I Now Announce You …

By IRC Round Robin

Rated PG

Submitted April 23, 1998

Summary: Set right after the episode "Ultra Woman," Lois and Clark travel to Smallville to tell his parents of the engagment.

An IRC Round Robin by AMCiotola <AMCiotola@aol.com>; ChrisM^ <mulders@mindspring.com>; ChrisnDor <dorisschmill@gmx.net>; CrystalW <JCWimmer@aol.com>; Eraygun <Eraygun@aol.com>; Lansbury <Lansbury1@aol.com>; Mackteach <Mackteach@aol.com>; Zoomway <zoomway@aol.com>; EpicSoul <demi22@aol.com>; ^MissyToo <Missythree@aol.com>; TanyaG <kassia@concentric.net>

***

<AMCiotola>

Clark hung up the phone and looked over at Lois. She sat on her couch staring at her ring. Clark thought she'd never looked more beautiful. He sighed as he walked over to join her. Instead of sitting next to her, he knelt before her, taking her left hand in his to kiss her fingers.

He then looked up and met her eyes. "Are you sure you want to do this tonight? We can wait until tomorrow."

Lois took his face into her hands and gave him a whisper of a kiss. "I can't think of anything else better to do right now than to tell your folks." She stood up and then grinned. "Well, yes, I can. But we have time for that later."

"Well, Mom and Dad are expecting us. Are you ready?"

At her nod, he spun himself into the suit, leaned in to give her a kiss, and then scooped her into his arms. If he dared to give in to half the desire he was feeling right now, they would never leave here.

However, Lois made sure she put some use to being so close to the "pilot" so that Clark could hardly remember which way was up, let alone where Smallville was.

***

Martha hung up the phone and looked around for Jonathan. Figuring he was finishing up some last minute duties for the night, she headed out toward the barn. She couldn't quite place it, but having heard some excitement in Clark's voice, she decided to fetch him before the kids got there.

<ChrisM^>

As Martha approached the barn, she noticed that there weren't any lights on in it. She stood in the yard for a moment, then saw a light shining through the windows of the shed. Ah, she thought, he's in a tinkering mood tonight. Wonder what's on his mind?

"Jonathan?" she called to him as she approached the shed.

"In here, honey."

Once inside the door, she couldn't help but smile when she saw what her wonderful husband was up to.

He looked over at her, caught her expression, and grinned back at her

On his workbench, he had collected a group of things that Clark had once used when he was a boy: his sled, a tricycle, a wagon, as well as various toys.

"What's this?" she asked, although she had a pretty good idea what was going on.

"Well," he said, bashfully, "Clark and Lois have been getting along so well lately, that I … "

She went forward and put her arms around him. " … that you just thought that someday, maybe, there might be someone who might want to use these?"

"Well, you never know," he told her. "We might just get to be grandparents yet."

"Wouldn't that be something," she agreed. "Grandparents. I like the sound of that."

"Me, too." He leaned over for the kiss he knew would be there and she didn't disappoint him. After all these years, they didn't even have to think about it, or rather it was almost like they really did think of the same things at the same time.

"I love you," she told him, "and … speaking of Clark and Lois … "

"Hmmm?" he murmured, his attention divided between his wife and the cracked wooden slat on the sled.

"Clark just called. They're coming for a visit."

"Now?"

"Uh-huh. He sounded … I don't know. Excited. Happy. Nervous."

Jonathan turned to Martha, the sled forgotten. "Did he now? Well, well … well!"

"Yes … well!"

They looked at one another for a few more seconds, then hugged once again, laughing happily at what they believed was the reason for their son's visit.

Then Martha pulled back out of the hug and wagged a finger at her husband. "Not a word, now, about what we suspect, Jonathan."

He looked affronted, but there was a prominent twinkle in his eye. "Certainly not! I can keep a straight face, you know."

"Sure you can, dear," she agreed, patting his arm. "That's why I can always beat you at poker."

"Martha!"

She laughed and then kissed him again. "You'd better put that stuff away before the kids get here, or they'll know we know."

Jonathan started a bit and looked around at the things on his workbench as if he'd forgotten they were there. "Oh, yeah, I guess I'd better."

"I'm going to pop some cupcakes in the oven real quick. Don't be long."

"I won't … Grandma."

Martha left, humming, and Jonathan began putting the toys away, knowing that he was wearing the biggest grin of his life on his face.

***

<ChrisnDor>

They were approaching the farm at last. Clark was taking his ease, pointing out a few illuminated windows on the way. He was flying fairly low now, just enough to not be spotted too easily. Then, as he was beginning the descent to land on the field behind the barn, he suddenly slowed his flight. Lois turned her face and looked up at him. Clark was wrinkling his nose. She had come to know that wrinkle. A hound sniffing the air … or a super nose picking up a trail.

"What is it … ?" she asked, noting that his eyes had taken on a far away look, not one of alarm.

"Mom's baking … " He smiled. "And she's really good. You'll smell it soon, too."

And she did when Clark, instead of landing behind the barn as originally planned, turned and aimed directly for the back door of the farm house.

After spinning back into his regular clothes he took Lois by the hand and they walked toward it hand in hand, pausing momentarily for another kiss before knocking on the door. Clark was still straightening his collar when Martha opened the door.

He felt just a little awkward, although he was excited to share the news. He knew his parents would share his happiness at seeing his dream of a home and family of his own beginning to come true at last.

Clark hesitated momentarily at the doorstep. Martha glanced at him and then at Lois who was standing half hidden from view behind Clark. She bit the inside of her cheek quickly to keep the knowing smile from appearing on her face. She could still read her boy very easily. Clark had never been good at keeping secrets from her.

Thus she took a practical approach. "Hi, Clark. Good to see you, too, Lois. I'm glad you made it here safely. And just in time to lend me a hand getting those cupcakes out of the oven. Would you, Clark, please? Well, then, go get them before they get cold."

Martha aimed a playful slap at his rear as he headed for the oven, then placing an arm around Lois, hugged her close.

Lois smiled at her in return. "Good to see you again, Martha. And it's good to be here. It's so peaceful."

"I'm sure you can use a bit of peace and quiet after what you've been through recently."

Lois knew that Martha must mean her recent adventures as a superheroine.

At that moment, the back door opened and Jonathan came in. "Hi, Lois, hi son." He grinned at Lois. "Where did you leave the suit?"

Lois smiled back. "I've had enough of playing hero for a long time. I still don't know how Clark can do it."

As Clark was approaching the table with a tray of steaming hot cupcakes, Martha smiled. "It takes a lot … but you both have it."

"Yeah, you two go well together," Jonathan beamed.

"Jonathan … could you please get us some dessert plates, please?" Martha shot him a warning glance.

Then they settled at the table just as Jonathan returned with the plates. "Things have been slow here lately," Martha was saying. "Now, how are things in Metropolis … ?"

<chrispat>

Lois and Clark looked at each other and grinned. Clark cleared his throat. "Oh, well, you know how it is in the big city. Never a dull moment."

Lois poked him in the ribs. She had been careful to keep her left hand hidden, but Martha had noticed and was having a hard time keeping a straight face. She didn't dare look at Jonathan.

Clark cleared his throat again. "There was one thing that happened that you might be interested in."

Martha couldn't help it. She chuckled and Jonathan choked on his coffee. Everyone jumped up to pound Jonathan on the back and Lois forgot to hide her hand. When he was breathing normally, Martha grabbed Lois's wrist. "And what's this?" she asked with a huge smile.

<CrystalW>

Lois looked up into Clark's face, and saw an expression somewhere between surprise and disappointment. He'd planned this whole speech, and he had almost had a chance to give it, but the surprise was out of his hands.

He met her eyes for a moment before leaning forward and kissing her lightly on the lips. With that done, the couple took a small step back and faced the Kents.

"Mom, Dad," Clark said with as much authority as he could manage under the circumstances, "Lois and I are getting married."

Martha was the first one to regain her composure after the unintentional goof. She stepped forward and pulled Lois into a hug, whispering into her ear, "Well, it's about time."

Clark, of course, heard the comment and smiled a little self-consciously. Lois grinned and found herself passed from Martha's arms to Jonathan's, as Martha reached past her to grab her son.

Clark accepted their good wishes and gentle teasing with good humor. After all, they were right. If it hadn't been for his stubbornness, and Lois's as well, this moment would have been reached a long time ago, and he knew it as well as they did.

Once the hugs and comments had faded into smiles, they seated themselves at the table. They talked as they enjoyed more of Martha's cupcakes and coffee, brainstorming colors for bridesmaids' gowns and locations for a honeymoon. When finally Martha rose to clear the table, she refused to allow the younger couple to help with the dishes. Martha fairly pushed them out the door.

Lois and Clark looked at each other as they were left standing on the porch with the closed door behind them. They looked into one another's eyes for just a moment before breaking into laughter. Martha was sweet, but far from subtle. If she wanted them to spend some time alone, they would oblige.

Clark took Lois's hand in his and led her from the porch. After the festive atmosphere within the house, the quiet of the night was soothing to Lois's nerves. She sighed as he led her across the yard and into a wooded area. He walked with a specific destination in mind, and soon stopped at the foot of a tree. She looked at him with a question in her eyes as he slipped his arms gently around her.

He stepped forward, kissing her lightly on the lips then slowly rose, carrying her into the air. She soon saw the doorway to the treehouse that was his destination. He carefully lifted her through the door, and seated both of them on the floor of the treehouse.

"Well, that went well," he said as he smiled into her ear. She was cradled between his thighs, facing away from him, and she could feel his smile as she leaned herself back into his chest.

"It did go well," she agreed. "I'm sorry I spoiled the surprise."

He smiled once more and turned his head to kiss her lightly on the cheek. "You didn't spoil anything," he told her. "You were perfect. You always are."

<Eraygun>

"Flattery will get you everywhere, Mr. Kent," Lois replied. Pulling his arms tighter around her she leaned back and snuggled into his chest.

"Well, I'll file that away for future reference. Something tells me that might come in handy later," Clark chuckled. Then he shifted their positions once again and began planting soft kisses on Lois's neck. "Anymore secrets you'd like to reveal?" he murmured.

Lois sighed. "Well, maybe," she said with a shy smile. "But first I've got a question for you."

"What?"

"Just where the heck are we?"

Clark smiled and then floated them up from the floor. "It's my old playhouse. Dad helped me build it when I was about 11 or so. After I started to *change* … get stronger and faster, I spent a lot of time up here alone, away from the other kids."

"It was sort of a refuge for you," Lois said as she looked around at the old circus and movie posters on the walls and the dusty books on the makeshift bookshelves.

"Yes, that's right. It was my fortress from life I guess, a fortress of solitude."

<Lansbury>

Lois looked around at Clark's fortress. She placed a hand on a metal box. "What's in here?"

Clark looked at her and grinned. "After Dad and I finished this, I started moving all my treasures up here."

"Can I look? I want to see what you considered a treasure," she said.

Without missing, a beat Clark placed his hand on the lid. "Lois, how about looking at my stack of comic books." He tried to guide her focus away from the box. "I have some Spider-Man comics that are in mint condition and are worth a pretty penny."

Lois could not take her eyes off the metal box as he showed her his treasures of childhood. Clark could tell she was dying of curiosity

As her eyes moved once again to the box, Clark took her hands into his. "There are some others I want you to meet." He lifted the lid and a small sphere about 5 inches in diameter lifted out and came to a stop in front of them .

<Mackteach>

Lois's eyes widened a bit and she took a step backwards. Visions of alien mind probes and a flashback to Bob Fences went through her mind.

Clark sensed her startlement and rushed to reassure her. "It's okay, Lois. Look … " He held out his hand. The sphere hovered a second more before settling in his upturned palm.

It continued to glow. Lois's curiosity got the better of her and she stepped forward again. She reached out to touch it, but hesitated. She looked at Clark, a slight grin on her face. "It won't bite me, will it?"

Clark chuckled. "No, I don't think so." He went on to explain, holding the sphere as if it were a baseball. "This was in my spaceship. Remember Jason Trask and Bureau 39?"

Lois nodded. "Yeah, I do. Are you telling me that he knew about this globe?"

"I don't think so. He knew about the spaceship. I saw it in that warehouse. But this globe was in a bag beside it. I pulled it out and kept it … remember? You were furious with me for not telling you. I immediately knew that it was from Krypton."

"What do you mean 'you immediately knew'?" Lois continued to look at the globe. Its glow had intensified slightly.

Clark shrugged his shoulders. "It's hard to explain. It's almost as if —"

His next words were cut off as a hum came from the globe. They both looked at it. Clark again opened his hand, palm up, and the globe hovered off his hand.

Clark knew what to expect but Lois didn't. She gasped as a projection was emitted from the globe. A projection of a very beautiful woman. Stately, serene, with a look about her that reminded Lois of …

"Clark! Is that your mother?"

He nodded and smiled. "Lara. Her name is Lara." He turned to look at the projection and then back at Lois. "I think she's here for a special reason."

"My son … "

Lois turned to the projection, a sense of awe filling her. This woman had given birth to Clark. And had, along with his father, died before she had seen the man that he had become. She would have been proud of him. They both would have been. There was so much Lois wanted to say to Lara, so much she wanted to ask. But she couldn't. Lara was gone. Her thoughts were interrupted by Lara's next words.

"Kal-El, it is my greatest hope that you will find someone to share your life with as I have with your father. You are a special child with a great destiny to fulfill. The life ahead of you will not be an easy one. It will be filled with trials and tribulations. It will, at times, be a lonely one. I wish that it could be otherwise."

Lois blinked back the tears that were forming. She had known. Somehow, Lara had known what Clark's life would be like. And still she had had the courage to let him go, to let him live. Lara had been an amazing woman. She sneaked a glance at Clark.

Clark was listening to Lara's words. How had she known, he wondered. He wished so many things right now. That he had gotten to know Jor-El and Lara. That they could have seen him grow up. That they could have met and loved Lois as he did. He swallowed back the lump that was forming in his throat.

Lara's next words caught both their attention.

<zoomway>

"This next thing I tell you, Kal-El, is difficult," the image intoned. Clark sat up straight.

Lois glanced at her fiancÚ. "What is it?"

"The image never said this before. This is new."

"Since this device is attuned to you, it is clear that now you have found your life mate." Clark smiled uneasily at Lois; he wished he could turn the thing off. "Your father and I committed an act of grave heresy sending you to Earth. Perhaps where we were meant to send you will never be known to you."

Lois whispered, "They broke the law?"

"Krypton has been recreated in all its cold and indifferent logic. It is that barren rock to which you were to be sent. Your father and I … we simply could not. We wanted your eyes to open on a world that still understood love and compassion," Lara said. It was obviously a difficult secret to tell. "I'll speak no more of our crime, Kal-El. Just know that we love you, and that we hope it is a love that you share with your life mate."

The image faded. Lois leaned against Clark's arm and laced her fingers in his. "How did you end up with two great sets of parents, and I can't even have a civil dinner with mine?"

Lois's comment broke the edginess Clark had been made to feel by the new message.

He laughed. "I'm not sure what she was talking about, and I get the feeling I don't really want to know."

As the globe went dark, Clark lit a nearby lantern with his heat vision. He scooted the metal box over between them. "Go ahead," he prompted in a whisper.

Lois smiled up at him. "Really?"

"Yeah." Lois took a deep breath, and opened the box. She half-smiled. "It's like Scout's cigar box in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'."

Clark nodded. "Pretty much," he said, and removed a metal Band-Aid box. "I used to trap bumblebees in this and listen to them hum."

<ChrisM^>

Lois opened the Band-Aid tin and looked inside, but all the "hums" were long gone. She smiled up at him. "My mom used to give me a jar to collect lightning bugs in."

"So did mine," he replied, with a smile to match her own.

She put the Band-Aid box back and began to sift through the other "treasures." There were some of the usual things: marbles, pebbles, and buttons, and she picked some of those up, turning them around, looking at the various colors and highlights.

She could just picture a young Clark finding these things and filling his pockets with them. Martha must have enjoyed discovering them when she was doing the laundry, Lois thought.

In with all the usual things, though, she also found a small notepad and a couple of pencils … pencils that looked as if they'd been sharpened with the pocketknife she could also see lying in the bottom of the box.

She looked up at him, as if for permission to look in the pad, and he nodded to her that it was all right.

She picked it up gingerly, opening it slowly … here was a part of him that she'd never imagined glimpsing.

At first she could only see the handwriting. Like Clark's and yet not like his. A younger and perhaps less self-assured Clark? How old had he been when he'd written in this notepad? she wondered, but didn't ask. The moment didn't need words.

She wasn't exactly sure what she'd expected … pages and pages of loneliness, or "woe-is-me" maybe? She wouldn't have blamed him if he had covered reams of paper with those kinds of thoughts. After all, when he'd written this he was developing powers he'd never asked for or couldn't possibly have understood. He didn't yet know who he was or why these things were happening to him. And those kinds of feelings were here …

("I was skimming stones down at the pond, 'cause I was angry about something that happened at school, and somehow one of the stones went too far … right through the window of the shed. Dad was just about as angry as I've ever seen him … I didn't mean to do it … Later on, I heard them talking about how I could have hurt someone … What if I had hit Dad or Mama, or one of my friends? ")

But that wasn't all. In other passages, she could see in the child the man who would one day be able to be Superman. Despite all that was happening to him, despite all the confusion, she could read how his spirit was coping with these new developments …

("Dad's been sick with the flu, and I've been able to do all his chores plus my own, and I don't even feel tired afterwards. I don't know why I can do the things I do, but if these … powers … don't just disappear one day, then maybe my parents won't have to work so hard. I could do something to help them for a change.")

Whether it was the love he was receiving from Martha and Jonathan, or something that was entirely his, or maybe it was both … she could feel tears forming at the thought of that boy-Clark sitting in this "Fortress," writing down these thoughts, feelings and yearnings.

("Mama, Dad and I had a long talk today. I'm so glad I can talk to them about all this stuff." … "I lifted the freezer today!" … "Today was awful." … "I heard something yesterday that I don't think I was supposed to." … "I'm scared." … )

She reached up to wipe tears from her cheeks, then turned to Clark and hugged him. She felt him pulling her close. He kissed the top of her head, and she couldn't help smiling through her tears. How often had he kissed her like that?

"Thank you, Clark," she whispered, as she replaced the notepad in the box. "Thank you."

<ChrisnDor>

She relaxed back against his chest, feeling his arms around her. She felt safe; she was home.

As if Clark had picked up her thoughts, he replied. "I'm glad I can share this with you. It's home. But you're 'home' too. I have longed for this so much."

Lois heard just a bit of hoarseness in his voice and remember his swallowing hard earlier. She knew that Clark was talking about more than sharing the treehouse and his childhood treasures with him. They were drawn together by fate.

Clark again kissed her gently, this time putting his arms around her more and pulling her even closer. Lois was filled with an inner warmth. They were together, and she was getting another glimpse of what made him the person he was and who she loved so much. At that moment, she wanted so much to share and to give of herself just as he had to her.

The air was still warm. She could smell something sweet in the air. Picking up her intake of breath, he guessed her question before she could ask it. "Honeysuckle," he supplied. "Mom loves it."

"Honey … " The rest of her words were silenced as he kissed her again, on the lips this time. The kiss lasted for a long time. Then very gently, Clark began to caress her, still holding her close.

Lois enjoyed the sensation, the atmosphere, his closeness. It was as if this was meant to happen. The place and the setting were perfect. This was the man she loved dearly and had at last come to acknowledge she was to spend the rest of her life with.

Clark wasn't pushy. He was as gentle and caring as she had gotten to know him, yet a little more daring at the same time. Lois was sure the fact that they were officially engaged had to do with it.

She smiled at the thought. Had he ever … growing up? This was *his* "fortress." But somehow she couldn't imagine him making out, not like that.

And she was also beginning to wonder if it was right tonight. She longed for his touch and his tenderness, and she could feel the same longing in him, too. But …

When they stopped for a breather in between kisses, their eyes locked. Understanding flowed between them, and they each started to speak simultaneously.

<CrystalW>

"Clark, you know how I feel about you, and it feels so right, but I wondered … "

"Lois, I know. I want to touch you, and I know we're engaged, but … "

They were speaking at the same time. They both stopped, smiling self-consciously for a moment before Lois collected her thoughts and began again. When she saw that Clark might interrupt, she placed a finger over his lips and spoke.

"Clark, I love you so much. I just want our first time together to be perfect. I've made mistakes in the past, and I don't want to make any more." She tried to put her feelings into words, but she was so afraid to hurt or disappoint him that she couldn't go on.

"Lois, I know," he told her after kissing the finger she had placed on his lips. "I love you, and our first time *will* be perfect." He put his arms around her and gathered her close to him. "Don't you think it would be wonderful if we waited for our wedding night to take the final step?" he said quietly.

Lois wasn't sure if the idea had come from him or if he had read her mind, and at this point she didn't care. She wrapped her arms firmly around him and whispered her thanks for his understanding.

Clark breathed a sigh of relief, not certain if it was for his averting the potential argument, or his putting off the revelation of his … inexperience. He knew that Lois had been in relationships, and he had been a little afraid that she would have physical expectations that he was unprepared to acknowledge just yet.

"It isn't that I don't want to make love with you, Lois," he told her. "I just want to enjoy being in love with you for awhile first."

Lois was near tears at the tenderness in his voice. She held him tighter yet, confident that she could not hurt him, and then pulled back to see his face. She gazed into warm brown eyes that looked back at her with adoration. She smiled briefly, and then pressed her lips back to his.

Clark was relieved that she had acquiesced, and met her kiss with a combination of joy and the usual excitement that she always inspired in him. They kissed for a very long time, caught up in the tenderness of the moment. Somehow, knowing that there were no expectations gave Clark a freedom he hadn't known before as he allowed his hands to gently explore his fiancee's body.

He stroked her back, her hair, and even allowed himself to briefly go beyond his usual limits. Lois, too, enjoyed the freedom of knowing that she was loved and that she would not have to turn Clark down at an inopportune moment. She allowed herself to touch and caress him, and just enjoy being in love.

After quite a long time of mutual exploration, Clark found himself with a problem. While knowing that their activities would soon come to a stop was somewhat a relief, it also meant that he was going to need to stop things in a hurry, for his own sake if not for hers. With reluctance, he pulled away slightly to regain his breath.

Her heartbeat was as rapid as his, and he allowed her a moment to calm as well. When she appeared to be, he invited, "How about a walk in the moonlight?"

Lois understood his need to distance himself a bit from the situation. She was having the same need. If things didn't cool off now, the relief from their previous conversation would be truly short lived. "A walk sounds nice," she answered.

Clark put his arms around her once more and slowly flew her out the door and to the ground below.

As he put her down and took her hand, he discovered that walking wasn't as comfortable as he would have liked. With a silent curse that the night was not a little cooler, he began leading Lois through the dark.

<EpicSoul>

Lois felt Clark's fingers tighten over hers, and she squeezed him back. "So … " she began, whispering as though something about the magic of the night demanded that respect. "This is really beautiful, Clark. This is … " Her voice trailed off as the moonlight in the distance reflected off something glassy. Tiny shards of shimmering light caught her gaze and she let out a short breath which Clark immediately heard.

"It's the lake. Well, sort of a large pond actually. But we call it "The Lake". Would you like to see it?" He turned and glanced down at her, capturing in her expression everything he thought he'd ever need to live.

"Yes, I'd love to." Her smile set his soul on fire, and he leaned forward, impetuously capturing her lips with his.

They lingered that way, kissing each other slowly, over and over again until Lois couldn't remember her own name, and Clark felt as though he'd been born for this moment in the moonlight with her.

An eternity later they parted, Lois's soft sigh caressing the side of his face for an instant before she smiled at him once more, shaking her head. "You know something?" she whispered.

"What's that?" Clark responded, taking both of her hands in his.

"I don't think I ever knew what love was … until I met you." She swallowed, and Clark could see her eyes shimmering in the semi-darkness.

"Lois, I don't know *how* to … I mean, sometimes, I feel as though I'm … tongue tied when I try to express to you how much you mean to me. I guess I … "

"Shh," Lois cooed, placing her fingers on the edge of his mouth and sliding each one over his lips. "I know." She tipped her head and caught his gaze. Clark pulled her to him and wrapped one arm around her, turning their bodies once more in the direction of "The Lake". He led her forward. For long moments, neither spoke, both content to feel each other's nearness, and to know that there was nothing in the universe which could make the night any more perfect than it had become.

***

<Eraygun>

Martha walked out on the farmhouse porch carrying two mugs of coffee. She handed one to Jonathan who was leaning against one of pillars.

"Thanks, honey," he said as he planted a kiss on Martha's forehead.

"You've been out here a long time. What are you thinking about?"

"Am I that obvious?"

Martha chuckled. "Only to me."

"That's what I love about you, Martha, you are so perceptive … so …"

"Jonathan, I'm also very focused so you're not going to be able to distract me that easily. What's troubling you?"

Jonathan sighed. "Not troubling really. I just wonder if she knows what she's going to be letting herself in for."

"You mean Lois?"

Jonathan nodded.

"Sweetheart, I'm sure she knows what it'll be like to be married to Clark."

"It's not just being married to Clark, Martha. She's also going to be married to Superman. That's a mighty big responsibility, to be the one to take care of the man who takes care of the whole world."

"Well, I pretty much think they'll be taking care of each other, the way any other married couple does. But maybe you might want to have a little talk with her?"

"Me?"

"Yes, you. I think this weekend is a perfect chance for the two of you to have that talk. And if you want you can start right now. Here they come."

"Huh?!"

<Lansbury>

Martha and Jonathan watched as Lois and Clark came walking towards the porch arm in arm.

"Here's your chance," she whispered to her husband.

"Ah … no … not now, Martha. I think I had better wait until the light of day before I go putting my two cents in."

Martha gave him a grin and led him over to the porch swing. He could have sworn he heard her say 'chicken' as they both sat, but wasn't 100 percent sure. He gave her a side-long look and was about to question her about it when young couple came to climb the steps of the porch and sat down on the top step.

"Did you two enjoy yourselves out there? It's a beautiful night to explore each other. Ah, to explore the farm with each other, I mean," Jonathan stammered. He could feel the embarrassment rise as soon as he heard the words come out of his mouth.

He could sense Martha's amusement as she murmured for his ears only, "oh, Jonathan, nice save."

Clark answered for both of them before his father could say anything else. "We had a great time, Dad."

"A really great time," Lois added.

"Now before it gets any later we have something to discuss. Where are you two going to sleep tonight?"

Lois's bottom nearly scooted off the step at Martha's question.

Without batting an eye Clark said, "She can have my old room and I'm going to take the fold-out in the living room. We think that's best for the time being."

Lois knew she was turning red with each of his words but nodded in agreement.

"Well it's getting late. Life on the farm starts early. We'll see you children in the morning."

"Goodnight, Mom and Dad," Clark said to his parents as he rose to give each a kiss on the cheek.

"Goodnight, Martha and Jonathan."

Lois looked back at Clark and he could see the love in her eyes.

"What?"

"Nothing."

"Come on, spill it."

"I've never seen a son kiss his father before. I like it," she said to him with a tear in her eye. "I never had a real relationship with my father. I hope I'll be a good daughter-in-law."

<Mackteach>

Clark looked at Lois for a long while. Sitting back down on the step, he put his arm around her. "You will be. I've talked about you to Mom and Dad ever since I got to Metropolis. They already think of you as part of the family." He placed a soft kiss on her cheek. "Why? Are you worried?"

Lois sighed, leaning her head on his shoulder. "Kind of. I mean, I like the idea of being married to Clark Kent, I *really* do. It's just … " Her voice trailed off as she tried to find the right words.

"What is it, Lois?"

"It's just that.. I'm not just marrying Clark … I'm marrying Superman, too. That's a bit overwhelming for a 'mere mortal' like me."

Clark smiled and hugged her to him. "Sounds like you need to talk."

Lois came to a decision. "Yeah, I do. But not with you. No offense, but you're a bit too close to the whole thing." She smiled up at him. "I think I know just the person to talk to."

She moved out of Clark's embrace and stood up. "But, that's for tomorrow morning. Come on, let's see about that fold-out bed."

Clark grinned up at her and took her hand. They walked inside the farmhouse and into the living room.

Lois pulled the cushions off the sofa and grabbed the handle. It wouldn't budge. "Clark? You want to help me out here?"

"Sure thing."

Lois stepped to the side. Her arms crossed in front of her and a smirk came across her face as Clark pretended to "psych up" for the test of his strength. He grinned and winked at her as he took hold of the handle.

He pulled.

And the bed came flying off its attachments. Clark stopped its forward momentum before the swing sent it crashing into Martha's collection of knickknacks.

Lois stared open-mouthed as Clark held the still-folded bed aloft.

"Ooops."

"Ooops? That's all you can say? Just how long have you had this super strength?" Lois started to giggle. "Now what?"

<TanyaG>

"I wonder if I can fix the darn thing?" Clark began to pick up the pieces that had at one time been the fold-out.

Lois threw her head back and laughed at his attempts. "Uh, Clark," Lois interjected. "You're Superman … it's a done-deal, I'd say." She flashed a bright smile at Clark whose brow had become crooked in worry and embarrassment.

Clark was glad that his parents hadn't come rushing in after the noise.

"I wasn't all that tired anyway." Clark smiled at Lois before realizing the potential connotation of what he had just said. "Uhhh … what I meant to say was …"

"It's okay," she encouraged. "I understand."

Lois pulled Clark down onto the floor and they sat beside each other. She reached out and gingerly caressed Clark's cheek. Her fingers traced the definitions of his contours. He was so strong and yet so soft to the touch. She realized that there was almost too much to love about the man beside her.

They had spent years of loneliness and shared feelings of abandonment but they had been so far apart. And Clark had seen through the bitter surface that Lois had tried so desperately to maintain to the outer world. It was hard to be the 'star reporter' and keep her feelings inside all of the time, even if it kept Cat fuming. Watching her parents' marriage crumble had left an indelible impression on Lois that Clark sought to erase for all eternity.

Lois held Clark's hand in hers as a thought crossed her mind.

It was a dangerous thought..

"Um, Clark. We could always share your room upstairs." Lois kept her eyes to the floor.

Clark's heart skipped a beat before it began a frantic rhythm.

Lois's tone was a mocking echo of a memory. "Well, it's a big bed, Clark. How 'bout we share?"

Clark grinned at the thought of their 'honeymoon'. He could hardly wait for the real thing. In fact, increasingly, Clark was wishing their honeymoon could be tonight.

Before she knew it Lois was being scooped up and carried upstairs. Her temperature rose with an already familiar heat.

At the doorway Clark lowered Lois and planted a tender kiss on her quivering lips.

"Clark, if you asked me … "

"I will wait for you until the end of time if I have to, Lois. But there is something else I have to ask you … "

<zoomway>

Lois swallowed. "Yes, Clark?"

"Could I have a pillow? I think I'll fly out and sleep in the barn."

"Clark—"

"Lois," he said softly. "When we finally make love, it'll be as husband and wife, if for no other reason than I've waited thirty years already, and the thought of waking up in your arms the next morning and being interrupted by Perry yelling on the phone that he needs to talk to my *wife* turns me on more than I can say."

Lois stroked his cheek. "That's so … you."

***

Lois brushed at her nose. She moaned in her sleep and then brushed at her nose again. Finally, the sound of Clark laughing awakened her. He was standing by the bed teasing her nose with a dry fishing fly.

Lois opened her eyes just a crack. "Oh God, Clark," she yawned. "You leave last night as a Romeo and come back as … as a guy."

Clark laughed again. "Glad you noticed."

Lois opened her eyes a little more. "It's still dark."

"It won't be for long," he smiled. "We're going fishing with Mom and Dad this morning."

Lois pulled the covers over her head. "It's hell week in Kansas."

Clark shrugged and lifted her, blanket and all, from the bed and set her on the floor.

Lois looked at him bleary-eyed. "I don't know *how* to fish."

"That's okay, the fish don't know that." He kissed her. "Get dressed, and I'll meet you down stairs."

Lois scratched her hopelessly mussed hair. "Why do you look so good in the morning?"

He put his forehead against hers. "Sweet dreams. Besides," he said, smoothing her hair. "You look sexy in the morning."

"God, you really *do* need glasses."

"As a matter of fact—"

Lois smacked Clark's rear end. "Out! I'll get dressed."

***

Lois slept against Clark's shoulder in the bed … of the truck. He put his arm around her as the sun peeked over a row of trees, and the greens and yellows of the cultivated land started to become visible.

He kissed the top of her head. "Hey," he whispered, gently shaking her shoulder. "We're almost there."

^Missytoo>

Lois sat up, sleepily rubbing her eyes. She looked around, and saw that they had pulled up beside a genuinely lake-sized reservoir.

Clark got out of the truck, and held out his hand, waiting to help her out. Jonathan and Martha got out of the cab, and the picnic basket was unloaded, along with the fishing gear.

Jonathan grabbed the gear, and Martha took the basket, leaving the couple a small bit of privacy.

Clark took hold of Lois's hand and they followed his parents to the edge of the water.

The blanket was spread out, and the picnic goodies put on it, partly to keep the blanket down in the windy, sunny morning.

Clark watched Lois closely. "Don't you lie there and fall asleep. I'm planning on showing you how to cast properly."

She stuck her tongue out at him and Martha smiled, then got out her copy of a mystery novel and leaned back to read. Jonathan decided to untangle the fishing gear and tried to suppress his snort of laughter with a clearing of his throat.

Clark sighed, and turned to help his dad with the gear.

Lois leaned back on the blanket, content to watch Clark in his tee shirt and shorts bending over the fishing rods trying to determine how best to untangle all the hooks and line from their previous outing.

The man certainly looked good in shorts … or tights, or probably nothing at all. <Ooops. Don't go there, girl!> she thought. <Especially not here in front of his parents!>

Clark felt her staring at him. At least, he figured it was Lois that was staring him. Funny, but instead of being embarrassed or shocked, he just felt happy. It was comforting to know she was as interested in him as he was in her.

Clark turned around and caught her staring. He grinned at her and left his dad to fend for himself for a moment. He walked over, and helped her to her feet.

"Excuse me, but since I forgot my lucky charm, I've *really* got to do this."

He pulled her into his loving embrace, and kissed her. It was light, and sweet, but the passion simmering just beneath the surface tingled through both of them.

She felt her knees start to wobble a little and he turned her around and guided her toward Jonathan.

"Come over here and you can help me pick a spot."

He took his fishing rod from Jonathan with a grin, and clasped her hand to walk to the shore of the water.

Martha looked up at Jonathan, and they shared a smile. "Think there will be any fish still around?"

Jonathan leaned over and kissed her lightly. "Who cares?

The day passed slowly and quietly. Clark taught Lois to cast, and she seemed to try really hard. Maybe she tried *too* hard.

The hook got caught in the grass

Then it got caught in the tree limbs.

And finally, when she hooked Jonathan in the seat of his overalls, it was decided that they might be safer if Clark took over the casting duties.

Martha had just called them over to have some lunch when Clark suddenly turned his head, hearing something that was silent to the rest of them.

He nodded an apology and started running for the shore, changing into a blue and red blur as he launched into the sky.

"Well, I guess we can save him a sandwich or two," Jonathan sighed.

Martha patted Lois's knee. "Maybe he won't be gone too long."

<ChrisM^>

They ate their picnic lunch companionably enough, but for Lois it seemed as if the day was just a bit dimmer without Clark there beside her. It wasn't that she didn't like Martha and Jonathan … it wasn't that at all. It was just— It was just …

"Well, Lois, since it looks like Clark is going to be occupied elsewhere for a while, how about you and me showing those fish a thing or two?" Jonathan's cheery voice recalled Lois from her rather dreary thoughts.

She looked up at him and smiled. "Sure. I'm surprised you're willing to put your life in my hands that way, though, Jonathan. The last time I had a fishing pole, I nearly made it a lethal weapon."

Jonathan laughed. "Well, maybe that's because you were using the wrong pole. I think I've got just the thing for you right over here."

Lois got up to follow him, then realized that she was leaving Martha to clean up the picnic all on her own. "Martha, here let me—"

Martha shooed her away. "I can manage with this, dear. You go put a scare into those fish."

Down at the edge of the lake, Jonathan was busy skewering a worm onto a hook that was attached to a plain pole without any reel on it.

"What's that, Jonathan?"

"It's a cane pole, Lois. A good pole to learn how to fish with." He adjusted the bobber on the line with practiced ease and then showed her how to toss the line out into the water.

"Just watch that bobber," he instructed her. "If it goes below the water, yank on the pole—hard!"

"I think I can handle that, Jonathan. Thanks."

He gave her a smile and a pat on the back. "I know you can, Lois."

He picked up his own rod and cast out expertly. They stood side by side for a while, listening to the water ruffling in the breeze, feeling the sun shining down on them. It was a wonderful day. It would have been better if Clark would come back, but—

"You know, Lois, you can learn a lot from fishing."

"Hmm … " she replied, listening with only half an ear. With the other half she was hoping to hear a certain superhero returning.

"Like, sometimes you have to use one kind of pole, or a certain kind of lure, but it's all guess work at best."

"What do you mean, Jonathan?"

"Well," he continued, "you can't see what's below the surface, can you?"

"No."

"So, all you can do is try. Try one thing, then another. Sometimes one kind of lure will work, and the very next time, you can't get a bite with it if your life depends on it."

Lois smiled. "Sounds like being a reporter."

"Like most things, I guess," he added. "As long as we give it a good try, though, we've accomplished something, I think."

Lois thought about that for a moment. From the look on her face, Jonathan could see that she was thinking hard about something … or maybe remembering something.

"Because no one can do everything … " she murmured. "But what you can do, that's enough."

He didn't think she had said it to him, but more to herself, so he kept quiet … waiting. Finally, she seemed to come back to herself. "I think I know what you mean." She reached up to kiss his cheek. "Thank you, Jonathan."

He patted her shoulder and smiled down at her. "You're welcome, Lois."

Just then Lois felt something tug on the line. Omigosh, she thought, and jerked up on the pole.

***

It was a couple more hours before Clark was able to come back. As he landed and spun back into his shorts and tee-shirt, Lois came running up to him.

"Hiya," he greeted her with a smile and kiss. "How are you doing?"

He waved to his parents where they were sitting on the picnic blanket just out of earshot. Lois returned his kiss with enthusiasm.

"I'm doing just fine," she told him.

He looked at her more closely and could detect a slight change in her. She was all sparkly, kind of lit up from within.

"What's up?" he asked her.

"I just feel much better about certain … things … all of a sudden," she told him as she hugged him tighter.

"You do? That's great, Lois. What things?"

"The stuff we talked about last night … I know we can handle it. We've got each other, don't we?" She kissed him.

"Yes, we do—"

"And we love each other, don't we?" She kissed him again.

"Yes, of course—"

"Then, even if we can't see below the surface of the water, we can still sometimes catch our share of fish."

"Water? Fish? Lois, what—?"

"I'll explain later." She kissed him again. "But first you have to come and look at the fish *I* caught," and she pulled him down towards his parents.

THE END