Tacit Implications, Part 2

By Bev <bevbissm@aol.com>

Rated PG-13

Submitted April 2000

Summary: After Lois and Clark got up close and personal at the Lexor, they realise there was something they forgot… A continuation of the author's story.

None of the characters belong to me, except the ones I invented! I've just borrowed from L&C, no infringement of copyright is intended, standard disclaimer etc etc. I do not know if there is a Wilson Memorial Hospital, but as there was a US President by that name and a UK Prime Minister as well, that's how I chose the name. Special thanks go to Wendy Richards for her editing skills and pointing out some blindingly obvious (except to me!) errors and also to Ray Reynolds for helping me Americanise my text. Feedback would be much appreciated to me at bevbissm@aol.com.

***

"Most people I know have less than perfect relationships, but boy, do I know how to pick em. From the moment I met him, I've spent all of my free time fantasising about Superman, and did I have some fantasies! Now it turns out I've made love to him, only I didn't know it was him at the time, it was Clark! My colleague, Nowheresville Clark," Lois mused as she performed the mind- blowingly satisfying task of ironing her laundry ready for next week at the Planet. She had just completed an investigation managing to prove the corruption of Congressman Harrington but in the process had discovered a heck of a lot more about herself and her colleague than she had bargained for. If the National Whisper got hold of this not only was she the scarlet woman who had made a man of America's answer to truth, justice and the American way, but they had been totally irresponsible to boot. With that sobering thought Lois finished and turned into bed in an attempt to get some sleep before facing Clark at the Planet on Monday morning.

Unbeknown to Lois, though if she had thought about it wouldn't have surprised her, Clark was spending most of Sunday night, in his intervals from Superman duties, thinking about Lois, though that had been par for the course from the moment he'd met her. "God, I love her," Clark kept saying to himself. The prospect of seeing Lois again on Monday morning both excited and depressed him. Now he'd made love to her he couldn't wait to repeat the experience, but much as his all too male desires fuelled his wish to see her again, he also desired Lois on a cerebral level. He actually tried to fool himself that if they never made love again, as long as she chose to be with him, mere mortal Clark in his own humble opinion, he would be content. Sure, it wouldn't exactly compensate for the pleasures of the flesh, but he'd be willing to forgo those in order to be part of Lois' life.

Lois made sure she was at the Planet before Clark on Monday morning, though she said a silent prayer asking for forgiveness at the relief she felt when hearing about an earthquake in Mexico that delayed Clark's arrival at the Planet. She wanted to somehow mark her territory before Clark arrived at work. When Clark eventually turned up at the Planet, Lois, having already LANed the Harrington details to Perry, almost pounced on him as he came out of the elevator.

"Whoa, Lois. I'd kind of hoped you'd still find me irresistible, but isn't there a time and a place for everything?" was Clark's weak attempt at humour.

"Clark, don't be so, so masculine. So what, you're no longer a virgin. Don't act like the rest of the jerks who work here." As soon as she'd uttered those words, Lois experienced a feeling of deja vu at having said something to upset the fragile ego of a Superman.

To say Clark looked crestfallen was an understatement. "I'm sorry Lois, I'm so sorry. Listen, there's an awful lot that needs to be said between us if you'll agree to speak to me. How about we have supper tonight at my place - I'll cook, and maybe we can clear the air and try and ensure the best for both our futures?"

"Ok, I'll come over at 8 o'clock, which even allowing for 'super' distractions, should allow you to cook a gourmet meal. Just to be on the safe side though, I'll keep an eye on the news, just in case there's an obvious reason to postpone."

The rest of the day passed very quickly. Perry assigned follow-up stories to the Harrington debacle; and Lois showed her new found loyalty by providing alibis for Clark at short notice when he was off on Superman duties.

Eight o'clock arrived, and Lois was waiting outside Clark's apartment wondering whether to go or stay. Her gut instinct was to run away, somehow avoiding facing the inevitable. She was about to turn and walk away when the door opened.

"Hi, I… I, I sensed, well, well, to be honest, to be honest <Oh God, I'm babbling like a brook, just like I've accused Lois of doing in the past> I knew you were here," Clark told Lois, hoping she would understand how he was feeling. "Come on in."

"Would you like a drink, wine or something?" Clark asked out of politeness and desperate to say something.

"I'll have a mineral water if you have one. I want to keep a clear head. <Ohmigod, I'm making this seem like a business meeting> Oops, nearly forgot my manners, please, Clark," Lois replied. This wasn't going well, if they weren't careful all they would achieve tonight would be very crossed wires. "Something <and someone> smells nice. What are we having?"

"It's one of the first recipes my mom ever taught me, pork cutlets marinated in wine, served with mushrooms, onions, olives, and rice… Would you like to take a seat? I believe the meal is ready to be served. I'm beginning to sound like a waiter, so I might as well act like one!" Clark said with a hint of laughter.

The meal passed comfortably, Clark was an excellent cook. Lois thanked the Lord that Martha and Jonathan had brought Clark up. She was actually envious of the fact that he had learnt to cook from his mother. Her own relationship with her mother was far more volatile. They spoke on the phone occasionally but more out of a sense of duty than of need.

"Lois, can you hear me?" Clark interrupted Lois' daydreaming. "I'll just clear up in here and then we can talk. Properly."

Lois offered to help out but Clark insisted he could do it quicker on his own, which he could. The tension between them was palpable; both knowing that Lois helping out would only delay the inevitable but much needed conversation between them.

Lois was sitting on Clark's couch when he came back in the room having cleared up in record time. He didn't know what he should do for the best, but he didn't want to look like he was distancing himself from her, that was the last thing he wanted. As she was sitting in the middle, he took this as a sign that she wanted him to sit by her, leaving the ball in his court. He hesitated a moment before sitting down beside her, being careful not to touch her.

"Oh boy, this is awkward Clark!" Lois began, desperate to get the conversation going. "There's so much to say, but I feel tense, you feel tense…"

Sensing he should do something, Clark took Lois in his arms and kissed her tenderly. "I'm sorry, Lois, I wasn't intending to pounce on you but I love you more than I thought possible. Just talk to me, Lois. About anything. The state of the nation. Us. The Planet. Your family. Me. All of me. I'll just hold you, you have absolutely no idea how wonderful it feels for me just to hold you." Clark wanted to say more, a lot more, but didn't want to pressurise her.

"You know, Clark, you sure are one helluva kisser. How many girlfriends have you had before? You have had girlfriends, haven't you? I can buy being your first lover, but as you seem so normal in every way apart from the Superman powers, weren't you even remotely girl crazy as a hormone crazed teenager?"

"Well, let's see. I'd better get my old diaries and count them all up. No seriously, though I do keep diaries by the way, I have had girlfriends in the past. I suppose Lana Lang was my first real serious one, we dated back in Smallville. This is kinda embarrassing, Lois, but as you've seen me buck-naked, I suppose it's ok to tell you. Once I began to develop, both as a teenager and with the added bonus of super powers, sure I was aware of the opposite sex, and knew about the birds and bees etc. I necked with Lana but there was never any physical desire to go the whole way, if you get my drift. I knew I would be able to one day, as like your average teenage boy alone in his bedroom there was no problem. It was the same with other dates. It was just going through the motions, I wanted to kiss them, they more often than not wanted things to go further, but I had no desire to, both physically and mentally. Not with them. I wanted to, I knew there was someone out there for me, it was just a question of finding her."

"And have you?" Lois asked, knowing it was a rhetorical question.

"Have I what?" Clark responded tentatively.

"Found her, Lunkhead!"

"Yes, I've found her, I just hope I can make her as happy as she's made me," said Clark and he proceeded to show her how happy she had made him.

Their necking session was in danger of going further once more when Clark, hearing a cry for help, interrupted it. "Oh, oh, Lois, someone needs me."

"I need you, Clark!" Lois protested.

"No, sorry, I mean someone needs Superman, there's an attempted rape down in Hobbs Bay. Don't go I'll be back as soon as I can. If it gets late, just sleep in my bed, I'll take the couch. See you soon, love you," and with that Clark spun into his suit, blew a kiss to Lois and left.

Lois was damned if she was going to be told what to do. She left a terse note for Clark, just saying the words 'gone home - see you at the Planet', gathered her things and drove home. She checked her answering machine; there were no urgent messages. <Is this what it'll be like having a relationship with Clark? Sharing him with the world? Him disappearing at inopportune moments?> Worse still, there'd been no discussion about the possible consequences of their making love.

Clark arrived back at his apartment about half an hour after he'd left. He felt good having prevented a potential rape and handing the suspect over to the police. He despised men who treated women as sex objects. It took all his self-control not to inflict bodily harm on these men. His good mood soon evaporated when he realised Lois had gone and he read her note. He took it as dismissive, the implication being don't call me, we will meet again, on the neutral ground of the Planet. <What am I going to do? I love her, I'm crazy about her, but I can't just ignore cries for help>. He shouldn't have wasted time kissing her earlier, they should have talked. Trouble was, the 'normal' male in him gained immeasurable pleasure in holding and kissing Lois. Clark realised it would be futile trying to sleep whilst there was so much that still needed to be said between them. He spent most of the night performing Superman rescues around the world, feeling guilty to a degree because he wanted to feel he was doing the right thing, helping others, but for what reason?

The next morning Clark intended to be in work early but was delayed by a fierce forest fire in Brazil. He arrived at the Planet at 9.30 am, with the knowledge that at least he would soon see Lois, even if they wouldn't be able to speak. <God, I feel like a drug addict, I'm desperate to get my fix of Lois!> Clark soon experienced the terrible feeling of being so near yet so far. Lois' desk was empty, and it was obvious that it hadn't been occupied at all today. "Ah, Kent, glad you could make it," Perry's southern voice boomed across the office. "It's bad enough that one of my reporters takes a few days unscheduled vacation time, then another one decides to adopt a flexible attitude to starting work," said Perry with raised eyebrows, questioning Clark.

"Sorry Chief, something came up. Where's Lois? Is she the reporter on unscheduled vacation time?"

"Yes Kent, she is. She called me at home late last night and said she had some personal things to take care of. She'll be back in the office on Thursday. She also stressed to me that she doesn't want anyone - and I mean anyone - from work bothering her. She won't be at home apparently," Perry informed Clark.

Clark took that as an order to get on with his work, he'd be doing two people's work for a few days, as well as coping with Superman tasks. <What's new with that then> he asked himself. <Lois is giving me the silent treatment, and Perry - who knows what he knows?> Clark continued with the rest of his working day as best he could. He toyed with the idea of taking decisive action and just turning up at Lois' apartment after work. She couldn't be going too far if she was intending to be back at work on Thursday, he reasoned. But Perry had made it pretty clear she didn't want to be disturbed. Clark decided to play safe and wait until Thursday to see Lois. With doing both his and Lois' stories he didn't leave the Planet until after seven, there didn't seem any point. It was a pretty quiet day on the news front Superman-wise, he'd only had to disappear from the office twice, and only for 10 minutes each time. He decided to walk home in an attempt to absorb the sights and sounds of Metropolis, anything to try and get his mind off Lois. Though why he thought that would work when the distraction of work hadn't succeeded at all was beyond him.

When Clark was within a hundred yards of his apartment he could hear Lois' heartbeat outside his apartment. He was there within a second, not caring if anyone saw him or not, though fortunately for him he hadn't been seen moving so fast. "Lois, what's going on, what's wrong?" Clark asked as Lois paced up and down outside his apartment.

"You're what's wrong, Clark. You're what's wrong. Shall we go in or do you want everybody and their brother to hear what I've got to say?" Lois asked, daring Clark to disagree with her.

Clark knew he was on a precipice with Lois. One wrong word and he could ruin whatever they had between them for life. He didn't know whether to offer to take her jacket, offer her a drink or anything. She solved the first problem for him by tossing her jacket across his couch. "I suppose you wonder why I've taken some unscheduled vacation time," was Lois' opening salvo.

"Well yeah, look Lois, if it's about last night and me telling you what to do, I'm sorry. I never thought, I was going off to deal with an attempted rape and I just thought of you suffering like that. I wanted to know you were safe. I wasn't intending to run your life for you."

Lois began to pace up and down the room. "Actually, Clark, it isn't just about that. Though I do resent you thinking you can run my life for me. No, actually it's about something that we should have discussed on Saturday night, before anything happened between us. We should have discussed it last night, thought about our options, but no, we didn't!"

"Lois, please, what are you going on about? You're not making sense to me," Clark pleaded with her.

"God, Clark, didn't you take biology classes at school? Ok, let's pretend I'm your biology teacher and you're my pupil - though perhaps that's how you see me but sometimes with the roles reversed when it suits you!" Lois practically shouted at Clark.

"No, Lois, that's not how I see things," Clark stated quietly but firmly, a faint feeling of where this was heading seeping through his brain in a very uncomfortable way.

"Let me spell it out to you then. Did you assume that I'm on the pill, Clark? Because let's face it, neither of us stopped to worry about the little matter of birth control before we got carried away, did we?"

"Ohmigod, Lois, I'm sorry I didn't think," Clark said, feeling like he'd been kicked in the stomach.

"No Clark, nor did I. And I'm not on the pill for your information. I don't have any devices fitted either, I haven't been expecting to make love lately. Which is why I took today off." Lois paused.

"What exactly do you mean, Lois?"

"I went to an emergency birth control clinic. You know about the morning after pill?" she asked, knowing full well that a man as knowledgeable as Clark would know.

Clark nodded, a sinking feeling rapidly engulfing him <God, I've been so stupid, I never thought about this aspect of our making love - can I even make an Earth woman pregnant though?>

"Apparently you can take it up to 72 hours after the event," Lois informed Clark in a very matter of fact tone of voice.

"And did you?" Clark asked, almost wishing time would stand still, did he really want to hear her answer?

After what seemed like an eternity Lois spoke. "No, I didn't. Don't think I didn't contemplate the idea though. Or that if a pregnancy does arise I wouldn't consider an abortion. I've marched on pro abortion rallies, I believe in a woman's right to choose," Lois told Clark defensively.

"So why did you choose not to take this morning after pill then? Wouldn't it have prevented the possibility of having to make further decisions? What about a possible child's right to life?" God, Clark wasn't in the business of condemning people, but could his child be growing in Lois?

"I don't really know why I didn't take it. I spoke to a counsellor about it. I was going to take it, I really was. I really don't know what stopped me taking it. I mean there's a good chance I'm not pregnant anyway, but then if the worst comes to the worst and I am, I do think you should know about it. Unlike some people, I don't believe in hiding things," Lois replied, aware that her last comment was below the belt. "Clark, I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that. I've given things a lot of thought and I do realise it couldn't have been the pleasantest of experiences for you watching me fawn over you as Superman, but practically ignore you as Clark; but you have hurt me, Clark."

"Lois, if I could turn back the clock and tell you the truth about me before we'd made love believe me I would. I know I've hurt you, and I did deserve that comment. Oh God, Lois, come here, let me hold you?" Clark pleaded with Lois.

They fell into each other's arms and sat down on the couch, their tears mingling.

"Lois, I am so, so sorry for what I may have done. I've dreamt about having a family with you, but I don't know if I'm biologically compatible with Earth women. We may be worrying about something that can't happen anyway," Clark reasoned.

"You're right, it might be totally unnecessary, though there's no practical examples for us to go on, is there?" Lois sobbed.

"When's your next period due?" Clark ventured.

"That's the thing that's worrying me, it's due in about 2 weeks, I was pretty much mid way through my cycle when we made love. Look, there's not a lot we can do except wait, I just felt it fair to let you know that's all. If I was pregnant, I don't know whether I want a baby right now anyway, or if I could even cope with one, and if I'm not, I do know I'd have to go a long way to find someone as caring as you are, Clark. It was never going to be easy us having a relationship,"

"Lois, what are you saying?" Clark interrupted, "is there an 'us' or not, whatever the pregnancy outcome is? I know we've rushed things, but I love you Lois, more than life itself. I'm not gonna let you walk out on me, not without putting up a damned good fight! If you asked me to, I'd give up being Superman for good, I'd do anything for you!"

"Clark, I'm not asking for any of those things. What I want is honesty, support; you. I do have feelings for you, Clark Kent, believe it or not! We haven't gotten off to the best of starts, but I'm sure the team of Lane and Kent can salvage something from this. Kiss me, Farmboy!" Lois ordered. Clark knew better than to disobey Lois at this time, so he duly obliged. They kissed tenderly, not overcome with passion, neither of them wanting things to go any further right now. Never had Clark been so glad not to hear any calls for his alter ego.

"So, Lois, what are you going to do tomorrow?"

"Just some shopping, I expect. Say, I don't compare to you in the cooking stakes, but would you like to come over to my place for a meal after work? We might as well try and be as relatively normal as possible, after all we might have nothing to worry about."

Clark could tell Lois was tired, it had been an emotionally draining evening for both of them. He offered to take her home. At first she declined, but when he explained that ok, it was a macho thing for him, he loved her, all he wanted to do was make sure she was safe and he hadn't had the pleasure of seeing a girl home before that he genuinely loved, she gave in.

Lois drove to her apartment and Clark walked her to the front door. "Wanna come in for a night cap?" she asked.

"Well, I'd love to but in reality I think it best if you get some sleep, and I'd better do some Superman patrols!"

Clark kissed Lois goodnight and flew upwards, patrolling the skies of Metropolis. He had a lot to think about. He didn't want to ruin things with Lois, he'd waited too long for the love of his life. He was already fighting the urge to ask her to marry him, if she was pregnant he definitely would, but then he definitely would anyway eventually. He just didn't want to rush her, to pressurise her. If need be they could live together, it wasn't what he wanted but Lois was more important to him that satisfying his wants. He wanted the formality of knowing that Lois was his wife, and the world knowing too. She wouldn't be the easiest woman to live with, but then he wouldn't be the easiest partner to live with either. It took someone special to accept that Clark wasn't from Earth, and Lois was that someone special.

The next evening Clark arrived at Lois' apartment brandishing a small bunch of roses and some videos. He figured that if they watched TV together it would avoid having to discuss things, give them something else to concentrate on. The roses were yellow, for friendship, a gesture that touched Lois deeply. "I'm sorry, Clark, but all I've come up with food wise is a chicken salad," Lois informed Clark.

"That's ok, I don't have to eat, you know, I eat because I want to."

"Really?"

"Yeah, really. I guess there's a lot about me you don't know, Lois."

"Well, after the salad instead of watching a video why don't you tell me some of the things I don't know about you?" Lois asked, keen to get to know Clark better. After all, she knew him intimately physically, it was only fair that she knew more about his background, his upbringing.

The meal passed very pleasantly, Clark enjoyed the salad despite Lois' lack of expertise in the kitchen. Clark insisted on tidying the kitchen, said he would be quicker, something that Lois didn't disagree with. She noticed that he was quite a tidy freak, he didn't like to leave things; she filed that information away in her mind as a facet of his character. It could prove useful when she decided to analyse Clark the man, as opposed to Clark the Superhero.

They sat together on Lois' couch, when Clark was struck by inspiration. "Hey, Lois, it'll take me a while to tell you all you want to know about me, and there's probably loads you'd want to ask, so you'd keep stopping to question me."

"Possibly, Clark, but don't doubt the journalistic skills of a master," Lois teased.

"I wouldn't dream of it, Lois. But seriously, you remember me telling you about my diaries? Well, I've kept journals since I was 14. What would you think about the idea of reading them? Obviously the contents wouldn't go any further?" Clark half asked. He realised if things didn't work out with Lois he was taking a big risk, but as part of his commitment to her he wanted to share his most intimate thoughts with her.

"You mean it, Clark, you'd let me read journals from when you were 14 years old?" Lois could hardly believe her ears. "You really do trust me?"

"Lois, I'd trust you with my life. You wouldn't have to read them all, or at least right away, but it could give you some idea - if that's what you really want - about me and my life. The only thing is it would be a fairly time consuming task. But then there's no rush, is there?" he asked tentatively.

"No, Clark, there's no rush. But where are they? Wouldn't it be risky to leave them in your apartment?".

"They're at Mom and Dad's, buried under my tree house. You're right, it's too risky to leave them in Metropolis. Mom and Dad don't even know about them. There's nothing bad about them in my journals, but even an alien teenager needs to keep some things secret from his parents! I keep the current one hidden where I keep my Superman suits, and then once it's complete, bury it. I've never really known why I keep a diary, maybe it's precisely for this moment, for that someone special in my life to read them and understand me better."

Lois didn't really know what to say, so she decided that what the heck, what was needed here was a good necking session. As soon as her lips touched Clark's, she did indeed receive a good necking session.

When they eventually came up for air, Lois felt she needed to say something deep and meaningful, but was not quite sure what. "Wow, Clark, I've really gotta find out about your first kiss. You sure are something else in the kissing stakes!"

"Pleased to be of service, ma'am." Clark smirked. He couldn't help himself, he was in love, totally. "Lois, I don't want to rain on our parade, but have you thought about what we're going to do if you are pregnant?"

"Yes, I have. And I don't know. It just goes round in my head, the more I think about it the less I understand. Clark, do me a big favour, I know it won't be easy, but let's not mention it again until my period either shows up or is late. Deal?"

It wasn't exactly what he wanted to hear, but then he didn't know what exactly he wanted to hear anyway. He just felt they shouldn't sweep it under the carpet. "Ok, deal. In the meantime, how about we try and have some normal - for us - dating? Somehow we seem to have been short changed on that phase!"

"Sounds good to me, but I still wanna read those journals, Farmboy!"

"No problemo. How about we fly down to Smallville Friday evening? My parents are away, though that's not why I'm suggesting it. They're going to a farmers' convention in Kansas, it's a sort of concession from my Mom to my Dad before she starts her course at Kansas State University and I did say I'd check on the place for them. You can start reading while I see to the farm if you like?"

"Yeah, I'd like that. Consider it a date! Er, what about the sleeping arrangements?" Lois felt compelled to ask.

"You can have my bed, I'll sleep downstairs. If that's ok with you," Clark said quietly.

"Sounds find to me. Look, much as I enjoy your company, we both have work tomorrow, and if I'm going away the day after I'll need to pack my 'Dorothy' outfits for Kansas tomorrow night so's we can get straight off after work on Friday," Lois explained.

"Ok, listen, what do you say to breakfast tomorrow?"

"Ok, I'll pick you up at 7.30?"

"It's a date. See you in the morning. Love you," Clark told her as he kissed her goodnight.

Clark went off on Superman patrol, full of good thoughts, <Wow, life's good. Maybe she is pregnant, it won't be the end of the world. But if she isn't, that won't be the end of the world either. She has feelings for me, I can make her love me, I know I can!. We're going out together! I'm finally taking a girl I love back to Mom and Dad's!>

Thursday and Friday passed fairly quickly at the Planet. Clark had a few Superman duties to attend to and Lois provided cover for him. Clark was beginning to see the advantages of 'teamwork' with regard to the activities of his alter ego. Out of necessity he'd always had to work alone since living in Metropolis, he was surprised how good it felt to know he had help.

Clark arrived at Lois' apartment at 8.30 on the Friday evening. He had intended to be there earlier, but Superman was needed to perform rescues at a fire at an old folks' home in downtown Metropolis. Clark was concerned about the situation regarding his alter ego and his relationship with Lois. He felt an obligation to help people, it was in his nature, but he also felt that Lois had to make do with coming in second sometimes, which was not at all what she was in his life. There had to be a way to overcome this, he just had to figure out how.

"Have you told your Mom and Dad that you're bringing me along, Clark? I don't want to seem like we're a pair of teenagers taking advantage of an empty house," Lois explained.

"Well, to be honest, Lois, they don't know that I'm taking you, and before you go ballistic, there is a reason they don't know," Clark started to explain.

"Yes, there is a reason! They don't know because you haven't told them!" Lois shouted at Clark.

"Hold on a minute, Lois, it's not what you think. I haven't discussed our relationship with them, close as I am to them. They've had enough problems sorting out their own lives lately. It hasn't been easy for them, bringing me up, they had to bend quite a few rules and call in quite a few favours to get my adoption 'legal'. Dad's always feared that if the government found out about me they'd dissect me like a frog. It's always been impressed upon me that I can't tell anyone about my powers, though obviously a serious girlfriend would have to know. I know, believe me I know, they won't mind me taking you to the farm for the weekend, but equally, I want to tell them about us face to face. It's just been too hectic even for me to fly down to Smallville and tell them. I know it probably sounds silly as well considering how much I love them, but right now you're my secret and maybe I'm being selfish, but it sure feels good to me."

"Oh Clark, I'm not being fair to you. No, it's not that, it's just that I hadn't thought," Lois explained.

"Lois, you don't need to apologise, this is a whole new ball game for both of us. Come on, let's get this show on the road!"

Martha was obviously expecting Clark to visit, Lois noticed, there were various home made pies and good old fashioned home made meals in the kitchen for Clark's consumption. Clark gave the farm a quick check, and then they sat down to some of Martha's meals and home made wine. "Your Mom is one talented lady in the domestic department, Clark," Lois commented.

"She's talented in many ways, Lois. I sometimes wonder what Lara, my birth mother was like, but I know I'd be hard pressed to have a better mother than Martha."

Lois was surprised to hear Clark mention his birth mother, but she was too tired to enquire further. "Look, it's late, I'm tired, and I have a lot of reading to catch up on tomorrow, so would you mind if we called it a day?" Lois asked.

"Not at all, I'll tidy up down here and see you in the morning. I'll just show you to my room, and I promise I won't try anything!" Clark informed her.

There was a slightly awkward pause outside Clark's bedroom, which Lois quickly solved with a quick goodnight peck on the cheek.

Whether it was the country air or something else, Lois had the best night's sleep she'd had in a long time. When she woke the next morning and looked at the alarm clock she couldn't believe that she had slept in until after 9. She threw on her bathrobe, and went downstairs. Clark was sat reading the Smallville Gazette, and smiled when she entered the kitchen. "Morning, gorgeous," he greeted her.

"Something smells good, how long have you been up, Clark?" Lois enquired.

"Long enough to dig up some diaries, do some farm work and cook breakfast. Here, I'll just warm this up for you." Clark used his heat vision to reheat the bacon and eggs he'd cooked earlier. Lois couldn't get over seeing him use his powers in his civvies, as opposed to his Superman outfit. It metaphorically blew her away. "Look, there's quite a bit for me to do on the farm today. If you want to read my diaries, and if you don't then you aren't the Lois Lane I'm crazy about by the way, you'll need some peace and quiet. You can shower or whatever when you like, I'll call back at lunch time, see how you're doing and take things from there. If you want we could go into Smallville tonight, catch a movie or the local Saturday night dance?"

Lois agreed with this suggestion and quickly devoured the bacon and eggs. Clark went to do some Superman duties and then returned to work on the farm. After a quick shower, Lois started to read the first journal Clark had left for her. Despite her bewilderment at reconciling Clark as an alien, she found his description of the angst of being a teenager strangely comforting. He wasn't so different after all. Yes he had the added problems of developing super powers and all that they entailed, but his hopes and fears for the future were strangely familiar. She was fascinated by his description of his fortress of solitude, which she correctly assumed to be his tree house. When Clark returned home at lunchtime he enquired how she was getting on.

"Clark, it's absolutely fascinating. Not from a journalistic point of view, but from a friend's point of view."

"Is that all I am, a friend?" Clark felt compelled to ask, and immediately regretted doing so.

"You know, Clark, for the world's strongest man you're pretty insecure at times. You know you're more than a friend to me. It's just that, God, this time last week the only time we'd kissed was when Bureau 39 were after Superman; and look how close they were by the way! Now we've made love, you've told me your biggest secret, it's a helluva lot for a girl to take on board, you know!"

"I'm sorry, Lois, I just can't help myself. You truly do mean the world to me. When I've seen you dancing with Lex Luthor, I've really had to control my jealousy. You know that old Doctor Hook song 'When you're in love with a beautiful woman, it's hard'? Well, believe me, it really is!" Clark said with a smile.

"You're incorrigible, Clark Kent, did you know that?" Lois grinned at him.

"I thought the word incorrigible applied more to you than me. Do you want something to eat? I could warm up something if you like?" Clark said, trying to change the subject.

"It's ok, I've had a sandwich. Clark, could I read in your tree house? I'm curious to see this fortress of solitude I've read so much about. It's going to take a helluva long time to read all these journals by the way. You sure go into detail about your emotions and the events of your life. Not that I'm complaining, far from it. It's certainly one way of getting to know you! Though I don't want you to take that as an excuse not to have to wine and dine me in your pursuit of me!"

Clark was pleased that Lois wanted to see his tree house, so he quickly prepared an ad hoc picnic and took her out to it. It was a nice day in Smallville and walking to the tree house gave Clark the chance to wrap his arm around Lois' waist. The simple pleasures that other couples took for granted gave Clark so much pleasure he thought he would burst. That was one of the reasons he decided to walk Lois over to the tree house, it gave him time to be with her. He still had a tractor to fix, and despite his super skills, the parts required weren't available on the farm so that necessitated a trip into Smallville. He could have flown, but since Bureau 39, it paid to be fairly low-key to avoid arousing unnecessary suspicion. Just lately he'd thrown caution to the wind, love was having that effect on him, but he still remembered the need for discretion most of the time.

When they reached the tree house Clark helped Lois climb up into it. It was exactly as Lois had pictured it from Clark's journals. It would have been a terrible waste if he hadn't gone into writing in some form or fashion, Lois mused; he had such a gift with written words.

"Look, I've got to go into Smallville for some tractor parts, here's a spare key if you want to go back to the house. Here's a few of my latter day journals in case the teenage angst of Clark Jerome Kent sends you to sleep. Assuming no Superman interruptions, I'll be back around four or five, then we can get ready and go and hit the bright spots of Smallville. Ok?"

"Sounds fine to me. Before you go though, Clark, have you ever brought a girl up here before?"

"No…" said Clark hesitantly, wondering where this was leading, "though some of my pals from high school were allowed that honour. That was around the time I was 12 and still thought girls were alien, which was somewhat ironic coming from me. Why do you ask?"

"Just curious. No, actually, I want to confirm that I really am your first love."

Clark's heart skipped a beat, the time was ripe for action. He kissed Lois passionately. "Lois, there has never been and never will be, another woman for me."

"Clark, for an alien, you sure know how to charm a girl," Lois murmured in his ear.

Clark reluctantly pulled away. "Look, believe me, I would love to stay here all afternoon with you, but I've really got to get the tractor fixed for Dad. They're not getting any younger, and like I told you there was never any pressure on me to stay here, but I like to help out when I can. Now I've really gotta go. Will you be ok? I'll get back as soon as I can," Clark told her.

"Off you go, Clark, I'm sure I'll be ok here, and I promise I won't get into any trouble," Lois reassured him.

The afternoon passed by quickly for Lois. She began to feel Clark was a much deeper person than she had ever imagined. He obviously knew very little about his birth parents, but he loved Martha and Jonathan very much. They'd done a wonderful job in bringing him up, Lois reflected. If only her parents had had lessons from Martha and Jonathan they'd have made a better go of parenting. Still, if there was one thing Lois was learning from reading Clark's journals, it was to look on the bright side of life and always remember there's somebody worse off than yourself. It was going to be a long-term project to read all these journals, and she was tempted to fast forward to one of his more recent ones. However, she didn't know whether she wanted to. She had a vague feeling of being voyeuristic. She knew how Clark felt about her, did she really need to read his private thoughts on the matter? In the end she resisted the temptation and continued reading the teenage musings of Clark Jerome Kent. She wasn't quite sure what or how, but she felt she was gaining something herself by reading these journals.

Clark meanwhile had managed to fix the tractor and was feeling quite pleased with himself. He didn't help people out for any reward, but knowing he'd helped those he loved gave him an even better feeling than the joy he felt when saving someone's life. He had a short interruption when he had to fly off to New York to assist with a subway crash, but fortunately there were no fatalities. By the time he returned back to the tree house, he was in quite a filthy state, odours from the fire clinging to his body, and oil on him from his tractor repair. "Hi, Lois," he said as he entered the tree house, "had a good afternoon?"

"Clark, what's happened? You smell like, well I dunno what, but it's not clean," Lois enquired.

"There was a subway crash in New York, but it's ok, I was able to help, there were no fatalities. Let me hide these journals, then we'll go back to the house and get ready to go out tonight."

Lois looked on incredulously as Clark gathered the journals and buried them under the tree house. It was all done in the blur of 3 seconds.

"You know, you blow me away at times Clark. You're amazing!"

"I'll take that as praise indeed. And remember, you're not so bad yourself!" he said teasingly to Lois as he helped her down from the tree house. He considered putting his arm around her on the walk back to the house, but decided against it due to the state of his clothes. However, Lois wasn't going to let a small matter like dirt deter her, and she put her arm around Clark's waist, a move which thrilled him more than she could have imagined.

"So, where you gonna take me tonight, handsome?" Lois asked.

"Well, I thought we could go and eat at whichever Smallville haute cuisine restaurant takes your fancy, then catch a movie or go to the local dance. Take things as they come."

"Sounds ok to me. What shall I wear?"

"Well, casual should be ok. I'm just gonna wear jeans and a shirt…"

"What, no boxers or briefs, socks or shoes?" Lois teased.

"Very funny Lois, very funny," Clark said as they approached the house, "I need to get out of these clothes, shower and get ready for tonight."

"So do I, in fact, we could clean each other," Lois said suggestively.

"Don't tempt me, Lois. Look, Lois, being serious for a moment, I know it's too early yet to confirm whether or not you're pregnant, but oh God this isn't easy," Clark stumbled,

"Go on," Lois prompted.

"Well, I was kinda hoping that, that maybe tonight, we could, we could, well maybe, you know…"

"Know what, Clark?" though Lois had a fairly good idea what Clark was trying to say.

"Well, oh God, look I don't want to make this seem premeditated and suck out all of the romance, but I was kinda hoping we could make love again. Only this time I'd make sure I took precautions, even though it might be a case locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen."

"Clark, I'm glad to see that you've considered this. It'd be a lot easier if you took responsibility for birth control right now, if we need it that is, and, well, the idea of making love with you again isn't one that I'm averse to by any means, but let's just see how things go. I mean, I've gotta be honest and tell you that the idea appeals to me enormously, but I don't want us to have any great expectations that could lead to monumental disappointments. Do you understand what I mean, Clark?"

"Yeah, I guess so. I don't generally believe in wishing my life away, but the sooner your period due date arrives the better. At least we'll know one way or the other. Look, do you mind if I use the bathroom first? I know it's not polite of me as you're a guest here, but I'll be extremely quick, and then you can take your time, I know women take longer in the bathroom than men!"

"Clark Kent, you chauvinist you!" Lois scolded jokingly.

They managed to get ready without getting under one another's feet, and by 7.30 Clark was driving them into Smallville in his Dad's trusty old saloon car. "You know, this is kinda cute Clark. I mean, last week we were in the opulent surroundings of the Lexor, and now we're in good ole middle of the road US of A. When you stop and think about it, this really is a wonderful country, despite all its shortcomings. The Lexor was great, but this is real, so is Metropolis, but the variety of this country of ours never ceases to amaze me."

"Wow, Lois, for a moment there I thought you were going to wax lyrical about the wonders of city life compared to the dullness of rural America. Maybe America never ceases to amaze you, Lois, but then you never cease to amaze me," Clark almost whispered.

She smiled at him, a smile that made his heart miss so many beats that if he'd have been human he'd surely have passed away.

They parked up in the municipal car-park and strolled over to Maisie's Restaurant, ran by an old friend of Martha's. Fortunately, from Clark's point of view, Maisie was not working this particular Saturday night, she was attending a family wedding in Texas. Maisie was a good friend of Martha's but she did have a tendency to gossip and Clark just felt more comfortable knowing Lois wasn't going to be informed of some of his more embarrassing escapades. He couldn't immediately recall any right now, but he was absolutely certain Maisie and Martha had swapped kindergarten tales of their offspring's embarrassing moments.

The food and the service was exactly what Clark was hoping for; Lois was definitely impressed. "You know, Clark, it's a pity I'm such a devoted career woman. There really is a lot to be said for home cooked food. It's so much better than frozen or microwaved fayre," Lois commented after finishing her triple chocolate cheesecake.

"Geez, Lois, I know you're the sophisticated city girl, and I'm the farm boy from Nowheresville, but hey! We do have electricity and running water out here, you know," Clark teased.

"Yeah, Clark, hysterically amusing. You should be on television. I could switch you off then," Lois teased back.

"Ok, Lois, let's call it a day on that particular subject. Now where do you wanna go next? We could try the local Saturday night dance where some of the guys I went to school with hang out. Most of them are in the farming industry, but a few have gone off the beaten track into other trades. Like me."

"Clark, I'd love to meet some of the guys you grew up with, I really would, but right now I don't want to be questioned over us, which - ok, I'm being presumptuous here, but I assume we would be. And don't take that the wrong way," she added noting the look of disappointment on Clark's face, "I really do wanna meet up with the guys you grew up with one day, but not yet. Right now, I just want it to be you and me, not an inquisition into Clark's girlfriend from the big city. Comprendez, no offence taken? Because believe you me, there's none intended. None at all. Right now I just want it to be you and me. Us. Ok?"

"Absolutely, Lois." Clark smiled and leant across and kissed her lingeringly.

"Let's go for a drink, and then head back to the farm. Maybe have a nightcap?" suggested Lois.

"Well, Miss Lane, after giving that all of 2 seconds consideration I have to say that your suggestion completely meets with my approval." Clark beamed at Lois.

They called in at a local bar, for want of anywhere better to go, and ordered drinks. "So, how's it been, a weekend in the country, Lois?" Clark asked.

"Well, I don't know much about the countryside still, but I do know a little more about you. Your hopes, your fears. You." Lois let the last word hang in the air between them.

Clark took that as his cue and leant across and kissed her briefly on the lips.

"I hope there's more of that later."

"I don't plan on disappointing you, Lois. Never." Clark smiled softly.

They spend a very comfortable hour discussing nothing in particular, just savouring the pleasure of being in one another's company. Fortunately the powers that be appeared to be granting Superman a night off. Most of the patrons had left the bar and Lois and Clark decided to let the bartender do whatever he had to do and walked out into the night. "You wanna go anywhere, Lois? Paris, Sydney, Hawaii, you name the place, I'll take you there."

"Nah, Clark, let's go back to the farm, put on a CD and maybe dance together. I feel like dancing, but not on a crowded disco floor."

"Your wish is my command. Come on, I'll drive us back."

They talked about the Daily Planet and various other non-committal topics on the journey home. Neither seemed keen to take the conversation to an intimate level. Once back at the farm, Clark offered Lois a drink. "Would you like a coffee or something?" he asked.

"Hey, it is Saturday night, let's crack open a bottle of wine if there's one around here, but then even if there's not, I suppose you could get a bottle of El Vino Collapso pretty damn quick, hey, Flyboy? I don't think one glass of wine is going to hurt me," Lois teased.

"Lois, I would like a glass of wine for aesthetic reasons, not to intoxicate you," Clark told her, not trying very hard to disguise the slight fit of pique he felt that she would think he would deliberately try to get her drunk.

"Loosen up, Clark. A few drinks aren't going to send me to gaga land! Do you have some wine or not?"

"Well, yes actually, I do. Red or white?" Clark asked, worried that yet again he was on the verge of upsetting the apple cart in his relationship with Lois. Having a relationship really was a whole new ball game for him.

"I know red is the more fashionable, but you know, Clark, I've never been one for following trends, so what the heck, let's go for white wine, ok?"

"Sounds good to me, Lois."

Clark went into the kitchen and came back holding a bottle of Martha's home made potato white wine. He used his Superman powers to chill the wine, something that he couldn't help but notice Lois was impressed by. He didn't like to show off in front of Lois using his powers, but sometimes - what the heck - he was only human - after a fashion! - after all!

Lois was looking at the older Kents' CD collection. Judging by their collection they favoured sixties music <That figures> Lois thought. "Got any favourites, Clark? What sort of dancing do you want to do?" Lois asked as Clark lit some candles and turned off the lights.

"I like most types of music, my musical tastes are pretty varied, but these are Mom and Dad's CDs, not mine! You're the guest, you choose," Clark invited Lois.

"Ok, then, let's dance to Frank Sinatra." Lois put the CD on. Clark didn't need telling, he took Lois in his arms and they started to dance. They started off loosely holding one another, but by the time 'Fly me to the Moon' came on they were holding each other tightly. "You know, Clark, dancing with you is almost like floating, I feel like I'm walking on air."

"That's because you are. I've lifted us off the floor. When I'm very happy I float. It's a natural reaction for me." Clark smiled and gently kissed his partner on the lips.

When the song ended they sat down together on the couch and sipped their wine, feeling very comfortable. Clark put one of the Motown Story CD discs on the CD system. The track 'Some day we'll be together' from Diana Ross and the Supremes' final concert came on and had the immediate undesired effect of making Lois burst into tears. "Hey, what's up, honey?"

"Clark, have you ever listened to this track, I mean really listened to it before?"

"Well, yeah, my Mom and Dad aren't exactly renowned for their up to the minute CD selection you know," Clark said trying to lighten the mood. "They are more into sixties music."

"It's not that Clark, not that at all. Play it again. Listen to Diana Ross talking about when we bring our boys back from Vietnam. Bringing black and white together. Ohmigod, Clark, what if I am pregnant? What sort of world are we going to bring our child into? What sort of child are we going to have?" said Lois, obviously panicked.

"Hey, calm down, Lois. I will always, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart, will always be there for you. If you are pregnant, and even if you're not, in fact especially if you're not, but even more so if you are - oh God am I rambling." Clark grinned. "Will you marry me, Lois? And please don't think you have to answer right now. I know this time last week we hadn't made love, things were different, in fact we've hardly been going out like a normal couple. But let's face facts, we're not normal. I moonlight as the strongest man in the world and you're the most wonderful woman ever to have graced this earth. I love you. You are so compassionate, I don't care about what you can't do, it's who you are that I love."

"Clark, you sure do know how to sweet talk a girl," she said between tears.

"I only tell the truth, Lois," Clark whispered.

"Let's go to bed, Clark, your bed."

"As long as that's what you want, Lois."

"It's what I want right now, Clark. I don't know about tomorrow, the future, but right now I need you to kiss me, to hold me."

Clark took her hand and led her up to his room. He opened the door. "You sure you want this, Lois?" he asked, kissing away the last of her tears.

"Yeah, I'm sure, but there's just one thing. It might be too late anyway …"

"It's ok, Lois, I'm prepared this time, though I hadn't assumed we'd make love tonight," Clark reassured her. "Come here."

***

Lois lay in Clark's arms, in his bed. "Wow," was the only word that she could think of to describe how she felt. At least this time she'd fallen asleep with him, they really had spent the whole night together. It fascinated her to see Clark lying asleep. Funny, she'd never given any thought to her 'Superhero' needing to sleep. <If only Cat, Perry or Jimmy could see us now, Lois mused, would they be in for a shock. What am I gonna do? This man could have made me pregnant from our first and almost only time. He's absolutely fantastic, sure he has his faults, but he's as near damn perfect as I'm ever gonna find>. She couldn't help but admire Clark's finely sculptured body, and involuntarily began moving her hand up and down his chest <he's fantastic, he really is fantastic. What did I ever do to deserve him?> Lois asked herself.

At the touch of Lois, Clark began to rouse.

"Morning, gorgeous," he said, quickly becoming fully awake.

"Hi handsome," Lois purred.

"Want me to cook us some breakfast?" Clark asked.

Lois gave his question some serious consideration before responding. "No Clark, but thanks for the offer. If I could freeze time right now, I'd want to freeze it and stay like this forever. Y'know, you sure are one helluva lover, Farmboy!"

"Hey, I aim to please!" Clark responded, as he playfully planted butterfly kisses on Lois, cheeks.

"Clark, stop it! You exhausted me last night, in the nicest possible way, I can't cope with any more right now!" Lois jokingly admonished.

"Ok, what do you want to do today? We can go back to Metropolis around six tonight if that's Ok with you."

"Sounds fine to me, Clark. I dunno, maybe you can show me some more sights of Smallville. Hey, on second thoughts maybe I could do with some breakfast. A Smallville special would set me up nicely for the day, I think."

Clark reluctantly left the comfort of his bed and his lover <who'd have thought that his bed in Smallville would hold such fantastic memories> he mused, and went to cook breakfast. He prepared breakfast at human speed, giving Lois time to shower and dress. She entered the kitchen to be greeted by the aroma of freshly cooked bacon and eggs.

"You know, Clark, if I ever get around to saying yes to your proposal, and don't take this as an acceptance by the way - we really do still have a lot to talk about, you'll make one helluva husband!" Lois told him.

Clark gave a slight smile, but inside his heart leapt <she must be considering accepting, I've just got to make sure I don't blow it>. He contemplated saying something for the sake of it, but as he couldn't think of one single sensible coherent thought, decided the best strategy was one of no reaction.

He'd just finished serving breakfast when he heard a call for his alter ego. <I knew it was too good to last> he sighed. "Lois, look, I don't want to go but there's a call for Superman. There's a hostage situation at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, they need my help," he explained.

"Hey, let's go, partner!" Lois quickly responded.

"What?"

"You heard me. Clark, we're reporters, let's get to DC and scoop the rest of the fourth estate," she said impatiently.

"Lois, it could be risky, and I don't like the idea of using Superman to get exclusives over our rivals," Clark began to explain.

"Excuse me, Clark? You taking the moral high ground here? You've never printed an exclusive story courtesy of your alter ego? Oh, please! Ok, I'll stay here and wash the dishes like the good little woman I am and you can go and be the hero and get the scoop!"

"Lois, it's not like that. Wouldn't our rivals wonder what we were doing in Washington? Look, I can't waste any more time. Come on, let's go, but just be careful, ok?"

"Ok. And if anyone asks, we'll just tell them Superman flew us there. We were dining with him, which will sort of be the truth," Lois reasoned, but Clark could tell he hadn't taken a winning hand in this particular spat.

The journey to DC was done in an uncomfortable silence, but fortunately, they reached their destination quickly. He deposited Lois outside the police line and appraised the situation. One of the terrorists was holding a gun to the head of a middle-aged secretary. She was absolutely petrified. Clark felt for her, he really did. In his book freedom fighters, as many of these people preferred to be known, however grand their ideals, went about things the wrong way. He was rational enough to know he was judging the terrorists/freedom fighters, but did they really have the right to cause so much pain and suffering to people just going about their daily business? Sure, he knew the old cliche about being unable to make an omelette without cracking eggs, but at what cost? Who was fit to judge how valuable one human life was as opposed to another? Still, now was not the right time to make moral judgements, there were innocent people inside the Embassy and they needed his help. Clark burst into the Embassy and quickly disarmed the terrorists, but not before the secretary suffered a heart attack. It turned out the terrorists were part of a militant group opposed to the latest Middle East peace deal. After tying up the terrorists and appraising the police of the situation, Clark flew the secretary, whose name badge said Lesley, to Wilson Memorial Hospital. He administered CPR on the flight, but he could tell Lesley was losing her fight for life. On arrival at Wilson Memorial the emergency team took over, and Clark prayed this woman, a complete stranger to him, would be ok.

After an hour, an extremely distraught middle aged man came rushing into the waiting room. "Superman, where's my wife?" he asked.

"She's in the emergency room, Sir, you must be Harry? Lesley mentioned your name on the way over here."

"Yeah, the police just brought me here. Listen Superman, thanks for all you've done. Lesley's only been working at the Embassy as a temp in order to save some money for our 25th wedding anniversary. I just hope she pulls through. But come what may, thanks for all your help," Harry told Clark.

Clark felt humbled. Now that Lesley's husband was here and she was receiving the best possible medical attention she could under the circumstances, there was no real reason for him to remain at Wilson Memorial. He popped into the rest room and emerged as Clark. He went back to the Embassy and soon found Lois attempting to extricate statements from various law enforcement authorities.

"Hi, Clark, what's the latest?" Lois enquired.

"What's the latest, Lois? What's the latest?" Clark felt his anger rising, "Lesley, the secretary, for your information, is critically ill at Wilson Memorial, the terrorists are in custody and everything's fine with the world!" Clark almost spat at Lois.

"Hey, hold on, Clark, don't blame me. I only asked."

"I'm sorry, Lois, I really am. But sometimes, just sometimes, I know that however much I've tried, I'm losing it. Lesley isn't gonna make it. Ok, the doctors haven't said so yet, but they're just going through the motions. If I'd have got here 5 minutes earlier, maybe she'd have a chance, but the truth is I feel I've failed. And I'm sorry, Lois, and I may be wrong here, but I don't think you can begin to imagine how bad I feel when I let down an individual like Lesley. Look, before I get any more maudlin, I think it's time we headed back to Metropolis. Ok?"

Lois felt suitably humbled, nodded her head hoping Clark would realise her acquiescence to his plans. Clark found a suitable alleyway to change into Superman and flew them down to Smallville to gather their belongings. They made it back to Metropolis just before 8.

"I'll see you tomorrow at the Planet, then," Lois semi asked and told Clark at the same time.

"Yeah. Look sorry this weekend's ended the way it did, I guess it's one of the occupational hazards of having a relationship with a superhero. We are having a relationship, aren't we?" Clark asked seeking reassurance.

"Yeah, Lunkhead, we're having a relationship. Look, come on in for a coffee and we'll have that talk we keep promising to have."

Clark contemplated refusing Lois' invitation for coffee. He was pretty certain that was all she was inviting, and to be honest that was all he wanted, but decided that instead of avoiding personal issues he should face them head on, and verbalise his emotions, not just the way he felt about Lois, but about Superman as well.

"Clark, if we have a future together, and I'd like to think we do before you start panicking, you need to realise it is ok to show your emotions, to get angry. Ok, I know what Superman represents, truth, justice and the American way and all that, but you don't have to hide behind that fašade when you're with me. I don't want you to. I want to be there to help you. I need to feel like I'm helping you. God, I feel so insignificant compared to you, you'd be helping my fragile ego if you let me help you sometimes. I know I'm not the most sensitive person to walk this Earth, but believe me, Clark, I may be insensitive at times, it goes with the territory of being a hard-nosed reporter, but I do care about people. Especially you. It can't be easy when a situation like Lesley arises, but all you can do is your best. Have you ever thought what would happen if you weren't on this planet? Sometimes, and not very often, but sometimes you've just got to take some time for yourself. For us." Lois let her last words hang in the air.

"You're right, Lois, but this is all new to me. I've only ever been able to speak to Mom and Dad before. Having a relationship, sharing, it's all new to me. You know how I feel about you, I just don't want to see you get hurt. Sure, I'll do my best to protect you, but I worry when you put yourself in unnecessary danger."

"Clark, you can't run my life for me. I appreciate you loving me, I really do. But I am a journalist. An investigative journalist at that in case you hadn't noticed! You can't wrap me in cotton wool, I was doing my work long before you came on the scene. We don't need to be in competition with each other seeing who is winning in the taking care of each other league. We need to complement each other. I know this is new for you, and believe it or not, it's new for me, too. Sure, I'm the experienced one in the relationship department, but hey, guess what? They all rate pretty highly on the list of federal disasters. Having somebody who loves me, not just uses me for what they can get, well, it's a new experience for me also. I want this to work out just as much as you do, I mean we may have some very important decisions to make in the future, but we have to talk to one another, learn from our experiences. Understand?"

"Yeah, Lois, it's well like I said, I suppose I'm learning. But I am a quick learner! Speaking of which, are we going to let anyone know that we're seeing each other or is it going to be our secret?" Clark asked.

"Good question, Clark. I don't think we shouldn't advertise the fact that we're seeing one another, though, nor deny it either if you get my drift, after all it's not a state secret, but I don't want to flaunt it either. I mean, if things did go wrong - "

"Things won't go wrong if I have anything to do with it, Lois," Clark interrupted.

"I know that, Clark, but we have to be realistic here. I don't know what the Planet's policy is on staff relationships but, well, I kind of like having you to myself for as long as possible. You may have noticed Clark, I don't actually have any friends. I have acquaintances, but not friends. That's my fault entirely, I've devoted myself to work. I'm not going to change overnight, but you're, well, you're my lover, my best friend - my only friend if I'm being realistic. You're very special to me, Clark."

"Lois, don't put yourself down. You are special to me too. Come here," said Clark as he took Lois in his arms and kissed her. Although he was the inexperienced one when it came to relationships, he was quickly realising that despite her hard- nosed image, Lois was in need of reassurance just as much as he was.

When they came up for air, Clark spoke. "I'd better go home, Lois, much as I'd love to stay here with you. There are things I need to do before work tomorrow and I also need to do a quick Superman patrol, let the criminal element know they still have me on their case. I'll see you at work tomorrow morning, ok?"

"Sure thing, you can count on it. Clark, take care. I think I'm falling in love with you."

"Goodnight, Lois, I love you."

For once Clark was already at work when Lois got there on Monday morning. He'd been conscious of neglecting his paid employment lately and was catching up on some paperwork while he had the chance to. Now that Lois was aware of his secret, an awful lot of things fell into place.

Although they'd agreed not to flaunt their relationship, Cat noticed the smiles Lois and Clark gave one another when Lois walked in. "Mmm. That might be information worth storing away for future reference," Cat mused. She'd fancied getting her claws into Clark, but it was obvious to her experienced eye that Lois and Clark were absolutely besotted with one another. Like Lois, Cat's reputation was far worse than the reality. She was a gossip columnist after all, but she did have a heart, and if Lois and Clark made each other happy, then that was good. One of the side effects of being a gossip columnist was the realisation of how cruel people could be to those they purported to love. It wouldn't have done for a gossip columnist to be seen to have a heart, but Cat did and just occasionally things like the smile that passed between 2 genuine lovers lifted her spirits. Not that she was going to advertise that fact. She had a reputation to maintain after all.

The working day passed fairly quickly, if somewhat mundanely. Clark was grateful for that, he had enough excitement in his life right now. He felt selfish feeling like that, but Lois deserved his attention if they were to have a successful relationship, and after all, why shouldn't he be happy, he reasoned. He had to make a few Superman rescues, and he really appreciated Lois' assistance in providing alibis for him. Yes, working as part of a team was a really good feeling.

They'd arranged to go ten-pin bowling that night at the Metropolis Bowlarama and Lois picked Clark up at 7. "You know, Clark, more and more things make sense about you now. I realise why you don't have a car, you don't really need one, do you?"

"Ah, Sherlock Holmes, you have solved the mystery yet again!" Clark teased.

"Well fortunately for you, Clark, it's not your sense of humour that I'm falling for. Now, man of steel, how are we going to play tonight? Will I be playing against Superman or mere mortal Clark?"

"Lois, you offend me!" Clark said in mock disgust. "How can you entertain the idea that I'd cheat? I'll beat you fair and square, and then you can buy me dinner."

"How about I'll beat you fair and square and then you can buy me dinner?" Lois countered good-humouredly.

Clark did in fact beat Lois, but he didn't use his super powers. He was honest enough to play fair, after all his outlook was that it was the taking part that counted, not winning at all costs. He half expected Lois to accuse him of cheating, but was pleasantly surprised when she conceded defeat gracefully. He thought better than to mention it, he didn't want Lois thinking he'd doubted her. They went to the local pizza parlour where Lois insisted on paying, even though Clark did his best to at least pay half. After seeing Lois home and kissing her goodnight, Clark flew off on a quick Superman patrol feeling very content. <Having a relationship is great, absolutely great> Clark mused.

The rest of the week passed fairly quickly, if somewhat uneventfully at the Planet and on the Superman front. Clark and Lois saw each other when they could outside of work and made the most of everyday pleasures like going to the cinema, dining out, just enjoying each other's company.

Clark had been hoping to take Lois to Smallville again at the weekend; he was musing at work on how to bring up the suggestion without Lois feeling pressurised when he heard Lois let out a scream of surprise.

"Lucy, hey, it's great to hear from you! Where are you? Oh that's absolutely fantastic, of course you can stay for the weekend. I'll pick you up at eight tomorrow night at the airport. See ya!"

Clark didn't listen in to the conversation but he realised Lois was going to have company for the weekend. He'd been planning on taking Lois back to Smallville, only this time while his parents were there. The prospect of taking a 'girlfriend' home to visit his parents had been working wonders for his macho pride. And not just any girlfriend, one he was totally in love with. Sure, his parents had met Lois before, but he wanted the thrill of almost showing off his conscience realised, in front of his Mom and Dad. <Hey, look at me, I'm in love with this beautiful woman!>

"Earth to Clark, Earth to Clark," Lois said, waving her hand in front of his face.

"Sorry, I was miles away. What's happening?"

"That was my sister Lucy, she's in town for a few days and wants to stay at my place for the weekend. It'll be great to see her, I haven't seen her in absolutely ages. You don't mind, do you?"

"Of course not," Clark lied, not very convincingly.

"Clark, don't lie. I'm sorry we can't spend the whole weekend together, but let me see what Lucy wants to do and maybe we can all have a meal some time over the weekend," Lois suggested.

"I'm sorry, Lois, I'm being selfish. That's one thing I've no experience of, sharing my family with siblings. Of course you must see Lucy, after all we've got lots of time to see one another in the future, haven't we?" Clark said, almost pleadingly.

"Of course we have, and I mean it, Clark, if there is a chance I'd love to introduce you to Lucy officially so to speak." Lois grinned. For a brief moment she pitied Clark not having any siblings, actually not so much the lack of a brother or sister, but the things that she took for granted and realised Clark hadn't been able to experience many of these things throughout his life. She needn't have worried though. Clark smiled back at Lois, she really was fantastic. With just a few words, she'd managed to smooth his ruffled ego.

"Thanks, Lois. You have a good time with Lucy, I'll be kept busy no doubt, and then, well we'll see. Just promise me to think about me now and then!"

"You better believe I will. Er, I think we'd better stop this conversation, Clark, we seem to be catching the attention of Perry," Lois informed him. They looked across the office to see Perry eyeing them enigmatically. Lois had her suspicions that Cat had an inkling something was going on between them, and if Perry did too, well, Lois didn't want to be the talk of the Planet. Though why, she wasn't entirely sure. She wasn't naive enough to be worried about office gossip. She'd overheard rumblings in the past about Clark though. A lot of the female staffers had begun to question his sexuality on the basis of assuming he didn't have a girlfriend. A man as handsome as he was couldn't possibly not have a girlfriend, some of the older women illogically reasoned. It amused Lois, just because someone didn't flaunt their private life, how the some of her co-workers made assumptions. She didn't want to share him. He was hers, and alright, if certain things prevailed she'd have to share him, but right now she just wanted him for herself. No discussing him with Cat or having Perry enquiring about the status of their relationship. No, she wanted him just for herself right now, and if she wanted to share their relationship with anyone else that was up to her.

Clark meanwhile was thinking along similar lines, but unlike Lois he wanted to share the news of their relationship. He decided if he couldn't spend all weekend with Lois, he was going to Smallville to tell his parents. Ok, it wouldn't be as good as telling them while holding Lois' hand, but it would be the next best thing.

Friday came round soon enough and Lois accepted an offer from Clark to ride with her to the airport to pick up Lucy before finding a convenient spot to fly off to Smallville. Despite wanting to keep Clark to herself, Lois couldn't resist introducing Clark to Lucy before he flew away. Clark had intended to leave the airport immediately after dropping Lois off, but she soon made it clear she wanted him to meet Lucy, which pleased him no end. He was curious as to how Lois would introduce him and was pleased when he was introduced as Lois' partner. Ok, it wasn't as good as boyfriend, but Clark could tell the way Lois had said partner implied more than a work colleague. The knowing look Lucy gave him also added to that feeling. After excusing himself, Clark left the sisters to go home alone and he flew off to Smallville. He'd phoned Martha to tell her to expect him and she wasn't disappointed when he walked into the sitting room of the old farmhouse.

"Hi Mom, hi Dad." Clark smiled as he greeted his parents.

"Hi honey," said Martha.

"How's it going, son?" Jonathan enquired.

"Things are going pretty well at the moment, actually. I'm, well, I'm seeing someone …" Clark began.

"Oh, honey, that's great! Anyone we know?" Martha interrupted, beaming with pride at the prospect of her boy being in a relationship. She knew how much Clark wanted to conform, despite his powers.

"Well yeah, it's still early though. I've been kind of, well I've been, I'm sort of…"

"Out with it, Clark," Jonathan semi-ordered.

"I'm seeing Lois." Clark beamed.

A good half-hour passed with Clark babbling about how great Lois was and life in general. Martha was so happy to see her son in love, he hadn't said as much but she knew him well enough to know that he was in love. However, much as she loved her son she also loved and knew her husband and could tell that although pleased for their son, there was a cautious tone to his manner that after 30 years of marriage, she knew all too well. She wasn't surprised therefore, when Jonathan sounded a note of caution.

"Clark, have you thought about how you'll tell Lois about your powers if things progress?" he asked cautiously.

For once in his life Clark actually blushed. "She already knows," he said quietly. "I know you've always emphasised to me how important it's been not to tell anybody, but Lois isn't just anybody, Dad. I love her and she, well, I think she loves me," Clark said quietly but firmly.

"Well, as long as you're sure, son, that's good enough for me," Jonathan counselled. He wasn't entirely convinced Clark had done the right thing in telling Lois, but he could see his son was happier than he'd ever been in his life and he didn't want to rain on his parade. What he didn't know was that Clark did feel slightly guilty for not informing his parents of how far his relationship with Lois had progressed. Despite his powers and knowledge, Clark was like a lot of children who tended to believe their parents had given up on a sex life, and could hardly believe that parents had ever made love, or worse still, in their youth had participated in sex outside of marriage. After all, each generation knew they had invented sex, didn't they? In Clark's case, due to being adopted he could almost justify believing his parents had never had sex, but deep down he knew he was being ridiculous.

"So, Clark, when are you going to formally introduce Lois to us?" Martha teased, though she was curious to know when they were going to be officially introduced to Lois, elevated to the status of her son's girlfriend.

"I dunno Mom, things are pretty hectic at work, you never know what's going to crop up what with that and Superman duties. But it will be soon, I promise you that. Look, I'd better get back to Metropolis. It's been great to see you guys. Just be happy for me ok?"

"Oh, Clark, of course we are. It's just we don't want to see you get hurt!" Martha explained.

"I know that, but Lois won't intentionally hurt me, we love each other," Clark informed his parents calmly but firmly before flying back to Metropolis.

Clark had the odd Superman duty to attend to over Friday night and Saturday morning which had interrupted his domestic chores, but as they didn't take him as long as ordinary mortals he soon found himself with nothing to do on Saturday afternoon. He was contemplating how to spend this free time when the phone rang. To his delight it was Lois, asking if he'd like to go out with her and Lucy on Saturday night. For a nanosecond he thought about teasing Lois and pretending he had other social engagements already planned, but soon thought better of it. "That sounds absolutely great, Lois, I've really missed you," Clark informed her.

"Great! Look, Lucy wants to see the bright lights of Metropolis, Lord knows why. She wants to go for a meal and then to a club. Is that ok with you?"

"Absolutely. Anywhere you want to go is ok by me."

"Yeah, well, I could do without going to a club if I'm honest - Lucy's in the shower right now by the way - but if I have to go to a club I don't want to get hit on by drunken guys impressing no- one but themselves," Lois told Clark.

"So that's where I fit in, hey? I'm there solely to prevent any potential suitors from taking advantage of you, then," teased Clark.

"Clark, you know it's not like that at all. Ok, you will I hope fulfil that role, but more importantly, I'll get to spend some time with my partner and my sister. Pick us up around eight. See ya," and with that Lois finished the call.

Clark didn't mind at all. In fact he was very happy at the opportunity to spend time with Lois, even if Lucy was there, and yes, when he thought about it, he didn't want any other guys hitting on Lois. His macho pride enjoyed the thought of being her protector.

Fortunately for Clark the powers that once again saw fit to allow him to perform his urgent Superman duties in the early evening, and he arrived at Lois' apartment on time. As per normal Lois looked absolutely ravishing to Clark's biased eyes, and Lucy was quite easy on the eye too, but she wasn't Lois. Clark volunteered to drive and neither sister objected. "So, where are we going?" Clark enquired.

"Well, we haven't made reservations, but let's try Luigi's Pasta Parlour on 58th Street. It'll be pretty busy, but we should be able to get a table for three," Lois suggested.

"Sounds find to me, Sis. So Clark, how long have you and Lois been an item?" Lucy pried.

"Don't answer, Clark," Lois laughingly ordered, "she's been pumping me for information all day, and I like to keep some things secret."

They soon arrived at Luigi's and managed to get a table for three. They ordered the special of the day, and made small talk whilst waiting for their food. Clark wasn't participating fully in the small talk, his thoughts had begun to wander. Whether it was the joy of being in the company of Lois he wasn't sure, but the thought of eating pasta as well was certainly taking his mind places that it shouldn't have been going in public. God, he couldn't wait until they were married or at least living together. He knew they would one day, he just didn't know when.

Lucy had ordered a bottle of wine and was slightly nonplussed that Lois only drank half a glass. Clark had two glasses but declined any more, alluding to DUI regulations. "What the heck, I'd better finish it," she told herself.

As the evening wore on Lois began to visibly pale, and declared herself unable to face finishing the night off at a loud, crowded club. Lucy just about managed to disguise her disappointment, and Clark took them home. When they arrived back at Lois' apartment Lucy tactfully remembered an urgent phone call she needed to make in the privacy of her room, thus enabling a few moments alone for Lois and Clark.

"Lois, what's up, are you ill or something?" Clark asked, concerned about what he suspected to be the true cause of her feeling unwell.

"Clark, I know what you're thinking, and, well, I don't know. It's probably just stress, I'm pretty washed out right now. I know it's too early to tell yet, but I generally feel a little unwell a few days before my period. You know if you'd paid attention to the calendar, you might just have noticed a pattern with my moods," Lois said with a weak smile.

"I know it's not easy at all, but there is no point in worrying about what might not be. You go home, after a goodnight kiss of course, and I'll see you at the Planet on Monday, ok?"

Clark decided to obey this order, though he wasn't at all happy with leaving Lois knowing she was feeling unwell. He broke off their kiss eventually as he knew if he didn't soon then he'd want to stay the night even more than he already did. He assumed Lucy wouldn't have any hang ups about her sister having a boyfriend stay over, but the Kansas boy in him didn't like to think of even Lois' sister thinking there was anything casual about his relationship with Lois.

The rest of the weekend passed very quickly and despite a few phone calls from Lois assuring him she was fine, Clark was mightily pleased to see Lois at her desk on Monday morning looking fine and dandy.

He was just about to enquire after her health when Perry's voice boomed across the office. "Ah, Clark, good to see you in on time for a Monday. Come into my office, I've got an assignment for you," which Clark correctly interpreted as an order to be disobeyed at his peril.

"What's going on, Chief?"

"I've heard from one of my sources, there's something big going down at a jewellery import business in New York. I want you to cover it, there could be political implications and it involves highly placed eastern European immigrant families. Now I know you have a knack for languages, Clark, and as you're not as well known as some of the other journalists here, you're the ideal candidate for this job. I've booked you on the lunchtime flight to New York, so go and pack your bag for a week and off you go. You'll be met in NY by Chuck Bryant, he's a friend of mine from back in the days when I was with the press corps in 'Nam. He'll fill you in on the intricacies of this particular assignment. Now go pack!" was Perry's final order.

"But Chief - " Clark began.

"Go pack!"

Clark couldn't think of any satisfactory reason to refuse this assignment that wouldn't result in his instant dismissal. He went over to Lois' desk to explain what was happening but she wasn't there. Cat told him that Lois had received a phone call from a source and had gone out to meet said source. She volunteered to take a message, but Clark declined her offer. He didn't yet want the newsroom knowing the full extent of the relationship between himself and Lois. He had a feeling that tongues were wagging, and having Cat acting as a messenger between them would only stoke flames further. Instead Clark went home, packed his bag and dropped by at Lois' apartment to leave her a letter explaining the situation, hoping she would understand. The note contained a P.S. that if she needed him, all she had to do was call him and he'd be there.

Clark wasn't overly fond of commercial flights, which was ironic considering his ability to fly by his own steam. However the flight passed pleasantly and Chuck Bryant met him as arranged. Chuck didn't elucidate too much immediately, but he did explain that a Crown Prince Romanov was suspected of involvement. Romanov's sister was married to a NY antique dealer, who appeared to be perfectly legit. However, Vanya (the sister) had a sense of duty to her family and appeared to be turning a blind eye to some of Romanov's shadier dealings. Chuck explained that Clark would be masquerading as Igor Milosevic, a Utah based American jeweller of Serbian descent. Fortunately <or unfortunately depending on your viewpoint> Clark mused, Clark could speak Serbian as well as a native. His mission would be to gain the confidence of the Prince, and hopefully gain enough information to expose the Prince for the conman he really was. This wasn't the main reason for Chuck's investigation though, he too had a sense of duty. His mother's family was originally from disputed Serbian/Yugoslavian territories. Whilst he fully understood family loyalty, the idea of his cousins who lived their lives under the dictatorships of Eastern Europe yet be ripped off by their rulers fuelled his crusading sense of justice to do something about inequality in the world. His mother had been lucky enough to find refuge and love in the US, he owed it to the people who lived a life but for the grace of God he could have been living.

Clark checked into his hotel room and read up on the case. Jewels were being imported into the US, but somewhere between leaving Eastern Europe and arriving in New York were going missing. Nine times out of ten, a few months later the missing jewels would appear, slightly altered, for sale at various auction houses in New York. He was slightly suspicious as to why Perry had put him on this assignment, but it wasn't his place to disobey orders. He'd have preferred to stay in Metropolis, as hopefully one way or another this week there would be some indication of whether or not Lois was pregnant. Sure, he could fly back to Metropolis at the drop of a hat, but he didn't want to crowd Lois. He knew he was treading a very fine line. Part of him hoped Lois was pregnant, another part didn't. There was nothing he wanted more than to be married and have a family, even if it meant a shotgun wedding. But was this what Lois wanted? She was a career woman, no doubt about that. Did children fit into the equation, especially unplanned ones? Would she have been much happier if he was in Metropolis this week? Maybe not, he thought, he could see how his presence could annoy her.

Clark performed a few Superman rescues, as much as anything to distract himself from the myriad of thoughts clouding his mind; he was finding it difficult to settle in New York. He returned to his hotel room, read some more on the case and eventually fell into a fitful sleep.

Back in Metropolis, Lois was having similar sleeping problems. She was actually glad that Clark was going to be off the scene for a few days. She was even beginning to admit to herself that she loved him, but this was going to be a long week waiting for possible confirmation one way or the other, without Clark fussing over her at every turn. Her best plan of action, as far as she could plan, was to carry on as normal, hope she wasn't pregnant, but if she was late, find out one way or another.

The next day Clark met Chuck for breakfast, where the plan for infiltrating the smuggling business was revealed. Chuck would introduce him to Romanov at a pre-arranged meeting, and Clark would claim to be representing a wealthy American who wished to purchase certain priceless jewels, at a greatly reduced price.

With Clark's talent for speaking Serbian and Chuck's background story, when Clark met Romanov there was no problem convincing him that he had been brought up in the US of Serbian parentage. Romanov was cautious, but he was impressed to be dealing with a fellow countryman. Clark was quite impressed with his acting skills; he had taken an instant dislike to Romanov and the fact he was ripping off his fellow countrymen did nothing to endear him to Clark. Romanov wanted to make some enquiries, as he told Clark, and they arranged to meet on Wednesday to discuss the actual payment for the jewels Clark's client was interested in.

Clark spent most of Tuesday reading Chuck's investigation of Romanov, though he did fly back to Metropolis to help out at a fire in one of the city's many children's homes. It left Clark very pensive, there so many children in homes yet so many childless couples were denied the chance to adopt children. He was adopted, and although there was a modicum of curiosity to know more about Lara and Jor-El, more than the globe had told him, he was more than grateful to have been raised by Martha and Jonathan. Clark found it didn't pay to think too much about the rights and wrongs of the world. He frequently reminded himself of the old adage 'ours not to reason why, ours just to do or die'. It was much easier that way.

On Wednesday Clark met Romanov and was offered some very nice jewels at, although expensive prices, nowhere near their real value. He arranged to meet Romanov with the cash on Thursday, obviously giving him the chance to once more check the background of Igor Milosevic. Fortunately Chuck had friends in the right places, and naturally none of Romanov's checks on Igor revealed anything untoward.

When Igor and Romanov met on Thursday, Clark was wired. He 'bought' the jewels from Romanov, asked a few pertinent questions, and to all intents and purposes, both parties were happy with the deal. As soon as Clark left Romanov, he gave the tapes and photos to Chuck, who immediately passed them to the NYPD. He was concerned for Clark's safety, but Clark reassured him he was ok, and he wasn't the least bit concerned about reprisals. "People here don't necessarily appreciated what's going on outside the States, Clark, but we're a nation built on immigrants <you don't have to tell me that!> Clark thought ironically. Clark wanted to leave New York immediately, but New York's finest wanted statements, and after arresting Romanov on Thursday night, they notified Clark they would need to interview him on Friday morning. Clark was a very patient man, and although he was desperate to return to Metropolis and Lois, he reasoned that nothing drastic would happen, he had to do his duty as a citizen and would return to Metropolis eventually, though sooner as opposed to later!

Romanov attempted to claim diplomatic immunity, but the case against him was too strong. The story appeared as a front page exclusive in the Planet.

After giving all the information he had to the NYPD, Clark was allowed to leave. He called in to see Chuck, who was very grateful. "You know, if Perry hadn't convinced me he had a journalist on his staff who was as fluent in languages as you are, we wouldn't have achieved this. I'm eternally grateful to you Clark, and if ever you want a job in the Big Apple, just let me know!"

Clark thanked him for the offer, but advised him he wished to remain in Metropolis for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately for Clark, Chuck insisted on taking him to the airport. Clark had intended to fly by his own steam back to Metropolis, but it wasn't to be. Instead he had to endure the confined spaces - was he slightly claustrophobic? he wondered - on an American Airlines domestic flight and after the interminable wait for his luggage, eventually arrived back home just before midnight. He immediately thought about contacting Lois, but decided to err on the side of caution rather than risk possibly waking her from a deep slumber. He checked his answering machine, but there were no significant messages, and by significant he knew he meant from Lois. He did a quick Superman patrol and then reluctantly decided there was no other option than to try and sleep.

Saturday morning dawned bright and beautiful. Clark hadn't slept particularly well, he had a night of unsettling dreams, none of which he could recall when he woke. The first thing he wanted to do was to call Lois, see how she was and if she had any news. He decided against doing so straightaway, as he didn't want Lois to misconstrue any of his actions. He was desperate to know both how she was and whether she had any news, but given, with the benefit of hindsight he now realised, her mood swings at certain times of the month, he didn't want to chance upsetting her straightaway. <If only I was more experienced with the opposite sex, maybe I'd have an inkling of how the brain of the female of the species works!>

Clark was cooking breakfast when his phone rang. To his delight it was Lois. "Hi, you're obviously back. How did it go in the Big Apple?" she enquired.

"It went well, mission accomplished, etc, etc. Look, I'm sorry I didn't get chance to say goodbye properly, it was a rush job, Perry was in 'disobey me at your own peril' mode," Clark explained.

"I know, I heard. Look, I need to see you. Do you have any plans for today, other than something that might crop up that requires you know who?" Lois asked.

"No, unless anything untoward arises, I'm free today," <and every day for you, Lois> he thought, "where do you want to meet?"

"Come on over to my place for lunch. It won't be much, I'm afraid."

"Don't worry about food, I'll bring some baguettes or something, unless there's anything else you would prefer?"

"No, just bring yourself and whatever to eat. See you at lunchtime then, bye," said Lois non-comittally as she hung up the phone.

Clark had a few Superman rescues to attend to, but lunchtime couldn't come round soon enough for him. At one o'clock he stood outside Lois' apartment loaded with flowers, cheese from Switzerland and bread from France.

"Hi," said Lois as she greeted him with a peck on the cheek.

"Hi, I've missed you," Clark told her as he handed her the flowers. "Do you want me to prepare lunch?" he asked.

"To be honest, I'm not overly hungry, but you can if you like," she told him.

In 5 seconds flat Clark had whipped up the cheese and bread into a very appetising snack, one that Lois found difficult to resist.

They both began to talk at once, Clark in particular afraid of what Lois was about to say. She must have some indication now of whether or not she's pregnant, he reasoned. Did he want to be put out of his misery as regards knowing about this or not, he argued with himself. He was in turmoil, but he knew that was selfish of him. If Lois was pregnant, she was the one facing a life-altering situation more so than he was. If she wasn't it would be relief all round, wouldn't it, he tried convincing himself.

"Clark!" Lois shouted, "we're both trying to talk at the same time here, but for once, I think I'm justified in having the first words, ok? We both know what we need to talk about, don't we?"

"Ok Lois, go ahead," Clark acquiesced.

"Well, you know my period was due this last week, don't you?"

"Yeah, I had been kinda wondering about various things for the majority of the time," Clark stalled. If he could have used all his powers and made the world stand still right now, he probably would have. He couldn't begin to describe how he felt. In reality he desperately wanted Lois to be pregnant with his child, but what would that entail for her? Did she want his child? He knew no other earth woman had ever been pregnant with a baby by an alien before despite the 'stranger' stories in the National Whisper. Would it be fair to burden Lois with this?

After what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was no more than 5 seconds, Lois spoke.

"Well, Clark, I don't know if congratulations or commiserations is the right word, but, well, my period hasn't started yet this month. I've taken one of those home pregnancy tests, and, well it's positive," she told him and promptly burst out crying.

Clark instinctively reached out for Lois. He was overjoyed at the news, but realised that Lois didn't feel the same way. To him the knowledge that he had impregnated the love of his life was overwhelming and also from his male pride point of view the fact he was fertile, but he knew better than to say this to Lois right now. "Lois, it won't be easy, but, well, we need to discuss our options, but I want you to know I do love you and I'll support you in whatever road we go down," Clark told her.

"Clark, I know it won't be easy," she sobbed, "but I need time, time to come to terms with this. I'm not anti-abortion, it's an option, but I just don't know what to do."

"Lois, we're in this together. I wouldn't condemn you for having an abortion, even though I love children and desperately want you and our baby, I can't force you to go through with this pregnancy. But I will be there for you. I'd do anything for you and our child. I'd even be a househusband! Lois, I don't know what to say right now, but remember I love you, always will, and just want to make you happy. We don't have to make any decisions right this instant, do we?" Clark reasoned.

"No I suppose we don't. Promise me you won't leave me?" Lois pleaded unnecessarily.

"Lois, right now, nothing would make me happier than for me and you to share the same set of keys. Move in with me Lois, or at least stay with me for a while. My apartment is bigger than yours, that's the only reason I'm suggesting my place. You can have my room, I'll sleep on the couch, I just want to be there for you, for us, for all of us. Whatever the future holds."

THE END