By Vikster <JAG77@glass77.fsnet.co.uk>
Submitted: November 2002
Summary: This is the sequel to my fanfic "A Birthday Surprise." CJ Kent meets a new friend and shows her what it means to have a real family.
This story is a sequel to Lois' Surprise, Jon's Surprise and A Birthday Surprise. I hope you enjoy it. As always, all comments are very welcome.
Clark Kent, or CJ as his family called him, son to Jamie Kent and his wife Lizzy, stood beside his teacher, in front of his new class. All eyes were on him, everyone was aware of who he was and who his family were. Everyone was curious, looking for any noticeable difference or any sign that showed off his unique background. Of course, no one could tell he was different from his appearance, but to him he felt like an outsider watching everyone stare at him.
Not only did Clark Kent Junior come from the richest family in Metropolis, but it had also been revealed to the whole world a few years before that they were also Metropolis' superheroes. With the foundation of Utopia well on its way, the Kent family didn't have too much to worry about. But there were still some people out there who used crime as a way of gaining what they wanted and the world still had a fair way to go before it became the paradise HG Wells had once described to his great grandparents, Lois Lane and Clark Kent.
His eyes travelled around the classroom, looking at all his new classmates. He turned to face the girl sitting in the back corner. As he stared at her, for the first time in his life he felt positively stunned by a person of the opposite sex. She was the most fascinating girl he had ever set eyes on. CJ had seen many beautiful girls in his lifetime, many much better looking than she was, but she seemed to call out to him and in his eyes she was simply breathtaking.
She was of medium height, with long dark hair that went down her back and deep brown eyes. There was something different about her, CJ noticed; she was the only person in the room who wasn't either looking at him in awe, or studying him. In fact she was the only one who didn't seem at all interested in the latest addition to the class; she just looked bored. This was very refreshing for CJ, because, for as long as he could remember, he was always in the spotlight. He was fascinated and couldn't keep his eyes off her and barely noticed when his teacher motioned him to sit down.
For the rest of the morning CJ went by on autopilot. His mind wouldn't let go of the image of the girl sitting a few rows behind him. He could hear her heartbeat and he could smell her fragrance. He didn't know anything about this girl, not even her name, but the one thing he did know was he had to get to know her. He didn't see this as a problem as he had always been the centre of attention and had always had girls who were interested in him as more than a friend. Yet he'd never felt comfortable with this and at seventeen he still had not had a serious girlfriend. He had been on many dates, but with the media recording every move he made, it seemed impossible to go anywhere or do anything with the opposite sex without it ending up in the tabloids. But, he had admitted to himself, he'd never really wanted a relationship with a girl before and so this had given him a good excuse not to do so.
As he was listening to her heartbeat, a loud bell rang out in his ears, signalling it was time for lunch. Shaken out of his daydream, he stood up and left the room.
All through lunch he was surrounded by students wanting to know all about his family, their super powers, their wealth, their lifestyle and wanting to see a display of his powers. Since this was perfectly normal for him, CJ politely told them all about himself and his family and gave them all a demonstration, from floating to turning water into ice and then to steam. Everyone was so impressed and in awe of him he didn't have a chance to ask anyone about the girl in his class.
As he was sitting at the table, surrounded by his classmates, he noticed her sitting at the back of the lunch hall, on her own, softly shaking her head and frowning at him. Confused about her behaviour but unable to do anything about it, he continued to eat and join in the conversation, and tried unsuccessfully to put her out of his head.
At the end of school, he watched as she walked away on her own. CJ felt his heart ache, she didn't appear to have any friends and even though she portrayed a calm, uncaring exterior he felt he could see into her soul and he knew that underneath there was a heart that was desperate for companionship. He vowed that he would do whatever was possible to fill that role.
Jumping up in the air, he followed her from high above and watched as she entered Centennial Park. Sitting down on a bench, she opened her book and began reading. Seeing this as the perfect opportunity to get to know her better, he swooped down behind a bush and walked up to the bench. "May I join you?" he asked, quite nervously.
"Sure," she said, barely looking up from her book to acknowledge him.
"What are you reading?"
"A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens." CJ noticed the annoyance in her voice but couldn't figure out what he had done to provoke her.
"I'm CJ, CJ Kent. What's your name?"
"I know who you are," she said and then under her breath she muttered, "Everyone does."
CJ caught the last bit using his super hearing but decided not to comment.
"Sophie, Sophie Sommers."
"It's nice to meet you Sophie, Sophie Sommers," he said, as he laughed at his own lame joke, whilst trying to alleviate the tense atmosphere.
Sophie just continued reading, pointedly ignoring him and seeing his joke as immature.
"So." He breathed a sigh out and once again tried to get her to say more than three words in response. "What's the school like?"
"Fine. I'm sure *you're* going to love it."
CJ could hear the malice in her answer and once again it puzzled him. He didn't even know this girl and yet she was acting so hostile towards him. He was starting to get aggravated by her attitude and wanted to know why. "I'm sorry," he said in a harsher voice, "but I have been nothing but polite to you, yet you seem to have it in for me and I want to know why."
Sophie closed her book with a loud bang, that made CJ wince slightly, and glared at him. "Look I don't know why you're doing this but I wish you wouldn't."
"What am I doing?" CJ was utterly confused. All he was doing was trying to get to know her, yet she saw that as a crime.
"Why you're being friendly towards me."
"Why is that so bad?"
"But why bother? You could have any friends you want. I mean everyone wants to get to know you and every girl wants to date you, so why are you being friendly to me? I don't want to be friends with you and I certainly don't want to be another name on your no doubt long list of girls, so why bother trying?"
Well at least he was getting somewhere, even if it wasn't exactly what he had hoped for. "That's exactly why."
"I don't understand."
"Everyone wants to be my friend or girlfriend but none of them will actually care for me. All they want to do is be my friend so they can come to my house, swim in my pool, ride my ponies and go flying with me. Or they want the publicity and fame of dating someone from my family. Nobody wants me for who I am without the money and powers and the prestige. Nobody cares about who I really am."
Sophie seemed to soften quite a bit at those words but she wasn't about to give up just yet. "But still, why me? No one ever wants to be my friend."
"But why? You seem like such a wonderful person. I know I hardly even know you, but, from the little I can see, you're intelligent, you don't care about shallow things like wealth or power and you're not bad looking either," he said with a slight grin.
Unfortunately, it didn't help to lighten her mood. "That's the point. I love reading so much that none of the girls want to be my friends because they think I'm too geeky. And all the boys want is to go out on dates and then when they discover what I do in my spare time," to illustrate this she held up her book, "none of them want a second date. So it's a no win situation. And if they can't appreciate me for who I really am, then I don't want to be friends with them. I don't see why I should be someone I'm not just for the sake of some worthless friends, who will probably stab me in the back, the first chance they get. I don't need and don't want those sorts of relationships and I have managed fine without them for the last seventeen years. And, just so you know, I'm not suddenly going to be desperate for companionship just because CJ Kent has walked into my life."
For a long time they were silent as Sophie seemed to ponder her own words. She studied his face closely and saw the concern and understanding present. Her face seemed to soften and then for the first time since he had known her, she gave a little smile. "You know, CJ, you and I are quite alike. You are surrounded by people all the time, yet I sense that you are very much alone. And me, well I'm just alone, period. Maybe I judged you too quickly. If you are serious about being my friend I may reconsider. Even though I still don't need a friend I guess I could try it out for a bit," she continued with a glint in her eye, showing CJ she wasn't being serious. "But I'm warning you, I have very high standards and even though you can fly to the clouds you may have trouble meeting my expectations as I expect at least as high as the moon."
CJ felt his heart leap at the sound of her words, but he also realised they would have to become good friends before he even considered asking her out or he would not accomplish anything. He knew he would try because he had never felt like this about anyone and that had to mean something. "Is that a challenge?"
"You bet it is."
"Then I accept. So, first of all, tell me about your life."
CJ saw a flash of misery in her eyes when he mentioned her life but it was gone before he could tell if had been there at all. "Well there isn't much to tell. I was born in Metropolis and have lived here all my life. My father died when I was three and I guess that was the time I started closing myself off from the world and started living in my books. I don't really remember him but I try to keep a part of him with me. This necklace," she pointed to the chain around her neck, "is all I have left of him. He gave it to me a few weeks before he died. I've never taken it off since and it always brings me comfort when I'm feeling low."
CJ just stared at her. He certainly hadn't been expecting such a blunt response and the way she'd just summed up all her problems in one go as easily as if she was reading a menu; even her last words about the necklace were said in a matter of fact way. It showed him how much pain she must have experienced and kept buried deep within her. "I'm so sorry," he finally managed.
"Don't be, it was a long time ago. I've made my peace with it and I don't want pity, so I would prefer if you not mention it again." She paused for a second and then continued telling him about herself. "My mother and I live on the other side of town. She had to support both of us so I hardly ever see her. And that's about it. So tell me about your life. It must be pretty busy and very exciting."
"Not as exciting as you may think. The family secret was revealed shortly before I was born. So my whole life I've been watched and followed by the press. That's one of the reasons my family are so grateful to Grandma Sarah for setting up the company."
"Because we can escape it all in our house. We have security guards watching the house so no one can get in or out unless we say so. Otherwise, the press would be all over us. Yet we haven't really done much with the money except buy the house and when my great aunts Lara and Mara got to be co-editors-in- chief at the Daily Planet, they decided to buy it. But mostly so they could always ensure it printed the best quality news and since it is such a large part of our history they wanted to keep it in the family. If it hadn't been there, Lois Lane and Clark Kent may never have found each other."
"Were you named after him?"
"Yes CJ stands for Clark Jerome. I didn't want to go round being labelled Clark Kent. Not that I don't like him, I mean I wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for him, it's just that it would be too weird to be called the same name as everyone's hero and idol."
"Yeah, I can imagine."
"So, back to my life. My powers started to develop four years ago and I've just started to fly. All in all that's pretty much it. I told you it wasn't very interesting."
"Well it's certainly more interesting than mine."
"Oh, I'm not so sure. Say, I know I'm being pretty forward here, but would you like to come round at the weekend, say Saturday, and we could watch TV and you could have lunch with us?"
Sophie's smile faded. "You're asking me out on a date?"
"No. I'm asking my new friend to come round to watch TV, so we can get to know each other. Completely platonic," he said, giving her a friendly smile to try and encourage her and show his sincerity, even if he secretly wished it were a date.
Sophie smiled back at him, a sign that she trusted him. "OK, that sounds good."
"Really, you mean it?" CJ was ecstatic, he felt like he was flying only his feet had never left the ground. "I'll pick you up at eleven, or is that too early, maybe twelve but then we'd have less time, eleven thirty?" He stopped when he saw Sophie laughing. "What's so funny?"
"Oh, nothing, it's just from what I've read about your great grandparents you seem to have inherited Lois Kent's 'babble gene' as your family called it."
CJ looked down at the ground feeling incredibly sheepish. "Yeah I guess so." He looked up as it hit him as to what she had said. "You've read about my family?"
"Who hasn't? We've had to learn about the Kent family since kindergarten."
"Oh." CJ was a little embarrassed at this and so quickly changed the subject. "You decide what time then."
Sophie saw his embarrassment and found it rather amusing, as she was sure he had to have known, but decided to let it go. "Eleven will be fine. Here's my address."
She scribbled down her address on a piece of paper, gathered up her books and left.
For the next few days, CJ and Sophie remained friends at school and by the time Saturday came CJ could hardly contain his excitement any longer. He had spent all week trying to come up with the appropriate menu and setting. He wanted it to be a family event, with everyone there, not too formal but not too informal either. They were having a small meal together and then watching some TV. Afterwards, they could go riding or maybe go for a boat ride on the lake near their house.
The Kent household had changed quite a bit since Jon and Sarah had first bought it. After a time, Clark, Lois, Jimmy and Penny had started to get on in their years a bit. The younger members of the household didn't have much time to look after them even though some of them, mainly Lois, had refused to accept that people in their nineties needed to take life slowly no matter how fit or healthy they are. So they employed staff to help with running the house and looking after everyone. Soon these people became like family to the Kents and they were let in on the family secret. After it was revealed to the rest of the world, every one of them supported and backed up the family.
CJ was searching through his wardrobe looking for the perfect outfit to wear.
Everything seemed either too casual or too formal. He decided on a pair of black trousers with a blue shirt. Looking at the clock, he realised it was quarter to eleven. Rushing out of the house, his next question was which car to take. As there were so many people living in the house, everyone had their own car and the family also owned a couple of others. Taking a fancy car would give privacy but it seemed far too boastful and he didn't want someone to drive for him. He could take one of the less expensive ones that had black windows, but he decided to take his own modest two-seater car to pick her up. He wanted to give a relaxed, laid back impression, just two friends socialising, not a man trying to impress his date. Even though he was sure that a car wouldn't be the thing to impress Sophie.
CJ quickly found the address. Her house was quite small, in the middle of one of the urban estates in the south side of Metropolis. Feeling awfully nervous all of a sudden, he controlled his nerves long enough to ring the bell. The door opened and Sophie stood behind it. CJ caught his breath as he looked at her.
She wore a very short, pleated red shirt with a black blouse and tights. On top of that she wore a long, red coat with big, black buttons and a black, fur trim all the way round. To CJ, she looked simply breath taking.
He stood there for a moment just staring into her eyes before he realised he was required to speak. He quickly handed her the simple yellow rose he had in his hand. At her questioning look he elaborated, telling her yellow was for friendship.
Sophie thought it was odd for a teenage boy to be giving a platonic friend a rose, no matter what colour it was, without hidden meanings to it, but she set her doubts aside and chalked it up to his polite and old-fashioned upbringing.
Lunch was not what Sophie had expected. CJ had ordered pizza for the entire family and they had all sat in the living room munching on it while watching TV.
At first, she'd felt rather intimidated at the thought of eating with people who could only be described as living legends. Talking to their son or nephew was very different than talking to the people who flew around all day in tights, saving the world and whose faces could be seen everywhere as symbols of truth and justice. She felt a little tongue-tied.
They were all very kind and instantly treated her as one of them. Soon all her insecurities were put to rest, and she found herself readily joining in the conversation and often cracking jokes. She certainly didn't get the impression that these people could lift rockets into orbit if they wished; all she got was the impression of a close and loving family, who were perfectly normal people, who just happened to come from an extraordinary family.
After lunch, the two went up to CJ's room and watched a film he had rented. They talked and laughed until late in the evening and any doubts Sophie had about their relationship were quickly squashed. She found she was enjoying CJ's company more and more and couldn't believe she had once thought him a shallow and uncaring person.
They told each other about their individual struggles and found comfort in knowing they weren't the only ones with fears and uncertainties about life.
Sophie did find she envied CJ; not for his powers or his money but for the wonderful, supporting family he had, people he could always turn to when he was troubled. She had her mother, but it wasn't the same as having someone your own age as he did with his cousins, someone who knew exactly what it was like to go through all this anguish during childhood and adolescence. She was now reassured that she always had him to confide in. It felt rather silly; they had only known each for a few days but to her it seemed like a lifetime.
Over the next few weeks, CJ and Sophie grew closer and closer to the point that she became a regular lunch guest at the weekends. She became good friends with CJ's cousins and, for the first time in her life, Sophie finally didn't feel alone in the world. She was, however, finding the transition from being just a regular teenage girl to being the 'girlfriend' of one of the Kents quite hard. She saw her picture in the tabloids more than once and found this kind of fame unnerving. She was often asked very personal questions about their relationship from people she barely knew and even though she projected a cool, calm exterior, on the inside she was feeling very uncomfortable with the whole situation.
When she asked CJ how he dealt with it, he told her he had also found the whole prospect of fame for no reason other than who your family was very unpleasant. The best way to deal with it was to just ignore the press and nosy public, let them believe what they wished, as anyone who really mattered to them knew they were both just friends.
At school, Sophie also found that she suddenly had a lot more friends than she had before CJ had arrived. She, of course, realised that nobody wanted to know her, just about her connection to this special family, just as CJ had once said. Now, even more than before, she realised how shallow most people were and was even more grateful that she had found a real friend in CJ and the rest of his family.
The Christmas holidays were approaching rapidly and even though most people loved this time, for Sophie it only reinforced the loneliness she felt without a father. CJ sensed this, as he did almost every time she was upset, and tried to come up with a solution.
For him, Christmas was his favourite time of year. Everyone would come together for a few days and they would spend that time together as a family. They always had a huge Christmas dinner, their whole house was a mass of decorations, and everyone loved to help decorate the tree. It was this time that they all really needed to get away from their hectic lives and just be together as an ordinary family.
They would go carol singing together and every year they went to every homeless shelter in Metropolis and gave them all a huge turkey with all the trimmings in order to make those unfortunate people have a better holiday. Luckily for them, and the city, those shelters were becoming fewer and fewer as the years went by.
This was CJ's favourite part. Even though it took a great deal of time, it always gave him immense pleasure to see the looks of joy on the children's faces when they saw the bird. It was also one of the only times he enjoyed using his powers in public. They would get a few Santa's sleighs and each flying member of the family would take everyone for a ride. He loved hearing the sounds of their laughter and joyful screaming as they flew through the air. He was content to know that he had brought some of the Christmas joy he always felt to these people.
This year though, he wanted to change his family's traditions. He invited Sophie and her mother to join in their holiday as one big family. At first, she wasn't overly keen about interfering with their family time, but CJ, just like the original Clark Kent, had a knack of persuading people and he finally convinced her that everyone would be delighted for them to join their family.
So it was decided that Sophie and her mother would come for three days. On Christmas Eve morning, they would go into the woods and cut down the perfect tree. They would then decorate it and the rest of the house. As this would take the better part of the day, they would then go out carol singing and spend the rest of the evening playing games round an open fire, drinking hot cider and hot chocolate and all round having a great evening.
In the morning, everyone would open the family presents. This was quite a feat as there were so many of them. After breakfast, they would split up and go round and deliver the turkeys. Then it would be back home for a huge lunch. The rest of the day would be left for recovery and just being together as a family, playing games and singing. The day after Christmas was a little less exciting, as this was the day put aside to open the tons of other presents from various people all over city and country. But to liven it up they told jokes and stories and this made the time pass much quicker.
For Sophie, it was one of the best times in her life. She had never felt so special and so loved before. She envied the fact that CJ had always had this, but felt so much love towards him for letting her share such a special and private time.
For the first time in her life, she had some real friends; people who would stick by her to the end and who would always be there when she needed them.
"Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart," CJ said, as he kissed his wife on the cheek.
"You remembered," Sophie squealed, as she hugged him.
CJ bent round to avoid her enormous stomach, which held the next member of the Kent family, and hugged her back. "Of course. Did you really think I'd forget the anniversary of the day we met?"
"Well, with all the work you're doing at the moment and with the baby due any day now, I thought it might have just slipped your mind. But I'm glad it didn't. I was just thinking about it this morning and I can't believe how cruel I was to you then. But at least I saw some sense and agreed to let you be my friend."
"If I remember correctly, you didn't. You challenged me to see if I could match up to your very high standards. Did I win the challenge?" he asked, trying to sound serious.
"Well, you know I always win and I'm afraid, my darling husband, that this time was no exception."
"Huh?" CJ said, as Sophie giggled at the dumbfounded expression on his face.
"Well, I said you had to aim for the moon, but you went far past the sun and right out of the Milky Way."
CJ laughed with her and pulled her in for a gentle kiss. Sophie pulled back with a startled expression on her face. "Uh, honey, I hate to interrupt this moment, and my victory prize, but my water just broke."