By IRC Round Robin
Submitted June 1999
Summary: Lois and Clark reminisce about the past and speculate about their future as they clean out the spare room that will become the nursery.
An IRC Round Robin by Zoomway <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Melisma <email@example.com; Mackteach <Mackteach@aol.com>; Eraygun <Eraygun@aol.com>; chrispat <firstname.lastname@example.org>; ChiefPam <email@example.com>
Clark leaned in the doorway of the cluttered room and sighed. "Honey, why don't I just move out all this junk at super speed?"
"Nice try, Kent," Lois said as she brushed by him. "But remember what happened when you moved everything out of my apartment at super speed?"
Clark winced. "You're not going to bring up the fish thing again, are you?"
Lois picked up a football trophy. "Clark, it wouldn't have taken you a minute to fill the fish tank and put the fish in that, but no," she sighed, "you filled the sink and put them there instead."
"True," Clark acknowledged. "But *you're* the one who threw the burnt casserole dish in the sink without looking."
Lois tried not to smile. "That dish was filled with soap."
"Honey," he soothed. "The fish were fine, and cleaner than fish have a right to be."
Lois finally laughed. "The point is, we're doing this the old-fashioned way."
Clark sighed again. "Is this another 'bonding' thing?"
Lois shrugged and examined the trophy more closely. "I don't mind bonding over sports awards. It's kind of cute."
Clark took the trophy. "Can't we call it 'sexy' instead of 'cute'?"
Lois tugged at one of his belt loops. "You're sexy. The trophy is … " Lois cut herself off and read the inscription, " 'Awarded for Exceptional Performance' … that's you, all right."
Clark leaned forward and gave Lois a small kiss. "Thank you, though I have to admit I started playing football to help judge how much strength would be seen as 'human.' I chose a sport where everyone was padded."
Lois began ripping tape from a cardboard box. "Sounds like my drill team. Everyone was padded there, too."
Clark smiled. "Guess I picked the wrong extracurricular activity."
Lois opened the box. "There's only one human strength you would have learned from joining my drill team, Clark," she said, and lifted out a toaster. "The duplicate wedding presents. I knew we'd see them again, just not this soon."
Clark reached in and pulled out a blender. "I thought you were giving these to charity."
Lois didn't meet his gaze. "Well," she hesitated. "I was hoping that by the time we found these things again, I'd have already destroyed the old ones through various cooking adventures."
Clark shook his head. "Lois Lane … she's not just a wife, mother-to-be and a reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, she's an appliance junkie."
Lois turned her head. "Your parents are coming this way."
Clark lowered his glasses and looked through the wall. "You're right. Psychic?" he teased.
"No, but your dad is wearing those new shoes Martha gave him. I can hear the squeak of new leather from a mile away."
"And the groaning."
"That too," Lois laughed.
"Oh come on, Jonathan, they aren't *that* bad!" Martha laughed as they started up the stairs.
"Yeah, sure, and you *love* new shoes," he shot back. "Give me my old loafers any day … "
"Hi, Mom, hi, Dad," Clark called from the top of the stairs. "Come on up. Lois and I are just cleaning out the new nursery."
"Clark, what's this?" Lois asked as they both came in. She was holding a pair of black patent leather shoes with metal plates on the soles.
"Uh, um … " he stammered, turning slightly red. "Um, remember when I told you I learned ballroom dancing from the Nigerian princess?"
"Uh-huh … "
"Well, I learned how to tap dance first."
"*You*, Clark? You learned to tap dance?" She was looking at him as if he had sprouted another six heads.
"Yeah, well, I was … How old was I, Mom?
"It was right after we got those Fred Astaire movies, honey. I guess you were about ten … "
"Could have been worse, son," Jonathan chimed in. "Could have been *ballet*!"
Lois grinned. "He's not too far off, Jonathan." She winked at Martha. "*He* wears the tights in this family."
Clark grimaced. "Ha ha. Very funny." He lifted a box effortlessly and set it on the floor. "At least they're not pink," he mumbled.
Martha smiled as she caught the last part of Clark's muttering. "What was that, dear?"
Clark shook his head. "Oh, nothing, Mom. Nothing at all." He opened the box and frowned at the spiral-bound notebooks and binders. "Lois? What's all this?"
"Hmmm?" Lois looked up from the box of stuffed animals she was going through. Hugging one to her she looked at what Clark was pulling out of his box. "Oh!" She dropped the stuffed moose and hurried over to him. "That's okay, Clark. We don't need to look in this one."
She closed the box up so quickly, taking the spiral notebook out of his hand, that Clark had to use a little super-speed so his hand wouldn't be caught. But Lois hadn't been quick enough. And she had forgotten that she was married to a man who had x-ray vision when necessary. As Lois finished re-securing the top of the box, Clark 'peeked' inside. He saw that on the cover of the spiral notebooks, "Short Stories" was written on them followed by a year. But what really caught his attention was a newer looking notebook, this one a three-ring binder. On the spine, Lois had written "1994" and the words …
"'Unfinished Stories'? Lois?" Clark looked at her, his eyebrow cocked, waiting for an answer.
Lois tried to bluff her way out of it. "Oh … just some things I started and never got around to finishing … "
"Stories? As in articles? Honey, that doesn't sound like you."
"Clark, they were several years ago … "
"Even so. I'm sure that my hard-bitten reporter with the tenacity of a bulldog wouldn't let go of a story until it was printed and nominated for a Pulitzer."
Lois muttered to herself, "Theyaren'tthosekindsofstories."
Clark heard her, his curiosity growing. "Lois … if they aren't *those* kinds of stories … then what kind are they?"
Lois looked at Martha. Then Jonathan. And finally back to Clark. Three pairs of eyes looked back at her with interest.
Lois knew the jig was up. She'd either have to come clean with what was in the box or she'd have Clark obsessing about them.
"They're *my* stories, Clark. Fictional stories."
"Fictional? … Oh!" Clark looked at her with interest. "Like your Wanda Detroit story?"
Lois tamped down the embarrassment that was building within her. "Yes … and no." She took a deep breath. "Yes, they're like my Wanda Detroit story, only different."
"That romance novel you were writing? About the woman never finding true love?" Martha asked.
Lois shook her head. "No, Martha." She looked at Clark and smiled. "That one will probably never be finished. I've … lost … that character's motivation." Clark returned her smile, encouraging Lois to continue.
"When I didn't know you were Superman, there were times that I couldn't sleep, just wondering what you were really feeling and what kind of life you led when you weren't being a superhero."
Clark chuckled. "Usually wondering how I could get you to notice me instead of Superman."
Martha chided him. "Honey, you're talking about yourself in the third person again."
Lois smiled at Martha's mothering and continued with her explanation. "When I found out that you and Superman were one and the same, I still couldn't sleep, wondering how I hadn't recognized it from the first and why the powers-that-be had decided to smile down on me."
Clark looked at her with love in his eyes, the light behind them shining as he listened to her words.
"Even now, when you get late night calls for help, sometimes I can't get back to sleep. So … I write."
Lois shrugged her shoulders. "Sometimes about Wanda … sometimes about other characters I make up … sometimes about … " She stopped as she felt her cheeks flush with embarrassment.
Martha caught the look in Lois' eyes and guessed that what Lois might say would probably be best heard only by Clark. "Come on, Jonathan. How'd you like to soak your feet in some bath salts?"
"I'd like to know what Lois writes abou — "
Lois watched as Martha shooed him to the door.
"Never mind, Jonathan. I'll explain it to you later." Martha closed the door behind her, winking at Lois.
Lois sighed, feeling her embarrassment die down just a bit.
She turned back to Clark. "They're just stories, Clark. Graphic stories."
She shook her head. Sometimes the naive Kansas farm boy was very evident in her husband. "Graphic, Clark. Graphic *love* stories."
Clark thought for a moment, then his eyes widened. "Oh!" He looked at the box. "Can I read them sometime?"
Lois giggled. "Maybe you can help me finish a few of them."
Clark grinned. "Sounds like a plan to me."
Lois laughed and picked up another box, this one containing some dusty photo albums. "Clark what are these?"
He shrugged and pulled one of the albums out of the box. "Just scrapbooks Mom made from my pictures and souvenirs while I was traveling."
Lois leaned closer to Clark as he opened the album and her face lit up with a warm smile. "Clark, did you take these photos?" He nodded. "They're beautiful. I never knew you could do this. I really do learn something new about you every day."
Clark flushed a little. "It's no big deal, honey. I just pointed the camera. Some of these places are so beautiful it would have been impossible not to take a great shot." He flipped through the album until he stopped at a photo of a pristine pink beach fronting a beautiful blue lagoon. "This place, for example."
"Oh, Clark, it's wonderful, where is it?"
Clark grinned. "That's for me to know and you to find out … How about on our next day off?"
Lois flung her arms around his neck and pulled him in for a toe-curling kiss. Clark was a little breathless when she drew back.
"Wow! Maybe we should look through these albums more often!"
Lois sighed and nestled her head against his shoulder. "You know, sometimes when I'm working on those 'stories' in the middle of the night, I kind of resent the fact that you have to be gone so much. But then you casually suggest something like flying off to a deserted island in the middle of nowhere, and I realize I'm the luckiest woman on Earth." She started to kiss him again, but was distracted by the sound of throat-clearing behind her.
Martha bustled back into the room. "Come on, you two, we'll never get this finished at the rate you're going."
Clark exchanged glances with his father, who had followed Martha, and sighed. He reluctantly released Lois and turned to another box. "Lois, honey, what's in this box? I don't remember seeing it before."
Lois peered at the box. "I don't recognize that one, either."
Martha adjusted her glasses. "Oh! That one. I brought that. It's Clark's baby things. I thought you could use them." She pushed aside some shirts lying on top, as though looking for something.
"Oh, here it is," Martha cooed, her voice going up two octaves on the 'it's so cute' scale. She held up something that looked like tiny red and yellow briefs.
Lois leaned forward. "What is that?"
"Please, Mom, I'm begging here."
Martha handed them to Lois. "It's the cute little diaper thing Clark was wearing when we found him."
"So much for begging," Clark muttered.
Lois smiled. "I can see where you got your idea for part of the Superman costume."
Jonathan laughed and patted Clark on the back. "Don't worry, son. No one will ever know the truth."
Clark, thoroughly embarrassed, just nodded. "After years of wearing my underwear on the outside, the truth finally comes out."
"Oh, honey, you've always been so handsome," Martha said, trying to placate her suddenly fragile son. "I knew you'd look good in *anything*."
Clark sighed. "Even that leopard-skin thing you made?"
Lois raised her eyebrows. "Leopard-skin? I kind of wish I could see that one."
"Well, keep wishing," Clark smiled, "because you'll only see it if we happen to find a magic lamp in this junk."
Martha smiled and started handing Lois booties, blankets, little shoes, pajamas, and all manner of other baby clothing, each time giving the item a hug and a sigh. However, Clark noticed she was distributing them rather quickly, and it turned out she had a good reason. From the bottom of the box she retrieved a red baseball cap with fiber-fill wings stitched to the side.
She handed it to Lois along with a red sash-style mask. "Early Superman," she said and smiled up at Clark as she reached back into the box and brought out assorted tights, masks, belts … and leopard-skin.
Martha leaned towards Lois conspiratorially. "He was very picky," she whispered.
Lois placed the baseball cap on Clark's head. "I like that," she said with true admiration. "It looks like you could deliver flowers at the speed of light."
Reaching into another box Lois drew out yet another scrapbook. "What's this, Clark?" she asked.
"Oh, Clark, isn't that your poetry book?" Jonathan said, not letting Clark answer.
Clark groaned as Lois began to leaf through it. "Oh, Lois, they're awful. Those go back to when I was eight or nine, I guess."
"Wow, who would have guessed? My Clark, a budding writer at eight or nine," Lois grinned. "Let's see what you found worthy of sonnetizing back then … Oooh, this sounds good … 'I'm up the tree! I love to be with the bird, his song the sweetest you ever heard.' Hey, not bad — it even rhymes!
"Oh, I remember when you wrote that, Clark," his mother smiled. "You and your father had just built a treehouse, and you used to love to spend hours up there."
"Yeah," Jonathan reminisced, "and that's when we first started realizing that you had, er … extraordinary abilities. Remember, Martha?"
Martha laughed, while Clark started to blush again. "You scared half my life away when you fell out of that silly treehouse! I thought for sure you had killed yourself. But no, you *bounced*! Landed on your feet just like a cat."
"If it had been seven or eight years later, I would have flown … "
"Yeah, you didn't start floating for another two years, and it took you quite a bit longer to learn to control it and eventually to fly," Martha finished for him.
"Wow, Clark, the things I learn about you when your parents come to town!" Lois laughed.
Clark teasingly glared at Lois. "Maybe we should invite Ellen and Sam over more often." He punctuated his suggestion with a wide grin, earning him a face full of stuffed moose.
Martha chuckled. "He's right, Lois. So far we've unboxed Clark's memorabilia. Well, except for that box of notebooks … " She stopped as she saw the beginnings of a flush on Lois' face. Deftly, she changed the subject. Picking up the box of 'early Superman' costumes, she handed them to Jonathan. "Have you two decided on a name for the baby?"
Clark smirked. "Lois wanted to name the baby Godiva if it's a girl … and Hershey if it's a boy … " He ducked as another stuffed animal flew through the air at him.
"Just because I can't have chocolate while I'm carrying *your* child, Clark Kent, is no reason to torture me!" She grinned and looked at Martha. "Besides, Martha, *he* was thinking of … mmmph!" Her bright eyes glared at Clark as he clamped his hand over her mouth.
"Now, Lo-is … you *swore* you wouldn't repeat that to *anyone*!"
Her look softened as Clark's hand moved slightly, his fingers caressing her cheek. She sighed into his palm and moved her lips against it. She nodded, silently promising not to continue her story.
Reluctantly, Clark moved his hand away from her mouth. He had felt her soft kiss, the touch sending a tingle throughout his body. His eyes darkened slightly and if his parents hadn't been in the room, he would have suggested finishing one of those stories that Lois had packed away.
When his hand finally slid away from her mouth, his fingers lingering momentarily before completely withdrawing, Lois turned to Martha. "No, Martha. We haven't decided on a name for the baby yet. We've got a few in mind, but we're still mulling things over."
Jonathan brought another box forward and began to open it. "Well, there's still time."
Peering into the cardboard container, he grinned. "Well, well, well! What have we here? Lois? Would you care to explain?"
Lois flushed scarlet as Jonathan pulled the spangled top of a harem costume out of the box.
"Er … well … not quite."
Clark chuckled. "Actually Lois wore it for an assignment." Lois smiled at him gratefully. "Of course I always wondered where she got it. It's an authentic costume, handmade. I can tell by the special stitching it has along the sides."
"Well, my Uncle Mike brought it back from the Middle East when he was stationed …wait a minute. How do you know so much about exotic dancing costumes?!"
Clark grinned. "I picked up a lot of information a few years ago — you know, honey, on that 'assignment'?" His teasing glance dared her to contradict him.
"Uh-huh." Lois chewed her lip indecisively. She did want to know more, but she just couldn't bring herself to tell Martha and Jonathan why she'd *really* worn the costume. In the meantime, she settled for a veiled threat. "You'll have to tell me more, someday." She had ways to make him talk. "I didn't realize that story was so memorable. You must have had some interesting interviews."
He smiled. "Trust me, it was unforgettable." His eyes locked with hers, and the teasing antagonism leaked away, replaced by warmer feelings. Lois was the first to drop her eyes.
Martha watched this exchange with interest, guessing there was more going on than met the eye. "Clark, I thought you learned something about that when you were sixteen?"
Jonathan frowned momentarily, then placed the reference. "Oh, right, your trip to Cairo. You did meet some belly dancers there, didn't you?"
Clark stared at his dad, reliving adolescent guilt. "I didn't know you knew that!"
Lois quirked a smile at her mother-in-law. "More family secrets? And how did he get to Cairo when he was sixteen?"
Martha laughed softly. "It was all Laura's fault, as usual. My cousin Laura Clark Spencer, that is, although Clark called her — "
"Aunt Laura *told* you about that?" Clark asked his father, still not quite believing what he was hearing.
Jonathan nodded. "I wasn't any too pleased with her, either, let me tell you. But she convinced me that you'd taken no harm from it, and when you got home, well, I never brought it up. Thought it might embarrass you."
"Looks like you were right," Lois commented, grinning at the sight of Clark's dull flush.
Clark shook his head. "I trusted her … I can't believe she ratted me out."
"Now, Clark," Martha intervened, "she's the one who talked us into letting you go with her on that trip, so she felt responsible for you."
"Wow, Clark, I'm learning a lot today. So why haven't I heard about Aunt Laura before now?"
He lowered his eyes. "Well, she died when I was seventeen."
"That was a rough year already," Martha commented, watching her son. "He was still learning just how different he was, and we had been talking about telling Laura about him. None of the rest of the family knew, but Laura was the closest to us."
Clark looked up. "I think she guessed, Mom."
Martha sighed. "Well, it would have been nice to have it out in the open, to have another woman to talk to … " She brightened, and turned to Lois. "But now I have you, dear. *And* I'm going to have a grandchild, which is the reason we're here today, ostensibly cleaning up this room … " She glared at the three non-working parties in the room, clearly intent on changing the topic.
Lois was still curious, but this wasn't an interview, so she let it drop. For now. She opened another box at random. "Clark, tell me about this?"
"Oh, those're my old high school yearbooks."
Lois reached eagerly into the box and snatched one out. "Hmmm. Your senior year … " She turned to the page with Clark's class picture and burst out laughing. "Ohmigod. I'm sure glad you don't look like that now! That hair, those glasses!" She dissolved into a fit of giggles, but retained the presence of mind to keep the offending article out of his clutches.
The giggles stopped as her eyes lit on another picture. "So … this is your Lana. Was she anything like the Lana I met in the other dimension?"
Clark rolled his eyes. "Lois, I wasn't there, remember?"
"Oh. Yeah. Well, that Lana was an Imperial storm trooper. What was your Lana like?"
Clark turned to his mother in desperation. "Mom! Help!"
Martha chuckled. "Lois, don't worry. Our Lana was a very nice girl, but I knew she wasn't the one for Clark."
Clark stared at his mother. "You did? Why didn't you tell me that?"
"Well, dear, I think that's something a person has to find out for himself."
Clark smiled sheepishly. "I guess so. I liked Lana, but I didn't know what love was till I met Lois."
Lois' eyes filled as her annoying hormonal reactions kicked into gear, and she burst into tears, startling everyone.
Clark wrapped his arms around her (he was getting used to this by now) and rocked her gently. "You know you're the only woman I've ever loved."
Lois sniffled against his chest. "I know."
"It's just that Lana was a *nice* girl, and she's from Smallville and she — "
"Honey," Clark whispered, "I didn't want a nice girl. I wanted you," he teased, and pulled her into as tight a hug as her new shape would permit. "The day I met you I saw how passionate you were, and I *wanted* that passion."
Jonathan grabbed Martha, tugging her to the door. "I need another foot soak."
Lois sniffed again. "I remember meeting you, but pretending I didn't."
Clark raised an eyebrow. "You pretended pretty good. I was sure you didn't notice me at all."
Lois tugged at his shirt. "I wondered who the cute guy was in Perry's office … so I found an excuse to come in, and oh," she sighed, "you stood up when I walked in. I thought that only happened in movies."
Clark laughed softly. "I don't remember standing. I don't remember anything except you. I couldn't speak, I felt like an idiot. I vaguely remember Perry introducing us and then," he shrugged, "I went a little crazy the rest of the day. I blew the interview, but the only part that *really* disappointed me was knowing I wouldn't see you again."
Lois sighed contentedly. "But you got the job, and impressed Perry with your … initiative."
"I never did anything like that before," he said as he drew a thumb along her jaw line. "But like I said, you made me a little crazy. I had to get back." He stacked up a couple of substantial boxes and sat down, pulling Lois into his lap. "I thought I had *everything* figured out until I met you.
"And I *knew* I had everything figured out," Lois replied, snuggling closer and burying her face in his chest. "I knew they'd nicknamed me Mad Dog Lane, and I didn't care, because I had a one-track mind, totally focused on my career, and *nothing* was going to get in my way. And then you showed up. I still have a one-track mind, but it's jumped tracks," she giggled, kissing him.
"Oh, Lois," Clark groaned. "You *know* I love your one-track mind, but that was a *bad* pun … "
She grinned and kissed him again. "Yeah, but it's true … you just totally changed my life, for the better."
A little later, Lois looked around the room again. "Clark, what's a box with the Schott Toy Company logo on it doing here?"
Clark followed her pointing finger. "Aw, honey, um, well … that's not an important box. See? I never even opened it."
That made Lois more curious, and she slipped out of his arms and walked over to the dust-covered box.
"Boy, it's heavier than I thought it would be," she remarked, setting it on the table and picking up the box knife.
"Lois, you really don't want to open it … " Clark tried again.
But she cut open the top, then laughed so loudly that Martha and Jonathan came running.
"Clark! I knew you saved the Whisper and the Dirt Digger articles, but this … Oy!"
"What is it, Lois? What's all the fuss?" Martha and Jonathan asked simultaneously.
Lois was laughing so hard that she couldn't speak, so she just held open the box for them to see. It was stuffed with Superman figures.
Clark smiled sheepishly. "Well, during that heat wave fiasco and then the subliminal suggestions from Arianna Carlin, they weren't selling so well … and the money *is* going to charity … " He let his voice trail off.
Jonathan went over and placed a hand on his shoulder. "You don't ever have to explain to us, son. We know where your heart is."
Lois reached out and caressed the side of his face. "That's true. We love you for *you,* Clark … tap shoes, funny costumes, and action figures included."
"Which reminds me … "
At Martha's voice, Lois and Clark turned. Clark smiled softly, his eyebrow raised. "What's this, Mom?" He took the wrapped box that she held out to him.
Martha walked over to Jonathan, linking her arm through his. "An anniversary present."
Lois chuckled. "Anniversary? Martha, today isn't the date we got married."
Jonathan smiled, putting his arm around Martha. "True. But it is the anniversary of the day that we found Clark."
Lois' smile widened as she looked at her in-laws. "And a day certainly worth celebrating."
Clark sat down on the boxes he had stacked and began to unwrap the present. "In all of this hustle and bustle, I completely forgot."
The three gathered around as Clark opened the box. He lifted the cover and grinned. Quickly re-covering it he stood up and hugged his parents tightly.
"Thanks, Mom … thanks, Dad," he whispered, his voice cracking with emotion. Turning, he pulled Lois into the family hug. "Look, honey."
Lois took the box from him and opened it. She gasped and pulled out a blanket. It felt soft, well-worn, and full of love. She looked at Martha. "Is this … ?"
Martha smiled and nodded. "The blanket we found Clark wrapped in that night in Shuster's Field."
Jonathan added, "We thought you might want it for the baby."
Lois' eyes filled with tears and she hugged them both. "It's perfect. Thank you."
Martha patted Lois' back. "It goes great with that little pair of briefs I showed you earlier."
Laughing, Lois wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. "I'm sure that our child will put both to good use. Won't she, Clark?"
Clark nodded and kissed her softly. "Yes, *he* will."
Knowing that his feet couldn't handle another soak, Jonathan cleared his throat. "Well, shall we finish clearing this room?"
Lois and Clark looked at each other a moment longer before joining Martha and Jonathan at another box.
Suddenly Clark turned towards the window and got a faraway look in his eyes. "Uh-oh," he said with concern.
"What's the matter?" Lois asked.
"The radio is on next door, and there's apparently a 747 in trouble over Chicago. I'd better — "
"Go!" Lois finished. "Just be careful."
Clark quickly kissed her, spun into his costume and rocketed out the window.
Lois sighed and turned back to Jonathan and Martha. "I guess we'd better finish up here. He may be gone awhile."
Martha noticed the pensive look on Lois' face as she picked up a box of clothes and headed towards the door.
"Is there something wrong, sweetie?"
"No … er, well, yes … I mean, maybe."
"What is it Lois?" Jonathan asked.
"It's just … I'm a little nervous, that's all — "
"About something happening to Clark? Honey, he handles this kind of thing all the time. You know that."
"No, that's not it," Lois said sheepishly. "I guess I'm still a little nervous at the idea of being a mother."
"Lois, you'll be wonderful-"
"Martha, I wish I could be as certain of that as you and Clark are. But raising a baby is hard, and raising a *super* one must be even harder. Sometimes I wonder if I'll be able to do it."
Jonathan placed a comforting arm around Lois's shoulder. "Lois, being a parent *is* hard, there's no doubt about it. Babies don't come with instruction manuals. But you and Clark have the most important thing that makes a good parent."
Lois smiled gratefully at Jonathan and Martha. "You think that's enough?"
"It was for us," Jonathan replied as he smiled and winked at Martha.
Martha nodded and matched his warm smile with one of her own. "That, and a good set of earplugs if the baby takes after Clark," she added. "He could really shout the house down when he was hungry. And speaking of hungry, why don't I fix us lunch? We can come back to this later."
Clark had had lots of practice landing 747's and was finished in Chicago quickly, but on the way back to Metropolis detoured south to help with tornado cleanup. It was nearly two hours before he returned to the house. He spun into his jeans and t-shirt as he crossed the living room to the kitchen.
"Hi, honey, I'm home," he said with a grin, as he came through the swinging doors. "I heard you in here … where are my folks? Did you finish upstairs already?"
Lois pulled her head out of the refrigerator, and smiled at him. "Hi. No, we took a break to eat, and then Martha decided the hinges on the door of the room needed replacing. She dragged your dad off to the hardware store right after lunch. Are you hungry? Your mom made some great stuff." She waved a hand at the breakfast table, where food was still spread out.
Clark smiled broadly, and rubbed his hands together. "Great. I love it when she cooks … " he broke off and gave her an apologetic look, but she just laughed.
"I know. You love it when she cooks instead of me. Go on, enjoy."
Clark's eyes widened. "Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, sardines, herring, potato salad, angel food cake, raspberry preserves and cookies?"
He seemed boggled. "Even my *dad* wouldn't put this stuff together."
Lois patted his shoulder. "It's actually my fault. Your mom asked what sounded good, and — "
"You were having cravings," Clark finished her sentence.
Clark made that little boy sulky face. "I am … well..kind of. I was hoping maybe fried chicken, sweet cornbread, or at least a ham and cheese sandwich. *Nothing* besides the cookies look good."
"My, my, we are upset," Lois teased. "At least have some potato salad, it's really good," she said. She picked up the spoon and offered some to him.
"That's another thing, this is the mayonnaise kind and Mom knows I like the mustard kind."
Lois handed him a cookie. "Here, eat this. If you don't want anything, maybe I'll just have a little more."
Clark smiled, "Okay. I'll watch you eat whatever you like out of that deli nightmare." He sat down across from her at the table, and rested his chin on one hand. "I remember when we'd have supper at my grandparents' house … well, we had supper at one set of grandparents and 'dinner' with the other set."
Lois speared some sardines onto a plate. "You never told me about your grandparents."
"Well, when Mom and Dad found me they were a bit older than most parents with babies, and so my grandparents were a lot older than most of my friends' grandparents, too." He sighed. "By the time I was fifteen, they had all passed away."
"Oh, Clark, I'm sorry."
"No, it's okay, honey. They had lived long, full lives. My dad's parents were country folk, but my mom's family … they were … well, more uptown. Like I said, we had 'supper' with my dad's folks. That meant the adults at a table, and kids given oversized saucers filled with food and banished to eat on the back porch."
Lois swirled a sardine in the potato salad. "Sounds barbaric."
Clark grimaced at the food choice. "No, it was great. I hated okra … I thought for a long time they were saying 'oh crud' … and on the back porch I could feed it to Grandpa's dog, Pesty."
Lois opened the pickled herring when she ran out of sardines. "And your other grandparents?"
Clark felt acid rising to his throat. "Well, we had 'dinner.' That meant dressing up, adults and kids at the same table, full blown manners and having to eat stuff you didn't like. Also … " Clark said, but paused as he saw Lois spreading raspberry preserves on a piece of angel food cake.
Clark shook his head. "My maternal grandmother was German, her maiden name was Mueller. She and Dad didn't get along well. Made dinner entertaining sometimes."
Lois laughed. "I can't imagine your sweet father not getting along with anybody."
"Trust me on this one, Lois. Dad and Grandmother didn't get along at all. She always accused Dad of trapping Mom into a life of manual labor."
"Ouch," Lois said, and tucked some herring into a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. "Did they ever patch things up?"
Clark smiled and wiped some jelly from her chin. "Yeah. For a long time, my grandmother thought that the reason my parents couldn't have kids was Dad's fault."
"But it was your mom?"
He nodded. "She finally told her mother even though Dad told her not to."
"And a little guilt kicked in?"
"Sort of. At least, she made as close to an apology as Grandmother would ever manage. Her last Christmas she sewed a sampler and gave it to my parents. It said, 'zwei Koerper, drei Herzen, eine Seele'."
Lois wiped her hands and got up. She came around to Clark's side of the table, and he automatically sat back and pulled her into his lap.
"Meaning?" Lois said.
"Two bodies, three hearts, one soul."
Lois rubbed Clark's chest and dropped her head onto his shoulder. "I'm not sure I understand … oh! A couple expecting a baby."
"Yes," he whispered against her hair. "She put a note in the package saying she had sewn it a long time ago, but never thought she'd be able to use it. But she'd decided that I was a miracle, and so the same sentiment still applied."
Lois lifted her head and looked into Clark's eyes. "You are, you know … a miracle, I mean."
Clark smiled and kissed her softly. "Takes one to know one," he murmured.
Lois laughed and kissed him again. "Clark," she said thoughtfully. "How about grandparents' names for the baby? Family names are always good, and we haven't even considered those. What were their first names?"
Clark's face was solemn, but his eyes danced. "That's a very good idea, Lois. Let's see, Grandfather Clark was Augustus, and Grandmother was Edeltraud — everyone called her Trudy, and Grampa Kent was Ezekiel and Gramma was Mabel." Lois just stared at him and he couldn't suppress his laughter any longer. "What's wrong, Lois? They're *family* names." He kissed her nose. "I guess Godiva and Hershey don't sound so bad after all."
Lois punched him in the chest, but before she could say anything, Martha and Jonathan came in the front door, and they went to meet them. As they joined the two in the living room, Clark once again stopped and listened.
Lois sighed. "Plane, bridge, or bank alarm?"
"Another tornado. I'd better go and see what I can do to help in the aftermath."
Lois smiled and watched her husband whoosh away, then turned to Martha and Jonathan. "Well, back to work for us, too."
Superman landed softly on the back terrace. Quickly spinning into his t-shirt and jeans, he entered the brownstone through the patio door.
He tuned in and caught her heartbeat upstairs. He didn't hear any others and couldn't help the smile that came over his face. He loved his parents, but between the memories and the teasing and the long looks they had given each other while cleaning out the spare room, Clark was definitely in the mood for some 'alone time' with Lois.
He called out once more. "Lois?"
"In here, Clark."
He went up the stairs and slowly opened the door to the back room completely. He saw that it was now empty, the boxes all gone, the hardwood floor swept. Across the way, Lois sat against the wall, her legs partially crossed. She was staring at him and in the fading sunlight, her eyes were shining brightly.
"Lois? Honey? Are you all right?" He started across to her.
"Stop … right … there … " she whispered.
Clark halted in the middle of the room. He saw a single tear fall down her face. "Lois? What is it?"
She sniffled, wiping absent-mindedly at the tears softly falling. "Nothing. I'm just … pregnant, that's all."
He smiled and began walking toward her but stopped again as she continued talking.
"It's just that … I had this picture in my mind of you … in the center of this room … the fading sunlight coming through the window … " The look of love in her tear-filled eyes made Clark catch his breath. "You … standing there … holding our baby … "
The tears started anew and Clark walked toward her once more. He sat down on the floor, pulling her into his arms, holding and rocking her gently, soothing her with his words, his arms, his love.
When her happy tears subsided, he said, "I remember when I saw you in the sunlight for the first time in this house. You took my breath away. The reality of you standing there was so much better than the vision I had in my mind."
He felt her snuggle closer and he held her to his heart. Softly, he asked, "What about *your* picture?"
Lois looked at him. Smiling, she took his hand and placed it on her stomach. Turning to him, she reached out and traced his lips with her fingertips.
She kissed him gently, letting him know that the reality was indeed better.
"It's not *my* picture, Clark … it's *ours.*"