By Jana L. Officer <4EverLnC@journalist.com>
Submitted December 2002
Summary: Lois shows up at Clark's doorstep after the capture of Kyle Griffin. After a dinner of spaghetti, Clark weaves a poignant bedtime story about a boy who grew up to be different from everyone else and yet met the woman as unique as he is.
"Clark, tell me a bedtime story." Lois yawned as she gently rested her head against his arm. "And make it a good one, not one I've heard a million times before."
"A good one, hmm?" Clark closed his eyes, trying to conjure up a great bedtime story from his childhood. It seemed like a simple request, but he wanted so much to please her that even the simplest things required careful deliberation.
He had been mildly surprised when Lois showed up at his door earlier in the evening. Kyle Griffin was behind bars and there wasn't actually any reason for her to stay with him, but she had shown up, cream sodas in one hand and a baseball bat in the other. She smiled gamely and asked if dinner was ready. Clark had seen past Lois' false bravado to the barely visible fear in her eyes even as she hurried through a silly reason as to why she was unable to stay at her own apartment again tonight. He listened intently and instead of questioning her reasons, he had simply invited her in. After all, he had assured her with a grin, making spaghetti for two is just as easy as for one. She had relaxed ever so slightly once inside his apartment, although it took a couple minutes of reasoning before he convinced her to put down the bat. They had shared a pleasant dinner and then settled down on the couch. Clark was only half paying attention to a poorly done action flick when Lois made her request.
"Once upon a time," he began, "there was a young boy, no different than any other from all appearances, except that he was adopted."
"Oh, this sounds good!" Lois interrupted. "How old was he when he was adopted? Because depending on the age, it can be very traumatic."
"He was just a baby." Clark smiled at her comments. That was Lois, always looking for the story behind the story.
"Hmm, a baby… Why did his birth parents put him up for adoption?"
He gave this one some thought before answering, "Well, for a long time he thought it was because they didn't want him. He would learn differently later though. They actually let him go because they loved him so much and they knew at that time that they couldn't give him what he needed."
"That's so sad! But beautiful…" Lois' voice trailed off into a yawn. "Ok, keep going."
"He grew up on a farm in a small town. It was just the boy and his parents, but they were a happy little family. As the boy grew though, he began to feel a void in his life. He loved his parents and they loved him, but that didn't solve everything. At home he knew his place, but he had no idea where he belonged in the rest of the world."
Clark cleared his throat before continuing, "He was different from everyone else in ways he just couldn't understand. He had friends growing up, good friends even, but… Well, he just didn't fit in." He stopped himself there, as memories overcame him. He had a wonderful childhood; that wasn't the issue. The issue had been no matter how much his parents loved him, no matter how many friends he had, he just didn't belong. It was a reality he faced from a rather early age. His parents had tried to be a buffer for him as much as they possibly could, but they could only protect him from so much. He could still clearly recall the words they used in describing him as they tried to make him feel better about being different… Words like special, unique. It was their way of trying to let him know that being different wasn't necessarily bad. A grin spread across his face as he thought back to how much he had loved to be called unique.
"Hmm?" Clark was still too lost in thought to realize it was Lois talking to him.
"You stopped talking." Lois' voice was quiet as she yawned and stretched.
"Oh, sorry," he hadn't noticed that he'd stopped. "Where was I? Oh, he didn't fit in. It didn't really bother him much, at first. As he grew, it became more difficult. You know how it is, life becomes more complicated as you get older."
"Mm. That's for sure. To be four again," her eyes were closed, a half smile was on her face and her voice was barely a whisper.
Clark laughed gently and nodded. He could remember wishing often to return to a time when things were simpler, but time travel didn't seem to come with his interesting repertoire of abilities. "Yes, to be four again because while life was getting more complicated, he still didn't fit in. I guess you could say his life was more complicated than that of the average teenage boy."
In his mind, he traveled back to his high school days. Sports made his life somewhat easier, particularly football. Keeping his powers reined in had been difficult, but worthwhile. For a couple hours once a week, he was able to simply focus on the game. No wonder he had always loved football. There had been more good than bad, easily all through his life, but he especially appreciated the things that made him feel normal. Prom, for instance. Senior Prom had been so much fun. He and Rachel had danced the night away and for an entire evening, his biggest concern had been whether or not she was having a good time. The memory made him smile, simply because remembering things like that made him feel good. He had come a long way since high school.
"He didn't really know his place in the world, but he knew he couldn't stay in the small town forever. He decided to move on, go somewhere new where he could find his place in the world. But even moving didn't really help. He visited many places all over the world, learning the languages and customs of many different exotic countries, and always searching, wondering when he would find a place to call home. A few years of travel didn't help, he still wasn't sure where he belonged. It wasn't long until that changed. You see, this country boy managed to get his dream job in a great big city. There, at work, he met someone. Someone who changed everything in his world." Clark paused, lost in the memory of his first impressions of Lois Lane; brash, determined, intelligent, talented… "She was unique," he finally abridged.
"When he met her, everything fell into place. She was the one person who made him feel he belonged, not even his parents had been able to do that for him. He loved her from the very beginning with a love more powerful than he understood." He paused, unsure what his next words should be. "That was me, Lois. Me before…" Clark trailed off as he looked down at Lois, who was fast asleep, her chest rising and falling in a slow, even rhythm. He sighed quietly, wistfully, not sure if he felt relieved, or disappointed.
"And they lived happily ever after. The end," he whispered as he tenderly kissed the top of his partner's head.