By Juli Hale <Iris240@preferred.com>
Submitted October 1998
Summary: Lois's father comes to Metropolis for Lois's birthday. Will he stay around for long?
Author's Note: The following story is written on the assumption that "Requiem for a Super Hero" never aired in the first season. This story represents Lois's father as being even less sensitive as presented in the series. Some may think of this as being a little harsh, but I think it gives more credence to Lois's personality-and the extent to which she guards her true feelings.
This is my first fanfic, please feel free to e-mail any comments that you may have. Thanks.
Clark looked up as he heard Lois' familiar footsteps exiting the elevator of the newsroom of the Daily Planet. Obviously pleased with herself, she was completely engulfed in reading the story that she had written, the result of which would bring down an entire Columbian drug ring. She looked up long enough to flash Clark a quick "good morning" smile and say, "If I do say so myself, this is definitely Kerth material." Although brimming with pride himself for the woman he loved, he, too, was deep in thought.
It had been several weeks since he had proposed marriage and she had discovered "the secret," and although the weeks following were somewhat marred by a slight distrust on her part, Lois and Clark had reached a new level in their relationship. Lois' birthday was in two days, and Clark felt that she was ready to accept their much anticipated engagement. His plan was to "pop the question" on her birthday, her gift being the beautiful diamond ring he had kept since that rainy night in the park, along with a necklace that had been his mother's and grandmother's before that. Martha had insisted.
Clark's reverie was interrupted by Lois' stunned voice, "Daddy, is that you?" Clark looked up to see Dr. Sam Lane, a tall, slightly-graying, distinguished man, with an air about him that seemed to intimidate all those under the sound of his voice.
"Why, yes, my Princess! Uh, I guess it's been awhile."
Clark noticed Lois' pale face, the rosy confidence that she had had upon her entrance of the newsroom seemed to have been drained away. "Awhile?" she shakily replied. "Daddy, it's been almost six years, since I graduated college."
Dr. Lane didn't seem to be moved by the implication of her reply, he simply smiled and held out his arms to her. When she didn't make an effort to come towards him, he shifted his attention to Clark, who still sat at his desk, trying to make heads or tails of the situation.
"Well, you must be Mr. Clark Kent! I must say, your and my daughter's work has been quite an intriguing conversation piece at the hospital where I conduct my research. My colleagues were extremely impressed by the series of articles you wrote uncovering that pharmaceutical company's corruption. Being in the medical field myself, I could appreciate the difficulty of that assignment. Having a man for guidance seems to have greatly increased the intensity of Lois' writing. I always knew she had it in her."
"Uh, well, Lois has done most of the guiding. She is wonderful partner … we work well together as a team." Clark was searching for words in this extremely awkward situation when Lois, who had regained her composure, turned her father around by grabbing his arm.
"You read my work?" The look on her face was one of mixed emotions, and Clark was having a difficult time trying to figure out what was going through the head of the person he knew best in the world. Oddly enough, she hadn't exploded with indignity at her father's last statement. In fact, she seemed somewhat enamored at the fact that he had been following her career.
"Why, of course, Princess! Just this morning I was commenting to a taxi driver about the piece on that international drug ring. I'm sure that if you had had more time and not been under all these newspaper deadlines, your thoughts would have been further developed. Overall though, a very interesting article. Just because my job is extremely demanding and I haven't always had the time to participate in the more domestic events of my life, I am very interested in what you are doing in yours. Which brings me to the point of my visit—I want to take my favorite daughter out for her birthday." Seeing Lois' wariness he quickly continued, "Now, before you say no, let me explain that I am fully aware of how little I deserve your company. I would love to have this opportunity to try to begin making up for the years we have spent apart. If it hadn't been for your mother…"
"Now, Daddy, you can't blame everything on Mother…You remembered it was my birthday?"
"Oh course, Princess, but…well, how about it? Birthday dinner with your old man on Saturday? And, Clark, you'll come, too? I'd love to get to know my daughter's coworkers better.
While Lois was still recovering, Clark said, "Uh, Mr. Lane, if you would rather spend the time catching up with your daughter alone, I would understand. I'm sure you have a lot to discuss."
"Ah, nonsense! Lois knows how I feel about her! Right, honey? Come on, Saturday night?"
"Sure, Daddy," She replied with a schoolgirl's grin, "In fact, I'll make dinner at my place. It's 1058 Carter Avenue, Apartment 501. Is 7:00 okay?" Dr. Lane nodded in approval, and with that, headed for the elevator.
Lois was oddly quite during the hours that led to lunch. Finally, Clark broke the silence, "Lois, I know that you and your father aren't really, well…uh, close. You've hardly even ever spoken to me about him."
"Yeah, we haven't really spoken since I moved out of his house my senior year of high school. He carries some pretty chauvinistic ideas about women, and, you know me, we never got along. I just wanted to prove to him what I was capable of. While I was applying for colleges, he got the idea that I should study art or music abroad. He wanted to pay for it and everything. Of course, I already knew that I wanted to be an investigative reporter, an idea at which he scoffed. It's a long, pathetic story, but I left home and worked my way through school. It made me a stronger person, so, in a way, I am grateful to him. He did come to the graduation ceremony, and I thought there was a chance for us to work through our problems, but some big project came up and today is the first I've seen of him since. The truth is, neither one of us ever wanted to be the one to make the first step. The rest is history."
Clark was having difficulty not showing an obvious dislike for Dr. Lane. He could not understand how any father, especially the one of this brilliant woman beside him, could abandon his daughter. "Still, it must have been difficult to be so alone. How do you feel about his sudden reappearance? His harsh comment about your story was totally unfounded, it was a ground-breaking piece."
Lois smiled at Clark, trying very hard to make him think that her relationship with her father did not have a bad affect on her. "Oh, Clark, I know what you're thinking, and I felt that way too, for most of my life, in fact. But I just always have to remember that his career is important to him and accept his behavior as part of my life. And my article would have been better if I had worked just a little harder." She continued as Clark sighed, "You had a wonderful, loving family. I didn't. It's as simple as that. I'm a big girl, and I'm not alone anymore, what with you, Perry, and Jimmy always 'hovering' around." She smiled at Clark's concerned eyes. "Even back then, my work kept me busy. I know now that I only have to work hard to satisfy myself."
"Well, as long as you are okay, how about lunch?"
"I thought you would never ask. I'm starved." Then, with a beaming smile, she turned to him, "Clark, he reads my work!" Clark took her hand as they made their way to the elevator.
Clark awoke to the phone ringing on Saturday morning. "Clark, Help! Can you…"
"Lois, what? Are you alright? What's wrong?" Lois turned to see Superman standing in her kitchen, a look of confusion and concern on his face.
"Uh, uh-oh, I didn't mean..," she tried to explain as she put down the phone. Clark, sensing no imminent danger, relaxed as she went on. "Uh, you see, it's just that, well…"
"Well, I'm just a 'little' nervous about tonight. A very little. Well, okay, more, maybe, than just that. But, you know what a lousy cook I am, and I just thought you might be able to be close by in case any, I don't know, grease fires break out." She was trying to lighten the mood.
Clark laughed, "I would love to spend the day at your service. Just no more panic attacks, okay? You nearly scared the "S" off of Superman."
Lois giggled and continued, less anxiously, "I'm sorry. I guess I just needed some moral support, in addition to a few cooking tips."
"No problem. Besides, it is a very special day." He looked at her with a knowing grin. "It just happens to be my favorite reporter's birthday, and if she needs moral support or anything else, I'll be here. And besides, Lois…helping you in the kitchen looks like a job for Superman."
Later that day, both Lois and Clark were busy in preparation for the coming dinner. Clark had gone home briefly to change, collect the gifts he had for Lois, and nervously prepare his second proposal speech. Luckily, it seemed to be an slow day on the part of Metropolis' criminal community.
Lois was trying to remain cool under pressure, but not successfully succeeding. She had changed clothes numerous times. She wanted to look professional and attractive, but still conservative. After all, she was having dinner with her father. The dinner was almost ready, and even Clark had to admit that Lois had outdone herself. He had hardly helped her out at all. Obviously, a lot of thought had gone into the night's preparations. Clark silently guessed that his presence in the kitchen was a measure taken by Lois merely as one of her "Plan B's." This and her blatant nervousness all showed Clark how determined she was to impress her father. He noticed her three Kerth Journalism Awards had been prominently displayed on her mantle, moved from their regular location at the 'bottom of her closet.' He smiled at the thought.
"Lois, sweetheart, calm down. Everything will be fine. Dinner smells wonderful and you look gorgeous."
"Gorgeous, how?" She fretted. "Is this dress too revealing? Should I change? I'm overdressed, aren't I? Maybe I should just wear a nice pantsuit-what if he thinks it's a casual dinner? Maybe I should lose the candles, just in case. What would you think if I was your daughter?"
Clark grinned at her babbling. "You look beautiful and should not change a thing. Calm down, okay, birthday girl?"
"Oh, Clark. I just want this night to be perfect." He sensed she was finally opening up to him about her true feelings. "It would mean the world to me if I could just make him see that I have done something useful with my life." Tears of hope welled up in her eyes, "If he could just see me for who I am and be proud, sincerely proud, it would be the best birthday present ever. I could forget about all the pain he caused…I really could…all he would have to do is just love me…like I love him." She leaned into Clark's open arms, not noting the worried look on his face as he realized it was 7:05…and no sign of Dr. Sam Lane.
By 7:30, Clark's worry for Lois was turning into anger for Dr. Lane. If he crushed her hopes this time, he would have more than a guilty conscience to deal with. Lois kept insisting that he was just running late, a trait that ran in her family. She fidgeted around the kitchen, keenly intent on keeping dinner warm and waiting.
She came into the living room where Clark was sitting on the couch, flipping through magazines that he obviously wasn't reading. "Clark, I know you think that he's not coming, but you're wrong. He's never remembered my birthday before now, and I'm sure that if he went to so much trouble two days ago to make these plans, that not even he would break them. Now, it's me that is a nervous wreck, so stop looking so concerned."
Clark was determined to keep her spirits up, so he swallowed his own anger and decided to get her attention focused on something more pleasant. He instinctively knew that it was not the time for "the gift", with Lois so anxious over her missing father. But, as always, he was full of surprises. "Honey, come sit down. Now, today is a very special day for me and I don't want you thinking of anything else." He grinned mischievously.
"Special for you? It's my birthday, Kent!," she played along.
"Ahh, but, you see, on this day 29 years ago, it was me that got a gift, even if I wasn't aware of it at the time. On this day, a life came into this world that would intertwine with mine—my soulmate, cosmically speaking." Her eyes began to tear as he pulled a small wrapped package out of his pocket. "This gift is from me and my parents, because we all love you so much…"
With shaking hands, she unwrapped and opened to package to reveal the intricate gold necklace. As Clark explained how it had been passed down through generations of Kent family women, Lois could no longer hold back her tears. "Clark, no one has ever shown me as much love as you and your family. I will be proud to be a part of the Kent family someday." Clark hoped someday would be not far from sight after he gave her the second gift later that night.
The spell was broken as the clock chimed eight times. Lois had not ever looked so small, so childlike, as she did at that moment. Clark could see the face of a disappointed little girl in front of him. "I should have known he wouldn't come. Thirty minutes late is late; an hour late is definitely a change of plans. Some things never change."
Clark started to comfort her, but as he began, her vulnerability changed to a stoic mask, devoid of emotion. "Easy there, farmboy, Lois Lane can handle a let-down with the best of them. It's really no big deal. I mean, he's probably off saving the world against some medical epidemic that surfaced on some remote island that neither of us has ever heard of … you ought to know all about those kinds of things. No one's silly old birthday can be expected to take precedence over major emergencies."
"Lois," Clark, understanding why she was lashing out, "you don't have to put up a front with me. It's fine if you just want to let it out. You can't help but be hurt. It's only human."
She only put her head down in her hands, as if trying with her last bit of will to compose herself. When she looked up, it was only to say, "I suddenly have a headache, I've enjoyed your company, but, could you just let yourself out? I'm going to bed. I'll be okay tomorrow." Seeing Clark open his mouth to protest, she quickly and brutally added, "Clark, just leave."
He had barely made it around the corner when he resolved that he was not going to leave her alone. All her problems stemmed from being left alone and he was determined not to ever let that happen again. He floated through her ever-open window and into the living room from where she had not moved an inch. "Lois, I know that you only sent me away as a test and it's is time for you to learn that no power on this earth will make me go. Right now, even Kryptonite couldn't make me turn away from you. You've had your fair share of disappointments, but, starting now, things are going to change.
"I think I know why you haven't given an answer to my proposal yet. You can't trust that I won't be out 'saving the world' when you need me. To be honest, there will be times that my duties as Superman will take me from you, but unlike your father, I will always come back and I will never forget about you. For Heaven's Sake, I can't ever get you out of my mind, much less forget about you.
"What I'm trying to say is, your defenses are not only useless with me, but they are unnecessary. First of all, you could not get rid of me if you tried, and second, nothing that you could ever do would make me stop loving you. No matter what happens in the world around us, I love you…I need you…I'm proud of who you are and of who you make me."
Tearfully, she took his hands in hers and apologized for her behavior. "Oh, Clark, you always know what to say and do to take away my pain. But this time…it's just so much to take in. He remembered my birthday, only to rub it in my face.
"When you say those words to me, I look in your eyes and I know in my heart that you mean them. I know when you say that you love me that you really must love me, but part of me just won't let me hear it. All my life, I've considered myself to be capable of being admired, respected, maybe even desired by a man, because those are all things that I have control of based on how hard I work for them. But lovable, I've never been. Nothing I've ever done has been able to make my own father love me, so how can expect anyone else to?" Clark's heart ached as he listened to her go on, "I know how to be a good reporter, but I have no idea how to be loved."
"Well, sweetheart, it's high time that you learned. For your birthday, I am going to give you the gift of love." He showed her the ring that once before she had denied. "I had planned to give you this ring as your present, but I've changed my mind. You can still have the ring, but the gift I'm giving is only what this ring symbolizes-my undying, unconditional love. If you accept it, and quite frankly, even if you don't, the rest of your life will be a first-hand lesson of how to be loved."
No more words were spoken, as he slid the ring on her finger, her expression said it all.
Please send any and all comments to Juli Hale, (firstname.lastname@example.org).