By Carol M <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: June 2001
Summary: In an alternate take on the events of the Pilot, find out what might have happened if Lois and Clark had met years before their encounter at the Daily Planet, and found themselves together again with a little help from H.G. Wells.
This is my first long, not just a way to blow some time fic. Originally, it was seven separate stories, but those on Zoom's MB convinced me that it really should be chapters of the same story.
Special thanks go out to my ever-faithful betareaders, Missy and Melisma. Special thanks also go to Ang for being the inspiration and nagging from the end of Ch. 3 and into Ch. 4.
This is the continuation of Chris H.'s "Baby, I Hardly Knew You." It is an excellent story, but you don't really need to read it to follow this one, especially since I changed a few of the details — with her permission of course. In her story, Clark was Clark, not CJ and they didn't exchange gifts in D.C. Part of the idea for what happens near the end of Ch. 1 — don't want to ruin it — comes from Grace Livingston Hill's book, "The Best Man".
The song in the flashbacks is "This Kiss" by Faith Hill — on her CD "Faith" (I think, I know it's one of her earlier ones). There is a video for the song at www.nfanfic.net/musicvideos.html by Andrea that is pretty good, but really has nothing to do with this story.
The SSSSSSSSS indicate a flashback found mainly in Chapter 1, but in Chapter 7 as well.
* indicate thought or emphasis
CAPS indicates emphasis
Anyway, the characters are not mine. Well, most of them aren't anyway. They belong to people with a LOT more money than me! I just wanted to have some fun!
Chapter 1 — First Night
The dark streak appeared out of nowhere. It headed straight for Metropolis. Anyone looking at the sky would have screamed in fear thinking that a meteor was about to hit. But no one was looking. The streak headed straight for downtown Metropolis and came to earth in an alleyway across from the Daily Planet newspaper. There was no earth-shattering impact or any other indication that anything unusual had taken place. Nothing except for the young man who walked out of the alley a few seconds later. He straightened his tie and looked at the hubbub on the city streets around him. It was different than anywhere he had ever been — and he had been to Paris, London, Beijing, Tokyo and most other major and minor cities in the world — but somehow this one was different. He knew why and he sighed.
Yes. He sighed. A long, deep sigh. If only he knew how to find *her*. She was the reason that he had come here, to Metropolis. He didn't even know if she still lived here. It had been over ten years. Even if he could find her, would she remember him? Probably not. Why would she? She had been beautiful and she, no doubt, had many suitors in the last ten years. She was probably married, maybe even with a child or two by now. He ran his hand over his tie, a normal gesture to anyone else, but he was really feeling for the small circle hidden there. He did it almost unconsciously; he had been doing it for so long. The feel of it there brought back the memories that he treasured.
Air had been the one who first spotted her at the hotel. Air, CJ's best friend, pointed across the lobby towards a young woman who was standing at the reception desk. She was wearing snug jeans, a white bodysuit top and a black vest; and CJ had to admit she was a real looker. Her chestnut-brown hair was tied back into a ponytail and small circular sunglasses were sitting right above her forehead. Stunning! The boys looked at her with their mouths hanging open.
Air had gone over and hit on her, but even the ever so dashing and suave Air had been rebuffed by the beautiful girl.
The boys grabbed their bags and got onto the elevator. CJ looked at the mysterious girl one more time. She gazed around the lobby, obviously looking for someone or something; and before the elevator doors closed, their eyes met. And for the first time in his life, CJ lost himself in someone else's gaze. Her eyes were brown and sparkled like diamonds. He felt his heart turning somersaults and found that he liked the feeling. CJ could have looked at her for the rest of the evening but the doors closed in front of his face, and she disappeared from his sight.
He had never even known her last name. She had never known his real name either. His friends had called him CJ in high school. He never really knew why; they just had. As soon as he left home to go to college and travel the world, he had begun using Clark more consistently. She'd never recognize that name.
He was abruptly drawn out of his reverie by the screams of a mother. He had heard those same screams time and time again all over the world. They never changed. He quickly looked around and saw a little girl, no more than 5 years old, with long blond hair and a teddy bear under one arm, wandering in the middle of the busy street. There was a car speeding straight for the little girl. There was no way one of the bystanders would be able to reach her in time, but Clark knew that he could. Fast as light, he ran to the curb near the little girl, and at a more human pace, but still faster than many would believe possible, he ran into the street, scooped her up and carried her out of the way. The mother grabbed the little girl, and held her like she would never let go. The car sped off and the driver, who was talking on a cell phone, never knew what happened.
Clark quietly walked off, picked up his bag from where he had left it across the street and continued on his way. No one had noticed how quickly he had moved from the bus stop to the tree by the curb and he was determined to keep it that way.
Lois Lane always looked the same. Business suits and no nonsense attitude. She had just landed another major story. This one was on a car theft ring and the national news had picked it up. The Daily Planet employees were gathered around the television watching as the world picked up on the report of their star. Right now, she was basking in the glow of her most recent success.
"To Lois Lane — still going where no reporter has gone before!" Jimmy joked as he raised his coffee cup. The Planet newsroom joined in the jocularity until the gruff, unchanging voice of the editor cut through the mirth.
"Hey, hey, hey! Turn that thing off," Perry White glared in the direction of the television until someone did as he instructed. "Now Jimmy, don't encourage her, she's got a head as big as the Metro Dome as it is!" he said in his best grizzly bear voice, but everyone saw the big teddy bear underneath smile at 'his girl.'
"Well, it's nice to know I'm appreciated around here, Chief," she said with a flip of her hair.
"What do you expect… garlands thrown at your feet?" he suggested with a wicked smile.
"No," she said with a quick laugh. "But I would like a raise."
"Well, I'd like Cubs to win a World Series once in a while, but hey, Lois…" He showed her the insides of his empty pockets. "Times are tough." The gathered staff members laughed, and Perry looked around at the party going on in his newsroom. "What's everybody standing around for? This is a newspaper, not Happy Hour at Buckingham Palace," he said firmly.
"Well, I guess I'll just have to finish my novel. I'll make so much money I'll be able to buy *you* that football team and you can turn them into winners."
Perry grinned. "Sure, Lois. You do that." He shook his head as he walked towards his office, mumbling, "Football team? Lois wouldn't know the difference between a shortstop and a tight end. Novel? Sure Lois, sure." Lois' novels were legendary. She had yet to finish one of the many that she had started.
Jimmy followed his boss across the newsroom, eagerly trying to get his attention. "Chief, I got a great idea for a story. See the sandwiches in the cafeteria tasted funny yesterday, and today I'm feeling sick. I think that food poisoning —"
Perry stopped at the door of his office and turned to face the enthusiastic boy. "Did you finish those obituary updates?"
Jimmy's face fell as he realized that yet another idea was being shot down by one of his two idols. A good scandal in the lunchroom was better than writing obituaries. He wondered if Lois Lane had started off writing obituaries.
"Jimmy," Perry began, sounding each word out clearly, "never underestimate the need for a good obituary." With that, he went into his office and closed the door.
Jimmy turned away. "I can think of one right now," he muttered under his breath. He tossed his notebook on Lois' desk angrily and was treated to the look of death that "Mad Dog Lane" usually reserved for others. He quickly picked it back up and saw the pink message slip underneath. "Whoa, I guess you've finally hit the big time!"
Lois, who was concentrating on rereading what she had already written of this latest novel, didn't look up. "Huh?"
"This time, Lex Luthor's personal assistant —" he played his only little game of keep away, until he saw he had pushed Lois as far as he felt was safe. "— returned your call," he called as she snagged it and turned away from him. She looked disappointed and wadded it into a little ball. "Give it up, Lois," Jimmy said. "Luthor never gives one-on-one interviews."
Lois just looked at him. "Well, he's never met Lois Lane before, either," she said determinedly. *And this time is going to be different. I am going to get that interview AND finish this novel.* This novel was different. She really believed that. She HAD to believe that. She had started writing this one in June. June 11th to be exact. That was ten years to the day after she met CJ, and she would never forget him.
Lois Lane was waiting for her father in the lobby of the hotel where she was staying with him for the weekend. Suddenly she felt a presence behind her and she turned around. In front of her stood a young man, maybe seventeen or eighteen years old, with blond hair and blue eyes and a smile which he probably found terribly enchanting.
"Hi," he said. "So what is a nice girl like you doing here all by herself?" Oh brother. One of those guys! she thought, disgusted.
"Save your breath, Prince Charming. I don't have time for it," she stated simply.
The young man looked pretty disappointed. He went back to a group of young men, standing on the other side of the lobby. His friends had a very good time making fun of him — except one of them. He just stood there and smiled. Lois noticed that he was tall, probably taller than her father. Even though he was wearing a sweatshirt, which said 'Smallville High' across the front, she was able to see that he was pretty muscular. Another young man joined the group and they all got onto the elevator. Lois scanned the area once again, looking for her father, but she didn't find him. Instead, her gaze fell upon the young man with the 'Smallville High' sweatshirt, and their eyes met. He smiled at her and his chocolate brown eyes twinkled delightfully and shyly, telling her: I know a secret. Lois had to admit he looked handsome, probably better than all the other guys she had met until today. She found herself staring at him. And then the elevator doors closed in front of him. She stood there, staring at the closed elevator doors, still in a daze. Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder and found her father.
And so she had written the beginning of her novel. She was having somewhat more difficulty with the rest. The next twenty-four hours had been incredible. The only people in the world had been her and CJ. And still his name was all she really knew about him. Except that even now, more than ten years later, she was hopelessly, helplessly in love with him.
The young man who had rescued the little girl stood across the street and stared at the icon for the world's best newspaper. The "Daily Planet". He had arrived! He still couldn't believe that his old professor had known Perry White and that he was willing to give him an interview. It wouldn't do to be late, so he took a deep breath, walked across the street and entered the rotating doors, stopping only to ask directions to Mr. White's office.
Mr. White reminded Clark a little bit of the absent-minded professor. Papers were strewn everywhere on his desk, a disaster to anyone else, but Clark was sure that the editor knew just where everything was. "So you are Mister, uh…"
"Kent, Clark Kent," the young man was quick to help in any way possible.
As though to prove Clark's suspicions, Perry White pulled out his resume. "Ah yes, Kent. Oh, Professor Carlton called me about you; boy, I haven't seen him in I don't know… Let's see here," he brought himself back to the matter at hand. "Editor, Smallville Press," he read slowly, valiantly trying to keep his smile in place. What kind of name was Smallville? "Where is that, that's in…?"
"Kansas," the chief repeated, barely able to keep the incredulity out of his voice, grateful for the insistent ringing of his phone. "Oh, just a minute please," he apologized as he reached out and grabbed the receiver. "Yeah… Oh, tell him to keep his pants on! If Carlini's can't deliver on time, just find a place who can!" Clark looked around to see if there was anyone in the newsroom who hadn't heard him. As he started to take his pulse, he asked Clark, "Would you believe I had to buy a blood pressure monitor last week?"
"Paava leaves," Clark said with a smile, wondering how this man would take the suggestion.
"I beg your pardon?" Perry asked, the confused look usually reserved for Lois on his face.
"The Yolngu tribe in New Guinea eat paava leaves to relieve stress, it puts them in a meditative state. Maybe you should try it," he suggested as a woman entered and left some papers on his desk. Perry grunted his thanks.
"Oh, well, I see you've done some traveling," Perry observed. *He wants me to eat leaves? Does everyone from Smallville have a screw loose?*
"Well, this is my first trip to Metropolis," Clark clarified. "I have some samples of my work," he remembered, handing the editor a handful of papers that he pulled out of his bag.
"Oh good, good, let's take a look," the editor said, grateful to get the conversation off of him eating *leaves*. This young man had the kind of honest face that was missing in today's world. "The Borneo Gazette," he read slowly, feeling his stomach drop and remembering why he didn't ride roller coasters. "Mating rituals of the knob-tailed gecko?" With a sigh he faced the clean-cut young man with the hopeful eyes, trying to find a gentle way of breaking it to him. "Kent, I'm sure that these are fascinating stories, but you see, son, this is the Daily Planet! We just don't do stories on knob-tailed geckos. Or any other reptiles for that matter. Rarely even a story on mating rituals of mammals, unless you count 'Cat's Corner', and NOBODY but Cat counts that."
He was interrupted by a dark-haired young man who burst through the office door. "All right, Chief, I fixed the horn on your golf cart," he announced, a tad bit smug.
"Not now, Jimmy," Perry said abruptly.
"The tone's still off," the lad continued, his face drooping a little bit.
"Jimmy, not now!" Perry shouted, wondering if there was anything to the paava leaves thing. He needed something. Jimmy left with a haste born from knowing the Chief's anger on many occasions. "Now, as I was, uh, saying, you just can't walk in here and expect…"
This time the interruption came from a brunette whirlwind who was pleading her case before she even entered the office. "Chief! I think there's a story here and we should check it out, it could be more Kerth material, you…"
"Lane!" the chief exploded. "I don't know what cockamamie story you're talking about this time, but can't you see I'm in the middle of something here?" he asked with a definite edge to his voice. Clark rose to his feet wondering who it was that had the gumption to talk to this obviously powerful man this way, and instantly had a feeling of deja' vu. For a second he looked startled, but then shook his head and decided that it couldn't be. There was no way.
"Oh," she said, irritated at the interruption. She barely glanced at the man who was interrupting her day, and then turned back to the Chief as though demanding an answer.
"Lane. Clark Kent," Perry introduced.
"Nice to meet you," she said, glancing at him just long enough to know that she needed to do a double take. She did, and then decided that she was imagining things. She turned immediately back to her editor. "Anyway, he worked for the Sec. State…"
Clark closed his mouth, for once dumbfounded by what he had seen. He didn't quite know what to think of the tornado of a woman who had just walked back into his life. Back into his life? He looked more closely at her and debated. Finally, the rational side won. This couldn't be his Lois — it would be too easy. He planned on having to search the city for her and for her to just walk back into his life would be entirely too easy. And if there was one thing that Clark's life was not, it was easy.
"Hold on there, Lane!" Perry stopped the whirling dervish that often reminded him of that little cartoon character who ate anything in its path. "What happened to that mood piece I gave you about the razing of that old theater on Forty-second Street?"
"I wasn't in the mood," she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. Clark looked at her more closely. Maybe it was possible. She certainly had the spunk.
"You weren't in the *mood*," he repeated with a touch of singsong in his voice. "Now look, Lane, you can't come in here and tell me you're not in the…"
The young woman focused her attention on the young man who fixed the golf cart horn. He was making 'you've got a phone call' motions at her. "I gotta go, I'll catch you later!" she told her boss, drowning out his tirade as she swept out of the office like a tornado of energy. Clark followed her intently with his eyes, studying her face, wondering… He was startled when Perry continued talking.
"I tell you, if that woman wasn't the best damned investigative reporter I've ever seen, I…!" Perry took his pulse again and mumbled, "This job and that girl is gonna kill me yet". Then he remembered — the Borneo Gazette and — was it hook-tailed iguanas? "Look, Kent, I'm sure that you're an intelligent guy, but you just can't walk in here with this kind of resume and expect to get a job."
"Mr. White, I know I lack experience," Clark said earnestly, turning his attention back to the task at hand, "but I'm a good writer —"
"Kent," Perry interrupted.
"— and a hard worker, and I —"
"Kent," Perry sounded almost wistful. "I just don't have anything for you, son."
Clark's 100-watt smile melted from his face. "Well, thank you, sir. I appreciate you taking the time to see me," he said politely, knowing that his small-time success was a long shot here.
"Okay," Perry said with a friendly smile.
Clark shook the man's hand, picked up his satchel, and walked slowly out of the office.
Perry smiled until Clark had turned away, and then stared at his throbbing hand with a grimace and a whimper of pain, holding it away from his body. Then he looked in the direction the young man had gone, his eyes wide.
Clark had told the cab driver to take him to a cheap, clean hotel. "Cheap" the Hotel Apollo was, but Clark wasn't sure about clean. He could make it look better in a matter of seconds if he wanted to, but he just didn't have the heart. It wasn't much of a home. If he ever found Lois, he wanted to have a better place to show her. This was a dump!
There was a pay phone even. How cheap could people be? He didn't think he could even get incoming calls. He sighed and picked up the phone. He hated calling his parents collect, but he really didn't have much choice.
"You want me to wire you some cash?" his dad offered right away.
"No, I'm fine," Clark said half-heartedly, *but it won't be long before I can't afford even this hellhole*.
"How'd the interview go?" Martha Kent asked eagerly.
"Not so good, but something'll turn up, I'm sure," Clark said into the phone, not even able to convince himself.
"Nyeah, I think I should wire you some cash," Jonathan interjected.
"I'm fine, Dad."
"You're still going to make it home on Friday?" his mom asked.
"I'd never miss your home cooking, Mom," Clark said with a wistful smile.
"What home cooking?" Jonathan snorted. "I haven't had a home cooked meal in…"
"Clark, you're being careful, aren't you?" his mother asked into her phone, cutting off her husband's complaint.
"Sure, other than the car incident this morning, but that —"
"Car incident? Clark…" his mother began, her happy smile vanishing.
"Metropolis isn't the Outback, you know," his father warned, ignoring his wife's glare. "People in the city are always looking to make a quick buck. If they find out about you, they'll put you in a laboratory, and…"
Clark rolled his eyes and finished the familiar phrase with him. "… 'dissect me like a frog.' I know, Dad. Believe me, I'm trying my best to be like everybody else here, but I couldn't let that little girl get run over. You understand; don't you, Mom?"
He heard her sigh. "Of course, sweetheart. You can't just NOT help."
"Well, I'll get that cash out to you tonight," his dad told him.
"Dad…" Clark realized that he needed the money more now than ever, but he couldn't just TAKE it. "I'll pay you back, I promise. Okay, I'll talk to you guys soon."
"Bye, honey," his mom said gently, giving her husband a slightly sad smile.
"Oh, mom. WAIT!"
"What is it sweetheart?" Jonathan had already hung up the phone that he was on.
"Do you remember that trip that I took with AJ and the guys to D.C.?"
"Of course. The trip where you met the 'woman of your dreams'?" He could almost see the grin on her face.
"*Yes, Mom*! That trip."
"What about it, honey?"
"I saw her today."
The silence hung between them. "Are you sure, sweetheart? How do you even know that she's still in Metropolis? Odds are she moved on a long time ago. And even if you do find her, she is probably married by now. I don't want you to get your hopes up over a dream that ended over ten years ago."
"I know, Mom. But it was her… it was. I know it. She works for the Planet now. When I got a good look at her, I saw her eyes and well, I know it was her. The same spunk and determination that I saw in Lois, I see in this Lane person."
"Yes, that's what Mr. White called her. I wonder if it's a pseudonym or something. Maybe she doesn't use her real name at work."
"You have to admit it's a stretch."
"I know, Mom. I just wanted you to know that I found her again."
"Well, for your sake, son, I hope so. Now you get a good night's sleep. I love you."
"I love you, too, Mom," Clark hung up slowly, feeling a pang of loneliness… that lifelong companion of his. Now if he could only find out if Lane was the Lois that he knew and loved.
He lay back on the bed, unwilling to admit to himself that he needed to pick up the Daily Planet and look for other job opportunities. Even with the money his dad was sending he wouldn't survive here long.
He closed his eyes and willed himself to relax. He took several deep breaths. Slowly he started floating toward the ceiling. He could relax much better this way. The cushion of air was much more comfortable than the thin, hard mattress of the cheap hotel bed. He played with the ring that had been hiding under his suit.
She had given it to him ten years ago. He hadn't taken off since, no matter how much the guys razzed him. He sighed one more time. Sure, he could float up to the ceiling, but could he get a job? A regular job like any regular guy? He closed his eyes and smiled softly. Ten years. Ten years was a long time.
"Hey, Air, have you seen my glasses?" CJ asked and went through his bag.
"Damn! I must have left them on my desk yesterday when we left," CJ said. He didn't really *need* glasses, but they helped him control his special vision. When he had been younger, he had had problems with his capability of looking through walls and with his heat vision. After he had almost burned down the shed behind the house, his mother had suggested glasses, and after that he had been capable of controlling his special powers. In the meantime, he was so good at handling his powers that he didn't really need the glasses anymore, but he was so used to them that he felt strange when he was not wearing them.
"So, Kent, that girl in the lobby must have made an impression on you, huh?" Air asked suddenly and shot CJ an amused look.
"Beg your pardon?"
"Hey, you were staring at her as if she were Marilyn Monroe herself," Air laughed.
"I was *not* staring at her!" CJ protested and changed into his boxer shorts.
"Yes, you were!"
They heard a knock at the door. CJ got up and answered it. AJ and Barney were standing in front of him.
"Hey, CJ, we thought we'd go and eat something. Are you and Air joining us?"
"Sure, why not? What do you think, Air?"
"I'm with you. Just let me take a shower and put on some clean clothes," Air answered and disappeared behind the bathroom door.
"Where are we going?" CJ asked as he put on the rest of his clothes.
"We thought Chinese."
CJ, Air, AJ and Barney entered the Chinese restaurant and were greeted by a young Chinese waiter who introduced himself as Danny. He showed them to their table and then left again so they could study the menu.
"Hey, CJ, look who's here. Your little girlfriend," Air whispered suddenly and nodded towards a table behind CJ. CJ turned around and indeed. She was sitting at a table with a man, who was probably her father. They had the same eyes. CJ smiled, oblivious to his surroundings.
"Oh, look. CJ's in love," AJ said suddenly, such a jump back into reality.
"Oh, shut up, AJ!" CJ snapped.
"How come I hear that a lot today?" AJ asked.
"I guess because you are a total jerk," Air said and laughed.
"Oh, look who's talking!" AJ shot back.
The guys were having a lot of fun, but Clark wasn't able to concentrate. He couldn't get his mind off that girl. And even though he had never spoken to her, he had the strange feeling he was falling in love with her.
He stood up, in mid-air, and started walking in circles around the room. It was two steps to the wall. Stop. Shake head. Turn. Two steps to the other wall. Stop. Shake head. Turn. Repeat over and over. Always playing with the ring that hung around his neck.
He didn't want to give up his dream. He couldn't, especially now that he thought he knew where Lois was. He had to talk to her. To see if she remembered him. To find out if she felt the same way that he did. He liked what he had seen of Metropolis so far; the bustle and excitement and constant activity and she was more of a reason to stay. He would just have to get a job somewhere else until he could find out for sure.
Lois struggled with groceries, her bag, her purse and the four locks that she insisted her sister kept locked at all times. "Lucy?" she called. "Are you home?"
"Hi sis!" Lucy came from the bedroom as Lois set the groceries in the kitchen. "I thought you were going out tonight," she said in surprise, looking to see if her sister had brought home anything good. "Chocolate ice cream? Did you finish off the other half-gallon already?"
Lois shot her a look, ignoring the ice cream comment. "Oh, I gotta work, I can't. Don't start!" she warned over her shoulder as she went to put the rest of her things on the couch.
"Did you find an escort to Lex Luthor's White Orchid Ball yet?" Lucy asked, following her like a puppy looking for scraps.
"No, I did not," Lois said clearly, feeling that she had already had this conversation one too many times.
"Lois, it's tomorrow night!" Lucy reminded her unnecessarily. "What about Mitchell? I thought you liked him."
"Mitchell is a hypochondriac," Lois pronounced, taking some files from her satchel and trying to escape into the kitchen.
Lucy followed her, doggedly. "They can't all be bad, Lois. They can't all be boring or stupid. What are you waiting for?"
"Fine. I'll ask Mitchell to take me," she said as she pulled a frozen dinner out of the grocery bag.
"I'm not just talking about the Ball, Lois. You've got to get out more," Lucy insisted.
Lois groaned. "Will you stop?" she demanded, struggling to open the frozen dinner. "Geez, you sound like Dad! I'm only twenty-six!" She popped the frozen dinner into the microwave. "Besides," she muttered to herself, "I've already met the man of my dreams and he's nowhere to be found."
"Twenty-six today, thirty-six tomorrow," Lucy warned, following Lois again as she took a folder from the kitchen back to the sofa. "And I know why that dentist, Alan, never called you back; dragging him to the Women In Journalism seminar, 'Weak Men And The Wise Women Who Love Them'. You've got to stop scaring them off, Lois!" She grabbed the folder from her sister's hand to get her attention, to make her listen. "You've got to stop being so smart all the time, so intense! And don't give me that nonsense about some guy you met ten years ago at a hotel in D.C. I can't believe you are still holding on to that pipe dream."
Lois looked at her sister and chose to ignore the last remark. "Don't you ever quit following me around? Look, I'm just being myself, and if they're not man enough to handle it, then I guess I'll just have to wait 'til I find someone who is." Lois Lane wouldn't change for anyone.
"I just hate to see you sitting at home," Lucy replied wistfully, cutting off her sister's tirade.
"I get out plenty. I have dates," Lois replied, trying to convince herself as much as her sister.
"You have interviews," Lucy corrected softly. Lois started to say something, but stopped as she realized that her sister was right. "Lois… I just want you to meet a super guy."
"I already have. Don't give me that look. I won't ever forget CJ and you know it." Lois sighed and gave her sister a quick hug. Deep down inside, she wanted to find CJ, knowing, somehow, that he was the 'super guy' for her. She dreamed of romantic walks on the beach, of candlelit dinners and slow dancing in Mr. Right's strong arms, but he never had a face. She could never even put CJ in those dreams, just some faceless, nameless guy, who made her feel that she was floating on air. She had a hard time believing that Prince Charming actually did exist, even in the person of CJ. He was probably married with a couple of kids by now. She thought about the guy in Perry's office today. Those eyes, were something, but she couldn't convince herself that he was CJ. She knew that all of the good guys, if there were any, were taken or played for the 'other team'. Or came from Smallville. Who disappeared never to be seen again.
Lois pulled the covers up around her chest, sighing. She set aside the papers she had been reading, unable to concentrate. She picked up the remote and started The Ivory Tower, her favorite tape. She snacked on some popcorn as the passed the credits quickly.
"Gwendolyn, have you made your decision?" a dark-haired man asked on the screen.
Lois felt herself getting emotional. As often as it happened, she couldn't help it.
The pretty blonde tossed her wavy hair. "All right, you win," she replied almost defiantly. "I'll keep my promise. Tonight my body is yours. But my heart… my heart beats only for one man," she finished in grand melodramatic fashion.
"Oh!" Lois wailed softly, hugging the blanket a little closer as the tears started to flow. Why couldn't *she* feel that kind of passion again? Would she ever find her way back to her one true love? As the dark man began to nibble on Gwendolyn's neck, Lois pulled a tissue from beside the bed. With a little whimpering sound, she wiped her eyes, blew her nose, and sniffled. *Maybe Lucy is right. Maybe I don't remember what the kisses were really like. Maybe it's all in my head. Maybe I am just chasing a pipe dream. No, it can't be. It WAS real — I know it was!* "Oh, CJ. Where are you?" She felt like getting the sweatshirt out of the bottom of her bottom drawer, but if Lucy came in she'd have some explaining to do and she didn't want to deal with Lucy. She closed her eyes and remembered the first time she met him. She had gone out for Chinese with her dad, but…
Lois wasn't able to concentrate on the conversation with her father anymore. She felt that she was being watched and she turned around. It was him. The guy from the lobby with the 'Smallville High' shirt. He was looking at her and blushed when he knew she had caught him staring. But he didn't look away. Lois smiled and he smiled back.
"Uhm, Daddy? Do you mind if I…" She pointed towards the ladies' room.
"Oh, no. Of course not," he answered, and Lois got up and walked over to the ladies' room. When walking past the 'Smallville High' guy, she shot him a look that meant: Move!
Tears started to stream down her face.
The Ivory Tower always had that effect on her.
During the night, Clark remembered the mood piece that Mr. White had assigned to Lane. He could write the piece. He knew his best work was when he tried to tug at the heartstrings. Maybe Perry White would use it and that could start his ball rolling. Finding the theater wasn't difficult. It was just behind the crowd that stood next to a wrecking ball. The construction crew was almost finished setting up and the protesters, the few of them, were in full swing. "Keep the theater on the spot, we don't need a parking lot!"
One of them looked anxious. "Where's Beatrice? Bea? Bea?"
Clark made sure that no one noticed him and lowered his glasses. He looked right through the brick wall, wondering what he would find. He saw a woman on the stage, feather boa draped around her neck, the decrepit building falling around her and her floppy hat, surrounded by evidence of the by-gone days of theater.
"After the dark death of autumn, and the cold barren winter, how I wish this rock might be taken from my heart," she called, a slight echo in the large, empty hall.
"Okay, Bill, start her up!" a voice called, breaking Clark away from the scene inside. He looked again to make sure that he was ignored and lowered his glasses again. With an intense look on his face, he managed to fry some of the wires inside the motor of the wrecking ball machine. Though it was only a brief delay, the protesters cheered as though a permanent stay had been given.
Clark fixed his glasses firmly on the bridge of his nose, and glancing about yet again, made his way inside.
The woman on stage continued, oblivious to his presence, the passion obvious in her voice. "Oh, for the days of my childhood, back when my soul was pure. I slept right here in this nursery, looking out at the orchard from this very room, and every morning I awoke with such joy in my heart. My orchard is just the same as it was then. Nothing is different. All of it, all of it, dressed in white. My lovely orchard."
Clark's applause echoed loudly. He drew her attention as he had planned.
"Just… a fan."
"I'm not leaving." She sounded determined. "Not until I finish."
He smiled. "All right. Do you mind if I watch? I always loved this play."
"You know it?" she asked.
"The Cherry Orchard. Anton Chekhov."
She looked somewhat impressed that a young man would know the work. "His finest, don't you think?"
"Definitely," he agreed with a gentle half-smile.
She smiled back at him, remembering days gone by. "They don't understand. Theater is more than bricks and mortar." Her gaze traveled around the room, remembering things as they had been. "It's drama and passion, and mystery and comedy and life!" She looked at him with an intensity that he found charming. "Don't make me go. I'm not ready."
"We have some time," he assured her.
"You understand. I just want to say good-bye."
Clark smiled as he realized how he was going to write this article. He sat in the back row and listened as she continued, a faraway look on his face. While he listened his mind slipped back to another time and another place. He had seen the look that she gave him that night at the Chinese restaurant.
She wanted him to follow her. CJ cleared his throat.
"I'll be right back," he said and got up from his chair. The rest of the gang didn't even notice him because they were in the middle of an argument about whether sweet 'n' sour was better than stir-fry. CJ entered the lounge, which was a small room one walked through to get to the ladies' or men's room.
She was sitting on a small soft sofa and had obviously been waiting for him. When he entered the lounge, she got up and walked up to him.
"Okay, who are you and why are you staring at me all the time?" she demanded.
CJ was taken aback. Her presence made him nervous enough and this was too much for him. He felt himself getting red and stammered something like, "I'm sorry, I… I… don't know."
"What? You don't know your own name?" she said and a ghost of a smile flashed across her lips.
"Oh… of course. CJ. I'm CJ," he answered.
"I'm Lois. Nice to meet you, CJ. So now that we've gotten rid of that problem, tell me why you're staring at me all the time."
"I… uh… I guess I'm just kinda attracted to you," CJ said, surprised at his own words.
"Oh, really? Well, I guess the feeling's mutual," she replied and CJ's head shot up. What?! *She*? Attracted to *him*? She smiled and he felt his knees almost giving away underneath him. He was able to lift the tractor at home on the farm without any effort at all and she brought him to his knees with a simple smile. This girl was sure something!
"For real?" he asked, almost in shock.
"For real," she answered and melted his heart with another smile.
"Well, uh, in that case, how'd you feel about going to the movies with me after dinner?" CJ asked and was surprised that he had found the guts to ask her.
"Sure, why not? I'll just have to ask Daddy," she answered and CJ felt terribly relieved that she hadn't shot him down.
"Great!" CJ exclaimed.
"…all of it dressed in white. My lovely orchard." Clark was brought out of his daydream as the scene ended.
Clark spent the rest of the morning researching the theater and Beatrice. He went back to his temporary, very temporary, home and used his laptop to type up the story. He typed faster than the machine could deal with and soon it was starting to smoke. Clark sighed. He had ruined more laptops that way, so he slowed down and waited for it to catch up.
He read the piece again, to make sure that it was as good as he thought it was. He smiled, a satisfied smile as he realized it was that good. "Beatrice was eighteen when she made her debut. Warren G. Harding was President, the Unknown Soldier was interred at Arlington, and Babe Ruth was sold to the Yankees…"
Perry read the article as well. His gruff voice softened by the words that he was reading. "… She came to say good-bye, as we all must, to the past, and to a life and a place that soon would exist only in a bittersweet memory." He smiled broadly at Clark.
"Smooth," Jimmy said, amazed that someone could move Perry like that.
Lois had listened, speechless, trying to unobtrusively use the doorframe to hold her up. She didn't understand how someone from the middle of nowhere, and he had to be from nowhere since she had never heard of him, could make her care about days gone by. The piece had called up memories of her own past. The past before she understood the reasons her mother slept so much during the afternoon, before she knew that she could never please her father. She knew when her parents separated that those days were over. All she was left with was CJ, and those were the only good memories she had left.
"You are certainly not going to the movies with some hick from nowheresville, whom you've just met!" Sam Lane exclaimed.
"But, Daddy…" Lois protested.
"Don't 'daddy' me! I said no!"
"What's wrong with you? What's wrong with *him*?" Lois asked, practically yelling.
"Why do you want to put up with a boy from *Smallville*? He's going to be a farmer someday and he'll be very happy with his wife and his 2.5 kids and his cows. You deserve something better, Lois!" her father said. "You are not going, you understand?"
"But, Daddy, I—"
"I said no!" her father said, as he got out of the cab, then stormed inside the hotel and left her standing in front of it.
"Damn you!" Lois yelled after him, but either he couldn't hear her anymore, or he simply ignored her.
Jimmy's comment brought Lois out of her reminiscing. She straightened up, unwilling that any should know how the story had affected her. And glad she stopped remembering when she did. To remember any more of that night was not a good plan. "Uh, yeah, if you like that sort of thing," she said flippantly, hoping that she came off as the impartial, impassionate person the people at the Planet knew.
"You know, Kent, there's only one attribute I value more than experience, and that's initiative." Perry White's smile reached more than his eyes. "Clark Kent, welcome to the Daily Planet!" Clark could barely contain a whoop and reached to take Perry's offered hand. "Oops!" Perry stopped before Clark could squeeze, "I don't think I could take another one of your handshakes." Clark peeked over at the woman he now knew to be Lois Lane and was more sure than ever that this was the woman that the girl he had loved grew up to be.
Clark's moment of triumph was immediately interrupted, though, when the office door was flung open. "Chief, you gotta see this. Something about a sex change for the royals."
"I'm not interested in the sex changes of royals. When you have something real, come get me." The Chief wasn't known for wanting fluff. He wanted substance.
"It could be news, Chief," Jimmy said. "Can I look into it?"
"No. Not on my time you're not."
"Well, then I'll do it on my own."
"Whatever, Jimmy." He looked up at the three of them. "Don't you have work to do? Kent, I didn't hire you so you can hold the floor down. Now get out there and find me some news." He sat down and gave them a look that said the meeting was over.
Clark and Jimmy left the office. "Come on, CK. I'll give you the tour."
In Perry's office, Lois hadn't left. She laid out her game plan. "I'll need a task force, I can't cover this story alone."
"You can have Jimmy," Perry suggested.
"Chief," Lois said dryly, "we're talking about the President here!"
"Okay, take Kent." He looked at her slyly, waiting for her reaction.
"Kent?" she repeated, unable to believe what she had heard.
"Kent," he confirmed impatiently.
"What about Myerson?" she asked hopefully.
"Burns?" she tried, grasping at straws.
"Forget Kent," she stated firmly.
"Uh-uh," he said equally as firm. "He's a good man.
"Kent is a hack from Tinytown, I couldn't make that name up!" she snorted, knowing full well she had.
"Kent, or nobody. And it's not Tinytown. It's Podunkville something."
Seeing the look on Perry's face, she knew she was at an impasse. "Fine. Don't ever say that I'm not a team player." She turned sharply and stalked out of the editor's office.
Clark followed Jimmy around, trying to take it all in. "We have different sections, just like the paper has different sections," Jimmy explained. "Society, Sports, Entertainment… Come here." Clark didn't know what it felt like to fit in, but he sure hoped that this was the place he could finally find out.
Lois went to get herself a cup of coffee, knowing that she would need the extra 'oomph' to get through this story. Cat Grant let out a low wolf whistle, obviously smitten as she watched the good-looking young man following Jimmy around. "Who's the new tight end?" she asked in a voice that barely concealed desire.
Lois rolled her eyes. Some things never changed. "Why don't you throw your usual forward pass and find out?" she asked and stalked off before Cat could pry and find out what kind of effect this new guy had on her.
Cat shrugged out of her jacket and straightened her bright outfit. She ran her tongue over her teeth and pinched her cheeks, bringing color to them before she turned and tried to pour on the charm.
"Ah, excuse me," Clark said, wondering what game she was playing.
"Catherine Grant," she said, using a voice he didn't know could come from a human. "'Cat's Corner'." She held out a hand and waited expectantly for him to kiss it.
"Oh yeah, I've read your column." He held her hand awkwardly for a moment before releasing it.
"Oh, then my reputation precedes me," she smiled, pleased.
"Among other things," Lois muttered barely trying to conceal the fact that she was eavesdropping.
Cat began to stroke Clark's tie. "This is a great tie. You know, I know what it's like to be new in town… Lonely… I'd be happy to show you around."
"Ah, that's very nice of you, Miss Grant," Clark said slowly, somewhat flattered, but not wanting to encourage the way she was stroking his chest. He didn't want her to feel the ring either. Especially not with Lois right there. He was more sure than ever that she was *his* Lois. He just needed to find out, somehow, if she remembered him. "Now, if you'll excuse me." Clark walked off, leaving her in his wake, something that didn't happen very often.
Lois rolled her eyes again, closed the cabinet drawer rather loudly, and took her coffee to her desk.
Clark took his coffee and walked to his new desk. He couldn't help but notice Lois' reaction to Cat's come-ons. He hoped that Lois' reactions meant that there was still a spark there. He grinned; there weren't too many people like Cat in Smallville!
Lois waited for Clark to return to his desk. "Let's hit it," she told Kent, smacking his arm as she walked by on her way to her own desk.
Clark looked surprised and pleased at the same time. Following her to her desk, he sat down in her guest chair. "Mind if I ask where we're going?"
"To interview Bob Marvin. He's convinced the President, or a member of the Cabinet, is up to no good; I'll brief you on the way." Lois grabbed her things, and Clark quickly grabbed his jacket to keep up with her. "And let's get something straight, I did not work my buns off to become an investigative reporter for the Daily Planet just to baby-sit some hack from Nowheresville! And one other thing," she said without pausing for a breath, and without noticing the look on his face, as she stopped on the stairs that led up from the pit of the newsroom to the elevators. She turned abruptly to face him, "you are not working with me, you are working *for* me. I call the shots, I ask the questions." She began to walk towards the elevators again, still laying down the law. "You are low man, I am top banana, and that's the way I like it. Comprende?" she asked over her shoulder, unwilling to look at his eyes again having seen something there that she wasn't comfortable with.
"You like to be on top. Got it," he returned clearly, looking straight ahead at the elevator's impassive doors and not meeting her eyes, knowing that if he did, the game was up.
Lois glared at him, fire coming out of her beautiful brown eyes. "Don't push me, Kent, you are *way* out of your league." The doors opened, and she entered, grateful that she didn't have to look at him anymore. Clark followed and stood behind her, a grin spreading across his face and disappearing as he realized that the elevator was mirrored. He knew he could reach her, if he just had the chance. In the meantime, though, if she pushed, he intended to push back. *Hmmm, I wonder what she'd do if… * Clark reached over and pulled out the stop button on the elevator.
Lois turned around, her eyes spewing venom. "Just what do you think you are doing?"
Clark smiled and took her face in his hands. "This." He leaned down and placed his lips on hers.
For just a split second, Lois fought back. Then, as though she had no will of her own, she found herself responding to the ever-deepening kiss. She couldn't think. She couldn't believe this was happening. She, Lois Lane, Ms. Always in Control, was being kissed, in an elevator by a hack from Nowheresville. *A hack from Nowheresville. No, a hick from Nowheresville.* That was what her dad had said about CJ. No, it couldn't be. She had to get away. She had to be able to think about this. She finally managed to push herself back from the surprisingly solid chest and whisper, "Please. Stop."
"You don't remember me, do you?" Clark was disappointed. He felt like a balloon without air. He had been so certain that THIS was his Lois and that if he could just kiss her, she would know it was him.
Lois straightened her hair and gave him a cold, hard look. "No, of course not. Where would I know you from? And why would I want to remember you? And just where do you get off kissing me?" Lois was starting to get outraged. "I don't know how you do things in Dinkytown, but that is NOT how things are done here in the big city."
Clark slowly reached around her and restarted the elevator. "I'm sorry. I guess I thought…"
Lois was fuming. "You *thought*? You *thought*! That's your problem, you didn't think! Now it's my turn to think. We have a story to find." Lois crossed her arms and faced the doors, her brow furrowing, deep in thought. She wasn't thinking about the story. She was thinking about CJ and the last time that she had seen him. It was the next day — after the Chinese restaurant — and all she could think about was how their weekend had been cut short by her father.
Tomorrow came all too soon. It was probably already there when Lois found a dreamless sleep. She got up and got dressed. After taking a shower and brushing her teeth she went downstairs to the restaurant, where her father had promised to meet her. He was late, as usual. She had already begun eating when he finally showed up.
"Morning, Princess," he said and sat down opposite from her.
Her father looked as if he had something on his mind.
"Is something wrong, Daddy?" Lois asked.
"No, Princess, nothing's wrong. It's just that I got a call an hour ago and they need me in Seattle at the lab. I'm leaving in an hour."
"What about me?"
"I thought you'd take the car and drive home to Metropolis. It's only an hour's drive from D.C."
"But I—" She stopped in mid-sentence. She knew she couldn't tell her father about CJ.
"What? Does something bother you about the plan?" her father asked and ordered a cup of coffee.
"No, Daddy, nothing," Lois answered and sighed.
"Good. Here's the key for the car. Just give the bell boy this card and he'll get it for you," her father said and tossed her the key and a small white card. "I'm sorry, Princess. I know I had promised you a weekend with me, but they've got problems and really need my help. You understand that, don't you?"
"Sure, Daddy," she answered quietly.
"Okay, I'd better go and pack now. Be careful, okay?"
"I will. Bye, Daddy," Lois said and stood up to hug her father goodbye. He left her standing there, in the middle of the restaurant. And she tried to figure out a way to tell CJ.
She stood in front of his room door and finally raised her hand and knocked. The blond guy from the lobby opened the door and his face split into a huge grin when he saw her.
"Oh, look who's here!" he exclaimed. "CJ's little girlfriend!" Lois saw CJ coming out of the bathroom behind the blond guy. He was wearing a pair of jeans and a black T-shirt and had obviously just taken a shower.
"Hey, Kent, your girlfriend's here!" the blond guy said over his shoulder. CJ was at his side within a second.
"Shut up, Delaney!" he snapped. Then he turned to Lois and smiled warmly. "Hey, Lois," he said.
"Should I leave you two alone?" Delaney asked, still grinning broadly.
"Just get outta here, Air!" CJ said and this time Air saw CJ wasn't kidding. He hurried out of the room and closed the door behind him.
"So, what are you doing here?" CJ asked.
"I need to talk to you," Lois said quietly.
"Well, okay, sure."
"I'm leaving D.C."
CJ's heart sank.
"My father needs to go to Seattle and told me to drive home."
"Oh. When are you leaving?"
"Right away. I just came to say goodbye," she said and then turned around because she didn't want him to see her tears.
"Do you mind if I help you with your bags?" CJ asked. He knew he should say more but he couldn't think of anything. He hated the thought of losing her.
"No," she said and then slowly walked towards the door. She opened it and stepped out into the hallway. He grabbed something and followed her.
Her bags were already packed and waiting for her. CJ picked them up and they headed for the elevator.
"I'm really gonna miss you," CJ said suddenly, while they were waiting for the elevator.
CJ laid his arm around her waist and pulled her closer. "Do you mind if I kiss you goodbye?" he asked softly. Lois was able to feel his hot breath against her skin, his strong arms around her waist and instead of answering him she leaned forward and kissed him, tenderly, gently. And he responded to her kiss, softly, when he wanted to hug her so hard. After what seemed an eternity they broke apart, both gasping for air.
"No," she whispered.
"No, I don't mind if you kiss me goodbye," she answered breathlessly. Then suddenly with a soft Pling! the elevator doors opened and a elderly couple stepped out. Lois and CJ entered the elevator and she pushed the button.
Even after all this time, Lois couldn't bring herself to think about that first night. It was just too painful. *Wait! The blond guy. The one who hit on me the first night. He said CJ's last name. Come on, Lois. Think, girl. You were standing there at the door. The blond guy answered it.* She closed her eyes. *CJ came out of the bathroom — oh, he looked hot. The black T-shirt, clinging just a bit like the skin underneath wasn't quite dry yet. The wet hair, with a few strands falling over his forehead. Stop it — get back on track, Lois. And the guy said… Hey, someone, you're girlfriend's here. Did he — could he? — have said Kent?* She stole a peek at Clark in the mirrored walls of the elevator. Smug, she returned to her internal rambling. *No, it couldn't have been. My CJ would have grown up to be MUCH better looking than that. Besides, he didn't wear glasses.* The soft Pling! of the elevator door opening shook Lois back to reality.
"Come on, Kent. We have a story to do!"
Lois and Clark walked dejectedly back into the newsroom. "Hey, kids. You get anything?" Perry called from the door of his office.
Lois sat down wearily at her desk. "No, Chief. We looked all over town for Bob Marvin and couldn't find him anywhere. We'll try again tomorrow." Her phone rang. As she picked it up, she heard Perry tell them to try a little harder next time.
Clark went to his desk, took off his jacket, and sat down. He tried to look busy as he shamelessly eavesdropped on her conversation.
"No, Mitchell," she was saying, resigned, "I'm not mad. If you've got the sniffles then you've got the sniffles… Yeah, that could lead to complications," she flipped through her address book, starting to look desperate. "No, don't call me, I'll call you."
Lois hung up, with the finality of knowing she'd never talk to him again. Canceling plans to go to Lex Luthor's ball because of sniffles? Oh, please. She had only a couple of hours to find a date and she'd never hear the end of it if she showed up alone. She looked around, wondering if, by some miracle, there was someone here she could go with, without losing face. Clark rummaged through his desk and pulled out some papers, looking studiously at them. He realized that it was the fire drill instructions and hoped that Lois wouldn't look too closely if she came over. He could always claim that he was concerned for safety.
Lois stopped her search when she saw Clark at his desk. Being new in town, he was probably her best bet for someone with no plans. He wasn't exactly sophisticated, he wasn't exactly CJ, but…
*This is crazy. He'd probably show up looking like he was going to a barn dance.* Too bad she was desperate.
She stood and walked to his desk, squaring her shoulders in determination. "I don't suppose you own a tuxedo," she said, doubt evident in her voice.
"I could get one," he said, looking up and trying desperately to suppress a grin. He knew what she needed, but he wanted to see how she would handle it. "Why?" he asked, feigning innocence. *Maybe she does know.*
"Oh, well, the man that I was going to Lex Luthor's Ball with has the flu," she explained, keeping her tone light, as though it were no big deal. That in fact, she could be doing him a big favor.
"Ye-es…?" he said when she stopped. Lois really didn't want to ask him, he could see that, but he was going to make her work for this date.
"Well, I was just wondering if you wanted to…" She didn't want to actually ask him to go, maybe he'd pick up on what she wanted. She looked at him more closely and saw that his eyes were twinkling. *He knows, that scum. He knows and he's going to make me ask anyway. And he's enjoying this*, Lois seethed. She walked away, then realized what the ramification could be if she didn't ask him. She turned. "Do you want to take his place or not?" she blurted, frustrated.
Clark grinned at her, intrigued by the way she put it, but not about to pass it up. Nor was he about to pass up the chance to have some fun with her. "Well, thanks anyway, Lois, but I thought I'd go to bed early tonight."
"Are you crazy?" she asked, in complete disbelief. "This is *the* social event of the season! Everyone who is anyone is gonna be there, and you want to go to bed early?"
He stood and walked over next to her. They were almost touching. He was very aware of her breathing and knew that her heartbeat quickened as he drew near. "So, is this… a date?" He knew he shouldn't tease her anymore, but he couldn't help it — it was so much fun.
"Date? Oh!" Her voice turned deceptively sweet. "Oh, you mean like in Kansas, where you meet my parents and then you try and give me a hickey in the vacant lot behind the Dairy Freeze." There was more fire coming out of her eyes than came out of his when he needed to actually start one. "No, this is not a date! This is business. I am going to land the first one-on-one Lex Luthor interview if it kills me!"
"Okay," Clark realized that he had pushed her far enough.
Lois looked shocked for just a second. "Good. I'll see you there." She walked away, towards the elevators. "Nine," she added as she turned around. He nodded. "Okay," she said, even more certain than ever that there was something that she didn't understand. Her eyes caught his as the doors of the elevator closed. He waved at her and his grin was something to be admired.
Clark laughed, a full-bellied laugh. She really didn't want to go with him, that was obvious and he had enjoyed her take on small town dating. He wondered what she would have said if he had mentioned dating in Washington, D.C.
His plans altered for the evening, he knew he had to get to his parents' home quickly if he wanted to eat and get his tux and get back by nine. He used his vision to make sure that the alley behind the Planet was empty and he slipped his glasses off as he readied himself for his flight. He wondered what his mom was going to say.
Clark smiled as he rose slowly and gracefully into the night sky, made a lazily looping circle overhead, and vanished with a whoosh.
He darted in and out of skyscrapers, like it was some sort of video game. He was full of excitement about the evening, no matter what Lois thought about it. Maybe tonight… Yes, somehow, he knew tonight would be special.
It wasn't a date, he reminded himself; she wasn't interested in him. The grin remained on his face all the way west to Kansas. He thought about the first time that he knew he could fly. Oh, sure he had levitated some, but flying? Only Lois could have helped him learn how to do that.
CJ put the bags into the trunk of a dark blue jeep and then turned around to face her.
"I guess this is it," he said and he sounded very sad.
"I guess so," she said and noticed moisture gathering in her eyes.
"Listen, CJ, thank you for everything. I had a fantastic time with you even if it was only very short. But I'm going home to Metropolis now and you're going back to Smallville. We will probably never see each other again. Therefore I won't ask you for your address or your phone number and please don't you ask me for mine. It's difficult enough for me without knowing that—" Her voice broke. "Goodbye, CJ."
"Take care of yourself, Lois. And maybe we'll meet again, someday. Here, I want you to have this." He held out his "Smallville High" sweatshirt.
"Thank you. I'll keep it always." She thought for a second. "Here." She pulled off her class ring and handed it to him.
"I can't take this. What will your dad say?"
"I'll just tell him I lost it here. Please — I want you to have it."
He took the ring, wanting desperately to kiss her one last time, but he knew he couldn't.
He opened the door on the driver's side and she got in. He leaned down one last time and kissed her softly on the cheek. Then he turned away and began walking down the street.
Slowly at first, then faster until he was running at full speed. He wanted to leave the pain behind him. Suddenly he felt himself lifting off. This was a surprise. Even though he had been aware of the fact that he could float, he hadn't expected something like this! He flew higher, up into the outer atmosphere and realized this was the only place where he could go to ease the pain. At the same time he realized he couldn't stay in the outer atmosphere for the rest of his life, and so he resolved to forget about the young woman from Metropolis, whom he had loved so dearly but hardly known.
He landed in front of an old farmhouse, which glowed softly with welcoming lights, climbed the porch steps, and opened the door. It was great to be home!
"Dinner was great, Mom, thanks," Clark said warmly. After eating take-out in his crummy hotel room, it was great to have a home-cooked meal, though he thought he could go days without eating and it wouldn't matter.
"Thanks, honey," Martha murmured in response, happy to have him home for a visit.
"So now tell me more about this woman you're going to Lex Luthor's Ball with," his mother called as she cleaned up in the kitchen.
"Lois is… well, she's complicated," Clark began, not quite sure how to sum up Lois Lane, and not sure how long it would take his mom to figure it out.
"Lois? You're going with Lois?" his mom erupted, coming into the living room and sitting across from her son.
"Isn't that the woman that you are sure is the same person you met in D.C.?" his dad interjected.
Clark just looked at them and continued. "Domineering, uncompromising, pig-headed… brilliant," he added more softly with a smile. His parents both picked up on the change in his voice, and they smiled at him, prompting him to add, "And we're not really going out, it's 'business'."
"Uh-huh," Martha said, her smile growing bigger.
"Thanks for sewing my jacket, Mom," he said as he stood up.
"You're welcome, honey," she said softly.
"That electrical storm over Cleveland was brutal."
"Maybe you should take another route," she suggested simply, putting her arms up for a hug. "See you next week, honey. I love you. Take care!"
Jonathan and Clark went outside for a few minutes of father/son bonding. "I forget how beautiful it is here," Clark said. "The only stars you see in Metropolis are riding around in limos," he added wryly.
"You're the one who wanted the rat race. I couldn't live there, not for a minute!"
Clark wanted to make his father understand. "There's something about the city… the pace… everyone going somewhere."
"Impatient," Jonathan summed it up in one word. "Just like you." He smiled at his son. He wasn't cut out to be a farmer and his dad had always known it. "Well, I guess you finally found your niche. You can stop living out of that old suitcase."
"I hope so, Dad." That much was true, but Clark didn't know if he would ever truly feel at home. Anywhere. "Being in Metropolis, working at the Planet, it's a dream come true, but…"
"But you still feel like you don't fit in," Jonathan finished for his son. His heart broke, but this was one time when a father could do little.
"I don't!" Clark said quickly. "I don't fit in." *I'll never fit in. I'm just too DIFFERENT. We don't even know where I'm from.* He spotted a rock and all of the years of rejection, resentment, pain and frustration went into the kick that he gave that rock.
Jonathan Kent watched the rock soar up into orbit.
"I have to control myself, all the time, never use my powers because I don't want to jeopardize my chance to lead a normal life!"
"Whatever that means," Jonathan said, knowing that being normal was relative.
"Just… being human, like you and Mom. Living, working, meeting someone, having a family," Clark replied. Now his dad knew his deepest dream, his most sacred wish. A family.
"Clark, we don't know if that's possible," his dad was forever cautious. The subject had come up before, but never with the intensity he heard in his son's voice now. "And you can't risk anyone finding out about you. If they knew you came from another planet…"
"But I can't hide forever, Dad," Clark wasn't going to give up easily. "There has to be a way that I can be Clark Kent and still use what I've been given to do some good!" Clark knew that as difficult as the conversation was for him, it was equally difficult for his father. He hung his head, knowing that raising such an unusual child had not been easy. His parents, especially his dad, had always worried that some government agency would find out about him and take him away. *And dissect me like a frog,* Clark thought with a wry grin. *At least now we know that I CAN'T be dissected!* He reached over and gave him a big hug, grateful for everything his father had ever done for him.
Jonathan knew he would support his son, whatever he decided. "You'll find a way, boy. You'll find a way."
Clark was disappointed to find Jimmy waiting for him outside the tallest building in town. Lois had, apparently, gone on ahead, despite her need for an escort. As he walked in, Clark realized that he had never been in a place quite like this. And he wasn't sure if he liked the over-the-top opulence. Clark looked around for Lois, wondering if he would like the way he looked in his tux — his mother sure did!
"Have you ever met him? Lex Luthor?" Clark asked, almost out of boredom.
"No, but I've read all five of his unauthorized biographies!" Jimmy said, his admiration apparent. "Rags to riches, wrong side of the tracks, self-made billionaire, owns dozens of companies, employs thousands of people, Man of The Year every year, has his finger in every pie, but rarely appears in public," he prattled on, as he took a drink from a passing attendant. "He won't give personal interviews. Hey, there he is!" he exclaimed unable to take his attention from the top of the stairs.
*Lex Luthor is a handsome man.* Clark couldn't argue with that. *Well, if you liked the dignified, yet boyish, smile that doesn't reach the eyes type, draw the attention of all the ladies in the room, speaks multiple languages type.* He didn't catch the irony of his thought. "You're on my phone list," Luthor assured a beautiful young lady. "Harry, congratulations on the buy-out." "I like that editorial on the ozone." "Senator Washington! Nice of you to come." "Merci beaucoup." *He seems more like royalty — what a snob.*
Lois was watching him. She just couldn't decide how to go about it. Then she made up her mind. Coming on strong was what she was best at.
Lex was paying attention only to the three people surrounding him when her authoritative voice called out, "Lex Luthor!" He froze. No one who knew him would use that tone of voice with him. He was the ultimate authority. He turned wondering who he would have to take out this time, but was unprepared for the beauty that met him.
Her gown was a shimmering white, cut low, but not too low. Her hair was swept up, leaving her long, graceful neck unobstructed by that encumbrance. Her eyes showed that not only was she beautiful but intelligent, and held some kind of unspoken challenge. She was the one thing that Lex had been unprepared for this evening.
"Why haven't you returned my calls?" Lois asked.
Lex barely looked as he excused himself. "Gentlemen." The word could barely be heard. He was enthralled by this new distraction, certain that he would have a new 'toy', but he didn't think of it in such crass terms of course.
"Lois Lane, Daily Planet," she introduced, extending an elegant hand on the end of a long, intriguing arm.
"Well, I can assure you, I'll never make that mistake again," he said, never taking his eyes off of hers as he kissed the back of her hand.
"She's something, isn't she?" Jimmy asked, with a rueful shake of his head. "Only she could pull that off."
Clark was so used to being in complete control of his powers that he didn't even notice as he started to levitate. He was completely enthralled by her, his head as gone as his heart had been for years. She presented a side of her here that he knew must exist, the elegant, graceful, poised woman that completed the Lois that he already knew and complimented perfectly the Lois that he remembered so well.
"Clark? Clark?" Jimmy was waiting expectantly for a response, wondering if this new guy saw the same things in Lois that he did. Except that Jimmy knew that he never had a prayer.
Jimmy's voice brought him back and he prayed that no one noticed that his feet had actually left the ground unassisted. "Yeah. She is something." There was no other way to put it.
Lois and Luthor were dancing, each enjoying the company of the other. "I hope you'll forgive me for being so bold…" she began, the apologetic tone never making it out of her imagination.
"But boldness is a trait I find very attractive in a woman, Miss Lane," Lex said, his eyes looking at her appreciatively.
"Well, thank you. That's a line that I haven't heard before." Her laugh floated across the room. She once again turned into the consummate professional. "Anyway, Mr. Luthor, I…"
"Lex," he corrected smiling and dipping her gracefully.
"Lex," she repeated, wondering if there was ever a time when he wouldn't surprise her. He wasn't at all what he expected. She had expected him to be cold and reclusive, but instead he was exactly the opposite. She smiled, her biggest, most inviting smile. "I know that you're hesitant to give interviews…"
"Well, you can understand, a man in my position, I wouldn't want to be misinterpreted. I have had one or two bad experiences with the media," he said.
Lois laughed lightly. "But not with me!" she said, desperately trying to persuade him to come around to her way of thinking and trying hard not to think of CJ while she was in the arms of this devastatingly handsome man.
He appeared to come to a decision and his eyes twinkled as he offered, "So why don't we make it…" He leaned in, his lips caressing her cheek as he whispered, "… dinner."
Lois' eyes glowed triumphant and she was glad that he couldn't see it. She was an expert at turning dinners into interviews! This would be her biggest story ever, the Lex Luthor exclusive, even if it wasn't Kerth material.
"Mind if I cut in?" Clark asked politely, ever the gentleman.
The look that Clark received from Lois would have sent Smokey the Bear running the opposite direction. "Lex, this is Clark Kent. Clark works at the Planet," she said, barely caring that her voice was barely civil, inwardly vowing revenge.
"A pleasure," Lex said as cold as Lois was heated as he shook Clark's hand. The intense look in his eyes as he murmured "Thank you," made Clark want to show him who was 'the man' around here, but Lex walked off before Clark had a chance.
She followed Luthor with her eyes, smiling again, until at last the he disappeared in the crowd, not even aware that she was dancing with Clark. As soon Lex was out of sight, she smacked Clark on the arm. "Clark, you idiot!" she hissed, taking the lead and turning him around, trying to get another glimpse of Luthor. "It's taken me a year to get this close!"
"What, this close?" he asked with a smile, pulling her body against his.
Words couldn't describe the sound of disgust that he heard coming from her throat. "I would've thought square dancing was more your style!" she said, hoping to put him back in his place. He had some nerve, interrupting her dance with Lex Luthor when he *knew* she was trying to get an interview from the reclusive man! And he had no business being such a good dancer!
"Actually I learned from a Nigerian Princess who studied ballroom dancing in England," Clark said, hoping impress her the way Lex Luthor's dazzle obviously had.
"Really? How fascinating," she said. It really was, if it was true. She sighed resignedly. He WAS her date, no, not date, escort, so she should dance at least one dance with him. She closed her eyes and imagined herself in the arms of CJ. Somehow she just knew that he would have been perfection on the dance floor. She couldn't tell anyone how she would have known that, she just did. There were lots of things that she just *knew* about CJ. Things they hadn't talked about that night in her room.
Lois heard a knock at her bedroom door. She left the bathroom, where she had been getting ready for a shower, and opened the door, wearing only a bathrobe.
"CJ!" she exclaimed surprised.
"Hey… may I come in?" he asked quietly.
"Uh, well, yeah. My dad's room is next door and he's not here anyway," she answered and stepped aside to let him enter. He stepped past her and brushed her body with his. He held his breath and could see she was doing the same.
"Uh… I was just going to take a shower, but I guess that can wait till later. Do you want a Coke or something?"
"Sure, thanks," he answered and sat down on her queen-sized bed.
"I'm, uh, sorry for coming up here so late, but I just *had* to see you."
Lois let out a little sigh. "Oh, CJ, I miss you so much." But Clark didn't hear. She looked up to make sure but little did she know, and there was no way she really could have, that Clark was thinking about the same night as he held her in his arms, dancing. He'd gone to her room after his friends had teased him mercilessly about the lipstick on his face. He had known that he had to see her again.
"So, are you staying in D.C. all by yourself?" Lois asked.
"Uh, no, a few friends of mine are with me. You met Air earlier today and—" The ringing of the phone cut him off. Lois got up and picked up the receiver.
"Ms. Lane, this is Marsha from reception. Your father knows you were kissing that hunk in the lobby. He's on his way upstairs. I'm really sorry!" the woman on the other end of the line said and then slammed the receiver back onto the cradle.
"Oh, no!" Lois cursed. "No, no, no!"
"What's the matter?" CJ wanted to know.
"My Dad! He's on his way here!"
"So? We haven't been doing anything naughty, have we?" he asked and grinned.
"You don't know my father, CJ! He'll go ballistic! You'd better leave now."
"Well, okay. If that's what you want," CJ said and got up. But it was too late. They heard a knock at the door and CJ used his special vision to find out who it was. He was able to see Lois's father standing in front of the door and he looked furious!
"It's your father!"
"How come you know it's him?" she asked and looked at him, surprised.
"Well, I… uh… have you been expecting someone else?"
"Lois? Lois, open the door!" they heard her father saying.
"Move, CJ!" she hissed.
"Where?" She scanned the bedroom and then pointed towards the curtain.
"There!" she said and pushed him across the room. He hid behind the curtain but he knew Dr Lane was going to be able to see his sneakers. He had to come up with something! *Fast!* Then CJ had an idea. He started floating, something he had just recently discovered he was capable of doing, and hovered behind the curtain, holding his breath. He used his special vision to see what was going on. Lois opened the door and her father stormed in.
"Okay, young lady, where is he?"
"He? What are you talking about, Daddy?"
"I heard you talking to someone!"
"Ever heard of TV, Daddy?" she asked and pointed towards the television set.
"The woman at the reception told me that she saw you kissing some guy in the lobby! Do you have something to tell me?"
"Daddy, puh-leese! Do I look like someone who runs around kissing every guy she meets?" Lois asked, and felt her ears getting hot. Something that happened only when she was lying and she knew that her father was aware of that. She covered her ears with her hair.
"See? She must have mistaken me for someone else," Lois said and then started pushing her father towards the open bedroom door.
"I'm really tired, Daddy. I need to sleep. And you'd be better off if you'd do the same. You look miserable!"
"Nice hearing that from my own daughter," Dr Lane said and a ghost of a smile flashed across his lips. Lois smiled back.
"Goodnight, Daddy," she said and kissed him softly on the cheek. He hugged her.
"Goodnight, Princess, see you tomorrow morning." He began to leave but then turned around one more time. "And you're sure you weren't kissing some strange guy in the lobby?" he asked.
"Goodnight, Daddy!" Lois said and closed the door. She ran across the room and pulled the curtain aside. CJ had remembered just in time to get his feet back on the ground. Literally.
"Phew! That was close!" he said.
"I know! You'd better go now before Daddy decides to check on me one more time before going to bed," she said.
"You're right. Goodnight, Lois," he said and bent over and kissed her softly on the lips. They were soft and warm and kissing them felt absolutely fantastic. Before the kiss could deepen he pulled away, because he knew if he let that happen he'd never be able to leave.
"Goodnight," she whispered.
Clark walked over to the door and took a small glance through, using his special vision, before opening it, just to make sure her father wasn't outside anymore. The coast was clear. He opened the door and stepped outside. He turned around one more time and smiled at her. She smiled back. He gently closed the door and then took the elevator up to his room.
"Clark? Clark? Earth to Clark?"
"What? I'm sorry. Did you say something?"
"The music has stopped. And you're still trying to dance with me. Yet another thing we do different here in the big city."
"You mean you don't kiss in elevators AND you don't dance without music?" he asked with an obviously fake incredulous grin on his face.
"Not if you know what's good for you," Lois hissed as she turned and walked away from him without a backward glance. She struggled to keep her composure. Why did he have to bring up that kiss? No kiss had ever affected her like that. Not since she met CJ. Her mind started to wander back to the hotel lobby, the night that her dad wouldn't let her go to the movies with him, but she stopped herself before the memories could surface. It was just too painful.
"Where're you going?" he called as he followed her. Keeping up was a full time job. He followed her into an obviously private study. The fire burning in a magnificent fireplace, the large mahogany desk and expensive artwork all pointed to the fact that they shouldn't be here.
"Lois, what're you doing?" Clark asked, as he closed the door behind him, bothered that she seemed to be so at ease with snooping in someone else's private space.
"Being a reporter; you should try it some time," she said, shutting a set of double doors that opened onto another branch of the hallway. He was surprised that icicles weren't forming on her icy voice.
"Lois, you can't come in…" He stopped when it became obvious that she wouldn't listen and stepped into an adjoining room. "Lois…"
"Just look around," she told him, her irritation evident in her voice as he tried to follow her. Not at all comfortable with what was happening, Clark was, nevertheless, intrigued by the antique weapons on display on one wall. As he turned he felt cold steel against his throat, just under his Adam's apple. Lex Luthor was at the end of the sword, lightening flashing in his steely eyes.
"Macedonian," Clark observed, without taking his eyes off of Luthor. It was a challenge he couldn't lose, unless Luthor actually tried to use the thing and it bent against his impenetrable skin.
"It belonged to Alexander the Great," Lex Luthor said, his hand and eyes never wavering. Luthor was somewhat surprised as he had expected the younger man to turn away, but Clark didn't even blink. "A brilliant tactician. Alexander's strategy was simple. Always seize the high ground." Lex suddenly smiled his patented smile that was never close to sincere. "It was with this sword that he defeated —"
"Defeated Darius the Third and was proclaimed King of Asia," Clark finished, accepting the challenge and meeting it admirably.
"You surprise me, Mr. Kent. I'm not often surprised." *And I don't like it*. Luthor couldn't keep the disdain out of his voice.
Lois returned to the room just as the exchange ended, unaware of the challenge given and met. "I hope you don't mind us looking around. You have a beautiful home, Lex."
Her arrival demanded that the men turn their attention to her rather than the face off that was at an end. "Have you seen the view from here?" Lex asked, as he opened the French doors and led them out onto the protected balcony, the raw beauty of the storm enveloping them. "The tallest building in Metropolis," he said, raising his voice to be heard the thunder. "I must confess that I love the fact that everyone in this city has to look up in order to see me!" The look on his face made it evident that he was proud, and almost condescending at the same time, of his accomplishment. "Let's get back to the party. I think you'll find my announcement will…interest you." He tried to appear gallant as he motioned Lois and then Clark inside.
"After you," Clark said, still the gentleman.
Lex Luthor felt as though he had won some sort of victory as Clark motioned him ahead and closed the French doors. That the young man had been unintimidated had been a point in his favor, that maybe he was someone to be respected. Now he knew that this Clark was nothing. He had let Luthor get his own way and he was now escorting the lovely Miss Lane down the stairs. Lex decided that Clark was no match for him.
Clark stared after Luthor, wondering what that little scene had been all about. Perhaps Luthor was angry that he had cut in on their dance, perhaps he was trying to stake some sort of claim to Lois and intimidate Clark.
Downstairs, the band played a fanfare to draw the attention of the milling throng of party-goers. "Ladies and gentlemen!" Lex called out in his well-bred tones. "Honored guests… my friends. Well, we've come here tonight for a good cause. Thanks to your generosity the Luthor House for Homeless Children will soon be a reality."
The guests began to applaud, but Lex held his hands up to stop them. "Thank you. As you know, I've dedicated myself to improving the quality of lives of the citizens of Metropolis. Please feel free to stop by and see the hologram of the new facility."
The applause was sincere and enthusiastic, and Lois joined in heartily. Her gaze, however, was not on the impressive hologram. She was looking at Lex Luthor admiringly, and Clark, in turn, was watching her closely, trying to read the expression on her face. She seemed very impressed with Mr. Luthor. Clark turned his attention to the recipient of these accolades, who was smiling around in a benign fashion. He slowly, hesitantly, joined in the clapping, but his heart wasn't in it.
Some time later, Clark and Lois walked out the front door of the tallest building in Metropolis. He couldn't help but see how wonderful she looked. He wanted so badly to tell her everything, but couldn't quite bring himself to do it. The rain was still coming down steadily. Neither one quite wanted to end the evening. Clark for the obvious reasons and Lois for reasons that she couldn't quite put her finger on. Even though she had been working on her novel about CJ, she hadn't thought about him this much in a really long time. What was it about Clark and that kiss in the elevator? The two stood there in an awkward, yet companionable silence.
Out of the shadows came a man. A short man. With a bowler hat. "Miss Lane, Mr. Kent. I must speak with you immediately."
Clark eyed the man suspiciously. "Who are you?"
"My name is, umm, ahh, Henry, Henry George Wells. Yes, that's it." Clark noticed that he had an accent, but couldn't quite place where it came from. "I have information for you."
Lois eagerly jumped in. "Is it about the investigation we're running on the President?"
Mr. Wells looked a little bit apprehensive, but answered, "Well, in a way. There is somewhere that you need to be right now. Both of you."
"Dressed like this? Clark, you go to your hotel and I'll meet you. Where do we need to meet, Mr. Wells?" Lois started to walk off as she asked the question.
"Oh, I assure you, Ms. Lane, you are dressed quite appropriately for where we are going."
"Really? And what kind of source would want to meet with us looking like this? Most sources I know aren't exactly black tie material."
"Ah, Miss Lane. I never said you were meeting a source. I said that you had somewhere to be. Now if you will follow me, all will be explained." He started walking. He did not look back to see if they were following. He knew they would and he smiled a little smile to himself.
"Well, Lois? Are we going or not?" Clark looked at her expectantly.
"Of course we are. When did Lois Lane ever turn down a chance at a story?" She walked off, leaving him to try to keep up with her and wishing desperately for an umbrella, when she realized that the rain had suddenly stopped.
"Lois, there's something that we need to talk about."
She shot him a look of death. "Oh, really? Like what? Like how often are you going to start kissing me in an elevator? Or how often are we going to dance without music? Or… or… Well, or what?"
"I guess I should tell you why those things happened. And I probably shouldn't have kissed you in the elevator…"
Lois interrupted. "PROBABLY? Now THAT is the understatement of the year. There is only one man that I ever want to kiss ever again and it is not you."
"How can you be so sure he wants to kiss you?"
"I just am."
"And when was the last time this wonder boy kissed you?"
Lois stopped dead in her tracks. Her eyes clouded over. "Ten years ago," she said quietly.
Clark started. Could it be that she was talking about him? "This guy kissed you ten years ago and you are still hung up on him. What were you, 15 or something?" Clark hoped that she hadn't noticed the look of hope and desperation in his eyes.
"16. His name was CJ and he was more of a man than you will ever be!" she answered, reverting back to the Lois Lane he knew in the here and now.
"Must have been a big-city guy then." Clark couldn't quite believe that she was talking about him.
"No," she said slowly. "He was from a town named Smallville."
Clark tried to hide the grin on his face. Somehow he knew that now wasn't the time to tell her. "Smallville? I'm from Smallville. What was this guy's name? Maybe I know him."
Lois started. Clark was from Smallville? She didn't want to talk about this with him. "Oh, bother. I am not discussing this with you. The topic is closed." She stormed off in the direction that Mr. Wells had gone.
The two hurried, trying to keep up with their leader who was, by now, far ahead of them. Clark had an easier time seeing, what with his special vision and all, but he let Lois take the lead. Suddenly, Wells disappeared into what looked like an old church building.
Lois whispered to Clark. "You go around the right and I'll take the left." She walked off before he had a chance to say anything.
As he watched the two go their separate ways, H. G. Wells smiled. He knew that if he fixed it now, there would be fewer problems for both later.
Clark walked around to the right side of the church. The next thing that he knew, a man was dragging him inside.
"There you are, old man," said the arms doing the dragging.
"Mike," came a harried voice from a redheaded, tuxedo-wearing young man. "Everyone else is ready. The bride is here finally and, oh there you are. The groom and the best man are here. That's everybody. Good, we can get started."
Clark looked around, confused. The one named Mike, the one who had dragged him in from outside, looked at him. "All ready?"
"Ready? Ready for what?" Clark needed to stall so that he could figure out what was going on.
"For the wedding, silly. Oh, there's the music. We gotta go."
"Wait! What am I supposed to do?" Clark still didn't understand what was going on.
"Just stand there and do what the preacher tells you. Don't get cold feet on us now. Everyone is counting on you. You'll be fine." And with that, Mike, the redhead, and Clark made their way into the chapel.
Clark stood next to Mike. He looked around and as near as he could tell there was a wedding taking place, but there was hardly anyone there. He must be the best man. *Yes, the redhead told Mike that the best man had arrived just after I walked in. That must be it.* He was satisfied that his ruse as best man wouldn't hurt anyone so he kept his peace. He turned and saw the bridesmaid walking down the aisle. *Wait a second! That's Lois! How did she end up in this thing, too? Oh, man, this is weird! I wonder what all of this has to do with the corrupt President?* Suddenly, Clark was being pushed forward gently by the redhead standing behind him.
"Take her hand, man." Clark did as he was instructed and looked at Lois. He knew that she looked beautiful tonight, but somehow, she took his breath away just now. He had to concentrate to keep his feet on the floor. Floating just now would be a really bad idea! He realized that he should be listening to the preacher, but he was just droning on and on about the "Dearly beloved" and "holy matrimony" stuff.
Lois looked up at him, smiling sweetly and with a voice that dripped venom, she whispered, "What is going on here?"
Clark put on his best innocent look. It always worked with the ladies, especially when he really was innocent. "I have no idea. Honest."
"Clark?" The preacher looked at him expectantly.
The redhead whispered. "This is where you say 'I do'."
Clark thought it odd that he would have to say 'I do', but maybe it was just to put his blessing on the marriage. "Um, yeah, I do." Chuckles rumbled through the few assembled. He tried to concentrate on finding a way out. He was so absorbed in this pursuit that he didn't even realize that Lois had said 'I do' as well. Someone handed him a ring and he put it on the offered finger. He didn't even look up to see whose finger it was. Lois grabbed his hand and whispered something, but he didn't catch that either. He was too busy using his special vision to try and figure out how he was going to get Lois out of here.
The redhead bumped him again from behind and apparently someone had bumped Lois as well for suddenly their lips met. Clark stared wide-eyed into her wide eyes and could see his own fear and confusion mirrored there. *Are WE the bride and groom?* he thought to himself. *That doesn't make any sense at all.* He whispered to Lois through his lips that still rested on hers. "We've got to get out of here before they realize that we aren't whoever is supposed to be getting married."
"You got that right."
The redhead elbowed Clark again and whispered, "Isn't it about time you two came up for air?"
Clark pulled back quickly and looked at Lois. She looked scared, but furious. The preacher announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I give to you for the very first time, Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Lois Kent." Clark just looked at her. Tears were about to spill out of her brown eyes.
"Don't you give me that puppy-dog look. You have a lot of explaining to do, honey!" she hissed though clenched teeth and a beautiful smile, spitting the last word out with venom worthy of a snake.
"I don't know what you're talking about, *snookums*. I had nothing to do with this." His own smile was plastered on his face.
As they started to walk out of the church, he realized that there was no one there. No one at all. Just him and Lois and Mike and the redhead and one other woman in midnight blue. Mike was holding a Bible in his hands. "Good luck, kids! I know this wasn't the world's best wedding, but it did the trick! G'night!"
As they exited the building. Lois dropped all pretense. "What in the world was all of that?! And don't think that this marriage is real. It isn't. It can't be. There is no way that I would marry you. You are a hack from Nowheresville. I don't marry people from Nowheresville, or Dinkytown, or Tinytown or, or Ittybittyburg or anywhere else. There's only one man that I would EVER marry and you are not him. I am NEVER getting married. I WILL find a way out of this!" she exploded. She started to stomp off when Clark softly called after her.
"I believe the phrase that you are looking for is 'hick' from Nowheresville, not 'hack'. At least, that's what your dad called me."
Lois stopped and turned sharply on one heel. "What did you say?"
"I said that your dad called me a hick from Nowheresville, not a hack. There's a big difference."
"What do you know about my dad? When did you meet him?"
"I've never met him, but you told me that he didn't want you going to the movies with someone from Smallville who would grow up to be a farmer and have 2.5 kids."
"What are you talking about? How did you know all that?"
"Lois, it's me." He sounded defeated.
She took a closer look. "CJ?"
"Yes, CJ. That's what they called me in high school. My friends liked it." Clark ran his hands through his hair and let out a scream. "WHY?!!!"
"Why couldn't we have just been together? Why did your dad have to be so against us? Why did he have to leave and make you go too? Why did he have to come up to your room just then? Why didn't we get there a day earlier? We were supposed to, you know, but AJ had a flat tire and we decided to wait until the next day. Baby, I hardly knew you, but Lois, I have never loved another woman. Anytime I tried to start a relationship, there was you. Standing there in the hotel lobby in your jeans and black vest. And there was you in the little area of the Chinese restaurant, just outside the bathrooms." He covered the distance between them with two large steps. "There was you, opening the door in your bathrobe." He brushed away the tears that were now flowing freely down her face. "And you afraid of what your dad would do if he found me in your room. And you knocking on my door telling me that you had to leave early and we couldn't spend the day together. And you. There was always you. I even tried to kiss another woman one time. That Nigerian Princess I told you about? I kissed her once." He gently cupped her face in his hands, his thumbs still wiping away the tears. "But there was nothing. *Nothing*. Just you. All I could think about was you. And she knew it. She told me that there would never be another for me, just the one I had lost. I kissed you in the elevator because I knew that if I could just kiss you, you would know it was me. That you remembered me as well as I remembered you. That you had been dreaming about us as long as I had."
Lois stood there staring up at those chocolate brown eyes. She reached up and took his glasses off and looked closely. "It is you! Oh, CJ!" She reached up, glasses in one hand, and pulled his face down to hers. "I *have* been waiting for you! I've been waiting for so long." She touched her lips to his, but he pulled away.
"Lois, I'm not CJ anymore. I'm Clark. And half an hour ago, you didn't want anything to do with me. And, now, here we are," he lowered his voice as though someone on the deserted street might hear, "married. What do you want me to do?"
"Clark. I have been looking for CJ for so long, that I got wrapped up in my fantasy. See, I was supposed to see you from across the room and take one look and know it was you. You'd be standing there, in a black T-shirt, and somehow I would know. The glasses threw me off a bit, that is part of the reason I didn't know it was you. I'd run across the room as a path just opened up and throw myself in your arms and we'd kiss. THAT kiss. The one from the lobby. The one where we never, ever had to let go. The one my dad didn't interrupt. The Snow White, Cinderella, Prince Charming kiss. And the room would fade away and we'd be in a wide open field with lots of wildflowers and… and we'd ride off into the sunset on that white horse. Remember that song? The one that was playing in the lobby, the first time you kissed me?" Clark nodded. "I can't even listen to it — all I do is cry. I turn it off and bawl my eyes out. Anytime I see a couple on T. V. or on the street kissing or holding hands, all can think of is you. There has never been anyone but you. I tried to convince myself that I was over you and that my life had moved on, but it didn't work. I have tried relationships, too, but the guys I kissed weren't as understanding as your Nigerian Princess. I never felt anything kissing them. All I could see was your eyes. Those deep brown, chocolate pools that I could see your soul in. I WAS looking for you, Clark. I just wasn't looking for a reporter who wasn't looking for me."
"But I was looking for you, Lois. I never even knew your last name. All I knew was that you were from Metropolis. When I saw you in Perry's office, I couldn't believe that it might be you. I…"
"Why didn't you say something then?"
"I wasn't sure. He referred to you as Lane and you didn't seem interested enough to even look at me properly." The rain started to come again. "Come on, let's get you somewhere dry." He held his coat over her head as they hurried towards the nearest lighted building. It was the Metropolis Hilton, one of the nicest hotels in town. As they walked in, Clark stopped and looked at Lois. He held her chin in one hand and grinned mischievously. "My love, I know that's it's our wedding night and all, but I can't afford this place just yet."
"Clark, this is not funny."
"Lois, you just told me that the only person you would marry is CJ. I AM CJ. And we are married. What more do you want?" He was a little exasperated and more than a little defeated.
"I don't know, Clark." She sank down in one of the big hotel lobby chairs, tears threatening once more. "It just isn't how I imagined. No black T-shirt. No white horse. No big church wedding with all my friends — our friends. Perry walking me down the aisle." Clark looked at her in surprise. "My dad and I aren't all that close anymore. No reception. No presents. Not what I expected at all." She sat silently for long minutes and finally reached a conclusion in her mind. Clark stared out the window at the pouring rain. He almost didn't hear her when she said, "In some ways, it's even better." She looked up at him through wet lashes.
"Better? How is this better?"
"Well, see this way, we don't have to worry about invitations, or catering, or renting a church or my parents arguing with your parents or any of that. This way it is just you and me, the way it was in the beginning." She stood up and walked the two steps to where he was standing. "Let's see if your kisses still take my breath away."
He looked down at her, not daring to believe what he had just heard. He bent down to kiss her, but she stopped him. "Not here. Wait." He watched, perplexed, as she walked over to the registration desk. She returned shortly. "Well, Mr. Kent, what are you waiting for? Your bride needs to be carried over the threshold of the Honeymoon Suite. And to think, I almost wore blue tonight." She looked up at him and smiled softly.
"Lois, I told you I can't afford somewhere like this."
"I know, but I can. Call it your wedding present."
"I don't have anything for you."
"Sure you do and the sooner you take me upstairs, the sooner I can, uh, well, unwrap it?" She said that last with a question in her voice and in her eyes.
"If you're sure that's what you want." He searched her eyes trying to see what was written there.
She took his face in her hands. "I have never been more sure of anything in my life."
Clark picked her up in his strong arms and carried her toward the elevator. "Lois, are you absolutely sure?"
"Yes." After they entered the elevator, Lois reached over and pulled the stop button.
"Just what do you think you are doing?" he asked, a smile on his face.
"This," she replied and kissed him softly. After a moment, he used his elbow to push the button back in.
"Well, if you are planning on doing that, we better go find that room you were talking about." The soft Pling! of the elevator told them that they had reached their floor. They didn't take their eyes off of each other as he carried her down the hall to their room. As she reached over and unlocked the door, Clark sighed. "Lois, there is something that we need to talk about."
She pushed open the door and whispered. "Talk can wait. Let's see if you can still kiss like you did in that lobby in Washington." She pulled his head towards hers as he kicked the door shut and carried her to the king-size bed.
"Lois," he groaned pulling away from her momentarily, "there is really something that I need to tell you."
"Later," was all she said as her lips captured his and he forgot all about what he was going to tell her.
She entered the lobby and walked up to him.
"You're not going, are you?" he asked.
"No," she answered quietly. "Daddy thinks you're just some hick from Nowheresville, as he put it."
"I'm sorry, CJ. I would've been fun."
"Well, I guess I'd better be going…" she said and stepped back a few steps.
"See you, CJ," she said and then suddenly stepped forwards again and planted a kiss on his cheek and sent a hot shiver down his spine.
*I don't want another heartbreak
I don't need another turn to cry
I don't want to learn the hard way
Baby Hello, oh no, goodbye
But you got me like a rocket
Shooting straight across the sky…*
She pulled back again but then CJ, surprised by his own boldness, leaned forward and captured her mouth with his. He felt her shock at first, but then she started responding to his kiss and she leaned forward until she was pressed tightly against him. Her arms locked around his neck and his around her as the kiss continued.
*It's the way you love me
It's a feeling like this—
It's centrifugal motion
It's perpetual bliss.
It's that pivotal moment
This Kiss, This Kiss
This Kiss, This Kiss*
And CJ, found himself breathless. Finally, gasping for air, they broke apart and just remained that way, gazing into each other's eyes. She smiled at him and he returned her smile. Then she leaned forward and kissed him again, softer than the first time. This kiss ended too, as gently as it had begun and Lois opened her eyes and looked into his.
*Cinderella said to Snow White
How does love get so off course?
All I wanted was a white knight
With a good heart, soft touch, fast horse.
Ride me off into the sunset
Baby, I'm forever yours*
"I should really get going," she whispered.
"Okay," was all he managed to say. But neither one of them let go of the other.
She snapped out of her daze and turned her head towards the elevators where she could see her father getting off one of them. She grabbed CJ's hand and pulled him behind a nearby pillar.
"He shouldn't see us this way," she said as he pulled her closer and kissed her again. "I," she said against his mouth, "should really go now."
*It's the way you love me
It's a feeling like this—
It's centrifugal motion
It's perpetual bliss.
It's that pivotal moment
This Kiss, This kiss
This Kiss This Kiss*
She buried her hands in his black hair and marveled at the feel of his arms around her and she tasted him, exploring his mouth with her tongue and losing herself in his kiss.
They broke apart again and Lois peeked around the pillar and saw her father coming towards them.
"I need to go now," she said.
"Okay," CJ replied and then kissed her again, quickly.
"Goodnight, CJ," she whispered.
*You can kiss me in the moonlight
On the rooftop under the sky
You can kiss me with the windows open
While the rain comes pouring inside
Kiss me in sweet slow motion
Let's let every thing slide
You got me floating, You got me flying*
She began walking away, with her hand still touching his. When her hand slipped away she looked up at him one more time. She couldn't believe the feelings she was having. She had known this guy for what? Half an hour? And then she found herself standing in the lobby of a hotel and kissing him passionately as if her life depended on it. What was wrong with her?
*It's the way you love me I t's a feeling like this—
It's centrifugal motion
It's perpetual bliss.
It's that pivotal moment
This Kiss, This Kiss
This Kiss, This Kiss*
Their eyes met one more time and then Lois walked over to her father.
"There you are. I've been looking for you."
"Well anyway, I wanted to tell you that Dave just called and I have to run over to the lab and help him. It won't take long. I promise."
"Okay, Daddy, see you."
"You just go to your room and stay there, okay? I don't want you running around in Washington D.C. all by yourself, you understand?"
"Okay, I'll take you to your room to make sure everything's fine, okay?"
They entered the elevator and Lois shot CJ one last look before the doors closed in front of her. CJ found himself confused. What had happened tonight? That girl was incredible! CJ had never believed in love at first sight but now he was beginning to change his mind.
Clark looked down at the beautiful woman lying next to him under the covers of the big bed. He laid back, resting his head against the headboard and staring at the ceiling. It was real. It hadn't been a dream. He was married to Lois Lane; no, he was married to Lois Kent, he thought with a smile. His mom never would believe that he HAD found the girl from the hotel, and what's more, that he had married her. He had found a marriage license in his pocket the night before, so he knew it was legal. Lois had fallen asleep long before he did. He only needed about three hours a night anyway, but he was just too keyed up. So he had waited for his wife… *Wife* he thought, *must be the most wonderful word in the English language. Or any other language for that matter.* And Clark knew almost every language in the world. He had waited for his wife to fall asleep and then walked over to the window and stared out at the city for some time. He had picked up all of their clothes and laid them neatly on the chairs in the room. It wouldn't do for the clothes to get all wrinkled just because they hadn't had time to take them off more neatly. As he had tried to brush the wrinkles from his coat, the paper had fallen out of his pocket. On it was a yellow sticky note from that Wells guy saying that he was sorry for tricking them, but he knew they would be happy together; and yes, it was all legal. But, oh man, did they have a lot to talk about. Marriage was difficult under the best circumstances; but this, this was all new territory.
Chapter 2 — First Fight
He hadn't known what to think when she had started kissing him. For crying out loud, he hadn't even known if they were… compatible. But he knew now that they were. *Most definitely compatible*, he thought as a lazy grin spread across his face. He looked over at the clock and realized what time it was. *Oh, man. We better get going, or Perry is going to fire both of us*. He looked at his still sleeping wife and groaned. Neither one of them had anything suitable to wear to work. He reached over and gently shook her shoulder. "Lois? Lois? Honey, we better get going or Perry's going to have our hides. Come on, sweetie, we gotta go."
"Just ten more minutes," came the sleepy reply. "Please, Clark, ten more…" Her eyes popped wide open. "Clark? What happened?" She looked around and saw her dress laid neatly over the chair and realized just what she wasn't wearing.
"Well, I'd like to think that marrying the man of your dreams would leave you with a little more memory than that," he teased.
"It wasn't a dream? I married CJ — you — Clark. And you carried me up here and…" she sat up straight, clutching the sheets close. "Were we floating?"
Clark looked panicked for a second, but quickly recovered. "It sure felt like it, didn't it?" He grinned.
Lois looked down at the clock. "Clark! We're gonna be late. Perry is gonna kill us."
"Can we call him and tell him that…"
"That what? Sure, just call him up and say, 'Hi, Perry. Can Clark and I have the day off? No, we haven't figured out what the President is up to. No, neither one of us has the Ebola virus. And I know that Clark hasn't even worked there two days, but we really need the day off. See, remember that guy that I told you about when I was really emotional that day this summer? Yes, the one from Washington. Well, Clark is that guy; and we, well, last night, we, see, we got married.' Sure, Clark, that sounds like a great plan." Lois was almost completely dressed by this time and she looked at Clark who was still lying under the covers. "Aren't you coming? Or do you WANT to lose your job? Don't even tell me that. We are going to need both of our incomes if we are going to have a decent place to live. I am NOT supporting a deadbeat husband. And don't try to tell me you're modest. It's WAAAAAYY too late for that. Wait," she stopped in mid-tirade. "Are we even sure this is legal?"
Clark sighed. "No. Lois, it's not any of that. Yes, it is legal; the paperwork is on the table. And you're right. We can't call Perry. Do you remember that there was something that I needed to tell you last night?"
"Later, Kent — we've got to go. Check out is already taken care of." She picked up the papers and walked over to open the door. "Are you coming or not? Well, I need to go to my apartment and you need to go to wherever it is that you are staying. Tell me where it is and I'll meet you there at nine. Okay. Bye." And she walked out closing the door.
Clark stood up and began to spin. When he finished he was completely dressed and walked out to the balcony. He looked down and saw Lois climb into a cab on her way to her apartment. He glanced around to make sure no one was watching and then took off. He flew as high into the atmosphere as he dared. When he made it above the clouds, he let out an inhuman scream. He just felt the need for the release and he didn't have time to fly to the Arctic. The smile couldn't be wiped off his face. Not today. He wished that he had time to go see his mom and dad, but even as fast as he could get there and back, he didn't have time to do that either. He landed quickly and quietly in the alley next to the seedy hotel that he was calling home. *Home. What kind of home can I give Lois? I can't bring her here tonight and her sister is staying with her, I think. I don't even know if my sister-in-law is staying with my WIFE. This is a mess. I can't afford anyplace better right now. That is on my list of things to do today. Find a place to live that my WIFE and I can afford.* He entered the hotel room and realized that he had less than five minutes to get ready. He jumped in the shower and had just gotten out when he heard the knock on the door. He put a towel around his waist and opened it.
Lois was tapping her foot impatiently, looking at her watch, when he opened the door. Her eyes widened as she took in the smooth muscular chest and narrow waist that was Clark. *Wow, look at that six pack.* She swallowed hard and said, "I said nine, I thought you'd be naked," she said. Tearing her eyes off that body was something she just didn't want to do. She realized too late what had slipped out of her mouth, and tried desperately to cover, hoping he hadn't noticed. "Ready," she corrected, looking as indifferent as she could under the circumstances.
He pulled her into his arms and kissed her. He grinned when he saw the shocked look on her face. "I'm your husband, Lois, it's okay. I'll be out in a jiff," he promised, vanishing into his tiny bathroom.
Lois walked in, and swatted the door shut, never taking her eyes off of Clark's well-muscled back. *How can he keep such a gorgeous body underneath those suits and ties? And HOW did I not notice last night?* But it had been dark last night and she'd had other things on her mind. Deciding that those thoughts would only make them later for work, she turned to what passed for a kitchen. She had called Perry to find out were he was staying and now she knew why Perry had been reluctant for her to come looking for him.
She walked into the *kitchen* and opened a cupboard hoping to find a glass for juice. All she found was Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Hohos. Shock crossed her face and she pictured the six pack again. *It's just not FAIR! How does he do that?* She looked disdainfully at the glass drying in the sink, peering inside to make sure it was clean. When she opened the fridge in search of some orange juice, she was astonished by an even vaster array of junk food stuffed in there. French onion dip, peanut butter Twix, and Swiss Cake Rolls. *Well, at least most of it's chocolate,* she thought ruefully.
The phone rang, breaking her out of her disgust. "Can you get that please, honey. I'll be right out," Clark called.
She grumbled to herself as she crossed the small room to the… pay phone? *Honey. He sure seems to be making this transition fairly easily.* "Sure, dear, whatever you want." Her voiced dripped sweetness. *But I always said I wanted to be Mrs. CJ, well, Mrs. Clark, I guess I am. I am Mrs. Clark Kent now. Hmm. It has a nice ring to it.* She smiled to herself. Maybe this wasn't so bad after all! She picked up the phone. "Hello? Clark's pay phone. Mrs. Clark speaking," she giggled.
"Excuse me? Who is this?"
"This is Mrs. Clark. You know, Clark's wife. Who's this?"
"Clark's mother. Last night he didn't have a wife. Who are you and where is my son?"
"Actually, we got married last night. *Very* sudden. We would have invited you, but…"
A noise behind her startled her, and she turned around with an alarmed expression. Surely Clark couldn't have dressed so quickly! He couldn't possibly be coming out wearing less than that towel, could he? Though the possibilities were enticing, they didn't have time for that right now and she was on the phone with his mother.
Clark emerged from the bathroom, neatly dressed in his usual suit and tie. She gasped, wondering how on earth he had dressed so quickly, and then shook her head. Clark unobtrusively checked his zipper, wondering what she was staring at. "Who is it, sweetheart?" he asked as he leaned over to plant a kiss on her lips but was stopped short by a hand on his chest.
"Your mom," she hissed.
He grabbed the phone. "Mom, how are you? I was just getting ready to call." He looked over at Lois and mouthed, "Did you tell her?"
Lois nodded guiltily. Clark looked up at the ceiling as if in silent prayer. "No, Mom, I'm okay. Really, I am. Married? Yes, actually I am. I would have called you but it was so sudden. Who? Well, you remember me telling you about Lois? The girl I met in D.C. and that I was pretty sure that Lois Lane was her? Well, that's who I married. No, we haven't had a chance to talk about all of that yet. Dad? Everything is fine, really. No, I haven't told her yet. We haven't had a chance to really talk things out. No, I don't know where we are going to live. I know, Dad, like a frog. I've heard it a million times. Yes, I'll bring her out to meet you soon. No, probably not tonight. I mean, how could we get there so fast? It would cost an arm and a leg to get plane tickets on such short notice. No, I don't think that it's a good idea for you to come here. Where would you stay? We don't even have a place of our own yet. And my sister-in-law," Lois smiled at that remark, "is staying at Lois' apartment right now. Look, Mom, Dad, I gotta go. We're already late for work and Perry's sure to fire me at least. No, we aren't taking any time off just yet. I'm sure he would give us the time, but he doesn't know yet. You're the only people who know. Except for the three people at the wedding. I don't even know if Lois told the clerk at the hotel when we checked in last night. No, not this hotel. Give me a little credit, Mom. We stayed downtown. Now, I really have to go. I'll call you later. I love you, too. Bye."
"We'd better be going." He nodded agreeably, and Lois started towards the door. She turned back suddenly, unable to contain her curiosity, the words tumbling out, one on top of the other. "So, explain something to me, husband of mine. You… you… eat like an eight-year-old, and you look like Mr. Hardbody." She laughed, that laugh that makes everyone uncomfortable, feeling silly for having said anything. "What's your secret? And can I have it? I *am* your wife you know. You are supposed to share everything with me." she joked. He looked at her as though he had no idea what she was talking about, and with a grunt of disgust she opened the door to leave. "And there's a lot of things about that conversation that I want to know more about."
Clark grinned as he followed her out. She might want to pretend that she hadn't been ogling him, but he knew better. And he liked the thought of his wife ogling him. He was not, however, looking forward to the conversation he knew was necessary.
After they arrived at work, finished getting chewed out by Perry, and got their assignments for the day, there was no time left that morning for a talk. In fact, they barely saw each other at all.
Later that morning Clark walked across the street to the Daily Planet just as Lois *Kent* climbed out of a cab. "Morning, Lois," he greeted cheerfully, wondering if she was going to take his last name.
"Maybe for you, I've been at it for hours," she retorted, then softened the words with a smile. "I went back to Bob Marvin's house to find him, but he still wasn't home," she said sourly.
Just then they heard a yell from up above the street. They looked up and saw a man holding on to an I-beam five stories in the air. "Help! I can't hold on! Someone — help me! Please!"
Lois hurried closer, fumbling in her big purse for her ever-present notebook to get the story, not noticing that Clark, instead of following, had slipped away from the crowd. He used his special vision to make sure that there was no one else in the alley and he shot into the air.
"We need help! People, stand back! There's a man up there!"
The man let out a yell as he lost his grip on the beam. His arms flailed as he fell. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a dark streak appeared in the sky. The man appeared to be pushed by the streak onto a platform a few feet away, just off the ground. The streak continued on out of sight. The man just stood there stunned and then he pointed.
"That man… that man saved me, that man," he said in astonishment. Lois turned, but there was no one there except Clark, who, walking up behind Lois, looked rather disheveled. Clark gave her a confused look. "He flew me over here," the worker insisted before he passed out.
"He's delirious!" Clark said to Lois.
"Obviously!" She gave him a good look, her face crinkled in distaste, and she brushed some dirt from his lapels. "Look at you, you're a mess! From now on do what I do, bring a change of clothes to work." She went on in a whisper, "Can't have any husband of mine being a mess." She smiled at him as she strode towards the revolving doors, leaving a relieved Clark hurrying to keep up with her. "Go on upstairs. I'll meet you in a minute."
"You mean you don't want to ride in the elevator with me?" He grinned at her.
She looked up at him, a smile crossing her face. "No, I would like to, but we'll never get any work done if that elevator stops like it did yesterday. Now go."
Clark sighed. "You're no fun. I'll see you later." He wanted to kiss her, but the look she gave stopped him in mid-movement. "Maybe I'll just save that for later."
"Good idea." She watched as he walked over to the elevator. They looked into each other's eyes until the door closed. *Sheesh, what is the deal with us and elevators?*
"Hey, CK," Jimmy called as he headed towards the elevator.
"Hey," Clark said in response.
"Hold that eleva-" Jimmy grimaced as the doors closed on him.
"Where're you off to?"
"I just got a call from Bob Marvin. He has some stuff for us. Tell Lois for me, would ya?" He took a good look at his new friend. "What happened to your suit?"
"Don't ask," Clark said simply, gesturing to the other elevator car, which was opening its doors. "See you later." As the elevator doors closed, Clark turned to go to the rest room, swiping at the grime on his coat.
After he cleaned up, Clark got himself a cup of coffee, and then went in search of Lois. She was working alone in one of the conference rooms. She silently rose and closed the blinds on all of the windows.
He smiled. "Anything?"
"Just this." She sat on his lap and kissed him hard on the lips. "Isn't that enough?"
He played with the ring on her finger. "Anyone notice this yet?"
"No, not yet. I've been, well," she looked somewhat guilty, "trying to make sure no one notices — you know, flipping open my notebook over my hand, holding my coffee cup a certain way. What are we going to do when someone notices that both of us just got married?"
"Tell them," he murmured as he tried to kiss her some more. "Eventually, they'll notice. I mean when the kids come along and all."
"Oh, Clark, kids? There is so much that we need to talk about."
"I know." He grinned wickedly. "But wouldn't you rather be doing this?" He kissed her with a hunger that neither had ever known.
She pushed him away. "Yes, I would, but we have work to do." She moved to the seat she had been in before he had interrupted her.
She leaned back in her seat. "I can't find Bob Marvin anywhere. Without him, we don't have a story." She shrugged wearily.
"Jimmy said to tell you that he was going to pick up a package from him."
"WHAT?! When were you planning on telling me? Did he say what was in the package?"
"No. Just that he was picking it up and that he'd bring it back here once he got it. So what do we do now?" he asked, deferring to her experience.
"Well, first we piece together whatever it is that Jimmy is bringing us, if that's possible. Then we try and figure out what is going on and if there is a story there… I hope you didn't make dinner plans," she finished.
"I am all yours," Clark assured her, resting his chin on his folded arms and giving her a beautiful smile.
"Now that's what I like to hear. You know," she walked over to his chair and sat down on his lap again. "We have a few minutes until Jimmy gets back. And Perry thinks that we are working hard." She ran her hand over his tie, her fingers resting on her class ring that she had discovered under his shirt the night before and getting an idea.
"What do you suggest we do in the meantime then, Mrs. Kent?"
"Mrs. Kent? Hmmm," her nose wrinkled a little bit, "I don't know if I like that. But I think that I know what I'd like to do. I think that I would like to do this." She kissed him softly on the cheek. "And this." She kissed his other cheek.
"How about this?" He gently held her head and tenderly kissed her lips.
"Hmm, that was nice. Could we try it again?"
"Sure." He kissed her more deeply this time. Suddenly, he stopped. His superhearing had picked up footsteps outside the door.
"What? What is it?"
Clark picked Lois up as he stood up and set her gently on the floor. He stepped back just as Jimmy walked in.
"There you guys are. Lois, CK, here's the info that Bob Marvin had for you. He said that this was enough to get you started but that if you wanted the rest of the goods then you would have to meet him tonight." He looked at them. "Are you guys okay? You look kinda weird."
Lois glanced at Clark. "Why… why do you say that, Jimmy?"
"Umm, well you look a little flushed, Lois. It's probably nothing. Hey, CK. Rumor's going around the pit is that you're hitched. Someone saw you wearing a ring or something. All the women are taking bets. They, especially Cat, don't want it to be true. So are you?"
Clark wiggled the fingers of his left hand at him. "Yes, Jimmy. I married recently." He smiled as he shared a knowing look with Lois. "VERY recently."
"WAY TO GO, CK! Why didn't you say anything?"
"I, uh, just didn't see any reason to."
"Oh, well." They could hear Perry hollering for him outside the conference room. "That's my cue. Later." Jimmy left the room. "Coming, Chief."
Lois waited until he was out of earshot. "Whew. That was close. How did you know he was coming?"
Clark shrugged. "I thought I heard something."
"So everyone knows that you're married. What are they going to think if someone catches us kissing? If no one knew that you were married, it wouldn't be such a big deal. But now that everyone knows, they'll think that I'm the 'other woman'. Me. Lois Lane. The other woman. That is not a role that I am comfortable with. The girlfriend. The fling. Those I could deal with. But the other woman? I can't do that."
"Sorry. I can't help it sometimes. Whenever I get nervous, or afraid, or excited, I just start talking and talking. And I can't stop. I just go on and on…" Clark had shut the door and had now shut her up with a kiss. Soft and gentle. He broke it off and looked at her.
"That's enough, sweetheart. And you're not the other woman. You are the only woman for me. I would've thought that last night would have proved that. Besides, there's one other thing wrong with that little speech that you gave."
"Really? What's that?"
"You said 'Lois Lane'. It's not Lois Lane anymore. It's Lois Kent." He smiled at her. He wanted to see what she would say about the name change.
"Lois Kent, huh? And what if I want to keep my own name? I am a world-renowned reporter, you know. It wouldn't do for me to just up and CHANGE my name."
"Why don't we talk about that later? Right now, let's kiss."
"Sounds good to me."
As the distance between them closed, Perry opened the door. Clark jumped back guiltily. "No, Lois. I, uh, no, I don't see anything in your eye."
"Well, umm, thanks for checking, Clark."
Perry just looked at them. "Kids, I don't know what I'm interrupting here, but it doesn't look like there is any work getting done. Why are the blinds closed? Clark, what would your wife think if she knew that you were in a conference room with the blinds and door closed, alone with an attractive woman? And, great shades of Elvis, why didn't you tell me you were married? And weren't you Lois' guest last night at the ball? Are you even wearing a ring? I know you weren't yesterday."
"Umm, I think she'd be okay with it, Chief. She trusts me. And, well, we just got married. She was busy last night and the ball was work. Not a date or anything. Anyway, after the ball, we just kind of decided to get married. Spur of the moment kind of thing. I mean, we met over 10 years ago, but last night, we just decided to do it. Take the plunge. Get married. So, yea, I'm married and I do wear a ring." He wiggled the fingers on his left hand yet again. "And I didn't tell you because it just happened."
"Well, then what are you doing here? Shouldn't you be at home with her? And, son, you're starting to babble. If you aren't careful, you'll be as bad as Lois."
"I don't think anyone could be as bad as Lois when it comes to babbling." He smiled at her as she shot him 'a look'. "She, uh, she has to work late tonight, Chief. She may even be called out of town on business. So, I figured I would get as much done as I can while she's busy and hopefully we could take next weekend off to get away for a day or two?" The last was a question rather than a statement.
"Well, if you're sure she's busy… Sure, son, take next weekend off. You, too Lois. You'll both be tired by the end of next week and you'll need the time off too."
"Thanks, Chief. I'd appreciate it."
"Now let's get some work done, you two."
It was late, and the newsroom was nearly empty except for two tired reporters, who had spent the last several hours hunched over the crumpled bits of paper that comprised Marvin's report, trying to piece it together in some semblance of order.
"This is impossible," Lois said with a sigh. "Nothing matches, no dates… We're never going to get through this. Oh, and I'm starving!" she complained. She looked at him seductively. "I know what I want, but I can't have it right now, soooooo I'll have settle for some good Chinese take-out."
"I know a place," Clark ventured, getting up and fetching his coat. "I'll be right back." He looked around to make sure no one was watching. When he was satisfied they were alone, he gave her a long, soft kiss.
"Don't you want to know what I want?" she mumbled into his lips.
"I'll bring an assortment," he replied. Lois shrugged, and tried to go back to work. Her husband was SO handsome and so willing to do anything to make her happy. And SO well built. She could definitely get used to this. And those kisses. Well, they were out of this world! She sighed. This whole marriage thing was sure good so far, but she knew that not everything would be easy. She wondered what her parents were going to think when they found out. She had never told them about CJ — Clark — and she hadn't ever planned on it. At least not until she found him again and they were dating or something. The more she thought about it, the more she realized that, although she had dreamed about seeing CJ and kissing him again, she had never imagined what life together would be like. Not as friends or a couple or married or anything. Just that long, slow kiss that seemed like it would never end and the ride into the sunset. That kiss had never even developed into anything more in her mind. Maybe he had imagined different things for them. He seemed to be slipping into the role of a husband more easily than she was slipping into the role of a wife. She sighed again. He called her "sweetheart" and "honey" and seemed to mean it. The once or twice she had used some kind of term of endearment it was dripping with sarcasm — once at the end of the wedding and once before answering the phone. He had used pet names for her several times throughout the day and last night as well. And she liked it more than she cared to admit. Especially last night.
Last night. It had been magical. She had even felt like she was floating on air. It had never been like that with Claude. Claude. *Clark, how am I going to tell you about Claude?* From what he had told her the night before, he had only ever kissed one other woman since they met, so he probably didn't have a "Claude" in his past. She didn't know how to tell him that she had made some mistakes while she was waiting for him to reappear in her life. It had never felt "right", but things happened that she had regretted for years and now she regretted even more.
It didn't take long for Clark to fly halfway around the world and reach one of his favorite little restaurants in Shanghai. He ordered a variety of dishes, hoping she would enjoy them. Something spicy, something mild, a little of the chicken, and some of the shrimp…
As he flew, he thought about the wonderful woman who was waiting for him at the Planet. Ever since he saw her, even before Air had gone over to her and been rebuffed, he knew. He had just known that this was the only woman for him. When their eyes locked as he stood in the elevator, his heart had jumped and his feet had almost left the ground then and there. Floating or levitating was something that was new to him and he had still had trouble controlling it at the time. He sighed. It didn't look like they were going to get the time alone that they needed tonight. They still had to meet with Marvin. They wouldn't get home until late. But where would they go? He hadn't had a chance to look for a new place all day. He couldn't take her to his hotel room. He was embarrassed that she had even seen it that morning — though the ogling and "Mr. Hardbody" comment had almost made it worthwhile. He had to smile at that. Lucy was staying at Lois' apartment and since she wasn't ready to tell anyone that they were married, that seemed to be out.
He could just see it. They show up at her apartment. "Lucy, I'm home and I brought my husband with me," and Lucy's jaw would drop and that would be the end of that. Or worse. Lucy wouldn't be there when they arrived and they would be kissing, or something more, and Lucy would walk-in on them. How would they explain that? How could he explain that he could fly, see through walls and light candles or start a fire just by looking at the wick or wood? That would be a little more difficult. How could he tell her? He rolled onto his back and looked at the stars as he rolled over scenarios in his mind. Tell her to close her eyes for a minute, take off and then have her open them as they stood in the clouds. That would work — or not. She would probably have a heart attack and die. He couldn't have that on his conscience along with all of the others that he hadn't been able to help.
He talked to himself. "See, Lois, I keep trying to tell you that, well, either I'm an alien or a science experiment from the Soviet Union that went terribly wrong. I am really strong and bullets don't hurt me. I could get shot point blank and it wouldn't do anything to me. I can carry tractors in one hand — I have been able to do that since junior high. That morning that you left D.C.? See, that was the morning that I found out that I could fly. Fly, you ask? Yes, fly." It wasn't going to work. He had to come up with something. Maybe he would go see his parents, but when? He had to get dinner back to Lois and he couldn't very well sneak out in the middle of the night and fly off. Lois wouldn't understand if he left her lying alone in bed the second night after their wedding. He sighed. The Planet lay just below and he hadn't come to any resolution yet.
"That was quick!" Lois said in surprise, as he planted the bundle of bamboo containers down before her.
"I took a short cut."
"Still hot!" she enthused, opening one eagerly and dipping her fingers in to help herself to a mouthful. She let out an appreciative noise. "Ooh, this is out of this world!"
"You could let me help with that, you know," he said suggestively.
"Sorry, we're still at work — maybe later!"
Clark happily watched her enjoy the food, smiling, hardly tasting his own dinner.
"Well, can we talk? Not *the* talk, because this *is* a public place and I don't want to have that talk until we're alone. Please, Lois talk to me!" He looked at her with his best puppy dog eyes.
Lois laughed softly. "I just can't resist those eyes. Sure, what do you want to talk about?"
"Me, huh? What if I don't want to talk about me?"
"Well, then what do you want to talk about?"
"You. You are *much* more interesting than me. You've traveled the world. You've been here for two days and," she took a big bite, "you already know the best place to get Chinese." She tried not to spit out her chicken as she spoke. "Where did you get this?"
"Shanghai. It's in China." He wondered what she would do with the truth.
She laughed again. "Fine. Keep your secret for now, but I have my ways of getting secrets out of you."
He leaned forward to look in her eyes. "You do?"
"Are you going to tell me what they are?"
"No, you'll have to wait and see."
"When are you going to show me?"
"Later tonight. If you're good."
"Me? I'm always good. I thought you'd know that by now."
"Well," Lois looked down and blushed deeply. "You proved that last night."
It was Clark's turn to laugh nervously, as he turned crimson. "You think so?"
"I *know* so. Maybe you'll show me again later?"
"Maybe. If you're good."
"Me? I'm never good. I thought you'd know that by now."
Clark leaned in ready to kiss her like his life depended on it, but she stopped him as the elevator opened with the cleaning lady in it. She took her cart and walked down the hallway. Lois pushed back from Clark and cracked open her fortune cookie with anticipation, but her face dropped as she looked at it. "It's in Chinese!" she complained. Clark reached over and took it from her. "Oh, don't tell me that you read —" she began, in disbelief.
"A good horse is like a member of the family," he read cheerfully, handing it back.
"I hate that! That is not a fortune!" Lois declared. Clark chuckled, and stretched his long legs out in front of him. "You are a strange one, Clark Kent," she said slowly, struck by the incongruity of a Kansas farm boy reading Chinese, understanding what Jimmy's prattle about computer interfaces earlier that day, and knowing ballroom dancing. And kissing like he did.
"Am I, Mrs. Kent?" he inquired, amused because she had no idea just how strange he truly was.
"Mrs. Kent." She wrinkled her nose. "Let's not push that just yet. I don't know if I want to change my name. In fact, I'm kind of attached to my own name." Clark opened his mouth to speak, but Lois cut him off before he could say anything. "We'll talk about it later. Yeah. A strange one. But I think I've got you figured out," she returned confidently.
"Didn't take you very long." He looked at her intensely and she squirmed. Did she really have him figured out? She thought she did, but that look made her wonder.
He knew there was no way she could know his secret. Not unless she had seen him fly off to save that worker and he knew she hadn't been paying attention. How was she going react when she finally did tell him? She would be upset for not telling her sooner, he was sure, even though they had only known her for a few days. He had imagined what it would be like to find her again and tell her his secret. It would be really nice not to hide from someone. He couldn't wait to take her on her first moonlit flight; she would love it — he did.
He sighed. She was his wife. He would have to tell her soon. Otherwise, how would he explain levitating in his sleep? It was a good thing it hadn't happened the night before. They *had* floated some, but she had barely noticed.
"Well, it's my business, looking beyond the external," she said, not feeling quite as smug as she had a moment before seeing the steady, penetrating look he was giving her; the light in his eyes was reaching down to her soul. She felt a sudden lurch of panic and fear and excitement that she couldn't suppress. "Don't fall for me, farm boy," she warned him with a smile. "I don't have time for it."
"Umm, it is WAY too late for that. I am long gone, city girl. Come here." He checked to make sure they were alone again and he pulled her close and kissed her like there was no tomorrow.
She let the kiss continue for a minute and then pulled away. "Clark, what if someone sees us? I am not ready to make this public just yet and we don't really have anywhere to go. Lucy is at my place and sorry, but I really don't want to stay at yours. No offense. And I can't afford another night at the honeymoon suite." She kissed him one more time. "Now, come on, let's go find Marvin and he'll give us the rest of the information we need."
She gathered the papers and led the way out of the newsroom, needing to escape the closeness of the moment they had shared. Needing to break the spell she could feel being woven around her when he gazed at her with those soft brown eyes and at the same time wanting to stay there forever. There would be plenty of time for that later. Wherever they ended up.
Clark followed more slowly. For a moment there she was responding to him. He knew that there was a tender side underneath the "Mad Dog Lane" exterior that everyone at work saw. He had seen it in Washington and again the night before once she realized how awful she had been to him and before she realized that he was CJ. It was just going to take time to get used to this whole marriage business.
He was just going to have to be persistent, he decided. It wouldn't take long. Just a few minutes alone without a big story on their minds. Next weekend at the latest.
They took a cab to Marvin's place in silence, not even holding hands. They were greeted by an odd dripping sound. The door wasn't locked and Lois pushed it open. "Lois, let me look first," Clark said, feeling in his gut that something was wrong here.
"Don't be silly, I've seen it all: war, crime, famine. Don't think you can boss me around just because you're my husband," she intoned in her best 'don't argue with me' tone. The room was dark and shadowy, with only one lamp turned on. She tried the switch for the overhead light, but nothing happened. "Mr. Marvin?" she called out, seeing that he was sitting in an armchair, his back to them.
"Wait, wait!" Clark urged. "Look. On the floor." He pointed to a puddle on the left side of the chair. On the right side of the chair a hand hung down, a gun lying on the floor at the end of the outstretched fingers. Lois turned away in distress, leaning a hand against Clark's strong chest to keep her balance as her stomach twisted.
Clark looked away momentarily with a grimace as he held Lois against him, then turned back again, stricken by the awful sight. This man, who Clark had never met, had died trying to give them information that would have brought down the President or some of his men. He should have been keeping an eye out for Marvin, keeping him safe. Perhaps he could have prevented this.
They called the police and waited in silence, holding hands, for their arrival, Clark ridden with guilt and Lois trying to focus on what to do about the story now that Marvin was dead. The officers who came went through the motions of investigating the scene, but made up their minds pretty quickly.
"Suicide? That's ridiculous!" Lois argued.
"He's tried it before," Inspector Henderson replied in an almost defeated voice. "No sign of false entry, no sign of struggle, nobody saw anybody come in or out…"
"But he was trying to tell us his story. We were going to prove… that something he was working on was right!" Lois protested. "There's just no way he —"
"Hey, if a man's gonna shoot himself, he could at least use a drop cloth. Make our jobs much easier," an officer mumbled.
That was too much for Clark to take. To hear a policeman make jokes about the tragedy was an outrage. He stood in front of the man, his face and angry eyes just inches from the cop's face, intent on intimidating this little man. "The man's name was Bob Marvin. He was brilliant and someone who cared about others. Under the circumstances, I don't believe that kind of comment is appropriate."
Lois looked at him closely, worried that her husband was taking Mr. Marvin's death too much to heart.
"Sorry, buddy," the officer said. Clark's glare was working. The officer was obviously intimidated and remorseful. "Really, I'm sorry." He moved away.
"Are you okay, Clark?" Lois asked Clark in concern.
"Hey, we should've known. We should have protected him."
"How?" she asked reasonably.
"I don't know, but we should have done something," he said helplessly, deeply saddened by the tragedy, by the waste of a man's life.
"Look, Clark, all we can do now is try and prove him right. We have a lot of work to do." She looked at her watch. "It's only five-thirty. Why don't we try and get a few hours' sleep and I'll come by for you about nine, okay?" Lois nodded briskly and left the building. She always found it easier to bury her emotions and concentrate on work.
He ran to catch up with her. When he reached her side, he stopped her with a hand on her arm. "Lois, what about us?"
She stopped and looked as crestfallen as he felt. "Oh, Clark. I *am* sorry. I'm not used to this whole marriage thing yet. I got sidetracked. But where can we stay? We went over this before. There isn't enough room for us at your place."
"My dad wired me some money the other day. I have a little left. We can use it for a nicer hotel room. Not as nice as last night, but better than mine." He looked in her eyes. "I need to be close to you after all of this."
"I know, Clark. I need you, too. I need for you to hold me in those arms of yours while I try to get some sleep. Last night was the best night I've had in a long time." She patted his arm affectionately.
Clark grinned at her in spite of everything. "The best night? A long time?"
"Sleep, Clark, sleep. Now let's go find us a place to stay." She slipped her arm around his waist and he wrapped his around her shoulder and they walked off, leaning on each other for support.
Clark couldn't sleep, even with Lois by his side. He wrestled with his feelings of guilt until the sun came up. He had never been able to stand by and watch someone get hurt if he knew he could prevent it, but he knew, too, the risks that involved, and what might happen if people knew about his powers. A possibility occurred to him, and he turned it over in his mind during the early morning hours. He took a shower while Lois slept, still thinking about his idea. Then, still damp and clad only in a towel, he called his parents from the phone in their room. He told them about the tragedy, unburdening himself. His mother was distressed that he was torn up about something that wasn't his fault.
"I can't help it, Mom, I feel responsible," he said in reply.
"If you could've helped him, you would have," Martha said calmly into the phone.
Jonathan, on the extension, changed the subject. "Clark, what's this about a guy falling from a construction site? Your mother told me he recognized you!"
"Dad, the workman was really out of it. I mean, nobody believed him when he pointed to me. Not even Lois," Clark assured them.
"One of these days you're gonna pull one of your stunts and some nut with a video camera is going to —"
Martha interrupted hotly. "Well what did you want him to do, Jonathan, did you just want him to let the man die?" She sighed, the sigh of a mother who didn't know how to help her child. This situation had come up many times before, but now that he was trying to put down roots, things could get complicated. "So how are your clothes holding out?" she asked her son trying to keep the conversation light.
"Don't change the damned subject!" Jonathan said sounding like he had woken up on the wrong side of the bed, knowing that there were things more important than clothes.
Clark stopped him. "Listen, I have been thinking about this, and maybe it's a crazy idea, but… Mom, how's your sewing machine, is it still working?"
"I think so," she said, confused.
"Well, I have a favor to ask. I think I need some kind of outfit," he said, still not sure about how this idea of his.
There was silence. "Outfit?" Jonathan echoed. "What, like tights or something?"
"I don't know about that, but, you know, like a costume I could wear when things like that accident happen," Clark explained, growing more sure of himself. "I could —" There was a soft moan from the bed. "Oh, Mom, Dad, I gotta go, Lois is up. I'll talk to you later. No, we aren't at my hotel. We got a little nicer one until we can figure out where to live. I'll talk to you later. I love you, too, both of you. Bye."
"Good morning, sleepyhead."
Lois rolled over and took a good look at her husband. "A towel again, huh? A girl could get used to that!" She smiled as he sat down next to her. "What's that about a costume?"
"You were eavesdropping, were you? Do you know what I do to little girls who eavesdrop? First, I tickle them," he poked her in the stomach, "and then I kiss them." He stretched out next to her on the bed and covered her lips with his. The kiss was just starting to get interesting when he pushed back and reminded her that they needed to get into the office before Perry had their hides.
"You still haven't told me what you need a costume for. You're a little old for trick-or-treat; aren't you? And it isn't that time of year yet anyway."
Clark sat on the edge of the bed and sighed. "Lois, it is one of those things that we need to talk about. Tonight, okay?"
Lois nodded slowly. "Okay. But there are other things that I think I would rather be doing tonight," she added mischievously. "We were both too tired this morning. Not that either one of us was really in the mood after what happened. But tonight. Tonight is a whole new ballgame. And you *did* promise!" she added with an impish grin.
"I promised if you were good. And you haven't proven anything yet, milady," he smiled at her. "But this talk HAS to come first, okay? And we need to try to figure out something a little more permanent for living arrangements. I don't want to sound rude, sweetheart, but I don't know, so I have to ask. How long is Lucy staying with you?"
"I don't know, Clark. I'll talk to her today. If she is leaving soon, we can just stay at my place for now at least. But for now, we better get going."
Lois and Clark were walking along the street on their way to work. They stopped for coffee and tried to hurry but found that they were more interested in talking. "Lois, when are we going to tell everyone that we are married? We can't keep it hidden forever."
"I know, Clark." Lois sighed. "I don't know when or how to tell them. To tell anybody. I mean, your parents know. But I don't even care if my parents ever find out."
"You don't mean that."
"No, I don't. But, that weekend? In Washington?" Clark nodded. "That was the last real conversation I had with my dad. He and my mom split up about that time and he was too busy for me and Lucy. The last real conversation we had was when he told me that he had to go to Seattle and I was driving back to Metropolis. All I could think about was you and how we weren't going to get to spend the day together. I didn't even pay that much attention to what he said. The conversation before that was the argument over the 'hick from Nowheresville'," she smiled through the tears that were streaming down her cheeks. "And before that was at the Chinese restaurant when I ended up not quite in the bathroom."
"Oh, Lois. I want to hold you and wipe those tears away. Will you let me? Please?"
Lois sucked in a deep breath. "No, Clark. Not right now. We're in public. And no one knows yet. If anyone saw us, it would create more problems. How 'bout I let you hold me later?"
"Fine. Later. Lois, is it always going to be later? I mean eventually, we are going to get caught. I can't not look at you during the day and I know that my feelings show through. I don't know how Perry hasn't figured it out yet." Clark was obviously frustrated. "And where are we going to live? Or ARE *we* going to live? Are we just going to have midnight trysts whenever we can sneak out the window and I'll try to give you a hickey behind the Dairy Freeze? Or at the drive-in?" Clark stopped and turned her so that she was facing him. "You are my WIFE, Lois. And I want everyone to know that. I want to hold you when you cry in private *and* in public. I want to be able to kiss you without worrying if someone is watching. I want to go home and share a bed with you. Share my life with you. There are so many things that we haven't even talked about yet. Things about my past that you need to know. Nothing illegal or anything, but things that make me, me. There are things about you that I don't know and I want to. I don't want to hide anymore. I don't have to hide my wedding ring anymore and I don't want you to have to hide yours in the flip of a notebook or a mug of coffee." Lois used her right hand and then her left to wipe away the tears that were flowing freely. Clark caught her left hand in his. "Where are they, Lois? Where are your rings? Are you ashamed of me? Of our marriage? Even though it isn't exactly conventional, it is a marriage. Why did you take them off?"
"Clark, I just don't want to risk anyone seeing them. They're right here." She pulled a long chain out from under her business suit. "I am keeping it close to my heart until we can tell the world that we are together. Just like you keep mine."
"It's not the same, Lois and you know it."
"I know, Clark. I'm just not ready yet. Please try to understand." She looked at him imploringly. They stood there, their eyes locked for what seemed like an eternity. Lois was about to give in — she could drown in the chocolate pools that passed for the eyes of Clark Kent — when the spell was broken by Jimmy.
"Lois? You okay? The Chief saw you two standing down here arguing and sent me to get you and tell you both to get to work."
Lois turned away and wiped the tears from her face, putting the rings back inside the suit before she turned to face Jimmy. "I'm fine, Jimmy. It was a rough night and I didn't get much sleep. Clark, can we continue this conversation later?"
"Don't worry," Clark said grimly. "We will." The three walked inside.
Later that day Jimmy had exciting news for the reporters. The three of them went into an empty conference room to talk. "This just came in the mail for me. I didn't understand why it came to me, but I am the one who saw Marvin yesterday. In here is everything that you guys need to write the story. It's not about the President. It's the Secretary of State. And, boy, he is as corrupt as the day is long!"
Lois poked at him playfully, which he avoided with a laugh before leaving. Lois and Clark looked at each other with triumphant grins. Checking to make sure the blinds were closed, he pulled her into his arms.
"He was right! Marvin was right!" she said exuberantly. She gave him a quick kiss and wriggled out of his grasp.
"Now we can write the story," Clark exalted.
"I can write the story," Lois quickly, still smiling as she corrected him.
"With my help," he insisted.
"With your help," she agreed, a little too quickly for anyone who knew Lois "Mad Dog" Lane. "And if we can convince people there was corruption, and who was behind it —"
"We can stop them," Clark finished her sentence, his grin lighting the room.
"Oh, God!" she cried, practically jumping into his arms. They both drew back a little bit to look at one another, a bit startled and a lot happy. Each of them felt something far more than partnership from working on a story and they were ready to get home to find out what it was.
"Why don't we have dinner?" Clark suggested suddenly, hoping that everything was right between them again. "I haven't had dinner out with my wife since we got married. But if she'd rather, and we can find a kitchen, I could make her a good, old-fashioned, home-cooked meal."
"You cook too? Well, that's good, because I don't. Oh, I don't know," she said quickly, feeling uncharacteristically off-balance. "I haven't had dinner out with my husband since we got married either. He did bring *the best* Chinese take out one night. *That* was delicious. I think that I might like for him to make me dinner."
"We should celebrate our respective weddings then," he said persuasively, hoping to help her relax a bit.
She hesitated, scared to take another dangerous step, yet knowing how wonderful that one step could be. *He has such wonderful eyes*, she thought with a pang. He truly wasn't like most guys, and there was an innocence, a naivete to him that made her trust that he wasn't going do anything to take advantage of her — even if he was her husband. "Okay, dinner, and then — just you and me," she said quietly, but hopefully. Suddenly a sense of euphoria swept over her, and she giggled. Maybe she would tell everyone, after tonight.
Then reality came crashing through. "Oh, wait a second, what am I talking about? I can't. I have plans tonight. Clark, I completely forgot."
The hopes that had lifted Clark's heart dropped, and his smile vanished. "Luthor?" he asked with a trace of bitterness and a hint of a challenge in his voice.
"Yeah," she replied casually, but she knew there were undercurrents here that she understood and at the same time couldn't comprehend.
"I don't trust him, Lois. Not with you. My wife or not, I don't trust him."
"Well, that's not for you to decide, Clark."
"So you would put an *interview*," he spat the word out, "over an evening with your new husband.
"This isn't just any interview, Clark. It's the first one-on-one interview with one of the wealthiest men in the world. And I made plans for it *before* we got married." She opened the door to the conference room and walked out.
Clark followed her into the newsroom, losing control of his emotions. That was something that he rarely did. He ALWAYS had control of his emotions, but this was his wife, something he'd never had to deal with before. He took a deep breath and remembered the way Lois had looked at Luthor when they were dancing at the ball. *But that was before WE were married. Surely she wouldn't do anything like that.* He thought about it for another minute and shook his head. There was no way.
"Tell me something," he asked confrontationally, speaking low enough that no one else would hear, "how far are you willing to push me away to get an interview?" He knew it was dangerous to confront his wife like that. They were on shaky ground as it was and he really didn't want to push *her* away. But the words were out before he could think, and there was no taking them back.
"Push you away? *Push you away?* I am not trying to push you away," she hissed angrily, looking at the rest of the newsroom who had turned to stare, as they strained to pick up any thing said loud enough. "This is business. That's all." Her voice was as cold as the Arctic he went to when he needed to be alone, masking her hurt and anger. How could she have thought that Clark was any different from the rest of them? Just because she couldn't have dinner with him because she had an interview to do, he turned around and implied that she rather spend an evening on work than with him. She was his *wife* for crying out loud. Did he really think that she would jeopardize their marriage? What did he think? That she would cheat on him less than 72 hours after the wedding? Maybe that's what it was. She looked at him and blurted it out, trying to keep her voice low and failing miserably. "What? Are you trying to insinuate that I would *sleep* with Lex to get an interview?" She regretted it as soon as she said it. She knew that they desperately needed some time alone together to talk things out in order to figure this marriage business out; but not tonight, especially not after what she had just said. She grabbed her satchel from her desk and tried to make a dignified retreat. She had to get away from his eyes. When she looked at him, she could see his heart break.
Clark just stood there. Silent. "Of course not. But," he couldn't just say nothing. "What is your problem, anyway? You've had a chip on your shoulder since the day I met you. You resented the fact —"
"That Perry foisted an inexperienced —"
She twirled around to face him, avoiding his eyes. "What?"
"You are a snob, Lois," he said clearly.
"Well, coming from Mr. Dinkyville, that's really —" She stopped. She could almost hear the shattering that she knew was taking place inside him. As much as she wanted to, she just couldn't let it drop, though, and turned on him, her dark eyes flashing fire, hurt and regret. She just couldn't stop herself. "I live by three rules. I never get involved with my stories, I never let anyone else get there first, and I never sleep with anyone I work with. *This* is business." And so that only he could hear, she hissed, "Don't wait up." With that she stormed up the stairs to the elevator, never looking back. As she stood in the elevator, she realized the implications of what she had just said. She could see the pain in his eyes, unable to look away, as the doors shut. Sure, those were her rules, but now she was married to one of her coworkers. And not only had she slept with him, but she couldn't imagine sleeping with anyone else for the rest of her life.
*How would I know where you're staying?* With a sick, sinking certainty, Clark knew that he had made a big mistake. He had ticked off his wife, Mad Dog Kent. Mad Dog Lane. Whatever.
Lois walked into the penthouse suite that was the home of Lex Luthor. She looked around, impressed with the plush surroundings. She thought it looked suspiciously like an attempt at a romantic dinner. There was a smallish table set for two near a roaring fire. There was no doubt that this was the finest china and crystal in Metropolis. The flatware looked to be actual silver and was engraved with the initials "LL" on them — Lex Luthor. Luthor invited her to sit down and as dinner was served, he made small talk. On one hand, if she hadn't married Clark two nights before, she probably would have enjoyed the romantic undercurrents. And on the other hand, there should have been a golden band to remind the world that she was a married woman. The undercurrents were making her more than a little uncomfortable. And she wasn't here on personal business.
"Your mother and father both died when you were fourteen, correct?" she asked in her best reporter voice, her hand fingering the chain that held her rings around her neck.
Lex tried to envelop her in his gaze, but he couldn't understand why it wasn't working. It had worked with so many other women. "Why don't I just have my office send you a biography?" A servant came and refilled their champagne glasses.
"Well, because I don't want the standard line," she explained, really getting into reporter mode. "I mean, I want to know the real Lex Luthor. What makes you tick, what you strive for. What do you want?"
"Pleasure," he said quietly. "The pursuit of pleasure."
Lois looked surprised. "Hmm," she murmured as she made a note in that notebook that she kept in her purse at all times for reasons such as this.
"Does that surprise you?"
"I would've guessed you'd say power."
"Power is a means, not an end."
"You took over your first big company when you were twenty-one." She met his gaze, not about to be put off so easily. *He has nice eyes, I think, but they are no match for Clark's*. The look was making her even more uncomfortable. She looked down and asked her next question. "There were rumors that that buyout was coerced, is it true that the Board of Directors were given substantial —"
"Was the food not to your liking?" he inquired, effectively deflecting the question.
"It was delicious," she said looking at her half-full plate. "It's just that when I work, I…"
"All work and no play… Is that your credo, Lois Lane?" He moved his chair a little closer.
Lois moved to the far side of her chair, eyeing him suspiciously. "I don't think that we should —"
"Why don't we just enjoy the evening," he began, his voice smooth as silk, as he handed her champagne, "enjoy each other, let down your hair, loosen the tie." Their glasses clinked softly.
"I'm don't wear ties," she pointed out, smiling uncomfortably and feeling very uncomfortable as well, almost like she *was* cheating on her husband. This Lex Luthor was *very* smooth.
"But you're so tense. Why don't you just let your defenses down," he suggested in softly, his hand gently rubbing hers.
His touch set off alarms in her head, and she withdrew automatically. "I think you've gotten the wrong idea about this dinner, Lex."
The smile was gone in an instant and for a fleeting second, Lois saw something in his eyes that scared her. "Look, I hope you don't think that we're here merely because you're a beautiful young woman. It wouldn't speak very well for either of us. You want an interview, right? A scoop?" He closed her notebook and looked directly at her, whatever it was that scared her masked for the time being. "I understand that. Quid pro quo, let me tell you what I want. My talent in life is not making money, it's not juggling companies, it's character assessment, and I sense things about you. Possibilities, potentials… you have the intelligence, the spirit, and the vision to transcend the mundane." He picked up her hand and continued softly. "And, just so there are no misunderstandings — you *are* beautiful."
Lois looked at the table and her half-eaten dinner. A few days earlier she would have been flattered, but now she was just uncomfortable to the point of having difficulty breathing. He could have any woman in the city and it seemed he wanted her. What potential was he talking about? What possibilities did he have in mind for her? It sounded like he wanted to date her, but at the same time she could see him wanting to hire her as well. It never ceased to amaze her when a man found her attractive. Claude had said he did, Clark definitely did, and now this. One of the most powerful men in the world thought that she was attractive. In other circumstances, it would have, and should have, been flattering and yet she was uncomfortable with that thought. She was married. Even though the marriage of her parents hadn't lasted, she believed that marriage was forever. She loved Clark and she had for over ten years. She was married to him and she was happy with that — although she wasn't ready to tell the world — she wanted more than anything to be his wife, completely. *I don't trust him, Lois. Not with you. My wife or not, I don't trust him.* Clark's voice echoed in her head. She shook the thoughts away and as always, she took refuge in her work.
"Lex, I have a story to write… tonight. I should get going."
"No dessert?" he asked.
"Um, no, I never have dessert." She looked uncomfortable as she lied and put away her notebook.
"Really? You don't know what you're missing!" Lex said with a perverse grin that didn't quite reach his eyes.
The Rolls Royce glided to a stop in front of Lois' building. She quickly emerged from the car, not waiting for Asabi, the driver, to open the door. She needed to get away from the close confines of the car. She called a 'good night' to Luthor as she got out and was dismayed to see that he followed her. They stood on the sidewalk, Lois unsure of what to say, and Luthor enjoying a perverse pleasure in her discomfort.
Clark approached silently, an almost murderous look in his eye. He didn't know if he could control himself if Luthor tried anything. He knew he should leave, before things got out of hand, but he couldn't leave Lois with that *snake* either. Dressed more comfortably than either of the two he was watching, he had come from his hotel to make sure she made it home and hopefully get a moment with her so they could clear things up. In spite of the fight, they were married and he felt the need to protect her.
He let out a short sigh of relief when he realized that Lois had come home; in spite of her rules, he had been afraid that she wouldn't come home. He didn't think that she would stay with Luthor, but if she went somewhere else, he wouldn't have been able to find her. He watched as Lex adjusted the lapels of the coat she wore around her shoulders and spoke softly to her, and she smiled uncomfortably at him as she pulled away — Clark could tell that she knew something wasn't right. Then they walked up the steps. Lois went inside first, looking back at him as though willing him to not come in. Lex turned to nod slightly to Asabi before following Lois into the building.
Clark found the alley that was next to her window and floated up. He was desperate to know whether Luthor was just seeing her to her door or staying for a drink, but he couldn't quite bring himself to use his superhearing to listen in.
Lex didn't try to come in, for which Lois was grateful. At least Lucy was home so there was little chance of that happening. They stopped just outside the door to her apartment.
*He's going to kiss me*, she thought, as he slowly leaned towards her. She had been wondering if he would, and wondering what she would do if he did. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and blurted out, "Lex. I'm married." She opened the door and quickly went inside, shutting him out.
"Nice excuse, Lois. Until next time," Lex said softly, disbelief obvious in his voice and he turned and walked away, supremely confident.
She listened to him leave, then made a noise somewhere between a whimper and a cry in her throat. She had blown the perfect opportunity — the one, if any, that reporters ever had — the chance to do the first exclusive interview with Lex Luthor. They had been virtually alone for the whole evening and instead of asking the difficult, probing questions that Lois Lane was known for, she had spent the evening feeling more uncomfortable than she had ever been in her life. What was the newsroom going to say? How could she face them tomorrow? How could she face Clark?
Convincing herself that she heard a noise in the hallway, she opened the door to her apartment, hoping that Clark would be there, somehow knowing that he had been watching. When he wasn't, she slammed it shut behind her, shaking the pictures on the wall. She threw her purse and her keys down on the sofa, and spent some time struggling with her coat, too upset to take it off properly. She sat on the couch with her head in her hands.
Lucy emerged from the kitchen, coffee in hand. "Well?"
"Oh, I blew it! I didn't get the interview!" She was furious — with Luthor for blowing it for her *and* with Clark for letting her go and for being right. But she was angry mainly with herself for getting sucked in by a charismatic man, who though rich and powerful, could never own her heart.
"No," Lucy said, setting down her coffee and trying to work the knots out of her sister's shoulders with a gentle touch of her hands. "Did he ask you out again?"
"No, and I wouldn't go if he did!" Lois stood up, infuriated. How was she ever going to look at Perry and tell him that there was no story, because all Luthor wanted was a date and since she was married, she couldn't let it happen? Well, maybe she'd skip the dating/marriage part, but still. As for facing Clark, that was something that she *really* didn't want to do.
"You wouldn't? Why not? Lex Luthor is the world's most eligible bachelor!"
Clark was still hovering just outside the window, his back to the wall, leaning around slightly in the hopes of seeing and hearing more. Anyone walking past on the street would easily be able to see him. He knew he was being incautious, but he couldn't bring himself to leave just yet.
"Mr. Right could be out there," Lucy told her, her finger pointing to the window that Clark hovered next to.
"Oh, come back to earth, Lucy! This is reality we're talking about." Lois walked to the window. Clark flattened himself even more against the building. Lois looked a little wistfully down at the street, then up at the sky, fingering the rings on the chain around her neck. She spoke softly into the night air. "There is no Mr. Right for me." She sighed. *There is a Mr. Kent. I just hope I haven't ruined everything between us. Does he even want anything to do with me?* Dismissing the thought, she firmly closed the curtains. She rested against the window and whispered, "I love you, Clark Kent," not knowing that he had left silently a few seconds before.
Clark felt disheartened. Lois didn't sound as though she was interested in a relationship with any man, be it a billionaire or a co-worker or a husband. Frustrated and unable to release his emotions, he flew straight up, careful not to make any sound. For a moment he was silhouetted against the moon. He looked down at her shadow as she closed the curtains in the window and whispered, "I love you, Lois Lane Kent." And then he was gone.
Chapter 3 — First Flight
Lois couldn't sleep at all. She tried to call Clark's hotel room but there was no answer. *Where could he be?* She sighed. She had finally found CJ, the man of her dreams. He had turned out to be Clark, the new guy from Smallville who worked at the Daily Planet. She hadn't seen him in ten years and then three days earlier he had walked back into her life as Clark Kent, hunk extraordinaire, reader of Chinese, love of her life. And somehow, two nights ago, they had gotten married. She still wasn't sure how it happened, but she had the paperwork to prove it. It was hidden in the bottom of her drawer of winter clothes. There was no reason for her sister to look there and so Lois had put them in the folds of her favorite sweatshirt. The Smallville High sweatshirt that CJ had given her the day that she drove off, leaving him in Washington, D.C. She couldn't wear it often. Her sister wouldn't understand and she didn't want to deal with her most of the time. Lois moved from her spot by the window and opened the drawer. She pulled out the sweatshirt and placed the papers inside another one. She pulled on the large sweatshirt and walked to the CD player. She turned on the one song that she hadn't been able to listen to in ten years, set it on repeat and curled up on the bed, hugging herself so as to keep Clark close to her. If she couldn't have him, this was the next best thing. It was a poor substitute. She looked at the rings that he had given her and suddenly held them to her lips.
"Oh, Clark. Where are you? Why aren't you here with me?" As the strains of "This Kiss" started floating through the room, she knew the answer. He had wanted to spend the night with her. Not just the night, the evening. He wanted to eat dinner and talk all night. Well, maybe not *just* talk, but spend time with her, not her body. She was the one who had cancelled the plans for the evening. She *had* to get the interview of the century. The Lex Luthor interview. One on one. Her husband's words echoed in her head. *I don't trust him, Lois. Not with you. My wife or not, I don't trust him.* She didn't know what had happened between the two, but she knew that Clark felt justified in telling her that. She really hadn't felt that he was treating her like the "little woman". She believed that he really was concerned about something — that he really didn't trust Luthor. The tears streaked down her cheeks.
"Clark. Come back to me please." She cried until she had no more tears and she fell into a restless sleep.
For his part, Clark couldn't sleep either. He had flown off, not knowing where he was headed. He had circled the globe before he realized that he was almost to Kansas. He decided to stop and see his parents. If anyone would understand, they would. He landed lightly in an alleyway in Smallville and stepped to a pay phone. He knew he was waking them up, but they wouldn't care. After speaking briefly to his mom, telling her nothing except that he needed to talk to her, he went back to the alleyway and took off. Seconds later he landed on the now lit porch of the old farmhouse.
His dad hurried out to meet him. "Son, what are you doing here? Where's Lois? When you called, we figured that you were bringing her here to meet us."
Clark walked into the comfortable kitchen and sat at the table without saying a word. He put his head in his hands and just sat there. He heard his dad sit down next to him and his mother come in a few minutes later. She sat on his other side. She fingered his new wedding band. "Clark, honey, what is it? Where's Lois?"
Clark looked up at her, saw the love in her eyes and wept. She pulled him to her and let him cry in her arms. For long minutes they sat there, Dad on one side, looking helpless, Mom on the other, holding her only son as his heart broke. Finally he sat back, wiped his face on his sleeves. "I'm sorry, Mom. I don't know what came over me."
Martha and Jonathan looked at each other knowingly. There was something wrong with their son and somehow they knew that they wouldn't be able to fix it this time. "What happened? Where is Lois? And why aren't you with her?"
"Well, we had a fight."
Jonathan looked incredulous. "You've been married for what? Three days?"
"Two. We've been married for two days. I've been looking for her for ten years and in two days I've ruined everything."
"What's so terrible that you aren't speaking to your wife of two days?"
"Last night was really rough. We're working on a story together and, well, I told you all about that this morning, right?" His parents nodded. "We left the hotel together and walked to work. We fought on the sidewalk, because Lois isn't ready to tell everyone that we're married. The whole thing was bizarre. I thought I was the best man at someone else's wedding and the next thing I knew, we were kissing and she was looking at me with this horribly frightened look on her face, asking me what was going on. We left the church and while she was freaking out — and believe me — she can freak out." He smiled softly, thinking of her in the white dress, tears running down her face as she realized who he was. "Anyway, she finally figured out that I was CJ. She had been waiting for me, just like I had been waiting for her. It started to rain and we ran to the closest dry doorway. It turned out that it was the Hilton and, well, we ended up staying. She was happy, excited even, that we were married.
"After she fell asleep, I, uhh," he looked sheepishly at his parents, " … straightened up our clothes and the marriage license fell out of my pocket. It's all legal. We are *legally* married."
"Uh, Clark? I hate to interrupt but what about, uh, compatibility?" Jonathan looked uncomfortable at the question.
Clark blushed. "There weren't any problems, Dad. But, anyway, she is still getting used to the idea and doesn't want anyone to know yet. She even put her rings on a chain inside her suit so no one would see them. I told her that I wanted the world to know and before we resolved anything, Jimmy from work interrupted. We didn't get to spend much time together all day because we were working. Perry figured out yesterday that I was married and he's worried that my new wife won't understand me spending so much time with another woman. And Lois doesn't want everyone to think that she is the 'other woman'." He used two finger quote marks around the term.
"I asked her to have dinner with me and figured we could have a nice quiet evening and get some things out in the open. I could tell her my secret and maybe she could help me figure out how to use my powers and keep my identity. She could tell me why she's not ready to tell everyone and maybe we could work it out. She turned me down because she had an interview with *Lex Luthor*." The last two words were spit out with malice. "We fought about it. We both said some nasty things and then she left. They had dinner together, but I don't think she got her interview. I think he just wants to date her. I don't like the man. There is something about him that just isn't — *right*. He took her home and, well, I kinda floated up next to her window so I could see what was going on. Don't give me that look, Dad, nobody saw me. I didn't use my hearing so I didn't hear everything that was said, but I did hear her say that there was no 'Mr. Right' for her. And then I flew off. I've only been married two days and already my marriage is a shambles." He closed his eyes, willing himself not to cry again.
"Do you love her, Clark?" his mom questioned gently.
"She is the only one for me, Mom. I don't really *know* her well enough to say that I love her, but somehow I do. I've loved her ever since I saw her in that hotel lobby. I tried to forget her. I tried to date when I traveled the world, but I could never bring myself to even kiss one of them. The only other woman I ever kissed was Montawaba, the Nigerian Princess. She knew that there was nothing there and she just looked at me and told me that there would never be another woman for me, not after the one I had lost. I don't want to spend my life with anyone but her. The last two days have been the best days of my life and I can't imagine going on without her."
"Then fight for her."
Clark walked into the Daily Planet newsroom. Lois was already there. She was looking studiously at her desk, trying to look busy, but he could tell that she wasn't really working. He walked over to her desk and held out one of the cups of coffee that he was holding, thankful that he had paid attention on the walk to work the day before. He couldn't think of anything else to say, so he simply asked, "Coffee?"
Lois looked up and saw her husband there. He looked like he hadn't gotten much sleep either. She looked at the coffee in his hand. She took it from him and murmured her thanks, looking quickly back at her desk.
Even carefully applied make-up couldn't hide the red, puffy eyes that tore Clark to his very core. He had looked in on her the night before after leaving his parents. Her back had been to the window and he couldn't see what she looked like. She had looked so small and helpless, curled up with a pillow. Now he knew what she had spent her night doing. Crying. He heard the song playing on her CD player and he figured that was what it was. What he didn't know was if they were tears for him or because of him or both. He had to try. "Lois?"
"Yes, Clark." She didn't even look up.
"We need to talk."
"Can we go somewhere?"
"Not now, Clark. Maybe later."
"Lois, Clark, my office now." Lois was never more grateful for Perry's gruff voice. She wasn't ready to face Clark and their issues yet.
They sat down on opposite ends of the couch in Perry's office. Perry leaned on the corner of his desk. "You kids okay?"
"Fine, Perry. I don't know about Clark, but I'm good."
"Clark? Everything okay at home? I know how difficult the first few months of marriage can be and you working such long hours these first few days can't make it any easier. Did you even get to see your wife yesterday?"
"Yeah, Chief. I did. We had our first fight last night and it really took it out of me." Clark was careful not to look at Lois while he talked.
"You look like you've been through the ringer, son. Why don't you take the day off? Go home and straighten things out."
"Thanks, Perry. I appreciate the offer, but my *wife* has to work today, too. I hope to see her tonight, but I don't know. We're still working on the logistics of two very busy people being married."
"You let me know if there is anything I can do. You hear? We'll pick up some slack around here if we need to. Lois, Jimmy, all of us will pitch in to make sure that you get the time you need with your wife."
"I couldn't ask you to do that. Especially not Lois. If there's anything I have learned about her, it's that she works too hard as it is."
Lois felt it was time to jump in. "I am sitting right here. Don't talk about me as if I'm a little girl. I am a grown woman capable of making my own decisions. And if *I* was a newlywed — I would want my husband to find a way to spend time with me." By now Lois was on her feet speaking directly at Clark.
"Oh, so now I'm a bad husband?"
"Maybe. Did you even see your wife last night?"
"Yes, I did. I made sure she got home from work okay, but she didn't want anything to do with me."
"How do you know? Did you ask her?"
"She wouldn't even look at me, much less talk to me."
"Lois, Clark. That's enough. Great shades of Elvis. If I didn't know better, I'd say that you two were married and having your first fight." Perry paused for a second and then shook his head. "If you two can't get along, I'll give you different partners. Can you to shake hands and make up? Clark?"
"Good. Now you two shake on it, and Clark, be careful with her — you've got quite a grip there, son."
Clark held out his hand. Lois just looked at it for a second and then sighed. She reached out and took his hand. She tried desperately not to look at his eyes, but she couldn't help it. His eyes drew her in and they stood there, suspended in time and space for what seemed like eons, but really was no more than a few seconds before Perry interrupted. "That's better. Now you two get back to work."
As they left, Perry shook his head. He had hoped that Clark would be just what Lois needed — a little stability in her world. But if he was already having marital problems, well, being married at all would limit the influence he would have on Lois. He sighed. Maybe someone would come into her life soon. He worked hard to make sure that everyone thought that all he cared about was getting the paper to bed, but deep down he knew that everyone knew that he was a big teddy bear, especially where Lois was concerned.
Clark sat at his desk, trying to concentrate on the information that Jimmy had gotten the day before. He just wasn't able to. He heard Lois take a phone call and it had taken all of his willpower not to listen in. He did hear her tell Jimmy that she was going to check out a lead and she'd be back in time for the staff meeting. He watched her go, wanting to follow, but holding back.
The crowded conference room looked ready to burst by the time Perry walked in. "Okay, sorry about the late hour, folks — there just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day." He looked around suddenly. "Where's Lois? Jimmy? Clark?"
"I assumed she'd be here. I heard her tell Jimmy that she'd be back in time for the meeting," Clark said with a slight shrug, looking to Jimmy for confirmation and beginning to feel a bit worried. Where had Lois stormed off to? She'd been gone a long time, though. Could she have gotten into trouble?
"All right, we're just gonna start without them. Okay, now, the piece on the recent sex change operation in the royal family, I kinda have mixed feelings about this, I —" Perry stopped abruptly when he saw Clark rise from his seat and go to the door. "Kent?"
Clark stopped before he walked out the door.
"Meeting's not over," Perry pointed out.
"It's not like Lois to miss a staff meeting, sir. And she was really upset earlier. I thought I'd go call around, if that's okay."
"Hell of a way to run a railroad," Perry muttered under his breath. "All right, let's see, where was I? Oh yeah."
Clark quickly looked for an empty storeroom or somewhere that he could get out of the building unnoticed. He spotted one and hurried in — it looked like the world had forgotten its existence and it had a window.
Clark sat down on the windowsill with his head in his hands, hoping that Perry wouldn't find him.
"Oh Kent, there you are."
"They told me you were in here. What in the name of Elvis are you doing in here?"
"Well, sir, I'm sorry. Someone is wearing the same perfume as my wife and I just needed a minute to gather myself." Clark didn't know what other reason he would be in an unused closet.
"Did you make your call?" Perry asked.
"No, sir. I'll get right on it," Clark replied.
"Umm, well, I guess I'd better be getting back. Get on that," Perry said, not sure whether Kent was completely sane or not, but empathizing with his wife problems.
"Yes sir," Clark repeated politely.
"When are *you* coming… out of the closet?"
"Soon, sir. Very soon." Clark stood up and put his hands in his pockets, hoping to look comfortable and casual and desperately wishing his boss would hurry up and leave.
Perry turned and left, but he couldn't resist turning to look back once. A gifted writer, that Clark Kent, but talk about strange!
Clark had grilled Jimmy about where Lois might be and the only place he could come up with was an abandoned warehouse near the harbor.
By the time he left the Planet, it was dark. In some ways, Clark was glad. Flying was easier at night. He changed into dark jeans, a black knit cap, a black T-shirt and black leather jacket. He was almost impossible to pick out against the night sky. He flew over the building and immediately his suspicions were proven correct. Using his vision, he saw that Lois was sitting on the floor, tied to a pipe. Two men were standing near her.
Clark landed lightly and kicked open the door. "Let her go!"
The man closest to Clark just turned around and pointed a 9mm handgun at him. "And if I don't?"
"Well, I'll… "
"You'll what?" Clark just stood there trying to figure out what to do next. "That's what I thought. Johnny, grab him and tie him up next to the girl." Clark allowed himself to be tied to the pipe with his back to Lois.
"There, boss. That oughta hold 'im."
"Good. Now get in here." The two men went into the office and sat there. Clark could have tried to hear their conversation, but his wife was talking to him.
"I don't suppose you thought to call the police before you barged in here."
"No," Clark said slowly. "All I could think about was finding you."
"Well, that's sweet, but how does it get us out of here?" Lois was barely able to conceal her bitterness.
"Don't worry. I'll figure something out."
"YOU'LL figure something out? I have been in this kind of situation before and I never needed your help to get out of it."
"I *may* be of some help."
"Not so far. So far all you've done is make trouble."
Clark just sat there, silent. Lois wondered if she had gone too far. The silence lasted long minutes. Finally, Lois had to ask the question that had been bugging her all day.
"Yes, Lois." He sounded defeated.
"Did you really make sure I got home okay last night?"
"Yes. I saw you and Luthor walk into your building."
Lois leaned her head back against the pipe and groaned. No wonder he was mad at her. What must he think of her? "Nothing happened, Clark."
"I know. I didn't really think anything would."
"You were right."
"I was?" Clark sounded surprised.
"Yes. I didn't get the interview. He wanted a date."
"Did he hurt you? If he did, so help me, he'll pay." Clark was getting incensed.
"Calm down, Clark. He looked like he was going to kiss me, that's all."
"That's all?" Clark asked, incredulous.
"I… I told him I was married and went inside. And he left."
"You told him?"
"Yes. What did you think? I'd break one of my rules or something? Just to get a story?"
"No, of course not," Clark replied hastily. "I was afraid that he would try something with you. I couldn't handle it if something were to happen to you," he added softly.
"Clark. Nothing is going to happen to me. I can take care of myself."
"That's just it, Lois. We're tied up in a warehouse… "
"Are you saying this is my fault?"
"…and I *want* to take care of you."
"You are saying this is all my fault."
"No. Lois, it's not your fault. It's not anyone's fault."
"No, you're right. It is my fault. I should have told you where I was going. But then you would've wanted to come with me and I didn't want to deal with you just yet. Now, it doesn't look like I have a choice."
"Is that so horrible? Spending time with your husband is such a chore that you'd rather get kidnapped?"
"No, Clark. I love spending time with you. The last two days have been wonderful — well, until last night. There's just so much to deal with and I don't do well with relationships. All of the ones that I have tried, since you, have been federal disasters. And, if we're really honest with ourselves, we didn't have much of a relationship, just a few, really incredible, absolutely amazing kisses. That's it. We didn't even know each other's last names. *I* didn't even know your real name."
"Lois." Clark tried to say something.
"Don't interrupt me, please. Let me talk. There is so much that we need to talk about. We really don't know anything about each other. What was life like in Smallville? What are your parents like? Will they like me?"
Clark couldn't help interrupting, "They'll love you."
Lois blushed. "Thanks, but no interruptions, remember? There is so much about me that you don't know. My parents' awful relationship, for example. That's why I am always so scared of commitment. You need to know about the few relationships that I have had and why they were so awful. They weren't awful just because it wasn't you. They were awful because of me. *I* make relationships not work. I don't trust anybody — except maybe Perry."
"Do you trust me?"
"Yes, I do. I think I do. You've never given me any reason not to trust you, but that doesn't matter. It's hard for me to trust. If we have this big conversation that you keep talking about, then we have to be open and honest with each other. Completely. I can't be married any other way. Not without total honesty."
"I know, Lois. That's how I feel. That's why we need to talk."
"I know. And I don't think I'm ready for this. I hardly know you, not really, and it is hard for me to be honest with someone I don't really know."
"All you need to know is that somehow, someway, I fell completely and totally in love with you the first moment I saw you in the lobby and I know that we can work anything out."
"You really believe that, don't you?"
"Yes, I do."
"Why? How can you believe that somehow we'll work everything out?"
"I just can. My parents fought, but they always worked things out. For over 30 years now, they've been married and been happy. When my mom found out she couldn't get pregnant, they worked through it and were going to be happy anyway. Then they found me. They adopted me and loved me as much as my real parents must have, but I don't know what happened to them. I have no idea what my real name is or where I'm really from. They found me lying in the middle of a field, abandoned."
"Oh, Clark." Lois' eyes were bright with unshed tears. "I had no idea."
"How could you? I never told you. Like you said, in reality, we've only known each other for three or four days. How does that give us time to know each other? I know a little about my birth parents, but not much. Just that my genetics…" Clark stopped, unsure of how to continue and not wanting to chance the men overhearing.
"What, Clark? What about your genetics?"
"My, uh, genetics, made me, well, different than the other kids."
Lois smiled. "Well, from what I've seen, different is good. You still owe me those secrets!"
Clark groaned. "That's not what I mean. There are other things about me that are different. I can't tell you about it here — not with other people around. But it seems that right now, all we have is time on our hands. Tell me about you, Lois. I want to know everything. I don't even know your favorite color."
"Green. Though on you, I think I'd like," Clark looked thoughtful. "Burgundy. Food?"
"Burgundy? Whatever. Chinese — whatever it was that you brought the other night. You?"
"I like just about anything."
"I saw your kitchen. You like junk food!"
"Well, yes, I do. Anything chocolate!"
"If I could turn around and stare at you I would!"
"Chocolate is a cure all. Whenever I'm upset, chocolate ice cream is always there for me!"
"It's peanut butter Twix for me. Did you eat some last night?" Clark asked quietly.
"No." Lois replied in equally quiet tones. "Even chocolate ice cream couldn't help last night."
"I am *so* sorry, Lois. For everything. For last night. For the fast wedding. For that night at the Hilton. For the last ten years." Clark's voice was thick with emotions.
"Why, Clark? It was all my fault. You wanted to spend last night together and I turned you down. I *had* to get the interview of the century instead of spending time with my new husband. How could I expect you to just sit by and let me go have what turned out to be an attempt at a romantic dinner with another man? And the wedding. I told you that this way is probably better. No hassles with parents or flowers or caterers and bands or any of that. Just me and you."
"And three people we've never seen before. And that Wells guy. He must have been around somewhere," Clark interjected.
"Well, besides that."
"You didn't even know who I was. You thought I was some 'hack' from Smallville."
Lois winced. "That hurt, didn't it?"
"Yes, Lois, it did. When you told me what your dad called me that night in D.C., I could tell that it hurt you as much as it hurt me. You didn't agree with his assessment. But without ever taking the time to get to know him, you made the same judgement about Clark Kent. It made me think that now that I had found you again, I wasn't good enough."
"You will always be good enough in my book. And what do you mean you are sorry about the night at the Hilton?"
"Just that. It shouldn't have happened. Not like that."
"Not like what? We are *married*, Clark. That's what married people do."
"I know it is, but that's not the point. The point is that we have only known each other for a couple of days. We had just gotten married, under very unusual circumstances, and we didn't even know if it was legal or anything yet. And we didn't even question whether it was legal or not. We just did it, without thinking or anything. And we weren't — *I* wasn't — prepared for that."
"You regret it, don't you?" It was Lois' turn to sound crushed.
"Not in the way that you think. I wish that we had known each other first. That it was more of a mind, body and soul kind of thing because we know each other so well that it is just a natural extension of us. Not because we had a ceremony and knew that we enjoyed kissing."
Lois sat silently for a few minutes. "I understand, Clark. That's what I want too, but I don't know if it exists." She took a deep breath and continued. "It wasn't the first time for me, Clark. As much as I hate to say it, and as much as I wish it was, it wasn't."
It was Clark's turn to sit quietly. "That's part of what I mean. What made me so sure that there wasn't someone else in your life? What right did I have to marry you without even asking if you already had someone?"
"There is no one else, Clark. It was years ago and it was a big mistake. I knew that almost as soon as it happened. And you didn't just marry me against my will. Neither one of us knew what was going on. I thought that I was a bridesmaid until you put that ring on my finger. And then I thought it was some elaborate scheme or practical joke on your part. And then, when we kissed, and I saw the look in your eyes, I knew that you were as clueless as I was." Lois sighed. "I need to tell you about it."
"You don't have to. I'm not sure I want to know."
"You need to. It may help you understand why I am afraid of relationships and intimacy. His name was Claude. He was French and he worked with me at the Planet. We started dating and we became, well, intimate. Even while it was happening it seemed wrong, but in so many ways it felt good. Except for you, no man had ever paid much attention to me, much less a good-looking foreign one. Every female at the Planet wanted his attention and he chose me. I was working on a huge story and I finally had a big break. He knew it, and to celebrate, he brought over some wine and I ended up kind of tipsy. We started kissing, and even though I didn't feel right or good about it, we did it anyway. Afterwards, he held me and asked me about the story. I told him most of it and then fell asleep. When I woke up, he was gone and so was my story. He didn't even thank me for my help. When I tried to confront him in the newsroom, he said that I had things backwards — that I had been trying to steal his story. No one believed me, except Perry. He transferred Claude and soon he left the paper all together. Last I heard, he was back in France." By the end of her speech, Lois could hardly get the words out. The tears came fast and furious.
As he listened, Clark could feel his temper rising. He had always had good control of his feelings because he knew that if he ever let them get out of hand someone could get hurt. But this was difficult. This *man*, and he hated using that term, even in his head, had used his Lois. Used her and then left her. That scum didn't deserve to live. Clark resolved to pay a visit to Claude at his soonest convenience. He wouldn't hurt Claude. He knew that, but he could sure put the fear in him. He realized that he had been flexing in his anger and that the ropes had broken free.
"Oh, Lois." He was in front of her, wiping her tears with his thumbs as he held her face. "I would never, could never hurt you like that."
"HEY!!!" The men noticed that Clark was no longer tied up and the one who seemed to be in charge had his gun pointed at Clark's chest again. "Johnny, use the chains on him this time." Johnny did what he was told and this time Clark was chained to a pole where he could actually see Lois.
There were still tears running down her cheeks. For a moment, her husband had looked deep in her eyes and wiped away her tears, swearing to never hurt her. Now he was tied up, no, chained up, far away from her. *Okay, he's not that far, but far enough. At least before, I could feel his arms near mine.* Lois sighed. She looked up, realization crossing her face. "How did you get untied?" she hissed.
"I don't know, the rope must have been weak or something. I just knew that I needed to be over there with you and tried to break them and they broke."
"Well, then, why didn't you untie me, too?"
Clark sighed. He knew that he could have had the two of them out of there as soon as he walked in, but he was grateful for the opportunity to talk with Lois. They needed it so bad and he hadn't figured out how to get out of the mess without revealing his powers to the two men and without scaring her in the process. She was going to be *upset* once he told her his secret and she realized that they could have been out of there right away. "I'm sorry, Lois. I should have, but it wasn't the first thing that occurred to me to do."
"And what was the first thing?" Lois was icy again. She had revealed her innermost soul to him and was now starting to regret it.
"You. Getting to you. Holding you. Comforting you."
"That's a wonderful thought, Clark, but wouldn't it be better if you got me out of here and then you could hold me?"
"Probably. But… "
"You have a lot to learn about being kidnapped and tied up in abandoned warehouses."
"You act like this happens to you all the time."
Lois struggled against the ropes. "Well, more than my fair share I guess. How on earth did you get out of these? There is no way that they are going to give."
"I don't know. They just seemed to give way." Clark sat still for a minute. "Lois, can I ask you something?"
"*Do* you think I'm a bad husband?"
Lois sighed. *We seem to be doing a lot of sighing tonight*. "No, Clark. I don't think you're a bad husband. I haven't given you a chance to be any kind of husband."
Clark seemed to accept that. They sat still for a few more minutes. "Lois, can I ask you something else?"
"Do you WANT to be married to me?"
Lois looked straight at him. "How can you ask me that? Of course I do. Otherwise, the Hilton would have never happened."
"How can *I* ask that?" Clark exploded, missing the end of her statement. "For two days now, we have been trying to hide the fact that we're married."
Lois mumbled, "You don't seem to be able to hide it."
"WHAT?! Someone noticed my wedding ring. That's something that I feel is sacred. I don't ever plan on taking it off, unless it's to clean it or something. But you, you have no problem taking them off and hiding them. Hiding our marriage from the world. Those aren't just rings, Lois. They're a symbol of our commitment to each other, an outward sign for the world so that everyone knows that we *belong* to someone else." Lois opened her mouth. "And don't give me that 'I am my own woman, I don't *belong* to anybody' speech. You know good and well what I mean. This ring says to the world that I am married. That there is someone at home waiting for me every night. Someone that I care about and whose needs I try to put ahead of my own. Someone I want to spend time with. That there is a woman that I want to bear my children and be their mother. There is no greater compliment in my mind. To tell the world that we belong together and that I trust you with myself — all of me. And with my children. I know what gifts children are and how hard it was for my cousins and friends to trust someone with their kids for the first time. But not only do I trust my kids with you, I want my kids to be a part of you. To have your eyes and your spunk and your smile. That ring is the tangible proof that there is someone like that in my life. But she won't even wear my rings in public. From what I can tell, she doesn't want my name. She doesn't want anyone to know that there is someone special in her life." Clark was angry.
Lois was in tears. "You despise me. And I don't blame you." Clark opened his mouth to speak. She could see the regret in his eyes. This wasn't going to be easy. "No. It's my turn. I can't explain it. I know that I love you. I don't know how I know it, but I do. I love the way the hair falls over your eyes when it isn't carefully brushed back. I love your eyes — they're the color of chocolate, you know." She smiled, he blushed, and she went on. "I love looking in them and drowning. I love the way that I see your soul and you see mine just by looking in your eyes. I love your smile — the way it lights up a room. The way that your eyes twinkle as we share that look when Jimmy or Perry is talking about your 'wife'. I love the way your eyes get all squinty when you laugh. I love the looks that all the other women give you because I know that you won't ever look at them the same way. That I am the only woman in your eyes. I love the way that you hold me in your arms at night. The way I feel safe when I am with you. I love the way you kiss me. I love the way that you take the time to help others. I love the way that you try to protect me — not because you don't think I can handle things myself, but because you don't want to see me hurt. You would rather be hurt yourself. I can see that, even though we've only been together for a couple of days. I love how you would never hurt me. I love the way that you can get inside of me like no one else can. No story has ever moved me the way your mood piece did. I love that, for some reason, out of all the women and men in the world, we belong together." She stopped and stared at the ground in front of her for long minutes.
Clark finally started to say something, but she shushed him. "I'm not done. I have to tell you what I hate. I hate being told what to do. I hate being second. I hate being lonely. I hate being wrong. I hate being told that I am wrong. I hate it when you won't look at me. I hate it when I can't look at you. I hate sleeping alone at night. Until yesterday, it never really bothered me, except for when I thought about you. Last night was the worst night of my life. I hate feeling out of control. I hate feeling useless. I hate seeing injustice and not being able to do anything about it. I hate seeing your eyes full of pain. I hate seeing your mouth turned down at the corners. I hate feeling incomplete when you are not around. I hate missing you when you're not around. I hate this tension between us. I hate thinking that we'll end up like my parents. I hate keeping this from everyone, but I have to know that it's going to work before we do, because I can't stand to have people think that there is something that I can't do. I hate thinking that I'll turn into my mother and my kids will hate me. Until the last couple of days, I couldn't imagine myself having kids, even with CJ. I never imagined those kinds of things in my fantasies about him. There was the kiss, the white horse and the sunset and that was it. I can't help but want your children. I hate thinking that you are mad at me. That one day you'll leave and never come back. Just like my dad." The tears were flowing freely again.
"Lois, I'm not your dad. If I ever leave you, for any reason, I'll always come back. ALWAYS. I could never just leave you. I would never hurt you if there was any way I could help it. And you'll make a great mom. I know you will. Because you know what NOT to do."
"I know you'd never hurt me, even if I don't agree with your assessment of my future parenting skills." Lois sighed yet again. "'Cinderella said to Snow White, 'How does love get so off course?' All I wanted was a white knight, with a good heart, soft touch, fast horse, ride me off into the sunset, baby I'm forever yours.' Do we have that kind of love, Clark? I just don't know if we do. Do you know that last night was the first time I've listened to that song in over ten years?"
"I heard it." Clark looked down wide-eyed as he realized what he said.
"How? I'm on the fifth floor and my window was closed. And don't say you came to the door, and heard it that way because Lucy knows it's our song and I didn't want to deal with her last night."
Clark tried to cover. "I don't know how I heard it. I guess the same way I knew you were in trouble. It's just a sixth sense or something, I guess."
"Yeah, right. I don't buy it."
"Well, you shouldn't. Lois, please trust me. I'll explain it all to you when we get out of here. We'll go someplace quiet, without anyone else around, and talk about everything."
"It seems like we've already talked about a lot of stuff."
"It sure has been a night of ups and downs, hasn't it?"
"Clark? Have we actually resolved anything?"
Clark thought for a minute. "I don't know. We got some things out in the open and I think that maybe we have a foundation to work on. All I know is that when I tell you what I have to tell you, the roller coaster ride is going to start all over again."
Lois groaned. "I'm not sure that I want to hear it. As for getting out of here, how do you suggest we do it?"
"I don't know. Who are these guys? Maybe we can use that to our advantage."
"I have no idea who they are or what they want. I came looking for more information based on some of the stuff that Marvin gave us, but there wasn't anything. These two bozos came along as I was leaving. I think they're planning a bank heist or something. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, as opposed to what usually happens when I get kidnapped. Usually they are looking for me."
"I don't like the idea of you getting kidnapped all the time. We're going to have to do something about that."
Suddenly, the door to the office opened and the two men came out. "Torch it, Johnny. We're done here." The one named Johnny poured gasoline all over the warehouse.
"Bye, guys. Hope you enjoy barbecue!" Johnny laughed. As they walked out the door, he turned around. "Can't forget this!" He laughed an evil, cackly laugh and opened a lighter. He threw it onto the ground on the opposite side of the warehouse from Lois and Clark. "Just to give you time to think about what's going to happen."
Lois screamed. "Clark, what are we going to do?"
Clark looked grim and made a decision. "Lois, do you trust me?"
"What? What kind of question is that?"
"Do you trust me?"
"Of course, Clark, but how are we… "
"Close your eyes."
"Close your eyes and don't open them until I tell you to."
"Okay. Sure." Lois didn't sound sure at all. She closed her eyes, but couldn't help peeking through one mostly closed eyelid. She didn't believe what that one eye was telling her was happening.
Clark quickly broke free of the chains and shot straight up, breaking through the roof. He quickly rounded up the two men who were trying to leave, tying them up far away from the warehouse before they even knew what happened. He reentered the building, untying Lois quickly.
"Clark, how did you get loose?"
"I'll tell you later. Are your eyes closed?"
"Of course, Clark." Lois was still peeking out of one eye.
"Close them, Lois." Clark was firm.
"Fine. They're closed." This time they really were.
Clark finished untying her and helped her stand up. "Quick. Put your arms around my waist. Inside my jacket. And keep your eyes closed." Lois did as she was told, resting her head against the strong chest of her husband. Clark wrapped his jacket around her and held her close. "Take a deep breath and hold on. Ready?"
"Ready. I think."
"Hang on." Slowly at first, Clark rose and carried Lois through the hole that he had made in the ceiling on his first trip out.
"Clark?" Lois' voice was muffled in her husband's chest.
"Yes, Lois." Clark tried to prepare himself for the question that was coming.
"Umm, Clark, this is a stupid question, but I have to ask."
"UM, well, are we flying?"
"Yes, Lois. We are."
Lois opened her eyes and realized that they were suspended in midair some distance above the burning warehouse. She screamed. An earsplitting scream that came from the pit of her stomach. She held on even tighter. "Clark!"
"Don't worry, Lois. I've got you."
"But, Clark, who's got you?"
"Just a minute." Clark took a deep breath and blew freezing air onto the fire that was just starting to blaze out of control, hearing the sirens in the distance, knowing that they would find Johnny and his friend.
"Clark?" Lois was sounding more and more scared.
"It's okay, Lois. The fire is out and I've got you. Remember, I won't ever let anything hurt you. Come on, let's go somewhere where we can talk."
"Talk, yes, let's talk."
"Where would you like to go to talk?"
"Um, wherever." Lois didn't sound sure of anything.
"We could go to a deserted tropical island that I know."
"Sure, a tropical island is good."
"Hold on tight and close your eyes. I've never flown anyone anywhere, except my parents on rare occasions and then never very far. I want to make sure that you are okay."
"Did I miss something?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, can everyone else fly and I've just been left out of the Flyboy Club?"
Clark laughed. A deep, full laugh. "No, Lois, you haven't been left out of anything. You've been let in." Clark started towards the Caribbean. "I'll explain everything, the best I can as soon as we get there."
"I can't wait."
They were silhouetted against the moon, for just a moment, when Clark whispered, "This flight will be much better than the one I took last night. I'll slow down before we get there, so you can enjoy it too."
"Um, enjoying it would be nice. Right now, I'm just scared out of my wits."
"You'll get used to it." They flew in silence for a few minutes, the breeze blowing Lois' hair around. The breeze lessened considerably. "Close your eyes, Lois, and hold still."
"Don't be afraid. Nothing is going to happen. Let go of me, just for a second."
"Don't worry, I won't let you go." Lois carefully and cautiously released her death grip on her husband. "Okay, now, just like you were on the ground, turn around, so your back is to me." Clark grinned. "And keep those eyes closed. No peeking."
Lois took a deep breath and turned, pushing her back into the strong chest that somehow held her far above the ground. Her eyes were tightly shut and she waited.
Chapter 4 — Creation
It seemed like an eternity. They hung there suspended in mid-air, above the clouds. The stars were shining and the moon was full and bright. Lois could hardly stand the anticipation. "Clark? Can I open my eyes yet?"
"In a minute." He buried his face in her hair and took a deep breath. "Lois, before you open your eyes, I have to tell you where we are — I don't want to scare you."
"Scare me? I'm already scared, Clark."
"I know. Just imagine yourself, floating above the clouds, the stars and the moon brighter than you've ever seen before."
"And you holding me in your arms?" Lois smiled.
"Always. Can you see it?"
"I… I think so."
"That's where we are. If you think you're ready, open your eyes."
Lois took a deep breath and swallowed hard. "Promise you won't let me go?"
Slowly, Lois opened her eyes. For just a second. Then they were tightly shut again. She pressed back against Clark as much as she could. "I don't think I can do this, Clark."
"If you want me to, I'll land us on that island I told you about and we can do this some other time."
Lois thought about it. "No. I want to do this." She slowly opened her eyes, wider this time and took in the scenery around her.
As far as she could see, there were white clouds, but they didn't look like regular clouds. They looked like the clouds that she saw out the window of an airplane. The ones she thought were sheep when she was just a kid. There were breaks here and there, but she couldn't see the ground. She looked up and saw the blackest sky she had ever seen, broken in a million places by the twinkling of far-off stars. Clark slowly turned around so that she could see the entire view. The moon came into her line of sight, suspended in the darkness as though it was hung just for them.
"Oh, Clark. It's beautiful!"
"Not as beautiful as you, my love." They floated there in silence. "This is my favorite place. Above the clouds, below the stars. It's the one place that I truly feel at home. Even more so now that you're here with me."
"I can see why you love it. But, Clark, as lovely as it is, I'm not sure I believe it. Maybe I passed out from smoke at the warehouse and this is all a dream that I'm having before I burn to death."
"No, Lois. This isn't a dream. This is real."
"I was afraid of that. Clark, I have a lot of questions for you."
"I know. Come on, we'll talk and I'll tell you everything."
Slowly, they descended, Lois giggling a little as they floated downwards through the wet clouds. She saw that they were over the ocean and shuddered a little bit as she realized just what was happening.
"I'll be okay."
"As soon as we land, you can have my jacket." Clark fixed one arm more securely around Lois' waist and pointed with the other. "See? Down there? That little island?"
"Is that where we're going?"
"Yep, just let me make sure it is still deserted." He stopped for a minute, using his vision to make sure that no one was there. "Okay, it's safe." He was glad he had taken his glasses off earlier.
"How do you know?"
"I, uh, well, I used my x-ray vision."
Lois laughed. A long, full, disbelieving laugh. "Right, and I used my heat vision to start that fire."
"No, that was a lighter."
"You're serious, aren't you?"
"If you want more proof, I could tell you what color your underwear is."
"Clark! That's okay. I'll take your word for it."
They landed softly on the beach. "Here, you're shivering. Take my coat." He took off his jacket and put it around her shoulders. His T-shirt was still damp from the trip through the clouds, clinging to him in all the right places.
Lois looked at him appreciatively. "That is how I always imagined you'd look when you came to find me." Her hand rested lightly on his stomach. She shivered again and then sneezed.
"Let me warm you up."
"Later, Clark," she replied, thinking she knew what he was talking about. "Right now, we need to talk."
He laughed softly. "This will just take a second." He looked at her intently and suddenly she felt dry and warm.
"How did you do that? Do you really have heat vision?"
"Yes," he answered simply.
"Oh." She looked at him incredulously and then her legs buckled underneath her and she sat on the sand.
Clark was at her side in an instant. The concern was evident in his eyes. "Lois, are you okay?"
She closed her eyes and pulled the jacket around her a little tighter. "I'm just a little overwhelmed. Who am I kidding? I am a LOT overwhelmed. What is all this? Who are you? What are you?"
Clark sat next to her. "What am I? That is a loaded question." He sighed. "I don't know. I guess I'm human, but I'm not sure. I could be an… " he swallowed hard. "I could be an alien, but we don't know."
"We? Who's we?"
"My parents. They found me in a field, in a spaceship. We never found out where it came from. My mom had been told that she couldn't have kids and suddenly there I was. They weren't about to tell anyone what they had found. It was the height of the Cold War. For all they knew, I was some sort of experiment from the Soviet Union. Or the United States for that matter. Or, as far out as it sounds, I could have been from another planet.
"For the first few years of my life, I was pretty normal. I was never sick and when I broke my arm falling out of my tree house, it healed in less than a week. In elementary, I was the fastest kid in school, but by high school, I had to stop running track because I could actually go so fast that no one would see me. By the time I was in junior high, it was obvious that there was something different about me. I could lift a tractor with one hand. I almost burned down the shed just by looking at it. By my freshman year, I could see through walls. That was when I started wearing glasses. So that I would be careful using my… powers and maybe I wouldn't hurt anyone. In my sophomore year, I realized that I could hear things from across a room. Whispered things. And then around the corner and down the hall. We tested it out and I could hear my mom whispering from almost a mile away. If she talked normal, it was much farther. I hear cries for help from even farther than that. The spring of my senior year, I realized that I could float or levitate. That's how I made sure your dad didn't find me in your room that night. I realized he'd be able to see my shoes from under the curtains, so I levitated just a bit so that he couldn't see them. I didn't even know I could fly then. You taught me that."
Lois looked at him. "Me? How did I teach you to fly? I know that I sure don't know how."
He chuckled. "That morning that you left. After I kissed your cheek, I turned and ran off. I ran faster and faster until the next thing I knew I was flying, above the clouds. It took you leaving to show me how to fly. If I'd been thinking more clearly, maybe I would've followed you so that I could find you later, but whenever you're around, I can't think clearly. I spent my life from about fourth grade on trying to fit in. Knowing that no one could know about me and how different I was. I had friends, like the ones I went to D.C. with, but I could never let them get too close. My dad's biggest fear was that someone would find out about me and dissect me like a… "
"Frog," Lois finished for him. "I heard you talking to your dad, remember? I just didn't know what you were talking about."
"Yeah, like a frog. He passed that fear on to me. My whole life I have lived in fear, never getting too close to anyone, until now. You are the only one who knows about any of this, except my parents."
"Why me, Clark?"
"Ever since I met you in Washington, I knew that someday I'd be able to tell you my secret. I knew that I loved you and wanted to spend my life with you, to hold you and protect you. I would never have married you without telling you all of this under other circumstances. I didn't even know if we would be… well, if we'd be compatible when we got married."
Lois smiled as her husband blushed. "I don't think we have to worry about that anymore, do we?"
"No, not in that way, at least. But I don't know if I can ever give you a family. Lois, you may not see it, but I think you were born to be a mother — not like what you've told me about your mother — but your own kind of mother. And I don't know if I can give that to you."
"That's okay, Clark. *I* don't think that I am cut out to be a mother anyway. And if, one day, we decide we do want kids, then we can adopt."
"But there's so much else that I just don't know. I know that I can stop bullets with my chest or catch them with my hands. I know that I can move faster than the speed of sound and almost as fast as light."
A light bulb flashed in Lois' head. She turned so that she was facing him, momentarily distracted by the profile of her husband in the moonlight, but quickly back on track. "It was you, wasn't it? The man falling who ended up on the platform. You put him there didn't you? You were the streak. That's why you were such a mess. And when you stood up in the conference room because you thought you heard something — you used that hearing thing didn't you? So that you KNEW someone was coming." He nodded, not daring to look at her. "And that's why you took Marvin's death so hard, you thought you could have protected him. I'm right, aren't I?" He nodded again. "And that's how you got out of the chains." Something else dawned on her, realization spreading slowly across her face. "And out of the ropes. And if you can stop bullets, why were you tied up in the first place? You could have gotten us out of there as soon as you showed up, right? Answer me!" Clark just sat there. "Clark, you tell me the truth and you tell me now, or so help me… " Her sentence trailed off leaving him to imagine what she might do.
He took a deep breath and plunged in. "You're right, Lois. I could have had us out of there the moment I arrived. And you're right to be mad at me. I know that it isn't a good excuse, but I didn't want those men to find out about me and I didn't want to scare you. Don't worry, those guys are tied up and I'm sure the cops have them by now. I knew that I could get us out of there before anything really bad happened and that I wouldn't let anything happen to you. If I could do that with out making my powers obvious, I would. If I needed to use them, I would've done that too. As it turned out, I did. And I knew that if we were tied up together, we might get to talk, and we both know how bad we needed — need — to do that. Can you understand that?"
Lois thought for a few minutes. "I guess maybe I can. Someday. I don't know if I'm ready to deal with all of this just yet."
"Would you like me to take you home?"
Lois thought for another minute. "No, not just yet. I want to talk some more. There are things that I want to know."
"Anything, Lois. I'll answer any question you have."
"There's not any kind of precedent for this, is there?"
Clark looked at her. "THAT'S the biggest question you have?"
"No, that's just the first one that popped into my mind. Since I really already know the answer to that one — I'll try something else. What does all of this mean to us, Clark?"
"I don't know, Lois. I'd like to think that it doesn't mean anything for us, except that I can take you to dinner in Paris or bring you chocolate from Switzerland."
"Or take-out from Shanghai?"
"Yeah, that was true, you just didn't believe me. But I know that it changes things for us. I can't just NOT go when I hear someone call for help and I can do something about it. That's the reason I traveled the world — I could never stay in one place too long before someone would start getting suspicious. I can't ask you to do that. It wouldn't be fair. And I can't ask you to stay in Metropolis while I roam the four corners of the globe, waiting for that midnight rendezvous. That's not fair to either one of us, but especially to you. I'm working on a plan, I think. It's not finished and I don't know if it will work. I desperately want it to so that I can help others and still keep my privacy. Without anyone finding out it is me."
"Can you do that, Clark?"
"I don't know — I hope so. Otherwise, there isn't much hope for me to help people and have a normal life."
Lois thought about that for a minute. "What if I asked you to give it up? To give up the flying and the danger and everything else and stay with me? Would you do it? Would you give it all up for me?"
Clark sat still. The thought was new to him. He had never considered what might happen. He never expected Lois to ask him that. "I've never thought about it," he answered honestly. "I guess I thought if I ever found you, you'd understand. I know that it is a lot to ask of anyone. I don't know how I could even ask you to deal with all of this. This is mine to deal with alone. My parents can help some, but other than that this is my own personal burden."
"You haven't answered the question. What would you do?"
Clark sighed. "I don't know. If we weren't married, as hard as it would be to do, I would probably have to say goodbye. I don't think that I could not help people and I want the woman I share my life with to share that feeling. But we are married so that is a moot point. If you really wanted me to, I would give it up. Our marriage is that important to me. YOU are that important to me," Clark finished softly.
Lois moved over to sit close to him and wrapped her arms around him. "You have no idea how much it means to me that you said that. But, Clark, I could never ask you to do that. You have been given a gift. You can help in a way that no one else can and for me to ask you to give that up is more than I could dream of doing. I try to help people in my own way, by writing exposes and trying to stop corruption and violence using my position as a reporter and the power of public opinion. This is something you HAVE to do. If somehow I convinced you that you should give up helping people for me, what kind of person would that make me? I would be withholding from the world someone who could really make a difference. In a big, obvious way. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to say that you would give it all up for me."
Clark looked at her, tears shining in his eyes. "You won't ask me to give it all up?"
"No, I just needed to know what you would say. If this marriage is going to work, I need to know that *we* are the most important thing to you."
"You are the most important thing in my life, Lois. You always have been and you always will be. I would do anything for you, Lois. I love you, now more than ever. I want to spend my life making you happy. I just hope I can. The question is, can you live with me and my superpowers? And anything that might entail? Things could get really crazy and really weird if anyone ever finds out. And what about kids? If we do have kids, will they inherit my powers? Will one of them and not another?"
"Clark, those are questions that we can't answer. There isn't anything that we can do about it right now. Why don't we focus on what we can deal with?"
"And what is that?"
"You are my husband and I love you."
"Are you sure?" Clark turned so that he was facing her and took her hands in his. "Are you sure you want to be married to a freak of nature? Who may not be able to give you children? And if he can, they may not be normal? Are you sure you want that kind of life?"
Tears began to creep out of Lois' eyes as she realized what Clark had to deal with his whole life. The fear of rejection, the weight of being different. Always wondering who he could trust. If he could trust anyone. She looked deep into his eyes. "You are NOT a freak of nature — do you understand me? You are a kind, caring, wonderful man who has been given a gift. One of the best gifts I can think of. And I don't mean your strength or your speed or being able to do all kinds of things with your eyes. What I am talking about is right here." She placed her hand on his chest. "You have a heart for people. You want to help them and it breaks your heart when you can't. And not only that, but you have a way to help them. A way that no one else can. We just have to find a way to make it work."
Clark just looked at her. He moved his hand to her cheek, wiping away the tears. She caught his big hand in her small one and kissed the palm. "How did I get so lucky? No, lucky doesn't describe it. How did I get so blessed with a wonderful woman like you?"
Lois smiled gently. "I never could resist puppy dog eyes and you, sir, are REALLY good at giving someone the puppy dog eyes."
Clark laughed, tension ebbing from his body. "I am, aren't I? I could get just about anything from my mom if I looked at her right!"
"I'll tell her you said that."
"No, you won't."
"How do you know?"
"You know what I do to little girls who tattle?"
Lois smiled a sultry smile and her voice deepened slightly. "I can imagine. Is it anything like what you do to little girls who eavesdrop?"
Clark quickly picked her up with an impish grin, his jacket falling off of her shoulders into the sand. "Nope, not like that at all."
"Clark, put me down." Lois half-heartedly tried to escape, but was enjoying being cradled in his arms. Clark just laughed and somehow managed to take off his shoes and socks. He walked, wife in arms, towards the gently rolling surf. "Clark, what are you doing? You are NOT going to drop me in the water!"
Clark seemed to walk out into the surf. In reality, he was hovering just over it, the waves barely touching his bare feet. "No, I am not going to drop you. I just want to make sure that you understand what I do to little girls who tattle. I take them to a deserted island in the Caribbean and I drop them in the surf."
"So if I tattle, you'll bring me back?"
"That's not the point, Lois."
"Will you?" she demanded.
"I'll bring you back here anytime you want, sweetheart." Before she knew it, she was standing, sort of, just like she had been when they were flying. Their faces were inches apart. His arms wrapped around her waist, hers around his neck hands buried deep in his thick dark hair. There was electricity in the air and they both could feel it. He looked at her and whispered. "Are you sure?" She nodded and he moved towards her. Their lips touched and the rest of the world melted away. The kiss seemed to last an eternity and when they finally pulled away, Lois realized that they were far from shore.
"Clark?" she asked, her mouth millimeters from his.
"Yes?" He could feel her soft breath.
"Were we floating the other night?"
"I think so. I wasn't really paying attention. I had other things on my mind."
"Like this." And he kissed her again, softly and tenderly. This kiss didn't last nearly as long.
"Could we go home now?"
Clark pulled back, away from her, misunderstanding what she meant. "If you want to." He sounded defeated.
Lois instantly realized her mistake. "No, Clark. I mean can we go HOME together and do some more of this." She kissed him again.
Long minutes later, his lips released hers with a groan. "Where is home, Lois? Where could we go?"
"Lucy has a new boyfriend."
"So?" Clark didn't understand.
"So, she usually moves in with her new boyfriends pretty quickly."
"But does that do us any good right now?"
Lois looked a little defeated. "No, I guess not."
"I might have an idea."
"I like ideas."
"We probably won't get to umm, do any compatibility tests."
Lois sighed. "That's okay. I'd really like to be close to you tonight anyway. What do you have in mind?"
"Well, it is still fairly early in Kansas and I know my folks would love to meet you. We could talk to my mom about some ideas to get me a costume or something to wear on rescues."
"Are you sure? They won't mind us just barging in?"
"They were mad at me for not bringing you last night!"
"You went to go see them last night?"
"I needed to talk to them. They understand like no one else ever has, until you. They knew about you the day I got home from D.C. and always encouraged me to follow my heart and try to find you if that's what I wanted." Clark had moved them back to the sandy beach.
"Are you sure they won't mind?"
"I'm sure. We'll stop in Smallville and call them from a pay phone to make sure that they are home. We'll be there in five, maybe ten minutes. Depends on how slow you want me to fly."
"Will they be ready for houseguests?"
"My mom is always ready for houseguests. And there is a double bed in my room!"
"Just a double, huh?"
"Yup, we'll be that much closer that way! Here's what I'm thinking. Does Perry give time of for hazardous duty?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean we spent the night tied up in a warehouse! Would he let us send in a story and take the day off? He doesn't have to know that we are together."
Lois thought about it for a second. "I could get him to do it for me. I'll call him once we get there." She watched him put his socks and shoes back on. She held out her hands and helped him to his feet. He helped her put his jacket on. Now that she knew he didn't get cold, she was more than willing to take it. She put her arms around him and looked at him. "Isn't this how we do that flying thing?"
Clark laughed. "You're getting the hang of it! But we can do this one of two ways. You can hang on like this, or you can turn around and enjoy the scenery. It's up to you."
Lois looked him straight in the eye and said, "I think I like this view better for now!"
Clark laughed again. "Okay, I can fly faster that way anyway. When we set down in Smallville, we'll be in an alley. You just stay put and I'll call my parents and be right back. We'll take off again and be there in a few seconds, okay?" She nodded. "Stay in the alley. I'll show you around town tomorrow, okay?"
"Good girl. Now hang on tight."
"Always." Clark grinned and they shot straight up.
Moments later, they landed in the same alley Clark had been in the night before. He called his parents and asked them if he could come by, just for a few minutes. He had something really important to show them, but that was all he would tell them. He went back into the alley and together they left a moment later. He landed behind the barn at the farm. "Are you ready for this?"
Lois was looking nervous. "As ready as I'll ever be."
"Don't worry, honey, they'll love you. I do." He gazed into her eyes and gave her a soft kiss. "Come on." He peeked around the corner and made sure they weren't watching. Hand in hand, they walked across the yard and up the porch. Standing there, hand on the doorknob, Clark whispered to her again, "I love you. It'll be okay. You ready?" When Lois nodded, he led her into the homey kitchen.
Jonathan and Martha sat at the kitchen table, slightly nervous. After what had happened the night before, they didn't know what to expect. They heard footsteps on the porch and looked at each other, a look borne of spending years together. The door opened and there stood their son.
"Mom. Dad," he began almost shyly. "There's something I want show you." He turned and held out his hand. They saw another, smaller hand slip inside it. "Actually, there's someone I want you to meet." They saw a lovely young woman step up next to their son. He put his arm around her shoulders and she slipped hers around his waist. "Mom, Dad, this is my *wife*, Lois." With a glad cry, Martha ran towards them, followed closely by Jonathan.
The next thing Lois knew she was enveloped in a big group hug, one arm around her husband and the other around the neck of her new mother-in-law. And around them all were the arms of her new father-in-law. She could hear the sobs catching in the throats of them both. For long moments they stood there. Finally, the woman who had been holding her so tightly stepped back.
Martha wiped the tears from her face. "I'm sorry, dear. I hope we didn't scare you." Lois shook her head. "I'm Martha, Clark's mom."
"Hi, Martha. It's very nice to meet you." Lois removed her arm from Clark's waist and held it out to this woman who was responsible for raising such a wonderful man.
"Oh, Lois. We are way beyond handshakes." Martha gave her another quick hug. "And this is my husband, Clark's father, Jonathan."
Lois laughed. "Are we beyond handshakes, too?" Jonathan didn't say anything, but his Adam's apple worked up and down. He paused for just a second and then grabbed her into a big bear hug. Lois laughed again. "I guess so!" When he released her, the four went and sat around the table.
Martha and Jonathan exchanged another one of those looks as Clark moved his chair closer to Lois' and placed his arm around the back of it. Whatever had gone wrong last night was well on the way to being fixed, they hoped. "So, Lois," she began. "Tell us about yourself."
Lois giggled self-consciously. "There's not much to tell. I grew up in Metropolis, met your son in D.C. and spent the next ten years pining away for him. I went to journalism school, got a job at the Planet and a couple of days ago, I married Clark. I almost blew it last night, but I think, I hope," she said looking up at her husband, "that is behind us now." He nodded. "That's all there is to it."
"Do either one of you want some coffee? I could whip some up really quick."
"I'm fine, Mom. I'd like a big glass of milk, if you don't mind. Honey?"
Martha and Jonathan grinned at hearing their son use a term of endearment for this wonderful new addition to their family.
"A glass of milk sounds great, Mrs. Kent."
"Well, now, I'm not the only Mrs. Kent around here anymore. Make it Martha," she looked at Lois almost shyly, missing the look that passed between her son and his wife, "or Mom if you want." She got out two big glasses and poured the milk.
"I'd be honored — MOM!" She gratefully accepted the glass of milk offered and took a long drink. "That really hits the spot. Being tied up in a burning warehouse and learning that your husband can fly makes for a trying night."
"Burning warehouse?!" "Tied up?!" Martha and Jonathan spoke simultaneously.
"Mom, Dad, Lois has, well, she has a knack for finding trouble and this was one of those times. I was there with her and I wasn't going to let anything happen."
"Clark, you tell them the story. I'll call Perry and talk to him." Lois stood up and reached for the phone. She looked guiltily at her in-laws. "Do you mind?"
"No, go right ahead, dear." She turned her attention to her son. "Now, Clark, you tell me what happened. What were you and Lois doing tied up in a burning warehouse?"
As Clark explained to his parents, Lois explained to Perry, though he didn't get quite as many details of the escape. "So, Perry, it's okay if Clark and I take the day off tomorrow? I'll send the story in first thing in the morning. No, I'll let him know. I think his wife," she smiled at Clark, "has the day off too. Yes, I'm sure they'd like to spend the day together! Thanks, Chief. See ya in a couple of days. Have a good night." Lois returned to her seat. "All set. Neither one of us have to go in tomorrow OR the next day. YOU need time with your new wife and since I am your partner… The next two days are ours."
Clark smiled and kissed her softly on the lips. "That sounds perfect." And he kissed her again until he heard his father clearing his throat.
"Son, we are all very happy for you and all, but can't that wait until later?"
"Jonathan! They are young and in love, give them a break! They're newlyweds, for crying out loud!" Lois and Clark both blushed. Martha patted her hand. "You know, it's going to be really nice to have another woman around that I can talk to about my son."
"I'd like that, Martha. He's a pretty amazing guy and I don't mean the whole… " She made a -~> motion with her hand. "thing. He is a wonderful, caring man and I thank you, both of you, for raising such a man."
Jonathan cleared his throat again, his voice husky as he said, "It was an honor and a privilege to raise a son. We couldn't have kids, you know, so Clark was a gift straight from God."
Lois reached over and took his work-worn hands in her own. "Clark told me. He told me everything. I know that you are afraid for him, the whole frog thing, but I would protect him with my life, you know. You don't have to worry about me betraying him."
Jonathan just looked at this amazing woman his son had found. He knew instinctively that he could trust her. "I know, Lois, I know."
"Well, I'm not as used to all this mushy stuff as you three are so, it's back to business for Lois Lane." She stood up. "Do you have a computer I can use?" She looked around, missing Clark's sigh and the look he shared with his parents.
"Honey, don't worry about it. I'll write up the article in the morning. I don't need near as much sleep as you, though I haven't slept in two days, so I may actually need about six hours tonight. But I CAN speed type, you know."
"You can?" Lois momentarily forgot they had an audience. She sat on his lap and looked in his eyes. "What else can you do super-speed?"
Clark also forgot his parents prying eyes, his attention drawn completely to his wife sitting on his lap. "Wouldn't you like to know?"
"I told you that I can get any secrets out of you that I want."
"I look forward to it!" Clark suddenly realized they weren't alone. "Sorry, Mom, Dad."
His mom laughed. "It's okay, Clark. Why don't you show Lois where the bathroom and your room are." Lois yawned. "She looks tired."
"Come on, sweetheart. I'll give you the tour. And, Mom, tomorrow can we work on that costume idea?"
"Sure, sweetie. You two get some rest."
"Thanks, Mom." And with that Clark led Lois out of the kitchen and up the stairs to his room.
A short time later, Lois and Clark were snuggled together in his old bed. Lois sighed a blissful sigh. Clark looked down at her head, lying against his chest. "What's that sigh for?" he said softly.
"I'm so happy, Clark. Even though we can't do those compatibility tests," they both smiled, "we can be together. I never knew how much I could miss being close to you." Her fingers traced circles on his bare chest and played with her class ring she had given him all those years ago. "I never knew that I would feel like I, me, Lois Lane, would NEED to be close to someone. To just lay in your arms is enough — for now." She giggled as he kissed her forehead. "I never knew how wonderful it could feel."
"Lois, there is one more thing I have to tell you."
Lois groaned. "Clark, I'm still recovering from the last thing you had to tell me. I am okay with it, but it is still a LOT to deal with and it is going to take me some time to get used to it."
"This isn't something QUITE that big."
"Well, what is it then?"
"Um, sometimes, in my sleep, I, uh, well, I float."
"You float?" Lois propped herself up on one elbow.
"Yes, float. Like this." Clark levitated about three feet above the bed, taking the covers with him.
"Oh, man." Lois flopped onto her back. "How do I deal with this? How do I deal with a husband who floats in his sleep? Is there a support group for this? I think that I need to see a therapist."
Clark rolled over so that he was floating above her. "Sorry, Lois, but a therapist is out of the question." He looked appreciatively at his wife lying below him wearing his pajama top. He was wearing the bottoms. "My mom will always be there for you, but this isn't something you can ever discuss with anyone."
"I know, Clark. I was kidding. KIDDING! Sheesh! Now if you don't mind, you ARE hogging the covers up there. Get down here."
Clark just grinned. "Yes, ma'am." And he promptly landed on top of her. He heard a muffled sound that he was sure was Lois telling him to get off, but he was enjoying this way too much. "Huh? Can't hear you." He stayed there for a few more seconds and then rolled onto his side. He propped himself up on one elbow and looked at her. "Sorry, did you say something, honey?"
"Don't 'honey' me, you big dope."
"Dope? We've been married for three days and all you can come up with is dope? What about sweetheart? Snookums? Pookie? Snuggle bunny?"
"It's better than dope."
"Depends on how you look at it. You try to smother me, you're a dope. You do something nice and I might call you snuggle bunny."
"Is this nice?" He leaned over and kissed her softly.
"Yes," she murmured against his lips. "This is nice, snuggle bunny." She kissed him again. "Too bad your parents are here."
Clark sighed. "I know." He kissed her again and rolled onto his back. "Come here." Lois did as she was told and they snuggled. Some time later, he whispered, "Good night, Lois. I love you."
"Good night, Clark. I love you, too, dope." They both smiled and were soon asleep.
Martha and Jonathan sat at the kitchen table for some time after their kids had gone to bed. "What do you think, Martha?"
"She's perfect for him."
"I know he thinks so."
"You're still not sure?"
"I don't trust anyone, you know that."
"I know. I'm surprised you trust me and Clark."
"Clark, I trust. You, you couldn't be helped. You are his mother, after all." He softened the words with a smile and took her hand.
"Thank you, Jonathan. I'm honored."
"You should be." They sat in a companionable silence for a few minutes. "Are they going to be okay, Martha?"
"They are, Jonathan. He looks at her and she looks at him, just like we did. Like we still do."
Lois lay still. Something was missing. She just couldn't put her finger on what it was. She rolled over and realized the other side of the bed was empty. That was what was missing. Clark. Suddenly, scents began wafting into the room. Pancakes. She loved pancakes. She decided that it was time to go investigate those smells. Before she could, the door opened and there stood Clark. He smiled at her. "Good morning, sleepyhead."
"Good morning, dope."
Clark shut the door behind him. "No, see, I am doing something nice for you. I am bringing you breakfast in bed." He picked up a rose off of the tray and handed it to her. "For you."
Lois felt tears welling up in her eyes. "Thank you. This is so sweet of you, snuggle bunny."
"Now that's more like it. Now sit up." Lois did as she was told. He set the tray down in front of her. "I hope you like pancakes."
"I LOVE pancakes."
"Good." He cut her a bite. "Here — open up." Lois opened her mouth just wide enough for him to get the fork in.
"Mmmmm, Clark. This is delicious. I'll have to tell your mom how much I love them."
"Lois, my mom didn't make them."
"No, I did. I think my folks are still asleep. They have had two late nights in a row. I got up a little while ago, did the chores and made you breakfast."
"Wow. How long did that take you?"
"Oh, about 2 minutes." He gave her another bite. "It's easy to get stuff done when you do it super-speed."
"I hope that you don't do *everything* at super-speed." Lois licked her lips.
"Nope. Just stuff I want to and I can think of a bunch of things that I wouldn't want to do at super-speed."
"Like this." He kissed her softly and gently.
"Did you write our story?"
Clark sat back. "I bring you breakfast in bed, kiss you and all you can think about is work. Geek."
"Geek, huh? We've been married for four days now. Can't you come up with something better than 'geek'? Sugar? Love bug? Cutie pie?"
"Well, you do something nice and I'll call you, ummm, my little tornado." He kissed her nose. "If you're thinking about work while we're kissing, you're a geek. And yes, the story is finished and sent in. I called Perry, he liked it and we are off for two days. He did say not to plan on the weekend off, but he'd see."
Lois moved the tray. "You are going to get it for that geek remark." She moved over to him, and sat almost on his lap. "I am going to have to kiss you."
"Now, Lois, my parents are still in the next room."
"So I can't kiss you?"
"Why not, dope?"
"Because I'm going to kiss you first, my little tornado." And he did.
Things were starting to get a little heavy when Clark's sensitive hearing picked up the sounds of his parents moving around. He groaned a little as he pulled away. "My parents are up." He rolled onto his back 3 feet above the bed. Lois was now on top of him.
"I think I could get used to this."
"To what? Kissing your husband?"
"No. Floating in midair. Now we better get down and get ready for the day. You promised to show me Smallville today."
"Sure, and maybe we can park behind the Tasty Freeze or make-out in the hayloft later."
"Sounds like fun. Now let me down." A thought occurred to her. "Clark, I don't have anything else to wear."
He grinned a wicked little grin as he lowered them to the bed, careful to avoid the breakfast tray. "So?"
She just glared. "What am I going to wear?"
"I think I still have some sweats from when I was in high school. I was a lot smaller then, and I think they just might fit you. And you already look at home in my shirts." He dug around in his closet and brought out some clothes. "You get changed and I'll see you downstairs in a minute."
"Okay, but first, snuggle bunny, I need another kiss." Clark sat on the edge of the bed and gave her a soft, gentle kiss.
"That's all for now, or we'll never get out of here." Clark gathered the tray and left, shutting the door behind him. He heard Lois whisper.
"I know you can hear me. Now, what would be so bad about being stuck in here with your wife, dope?"
Clark smiled, looked back at the door, groaned, and then headed downstairs.
Martha and Jonathan found Clark and Lois sitting in the kitchen, sitting close and drinking coffee. They were talking quietly. Martha and Jonathan couldn't hear what was said but the two younger Kents blushed when they came in.
"Good morning." Martha leaned over so Clark could give her a kiss on the cheek and squeezed Lois' shoulder as she got her own cup of coffee.
"So, are you making us pancakes, too, son? Or are your mom and I good enough anymore now that you're married?" Jonathan smiled at Clark, knowing how much his son loved to cook, and they never had to worry about something burning.
Clark stood up quickly. "Of course you're good enough, Dad. How many do you want?" he asked as he walked to the stove.
"I'll get some after I finish chores."
"They're done. Sit down." Clark quickly made his parents pancakes. "Here, we've already eaten." He set them down in front of his parents. Lois looked amazed.
"Clark, sweetie… "
"Oh, so I'm 'sweetie' now? What happened to 'dope'?" Clark grinned as he sat down and put his arm around his wife.
"Fine. Clark, you big dope, how did you make those pancakes so fast?"
"Oh, right." Lois rolled her eyes. "Heat vision. How could I forget? It's a good thing you cook — I might keep you around." There was a teasing lilt to her voice.
"Why is that?"
"Because I can't boil water without burning it."
"Well, I guess it will be my pleasure to teach you then, my little geek."
"So, I'm a geek again?"
"You pick on me, you're a geek. You don't and I'll be a little nicer."
Martha just shook her head. "You two sound like an old married couple already." She took a sip of coffee. "These pancakes are delicious, Clark. Have you two figured out where you're going to live yet?"
Clark looked down and Lois looked guilty. Finally, she took a deep breath and explained. "I don't know how much Clark told you the other night, but I am really not ready for this to be common knowledge. Marriage is not something I ever thought would happen to me, even though I've dreamed of CJ — Clark — for ten years now. This is such a shock to me and so new and unexpected. I LOVE Clark, I know that I do, I'm just not ready to tell the world that Lois Lane is married just yet. Basically, we have no idea what we're going to do. My sister has a new boyfriend, so she should be moving out soon. I don't know if I'm ready to live with, let's face it, a virtual stranger full time yet. The lady across the hall from me is moving at the end of the week and they haven't rented her apartment yet. We haven't talked about this yet, but we'd still be close and could see each other all the time until we're — I'm — ready to take the next step and tell everyone. The whole paper knows Clark is married, so until I'm ready I don't think living together would be such a good idea."
Clark just sat silently. He wanted to live with his wife. To hold her every night as she slept. He thought Lois wanted that too, but maybe not. She had said that she missed him two nights ago when they'd been apart and last night she was more than comfortable sharing a bed with him, but separate apartments? He couldn't bring himself to look at his parents. He knew they would be looking at him with concern on their faces. They hadn't caught on to the fact that Lois still wasn't wearing her rings. They were still hanging on that blasted chain around her neck. Maybe he could arrange for it to fall off, she'd freak (he hoped), and then once he found the rings for her, she'd be so happy she'd put them on her finger again. He mentally shook his head. She'd never forgive him if she found out. He just didn't understand how things could be so right, like holding each other as they slept the night before, or kissing passionately as they floated that morning, and then things be so wrong just a short time later.
"Clark?" His mother was talking to him.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Mom. What'd you say?"
"What do you think about living across the hall from Lois?"
"I don't know, Mom. I just don't know." And with that he stood and left the kitchen.
Lois followed him with her eyes and sighed. "I better go talk to him."
"No, honey," her mother-in-law said. "I think this is one of those times when he needs to be alone."
"But I'm his wife," Lois protested.
"Lois, please don't take this the wrong way. We love you and we know you love Clark, but that little speech you just gave doesn't make it sound like you want to be married to him."
"But I do. I really do. I just don't want the world to know yet!" And with that, Lois put her head down on the table and cried.
Martha moved to the chair Clark had just left and wrapped her arms around this new daughter of hers and held her. The look she gave Jonathan sent him scampering out of the kitchen and after their son.
Some time later, Clark and Jonathan returned to the farmhouse. They found Lois and Martha upstairs in the sewing room working on what appeared to be leopard skin.
"Oh, there you two are!" Martha exclaimed. "Clark, go try this on."
"Mom, it looks like a dead leopard," Clark whined.
The look that she gave him was her best no-nonsense-mom look. He knew better than to argue and so he went. He returned moments later dressed in a skin-tight ski suit-type thing with a mask on. "Mom, I look ridiculous!"
Martha studied him for a moment. Lois and Jonathan tried desperately to hide their snickers. "I don't know about ridiculous, but that one just isn't quite right. Here try this one." She pulled out some green material and handed it to him.
"Oh, Mom." But he knew better than to give his mom lip so he went again. This time he came back wearing a silly little cap on his head and a skintight green jumpsuit. "This hat thing is going to fly off as soon as I start to fly. It won't work."
Martha shook her head. "You're right, it won't. Try this one." The next one she handed him looked vaguely familiar in some way. "And you two," she pointed to Jonathan and Lois standing in a corner of the room, "can't you do something more productive?"
Jonathan chuckled and answered for both of them. "No. We are enjoying this way too much!"
Lois would never have admitted it to anyone, not even herself, but she *really* liked seeing Clark wearing those outfits! They hugged all the right places and if anonymity was what he wanted… well, no one would look at his face!
Clark came out this time wearing something resembling a flag. It was red and blue with white stripes on the front. "Mom," he complained, "if I wear this — someone is likely to string me up from a flagpole."
Martha rolled her eyes at him and handed him something that was red and orange. She pointed out the door, her eyes saying, 'go'. He went.
This one had a hood and he changed back into his jeans before he went into the sewing room. "I am NOT wearing a hood! How did you get all of this done so fast, anyway?"
"I've been working on it for two days, ever since you first mentioned it."
"Do they have to be so tight?" Lois giggled. "What?"
She tried to regain her composure as she answered. "Well, no one will be looking at your face!"
Clark just glared at her. She knew it wasn't about the fight they were still having, just the comment, so she didn't take it personally. His mom gave him yet another outfit to try on and he did so, ever the obedient son.
This one was made of electric blue. It had a flowing red cape, matching underwear on the outside and red boots. The belt was yellow. For some reason, it didn't seem quite as bad as the others, but there was still something missing.
"I like the cape, Clark." This came from Lois and seemed to be sincere.
"At least no one will be staring at my backside then," Clark mumbled. "This one might work, I guess, but something's missing."
Martha thought for a minute. She pulled out an old suitcase from the closet and opened it. She brought out a geometric shape, red and yellow, with a letter "S" in it. She spoke softly. "This was with you when we found you in that spaceship. I don't know who your parents were, but I know that they would be just as proud of you as we are. Go change, and I'll sew this on."
Clark did as his mother asked. A few minutes later, he stood in front of them again. This time the shield was emblazoned on his chest and a similar one sewn onto his cape. "I like it." This time it was Jonathan who spoke. "Now, take off your glasses and slick back your hair." After Clark did that, everyone agreed. This was the one.
"One thing, Clark." Lois walked over to him. "I don't know if the world is ready for a superhero. We'll find that out soon enough. But, Clark," she fingered his ring. "I know you are worried about someone finding out who you are and using your parents or me to get to you. If you wear your ring, they'll know to look for someone. They'll know that there is someone close to you that they can use."
Clark looked intently at Lois. "I told you what this ring means to me. I don't ever want to take it off."
Martha came to Lois' rescue. "I know how you feel, Clark, but she's right. You can't let anyone know that you have a secret identity as Clark Kent."
Lois looked up at him. "It would be okay with me, Clark, as long as you put it right back on." She was feeling a bit hypocritical, but she didn't know what else to say.
Clark looked resigned. "Okay. When I'm in the suit, no ring." He sighed again. "I'm gonna go change."
Clark had changed back into his street clothes. Lois knocked gently on the door to his old room. "Come in," he called. Lois walked in almost shyly.
"Clark. We need to talk. Again."
"Can we go somewhere?"
"Sure. We can go for a walk or we could go into town and I could show you around."
"That sounds good, but maybe later. Right now, I think we just need to talk. How about you show me around the farm?"
"Fine." He finished tying his sneakers and stood up. "Let's go."
Together they walked downstairs and into the yard.
Lois started. "Clark, I feel really awkward, like the last three days haven't even happened. I feel like I need to ask if we can even hold hands."
"If you want to." She reached out and took a hold of his hand. "What are we doing, Lois? What is happening — what is going to happen — between us?"
"I don't know, Clark. I am not ready to tell everyone, you know that."
"Why not? Are you ashamed of me?"
Lois stopped and looked at him. She reached out and took his other hand in hers. "No, Clark. I could never be ashamed of you. If anything, you should be ashamed of me. I just can't tell anyone yet."
"Why? Why aren't you ready to tell everyone?"
"I'm just not. I can't explain it. Clark, I can't fail at anything. It's one of my biggest faults. I don't want anyone to know until I am certain it is going to work. I can't deal with anyone knowing that I am a failure at marriage too."
Clark let go of her hands and ran his own through his hair. "Lois, this ISN'T going to fail! Why can't you see that?"
"How can you be so sure?"
"I love you. I want to spend my life with you. I want to have children with you. Isn't that what you want?"
"Yes, Clark. It is."
"Then what's the problem?"
"You don't know my parents, Clark. I've met yours now, and it's easy to see why you believe that everything will work out. My parents are the opposite. They don't want anything to do with each other. The divorce was official almost nine years ago now, but the problems started long before that. My mom spent her days drunk and my dad spent his days in the lab. Neither were there for us or for each other. I don't want that to happen to us."
"So, make up your mind that it isn't going to. Put your mind to it. Anything you put your mind to, you can do and you know it."
"Clark, can't we compromise? Isn't there some way we can make this work without telling everyone yet?"
Clark sighed. He started walking, in no particular direction. Lois fell in step beside him. Soon Clark realized that they were near his old tree house. He helped Lois climb up and then followed her. They sat down, close but not touching. "This was my place. My dad helped me build it when I was a kid. My 'Fortress of Solitude'. It was the place I could come when something was bothering me or when a new power was coming out and I needed a place to go."
"Thank you for bringing me here."
"You're my wife. I want to share everything with you."
Lois started to cry. "Are you trying to make me feel guilty? Because it's working."
Clark moved closer to her and wiped her tears gently. "Lois, I would never try to make you feel guilty. I am just being honest."
"I know. Isn't there some way we can make this work?" Deep down, Lois knew that Clark wouldn't tell anyone if she really didn't want him to, but she didn't want to manipulate him. She wanted him to agree on his own.
"I don't know, Lois. I want to shout it from the rooftops." He smiled, trying to lighten the mood. "I don't want any other guys getting any ideas."
His attempt didn't work. "Like Luthor?"
"I wasn't thinking about him, just men in general. But, yeah, I don't want Luthor anywhere near you."
"I told him I was married, Clark," Lois pointed out.
"So why can't you tell everyone else?"
"What if I do?" Lois brightened with an idea. "What if I tell everyone that I am married?"
Hope was shining from Clark's eyes. "Do you mean it?"
"Slow down, Flyboy. Here's what I'm thinking. What if I tell everyone I'm married, but not who my husband is? We can tell everyone that our spouses are really busy, but since we live across the hall from each other, they know us and they trust us and they are okay with us spending so much time working together."
"I don't know, Lois. Are we not going to spend any time together outside of work?"
"No, we'll spend lots of time together. You can spend most of your time at my apartment."
"What if someone comes by — Jimmy or someone — looking for me while I'm at your place?"
"I don't know. We'll tell them that your wife is working and my husband ran to the store or something."
"Is this the only way, Lois? And why are we going to pay for two apartments? And I don't have any furniture. Why do we need to buy more furniture?"
"We'll just get you something simple. A couch and T.V. and a bed and dresser or something. You'll spend most of your time at my place anyway."
"And what if someone just shows up while we're, kissing or something?"
Lois grinned a wicked grin, hoping that his questions meant he was going for it. "Or something?"
Clark blushed. "Exactly. What do we do then?"
"We'll figure something out. What do you say?"
Clark sighed and looked down. "If that's the only way."
"Just for a little while, Clark. Not long. I promise."
"Okay. If that's what you really want, and you promise it's not for long, then okay."
"I promise, Clark. Now, how about you show me the rest of the farm. I've never seen a real hayloft before." She smiled slyly, stood up and started down the ladder.
Clark sighed again and followed her down. He didn't know if he wanted to show her the hayloft, not when they weren't even going to be living together.
Two days later, Clark was moving his few things into his new apartment across the hall from Lois. The lady had moved out sooner than expected and it was all his. The two days off had been nice, in general. They had never made it to the hayloft, but that was okay with him. They had spent their nights close to each other in his old room, and there *had* been a couple of kisses behind the Tasty Freeze, but nothing serious. And no hickey. Lois still hadn't decided how she was going to tell everyone that she was married. Clark just wanted to tell the world and get it over with and get on with their life together. They hadn't really decided anything major after the talk in his tree house. Just spent time together, learning about each other, becoming something more than married strangers. They had spent a good part of the day before laughing at Clark as he practiced changing in and out of his new suit. There had been some pretty humorous moments. Like when he somehow ended up with his tie on instead of his cape or his cape on instead of his tie. There was another time that his shirt somehow ended up tied around his waist or his cape sticking out of his pants. And the boots. He didn't even want to think about the problems he had with those.
And now Clark was living in a new apartment with little furniture, and it seemed, in some strange way, like even less of a home than his hotel had. At least there he KNEW Lois wouldn't be there, but here, somehow… Well, it seemed like now that he had his own place, she should be here with him. There was a soft knock on his door. He picked up his glasses, put them on and opened it. There stood his wife, as lovely as ever.
"Ready for work, handsome?"
"I don't know. Can you see the suit?" His mom had made several for him the day before and he was nervous that it could be seen through his white shirt. "I thought about changing, but all of my other shirts are dirty. I should have done laundry at my mom's."
Lois looked critically at the shirt and shook her head. "No, you can't see it. Maybe it's your aura thingy." When they had held the suit under a white shirt at the farm, it could be seen plainly. "Remember, *I* get the first exclusive."
"How could I forget? Do we have to go with the name?"
"I picked it out for you."
"I know, but 'Superman'?"
"It's perfect." With that Lois and Clark walked out of his apartment and started for work.
They walked out of the elevator together just in time to hear Perry tell everyone to get back to work. He saw his star reporter and his up and coming one walk down the ramp. Both looked happy, but strangely uncomfortable. "There you two are. It's about time you showed up. Clark, did you get to spend the time with your wife?"
"Yes, Chief. I did. We got to spend the whole time together. It was nice."
"Good. Now get to work."
"Don't you want to know what I did with my two days off, Chief?" Lois figured this was as good a time as any.
"Sure, Lois. What did you do on your two days off?"
"I spent the time with my new husband."
"That's nice." And Perry started to walk off. He made it halfway to his office when he realized what Lois had just said. He turned and said in complete disbelief, "Your new husband?"
"Yep!" She showed him her rings, now back on her finger where they belonged.
"Great shades of Elvis, honey. Why didn't you tell me? I would've loved to have been there!" He gave Lois a big hug. She hugged him back and giggled a little.
"Nobody was there, Perry. Just me and CJ and the preacher. Oh, and Clark and his wife."
He looked at Clark incredulously. "You knew about this?"
Lois answered for him. "Yes, he did. He just moved in across the hall from me, so it worked out well. I couldn't have kept it from him for long."
"CJ?" It finally sunk in. "You mean that guy your new novel is about? The one you met in D.C.?"
"Yes." Lois giggled. "I met him again the other day under very unusual circumstances. And, well, we got married. His boss gave him a couple of days off and we spent them together. So now you have two star reporters," she pointed to herself and Clark, "instead of one. And they are both happily married. Right, Clark?" She punched him lightly on the arm.
"Right. Two stars. Happily married. That's us!"
"Fine. Now get to work!" Perry turned one more time. "What's your new name, Lois?"
"I'm keeping Lane, at least for now."
Perry walked off, shaking his head, and mumbling to himself. "Give her a day off and she gets married! What's she gonna do next time? Give birth?"
Lois looked pointedly at Clark. "Don't let that star thing go to your head, dope."
Jimmy walked up. "Are you just gonna take that, CK?"
"Yeah. I'll let her call me that for now. She's just a geek anyway. She knows she can't win a war of words with me."
Jimmy looked amazed that someone would spar verbally with Lois. He just decided to get out of the way before Lois let him have it. As he started to leave, Lois just smiled and said, "I'll let it go this time." Jimmy turned around stunned.
"What happened to you, Lois?" He felt her forehead. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, Jimmy." Lois tried to turn businesslike. "I got married." She gave Jimmy a warning look as he opened his mouth. "Don't start!"
Jimmy swallowed whatever he was about to say and just said, "Uh, well, congratulations, Lois. Man, you two are both married. Too bad it's not to each other, huh? You'd get to see each other all the time." Lois gave him a look of death. "Right. I'm outta here."
Clark walked towards his desk. "Jimmy, hang on. You get anything about the Sec State while we were gone?"
"Nothing. Not a dang thing. Sorry, CK. But, the space shuttle is going up today. Maybe you could cover that."
"Sure, Jimmy. Whatever."
Lois was at her desk. She whispered so only Clark could hear. "Don't even think about it, dope. We are not covering the space shuttle when Superman is about to put in an appearance."
Clark looked at the email on his computer screen and groaned.
"I can't believe this." Lois and Clark sat in the stands of the space center. "Our first day back and we have to cover a shuttle launch. This is *not* the best use of our investigative skills."
"I know, Lois. But it gives us time to be together away from the office."
"Get real. This isn't like it's quality time alone or anything. We can't hold hands or kiss. There are too many people around and I know a bunch of them, so it's out of the question."
"Still, we're together."
Suddenly, a man appeared at the podium. "Ladies and gentlemen — I have an announcement. I will be taking no questions. Due to an unforeseen situation, the shuttle will not be launched today. Thank you."
Clark and Lois looked at each other. There was a story here. Clark looked intent for a moment. He lowered his glasses and stared at the shuttle. "Lois, I heard something. There's a ticking noise coming from the shuttle. It looks like a bomb. I'm gonna go change and see what I can do."
"Always." With that he was gone.
Moments later, there was a streak in the sky. Someone pointed. "What is that?"
Someone else replied, "Looks like a bird."
"No, it's not a bird. Maybe it's a plane."
Another man used his binoculars to look closer. "No, it's a guy in tights with a cape!" No one believed the guy until they saw him on the big screen televisions that had been set up with close-ups of the launch. There was a man in electric blue with red underwear on the outside of his tights and a flowing red cape. He opened the door and went inside. He came out with what looked like a bomb. Several others followed, including a little girl. Lois cringed as he popped it into his mouth. His cheeks puffed out and he burped. Fortunately for those in the media gallery, they, including Lois, could hear what was going on over the loudspeakers.
"Excuse me." Clark couldn't believe that he had actually burped.
The little girl tugged on his arm. "I like your cape."
He smiled at her. "Thanks. My mom made it for me."
Officials ran up to him, thanking him for his help. The man in charge began to speak. "Ladies and gentlemen, we are sorry to say that, despite the efforts of this nice gentleman, we are going to have to scrub the launch." The disappointed groans tugged at Clark's heart. "Sorry, folks. Once the thrusters have been fired, that's all she wrote. You'll have to disembark."
Clark thought quickly. "Is everything else operational? I mean, the ship just needs help getting *into* orbit, right?" The man nodded. "Have them take their seats and buckle up. I'll take care of it." The man nodded again, not sure what to say. Soon everyone was back in their seats. Clark looked towards the media. "Once I get back, I'll answer a few questions. All set?" When the director nodded, he closed the door.
Lois watched from a distance. She knew her husband could fly. She knew he was strong, but to see him lift the giant transport and fly it into the sky was amazing. Absolutely amazing. Someone near her spoke. "That is one super man."
"Yes, he is," she said, almost to herself. They had already talked about it. She would get the first question at the press conference. Now she could point to this person and say that she got the idea from this other reporter.
Soon the strained necks of the media and other guests were rewarded with a blue and red streak coming at them. It slowed down and landed in front of the microphones in front of the media. "Ladies and gentlemen, I will take a few questions." His arms were crossed in front of him and his voice was a little deeper than normal. Arms waved and questions were shouted. Lois, of course, was one of them. He motioned for everyone to calm down. He pointed to Lois. "Yes, ma'am?"
"Superman… " she began.
She was interrupted by a shout. "What did you say his name is?"
This must be a newbie on the news scene. No one EVER interrupted Lois Lane. Clark tried not to smile as she shouted back. "Someone said that this must be a super man. Do you want to do something about it?" There was no response. "Superman, can you tell us why you're here?"
"Well, Miss… " he squinted a bit as though looking at her name tag. "Miss Lane, I am here to help. I won't say where I am from, or where I stay, but the criminal element needs to know that I hear everything and see everything they try to do. So watch out." He got a curious look on his face. "Excuse me, I hear something." With that, the soon-to-be familiar WOOSH! was heard and he was gone.
The media grumbled and Clark hurried to Lois' side. "What happened? What did I miss?"
A reporter for the Star just looked at him. "You're a reporter for the Daily Planet right?" Clark nodded. "Don't let Perry White find out that you missed the debut of the world's first Superhero."
Clark chuckled and shared a look with Lois. "Somehow, I don't think that will be a problem."
Chapter 5 — Resolution?
Lois and Clark walked along the sidewalk towards the Planet. "What do you think, Lois? Think Perry will know that I missed the debut of the world's first superhero? It seems almost like I was there!" There was a big grin on his face. He had done it. Well, they had done it. He and his mom and dad and his *wife* had figured out a way that he could use his powers and keep his identity. They had passed one big test and the next one was coming.
"Well, if I know Perry, he was watching it on T.V. and will be expecting an exclusive from one or both of us. Think that can be arranged?"
"If you play your cards right, I think Superman could be convinced to give us an exclusive."
Lois stopped and looked up at him. "Us?" She smiled a sexy smile. "I was thinking that he could give ME an exclusive. I could make it up to him."
Clark smiled. "And what would your husband say about that?" he asked conspiratorially.
"I think he'd be fine with it. Especially if it gave me lots of time alone with… "
Clark tilted his head to one side. "Superman."
Lois started walking again. "Exactly. Superman."
Clark stopped her. "No, Lois. Someone is calling for Superman. I gotta go. I'll meet up with you later." He ran into the alley, changed and headed off.
Lois sighed. She hoped this wasn't going to be a pattern. She walked slowly towards the Planet, rolling over in her mind how she was going to write up this first article on Superman. And her mind also turned over just how she would be able to extract information from him later that evening. And she smiled.
Clark walked into the newsroom and found Lois sitting at her desk, typing furiously. He sat on the edge of her desk. "Sorry, some kid wanting to see if I really existed."
Lois rolled her eyes and quickly executed a few keystrokes. "I sent you my first draft of my story on Superman. Tell me what you think."
"I think that you and I need some time alone tonight and you can, uhh, interview Superman." He grinned.
Lois blushed. "I'd like that."
"LOIS! CLARK! My office now!" Perry called out his door.
They hurried in and sat down on his couch, careful not to sit too close.
He wasted no time. "Now listen up. You two were at that shuttle launch. Was this Superman guy for real?"
Lois and Clark shared another one of those looks. Lois answered for both of them. "Well, I don't know what Clark saw, but I saw a man lift the shuttle transport into space after swallowing what looked like a bomb. He wore blue and red and had this long cape. He was real. That's all there is to it."
"Well, you two are my best team. I want to know everything about this guy. Why is he here? What does he want? Is he an alien? Is he getting ready for an invasion? Is he… "
Clark cut him off mid-sentence. "Chief, I usually read people pretty well and it seems to me that he only has good intentions and when he decides to tell us the rest of that, he will."
"Well, I don't want to wait for him. Find him and get the interview."
"Actually, and I haven't told Lois this yet, but I stopped at a bookstore on the way from the launch and on my way back, I ran into him. He is giving us, me and Lois, an exclusive later tonight."
"Well, hells bells, son. Why didn't you say so? Tell me where and we'll have a photographer there."
"Uh, Chief. He said it was just supposed to be me and Lois. Only two or no interview."
Lois jumped in. "I'll take some pictures, Chief. Then we can run them with our story. The first Superman exclusive."
"Sounds good, kids. Now get your story from today in, pronto, and then you two head out. Spend the evening with your husband, Lois, and with your wife, Clark, and then get me that interview!"
"Sure thing, Chief," said Clark and they left.
An hour and a half later, story sent in, Lois and Clark walked into her apartment. Lois laughed at something Clark said as she turned the locks.
"What do you want for dinner, Clark?" Lois turned to see Lucy folding clothes into her suitcase, television on in the background. She started. "Lucy? What are you doing here?"
Lucy looked past Lois to Clark. Her eyes widened in admiration. Who was this hunk her sister had brought home? "I'm packing. I told you that I met a new guy and that I'd be moving soon. Where have you been and," she turned to Clark and stuck out her hand, "have we met?"
"No, I don't think so. I'm Clark, Lois' partner at the Planet." He shook her hand. "Nice to meet you."
Lois jumped in. "Clark just moved in across the hall. He and his wife are having dinner here and then we have an interview to do." She didn't look at Clark for fear her eyes would give her away. She realized that she was going to have to find a way to hide her rings from Lucy.
Lucy looked disappointed. "Wife? You're married?"
Clark looked uncomfortable. "Yes, I, uh, we just moved in across the hall. I better go see if she's home." He made a quick exit and shut the door behind him before Lucy could see how nervous he was. He hated lying to people.
He went to his apartment and sat down on his ratty new couch. It wasn't much, but there wasn't a point in buying something nice when hopefully he'd be moving in with Lois in a few weeks. He needed to wait a few minutes before he went back across the hall to tell Lois and Lucy that his wife had called and she was busy working and wouldn't be joining them for that dinner.
"WHO WAS THAT?" Lucy barely waited for Clark to shut the door before she exploded on her sister, hurrying after her into the bedroom.
"Just a minute. I have to go the bathroom." That wasn't really true, she just needed to hide her rings. She found her chain that she had taken off the night before, slid the rings on it and put it around her neck, saddened that she really couldn't keep them on. She flushed the toilet to keep up the charade. As she exited, she saw Lucy sitting on her bed. "What?"
"Who is he? How do you know him? Why didn't you meet him before he got married? Does he eat like a bird to keep that body? And where have you been for the last few days? If he wasn't married… " Lucy couldn't stop the questions from tumbling out.
"His name is Clark Kent. He's my new partner at work. I did meet him before he got married. He was my escort on Friday night and he and his wife eloped after the ball. No, he eats like a pig. Lots of junk food, lots of chocolate. I've been out of town and what if he wasn't married?" Lois challenged. "I think I've answered all of your questions; now let's see what we can make for dinner."
"But, Lois… "
Lois cut her off. "End of discussion. He's my partner." *At work and in life — as soon as I'm willing to tell everyone,* she thought glumly. They went into the kitchen and started looking through the refrigerator and cabinets, praying to find something that would work for dinner. They heard a knock. Lois called, "Come in!"
Lucy, on the other hand, hurried to answer the door, wanting every moment to look at this new neighbor, even if he was married. "Come in, please. I don't know what we're going to do for dinner but we'll figure something out." Lucy laughed nervously. Her sister really didn't have a knack for cooking. She looked behind Clark curiously. "Where's your wife?"
Clark shifted on his feet, uncomfortable with the lies. "She, uh, has to work tonight."
"Really?" Lucy was standing a touch too close. "What does she do?"
"She," Clark struggled to keep his composure, "uh, she… "
He was interrupted by the newscaster. "And in today's biggest news, the world's first superhero. Superman… "
Lucy immediately grabbed the remote and turned up the volume. "Hey, Lois. Do you believe this guy? A superhero?"
Lois walked in from the kitchen planning on sharing a look with Clark as she did. She had to pick her jaw up off the ground. He had changed from his suit into a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. It was basically the same thing he had worn on the farm for two days, but this particular shirt was a little more form fitting than the loose ones he had worn at home. She couldn't wait to get her hands on him. Lucy's repeated question snapped her out of it. "Yes, I believe that he's a superhero. Clark and I were there. And, somehow, Clark got us an interview tonight."
Lucy was obviously smitten with the man in tights. "Now that is really a super guy. Maybe you need to make him fall for you, sis."
Lois smiled at Clark, but he was looking down at his hands, still barely inside the doorway. She tried to steer the discussion away from the superhero. "You said your wife has to work?"
Clark snapped out of his reverie and looked at her. "Yes, my wife has to work tonight."
Lois sighed. Now to get rid of Lucy. "Luce, there's nothing here to eat. I just ordered pizza. Aren't you moving tonight anyway?"
"Yeah, Jimmy's gonna be here in a minute." She was still enraptured as the clips of Superman ran over and over.
There was another knock on the door. Clark turned around and opened it.
"CK? What are you doing here?"
"Jimmy?" Lois couldn't believe her ears. The gig was up. Jimmy knew she was married.
Clark quickly sized up the situation. He might not agree with his wife's decision to keep their marriage a secret, but he wasn't going to watch her get hurt either. And Jimmy could do that. "Hey, Jimmy, I need to talk to you real quick. Out here." And he pushed Jimmy into the hallway. "Listen. Lois' family doesn't know that she's married. You and me and Perry are the only ones who know."
"Oh, right. Okay. Mum's the word. Now, can we get Lucy's stuff so we can get going?"
It was Clark's turn to be caught off guard. "You're Lucy's new boyfriend?"
Jimmy looked sheepish. "Yeah, I'm Lucy's new boyfriend. Isn't she great?"
"I just met her."
Jimmy looked around. "Which apartment is yours? Is your wife home?"
Clark sighed and pointed. "No, she has to work tonight. We better get back. Lois and I need to get something to eat before we interview Superman."
"Right. You guys get to do the big interview. Way to go, CK."
"I was just in the right place at the right time." He turned to open the door. "And remember not a word to Lucy about Lois being married."
Lois was still stunned that Jimmy was Lucy's new boyfriend. The two had left half an hour before and she was still talking about them. "I mean I love my sister and I love Jimmy, but together? I don't know. Lucy doesn't do well in long-term relationships. None of us Lanes do. I don't want her or Jimmy to get hurt. I know that he really likes her and she really likes him, but this is actually kind of ridiculous. Two people that I care about are… " She wasn't able to finish her sentence. Her lips were suddenly otherwise occupied.
Clark had grown tired of her endless tirade and stopped it the best way he knew how. He kissed her. Softly at first, and then more intensely. She wrapped her arms around him, caught up in the moment. After a few moments, he pulled away.
"Wow!" was all she could say.
"You were babbling," he answered softly.
"If I babble again, will you kiss me like that again?"
"Why babble?" And he kissed her again. He picked her up and carried her towards the other room. As he set her on the bed, they were interrupted by a knock on the door. Clark groaned as he pulled away. "Pizza's here."
"So, I'll get the door." He tucked his shirt in as he headed towards the door. He paid the man and turned to find Lois hadn't followed him out of the bedroom. "Honey, dinner's here."
"We'll heat it up later."
"Lois. Come on. Let's eat and write our story and then we'll have some fun."
"Party pooper." Lois walked out of the bedroom, straightening her hair. "You are just a big dope."
"Dope? That kiss didn't mean anything to you, geek?" Clark sat down at the table and opened the box.
Lois stood behind his chair and put her arms around him, her face close to his. "The kiss was great, snuggle bunny. Making me eat pizza when I'd rather be kissing you makes you a dope." She kissed his cheek and sat down next to him. She reached across, brushing against him, for a slice of pizza.
Clark swallowed. She had no idea how much he had wanted to stay in the bedroom with her when the pizza came. And now, her being so close to him, was a test of even his incredible willpower. For some reason he couldn't really explain even to himself, he didn't want to take that next step again until they had straightened everything out, but he couldn't say no to her if they weren't interrupted. And so he had answered the door, grateful for the way out. He didn't know what she would think of that. Well, he did. She would think it was ridiculous. He could just hear her. *We're married, Clark. We don't need to wait until we are ready to tell people that we are married to spend some* and her voice would get low and seductive, *real quality time together.* He sighed. He didn't know what to do.
"Oh, I'm sorry. What'd you say?"
"I asked you when I was going to get that exclusive interview with Superman."
"Right, later. We'll do it later."
She set down her slice of pizza. "Clark, what's wrong?"
Clark sighed again. "I don't know, Lois. This just doesn't feel right."
"Eating dinner with your wife doesn't feel right?"
He stood up and started to pace. "No, it's not that. I love being with you. You know that. It's just the hiding and the lying. It makes all of this seem, well, wrong somehow."
Lois looked at him. "Clark… " He tipped his head to the side.
"Sorry, Lois. Mudslide in California." He kissed her quickly. "I gotta go. I'll be back as soon as I can." He changed quickly and flew out the window.
Lois looked at her pizza. "Bye, Clark."
Clark didn't make it home until late that night. Lois had fallen asleep on the couch. When he flew in the window, she didn't even stir. He picked her up gently, carried her to her room and carefully covered her up.
Clark looked at her, lying there, so still and sweet. She looked so beautiful and peaceful with the moonlight shining on her face. He sat on the bed next to her and put his head in his hands. In some ways, he wanted to take his suit off, dirt and grime and all, and lay down next to her, holding her in his arms. The other part of him knew that they — she — had decided not to live together yet. They hadn't discussed it, but that would seem to imply that he slept at his own apartment. No overnights. That was 'dangerous' and they might get caught. He kissed her forehead and whispered his "I love you" and left quietly.
He made his way to his own apartment. He turned on his laptop and while it was booting, he took a shower. For the longest time he stood under the hot water, thinking about his life. Less than a week before, he had been in Israel and then decided it was time to move on. He had been close to getting caught, so he'd had to leave. He'd decided to come to Metropolis, the home of the only woman he had ever loved. He had dated, but none had affected him like that one woman. Well, she'd really been a girl at the time. He had been eighteen and she had been sixteen. All he'd known was that her name was Lois and in less than 24 hours they had shared some amazing kisses. After that, there had been no one else for him. He had known that she lived in Metropolis and that if he never found her, then he would spend his life alone. He'd had no idea that he would meet her again within 3 hours of landing here. And 36 hours later they were married. Unusual circumstances, to be sure, but that first night had been amazing. Everything had been perfect that night and that night only.
Since then things had gotten so complicated. Lois didn't want to tell anyone that they were married. He had told her about his powers and she still wanted him. That was good. That was very good, but it hadn't changed things. She still said that she wanted to be his wife, but she wasn't willing to make it public. She wanted to spend as much time together as possible outside of work, but it seemed that all she wanted to do was be physical with each other. He had *really* enjoyed their wedding night, but he just wasn't ready for that again without a full commitment. He just hoped that he would be able to exercise his self-control without hurting her.
He sighed as he toweled off. He dressed and speed-typed Lois' interview with Superman.
Lois woke up when Clark flew in through her window. She lay there waiting for him to wake her up, thinking about how nice that would be. He didn't wake her up. He just put her to bed. It seemed like he wanted to stay, but all he had done was kiss her good night. On the forehead. After he left, she just lay there thinking. Wondering what took him so long to get back. Wondering when she'd get her interview. Wondering when she'd get to be with her husband again. Their wedding night had been amazing, there was no doubt about that, but they hadn't been together, physically, since. Lois sighed. She knew that something was holding Clark back. She could tell. Before they had been interrupted by the pizza man, she knew. She didn't know what it was. Maybe he was rejecting her until she decided that she was ready to tell everyone. She started crying softly, unsure of what to do.
Clark heard her. He couldn't help it. He was in tune with her and her sounds in a way that he had never been before. Maybe it was being so intimate with someone that made it easier for him to pick up her heartbeat and her breathing. And her crying. He walked across the hall and knocked quietly on the door. There was no answer. He slowly opened the door and walked in. She was definitely crying. He walked into her room and, sure enough, she was curled up on her bed, holding on to his old sweatshirt like her life depended on it.
"Lois? Honey, what's wrong?"
Lois just cried. Clark gathered her in his arms and held her close, whispering softly into her hair. Long minutes later, as she seemed to calm down some, he tried again.
"What is it, honey? What's wrong?"
Lois tried to speak through her sobs, but it wasn't easy. "You… you didn't come back." The sobs started anew.
Clark was stunned. He had come back as soon as he could, and he didn't think that was the real issue.
"I'm here, Lois. I came as soon as I could. What else is wrong?"
"No… noth… nothing."
"Lois. I know you better than that. What is it, my little tornado?"
It was more than Lois could take. Finally, she blurted it out. "And you… you… don't… want… me."
"What? Lois, look at me." He moved so that he was looking in her eyes. "How could you think that? Of course I want you. You have no idea how badly I want you."
"You do?" Lois wasn't sure she could believe him.
"Of course, honey." His voice lowered. "You are irresistible."
"Then why haven't we… "
Clark sighed. "We really haven't had that many opportunities."
"But you wanted to eat pizza. And you didn't even wake me up when you came in."
"You were asleep. Lois, I want to be with you as bad as I hope you want to be with me. You have no idea how hard it was for me to go open that door and get the pizza."
"Then why did you?" Lois was still crying.
Clark wiped her cheeks with his fingers. "Because." He sat back against her headboard and pulled her close to him. "Remember, I told you in the warehouse, that I wanted it to be more than just physical?"
"Well, I'm just not ready for that yet. I feel like we are getting to know each other. And we have gotten to know each other much better in the last few days, but we aren't ready to commit fully to everything yet. Until then… " he let his sentence trail off.
"You mean that *I* am not ready to commit fully."
"No, I mean that we are not ready. I want more than anything to spend all of my time with you, but you're not the only who is scared. I am scared, too. This is HUGE. It's bigger than huge. It's colossal. And the more I think about it, the more scared I get. You're not ready to tell everyone and that means that I'm not ready. Whatever we're in, we're in together. Always."
"Do you really mean that, Clark? You're scared, too?"
"Of course. Marriage is a big step, even for people who have been together for years. And we haven't. We've only been together for what — less than a week now? And we got married 36 hours after we met and you couldn't stand me at the time."
"Oh, yeah. You forgive me for that?"
"You forgave me for letting you be tied up for hours, so I guess I will."
"Thanks. That reminds me, when do I get that interview with Superman?"
"You already did."
"Yeah, it's typed up on my laptop."
"What about pictures?"
"Superman had just come back from that mudslide and he said no pictures."
"Ah, I see."
"Lois, it's almost two o'clock. You need to get some sleep."
"Clark, do we ever resolve anything in these little talks of ours?"
Clark laughed. "I don't think so." He kissed the top of her head. "But I wouldn't trade them for the world."
"Me either. And Clark, thank you for talking to Jimmy in the hallway."
"Anything for you, my love."
Thursday and Friday went by rather quickly for both Lois and Clark. Perry kept them hopping covering all kinds of stories and was impressed with how they both seemed to get close to Superman so quickly. They seemed to get information than none of the other news outlets could and that made Perry a happy camper. The other papers and even the television shows were insanely jealous that the Planet had the first Superman exclusive and seemed to be getting more all the time — even if they were just a quote or two about a rescue. Perry was so pleased that he was even willing to give his two star reporters the weekend off.
His happiness over the Superman stuff was only part of the reason. It was rare that he would give them the weekend off when they had just had two days off, but he knew better than just about anyone how difficult marriage could be. He tried to give Clark the weekend off and Lois Monday and Tuesday, but they wouldn't hear of it. Clark refused to take the weekend if his partner was working. He said he wasn't sure that his wife would be home much anyway, so he may as well work. Finally, Perry just gave up and gave them both the weekend off, telling them to spend as much time with their respective spouses as possible. He sat in his office watching them finish up their latest story and shook his head. Something funny was going on. Give him enough time and he'd figure it out.
Late Friday afternoon, Lois and Clark sat on the couch in her apartment. Her head rested on his chest and his arms held her close. The television was turned to what was, ironically, called the Superstation.
Lois looked closely at the host. "Isn't that they guy from that one show?"
Clark looked. "Yeah, I think so. He played a superhero, I think."
"Well, I have my own superhero." They watched for a few minutes. "You really believe all this stuff?"
"No, not really. I thought this show was on Wednesdays."
Lois shrugged. "Who cares?" She took the remote and turned the T.V. off. "I'd rather watch you anyway — you're cuter."
"So, my little tornado, what do you want to do this weekend? It is our one-week anniversary, after all."
"So true, and that is why I want to spend it with you. Not Superman, not your parents, just you."
Clark kissed the top of her head. "That sounds perfect. Where do you suggest we go to get away from it all?"
"You promised to take me to that tropical island again."
"And since we don't really want to go anywhere where we have to check in… "
"Could you make us a little hut or something for us? Real quick? Using that super speed or something?"
Clark grinned. "I thought you didn't want Superman."
"I don't. I want you and ALL of your talents — just no suit."
"I see. I suppose something could be arranged. You'll have to pay me, of course."
Lois sat up and turned so that she was facing him. "What kind of payment do you take? American Express? Visa?"
"No, but don't worry. I'll come up with something."
Lois voice was soft and sultry. "I bet you will." She kissed him softly. "How's that?"
"It'll work for a down payment."
"Only a down payment?"
"Yup. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a hut to build. I'll go do that and you pack. Bring whatever you need because I don't want to have to come back because you forgot your swimsuit or something."
"I need a swimsuit?" The look on Lois' face was pure innocence.
Clark turned bright red, but then he smiled. "I guess not. But you might want to pack one, just in case some one crashes our little party." He kissed her, extracted himself from her embrace. He gave her another quick kiss. "I'll be back in a few minutes. Pack."
"Clark, before you go." Clark stood next to the window. Lois walked to him and put her arms around his waist. She looked up into his eyes. "Clark, I know that we are both scared about this relationship and everything that is going on. I just want to say that I don't want there to be any pressure this weekend. Physically. If something happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't. More than anything, I just want to spend some time with you. Alone. Uninterrupted. You and me time. Time to talk and work it all out and to get to know each other. If we start kissing, and either one of us wants to back off, for any reason, no hard feelings and no guilt trips. Okay?"
Clark looked relieved. "That sounds great. Thank you. For understanding what we both need out of this weekend." He kissed her, not quite as softly or as quickly as the last time, but without the demanding passion that neither were ready to face. "I love you, Lois." He stepped back. "Now, off to build that hut, and if there's no pressure, you really better pack that swimsuit."
Lois smiled. "I know. Now get." He got, spinning into the suit as he flew.
Twenty minutes later, Lois was sitting on the couch, bag packed, waiting impatiently. Superman appeared in her window. "What are you doing here?"
He stepped inside and spun around. There stood Clark. "What do you mean, what am I doing here? I came to get you."
Lois sighed. "I meant the you in the suit."
"Well, I can't go flying around in my street clothes. You ready?"
"Yes, but I didn't pack you anything."
"I'll be right back." Clark went to his apartment and speed packed. Thirty seconds after he walked out Lois' door, he was back. Bag in hand. "I'll take these and be back for you in a second." He gave her a peck on the lips and left.
This trip only took about two minutes and he was standing in front of the window again. "Are you ready, my love?"
Lois stood in front of him. She wrapped her arms around him and laid her head against his chest. "Isn't this how we do that flying thing?"
Clark just grinned and took off.
Minutes later they landed on the beach of the little deserted island. Lois didn't want to let go of Clark, so she took half a step back and looked up at him. She leaned in to kiss him.
Clark had other plans. "Ah, not so fast, honey. We have other things to do first." He removed her arms and changed into a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. He turned her around. There, on the beach was a table set with candles and dinner for two.
"Clark. What's all this?"
"Dinner, for you. I thought you'd be hungry."
"When did you do all of this?"
"You really think it took me twenty minutes to build a hut?"
"No. Did you make all this yourself?"
Clark looked down, slightly guilty. "No, I flew to a little place that I know in Italy. They make the BEST pasta primavera there." He pulled out her chair. "Your dinner awaits." Lois sat down and Clark quickly joined her.
They ate in companionable silence, broken only by the surf and an occasional comment. Once they finished the dinner, Clark brought out a delicious looking chocolate cake.
Lois groaned. "Oh, Clark. I don't think I could eat another bite right now."
"Well, then we'll save it for later." He stood and held out his hand to her, bowing to her. "May I have this dance?"
"There's no music, Clark."
Clark just smiled. "Since when does that stop me?" Then he lowered his glasses and looked off into the distance. Suddenly, music began floating through the air. "May I?"
"Of course. But, Clark, where is the music coming from?"
"There's a stereo over there. It's rigged so I can use laser vision to turn it off and on and stuff."
"Wow! Is there anything you can't do?"
Clark grinned. "I'll never tell!"
Lois stood and Clark pulled her into his arms. "I love dancing in your arms," she sighed.
"This isn't dancing."
Clark smiled and looked down at the dark head resting against his chest. "No. This is." And he floated about a foot off the ground.
Lois' eyes were wide, just for a second, and then she looked up at her amazing husband. "Will you ever stop surprising me?"
Clark looked deep into her eyes and said softly. "I hope not." Lois laid her head back on his chest and they continued to dance.
An hour later, they sat on the sand. Lois laid back and closed her eyes, letting the light breeze from the ocean flow over her. "I am so happy right now, Clark."
Clark lay next to her, propped up on one elbow. He looked at her, bathed in the moonlight. "I'm glad." One finger traced her cheek. "You are so beautiful. I can't believe that I was lucky enough to marry the most beautiful woman in the world."
Lois, eyes still closed, smiled. "Keep talking."
Clark laughed softly. "Okay. You are not only beautiful, but intelligent and talented and amazing and wonderful and brilliant and… can I stop now, or can I go on forever?"
Clark laughed again, his hand still caressing her face. "The way the moonlight is shining on your face makes you look like an angel. Your eyes are amazing and your smile lights up any room. You are energetic and vivacious and exciting and the only woman in the world who could have stolen my heart with just a few kisses."
"I stole your heart?"
"In a way. I hadn't planned on giving it to anyone just yet, and then you were there. And with one kiss, I was a goner. It was all over, that's all she wrote, case closed. I was yours forever and always. I still am."
"Good, I don't want any other women staking a claim on you."
"You have nothing to worry about. When you are old and gray and wrinkled and stooped, you will still be the most beautiful, amazing woman in the world to me."
Lois' nose wrinkled a little bit. "Old? Gray? Wrinkled and stooped? I don't know about you, but I don't ever plan on doing those things."
"Well, they say that every time you laugh, it adds a year to your life."
"Then you'll have to keep me laughing."
"Oh, I will. Don't worry, I will." He stood up and picked her up in one smooth motion. He started walking towards the ocean.
"Put me down, Clark." Lois playfully swatted at his chest. "You put me down or I'll… "
"You'll what?" They were over the ocean now. "Well, if that's what you really want, I'll put you down."
"Don't you dare, Clark. If you drop me in the ocean, you'll regret it."
Clark just grinned. He looked down to make sure the ocean was deep enough where they were and then he dropped her, careful to make sure that she wouldn't get hurt. He stood there, hovering over the waves, waiting for her to come up.
Lois surfaced, sputtering and spitting water out of her mouth. The water came to just above her waist and she stood there looking at Clark. He looked so smug, standing there above the waves. Lois took a deep breath and dove under the water.
Clark looked around, not using his x-ray vision, wondering where she had gone. He didn't notice when a hand reached out of the water and for his ankle. He was caught completely off-guard and he was quickly under the water as well. Fortunately for him, and unfortunately for Lois, he didn't have to breathe for twenty minutes at a time. He found her and took her in his arms. He stood up, arms around her, lips on hers.
The waves crashed around them as they lost themselves in the kiss. Clark picked her up and carried her towards the shore. As they neared the beach, he laid her down gently. As he lowered himself down on top of her, the waves continued to wash over them, but they didn't notice. There was nothing, no one, in the world but them.
How long passed, they didn't know. They were completely lost in each other, kisses coming one right after the other. The kisses that started so passionately continued to escalate until, as one, they pulled back. They looked deep into each other's eyes, equally out of breath.
Clark lifted himself up a little bit and just looked at the beautiful woman lying there. He asked himself for the millionth time how he got so lucky. He leaned in and kissed her softly, gently. She responded in kind. After long moments, he pulled back again. He rolled over, leaning on one elbow, the other hand resting on her stomach. "Wow. I don't think I have ever been kissed like that."
Lois reached up with one hand to caress his face, still slightly out of breath. "Me either. And to think, we are married, and we can do that whenever we want."
"I think I like that idea." Clark leaned over and kissed her again, a soft, gentle brush of the lips. She responded by sneezing on his face.
"Oh, Clark, I'm sorry."
He wiped his face with the back of one hand. "It's okay. I'll just make you pay for it later." He helped her up. "Now let's get you out of those wet clothes. Come on."
"Out of these wet clothes, huh? I thought there was no pressure." She looked at him slyly.
Clark had the good manners to blush. "You know what I mean. Come on and I'll show you the little place that I built."
They walked into the interior of the island. There nestled among some trees stood a little cabin. As they neared, Clark picked her up. "I am going to carry you across the threshold again, if that's okay with you."
"Any excuse for you to hold me is okay with me."
Clark stopped. "Lois, we don't need any excuses. I can hold you any time you want, for any reason or no reason at all."
"I know." And she sneezed again.
Clark carried her into the hut. It was one large room with a table and chairs, some cabinets, a dresser and a king size bed.
Lois looked around. "Not much for privacy, is it?"
Clark chuckled. "I didn't know we'd need a lot of privacy. At least not from each other."
Lois grimaced. "What I really need is a shower. I'll never get all this sand out of my hair."
Clark grinned. He led her to a little door she hadn't noticed earlier. Inside was a small shower, with a rope hanging down. "This is from a spring on the little hill in the middle of the island. I made sure to build below it and I ran some hollow bamboo from the stream to here. Just pull on the rope," he demonstrated, "and out comes water. It drains out this hole here and into the ocean. But there is no hot water heater, so the temperature depends on the time of day. Right now it will be cold," he warned.
"That's okay, but there still isn't much privacy."
"I know. I'll go and get us some wood for a fire while you shower and change, honey." He pointed to a fireplace against one wall that she hadn't noticed before and then kissed her on the nose. "I'll be back in a couple of minutes."
Lois watched his back as he left, noticing how his still-wet T-shirt and shorts clung to him. She found a large towel and quickly showered and changed clothes. By the time Clark returned, she was going through one of the cabinets looking at the provisions Clark had brought.
Clark stopped and his heartbeat quickened. She was wearing what was meant to be a sleep outfit — a pair of cream short shorts and a matching top that bared her midriff when she stretched, like she was doing to see what was in the cabinets. He shook his head to clear it and continued on his mission. He put the logs into the fireplace and soon, with the help of his heat vision, there was a fire roaring. He made sure her back was turned and he spun into some dry clothes. Since she was going for the unintentionally sexy nighttime look, he did the same. Well, he hoped that's what it was. He went to tend the fire.
Lois heard him finish spinning and knew it was safe to turn around. Her breath caught in her throat as she saw him standing there. He wore black silk shorts and a matching shirt that hung unbuttoned around his shoulders, showing off his perfect stomach and chest. She was going to have to try really hard to remember that no pressure promise.
Clark smiled as he heard her heart rate increase. He had achieved what he was going for. He remembered how she looked stretching into the cabinet. He was going to have to try really hard to remember that no pressure promise.
They awoke the next morning as the sunshine began to stream through the windows that Clark had placed around the room, as well as the skylight that was over the bed. Lois woke first and sighed contentedly. Her body was intertwined with her husband's and she was only mildly disappointed that they were both still fully clothed. *Well, not fully. I'm glad I took Clark's shirt off before we went to bed. It was warmer that way.* She smiled as she remembered the passionate kisses that led to her taking his shirt off.
After he had changed, they had sat in front of the fire. They had talked about what life had been like growing up. The talk had been interspersed with a few short, and not so short, gentle kisses. One of those kisses had turned out to be not so gentle. Things had gotten really hot. Clark had floated them to the bed and she had taken his shirt off. Somehow, that action had stopped things for both of them. Neither could have explained it, but the timing just wasn't right. They had stopped kissing and just lain close to each other. Clark had floated up to open the skylight and they fell asleep in each other's arms, content.
Lois looked at her husband lying so close to her and placed a gentle kiss on his jaw line. He opened his eyes just enough to see her.
"Good morning, beautiful."
"Good morning, handsome. So what is on the agenda for today?"
"This." He kissed her forehead. "And this." He kissed her nose. "And this." He kissed her lips, softly. "What else do we need?"
Lois smiled. "I don't know about you, but I'm hungry, though I like the agenda that you have planned, too."
"I don't really get hungry. I could probably go for days without eating, but I enjoy it too much."
Lois rolled her eyes at him.
"But I enjoy this more." And he kissed her again, a probing, but controlled kiss.
Then her stomach rumbled. "Sorry," she mumbled into his lips.
He pulled back and smiled. "Don't worry, I'll make you some breakfast."
Two hours, a big breakfast and lots of kisses later, they were lying on the beach, drinking in the sunshine. Clark wasn't sure what he had expected, but he was pleasantly — or was it unpleasantly? — surprised to see that Lois was wearing a fairly modest black one-piece. He had figured she'd bring something a little more revealing.
Lois saw him looking at her and smiled to herself. She *had* brought some more revealing swimsuits, but decided she wasn't going to put the pressure on either one of them just yet.
They spent the rest of the morning sunbathing, taking a dip in the ocean and just generally enjoying each other's company. They laughed and talked and learned more and more about each other.
Clark flew to Paris to pick up their lunch. Lois used the time to explore their little island. There was a wooded area and a little hill with the stream that Clark used to make their shower. Other than their hut it really was a deserted island. It wasn't very big, just big enough for the two of them. And that was fine with her.
The rest of the weekend passed in perfect bliss for the couple. They spent more time talking than anything else. Usually they were swimming or walking or sitting in front of the fire while they talked.
Sunday night, they sat in front of that fire again. "Clark, we can't hide this forever. In fact, I don't think that we can hide it much longer at all." She leaned back into her husband's strong chest.
"I know. I think that Perry suspects something. He's smart."
"He was one of the best reporters the Planet ever saw. I'm surprised he hasn't figured it out yet."
"So what do we do?"
"He won't tell anyone without talking to us first and if I ask him, he won't say anything if we don't want him to."
Clark sighed. "Lois, this has been the best weekend of my life. There is nowhere that I would rather be than right here, holding you in my arms. But if Perry's hasn't figured it out, he will soon, and others will follow. I'm surprised Jimmy isn't suspicious. He may be a copy boy, but he's a smart kid."
"How much longer, Lois?"
"I don't know. A couple more weeks? End of the month at the latest."
Clark just sat there.
"Is that okay?"
"If that's what you want. This weekend has been amazing. I feel like I really know you now — that we really are soul mates like I thought ten years ago. And I want the world to know."
"I know, Clark. And we will tell the world. Soon."
The next week was a busy one. Even though they were partners, Lois and Clark didn't have much time together, even in the evenings. Superman was busy and by the time both of them got to Lois' apartment in the evenings, Lois was so exhausted that Clark had to carry her to bed a couple of times. There had been no pressure over the weekend and, while they enjoyed kissing and spending time together, they hadn't pushed and nothing happened. The week was too busy, and they were both too tired, for them to really contemplate spending that kind of time together.
Lois received several comments about her new tan early in the week. She was able to convince everyone that she had gone away with her husband to the Caribbean for the weekend without anyone getting suspicious. The newsroom thought Clark and his wife had spent the weekend holed up in their apartment.
Perry knew better. He thought that he had figured out what was going on. Lois and Clark were acting strange around each other. They didn't have much time together, but when they were working on a story, they were just a touch too close, their smiles a touch too bright, their eyes a touch too soft. By Friday afternoon, he knew he was right. Usually, it wouldn't have taken him so long, but they had both been busy and out of the office quite a bit, and not always together. He took a deep breath and decided it was time for one more experiment before confronting them with what he thought he knew.
"LOIS! CLARK! My office. NOW!"
Lois and Clark looked up from their desks and looked at each other. "What now?" was the expression on both of their faces.
They sat on the couch in his office again. *Just a touch too close again,* thought Perry. "Here's the deal, kids. You both have done a great job this week. Those Superman exclusives are out of this world. I don't know how you two do it. But," he held up his hands to stop the protest that was coming. "I know you won't ever tell me how you two have gotten so close to the superhero so fast. Tell you what — and if anyone tried to say that you didn't have to beg for this and I gave it willingly, I'll deny it — take the weekend off and spend it with your spouses." He watched carefully. Both of their eyes lit up and he could tell they were avoiding looking at each other. He was right. Well, he'd give them their weekend alone before he talked to them about truth and honesty and how important it was in any relationship — be it a marriage or a working one. "Now, get out of here, you two." His gruff voice covering up the emotions that were starting to well up inside.
Lois and Clark did as they were told. Soon they were walking down the street.
"He knows, Lois."
"He didn't say anything."
"I told you he wouldn't."
"Why didn't he?"
"He probably wants us to have a relaxing weekend before he lowers the boom."
"Maybe." They walked in silence for a few minutes. "What do you want to do this weekend? Go back to the island for our two-week anniversary?"
"Sounds like a good plan to me, but I was thinking maybe we could spend it with your parents. They'd love to have us — you know that — and I'd really like to get to know my new family better."
"Are you sure? You don't want to spend the weekend alone?"
Lois smiled up at him. "There will be plenty of time for alone later. We have our lives together."
"True. And Mom did say last night that she wanted us to come as soon as we could. She always wanted a daughter, you know."
"She told me."
"Well, it's settled then. As soon as we get home, you pack and I'll call mom."
"Good." Lois was pleased. She needed to talk to Martha anyway, and over the phone just wasn't the way to do it.
Two hours later, they were finishing dinner with Jonathan and Martha.
"Clark, could you help me finish some work in the barn?" Jonathan asked. He was a very astute man, even if he was a farmer without much experience with city women, and he thought that Lois needed some time with Martha. He also knew that his son wasn't aware of it. Whatever it was.
"Sure, Dad. Just let me clean up real quick." With that Clark stood up and turned into a blur. Seconds later, the table was clean, the dishes were done and he was kissing his wife on the cheek. "Be back in a little bit. Come on, Dad."
Lois watched as they left the room. She shook her head in amazement. "He really is going to be handy to have around."
Martha laughed. "Giving him extra chores wasn't really much of a punishment in high school unless we made him do them without his powers. Taking the car away didn't work either — he could run faster than the car could take him anyway. Thank goodness he was 18 before he learned to fly!"
Lois laughed with her, but quickly turned sober. "Martha, there's something I need to talk to you about. Would Clark eavesdrop, do you think?"
Martha looked surprised. "No, honey. He never uses his powers for anything untoward. The only way he would eavesdrop would be if he was listening in on some crooks or something." Lois dropped her head and stared at her hands resting on the table. "What is it, Lois? What's wrong?"
And Lois poured her heart out to her new mother-in-law.
The next day, Clark spent time helping his dad out around the farm while Lois and Martha went into town. The four of them spent the evening playing cards and board games. Clark spent most of it embarrassed by the stories that his parents were telling about him.
"Mom," he groaned after one particularly embarrassing story about him learning to use his powers. "Lois really doesn't need to know EVERY thing about my childhood."
Lois was laughing too hard to tell him that she wanted to know all of these things. Finally, she calmed down. "Clark, this is priceless. Of course, I want to know everything! More, Martha, more!"
Martha was laughing herself. "No, honey. It is time for us to scoot up to bed. We're not as young as you. We need our sleep." Martha kissed her son on the cheek and hugged Lois. "We'll see you in the morning."
"Night, son. Night, Lois." Jonathan followed his wife up the stairs.
Lois sat on Clark's lap. "Well, is it time for all old married couples to go to bed?"
Clark wrapped his arms around her. "We may be married, but we are NOT old. What do you suggest we do?"
"How about a little of this?" She kissed him softly on the lips.
"I like that idea," he murmured and kissed her back.
Lois tried to keep kissing him, but was stopped by a yawn.
Clark looked at her with concern. "You're tired. Come on, let's get you to bed."
Lois yawned again. "I like that idea. No hidden meanings, just sleep. I need sleep."
"Yes, you do." He picked her up and carried her upstairs. He pulled back the covers and laid her down gently. He kissed her forehead. "Go to sleep, little tornado. I'll be in a few minutes." Lois just nodded, already well on her way to dreamland.
Clark smiled as he covered her up. He went downstairs and finished getting the house ready for the night — putting out the fire and turning out the lights — and then he sped up the stairs to wrap his arms around his wife as she slept.
Lois was the first one awake the next morning. Though she had dozed off early, she hadn't slept well. She tossed and turned, grateful that Clark had chosen this night to float in his sleep so that she wouldn't disturb him with her restlessness.
He was still floating above her when she woke up for good. She carefully left the room, needing to use the facilities.
A few minutes later, she took a deep breath and opened her eyes. She looked at the stick in her hand.
There were two pink lines.
Chapter 6 — Revelation
Clark woke slightly when Lois left the room. He floated there, eyes closed waiting for her. It was still fairly early; maybe she'd come back in. He listened for her. She was in the bathroom, just like he thought, and it seemed that something wasn't right. He'd give her a few minutes to come to him. If she didn't, he'd go to her.
He heard the door open and Lois sat on the bed. "Clark," she said softly. "Are you awake?"
Clark rolled over so he was looking down at her. "What is it, honey?"
"Will you hold me, Clark? Hold me and let me float with you?"
Clark floated down next to her and took her in his arms. She buried her head into his chest and held on tightly as he floated them above the bed.
Lois couldn't hold back the tears. Her sobs were muffled in Clark's chest, the tears wetting his bare skin.
Clark was worried. What could make Lois this upset? He held her and placed soft, gentle kisses on her hair and forehead.
Long minutes passed and Lois seemed to calm down, the sobs coming farther and farther apart.
Clark's voice was muffled in her hair. "What is it, Lois? What's wrong?"
Lois didn't look at him, but held out a hand.
Clark took the little stick that lay there. He didn't know what it was. On one side were two little windows. In each window was a pink line. "I don't know what this is, sweetheart. What does it mean?"
"It means that you were worried about all that compatibility stuff for nothing."
"I'm pregnant, Clark."
"WHAT?!" Clark looked at her. He raised a hand to her chin, tilting her head so that she was looking right at him. "What do you mean, Lois?"
She looked into his eyes. "It means that I'm pregnant."
"We're… we're… having a baby?" Clark couldn't believe what he was hearing. His wife was having his baby! He let out a whoop. "You're sure?" He sat up, in midair, and pulled Lois into his lap.
"Are you okay with this?" Clark asked softly.
"I don't know, Clark. I mean I will be. I could never consider an abortion or anything if that's what you're wondering. Besides, this isn't just my child. This child is yours, too. And I know how much you want a family. And I know that we have problems still and that we wouldn't have chosen to start a family this way, this soon, but now that it's happening, it will just take some getting used to." Lois took a deep breath and put on a brave face.
Clark kissed her gently. "I do want a family. And there is no one in this world who I would rather be the mother of my child." Clark placed one hand protectively on her stomach.
Lois rested her head on the broad shoulder of her husband. "I'm glad you're glad. You realize this means that you get what you want."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that we'll have to tell everyone that we're married to each other."
Clark rested his cheek on her forehead. "Are you sure?"
"Yes. We'll tell Perry first thing Monday, and the rest as it feels right. And we'll get rid of that apartment of yours and you can spend your nights…"
"With you in my arms where I belong?" Clark finished for her.
"Are we going to tell my parents while we're here?"
"Your mom already knows. Well, she knows that something was wrong. That's what I talked to her about the other night. Yesterday, when we went into town, I bought a pregnancy test. And since I'm sure your parents heard that little outburst of yours, she probably knows."
It was finally starting to hit Clark. He was going to be a daddy. He held Lois tightly, his eyes filling up with tears. "You're going to have a baby. I'm going to be a daddy." His voice was incredulous. A thought hit him. "You mean that even though we only… you know… once, you're pregnant?"
Lois smiled, safe and content in the arms of her husband. "It only takes once, snuggle bunny. And it was pretty 'super'." Lois grinned an evil little grin.
Clark threw back his head and laughed loudly. Once he calmed down, he repeated softly, "I'm going to be a daddy."
Clark floated them down to his bed and sat up against his headboard, holding his wife — and his *baby* — close to him. They talked in soft tones. "Lois, you realize this is going to mean a lot of changes, for us and not just telling everyone that we're married."
"I know. Lots of things are going to change. I'm going to change. I'm going to blow up like a balloon and soon I'll look like a beached whale."
"You'll always be beautiful to me."
"Thanks, Clark," she said ruefully. "I don't know if I buy it, but we'll see."
Clark wrapped one arm more firmly around her and his other hand played with her wedding rings. He kissed her hair. "Lois, I love you and I'll still think you're beautiful when you're nine months pregnant. Are you okay with all of this, sweetheart? I mean, really okay? You were crying pretty hard there."
"I know. It was just the shock of it all. I mean, I knew I was a couple of days late, and I felt kind of funny, but I didn't really expect to be pregnant. I just figured it was stress or something. Pregnant was your mom's idea. When we were talking the other night, while you and your dad were in the barn, I mentioned it in passing. She suggested I might be pregnant. Like you said, we've only been together once, and even though it was pretty super, it wasn't something I really considered."
"Well, neither one of us expected to be doing that kind of thing that night and neither one of us had any… protection to use. At least I didn't. It never even occurred to me. It never occurred to me to ask if you were on any kind of birth control."
"Protection didn't occur to me either. And I wasn't on any kind of birth control, because deep down I knew that no guy could match up to CJ in my mind and so it wasn't really an issue. And to be perfectly honest with you," Lois smiled, "I wasn't really thinking about birth control. I was too busy trying to unwrap my wedding present."
Clark laughed softly. "And I was too busy enjoying being unwrapped. But, Lois, are you happy about all of this?"
"I think so, Clark. It is kind of a shock and until I met you a couple of weeks ago, I couldn't imagine having kids with anyone, even CJ. But now… now… I want this baby. It is a part of you and that is all that matters. It'll take some getting used to, and things won't be easy, and we'll have to move, but it's all going to be okay. I know it is."
"Clark, there's barely enough room for the two of us in my apartment, much less three of us. And I'd like to get settled into a new place before the baby shows up."
"That's probably a good idea. But remember, all of our things can be moved and arranged and put away super speed without you lifting a finger."
"You know, Clark, one of these days, we're going to have to try some of those things that you don't like to do super speed."
"What things?" Clark asked innocently.
"Things like what got me into this position in the first place."
"Tonight. We'll leave as soon as it's dark and head straight home and put this new mommy straight to bed."
Lois turned so she was facing him. She gave him a kiss that left them both breathless. "As long as I don't have to go right to sleep." And she kissed him again.
By the time Lois and Clark made it downstairs, Jonathan and Martha were already there, sitting at the table drinking coffee.
The elder Kents exchanged a look as their son and his wife entered the kitchen. The two were holding hands and looking very happy. Lois still had tear-stained cheeks, but her smile was real. Martha gave her a questioning look and Lois gave a barely perceptible nod of her head. Martha squeezed Jonathan's hand.
Jonathan cleared his throat. "So, what's new with you two this morning?"
Martha laughed. "Jonathan, I love you, but you are about as subtle as a whack upside the head!"
Lois grinned, Clark blushed and Jonathan replied, "Well, I don't see you asking."
"Fine. Are we going to be grandparents or not?" Martha demanded.
Lois and Clark shared a look. Clark, reading what her eyes were saying, nodded.
Martha and Jonathan were both out of their chairs in an instant. Martha held Lois close while Jonathan rested his hand on Clark's back.
Jonathan was fighting to hold back tears. "Congratulations, son. I know that this is what you've always wanted."
Clark gave his father a big hug, struggling with his own emotions. "Dad, I'm going to be a dad."
Next Clark was in his mother's arms. She made no attempt to stop the tears coming down her face. "I am so proud of you; so proud of the man that you have become. And so happy for you and your wife and your baby." He stood there listening to his mother and letting her do what she needed to do — hold her son and marvel at the miracles of life.
Jonathan had given Lois a hug and a gruff, "Congratulations," and the two of them stood, watching the mother and son share a special moment.
Tears welled up in Lois' eyes as she realized that this could be her in twenty-five years. She could be the one holding her child, finding out that she was going to be a grandmother, and she realized that as much as she loved her work and her independence, there was nothing compared to having a family. A family was what would really make her life complete. She could be happy with her job and her husband, but, seeing the joy of her mother-in-law and how happy she was, Lois reached an epiphany. Without a family, what was the purpose of the job and the rest of her success? It would ultimately be empty and hollow without people to share it with. Realizing this, Lois could no longer hold back the tears of joy.
But then another thought hit her. How could she ever measure up to this amazing woman who stood in front of her? Her mother was an alcoholic and her dad hadn't been a shining example of parenthood. How was she going to do this? She loved Clark, and she knew she would love this baby too, but she knew her options were becoming more and more limited. The tears of joy changed to tears of fear. She wasn't so sure about this after all.
Clark heard the change in her breathing. He released his mom and took his wife into his arms. He whispered, "It'll be okay, honey. We'll figure it out."
Lois stepped back and put on a brave face. "Of course, it'll be okay. What's not to be okay? Everything will be fine. We'll be great parents. You'll be a great dad and I'll be a… " Lois swallowed, "great mom. It'll be fine."
Clark knew she wasn't as okay with all of this as she claimed to be, but he also realized that she wasn't ready to talk about it. There would be time for that later, when Lois wanted to.
Clark flew Lois home as soon as it grew dark. His parents held them a little longer and a little closer before they left. Lois had her arms wrapped around Clark's waist and her head on his chest. As they flew, she kissed his chest and ran her hands up and down his back. She didn't mind loosening her grip anymore; she knew Clark wouldn't let her fall.
Somewhere over Ohio, Clark stopped in midair. He stood there and looked down at his wife as she placed one more soft kiss on his chest. "You know, if you keep doing that, we may not make it home."
Lois looked up at him with big innocent eyes. "Stop doing what? This?" She kissed his chest again.
"Yes, that. You, my dear, are distracting me from flying. If you're not careful, we'll end up in Japan instead of our room at home."
"Hmm, wouldn't want to end up in Japan. The Caribbean maybe, but not Japan."
"Would you rather go to the Caribbean, honey?" Clark asked seriously.
She kissed his collar bone. "Not tonight. Maybe next weekend. Right now I just want to go home." She kissed his Adam's apple.
Clark groaned. "We'll be there in a minute." And he flew towards Metropolis as fast as he dared.
Minutes later, Clark landed them inside *their* apartment. He stepped back from her long enough to spin out of the Superman suit and into his black silk boxers and his black shirt.
Lois let out a low, appreciative whistle. "If you're going to look like that, then I get to go change into something sexy."
Clark took her into his arms and leaned down to nibble on her neck. "You look incredibly sexy just the way you are."
Lois laughed and pushed him away. "Still. You wait here. I'll be right back."
"No arguing." Lois walked towards her room, and just before she disappeared she turned and winked at him. "Be right back, Flyboy," she said in a soft, sultry voice.
Clark flopped onto the couch with a groan. "HURRY!"
Lois called from the other room. "And no x-ray vision either!"
"I wouldn't dream of it!"
"Yes, you would."
"You're right, I would, but I'll be good. I promise."
"As long as you're not good for too long."
"I thought I was the one who was supposed to be good and you were the one who wasn't."
"In a few minutes, you'll wish I was being a good girl!"
Clark just groaned again. "Never!"
Clark turned to see his wife, a vision of loveliness in a burgundy outfit of some sort that he couldn't describe. He stood and was by her side in an instant. "Wow. You look amazing. Do you keep stuff like this just lying around in case a cute guy comes by?" His voice was soft.
"I got it last week. You said you'd like to see me in burgundy." Her voice matched his. "Do you like it?"
Clark didn't answer. He scooped Lois up into his arms and kissed her, his lips never leaving hers as he floated them into the bedroom. Laying her on the bed, he lowered himself gently on top of her, still expressing in his kiss all the love and passion that was in his heart. No more words were necessary as Lois opened up her soul completely and became lost in the depth of his love for her.
"Clark, you never answered my question," Lois murmured sleepily against her husband's chest.
"What question was that?"
"Did you like my outfit?"
Clark laughed and looked at the burgundy cloth, now hanging from a potted plant across the room. "What do you think?"
"I think that there is nothing I like better than being in your arms. And I think that I am glad you don't have to go home tonight."
"I am home, Lois." He kissed the top of her head. "I love you, my little tornado."
"I love you, my little snuggle bunny."
And they fell asleep wrapped in each other's arms.
"Hello?" A sleepy Clark answered the ringing phone.
"Who is this?" the voice demanded.
"Clark Kent. Who's this?" Clark still wasn't awake enough to realize he wasn't answering his own phone.
"Who is it, honey?" came his wife's own sleepy voice.
"Let me talk to Lois," the voice demanded again.
"It's for you, sweetie." Clark handed Lois the phone and laid his head back on his pillow.
Lois propped herself up on one arm. "Hello?"
"MOM! Where are you? I thought you were in Europe for another two weeks."
"Who was that, Lois?" Her mom ignored the question.
A sleepy "Who is it?" came from the other side of the bed as Clark rolled over and put an arm around his wife.
Lois covered the mouthpiece and hissed, "My mom."
Clark was still having difficulty processing. "Tell her I said 'hi'."
"Clark!" She turned her attention back to the phone. "Why are you calling, Mom?"
"I'm in Metropolis and I thought that I could see you. IF you're not too busy for me, with this guy and all."
Lois stared at the ceiling. "Mom, I'm never too busy for you. How about dinner tonight? We need to talk."
"You're right. We do. Tonight is fine. I want to have a long talk with you. You know how I feel about you getting involved with men. Dinner. At Angelina's."
"Why don't you come over here for dinner, Mom?"
"Have you learned how to cook yet?"
"Then meet me at eight."
"Okay. I'll make reservations at Antonio's. We'll see you at eight. Bye, Mom."
"What 'we'? Lois, did you say Antonio's? No one can get reservations at Antonio's. What do you mean by 'we'?" But Lois didn't hear as she hung up the phone.
"What'd your mom want, honey?" Clark was more awake, but somehow had missed the whole conversation — kind of odd for a guy with super hearing.
"She wanted to know who you were."
Clark sat up next to her. "I probably shouldn't have answered the phone, huh?"
Lois sighed. "It's okay. We had to tell her sooner or later. We're meeting her for dinner at Antonio's tonight. Unless you don't want to come." The apprehensive tone in her voice made it obvious what she wanted.
"I'll be there for you, you know that."
"How are you and our baby doing this morning?" Clark rubbed his hand on Lois' stomach.
"We're fine. I need to call my doctor this morning and make an appointment."
"That's something that we need to talk about. What if this baby isn't… normal? What if there is something different about the baby? Something wrong?"
"We'll worry about that if and when it happens. I think that this is going to be a good pregnancy and a normal child. Well, as normal as any child with such a 'super' dad could be."
Clark groaned. "Lois, you really don't need to make so many 'super' comments, you know."
"But I like to." Lois looked at the clock. "We better get going. It's bound to be a big day. Remember last Monday? No one needed Superman for the whole time we were on the island, and as soon as we showed up at work, boom! Every criminal in Metropolis came out of the woodwork. I just hope it isn't like that today. I'd like you around while everyone gets used to us being married."
Clark gave her a soft kiss. "In that case, we better get ready or we're gonna be late."
"I know. Come on." Lois pushed back the covers and realized that she had never gotten dressed after their little rendezvous the night before. She quickly covered herself back up.
Clark laughed. "It's okay, honey. I understand. It's going to take some getting used to. I'm gonna go hop in the shower." He kissed her again and walked to the bathroom, taking the comforter with him.
Lois leaned back against the headboard, watching her husband's strong back disappeared into the bathroom. She laughed when the comforter came flying back out and the shower turned on. "Watch out, mister, or I might come in after you."
"You wouldn't! We don't have that kind of time."
Lois sighed. "You're right. Now hurry, I need a shower, too."
Clark stood in front of her, hair wet and wrapped in a towel, water still running. "It's all yours, my dear."
"How do you do that?"
Clark was next to her in a second, back against the headboard, long legs stretched out in front of him, towel firmly in place. "Super speed." He kissed her.
Lois groaned. "Okay, my turn. Too bad we're not going to have time for breakfast. I'd love some of those pancakes of yours." She took the sheet and went into the bathroom.
Clark caught the sheet with a laugh and gently blew at the door so it wouldn't slam behind her.
The walk to work was entirely too short for Lois' taste. "How are we going to do this, Clark? Do we want to tell everyone right away or do we want to wait until after we talk to my mom tonight? Perry already knows. We know that. And do we tell him about the baby? Do we tell my mom about the baby tonight? Or do we wait until she's had a chance to absorb the whole marriage news? Would it be better to get it all over with at once? Or… "
Clark didn't care that they were in the middle of the sidewalk. He took her arm and turned her so that they were facing each other. Then he leaned down and kissed her softly. "You were babbling."
"Clark, we're in public!"
"Who cares? Everyone will know soon anyway."
"I care. Now come on. You haven't answered any of my questions." She kissed him quickly to show that she really wasn't mad.
"It's up to you, honey. But I think we may have just let part of the cat out of the bag." Clark turned. "Hi, Jimmy."
"Hi, CK. Hi, Lois." Jimmy had a puzzled look on his face. "Um, guys, I know it's really none of my business, but wouldn't CJ and, uh, Mrs. Kent, be upset if they saw you two kissing."
Clark looked at the ground and Lois stared intently into her coffee.
Clark spoke first. "Well, Jimmy. There is someone I want you to meet. Mrs. Kent, Jimmy. Jimmy, Mrs. Lois Lane-Kent."
Jimmy's mouth hung open.
Lois responded. "Now, Clark, we haven't agreed that I'm taking your name. I haven't decided yet if I want to get rid of my name or hyphenate it or anything." She linked her arm with his. "But I think I'll let the baby have your name."
Jimmy was dumbfounded. "You mean… You two… Married? Lois? Baby? I need to sit down."
Clark put a supporting hand on his elbow and led him to a nearby bench. "Breathe, Jimmy. You're starting to hyperventilate."
It took Jimmy a couple of minutes to calm down. "Okay. So you two are married. And that makes you CJ, the guy that Lois has been pining away for all these years. And you're having a baby. Whoa. This is heavy. I mean, Clark, you could have told me you were Superman and I wouldn't have been more surprised." Lois and Clark shared a look and tried to suppress grins. "Does anyone else know?"
Clark answered. "My folks know. We think Perry suspects that we're married, but not about the baby. We're going out for dinner with Lois' mom tonight."
"Man, when you two decide to drop a bombshell on a guy, you really know how to do it."
Lois took that one. "We're gonna be late for work. And not a word, Jimmy." She glared at him. "*I* want to be the one to tell my sister."
"No problem, Lois." As much as Jimmy thought he was falling in love with Lucy Lane, he feared her sister's wrath more.
Perry saw the three of them get off the elevator. Happy as he was for them, he wasn't looking forward to the conversation he was about to have with Lois and Clark. Something looked different today, though. Jimmy looked a little odd and Lois and Clark were looking happier than they had in weeks. Maybe they had already started telling people. *Well, there's no time like the present to find out.*
"LOIS! CLARK! My office! NOW!"
The couple shared a look and headed towards his office.
"Clark, are we sure we're ready for this?"
"Too late now. Let's go."
They entered Perry's office and sat on the couch, looking for all the world like two teenagers in the principal's office.
"Okay, you two. Out with it."
Lois and Clark looked at each other. Clark nodded slightly.
Lois took a deep breath and jumped in. "Perry, there's something we need to tell you. Clark is CJ. We got married after Luthor's White Orchid Ball and we've — I've — been hiding it ever since. And… "
"Lois, why didn't you tell me? You know I wouldn't tell anyone if you didn't want me to, and I could have helped you. You know you can trust me."
"I know, Perry. But you know me and my fear of failure. I didn't want anyone to know until I knew it was going to work. None of it was Clark's fault. He wanted to tell everyone right away." She couldn't explain it even to herself, but Lois was close to tears.
Clark moved so he was sitting next to her. He wrapped one large arm around her and pulled her close. "It's okay, honey. It'll all be okay."
Perry himself was struggling with his emotions. He was prepared to be mad at them, but somehow, seeing Lois — whom he loved like a daughter — in tears and being comforted by her obviously caring husband was almost too much for him. "Aw, hell's bells, kids. Don't worry, Lois. Clark's right. Everything will be fine."
Tears were coming for real now. Clark looked at Perry, feeling as helpless as he ever had.
Perry looked back at him and shrugged. Clark knew more about what was going on than he did.
"Lois, honey, what is it? Why are you so upset?" Clark held her close and gently stroked her hair.
Lois sat back and wiped her eyes. "Nothing. I'm fine."
Clark and Perry shared a look. They both knew that everything wasn't fine, but that now wasn't the time to push Lois.
Lois saw the look and felt the need to explain. "No, really. I'm fine. I think it's just hormones."
"Do you want me to tell him, honey?"
Perry was surprised. He thought he knew what was going on. "Tell me what?"
Lois nodded and Clark started to speak. "Well, Perry, it's like this. We've been married for about two weeks now. Yesterday we found out, that, uh, well, Lois is pregnant."
"WHAT?!" Perry couldn't believe his ears. "Pregnant? When? How?" Perry stopped as he realized just what he was saying.
Clark had an embarrassed smile on his face and Lois laughed as she said, "Come on, Perry, you don't really need to ask us that, do you?" He looked at Lois with an impish grin. "But I really am glad that we waited till after we got married!"
Lois groaned and Perry turned red. "No, kids, I really don't need to know. I DO have kids of my own, you know. When's the big day?"
"I don't know, I haven't been to the doctor yet. I'm going to call him this morning and set up an appointment."
"Well, you let me know if you need anything. Time off, whatever. I'll do what I can to help."
Lois smiled. "I know, Perry. Please, don't tell anyone yet. Clark's parents know and Jimmy knows, but that's it. We're going out for dinner tonight with my mom and maybe my sister. I know that you had it figured out last week. Thanks for not tearing into us, and for giving us the weekend off. We really needed the time together."
"So, how did this happen, kids? I can't imagine you did this without being drunk or something and I know both of you better than that."
"It was really weird, wasn't it, Clark?" Clark nodded. "We left the ball, and some guy told us to follow him and next thing we knew we were married. I thought I was the maid of honor, Clark the best man, but the next thing we knew, we were kissing. I was outraged."
"I can imagine."
Lois shot a look at him. "We talked in the street and Clark finally helped me realize that he was CJ and the rest is history. It's been two weeks of ups and downs, but," she reached over and took Clark's hand, "we're going to be fine. And we're going to be a family."
"Who was this guy?"
"He said his name was Wells." Lois' face puckered in thought. "You know, I'd like to talk to him and find out who those other people were. There were three others there and I want to find out all I can. I know it's no story, Perry, but I'm doing it anyway."
Perry and Clark shared a look. There was no stopping her now. "Fine, Lois. But as your editor, I'm telling you to do it on your own time."
"I will, Perry. And thanks again."
"No problem, honey. So, are you going by Kent now?"
Lois groaned. "Why does everyone keep asking me that?"
Clark laughed at her. "Lois, sweetie. It is the common practice for a married woman to change her name. But I love you just the way you are, so you don't have to change it if you don't want to."
Perry grinned. "You always were a little different, Lois."
"Well, if this is turning into a pick on Lois session, I'm leaving. We still haven't found any more information to prove Marvin right about the Secretary of State."
Perry gave her his best editor smile. "Lois, the story may not be there. Why don't you two see if there's anything on the Superman front? We haven't seen him in a couple of days."
"Well, there wasn't anything last weekend either, Chief," Clark pointed out.
"True. You two seem to know him. Find out if he takes the weekends off. If so, that could mean more crime on the weekends and less during the week."
Clark tried not to roll his eyes. "Come on, Chief. I'm sure it's just a coincidence."
"Find out." Perry went to sit at his desk, indicating that the meeting was over. Lois and Clark stood to leave. "And, kids, congratulations. I really am happy for you. All three of you."
Lois and Clark shared a smile. Lois walked over to the desk and pulled Perry out of his chair. She gave him a big hug. "Thanks, Perry. That means a lot to us."
Perry swallowed hard and responded in a gruff voice, "Fine, now get out of here. Get to work."
"Lois, you look fine." The long day at work was finally over and Lois was standing in front of the mirror. She was trying on the fourth dress in the last twenty minutes. Clark lay across the bed, fingers laced behind his head, watching his very nervous wife.
"Clark, I don't know."
"All of the dresses look fine, sweetie. You look beautiful."
Lois stuck her tongue out at him. "You're biased." She stood examining her profile in the full-length mirror. "I won't be able to wear any of these dresses for much longer." She flopped down onto the bed next to her husband. "I'm going to get fat."
"Lois, honey, you are not going to get fat. You're pregnant. There's a big difference." Clark supported himself with one elbow. He looked at the beautiful woman lying next to him. He rubbed her stomach with his other hand. "Right here is a little baby that is going to grow and your body is going to give him or her the room. That's all."
"Still. Are you sure this dress is okay? For Antonio's?"
"Lois, you look gorgeous." The black dress clung in all the right places. He stood up and buttoned his jacket. "What about me? Do I look okay? Or should I wear a tux?" He really didn't care — he was just trying to get her mind on something else.
Lois stood up and looked at him critically. "You'll do, I guess. And, no, I don't think you need a tux. Not tonight anyway."
Clark raised one eyebrow. "I'll do?"
She unbuttoned the button, brushed his shoulders and straightened his jacket. "Yeah, I guess you'll do."
"If you're not nicer than that, geek… "
"What are you going to do, you big dope. Kiss me?" Lois stood very close to her husband.
"Hmmm, that's a good idea. Maybe I can convince you that I'm really okay," Clark answered softly.
"You can sure try," Lois answered in equally soft tones.
Clark lowered his face to her and gave her a soft, gentle kiss. He moved back slightly. "How was that?"
"We better go. Is your sister meeting us, too?"
Lois backed up to look in the mirror again. "Yes. Jimmy called her for me today and told her when and where to meet us." Clark moved to stand behind her, arms around her waist.
"Are you nervous?"
"Very. Are you?"
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little nervous. Your sister seemed to like me, though."
"She's going to kill me for not telling her sooner. At least now she'll know to keep her hands off." Lois smiled at her husband's reflection in the mirror. "You're all mine."
Clark kissed her neck. "Yes, I am. You ready?"
Lois sighed. "As ready as I'll ever be."
"Then, milady, shall we?" Clark offered her his arm.
Lois took the arm. "We shall."
Lois sat nervously as Clark held her chair for her. The tuxedoed waiter placed an open menu in front of both of them. Lois picked hers up and looked at it. "Clark, I don't think I can do this."
Clark covered one of her small hands with his larger one. "Lois, you'll be fine. I'm right here. I won't go anywhere."
"What if a call comes in?" They were lucky that calls for Superman hadn't interrupted too much of their time together yet, but they knew it was inevitable.
"I won't go. Unless it's something REALLY big. I promise."
"Lois!" A female voice called a little too loudly from across the elegant restaurant.
Lois groaned. "It's Lucy." She stood and gave her sister a hug.
Lucy put her hand out to Clark. "Mr. Kent. So nice to see you again. Is your wife joining us?"
Lois and Clark shared a look. Lois spoke up. "Oh, just give your brother-in-law a hug, Aunt Lucy."
Lucy collapsed into the chair that Clark quickly pulled out for her. "You mean that you two… married? Does Mom know?"
"Yes and no. We've been married a little over two weeks. Mom and Dad don't know. Jimmy found out this morning, but I made him promise not to tell."
"No wonder he didn't come home before I had to leave to come here. I wanted him to make sure I looked okay for a place like this."
"You look fine, Luce."
"Well, Clark, welcome to the family I guess." A look appeared on Lucy's face. "Did you say 'Aunt Lucy'?"
Lois smiled. "Yes. I'm pregnant."
Lucy's head fell back onto the chair. "Mom and Dad are going to freak."
"That's why I was hoping that you'd get here first so you can help me keep her calm."
"What about Dad?"
"What about him? I haven't talked to him in ages. I suppose I should call him."
"You think?" The sarcasm in Lucy's voice was hardly hidden.
Lois sighed. "I'm putting it off."
Clark had a funny look on his face.
Lucy was the first to question it. "Clark, is everything okay?"
Clark covered quickly. "I need to make a phone call. I completely forgot." He looked pleadingly at his wife. "I'll be right back, I promise." Lois nodded. He kissed her on the cheek and left quickly. A ten car pile-up. He hoped he'd be back soon. Lois shouldn't have to do this alone.
As soon as Clark was out of earshot, or so Lucy thought, she turned on Lois. "Lois, what happened to CJ?"
Lois sighed, but then her eyes lit up. "Clark *is* CJ."
"SHHH! Keep your voice down!" Lois hissed.
"Sorry. Clark is CJ?"
"Yes, he is. Perry hired him and made him my new partner. He knew pretty quickly that I was the Lois he fell in love with in D.C., but it took me longer. In fact, we were already married before I knew who he was. He told me right after. It was a really weird wedding and I really don't want Mom and Dad to know how the wedding happened so I'll tell you the whole story later. We're just going to tell them that we eloped. I need to remember to tell Clark that. We haven't talked about it."
"What about his parents?"
"They are amazing people. They're really nice. You'll love them. They're planning on coming out soon. They know everything."
"Hmm, I can't wait. What's Clark going to think of Mom and Dad?"
Lois sighed. "I don't know. I don't know what *I* think of Mom and Dad, much less what Clark is going to think."
Lucy looked over Lois' shoulder. "Well, here comes Mom now."
"Not a word. Let me tell her after Clark gets back."
"Fine. MOM!" Lucy stood to give Ellen Lane a hug.
"Hello, Lucy. Lois." Ellen's voice was cold and impersonal.
Lois sighed. This REALLY was not going to be easy. "Hi, Mom." Lois gave her a hug and then sat back down, careful to keep her left hand under the table.
Ellen sat down and looked around the restaurant. "Where's your father?"
Lois shrugged. "I don't know. Why?"
"When I called to check the reservations — I didn't think you'd be able to pull off reservations at a nice place like this on such short notice — they told me they were for four people. I assumed the fourth person was your father. So, I called him, left him a message and he left me a message saying that he was going to be here."
Lois groaned. This was not going well.
Meanwhile, Superman flew to the site of the crash. It was a ten-car pile up, but it was mainly fender benders. There was only one semi-major injury and the ambulance was already there to take care of that. He was immediately drawn to an irate man whose car was in the middle of the pile up. It wasn't going anywhere for a while. He would have recognized that voice anywhere.
"What do you mean, you can't get my car out?" The man was yelling at the helpless police officer.
Superman landed in front of the two. "Is this gentleman giving you some problems, Officer Doze?" Superman had worked with this officer on several other occasions.
"Superman." The relief in the voice of the officer was obvious. "Maybe you can help. Can you get his car out without messing up the crime scene?"
Superman looked carefully at the car and its relative position to the rest of the accident. "I don't think I can."
The man turned his wrath on the superhero. "I'm late for a dinner appointment with my daughters. I was supposed to be there already. You're a superhero. GET MY CAR OUT!"
Superman's eyes widened slightly. It couldn't be. "Well, Mr. …"
"Lane. Dr. Sam Lane."
It could be possible. "Dr. Lane, where are you meeting your daughters? Perhaps I could help you get there."
"How do you plan on doing that, flyboy?" It sounded so much nastier than when Lois said it.
"Well, I DO fly, you know. And since you are Dr. Sam Lane, I assume that your daughter is Lois Lane from the Daily Planet."
"Well, Ms. Lane and her partner, Mr. Kent, have been good friends to me since I arrived. I could fly you as a personal favor to them."
"Well, I guess." Sam didn't look too sure about this decision.
"I assure you, I haven't dropped anyone yet." *Well, only once,* thought Superman as he remembered dropping his wife into the Caribbean off of their island. He'd have to remember to make arrangements to buy the darn island. He knew of an undiscovered gold mine in Siberia. He only used it for real emergencies.
"Fine. Let's go. How do we do this flying thing?"
"Like this." Superman thought for a minute. He couldn't fly with his father-in-law the way he flew with his wife. He sighed and scooped Sam Lane into his arms, holding him farther away than he would have most other people.
"HEY! Be careful!"
"Sorry, sir. Are you ready?"
"I believe Lois said the dinner was at Antonio's?"
"Correct." Sam looked and sounded nervous.
"It will take us about five minutes to get there."
"Fine. Let's go."
Superman took off slowly and headed toward the restaurant.
Sam Lane couldn't control his nervousness. "I don't suppose you know anything about this new guy in my daughter's life."
"My ex-wife called me today to tell me that some man is living with Lois and that we were meeting for dinner tonight at eight. I can't believe Lois is living with some man. I love my little girl, but she's never had the best taste in anything, much less men. Ever since that little incident in Washington. She wanted to go to the movies with some hick from Nowheresville and I wouldn't let her. The desk clerk told me later that they were making out in the lobby. Lois denied it, but I know she was lying. Her ears turn red when she's lying. Ever since then, she's been more and more defiant and her taste in men has gone farther and farther downhill."
It was all Superman could do to keep from dropping the man onto his head. He was sure that this man was so thick-headed that it wouldn't hurt, even from fifteen stories up. He would've thought Lois inherited her babble gene from her mother, but apparently her father was a master as well.
"If this new guy thinks that he can just come in and take over my daughter's life, he's got another think coming. I know I haven't always been around for my girls, but I won't let some hack ruin what career she has."
Superman didn't think he'd be able to take much more. Fortunately, Antonio's was in sight. "Here we are, sir." They landed just outside the door and Superman couldn't set Sam down fast enough.
Sam looked surprised when Superman walked inside with him.
Superman whispered something to the head waiter, who nodded. The waiter then motioned for another tuxedoed man to show Sam to the table.
Superman left, flying off into the night.
"There he is now." Ellen pointed discreetly.
Lucy and Lois turned towards the door. There stood their father, and right behind him came a man dressed in an electric blue suit with a red cape. The three women watched the skin-tight suit as he spoke quickly with the head waiter, but for very different reasons. Lois wondered what her husband was up to and why he was with her father. Ellen and Lucy were just gawking at the superhero, barely noticing the ex-husband and father who was walking across the restaurant toward them.
"Good evening, ladies," Sam said as he kissed all three women on the cheek. As he started to sit down, Clark walked up with the owner of the restaurant.
"Excuse me, ladies. Gentlemen." He turned to nod at Clark, including him in the group. "Superman has requested that I move your party to a private room off of the main dining area. He felt you would like the privacy. And since he stopped a robbery here last week, he has requested that you receive the meal I promised him. If you will follow me, please?"
Lois and Clark shared a look as her family stood to follow Antonio. Lucy led the line, followed by Lois, her mother and father. Clark brought up the rear. Lois whispered softly, so only her husband's super hearing could pick it up. "I don't know if I can do this, Clark. I didn't know my father was going to be here." She felt eyes on the back of her head and knew that some were reassuring, worried and protective and others were not.
Antonio led them into a small, private room. He gallantly held chairs for each of the women, careful to leave a place between the sisters for Clark, just as Superman had requested.
"Who's the fifth spot for?" demanded Sam.
"Me, sir." Clark tried to be polite to this man who had just finished insulting him to a certain superhero.
"And who are you?"
"Clark Kent." He didn't know what to say his relationship to Lois was. Her partner? Her friend? Her husband?
"Her new partner at work?" Sam was still questioning this young man. He noticed a wedding band on his finger. "Does your wife know you're here?"
"That is a wedding ring, isn't it?"
"Yes, sir." This wasn't going well at all.
It suddenly hit Ellen. "You're the one who answered the phone at Lois' apartment this morning, aren't you?"
"Yes, ma'am," answered Clark helplessly.
Sam stood. "So you, a married man, were sleeping at my daughter's house? What kind of man are you?"
Clark didn't answer. He'd let Lois handle it as she saw fit.
"You are despicable. You are scum. You are lower than scum. You are a nothing from nowhere and I want you out of here and away from my daughter."
"If that's what she wants, sir."
"What about your wife? What about what she wants?"
Clark was quiet again.
Lois spoke up softly. "Stop it, Daddy."
"No, I won't. This… this… THING is married and he is taking advantage of you."
"No, he's not, Daddy." Lois was struggling to keep her composure.
"He's using you as the other woman, Lois. He doesn't deserve to live."
"No, he's not, Daddy." The tears started pouring down Lois' cheeks.
Clark finally spoke up, putting one comforting hand on Lois' shoulder. "Sir, you can say whatever you want to me or about me, but you are upsetting your daughter and I find that unacceptable."
Sam Lane lost what little reserve he had left. "UNACCEPTABLE?! I find that laughable coming from an adulterer who is taking advantage of my baby."
Lois spoke up again, grateful for Clark's hand on her shoulder. "Stop it, Daddy."
"No, he doesn't deserve to live. Ladies, I think it's time that we left. Maybe he'll go home to his *wife*."
"I'm his wife, Daddy."
"Never mind that, Lois. Let's go."
"Did you hear me, Daddy? *I'm* his wife."
"WHAT?!" The same expression came from both of her parents simultaneously.
Lois stood. She spoke slowly, carefully enunciating each word. "I am Clark's wife." She turned and started to leave the room.
Clark followed her to the door and put a hand on her shoulder, stopping her before she could leave. She turned and buried her head in his chest, her body shaking with her sobs. He wrapped comforting arms around her and whispered into her hair. "Shh, honey. It's okay. I'm here with you. Don't worry." He spoke softly over and over until she began to calm down.
She pulled back from him, wiping her face with her hands. "I'm okay, Clark. Really."
"Are you SURE?"
The worry was evident on his face and she knew he wasn't just talking about her. He was worried what effect this might have on their baby. She sighed. She wasn't sure she was ready to face that, but it would be better to get it over with in one night. "Would you tell them please?" she whispered.
"Of course." Clark really didn't want the unpleasant task, but was more than willing to take the weight off the slender shoulders of his wife. He turned and faced Sam and Ellen Lane, as his wife again buried her head in his chest, refusing to look at her family.
He took a deep breath and started speaking. "I know this is a shock to all of you, but I need to ask that you calm down. All you really need to know is that I love your daughter more than my own life; I would do anything for her. I will take Lois and leave if you can't talk about this calmly and rationally. She doesn't need the additional stress. "
Sam exploded again. "Who are you to say what my daughter needs?"
Clark tried to remain calm. "Sir, I understand that you're upset and I know you only want the best for your daughter, but she is my wife and," he took another deep breath, "she is carrying my child. If you insist on not calming down, I will take her and leave. The stress isn't good for your daughter or your grandchild, so — and this is the last time I am going to say it — if you can't be calm and rational, we'll leave."
Ellen was obviously distraught at the disclosure that her daughter was pregnant. She sat in her chair, her body limp.
Sam exploded again. "WHAT?! You knocked her up?! Is THAT why you got married? How long have you been married, anyway? When is the baby due?"
Clark, a resigned, sad look on his face, said, "I'm sorry you feel that way. When you feel you can discuss this like adults, please call us." His hand was on the doorknob as he said, "Come on, honey. I'm sorry I couldn't get them to calm down. You don't need this kind of stress."
Lois stepped back from her husband's sheltering arms. "No, Clark, we need to get this over with."
The love and concern in his eyes was almost too much for her. "Are you sure?"
"Yes." She turned to her family, holding tightly to her husband's hand. "Daddy, sit down. Please. Yes, Clark and I are married. We've been married for a little over two weeks and I am about two weeks pregnant, not that it's any of your business. As for all of the talk about me being the other woman, don't think that we've forgotten what you did to Mom all those years ago. You're not innocent of cheating on your wife, so you can lose the holier-than-thou attitude. I love Clark and he loves me. That should be all you need to know. If you would like to have dinner, you are welcome to stay, but if you can't calm down, we WILL leave. I'm not just looking out for me anymore. We didn't plan on having a family this soon, but it is happening and we both want this baby very much and I will NOT jeopardize my health or the health of our child because you can't calm down. Will you lose the attitude?"
Sam sat slowly, unused to being talked to that way by either of his children. "I suppose this is your influence on her," he mumbled.
"Daddy," Lois warned.
"Okay, okay. I'll calm down. You know I would never do anything to hurt you. I'm going to the men's room. I'll be back in a minute." Sam walked to the door and his daughter and son-in-law moved out of his way. He glared at the younger man as he left.
"Lois, how could you do this to me?"
"How could you do this to me, Lois? You up and marry some *man* without so much as introducing him to us and you expect us to just sit here and be happy for you? And you're pregnant on top of that? You always said your career was the most important thing in your life and now you are throwing it all away. If this was any kind of man, he'd know how important it was to you and wouldn't get you pregnant as soon as you got married. And what kind of man wouldn't want to get to know your family before he married you, anyway? How long have you known him? How do we know what he's like? You've never mentioned him before, so you can't have known him too long, so how do you really know what he's like? This is just like you, Lois. Making big life decisions without thinking and without consulting the people who care about you the most."
Clark had been trying to get a word in edgewise, but was unable to. The Lane babble gene did come from both sides of the family. "Mrs. Lane… "
"Clark!" Lois was barely able to get the word out. She slumped in his arms, holding her abdomen in obvious pain.
Clark, concern and fear evident in his eyes, lowered her to the ground. "What is it, Lois? What's wrong?"
Sam Lane chose that moment to come back into the room. Seeing his daughter lying on the ground, he turned to Clark. "What did you do to her, you bastard?"
Even Sam couldn't help but see the agony in Clark's eyes as the younger man looked to him for help. "She's in pain, sir. You're a doctor, what's wrong? Please help her."
Sam was at her side in an instant. "Where does it hurt, baby?"
All Lois could do was hold her lower abdomen and groan.
Sam gently prodded her stomach with his hands, eliciting a yelp from his impromptu patient.
It was almost more than Clark could take. "You're hurting her."
"Not on purpose. She needs to go to the hospital right away."
Lois looked at her father, fear and tears spilling from her eyes. She managed to whisper, "Is it the baby?"
Sam shook his head. "I can't tell, Lois. I'm going to call an ambulance."
Clark looked at his wife. "Lois, honey, do you want me to go find Superman? He can be here in a minute and you'll get there faster."
Lois nodded. Sam looked uncertain, but replied, "If you can find the guy, that would be best."
Clark gently handed Lois over to her father. He looked at Sam and told him, in no uncertain terms, "You take care of her. I'll find Superman and meet you at Metropolis General."
Sam nodded. "I will."
Clark stood and left the room. *How am I ever going to make it out of the restaurant and back at something approaching a normal pace? And how am I not going to act like Lois' concerned husband when I go back in?* He left the restaurant and found a deserted alley nearby. He changed and hurried back in.
As he walked into the back room, as Superman, he could tell Lois was getting worse. He knelt down and carefully picked her up, cradling her in his arms like a newborn baby. He only nodded at Sam's admonition that he be careful with her — she was pregnant, after all. As he left the building, he took to the sky.
"Lois? Honey? Are you feeling any better?"
All she did was groan.
Chapter 7 — Complications
Superman landed in front of the emergency room. He walked inside, looking desperately for a doctor. "Help me, please! This woman needs help!"
A nurse hurried to his side asking what was wrong.
"She's pregnant, Angela," Superman said, noticing her name tag, "and a few minutes ago she doubled over in pain."
"How far along is she?"
"About 2 weeks, I think. She's only been married that long, and she said it had to have been on her wedding night."
"Do you know this woman?" Angela started leading the way down the corridor in the emergency room.
"Yes, she's a friend of mine."
"Can you help us contact her husband?"
"I'm bringing him. He'll be here less than a minute after I leave."
Angela motioned to a bed. "Set her down here. Have her husband check in at the desk when he arrives. He'll have some forms to fill out."
Superman gently laid his wife down on the bed. "Lois? Can you hear me?" She nodded. "I'm going to get Clark. He'll be right here, okay?" She nodded again. Superman looked at the nurse. "She means everything to him. Take care of her."
Angela nodded. "I will, Superman."
A harried Clark, his tie askew, ran into the emergency room. He headed straight for the desk. "Where's my wife? I want to see my wife!"
The receptionist standing there asked, "Well, sir, what's her name and when did she get here?"
"Lois Lane. Superman brought her. How can you miss the bright blue suit and the red cape?"
"I saw her come in, sir. My name is Missy and I'll do all I can to help you. If you'll calm down, someone will be with you shortly. In the meantime, could you fill out some paperwork for me?"
Clark knew there was nothing else this woman could do for him, so he took the papers and sat in the chairs off to the side. He fought the urge to listen to what was going on in Lois' room. He didn't want to know just yet. As he started filling out the paperwork, he realized he didn't know some of the answers, even his own wife's birthday. He set the paperwork off to the side, rested his head in his hands and let the tears flow. If something happened to Lois or their baby, he'd never forgive himself.
Less than ten minutes later, the rest of Lois' family barged into the hospital. Sam and Ellen went immediately to the desk, demanding that Missy tell them where their daughter was. When they found no help, they turned their anger on Clark.
Lucy, meantime, had gone directly to her new brother-in-law. There was nothing that she could do for Lois just then, but she could comfort this strong man whose heart was obviously breaking. She sat down next to him, one hand on his shoulder. "Clark, what can I do to help?"
"I don't know her birthday." The words were muffled.
He motioned to the paperwork that now rested on her lap. "I don't even know her birthday."
Lucy immediately realized what a disaster this would be if her parents caught on. "Don't worry. I'll take care of it. They'll never know."
Clark looked at her, tears still evident in his eyes. "Thank you, Lucy. And thank you for not adding to Lois' stress."
Lucy smiled. Her sister really was very lucky. "I know she's been looking for you for a long time, Clark. I'm glad to do whatever I can."
Sam stormed over to Clark, followed closely by Ellen. "This is all your fault! If anything happens to my daughter… "
Lucy stood up. "Daddy, that's enough! Sit down! Can't you see Clark's upset?"
"I don't care if Clark's upset! My baby is in there!"
"That's just it, Daddy. So is Clark's! That is his WIFE and his BABY in there and he is just as worried as you, if not more."
Just then a doctor came into the room, stopping in front of Clark. "Excuse me, I'm looking for… " he looked at his clipboard, "Clark Kent."
Clark looked up at the man. "I'm Clark Kent."
"If you'll come with me sir." The doctor started to walk off.
Sam Lane wasn't about to let this discussion happen without him. "I'm coming with you."
Dr. Burns turned to him. "Excuse me, sir. But are you Ms. Lane's husband?"
"No, I'm her father, Dr. Sam Lane, and I want to be in on this discussion."
Clark nodded his head, resignedly.
"Okay, Dr. Lane, here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to have a discussion with Mr. Kent here and then, with his permission and that of his wife, I'll discuss the case with the rest of the family." The doctor left no room for discussion and even Sam Lane knew when it was best to bide his time. "Mr. Kent, please come with me." He left the room followed by Clark.
As soon as they were out of earshot, Clark asked him, "Can I see my wife?"
"In a minute. We need to talk in my office first." The doctor opened a door with K. B. Burns, M.D. written on it. "We confirmed your wife's suspicions. She is approximately four weeks pregnant and… "
"Four weeks? We've only been married two."
Dr. Burns let out a short laugh. "I know, sir. That's just the way we measure it. Gestation is forty weeks from the beginning of her last cycle which makes her approximately four and a half weeks pregnant, though conception was only about two and a half weeks ago. She and the baby are fine."
"Then what happened?"
"She experienced psychosomatic stomach pain or cramping brought on by undue stress. I didn't want her to tell me what happened because I don't want her reliving it. Can you tell me what happened?"
Clark sighed, knowing that this was at least partially his fault. He explained the situation — their sudden marriage, their problems and their discovery that they were having a baby. He went on to explain what happened that evening, including Sam and Ellen's tirades. "As she finished, Lois collapsed, holding her stomach. I went to get Superman and he brought her here."
"Mr. Kent, I am going to be blunt and I need you to tell me the truth. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to help your wife carry this child to term?"
"Of course, I would do anything for Lois and our child. Just tell me what to do."
"She needs to go home and rest for a few days. And she needs no stress for at least the next month."
"Is that a problem, Mr. Kent?"
"Not for me, but you don't know my wife. She'll never be able to deal with sitting at home and not running down leads for the next month."
"Work, as long as it isn't stressing her out should be fine, say beginning of next week. From what Ms. Lane did tell me and from what you just said, her main stressor is coming from her family. If they can't behave, they need to stay away. I realize it won't be easy. This is the first time I have met Dr. Lane and, so far, he is living up to his reputation. If he and Lois' mother continue to stress Lois, she will probably continue to have problems. That means that you will have to stand up for her. If things start to get out of hand, you will have to send them away or take Lois out of the situation. I will tell Lois' family this, as well, but it will largely be on your shoulders to make sure that Lois doesn't put herself under too much stress or pressure from her family."
Clark nodded. "I'll do anything."
"It won't be easy."
"Let's go see your wife."
"LOIS!" Clark practically ran across the room to his wife's side.
"CLARK!" Lois reached out a hand towards her husband.
Clark took the offered hand and sat next to her on the bed. "Are you okay?"
Lois smiled weakly. "I'm fine. Really. And so is the baby."
"I know. Dr. Burns told me. You need to relax."
"It's just my family. You know that."
"I know, but you're still taking the week off work."
Lois sighed. "I know. I'll do whatever I have to in order to make sure the baby is okay, you know that."
"The doctor is talking with your folks right now."
Lois groaned. "I wonder how that's going."
Clark laughed. "I can see it — but you don't need to worry about it. I'll take care of your parents. If they start to get out of hand — they have to leave. I'll set the ground rules and if they can't live with them, then they'll have to leave. That's all there is to it."
"Clark, I don't need you to fight my battles for me."
"I know and normally I'd agree with you, but the stress isn't good for you or the baby and I'm not going to let you fight this one alone."
Lois smiled at her over-protective husband. "You know what me and the baby need right now?"
"We need Daddy to come closer and hold us."
"Anything for you." Clark moved so he was sitting next to Lois, long legs stretched out next to her shorter ones, and pulled her into his arms. He listened as she sighed and rested her head in his shoulder. He kissed the top of her head, his right arm around her, rubbing her arm, careful to avoid the tube sticking out of it, and his left hand holding hers gently. "How's this?"
Sam and Ellen Lane weren't happy with the restrictions imposed on them by Dr. Burns, but were willing to live with the rules — at least for now. They entered Lois' room and both cringed as they saw Clark holding their daughter.
Lucy, on the other hand, had to blink back tears. Her sister had finally found the super guy that she deserved and Lucy couldn't have been happier for her.
Sam was the first to speak. "I don't suppose you'd give us a few minutes alone with our daughter."
Clark shook his head. "I'm sorry, but it's my job to make sure that nothing upsets Lois. You're welcome to stay as long as nothing starts to upset her, but — and these are the rules until the doctor says they're no longer needed — as soon as something starts to upset her, some of us will leave." Clark shrugged. "I'm sorry to sound so callous and I'm sorry it's necessary, but that's the way it has to be. I won't stand for anything that is going to hurt my wife or my child and that's just all there is to it."
Sam, though he never would have admitted it to anyone — and barely to himself — knew this young man had earned just a smidgen of grudging respect. If he was willing to stand up to Dr. Sam Lane, then he deserved something. "Clark, none of us would do anything to jeopardize the health of Lois or…" he swallowed hard, "her baby."
Lois cringed a little when she heard her father refer to their baby as 'hers'. He was leaving Clark out of the whole thing, trying to take away his status as her husband and the father of her child. "Daddy," she said softly.
"Fine, your baby." Sam was amazed at how well his daughter knew him.
Dr. Burns came in. "Lois, if you promise to go home and rest, you are free to go." He turned to the rest of the family. "However, no visits or phone calls from the rest of the family or anyone else who might upset her until at least Monday. If you want an update, you'll need to go through her husband." Dr. Burns had sized up the situation quickly while talking to Clark in his office, and it had become more clear in his conversation with Lois' parents, and knew that it would have an impact to immediately give Clark some of the power over the family's access to Lois. "Can you do that, young lady?" Lois nodded meekly. He turned back to the family, looking directly at Sam Lane. "Can you?"
Sam nodded and Ellen followed suit. Lucy stayed in the background, hoping that Clark knew that she wouldn't upset her sister and would let her come by sooner, maybe even stay with her while he went to work.
"Okay. Then you folks need to leave so Lois can get dressed and I'll sign her release forms." He ushered the family out.
Clark started to disentangle himself from Lois.
"No, I want you to stay."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. I need you here too much to be modest right now." Lois smiled as she remembered that morning.
Clark helped her dress and sat with her while they waited for Dr. Burns to return with her paperwork. When he entered, the doctor had a harried look on his face.
"I don't envy you, Mr. Kent."
"You're going to have your hands full with those two."
Lois had a question of her own. "What about Lucy? She won't upset me. Can she come and stay with me while Clark's gone at work?"
The doctor smiled. He knew Lucy wouldn't be a problem. "That's up to you. If you think your parents can deal with being denied access, then by all means. I think Lucy will be good for you. Friends are okay as well, as long as they don't stay long and don't do anything to upset you."
"What about flying?" The question came from Clark.
"Are you planning any trips?"
"Not really, but Superman is a friend of ours. In fact, he flew Lois here tonight. He's offered to fly us anytime we want to go anywhere. Would that be a problem?"
Dr. Burns looked at Lois. "Lois, are you comfortable flying with Superman? Is there anything stressful about it?"
Lois laughed and tried to look nonchalant. "Only the first time when I had no clue what was going on. Otherwise, I rather enjoy it." She smiled at Clark. "Sorry, honey. If you could fly… "
"I know, I know." Clark smiled at her. "You'd like flying with me better. But since not every guy can be Superman… "
Dr. Burns smiled. These two were going to be okay. "That should be fine. You should check with your ob/gyn later on in your pregnancy and make sure it will still be all right. Now," he handed her a piece of paper, "you're not on bed rest, but you do need to take it easy. This is a list of things you can and cannot do, and a letter for you to give to your boss excusing you from work. And, kids," he looked stern, "no sex for at least a week." Lois and Clark shared a look. "Are there any questions?"
"Are my parents gone?"
"Yes, they are. I told them that Clark would make sure you got home and they didn't need to worry about it. They weren't pleased but they left."
"Good. Clark, I want to go home."
Dr. Burns motioned out the open door to an orderly who brought in a wheelchair. "I'm sorry, Ms. Lane, but you'll have to be wheeled out."
"I understand, but can Clark take me?"
"Sure. Take good care of her, Mr. Kent."
"I will. I promise."
Clark pushed Lois out of the room, down the hallway and out of the hospital. "I'm sorry, honey, but I don't think Superman will be able to take you home." He flagged down a passing cab.
"I know." She let him help her into the cab and gratefully settled in next to him, thankful for his comforting embrace.
Over Lois' protests, Clark insisted on carrying her up to their apartment. He laid her gently on the bed. "You need to rest now."
"I need to change first. I can't sleep in this."
"Can you do it yourself or do you need some help?"
"Not for a week, Clark."
Clark groaned. "That's not what I meant and you know it!"
"I know. And some help would be nice. Could you get me a T-shirt?" Clark started opening drawers, helpless as to where his wife's clothing was stored. Finally, he reached into the drawer that held some of his own clothing. He pulled out a large St. Louis Cardinals T-shirt. "Here wear one of mine."
Lois wrinkled her nose a little bit. "Baseball?"
"It's for sleeping, Lois. And one day, I'll show you the finer points of baseball." He sat on the bed and stared into space. "There's just nothing like a game at Busch Stadium. The hot dogs, nachos, and they have these ice cream sandwiches — two huge chocolate chip cookies with about an inch and a half of chocolate and vanilla ice cream in the middle — the whole atmosphere is just… amazing! Kansas City was a lot closer to us, but Dad and I drove to St. Louis at least one weekend a year. We still try to go at least once a year. There's something different about being there."
Lois smacked his arm. "Earth to Clark. That's nice and all, but would you mind helping me? Besides, I gained five pounds just listening to you. Unzip the dress for me would you?"
Clark turned his attention to helping his wife, but needed to keep his mind off of the creamy skin of her back that the zipper was exposing. "There's a guy there almost as strong as me, you know."
"Really?" Lois was mildly intrigued.
"Yep. Big Mac. Mark McGwire. He's the home run king — 70 in one season. Technically, if I wasn't… you know, he'd have outdistanced me a long time ago. He's huge — his arms are about twice the size of your thighs — and probably could hit a ball out of the atmosphere. He actually did hit at least one almost 550 feet."
Lois rolled her eyes. "That's nice, Clark." She slipped the straps off her shoulders.
"I'd love to meet him sometime." Clark desperately looked elsewhere, knowing that there was no way he'd jeopardize the health of his wife and child, but 'human' nonetheless.
Lois pulled the T-shirt over her head. "That's nice."
"You could go with us next time we go."
"We'll see. I don't know if I'm up to the whole baseball thing. It's just so boring."
"Not when you're there. Now, it's into bed with you." He tucked her in. "I'm going to go call Perry and tell him that neither one of us will be in tomorrow." He kissed her forehead. "Get some sleep."
"Good night, Clark. I love you."
"I love you, too, Lois. Both of you. I'm sorry I couldn't protect you tonight."
"You did your best, Clark, but even Superman is no match for my parents when they get going. Now, I'm not supposed to think about this stuff — so off with you." She pulled the covers close and closed her eyes. "I'm going to sleep. Don't be too long; I need you close."
"I'll try not to, but I do need to go out on patrol to give any would-be criminals a warning. But only if you promise to stay here and not answer the door or the phone, okay?" He turned the ringer off.
"I promise. Hurry home, you big dope."
"I will, my little geek." He kissed her forehead again and she watched as he spun into the suit.
"I love watching you do that."
"I know. I'll just drop by and see Perry while I'm out. I love you."
"I love you, too. 'Night."
"Good night." And Clark flew out the window.
Two days later, Lucy was sitting on the couch in the living room waiting for Lois to wake up. Perry had given Clark two days off to spend with his wife, but he was going to have to work at least part of the weekend. Lois and Clark had asked Lucy to stay at their apartment while Clark was working.
Lucy heard movement in the other room. "Lois?" she called softly. "Are you up?"
"Kind of," came the sleepy reply.
Lucy walked into the room and sat on the edge of the bed. "I'm glad to see you!" She gave her sister a hug. "Since when are you a baseball fan?"
Lois looked down. She was wearing another one of Clark's shirts — they were so much more comfortable than hers — and this one was another Cardinals baseball shirt. "It's Clark's. He wants me to go to some baseball games in St. Louis with him and his dad this summer." She rolled her eyes to show what she thought of the idea.
"What are his parents like?"
"They're wonderful. His mom is like the moms that we read about in books in elementary. She makes the best home-cooked meals and can sew and do just about any other kind of domestic thing you can dream of. But that's not all. She's talented, too. She is an artist, kind of. She thinks her stuff is great, but it's really only okay. She comes up with the weirdest names for her stuff, too. I don't even remember them, but they never have anything to do with what the artwork actually is. She is wonderful to talk to. I can tell her anything, and believe me, there's a lot to talk about when you marry someone like Clark and really don't have anyone else." It was out before she realized what she was saying. "I mean, no one else knew I was married, so who else was there to talk to? Superman was nice enough to fly us out there last weekend so I could meet them. She's incredibly smart, and could do just about anything on the farm, but could be a CPA if she wanted to, or anything else she put her mind to."
"Well, listen. I'm under strict orders to make sure that you eat healthy while I'm here, so I'm going to make you breakfast and you're going to tell me how you met Clark, this time, and all about the wedding and everything. Okay?"
"Fine. Just make lots of it. I'm eating for two now." Lois smiled and Lucy laughed as she walked to the kitchen.
Several minutes later, the sisters sat down to breakfast.
"So, spill it Lois. Tell me everything!"
"I'm NOT telling you everything!"
"Fine, tell me almost everything then!"
"Okay, okay! Well, I never told you all about meeting CJ in D.C., did I?"
"No, you just told me one day that you had met an amazing guy named CJ and that if you couldn't have him, you weren't ever going to get involved with another guy ever again."
Lois groaned. "That was right after Claude wasn't it?"
"Yes. Does Clark know about Claude?"
"I told him all about it. I had just finished that big story about two and half weeks, three weeks ago and Perry was interviewing some guy. You know me, I just barged in trying to get him to let me run with another story I was working on. He tried to introduce me to Clark, but I didn't pay any attention to him. I did a little bit of a double take, but that's it. Anyway, he didn't hire Clark, but somehow Clark convinced him the next day. I could have screamed at Perry when he gave me Clark to work with on my story. In fact, I did." Lois smiled at the memory. "Anyway, we spent part of the day working together and then I asked him to go to Luthor's Ball with me. I didn't really want to, but I thought I needed an escort." Lois' eyes clouded over and she had a dreamy look on her face. "He looks absolutely amazing in a tux. He's incredibly handsome, you know."
Lucy laughed, breaking Lois out of her reverie. "I noticed. Wait, you told me that Clark got married after the ball, didn't you?"
"Yes. We were leaving after the ball was over and this guy walks up to us. He said there was somewhere that we needed to be. We followed him and we ended up at this church. Clark went one way and I went the other. I walked into this little room and there was this lady there. She was wearing this gorgeous blue dress and I heard her yell to someone that we had a bride and a maid of honor and could we please get started. So she pushes me into the, oh, I don't know what to call it — the main area with all the pews and sticks some flowers in my hand. She tells me to follow her so I do. Next thing I know, I'm holding Clark's hand, putting a ring on it and saying I do to something. I thought I was the maid of honor and I couldn't figure out why I had to say 'I do', but I just followed instructions. Suddenly, this lady is pushing me from behind, and I'm kissing Clark! I couldn't believe it! At first, I thought it was some huge prank he was pulling or something — he HAD kissed me in the elevator — "
"Oh, right. Earlier on Friday, he stopped the elevator and kissed me. Lucy, I had been kissed by other guys, but even CJ hadn't taken my breath away like Clark did in the elevator. It scared me and I didn't want to admit that it had affected me. I just knew that it wasn't CJ. And the dance at the ball was incredible, but it never crossed my mind that he could really be CJ. I mean the thought occurred to me, but I didn't believe that I could really have found him, finally…
"Lois, you're babbling again."
"Sorry. Anyway, so I'm kissing Clark and the preacher guy says congratulations to 'Mr. and Mrs. Kent'. I looked at Clark while I was kissing him — it wasn't really a kiss kiss, just a lips touching each other kiss — I saw the confusion and fear in his eyes. I just knew he didn't have anything to do with it. We were almost out of the building before I realized there wasn't anyone else around. Just me, Clark, the best man, the maid of honor and the preacher. Once we got outside, I started yelling at him, told him that I wouldn't marry anybody but CJ and certainly not some hack from Nowheresville. He just stood there, hands in his pockets staring at the ground, looking totally dejected. He spoke really soft and said that I was wrong. It wasn't hack from Nowheresville, it was hick. Daddy had called him a hick, not a hack. Finally, I realized that he was CJ and I went to kiss him, but he wouldn't kiss me, not until we had talked some. It started raining and we went to the closest dry place we could find. It was the Metropolis Hilton. I thought about it and just knew that I wanted to stay married to Clark. I told him that. We got a room and stayed the night." Lois shrugged. "That's all there is to it."
"What about after that? I mean, you weren't home a lot that weekend or the next week."
"We worked all day the next day and when we went to meet a source, he was dead. We spent most of the night waiting for the police and then talking with them. Clark got us a decent hotel room for the night and that's all there was to it. The next night was my 'interview' with Luthor. Clark was really upset with me. And I understand why. Luthor wanted to date me, not give me an interview. I'm surprised I haven't heard from him since then. Anyway, the day after that, we ended up tied up in a warehouse by two freaks. We got out somehow — I think it may have been Superman before his real debut, but I don't really know. It's the only thing that either one of us have come up with. You can't say anything, though." Lucy nodded. "Perry gave us the next couple of days off and we spent them together, at Clark's place. We decided to tell everyone that I was married, but not to who. Okay, I decided. Clark wanted to tell everyone right away. But you know me. I can't deal with failure of any kind so I didn't want anyone to know until I was sure it would work. Clark made Jimmy promise to not tell you because I wanted to be the one to do it. Don't be mad at him. We told him Monday that I was married to Clark and that we were having a baby. I made him promise not to tell you because we were going to tell you that night. Anyway, Superman made his big debut and he flew us to this little tropical island for the weekend. The next weekend he flew us to Smallville to see Clark's parents.
"I talked to Martha on Friday night, about life in general. It was her idea that I might be pregnant. I took a test on Sunday, and sure enough I am. You know the rest of the story, more or less."
The two Lane sisters had moved into the living room by this time, Lucy amazed at how much Lois could eat while talking so much.
There was a knock at the door. Lois called out, "Who is it?"
"Go away, Daddy. You're not allowed to visit until at least next week."
"Let me in, Lois. Lucy, I know you're there."
Lucy rolled her eyes at her sister. "I promised Clark, Daddy. Now, if there's something you want to say, call us and I'll be happy to relay a message, but you are not to visit. You know that."
"You are my daughters and you'll do as I say!"
"Daddy, don't make me call Clark. I promised and I will call him." Lucy turned to Lois and waved her into her room. She stood and walked to the door. When she reached it, she leaned on it, a heavy sigh escaping her. "Daddy, I will call him. Now, please, don't make this any more difficult than it already is. You remember what the doctor told us."
"I don't care what any doctor said. I am a doctor, too you know, and I demand to see my daughter."
Lucy stood by the door. "I'm dialing, Daddy."
"No you're not."
"Fine." Lucy walked to the phone. "I really am now, Daddy." Clark answered on the other end. "Clark? Hi, I'm sorry to bother you, but Daddy showed up and won't leave. No, I didn't let him in…"
"Fine! I'm leaving! But I won't forget this, young lady!"
Lucy heard footsteps heading away from the door. "Okay, Clark, I think he's gone."
Clark sighed on the other end of the phone line. "I'm sorry you have to go through this, Lucy."
"It's no problem, Clark. It's my sister and my niece or nephew we're talking about here. I'll do anything for them."
"Thank you, Lucy. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that. I was going to ask Superman to stop by and check on you guys if I saw him, but it seems that you can take care of things. I think that I'll see if my mom can come out and help, too. I haven't called her to tell her about all of this yet, but I know she'll want to help out."
"Lois told me all about your mom and her, uh, artwork." Lucy heard Clark chuckle over the wire. "She sounds great. I can't wait to meet her."
"You'll like her. Can I talk to Lois?"
"Yeah, let me get her."
Lois picked up the phone in their bedroom. "Hi, honey. How's work?"
"I miss you, too. Anything big on the Secretary of State?"
"No, nothing going on today. Even Superman seems to have taken the day off."
"Well, that's good, I guess."
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, Clark. Honest. Daddy didn't come in and I doubt Mother will be back after last night." Lucy had hung up the other extension and was now standing in the doorway with a puzzled look on her face. "Really, I'm okay."
"Well, maybe Superman could fly my mom out to stay with you. I'm sure Lucy needs to get back to work soon and we wouldn't have to worry about, well, you know."
"I know, Clark. I'd love to spend time with your mom. If it's okay with her and Superman, have him bring her, if you see him. It would be really nice to have his phone number or something."
Clark laughed. "It would, wouldn't it? You get some rest, sweetie, and I'll call Mom. Have a good day."
"I will. I love you."
"I love you, too. 'Bye."
Lois hung up the phone.
Lucy didn't wait long. "What happened last night with Mom?"
"Oh, she tried to come to see us. Clark saw her parking and met her downstairs. He wouldn't let her come up and she was mad. Really mad." Lois sighed. "Clark doesn't know I watched out the window, but I did. I think the last time I saw her that mad was when you told her you moving in with what's-his-name the day after you graduated."
Lucy grimaced. "That mad, huh? I thought she was going to blow a gasket that day. Her face turned so red that she looked like a tomato! And that was a classic babble speech if I ever heard one."
"I remember. She didn't get to give one of her big speeches. Clark somehow got her back into the car and on her way in less than three minutes."
"Three minutes?! WOW!" Lucy was amazed. "Mom never gives up that easily. Clark must have turned on the charm or something."
Lois laughed. "Clark can pretty persuasive. I don't know what he told her, but whatever it was it worked. Now, enough about me — what about you and Jimmy?! Since when are you two together?"
Lucy settled in on the bed. Her eyes shone as she started talking about the new love of her life. "Well, I went by the Planet a couple of months ago, and you weren't there. Jimmy showed me around and asked if I'd like to go out sometime. I told him that I didn't want to go out with a friend of my sister's. He seemed pretty surprised that I thought you were his friend."
Lois laughed. "I guess I can see that. I can be pretty abrupt with him when I'm upset or he can't find what I'm looking for."
"I know how you can be, Lois. Anyway, a couple of weeks later, he called me up and we went out. He really is a sweet guy, you know. Anyway, we talked about it and we decided that we didn't want to tell you right away." Lucy grinned at her big sister. "That's why I can't be too mad at you for not telling us right away, but at least I didn't run off and marry him!"
Lois laughed with her. "I wish you would have told me. How are things going with you now?"
"They are wonderful. Jimmy is an amazing guy. He's really sweet and he takes care of me. Not like Clark takes care of you — I mean, getting Superman to take you to a deserted island. I don't think Jimmy could pull that off! But he always treats me like a lady. He's a real gentleman when I'm around. Lois, how did you know that Clark was the one for you?"
"It's a bit early for that isn't it?"
"Well, you knew CJ was the only one for you in like 10 minutes, didn't you?"
"Well, yes, but I'm weird. We're weird. It's not like that for most people, I don't think. What makes you think that Jimmy could be the one for you, anyway?"
"I don't know. I've never felt this way about anyone before. When he kisses me, I mean, I can't describe it. My heart pounds in my chest. I can't breathe. My knees get all weak and I have a hard time standing up. It's like there are fireworks going off in my head. Fireworks, shooting stars and flashbulbs all rolled up together. I feel like I'm floating in the clouds. And you know what makes this so much different? It's not about me. It's not that he can make me feel good about myself. I mean, don't get me wrong, he goes out of his way to make sure I'm happy, but I want to make him happy. I want to know what he likes and what makes him tick and find out all about him and what I can do to make his life a little better, a little easier. And it's not about him either. Most of my boyfriends have all been about them. What do I have to do for him? What do I have to do to keep him from leaving? It's not like that with Jimmy. With Jimmy I do those things because I want to. And he tries to do the same things for me. It's not just physical attraction with Jimmy. I mean, even though we're living together, we haven't well, you know." Lucy blushed a little bit. "I love being with him and sleeping close to him, but we talked about it and decided that we didn't want to pressure each other into something we aren't ready for. When it happens, it happens. That makes him different than any other guy I've ever dated. They were all after one thing and one thing only. Jimmy's not like that. He wants to be with me for me, not for my body."
Tears were beginning to sneak out Lois' eyes. "Now who's babbling?" Both sisters laughed. "He sounds like Clark in a lot of ways. I've worked with Jimmy for almost a year now, but I've never really gotten to know him really well. Clark didn't pressure when we met in D.C. and he still doesn't. Neither one of us were really ready for the whole wedding thing and even though I got pregnant on our wedding night, after that, it was difficult for both of us to commit fully to a relationship — a complete relationship — when we didn't really know each other as people. It was after I found out I was pregnant, that, we, uh, well, I'm not going into details with you!"
Lucy laughed. "Good, I don't want details! I do want to know if it was everything you hoped it would be after, well, your less enjoyable experience with you-know-who."
"Lucy," Lois giggled, "it was 'super'!"
Clark hung up the phone. It sounded like Lucy had things under control at the apartment. He needed to call his mom and see if she'd come visit for a few days. They really needed a new place and soon. Maybe, if the weekend was nice, and Perry let him off work, they could go look for a house.
His reverie was interrupted. "Hey, CK. How's Lois doing? We were all so scared when Lucy called and told us the big news."
"She's fine, Jimmy. The baby's fine and everything's just… fine!" Clark smiled up at the younger man. "What I'm more interested in is you and my sister-in-law. She's my sister now and that makes me her big brother and so you have to deal with me!" Clark tried to look stern.
Jimmy laughed. "Nice try, CK, but you couldn't look mean if you wanted to! Now, Superman, on the other hand — he seems like a nice guy, but I really wouldn't want to get on HIS bad side!" Jimmy didn't notice Clark trying to hide a smirk as he sat on the edge of the older man's desk. "You don't have anything to worry about from me. I'll treat her right."
"Clark, I think I'm falling in love with her. She's amazing! She is the most wonderful person in the world and I think that I want to spend the rest of my life with her. That's a big thing for me. I mean, I know we don't know each other real well, and so you wouldn't know this, but that's something that I've never thought with any other girl I ever dated. I don't want to know what I can get out of this relationship, but what she wants and what she needs."
"That's great, Jimmy. I'm happy for you guys, really I am. And Lois is, too. But watch out. She'll come after you if she even thinks you might be hurting her sister."
"Hey, who do you think named her 'Mad Dog Lane'? But don't tell her that!"
"Gotta go. Chief needs something." Jimmy rolled his eyes. "COMING, CHIEF!"
Clark looked around the newsroom. Someone stood at the railing overlooking the pit. Someone Clark never wanted to see again.
Lex Luthor surveyed the area with some disdain. He never understood why someone would WANT to work for a living, but he knew these little minions were necessary to perpetuate his empire.
He walked directly towards the office of the Editor-in-Chief. No second-rate information for him. He looked annoyed when his way was blocked by a younger, more muscular man.
"Can I help you, Mr. Luthor?" Clark Kent stared him straight in the eyes.
"I don't think so, Mr… I'm sorry, I don't remember your name." Luthor's eyes showed anything but an apology.
"If you have something to talk to Perry about, I suggest you clear it through me first."
"Well, I doubt you'll be any help." Lex looked around. "Where is the lovely Ms. Lane? I'd prefer to speak with her."
"Ms. Lane is home, ill."
"Oh. Well, perhaps I'll call on her there. She did want an interview after all."
Clark took a step towards the older man. "I don't think so. She told me all about your little dinner."
"What does it matter to you?"
"I'm her husband and so anything that happens to her affects me, and when someone tries to hit on my wife, it bothers me a little bit."
"If you were so secure in your marriage…" Luthor was mildly annoyed to find out that this… this… thing was married to the lovely Lois Lane. He smiled to himself. He shouldn't be too hard to take care of.
"I am secure in the love of my wife for me. And I know that you are up to something and I'm not going to let you get away with it."
Luthor looked down his nose at the taller man. "I don't know what you're talking about. If you'll excuse me." Luthor turned on one heel and marched out of the newsroom, his eyes barely containing his hatred for the reporter.
Clark walked to the window. He saw Lex enter a limousine that headed away from Luthor Towers and towards the apartment he now shared with his wife.
Clark headed towards the stairwell. He had to get home before Luthor showed up. He heard Jimmy calling after him, but ignored the call. Seconds later, he was airborne in bright red and blue.
Clark landed on the roof of the apartment building and changed back into his street clothes. He waited until Luthor entered the building and then went downstairs, staying out of sight and keeping an eye on all that happened. Lucy opened the door and didn't appear to want to let the imposing, wealthy man in. Lois appeared behind her in the doorway. Clark could see interest and apprehension fighting for control in her eyes.
She must have agreed that Luthor could come in, because Lucy opened the door a little wider and Luthor entered. Clark waited a few minutes, unsure of what to do, mainly because of the, well, sentry was the word that came to mind, outside the door. He shook is head. He was Superman, for crying out loud. If he really wanted to, nothing could stop him. Clark took a deep breath and decided maybe he better pay his visit as Superman. He went back up to the roof and was hovering outside their living room window in seconds. He pushed the window open and stepped inside.
Luthor shot him a look of death. Lois sat in the chair while Lucy was on the couch, as close to her sister and as far from Luthor as she could get.
Lois looked up startled, and somewhat annoyed by the title. "Superman." She stood and walked towards him. "What are you doing here?"
Superman answered her, but his gaze was directed at the tycoon. "Clark told me that Luthor stopped by the newsroom looking for you. Clark told him you weren't to be bothered and asked me to make sure that everything was okay. Mr. Luthor, Mr. Kent told you not to come here. I suggest you leave."
"Mr. ah, what's your moniker again? No matter. I am here at Ms. Lane's invitation and when she asks me to go I will."
Lois turned and looked at him. "Lex, you better go. If you want an interview, my partner and I would be glad to meet with you for lunch or dinner some evening."
"We shall see, Ms. Lane. We shall see." Luthor stood to leave. "Don't think this is over, Superboy. The world isn't big enough for both of us." He left the apartment, knowing that there would be two people he needed to get rid of so he could be with the woman of his dreams — Lois' wimpy husband and that annoying not-so-super-hero.
Lucy was unable to move during the entire exchange. She was in the same room as the world's only superhero, and he was protecting her sister.
"Lois, Clark will be here in a few minutes. You know you don't need to be upset and there is something no good about that man. I'm sorry for referring to you as 'Mrs. Kent', but it seemed that Mr. Luthor needed reminding of your married status."
"I know. It's okay." Lois heard Lucy clearing her throat. "Superman, this is my little sister, Lucy Lane."
Superman smiled at the young lady who was having difficulty finding her voice. "It's nice to meet you, Ms. Lane." He took her hand and bent low to kiss it. "Ladies, I must go." He tilted his head to the side. "I think that's Clark coming down the hall now. Lois. Lucy. Have a good day." With that he was gone out the window.
Lucy sank into the couch. "WOW! He really is as good-looking as he seems on T.V."
Lois smiled and sat back down in the chair. "He is, isn't he? But Clark's better looking!"
"You're blinded by love."
"Yes, I am. And that's okay with me."
"Well, I guess, Jimmy's close. He does have amazing eyes. But Superman's are the color of chocolate."
"So are Clark's," Lois added dreamily, staring at the ceiling, wondering when he'd be back. She heard the door open. "Clark?"
"Hey, honey." Clark crossed the room to sit on the armrest next to his wife. "Did Luthor show up here?"
Lucy answered. "So did Superman."
Clark looked at Lois, his eyes full of concern. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, Clark. I don't know why Superman needed to show up. All Lex wanted to do was talk."
"Lois, the doctor said no stress and that man is no good."
"Clark, let it go."
"I won't. Lucy, could you excuse us for a minute?" Lucy nodded and headed for the kitchen. "Look, Lois, he came down to the Planet. I can't explain it, but the look in his eyes… He's up to no good. I don't trust him."
"Clark, you're being silly. And I can take care of myself."
"Lois, I worry about you and the baby. Did you tell him you're pregnant?"
"I just don't want him to know. I have a horrible feeling about this and I don't want him anywhere near the two of you."
"I know you think that, Clark, but why can't you accept that maybe he's just a nice guy with no ulterior motive?"
"I just don't think he is. There's something evil about him. There just is."
"Look, Clark. Can't we just agree to disagree on this?"
Clark sighed. "I guess, but Lois, I don't want you near him unless I'm around."
Lois rolled her eyes at him. "I guess, Clark." She moved so that she was looking him straight in the eye. "I can think of something else I'd rather do than disagree with you anyway."
Clark smiled. "What's that?"
"This." Lois kissed him softly on the lips.
Martha had agreed to come to Metropolis to help out for the next few days. Superman was going to fly her in that night. Lois smiled, glad for the time she was going to spend with her wonderful mother-in-law. She thought back to the conversation in the kitchen the Friday before.
"Martha, can I talk to you? I mean really talk?"
"Sure, honey. You can tell me anything."
"Will you tell Clark?"
Martha thought for a minute. "If there's something you really don't want my son to know, I won't tell him, but there isn't room for secrets in a marriage."
"I know. It's just that, the last two weeks have been great sometimes, and horrid the rest of the time." Lois sat at the kitchen table, cradling a cup of coffee in her hands. "The times that we spend alone together, even if it's in the middle of the sidewalk with lots of people around, is absolutely incredible." Lois yawned. "The rest of the time, when we're apart, is torture. I mean, I know we can't be together 24 hours a day, but even if I'm on one story and Clark's on another for even a short period of time, I miss him like crazy. And at night… night is something else all together. I am always exhausted — I think lying or hiding is taking everything out of me — but I don't sleep well. I'll sleep eight hours over night and then need a nap in the afternoon. I miss having Clark hold me in his arms and listening to him breathe while he sleeps. The stress is just too much. I mean, I'm even two days late, and I'm never late. The stress is just incredible for that to happen."
Martha sat there, digesting what Lois said. "Lois, you're never late?"
"No. Not since junior high. I've always been right on time."
Martha took a deep breath. "Honey, have you thought that stress isn't the reason you're late?"
"What other reason could there be?" Lois didn't have any idea what Martha was talking about.
"Well, Clark doesn't tell us everything, but he did tell us that the two of you were, well, compatible is the word he used."
Lois blushed. "Our wedding night was wonderful, absolutely amazing. In fact, we're pretty sure we were floating." Lois turned even more red and stared into her coffee. "I can't believe I just said that!"
Martha laughed. "It's okay, really."
Lois sighed. "But we haven't been… together since. It's not that we don't want to, we do, but this last week, I've been so exhausted and before that, well, we didn't really know each other very well, and we both wanted to wait until we were more than just married strangers."
"So, only that once?"
"Yes, just that once. Two weeks ago tonight, to be exact."
"Well, Lois, we don't know much about Clark's physiology, and we don't know if he can have kids…"
"Oh, goodness, how to put this? It isn't something that people talk about all that often."
"We don't know if Clark's… well, if Clark could even get a woman pregnant."
"PREGNANT?!" Lois couldn't believe what Martha was saying. "YOU THINK I'M PREGNANT?!"
"Calm down, Lois. It's a possibility. The timing's right."
"Yes, honey. It is. I've never had a baby, but I do know how the process works. The new mother gets really, really tired, is a few days late and sometimes gets sick."
"Well, I haven't been sick. I mean, I'd be having morning sickness by now, wouldn't I? I mean if this crazy idea is really true."
"Not necessarily. Not everyone gets morning sickness and not at the same time either."
Lois set down her cup of coffee. She was stunned. "You really think I could be pregnant?"
"Well, like I said, we don't know if Clark can have kids, if he's biologically compatible with regular women. We don't know if he's even human."
"I know. This is too much to take in all at once. I don't know if I can deal with this."
"Lois, if you are pregnant, all kinds of things could happen. We don't know if the child will be carried the same way or the same gestation period as for a — I hate to use the word normal, but you know what I mean — normal child. We know Clark didn't start getting his powers until he was in junior high, but he never got sick. There would really be no way of knowing for years if this child is going to be like Clark or somewhat like Clark — if the child has all of his powers, or no powers or some of them."
"Martha," Lois groaned, "I'm not ready to think about all of this. We don't even know if I am pregnant."
"I know. I guess the first thing to do is find out if you are or not."
"I guess. How do we do that?"
"Well, while the boys are working, we'll go to town tomorrow and get a pregnancy test and then you can take it."
"What about Clark?"
"Well, if you are pregnant, you're going to have to tell him."
"I KNOW that! I mean, do you think I should tell him now? Or wait until we know I am pregnant? And if I'm not, do I tell him it was a possibility? He wants kids so badly, I don't know if he could take it if I told him I thought I might be pregnant and then turned out not to be. It would devastate him."
"I know. It's up to you. If you want to tell him, he'll be there for you no matter what the test says. If you want to wait, he'd understand that, too, though it will catch him a little off guard."
"Well, I'm a little off guard, so it would only be fair."
Martha laughed as the door opened. Her husband and son walked in.
"What's only fair, honey?" Clark kissed his wife on the cheek.
"Oh, that I get paid more than you." Lois looked at Martha, her eyes pleading with her mother-in-law not to say anything.
"She's right, honey. She does deserve more money than you."
Clark sat down and…
Lois was glad Martha had suggested she was pregnant. If she hadn't, Lois still wouldn't know what was wrong with her. Not that she had felt sick or anything, except for the collapse at the restaurant, but she was glad that she was pregnant and everything was out in the open. And now she could spend as much time as she wanted in the incredible arms of her husband and not worry about who might see. She heard the now-familiar woosh as her husband landed with his mother in his arms. Lois smiled. Everything was going to be okay.
Lex Luthor stood staring out the window of his penthouse suite. "Asabi?"
"Did you get it?"
"Will it work?"
"I believe so, sir."
Luthor turned and saw his faithful helper open the lead box. Inside was a strange green rock that glowed in the dark room. "What exactly is it?"
"We believe it is part of the planet that Superman was from."
"Will it kill him?"
"I believe so, sir."
Luthor turned and looked over the city, spread below him like a carpet. "Once the big blue banana is out of the way, getting rid of Clark Kent will be easy."
"And then, Lois Lane will be all mine. She'll come to me looking for consolation and she'll get it and soon, she will be Mrs. Lex Luthor."
Luthor stood there for a long time, a smug smile on his face. Everything was going perfectly.