By Marnie Rowe <email@example.com>
Submitted: January 2003
Summary: Lois Lane is dissatisfied with elements in her life, fed up and tired. She falls into a restless slumber and, as she sleeps, has some illuminating dreams.
AN: I would like to thank Shayne for reading this and helping me with the idea to tie it all together, that and the nagging. I would like to thank Sarah Luddy for editing this at the drop of a hat.:) I would also like to thank Katie and a whole bunch of other folcs from one late night on #LaneKent for helping me find the right moment to base the second scenario on.
I would also like to warn people that there is some controversial matter here, but if you keep reading you will find that its not as controversial as it appears at first glance:)
Lois Lane slammed down the last empty candy wrapper. It didn't help relieve any of her pent-up frustration. Lois was *not* a happy woman at the moment, not by a long shot. Angry and sad, yes — happy, no. The sheer nerve of that social services woman, telling her that she was some kind of danger junkie! She wasn't. She did *not* dangle over the jaws of death like an 'hors d'oeuvre'. Well, at least not anymore; honesty prompted her to amend her thought. Besides, it wasn't as if she were out looking for the dangerous type stuff to happen to her — it just always seemed to find her.
Lois sighed, she could not believe how much she had changed since she had allowed Clark into her life and heart. Three years ago she would not have been upset to find out that she could not have any children in the future. Now, she had even tried to adopt when the more conventional and natural means had been denied to her. She smiled wryly as she thought of herself back then. 'If, three years ago, someone had come and told me that I would be this upset over not being able to have children in my life, I would have backed away from the person very carefully, and run to call the guys in the white coats'. Her wry smile faded as she sighed again.
Clark had tried to make her feel better as he always did, and she loved that about him, but this time she did not think that it was going to work. She knew how badly he wanted to have children. How he had wanted so badly to have something physical that the two of them had made together to tie him to this world. Wistfully, she thought, 'He would have been such a wonderful father, too'.
Lois' stomach roiled. 'Oooh, I don't feel too good,' she thought to herself. Maybe consoling herself with all that chocolate had not been such a good idea. Especially now that she was getting older. It certainly wasn't helping her stomach's well being. 'Ugh'. Lois thought that the course of prudence might be just to go to sleep, make an early night of it. Things would probably look better in the morning.
Lois snorted at her optimism and thought to herself, 'Well, at least things can't be any worse…' Her stomach protested her shift in position as she lay down and Lois groaned aloud. At the rate that she was going, she wasn't going to be able to sleep a wink all night. But despite her discomfort and the anger that she felt from the memories of the day still circling in her head, sleep claimed her quickly.
Louis and Clark:
"Clark, you just don't get it. No matter what I did, or how hard I tried, this man, my loving father, made me feel like I was not good enough." Louis twisted up his face and began to speak in a forced low and gravelly voice. "Ninety-eight percent on your English exam, m'boy. Well and good, that is only what I would expect from a son of mine. How's the boxing coming? Last time I saw, you were still dropping your left…" His shoulders slumped as his face relaxed and his voice rose again to its normal timbre.
"He did not mean to hurt me; I just was never the son that he wanted. Then, when it came out that I preferred my own sex over the opposite, he was honestly very supportive of me and my choice while he was trying to cope with it. What made him hit the roof and drove him to disowning me was when he found out that I had chosen journalism as my major. He'd so desperately wanted for me to follow in his footsteps into medicine. It was like he could swallow or deal with all the other little disappointments, but honestly, Clark," Louis broke off with a shudder, "the thought of playing God like doctors do with someone else's life has never been something that I ever thought that I could handle. For crying out loud, I could barely keep my own life going in the right direction, never mind make life and death decisions about others' lives."
Clark hesitated for a moment, uncertain, but then he surrendered to the instinct that told him to hold the other man. He gathered the slight form in to his wide and strong chest. He did not know what to think; the emotions that he was feeling for the man pouring his heart out in his arms were confusing to say the least. The dark haired, dark eyed bundle of barely contained energy that he had been assigned to partner was rousing emotions in him that he had never expected to feel for a woman, let alone another man. He struggled to put his feelings into words.
"Louis, I don't know what it is, but when I met you, *something* happened; I felt like I had come home or that I had found a part of myself that I had not known was missing until that point. I mean, I'm not and never have been interested in men…in that way," Clark finished a bit awkwardly. This was not a subject that he had ever envisioned himself conversing about.
Louis stepped back a little out of his partner's close embrace. Clark loosened his arms with his friend's movement but did not let go completely. He kept this gentle hold on the other man as some form of connection to link them as he stared out into space while marshalling his thoughts. Clark's gaze dropped to mesh with Louis' as he continued from where he had broken off speaking earlier. "I don't know if what we have is just a very good friendship — or if it's something else that makes this deep connection that we seem to share. But, personally, I can't see my life without you in it anymore. I, for one, think that you are one of the best investigative journalists around! And, if nobody else can see that, they are blind or stupid or both — take your pick." Clark grinned so infectiously down at his red-eyed partner that an answering grin was elicited from Louis as well.
Louis felt the grin that stretched his lips, and knew that it was tremulous and not very convincing, but for once, he was not putting on an act; he was just feeling. At that moment he decided that whatever life had to throw at him he could take it and use it, because life also had a lot to offer him — with Clark as a friend he had it made!
Lois jerked awake. Her hands went to her chest and she thought, 'OK, so far so good; everything's there that should be'. Then they traveled down her ribs to a lower region and she blew out a gusty sigh of relief. 'Whew! Nothing extra there.'
She looked over to the other side of the bed and saw that Clark's side was empty; he had probably been called out on some rescue. Subsiding back into the pillows, she thought to herself, 'Lord, what a strange dream for me to have'. She wondered if it had been the chocolate that she had consumed before bed that had prompted it or if it had been Clark's absence and the news of the previous day.
Groaning she rolled over and snuggled deep into her pillows; she was too tired to be awake. Her breathing evened out as sleep claimed her quickly.
Lois and Clara:
Lois shook her head, still woozy from the effects of the Space Rats gas. "Ooh, I am still not one hundred percent yet." She turned to Clara and asked, "What about you? How are you feeling?"
Clara thought fast and said, "Yeah, I feel kinda weird still, too." Then she smiled dryly.
Lois said, "I guess that the only person who's immune to that stuff is Superwoman."
Lois was not looking at Clara so she did not see the face that Clara made when she replied, "You would think, wouldn't you?"
They passed a small lot full of Christmas trees and, seeing an opportunity to change the subject about whether or not Superwoman was affected by the gas, Clara asked her companion, "So, did you get your tree yet?"
Lois shook her head and said, "No, I always have trouble deciding. See, I really like the big, pretty ones but I feel so sorry for the little scrawny ones…" Her voice trailed off and Clara prompted her with a quiet, "and…?"
"And… and I remember one Christmas that we had when I was twelve. My folks had just split and so they didn't bother to get a tree. So *I* decided to go and get my piggy bank, broke it open, and I went out and bought the scrawniest, ugliest and loneliest little tree that I could find. See, I thought that if I could make that ugly and lonely little tree beautiful and part of my family then I would have a great Christmas, no matter what. Even if I was all by myself that holiday."
"So what happened?" Clara asked.
Lois sighed and said, "Well, I put that little tree in my room, decorated it with tin foil, ribbons and popcorn streamers. The next day all the needles fell off, it turned black and my mom threw it out." Her face took on an expression that could only be described as determined and she continued, "Well, I'm not a kid anymore. And I'm going to get the best tree that they have and have the best Christmas *ever*, right?"
Clara smiled and said, "That's the spirit!"
A few hours later they walked into Lois' apartment, carrying between them a scrawny and pathetic little dwarfed tree. Half the needles looked to have already fallen off and it had a definite list to one side.
"I couldn't just leave it sitting there, all alone…" Lois said to Clara defensively.
They set the tree down on a table, and Clara smiled indulgently at her partner and said, "No, I didn't think that you could."
Lois was still fretting and asked, "You don't think that it's ugly, do you?"
Clara was trying very hard to hide her smile as she replied seriously, "No, Lois, I think that your little tree has lots of potential." But she could not keep back her laughter anymore when Lois ever so gently placed an ornament on one of the pathetic little tree's wimpy branches and the branch drooped under the slight weight. The branch kept drooping until the ornament finally surrendered to gravity and gave up its tenuous placement on the branch and fell to shatter on the floor.
Lois looked over at Clara. Lois' face was alternating between laughter of her own and consternation. Laughter won out and they fell back into Lois' couch giggling together.
A short time passed before they managed to get themselves back under control.
"You know, Clara, I have never told that story to anybody. Never had a friend that I felt I could — but with you it just all came pouring out." Lois looked over at her newly self-declared friend and said, "Seems I've done that a lot lately — since we started working together. I wonder what is it about you that makes me feel that I can talk to you about anything like this?"
Clara knew that Lois was serious and felt horrible, because Lois was right: there was something between them. She had come close to telling Lois so many times about being Superwoman but her self-preservation instincts had always kicked in before she did. Feeling the need to say something — anything — back made her say, "Yeah, I know what you mean. The only other people that I am anywhere near at ease with other than you are my parents. I also respect and admire them the same way that I respect and admire you."
Lois' quick and embarrassed smile was breathtaking. She leaned in and gave Clara a quick hug and then, embarrassed, hurriedly got up and started to bustle around the little tree.
Darkness had fallen and Lois was just standing and looking wistfully at her little tree all done up yet, for all that it was wearing, still not very pretty. She heard a knock at the door and, puzzled, she walked over to answer it. It was Clara.
"I thought that you were going back to Smallville?" Lois asked when she had opened the door.
Clara smiled and said, "I am. I am just going to get a later flight but that is not important. Here, I have something for you." She thrust out the box that she had been hiding behind her back. Lois took it and just held it. "You might want to open it sometime tonight…" Clara said with a smile.
Lois lifted the hinged top and saw a beautiful star shaped crystal. She lifted it from the box and, dazzled, just asked, "Where…?"
Clara smiled, overjoyed at Lois' reaction to her gift and pointed to the general direction of the sky. "I told Superwoman about your tree when you were twelve and the tree that we brought back today, and she got this for us. We thought that it might look good on this little guy."
Lois moved over and placed the star on top of her little tree and then sighed happily. The tree didn't look fantastic by any stretch of the imagination, but it did look better. Clara moved to stand beside her friend and partner in admiring the improved tree and said, "You know, I was right when I said that the little guy had potential. He's almost handsome now." Lois laughed and bumped Clara with her hip playfully. Then she said quietly and simply, "Thank you, Clara." When Clara turned to look at her in surprise, Lois continued, "For being here for me and understanding. No-one has ever done that for me before."
Clara felt her eyes tearing up and just hugged her friend, hoping that Lois would not be too mad when Clara finally spilled the beans about Superwoman.
Sitting up in bed and swinging her legs off the side, Lois rubbed at her eyes trying to get the gummy film off them so that she could see. "Ugh, what a strange night I am having. First that dream with me as a male and now one with Clark as a girl." She made a face as she tottered to the en suite bathroom. 'Maybe if I get a drink of water I will sleep better, flush the toxins and all that.'
In moments she was back in bed and snuggling up to the warm body of her husband. He had come back sometime while she was in the bathroom, or maybe he had returned while she was dreaming…Lois was not sure, she had been a bit muddled when she had gotten up. Her breath again evened out into the rhythm of sleep.
Lou and Clara:
"They want *what*?" Lou's voice had cracked with outrage. He was also feeling lost and sad; he had known that this would be her answer to the plea for help from her people, but what she had to do was something that he was not really prepared to handle.
Clara repeated what she had told her fiance. "They want me to go back and bear two children for the House of El sired by the House of Ra." She paused again and waited but this time he stayed silent. She could see, though, that he was fuming inside but his eyes also held a great deal of hurt. She sighed but she was grateful that he was at least giving her the chance to tell him the whole story.
"You see, in New Kryptonian law, the ruling line passes through the matriarchal line, but the husband is the actual ruler. The power was divided up that way to make the Houses less likely to fight, and it also protected the women in a highly martial system. The child has to be born into a legitimate marriage, as well, so that no questions may arise over its paternity, so I will also have to formalize my birth marriage to Kar-Ra…" Her voice trailed off as a fresh wave of anger surged over the face of her fiance.
She hurriedly tried to head off the incipient explosion that she could see clearly coming. "Look, darling, it's not like I'm going to have to bear the children myself. My people are advanced enough to make it so that I am mainly going to just donate some eggs. Plus, doing things in this manner makes it very clear that the resulting progeny is the combined issue of the two houses. Then after the children are born, I get to leave them and come back here after I dissolve my marriage to Kar-Ra. Then we can forget that Zala-El ever existed."
Lou could not take anymore; he could not keep his outrage in anymore. He had finally gotten over the other things that had impeded their relationship: the fact that she was stronger, faster and otherwise had many advantages over him had been hard enough to deal with; but now, now he was being asked to accept that his future wife was going to marry someone else and have children with him before she could return to marry him. It was too much.
He could see the anguish on Clara's face. For crying out loud, they didn't even know if they were going to be able to have children together, and now she was being asked to have some with a stranger and then not be able to raise them. She did not even have the assurance that the people who were going to raise her children were anything like her adoptive parents, the Kents. He was not just angry about what he was being asked to accept, he was also angry about what they were asking Clara to live with.
All the anger that he was feeling made his voice forceful as her name exploded from his lips. "Clara!" She jumped, and Lou realized that she was feeling a lot more strain than she was trying to let on. Seeing one of the most powerful beings on Earth jump because of his speaking brought to mind many of the things that he had seen in his years of reporting on the city beat. Things like spousal abuse and other power conflicts. It made the rage and hurt that he had been feeling drain out of him as suddenly as if someone had pulled a plug.
An upsurge of compassion born out of his love for the woman standing across the room swept over him, and he said her name again, gently this time, "Clara, darling — I'm sorry." He paused to rub his eyes and sigh, then he continued, "I've been focusing solely on myself. I've been acting like this request of theirs is hurting only me, but it's both of us that they are affecting, us and our relationship."
Tears trembling on the edge of falling, the eyes of his fiancee met his when he dropped his arm from his forehead. Lou sighed again at the pain that he saw reflected in those eyes and made a quiet statement, "Neither of us asked for this, dear. I know that, but it's something that, even though we should not have to deal with, we can't ignore. We can't leave the New Kryptonians to fall into a civil war if we can prevent it. It would go against everything that stand and fight for here on Earth."
He held out both arms in invitation to come and lean on him, offering his love and support freely. She ran into his arms as the tears that had been threatening began to fall. "I just want you to come back to me, safe and sound."
Clara felt the relief course through her system. Lou understood, he really understood the situation. She had been terrified that he would not want anything more to do with her, that he would purely let his emotions drive him; she knew that she wouldn't have been able to deal with any of this if he had rejected her. She knew that without him, she was not whole.
Murmuring through her tears, Clara was almost incoherent when she spoke. "Lou, oh, Lou, my love, I was so afraid that you were not going to love me anymore. I thought that you might think that this was the last. I thought that you might think that it wasn't worth it; that my heritage had put the last crimp in our relationship, parting us, and that you would not want to stay with me. I thought that if I left and did as they asked that you would not want me to come back."
She was crying openly now, and Lou's heart nearly broke. He gathered her more tightly into his embrace as he ran comforting hands up and down her back. He made soothing sounds into her ears.
"Darling, hush, don't cry now. I love you and its going to be okay, everything is going to be okay."
Lois woke to the rays of the morning sun shining in her eyes and frowned. 'What a disturbing night…' she thought as she levered herself out of bed. She could hear Clark down in the kitchen making breakfast as she continued to mull over her night. 'I have never been one to remember my dreams, but all the ones that I had last night are all still so *clear*. Almost as if — she paused — she had been meant to have them…' She shook herself to try and get rid of the cold shivers that suddenly ran up her spine. She mused, 'Well one thing's for sure — things definitely could be worse if those dreams were anything to go by.'
She quickly showered and dressed and headed down into the kitchen. Walking up to Clark, she hugged him from behind, and, thinking of the dreams, said, "Y'know, we haven't got it at all bad, do we?"
Clark's chest rumbled against her front as he laughed and said, "No, I think that we have it pretty good, actually." He turned around in her embrace and swept her up into a passionate kiss that left them both breathless.
Lois sighed with happiness and murmured, "Yeah, we are going to be just perfect." They had each other and, really, that was all that mattered in the end.
Mike smiled to himself as he walked away from the area of Hyperion Avenue. Sending Lois visions of their incarnations in other realities had been a stroke of genius.