By Bella <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted November 21, 1997
Summary: What made Lois say "I can't" to Lex? What made her say "Lois Lane Kent?" The author puts forth her own theory in this fanfic which takes place amidst "The House of Luthor."
Author's note: This was written over one weekend after watching 'Barbarians at the Planet'. I moved on with the episodes and mentally revised 'The House of Luthor'. However, I don't own that ep on tape, so I had to go by memory. If there are some mistakes about the sequence of scenes, I apologize.
I never really felt comfortable with Lois trying in the famous mirror scene the name 'Lois Lane… Kent'. She had made it quite clear through the whole ep that she intended to go through with the wedding, missing Clark or not. So why did she suddenly think of Clark as husband material? So wondering what could have made her do this, I came up with this explanation.
BTW: I'm no mother and don't have any experience with little children so far. If I draw a slightly wrong picture concerning their maturity… please forgive me.
Further more I used B.B. Medos' "Sanctuary" without permission, but with my deepest respect.
And Lois, Clark, Lex and Mrs. Cox aren't mine, but everybody else.
And last but not least: Don't forget that I'm a sucker for feedback, especially nice feedback. So be nice to me, please.
*Lois*= the real Lois getting married to Lex Luthor
*Lois* looked at her reflection in the big mirror. The wedding gown was beautiful, though a bit lavish. Not her usual style. She would have preferred a simple and flowing one that would have hugged her fittingly.The one she had seen at "Wedding Fantasies". But Lex had thought it would be more appropriate for the future Mrs. Luthor to go and buy an specially designed gown in Milan. So she had flown to Italy with Asabi, who had taken care that his master's wishes had been taken into full consideration.
Her mother had left the room a few minutes ago to see if everything turned out as planned and if her father had eventually shown up miraculously or if her sister had been able to make it in time. Or if her friends had shown up to attend her big day. But somehow *Lois* felt that Ellen Lane would return with empty hands. She would have to walk down the aisle alone. There was no Dr. Lane or her surrogate father Perry White to give her away.
There was no one but Lex.
She was hurting. Lois had hoped that her wedding would be witnessed by her family and friends. That this day would reconcile them with each other. Well, she could understand to some extent why Clark refused to attend. Nobody wanted to watch his or her beloved getting married to another.
He had never liked Lex. Not even at the beginning almost a year ago. She had felt this tension between the men when she had joined them in Lex's study. The evening when Lex had presented them his generous gift to the world. Space Station Luthor. When she had entered the room she thought this tension was related to the fact that they had entered without permission. But now looking back she asked herself if she had witnessed the last moments of an upcoming battlefield between two foes. And what had started as irritation on Clark's side had turned to resentment and hostility then open hate. *Lois* couldn't understand why Lex personified Evil for Clark. Sure, Lex wouldn't be in his position if he was archangel Gabriel. But that? She would have never thought that Clark could be so small just because she had rejected him.
And Superman? She hadn't seen him again after his rejection of her. She still felt a bit hurt from the treatment she had gotten from him. He had made her feel cheap and low. And to what circumstances had he referred?
When she had thought about accepting Lex's proposal, his best friend's unofficially declared arch enemy? Had he rejected her because of a sense of loyalty towards Clark? Or had there never been a thing between them in the first place? Had it all been pure imagination on her side?
*Lois* sighed. So many unanswered questions.
That left Perry, Jimmy and Jack. Since Lex had taken over the Planet and saved it from downfall they seemed to have picked up Clark's antipathy. And the more she had tried to reconcile them with each other the more they had retreated from her. As if she had disappointed them somehow. Had she become an enemy as well? Why? Just because she had picked up the pieces of her life and moved on instead of sulking and mourning over the ruin of the Planet? Just because she wanted to be happy?
*Lois* looked again up to her reflection. She saw a woman who didn't look too happy. But she was, wasn't she? Wasn't she supposed to be? Suddenly she desperately wanted to know if she would lead a happy life and marriage. Would she have children with Lex? The door to her room opened.
"No, dear. I am afraid your mother is still checking things. She's arguing with the organist right now."
"Who are you? What are you doing here? Listen, in no time I'm going to get married. I don't have time for you. I'm sorry. Please excuse me."
The elderly lady in the black dress of the Civil War fashion looked surprised. With a soft voice she said, "But you called me, didn't you?"
"Called you? No, there must be some kind of confusion."
"Didn't you just wish to know how your future would be like? As Mrs. Luthor? Didn't you want to know if you're going to be happy?"
*Lois* gasped and took a step back. "How…do you know?"
"That's unimportant. Come on, give me your hand, my dear, and let's see for ourselves. By the way, you may call me Anna-Belle."
Anna-Belle extended her right hand. She had an aura of extraordinary goodness about her. Trusting like a little child *Lois* took her hand and followed her through the door…
…and stepped right into the night air.
"Where are we?" *Lois* whispered warily. They stood on the balcony of a penthouse or something much like it. Below her *Lois* saw the lights of passing cars the size of matchboxes.
"We're on the balcony of the penthouse of Lex and Lois Luthor."
*Lois* gasped. "What?!"
"Yes, my dear. You've been married a little bit over five years to Lex Luthor and tonight you're expecting some important guests. Let's stay for awhile. By the way, no one can see or hear us." *Lois* shivered. This was weird. "You're right, dear. It's still a bit cold at nights. Let's get inside. Take my hand."
Together they stepped through the closed glass door. Anna-Belle turned immediately to the warm fire at the fireplace. "That's better. My bones aren't getting younger." She sighed contentedly. "Go ahead, Lois. Look around. This is your home."
In a daze *Lois* followed Anna-Belle's advice. There hadn't been much change over the last five years. It was still the exquisite and expensive interior she had grown to know during her engagement to Lex. *Lois* wandered to the door.
"Go on, my dear. You can pass through them all inside the penthouse. She's still in the bathroom," Anna-Belle encouraged. Holding her breath she tried to turn the knob and found that she could move through the wood. Surprised she pulled her hand back and turned around. *Am I dead?*
"Certainly not, Lois. You're just on a strange kind of journey." The elderly lady smiled warmly. "Now go." *Lois* extended her arms and resolutely moved through the door.
*Wow!* She heard Anna-Belle laugh softly. *Can you read my thoughts? Is this why I called you as you say?**Lois* waited for an answer, but received none. Tentatively she walked through the penthouse.
There were servants preparing the dining room under Asabi's surveillance. In the kitchen Monsieur Alfonse shooed his helpers around. She smiled at the wild gestures of the little Belgian. And she moved on. Finally she climbed up the stairs. Passing one room after another she entered the master bedroom. It looked like they had discussed it, with the fitness equipment in one corner. *Lois*' gaze fell on the bed. This was the place where Lex and she…
*Lois* turned to an ancient and beautiful dressing table with the usual stuff scattered around and a picture in a dainty silver frame of her and her friends Jimmy, Jack, Perry and Clark next to her. A voice caught her attention. Turning a corner she looked into a big and spacious bathroom at a maid and herself. *Lois* looked at her future self. That Lois rested her head on a pillow on the edge of the tub, eyes closed and listening to the maid.
Anna-Belle was suddenly there as well. *Lois* whispered to her, "Look, I've let my hair grow long. Why did I do that? I vowed to myself never to do that again, when I had it cut after prom night."
"There's no need for whispering, Lois. No one can hear you but me." *Lois* turned her attention back to the scene in the bathroom.
"…and Mr. Luthor asks you to wear your new gown this evening, ma'am."
"Have Mr. Luthor and Mrs. Cox already arrived?"
"Thank you, Mary. Please put out the new gown and call Kirsten to do my hair."
"Yes, ma'am." The maid passed them to leave the room.
"MRS. COX!?" *Lois* pressed her hands to her hips. "Why is SHE still here? I told Lex I can't stand that woman. She makes me feel uneasy. As if she knows something about myself that I don't know. Lex promised to send her away." Lois was angry and confused.
"Looks as if he didn't keep that promise."
"Yeah, looks so."
Mary returned and brought a big towel with her. Lois opened her eyes. There were a few lines around them.
"Mr. Luthor and Mrs. Cox have arrived and Kirsten is on her way, ma'am." "Thanks."
Lois rose and stepped out of the tub to the awaiting towel. She looked fragile. She dried herself and slipped into the dressing gown Mary held open. A third woman knocked at the open door.
"Kirsten? Come in. Let's start. We have barely an hour left before the guests arrive."
"How do you want your hair?"
"I don't care. Work your magic, Kirsten."
Kirsten smiled shyly. "I'll do my best."
Anna-Belle and *Lois* watched Lois getting styled and ready. *Lois* gasped and gripped her friend's arm when she saw Lois' new ruby-red gown. "It's beautiful, Anna-Belle." A bit surprised *Lois* observed Lois behaving rather indifferently. She just slipped into it and let it be hooked up by Mary.
"Lois, my dearest, you look breathtakingly beautiful this evening." Lois looked up and smiled.
"And look what I've got here to match the dress." Lex stepped towards Lois, who seemed to tense a bit. He opened a jewellery box and showed her the contents. It was an ancient collier of rubies.
"Imagine. It belonged once to Maria Theresa of Austria. She was a truly remarkable woman. A worthy opponent to Frederick the Great of Prussia in the Seven-Years War and a wise ruler and good mother. Her most famous child was Marie Antoinette of France, who unfortunately lost her head during the French Revolution."
"Lex, I know who Maria Theresa was."
*I sound tired.**Lois* thought. She watched Lex put the collier around Lois' neck and kiss her.
"I know how intellligent and well-educated you are, my darling. These are some of the reasons why I made you my wife. Now let's go."
Anna-Belle and *Lois* followed them and witnessed the arrival of the dinner guests. Among them the Japanese Minister of the Interior, who was visiting the States unofficially, and two US Senators. The atmosphere of the dinner was relaxed. Lex told some anecdotes and again and again dinner was interrupted by fits of laughter. But Lois was quiet and somehow absent. They were already drinking their coffee in the living room, when the wife of the Texan senator adressed her.
"Mrs. Luthor, I don't know if you remember, but we met before."
"We have? I'm sorry, Mrs. Adams, but I don't seem to recall. Please help me, when and where?"
"When? Hm, I don't know…oh, yes. It must be five, maybe six ago. My husband and I were here in Metropolis for the Republican Convention. We attended 'Metropolis' Finest Ball.' You were there as well."
"Oh, yes, now I remember." Suddenly the rather lifeless Lois woke up and sparkled.
"Really, Lois? Please, do tell us." Lex leant towards her, giving his wife his full attention.
Lois smiled broadly. "It was shortly after the incident at the Planet where you'd been shot. Do you remember? Clark saved your life."
Lex nodded, frowning. "Hard to forget."
"Anyway, back then you were in China on business tour. And we got these invitations for this ball."
"Why didn't you tell me then? I would have come back."
"Oh, Lex. It was only a ball. No need to drag you back to Metropolis. So Perry, Alice, Clark and I went together. It turned to be a great night."
"You went with Kent?"
"Certainly. Why not? He was my partner and friend. He knew you weren't in Metropolis and jumped in for you."
"How nice of Mr. Kent." *Lois* looked at him. There was an edge in Lex's voice that gave her chills.
"Yes. He was."
"Now, I remember Mr. Kent, too. What a dashing young man! You made a formidable couple that evening," Mrs. Adams interjected.
"Yes, we were a great team. For so many months we had constantly rubbed each other the wrong way and now the friction had smoothed the raw edges of our partnership. We had adapted and fit together. But on the way to that…my, we had some huge fights! I still wonder, why the plaster didn't fall off the walls."
The group chuckled.
"Sometimes I think the whole staff constantly wore invisible kevlars for fear of getting caught in the crossfire between Clark and me."
The room echoed the laughter. Even Anna-Belle snickered and *Lois* remembered the night not so long ago as well. A soft smile graced her face.
"Come on, Mrs. Luthor. You're kidding us. It can't have been that bad."
"Believe it, Mr. Akito, believe it. Sometimes I behaved like a real bitch. I often didn't treat Clark as he deserved. But we overcame our differences and 'Lane and Kent' had a glorious future as the best reporting team after Woodward and Bernstein, to quote Perry, our editor and beloved and well-respected friend." Lois' voice became dreamy as she sank deeper and deeper into the memory. "We had fun, plain fun that night. I think Clark and I danced the evening away without really noticing. Clark was a great dancer. A real Nigerian princess taught him ballroom dancing in England, you know."
"Really? Remarkable!" the wife of the South Carolinan Senator exclaimed.
"Really. At one point Perry had a glass of champagne over his limit an started to quietly sing 'Love Me Tender'. I think there's no bigger Elvis fan than Perry. We helped Alice to steer him out of the ballroom and into the limousine and decided to call it a night in the ballroom as well.
Clark hailed a cab and we drove to the fudge bar at Keans' Beach and got us some frozen yogurt. It was still a warm night on the promenade."
Lois smiled. "Suddenly, just as we had begun to walk, he gave me his cone and stripped off his shoes and socks. He said 'Let's walk in the sand. I haven't done that in a long while.' It's amazing. I followed Clark and found myself barefoot and ankle-deep in sand in an expensive evening gown not far away from the shoreline. After awhile we reached one of those rock barriers.
You know those that reach far into the ocean to break the force of the waves. It was full moon and somehow we could see enough to climb among the big rocks to reach the farthest point from shore. I ruined my shoes and didn't give a damn. We were surrounded by the water, which lapped steadily at the rocks at our feet. Clark had put his jacket onto a natural seat and we leant back and watched the white crown of the waves. He said he wanted to show me something but it would take a while. So we just sat there and Clark told me stories of his many travels around the world. Funny ones, sad ones and some that made you think. And before we noticed it, we had talked the night away and dawn broke. Behind us was Metropolis and civilisation, but at our sides was the ocean, some seagulls, rocks and in front of us, the most beautiful sunrise I had ever seen. Clark had wanted to show me that. To give me this gift… Only he could make me do things I normally wouldn't even have thought of. That night we felt so close to each other. But then there was the explosion that ruined the Daily Planet and things were never the same again." Lois returned to the present and focused back on her guests.
"Woah, that was a really nice story. This Clark Kent must be a outstanding man above his good looks."
"Yes, you're right, Mrs. Adams. Clark was very special."
"Anna-Belle, why does she say 'was'? Where is Clark? What happened to him and the others? Everything's alright, isn't it? *Lois* felt fear grip her.
"Shh, Lois. That's not important. You wanted to know if you're going to be happy with Lex Luthor."
*Lois* steered her attention back to the dinner. After Lois had finished her story she fell silent and was somehow lifeless again. The spark, brought up by the memories of the Planet and her friends, was gone. The change was chilling. Mrs. Cox covered it by starting another story of witnessing a sunrise on Tonga.
A short time later Lois whispered to Lex and stood up and left the table. Lex nodded and excused her from the table, a heavy frown on his face.
*Lois* and Anna-Belle followed her into the bedroom. Lois fell rather than sat onto the chair in front of the dressing table, looking for a moment at the picture, and cradled her face in her hands and remained motionless.
"Anna-Belle, I don't understand this. Why am I so… apathetic? I am not happy, am I?"
"No, my dear, you're not." She stroked *Lois*' hair.
Lex entered the room after a while. "They're gone. Mrs. Cox had to cover your role as hostess."
"I'm sorry, Lex, but I'm so terribly tired."
"You've disappointed me. The Senators Adams and Norwalk are very important to me and you were as lively as the Rock of Gibraltar! Except when you told old stories." Lex crouched at the side of her crumpled figure. He put up her chin and drew her head to him to make her see into his eyes. "But I have decided to forgive you, because I love you. Though… I won't tolerate such behaviour again. Do you understand?" Lois nodded. "Good, my darling. I think it's the best for you to go to Switzerland for the next four weeks.
Mrs. Cox will arrange everything with Dr. Heinrich. You will find some peace and rest in his sanatorium."
"No, Lex, I don't want to leave Met…"
"I know, I know. I don't want you to go either. But you will lose your tiredness and come back more beautiful than ever. We will meet in London. It'll tie in with the meeting of the Ministers of Economy of the EU. We will meet some business partners. And you will capture them all with your charm, my dearest. I'm going to talk to Marcus about your work at LNN.
From now on I want you to work just three days a week. Your many appearances are wearing you out."
"But, Lex, I only work half days at LNN. I want to keep my job there."
"You will, Lois, you will. But not in the same capacity as before. I won't let you lose your health and beauty. It's for the best."
For a moment *Lois* thought her future self would object, but… nothing. "You're probably right, Lex."
"Now, why don't you go to sleep. Mrs. Cox and I still have to work a bit. Don't wait for me." Lex kissed her mouth and her forehead and left the room.
*Lois* exploded. Angrily, she shouted at her future self. "Why did you let him do that to you? What's wrong with you? Where have your will and determination gone? FIGHT! He has taken your independence and you just sit there and drop your jewellery onto the table. DO something!" *Lois* paced up and down, trying to come through to the other Lois but without any success.
"Lois, please, calm down. She can't see or hear you." Tears streamed down Lois' face. "Oh, Anna-Belle. I'm sitting in a golden cage. Trapped. And…he… broke me, my will. He has taken my self… my soul."
Anna-Belle took her into her arms and looked at her with deep compassion. "I'm so sorry, so sorry, Lois. You've seen your future. Now it's time to go back."
"NO! I can't. I can't marry this man. Why didn't I listen to Clark? He tried to warn me, but I never listened to him. No, Lois Lane knows what's best for her. Oh, Clark…"
"Come, Lois, we have to go."
"Anna-Belle…" *Lois* blushed. "…Clark said he loved me… Is it possible for you to show me my future with… Clark?"
If *Lois* had looked up she would have seen the tender smile on Anna-Belle's face. Gently she lifted *Lois*' head. "Yes. It is. But only, if you really want to know."
"Yes." *Lois* whispered and with a last glance at the shell of her former self at the dressing table, she repeated more forcefully "Yes!" Anna-Belle took Lois' hand and together they stepped through the balcony door and into the night air to…
…face a middle-sized brownstone house in a quiet little street.
"Yes. This is the home of Clark and Lois Kent and their three children Jordan Jerôme, Lara-Louise and Christopher Jerôme, Mocha, the golden retriever and some fish. Next weekend is your fifth anniversary."
"Oh, god. I… we have children? And Mocha?"
"You found her as a puppy during an investigation at the Metropolis Animal Asylum. She and her siblings were in a sack of coffee beans and ready to get drowned by an employe. She was the weakest of all and you took her with you. Do we want to enter?"
They went up the stairs and entered the house. The dog in his basket didn't look up. *Lois* looked around with big eyes. There were the big plants of Clark's apartment. And there was the painting of Lois'. Bits and pieces reminded her of their flats as she went through the rooms. She climbed up the stairs. The laughter of little children reached her ears.
*Lois* felt almost magically drawn to them. And then she looked into a big playroom which had the air of a minor bomb explosion. But more important were the playing children.
A boy about four years with raven black hair pushed around a big red fire engine on the carpet and imitated the sounds of the sirens. A little angelic girl with curly and equally black hair sat among the chaos and chatted in child's language with a ragged cloth doll. *Lois* looked at them in wonder. These were her children. She felt a surge of love and brushed her tears away.
*They are beautiful.*
"Hmh, they are. Now come on. You haven't met Christopher and Lois yet."
"How come I never hear you coming?"
"You direct your thoughts or words to me and I'm there."
*Lois* and Anna-Belle discovered the rest of the upper floor and entered the bedroom, looking for Lois and Christopher. And stepping through another door *Lois* found herself and the latest family addition — three month old Christopher — in a little adjourning room. She watched how Lois, looking a bit tired but nonetheless content, expertly dried him with a fluffy towel, changed him, dressed him, kissed him and then sat down in a rocking chair. Breathlessly she saw Lois open her blouse and bra to breastfeed the baby, who started to suck eagerly. She quietly hummed a soft tune and rocked slowly.
The peace was interrupted by the sudden cry of Lara-Louise. Lois sighed. What now? The crying got nearer and two-year old Lara-Louise waddled into the room. Lois sat up.
"Oh, honey, come here. What's happened? Mommy's here. Shh." She craddled her daughter in her free arm.
"Mommy, Jo'y took Lily." A new wave of tears streamed down the little face.
"Jordan? Come here!" Lois raised her voice. The boy slipped around the corner with the doll Lily in his hand.
"I want you to give Lara Lily back. How often do I have to tell you to leave the doll alone? You know it makes your sister cry."
"I'm sorry, mommy."
Lois kissed her eldest son on the head. "I know, honey. Now give Lily back and apologize to Lara."
Jordan did as he was told and as soon Lily was back in Lara's arms to be cuddled, everything was alright again.
"Mommy, when does Daddy come home?"
"I don't know. Soon."
Downstairs Mocha started to bark joyfully. They heard the door open and close. "Lois, honey? Are you there?"
"Jory, Lara, slowly. Jory, take Lara by the hand, when you go down the stairs!"
Lois called to the backs of their children. Lily lay forgotten at Lois' feet. Christopher started mewing. She switched breasts.
From the top stair *Lois* watched the welcome scene downstairs. Mocha got a loving pat from her master and quieted, strolling back to her basket with an excitedly wagging tail. A slightly older-looking Clark Kent hooked up his coat, dropped his briefcase and slipped out of his shoes. He turned around to watch his children move downstairs. Little Lara-Louise gripped the poles of the banister and her brother's hand. Clark dropped to his knees, opening his arms for them. When they had reached him, he pressed them tightly to his body.
"Daddy, I've missed you."
"Daddy, missed you," Lara-Louise prattled.
"I've missed you, too." He gave both a loving kiss and stood up. Bending down he picked up Lara-Louise and took Jordan by the hand. "Now, where are Mommy and Christopher?"
"Mommy is upstairs…"
"She's feeding him."
"Then let's go find them."
*Lois* stepped out of the way and let three-fifths of the Kent family pass. She could see how much Clark loved his children.
"I'm in here."
Clark passed through the bedroom into the little room. Lois was pacing with Christopher, waiting for him to burp. He did and turned red.
"Hi, honey." Clark bent his head to kiss his wife hello.
"Hi, sweetie. You're just in time for changing Christopher."
"Oh, joy!" Clark groaned in mock despair. "Coming home to my beloved family after a day's hard work to hear the first thing from my beautiful wife that my youngest offspring needs changing. Yeah, that's what makes a man really happy."
Lois laughed, eyes sparkling. "Hey, you know the saying 'You do the crime, you do the time'."
"With pleasure, Lois, with pleasure."
"Especially the first part."
"You know me so well."
"Yes, though I still love you."
"I love you, too, honey."
They exchanged a lingering kiss, interrupted only by the mewing of Christopher, who felt uncomfortable around his rear end.
"Okay, let me change and then I do my time."
"I'll be downstairs, preparing dinner. Jory, Lara, you can help me."
Clark let Lara-Louise down and went back to the bedroom to change into jeans and a T-shirt. *Lois* got big eyes. She had really forgotten how well defined he was. Lois went with the children downstairs and *Lois* followed. She wanted to see if she could manage to prepare a decent meal for her family.
Surprisingly she managed just fine. Jordan and Lara-Louise tried to lay the table. A short time later Clark joined them.
"He's sleeping like an angel."
"Good. Come on, dinner's almost ready. Everybody, wash your hands!"
During the meal Clark, Lois, *Lois* and Anna-Belle listened to the stories of the children.
"…and Tommy said he could draw much better than me."
"Does he, honey?" Lois asked.
"He's right, Mommy," Jordan grumbled, then his face lighted up. "But I'm faster than him!" Lois and Clark exchanged some glances.
"Now I have something to tell you."
"What's up, Clark?"
"I talked with Perry today. Since we worked hard on our last big story and it's our fifth anniversary we're off until Wednesday."
"Clark, that's great!" Lois stood up to hug her husband fiercely.
"Everything goes as planned. Mom and Dad are going to take the children. I already talked to them."
"Mommy, Daddy, does this mean we stay longer with Grandma and Grandpa?" "That's right, Jory."
"May I play with Mark there?"
"I don't know. You have to ask Grandma, Grandpa and Mark's mommy," Clark answered.
"Do we fly again with Superman?"
"Uh-huh" Lois responded.
"I like fly with Supe'man," Lara-Louise mingled into the conversation.
"That must definitely be a family trait," Clark smiled.
"Can Lily come, too?"
"I'm sure Superman will take Lily with him, too, honey."
"Mommy, are you going to stay with us or do you go away with Daddy?"
"No, Jory, this time we go away again and come back on Wednesday to take you home. Mommy and Daddy need some time alone." Lois the addressed Clark.
"Where do we go?"
"Where ever you want us to, Mrs. Kent. Think about it."
"Uh-huh, I will, Mr. Kent."
*Lois* turned to Anna-Belle. "I think, I'm a happy woman. But do I still work with Clark? He said so."
"Yes. The Planet's been built up again. You're on maternity leave. That means you work from home. In two weeks Clark will stay at home for the next three months. That's at least the procedure of the past two times."
"We're equal in this marriage, aren't we?"
"Looks that way. I think it's time to go. You've seen enough."
"No, let's stay a bit longer. I want to put my children to bed and observe Clark and myself a bit longer. When they're alone. I need to be sure."
For a moment Anna-Belle seemed to want to say something, but remained silent. "Okay, we stay." They observed the evening routine in the Kent household and listened with Jordan and Lara-Louise to Clark's bedtime story and Lois' song. Putting her hand above Lois' *Lois* turned on the night light by the door and left the room, after looking back at two sleeping black heads.
"Finally! I thought they would never go to sleep," Lois smiled tenderly but exhausted.
"Yup. They're excited about the upcoming time on the farm with Mom and Dad." Lois slipped into Clark's comforting embrace.
"More or less. I prevented a bank robbery and rescued a school bus. The old Met Bridge should really get closed. I wrote an article about it and I did some research about the city's budget. I brought the notes home."
"Is Christopher asleep?" Clark slipped his glasses down and checked.
*Lois* put a hand on her mouth to keep from screaming. "Oh my god!" she whispered eventually. "I'm married to…Superman!"
"No, Lois. You're married to Clark Kent. Superman is just a costume and a bit of his Kryptonian personality."
"She knows and isn't mad at him?"
"Well, she's over it now. But you gave Clark a rough time at first."
"I hope so! How could he do that to me? Lying to me for so long. Ha, you think your best friend is a completely normal guy and then… Oh no! No. Now everything makes sense. Oh, Anna-Belle, I've hurt him so much, when I said to him I would love him even if he was a normal guy. He is a normal guy and I rejected him!" *Lois* began to cry.
"Shh, Lois. It's okay. He forgave you a long time ago. The past's mistakes don't count for them."
They watched how Clark fetched his briefcase and took out his notes. Lois and Clark worked on them for awhile. Then they decided enough was enough and moved upstairs. *Lois* looked again at the children with them. They were sound asleep.
"So, honey, have you already thought about where you want to spend our anniversary?" Clark asked as they prepared for bed.
"I'd like to spend it in our Sanctuary. It's a long time since we were on the island. Can we?"
Clark took her into her arms and rubbed her back slowly. "I'm glad you want to go there, because it's exactly the same place I want to go to, too. We need really some time away from the world. And you're a bit pale for my taste. We need to work on your tan."
"Reaaally? Any plans?" she asked as she slung her arms around his neck. "I'm going to take care that every inch of your skin will be exposed to the sun for a very long time every day."
"Sounds interesting. Care to show me how?"
"Uh-uh. No. That's a secret." Clark grinned and kissed Lois lightly on her lips. They disentangled and slipped under the covers. Lois switched off the lights.
"Tell me. Pretty please?" she said into the darkness.
Anna-Belle and *Lois* heard some whispering in the darkness and then an outraged but amused "Clark!", a fit of giggles and saw some movement under the covers. When they heard Clark's soft moan "Oh, Lois…" *Lois* decided she had seen and heard enough.
"Anna-Belle, I want to go back. I've made my choice."
"Wait a minute, my dear. The moment we enter your dressing room again, you won't remember a thing."
"What?!" *Lois* looked panic-stricken at Anna-Belle, clutching her arm.
"What are you telling me? I won't know any of what I've seen? But how can I be sure that I won't make the biggest mistake of my life and go through the wedding because of my stubbornness and because I don't know any better?"
"You can't be sure, because your memory won't remember this. But, Lois, your heart will know. Listen to your heart, and everything will turn out fine."
"Anna-Belle, I'm scared."
The elderly lady looked intently into *Lois*' eyes. "Listen to your heart, not your head." She took *Lois* by the hand and stepped towards the bedroom door.
*Lois* blinked. What took her mother so long? She looked again at her reflection in the mirror. No, she didn't look like a blushing and glowing bride, rather like a miserable heap. Tears welled up.
Her mother entered the room and silently observed her daughter, who tried her future name.
"Mrs. Lex Luthor… Lois Lane Luthor… Lois Luthor Lane." Lois was embarrassed, but she felt the urge to say it. "Lois Lane… Kent… Lois Lane." The tears streamed down now. She tried in vain to put herself together.
"Mom, what am I supposed to do?"
"Oh, honey. You don't have to go through with it if you're not sure," Ellen Lane looked at her daughter through the mirror's reflection, embracing her.
"But it's too late now."
"No, it's not," she said firmly.
A gentle and soft voice popped up from deep in her. "Listen to your heart, not your head."
*Lois* was confused. What was she supposed to do?