By IRC Round Robin
Submitted July 1998
Summary: Ellen Lane tries to impose some *togetherness* on her unruly family by inviting them all to the beach for a weekend of fun in the sun in this well-written, humorous story.
An IRC Round-robin by ChrisM^ <firstname.lastname@example.org>; chrispat <email@example.com>; CrystalW <JCWimmer@aol.com>; Eraygun <Eraygun@aol.com>; Lansbury <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Mackteach <Mackteach@aol.com>; Missytoo <Missytoo@mindspring.com>; Zoomway <email@example.com>
Lois let herself into her townhouse, juggling keys, grocery bags and her briefcase, but with a contented smile on her face. The last couple of days had been pretty good, and she'd gotten a line on what could possibly be another great story just that afternoon. She headed for the kitchen, noticing as she went past the desk that the light on the answering machine was blinking away like mad.
Wonder where Clark is? she thought as she put away the groceries. He'd dashed away from the grocery store and she hadn't seen him since. She hoped he wouldn't be too long. She was looking forward to a nice dinner and then … well, they'd just see what developed.
She slipped her shoes off as she headed for the stairs. It would be nice to get into something more comfortable before starting dinner. As she passed the answering machine, though, she decided to listen to the messages first. Maybe Clark had called.
Most were perfectly harmless … wouldn't you like a new credit card, Mrs. Kent … her doctor's office reminding her of her upcoming appointment … Martha calling just to say "Hi" … And then, there was the one from her mother.
"HI, LOIS!" Her mother's distinctive tones leapt through the wires and Lois took an involuntary step back. "It's me," she added, unnecessarily. "I've just had the most terrific idea … well, you may not think it's terrific, but I hope you'll keep an open mind about this."
Lois rolled her eyes towards heaven. What now?
"I know that, in the past, we — your father and I — well, we didn't always … you know. But since Sam and I have been … um, seeing each other again, sort of … well, I uh, I thought …"
Lois shifted from one foot to the other impatiently. Spit it out, mother, she thought.
"I guess there's no good way to say this, except to say it."
What in the world is going on? Lois wondered. Just then she heard a familiar 'whoosh' and turned to see her husband coming down the stairs. He'd already changed into his Clark clothes. He could tell by her face that something was up, but before he could ask, Ellen's voice interrupted him.
"I'd like for you and Clark, if he wants to that is, to come to a family weekend that I have planned." Now that she'd gotten that much out, her voice took on its usual assurance. "You'll enjoy this, Lois. It will be a chance for us to be together. I'm inviting Lucy, too. And, oh, it's at the beach. I did tell you that part, didn't I?"
Lois and Clark looked at each other. To say they were stunned would be an understatement.
Ellen's voice rushed on. "You have to come. I already told Sam you'd be there, and I know you won't want to disappoint him." Lois rolled her eyes again, and Clark groaned.
"Anyway, call me and I'll give you directions. Bye." The answering machine beeped.
Lois and Clark looked at each other. Their plans for a quiet weekend together had gone up in smoke.
"Arghhh. Clark, think of something. I'll go mad if I have to spend a whole weekend with her. I know… we'll tell her your mother is sick and we have to go to Kansas." Lois picked up the phone and started to dial, but Clark took the receiver out of her hand.
"Honey, we can do it. And Sam and Lucy will be there too. It might even be fun, and if it's at the beach, I'll get to see you in that new bikini you just bought." He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. "And maybe out of it too."
Lois looked a bit doubtful, but the beach idea was starting to sound good, even if it included her mother. "Oh, all right, but you better bring those speedos I bought you. I'm going to need all the distraction I can get."
Clark grinned. "It's a deal." He bent down and kissed her gently. "By the way, hello."
Lois kissed him back. "Hello to you, too." She gave him a pat and started up the stairs. "How about starting dinner while I change?" She looked at him over her shoulder, her eyes sparkling. "I've got a special dessert all planned for tonight."
Clark watched her go with a small smile on his face. He couldn't wait to see her in that bikini…
As Lois stepped from the jeep, she couldn't help but appreciate the view. The waves were rolling in gently, a direct contrast to the more aggressive waves of the West Coast, but the effect of the sunrise over the blue water was more than worth the difference.
Clark was appreciating his wife rather than the scenery, enjoying the almost serene look on her face. He could hardly believe that this was the same woman that had looked at him with such panic when she had received the invitation. She was not merely resigned to the weekend, but actually appeared to be looking forward to it.
She moved around to the front of the jeep, mesmerized by the sight before her. She seemed calm, confident, and Clark couldn't help himself as he slipped up behind her and placed his hands on her shoulders. She sighed as she leaned into him, enjoying the view before her and the warmth behind her.
Clark nearly jumped as far as she did when the chattering voice descended upon them, seemingly from nowhere. One moment they were at peace with the world, and the next moment a jabbering Lucy was standing between them. Clark wasn't entirely sure what had happened, but he didn't like it.
"Can you believe that Mother did this?" she said, oblivious to Lois' confusion and Clark's irritation. "I had a perfectly nice weekend planned with Jeff, and now we have to be here. I can just imagine what she would say if we insisted on sharing a bed, so here I'm going to have to sleep by myself. Lois is there anything you could say? I mean, I know she won't force you and Clark to…"
Lois turned away from her sister and faced her husband. His frown was threatening to turn into a smile as he watched Lois being overwhelmed by her younger sister's babble. He remembered feeling a similar confusion when he had first met Lois, and it was rather poetic to see her on the receiving end of the treatment.
She gave him a tiny glare when she realized that he wasn't going to help her, and focused her attention onto her sister. "LUCY!" she said loudly, to break her sister's train of thought.
Lucy stopped in the middle of a sentence, and replied quietly, "You don't have to yell."
At the faint pout, Lois smiled and hugged her sister. Okay, she admitted to herself, she had missed her just a little.
After exchanging hugs and a quick promise that she would indeed talk to their mother about the sleeping arrangements, they finally started walking towards the beach house. She knew she would have to face her mother sometime, and she was certainly feeling alert enough to do it now. If nothing else, her encounter with her sister had shaken her from the relaxed daze that the scenery had imposed.
Clark followed behind the sisters at a leisurely pace. He carried a suitcase in each hand, and still was smiling slightly. It was going to be an interesting weekend, that much was for sure.
As they walked Lois decided it would be the perfect opportunity to cross examine … er, question, Lucy for a few more details about her latest significant other.
"So, Lucy, tell me more about … Jeff. Where'd you meet him? What does he do?"
Lucy rolled her eyes and looked back at Clark. "The more things change…" she sighed. "Don't worry, Lois, he's perfectly *normal*. He works at a health food store. That's where I met him."
"We've been going out for the last two months and we have so much in common. It's just amazing!"
"Oh really, like what?" Lois asked warily.
Lucy hesitated for a few seconds. "Well, we're both vegetarians," she finally answered.
"You are? Since when?" Lois said incredulously.
"Since I met Jeff," Lucy replied offhandedly
As they approached the beach house Lois could see a blonde and muscular young man with a somewhat dull expression sprawled across a wicker chair.
"Sweetie-pie, you're up from your nap!" Lucy squealed as she dashed away from Lois and Clark and headed toward the porch.
"Oh joy, another body by Fisher, brains by Mattel type," Lois hissed to Clark.
"Well, at least this one's organic, honey."
Lois tossed Clark a half-smile as she slowly walked up the front stairs. Crossing her arms, she stopped before the couple engrossed in a tongue swallowing competition. She cleared her throat. Setting down the suitcases, Clark stepped up to Lois, slightly embarrassed to be viewing such a public display of affection.
Remembering that they were in public, Lucy reluctantly broke off the kiss and sat in her boyfriend's lap. "Jeff, honey, this is my sister, Lois. My *older* sister." She winked at Lois, taking the sting out of her words.
Lois smiled tightly and nodded. "Jeff."
"Cool." Jeff's attention turned to Clark, looking appraisingly at him, as if gauging the competition. "You must be her old man."
Clark smiled, brushing off the competitive tone in his voice. Extending his hand, he replied warmly. "Hi. I'm Lois' husband, Clark."
Jeff shook hands with Clark, their grips momentarily tightening in the age-old male ritual. Releasing his grip, Jeff looked at Clark with some newfound respect. "Cool."
Just as Lois was about to make a comment, the screen door squeaked open.
"Oh, there you are! I see you've met each other."
Lois rolled her eyes and Clark breathed a low sigh of relief. Turning to his mother-in-law, Clark smiled as brightly as he could. "Hi, Ellen. Thank you for the invitation. The beach looks great."
"Yes, Mother. I'm glad you invited us. Clark and I don't usually get away like this. Do we, honey?" She looked at Clark, her eyes and body language suddenly softening as it usually did when she looked at Clark.
Clark leaned down and gently kissed her. "Remind me to take you away more often."
Lois smiled and softly whispered. "Deal."
"Hi, Mrs. Lane. Thank you very much for the invitation. It was very kind of you to include me in this family get together."
Lois and Clark turned in surprise. Where a slightly dim-witted blonde "surfer" had been was now a very articulate gentleman. Lois caught the look that Lucy gave her. She made a mental note to ask Lucy later about Jeff's sudden turnabout.
Ellen practically beamed. "Why, thank you, Jeff. When Lucy told me about her latest boyfriend, I don't mind telling you that I had some reservations. But now that I've met you, I have to say that I'm quite surprised. You don't seem to be at all like her previous beaus."
"More like Jekyll and Hyde," Lois muttered, low enough that only Clark could hear her. He put an arm around her waist and gave her a quick squeeze. Lois subtly nudged him with her hip.
Lucy spoke up. "Mother? About the sleeping arrangements …"
"Oh, that's one reason I came out here. It seems that your father didn't specify exactly how many bedrooms we needed, so there's going to be a slight change in the sleeping arrangements."
Lois' radar suddenly went on alert. "Change? What do you mean by 'change'?"
Ellen waved a hand at the group and they followed her into the beach house.
She turned to Lois. "You see, dear, there's only two bedrooms. Now, I know you and Clark are married, but Lucy and Jeff aren't and neither are your father and I. So …" Her voice trailed off.
Lois got a sinking feeling in her stomach. "Don't tell me …"
"Hold it!" Lois raised a hand. "I did not come all the way out here to have a boy-girl slumber party."
"Lois, sweetie," her mother cajoled. "You're married now, it's not like there's that … urgency anymore."
Lois folded her arms. "Right now I'm feeling an 'urgency' to head right back to Metropolis."
Lucy shifted uncomfortably. "Lois, it's just for the weekend."
"When I want your opinion, Benedict Lane, I'll *ask* for it," Lois said. "At least we're still packed."
"Hey, what's all the shouting?" Sam asked as he came into the room.
"Oh boy," Clark said shaking his head.
Ellen, now a folded-armed mirror of Lois, glanced up at Sam. "It seems our eldest daughter is unhappy with the sleeping arrangements."
"Well," Sam said with a large smile. "I figured as much, so I got a little roll-away bed for the den. Problem solved. Three couples, three beds."
Lois smiled and kissed Sam's cheek. "Thank you, Daddy."
"No, Sam, we have one *married* couple and two *unmarried* couples."
Sam looked at her dully. "And? This isn't a church social, Ellen. We're all adults here."
"Well," Clark said brightly, "I'll just finish unpacking the jeep."
'Coward', Lois thought to herself.
"I'm curious, Sam. Is this just to get back in your daughters' good graces after years of —"
"Neglect and abandonment," Lucy and Lois said in concert.
Jeff stepped up. "Mr. Lane, Mrs. Lane, if the relationship I have with your daughter in any way makes you uncomfortable, we'd be happy to go with whatever arrangements you feel best."
"Why, thank you, Jeff," Ellen smiled. "You're a breath of fresh air."
"Speaking of," Lois said flatly, "I'll help Clark with the jeep, or whatever he's really doing." The squeaky screen door slammed shut behind her.
Lois stormed over to the jeep, but Clark was nowhere in sight. She closed her eyes and leaned against the door. "Just another fun-filled get-together with the Lanes," she sighed. Yawning and raising her hands above her head to stretch, she suddenly felt two strong hands grasping her wrists. She was airborne.
Within moments Clark was setting her down in a convenient hollow among some nearby sand dunes.
"Clark!" she exclaimed, "What if someone had seen us?"
"Don't worry, I checked." He pulled her into his arms. "You looked as if you could use a break."
She leaned into his protective embrace. "You're so right … but I wonder what gave it away."
Clark grinned at the sarcastic tone he could hear in her voice. He kissed the top of her head, "Oh, I don't know … your mother and your father all in the same room with Lucy and her latest, er, boyfriend. Just a lucky guess."
She looked up and smiled at him, her sense of humor reasserting itself.
"And I think that lucky guess of yours will be the last bit of luck we have this whole weekend."
"Well, Lois, it's only for tonight and tomorrow …" he said a bit uncertainly.
"And tomorrow night, and the next day," she reminded him. "We're booked for the weekend, remember?"
"Hmm." He looked around him for a moment, and then up at the fading sky, hoping for inspiration. "Well, maybe we could slip away tomorrow and do something. Just the two of us." Lois' smile got broader and her eyes gleamed coyly. "That sounds promising. I — " Clark had "that look" on his face. "Don't tell me. You're hearing something. Clark, you can't leave me here with —"
"Your mother is calling us."
"Great shades of Elvis."
Clark laughed and began to guide Lois out of the protection of the sand dunes. "She's saying it's time for supper."
"And the condemned ate a hearty meal. I know." Lois grimaced, and Clark paused.
He pulled her back into his arms and took his time kissing her.
"That … was … wonderful," she told him when he'd finished. "If you could just do that at regular intervals, I might survive this weekend after all."
"Okay. Lead on, then."
"This looks delicious, Mrs. Lane," Jeff declared with a bright smile. The rest of the diners eyed the food warily. Everyone knew Lois had inherited her cooking talents from her mother.
"Why, thank you, Jeff. I decided to try a new recipe. Please let me know what you think."
The family watched with fascination as Jeff took a bite. It was nice to have a guinea pig on hand. The expression on his face was priceless. First his eyes watered. Then his face turned bright red. He choked, but managed to keep chewing and eventually swallowed. The family watched to be sure he would keep it down. When it seemed that he would, they picked up their forks. At least it wasn't lethal.
Jeff grabbed his glass and gulped down a glass of water. "It's wonderful, Mrs. Lane, " he gasped. "I never would have thought of combining ginger, garlic and cinnamon."
Clark took a bite. "You know, it's not bad."
Lois glared at him. "Just because *you* can eat anything doesn't mean the rest of us can."
Ellen bristled. "Isn't that just like you, Lois. You never appreciated all the time I spent slaving over a hot stove — and another thing, you're slouching again."
Lois threw down her napkin. "Okay, Mother, I did not come here to listen to the same old stuff. Come on, Clark, you can take me to Burger King."
Sam and Lucy jumped up. "Wait. We're coming too."
Ellen took a bite, and started laughing. "Okay. I admit it. This is really bad. Let's all go into town and eat. My treat."
The family gawked. "Wow," Lois whispered to Clark. "Is that really my mother or has someone planted a clone?"
Clark grinned. "Never look a gift horse in the mouth," he whispered back.
Besides Burger King, the choices for dinner were somewhat limited in the nearest town of Bayside. Ellen initially suggested dinner at "Ralph's Pagoda-by-the-Sea" but both Lois and Clark strenuously objected at the thought of setting foot in the place So they opted instead for Mario's, a small Italian restaurant with an open deck that looked out on the ocean.
Gazing out at the sea and the stars Lois found herself relaxing again. She could do this, she thought. After all, it was just for three days — how bad could it be?
After dinner the group decided to walk along the nearby boardwalk. Lois purposely lagged behind and let Sam, Ellen, Lucy and Jeff forge ahead through the crowd.
"Very clever," Clark said with a smirk.
"Am I being that obvious again?"
"Yeah, but I love you for it," he said, pulling her into a warm embrace. "And now that we're separated from the rest of the Lanes, what do you want to do?"
"Well I was thinking …"
Just as Lois was about to speak a high pitched voice rose above the sound of the surf. "Loiiis! Clarrrk! Over here."
Lois' head sank onto her husband's chest.
"It's going to be all right, honey. Just roll with the waves." Clark smiled at his own pun but Lois just glared at him.
"Yes, Mother. We'll be right there," she called in the direction of Ellen and Jeff and Lois and Clark made their way to the rest of the family.
"Jeff just had a wonderful idea. Tell them, Jeff."
Jeff was beaming from ear to ear. "I know this place just down the boardwalk that has karaoke tonight. Why don't we go there and have some fun?"
Lucy was looking at the cracks in the boardwalk while Lois grabbed Clark's arm with the strength of a vise grip. "Mother, I don't…" but before she could get the next word out Ellen was dragging Sam in the direction Jeff had pointed.
"Hurry, children, we don't want to miss anything!"
Both Lucy and Lois looked at the men in their lives. Lois heard Lucy say to Jeff, "Jeff if you say one more word to my mother in the next three days, you, mister will be standing, eating, talking and sleeping by yourself."
Lois looked at Clark. "I think I'm going to throw up."
Clark looked at Lois, a slight frown creasing his brow. "Really? You're not making that up, honey?"
Lois threw Clark a look of utter frustration. "No, not really, but that might not be such a bad idea. Between almost not sleeping with you, Mother's attempt at cooking, and now karaoke …" Lois sighed. "I don't know, Clark … I think my family is cursed."
Clark chuckled and pulled Lois into his embrace. "Your family is not cursed, honey. Eccentric, yes, but definitely not cursed."
Lois sighed again, burying herself deeper into Clark's warmth. "Karaoke …" She shuddered dramatically.
"Hey, you have a great voice."
"I suppose … you haven't heard Mother's, though."
"Lois, it can't be that bad."
"Are you kidding? *Cats* throw shoes at her!"
"Are too." And before Lois could argue the point anymore, Clark closed his mouth over hers, effectively silencing her.
After the kiss, Lois looked dreamily at him. "I suppose you're right. As long as she sticks to Broadway show tunes, she's bearable." She grinned up at him. "But you're part of this family too."
Clark's eyes widened. "Oh no! Not me."
"Yes, you. If we're gonna do this karaoke thing, then *everyone* participates." To emphasize her point, Lois cocked one eyebrow and gave him *that* look.
Clark winced, knowing that there was no getting around it. He sighed. "Okay … but you're all gonna wish I hadn't …"
Lois grinned and linked her arm through his. Turning to Lucy and Jeff, she shouted, "Let's go, you two! Clark's about to make his stage debut as a singer!"
Lucy waved and grinned. Pulling Jeff along, they caught up to Lois and Clark. A look passed between the two sisters.
"Once more …" Lois started.
"… into the breach we go!" Lucy finished. With that, the Lane sisters and their partners joined their parents at the entrance to the karaoke bar.
The group made their way to the tables in the back of the room. The singer on stage was struggling through something from "Cats" … so they decided to have a round of drinks first.
"Make mine lemonade, dear," Ellen reminded Sam.
Sam nodded, "Of course, sweetheart… and for the rest of us?" He looked around the table. "Beer okay?" Everyone nodded. The waitress was standing behind Jeff, admiring his muscled shoulders. Sam cleared his throat, and she said … "Five beers and a lemonade.. right."
She strolled off, wiggling across the room to the bar. Jeff's appreciative stare wasn't lost on anyone at the table. Lucy kicked him under the table and his head jerked back around front.
"Ow! What was that for?"
Lucy just sighed, and rolled her eyes.
The singer at the mike finished, and the emcee stood up, leading the meager applause.
"Come on, folks, let's give a big hand to the secretary from Ft. Meyers, Florida."
Everyone politely applauded, and the emcee glanced around the room, looking for a new victim. He stepped off stage, and the spotlight followed him toward the table .
"You all look like you're a talented bunch… any volunteers? Or do we have to get Lars the bouncer to help convince you?"
No one laughed at the pitiful joke, and then he put his hand on Lucy's arm.
"Come on, l'il lady, I bet you've got a great set of … pipes on you."
Jeff put his hand on the emcee's arm in warning. Lucy shook her head, and declined. Everyone in the restaurant started clapping and hooting, encouraging her to get up and sing.
"I don't really sing too well, but my *sister*, now she's got a terrific set of … *pipes* on her.." Lucy grinned evilly as the spotlight focused on Lois sitting across the table from her little sister.
The emcee managed to harass Lois just enough that when Sam urged, "Go on, princess. Show 'em your stuff," she decided to do it just to make the silly man with the microphone shut up.
Lois stood up, forcing herself to not react when Clark smiled and gently patted her fanny as she stepped past him.
The lights went down and the only illumination in the room was the white hot spotlight, so bright it made her squint slightly. The strains of "Fever" began, and Lois, locating Clark sitting in the dark, decided to give back a little of the teasing he'd been dishing out.
She closed her eyes, and began. The words just felt right and the movement of her body to the music was anything but innocent.
"Fever, when you kiss me, fever when you hold me tight.. " Nothing she did was obscene, just suggestive. Clark was suddenly very thirsty and very glad when the beers and Ellen's lemonade arrived.
Everyone picked up their glasses, and by the time the song was finished they'd all managed to make it through at least half of their respective drinks.
The crowd went wild as the music faded out, and Lois found herself facing an adoring mob, begging for her to sing another. Three songs later, she claimed to be parched and needing her beer, so someone else was "volunteered" for the next song and she made her way back to the table.
Ellen was sitting in her seat, smiling very softly, proud of her daughter. "You know, I used to be able to sing.. but that was before my nursing career called."
Lois looked at her, not sure if she was joking. Ellen's voice was slightly slurred, and Lois suspiciously picked up her glass. "Mother, this isn't regular lemonade!"
Sam grabbed the glass and took a sniff, and then sipped. "The only thing wrong with it is that it has lemonade in it and nothing else, but her medication may have kicked in."
"Right," Lois sighed. "The medicine she had to have doubled when I escaped from Death Row. It's not like I planned it," she said, glancing at Clark.
Clark coughed. "Ellen, I'm sure you had a lovely singing voice. You certainly have a distinctive speaking voice," he said, though 'screaming' voice had actually popped into his head at that moment.
Ellen, made mellow by the medication, rested her chin on her hands and stared into Clark's eyes. "How did I rate such a wonderful son-in-law?"
Clark put his arm around Lois. "She wakes up next to me every day."
Ellen got a bit misty-eyed, somewhat akin to the look of a 'crying drunk'. "I guess I owe the miraculous change in my daughter to Martha," she sniffed. "The patient, perfect, 'I can bake and fix the sink at the same time' mother."
Lois was about to speak when Sam put his arm around Ellen. "You were the 'cauterize a wound and give a tetanus shot at the same time mother'. It all evens out, honey."
Ellen nodded, wavering between logic and a tranquilizer buzz. "I suppose," she conceded. "But there was my drinking problem," she said, letting the pharmaceutical pendulum swing her in the other direction.
"Mother," Lois said softly. "You beat that a long time ago, you raised two girls by yourself, and held down a full-time job. You had a lot more to do with creating the Lois Clark fell in love with than any other person on the planet."
Clark smiled at his wife and agreed. The toughness against all odds — that part of Lois — came from Ellen.
"Thank you, sweetie," Ellen said and before the pendulum began to swing the other way, Sam stood up.
"How about we show these kids how to dance?"
Ellen, in more or less stable spirits, smiled broadly. "Love to," she said, and started for the dance floor. Sam reached down and touched Lois' cheek. "Thanks, princess."
Clark watched Lois watching her parents as they made their way to the dance floor. He could see a sheen of tears in her eyes and reached for her hand.
She turned towards him and returned his grasp with a slight smile on her face. "Thanks, Clark."
He brought her hand to his lips and kissed it lightly, then winked at her. "Are we going to let your parents do all the dancing for this family?"
Lowering her eyes so he couldn't see how close she was to giggling, all she could do was shake her head. "Maybe later," he heard her murmur a bit shakily.
Across the table Lucy, who obviously was not a prisoner of subtlety, was pulling Jeff to his feet and demanding that he dance with her. Lois and Clark's eyes met, both surprised to find themselves suddenly alone.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking," Clark heard the woman of his dreams say.
Walking along the beach just at the edge of the surf, their shoes dangling from their fingertips and their arms intertwined, Clark leaned down to give Lois yet another kiss. "I like the way you think, Mrs. Kent."
"Why thank you, Mr. Kent," she replied with a guilty laugh. She moved even closer to him and he slowed his pace a little more. Why rush a good thing? "Just how long was it before they noticed we'd flown the coop, do you think?" she asked him.
"Eight minutes and seventeen seconds," he replied with certainty.
"How — ?"
He gestured towards his ear and grinned that special Clark grin.
Lois laughed even harder. "Well, as long as we can find something to occupy us …"
"That shouldn't be a problem," Clark interjected in a tone she had no trouble recognizing.
She shoved against him, pushing him further into the water and making him laugh. "… and, if we can get a laugh or two out of this once in a while," she continued, "maybe I can make it through the rest of this weekend all right."
Clark reached for her and swung her up into his arms. "I think we'll be just fine, sweetie."
Lois held on to his neck tightly, taking full advantage of these precious moments alone with her husband.
Later that night the rain began.
Lois awoke in her husband's arms, and was less than pleased to be reminded that she was still in a beach cottage. The rain was a continuous murmur against the window, and the sunrise was not nearly so beautiful as the day before. She would have loved nothing more than to snuggle with her husband on a day as dismal as this, but that was unlikely given their location.
She rested her head against his chest, cuddling for a moment more into his solid warmth. He had left her only twice in the night to handle emergencies caused by the sudden downpour, so she wasn't surprised that he was sleeping in a bit. He had returned only a few hours ago from the second rescue and she knew he must be tired.
The previous night had been a surprise. They had walked back to the restaurant in the rain, giggling as they rapidly became soaked. The rain had been warm, and she had taken a bit of a tongue lashing from her mother about wearing a blouse that became translucent when wet, but other than that the evening had ended on a positive note.
If they had been alone Clark could have dried her easily enough, but that would have been hard to explain to her parents. Instead, she had worn her sister's sweatshirt and placated her mother.
Once back at the beach house, she had been grateful to change, and even more grateful that her mother's medication had taken full effect and sent the woman off to dreamland. She loved her mother, she really did, but there was such a thing as too much of a good thing.
They had made an early night of it, and she had been thankful for the privacy of the den when Clark had made his first exit. The roll-away bed had been comfortable enough, and she had learned over time to sleep alone without *too* much difficulty. Best yet, in between the inconvenient need for Superman had been a wonderful, loving night. Thank goodness for levitation, though… the bed had a definite squeak.
Lois' warm pillow began to shift, move, and make strange noises. She vaguely realized that she had begun to fall asleep atop her husband when he sat up and looked around the room with a shocked expression on his face. She sat up with him, rubbing her eyes gently and watching his expression change gradually from shock to amusement
"You aren't going to believe who's here," he told her with a smile.
"Probably not," she replied with a sigh. Her private weekend with her husband had turned into Grand Central Station, and Lois was not so amused.
She accepted Clark's kiss somewhat absently, and then stood to pull on her robe. Once she was presentable, she headed for the bathroom. Unfortunately it was not unoccupied. She encountered a muscle-bound blond who wasn't wearing a stitch of clothing. She was still too groggy to be shocked, so she merely stepped past him as he left the bathroom. Closing the door once she was inside, she did have the passing thought that the man's buns could never compete with her husband's.
Once she had tended to her morning business and brushed her teeth, she considered going back to the den to dress, but instead followed the voices that were coming from the living room. She held the top of her robe together as she followed her husband's laugh into the room. What she saw there did shock her, and she exclaimed, "Perry?!?"
"Hi there, darlin'," Perry said with a grin. "Surprised to see me?"
"Stunned is more like it," Lois said as she moved to sit next to Clark on the couch.
"Now don't worry, Lois, honey. I'm not here to upset your vacation, at least not completely. But I do need to borrow Clark here for a while."
"Lois, this storm is turning into a real nor'easter. There are high surf warnings up and down the coast."
"I know that, Chief … but —"
"Don't worry, I don't want Clark to do simple weather coverage. This is something much more important. These weather conditions are just perfect for the Navy to finish testing Shockwave II. Clark did the first story on that and I got a call this morning inviting the two of us out to the test ship this morning. There's a chopper waiting for us."
Just as Perry dropped the news of the helicopter onto Lois, he looked around as he heard Sam, Ellen, Lucy and Jeff enter the room.
"Perry, what brings you here?" Ellen walked over to Perry and placed her hand into his outstretched one.
"I'm here to kidnap your son-in-law for the afternoon. I have a helicopter waiting to take us out to a ship to witness a military test…"
As he was about to explain further, Ellen raised her other hand. "Now, wait a minute. This is a family weekend and it's going to stay that way."
"Ellen, don't stand in the way of Clark doing his job. It sounds exciting to me. I wish I could join them."
Ellen looked at her ex-husband, stunned. "Well, if you find being on a ship in a hurricane watching a bomb blow up better than being here with your family then GO!"
Sam looked at Perry. "Got room for one more?"
"Sure, if that's really what you want to do, Sam."
"Let me get my rain slicker," Sam said.
Ellen stood beside Lois as both Clark and Sam walked towards the helicopter. Sam stopped and turned as he was about to climb up into the chopper. "Ellen, have a good time with the girls."
Jeff came up behind the pair and said in a cheerful voice, "Now how lucky can one man get but to have the company of the three most beautiful women in the world all to himself for the whole afternoon."
Without missing a beat mother and daughter said in unison, "Stick it in your *ear*, Jeff," and turned to walk back towards the beach house.
As Jeff watched the pair walk away, he ran his hand through his hair, a puzzled look on his face. "What?" he shouted after them. "What did I do?" He looked at Lucy who had come up to stand next to him. "What did I do?"
Lucy smiled a bit wistfully and took his hand. "Let me explain about the Lane women, sweetie …" Jeff half-listened to Lucy as they walked down to the beach, occasionally looking back at the beach house.
As Lois poured herself a cup of coffee, she looked thoughtfully at Ellen sitting at the table, reading the local weekly newsletter. "Mother?"
"What do you think of Jeff?"
Ellen answered as she continued to skim the sales ads. "He's a tad too smarmy for me, but certainly better than anyone else that Lucy has dated."
Lois nearly choked on her coffee. "Smarmy?!?!?"
Ellen put down the newsletter and looked at her eldest daughter. "Smarmy. Slick. Pretentious. Like that fellow on that TV show. I keep waiting for him to compliment me on my dress."
"You don't wear dresses. You wear pantsuits."
"He still would have complimented me." When Lois continued to stare in amazement at her, Ellen sighed. "Lois, don't forget, I was married to your father. Jeff doesn't have anything on Sam in the smarmy department."
"Daddy is *not* smarmy!!!"
Ellen snorted. "Ask Mrs. Belcanto about that."
"Lois!" Ellen sighed again. "You told me last night that I had a lot to do with creating the Lois that Clark fell in love with. I'm not as ditzy as everyone seems to think I am."
Lois walked over to the table and sat next to Ellen. She placed her hand over her mother's, the gesture surprising both of them. "I never thought you were ditzy, Mom. Just …" Lois' voice trailed off as she tried to find the correct words.
"Crazy? Eccentric? Cursed?" Ellen smiled sadly, knowing that those were some of the words she had heard used to describe her.
Lois sighed. "No, Mother. None of those. You were just … you." When Ellen didn't say anything to that, Lois quickly added, "Not that there's anything wrong with that."
Ellen patted Lois' hand. "I know what you're trying to say, Lois. And I appreciate it."
"Good." Lois smiled crookedly. "You knew about Mrs. Belcanto?"
Ellen chuckled. "Even before Mrs. Belcanto did. Your father was such a charmer." She winked at Lois. "Still is. When I let him."
"Lois, do you really think you and Clark are the only ones in the whole world who have sex?"
Lois didn't even want to consider the ramifications of what Ellen had just said. The thought of her mother and her father … she suppressed a shudder. "Well, I'd better get dressed." She rose and headed toward the den.
Ellen's smile took on a mischievous look. "How'd you like to put Jeff in his place? And have a little fun?"
Lois' smiled widened. "Go on …"
"Your sister was never quite as … strong and … selective as you, Lois, and I worry —"
"Mom, hold it. I almost married Lex Luthor."
Ellen nodded. "True, but he at least would have provided a handsome divorce settlement —"
"If I survived the honeymoon."
"The point is," Ellen said, raising her voice. "You ended up making a perfect choice."
Lois' grin returned. "No argument there."
"Your sister, on the other hand, has seemed to purposely choose … for lack of a better word … losers. Not even promising losers, but losers born to be losers."
Lois sighed. "It's that 'rescuer' thing in her. She thinks she can save them, bring out their potential, and they'll be grateful, but —"
"But she ends up with their footprints all over her instead."
"So I was thinking that we could scare Jeff a little."
"Mother," Lois said flatly. "If what he's seen of us this weekend so far hasn't done it, I can't think of anything else short of a flaming arrow in the chest that would scare off Eddie Haskell."
"Oh, Lois, you're an amateur. You've been too long from the arena. What really scares a man who only wants to leech off of a woman?"
Lois thought a moment and then started ticking off items on her fingers. "Commitment, getting a job, sharing income, having children —"
"Stop," Ellen said, admiring her daughter's long dormant battle scars. "The last one will do."
"Oh, Mother," Lois said, her eyes widening, and then her voice dropped to a whisper. "I sort of love that."
"You go tell Jeff I'd like his advice on some vitamin supplements, or rosehips, or whatever he pushes in his health food store, and I'll do the rest. You keep Lucy occupied."
Lois frowned. "I don't know … Lucy will want to be with him, and —"
"Lois, the arena, remember?"
Lois nodded. "Right, I ask about Jeff — *all* about Jeff — and God help me, she will tell me."
Ellen patted Lois' shoulder. "It's a worthy cause."
Lois took a brave deep breath, the lines from A Tale of Two Cities going through her mind and keeping her legs moving forward.
"Hey, Luce!" she shouted to the tangled bodies on the beach. Lucy looked up and waved, and Lois got some small amount of gratification from the frustrated grimace on Jeff's face. "Mom would like to talk to Jeff about vitamin supplements for something!"
Jeff nearly knocked Lucy into the surf in his haste to get up. He trotted towards the beach house. "Always happy to help a lady in distress," he said as he passed Lois.
Lois would have paid good money for a trip wire right then, but settled for a weak smile at Jeff — the soon to be departed Jeff — as he went like a lamb to the slaughter.
Lucy trotted up next, tagging after Jeff as predicted. "Not so fast, Luce," Lois said, grabbing her sister's arm. "I wanted to" — she swallowed — "ask you about that hunk of yours."
The rain soon picked up again, driving Lois and Lucy up onto the cottage's covered deck. Lois just hoped that Ellen would have had time to do what she did best.
It soon became perfectly obvious that Ellen had in fact outdone herself. The Jeff she now saw was a thoughtful Jeff, a chastised Jeff, a Jeff upon whom certain cold, hard facts had all too forcefully thrust themselves. Ellen, on the other hand, seemed strangely refreshed and invigorated by their encounter, and brightly suggested that they all play a nice game of Scrabble while waiting for the rain to stop.
Lois had to hide a grin behind her hand, and turn a sudden fit of giggles into a fairly convincing cough. Lucy tried to get Jeff to join in the game, but he declined saying he had a headache and wanted to rest for a while. So, when Clark and Sam returned from their storm-tossed adventure, they found their womenfolk engaged in a hotly contested Scrabble game.
They both went to change into some dry clothes and then hovered around the table for a while, trying to tell the women about all that had happened on board the ship. Lois was the only one who was even vaguely interested, but even she was too absorbed in the heat of competition to pay them much attention. Clark recognized the signs easily enough, having been on the receiving end of Lois in full-game mode before.
He leaned over her shoulder, studying the board intently for a moment before whispering in her ear, "I still say 'chumpy' isn't a word, Lois."
"It is, too."
Ellen had heard their soft exchange and looked up. "I knew it! She said *you* said it was a word, Clark, but I knew there was —"
"Mother! That's all been settled, and we can't go back now. Just play, okay?" She turned to Clark and said very patiently, "Why don't you get yourself something to eat … dear?"
Recognizing a superior force when he saw one, Clark took himself off to the tiny kitchen to see what he could find for a late lunch. By the time he'd finished eating, the ladies were finishing up their game and tallying the scores. Lois was triumphant, having won two out of the three games they'd played. Lucy went off in a bit of a huff, hoping to find Jeff and sympathy, but instead found empty dresser drawers and a space in the closet where Jeff's clothes had once hung.
"What in the world — " Sam exclaimed.
Ellen just looked smug.
The afternoon wore on and so did the rain. Lucy was not a pleasant companion.
Lucy moped, as she was so good at doing, until Lois finally hinted to Clark that she had had enough and left for the den. It was really too early to sleep, but sleep wasn't what she had in mind. She curled up on the roll-away bed, hugging a pillow to her, and watched the rain out the window.
Clark joined her after a few moments, and just gazed at her. She looked so sweet that he couldn't resist. Sitting down next to her he pulled her back against his chest. She rested her head against him, and together they watched the rain come down.
Lois must have dozed a bit, because the next thing she knew her mother was knocking on the door, and telling them it was time for dinner. She turned around to wake Clark, but he was already wide awake and watching her intently.
"Is something wrong?" she asked him, looking into his soft brown eyes.
He looked at her for a moment before placing a soft kiss on her lips. "Not a thing."
She was vaguely confused, and quizzed him some more. "So, you just like looking at me?"
"Yes, I do." he kissed her once more, and gently caressed her cheek with the palm of his hand. For a moment longer he just gazed at her, then he told her, "This is exactly how I wanted to spend my weekend."
Lois smiled back at him and was about to give him an even more enthusiastic kiss when her father knocked on the door. She sighed, and changed the kiss to a small peck before rising from the bed. Clark joined her and opened the door for her, letting her leave the den first.
They had hamburgers for dinner, finally giving in to the take-out window of the local Burger King, and then sat around the table finishing their colas while setting up the Monopoly game.
Clark really wasn't in the mood for a marathon game night, but he figured that he would lose quickly enough to get to bed early. Lois would, of course, fight tooth and nail to win, and most likely would be playing come morning. Lucy disappeared into town in search of Jeff, and the others managed to enjoy themselves for the first couple of hours.
No one was more surprised than Clark when Lois suggested putting off the end of the game. She was considerably ahead, as usual, and it wasn't like her to release her death grip once she had decided to play a game. The rest of them gratefully agreed, and they left the game as it was on the table to get ready for bed.
Once they had brushed their teeth and changed into night clothes, Lois and Clark resumed their cuddling position on the bed.
Lois moved a little closer to Clark, grateful as always for his natural warmth and the security of his arms. Yawning, she asked, "Well, you've survived so far. Still glad you married me?"
Clark nuzzled at her neck, "Lois, I will *always* be glad that I married you."
Lois smiled. "That's sweet, but you know what I mean."
Clark chuckled. "Yeah, I know. Let's just say that I have a better appreciation for the person that you are, honey."
Lois turned in his arms and looked into his eyes. "I'm the product of my upbringing, Clark. Just like you are." She cupped the side of his face, her fingernails lightly raking along his throat. "I wouldn't want to go through all of it again, but at the same time I wouldn't change any of it."
Clark smiled softly. "You are a wise and wonderful woman, Lois."
Lois returned his smile with one of her own. "I know. Now, kiss me and show me how much you love me."
As the moonlight streamed through the window, Clark smiled once again before placing his lips over his wife's.
The rest of what Lois had feared would be 'the lost weekend' finished without incident. Lois of course won the Monopoly game, and Sam kept saying "kaching!" in imitation of a cash register each time Lois bankrupted another player.
Ellen was out of the running early and so consoled Lucy about the loss of Jeff, but was surprised Lucy wasn't quite as devastated as anticipated. She confessed she had been tired of pretending to like a vegetarian diet just out of deference to Jeff, whom she had found in Bayside scarfing down a Whopper with cheese the night before. And to think, she said indignantly, he had lectured the family on the perils of red meat!
A rather beaten up, hand-painted taxi called "The Busy Bee" came to pick Lucy up first. She'd take it into town and then catch a bus to the airport.
Lois hugged her. "You sure you're okay, Luce? You could come stay with me and Clark a while."
Lucy sighed into the hug. "I'm okay," she said, and lowered her voice. "One day I'll have enough federal disasters to qualify for my own version of Clark Kent."
Lois pulled back from the hug and smiled. "You will."
Lucy then gave Clark a brief hug. "Keep her out of trouble."
"It's my mission in life," he laughed. "Have a safe trip."
As Lois and Clark watched the cab pull away, Sam and Ellen stepped out onto the porch.
Ellen sighed loudly. "I guess you two will be leaving now."
"I'm afraid so," Clark said. "We've got a long drive."
Ellen nodded and then hugged Lois, clutching her tightly. "Bye, baby, I love you."
"I love you too, Mother," she said softly.
Ellen then hugged Clark. "Don't let her bully you too much."
"Actually, I kind of like it," he laughed.
Then without warning and before Sam could react, Clark embraced Lois' father — the man who'd saved his life, but could never be thanked for that - the man who'd 'always wanted sons'. "Goodbye, Dad," Clark said. Taking Lois' hand, he headed for the jeep.
Sam cleared his throat and sniffed. "Nice boy, that Clark Kent," he managed to say.
"Come on," Ellen said, and escorted Sam back into the beach house.
Clark closed the door for Lois and hopped into the driver's seat. Lois leaned over and kissed him. "Thanks for that, Clark. For Daddy."
Clark buckled his seat belt. "Well, I said that when we were married, they'd be my family too, and I meant it," he said, and then after listening a moment, laughed as he turned the ignition key.
"What?" Lois asked. "What are you laughing at?"
"I don't think you want to know," Clark said, a wicked gleam in his eye.
"Clark, that bullying you're so fond of can start right now, if you like."
"Okay," Clark said, mock resignation in his voice. "It's just that there's this rhythmic squeaking sound coming from the den, and —"
"Shut up and drive."
"Yes, ma'am," he laughed, and the jeep pulled away rapidly.