By Gerry Anklewicz <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: January 2002
Summary: This story is a what if … based on the beginning of Wendy Richard's "Faux Pas." Lois gets pregnant and has some very important decisions to make and then has to deal with the consequences.
After I put down a section of a story by a good writer, I want to predict what will happen next. What if? That's what happens when I begin to read one of Wendy's fanfics. I take the characters that she has borrowed (from December 3 Productions) and the plot that she has tempted me with, and my imagination takes off. Most of the time, her endings satisfy me. But this one time, when I read the beginning of Faux Pas I wanted to take Wendy's opening premise and see what Lois would do if she did become pregnant after one irresponsible night with Clark, very early in their relationship.
And that's how Divinity's End came about. In addition, I sometimes feel that Lois and Clark don't really have difficult choices to make. I'd like to see them try to come to terms with some difficult decisions that may not be popular with the readers. Some of you may be upset by the direction I am taking this. Some of you may not like what Lois or Clark have done or what they've made me do to them. That's okay.
For those of you who are worried about where this is going to end, let me just quote Hamlet who acknowledged that, "There's a divinity that shapes our ends/Rough-hew them how we will."
So, thank you Wendy, for letting me use Faux Pas as a beginning point for this story. Thank you to Jude Williams, ML Thompson for being beta-readers par excellence. You two are the best. Thank you to non-FoLC Coach Paul who taught me all I will ever need to know about football equipment and football injuries and Ann McBride who filled in the American side of football that I was totally ignorant about and who helped me get Jon's age and education right. Thanks go to Laurie, my GE. And finally thank you to the faithful on Zoom's message board who let me know how I was doing. You kept challenging me and I loved it.
Lois looked down at the summer intern applications on her desk. As city editor, she had to choose one of three applicants to work in the city room under her supervision. The first two candidates looked good. They were second year journalism majors with experience on their high school and college newspapers. The third applicant was the one she kept coming back to. He was a third year science student with extensive newspaper experience. Like the others, he had high school and college experience, but he had also worked on his local newspaper. He actually had several op ed pieces published in newspapers across the US about his summer travels and his experience in the big city. The articles showed insight and a sense of humour. In addition, he had investigated and proven financial corruption at Metropolis U's Student Council. Normally, she would not have second thoughts about hiring him. But this was different.
Jonathan Kent. She'd tried to ignore his existence for twenty-one years, but he had come back to haunt her. No, that wasn't true: he had never left her.
"Ms Lane. Your nine o'clock interview is here," Lois's secretary, interrupted.
"Thanks, Jenny. Send him in."
Jonathan Kent walked into her office confidently. He was well over six feet, broad, well built. Like his father, Lois thought. And like Clark Kent, he had a disarming smile.
He reached over her desk offering his hand. "It's an honour meeting you, Ms Lane."
"Jonathan," she shook his hand, pleased with his firm grip.
"Please call me Jon."
"Pleased to meet you, Jon." She offered him a seat and in order to avoid any small talk, she went straight to the heart of the interview. "You are one of three applicants that we are interviewing. It's unusual in that you're the only applicant in many years who hasn't been a journalism student. Yet, you have the richest journalism background of this year's applicants. So tell me, why would a science student want to spend his summer interning for a newspaper?"
"For a lot of reasons, Ms Lane. First of all, I love writing and I love investigating. My father's a newspaper editor and a syndicated columnist, so I worked for him for many summers. I've learned a lot from him."
"Your father's Clark Kent," Lois stated quietly. "We worked together when he was here at the Planet."
"He never mentioned that. But then I haven't told him that I applied for this position."
"Well, he kinda hoped that I'd come home to Smallville for the summer and work on his paper, but I'd like to broaden my horizons."
"Why do you want the position here?"
"I think that the experience could be very interesting. I understand the workings of a small-town newspaper very well. I've helped my dad with writing news stories. I've even had some experience investigating small town mysteries and indiscretions. I was lucky enough, one summer, to work with the local sheriff uncovering a puzzling murder and then writing it up for the paper."
"Yet, you want to be a doctor. Why?"
"Because I like to help people, and I think that as a physician, I'll be able to do that. I can still write freelance. I'm pretty good at time management."
"According to your application, you've been on the Dean's List every semester."
"Well, I like studying, so I find it very easy."
"Why did you come to Metropolis? You're from Smallville, Kansas."
"I wanted to explore more of the world. Get more experience. Be more independent. Smallville is really… small, and Metropolis is the most exciting city in the country."
"Why do you want to work at the Daily Planet?"
"It's one of the most respected newspapers in the country with a reputation for honest, yet tenacious and meticulous reporting. But, part of my reason for applying here is to have the opportunity to work with you. You have a reputation for having been one of the city's top investigative reporters and as editor, for bringing out the best in summer interns like me. I'd really like to have a chance to work with you."
"We'll see how far flattery will get you, young man." For the first time during the interview, Lois allowed herself to smile.
Jon Kent was charming and articulate. He really would be the perfect summer intern, but Lois just wasn't sure if she could handle having him in the newsroom on a daily basis for the next four months.
"I'm going to interview the other two applicants later today and then I'll make up my mind. I'll let you know either way this evening. Is this the number where I can reach you?"
"Are you living on campus for the summer?"
"If I get this job, I will. The rent is cheap, and I don't really need more than my room."
"All right. I'll let you know one way or another this evening." Lois stood up and escorted Jon to her office door. They shook hands and she watched as Jon confidently walked towards the elevator. From the back, he looked a lot like Clark. His hair was longer, in the style that college students wore their hair these days, but he had the same broad shoulders and a similar gait.
"Dad," exclaimed Jon that evening as he spoke to his father on the phone. "You'll never guess what happened?"
"Okay. I can't guess. What happened?" asked Clark Kent.
"You know how I didn't know what to do this summer and I needed to make some money but I wanted to do something exciting? Well, I applied for this summer internship at the Daily Planet and, are you ready for this? I got it. I didn't think that I'd get it 'cause I'm not a journalism major. But I got it, Dad. I got it. I'll be making a decent student salary and I'll be working for the Daily Planet just like you did. Whaddya think?"
"Thanks for giving me the chance to say something," Clark managed to get in. "That's great, son. Congratulations. What'll you be doing?"
"I'll be working in the city room probably doing research and different go-fer-type jobs. I don't care as long as I'm working at the Daily Planet. I'm sure the grunt work there is bigger and better than any of the jobs you gave me." Jon's voice was more animated than usual.
"I'm sure it will be. Who'll you be working for?"
"The city editor."
"The city editor?" Clark paused, "Lois Lane?"
"That's right, Dad. She's a real nice woman. She asked me lotsa questions that I didn't expect to get at a job interview. But I liked her. She didn't seem as tough as I thought she'd be."
"Lois Lane, eh? How is she?"
"Fine, I guess. She did say she remembered you. How long ago did you work there, Dad?"
"About twenty years ago."
"Was she as good as people say she was?"
"Better. She has quite a few Kerths and she did get the Pulitzer for her investigation of corruption in the welfare system. So, tell me, when do you start?"
"A week Monday, after my chem exam."
"Are you coming home for the weekend?"
"No, I have a lot to do here."
"Do you want me to fly in?"
"You can if you want, but I haven't got too much time. I'll try to get home the weekend after I start working. How're Grams and Gramps?"
"Grams is feeling okay, but Gramps is having angina attacks. He's really slowed down over the last few months." Clark paused for a moment. "Jon?"
"Come home for a few hours and visit with them when you get a chance. I think they need it."
"Sure, Dad. I'll make some time and I'll be home within the next few days."
"Love you, son."
"Luv ya too, Dad."
Clark held onto the receiver as he thought about his son working for Lois Lane. What must she be feeling at this time? He hung up the phone, spun into his Superman suit and headed toward Metropolis.
Lois sat looking at Jon Kent's application. She'd hired Jon against her better judgment because she couldn't not hire him. He was the strongest applicant. But she also knew that her curiosity got the better of her. Not only was he built like Clark Kent— tall, strong, broad- shouldered, small-waisted— but he had Clark's thick, luxurious black hair (she wondered if Clark was balding), his almond-shaped, brown eyes. He looked like Clark, and yet he didn't. His lips were fuller; his eyes were larger. It all came together in a very handsome, masculine face. Jon Kent looked good.
He also handled himself well during the interview. He was articulate and understood journalism. When she threw him what she considered to be off-the-wall questions, he stayed cool and answered well. He showed maturity and sensitivity. She gave Clark credit for raising such an intelligent, pleasant and polite son.
Lois looked up from the application form when she heard a knock on her window. Superman. She hadn't seen him in a few months, but she wasn't surprised. He had a sixth sense about when she needed him. She put the application form down, went to the window and opened it.
"Superman. It's been a long time since you visited last."
"I heard that you hired a new intern today. I thought you might want to talk about it," he said as he walked into the living room.
"Thanks." Lois paused for a long time and looked her hands. "I didn't expect to see him, ever. It was so much easier not thinking about him, but now he's here. I like what I see."
"Are you going to tell him?"
"How can I? I ignored him for so long. What will he think of me?" Lois turned away from Superman and began fussing with the papers on her desk. "I can just imagine all the horrible things Clark told him about me."
"Maybe he didn't. Think about it Lois. What good would telling Jon negative things about you do? The boy doesn't need to go around resenting you all his life."
She turned around and faced Superman. "He doesn't know, does he?"
"I don't think so."
"Good," she said with determination. "He doesn't need to know."
"That's up to you, but I think it may be a mistake."
"How well do you know him, Superman?"
Superman paused and looked at Lois. "Pretty well. I've watched him grow up, become the person he is."
"Clark and the Kents did a good job of raising him, didn't they?"
"I think so."
"I'm really scared."
"Because I think that I might have made a very big mistake, and it's only now that I'm seeing it. How could I have been so callous and cold?"
"Callous and cold? Not necessarily. You probably did the right thing for both you and Jon. You've said he was well brought up. I think he was, too. You might not have been able to do that alone. Clark could."
"I feel so empty now. Cold. A good part of my life just slipped through my fingers. You always gave me the opportunity to retrieve it, and I wouldn't. I didn't even open the envelopes with his pictures in them."
"Lois, you can't look at life like that. I keep on thinking of that line from Hamlet: 'There is a divinity that shapes our ends/Rough-hew them how we will.' That divinity's given you a second chance and you took it by hiring Jon as the intern at the Planet. There's no rush. Get to know him and get to know yourself."
"When did you get to be so philosophical and wise?"
The enigmatic little smile that Superman gave Lois warmed her up momentarily. He walked over and hugged her. "I'll be going now. Good luck."
"Thanks, Superman. You've really been a good friend all these years. I really appreciate it."
"It's always a pleasure, especially now that I don't have to drag you from the brink of death." He kissed her forehead and flew out the window.
Lois watched Superman fly out the window. She marvelled at the grace he showed both in his exit and in his approach to her. Over the years, he had proven himself to be a good friend indeed. At one point, she had hoped that he would be more than just a friend, but he had gently let her know that he would not consider a romantic relationship. At times, she caught him looking at her whimsically, but mostly he was kind, considerate and professional. Lois found that disappointing, but she accepted his decision.
What was most important was that he had turned into a friend. In the beginning, Superman came offering to tell her about one of Jon's new accomplishments or to bring her pictures of the boy. After Lois declined and told him that she would rather not know, he just dropped in occasionally to see her. He wouldn't mention Jon; he would only sit with her for a short time and ask how she was doing. She knew that if she ever asked about Jon, he would be ready with some anecdote of his growing up and pictures stashed away somewhere in his cape. If she felt like talking, he let her talk; if she felt like sitting in silence, he sat with her; if she felt like crying, he held her. In short, he changed from being a superhero for her to being a good friend.
That didn't remove what began as a pain in her chest and, over the years, became a constant, dull ache that flared up periodically. And now the pain and the hollowness and the cold had returned.
How could she have been so stupid?
Lois Lane gave birth to Jonathan Kent and without ever seeing him, gave him up to Clark Kent, his father. What seemed so sensible and selfless twenty-one years ago, turned into an emptiness that ate away at her essence leaving a void that could not be filled. And she was totally responsible. And now Jonathan Kent was giving her another chance.
Lois replayed that unbelievable night one more time.
She had ended up going to Clark Kent's apartment that night because her purse had been stolen and she didn't have any money or her keys.
How many times had she gone over that night? How many times had she asked herself "if only". If only she had gone to Perry's. If only she had let Clark break her door open. If only she had woken up her building's super. If only…if only. But she didn't do any of those things. She'd agreed to go to Clark's where they got silly and got drunk, and then she challenged him to kiss her. If only she hadn't challenged him to kiss her. But she did and he did, and it was a wonderful kiss. She could still remember how his lips felt against hers. If only his lips hadn't been so soft, tentative, inviting. And rather than stopping, they both got carried away. She let him touch her. She had never been touched like that before. There was warmth and strength and deference and awe. He made her feel as no man had ever made her feel before. If only she had stopped when he had given her the opportunity. But she couldn't because she knew that his touch was a different touch than she had ever had before. If only he hadn't entered her. But he did and because they hadn't planned or even thought that intimacy was possible between them, they had no protection. No protection against conception, no protection against hurt, no protection against the coldness and the emptiness. No protection against life.
In the morning when Lois woke up beside Clark, she was appalled by her own irresponsibility and impulsiveness. She quickly got out of bed, located her clothes that were strewn throughout the apartment, a testament of her careless abandon the previous night, and headed for the bathroom where she quickly dressed. She didn't allow any remembrances of the night before to pop up in her consciousness. And when she walked out of the bathroom and through the bedroom where she hoped Clark was still asleep, she saw him lying on the bed looking at her with a besotted grin on his face. The expression changed quickly when he saw her dressed to leave. Lois was sure that he was ready to call her back to bed when she turned on him and said very firmly, "It was a mistake, Clark. It never happened." And with that, she charged out of his bedroom, through the living room, up the stairs and out the door.
Once Mr. Tradewski let her into her apartment, Lois leaned against the door, took a deep breath and let it out slowly. She really was stupid. Her instincts were right when she decided she should stay away from men at work. When it came down to it, she couldn't control herself. Now how was she going to face Kent? She practically begged him to have sex with her. She wasn't going to think about last night. She was going to get into the shower, change and pick up the pieces of her life. It was only a stolen purse.
In the shower, as the hot water pounded on her back, she realized that she couldn't forget that incredible night. You don't forget when someone has made love to you. You don't forget touches that set every cell of your body on fire and screaming for more. You don't forget the feeling of being totally filled and sated with another human being while at the same time craving for the moment never to end. You don't forget the best sex you've ever had. And so, Lois closed her eyes and let the memories wash over her. That's all that they would ever be. Memories. No repeat. She had to stay away from Kent. That's the first thing that she'd do. Let Perry know that partnering her with Kent was out of the question. They didn't work well together. The next thing she had to do was move her desk to the other side of the city room. It was probably time that she sat near a window. She could use the excuse that she was on the look out for Superman. And she'd have to talk to Kent to let him know that last night was an aberration. He took advantage of her in a weak moment. That's it. No discussion.
Lois was able to maintain some distance from Clark at the office. She had even convinced Perry that having two such good reporters working together as a team was inefficient. Perry argued with her, but finally agreed and gave them their own stories. They only had to speak to each other minimally. She got her window desk and spent a lot of time staring out the window, ostensibly looking for Superman. Clark did his work. Lois did hers. Every so often she would feel him staring at her, but when she glared at him, he'd look away. It was a mistake. It never happened. When Clark did try to approach her and talk, she repeated: "It was a mistake. It never happened. I don't ever want to talk about it again."
Often when she was caught unaware, she would think about that night and long for the excitement, the tenderness, the passion, the fulfilling sex, the closeness of Clark. But when she caught herself thinking about that night, she began her mantra: It was a mistake. It never happened.
"It was a mistake. It never happened," she kept repeating to herself. And she believed that for a long time. Until she missed her period. She bought one of those home pregnancy tests. Sitting on the edge of the tub, she watched the stick turn blue. It was a mistake. It happened.
She tried to relate the meaning of the blue stick to herself. She was pregnant. She was carrying a baby. She looked at her body in the mirror. It didn't seem any different to her. She looked down at her stomach—still flat, no fullness. Her breasts were a bit tender, but that didn't mean that she was pregnant. No. The blue stick was a mistake. It didn't happen. There was nothing happening inside her.
Intellectually, Lois knew that she was pregnant. Emotionally, she didn't feel anything. She couldn't relate to what was happening in her body. Her heart did not connect with her womb.
Nonetheless, Lois knew that she had some important choices to make and she had to make them quickly or she would have no choice at all. Could she go through with a pregnancy? She closed her eyes and pictured herself growing more pregnant over the next eight months. She would be pregnant and then a single mother. She had never pictured herself as a mother. It took time and patience — a trait, she admitted to herself, she lacked. She pictured herself instead as a busy investigative reporter jumping from story to story. That was what she wanted. That was what fulfilled her. And then she saw a baby in her life and there was no time. She pictured the child, neglected, forgotten, ignored when a story was more important. She'd written about children like that. A single mother could not be a Pulitzer Prize winner. A single mother could only hope for a few, infrequent page one stories. And she looked back at the hard work and long hours that she put into her career and saw it flying out of her hands. Lois Lane was no longer in control.
One night, one long night had turned her life upside- down in the time it took for one small stick to turn blue. She was at a loss. If only she could make the pregnancy go away. It would be so easy.
But as much as Lois believed that a woman should choose what should happen to her body, she couldn't bring herself to seriously think about an abortion. It didn't seem right. There had to be another way. On the other hand, she couldn't think about this thing growing inside her. She hoped that it would go away on its own and take the weighty decision out of her hands.
She deliberated over telling Clark what was happening, but until she made up her mind or until it was obvious that she was pregnant, she decided not to tell him anything. Clark would probably want to do the right thing, and she'd lose control. Clark, in his own quiet way, had proved that he could be very persuasive, and this was a decision that only she was going to make. Once again, she took the easy route. She avoided.
A few days later, she sat in a story meeting, discussing one more bombing in a recent slate of terrorist incidents in women's centres throughout the country. She resented being held hostage by a number of extremists who had a thwarted idea of what life is or should be. When Perry asked her to go to a few clinics in Metropolis and interview the workers for a story, she jumped at the chance. She also consciously knew that she wanted more information for herself because she knew that this pregnancy would not go away by itself.
She surprised herself with a comprehensive series of articles on the bombings and followed up with an article about the centres themselves. Women helping other women. Personally, she found the staff's approach to the patients very comforting. Women came to the centre for a variety of reasons including mammograms, birth control information, wellness programs and counselling. It was a fully rounded women's health centre. The extremists forgot about the all-encompassing health view that the centres took. The pregnant woman, who was interested in abortion, was given all the facts about the preparations for the procedure, a step-by-step run through of what she could expect on the day of the abortion and the follow-up visits and care that were necessary. As well, psychological counselling was available. The pregnant woman was also told that she could stop the process at any time up until the actual abortion itself. The pregnant woman was in control.
She surprised Perry, a week later, when she told him that she was taking a few personal days off. It wasn't something she had ever done before, but it was something that she needed to do now. She didn't totally understand the logic of her decision; she only knew that she couldn't have a child at this time in her life, and her options were limited.
So, on the appointed day, alone, she took a cab to the Women's College Health Centre. Although the clinic nurse suggested the she come with a friend or relative, Lois knew that there wasn't anyone with whom she could share this information.
Telling her mother was out of the question. Lois could imagine how her mother would give her grief over the whole situation. She already knew all of her mother's irrational and faulty reasoning. Lucy, on the other hand, was a possibility, but she really didn't want to share this with her younger sister. With hindsight, she realized that she was uncomfortable and embarrassed by her decision.
She didn't want Clark to be a part of the decision (it was bad enough that he was part of the problem). Working with him in the weeks following that one night had been torture. He looked at her with his puppy dog eyes, ready to make up for whatever his transgression was, not really knowing the extent of the damage of their one encounter. She avoided him as much as she could, but it wasn't enough. He was always there, an unspoken apology on his lips, hope written on his face.
This was her problem, her mistake. She would take care of it.
As she entered the clinic on the morning of her appointment, she noted that a larger number of protesters than usual were parading in front, holding their placards high and chanting words of protest. She laughed at them. They couldn't intimidate her.
Chin high, she moved toward the entrance and announced her name to the receptionist who gave her the requisite health and insurance forms to fill out, and then took her into a locker area where she changed and put her street clothes away. She put on the inadequate hospital gown. Thank goodness they gave her two gowns: one to put on with the opening in the back and the other to put on like a robe with the opening in the front. She moved into the waiting area where two other women, one with a male companion, sat waiting their turns. She moved to a comfortable chair facing the TV set.
She was content to sit by herself and wait. The droning of a TV talk show host and her guest stopped her from thinking too hard about the next few hours. When the nurse came in to give her some Demerol, she relaxed even more. Short procedure. Go home. Rest. No more problem.
It didn't take long before one of the women followed a nurse through a set of double doors. She was wondering how long it would take before they came for the other woman, before it was her turn. The TV droned on. She wasn't very concerned. Her mind began to wander. She needed to do some research into Metropolis Transit Lines' overstretched budget. It seemed that something strange was going…
A loud explosion interrupted the peace, and then she felt the floor beneath her shake. Instinctively, she fell to the ground and waited to see what would happen. Screams filled the air. Then frantic shouts for help. As she lay on the floor, she saw two sets of boots stride across the floor toward the double doors. Without thinking, she yelled at them to stop.
One of them turned around and pointed a rifle at her. "Shut up or this'll be aimed at you." At the same moment, she heard a loud gun shot reverberate in her ears. She closed her eyes, but didn't feel any pain. She was not the one who got shot.
She lay on the floor in stunned silence that was broken by a hysterical voice from the operating room repeating, "Dr. Wiser, Dr. Wiser," over and over again. The screams, mixed with sobs and the incessant droning of the TV, became indelibly stamped on her mind.
Tears streamed from her eyes. She coughed. Smoke filled the room.
And then she heard a sonic boom and felt a gust of wind. Superman. She watched him grab the two men with rifles and zoom out of sight. He returned immediately, moved quickly by her, past the double doors and reappeared with a woman in hospital scrubs in his arms. She heard him mumble something about getting her to emergency. She prayed that he wouldn't see her. This was one time she didn't want to be rescued by Superman.
The sound of police and ambulance sirens budged her from her stupor. She knew she had to get up and get dressed, but her body would not respond to her mind's commands. She knew that the Demerol caused her lethargy, but she also knew that she didn't want anyone to recognize her. This was personal. If she could get dressed, she would tell anyone who recognized her that she was here to continue on with her research. She would interview the nurses and the woman in the operating room. She could get a good story out of this.
She moved slowly out of the waiting room toward the locker area. She could do this because she had to. She stepped sluggishly. In the distance she could hear her name being called by someone, but she kept on moving. Her vision was blurred by smoke coming from the locker area, but she kept on moving. She wasn't steady on her feet and she had to stop several times trying to balance herself, but she kept on moving. She covered her face with her hands in order not to breathe in the smoke.
In the end, she collapsed before she could reach the locker room and that's where Clark found her.
Another mistake, she thought to herself. If Clark hadn't found her and realized what she was doing there (not that it took a rocket scientist to figure it out), the coldness would never have entered her life. Clark had managed to get to the clinic not long after Superman. And somehow, Clark made a beeline to her and found her in the hospital gown.
There was no way she could have explained her way out of that one. Once she had been checked over by a paramedic, she was given some clothes and was allowed to go home. Clark insisted on accompanying her home, and as much as she knew that she shouldn't let him, she was so fuzzy from the Demerol that she didn't object.
Once they entered her apartment, she didn't want him to confront her, so she took the offensive.
"Whatever you're thinking, it's none of your business. It's a mistake. That's all. I don't want to talk about it. Thank you very much. You can go home now."
"I don't think so, Lois," Clark answered. He appeared to be very angry and for once he wasn't deferring to her. "We need to talk and clear the air here because it is my business."
"Not now. I'm tired and not thinking clearly. I need to rest. Leave please."
Clark looked as if he wasn't ready to leave, but he turned to her and said, "I'll leave. Just answer one question before I do. Are you pregnant with my baby?"
She wanted to lie. He didn't have to know about her sex life. It would be easy to tell him that she was pregnant by someone else. She knew that he would leave her alone if she told him that. All she had to do was say no.
"We'll talk another time then, Lois. Just promise me that you won't do anything before we talk."
She wanted to resist this and continue on with her plan. But she couldn't.
"I'll wait a short time. That's all. It's my decision, Clark."
"I'll speak to you tomorrow."
She lay down after Clark left and tried to put the events of the day together. Somehow danger and mayhem seemed to follow her even when she wasn't on Planet business. The day seemed so normal until the bomb went off and those crazed maniacs killed the doctor. How could they weigh one life against another in that way?
In her mind, she saw Superman whizzing through the clinic taking people out to safety. She was grateful that he hadn't seen her. He was the last person she would want to explain what she was doing there. She also had a feeling that he would plead on behalf of the child. She wondered what he believed in.
Then she thought about Clark. She had hoped to have the abortion without him ever finding out. One careless night didn't give him the right to dictate the path she would have to follow for the rest of her life. She wasn't sure what he was going to do or say. She knew that she wasn't looking forward to the argument that they were going to have.
The next afternoon, Clark returned to Lois's apartment bringing dim sum and chocolate brownies. While they ate, they made inane small talk about work, avoiding the real reason Clark had come over. After Lois cleaned up from their meal, Clark ran his fingers through his hair and began pacing around the kitchen.
"Lois, I don't understand this. How could you have decided to have an abortion without even talking to me about it?"
"Why would I talk to you? It's my body, isn't it?" Lois couldn't believe how presumptuous Clark was being.
"Your body, yes. But it's my baby, too. Don't I get a say in this?"
"Lois, be reasonable, here," he pleaded.
"No, Clark, you be reasonable. One night of sex does not give you the right to impose your belief system on me."
"I'm not imposing anything on you. I'm just saying that I have a right to be part of the decision-making process. Fifty per cent of the genes in this baby are mine."
"Give me a break, Kent. You put…what?…thirty seconds into its creation and I get to carry it for nine months and then care for it for the next twenty years. And suddenly you think this…this…fetus is fifty per cent yours. I don't think so." Lois strutted away from the kitchen table and moved into the living room. "This is my decision alone. She stood behind the couch and gripped its back. "And if you hadn't been Mr. Boy Scout rushing into the rescue, you still wouldn't know about it."
"You can't use my ignorance as a defence here, Lois," Clark said as he followed her into the living room.
"Clark," she said, "let me put this as plainly and clearly as I can. This is none of your damn business. Stay out of my life." She heard her voice getting louder and shriller. " Stay away from me. I will do what I think is right for me and this…this…"
"Lois, I can't believe how stubborn and blind you are."
"Stubborn? You haven't seen stubborn yet. This is my life."
"No it's not. It's mine too and I can't let you do this."
"You can't let me do this?" she repeated. "Clark, as far as I'm concerned, this discussion is over. There's the door." Lois stood pointing at the door to her left.
Clark stood with a look of absolute horror on his face. Lois stared at him trying to catch her breath. She could feel her heart pounding in her chest. She wasn't sure that she wanted this abortion, but Clark was making her so angry that she wanted to hurt him and she understood that if he knew she had an abortion, he would be very, very hurt. She walked toward the window and looked out. Superman to the rescue might be a good idea at this point. Not that she knew what he could do. And for a second, she wondered what Superman might think about this whole situation. No, she didn't really want to know.
Calmly, she turned around, relieved to see that Clark hadn't taken her up on her invitation to leave. He hadn't moved.
"Clark, I don't know why this is such a big deal," she began quietly. "After all, you're a young, good- looking guy. I'm sure any number of women would be willing to give you children."
Clark walked over to the mantle and played with one of the knickknacks for a moment. "Until that day in the abortion clinic…Lois, it never occurred to me that you could be pregnant, and before you start thinking I'm just some typical male, not thinking he has any responsibility for protection…" He paused briefly, "Lois, I didn't think it was possible for me to have children. I guess that's why I never thought about protection."
"I don't really see the relevance of this," she said impatiently, "I am pregnant. So it's obvious, unless you think I'm lying to you that you're the father. So why not…"
"But, Lois, that's just it. As far as I know, this is a fluke…"
"Great," she muttered, wondering how exactly she had become the one to bear the brunt of this fluke.
"If you abort this child…I don't know if I'll ever have another chance. I can't…" His voice broke and he quickly turned away from her. She watched him as he stood at the mantle. Was he brushing away tears?
After a few moments of silence, Clark turned back to face her. "Lois," he said quietly, "I've put a lot of thought into this. I know this is your body and it's up to you to make any decisions, but please don't go ahead with the abortion."
"Well, I'm glad that you recognize that it's my body and my decision."
"I do, Lois, but I feel that this baby is partially mine and I'd like to be part of the decision-making process." Clark paused and hesitantly looked at her.
"There isn't much to decide here. Either I have an abortion or I don't. If I don't, then I have to raise this…this… baby. It's not even real, Clark. It's just a blue stick."
She watched Clark raise his eyebrows. "What I mean," she explained, "is I don't feel pregnant. I just took a test and the stick turned blue. How do I know it's not lying to me?"
"It feels real to me. I'd like you to have the baby, Lois."
"I don't think it's your choice here, Clark," she felt her voice rising again. She paused in order to calm herself. "I've thought about this a great deal, Clark, and you can't assume ownership of my body because of one irresponsible night."
"I don't want ownership of your body, Lois. I'm just asking you to consider some alternatives while the options are still there."
"Alternatives? Like what?"
"I'd like to offer another choice. I've spoken to my parents and they agree with me."
"You've spoken to your parents? Who else have you told? Perry? Jimmy? The world?" Once again Lois's voice became shrill.
"No one, but I needed to talk to them because they're part of my plan, my alternative."
"Go ahead," she said skeptically.
"Okay. My first option is that you have the baby and I'll help you take care of him or her. I'll just be near- by and always available. I'll take as active a part as you want me to." Lois was sure that her doubt was evident on her face. "Or have the baby," Clark went on, "and if you don't want to keep it, I'll take him or her, move to Smallville and my parents will help me raise him…or her."
"Because…this baby means a lot to me and it's important to me to raise him…if you don't want to, that is."
"Why does it mean so much to you? I'm sure that you'll father other children, Clark. Why this one? And don't go on about this being a fluke."
"Lois, you know I was adopted. I have no idea who my parents are. I feel like I'm alone in the world, and all of a sudden, there's a genetic link to me, something that I've never had before."
"So this is a biological thing?"
"I never thought I could father children. Not knowing who I am biologically makes me feel different than anyone else. Now all of a sudden, I'm not as different as I thought."
"So this is a guy thing? Look, I can father kids. I'm a man."
"No, Lois. It's hard to explain. I think it's an…an adopted person thing."
"Okay, so you want me to carry this for the next eight months, and then you'll take it away to Smallville with you?"
"Only if you don't want to raise him…or her. If you wanted to raise her, then we could work something out."
"You have this all figured out, don't you?"
"Not all, but I looked at the alternatives. Look Lois, I'd ask you to marry me, but I think that you'd rather kill me first."
"Finally, something that we both can agree on. Getting married for the sake of an unborn baby isn't a good way to start a relationship." Hell, she thought, her parents got married because they loved each other, and look at the mess they created. "No, that's out of the question. I don't want to raise a child. I could give it up for adoption."
"That doesn't make sense, Lois. I'm the father and I'm willing to raise this child, so why give it to strangers?"
"At least they'd be married."
"I can't believe you just said that." Clark lifted his arms in frustration, "Married isn't reason enough to be parents. This is the nineties, Lois. If a single woman can raise a child, then so can a single man."
"I have to think about this, Clark. Although having you and your parents raise it in Smallville seems like a viable plan, I still have to carry it around for the next eight months. I need to think about it some more. I promise I won't do anything without talking to you."
In the next few weeks, Lois spoke to Clark at length about her options. She realized that for Clark the fetus was a real person who would play an important part in his life. For her, it was a burden and an illness. She couldn't picture a new life springing from her body. All she felt was the discomfort of the morning sickness, and the anxiety gnawing away at her because she hadn't made a decision. He was right. He would make a good father, and a child didn't need a woman to raise it. She still firmly believed that a woman should choose what happens to her body. As time ran out, she chose to accept Clark's offer.
"All right, Clark," she said to him one evening as they finished work. "I've made up my mind. Come, we'll talk it over during dinner at Moe's."
They left the Planet building and walked over to the local deli. Over a pastrami sandwich and an iced tea, she said, "I won't have the abortion. As unhappy as I am with this pregnancy, I will go through with it. I don't feel any connection to this baby, and I don't like what's happening to my body, but for some inexplicable reason, I feel that what happened at the centre the day of my appointment was some kind of omen telling me that this," she said looking down, "has to be born."
"Not that your superstitious or anything," Clark grinned.
"It's not rational or anything, but that's basically how I made my decision."
"I'll be glad to help you out during the pregnancy. I'll get you whatever you need, I'll be there when you need me…" Clark said rather enthusiastically.
But she needed to burst his bubble because she didn't want him to become a part of her life. The pregnancy was a mistake, something that she would have to live with for the next eight months and then she could forget it. The last thing that she wanted was to have Clark fussing over her and playing the doting partner.
"No, Clark. It's not going to work that way. You said that if I didn't want to raise it, then you would move to Smallville. That means that you would have to find a new job, unless you're planning to run the farm, and make arrangements. I'd like you to leave as soon as you make those arrangements, and I'd rather that you didn't have anything to do with me unless it's totally professional."
She felt his eyes burn into her. He was speechless for a few moments. "That's pretty brutal, Lois," he finally said. "I could stay with you and help you out. I don't think it will be easy. You don't have to do this alone. I could be there for the birth."
Lois knew that she could not waiver on this point. "No. I'll inform you when I'm giving birth or when I've given birth, and you can come and pick it up. After that point, the child will be yours, and I don't have to see either of you, again." She cut off Clark's objection before he could say anything. "This decision is right for me, Clark. You made an offer and I'm accepting it. I still don't understand your motives for wanting to raise this child by yourself, but that's your decision. I've made mine and you've made yours."
"Lois," Clark said very sadly, "I'll abide by your rules, but any time you want to change your mind, we can change the agreement."
She knew her decision was brutal, but she believed she was doing it for the baby and for herself. In the same way that she knew that she did not have the makings of a good mother, even a mediocre mother, she knew that Clark had the makings of a good and devoted father. She also knew that she couldn't have Clark around watching her and worrying over her every move. In the short time that she knew him, she learned that he could be overprotective and obsessive. He had a Superman complex trying to help everyone who needed it. Furthermore, she did not want to be linked at the paper or anywhere else with Clark Kent. She would manage the pregnancy very nicely, thank you very much, and when the baby was born, she would return to her life. As far as anyone would know, she gave the baby up for adoption.
Clark managed to get his working life together by the time she was in her fourth month. He told her that the editor of the Smallville Post was retiring and he got the position. When a very surprised Perry White received Clark's resignation, he suggested that Clark send any articles that might be appropriate for the Daily Planet, and if they were publishable, he would make sure they got printed. In the end, that's how Clark managed to get a bi- weekly syndicated column in the Daily Planet and in twenty other papers around the country.
By the time Lois was in her fifth month and showing, Clark was back in Smallville editing the Post. Telling her parents and Perry was difficult, but it was inevitable. Her mother was upset that she wouldn't say who the father was and she wasn't keeping the baby. Her mother kept on asking why she hadn't had an abortion.
"No woman needs the responsibility of a baby, Lois, if she's alone. What kind of values can you teach a child, if her mother is willing to sleep around with any man and carry through with the pregnancy in a world where abortions are every where. You're the one who is going to have to carry around the stigma of being an unwed mother."
No matter how many times she told her mother that she wasn't going to keep the baby, that the baby's father was making arrangements for its care, Ellen just didn't get the point. She wore Lois down.
She turned to her sister, Lucy, for support, and surprisingly, Lucy fell into the role of coach and friend comfortably. So the two sisters went to prenatal classes and learned to breathe together, to count out contractions, and to make a woman in labour as contented as possible. The two sisters bonded in a way that they never bonded before. For the first time, Lois was able to tell someone about the one night she spent with Clark Kent and then about the disastrous abortion affair.
And so, as Lois got out of bed one morning and thought she had no bladder control because water leaked down her legs, she called Lucy to help her. Lucy, who had managed to get wise over the last few months, laughed at Lois's interpretation of her "accident" and explained that, even though it was three weeks early, she was probably beginning labour. Hadn't she paid attention in prenatal classes?
She felt a surge of relief. The baby would be born and she would soon be rid of the constant reminder of her indiscretion. She wouldn't have to think about it or Clark Kent anymore. The heavy weight that she carried in front of her would leave her, and she would be able to walk tall and straight again.
Lois cleaned up the mess on the floor, then straightened up her bedroom and went to the kitchen for some tea and toast. She called her doctor who told her to wait until the pains began and then call back. She then phoned Perry and told him that she wouldn't be into work because she was in labour. She'd be back in a week. Finally, she called Clark Kent in Smallville and left a message on his machine telling him that he could come to Metropolis because she was in labour. And then she waited.
The pains began two hours later, and they were far stronger than anything Lois had experienced before or had come to expect as a result of the prenatal classes. Together she and Lucy breathed through the painful contractions and measured the time in between them. They called for a cab and waited impatiently for it to arrive. Lois cursed the day Lucy decided that she couldn't handle the stress of driving and gave up learning. The cab took an outlandishly long time to arrive. Calls to the company didn't help. Traffic lights were out in a number of sections of town which put traffic at a standstill.
"This would be a good time for Superman to show up," teased Lucy who probably wanted to get Lois's mind off the traffic.
"Right Lucy, I'm going to stand at the window and yell, 'Help Superman' which is going to get our Superhero over here. He's then going to pick up this elephant of a woman and delicately fly her over to Metro General."
"Well, he did lift a rocket ship into space, Lois," quipped Lucy.
"This isn't funny, Lucy. I don't want to deliver this baby at home. It's been enough trouble as it is."
"Well, Lois," said Lucy pointing toward the window, "I guess your little 'Help Superman' worked."
And there he floated, outside her window. Lucy rushed to open it and let him in.
"Did you hear Lois calling you, Superman?"
"No. Did you call Lois?"
"Not really, I was just talking," Lois explained. "So if you didn't hear me, why are you here?"
"Uh, I just wanted to check on you and see how you're doing? What's the problem?"
"She's in labour, and the cabs are all stuck in traffic because there's something wrong with the traffic lights and I don't know when the cab will get here…okay, breathe Lois…breathe in…puff…puff…puff…puff…puff…puff…"
"So you would like me to fly Lois to the hospital?"
Lois nodded her head as she puffed through the contraction.
"All right Lois. Do you have everything you need?"
"Yes," she said once she was breathing normally.
"I'll take you and then I'll come back for Lucy."
Superman picked her up as if she weighed as much as a bouquet of flowers and flew her to Metro General. A few minutes later he returned with her overnight bag and Lucy. Meanwhile, Lois was taken into a labour room.
The next few hours, in hindsight, flew by in a blur. She just remembered that the pains got worse and the time between them shorter. And then the nurse told her that she was ready, and she was moved into the delivery room. Lucy was a rock. She put up with Lois's crying, yelling at her, and swearing at Clark for putting her through this.
And then in a moment, in one large push, the baby slithered out of her. She wanted to look, to see what could bring her so much pain and so much relief, but she knew that looking at it would weaken her resolve and she told herself that she really didn't have any interest in babies. The nurses, on the other hand, took the newborn and she heard them cooing over the baby and placing bets on its length and weight. A boy. Twenty-three inches. A long baby. 8 pounds, 2 ounces. A nice-sized baby. Look at all that dark hair. Oh, look at your big, saucer eyes. You're such a beautiful baby.
She concentrated on the doctor who was telling her to push again. Just the placenta. Push. Push. And then the final relief. She closed her eyes and let herself drift off.
When she woke up, she was in a hospital room. She saw Lucy sitting beside the bed.
"It's over, isn't it?" Lois asked.
"Yes. The baby is fine. Clark came by and he's with him now. He wants to know if you want to see the baby or if you want to talk to him," Lucy said.
"No. No. I don't want to have anything to do with either of them."
"The baby is beautiful. He's a boy."
"I don't really want to know, Lucy. That part of my life is over. I'm sure Clark will manage to take good care of him. When can I go home?"
"The doctor will be by tomorrow morning and if everything is all right, she'll discharge you then."
"I'll go to sleep then…and Lucy…"
"Don't get too attached. We're not seeing him again."
She turned over and let the wave of weariness wash over her.
That was twenty-one years ago and now Jon Kent was in her office taking her order for a lean pastrami on rye with mustard and a diet cream soda. In the month and a half that he had been at the Planet, he had proved to be a conscientious and creative worker. In many ways, he reminded her of the young Jimmy Olsen who had come to the Daily Planet over twenty-five years ago. Jon had an intuitive understanding of the information system that the Planet was linked on, and he had a bit of extra talent that allowed him to tap into information that wasn't readily available to most reporters. In the old days, his talents would have been referred to as hacking.
He also had a good nose for a story. When she sent him out to report on a straight-forward community dog show, he found that many of the animals were abused by their owners so that they would reach the level of "show" dogs. When he brought her the information that he'd gathered, she had him check sources and allowed him to write up the article. She put his article on an inside page, but she also put his byline above it.
His biochemistry background was helpful when they were trying to understand why children were having harsh reactions to a tried-and-true version of penicillin. He joined Trish Gretman, a more seasoned reporter, who went to interview the pharmaceutical company as well as the doctors involved. He asked insightful questions and filled in gaps for Trish when she was trying to make sense of what they learned during their interviews. As a result, the series that Trish wrote on the reactions to the drug was lauded by her colleagues. Trish was gracious enough to give Jon credit for his help.
Jon Kent was a good choice for the job.
Because Jon worked directly for her, Lois spent long hours with him. She found herself fascinated by his wealth of knowledge and information. One evening when she finally finished all her paperwork, Jon was still in the office doing some research for Trish.
"Come on, Jon. I'll treat you to a pizza and then I'll drive you home."
"Thanks, Ms Lane."
"I think you've been here long enough that you can call me Lois like everyone else does."
Luigi's Pizzeria was a favourite of Lois's because of the delicious pizza and the cold beer. Lois found her favourite table in the corner where she could carry on a conversation without it being drowned out by the usual din. From where she sat, she could watch Luigi's diverse clientele. Lois ordered for the two of them and then sat back to watch Jon soak up the atmosphere.
"Do you come here often?" Jon asked as he observed the antics put on by the wait staff, as well as the reactions of the customers.
"Probably too often. Pizza has too many calories."
"But one slice of pizza gives you food from the four basic food groups."
"So I keep telling myself," laughed Lois. "Tell me Jon, how do you like living in the big city?"
"I like it here. Smallville has its advantages. It's small, clean, no smog. I know most of the people there. But there, I'm Clark Kent's son, Jonathan and Martha Kent's grandson. Here, I'm my own person."
"Did you find it stifling growing up in a small town?"
"No, not really. My dad made sure I had a lot of what he called 'learning opportunities'. When he had to go out of town, he took me with him. So, I got to see a lot of places. Smallville is home, though. I don't want to live there, but I always want to know that I can go back there and have a connection. My family is that connection and so is the town."
Lois watched the confident boy, no young man, and wondered if he missed having a mother around. Who took care of him when he got sick? Who cleaned his scraped knee when he fell? Who listened to his worries about school? Who held him tight when he fell down? For the first time, she wondered if she could have done all those things that mothers were so famous for. She wanted to now, but it was too late. Clark probably did all those things for him. A mother didn't have to be a woman.
She wondered, as she watched Jon dig into the pizza, if he resented his mother for not raising him, for not looking after him, for not even letting him know of her existence. Did he have health issues that he needed to know about? Lucy had developed diabetes in her late teens. Her father's family had a history of hypertension. Maybe she should ask Superman to inform Clark about her family medical history.
Did he feel abandoned? Did he resent her? He seemed self-assured and well-adjusted. He didn't know. She did, and she realized that she was angry with herself for not wanting to know about him. But how was she supposed to know that he would show up on her doorstep? She wouldn't be feeling this guilt if he hadn't shown up. No. She knew that she had been thinking about him for a long time; she just didn't let herself acknowledge it. It had been easier to force herself to forget him.
And he didn't have to know about her. He was fine. For her, seeing him was enough. Knowing that he had grown up into an intelligent, caring man was enough for her. It had to be enough.
"You talk about your father, and your grandparents, but you don't mention your mother at all. Why not?" There. She had gone and done it. She hadn't wanted to raise the question, but even with all her rationalizations, the question got the better of her and just tumbled out of her mouth.
"I never knew my mother."
"Didn't your father ever mention her?"
"When I asked, he just told me that she couldn't take care of me."
"That must have made you angry."
"Not really. Dad said she was a very nice person, who couldn't take care of me. He never went into too much detail." He paused for a moment before voicing a thought he'd had from time to time over the years, almost as if he'd forgotten he had an audience. "I never really pushed too hard for details. He always seemed a little sad whenever I asked. I guess I always figured it was a little painful for him to remember."
"Painful?" Lois asked, although she had to admit she could understand that. The lost years still held a lot of pain for her, too.
"Yeah. I think he's still a little in love with her."
Lois's eyebrows rose. She knew she was treading on dangerous ground, but she couldn't stop her next comment. "Jon, just because two people produce a child together doesn't necessarily mean they were ever in love."
Jon looked at her in shock. "You didn't know my dad very well, did you," he said more than asked. "He would never…" he paused for emphasis, "…sleep with a woman he didn't love. I think that's why he never married. I don't think he ever found a woman who measured up to my mother."
Lois studied her food intently, suddenly feeling uncomfortable about the direction their talk was taking.
"Anyway," continued Jon, oblivious to Lois's discomfort, "I also tried asking my grandparents about my mother on occasion. All they would say was basically the same thing my dad would say: she was a very nice person, who couldn't take care of me. I don't think about it too much anymore."
Lois wanted to take his hand and tell him that his mother thought about him frequently, but before she could say anything, her cell phone buzzed. Relieved, she answered it, "Lois Lane."
"Lois, this is Kevin Lee at Star Labs."
"Yes, Kevin. What can I do for you?"
"We've found something here that might interest you. I was hoping that you would come down to the lab to check it out tonight. I'm not sure what to do."
"What have you got?"
"I'd rather not talk about it on the phone. I'll be here for the next hour or so. Can you come over?"
"Yes. Definitely." Lois was curious about what Kevin had found.
"Are you in a hurry to get home, Jon?" Lois asked as she took a final sip of coffee from her mug.
"No. Not at all."
"Good. Come with me. I'd like you to meet Kevin. You two might have a lot in common."
"So Kevin Lee was hired by Star Labs to continue on the work Bernard Klein started. Kevin is brilliant and quite an innovative thinker, very much like Bernie who, by the way, chose Kevin to succeed him. Bernie spent innumerable hours mentoring Kevin. As a matter of fact, Bernie may still have his finger in the pie because I've heard that he often drops into Star Labs for a visit," Lois babbled on.
She was relieved that Kevin had called and stopped her from disclosing more than she really wanted to. She was comfortable with the idea of being Jon's boss and even his mentor. If he changed his mind about applying for medical school, she would enjoy guiding him in the newspaper world. At this point, she didn't want him to see her as anything else. The cold distance helped her keep her emotions from becoming frazzled.
The guard in the lobby was expecting Lois and once she vouched for Jon, they were allowed up to Kevin's lab.
Kevin, who was sitting at his computer, apparently writing up his notes, got up when he saw Lois. He walked over and shook her hand, "Good to see you again, Lois."
"Kevin," Lois paused and looked over at Jon, "This is Jon Kent. He's an intern at the paper. Jon, this is Dr. Kevin Lee."
Lois watched Kevin reach over to shake Jon's hand. Jon, who had been animated during dinner and on the ride over (when he could get a word in edgewise), seemed very quiet and very pale all of a sudden.
Lois smiled at Kevin, "You'll have to excuse Jon. I think he had too much pizza for dinner and it's not agreeing with him." She patted Jon on the shoulder and got down to business.
"So, Kevin, why am I here?"
"This." He went over to his desk drawer and brought out a green bullet and handed it to Lois. "There was a salvage expedition off the coast of Nassau and this bullet was found on the ship. It didn't belong in the time frame of the…"
A heavy thud interrupted Kevin's history of the green bullet. Lois and Kevin turned around to find Jon, on the floor, clutching his abdomen.
"Killer pizza," Lois said as she rushed over to Jon. She put her hand on his forehead and was surprised to find it very hot and sweaty.
"Kevin, quickly, bring me something to use as a cold compress." She crouched down on the floor and held Jon in her arms. He moaned in pain. This isn't the pizza, she thought. She wondered if it could be his appendix or gallstones.
"Kevin, is there anywhere he can lie down?"
"There's a bed in the other room. Let me put the kryptonite bullet away, and I'll help you move him."
Kevin moved quickly to help Lois. As they were lifting Jon to his feet, he seemed to improve slightly.
"Sh…Jon. You'll be all right. We're just going to move you onto a bed. Sh…just a little bit further," Lois encouraged him.
Jon moved toward the other room, but Lois felt that even with Kevin and her helping him, it took all his energy to get him moving. She'd never seen anyone get so sick, so quickly.
Together, Kevin and Lois moved Jon onto the bed. He lay down and Lois sat on the edge, wiping his brow with the cold, damp towel that Kevin had given her a few minutes before.
"How are you feeling, Jon?" Lois asked.
"I'm feeling better," he answered weakly.
"What happened? Where does it hurt? Was it the pizza?" Lois asked trying to figure out what was the cause of the problem and how she should handle it.
"I don't know," Jon hesitated. "One minute I was feeling fine and the next minute I had this excruciating pain."
"It's gone. I'm just feeling woozy and weak. I'll be fine. I'm sure."
"Really. Finish up with Dr. Lee. I'll be fine in a few minutes. I don't usually get sick."
Lois stepped into the lab but kept the door open so that she could keep an eye on Jon. "Have you ever seen anything like that before, Kevin?" Lois asked.
"No. As far as I know, pain doesn't start as dramatically as that. As I was saying, since the bullet didn't belong in the same time frame as the ship that it was found in, the leader of the salvage, who is a lecturer from Met U and who I went to school with, thought I might figure it out, so he brought it here." Kevin walked back to his desk and brought out the green bullet, again.
"I analysed its composition and found out that it's kryptonite. Here, let me get my notes on them. I left it on the computer in the lab downstairs."
Kevin placed the bullet in Lois's hand and left. She wondered if it was the same bullet that Arianna Carlin used when she shot Superman so many years ago. Lois remembered taking the bullet out of Superman's shoulder and later, travelling to Nassau in order to throw it into the ocean.
Her thoughts were interrupted when she heard Jon moaning in the other room. The pain must have started again. She really needed to get him to a hospital. She placed the bullet back into Kevin's desk and shut the drawer before she walked back into the next room. By the time she got into the room, the pain had subsided and Jon was lying on the bed more quietly. Perspiration covered his face. Lois removed his glasses and used the cool, damp towel to wipe his face. She gently pushed his hair back and tried to make him as cool and comfortable as possible. Taking him to a doctor felt like a good idea.
She spoke to her son as she wiped his brow and realized that she could do all those loving, maternal acts and feel all those loving, maternal sensations. She realized that she was scared for him because she didn't know how to help him. She didn't know what was wrong with him.
She smoothed his brow, watching his unnaturally pale skin. He looked so weak and fragile, so unlike the healthy young man that she had gotten to know over the last few months. Once more, she moved the damp cloth across his face and then pushed it up, past his forehead, flattening his hair. And in a second, the pieces of a puzzle, that she didn't even know existed, came together.
Shaking, she picked up her cell phone and dialled a number that she didn't realize that she even remembered.
The phone was answered on the second ring.
"Clark? This is Lois."
"Lois?" he paused. "Is everything all right?"
"No. You've gotta come to Metropolis immediately. Jon has been exposed to kryptonite and I don't know what to do."
"Kryptonite? I…uh..I…don't understand."
"Please Clark, let's not play games. Just get over here as quickly as you can. I'm at Star Labs. In Kevin Lee's lab. I'm scared for Jon."
Clark hesitated for a second and then said, "Don't worry. He'll be all right. I'm leaving now."
Lois ended the phone call and looked at her son. In a fraction of a second, she had seen the resemblance to Superman realizing that Jon was not having a reaction to the pizza, but a reaction to the kryptonite bullet. In the same fraction of a second, she understood that Clark Kent was Superman, and that Superman, her friend who visited her and comforted her, was the father of the son she gave up so many years ago.
She was confused and angry at Superman…Clark, but worried about Jon. Knowing that Superman would be there soon, she looked for a lead casing to put the bullet in. She found some heavy-duty aluminum foil on a shelf and used that to wrap the bullet in, aware as she held the bullet of Jon's moaning. She realized that the desk drawer had to have some lead in it, but it wasn't enough to protect her son.
She also realized that she would somehow have to fabricate a story for Superman's presence when Kevin came back. It was obvious that she couldn't let anyone know who Jon really was. She wondered if he had the same powers as Superman did. He obviously had the same reactions to kryptonite.
After placing the foil-wrapped bullet into the desk drawer, she headed toward Jon who was more calm, now. She stroked his forehead and continued to coo to him soothingly. He was still hot, but not in obvious pain, anymore. She felt a presence behind her and then a gently placed hand on her shoulder.
"He'll be all right. It just takes time to get over the effects."
Lois turned around and saw Superman standing behind her.
"How long does it take?"
"Depends on the length of the exposure and the amount of kryptonite. Sometimes it lasted a few days; other times it just lasted a few hours."
"Once the fever goes down, and that doesn't take long, my powers go. It's more scary than anything else because I don't know when my powers will come back and if something serious will happen while I'm out of commission." While Superman spoke, he moved closer to Jon. He knelt beside the bed and stroked his son's forehead.
"Jon, it's Dad. You're going to be okay," he said gently.
"Mmm. Dad?" Jon asked groggily. "What happened?"
"It's that kryptonite that I told you about." Superman turned to Lois and said, "I think I need to take him home."
"No, that's too far away. Let him rest at my place. I'd like to take care of him."
"I've got that infor…" Kevin began as he entered the room. "Superman? What are you doing here? Agitated, he looked around. "Where's the kryptonite?"
"Oh Kevin," ad-libbed Lois, "I got so worried about Jon that I resorted to my old 'Help Superman' plan. I didn't think I had called that loudly, but within minutes there he was. He must've heard me call. I better be careful or he'll think I'm the boy who cries wolf too many times…"
"It's all right, Lois," interrupted Superman. "Since I'm here, why don't I take Jon to your place, and you can watch him there. Let me take you first so you can prepare a room for him."
"Here, Lois. Take these notes and look at them later," added Kevin as Lois followed Superman out the door.
"So you're Superman?" she asked as they walked out of the bedroom where Jon was sleeping peacefully.
"Yeah," stated Clark.
"That's why you didn't want me to abort the baby."
Clark shrugged his shoulders. "Up until you got pregnant, I wasn't sure that I could father a child with a human woman and there were no Kryptonian women around."
"But you didn't tell me that you were Superman."
"I would have, if you'd decided to keep Jon. Whether you would have let me be part of his life or not, you would have had to know."
"What if there was something different about Kryptonian pregnancy or birth?"
"If I had to tell you, then I would have. As far as I knew, at that point, everything worked the same for humans and Kryptonians. But, that's why Superman came around as often as he did when you were pregnant." He paused, scuffling his foot nervously. In a moment, he continued. "I kept track of your doctor's appointments. In fact, I'd sit on the roof of the clinic and listen in to make sure everything was okay." He looked at her sheepishly. "I even broke into the clinic on a few occasions to read your file. I knew that it was wrong, but I also knew you would never have agreed to let Clark come, but…well, I had to make sure you, and the baby, were all right…considering the baby's paternity and everything."
"Oh!" she said, surprised at the concern he had felt and shown for her. Surprisingly, his intrusion into her life didn't feel like an invasion and didn't bother her. "I would have wanted Superman in my life. I probably would've married him if he'd asked."
"Superman doesn't have a private life, Lois. He only exists in public," he paused, looked at her and added, "except when I needed to be with you, and you didn't want to see Clark."
Lois thought about Jon's comment that Clark probably still loved her. He had shown that love by coming back to her as Superman, talking to her when she needed him, holding her. "You never left me."
"You were a good friend. A better friend than I was," she said guiltily.
"I needed to stay in touch with you. There was nothing honourable about it."
Jon was probably right.
"Are you angry with me?" Clark asked.
"Should I be?" She thought about that question. "No. Not angry. I feel a bit stupid for not figuring it out. A bit embarrassed for some of the things I said to you. I probably would've been angrier if I had found out years ago. Or maybe, if you had told me that those fifty per cent genes were super, I would have reacted differently. Too much time has passed." She turned toward the kitchen. "I look at the world differently. Right now, I'm more concerned about Jon."
Clark followed Lois into the kitchen where she began puttering around, making tea and straightening up an already clean counter.
"Hmmm. Superman. Who'da thought?" she mused out loud.
"Who'da thought!" Clark mimicked. They looked at each other and laughed.
"Lois, we need to talk about Jon." Clark said.
"Jon? He'll be all right, won't he? You always managed to get over the effects of kryptonite."
"Yes, he'll be fine." Clark helped Lois bring the teapot, milk and sugar to the table. When he returned to the counter for the plate of cookies and the mugs, he said, "I was thinking about his relationship with you."
"What about my relationship with Lois? She isn't going to fire me is she?" Jon stood at the entranceway of the kitchen.
"Absolutely not," answered Lois while shooting Clark a stern warning. "Once you're feeling normal again, you can come back to work. Meanwhile, you can stay here while I keep an eye on you."
"You've been awfully nice to me, but I think that I can manage on my own now. I'm feeling better. It was just the pizza, but I could use some of that tea. I do feel a bit dry."
Lois returned to the cupboard and took out another mug and placed it on the kitchen table. She motioned to the two men to sit down.
"Jon, I know it wasn't the pizza that made you sick. It was the kryptonite. I figured that out early in the evening. I also figured out that Superman is your dad."
Jon glanced warily at Clark.
"It's okay, Jon," Clark interrupted. "We can trust Lois. She's not going to do anything to hurt us."
Lois watched Clark, surprised that he saw her as holding so much power that she could actually hurt Superman and his son. The thought had never entered her mind; yet, he must have been afraid of what she could do or write for so many years. This evening was really full of many surprises.
"No, Jon. I don't want to hurt you or upset your life. But, I am curious. Can you do everything that Superman can?"
Lois observed Jon staring at his father who nodded to him.
"Pretty much," said Jon.
"But you're half human. Doesn't that make a difference?"
Jon looked at Lois curiously. He couldn't understand why Lois made the assumption that his mother was human rather than Kryptonian.
"We've tested ourselves, and I can do what Dad can, except he's had more experience."
"Does that make a difference?"
"Sure. He has better control. He's shown me where he's made mistakes and how to overcome them."
"I had to learn how to be Superman by myself," Clark added. "I made mistakes, not drastic ones, but mistakes nonetheless. I try to help Jon avoid the pitfalls."
"Translated that means he hovers like a mother hen trying to anticipate any problems that I might have…"
"You're exaggerating, Jon," Clark interrupted, "I'm not that bad." He paused to think about what he had said. "Am I?"
"Yes, you are, Dad. Remember the time I wanted to fly from Smallville to Metropolis to check out the campus?" He turned to Lois to explain, "It was the first time that I flew any great distance alone. Dad actually followed me all the way. He didn't think that I was aware of him, but I was."
When Jon noticed Clark's astonishment, he added, "I could've done it on my own, you know."
"I just felt better knowing you were okay. Give me a break here."
Lois couldn't help laughing. She'd heard a very similar exchange between Lucy's husband and daughter about a driving trip to Boston. "Good to see that there's nothing super about your relationship," she chuckled.
Lois looked at the clock. "It's getting late. Why don't you go home…Super…uh…Clark, and you go to sleep, Jon? Get a good night's rest and we'll see how you feel in the morning." Lois pushed Clark toward the window.
"Are you feeling all right, Jon?" Clark asked
"I'm fine, Dad. Nothing hurts. I'm starting to feel stronger," he said as he walked over to give his father a bear hug. "I'll call Grams and Gramps as soon as you leave and I'll tell them I'm okay."
"Good idea. I'm sure they're worried." He turned and gazed at Lois for a moment. "Thanks, Lois," he said. Then he stood on the window ledge and pushed himself into the air.
When Superman could no longer be seen, she put her arm around Jon's shoulder and led him to the spare bedroom.
"Are you sure you're all right?" Lois asked again.
"Yes. I'm fine. Please, don't worry."
"But this is the first time you've been exposed to kryptonite."
"True. But, my dad has told me about his experiences with kryptonite. Bottom line: he recovers after each exposure. I'll recover. I'll think of it as a cold."
"Power of positive thinking. Good for you."
"Good night, Lois."
"Good night, Jon." She wanted to reach over and hug him with the same ease that his father did, but she couldn't.
Lois took the cups and teapots over to the sink and began to wash the few dishes. Jon was resting quietly now, but the thought that he could have been hurt, badly hurt, by the kryptonite scared her. She remembered that jolt in the pit of her stomach when she realized first, that Jon was ill, and secondly that it was kryptonite that made him ill. She had just found her son, and then she could have lost him.
As she dried the dishes, she reassured herself that Jon would recover from the kryptonite. She knew that Superman had; he said so himself. Superman. Clark. It was strange seeing her friend, Superman, in her living room, knowing that he was Clark Kent. He seemed so comfortable standing there in his suit, talking to Jon, his son. She was having a difficult time separating the two personnas of the one man.
What if he had told her that he was Superman after she got pregnant. Would she have kept Jon? Probably. That would have given Superman a reason to be closer to her. He would have taken an active role in Jon's upbringing, while she would have gotten to know her hero better as a friend. But wouldn't that have meant that she was using Jon to get closer to Superman? That didn't make sense. Superman had chosen to be her friend even after she sent Clark away.
She wiped the counter and ran the dishcloth over the faucet. But now that she knew that Superman was Clark, she knew that Clark was a decent person. She had treated him unfairly. What would have happened if she had gotten to know Clark better rather than banish him to the cornfields of Kansas? What if…But she shook herself because she knew that was a foolish line of thinking to pursue.
She turned out the lights in the kitchen and the living room. Walking past Jon's room, she remembered the way Lucy would look into her daughters' rooms to make sure that they were sleeping comfortably. She opened the door to the guest room and stuck her head in. Jon was sleeping quietly, the blanket kicked to the bottom of the bed. She tip-toed in and pulled the covers up to his shoulders. He mumbled and then returned to his even breathing. The light coming in from the window softly illuminated his youthful face. He was so beautiful. How many nights had Clark stood and watched him like this? How many nights had she lost? Bending over, she brushed back his hair and placed a kiss on his forehead.
She left Jon's room thinking that it was nice to have her son asleep in her home.
As the summer passed too quickly, Lois watched Jon. As an intern, he proved to be better than she expected. No job was too small. No job was beneath him. He cheerfully went on donut runs or made deliveries. He was efficient and organized; he was a meticulous researcher and he had an eager, sharp mind. Many staff writers brainstormed with him after he brought them the research they needed and praised him to Lois.
Jon would be a loss to the newspaper world, but she was sure that he would approach medicine the same way he approached journalism.
She inhaled the compliments for his work, not as his superior, she realized, but as someone much closer. She was taking pride in her son.
Lois realized that she did not want to lose the connection with Jon once he left the Daily Planet. Should she tell him who she really was? Whereas she didn't want him to know when he first came to the Planet, she was very comfortable with him knowing now. He knew her as a friend and as someone he could trust. More importantly though, she knew him and she hoped that he would forgive her for all the years that she wasn't there.
Forgive her. She wondered if she could forgive herself for abandoning this absolutely wonderful, young man and missing all the years that had made him into the person he was now. She wondered how he would have turned out if she had played an active role in his life, not necessarily raising him, but seeing him occasionally. She didn't think that he would have been as self-assured as he was now. Clark and the Kents had managed very well without her.
But Jon did have a right to know about the Lane part of the family. True, the family's medical history was irrelevant for a part Kryptonian child, she hoped, but he might be interested in some of the characters (and her family was definitely made up of characters) who made the Lanes so distinctive. She would introduce him to her aging father. He didn't know that he had a grandson. She chuckled at the irony. Sam Lane always wanted a son, one who would follow in his footsteps and do medical research. By producing three daughters, Lucy hadn't fulfilled his expectations. Lois felt a bitter taste at that. Lucy's daughters were beautiful, intelligent and ambitious. Lois just didn't understand Sam's thinking. Anyway, in Jon, he had the "son" he always wanted, one who was hoping to study medicine, no less, and he never asked. Perhaps he didn't remember. Ellen, while she was alive, never forgot; as a result, she drove Lois to distraction at times with her questions.
Whenever Ellen needed to find fault with Lois, she had harped on her daughter's irresponsible pregnancy and her irrational rejection of her child, in the end her, only child. Lois never knew when to expect the barrage of charges against her, but whenever she was in Ellen's direct line of fire, Lois felt the pain grow. In retaliation, she vented her own fury at her mother. The two would not speak for weeks afterwards. Ellen never learned. And yet, Lois thought, Ellen never asked about who adopted the baby or if Lois had any contact with him. The ammunition was there for Ellen, but she never really wanted the truth. Now Jon would never know his grandmother.
But he could get to know his Aunt Lucy, who was there for his birth, her husband and her daughters. Lois knew that Lucy had stayed in contact with Clark for a few years after Jon was born. Lois just didn't let her talk about it or share any information with her. She must have cut all contact after her daughters were born.
Jon had a family wider than the Kents that he deserved to know and who deserved to know him. She should call Lucy and let her know what's been happening.
Most of all, Lois did not want to lose contact with Jon. She missed his life up until now, and she didn't want to miss anymore. She decided that she would talk to him after the little gathering tomorrow night when his colleagues planned to celebrate the end of his internship by taking him to their favourite pub.
The Nag's Head was noisy. The waiters bustled back and forth between tables, clattering glasses and dishes. The rock music coming from overhead speakers challenged the TV which was showing a football game. The patrons' voices clamoured above the cacophony as each person tried to be heard. In a back corner of the pub, Jon Kent attempted to close out the extraneous noise so that he could hear Trish, who was sitting beside him. She had ordered another round of beer as she endeavoured to find out how much it would take to get Jon Kent drunk. The staffers had tried several times, but Jon had managed to keep up, and even surpass, the best of them.
"I've got newspaper reporting in my blood," he shouted over the other noise. "That means I can drink and I don't get drunk."
"Yeah, right!" bellowed Trish.
"Then would you believe that I'm a university student and my blood has been so steeped in alcohol that it takes a long time to get me sloshed?"
"More likely," Trish laughed. "Cheers!"
The reporters and other workers from the City Room of the Daily Planet were sitting around drinking beer and munching on fried calamari, potato skins, Buffalo wings, and carrot sticks. They were using the end of Jon's internship as a reason for getting together, having a few drinks and unwinding after a hectic week at the Planet. Jon was pleased that he had the opportunity to spend one last evening with these people. Some of them had become good friends over the last few months. Not only did they show him aspects of the newspaper business that he hadn't been aware of and accepted him as one of their own, even though they all knew his medical school plans, but they met socially and got to be friends. He knew that he'd be hearing from many of them when he returned to Met U.
He saw Lois Lane join the gathering a little late. He smiled at her, and she smiled back. She was a terrific boss trusting him with more responsibility, and more reporting and investigating opportunities than he'd ever expected as an intern. He didn't think that it had anything to do with his superpowers. She had given him the work before she'd found out. It was just that she was a good teacher and a good boss. What surprised him the most was their relationship. She was more than a boss. She had taken care of him when he was exposed to the kryptonite. Afterwards, she checked on whether he was eating properly, asked if he had some kind of social life. He knew that she didn't have any children, so he wondered if she was adopting him.
In the middle of the racket, Trish got up, tapped a beer stein and asked for silence. That caused another ruckus as everyone realized that silence was impossible in the noisy pub.
"I just wanted to officially say good-bye to Jon," Trish yelled over the hubbub, "and wish him well as he works toward that gory and thankless career that he's planning for himself. For a naive, little kid from Minitown, USA who can hold his liquor with the best of us, he did good." She lifted her beer stein toward Jon. "Here's to you, kid."
A chorus of "Here, here!" and "Cheers!" echoed around Jon who chose to nod his acknowledgement and thanks at his friends.
Trish continued, "It's customary around here to thank our interns with a little parting memento. In your case, since you've proven to be the best intern we've had in quite a number of years, which is proven by the fact that you're alive and Lois intimidated you so that you are nothing but a jiggling mass of jello, we've had to soup up the traditional parting gift."
Pritha Cheedra, the life section editor, handed Jon a wrapped box. The first thing that he noticed was its weight. He opened the box and took out a statue that was eight inches in height. It was a replica of a Merriwether award with a pudgy gopher-like face on it and the logo of the Daily Planet on its back.
"Doesn't look like a Merriwether to me," Devon Herman yelled out.
"Probably the closest he'll ever get to a Merriwether," chimed in Pritha.
Before he knew it, one of the men shouted, "Speech!" and the rest of the group picked up the chorus.
Jon looked around the group of people he had spent the summer working with and he was thankful for the opportunities that he had. He knew that medicine was the right field for him, but he was pleased that he was able to spend time exploring another area of interest for him.
"Thanks, guys," he began. "I really had a great four months working here. I've learned a lot from all of you." Jon then looked around the room and thanked each person individually recalling a humorous anecdote that he could use to punctuate his thanks. He then looked at Lois sitting in a corner watching the procedure. "Most of all, I'd like to thank Lois Lane for having the foresight to hire me." A cheer went up at that point. Then Jon continued, "As much as I learned from all of you guys, I learned even more from her. She is an excellent mentor and a terrific friend. She took an interest in my work and in my personal life without ever being intrusive, although there were times she acted more like a mother hen than like a boss…"
With part of his mind, Jon continued on with his speech. Another part picked up on Lois's heart which seemed to have skipped a beat. He was surprised. She seemed so calm and collected, and yet when he said something so honest, and he thought a bit humorous, she stared at him as if he had disclosed a deep, dark secret. He didn't dwell on the point for too long because he needed to finish his speech and get back to his friends. A few minutes later, he looked over at Lois. She was talking to Devon, her heartbeat back to normal.
Jon, swept up in the gathering, didn't have a chance to speak to Lois until she came to say good-night to him.
"It's getting too late for me, Jon," Lois said as she approached him. "When are you leaving for Smallville?"
"Probably when I get up in the morning."
"Could you drop by my place before you leave? There's something I'd like to give you and say to you before you leave."
"Sure. Does it matter what time?"
"No. Whenever you arrive is fine. I'm an early riser, and I plan to be home all day."
"Lois. I meant what I said. I've learned a lot from you and you've helped me out more than I'll ever be able to thank you." He enveloped her in his arms and placed a big kiss on her cheek.
Lois hugged him back and brushed her lips against his cheek. "My pleasure, Jon. I'm really glad that I got to know you." She took a step back and placed her hand on his cheek, "Now, don't forget to drop by tomorrow."
Jon loped up the stairs to Lois's brownstone on Hyperion Avenue and knocked on the door. He had been to her home several times and enjoyed the warm ambiance that she had created there. It didn't take long for Lois to answer. She ushered him into the kitchen where she was in the middle of taking a batch of cookies out of the oven.
"I actually found out a number of years ago that baking helped me relax, especially if chocolate finds its way into the recipe. Taste."
Jon picked up a big, round tollhouse cookie that still had steam rising from it. The smell of the hot chocolate chips assaulted him.
"Wow! This is really good," he said as he savoured the cookie. "I thought that you had the reputation of being a disaster in the kitchen."
"I do, but the truth is," she giggled, "over the years, I've learned how to keep my failures to a minimum. The secret is 'Nothing too complicated'." She watched Jon take another bite of the cookie. "I only have a few recipes that I can make successfully."
"But these cookies are awesome, just as good as my Grams' cookies."
"I have another secret: lots of practice and chocolate chips," she said as she poured Jon and herself glasses of milk. "Here, sit down at the table and eat your cookies while we talk."
Jon watched Lois sit down across from him. She took a bite of the cookie, a sip of milk and then started to pick at the chocolate chips. She licked the soft chocolate that melted on her fingers, avoiding looking at Jon. She didn't seem ready to speak to him. Jon waited impatiently. He was prepared to leave for Smallville, and he couldn't figure out why Lois invited him to visit her. She had said her good-byes to him last night at the pub.
She looked up nervously. "I haven't been completely honest with you over the last few months, Jon."
"I don't understand."
"I have something to tell you that you haven't bargained for. I don't know quite where to start," she said as she continued to pick away at the cookie.
"Go on," prompted Jon who had no clue what Lois was getting at and so wasn't sure what he was supposed to do.
"All right. Let me go back a few months. I actually didn't want to interview you when I saw your name on the list of possible hires."
"Because I wasn't a journalism student?"
"Partially, but more because I didn't want to meet you." She paused and looked into his eyes. "I was…afraid to meet you."
"But you didn't even know me!" he exclaimed.
"This isn't working," Lois said and she got up and walked over to the counter. She stared at a small box sitting on the counter, picked it up and looked at it. "I probably shouldn't have started now either."
Jon watched Lois as she fiddled with the small jewellery box. Jon was perplexed. He'd never seen her this uncertain before. He realized that this was something that Lois was very uncomfortable with , but something that she had to do. She was a very confident, strong woman, very much like his grandmother. In the office, she could make important decisions in a split second. When she had something to say, she said it without hesitation. This was a different side of her altogether. He wanted to help, but he didn't know how.
"The reason why I hired you," Lois continued, "was because you were the best candidate. You had the best experience, the best resume, the best references, and then, the best interview. I had to put my reservations aside in order to be fair to the Planet. So, I hired you." She paused and looked at Jon. She walked over and gently brushed the curl away from his forehead. "I didn't expect to bond with you. I didn't expect it," she whispered, almost to herself.
Now, Jon was really confused and a bit worried about the direction Lois was going.
She opened her mouth as if she were going to say something else, but she stopped. Once again, she looked at the box in her hand and presented it to him. "This belongs to you." Puzzled, he took the box, not sure what to do with it. Glancing up at Lois, he saw her signal to him. She wanted him to open it up. He opened the box, surprised by the tiny hospital bracelet he found in it. He stared at the writing: June 23, 1994 — his birthdate. And then beside it — Baby Boy Lane.
Jon immediately knew what it meant, but he still tried to find a more plausible meaning. Lois 'bonded' with him because he was born on the same day as her own baby. No. He knew that theory was wrong even before he completed the thought. He was Baby Boy Lane. Lois Lane was his mother. She knew all this time. She let him work beside her over the last four months and she knew all the time that she was his mother, his birth mother, and she didn't say anything to him, and she knew where he was all these years, and she didn't do anything to contact him.
And his father knew where she was all this time and he even went to visit her as Superman, and he never told him who his mother was and that she was around and that he could contact her anytime he wanted.
And his grandparents probably knew, too, and they kept it a secret from him as if he was the only person in the world who didn't deserve to know who his mother was.
"How…how…how could you?" he began as angry colours spun in front of his eyes.
"It's a long story…"
"How could you have abandoned me?"
"How could you have ignored me all these years?"
"How could you not tell me?"
"I didn't know how…"
"How could you…"
"Please, Jon, let me explain," Lois pleaded, but Jon didn't hear Lois's words. All he could hear were the questions and images that came rushing into his mind. He got up from the table and began pacing, clenching his fists and wanting to lash out at something or someone.
"Oh, I get it. Now that you realize that I'm the superkid, you think I'm good enough to acknowledge as your own. Looks like that kryptonite came in handy, didn't it?"
"No, Jon, that's not fair. You don't understand. I regretted not telling you…"
"You didn't want me before; you didn't care about me."
"Please Jon, stop pacing and listen…"
"No. I don't want to hear anymore. I'm leaving." He opened his fist and dropped the tiny wrist band on the floor. He hurried out the kitchen door and shot into the air.
"I can't believe you never told me," Jon bellowed at his father. Jon had flown directly to the Kent farm in Smallville, probably faster than he had ever flown before, and immediately approached Clark. "I can't believe that you never talked about her, you never hinted about her."
"I don't think you get it. A guy's mother is a pretty important person in his life . If she doesn't care enough about me, or can't find the time in her busy career to fit me in, then I have a right to know."
"No you don't."
"Excuse me? You're the one who helped her hide. You're the one who made having a kid easy…no responsibilities, no emotions…" The words rushed out of Jon's mouth like an overflowing river at spring thaw. "On top of that, you became the enabler. Keep good ol' Lois Lane hidden from her son. What does he have to know for? He's just a kid? He doesn't need a mother. He's got good ol' Superdad who'll be there. "
"Sarcasm isn't going to work here, Jon," Clark said, trying to sound calm and stoic as Superman would. What he really wanted to do was shake some sense into his son.
"Yes, it will, Dad, because this is my anger that I'm getting out. You've run my life up until now, but I won't let you run my indignation."
"This was Lois's secret." Clark heard his voice get louder.
"No, this is my genetic history. It's half of my life. You shouldn't have kept this secret from me."
"I promised her," he said, pointedly.
"Goody-goody, Superman," Jon taunted. "There are times when you can break a promise, you know. How many times did your son, your only son, ask you who his mother is?"
"Many. I told you what I could. Lois asked that you not know. I promised her because I wanted to raise you."
"That's ridiculous," Jon pronounced. "Dad, I'm really angry and really hurt."
"I can understand that, son. Let me help you," Clark said quietly. "There are things I need to explain. We need to talk."
"I don't think so."
For the first time in his life, Jon turned away from his father in anger, stomped out of the kitchen, and pushed himself into the air. He could hear his heart beating loudly in his chest. He had never felt that kind of tightness before. This hurt more than the kryptonite did. He needed time alone, away from the people who had betrayed him. He flew into the air, above the cloud line, and moved toward his favourite spot on top of Stirling Mountain in the Rockies. He sat on a rock surrounded by snow which he formed into snowballs and threw at the trees. One at Lois; one at his father. One at Lois; one at his father. He kept throwing.
When Jon looked at his father, he wasn't looking at Superman; he was looking at Clark Kent who, so few years ago, had all the answers and now didn't have any of the right ones. Jon sighed. All he knew was that he had always wanted to be like the other kids and have a mother, or at least, to know something about his mother. Even Jamal, his friend, who was raised by an aunt and uncle, knew who his mother was. Jon knew, even as a young child, that mothers were supposed to be with their children and his wasn't. Most of the time, it didn't bother him. Even though he couldn't tell the other kids, he did know that Superman was his father. That made up for part of it.
He also had his grandparents. He was never sure where his father left off and his grandparents began. They were a package deal. When he was little, but old enough to watch TV or visit other kids' homes, he realized that he didn't have a mother. It took a while because he thought that Martha was his mother. He remembered how surprised he was when his nursery school teacher explained the difference between a mother and a grandmother. Martha was his father's mother. She pointed out that he was lucky to have so many different people at home who loved him—his father, his grandmother and his grandfather. That worked for a while.
A few years later, he learned that Martha and Jonathan Kent had adopted Clark who, as a baby, had been saved when his parents sent him to earth. His dad never got to know his real parents. And so his dad had not grown up in a "traditional" family even though he did have a mother and father. Later on, when Jon learned how babies were born, he became more curious about who his mother was. What happened between his father and his mother? But his father and his grandparents were reticent about talking about this mysterious mother.
Sometimes, when he was younger, he dreamed about his mother. She was in his room at night when it was dark. She would comfort him when a classmate would say something cruel. She would soothe him when his father lectured him for some mischief. She was the one who would make everything that was wrong, better. In his dreams, she was beautiful, like his grandmother. At one time, he remembered that in his dreams, she had long, blonde hair, she wore a big, puffy blue dress with wings on it, and she carried a magic wand. She would come up to Jon, hug him and tell him wonderful stories.
As he got older, he just wondered about the woman who gave him up at birth and disappeared out of his life. He wondered what he had done to make her so angry with him. He wondered why she couldn't love him.
And now, he knew who she was. He realized that she was a wonderful, warm, intelligent woman. While working with Lois at the Planet, he had grown to respect her. He was tied to her. Even with all the anger he felt, he loved his mother, he loved Lois. And that's what hurt. And he still wondered why she couldn't love him.
Jon looked at the snow-covered mountain top and cried.
After Jon flew off, Clark understood that his son, who needed time to work out his anger and time to think, would not return for several hours. Clark spun into his Superman suit, taking off for Metropolis.
When he knocked at Lois's window, he was surprised at how quickly she opened it.
"I had a feeling that you'd come, Sup..uh, Clark," she said, watching in awe as he spun into a pair of jeans and a rugby shirt. "Actually, I was hoping that you would come. I don't think I handled telling him very well."
"Jon dumped all his anger on me and then took off, probably to Stirling Mountain." Clark saw Lois raise her eyebrows. "It's in the Rockies. He goes there when he wants to be alone. Us Kent men have these exotic places where we fly to when we can't deal with real life."
"Where do you usually escape to?" she asked making an upward, flying motion with her hand.
"There's an island in the South Pacific that's uninhabited. Very quiet. Very peaceful. Very beautiful."
"Must be nice. Us Lane women go to the freezer and take out a gallon of double chocolate chip ice-cream."
"Not very exotic."
"But it works," she said grinning as she led Clark to the couch.
"Did I ever tell you how happy I was when you got rid of that old, uncomfortable couch and bought this one?"
"I didn't know you didn't like the other one. Not that I would have changed it just because you didn't like it."
Clark smiled. They had gotten into the old banter routine that had developed over the years when he visited her as Superman. He had been worried that once Lois learned that he was Clark Kent, she wouldn't want to have anything to do with him. But, he also knew that the Lois Lane whom he met twenty-two years ago wasn't the same woman he was looking at now. She had mellowed. Age, experience and, probably, a very successful career had allowed her to shed some of the walls that she had erected when he first knew her. It was obvious to him that she wasn't angry with Clark Kent. She accepted Clark Kent as another side to Superman.. He had been worried that her old anger would reassert itself once she knew that her friend, Superman, was really the man she had slept with so many years ago. But then he also realized that over the years, their relationship had changed and grown. They were friends. They could talk to each other. Lois must have come to the same conclusion.
"What happened with Jon?" he finally asked.
"I didn't know how to tell him. The words just wouldn't come out. 'Jon, I'm your mother.' No, they just wouldn't come out. I tried. I even baked cookies for him." Clark looked at her skeptically. "They were delicious, by the way." She grimaced at him. "But when I tried to tell him, the words wouldn't come. So, I handed him his hospital bracelet, and he put it all together."
"You kept his hospital bracelet all these years?" he asked, surprised that she had done something so sentimental. She was the one who had ignored Jon's existence for twenty-one years; yet, she had taken that little hospital bracelet that the nurse had given her.
Lois put her head in her hands. "Oh, Clark, I've been so stupid. Maybe I should have asked you for help. You know Jon better than I do."
"I don't think it would've mattered what you said or what you did. There was no softening the blow." He moved over slightly and put his hand on her shoulder.
"Over and over he asked, 'How could you? How could you?' Four months ago, I would have had all the answers. Now that I know him, I don't know how I could." She lifted her head and looked at him. "I was such an idiot."
"Lois, don't be angry at yourself. Parents don't always know the right things to say to their kids…"
"Please Super…Clark…" she paused looking embarrassed, "Sorry, I'm getting used to this new side of you. I've grasped it intellectually, but when I see you sitting here…" She shrugged, letting the sentence hang in the air before continuing with her earlier train of thought. "Don't try to rationalize my mistakes. Don't be so nice. I don't deserve it."
He paused wondering if he should say what had been on his mind for a long time. Finally he decided that it was time that they were more open with each other. "Let me ask you a hard question-the one Jon asked you. How could you have ignored his existence all these years?"
"It was easy, Clark. Mind over matter and a demanding job." She sat up straighter, turning to face him more directly. Clark let his hand slip back to his lap.
"Mind over matter?"
"Every time I thought about him, or even thought I was going to think about him, I stopped myself. I got busy. Why do you think that the Planet published its series of unsolved crimes in Metropolis every August? Because I started investigating them in May or June. I solved a lot of cases because I worked twenty-five hours a day."
"I would have worked more if there were more hours in a day. The idea was to be busy and to be dead on my feet when I went to bed so that I wouldn't have to think."
"You could have asked me about him."
"I know. I also knew that if we did talk about him, my resolve would melt. I sensed that he was better off with you and your parents than with me. That didn't change. I'm not mother material."
"Jon thinks you are."
"Don't be silly."
"I'm not. Why else would he be so upset if he didn't want you to be his mother?"
"Oh, God, Clark, I want to be his mother; I just don't know how," she sniffled and for some reason that Lois didn't understand she started to weep quietly. Clark moved closer to her. He put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her into his chest. He held her, stroking her hair.
When the weeping subsided, she clung to Clark as she had often clung to Superman in the past. "Ironic, isn't it?" she sobbed into his shoulder, "I'm angry at you for getting me pregnant, I drive you out of Metropolis, and you in turn, become my best friend."
"I always felt that we were meant to be friends, Lois."
"I'm sorry, Clark. I was so scared back then."
"Of getting involved, of being hurt, of having another person in my life."
"Was it easier being alone?"
Lois slowly moved away from Clark so that she could look at his face and into his eyes. "I thought so at the time. I blocked everything out. It was easier being mad at you than dealing with you. It was easier pretending that I wasn't pregnant and that I hadn't given birth to a son…to my son…to our son. Lucy tried to convince me to get in touch with you a few times, but I kept telling myself that it was a mistake, it never happened."
"You've mentioned that before." Clark smiled, but then more seriously, he placed his hand on her cheek, "You're not alone now, Lois. You've got me, Clark, as your friend and you've got Jon."
"Jon? I don't think he'll ever talk to me again."
"Lois, give him time. He's a smart boy. He'll work this out for himself. He knows who you are now, and when he's ready, he'll come to you. Remember, he won't be far away. He'll be living in Metropolis."
"I hope you're right, Clark. I hope you're right."
"I'm going to head home now. I want to talk to Jon when he gets back."
When his tears stopped flowing, Jon got up and paced around the mountain top. The sun was beginning to set and the gentle wind whistled in his ears. There were no answers in sight. Jon realized that he would be better off forgetting about the whole, incredible revelation and just get on with his life. His classes at Met U were starting up in a week and he was sure that he could buy his textbooks, start reading for his classes, clean up his dorm room, help a couple of his friends move, start those novels he meant to read during the summer, and maybe even have some time to add up volunteer hours at the hospital.
Once again, he pushed into the air and headed toward Metropolis.
The first week of classes had been hectic for Jon. As soon as he got back to his room, he called his grandmother and told her that he wouldn't be staying in Smallville for the week because he had too much to do to get ready for the new semester. He kept busy during the first week and then got caught up in his classes. He declined an offer to work on the university newspaper and, instead, decided to dedicate some more time to his social life. He met his friends at the campus pubs, went to some football games, to some concerts and to some parties. When his friends asked him about his summer, he avoided going into detail, just saying that it was a good experience. He didn't want to think about how Lois had rebuffed him before she ever got to know him.
He called home occasionally, mainly to speak with his grandparents, but when Martha would begin prodding him about coming back for a visit or when he was going to speak to his father again, he would change the subject and tell her about school.
The weeks rolled by quickly. When he saw the pumpkins displayed for Halloween, Jon realized how much time had gone by without him visiting his father or his grandparents. He realized that he missed them. It was time to go home.
The next week-end he flew back to Smallville. Walking up the path to the back door, Jon could smell his favourite pie, apple with lots of cinnamon. He opened the door and saw his Grams standing at the counter rolling out the pastry for another pie.
"How many have you baked so far, Grams?"
Martha Kent raised her head at the sound of her grandson's voice, smiled and rushed over to hug him.
"Oh, Jon, I've missed you so much. It's so good to have you at home. Let me look at you." Martha took a step back and stared at her grandson. She moved forward once again and hugged him. She couldn't get enough of him. "I really missed you so much, Jon. Come sit down. Have a glass of milk and some cookies I baked.
"No pie?" he asked as he took his customary seat at the kitchen table.
"The pie is for tomorrow's dinner. You'll like these cookies," she said as she placed a plateful on the table.
"Where're Dad and Gramps?" Jon asked as he allowed the cookie to melt in his mouth.
"Dad's in town at the paper, and Gramps is upstairs lying down." Martha took a glass from the cabinet and filled it with milk. She walked to the table, put her fingers through Jon's thick hair, placed a kiss on his forehead, and sat down beside him. "We have to talk, Jon."
"I know, Grams. I just wasn't ready, and then I really got involved in my classes."
"Are you still angry at your father?"
"No, not really."
"Are you still angry at Lois?"
"Yes…no…I don't know," Jon wavered. "Grams, I've been trying to figure this out, but it's not happening."
"Do I hear my boy?" Jonathan Kent interrupted. "Jon, come here and give your Gramps a big hug." Jonathan approached his grandson who got up to hug him.
"Hey, Gramps, you're looking good. Looks like you lost a bit of weight."
"It's your grandmother, boy. She's been watching me like a hawk. She's even kept those cookies hidden." Jonathan looked at Martha who raised her eyebrows at him as if to warn him about taking a cookie. "Well, Jon my boy, are you still mad at your dad?"
"No. I can't be made at Dad for so long."
"Are you mad at Lois?"
"This is like deja-vu." He laughed and winked at Martha.
"We're concerned, dear," Martha said, coming around to guide Jon back to the table. "It's a pretty important part of your life, and we think that you need to deal with it rather than run away."
"Lois ran away."
"Yes, she did, and I think she realizes that she made a mistake," said Jonathan.
"Obviously she wants to make up for it. Why else would she have told you?" added Martha as she placed her hand on his. "Jon, if you reject her now, it would be like cutting off your nose to spite your face. What would it accomplish? It would hurt you just as much as it would hurt her."
"Grams, this all makes sense, but it hurts to know that she didn't care enough in the beginning."
"How do you know she didn't care, son?" asked Jonathan.
"She never contacted me. She didn't want to know anything about me."
"You know, Jon," said his grandfather, "sometimes people make mistakes. At the time, they believe they're doing the right thing."
"It's only later that they realize what they've done. Then sometimes it's too hard to backtrack and change," added Martha.
"Do you remember when you were little and Melissa was your best friend?" Jonathan continued.
"Of course, I do."
"Well, when you were planning your eighth birthday party, you decided not to invite her. No matter what arguments your Grams used, you refused to give in. So, in the end, you didn't invite her. Melissa, of course, was hurt. But when you were eight, the logic that was working in your head was that girls were, I think the word you used was, 'yucky'. It was your decision, and although it may not have been the right one, it was right for you at that time."
"But Melissa and I dated for a few years in high school. We even went to the prom together."
"Exactly," Martha emphasized, "At one time you weren't ready for Melissa, but as you got older you were."
"I understand what you're telling me, but the analogy doesn't quite work. I was a little kid who was going through a 'Girls Keep Out' stage. Lois was an adult."
"Adults make mistakes too," Clark said as he entered the kitchen. "And it was twenty-two years ago. Sorry, I've been eavesdropping on you."
"That's okay, Dad. It's a family discussion, obviously," Jon said, looking around at his father an d grandparents.
"Let me try and explain. Lois was angry with me, angry that she got pregnant and angry with herself because she couldn't see any solution other than letting me take you. At that time in her life, her mind was set on having a career. You were right: I just made it easy for her."
"You're making excuses for her, Dad."
"I guess I am, but I've had a lot of time to think about this. In the end, I've had the chance to be your father and, for me, that has been the best possible outcome."
"But you saw her as Superman, and she still didn't ask about me, or care."
"She's strong-willed and stubborn. Like you, I might add. She didn't let herself think about you."
"Dad, I don't understand why you went back to see her as Superman."
"For several reasons. First, she managed to get herself into all these situations where Superman was the only one who could save her. I kept track of what she was doing. When I sensed that she was getting over her head, I just happened to be in Metropolis. There was one time when she was on a stake-out trying to figure out what a particular congressman was doing with an arms dealer. I followed Lois to one of the oceanside docks. If I had gotten there any later, she would have been sucked out to sea by a giant tidal wave."
"I remember how hard it was for you to work here in Smallville and go back to Metropolis to check on Lois," said Jonathan.
"It was obsessive on your part, dear," Martha chimed in.
"I had to. And that's the second reason. As angry as I was at Lois, I needed to be with her. Over the years, I got to know her better…"
"But she was awful to you, how could you?" Jon interrupted.
"Patience. Wide-eyed optimism. Sometimes you do things intuitively, not understanding why, but knowing that somehow it was right." Clark shrugged his shoulders. It really wasn't something that he, himself, understood.
The four Kents sat quietly around the table, each with their own thoughts.
Finally, Martha took Jon's hand in hers and said, "Jon, people make mistakes for what they think are the best reasons. Lois made a mistake, and it's taken her this long to understand that. She needs your forgiveness now."
"Don't hurt yourself, just to get back at her, son," Jonathan added.
Jon looked up at his father and grandparents, and said, "You've given me a lot to think about."
Jon reached the ringing phone just before the answering machine kicked in. It had been a hectic week with midterms and other activities occupying him. Having finally finished his last midterm, he planned to clean up and go back to Smallville.
He was surprised to hear Devon Herman's voice on the other end. "Yo, Jon, whazzup, man?"
"Nothin' much," Jon answered falling into the patter he shared with Devon when he worked at the Daily Planet. Devon, a few years older than Jon, was one of the sports writers for the paper. "Just finished up my last midterm and plannin' to chill a bit," Jon offered.
"Listen man, do you have time to help me out with a little problem?"
"Okay, can I meet you at your dorm in about half an hour?"
"Look, I'm starving. Why don't we meet at Moe's.
"Works for me."
Half an hour later, Jon and Devon sat in Moe's eating pastrami sandwiches.
"So, how can I help you, Devon?"
"I was writing a story about athletes, conditioning, fitness and athletic injuries. As I was trying to rack up some statistics, I found some puzzling information." Devon paused for effect. "There have been a higher ratio of injuries on the Met U football team in the last three years than in the past, and a higher ratio of injuries than on other college teams playing at the same level."
"And what do you want from me?"
"Well, a couple of things. First, I was hoping that using your life sciences background, you could help me make sense of some of what I've been finding. Next, and here's the dicey part, I was hoping that you could get into the medical records at Metropolis General Hospital to check out injured football players who've been taken there."
"You want me to break in?"
"No, not break in. You have a pass and a password to do research for your senior thesis, don't you? All I'm asking you to do is research."
"Unauthorized research," Jon appended.
"My boss will authorize it," Devon smiled devilishly.
"That's not the kind of authorization I meant," retorted Jon, but he knew that Devon had caught his interest. "Tell me what you have so far."
Devon smiled at his friend's curiosity. "In the last three years, Met U has fallen in the standings in its division. That doesn't make sense since it has recruited some of the best players in the country, and its coaching staff, under Bill Pappagayou, is one of the best."
"Four years ago they were vying for the Atlantic Conference," Jon offered.
"Now they're sitting in the basement."
"That happens to a lot of teams. What's the big deal?"
"The reason they're having so much trouble," Devon stopped as he took a bite out of his pickle and then wagged it at Jon, "is that they are plagued by these injuries."
"Yeah? So that's a run of bad luck," Jon said, playing devil's advocate.
"Three years in a row?"
"Mmm, too much of a coincidence," Jon conceded. "So, what are you planning to do? As if I can't guess."
"I need to see the players' medical records and find any consistencies or clues."
"And you want me to…?"
"Get into the computers and interpret the data."
"And we would do this, when?"
"Tonight," Devon offered, "if you don't have any other plans."
"Are you crazy?"
"Think about it, Kent? What does it matter when we go in? We have to do it at night because there are fewer people around asking questions." Devon shrugged his shoulders. "If not tonight, when? I may not be the only one looking into this, and we don't want the Planet scooped, do we?"
"Just let me finish my sandwich."
Getting into the hospital's computers was not difficult. As a fourth year science student working on a major research paper, Jon had a pass that allowed him into the more secured computer centre. His card was enough to get Devon in with him. From there all Jon had to do was log onto the computer. Students were allowed to use current and past records of patients for research purposes. All imaging, x-rays, cat scans and MRIs, were available on the computer system.
"You realize," Jon said as he and Devon sat down at the computer in the hospital basement, "if we get caught here, we could be in a lot of trouble. Although the information is accessible to the hospital staff, it is not available to the public."
"You're doing research, aren't you? We won't identify players or their specific injuries. We'll just use the data."
"All right. I can't believe that I'm letting you talk me into this."
"It's a good story, and you know it."
"Yeah, I know it," Jon's exasperated tone was only a ruse. "What do you have so far?"
"Well, from what I've found out, generally, there are only seven or eight players who are injured in any one game. Those injuries tend to be short term; the player misses the rest of the game, but plays the next week, or the player misses a couple of games. There are usually between sixty and eighty players dressed to play, so eleven per cent or more of the team are hurt. Most of those injuries are sprains and pulled ligaments, mild injuries for the most part. It depends on the severity whether the player stays in the game or not."
"So, what are we looking at in the last three years that has made you so curious?" Jon asked as he logged into the computer system.
"The number of injuries per game has gone up to about ten or twelve players a game."
"Have you figured out the severity?"
"No, that's what I need you for…although it seems that the injured players are out longer." Devon watched as Jon typed in a series of passwords that got him into the records. As the screen asked Jon for particulars, Devon added, "I've got a list of all the players who were injured over the last three years. Put in their names, and let's see what kind of injuries they have."
Jon typed in the names and called up the records. He sat back and read the data, the x-rays, the cat scans and MRIs. Meanwhile, Devon paced around the room.
It took Jon about an hour and half to read over the material about the thirty-five different Met U football players who had been injured. Devon gave them pseudonyms and catalogued the data. In the end, Jon printed up the information so that he could remove it from the computer room.
He and Devon then returned to Jon's dorm where they discussed the data.
"According to this, the injuries are very typical in football. If you are right, then there are just a lot of them," Jon explained.
"How do you know that they're 'typical' football injuries?"
"Easy…and lucky for you…I spent some time at the beginning of the term glancing through my textbooks. I paid more attention to the sports injuries because I wanted to see how I saved my body for better things when I opted not to play football."
"Right!" Devon said, sarcastically.
"Seriously. I had a lot of time on my hands when I finished at the Planet." Jon didn't want to explain that the reason he had spent so much time reading his textbooks, among other things, was that he didn't want to think about Lois Lane. Luckily, he had a photographic memory, so he could call up what he had learned. "I looked through my textbooks. Sports injuries are interesting."
"What are these typical injuries?"
"Torn knee ligaments are the biggest; then hand- breaks and dislocations; shoulders-separation and dislocation; ankles-twists and sprains, sometimes breaks."
"And those are the injuries that these guys have been having?"
"Yeah. Regular injuries."
"Doesn't make sense," Devon mused. "Why? Most teams have injuries, but not at this rate?" Devon paced around Jon's room. "There's nowhere to think in here."
"Try sitting down," Jon recommended as Devon continued to pace around the room.
"Jon, what causes football players to be injury prone?"
"Poor conditioning, not stretching and warming up, poor equipment, poor training and preparation…lots of things."
"So, what's happening to these guys?"
Devon stopped his pacing to look at his watch. "Listen, it's getting late. Can you do some more research into sports' injuries, and I'll try to do some other digging? Then we can get together tomorrow."
"Sure. I have an evening class that ends at nine- thirty. Meet me at the Falafel Hut at about quarter to ten."
Jon used his lunch the next day to find a few more textbooks on football injuries. When he realized that there was only one explanation for the number of injuries that he had seen the night before, he put in a call to Devon at the Daily Planet. He was surprised when he recognized the woman's voice who answered the phone.
Jon reminded himself that he was grown-up and that he had to deal with Lois, no matter what his feelings were, as a grown up.
"Yes?" she asked, certain who was on the other end, but too afraid to hope.
"It's me. Jon. Jon Kent."
"Yes, I recognized your voice, Jon." She hesitated. "How are you?"
"I'm fine." Jon wanted to say something more to Lois, but he wasn't sure what to say.
"Good. I'm glad to hear that." Lois paused, afraid that she might scare him off again. "How can I help you?"
"Well, I really called to talk to Devon. This is his extension or have I done something Freudian here?"
"No. No. I was actually just talking to Devon. He was filling me in on what the two of you are up to. It looks promising."
"I think so too," Jon paused knowing that it was up to him to take the next step. "Look Lois, I'm sorry. I acted like a kid."
"Yes, you did, but you are a kid. I didn't handle it very well either. I'd really like to talk."
"Yes, I'd like to…soon. I promise. Right now, I need to talk to Devon and then I have a class."
"Okay. Jon, I'm looking forward to our talk." Lois handed the phone to a bewildered Devon who couldn't figure out the conversation.
"Jon, my man. Whazzup?"
"I've been reading some medical books. From what I've figured out, it can only be poor quality equipment that would cause that number of injuries. See what you can do with that. I'll see you tonight."
Jon put away his phone and went to class. He was looking forward to meeting with Devon and solving this mystery. He was also glad that he had spoken to Lois. He knew that if he'd had to make the effort to call her or to go see her, he wouldn't. Since they had spoken by accident, at least he had crossed one hurdle. He knew that she would wait to hear from him rather than take the initiative. She had already approached him. He was the one who had rejected her when he'd stormed out of her house.
He did want to clear the air and speak to her, and he did want to be in contact with her. He'd had a chance to find out what it was like to have a mother, and he admitted to himself, he liked the idea that a woman like Lois Lane was his mother even though she didn't have blonde hair and a big, puffy blue dress.
Devon was already biting into his falafel sandwich when Jon walked into the Falafel Hut fifteen minutes late.
"Sorry, class ran a little longer. Did you order one for me?" Jon asked, eyeing Devon's sandwich.
"Nope. Too busy getting my own," Devon answered as Jon went over to the counter to order.
As soon as Jon sat down, Devon got right to the point. "Okay, I looked into this idea of faulty protective equipment. It makes a lot of sense. Injuries generally do occur in football because of equipment. Over the years, equipment has gotten more sophisticated and costs a lot of money. New materials are more lightweight and flexible. Knee braces, shoulder pads, face guards, mouthguards and especially helmets need to be in excellent condition and of the highest quality."
"Why wouldn't they be? Met U is a class organization?"
"I don't know, but that's what I'm going to look into. I'm planning to visit the Met U dressing room and check out the players' equipment. I just don't know how I'll know the difference."
"We'll figure it out, somehow," Jon took another bite of his sandwich. "What else did you find out?"
"Here's the good part. Met U has a pretty solid coaching staff that's been around for quite a few years. Lots of loyalty, rah, rah team and stuff like that. The only newcomer is a Brian Evans. He's held several coaching jobs over the last number of years. He's never stayed in any one position over three years."
"Is he planning to leave Met U?"
"As a matter of fact, he's put out feelers in the Midwest."
"Why the Midwest?" Jon wondered aloud.
"Because he's working on coaching in all corners of the US?" Devon prodded sarcastically.
"So no one can really find out what's he's doing?" Jon thought for a moment. "What are his responsibilities?"
"Well, coincidentally, purchasing is one."
"Really? That's too easy." Jon shook his head.
"Easy? Yes, but we're the ones who figured it out."
"Now we have to see if the equipment is up to par and if we can make a connection. What's your plan?"
"A visit to the locker room. Are you game?" Devon got up and threw his wrappers and cup in the garbage.
"Breaking and entering. I wonder if it's in the genes?" Jon murmured under his breath.
"Nothing. Let's go," said Jon as he followed.
Jon removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. He then looked around the room focussing in on various pieces of protective equipment hanging beside the players' lockers. He x-rayed through the outer covering of one of the shoulder pads. Devon was right. Jon put his glasses back on. He walked over to the shoulder pads hanging from the rack around one of the player's locker. He started handling and squeezing the pads.
"Devon, come over here and take a look. This shoulder pad—feel the difference between this part closer to the neck and this closer to the arm."
"I don't feel any difference. Well, maybe…yes, I can. The padding isn't as dense. Do you think it's worn out?"
"No. I don't think so. It's too even. It's like the shoulder pad was made too short," elucidated Jon. "It explains the number of shoulder separations and dislocations. And if you look at the front, the padding should be equally as thick at the midriff as it is across the breastplate, but it isn't. That explains the bruised livers. Can you imagine being butted by a helmet in this area?"
"But on the surface it looks like the best quality equipment. Look at the brand name? How does he get away with it?"
"Let's check out the knee braces." Jon glared at the various braces on the shelves. They all looked exactly the same. But he knew that the braces had to be custom made for each player taking into account position, size, weight, and previous injuries. If players wore generic braces, they were open to anterior cruciate or medial collateral ligament injuries. Jon didn't know how to let Devon know what he saw without explaining his x-ray vision. "We need to know if these braces are the same. They're supposed to be custom made."
"We can figure that out later. I don't think we have the tools to find out now."
Jon kept looking around the room for more obvious evidence. He stopped at the helmets which were neatly lined up on a top shelf above the lockers. He pushed his glasses down and looked at the helmets, one at a time.
"Shoot!" Jon whispered to himself. He walked over to one of the helmets and started to scrape off the paint. "Devon, come over here for a minute. I've got the most incriminating piece of evidence staring right at me." Jon waited for Devon to join him. "Do you have a magnifying glass in your bag of criminal tools?" Jon asked.
"Right here," Devon said when he produced it.
Devon looked at the hairline stress fracture in the helmet. "Wow! How did you find this?"
"There was a high percentage of moderate-to-severe head and neck injuries. I was …uh…sort of looking for it. I…uh…read something about refurbished helmets somewhere. I just didn't think it was really being done."
"What were they thinking? Refurbished helmets are illegal. They usually have these tiny fractures in them or the plastic of the helmet is deteriorating. Somebody could have been very seriously hurt."
"Whoever did this figured that by adding new pads and spray painting over the helmet they could save some money."
"And that," said Devon figuring it out, "is why they are doing this."
"To save money."
"Or to embezzle money."
"Embezzle money," Jon echoed and whistled.
"Let's get out of here and contact Lois. She needs to know about this."
Suddenly, Jon heard a door open. He looked over to Devon and realized that his accomplice also heard the noise. Jon looked questioningly at Devon.
"Coach Pappagayou," Devon addressed the coach who came into the room.
"What are you two doing here?" Pappagayou asked belligerently.
"Sorry," said Devon barely stumbling on his words. "Devon Herman, Daily Planet. I…uh…left my notepad here after the game and I came to pick it up. This is my friend, Jon Kent."
Jon played along with Devon. He moved toward the coach and proffered his hand. "It's an honour meeting you, coach. It's my fault that we're here. When Devon told me that he had to find his notepad, I asked to tag along. As a student here, I'm a big fan of the Tigers…"
"Well, you shouldn't be here. This is out of bounds to the press and to students."
"Sorry, again coach, but I wanted to write up an accurate version of today's game."
Jon was relieved when Pappagayou stopped asking them questions that he would have lie about. Devon was fast on his feet, but Jon wasn't sure how long he could sustain a lie. He also wasn't sure how convinced Pappagayou was with their story.
When the two men were out of the locker room and walking across the campus, Jon congratulated Devon at his ability to finesse a situation.
"You weren't so bad yourself, Kent," added Devon.
"Do you think he believed us?"
"Probably not," laughed Devon. "He probably thought that I brought my buddy into the locker room on a bet or something. Come on; we've got to contact Lois. We need to tell her what we figured out tonight."
Jon watched Lois as the door to her Hyperion Avenue brownstone opened. She looked the same as she did three months ago, but she didn't. Jon tried to figure out what the difference was until he realized that it wasn't Lois who was different. He was different. He was looking at his mother and not his boss or friend. Even though they didn't have a long history together, just the idea and the knowledge that she was his mother changed their dynamics. He followed Devon into the house and stood directly in front of Lois. She stepped forward, raised her arms slightly, stopped and waited. He realized that they both wanted the same thing. He moved closer to her and let her take him in her arms and hug him. He heard her whisper, "Thank you."
"I'm sorry," he murmured again.
"What is this?" Devon asked, bewildered by the apparent reunion going on. "It's not like you haven't seen each other in years?"
Lois ignored Devon's comment and led them into the living room where Devon filled her in on what they had found that evening in Met U's locker room.
"What's the motivation here?" Lois asked.
"Money," answered Jon.
"Pappagayou? Or just Evans? Or is it wider?" asked Lois.
"I'd go for Evans. I have a feeling that if we checked where he worked before, we'd find the same faulty equipment. I'll bet a month's salary he's getting a cut off the top and the manufacturer is also getting his cut," explained Devon.
"If you're right, I wouldn't be surprised if Evans used the same manufacturers in the various schools he coached at," surmised Jon.
"So," she asked, "what do you see as your next step?"
"Well, we need speak to the coaches, Pappagayou and Evans for sure. Maybe some of the other coaches. We should find out who their supplier is and see what they have to say," Devon said.
"See what you can learn about the other places Evans worked as well," added Jon.
"Well, gentlemen, looks like you're onto something important. Jon," she continued, "are you going to be able to keep up with your classes and this investigation."
"Don't worry, I'll let Devon do most of the grunt work. I'll go to classes."
"Does this mean that you're going to pay him for this?" Devon asked remembering what it was like to be a working student.
"I think we can scrape up some per diem money for Jon."
"Thanks. My scholarship only covers some of my expenses."
Jon and Devon said good night to Lois and, once they mapped out their plan of attack, went their own ways.
Jon felt good about seeing Lois, and even though they hadn't really spoken or dealt with their issues, at least there was an understanding of sorts. He wasn't rejecting her. Jon smiled. Once more Grams' pragmatic wisdom worked.
As Jon walked back to the campus, he decided that it was time to speak to his father. He moved into a dark, tree-covered area behind the Old Physics Building and once again pushed himself into the sky. It didn't take him long to reach the farmhouse in Smallville.
While filling in his father about the investigation that he and Devon were involved in, Jon and Clark walked over to the treehouse and floated up to sit on a branch outside the Fortress of Solitude.
"Dad," Jon began, "tell me what happened."
Clark felt that the embargo on honesty had been lifted and he could begin to tell Jon what happened. "First of all, this happened a long time ago, and I'm not comfortable going into a lot of details. Let's just say, that Lois and I made a mistake. We didn't know each other well enough. We got carried away. I guess I could use my youth as an excuse. We didn't use protection, and we weren't prepared."
"That's why I get the lectures and nagging about protection." Jon understood his father's reasoning on this issue for the first time.
Clark smiled. "What can I say? Anyway, when I realized that Lois was not planning to keep you, the baby, I convinced her to let me take you. That was before you were born."
"Why couldn't you tell me?"
"One of her conditions for letting me take you was to promise not to tell you, or anyone. I keep my promises." He shrugged his shoulders, knowing that it sounded irrational at this point.
"Why didn't you tell her you were Superman?"
"That was irrelevant except that I didn't want anyone else raising Superman's child. It gets complicated here. I didn't know if I could have children. I didn't even know at the time that I was Kryptonian. That came several weeks later. I thought I was some kind of government experiment gone wild. But once I realized that Lois was going to have my child, I didn't want anyone else to raise him."
"What if Lois wanted to raise me?"
"I would have told her. She would have had the right to know at that point. But Lois was really unnerved by the idea of having any kind of baby. She was in denial, walking around believing that it really wasn't happening to her. She also believed, and I found this out later when she was talking to Superman, that she was frightened of being a mother. It's a long story; perhaps she'll tell you, someday. Basically, she didn't have good parental role models, so she was spooked by the whole idea."
"That doesn't make sense," said Jon trying to understand what went through Lois's mind.
"It did to her. She was in denial, so when I suggested that I take you, and along with Grams and Gramps, we'd raise you, she jumped at the chance." Jon stared at his father as he continued to speak. "She also banished you and me from her life. I left Metropolis and came back here to raise you."
"But you went back to her as Superman."
"Yes, I did. Lois was very much a loner." Clark explained. "She preferred to keep to herself; confide in very few people. She did things on her own, very proud and protective of her independence. But I always sensed that she needed a friend. Once she got to see Superman as a regular guy, she talked to me. She needed a friend, but she wasn't willing to accept Clark. Superman filled the gap. Having a secret identity pays off sometimes.
"You love her, don't you?"
Clark looked at his son, surprised by the boy's insight and intuition. Or were his feelings for Lois that obvious?
"It doesn't really matter anymore," he said quietly.
Jon flew back to Metropolis the same night. The insights he was gaining began to make him understand Lois better. She wasn't this cold, uncaring person who couldn't love him. She was a person with frailties, who had been in a situation with which she couldn't deal. Furthermore, she didn't have any friends with whom to talk. That was something Jon had never experienced; he had his father and his grandparents. He understoodnow why his father kept returning to Lois even though she had acted so heartless to him. It made sense now.
The next few days were busy. Jon went to classes, met with Devon, and continued to unravel their mystery so that they could collect hard evidence.
"Evans seems to be our guy," said Devon late the next night as he worked at his desk with Jon. "I ran through some statistics, then checked with some other sports writers that I know and found out that in every college where he's worked, in the last ten years, the average number of injuries has been very high, and he's left after three or four years before people could get suspicious."
"So how does he make the money?" Jon asked.
"We need to get hold of the invoices to see exactly how that happens."
Jon looked at Devon with a mischievous grin, "I guess we'll just have to do some looking into their files. A little more breaking and entering never hurt a good story."
It didn't take long for Devon and Jon to get over to the university's sports complex. Furtively, Jon looked around to make sure that no one was in the football office. Luckily, it was empty.
"Good thing you loosened the locks the last time you were here, Devon." Jon laughed quietly as the door to the office opened easily.
"No problem," Devon whispered.
The two investigators rifled through the filing cabinets looking for accounts payable invoices.
"Thank goodness these places still keep hard copies of their accounts. It would be less exciting if we only had to hack into the computer," Jon whispered to his accomplice.
Devon chuckled as he used his hand scanner to copy some files. "This is good stuff, Kent. The dates here indicate that they changed manufacturers when Evans came to Metropolis."
"Good." Jon stopped and stretched out his hearing. "Shhh, I think I hear someone coming, and I don't think your I-left-my-notepad excuse will work when we're in Evans' office."
Devon moved toward the door to the office and looked out. "I hear two people talking. We have to find another way out of here."
Jon looked around quickly and pushed Devon to the closet door. "We'll hide in here until they leave." The two squashed themselves into the closet and held their breaths.
"I just need to pick up some forms that I need to work on tonight," said a voice that Jon assumed belonged to Evans.
Pushing his glasses down, Jon watched as Evans went through the same drawer in the file cabinet that he had rummaged through earlier.
"These files are a mess," Evans said to the man with him. "Here they are. Sonia must have misfiled them when she was working in here. That girl doesn't have a clue about secretarial work."
The other man sniggered at Evans' comment.
"Come on. Let's get out of here. We need to look at these forms, and then figure out what we need to do next."
When the lights went out in the office, Jon pushed his glasses back up and opened the door. "Time to come out of the closet, Devon," Jon whispered.
"How long have you been looking for a chance to say that?"
With the coast clear, Jon and Devon left the stadium offices and went back to the Daily Planet where they downloaded the invoices they scanned.
"I think what he does is buy inferior equipment that looks like the good stuff, and the team pays top prices for it. The manufacturer slips Evans the difference and probably takes a cut for himself," Devon said.
"So, you need a list of manufacturers and suppliers for all the teams Evans worked for, not just the Tigers. You need to get their billing files to see what they charge the team."
"Looks like your investigative juices are still flowing, Kent. I've run a search for those manufacturers and suppliers." Devon smiled.
"He used different companies to supply the equipment, or so it seems on the surface, but then I had Trish dig a little deeper, and she found that the same company, JRH Holdings owned them."
"And JRH Holdings is…?"
"John Reynold Hanstrom."
"Yes!" Jon said, high-fiving Devon. "You're the man!"
"Come on, kid, let's get writing."
Devon and Jon divided the writing between them. Early in the morning, they completed their own sections and then edited for each other.
"Well, it's all ready," said Jon, "Now all you have to do is call up Evans and Hanstrom fort a comment."
"Probably a 'no comment'," said Devon. "But comment or no comment, we've got the story."
"LAN it to Lois and see what she says tomorrow. I'll call you between classes and find out what's happening." Jon looked at his watch and realized that he just had enough time to go home, shower, and change before his first class began. He let Devon tie up the loose ends of the story.
The day proved once again to be a long one for Jon, and he didn't manage to get hold of Devon between classes. It was a brisk November evening when Jon left the biochem building on the Met U campus, but the weather invigorated him, and he decided to walk the five miles to the Planet offices. It gave him a chance to think, and he had a lot to think about.
The lecture that morning on genetic coding reminded him again about his parentage. He wondered, not for the first time, how humans and Kryptonians were compatible. It was incredible that he was even conceived. Although he remembered his father dating several women, and some seriously, the relationships never developed. When Jon was around fifteen, Clark dated Susan Grant, Jon's history teacher whom Jon really liked. When he had asked his father why they broke up, Clark had said that he didn't feel comfortable telling her that he was Superman. Yet, Jon surmised, Superman had never stopped seeing Lois Lane, or so it seemed from they way the two of them spoke. His father was in love with Lois Lane, but since she was in love with Superman and had no tolerance for Clark Kent, his father had never pursued the relationship. And then Superman and Lois became friends. Ironic, he thought. Now what will happen now that Lois knows that Superman and Clark Kent are one and the same?
His walk changed into a jog.
And what about him? Had she only told him that she's his mother because he is Superman's son. Is that all that he meant to her? Before she knew that, she wasn't willing to acknowledge their relationship. Then, wham, he's superkid and she's gushing all over him that she's his mother. What a crock!
He slowed down.
No, that wasn't fair. He had felt from his first days working at the Daily Planet that Lois treated him extremely well. He thought at first that it was because he was new and young, but now it seemed that it may have been more. And even before he came into contact with the kryptonite, she was taking him to dinner, talking to him about his childhood in Smallville, his plans for the future. Obviously, he was trying to fill in the gaps that she had missed. He realized that when she seemed to be looking over his shoulder as he spoke, what he took for boredom was really wistfulness on her part.
Jon remembered the day that he had decided to apply for the Daily Planet internship. He hadn't really thought through what he planned to do for the summer, but the idea of going back and helping his father at the Smallville Post and his grandfather on the farm wasn't very appealing. He had itched to do something more exciting and different. He'd read about the internship on the Metro U Journalism school website and decided that he'd take a chance since he did have some good journalism experience (and a background inherited from both sides he now understood). It was a whim. In the end, he had met his mother. He thanked his lucky stars that he had sent the application in. He wondered if this was one of those things that was just meant to be. He wasn't sure that Lois would have divulged her secret to him if she hadn't gotten to know him. Dad used to laugh and say that there was a divinity that shapes our ends. Grams used to say that she wished that the divinity would have done a better job shaping hers, and then she'd look at her backside.
Smiling, Jon walked through the revolving doors of the Daily Planet.
The bullpen area was quiet. Some of the overhead lights had been dimmed, which added to the subdued nature of the office. Jon saw the light on in Lois's office and debated whether he should step in and say something. No, he decided, he would wait. Instead, he walked over to the bench, as the sports writers called their small section of the newsroom. It was decorated with Metropolis team pennants, the odd baseball, football or hockey stick and puck. Devon had a child-sized basketball net beside his desk and a pail full of sponge balls that he shot hoops with. Over the sports editor's desk was an arena-sized basketball hoop. Each writer had a jersey of his or her favourite team with the writer's name on the back.
Devon wasn't around, so Jon, having access, opened up the Met Tigers file on Devon's computer and started to read. Using superspeed, he didn't take long to read the article and the follow-up notes.
Devon had reached Pappagayou who had said that the injuries were baffling him, and he was concerned about his players. The coach had said that he thought that his players were in top condition and that their warm up drills were more than adequate, but recently he had made the players warm up for longer periods of time, and he had also built in some post-game drills as well. When Devon had asked about the condition of the equipment, Pappagayou had said that he made sure that they bought only the top of the line equipment. "I know how important good quality equipment is." When Devon mentioned the refurbished helmets, the Coach was shocked, stressing that refurbished helmets were not only illegal, but giving them to athletes would be immoral. Pappagayou had also mentioned the reputable company that they bought their equipment from. Devon had added a note that Pappagayou sounded quite proud of the work that he did with his team. Devon had also written "Naive? Dupe?" at the end of the interview.
His notes indicated that he had arranged a meeting with Brian Evans at one o'clock in the stadium office. Those notes, Jon thought, should make interesting reading. The bench area was quiet. Unless there was something spectacular, most writers went to evening games and sent the results into the night editor from home. Some joked around that they sent in the articles from the nearest bar. When Jon went over to the night editor to check out Devon's evening assignment, he was surprised to see that Devon had not returned or checked in since he went out for his one o'clock appointment. The editor was impatiently waiting for his report on the evening's hockey game.
Jon walked over to Lois's office. Maybe she'd heard from him since his story had shifted from sports to city news. Knowing that Evans was his last interview, Jon was starting to get worried. Jon knocked on the editor's door. She was absorbed in her oversized computer screen which showed a mock up of the next day's paper. She was deftly typing in instructions and muttering under her breath. When she heard the second knock, she turned around and smiled at Jon.
"Excuse me, Lois, sorry to bother you…"
"No bother at all. Come in. Come in," she said eagerly. "What can I help you with?"
Jon moved into the office and sat down opposite Lois. "No one's heard from Devon all day and I'm worried. He had an interview scheduled with Brian Evans, the one we think has been embezzling the Met U Tigers. "
"Have you tried phoning him?"
"Yeah, no answer."
"No, I don't have his pager number."
"Here, I'll do it," Lois offered. She looked up his number and punched it in on her phone and waited.
"Lois, I can't explain it, but I've had a funny feeling about Devon ever since I came into the office and didn't see him here. I think that if he doesn't call back, I'll go look for him."
"Funny feeling, eh? Are you sure you want to continue onto medical school? You really do have a reporter's instinct." Lois stared at Jon for a few seconds. He felt her gaze go through him as if she was checking to see if every atom of his being was all right. They sat for a few moments without saying anything, then Lois looked impatiently at her watch. "I trust this funny feeling of yours. Let's go look for him."
"No, you stay here. I'll go. I'm better equipped," he winked at her.
"That better be a supercomment rather than a sexist one, young man," she said, "but whatever it is, I'm tired of sitting at this desk and staring at this computer. A little investigation will do these not-so-young bones some good. Stay here while I change into something more appropriate."
It didn't take too long for Lois, dressed in a pair of jeans, running shoes and sweatshirt, to return to the office. "I rue the day that I started wearing business suits and high heeled shoes to work everyday. It meant the end of getting out and finding the story." Grabbing her coat and purse, she headed to the door. "Any word from Devon?"
"None," Jon said getting up.
"Then let's go. I'll take my car."
"Works for me," Jon said, following Lois toward the elevator. "We do need to keep the buzzer going on his pager so that I can use it as a tracer."
"Can you do that?"
"It's not easy, but I can." As Jon spoke, Lois dialled Devon's pager number on her cell phone and then followed him to the elevator.
They drove toward the stadium, the last place Devon was supposed to be. As they approached the stadium, a crowd of young people was noisily leaving the grounds.
"Looks like the marching band and the cheerleaders," Jon remarked seeing the instrument cases and batons. "They're making it hard for me to hear anything. Let's wait for a few minutes." Mother and son sat in silence, waiting for the crowd to disperse so that normal sounds would settle over the area.
"Jon, we do need to talk…"
"Shhh," Jon interrupted, "Sorry, I agree and I want to talk, but right now I'm beginning to hear a constant vibration that could be Devon's pager. Come on, follow me."
They walked toward the stadium buildings. Every few minutes, Jon stopped to listen. Then he would nod at Lois and they moved on a bit more. Jon was leading Lois into the stadium buildings, toward the concrete tunnels that led to the playing field. Just before they reached the opening to one of the tunnels, Jon stopped and listened once more.
"It doesn't seem to be coming from the field," he whispered. "It's below us." He slid his glasses down his nose and peered over top of them. He looked at the ground beneath his feet and at the concrete walls that surrounded them. "This way," he pointed.
Lois followed closely behind Jon until he stopped at a door with Authorized Personnel stencilled across it. The door had a heavy, combination lock on it.
"I can't break into one of those," Lois whispered to Jon. "Can you?"
"I've never tried before, but I might be able to. I can always just rip it off," he considered.
"Try opening it first," Lois suggested. "Listen for specific clicks. Those should be the numbers."
Jon put his ear to the lock and turned the dial. "I heard four clicks, Lois. What should I do, now?"
"Try them in different left/right combinations; see what happens. I remember the good ol' lock picks. Those were the days. Jimmy taught me how to pick a lock and it really got me into some interesting places and interesting jams —the jaws of death at times. Superman ended up rescuing me from a lot of those predicaments. He rescued me from falling out an airplane, falling into a vat of acid, driving off a cliff… It seems he rescued me a lot. I remember the day you were born…"
"Got it," interrupted Jon. "You'll have to tell me more about the day I was born another time." Jon opened the door to another dark passageway. "The vibrations are getting louder. Give me your hand so we don't get separated or bump into anything here."
Jon took Lois's hand, and before they started walking down the passageway, Lois shut the door behind her. Fifty yards into the tunnel, they reached a steep ramp. At the bottom of it, they began to see a dim, yellow light toward the end, and Jon began hearing a faint heartbeat. As they moved steadily toward the heartbeat, the dim passageway became more illuminated. The exposed, yellow light bulb hung over an empty room except for a body that was huddled up against the wall. The bulb created shadows all over the room. Jon let go of Lois's hand, and the two moved quickly toward the body. It was Devon. His scraped, bruised, and raw face had already begun to swell. As Jon slowly began to move him, Devon moaned.
"My God, what did they do to him?" asked Lois as she looked around the bare room. In the opposite corner from Devon, she found his pager lying on the ground. She picked it up wondering what happened to his cell phone.
"Devon," murmured Jon, "It's Jon and Lois. We're going to take you outta here. I'm going to carry you."
Devon moaned again as Jon picked him up. "Sorry man, but there's no easy way to do this. We'll get you to Lois's car and then to a hospital."
Jon, carrying Devon in his arms, started moving toward ramp. "Who did this to you?"
"Evans…linebackers," Devon muttered.
Lois led the way up through the ramp to the dark passageway until she felt the door in front of her. She pushed it, but it was stuck. She pushed harder. There was some give in the door, but the centre of it was firm. She pushed again.
"Jon, I think the lock has been put back on," she concluded.
Jon gently put Devon down and went over to the door. He pushed heavily against it.
"I think you're right, Lois. I feel the bolt, but I also hear people on the other side." Then looking back at Devon, he turned to Lois and whispered, "Should I just break the door open."
"No," she whispered, "That's not humanly possible. We need to think of a way that won't expose you."
"You could use your cell phone and call the police," suggested Jon.
"The police or the fire department would work. Sometimes I miss the obvious," she said.
Lois took out her cell phone and dialled 911. Quietly, she explained her situation and location. She asked for the police as well as an ambulance for Devon. Then, she and Jon waited.
"Yelling, 'Help Superman' worked for me in the past; maybe, I should try it again," Lois said, loud enough for Devon to hear.
"No, Lois, this isn't a job for Superman. The police will get the bad guys out of the way, and we'll get out. I hope Devon can finger Evans."
"Yeah, I can," whispered Devon. "He gave the linebackers the orders…I blacked out..then after… they just left me."
"Can you identify the linebackers as well?" asked Lois who had moved to kneel beside Devon.
"Yeah. I know them…been in the locker room…hard to talk," Devon wheezed, between each painful breath.
"You don't have to. The ambulance should be here soon. Hold on." Jon comforted his friend.
"I hear sirens," Lois interrupted. "We'll be out before you know it." Lois held lightly onto Devon's swollen hand as they listened to the emergency workers opening the door.
Not long afterwards, Lois and Jon watched the ambulance take off with Devon in it. They were going to meet the police officer who wanted to take their statement at the hospital. According to him, no one was in the tunnel when they arrived. Lois wasn't surprised since the sirens would have warned off the culprits off. She was more interested in who beat up Devon. He answered as best as he could, but breathing was too difficult. The paramedics were worried that he might have a punctured lung and some broken ribs. His breathing wouldn't be normal until the doctors took care of his lungs.
At the hospital, the officer whom they met at the stadium was accompanied by a detective from the fraud division. He interrogated Jon and Lois, who promised that they would turn over all the information Jon and Devon had collected with the understanding that the two reporters had an exclusive that would be filed for the afternoon edition. After Jon and Lois made sure that Devon was in good hands and asleep, they left the hospital to drive back to the Daily Planet where Jon could finish writing up the story.
Lois stood with her hand on the back of his chair commenting on the wording of his lead.
"This is my lead, Lois. If you want to write this, then go ahead," Jon cajoled.
"I'd love to Jon, but this is your story. Sorry. Let me get you some fresh coffee." By the time Lois was back with two freshly brewed cups of coffee, Jon was leaning back in his chair rereading what he had written. It looked good to him. He took the cup that Lois offered him, and he moved away from the computer screen.
"Lois, how does it look to you?"
Lois pulled up another chair, sat down and read. After a few minutes and a few minor edits, she looked at Jon and said, "Good work, Jon. Really good. I'll just send it over to copy and it'll be in the afternoon edition. We'll get it online before that." Lois got up, looked at her watch, and walked back to her office. Jon followed.
"You saved Devon, Jon."
"No. It was you."
"We could have made a good team," Lois said. A good team, she thought. She could have made a good team with Clark, too. They could have done some top notch investigating. She shook it off. She wouldn't go in that direction.
"Come on, Jon. It's four-thirty in the morning. I have to be up in a couple of hours, so I think I'll just go for some breakfast andthen come back here to work. Wanna join me?"
"I can go without sleep for quite a while. Can you?" he asked concerned about her stamina.
"Probably not, but I'm going to this morning because once I go to bed, I'll be finished and I still have a paper to put out. I'll go home early."
"Well, Lois, if that's the case, I'll join you for breakfast. There's The Great 24 Hour Place on campus."
"I've heard of that. Let's go."
Lois, grabbing her coat and purse, followed Jon to the elevator and out the building.
As they got into her car, Jon asked, "So tell me about Superman and the day I was born…"
"You actually heard that babbling?"
"I hear everything you say, Lois."
Touched, Lois didn't know what to say so she began her story. "Okay, here I was in labour and there was some kind of traffic problem, the traffic lights were out, I think. My sister, Lucy (you're going to have to meet her and her family), called a cab, but after a while we realized that it wouldn't get to the apartment in time. Lucy suggested that I just yell, 'Help Superman'. I didn't, but he showed up, anyway. Then he picked up this elephant-sized woman as if she was a delicate bouquet of flowers and flew me to the hospital. Lucy said that he waited outside pacing back and forth. I wouldn't let him into the delivery room," Lois suddenly got quiet just as they drove into the parking lot of The Great 24 Hour Place. She got out of the car in silence and headed to the restaurant door.
Jon sensed that she hadn't stopped talking just because they arrived at the restaurant. He bided his time. They sat down and looked at the menu.
"I usually don't eat a big breakfast," Lois said as she studied the menu. "Lots of coffee and a slice of toast is enough, but this morning, I'm really hungry. It must be the reawakening of those investigative juices." When the waitress arrived, Lois order the All-the-Works breakfast. Jon decided that he'd join her.
Playing with the teaspoon, Lois stirred her coffee without looking at Jon. He was beginning to feel uncomfortable, but he wasn't sure how he could break the silence. Finally, Lois did.
"I'm sorry, Jon."
Jon looked at Lois not quite comprehending what she was alluding to. "Sorry?" he asked. "Why?"
"For all the years that I could have known you and loved you, but I didn't. I was so stupid. I was so caught up in myself and my own fears that I wouldn't let myself even acknowledge that I had a son."
"Lois, you don't have to…" Jon tried to interrupt.
"Please," Lois reached out and put her hand on his, "let me say this. I haven't been fair to you, and I do so want to make up for it. I guess being twenty years older helps put my actions in perspective. I didn't plan to get pregnant and when I found out that I was, I tried to block the whole process out of my mind. I needed to be angry at someone, and Clark Kent was the obvious choice. He upset my life completely. He made me break personal rules about sleeping with men that I worked with (and that rule made great sense to me since breaking the rule got me pregnant). He made my goals seem out of my reach. How could I be a prize-winning investigative reporter if I had a child? How could I take care of a child properly if I was focussed on my job? So, I went into my own kind of denial. It was selfish and thoughtless of me. I know it now." Lois reached over and touched Jon's face. "It cost me my son's childhood. I never knew how dear a price that was."
"Lois," Jon whispered.
"On the day you were born," Lois continued on a lighter note, "Superman took me to the hospital. I assumed that he went off to his next rescue. Lucy told me differently. She was my coach and my friend. Later she told me that while I was in labour, and she says that I was not a pretty sight then, Superman paced the maternity ward waiting to hear from her about how I was doing. Every time Lucy or a nurse walked out of the room, he would ask. Lucy said that one time she was out in the hall with him when I had a contraction. He winced at the profanities that were coming out of my mouth. A lot of them were directed at Clark. Lucy even commented that if she didn't know any better she would think Superman was the father. I just laughed that off by saying that he was my friend and he cared about me. Anyway, after a few hours went by, Superman disappeared and Clark showed up. Lucy told me this, but I went into a rant saying that I didn't want to see him. There was no point. I didn't want him near me when you were born. He was outside of the delivery room when you were born."
"Actually," Jon interjected, "he watched as I was born. He told me about this 'purple, monkey-faced, slippery little squawking being', those are his words, that emerged. When I was older, he put it together with the 'you have to use your powers judiciously' speech, and 'that is the one unethical thing that I've done that I don't regret'."
"I didn't look," Lois paused. "Regrettably. But I knew that if I looked, there would be something that would draw me to you, and that scared me too. I knew that the best place for you was with the Kents and your father. I couldn't afford to be connected to you in any way. So after you were born, I closed my eyes and my mind to everything that was going around me. At least I pretended to, but I can still hear the nurses cooing and ooing over you, about how beautiful a baby you were. I heard them making bets on your length and weight. And I heard Lucy asking me if I wanted to see you or hold you. That would have been my undoing for sure. Lucy said that Clark was waiting in the next room, and the nurses brought you out to him. I recovered in the next few hours, and then I went home with Lucy. She asked me a few more times if I wanted to see you. Finally, I yelled at her and told her that she was a busybody and that she should just mind her own business. Our relationship was a bit unsteady for several years after that.
"Once you were born, and I wasn't pregnant anymore, I could once again repeat my mantra, 'It was a mistake; it didn't happen'. Sadly, I began to believe it as well. I let my job run my life." Lois took a long drink of her coffee, emptying the cup. "I was foolish back then. I had the wrong priorities."
Jon was glad when the waitress brought their breakfasts. He didn't know what to say to Lois, but he wanted to hear more.
Lois played with her food, then ate a few mouthfuls before she continued, "Superman used to visit me. He asked if I wanted to know about you. He said he visited with you and could bring me news. I told him that I wasn't interested." Lois stopped and looked at Jon. "I lied. I was interested, but I was too scared to admit that I had made a mistake. "That was the real mistake," she said wistfully, looking at Jon. "Superman stuck around, rescued me from foolish escapades and serious investigations, and he became a friend, a good friend."
"You love him, don't you?" Jon speculated.
"Yes, I think I do, but he's Superman, and he's let me know that Superman can't allow himself to get involved with someone."
"Superman can't; Clark Kent can," Jon offered.
"I thought I knew Superman. Obviously, I was wrong. I don't know Clark Kent. I don't understand why he stuck around. He has every right to hate me," Lois admitted as she lost herself in her breakfast. "Yet," she said, "he kept on coming back to make sure I was all right."
Lois wasn't sure if she could put her dilemma into words. Superman was her friend, but he was also Clark Kent, the man she had banished from Metropolis, probably from a job that he loved. She sent him away with a baby. He should, by all rights, have hated her, but he didn't. Instead, he had come to visit her fairly regularly, all the way from Smallville. In the guise of Superman, he became her friend. But she couldn't see Clark Kent as her friend, or could she?
After a few moments of focussing on the plate in front of her, Lois looked at Jon and said, "But this isn't about Clark and me, this is about you and me. Can you forgive me?"
"Lois, someday you need to meet my grandmother. She's a very wise woman. When I was really mad at you and feeling sorry for myself, she told me that sometimes people make mistakes for what seems to be the best reasons. She let me understand that if I reject you now, it would be like cutting off my nose to spite my face. What would it accomplish? It would hurt me just as much as it would hurt you." He paused to look at his mother. "Lois, when you first told me that youwere my mother, I was incredibly angry and hurt because I'd really grown to like you and respect you. I'm sorry that you weren't in my life before, but I've gotten over that hurt and anger. I'm really glad that you're here now. I'd like to get to know you better."
Lois once again took Jon's hand and squeezed it.
The sun had risen while they talked and ate breakfast. After Lois paid the bill, she walked with Jon who was going to head to his dorm to shower and pick up his books.
Lois noticed the frost on the ground and the chill in the air. "Jon," Lois called out to Jon as he walked away from her, "Don't forget to take a hat and gloves when you get your books. Looks like it's going to be cold today."
Jon turned to Lois, his baritone laughter filling the quiet morning. She stood at her car door, looking towards him and shrugging her shoulders as if to show him that she couldn't help what she had said. Jon walked back to Lois and took her in his arms.
"I won't forget, Mom," he whispered. She pulled his head down towards her and placed a kiss on his cheek.
Three days later, Jon borrowed Lois's car and drove it to the hospital where he went to pick up Devon. Mrs. Herman was hovering around Devon who was already dressed and sitting in a chair waiting for the doctor and his ride home.
"I don't know what you two boys were up to, but this isn't my idea of a job. I worked hard for Devon to get a good education, so that he could get a good job, so that he wouldn't have to live in the old neighbourhood. He wasn't supposed to get beaten up like this. No, boys, I don't like this at all," she said as she fussed over her son.
"Mama, would you stop now. I'm fine. It's okay."
"It worked out for the best, Mrs Herman. Lois is really happy with Devon's work, and he'll be getting a bonus for this story," Jon said looking first at Mrs. Herman and then at Devon. "Even I'm getting a bonus."
"So what happened with Evans?" Devon asked as they all waited for the doctor to come and discharge him.
"The police confirmed the information that we found and they arrested Evans for a long list of charges including embezzlement and assault. John Hanstrom was arrested as well which allows the police to look into his records. It seems that Evans wasn't the only coach ordering faulty equipment from him."
"Were we right about the way the scam worked?"
"Pretty much," answered Jon. "Evans sent in a requisition for expensive and well-made equipment. One of Hanstrom's companies manufactured the inferior equipment which was made up to look like the good stuff. The billing was done centrally, so that Handstrom was able to pay the manufacturer's cost and bill the university as much as double the price of the equipment."
"Okay. Got it. What about my linebackers?" asked Devon.
"They've been arrested, too. Their playing season is over."
"Amen to that," said Mrs. Herman. "Those boys deserve the full force of the law, beating up my boy like that." She came over once more to Devon and fussed with his hair and then his jacket.
"Pappagayou," Jon continued, "was not arrested. There was no evidence that he was involved."
"I believe that. He was honestly surprised when I talked to him," Devon said and then added, "Mama, can you please stop."
"Devon?" she pleaded.
Devon tried to ignore her by turning back to Jon.
"Pappagayou did come with me and the police to check the equipment. We tore the leg braces apart. Guess what?" Jon asked.
"They weren't made up to individual specifications?"
"No brainer, eh? You should have heard Pappagayou at the point. He was livid. I don't think I've ever heard so much swearing in my life," Jon laughed.
"It must have done wonders for your vocabulary."
Ignoring Devon's gibe, Jon continued, "The Met U Tigers are suing the equipment company and they hope to get money to buy all new equipment and to reimburse the team's coffers for all the medical expenses it incurred. They won't be on the field for the rest of the season."
"What about the injured players?"
"They will be part of a class action suit. I'm not sure what they'll do."
"Well," Devon mused, "these bruises were worth it then."
The doctor came into the room, gave Devon a final look and declared him fit to go. But only after he made the reporter promise that he would get the rest he needed. His lung and his ribs were healing well, and the bruises and cuts would take care of themselves.
Jon drove Devon and Mrs. Herman back to her house where she comfortably positioned her son in his old bedroom. She made sure that he had fluids to drink, music to listen to, a TV to watch, and plenty of her own homemade soup. Hospital food, she declared, was not good enough for her eldest son.
"Thanks for picking us up and bringing me here. I really appreciate it," Devon said to Jon once his mother left the room to go down to the kitchen to prepare more homemade food for her son.
"No problem. Lois lent me her car, and I had some time to kill. You need a med student here to make sure you're all right."
Devon looked at Jon and ventured to ask him a personal question that had been bothering for a number of days. He knew that it wasn't any of his business, but he had plenty of time to think in the hospital, and his curiosity was peaked.
"Jon, man, what's goin' on between you and Lois?" he asked.
"What do you mean?" Jon asked.
"You talk to each other in a code that only the two of you understand. You whisper all different kinds of stuff. Heck, she even lets you drive her really nasty car. Are you guys, you know, like doing it?"
"Doing it?" Jon asked, trying to figure out what Devon was getting at, and then it hit him. "No. No. Absolutely not."
"Good, because she's too old for you, man."
"Dev…" Jon tried to interrupt.
"These things don't work. Yeah, she's cool and good looking, but she's old enough to be your mother. There's nothing but trouble…"
"Devon," Jon shouted to get his friend's attention. Once Devon had stopped, Jon said quietly, " She's my mother."
"What?" Devon's eyes popped out of his head.
"She is my mother. I just found out a few months ago."
Devon sat on his bed with his eyes popping out of his head and his mouth wide open. "She's your mother? For real?"
"She gave birth to me, and then she let my father raise me. She told me the day after my party at the Nag's Head ."
"Are you okay with that?" said Devon who managed to put his eyes back into his head and close his mouth.
"Now, I am. Yeah, I'm very good with it. It's nice to have a mother."
"Do people know?"
"Not really," Jon said as he wondered if he wanted people to know. Lois had mentioned that it wouldn't bother her if people knew. Telling Devon felt good. "It's on the record."
Thanksgiving in Smallville was nothing like Lois expected and everything that she hoped for. When Jon, and then Clark, invited her to join them, she was hesitant about invading the Kent household, but once she met Martha and the senior Jonathan, she felt very much at home.
Seeing the setting that her son was brought up in, she knew that although she missed out on his childhood, he was well taken care of by grandparents and a father who loved him. Jon excitedly took her around the farmhouse showing her what renovations had occurred over the years, the extra rooms that had been added on and the enlargement and modernization of the kitchen. Jon added to the commentary by showing her where he first scraped his knee, where his strength first became apparent, where he burnt a hole in the rug (now replaced) when his x-ray vision was still developing. After the grand tour, he took her into his father's den where he opened a computer file named 'Jon'.
"You have to understand that Dad went kind of crazy with the camera when I was born. He took courses in photography and I was the subject. He scanned all of the pictures until he bought himself a digital camera. For the first five years of my life, I was sure that Dad had a camera growing out of his face," Jon explained.
"Don't believe him. He's exaggerating," Clark said as he entered the room. "Lois, are you sure you want to see these?" he asked.
"Yes, Clark. It's time I got to know Jon as he was growing up. I was hoping that I'd get to see some baby pictures. I hope some of them are embarrassing," she teased Jon.
"Trust me, Mom, Dad specialized in embarrassing." Jon had begun calling her "Mom" since their breakfast together. In the beginning , he approached the name with hesitation, but as they spoke to each other more frequently over the phone or over the occasional dinner, he said it with ease. Lois liked hearing Jon call her "Mom". It felt good.
The three of them watched the computer screen. Picture after picture of a contented baby who slowly grew into a happy, playful toddler, and then into a mischievous schoolboy. Picture after picture with classmates, with his grandparents, with his father, with his teammates, with his friends. Years and years of images and memories that Lois had lost. As she sat and watched the pictures, she thought of the little boy who had a mother and never knew her, and she thought of the mother who had a little boy and never knew him. Then the tears, that she never allowed herself to shed before, came rolling down her cheeks.
She felt Jon clasp her hand before he whispered, "Are you okay?" but she couldn't answer him. The tears kept falling and she'd lost any power or will to speak. The images on the screen blurred.
"Mom…Lois, I didn't mean to make you cry," Jon murmured in her ear.
She allowed Jon to encompass her and let her tears subside. It took a few moments until she was able to speak, "I knew we'd end up looking at baby pictures so I thought I prepared myself. I guess I didn't." She wiped her eyes with the tissue Clark passed to her. "I'm glad I saw them, though. Sometimes, a good cry helps clear the vision." She stepped away from Jon but she grasped his hand. "You were a beautiful baby."
"Come on," Clark interrupted, "Dinner's ready and you've got the opportunity to taste the best turkey and stuffing in all of Smallville."
Lois followed Clark and Jon into the kitchen once again marvelling at how similar the two men looked. She spent dinner enjoying Martha's cooking and astonished at Clark and Jon's culinary abilities . She delighted with the easy, intelligent banter that went around the table. After dinner, she helped the family clean up. Once again, there was an unself-conscious flow of activity. Everyone had a job and a purpose, but there seemed to be room for one more. Martha steered Lois to the dishwasher where she could lord it over the stacking of the dishes. Once the kitchen was cleared, Martha and Jonathan put their coats on and headed over to the Irigs for coffee and dessert. Jon asked for the car keys saying that he was going over to Jamal's for a small reunion party and that he'd be home "whenever". Clark suggested that he and Lois go out for a short walk.
The air was nippy but had a musky aroma that was foreign to Lois. As she sniffed the air, trying to identify it, Clark said, "Dried leaves, hay, a wood burning fire."
"What?" she asked.
"Dried leaves, hay, a wood burning fire. That's what you're smelling. Or perhaps it's the lack of gasoline and other city pollutants."
"Oh! It does smell clean and fresh. It's nice, if you like country air, but it's really dark out here and cold."
"Dark, yes because there are no city lights, but if you look up, there's a crescent moon and lots of stars. No clouds. Are you cold? Would you like my jacket? I don't really need it."
"No, I'm fine. I think I'd be colder looking at you without a jacket." She bundled her own coat and scarf around her. They walked a bit in silence. "Are you glad to be back in the country?" she asked.
"I wasn't in Metropolis long enough to call it home," Clark answered.
"I'm sorry I made you leave. I made a lot of mistakes back then, and I don't know how to take them back."
"Lois, that's the past. We can't dwell on what was, only what is." They walked down the access road, each deep in thought. "I guess it was meant to be this way. Maybe, Lois, we've been given some second chances to right what's been wronged."
"I"ve always believed that we determine our own destiny," Lois said. "I want to believe that everything we do is meaningful. Living in a world where there's some divinity that shapes us means that we can sit back and do whatever we want. The ending will be the same."
"So, you believe that certain things aren't meant to be, aren't predetermined?" Clark asked.
"I used to. Now, I'm not so sure. I gave up Jon once, but I've found him, or he's found me, and he's accepted me as his mother now."
"Lois, I think, in our lives, we make a series of choices. Every so often, we stand at a fork in the road and we choose. The path that we choose will lead us to another fork and another choice, and so on."
"Like a choose-your-own-adventure book?"
"No, because that has one predetermined ending, if I remember correctly. I was thinking more of Robert Frost's poem, A Road Not Taken. You have to be satisfied with the path that you take. You can't regret it." He took her hand as he floated her over a large puddle that filled the road. When they were on the other side and back down on the ground, he continued, "Think about it, Lois. You made a lot of choices. In the last few months, you've had opportunities to redirect the path that you were on. You didn't have to interview and hire Jon. You knew who he was. You didn't have to tell him that you were his mother. You were the one who made those choices. That's what brought you here."
"I've been given second chances," Lois considered.
"No. You've made second chances for yourself."
"So what's all this about a divinity shaping our ends?" Lois challenged Clark.
"I guess, I have this deep hope that there are certain truths that are just meant to be, but it's up to us if we get there or not. I do have a belief that somewhere out there," he said looking up at the stars, "there's someone overlooking everything that is happening here. Why was I the only person who survived Krypton's destruction? Why am I here on earth? We have a purpose. We have to find our own purpose and do something about it. Lois, you were never comfortable not knowing Jon. You did something about it."
Lois thought about Clark's ideas. She realized that he wasn't sure either about the greater reasons for the world working the way it does. Like him, she decided that she would accept what had happened. She had chosen her path, and she would keep moving forward.
Not wanting to sound maudlin, Lois turned the discussion around. "I like the name Jon…Jonathan. I liked it before, but now that I've met your father, it really is the perfect choice of a name. I like your parents."
"They've been a big help. I couldn't have raised Jon without them." They continued to walk, paying close attention to the road in front of them. "Jon does have a middle name you know. Well, at least it's there on his birth registration. I've never used it on any formal documents, not even on his birth certificate. I haven't even told him."
"I didn't think it was a good idea. I was a bit worried about doing it in the first place, but I took a risk."
"This is much ado about a middle name, Clark," Lois said. "What is it?"
"Lane. Jonathan Lane Kent."
"Oh!" she said, letting this new information take shape in her mind. "I'm glad you did. That will sound good, Jonathan Lane Kent. Mmm, sounds very good." They walked on, feeling at ease with each other. Once again, Lois considered, Clark showed how thoughtful, he was. By giving Jon her name, he understood better than she did the bond she had with her son. It was there all these years for her to have.
"Over the years," Lois started again, "I realized that I was wrong about you. I hadn't given you a chance. Sometimes, I wondered what you were really like. Even back then, when you tried to reason with me you were kind, and considerate, and gentle. I wasn't listening or paying attention."
Clark moved closer, putting his arm around Lois who didn't pull away. "I always felt that there was a connection between us, a connection that would be there whether Jon existed or not," he said.
Clark's statement surprised Lois. She wasn't sure where she wanted to take this connection. She admitted to herself that she felt it, too. At first with Superman, and now with Clark. And even that thought was wrong because the feelings she had for Superman were the feelings she had for Clark. Superman was only the costume. She then wondered if the mystical connection was the reason that she had allowed herself to become intimate with him way before they really knew each other. That night she had felt him stir something deep in her soul. Her own obstinate nature shut him out.
They continued to walk together in silence, their walk taking longer than they expected. As they reached the back porch of the Kent farmhouse, Lois felt that she needed to clarify one more concern.
"Clark," she began, "have you told Jon about the abortion?"
"No. Only my parents know…I…uh…told them just after I found you in the women's centre. I needed their help in deciding what to do."
"You don't have to apologize. I told Lucy. I needed to talk to someone, and she was the only whom I could trust at the time. I guess you needed to talk to someone, too." Lois paused feeling the biting cold for the first time that eveing. "Please, don't tell Jon. I don't want him to know."
"Don't worry. He doesn't need to know that."
"Yes, Lois," he whispered.
"I'm glad I had a choice. Now, let's get back into the house. I'm freezing."
Martha and Jonathan were sitting in the living room talking. Lois and Clark joined them and they spent the rest of the evening in delightful conversation and laughter. Lois basked in the warmth of the Kent household. When she yawned loudly, Clark looked at his watch and remarked that it was midnight already. Time passed quickly.
Lying in bed, Lois felt tired, but she couldn't fall asleep. Jon's baby pictures kept replaying in her mind. Giving up the idea of sleeping, she got up, put on her robe and went down into the den. She switched on the computer and clicked onto Jon's file. Now, she had the chance to look at the pictures, slowly, at her own pace. When the tears began to fall for a second time that day, she took the time to let them fall and then she looked at the pictures again. She was surprised when she realized that she had not made a mistake in letting Clark raise Jon. Jon had a happy childhood filled with love and good values. He was raised in the only place he could have been raised. She may have missed out on those early years, but they were not detrimental to Jon.
Once again she flipped through the pictures focussing on the smiles, the goofy grins and the general fun that Jon was having in the pictures. She'd have to ask him about the tough times. He couldn't have been a perfect teenager.
"He's a good kid, temperamental at times, impetuous at others, but generally a good kid," remarked Clark.
"Oh!" Lois jumped, "I didn't hear you come in."
"Yeah, I can be annoying that way. Are you okay?"
"Now I am." Lois surprised herself with that answer. Yes, she was okay now. She realized that the cold and emptiness that had surrounded her before weren't there anymore. She hadn't felt them in a long time. "Yes, now I am."
"I'm glad that you're part of Jon's life. He's glad, too. Lois," Clark hesitated. There was a question that he always meant to ask Lois but never got a chance to. It was something that he had wondered about long after he brought Jon home. "Thank you for letting me raise Jon, but I've always wondered why you finally gave in. You were very mad at me back then."
The question surprised Lois. She hadn't dwelt on her reasoning for giving up Jon. She had said that the shooting at the women's clinic had been an omen that she was meant to give birth to the baby, but she knew that wasn't the real reason. She probably would have walked back into that clinic a week later if it hadn't been for Clark. She remembered Clark standing at the mantle with his back to her, wiping away a tear. That baby had meant so much to him, she couldn't deprive him. That image stayed with her for a long time.
"I just knew that you would be a good father, Clark and you have been." She wasn't ready to tell him any more right now. "Which leads me to a question I've always meant to ask. Why didn't you get married and have other children?"
"I never met anyone else that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with," he said looking directly into her eyes.
"Anyone else? You mean you had someone. What happened?" she asked curiously.
"She wouldn't have me. We started off on the wrong foot, and she sent me away."
Suddenly, Lois remembered Jon's words. "You didn't know my dad very well, did you? He would never sleep with a woman he didn't love. I think that's why he never married. I don't think he ever found a woman who measured up to my mother."
"Me?" she said, "You wanted to spend the rest of your life with me? How? I don't understand."
"I fell in love with you in those first two weeks that we worked together. But then we botched that up, didn't we?" He took her hand and led her to the couch. "Lois, as Superman got to know you, when you didn't know he was me, I fell deeper in love."
"But when Lex Luthor proposed, I asked if we had a future together. You didn't say anything."
"No, I didn't. If you would've known that Superman was really Clark Kent, you would've run as fast as you could into Luthor's arms. That scared me more than anything. I knew who Luthor was and what he was capable of. Working with Perry, I managed to get the evidence necessary to have him arrested."
"I'm glad that you warned me, even though I didn't listen. But you never warned me about any of the other men I dated."
"I'm glad that you listened about Luthor, but in general, the others were good men. Dan Scardino was probably the best of the lot. I was surprised that he quit chasing you."
"Whatever that basic chemistry is, I didn't have it with Dan, or the others, and I didn't want to lead him on. I had this huge, unrealistic crush on Superman, especially after he changed from being a hero to being my friend. I loved the man beneath the suit, but he would never let me tell him that. Now I know why."
"So, now what happens?"
"Clark Kent isn't the ogre that I made him out to be."
"Does that mean you'll go out with me?"
"Like a date?"
"Something like that."
"I think that would be very nice." She moved closer to Clark. "I hear that there are some men who actually do know how to kiss."
Jon walked into the house. It was good to meet up with his high school buddies. They didn't get to do that a lot since so many of them had left Smallville. He was also feeling good about having Lois, his mother, in the house. As he walked past the unlit den, he saw the glow from the computer. "Someone must've forgotten to turn it off," he thought. But as he entered the room, he realized that people were in it. In the centre of the room, his mother stood in his father's arms. Her hands cupped his face while his arms encircled her and his hands caressed her back. He watched as his father's face neared hers and their lips touched briefly, softly. Then they separated a fraction of an inch, stared at each other, each taking a breath, and moved closer. His mother brushed her hands past his father's face and placed them on his neck, her fingers lacing through his hair. The second kiss was longer, hungrier, breathier. And then they slowly rose into the air. Jon stood for only a moment and watched. "Wow!" He quietly turned around and went up to his room from where he looked out the window at the stars in the night sky. "Thank you," he said.
Dear Friends of Lois and Clark,
I've been lurking in the background reading Divinity's Ends and your comments. I'm glad that you're satisfied with the ending of the story, but I noticed that earlier, you kept nagging Gerry to write my side of the story. Well, honestly, I never really told her my side of the story. She spent a great deal of time with Jon and with Lois, but not with me. Since you know the story and our secret, and even though you seem to be a bit happier with the way she handled the story, I've decided that I'd fill in the blanks for you, her readers. I'd also like to use this opportunity to show that I'm not a "passive doormat" as one of the readers said. Gerry meant well when she told Lois and Jon's story, but she had this "thing" about the direction she wanted her story to go. Knowing many headstrong people, I realized that the only way you, readers, would get what you want is for me to tell my side of the story. I hope Gerry doesn't mind. So, without any further preamble…
I fell in love with Lois too fast and too hard. I sincerely believe that if we hadn't been so rash and foolish, our relationship would have developed slowly until we were a couple. But I got carried away. I should have known better. But my being with Lois that night set our lives on completely opposite paths. You know the story. After Lois got mugged, I invited her over to my place to spend the night. It was all innocent, but during dinner she got drunk, and we got silly. Some news story about men not knowing how to kiss women set us off on a journey that took twenty-two years to resolve. I knew how I wanted to kiss Lois, and when she dared me to, I tried to stop, but she'd already captivated, captured and ensnared me. Her kisses were like my first taste of heavenly ice- cream. I couldn't get enough. As our passion developed, I knew that I should have stopped it. Let's face it, I was the one who was sober, but I couldn't. I needed to taste her, to touch her, to love her. She met each kiss and each touch with one of her own. It was the most incredible night of my life. Lois was incredible. Making love to Lois was incredible.
Then in the morning, when I realized that she would be uncomfortable with our love-making, I was ready to talk to her, to let her know that I wasn't Claude or any other man who had disappointed her in the past. I wasn't going anywhere. Instead, when I woke up, she was angry, mumbling something about, "It didn't happen; it was a mistake." She thought it was some insignificant faux pas that we could forget easily. Well, maybe it didn't happen to her, but for me it was…incredible. I know I'm repeating myself, but there is no synonym in any thesaurus that can describe that night with Lois. She just didn't want to acknowledge it.
How did I feel? Crushed. You might not know this, but that night was the first time I had ever made love to a woman. I'm not embarrassed to admit that. Until I met Lois, making love to just any woman never made sense to me. Making love to Lois was special because even that early on in our relationship, I knew that I loved her. I wasn't sure what I should say to her. I let her leave the apartment thinking that we would talk once we got to work. I'd bring her coffee, a donut, some flowers and we'd talk. But once I got to work, she'd already spoken to Perry. We were no longer partners, and she'd moved her desk over to the windows, ostensibly to look out for Superman. If she only knew.
I managed to keep my feelings to myself, trying very hard to separate my head and my heart. I tried several times over the next few weeks to talk to Lois and straighten out the mess, but she had slammed the door in my face. It was tightly shut, and she wouldn't open it. I hoped that she'd eventually change her mind and give me a chance. After a while, I wondered if I'd ever have any kind of relationship with Lois. I was willing to settle for platonic friendship. I was even willing to settle for nodding acquaintances. Lois had erected a very thick door and no amount of superstrength was going to knock it down.
Ironically, Superman was making more progress with Lois than I was. She managed to dangle over the jaws of death quite frequently. While she was alone on an investigation of Bureau 39, Jason Trask (a man obsessed with Superman as an invading alien) kidnapped her and threw her out of a plane. Luckily, Superman, who was attuned to Lois, heard her yelling for help and came to her rescue. That was one of many similar incidents. Because Lois wrote such fair articles about Superman, he decided that Lois would be the reporter to whom he'd give interviews. So, as woebegone as I was, Superman started talking to Lois. They developed a friendship of sorts, as much as Superman would allow. There were many times that I was jealous of the ease with which he could begin a conversation with Lois. Their banter was pleasant and light. It was almost the kind of relationship that I wanted to have, that Lois wouldn't let me have.
Several weeks passed. While flying back from a highway accident, Superman heard an explosion. He flew directly to what turned out to be a women's clinic that had been bombed. He x-rayed the building and saw, where the explosion was centred, two men walking into an operating room taking aim at a doctor, and in an outer room, Lois wearing a hospital gown. As he swooped down to capture the men and then help the doctor, he understood what Lois was doing there. With his heart in his throat, he carried out the most important actions that would help the situation before he left. It didn't take long for me to appear. I knew what Lois was doing there, and the heaviness I felt because she wouldn't talk to me vanished as anger took its place.
How could she choose to have an abortion without consulting me? I knew that the baby could only be mine, because I knew that Lois wasn't promiscuous. If she had been, she wouldn't have reacted so negatively to our night together. But, how could she make such a major decision without looking at all the facts? No, she had looked at all the facts. She just didn't take me into consideration. What she didn't know was that I had information that she wouldn't know, unless she absolutely had to. I wanted to yell and scream at her, but I realized that it wouldn't do any good. First of all, she was groggy. Secondly, she had just had a traumatic experience. No. I would wait before I let her know what I was thinking. So, I buried the anger deep inside of me and I took her home. I left her alone, promising that I would come back.
I flew to Smallville because I needed to speak to Mom and Dad. I had an idea, but before I could talk to Lois, I needed to get them on my side. I wasn't surprised when Mom and Dad voiced their disappointment in me for my impetuous and irresponsible behaviour with Lois on that fateful night. Thankfully, they didn't dwell on that, but turned to the future instead. (I was kicking myself enough for having gotten into this whole mess. They knew when I was obsessing and left me to my own conscience, which works really well without any help from others.) There were several issues that we had to discuss. We all agreed that allowing Lois to go ahead with the abortion without her knowing the facts, or without offering some kind of viable alternative, would be wrong. I believed that Lois needed to make an informed choice.
Why didn't I just tell her that she was carrying Superman's baby? Simple. I didn't want a relationship with Lois based on a costume. That would have been dishonest. And who knew what she would do if she realized her hero, Superman, was really Clark Kent. I don't think it would have been very nice.
I didn't know who I was or where I came from; I hadn't known or believed that I could father children. If I was a government experiment, I was probably sterile. I didn't think I was an alien because I didn't believe that there was life in outer space. If I could father a child, then genetically I wasn't alone in the universe. That knowledge alone lifted my spirits.
I had to convince her not to go through with the abortion. My parents and I came up with the notion that I would care for the baby if she didn't want to. Mom and Dad said that they would support my decision and would help me. We weren't sure how we would do that with me in Metropolis and them in Smallville, but that was just logistics. My first choice was that Lois would keep the baby and take care of him, and I'd help, anyway that she'd let me. I didn't know if the baby would be like me, or like any human being. If it was absolutely necessary, I would tell her that I was Superman. It wasn't as if I couldn't trust her. I could. I had seen how she treated Superman in her articles. She knew when to push and when not to push for information. The problem was that she felt strongly about Superman, and she hated Clark Kent. I didn't want her to like Clark only because he was Superman. I wanted her to like, no to love, me for who I was.
That conversation that I had with Lois was emotionally draining. She was angry and she was scared. I wanted to yell at her, flail out, take her into my arms and comfort her. I knew that none of that would work. I did lose it once, but I really worked to keep my emotions in check. I knew that I wouldn't win if Lois found any weaknesses in my arguments or in me. This was too important for me to lose self-control.
In the end, I won. Hmpf. I didn't feel like a winner; the cost was too high. I got custody of the baby, but I had to leave Metropolis and leave Lois.
Sometimes having a secret identity comes in handy. Superman kept a close eye on Lois, keeping track of her doctor's visits, and even watching several prenatal classes that Lois attended with Lucy. Thank goodness for Lucy. She helped her sister out a lot. Once I left Metropolis, I worked during the day in Smallville while Superman flew to Metropolis at night. Sometimes, when I had some time, I made sure that there was a Superman presence in Metropolis. It got hectic and confusing. Thank goodness for time zones and for not needing a lot of sleep. I also learned that the only way to be normal was to separate Clark from Superman in my own mind. So, I began to think and talk about myself in the third person.
When Lois was in her seventh month or so, Superman tried several times to convince her to contact Clark. When that didn't work, he suggested that she might want to reconsider and keep the baby. But she wasn't listening. The door was bolted shut.
Finally, the phone call came, three weeks early. Lois was in labour. I dropped what I was doing and Superman flew to Metropolis. She was still in her apartment, but he could tell by her heart rate, and Lucy's, that something wasn't going smoothly. He heard Lois joke that she could always yell, "Help Superman." He took that as his cue to come to the window. She was beautiful. She was flushed and sweaty, but she was beautiful. I wanted to hold her close to me, telling her how absolutely wonderful she looked, how radiant, how adorable when she pursed her lips to puff through a contraction. I wanted to share the pain that she was going through, rub her back, comfort her. But I was Superman, and he couldn't be in love with her. When the contraction ended, I gently swept her up in my arms, carefully flying her to the hospital. I was carrying the most precious cargo that I had ever held. I wanted to stay with her in the hospital, but Superman had promised to fly back and bring Lucy.
I gave myself a few hours to get to Metropolis. I got to the hospital shortly before Jon was born. I waited outside the labour room, following Lois with my eyes when they took her to the delivery room. I wanted to go in, but I knew that I couldn't, so I watched through the wall. And then I experienced the second most incredible moment of my life. I saw my son being born. I was too far away to touch him, but I could see him as he emerged into the world and could hear the first sound he ever made. I've often wondered since if the high from alcohol or from drugs could ever equal the high of watching your own baby being born. I barely kept myself from floating in the air when the nurses brought him out to me. When they put him into my arms, I was in awe. He was so perfect, so beautiful. I talked to him, introduced myself, told him about his mother, and tried to explain why she wouldn't be taking care of him. He really wasn't interested. Once the nurse brought his bottle, he sucked on it and fell asleep. Too much work for one day, I thought. I held him anyway, and told him more about who he was and what my plans for him were.
I desperately wanted to share this with Lois, but, according to Lucy, she just wanted to rest up and go home. A few days later, I flew back to Smallville with Jonathan Lane Kent.
The years moved quickly. Raising Jon was not difficult, but it was demanding. Mom and Dad were getting older. I wanted to spare them from the chores of parenthood. I wanted them to enjoy being grandparents, but I couldn't have raised Jon without them. I held down three jobs: parent, newspaper editor/columnist, and superhero. In the first year, I don't think I slept too much. Superpowers have their advantages. I tried to be with Jon when he was awake. Sometimes, that was impossible. That's when Mom and Dad were great.
Jon was a good baby. He seemed aware of the world around him at a very young age. As a toddler, he was rambunctious and curious. He wanted to know how everything worked. He loved to be held, especially by his grandmother, who read all different kinds of stories to him. We fell into a routine that put most of the responsibility of caring for Jon on me, but both of my parents had their special times with Jon. They were thrilled to have a grandson.
Often, Superman would fly to Metropolis. He wanted to share Jon with Lois, but in her own stubborn way, she made herself believe that having a baby never happened to her. Whenever he broached the subject of Jon, she let him know that she did not appreciate it. He tried showing her pictures or telling her stories, but she wouldn't look or listen. It got to the point where he just came to visit with her and talk. They began discussing his work and her work, the risks she was taking to get a story and his concern for her safety. They talked about everything but the feelings they had for each other, that I had for her. Every May and June, Lois started getting antsy. She didn't seem to sleep as well, and she'd lose weight. When Jon was around five, she started dealing with his upcoming birthdays differently. She began putting in long hours at work. That's when Lane's Long Forgotten Crimes started. Every August there was a solution for a previously unsolved crime written up in the Daily Planet.
Jon grew up the same as other farm kids in Kansas. He helped on the farm, went to school, was involved in sports. The usual. Occasionally, he'd ask about his mother. "My teacher says that Grams is my grandmother, not my mother. Why don't I have a mother?" I answered those questions as best as I could. There were times, I admit, that I really resented Lois for taking away an important element from Jon's life; I resented her because I had to be evasive with my son. However, I also knew that Jon was a healthy, well- adjusted, loved child. Many times, in anger, I flew to Metropolis ready to confront her, but I didn't. Confronting Lois would only lead to a fight where we would say things that I would regret. She'd probably say that it wasn't any of Superman's business, and as far as she knew, she'd be right. No, resenting Lois wouldn't change her relationship with Jon and me.
Jon was the centre of my life. I enjoyed him as a child; I enjoy him now as a young adult even more.
I guess you want to know how he found out that his father was Superman. It really wasn't an earth shattering revelation. He was around nine years old. His fourth grade teacher, a very insensitive woman, read them a story about a family whose mother was kidnapped and taken away. The family, as a result, fell apart until the mother came back. Jon's interpretation of the story was that without a mother the family would fall apart. He was worried about our family. Dad was laid up with another back injury, and we were worried about his heart. Jon saw this as the family falling apart. I tried to convince him that family wasn't a mother, a father, and children. A family was a group of people who loved each other. That didn't work. Mom tried another tack. She said that she was a mother, Gramps was a father, I was the son or child, and Jon was my child. But Jon wasn't ready to accept that. He needed a mother like the other kids or the family would fall apart. He decided that he would write a letter to his hero, Superman, asking him to find his mother.
I tried to discourage it, but Jon, like the other kids in his class, hero-worshipped Superman. He had never seen the superhero, but he'd read about him in the newspaper, seen him on television. At some point, I gave in and allowed him to have Superman action figures so that he could use them to play with his friends. Sometimes, being different is too hard on a child. Seeing no other choice, I decided that Superman would receive Jon's letter and talk to him about it. I wasn't prepared for Jon's reaction.
As soon as he saw Superman at the door, he walked up to him, stared him in the face, and said, "Dad, I'm not a baby. I know it's you and not Superman. I bet you didn't even mail the letter." He then stomped up to his room. I followed him. He wasn't finished yet. "First you pretend that you're Santa Claus, now you pretend to be Superman. I'm nine years old. I'm too old for this." I couldn't help but laugh. He saw through the disguise. I could've walked out of the room and come back as myself, but I thought that it was time for him to know. I asked him if he could keep a secret, a very important secret. I told him that if other people knew the secret, it could hurt him, Grams and Grampa. He said that he understood. So, I told him that I was really Superman. "Yeah, and there's a real tooth fairy…," he argued until I cut him off.
I took him to the window, picked him up and flew him over to our fortress of solitude. (He used it more than I did.) But I flew, still holding him, to a higher branch of the tree where, several years earlier, I had built a box. I opened it and took out the globe. We then floated back down to the fortress. I asked him if he believed me now. All he could say was, "My dad is Superman. Wow!" We talked for a long time. I showed Jon the globe, explained how I learned about my past, and showed him the messages from my birth parents. I explained how they sent me to earth believing that they were doing the best for me. I told him that his mother let me take care of him because she believed that it was for the best. And that's how Jon found out that his father was Superman, and that his mother saved him.
Jon grew into a teen-ager. Physically, he was strong. Psychologically, he was like most other teen-agers. He was a good student, concerned about his peers, sometimes susceptible to peer pressure, polite, moody, argumentative, and respectful. The usual. I had talked to him about the onset of superpowers. Just as I was the first of my kind, he was the first of his. We didn't know if he'd get any superpowers, or if he'd get some or all. In the end, according to Mom, he developed the same way I did. Once I got the hang of the pattern of superpower acquisition, I was able to help him by explaining what happens and how I learned to control each stage. Because he couldn't share this with any of his friends, we became closer. We spent a lot of time sitting on that branch outside the fortress of solitude. I never talked to him about becoming Superman. I assumed that he just would.
Not long before he went to school in Metropolis, he raised the issue. He'd been thinking about becoming Superman, but he wanted to learn how to deal with having the powers and see what he could do. He was using his powers surreptitiously whenever they were needed, but he didn't do anything major. His strength was an advantage on the farm, and some of his vision and hearing proved to be advantageous as well. He said he wanted to put off becoming Superman until after he completed his education. He really wanted to be a doctor. In high school, after Dad's first heart attack, Jon decided that he wanted to volunteer there. He was fascinated. That's what helped him decide to go into medicine. I was mildly disappointed that he wanted to wait before becoming Superman and that he didn't want to go into journalism. Those feelings didn't last long when I realized that I hadn't followed in my father's footsteps either. Jon had to make up his own mind about his future.
Let me jump ahead to Jon's job at the Daily Planet. I was flabbergasted when he called home to tell me he got the internship. He hadn't mentioned it, and in my mind I had plans for the two of us over the summer. Then, when he told me that Lois interviewed him and hired him, I almost fell off my chair. I didn't think that she would ever see him, never mind work with him. I was so curious, and I wanted to make sure that she was all right, that I flew directly to Metropolis, and her apartment, to talk to her. She was nervous, but she seemed fine.
Lois had changed a lot in the twenty-two years since I first met her. She was dedicated to her job, but the hunger was gone. She'd mellowed. Part of this new Lois was a result of her accomplishing what she set out to do when she was younger. She had achieved her goals. She talked a lot about those goals with Superman. She had a shelf full of Kerths, Merriweathers and other professional awards. She was a highly respected investigative journalist. Later, in her career she got the opportunity in her own column to comment on the Metropolis and the world we lived in. Once again, her work was highly respected. The crowning glory came around fifteen years after Jon was born. She won the Pulitzer. Knowing that she had achieved what she set out to do when she was younger, showed her that she was capable. She had lost her earlier uncertainty and fears while she gained self-confidence.
She was nervous about getting to know Jon, and I didn't blame her. I tried to put myself into her position. All I could think of was how Jon had enriched my life and Lois had missed it all. I didn't say that to her, though. She didn't need to hear it. When she told me that she didn't want him to know that she was his mother, I had to respect her decision even though I didn't agree with it.
Jon used to call home regularly, quite excited about the work he was doing and the people he was working with. He had a lot to say about Lois and what he was learning from her. I was pleased that she gave him opportunities to work in different departments and in different jobs. Jon's experience at The Smallville Post was good, but it didn't match anything he was doing at The Daily Planet. I started to remember the few months that I spent there, and to be honest, I felt bitter about not being able to continue on. Realistically, I could have gone to any other major city to work for a large newspaper, but I needed my parent's help with Jon, and my dream as a teen-ager and a college student was to work at The Daily Planet, not the Washington Post or the Chicago Tribune or the New York Times.
Jon's relationship with Lois was also developing. She was adamant about keeping her secret, but I could see her looking at Jon differently. They spent a lot of time together. Lois asked him questions about his childhood and about his grandparents. Jon would mention some of these questions when he called home. He told me that he enjoyed staying late and talking to her as she wrapped up the newspaper for the day. She even invited him to her home several times. He was very impressed with her awards. She patiently told him about each one of them.
Then late one afternoon, Lois called to tell me that Jon had encountered kryptonite. My first reaction was to deny everything. How could she have made the connection? She never had before. But her voice was so firm, so businesslike, that I knew I couldn't argue with her. She knew and I had to deal with that. Did it bother me that she knew? I don't think so. I knew she wouldn't do or say anything to hurt Jon. In fact, her quick thinking helped. Would she hurt me? Probably. So, I prepared myself for the onslaught. Maybe, I deserved it. Let's face it, I'd lied to her for so long, coming to see her as Superman when I knew that she hated Clark. I kept a secret from her about her son's heritage. She had every right to lash out.
Well, maybe not. She was the one who sent me away. She was the one who refused to see Jon. Maybe, I should've been the one to lash out. Those were my thoughts flying to Metropolis. Funny, I really wasn't worried about Jon. He wasn't in any real danger if the kryptonite was out of the way. And I knew that Lois would make sure that Jon was protected. I flew to Metropolis, instead, worrying about the big fight that Lois and I would have. I promised myself to be adult about the whole issue by not provoking her.
In the end, my worry about Lois's reactions and my resentment of them was unnecessary. Instead, something happened that night, something almost imperceptible that let me know that Lois saw me, not as Clark Kent, the man who got her pregnant when she didn't want it, but as her friend, Superman, who just happened to be Clark Kent as well. Do you understand? It was at that time that our relationship changed. My mother always says that there is some good in all of us. There is some good in kryptonite, too.
That didn't mean things went smoothly. I was quite busy at the Post as well as with my Superman duties, so I didn't get to Metropolis or see Lois during the last month of Jon's internship. I didn't have a clue what Lois was thinking. That was pretty blind of me. With hindsight, I can see all the clues, but, at that time, I was just carrying on as usual. And then I wonder if I would have made any difference anyway. I've gone over and over different approaches of disclosing Lois's relationship to Jon, but in the long run, the result would've been the same. Jon would've stomped out of Lois's house and he would have blown up at me. Jon didn't need to be protected from the truth. His temper might flare up, but he was basically rational. He could deal with the truth.
What Jon gave me, and Lois, was an opportunity to start talking, something I wish we had done years ago. We had to deal with his anger, but afterwards we began to deal with us, our relationship; we tried to understand each other. For the first time I was able to visit Lois and talk to her as myself. I didn't have to be Superman, carefully measuring every word I said. Although Superman and Lois had become friends, he tip-toed around her, afraid that she would find out that he's me and cut off all contact. Once again, I'd missed the changes in her over the years.
Age does something to people. It'll either mellow them or it will exaggerate their foibles and make them difficult to be around. Luckily for me, it mellowed Lois.
So, where are we now? Well, it's the end of January. After Thanksgiving, I visited…well, dated Lois several times. We spent a lot of our time talking about the past and the future, just being together. She came back to the farm to celebrate Christmas with us. It was a picture book Christmas. There were several inches of snow covering the ground. The air was crisp, but not unbearably cold. Inside the house, the tree was decorated, the gifts stacked under it. The fire crackled in the fireplace. And we were a family. On Christmas morning, Jon, who used to wake us all up at five in the morning, barely managed to crawl out of bed at nine and join us for breakfast. We, then, went to sit in the living room to open our gifts. Lois sat beside me on the couch facing the tree and the fireplace, my arm around her shoulder. She leaned back into me. I wanted time to stop at that moment. This was something I had dreamed about for a very long time. I never really expected to live it. Once we opened all our gifts, Jon and my parents went into the kitchen to make a fresh pot of coffee. Lois didn't notice their contrived exit because she was still sitting against me, clutching the stuffed bear that Jon had bought for her. I reluctantly left Lois to remove a small, gold pouch that I had hung on the tree before I went to bed. As I sat down to face her, I gave her the pouch. While she opened it, I told her that I loved her, that I had loved her since the first time we met, and that I would love her as long as I lived. Then, I asked her to marry me. She looked at me with those wide open eyes, and then she took the ring out of the pouch. A lifetime went by before she answered me. Yes! Lois said yes!
So now we're planning to get married. We've wasted a lot of time, so we'll be married in a few weeks. Meanwhile, Lois has resigned as Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Planet, and she's moving to Smallville where she'll take over as managing editor of The Smallville Post. Clark Kent will write his syndicated column as well as run the Kent farm. Of course, he will continue his duties as Superman. Jon, by the way, has been accepted to medical school in Boston.
For a passive doormat, I sure got my everything I've ever dreamed of.
Yours, Clark Kent