agreement and slowly pulled a gift from under the table and handed it to Martha.
"Mom, Dad, Lois and I saw this and just had to get it for you."
Martha looked suspiciously at the gift and then back to her two *kids*. "Hmm … this should be interesting." She grinned at Jonathan and began to open the box. Her eyes suddenly got as big as saucers as she realized what was in the box. "Oh my God! Is this … it is … " Looking over at her son, she could tell by the gleam in his eyes she was correct. Literally jumping out of her chair, she had him in an embrace and was sobbing. Lois, who was now wiping tears, was quickly pulled into the embrace. They remained like this for several minutes, not able and not needing words to express their joy.
They were pulled from their euphoria by Jonathan, who was still sitting at the table a bit confused. "Okay … what was in the box?"
Martha pulled a tissue from her pocket and wiped her tear-streaked face. "Oh, Jonathan, I'm sorry." She turned to him and handed him the box.
Jonathan reached in the tissue paper and pulled out a tiny pair of white knit booties. Grinning from ear to ear, he looked up at Lois and then Clark. He quickly made his way to the other side of the table and pulled all three of them back into an embrace. When words finally came, he looked into Clark's eyes and muttered, "My boy's going to be a father." With that, he turned to Lois said simply, "Thank you, daughter."
After the initial shock wore off for the soon-to-be grandparents and many toasts were made with tea during dessert, Lois and Clark decided to get some advice on another topic. Lois and Clark had been agonizing over their trip to Gotham City to visit Vickie Vale and Bruce Wayne. They had become friends when the Waynes visited Metropolis and agreed to an interview. As usual, Superman had to come to the rescue when Vickie was kidnapped. During the rescue, Clark had discovered Bruce Wayne's other identity — Batman. Lois and Clark had been debating whether or not to seek the confidence of the Waynes with their secret or simply remain silent altogether.
"Okay, so what do you guys think?" Clark asked, taking another sip of his mother's tea.
"Well, Clark," Martha answered, "From what you've told us, they have a situation much like yours. They also can't risk anyone finding out about his *second job* either. They seem to have as much to lose as you two do." Reaching over to pat Lois' hand, she added, "Well maybe not quite as much …"
Lois smiled at Martha. "You know, I'm always the first to tell Clark to guard his secret at all costs. It has always shocked me a little, since that is the exact opposite of my normal instincts. Somehow though, I don't feel threatened by them. I know she is a reporter and was very anxious to interview Superman, but now I think it might have been for the same reason I wanted to know about Batman. I guess that's probably why we are drawn to them. They are the only people who truly understand what it's like."
"Mom, one of the things that has always bothered me about Lois marrying … Superman … was all of the things she had to give up. You know, having to hide all of the time, never getting too close to other people. We always feel safe here because we can be ourselves and we don't have to be on guard. It would be nice to have that same feeling with other people."
"Someone your own age?" Martha asked.
"Yeah, I guess. More importantly, though, someone who has our same problem."
"So honey," Martha said, now taking Clark's hand, "It sounds like you've made up your minds."
"Well, I guess we have … sort of. My only hesitation is … well … we're always going to have to keep this secret." Clark looked over at Lois and protectively laid his hand on her stomach, giving her a quick smile. "Now, more than ever, with the baby coming. He can quit being Batman at anytime or tell people he is and continue on."
"But from what you've told us, he realizes what he risks if he does that," Martha added.
Clark gave a gentle squeeze to Lois' hand that he now held. "Believe me, Mom, I know what he's feeling."
Jonathan looked over at Clark. "Son, you know I'm like Lois when it comes to telling others about your abilities, but it sounds like you've finally found two people in the same boat as you. You could all be a help to one another. And it sounds like you enjoy being with them."
"We do Dad," Clark replied. "At first, I thought Bruce was really boring, he was so reserved. But once I got to know him, I realized he really is a great guy."
"So, how are you going to tell them?" Martha asked.
"That's the hard part, Martha," Lois answered. "It's not exactly the kind of thing you can just bring up in dinner conversation. 'Please pass the potatoes and by the way, my husband's Superman.' I realized when we were talking about this how difficult it was for Clark to tell me." She squeezed his hand and grinned.
"Hopefully they will take the news better than you did."
"Clark, I think, under the circumstances, I handled it pretty well … and don't forget … I figured it out. You didn't tell me."
"I tried to … "
"Yeah, that line of defense sounds familiar."
Jonathan and Martha exchanged grins. They loved watching these two in action. They could see so much of themselves in the young couple.
"Lois … "
"Clark … "
Jonathan and Martha couldn't contain their laughter any longer. Lois and Clark looked over at them and then at each other. They too started laughing, both turning a bit red, realizing they had momentarily lapsed into a world of their own.
"It's nice to see that some family traits have been passed on to another generation," Martha grinned.
Clark looked at her puzzled. "What, Mom?"
"When your father and I were first married and we would sit with my mother and father for dinner, they would constantly be clearing their throats. At first I thought it was my cooking, that it was too dry. I finally realized that they were just trying to remind us that they were still in the room."
Lois looked over at Clark and saw that his cheeks shared the same red hue and smirked. "Are we that bad, Martha?"
Martha reached over and took Lois' hand. "Honey, it is so refreshing to see two people so much in love. I used to worry that Clark would always have to keep his secret alone. The first time he told us about you, I knew you were the one." She paused and took Jonathan's hand. "When we found Clark, we had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would never have children. Clark was a blessing beyond measure. To see the two of you together and preparing for your child, I know somehow that this was all meant to be. Having been down the path you two are starting down, I can only be envious." The tears Martha had been trying to contain finally fell down her cheeks.
Lois, whose own tears streaked her face, reached over and hugged Martha. "Martha, if I can be half the mother to this child that you were to Clark, I'll consider myself lucky."
"Just don't let Clark spoil this child and you'll be okay," Martha teased.
Clark, who had also had to wipe tears was looking with reverence at the two most precious things on Earth and thinking how lucky he was. His look changed to one of disgust as Martha's last comment sank in. "Hey, what makes you think I'll spoil our child? Isn't that your department?"
"Yes, honey, it is. But … I've seen you with your cousin's children," Martha added. "Lois, you know how Clark dotes on his cousin Sharon's three-year-old, Jacob?" Lois nodded. "Every time Clark comes home, he sneaks over there to play with him … and he always brings him a toy from somewhere in the world. Sharon says it's always the only toy Jacob will play with until Clark comes back with another one. He won't even let his father play with his Superman action figure."
"Clark, you didn't … "
"Well, he saw a news clip of me on TV while I was baby- sitting one night. He wanted me to tell him Superman stories. Sharon told him I knew Superman. So … I got him one. I told him Superman gave it to me to give to him."
"Sharon says he sleeps with it every night," Martha giggled.
"Okay … so maybe there is evidence that I like children and enjoy giving gifts … "
Martha and Lois shared knowing glances and laughed at Clark's attempt at a defense.
"Clark, you are not going to give our child a Superman figure," Lois insisted, rubbing her stomach. "We have enough on our hands as it is without giving people any more clues."
"Lois, he wanted one and it's my cousin's child … not mine. I won't buy one for our child, okay?"
Lois and Martha looked at each other and broke out laughing. Jonathan, who had been watching the two of them, began laughing as well. Clark sat staring at the three of them, looking a little confused.
Jonathan, knowing from years of experience of being in Clark's shoes, reached over and patted his shoulder. "Son, just pray it's a boy … or you'll be outnumbered the rest of your life … "
Clark, finally catching on that he had walked into their trap, nodded and smiled. "Yeah, Dad. I'm still having a hard time understanding *earth women*.
Clark found himself daydreaming, sitting in the familiar warmth of his parent's sofa with Lois cuddled in the crook of his arm. Martha and Jonathan were listening to Lois describe their latest adventure for The Planet. He had drifted off somewhere during their attempt to get information from Bobby Big Mouth. It seemed that since Lois told him that he was going to be a father, he couldn't keep his mind focused on anything else. His mind would somehow wander to seeing their child for the first time and what it might look like. Would it have Lois' eyes and hair? His powers? Would he be a good father? But mostly, he just thought of the incredible woman leaning against him and his good fortune at sharing his life with her. And, he seemed incapable of removing the grin from his face.
His thoughts were brought back to the present by the gentle touch of a hand reaching up to hold his. It was then that he realized she had been talking to him.
"I'm sorry, honey. What did you say?"
Lois shook her head and grinned. Turning to Martha, she let out an amused giggle. "Martha, did you have this problem when he was growing up? I can lose him between 'Good' and 'morning' any more."
Martha grinned and looked knowingly at Jonathan. "Well, he has always been a *thoughtful* boy. He does tend to obsess on things, doesn't he."
"Okay, okay," Clark protested. "I know. It's just … I can't get over finally being a father. I'm still trying to adjust to Lois saying 'I do'."
Jonathan pulled his bride into his embrace and smiled back at his son. "Well, Clark, I've plowed a few fields in the snow myself. And it's the greatest feeling in the world, isn't it son."
Pulling Lois to him for a soft kiss, Clark responded, "It certainly is, Dad." He looked over at Martha and then back at Lois. "I have truly been blessed. First, with the most wonderful parents in the world taking in a poor orphan from another planet and then with the most wonderful woman, in any galaxy, taking me into her heart." Reaching over, to lovingly rub Lois' stomach, he continued. "And now, having our child. I'd say I have good reason to *obsess*."
Lois returned his kiss and looked up at him. "Okay, obsess all you want." Looking over at Martha, she decided this was the best time to reveal their final surprise. She moved her hand over Clark's to hold it against her stomach, subconsciously gaining his support to continue. "You know, it's hard for me to believe how much this place has come to mean to me. It's where I first got to know Clark and started falling in love with him. It's where I realized what being a part of family was really like. It's where we were married. And, I can't think of a better place to welcome the next generation of the Kents. Martha, would you do us the honor of delivering our child?"
Martha Kent was a woman of many talents. Not only was she a wife, a mother and of course, amateur artist, she was also a registered nurse midwife. She had completed her training shortly before she was married and had delivered several generations of Smallville residents. She had even passed on her talents to her son, who had helped in the delivery of several children himself. But having Lois, her *daughter,* ask her to deliver her grandchild, was more than she could have ever dreamed.
Turning to look at Jonathan, she struggled for words. "Lois, I … I don't know what to say."
Lois grinned at Clark. "Well, just say yes … "
"But, honey, wouldn't you rather have a doctor in Metropolis, or Sam?"
"Clark and I have talked about this. We really want to have the child here. I really want this. We don't feel comfortable about a doctor delivering a *super* baby and Daddy is a surgeon, not an obstetrician."
Martha just stared at Jonathan, still trying to believe what she was hearing. She leaned toward him and kissed him softly. Slowly, she got up and walked over to Lois and Clark. As a tear fell from down her cheek, she pulled them into her embrace. All she could manage to say was, "Thank you."
After the Kents were able to compose themselves, the two men excused themselves, leaving Lois and Martha to their *baby* talk. Martha knew Lois had to be more than a little nervous about having a baby. Having Clark's child had to be doubly worrisome. She quickly calmed her fears, explaining what she could expect during her pregnancy and what she remembered of how Clark developed.
"Martha, you don't know what it means to me that you are willing to do this. You are the only one who truly understands what this is going to be like. And I want you to know that this was my idea … Clark would never have suggested it to me. But, I can tell it means a lot to him."
"You've given him, us, so much. The rest of the world would never believe that all 'Superman' wanted out of life was to have a family … to just live a normal life. I have never seen him so happy."
"I know. I wouldn't have believed it myself a couple of years ago. He is going to be such a wonderful father. I just hope I can do this."
Jonathan led Clark to the barn and introduced him to Martha's new *kid*. To the poor goat's confusion, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't seem to buck Clark, his many attempts simply gaining him a small knot on the head. Jonathan, while amused at the goat's persistence, also knew his son. And his *kid* needed to talk … and he had a pretty good idea what about.
"Wow! My boy is becoming a father."
Clark turned to Jonathan and grinned. "Pretty incredible, huh Dad?"
"I know you were worried you two wouldn't be able to have children. I guess all of that worrying was for nothing."
"Yeah. Actually, we weren't really trying yet. It just sort of happened."
"No, Dad, I didn't mean it that way. Just that, well, now that we have the question of *if* answered, we are going to have to be careful."
"You wanted children, didn't you, son?"
"More than anything, Dad. You know that. I guess I'm still in shock."
Jonathan grinned and walked over to a post in the far end of the barn. He lovingly ran his hand along the many marks etched in the wood. Clark followed, sitting on a bale of hay beside the post, joining his father in the memories the marks evoked.
"Clark, I can still remember the anguish your Mom and I went through when we found out we couldn't have kids. There was a spark of hope in her eyes when we tried to adopt, but that quickly faded when they told us how long it might take. When you came into our lives, we both felt as if we had been given a gift from God. That he had truly answered our prayers. The night we brought you home and I saw Martha holding you … well … it was more than I could put into words. I came out here and stood in this spot and cried for the better part of an hour. I never realized just how it felt to be a father until I saw the two of you together."
Jonathan brushed a tear from his cheek, the memory affecting him even after the passage of thirty years. He looked down at his son who was fighting to hold back tears, still amazed that his son shared his depth of emotion. Clearing his throat, a small grin crept onto his face, suddenly remembering another set of emotions.
"You know, son, I also stood in this spot and panicked when it finally sunk in that I was a *father*. That I was responsible for that little bundle of joy my wife was rocking. I went from being on top of a cloud to feeling like a boulder had fallen on me."
Clark laughed and quickly wiped away the tears he had been unsuccessful in fighting. "Dad, I think I can relate to that feeling."
"Son, it is an awesome responsibility, being a father. But it is also the most rewarding thing you could ever do … watching your child learn and grow." He reached over and again ran his hand along the marks in the post. "You remember how we would measure you every few months and make a mark here in the wood? It probably seemed sort of silly to you at the time, but to me, these *are* my son. This one is a little three year old who wanted so much to fish, but couldn't quite hold onto the pole." Pointing to another mark, he continued. "This one is a five year old who just took his first ride on a horse and thought he was ready to join Jesse James' posse." He looked up the post to a mark well out of his reach. Looking back at Clark, he added, "And that was a teenager, frightened by some powers he didn't understand. I still haven't been able to get the dent out of that milk bucket."
Clark grinned at the memory of his frustration with his changing abilities. "Dad, you and Mom were always there for me … when I needed advice or a shoulder to cry on. You made it look so easy. I just hope I can do as good a job."
"Clark, children do not come with manuals. Especially ones with superpowers. You just have to learn as you go. The main thing is to love them and let them know it. The rest will come."
"I guess you're right."
Martha knew Lois still held a lot reservations about being part of a family. She could only imagine what it must be like to watch your family fall apart around you. She also knew that together, Lois and Clark would survive. She just needed to get Lois to see that as well.
"Lois, honey, you are both going to be wonderful parents. This child is going to be very loved."
"But Martha, what am I going to do with a child? I can't boil water without burning it. I used to run out of the room every time Mom would even change Lucy." Martha grinned at the image of a young Lois running from an offending diaper. "And what about my job? I'm tracking down leads at all hours of the day and night. I can't very well take a baby along. Not to mention Superman's activities." Lois let out an exasperated sigh and let her head drop on the back of the couch.
'Finally!' Martha thought. "Lois, I've never told anyone this before, not even Jonathan." This admission caught Lois' attention. She slowly turned her head toward Martha, anxious to hear what Martha found she was unable to share, even with Jonathan. "Jonathan and I tried for so long to have kids. After a few years, I think we both just gave up hope. Back then, they weren't able to help couples conceive like they can now. So, we both secretly beat ourselves up as being the cause of the problem. The night we found Clark … well, it was an answer to a prayer. I don't think I'll ever forget the first time I looked into those deep brown eyes. He captured my heart in that moment and has held it ever since."
Martha stared straight ahead, lost in her memories. "I stayed up with him that first night we brought him home, hushing his cries and rocking him to sleep. He had to be so confused about where he was. We didn't really know where he came from. All that mattered was that he needed a home and we desperately wanted to give him one. I was too afraid to go to sleep. I was just so amazed that he was really ours. I didn't want to risk waking up and finding that it was all a dream."
She turned and looked at Lois, her fears still evident. "At some point during the night, though, it finally sunk in that I was a *mother*. I must have delivered a dozen babies by then, but what did I know about raising one. I just sat there staring at him for the longest time, imagining all of the horrible things that were going to happen to him. Imagining all of the mistakes I was going to make. I felt like running out the front door and not stopping until I reached California."
"You? But Martha, I have never met anyone who is a better mother than you."
"But I didn't start out that way. Lois, motherhood is a learned art, it's not something you're born with or inherit. And you are one of the most loving and caring people I know. All any child asks of a parent is to be loved. Just love them and let them know it. The rest you'll learn as you go. And remember. You and Clark are in this together. You'll make mistakes and you'll learn together."
"Martha, how do you always seem to know the right thing to say?"
"Well, Jonathan says that women acquire this sixth sense when the become mothers. Maybe he's right. You do seem to know what they are thinking even before they do."
"I sure hope so, or I'll be the only one in the family without that ability."
Jonathan knew Clark still hadn't gotten to the root of his fears. They both knew he would be a loving father. There was still something else bothering him. A little more prodding and Clark would get there.
"But … " Jonathan continued, pulling Clark back to the conversation.
Clark shuffled his foot in the hay, trying to put into words the thoughts roaming through his mind. "I guess I'm more worried about whether I should be a father. If I'm asking too much of Lois. I mean, childbirth is a gamble at best for two humans. What is it going to be like for us?"
'Finally,' Jonathan thought. "Well, son, you developed just like any other child until you were a teenager. There's no reason to think your child will be any different. And remember, son, this child is a part of Lois. The human body has amazing powers of its own. If there were a problem with *genetics,* she wouldn't still be pregnant."
Clark just grinned and shook his head. His father knew him so well. "You had this all figured out, didn't you. What I was worried about?"
Jonathan reached over and patted Clark's shoulder. "Son, that's another part of being a parent. It's a special kind of telepathy. You'll develop it, too."
"I don't know, Dad. This child is half Lois'. I've known her four years and she still befuddles me."
"Well, son, we were talking about children. Women, I still don't understand. I hate to break this to you, but even after 35 years, your mother still befuddles me."
"We're pretty lucky guys, aren't we, Dad?"
"Yes, son, we are."
Lois and Clark returned home, both comforted by their trip to Smallville, but both still a little confused about what to do about the Waynes. They were leaving in a few weeks for Gotham City and needed to come to a decision.
"Clark, this secret identity thing is really getting out of hand. I mean, first it was you, then it was me, then it was just you again and now it's our friends. And to top it off, we haven't decided what we are going to wear to that masquerade ball they invited us to. I mean, how many identities are we going to have to keep up with?"
"Lois, honey, take a breath. It's not *that* bad."
Lois grinned and let out the breath she didn't realize she'd been holding. "It's not?"
"No. First, you knowing that I am Superman means everything to me. I love that we are this close and can be totally honest with one another. We are … and will always be … a team. You created Superman and with you helping me, Superman will be just fine. As for Ultrawoman, you never needed superpowers to move mountains, 'Mad Dog Lane', so I don't think you need a costume now." Trying to lighten her mood, he raised his eyebrows in a seductive manner. "No matter how good you look in it! And as for the masquerade ball, I have that all figured out. And don't even ask me, because it's a surprise."
Grinning at his comment about her Ultrawoman outfit, Lois pulled Clark into her arms. "So, you liked the Ultrawoman costume, eh?"
The rest of his comment finally registered. "Hey, wait a minute. What do you mean you have our costumes figured out?"
"They are already ordered and waiting for us in Gotham City."
"I don't even get a hint?"
"But Clark, what if it doesn't fit. Shouldn't we try them on?"
"Oh, I think I have your size pretty well memorized," giving her a devilish grin. "It will fit perfectly."
"Okay, okay. I know better than to try and pry it out of you. I'll just go along with it. Just remember, I may be a little larger then," resting her hands on her stomach.
Clark dropped his hands down to lay on top of hers. "That has all been taken into consideration, honey. Now, you just concentrate on getting all of the rest you need for little baby Kent here and I'll take care of the trip details. Deal?"
"Okay," she said reluctantly.
Lois and Clark managed to tie up all of their stories early so they could leave for Gotham City just after lunch on Thursday. They were both looking forward to enjoying an extended weekend with their new friends. Bruce arranged for his jet to meet them at the Metropolis airport for the short trip. They were in Gotham City in no time, even by Superman's standards.
They were greeted at the airport by Alfred, the Wayne's butler and assistant. As he drove them up the long entrance to the estate, they were both astonished by the sheer size of it. Lois had been exposed to an opulent lifestyle during her time with Lex, but his obsession was possessing the best the world had to offer. Living in the highest penthouse in Metropolis, looking down on the rest of the world was more his style. An estate covering half the city was new to both of them.
"Wow! Clark, look at this place. This is bigger than the college I attended."
"You're not kidding. I'm used to having a lot of room on the farm, but not a house the size of two hotels."
Alfred pulled the car around to the front of the house and they were quickly greeted by Vickie.
"Lois, Clark, welcome to Gotham City. I'm so sorry I couldn't meet you at the airport. I got hung up at the office." Noticing the looks on their faces, she continued. "And please ignore this place. I know it's a bit overwhelming, but it is home. Come on. Let me give you a quick tour and let you get settled in. Bruce is still in town, but should be here any minute. He had some boring board meeting to attend." Taking the Kents on a cursory tour, she could see that they were a bit awed by the place. "You think it's something now, you should have seen it the way it was when I moved in. It was more museum than home. There was actually one room with nothing but suits of armor and ancient weapons. That was the first to go. And the dining room … the table was so big that we needed phones to talk to one another. We've made it more of a home, but I still get lost in here regularly."
Lois grinned. "I can see how that could happen. I hope you provide maps for guests."
"Fortunately the guest rooms are all together and are pretty close to the rest of the main rooms. If you get lost, just do what I do. Press one of the call buttons and Alfred will come find you. That's the only reason I left them in."
"Well, Lois is pretty resourceful. I'm sure she'll find her way around in no time," Clark teased.
Walking down a long hallway, they saw Alfred exiting one of the rooms and Vickie guided them in. "Well, here we are. I'll let you get settled in. We thought we'd have a quiet dinner here tonight. Come down to the family room when you're ready. It's just down the hall at the bottom of the stairs."
"Thanks, Vickie. Clark and I will be down in a bit. But, if we're not there in an hour, send out a search party."
After a pleasant dinner, the two couples settled into the family room and got caught up on events since the Wayne's trip to Metropolis. Lois and Clark told them of the future addition to the Kent household. Vickie and Bruce related how they had managed to put the kidnapping incident behind them. They had even paid to get Dr. Deter the professional help he needed and funded a grant to continue Dr. Mendenhall's research for legitimate purposes.
"That's very generous of you," Lois added. "After what both of them put Clark and me through, I have a hard time being charitable toward them."
Bruce pulled Vickie a little tighter into his embrace. "Well, I was terrified when he took Vickie. I don't think I've ever been that worried. But, I know what it's like to lose a parent. I was lucky that I had Alfred. It seems he didn't have anyone. I guess I feel sorry for him … now that I know Vickie is safe."
Lois and Clark had agreed to make their final decision of whether to take Bruce and Vickie into their confidence once they had gotten to Gotham City. They would both know if it was the right thing to do and the right time. Listening to Bruce, Clark realized they were right about the Waynes. Looking over at Lois, she nodded, reading his thoughts and coming to the same conclusion.
Having made the decision was only half of his battle. He still had to figure out how to tell them. Lois squeezed his hand, urging him on, offering her support. Clearing his throat, Clark tried to recall the word track he had gone over in his mind about a million times.
"Bruce, I think I can understand how you felt when Vickie was missing." Clark looked lovingly at Lois, pulling her closer and lacing his fingers with hers. "Lois has been in danger so many times. It's such a helpless feeling just waiting … wondering if she's all right. I also know what it's like having the ability to do something to save her, but being unable to use those abilities."
Bruce shifted restlessly in his seat. Certainly Clark didn't mean what he thought he did. He tried to remain calm, also seeking out Vickie's hand for support.
Clark continued, while his resolve was intact. "Bruce, I discovered something by accident when we were trying to find Vickie. It puts me in an awkward position and I feel I have to explain." He looked back at Lois. She nodded, urging him to continue. "When we were looking for clues, I saw the trunk in the bedroom with your suit. Bruce, I know that you are Batman."
Bruce was shocked. He didn't know whether to protest or feel relieved. "But Clark … "
"Please, let me finish, Bruce. There's a good reason why I was able to find out. Well … when I went to get Superman, I didn't have to go far. In fact … " Clark stood up and unbuttoned his shirt, revealing his crest underneath. "Bruce, Vickie, well … I *am* Superman."
Vickie and Bruce sat perfectly still, staring at the gold emblem, trying to process all that Clark was telling them. Clark sat back down, nestled back into the safety of Lois' arms and continued.
"When I scanned the room, I saw the trunk sitting there. I didn't mean to invade your privacy, I was just looking for anything that might help us find Vickie. Lois and I talked about this … a lot. We both know how hard it is to try and keep up a second identity and what a strain that can be on you both. I just wanted you to know that we understand. And, Bruce, if I can ever help out, just let me know." Clark could see they were still in shock, so he attempted to lighten the mood a bit. "I don't have a *Superman signal*, but the phone or pager will do. Or you can try Lois' signal … 'Help, Superman'."
Bruce was overwhelmed. He had never told anyone his secret. Vickie had figured it out. He thought he had been so careful. Grinning to himself, he thought, 'I guess I didn't do too bad. At least it took Superman to figure it out.'
"Well, Clark … uh … I mean, Superman, I don't know what to say."
"Well for starters, it's still Clark. Superman is just some character my wife created. I'm still the same Clark."
"I'm sorry, Clark. It's hard to believe. But, now that I know, I can see it. I don't know why I didn't see it before. You know, I have actually thought about trying to get in touch with you … you know, pool our efforts, share ideas."
"That sounds like a great idea to me too, Bruce." Clark looked over at Vickie, who had just been staring at him, still trying to comprehend what she'd heard. Clark looked at Lois, a bit uneasy, uncertain what to say. Lois knew what she was thinking, having been through those same emotions.
"Clark, why don't you and Bruce go talk about superhero stuff. Maybe he can show you some of those *bat toys* you are always drooling over."
"Yeah, Clark, come on. I'll show you the *Bat Cave*." Getting up, Bruce gave Vickie a quick wink. "We'll leave you two to your *girl talk*."
With the two men gone to inspect the *bat toys*, as Lois referred to them, Vickie and Lois were left to compare notes. And Vickie was finally able to collect her thoughts.
"Lois, this is so strange. Having someone else know about Bruce. And Clark … I can't believe I never noticed the connection to Superman … it's so obvious now. A pair of glasses? And here I thought I was a world class investigator."
"Vickie, don't worry about it. Those glasses fooled me for two years, and I was with him … both *hims* … all of the time." Lois grinned and hung her head, a bit embarrassed by her thoughts. "But I have to admit, I really wasn't looking at his face that much when he was in the suit."
Vickie met her wicked grin. "I'm sorry Lois, I know he's your husband, but I don't think there's a woman in the world who's looking at his face when he's in the suit."
Lois met her grin and giggled. "It's something, isn't it? I've been tempted to have his mother design another, shall we say, less revealing costume. It is strange having the whole world idolize your husband, or his identity, anyway. But, I have to admit, *I* love seeing him in it too much to worry about what others think."
"Well, speaking for the women of the world, we thank you." Vickie paused for a second, trying to decide if she should ask. Her curiosity finally won out. "Lois, I just have to ask … what's it like being married to Superman?"
Lois, sighed, her cheeks beginning to flush.
Before she could speak, Vickie interrupted her. "No, don't tell me. It would only make me jealous."
"Well, all I can say is that there are definite advantages. The flying is the best part. Just being in Clark's arms is heaven, but with him in the air and … " Realizing what she was about to say, Lois cut herself off. With a devilish grin, she simply said, "Well, he's just … wonderful."
Vickie laughed and shook her head. "Leave it to me to get a ride with Superman and I'm so drugged I don't even remember it."
"Well, I think I might be able to book you a quick flight. I do have an *in* with the pilot."
Vickie hesitated for a second before answering. "No … after seeing your expression, I'd rather not know."
The red quickly returned to Lois' cheeks. But, catching Vickie's eye, they both began to laugh.
Bruce led Clark down to the Bat Cave. While he gave him a quick tour, he explained how he came up with the some of the various *tools* of his trade. Pausing for a while at the Batmobile, Clark got in and inspected all of the *special options* that were added.
"Now *this* is a cool car. Better not show this to Lois or she'll be wanting me to replace her Jeep with one of these."
"I know. Vickie is always making me take her for a ride in it. What is it about woman and cars, anyway?"
"Yeah, I know. And they say it's us? Superman or not, sometimes I don't think I'll ever understand women. Especially Lois."
"I'm with you there. I know Vickie better than I've ever known anyone and every day she surprises me." Bruce grinned and patted Clark on the shoulder. "And from what I understand, pregnant woman are a handful. Good luck."
"Yeah, I'll need it. Lois at her best keeps me on my toes … this should really be an adventure."
"I guess it's a good thing you *are* Superman."
Clark laughed and returned the reassuring pat on the shoulder. "Well, your day will come. From what I can tell, Vickie and Lois are a lot alike."
"I know. If I didn't know better, I'd think they were twins separated at birth. It's a little scary, isn't it?"
"Yes it is. I guess they were drawn to … superheroes .. because they are always getting themselves into trouble we have to get them out of … "
"I've thought about that, too. I spend the majority of my time going after Vickie. I'm not sure if she gets into danger because she knows I'll get her out of it or if she gets into trouble because people know that she's *friends* with Batman."
"I've wondered the same about Lois. No matter how much I tell her to be careful, as soon as I turn my back, she's falling from a building, being pushed out of a plane … "
Bruce interrupted him with a devilish grin. "And you wouldn't have it any other way, right?"
Clark met his expression. "No way."
"Lois, I know what you mean about other women idolizing your husband. Because I write articles about Batman, people, women mostly, are always asking me what he's like. You can tell by the look on their faces what they are really asking about. It's an odd feeling, isn't it?"
"Yes, it is. And the hardest part is trying to distance yourself from your answer, don't you think? I mean, the world knew about my relationship with Superman, so it's hard to talk about him now like I see him as just a friend or a brother."
"And then trying to explain where he is when he leaves suddenly. It must really be tough for you. Bruce just takes care of Gotham City. Clark takes care of the whole world."
"We worked together for two years before I knew he was Superman and I got so sick of those stupid excuses he used to make before he would disappear. I used to think it was me … that I was doing something to scare him off. Now that I help him cover his departures, I realize how tough it gets coming up with so many excuses. But, he's *really* bad at it." Lois laughed as she recalled some of his *better* excuses. "Can you believe he actually used the Cheese of the Month club as an excuse one time?"
Vickie laughed and shook her head. "You're kidding? And, you didn't kill him?"
"Believe me, I was tempted many times … "
"Well, at least now you'll have a little one to keep you company."
Lois grinned and patted her stomach. "Well, as much fun as morning sickness is … and I don't know why they call it *morning* sickness when it lasts most of the day … it's a good thing he does have to leave. Feeling this way and knowing he doesn't even get a cold … I really am tempted to kill him." Vickie grinned at her expression. Seeing her smile, Lois continued. "Well, I guess I should just be thankful it worked. We weren't even sure if we were *genetically* compatible."
"You're right. I keep forgetting he is … Superman. I guess it was getting to know Clark first. He's so … " Vickie stopped, not sure if she should continue.
"Human? It's all right. I have the same problem. I mean … a simple farm boy from Kansas is the 'man of steel'? It takes a while for the two images to merge. I still catch myself jumping at home when I see him floating in front of the television or drying the dishes with his heat vision."
"I never thought of that. Wow! Talk about being handy around the house."
"And he is so excited about this baby. I wasn't sure about the whole idea of kids, but seeing him with them … he is going to be the best father. He would never admit it, but I know he is excited about finally having someone to carry on his heritage. What about you and Bruce? Are you planning to have children?."
"Well, we've been trying for about a year and so far, no luck. I was the same as you … not really sure about the whole idea of motherhood and a career. But, he so wants a family … an heir. He *loves* children. He said he would love to have a house full of kids. I told him he would have to find 20 other wives if he planned on filling this house. Two is my limit."
Lois grinned. "Clark is the same way. And I guess we shouldn't have worried about genetics. We weren't careful one time and look what happened. And I can't even send him out to be *fixed*, you know."
Looking at each other, they both broke down in laughter again.
"So, Clark, you must be really excited about the baby."
"I can't even begin to describe it. It is a dream come true. We didn't know if we would be able to have children together, so this is truly a blessing. I can't wait for it to arrive."
"I know how you feel. I can't wait to be a father, either. We've been trying and haven't had much luck yet … " Bruce trailed off, not used to opening up to anyone but Vickie.
"Well, I guess it's just as well for now. Do you think the world could survive with Lois and Vickie pregnant at the same time?"
Bruce looked at him and laughed. "I guess you're right. That probably would be too much. One thing's for sure."
"I don't think even Ultrawoman, The Phantom and the rest of the Superheroes League could save us from that one … "
Clark laughed at the mention of Ultrawoman and followed him back to the family room to join the women. "You don't know how right you are … "
Lois filled Vickie in on the baby preparations, from the nursery to their decision to have Martha deliver the baby. She also explained how Clark came into this world and how Jonathan and Martha took him in, hoping to spark a little hope in their quest for a child. She could see her comments register as Vickie realized what Clark's life had been like and what it must be like carrying a *super*baby.
"Gee, Lois, I guess I never thought about all of that. I always wondered how Superman arrived here, but I never thought of him as a normal guy. Which is really odd, now that I think of it, since I'm married to Bruce. But to find out Superman is married and having a child … one who might have his abilities. Wow."
"Well, fortunately, Jonathan and Martha have been through this. They are such a tremendous help. I know I could not do this without Martha. She is truly amazing."
"It's such an incredible story … they must be remarkable people to raise a child having no idea where he came from … or how to explain to him all of the abilities he had." Vickie paused for a second, reflecting on her own situation. "You know, I've thought a lot about the children Bruce and I will have. How isolated they will be. I mean, he has been like a prisoner to his family's money and position. I really want them to have a normal life, but they will always have to be sheltered because of who they are. I mean, his parents were killed because of it … I really worry if it's fair to a child to subject them to that."
Lois grinned and patted her reassuringly on the shoulder. "Believe me, Vickie, I know what you mean. I won't lie to you … this baby was a surprise, but Clark and I have talked about that since I discovered his identity. He even called off our relationship once because he was afraid of the danger he put me in … because he was Superman. It has taken a long time for me to convince him that it is my choice, my privilege to love him and have a life with him. But, our children will not have that choice."
"I know … that's what I mean. Is it really fair to them?"
"Clark and Martha finally helped me realize that no child has that choice. I mean, I certainly didn't grow up in what society calls a 'functional family'. But I always knew my mother loved me, even if she had a hard time showing it after Daddy left. Being with Clark and his family, I finally realized what a true bond or commitment was like. I have with Clark the family I dreamed of growing up. That is what we will share with this child. Letting them know how much we love them and one another. If they have Clark's abilities, we'll deal with them as they develop. At least Clark understands them now and can help them understand them as well."
"Wow, I guess you're right. Thanks, Lois. It really is wonderful having someone to talk to about this. Neither of us have anyone we can discuss this kind of thing with."
"Me too. Any time you need to talk, just call me."
"I will, if you'll do the same."
"It's a deal." Lois smiled, happy that her instincts were right again. "I have to wonder though … what do two *superheroes* talk about when they get together"
Vickie grinned, "You know, I was thinking the same thing. I'm sure they'll say they were talking shop, but you and I both know … "
"They are talking about us," Lois finished for her.
They both broke down in laughter again.
Bruce and Clark returned to find their wives still caught up in conversation. They could hear their laughter coming down the hallway.
"So, ladies," Clark said, walking up behind Lois and placing his hand on her shoulder. "You two seem to be having a good time."
"Hi Clark. Yes, we have." Turning to look up at Clark, Lois gave him a quick wink. "So, what have you two been up to?"
Gently squeezing her shoulder, Clark simply said, "Oh … you know … just guy stuff."
Lois and Vickie looked at each other knowingly. They said simultaneously, "Uh huh … "
"Well, Mr. Guy Stuff, we better go get ready for bed."
As they were getting into bed for the evening, Lois was curious to find out how Clark's conversation went with Bruce. Settling into his arms, she looked up at him and smiled. "So, did you get to see how all of those gadgets of his work, Clark?"
"Well, we never really got around to trying them out."
"Oh, then what did you do all of that time?"
"You know, just talked."
"Uh huh. What about?'
"You know … what guys talk about."
"And what do guys talk about?"
"Lois … "
"Clark … "
Clark had looked away, not wanting her to know that they had talk about her. He looked down as he felt her suppressing a laugh. "What?"
"It's okay, Clark. I may not have superhearing, but I know what you talked about."
Embarrassed, he could feel his cheeks begin to burn. "What?"
"Honey, why do you think I agreed that we should tell them. It wasn't so you could take a spin in the Batmobile … "
Realizing he would never fully predict anything his wife did, he pulled her closer and laughed. "So you had this figured out all along, eh?"
"Well, let's just say I have Kryptonian males figured out better than you have earth women figured out."
Pulling her into a more comfortable position for sleep, he kissed her softly. "Honey, *that* is the understatement of the century. Goodnight, Lois." Reaching down and patting her stomach, he continued his new nightly ritual. "Goodnight, Baby Kent."
Nestling into his embrace, she was glad that everything had worked out so well. And still thrilled at his reaction to the baby. "Goodnight Clark, or should I say, Daddy."
Lois and Clark were enjoying a leisurely breakfast with Vickie and Bruce, swapping stories and making plans for what was a rarity for the two couples … a day off to play. They had just about decided on a trip to some local vineyards when the phone rang. Instinctively, the four froze, knowing that this meant a change to their plans.
Alfred entered with the phone and handed it to Vickie. "Its your office, ma'am. They say it's important."
"Thank you, Alfred." Picking up the phone, she answered harshly at the unwelcome intrusion. "Yes … "
As Vickie listened, the other three tried to continue with what they all knew now to be useless plans. They waited as they watched Vickie put down the phone.
"Well, that was about a story I have been working on. I've been looking into a series of suspicious deaths. There's no signs of forced entry, so the victims might have known their killer. I haven't been able to make a connection between the victims yet, but there's something there. I just know it"
Clark could see Lois going into 'reporter mode'. She was now sitting on the edge of her chair, eyes narrowed, listening intently for clues. He grinned, wanting so desperately for her to relax a little, but knowing how much investigating had become a part of her. Her question was almost on queue.
"So, how did they die?"
"Well, that is another mystery. In all cases, their heart just stopped. The coroner hasn't been able to determine why."
Lois processed this information and moved on. "Was anything stolen?"
"That's the other interesting thing. Nothing of value seems to be stolen, so that doesn't appear to be the motive. They had been occurring every three weeks. This would make the third, but it happened the week after the last. It may or may not be related, if any of them are. It's really bizarre."
"I wonder if … " Lois cut off her sentence as she realized Clark and Bruce were laughing. "What?"
Clark looked at her innocently, "Oh, nothing, honey." He looked over at Bruce, they both broke down again.
Lois turned to Vickie who shared her sour expression. "Okay … what is so funny?"
Recognizing the tone, Clark decided to come clean. "Sorry, honey, but the two of you … you are just so much alike. Next thing you know, you'll be finishing each other's sentences."
"Well, you know what they say … great minds think alike. Lucky for you two, right Vickie?"
"Definitely," Vickie agreed.
Clark and Bruce nodded in concession and rose from the table, holding the chairs for their wives.
"Come on," Clark grinned, as he helped Lois to her feet. "Let's go work on the story so we can try to be finished before the ball tonight."
Continuing in reporter mode, Lois asked Vickie if she had someone to do background checks for them or if she should call Jimmy. Bruce and Clark just shook their heads and grinned, following their wives out to the car.
It was several hours later when Lois looked up from a stack of police reports, phone records and background information.
"Clark, look at this number on the latest victim's bill. All of the others are to relatives, friends or business associates. This one is to a detective agency. Why would a man who owns a cleaners call a detective agency?"
"Wanted to track down some missing laundry, maybe?" Clark joked.
"Cute. Maybe he was cleaning something other than just clothes?"
Vickie and Bruce laughed at their exchange, both able to see how they were able to combine working and their relationship. Vickie also picked up with Lois' train of thought.
"Which detective agency is it, Lois?"
"Whitaker Detective Agency on West 33rd. Do you know it?"
"Yes. The owner is Harry Whitaker. He's been in business a long time. Does mostly background checks for law firms and insurance companies. I've never heard of him doing anything under the table, though. He has a good reputation in the business."
"Well, the victim was married, maybe he was cheating on his wife. Think she might have made the call?"
Clark looked over the phone records of the other victims. There were no other calls to the detective agency, but there were calls to a pay phone on Hanson Ave. "Vickie, where is Hanson Ave? There are calls to a pay phone at 223 Hanson Ave on two of the other victim's records."
"Actually, that's a block from the detective agency."
"Maybe we should go talk to Mr. Whitaker," Lois and Vickie said simultaneously.
Clark and Bruce looked at one another and smiled. "Here we go … " Bruce laughed, walking to the door. "I hope you brought your suit, Kent."
"With Lois, I never leave home without it."
Lois gave Clark a knowing glare. "Very funny … "
The Whitaker Detective Agency was located in one of the nicest office spaces in downtown Gotham City. They were on the fifth floor of a building that also housed several large law firms, insurance companies, brokerage houses and mortgage lenders. It was a fairly large agency, obviously servicing wealthy clients.
"Well," Clark noted, "they certainly like to be where the money is. Vickie, does this Harry Whitaker service clients or just run the operation?"
"From what I understand," Vickie responded, "Harry does mostly PR work now. You know, takes lawyers to lunch to drum up business, goes on initial client meetings, but leaves the leg work to his employees. He has to have about 9 or 10 detectives working for him. His son, Will, works for him now and Ed Johnson has worked there for years. I don't know the others."
The four made their way to the office and were let in to see Harry Whitaker. He was a tall man, in his late forties, with an obvious affinity for expensive suits and cigars, the remnants of the latter hanging heavily in the air. Glancing up from his desk, he ushered them into the adjoining conference room.
"It's good to see you again, Ms. Vale, Bruce. And it's a great pleasure to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Kent. To what do I owe this pleasure. Can I offer you something to drink?"
Vickie spoke for the group. "No, thanks, Harry. Actually, we're here following up a lead on a story."
"All of you? I didn't know the Gotham Globe and The Daily Planet were working together now?"
"Actually, they aren't. Lois and Clark are friends of ours and just happened to be here for the weekend."
Clark decided to help Vickie clear up the matter. "And wherever my wife goes, she always falls into a story."
Lois grinned politely. "Occupational hazard, I guess."
Harry laughed, looking a bit confused at the interesting group in front of him. "Sounds like a fun vacation to me."
Vickie decided to get the conversation back on track. "Anyway, I have been following up with the deaths of several people over the past few weeks. In looking into their phone records, I noticed that there was a call to your office on one of them."
"Really?" Harry asked, seemingly genuinely surprised. "Who was it?"
"John Farlowe. He owned Farlowe Cleaners."
"I don't think he was a client, but I can check. I don't get involved in the smaller cases anymore. Let me get Becky to check ."
Before he had a chance to leave, Lois handed him a list of the other victims and their spouse's names. "Could you check on these as well, just in case?"
"Uh, sure." Reading through the list, he shook his head. "None of these ring any bells with me, though. Wait here just a second and I'll have my assistant check our records." He opened the door to the main office and left the four in the conference room. They could see him through the window give the list to his assistant to search through her computer.
After several minutes, he returned and handed the paper back to Lois. "Well, off the record, it appears that Mrs. Farlowe was a client, but none of the others on the list were in our records."
"Can you tell us why Ms. Farlowe hired you?" Clark asked.
"One of the reasons our clients choose us is for our discretion. It wouldn't be appropriate for me to discuss that. You'll have to take that up with Ms. Farlowe."
"Of course," Clark responded.
Getting up, Vickie thanked him for his time. Before leaving, she asked one final question. "Oh, Harry, who handled Ms. Farlowe's case?"
"It was one of our new detectives, Gerry Banks."
"Thanks again, Harry. Will we see you at the ball tonight?" Vickie asked.
"Wouldn't miss it."
As the group rode down in the elevator, they compared notes.
"So, Vickie," Lois inquired, "Do you know this detective working the Farlowe case?"
"I met her once at a crime scene. She was out on her own then. I didn't know she was working for Whitaker. She couldn't have been there long. I met her only eight or nine months ago."
"Do you think you could get her to talk about her investigation?" Clark asked.
"I don't know, but it doesn't hurt to ask." Picking her cell phone out of her purse, Vickie dialed Gerry Banks. After briefly getting reacquainted, she asked if Gerry would meet her for coffee in the shop across the street. She was only too happy to oblige.
"So," Gerry sighed, trying to make conversation, "You want to know about the Farlowe case. When I saw the news this morning, I had a feeling I would be contacted by the media. I never expected the three of you. This must be some story."
Vickie explained the unusual pairing and moved on to the story. "What can you tell us about the Farlowes. Why did Mrs. Farlowe hire you?"
"Anything I tell you is off the record. You know that. You can't print any of it."
"We understand, Gerry. We're more interested in how this fits with other information. We're not looking to put their life story on the front page."
"Okay. Well, Mrs. Farlowe, Nina, was suspicious of her husband's activities. Seems he was always running off somewhere with a lame excuse."
"I'm sure that could get annoying," Vickie grinned, glancing over at Lois and Clark.
"After a while, she got tired of it and she hired me to see what he was up to."
"What did you find out?" Lois jumped in, now in 'full- throttle reporter mode'.
"Nina and her husband owned a chain of cleaning stores. She helped him take one store and develop it into a chain of twelve across the city. Once they were established, she did mostly charity work and he ran the business. Somewhere along the line, they started moving in different circles. She liked associating with an elite crowd and attending society functions. He didn't. While she was out at a fund raiser or tennis lesson, he was spending Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays with three different women. From what I could track down, this had gone on for over two years. With the same three women."
"Who were the women he was seeing?" Lois wondered.
"Gee … it's been 3 months since I worked on that case. I've been working non-stop on another case in Florida. I just got back into town 3 days ago. I could pull the file and let you know."
Lois handed Gerry a list of the victims. "Do these names mean anything to you?"
"Yes. Janet Wilson and Wendy Solomon were 2 of his 'friends'." Gerry paused for a second and noticed the glance Lois and Vickie exchanged. "Wait a minute, you don't mean … "
Vickie responded first. "Yes, they are both dead."
"Wow," Gerry sighed. "When did this happen?"
As Vickie read from her notes, Lois watched Gerry to see her reaction. "Janet Wilson was killed on the 4th, Wendy Solomon on the 26th and Farlowe last night."
"If these women were part of your investigation, wouldn't they be in the computer database at the office?" Clark inquired, joining in the conversation.
"Yes, we cross-reference everyone in a file in case we need further info later on. They would just have a case number listed though, no other information would be on the system. Why?"
"Well, we asked Mr. Whitaker to check on the victims and he said they weren't in the database," Clark answered.
"Really? I know that was their names. The other lady was Kathryn … something Italian. I gave the file to Jenny, my secretary, to input the information before it was reassigned. The information should be there."
"Who was the file reassigned to?" Vickie asked.
"Jason Taylor. He's fairly new … came on right after I did. He's been doing legwork and paperwork mostly, but he had been here long enough to take over this case. There wasn't much left to do, anyway. Just a few final reports to the client."
Lois pulled the phone records they had reviewed. "Does the phone number 555-3467 mean anything to you?"
"No," Gerry paused. "Not that I recall. Who's is it?"
"Actually, it's a pay phone. Right there." Vickie pointed to the booth across from the café."
"What's the connection?" Gerry wondered.
"It's on the phone records of two of the victims," Lois replied.
"I'm curious, Gerry," Lois added. "Was Mrs. Farlowe having an affair?"
"I suspected it. She was awfully friendly with a lot of men, but it really wasn't part of my investigation. And she emphatically denied it. Why, do you think she … "
"Could be. It's an age old story," Lois replied. "Do you know what Nina was after, Gerry? Was she looking for something to use in a divorce settlement?"
"I really don't know. My client's motive really isn't the most important thing … as long as I get paid."
"Do you think Jason Taylor would agree to talk to us?" Vickie asked.
"I don't know. I can ask him. I want to go back and check this file, anyway. I want to see why those names aren't in the database." Getting up, she gathered her things to leave. "I'm going to run over to the office. I'll call you, Vickie, once I've looked through the file."
"Thanks, Gerry," Vickie responded.
As she walked back toward the detective agency, the four 'sleuths' hashed out this new information. Surprisingly, Bruce was now getting the swing of things.
"So guys, do we suspect the wife or the remaining mistress?" Bruce blurted out, joining in the investigation. The other three looked at each other a bit surprised, but Bruce was undeterred. "What … you're bound to pick up a few things living with a reporter."
Vickie looked at him and laughed. "So does this mean you want to make it Vale and Wayne, Gotham City's newest reporting team?"
Bruce shook his head. "No thanks." He looked over at Clark and laughed. "Kent, I don't know how you do it. I have a hard enough time finding time for work and Batman. And I only help out one city."
"Well," Clark grinned, "It does help being able to fly. But, I will be scaling back on my second job a bit when junior comes along … "
Lois turned quickly and looked at Clark. "Junior? I thought you said you weren't going to use your vision thingy to see if it was a boy or a girl. I thought we wanted to be surprised."
"Lois, honey, 'Junior' is a figure of speech."
Lois watched his expression and saw his mouth twitch, indicating he was hiding something. "Wait, you do know what it is, don't you … "
Clark knew he had been found out. "Well, yes, I do … but I didn't use my vision thingy, as you call it. Well … not the way you think. The doctor may not have been able to tell anything from your ultrasound, but I can see things a little more clearly than they could."
"But you didn't want to know."
"I know … it just happened."
"Well, Clark … is it a boy?"
"Lois, you wanted to wait. You still can."
"Not if you know. I want to know too … "
"Lois, we are having a very beautiful, healthy baby. There … now you know."
"Clark … "
Vickie and Bruce couldn't contain their laughter any longer. Bruce was the first to be able to speak. "Clark, I am really glad I don't have that vision thingy … this is one battle I can avoid."
Lois and Clark looked at each other and blushed, once again realizing they had drifted back into their own little world. Clark looked at Lois and then to Bruce and grinned. "Oh, I don't know. This is one battle I'm sure every couple has."
"You may be right, Clark," Bruce agreed, grinning at his wife.
Lois, who was ready to drop the topic for later discussion with Clark … alone, decided to get back to the story. "Well, Clark, we'll discuss this later. But to answer your question, Bruce, it's still too soon to rule anyone out. I'm really curious to find out why the information is missing from her file … that indicates someone is hiding something. There has to be a reason for it. And I doubt the wife would hire a detective if she were planning on killing her husband … too much advertisement. The mistress is still a possibility. She may have found out about the others and was jealous … or she may be the next victim … "
Clark, who was familiar with Lois' process of sorting out information out loud just sat back with an amused grin, loving to watch her so focused. Even so, he decided to stop her to do some more digging. "So since we have some new suspects, why don't we find out some more about the first two victims to see if anything else matches."
"Good plan, Clark," Vickie agreed. "Hopefully something we find will match with what Gerry has in her file."
The group had returned to command central, the Wayne estate, and were weeding through some more information on the victims when the phone rang. Vickie answered quickly.
"Vickie, this is Gerry. Something strange is happening here. There are chunks of this file missing. Things that I know were in the file are gone. And Harry was right, the names are not in the database. In fact, the names in the file are different from what I remember."
"Did you ask Jason Taylor about the file?"
"Yes, I did. He said it was like this when he got it. All he did on the file was send out the two remaining follow- up reports to Nina. He never met or spoke with her. Vickie, can you guys meet me at my house, I want to show you something."
"Sure, we're on our way now."
The Waynes and the Kents met Gerry at her house in a suburb on the outskirts of Gotham City. They brought their background information to compare with what Gerry found in her file. Gerry showed them the names in the file from the office and the dates that surveillance was done on John Farlowe. She also showed them a copy of her day planner, that had detailed times, names and events of her surveillance.
"This is my day planner. I write everything down in here … where I've been, what I've done. I use it for billing purposes. I keep a duplicate here in case there is a discrepancy later. I guess it comes from running my own business, old habits, you know. Anyway, it shows the names of the three women and where and when they met. Someone has doctored this file. And it didn't occur to me until I got home, but my house was broken into shortly after I left for Florida. I didn't think anything of it then, but I guess now I know what they were looking for. Good thing I keep this in a secret compartment. Does the trick every time."
The foursome shared a knowing glance at her unintended truth, but Lois continued to dig for information "What was the name of the third woman?"
"Uh … Kathryn Antonelli. She was Miss Fridays."
Lois finished her next thought, looking at her calendar. "Let me guess. Janet Wilson was Miss Monday and Wendy Solomon was Miss Tuesday."
"Yes, they were. Oh, my God," Gerry exclaimed. "Were they killed on those days?"
"Yes," Lois answered. "So that would mean this Kathryn Antonelli could be next. And since today is Friday … "
"We better find out more about her. How did he meet her?" Clark asked.
"The same way he did all of them, I suspect. She co- owns an advertising agency. They did the ad work for the cleaning stores. Janet Wilson was their cleaning supply source and Wendy Solomon was his dental hygienist. They were people he had regular dealings with."
"So, "Vickie added, "Nina probably knew these women."
"Yes, she did. And they all knew he was married, but I don't think the three knew about each other."
"How did Nina react when she found out?" Lois asked.
"She was very calm about it, really … she wasn't angry. I think she knew he was having an affair. I don't think she knew there were so many. She probably thought it was the same woman. I asked her if she needed video surveillance for an attorney and she said no. I don't know what she intended to do. And before you ask … I don't know. She didn't appear to me to be the type to do something like this, but in my line of work, I've learned that you can never tell."
"Well, she or Kathryn Antonelli are obviously in danger. Since this is Friday, it could happen tonight. We better find out where she is."
"I know where you can find her," Bruce answered. "She is on the fund raising committee for the charity ball. She'll be at the ball tonight."
"Well," Lois grimaced, "I guess we better get to the police and arrange for some extra security. What better place to hide than a masquerade ball?"
"Vickie," Gerry asked, "Can you get me an invitation? I'd like to be there for this."
"Sure, Gerry," Vickie answered. "I think we can use all the help we can get on this one."
After explaining the situation to the police, the four returned to the Wayne estate to change for the ball. When Lois and Clark returned to their room, it finally struck Lois that she still didn't know what their costumes were. As if reading her mind, Clark slowly turned to her and held up their costumes.
"After seeing how fascinated you were with that bracelet at the auction, I knew this was the perfect choice. So, for this evening anyway, you'll be the Duchess of Windsor." Clark paused and with his best British accent, finished his introductions. "And I'll be … the Duke." Bowing, he took her hand and kissed it. "At your service, my lady."
Lois was stunned. She had spent the last three weeks coming up with ideas of just what costumes Clark would pick out, but never did she imagine these. "Oh, Clark. They're … they're … oh, let me go put it on."
Wanting to make a proper entrance, Lois peeked her head out of the bathroom door and looked around the room for Clark. She found him standing in the corner in front of a full length mirror, putting on his costume. He was just about to adjust the royal sash when he felt two small hands reach around him to straighten it for him. He met her gaze in the mirror, curious about her expression.
Lois just shook her head. "You. It … it definitely suits you. Wow!"
As he turned in her arms, he caught sight of her in her costume for the first time. "Wow, yourself! You are simply stunning." He took a step back and paused to look at her appreciatively. "But, I don't know, there's something missing."
Lois looked down to inspect her costume, making sure she had put everything on. "What's missing?"
Clark gave her a quick grin and pulled a small velvet pouch from his coat pocket. Pulling something from it, he slowly moved towards her. Lifting her left arm, he carefully placed a familiar emerald bracelet on her wrist. Smiling at her, he said simply, "This."
For the second time in twenty minutes, Lois was stuttering for words. "Clark, I … "
With a satisfied grin, Clark started to explain. "Lois, you were so fascinated with this bracelet, that I had a replica made with synthetic stones, so you don't have to worry about wearing it. There's just one small change from the original." He turned the bracelet over on her wrist and showed her the inscription on the bottom. "Instead of the Duke and Duchess' insignia, I had them replace it with ours. To the rest of the world, it will look like our initials in a heart. But, we'll know what it really is."
Slowly tracing an 'S' across his chest, she asked, "A certain symbol I love so much?"
"How'd you guess?"
"Clark, you are incredible. You know, you don't have to keep doing things like this. You won my heart a *long* time ago."
"Honey, I don't do things for you, give you gifts, to *win* your heart. I do them *because* I won your heart. I just want to show you how wonderful that makes me feel."
Pulling him back into her embrace, she whispered into his lips, "It can't be half as much as I feel for you."
"Lois, you never did tell me what it was about that bracelet that has you so fascinated. You've never really been all that interested in jewelry. Had you seen it somewhere before?"
"You don't know?"
"No … should I?"
"The Duke and Duchess of Windsor."
"You really don't know, do you?"
"He abdicated the throne to marry his true love."
Clark smiled and took her in his arms. "Well, he was a very smart man, if you ask me. Love is far more important than power, any day."
"I have always been fascinated by their story … it was so romantic. I mean, he gave up the *throne* for her. His birthright. I always wondered what it was like to be loved that much." Looking up into his eyes, she could feel tears beginning to well up in her eyes. "Now I know. I never thought the same thing would happen to me. I still can't believe you gave up your birthright … for me."
"Lois, I've told you before … without you, I wouldn't have a life." He reached up and wiped away a tear she could no longer hold back. "Honey, you *are* my life. I would give up a million worlds to be with you … and our child." Clark was beginning to get caught up in emotion as well. "Now, we better get to downstairs now or Bruce and Vickie are going to come looking for us!"
Lois and Clark met up with Vickie and Bruce in the family room. Both couples turned to see what costumes they had chosen. Lois and Clark broke out laughing when they saw Vickie and Bruce standing by the fireplace in a Superman and Ultrawoman costume.
Vickie smiled, a bit embarrassed and hurried to explain. "These seemed like a good choice a few weeks ago. In light of recent information … I completely forgot about them, we were so wrapped in the case. It was too late to change them when we got back."
"It's okay," Lois smiled. "I'm just glad I don't have that mask anymore. It gets uncomfortable after a while."
Vickie and Bruce both looked at each other astonished. It had not occurred to them even after finding out about Clark being Superman, that Lois could be Ultrawoman. Vickie was almost afraid to ask any of the million questions flying through her head. Lois saw their stunned expression and decided to explain.
"Clark's powers were transferred to me for a few days through red kryptonite. His mother made the outfit for me so I could take car of things until we could get the powers transferred back."
"And I must say," Clark added, grinning widely at this wife, "It is by far her greatest creation."
Lois smiled back at Clark and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. Looking over at Vickie, she shared an evil grin. "Oh, I don't know. It's awfully hard to improve on the original." Moving Clark towards the door, she added, "Come on, with four superheroes on the job, this murderer doesn't stand a chance."
The ball was in full swing when they arrived. The police had arranged to place Ms. Farlowe in protective custody until they could catch the killer. Vickie and Bruce pointed out Kathryn Antonelli, once they had found her in the crowd. Luckily, she was the only Snow White at the ball, so she was easy to follow. The police had been watching her all evening and so far nothing suspicious had occurred. The two couples made their way to the dance floor, as Clark continued to search the room for any signs of weapons.
"Do you see anything, Clark?" Lois asked, trying to look nonchalant.
"Not really. The only people with weapons are the undercover cops. Keystone cops, what a brilliant disguise."
"Well, if they are anything like the Metropolis Police, it's certainly fitting."
Clark just laughed and twirled her around the floor.
The two couples had been at the ball for almost an hour. Bruce and Vickie would stop and introduce them to friends as they made their way to and from their table. They were just heading back to the dance floor when Clark spotted something suspicious. There was a waiter at Kathryn's table bringing her a glass of wine.
"Lois, look over there. Do you see that waiter?"
"Yes. Why, do you see suspect something?"
"Well, how many waiters carry holsters. He's not one of the undercover policeman. Go tell Vickie and Gerry to have the police quietly escort him out. I'll watch and make sure Superman isn't needed."
"Okay. Be careful."
"I will … you too."
With the plan quickly in action, the police escorted the waiter to an adjoining room of the hotel. After searching him, they found his gun and small container with a white powdery substance.
"Officer," Clark spoke up, getting his attention. "If you have the wine in the glass analyzed, I think you will find the same substance in the container."
"I'll bet you're right, Mr. Kent," the officer replied. "Now, my main question is who our waiter friend is." The officer pealed back the full face disguise to uncover Harry Whitaker.
Gerry, was the first to react. "Harry, how could you?"
"Nina deserved better than the way they treated her. It killed me to see how it was tearing her apart. She couldn't bring herself to leave him so that we could be together, even after she knew. So, I decided to end it for her."
The police handcuffed Whitaker and lead him to waiting police cars. Gerry went along to answer their questions about the investigation and the four sleuths headed back to the estate to write the story. For the first time, the lead story in the Saturday edition of the Daily Planet and the Gotham Globe carried a shared by-line … Lois Lane, Vickie Vale and Clark Kent.
With the story was written, the couples were able to carry out their plans to explore the local vineyards, even if they were delayed a day. They spent the remainder of the weekend just enjoying the time off and getting to know one another better. By the time Lois and Clark left on Sunday, they had invited the Waynes back to Metropolis and were even planning to meet at an upcoming convention in Washington.
Kicking off her shoes as she entered their bedroom, Lois paused and looked around the room. "You know Clark, as much fun as we had in Gotham City, there really is no place like home."
Following her into the room, Clark slid his arms around her waist and gently kissed the nape of her neck. "Yes, Dorothy … you're right. And you were going to hate Kansas … "
Giving him a sarcastic pat on the cheek, she slowly turned in his arms. "Cute, Kent. Seriously, I can't believe how … settled … we are. I mean, look at me … I'm married, not only to a *really* cute guy, but to my best friend." She emphasized her words by running her fingers slowly through the hair at his temple. Reaching up, she rested her arms on his shoulders. "We have a wonderful house, where we will soon hear the pitter-patter of little feet." She shook her head and gazed deeply into his eyes. "Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined you … or this. Sometimes I really do feel like Dorothy in the Emerald City. I just don't want to wake up though and find it was all a dream." Not even pausing for a breath, she added, "I'm babbling, aren't I?"
Clark grinned and kissed her softly. "Lois, I know this is all a little … daunting … but please do not ever forget that we are in all of this together. There's no dream to awaken from. No wicked witch to send flying monkeys after us." He quickly glanced in the direction of the closet and then returned to her gaze. "And since I don't see any ruby slippers, I'd say we're safely staying in Metropolis."
Lois grinned and pulled him tighter into her embrace. "It's a good thing too, because Martha showed me some of the suits you tried out, and green really isn't your color." Lois released her hold on Clark and ran towards the bathroom. Racing by her, Clark quickly lifted her and floated them back to the bed. "So, you don't like me in green, eh?"
Catching her breath, Lois slowly ran a finger down his cheek. "Nope. I must confess that I'm partial to blue … and red … and … "
Lois began absently playing with a button on his shirt and ducked her head to avoid his gaze. "Well, I guess my favorite would be … what I mean is … well … no color at all … "
"Now that's something we can definitely agree on."
As Clark leaned down to reach for her lips, Lois gently pulled out of his embrace. As she headed for the bathroom, she paused and turned to a confused Clark. Rubbing her belly, she winked at him and grinned. "Sorry honey, but this interruption is your fault. I can't seem go more than two minutes anymore without having to find a bathroom." She turned and made her way quickly to the bathroom.
When Lois emerged from the bathroom, she found that all lights had been turned off, replaced by candles scattered throughout the room. Her side of the bed had been turned down and there was a small package leaning against the pillow. She looked around for Clark, but didn't see him. She called out to him, but he didn't answer. She started toward the bed, but hesitated, wanting to wait for Clark to open the gift. Finally, after a quick mental battle, she slowly walked to the bed and picked up the box. As she was tearing the first corner of the package, strong hands slid around her waist and gently caressed her stomach.
"I knew you couldn't resist."
"So, you *were* watching me? I kind of thought you might be."
"You know I'm always watching you. Go ahead, open it."
Lois slowly pulled back the wrapping paper to reveal a small picture frame. Underneath the glass, was an aged piece of parchment. Hand written on the paper were the words:
"My friend, with thee to live alone,
I think t'were better than to own,
a crown, a scepter and a throne."
Lois was so overcome with emotion she couldn't speak. Clark took her silence as a misunderstanding of the meaning of the gift and quickly tried to explain.
"When Edward relinquished the throne, he sent this note to Wallace. It was from a poem he had once quoted to her. She had always kept it in their room. They found it among her things when she died. You told me how you loved their story. I don't know … it somehow seemed appropriate." He turned her around to face him. Lifting her left hand, he sweetly kissed her ring finger. "And, it is how I feel."
Lois grasped hold of her emotions and wiped the tears from her face. "Oh, Clark … "
"I started thinking about what you said about the Duke and Duchess … and about our child. I do know how he felt. But, you had one thing wrong."
"She wasn't the lucky one … he was."