By JLT <email@example.com>
Submitted: July 2003
Summary: After almost five years on New Krypton, Clark Kent returns to Earth to find that Lois Lane has moved on with her life. Can he win her back? This is part 1 of a planned series.
The long and winding road that leads to your door,
Will never disappear,
I've seen that road before
It always leads me here,
Leads me to your door.
The wild and windy night the rain washed away,
Has left a pool of tears crying for the day.
Why leave me standing here, let me know the way
Many times I've been alone and many times I've cried
Anyway you'll never know the many ways I've tried, but
Still they lead me back to the long and winding road
You left me standing here a long, long time ago
Don't leave me waiting here, lead me to your door*
The morning sun filtered through the windows of the converted barn in Smallville, Kansas, resting upon the sleeping face of Lois Lane. The warm inviting feeling spread through her body as she hugged the duvet closer to her body. This was her favourite time of the day as it held the future and hope; anything could happen and anything was possible. It was a borderline between dreams and reality.
A few minutes later her peace was shattered as the little footsteps became louder and louder and the door flew open, her two little angels entering with beaming impish grins and young innocent eyes. Full of life and energy they jumped on the bed and clung to Lois adoringly before jumping into the empty space beside her. Kieran and Faith were her life; with each day that went by she loved them more. Never in a million years would she have believed she could feel such affection for anything. Becoming a mother had changed her beyond comprehension; there wasn't anything she wouldn't do for them.
Lois found out that she was pregnant a couple months after Clark had left for New Krypton. They had been blissfully married for five months when they came to take him away. Lois had finally come to the conclusion that it wasn't meant to be. It was the only way she could block out the pain and look forward. After he had gone, the world became a different place. Metropolis swarmed with criminals and evil, no place to bring up children. That's when, after the shock of discovering she was expecting twins, she had decided to move to Smallville to be near Martha and Jonathan.
Now, four and half years down the line, she was living in tranquillity in her beautiful barn which, with the help of her in-laws, she had lovingly designed and rebuilt. Clark would love it here she thought. Clark. The name that was constantly on her lips, in her mind and in her heart. How could she forget him? Every time she looked at the twins she was looking into his rich brown eyes again. At four years old they had never seen their father; all they new was that their mommy missed him lots.
"Mommy?" said Faith
"Oh, sorry darling, I was miles away," replied Lois.
"Thinking about Daddy again," whispered Faith to her little brother.
Snapping out of the trance Lois turned around and grabbed the twins, tickling them all over, making them squeal. "So what shall we do today, kids?"
"Can we go and see Granny and Grandpa Kent? asked Kieran. "Grandpa said I could ride on the tractor with him."
"Sure, sweetheart, what about you, Faith, is there anything you'd like to do?"
Faith put her fingers in her mouth and closed her eyes. "Mmmmm I want to look at the stars with Grandma."
"Well in that case it looks like we're going to the Kents. Now go and get washed and dressed, and I'll be along in a minute."
Kieran and Faith leapt from the bed and walked out of the room holding hands. It made Lois melt the way they looked out for each other. Kieran was just like Lois, always getting into trouble and headstrong, while Faith was sensible and compassionate, just like Clark. She worried about her little girl; she seemed to be in a world of her own most of the time. What scared her most was how in tune Faith was with her own feelings. Neither of the children had shown any signs of having superpowers; maybe they never would, but Clark didn't develop his properly until his late teens.
Today was Lois's day off. Since leaving Metropolis she had written several novels and submitted editorials to the Daily Planet as a consultant whilst working part time as a teacher at Smallville High. If Clark could see her now, he would hardly recognise her. The business suits had been replaced with soft feminine dresses and her short neat hair was now cascading down her back in ringlets. Faith told her friends that her mommy was a princess and her daddy was a prince who had to save the world.
Lois enjoyed her teaching job; she hadn't thought she'd have the patience for it but the older kids were great, and she was finding out that they could also teach her a few things too. Most of all she enjoyed spending time with Martha, Jonathan and the children. Clark's parents had been great; they adored the kids and they were optimistic, but most of all they made her laugh — sometimes Lois thought she would die laughing. It felt good to laugh. The Kent farm was a ten-minute walk away. Faith and Kieran would always race each other to the front door. The last one had to help Jonathan muck out the cows.
Martha was kneeling down in the garden picking flowers. She looked up and a big smile spread across her face. "Hiya, you two. Do I get a hug?" She embraced her two grandchildren and gave them a kiss each. "Gramps is in the cowshed, Kieran, if you want to go and see him — I think Faith got the better of you today, honey," laughed Martha.
"Oh okay. As long as I get a go on the tractor."
"I'm sure you can. Now go on, scoot." Martha waved at Lois outside the gate. "Hi, Lois. Did you get left behind?"
"Morning, Martha, I'm a little old for this game now I think. I just can't keep up with them." Lois chuckled.
"How are you, sweetie? It's coming up to that time again, nearly four years to the day."
"I'm good, actually. I've decided to let go of the past and look to the future. I have two beautiful children to nurture — I consider myself lucky".
Martha put her arm around Lois and gave her a reassuring squeeze. "Lois, you've done a fantastic job with those kids. Clark would be so proud of you."
"Thanks, Martha. I just wish that he could see them. I dream about it every night, I just…" Lois couldn't stop the tears welling in her eyes.
"Hey, I know how you must feel. I'd give anything to see my boy again or just to know that he is alive and well."
"Look at us. There I was going on about looking forward, and now I'm getting myself all upset."
Martha laughed. "Come inside, and I'll make you a cup of tea. So, are you still seeing Paul Aston from the High School?"
"We've been out several times. He is a really nice guy, and he's brilliant with the kids, and he is nice looking but I just can't help feeling that I'm betraying Clark. Until I know for certain what's happened to Clark I can't really commit myself to somebody else."
"I know you don't want to hear this but life goes on. Anyway he would want you to be happy."
"I know Martha, I know."
Half an hour later Jonathan walked in the kitchen with Kieran on his back. "Hello, Lois."
"Hi, Jonathan. I see you're keeping him entertained."
"Mommy, Gramps let me steer the tractor all the way round the field."
"Wow you are a clever boy, and did you help him muck out the cowshed?"
Jonathan looked at Kieran and Kieran started to giggle. "We er haven't got round to it yet, Lois," said Jonathan.
"You spoil him too much. Anyway I thought you two were going fishing this afternoon."
"We are," replied Jonathan.
"Listen, Martha, Paul asked me to go out on his motorbike with him this afternoon. Do you think you could look after Faith for me?"
"It would be my pleasure. Where is she anyway? I haven't see her since we were out in the garden."
"She must be in the fortress of solitude with the telescope. She seems to be intrigued with the stars and planets. It's like she knows that Clark's out there somewhere," said Lois
"Well, she is always asking questions about her daddy. I don't know whether that's a good thing or not. Kieran seems to be quite content but Faith — I just can't put my finger on it," said Martha.
Lois left the children with the Kents and returned home to change for her date with Paul. They were going for a picnic in the park and then for a motorbike ride. She had been out several times on the bike. At first she was dubious but now she found it exhilarating; it wasn't anything like as good as flying but it was nice to have the freedom, and she had to admit that she enjoyed spending time with Paul. He had come to Smallville a couple of years ago after quitting his acting job. As she turned the corner towards the barn she noticed that he was already waiting for her.
"Hey, stranger," shouted Lois. He looked as handsome as ever thought Lois. Paul was tall, well built with glossy jet- black hair, piercing blue eyes and wore a devilish grin. Just like a movie star. All the girls at school had a crush on him.
Paul looked up and swept his dark hair away from his forehead and smiled. "Afternoon, gorgeous. I thought you'd stood me up."
"I wouldn't dream of it," replied Lois. "I'll just put my leathers on, and we can go, all right?"
"Sure thing. Where are the kids?" asked Paul.
"At the Kents for the afternoon. I'll just be a second."
A few minutes later Lois appeared at the door, dressed from top to toe in black leather.
"Wow, you look hot in that gear Lois. You don't know what you do to me, darling."
"Flattery won't get you anywhere, Paul. Now come on, let's go." Lois smiled, grabbing the helmet out of Paul's hand.
Kal-el starred into space from the window with thoughts of happier times. He had been on New Krypton for four years; it felt like a lifetime. Soon he was hoping he would be able to go back to earth and to his wife. He had wanted to return so many times but he had to put her safety first; if he escaped they would destroy everything that mattered to him. He wondered what she was doing, what she was thinking, who she was with, and if she was thinking of him. They'd had their whole life ahead of them when it was suddenly taken from under them. The war had taken its toll on Kal-el; it had made him a harder person always looking at death and destruction. He feared that his Clark Kent persona was long gone. The only thing that remained the same was his love for Lois Lane. That he could never change, nor would he wish to.
Paul had found the perfect spot for a picnic. Secluded, quiet and beautiful. Lois laid the blanket down on the grass, took her leathers off and stretched herself out, looking up at the sky.
"This is wonderful. We should do this more often," said Lois
Paul sat down beside her and took her hand. "I just like spending time with you, Lois. Being with you anywhere makes me happy."
Lois, touched by Paul's words, sat up to face him. She looked directly into his eyes, wanting to ask something she had been wondering for weeks. "Do you… love me?"
Startled by her candor, he reached up to touch her face. "Lois, I have never met anyone like you. I feel so relaxed in your company. The world is a better place just because you're in it. You're a fighter, and I admire your feistiness but what touches me most is that you care so much about life. How could I not love you?" He leant forward and kissed her gently on the lips. Lois didn't resist as they slowly reached the ground.
Paul dropped Lois at the Kents early that evening. Lois had taken the first step in putting the past behind her. Paul had been gentle, kind, understanding, and the kiss had been long overdue. Lois had forgotten how good it was to be loved by a man. She wished that she had realised it sooner.
The weeks passed, and their relationship blossomed. The twins seemed to like him, and Martha and Jonathan accepted Paul as her boyfriend. The girls at the high school scowled at Lois but she laughed it off, as she would have probably felt the same.
One night, Faith began to tell Lois what she saw when she looked through Martha's telescope.
"They're so pretty, Mommy. I know all the const… const…"
Lois helped her out. "Constellations?"
"Yes, and guess what else I see, Mommy?" Faith twisted Lois's hair around her fingers as she sat on her lap.
"Tell me what you see, sweetheart."
"I see a great big star which twinkles more than all the others. That's where I think Daddy is."
Lois closed her eyes feeling the tears swell on her lower lids. Faith clearly could feel some kind of connection with Clark.
Faith brushed the tear away that fell from Lois's eye. "Mommy, don't be sad. I wish upon that star every night for Daddy to come home. I know he can hear me, and I know he loves us."
Lois saw the sincerity in her daughter's eyes, and it tugged at her heart-strings. She hadn't realised how much not having a father affected her child. "Oh, Faith, I love you," said Lois, hugging her tightly.
The phone rang. Lois took a deep breath and answered.
"Hello, darling, how are you?"
"Perry, hi. I was wondering when you'd call. I'm fine thank you. How are you?"
"Rocking and rolling, you know how it is. Are those godchildren of mine okay?". I hear you've got a new fella."
"They're really well. They keep asking me when they're going to see Uncle Perry again."
"Little terrors. I have some free time owing to me so I won't leave it too long. So about this new fella, honey?"
Lois sighed. "Perry, his name is Paul, he is a teacher at Smallville High, and I really like him. Will that do?"
"If that's all you're gonna tell me, I may have to dig elsewhere. I…"
Lois cut him off short. "Just don't, Perry."
"Okay, Lois, don't step on my blue suede shoes." He laughed. "I gather you still haven't heard from Clark?"
Her mood changed. "Why do you always bring that up? I don't know where he is."
"Damn him for walking out on you like that. I'll never understand it. I think there's more to it…"
"Perry, please! You do this to me every time we speak. I don't want to talk about it, not now and not ever!"
"I'm sorry, darling. I had better be off. Take care, and send my love to everyone."
"I will. Goodbye, Perry. Give Jimmy a kiss for me."
"I'll tell him you said hi." Perry laughed. "Bye, sweetheart."
Lois hung up the receiver. Perry White just didn't know when to quit. That was part of the reason why she'd left Metropolis — the constant speculation of where Clark Kent had gone, leaving his pregnant wife to fend for herself. There had been so many times when all she'd wanted to do was tell them exactly where he was and who he was, but she knew she couldn't. It seemed to be the greatest mystery of all: where was Clark Kent and where was Superman?
2 MONTHS LATER
The dark clad man took in the surroundings that had been so familiar to him. It had been a long time since he had last seen so many colours set against a clear blue sky; it made him feel nostalgic. Standing behind a large oak tree, he let his eyes fall upon the farmhouse he loved so much. The farmhouse that held so many happy memories and that he had once called home. Suddenly his thoughts were interrupted when he felt a slight tug at his trousers. He looked down to see a little boy grinning up at him with big brown eyes.
"Excuse me, Mister, could you get my ball down from that tree over there?" he asked
"Sure, turn around and close your eyes and count to ten."
The boy shrugged and did as the stranger told him.
"Kieran, have you found the ball yet?" came a small voice. "Wow, Mister, how did you do that?"
Turning around he found himself looking at the most beautiful, angelic little girl he had ever laid eyes on. "I, er, it's magic," he lied.
"What did he do?" said Kieran, looking at his sister.
"He floated up to the branch and got the ball. Show us again," she pleaded.
"Don't be silly, Faith. Men don't float. You are always seeing things. Hey, Mister, do you wanna play ball?"
The little girl stood there starring at him with her arms folded. Scrutinising his every move. Making him feel exceptionally uncomfortable.
"All right, just for a little while."
Lois had made lunch for the twins after she had finished her piece for Perry. She had tidied the house for Martha and Jonathan as they were on a two-day vacation to Aunt Opal's. Lois had lost sight of the kids whilst she was on the computer. She went out through the back door and round to the orchard.
"Kieran, Faith!" she called. "Kieran, Faith! Come on, guys, where are you?"
Kal-el stopped dead in his tracks as heard the voice that had been music to his ears. Was he hearing things?
Out of the corner of her eye she caught some movement a few yards away. As she grew closer she noticed a man with his back turned to her. Her heart leapt to her mouth. She'd recognise that stature anywhere. Could it be? He slowly turned around to reveal himself. Faith and Kieran ran to Lois when they saw the look on her face. "Mommy, what's wrong? Are you okay?" asked Faith.
Lois clung tightly to her children, as she stood rooted to the ground and transfixed on the man she saw before her. She tried to call his name but she couldn't speak; it was all she could do to keep her equanimity. He began to close in on her; there was an unusual silence with each step he took. Not once did he takes his eyes off her. He drew in the sight before him. She didn't look like his Lois, not how he remembered her. Looking at her now he couldn't quite comprehend just how breath-taking and insatiably gorgeous she had become. He found gentility in her eyes that he had never seen before. He studied her, taking in the way her glossy chestnut hair fell around her face past her shoulders, the red dress that hung exquisitely from her body, and right down to the feminine shaped legs that finished her off perfectly. Finally he spoke her name. "Lois?"
She had so many emotions running through her body, she didn't know what to do. This was her dream. Lois had played this scene over and over again in her mind, knowing exactly what she would do if it ever turned into reality. Now it had, all she could do was stare at him like he was a mirage. Closing her eyes she tried to compose herself. When she opened them she found that he was an inch away, searching her face.
Lois eventually whispered his name. "Clark?"
"Yes, Lois, it's me. Clark," he replied softly. Taking her hand he lifted it to his chest. "See, I'm really here."
To touch him again after all this time was too much. She stepped backwards and gestured for the twins to go back to the house. Kieran refused to let go of his mother's hand.
"Mommy, I won't leave you," he shouted.
Lois managed to smile through the facade. "All right, sweetie. Go and sit by the tree for mommy, please." Reluctantly he let go and did as he was told. Meanwhile Faith was still looking at Clark inquisitively. "Are you our daddy?" she asked innocently.
Clark looked at Faith and then at Lois. "I… um"
Lois interjected quickly. "Yes. Yes, Faith he is your daddy," she said keeping her gaze on Clark.
The words echoed in his head. He was their daddy. "Lois, you mean that they are…"
"Our children. Yes. Clark, you have just turned my world upside down *again*. This is a little traumatising for me. You had better come in the house. We can talk there."
He followed her into the house. Clark thought she seemed distant. He could hardly blame, her but he did expect some sort of emotion.
"Faith, Kieran, go wash your hands. You'll find lunch in the play house." She heard them grumbling and whispering as they ran off ahead.
There was something missing from the farmhouse. "Where are my parents?"
"Visiting your Aunt Opal. They'll be back tomorrow. I'm looking after things for them. Don't worry; they're in good health."
"Oh." There was an awkward silence filling the kitchen.
Lois busied herself with the washing up "Would you like a coffee or something?" she asked anxiously
Clark placed his hands around her waist. He felt her tense up at his touch. "No, thank you. I just want to talk. I want to know everything."
Lois released herself from his firm grip and pulled out a chair from under the table to sit on. "Where do you want me to start?"
"Well, I've just been told that I have two children."
Lois proceeded. "A couple of months after you left I found out that I was expecting. Which as you can imagine was a shock in itself, especially as we thought it was virtually impossible when in fact it couldn't have been easier. Then I went for my first scan, and I found out I was going to have twins. I freaked out in true Lois style fashion but luckily I had the support of Martha, Jonathan, Perry, Jimmy and Lucy. I felt really good throughout pregnancy and when they were born it was wonderful. Oh, Clark, I wish you'd been there." The tears trickled slowly down her cheek as she remembered the feeling of not sharing that perfect moment with Clark. She pushed the tears away with her hand and continued. "Your mom helped me through it — she was fantastic."
"Who named them?"
"I did. I chose Faith as I knew you liked that name for a little girl. I named Kieran after one of my close friends who lives in Ireland, and I always liked that name," she said, smiling.
"They're lovely names, Lois, for two of the loveliest children I have ever seen. When I was outside with them a while ago I felt envious of their parents of having such beautiful kids. If I had known I would have never gone on that mission. You know that don't you?"
"To be honest, I don't know what to think anymore. The funny thing is, if it wasn't for the twins I don't think I could have coped, but they are such a delight. Just being around them lifts me up. They give me so much pleasure. I often used to think if Clark could see me now!"
Clark leant over and placed his head on top of hers. "Lois, I never doubted you for a second. All that love in your heart was meant for those children."
Faith stood at the door observing the scene in front of her. "Mommy, Kieran and I have finished our lunch now. Can we have chocolate ice cream?"
Clark chuckled. "Well, we know where she gets that from don't we."
"Oh, I think we could arrange that." Lois took the plate from her and went to the freezer. When she came back Faith was sitting quietly on Clark's lap holding his hand. "I think she likes you."
"You don't have to be sad any more, Mommy. I told you that Daddy would come back."
"Yes you did, sweetheart". Lois handed Faith the ice cream.
Clark noticed that there was something missing from Lois's left hand. "Where's your wedding ring?" he asked
Looking down at her hand she touched the place were the solid platinum band used to sit on her finger. "I took it off when I left Metropolis to stop speculation. I didn't want anyone to pry into my private life. It was just easier if people didn't know about my past."
Clark looked puzzled. "You left Metropolis! So where do you live now?"
"In Smallville, ten minutes away form here. Metropolis wasn't the same after Superman left. I wanted the children to be brought up in a safe environment where people cared. I found it quite difficult to adjust at first. I got a part time job at Smallville High teaching English, and I still write for the Planet. I have a substantial income as I had my novels published. I have a nice quiet life, not like the one I used to have."
"Well I guess you're doing just fine without me."
She could hear the hurt and regret in his voice. "It wasn't a case of wanting to, Clark. It was a case of having to."
The roar of a motorbike distracted Lois. Before she could go and look out the window there was a knock at the door and Paul walked through. "Hey, beautiful, how are…" He suddenly stopped as he was getting the feeling that he was intruding.
"Sorry, Lois, Kieran told me you were in the kitchen. He didn't say you had a visitor."
Clark turned around to face Paul.
Paul held out his hand. "Hi, I'm Paul"
Clark reluctantly took it and shook hands. "I'm Clark. Can we help you?"
"I came to see my girlfriend, actually. I thought maybe we could go out on the bike. I had forgotten that Martha and Jonathan were on vacation."
Clark raised his eyebrows. "Your girlfriend?"
"Yeah. What's the matter, Clark? Is there something going on here that I should know about?"
Lois cut in. "Paul, would you go and make sure Kieran is all right, please, and take Faith with you?"
"I guess I haven't got much choice. Come on darling," he said, holding out his hand to Faith. "Are you sure you'll be all right, Lois?"
She nodded as she put her hand behind her neck and sighed.
"Geez, what does he think I'm going to do. Hurt my own wife?" grunted Clark
"He cares about me, Clark. He doesn't know that you're my husband."
Anger and jealousy was raging inside of him. He stood up and paced the kitchen. "God, what is going on here? I have been waiting for what seemed like an eternity to return to Earth. The only thing that kept me going was you, Lois. I endured pain and suffering like nothing you can imagine. I didn't expect things to remain as I had left them, but, Lois, things have changed beyond recognition. How will I ever be able to make up for the time I have lost?"
"Just don't say anything, Lois. I can see it was a mistake for me to come back. I don't fit or belong in your world anymore. I'm sorry." Clark turned to walk out when Lois forced her way between him and the door.
"That's right. You walk away, take the easy way out. I'm not the only one who has changed, Clark. I look at you now and I don't see the man I married. The softness and kindness has gone from your face, as has your soul that held the key to my heart. Well, I'm sorry for trying to carry on after you left me in pieces, but I did. As far as I was concerned you were dead. If you walk away now, don't you ever try and come back." She dragged him over to the window and pointed outside to where the children were playing. "See those two children. They have been without a father all their life. Faith particularly has found it very hard. I won't let you do this to them; they don't deserve it."
Clark felt a lump rise in his throat as he watched Kieran put his arm around Faith and snuggle up next to her. "Are they always like that with each other?" he asked softly.
"Always. I suppose they have that special bond. They look out for one another. Just like we used to."
"I hate myself for missing so much and letting you all down. I wanted so much to have a family of my own. I thought it would never happen and now it has and I couldn't even be there for you."
"Hey, at least you're here now and that's all that matters. You'll love them just as much as I do when you get to know them."
Clark turned away from the window to look at Lois. "I love them already, Lois. Thank you for giving them to me." He moved forward and placed a sensuous kiss on her lips. Lois moved forward begging for more. The touch of his lips against hers had stirred feelings in her that she had long since forgotten.
"I must go and talk to Paul," said Lois breaking away from his embrace.
"Lois, are you and he serious?"
"Yeah, I guess so. He's one of the good guys."
Clark watched Lois with Paul from the porch. From the look on his face, Clark could tell that Paul was madly in love with Lois. He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear as she looked intently into his eyes. Had he lost his Lois to him? She looked happy. Paul kissed her goodbye and rode off down the road.
"Sorry about that."
"What did you tell him?"
"That you are Faith and Kieran's father, and that I'd explain everything to him tomorrow".
"Oh, and he was all right about it?"
"Like I said, Clark, he is one of the good guys. Are you going to stay here tonight or would you like to come home with me?"
"I'll stay at your place if that's okay?"
"Sure. I think the twins would like to spend some time with you."
Lois made sure that the farmhouse was secure and that all the animals had been fed. Lois took Clark's hand and led him down the path. They all linked hands and made their way home.
Clark was nicely surprised when he saw the house "You live here? It's so big."
"Yeah, It was a mess before I got my hands on it. We had fun doing it up, though. Didn't we, kids?"
"We helped Mommy paint. Shall I show you my bedroom?" Faith replied looking up at Clark
"Yes, I'd like that very much."
Lois fiddled around in her handbag for the front door key. "Come in and take your shoes off. I've just had a new floor laid."
Clark placed his shoes neatly by the door. "Wow, Lois, this place is beautiful. I didn't know you had it in you."
Lois blushed with the compliment. "Well, I kinda poured my heart into it. I'll show you round."
Clark marvelled at the huge country kitchen, comfortable lounge, and sophisticated office which covered the vast space that was the ground floor. "Every room is perfect, Lois. I love it."
"I want to show Daddy my room now," said Faith
"All right. You take him up to the gallery and show him around, darling. I think Kieran has locked himself in the toilet again."
Clark laughed. "Always in trouble is he?"
"Something like that."
Clark followed Faith to the gallery floor. "How many bedrooms are there, Faith?"
"Six. Mine is special though. It's in the attic so that I can see the stars and planets at night. Come on and I'll show you."
Faith dragged Clark up to the attic. "Wow, I used to have a place just like this," replied Clark.
"Fortress of Solitude. Grandma and I are always up there."
"Nearly every night. I stay there a lot, especially when Mommy has Paul over."
"Does he stay here a lot then?"
Faith admired the night sky from her window. "Quite a lot. I don't mind though — he makes her laugh. She always used to be so sad. I'm just glad she's happy."
"Faith, I want you to know that I love her very much. I know that I'm responsible for making her unhappy. I'll make it up to you all, I promise."
Faith could see the remorse in her father's eyes. She still couldn't quite believe that he was real and was there in her room. He looked liked he needed a hug. Faith through her arms around his neck and nuzzled into him like it was the most natural thing in the world. Being in his arms she felt safe and secure; at long last she had her daddy. Clark was so overwhelmed by this show of affection that he could hardly breathe. He was still trying to come to terms with the fact they were his children.
Meanwhile downstairs Lois had managed to free Kieran from spending the night in the toilet.
"I told you not to fiddle with the lock. This is becoming a regular occurrence with you."
"I want you to tidy the play room and wash your hands."
"Okay, okay," he chirped, skipping away.
Lois found herself reflecting on the day's events. Seeing Clark again had stirred up all the old feelings: love, desire, hope and belonging. Just when she had resigned herself to the fact that she would never see him again. Then there was Paul. How could she hurt him now? He had been there for her from the beginning but Clark was still her husband. She watched him as he walked down the stairs gently carrying Faith in his arms. He looked the picture of perfection.
"She fell asleep. I couldn't put her down — I just keep looking her."
"Clark, how did you get home?"
"The mission was complete so they let me go. If I'd come back earlier they would have destroyed earth. I have spent four years waiting for this day, Lois. I thought it would never come." Clark reached out and caressed her face. "I need you, Lois. Please don't shut me out."
Lois changed the subject. "I really think I should phone your parents."
"No. I will see them tomorrow. We need to sort things out between us. I have no idea what I'm doing or where I fit into your life anymore."
Lois sat herself on the sofa. "You know, I promised myself that I would wait for you no matter what. Then, as the years went by, the more I realised that I had to get on with my life without you in it. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. When you marry someone you think that's it, there will never be anyone else. Yes, you are still my husband, but we have been apart for so long that I can't remember life with you."
"Are you saying that you don't love me anymore, that there is no chance for us?"
"I couldn't stop loving you, Clark. Don't get me wrong — I'm glad that you are alive and well, and I can't tell you how good it is to see you standing here in the flesh but I feel completely numb. I can't help but feel neglected. I never thought I'd feel like this but I do."
"I guess I've been a bit naive expecting you to welcome me with open arms. I think I'll go and stay at my parents to give you some space."
"Sure. I understand. I'll pop up in the morning; it's my day off tomorrow. I'll just get the key for you."
Clark covered his face with his hands and sighed loudly. When he looked up Kieran was standing in front of him smiling, holding something in his hand.
"This is for you," Kieran said holding out a photograph.
Clark looked down at the photo in his hand. It was a picture of the twins in Lois's arms.
"That was taken a couple of hours after we were born. Mommy and I thought you might like to keep it."
Clark ruffled his son's hair. "Thank you. It's lovely"
Lois came back into the room, giving Clark a reassuring smile. "This is the key to the front door."
"Thanks," said Clark as he kissed Lois on the cheek. "We'll play ball tomorrow, Kieran."
"Cool. I'm gonna go practice now," he replied.
"I think you've made his day."
Clark had a curious expression on his face. "Actually, Lois, I wanted to ask you, have either of the children shown any signs of being… you know… different?"
"No, not yet. Kieran seems to be very agile though. I think they're a bit young at the moment."
"Time will tell, I suppose. Well I had better go. See you in the morning then."
"Bye, Clark" she whispered softly as she watched him disappear.
Martha and Jonathan pulled up outside their house in the early hours of the morning. "Lois must have stayed round. The lights are on," said Martha. Jonathan raised his eyebrows. "Well, it's unlike her to be up so early. You know what she's like, always teasing us about rising with sun."
"Yeah, you get the cases and I'll go and see if everything is all right." Jonathan nodded and went to unload the trunk.
Martha walked up to the front door cautiously. She put the key in the lock and lightly tugged at the door handle before walking inside. "Hello, Lois, we're back."
Clark could her the familiar tones of his mother's voice. He walked out of the kitchen and into the living room. "Hi, Mom."
Martha dropped her bags and turned around. Her hand went over her mouth as she uttered her son's name. "Clark!"
Clark embraced Martha. He felt her tears on his shoulder as she wept in delight. Jonathan took in the sight for himself as he walked through the door.
"Oh my god!" he exclaimed "You came back, son, you came back. I knew you would."
"Hi, Dad. It's good to see you," said Clark, gesturing him to join the reunion.
"How? When? Have you seen Lois?" said Martha excitedly.
"I came back yesterday. The Kryptonians honoured our contract and let me go when the mission was over."
"Oh, my boy. This is some homecoming. Come and sit down. My legs have gone all wobbly," laughed Martha.
"Have you seen Lois?" asked Jonathan pensively.
"Yes. Actually I left her house last night."
Martha gave Clark a concerned motherly look. "Then why are you here honey?"
Clark started walking up and down the room with his hand behind his head. "That's exactly what I'm trying to figure out. She's been playing it so cool, it's driving me crazy."
"Clark. You have to understand that she's been through a lot. I suppose it's easier for her to detach herself."
"Your mother's right son. Don't give up on her."
"Dad! I'd never do that, especially when I've got the kids to think about now."
The corners of Martha's mouth crept up to release a huge smile. "You've seen the twins?"
Clark's eyes twinkled with contentment. "Words escape me. They're just absolutely…"
"Adorable?" interjected Martha.
"Yeah, adorable. Why did I leave her? She needed me and I wasn't there. I wasn't there at the birth, I didn't see their first smile, I didn't hear their first words, and I didn't watch them take their first steps. Do you know how that makes me feel?" Clark slumped back down on the sofa and threw his hands in the air. "That's not all, though, is it? I come back to find out she is with someone else, who no doubt plays daddy to my children!"
"So, you know about Paul then?" said Jonathan.
"He came round while I was here yesterday. To see his 'girlfriend'," mimicked Clark sarcastically.
Martha could see how distressed her son was. "I'm sure it's not that serious honey. He has taken good care of her you know."
"Is that supposed to make me feel better because it doesn't. Lois is *my* wife and I love her."
"Clark, I know this is hard for you but she had to move on. It took a while for your father and I to get used to seeing her with someone else but he makes her happy. She never stopped loving you, Clark. You were always on her mind but you weren't here."
"So was she planning on marrying him? She doesn't even wear her wedding ring. It's like I never existed."
"Clark, take it easy. You can't waltz back into her life and expect everything to be the same as when you left. Give her time and space to get used to the fact that you're back."
"No, she can be as hostile as she likes towards me, but I'm not going to let her treat me like this." Clark went to walk out of the door.
"Where are you going?" asked Martha
"To see Lois."
"But…" Before they had a chance to stop him, he was gone.
Clark landed on the balcony of Lois's bedroom. The shutters were closed so he used his x-ray vision to see into the room. Lois was sleeping but she wasn't alone. Her arms were lovingly placed around two little bodies that were resting peacefully on her chest. He managed quietly to burn the lock and open the door. Hovering past the bed, he pulled up a chair and sat down. Clark noticed how content they all looked. He wanted so much to join them. Lois began to stir. She opened and closed her eyes several times before focusing on Clark.
"What the…" she whispered.
"There's no guessing how you got in here. You scared the life out of me. What do you think you're playing at Clark?"
"I had to see you."
"Well, now you've seen me," said Lois abruptly.
"Sometimes you can be so stubborn. We shouldn't talk in here; we'll wake the twins. Get out of bed and we can go downstairs," said Clark.
Lois sighed and slowly pulled back the silky covers, being careful not to wake Kieran and Faith. "Quit giving me that look will you."
Clark marvelled at her body. She still looked great. He could feel the heat rising to his face. "What look?"
"That drooling puppy dog look you always used to get," remarked Lois.
Grabbing her robe, she led the way down stairs to the kitchen. "I'd forgotten what it's like to have a 'Superman' around."
Clark flew up and landed in front of her. "Well maybe I should remind you," suggested Clark with a mischievous grin.
Lois couldn't help but encourage him. They were cajoling each other like they used to. "And how do you intend to do that?"
"I could think of a few things." Clark smiled.
Lois couldn't look her husband in the eye. She bit her lip and turned to look in the opposite direction. The tears were fighting to get out as Lois tried in vain to swallow them.
"Lois. I didn't mean to…"
"To what… you didn't mean to what, Clark?" Lois gripped the back of the sofa. "Upset me, hurt me, remind me of what we used to have, or you didn't mean to leave me for nearly five years. Just exactly what is it that you didn't mean to do Kent?"
Clark was speechless. The look on her face said it all. He was responsible for all her pain, and he would never forgive himself for it. "Lois, I never realised just how big an effect this would have on our relationship. I shouldn't have gone; I should have found a way out. I would have done anything if it could have stopped your suffering. They told me it would only be for a few months, I had no idea…"
"We can't change what happened. It's in the past. What really matters is now, and we have to deal with that, Clark. To be honest, I'm tired and emotionally drained. Too much water has passed under the bridge, and I don't think I've got the energy to swim up stream. Clark could hear her pulse racing. She was nervous and twitchy. The next words were spoken in slow motion. "Clark, I want a divorce."
Her words struck him like kyrptonite. The bottom had fallen out of his world. Had it come to this? "Do you know what you're saying? Lois, please don't say it if you really don't want it."
Lois slowly fell to the floor sobbing hysterically. Clark rushed over to where she lay and gently pulled her up to face him. "I know you love me, Lois, so why are you torturing yourself?" She didn't respond. "Look at me!" Clark shouted as he shook her.
"Don't touch me, Clark. Just go away. I can't deal with this."
Woken by the commotion and raised voices below, Faith trundled out of bed to see what was going on. Standing at the top of the gallery she could see Lois and Clark huddled behind the sofa. Clutching her 'Mr Bob' teddy bear, she silently made her way down the stairs. She stood looking at her parents for a few seconds before speaking. "Mommy, are you ok?" she asked.
Lois nearly jumped out of her skin. She composed herself and wiped her face with her hands. "Yes, sweetie, I'm fine. What are you doing out of bed?"
Faith wasn't convinced. "I heard voices and I got scared."
Lois knelt down and embraced her daughter. "We were just talking loudly. I'm sorry; I shouldn't have left you."
Clark felt invisible and isolated as he watched Lois console Faith. Did he have any right to be there? Was he intruding? Turning around, he walked towards the back door. He needed time to think and to be alone.
Faith looked up just in time to see Clark disappearing. "Daddy's gone." Lois turned around when she heard the door click shut. "Oh… um… go back to bed Faith. I'll be up in a minute. I just need to talk to Daddy for a second."
After kissing Faith on the head, she hurried to the back door. It was freezing outside; Lois's silk robe certainly didn't hold the heat. She ran round to the front of the house where Clark was making his way down the drive. "Clark, wait please," shouted Lois.
Clark stopped walking and looked back to see Lois a few yards behind him. "Lois, I don't want a fight," he said solemnly.
Lois hugged her body tightly to block out the chill. "No, nor do I. Listen I'm sorry about what happened back there. It's just that I've really missed you, and when we were flirting with one another like we used to, it just reminded me of how much time has passed, and I can't help but feel bitter and twisted. I'm finding it really hard to keep it together at the moment."
Clark's face softened into a gentle smile. "Lois, you don't have to hide your emotions from me." He noticed her body quivering. "You must be freezing; you've hardly got anything on." He removed his jacket and put it around her shoulders.
"Oh, thank you," Lois replied pulling his jacket tightly around her body.
"I could heat you up if you'd like," said Clark, still holding her close to him.
"I'm fine, honestly. Why don't you come back inside, and I'll cook you breakfast?"
Clark was taken aback. "You cook?"
Lois shrugged. "Your mother is an excellent teacher. I'm not as good as she is, but I have greatly improved."
"Sure. I'd like that."
Back at the house Clark watched in amazement as Lois whizzed around the kitchen gathering all the ingredients for a breakfast fit for a king.
"Would you mind waking the kids for me, Clark?"
He found Kieran and Faith watching television in Lois's bedroom. They were fighting over the remote.
"Hey, kids. What's all this about?"
"I want to watch my cartoon and she won't let me."
"He always gets to watch what he wants," screamed Faith.
"Okay, stop right there. No more shouting, please, Faith. Kieran let go of the remote and give it to me."
Kieran reluctantly gave the remote to Clark.
"It's time for breakfast. The last one down has to help dry up."
The twins jumped out of bed and flew past Clark. Lois thought that a herd of elephants were running down the stairs. Kieran was first up at the kitchen table shortly followed by Faith who had a face as long as a poker. Lois put down their cereal in front of them. "What's going on with you two?"
"Daddy said that the last one down the stairs has to help dry up," mumbled Faith.
Lois laughed and looked at Clark. "The way I see it, Faith, is that Daddy seems to be the last one down so he can help dry the dirty dishes."
"Okay, okay I'll do it. It did get them out of bed though," remarked Clark.
"Well done. Don't get too smug though; you've still got a lot to learn Kent," said Lois.
Later that day they dropped the twins off at the Kents so they could spend some time alone with each other.
"Where you going?" Martha asked Clark.
"Well I thought we could get some lunch in town and then go back to Lois's for some privacy. If you need us, just ring the cell phone." Clark kissed Martha on the cheek and headed off to join Lois.
"Alone at last," said Lois.
Clark could think of nothing else. "Did you mean what you said about wanting a divorce?"
"Clark, I'll be as honest with you as I can. I don't really know what it feels like to be married — we didn't get the chance to find out. The months that we did have together were wonderful; I wouldn't change them for the world. They gave me Kieran and Faith, but I'm used to being my own person now, and I'm in a new relationship, which I believe is worth holding on to."
"What about our relationship? Isn't that worth holding on to?"
"There will always be something between us. We have a special bond and we have our children, but at the moment I can't see things going back to the way they were, Clark."
"There's nothing I can do to change your mind then?"
"Not at the moment. I think it will for the best. You'll find someone else and wonder why you ever loved me in the first place."
Clark shook his head in despair. "My feelings for you haven't changed, and I doubt they ever will. I will always be here for you and the kids. You won't want for anything, I'll make sure of that."
Lois reached up to caress his face, but Clark stopped and grabbed her hand before it could reach him.
"Don't, Lois, please. If this is it, then don't torture me."
Shocked by his reaction she retreated, embarrassed. "I'm sorry. What will you do for work?"
"I don't think Perry will be too pleased to see me. I suppose he thinks I did the dirty on you." Lois winced. "Well in that case I'll have to find something in Smallville or go back to New Krypton."
"Really, you'd go back there after all you've been through?"
"Now my mission is over, New Krypton lives in peace. There are a lot of good people there too. The only reason I came back was for you and my parents."
"I'm sorry Clark, for everything. I'm glad that you're okay and that you're alive. That was the worst part, not knowing if you were alive or dead."
"I wish there was some way I could have let you know." Clark stopped as Lois continued to walk ahead.
"Clark, what is it?"
"I can't do this, Lois. We've been through so much together, surely we can get through this. A divorce is so, so final. I've had a little glimpse of what having a family would be like, and now you want to take it all away from me. You of all people know how important it is to me, yet you're willing to close the door and leave me behind it while you carry on regardless."
Lois walked over to where Clark had stopped. "Oh, Clark. If it was just you and me, then maybe we could afford to take another chance but we have to think of the twins now. Children don't understand. We all need security and stability. I can't take the risk, Clark. You've walked out before, what's saying you wouldn't do it a second time? I told you a long time ago that I couldn't suffer another broken heart."
Clark grabbed Lois by the shoulders and pulled her towards him, searching her eyes for that spirit. "Isn't there anything I can say to make you change your mind? I want to take care of you all. I don't want to be a weekend dad. Please?" he pleaded
Lois saw her son in Clark's face. The handsome features, soulful eyes, dark skin and that alluring mouth. He was making what she had to tell him twice as hard. "Paul wants to move in with me and…"
Clark let go of Lois and took a step back. "Stop right there. Is that why you want a divorce? So you and he can live happily ever after with my children? Does he love you? Does he want to marry you? Have you slept with him?"
"You have no right to ask me that Clark," snapped Lois.
"I have every right to know if someone else is having relations with my wife." The thought of Lois with another man made Clark sick to the pit of his stomach. He had missed the closeness and love that he and Lois shared, but he would never betray her no matter how tempted he was.
"He has stayed round in the past and I have nothing to be guilty about."
"He wants to marry you, doesn't he?"
Lois looked at the ground biting her bottom lip and fiddling with her hands. "Well, he… er…"
"Doesn't he?" shouted Clark impatiently.
"Yes, all right, he wants to marry me."
Clark could hardly swallow or breathe. He felt like his heart was being squeezed by an elastic band. Lois was still hanging her head. He tried to make eye contact with her but she wouldn't look up. Clark knew he had to ask the next question but he didn't want to hear the answer.
"So what did you say? I mean, you have to divorce me before you can marry anyone else."
Slowly Lois raised her head. "I told him that it was too soon. I don't think I ever want to marry again. I made my vows to one person; I couldn't do it again. It would just seem…wrong."
"What are you saying, you want to live with him but still be married to me, or that you want a divorce and to live with Paul?" asked Clark.
"Yes, no, I don't know. I'm just so confused. All I know is that I never want to go through that again. Clark, you were always in my thoughts, in my heart, in my dreams, and I kept saying to myself he had to go, he loves you, he'll come back, surely he knows how much I miss him. But there's only so much hope in the world. Now you're here standing directly in front me, and I still can't believe it. I have butterflies in my stomach and my head's in a spin. All I want to do is…"
Clark nodded his head and moved closer to Lois. "What, what?" he said softly. "Shh, you're babbling." Clark moved forward and cupped her face in his hands. Closing his eyes he brought her face up to meet his. He could smell the fresh fragrance of her hair and feel the softness of her skin beneath his hands and it felt so right just being with her again.
Lois jerked back. "No, Clark. This is where it stops. I can't put my feelings before the children. One minute we are at each other's throat and the next we're in passionate clinches. I need to sort this out in my head."
"I don't think you know what you want, but I'm pretty damn sure you're lying to yourself. Don't mess me about and waste my time, Lois. I didn't come back here to fight for my wife and children, that's if they are mine." Clark saw the look on Lois's face and, realising what he had just said, regretted it instantly.
Lois starred at Clark in disbelief. "How dare you insinuate such a thing. I can't believe you just said that. It was cruel, Clark, and distasteful. My, how you've changed. You would have never said anything like that before. What's happened to you?"
"What's happened to me! I could say the same about you. You look so, so not like yourself with all that hair," he said waving his arms in the air. "You've lost that spirit that I loved so much, and what are you doing here in Smallville? The Lois I knew couldn't stand it out here in 'Nowheresville' as you used to call it. Let's face it we've both changed in the past few years. The only thing that hasn't changed is the electricity that we create from just being near each other."
"Yeah, well I wish a lightning bolt would come straight down and knock some sense into you. Let me tell you something, Kent," she spat. "You broke my *spirit* when you left me for that place, and as for Smallville, I came here to feel closer to you and to bring up our children in a decent community where they would feel safe and loved. Why don't you take a little trip to Metropolis and then you'd see the mess it's in. Your priority has always been saving others — why don't you do yourself a favour, Kent, and save yourself!"
"I don't have to listen this. You've made it perfectly clear where I stand. I'll come round tomorrow to discuss a convenient time for me to see the twins and in the meantime you can proceed with the divorce."
"Suits me fine," replied Lois.
"I'm just sorry that it has come to this," said Clark remorsefully.
"I'm not the guilty one, Clark. You walked away from me, don't forget that." Lois turned on her heel and walked the opposite way with a heavy heart.
Her words echoed in his mind. Lois was right, he had walked away from her and he knew that more than anyone. He had punished himself everyday for it; nobody could make him feel anymore guilty than he already did. Now he had made it ten times worse and cut off his nose to spite his face. New Krypton had a lot to answer for, he thought.
Lois couldn't remember the walk home. In all the years she had known Clark they had never had an eruption like that; he was always so considerate and gentle. She was glad that the children were at Martha's. The last thing she wanted was for them to see her distraught. She would much rather remember Clark the way he was to the Clark who had come back from New Krypton. She went into the kitchen and grabbed a big tub of ice cream from the freezer and settled down on the couch determined to devour the lot.
Clark on the other hand returned to the farm in the foulest of moods. Martha noted it immediately and rushed up beside him.
"Honey, what happened? Where's Lois?"
"She went home. I don't want to talk about it, Mom. We're getting a divorce," grumbled Clark.
Martha searched Jonathan's face, looking for a response. "Oh, Clark, surely not. You two can work things out."
Jonathan chipped in, "Yeah come on, son, this isn't like you."
"Please, leave it. I need to take it all in." Clark changed the subject. "Where are the kids?"
"In the garden. Go and see them."
"I think I will. I just can't think straight at the moment."
The twins were playing on the swings in the backyard. Faith was lying belly down on the swing and Kieran was twisting her round and round.
"Looks like you two are enjoying yourselves."
Faith looked up and smiled at Clark. "I feel dizzy."
"I bet you do. I tell you what, how about we have a game of hide and seek, and then I can play football with Kieran. What do you say?"
"I say… yes," said Faith.
Clark looked at his son. "Kieran?"
"Cool. I'll hide first, though. I know the perfect place."
"Okay, that's settled. Come on, Faith, we'll give him ten seconds, and then we're gonna get him ready or not."
Faith squealed with laughter as Clark picked her up and threw her over his shoulder.
Martha and Jonathan sat out on the verandah playing checkers. "Would you look at him. He's like a big kid himself. I always knew he'd be a good dad. He has so much patience," said Martha.
Jonathan looked over to where Clark was holding a child in each arm and running away with the football. "I know. I think he is in his element. It's just a shame about the circumstances. You're move."
"Yeah, they'd make such a lovely family. I think I'll have a word with Lois later."
"Martha. It's nothing to do with us. Let them sort it out in their own time. I know how hard it is to watch them tear each other apart but we can't interfere." Jonathan took Martha's hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. "It'll be okay."
Smiling weakly, she was touched by his comfort and support. "I know you're right." She looked at her watch; it was getting late. "Clark!"
"What's up, Mom?" he shouted back.
"It's getting late. I'd better take the kids back to Lois."
Clark was disappointed; he had wanted more time with them. "Oh well, I could take them back if you like?"
"Are you sure that's wise honey, considering…" "We are both adults. We can't avoid one another forever."
"All right. Before you go, make sure they have a wash and put some clean clothes on. I don't think Lois would appreciate it if you took them back looking like a couple of street urchins."
"Sure. Come on guys. You heard the lady."
Lois had managed to get through two tubs of ice cream and five chocolate bars, and she felt none the better for it. Clark Kent always had that affect on her; she was in total turmoil. This was nothing like the Dan/Clark scenario; she'd known deep down that she didn't really like Dan but this time she really liked Paul. He had brightened her life when she was lost in the dark. He had never hurt her or walked away, but Clark had and now he was back.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the door. She slowly pulled herself up from the sofa and made her way to the door. <I look such a mess.> Lois could hear the kids chatting amongst themselves. <It must be Martha.> When she opened the door she found herself staring at the reason why she felt so sick. "Oh… um… Clark, I… er… thought you were Martha. Please excuse me. I look… er… well <God, why I am acting like a silly little girl?> awful."
Clark could tell that she had been crying. The stains were all over her cheeks. "Was the ice cream nice, Lois?"
Lois looked indignant. "What?"
Before she could look, Clark had his thumb at the corner or her mouth wiping away the remnants of the rocky road ice cream and placing it in his mouth. "Hmm tastes good."
The children ran by Lois and into the house. "You should have said you wanted some; I've got another tub."
Clark laughed and a silence fell between them. "Are you all right, have you been crying? It's just I…" He didn't get a chance to finish his sentence.
"I'm fine. I was watching a sappy film on the television." Lois didn't want a confrontation. She averted his gaze as he tried to catch her eye.
"You're not fine. I know you. If it's about earlier, we can talk. I don't want you to feel uncomfortable around me. It's not healthy for us or the children."
"Thank you for bringing them home. Good night, Clark." She slammed the door in his face and let out a huge sigh of relief. He was the last person she wanted to see.
Clark was becoming increasingly exasperated with Lois and her attitude. She had been blowing hot and cold with him all week and he wasn't going to stand for it anymore. On his way back to the farm he caught sight of the sign that pointed towards the park. He decided to take a detour. Lost in deep thought, Clark was oblivious to where he was walking until he was caught unawares by walking into someone.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I wasn't looking where I was going. Are you all right, Miss?" enquired Clark.
The woman bent down and picked her handbag off the ground. When she rose to meet Clark head on she had a stunned looked on her face. "That's okay." She paused. "Well, well, well if it isn't Clark Kent."
"Lana!" exclaimed Clark, as he matched the voice to the face. "It's good to see you. I don't believe it."
"Yeah, I know. It's been a long time. How are you?"
He smiled and took her arm and gestured towards the bench that was next to them. "I'm good. Thank you. I thought you were in New York?"
Lana laughed. "I was, but I came back to Smallville a couple of months ago. I was acting in the theatres but you can only take so much rejection so I decided to return to my roots."
"So, what do you do now?"
"I've just started up a small Theatre School right here in Smallville. I love it, just feeling part of the community. Anyway, what about you? I thought you were in Metropolis working for the Planet?"
Lana's reference to his past life saddened him. "I used to, yes. I left four years ago and went to South Africa on assignment. Just got back a few days ago."
"You look great by the way," she said, admiring him.
Clark flushed pink. "Thank you, Lana. You look beautiful; then again you always did."
Lana smiled and put her had on Clark's arm. "You're quite a charmer aren't you, Kent?" She laughed. "Listen I'd love to catch up but I've got a class in ten minutes. If you're around tomorrow I'll take you to lunch."
"Sounds great. I'll meet you here at twelve. Look forward to it"
"That's settled. See you tomorrow," she shouted.
Clark went home with a big smile on his face. Lana had been his childhood sweetheart and a good friend. It had cheered him up considerably seeing her again at a time when he felt so low. If Lois could get on with life without him then he could do the same.
"Hi, Mom. Hi, Dad."
"Hello, son, you seem happier. Did you talk with Lois?"
"Er no, she slammed the door in my face. I did meet someone though."
"Who?" asked Jonathan.
"Lana Lang. I was taking a walk in the park and I bumped into her. We're going out tomorrow for lunch."
Martha raised her eyebrows. "Oh, I see."
"Why are you giving me that look, Mom?"
"Oh, no reason. Just be careful, that's all."
Clark didn't like the look he was getting from his mother. "I'm just going to lunch with an old friend. It's no big deal."
Martha held her hands up in the air. "Okay, okay."
Lois hadn't slept all night and now she was paying for it. The alarm clock went off but she didn't hear it, and she was an hour behind schedule. The kids were supposed to be at pre- school and she had class in half an hour. Not having any time to shower, she pulled the first dress out of the cupboard and splashed a few handfuls of water over her face. Lois ran consecutively to the twins rooms to get them up.
"Come on, guys, mommy woke up late. We've got to hurry," she shouted, running down the stairs.
The twins were standing out on the gallery bewildered and sleepy eyed. They watched as their mother ran around the house like a whirlwind. Then she stopped and looked up at them with her hands on her hips.
"I said come on, put on your clothes and get down here now! You'll have to skip breakfast this morning. I'll drop your lunch off later on."
The twins reluctantly did as they were told. A few minutes later they appeared in front of Lois dressed but dishevelled. "Mommy, can you put my hair up please? You know I'll get told off otherwise," moaned Faith.
"Sure, darling." She manoeuvred Faith over to the kitchen stool. "You sit tight; it won't take long."
Finally they were ready. All three of them jumped in the jeep and headed for town. By the time Lois reached Smallville High, she was exhausted. It was hard being a single mother and having a job. She didn't have enough pair of hands or enough time in the day.
Paul had just walked out of the staff room with a cup of coffee in his hand. "Hi, Lo! Are you okay?"
Lois was relieved to see a friendly face. "Hi, Paul. What a morning I've had. I woke up late and I haven't had to time to take a breath."
He bent down and kissed her on the forehead. "Why don't you take a few days off? It must be difficult for you with Clark coming back, things on your mind and all that…"
"Who's going to take my classes? It's too short notice."
"I haven't got that many gym classes this week. I could split my time."
"That would be wonderful, Paul. If you're sure it's all right. I'll take my class this morning and go home this afternoon."
"I just want you to take it easy; you've had a rough ride. I'll clear it with the principal and get back to you."
Lois put her arms around Paul. "Thank you. I really appreciate it"
Lois managed to get the time off. After her class she drove back home to tidy the house before popping round to the Kents. That was a trip she wasn't particularly looking forward to. Lois pulled up at the farmhouse just after one o'clock. Stepping out of the jeep she smoothed her blue dress down and took a deep breath.
Martha opened the door before Lois had a chance to reach the front step. "Hello, Lois."
"Hi, Martha. It's just a quick call to let you know that you don't have to pick the kids up this afternoon. It's just I've…"
Smiling she put her hand on Lois's arm. "It's okay, honey. He's not here. Would you like to come in?"
The hammer that was pounding on her heart suddenly stopped as a huge sigh of relief swept over her. "Oh, you must think I'm such a coward."
"It's hard for you. I understand that. So you're off this afternoon then?"
"Well, the rest of the week actually. I overslept and the kids were late for school. I'm just finding it difficult to concentrate. Hopefully this little bit of time out will help."
"It's hard for Clark too."
"I know but I can't help feeling like this. You of all people know how much I missed him but I really resent him, Martha. I wish I didn't feel this way but I do. I look at him and think… how dare you do this to me and waltz back into my life like nothing happened?"
"But are you sure a divorce is the right thing? You haven't really had time to think about it."
Lois could see where Martha was coming from. "I'm so scared Martha. If I let Clark back into my heart… I can't, I just can't let him hurt me again."
Martha could hear Lois's voice tremble. "Hey, come on. It's really eating you up, isn't it? Lois, I know how much you love Clark and I know how much you like Paul, but don't settle for second best because he *will* know that's what he is… second best to Clark."
"How did he get on yesterday with Kieran and Faith?"
"He's a natural. They certainly looked like they were enjoying themselves. I know it will take them time to get used to their dad being around but I think they've really taken to him."
"It's hard not to like Clark; he has a certain way with him." Lois smiled as she remembered fonder times. "Do you know what his plans are? I mean, will he return to his Superman duties?"
"He mentioned something about heading back to Metropolis. I think once he's seen it for himself there will be no holding him back. He won't stay here, not when he can help people."
"I guess the world has really missed him," said Lois.
Martha decided it was time to change the subject. "So, what are you doing this afternoon?"
"I think I might take a stroll in the park, maybe catch some sun and have a dip in the pool. Just something relaxing. Speaking of which, I'd better get going."
"All right, honey. Well take care and don't do anything too rash will you?"
"No, Martha. Give my love to Jonathan."
Clark had an enjoyable lunch with Lana. They had reminisced and laughed about their school days. The waiter brought the bill to their table. "I've had a really nice time, Clark."
"Me too. I'd forgotten about half the people you've just mentioned. Would you like me to walk you home?"
Lana stood back and grinned. "That's very gentleman-like of you, Mr Kent."
Clark offered her his arm as they got up to leave the cafe.
As it was a lovely summer's day, Lois decided to walk into town. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, the sun was warm and the flowers were blooming. It made everything look ten times more beautiful. It didn't take her long to reach the school. She quickly ran in and dropped off the children's lunch. If she was to have any time to herself she had to hurry back, so she took a short cut through the park. There were people everywhere, some having picnics, others playing ball and walking their dogs. She walked past a group of high school kids who thought it would be fun to wolf whistle at her as loud as they could.
"Afternoon, Miss Lane. Would you care to join us? We're going skinny dipping," sniggered one of the boys.
Lois stopped. "You wouldn't want to disappoint the teacher now would you boys?" she said sarcastically.
"I bet you wouldn't say no to Mr Aston, would you Miss?"
"Carl, you're not very funny. I'll see to you next week." Lois smiled to herself and carried on walking.
The boys all howled together and continued with their game.
Clark had seen Lois as he and Lana walked down the path. "That's that Lane woman, teaches part time at the high school, probably sleeps with half the students. All the men seem to be in awe of her. Now she has the most gorgeous man in town — Paul Aston."
Clark's blood was boiling "That's enough, Lana."
Lana looked at Clark, perturbed. "What?"
Before he had time to turn around or avoid her, Lois was there, walking straight towards them.
Lois tried to create a stoic expression on her face. "Clark, Lana."
Clark acknowledged her; Lana just turned her head disapprovingly. "Lois."
Lois had never walked so fast in her life. When she was out of sight, she slowed her pace and tried to put out of her mind what she had just seen. Lana was clinging to Clark like a limpet, and he looked comfortable. She certainly wasn't prepared for that, and it distressed her deeply. Every time she saw him again it was a shock to the system. She had gone from never seeing him to glances of him; it felt like someone was taunting her.
Lois arrived home restless so she decided to cool down in the pool. She changed into her bikini and grabbed a towel. The water was welcome and refreshing. She swam a few lengths and floated on her back letting the water glide over body. When her hands started to wrinkle up, she decided that she'd been there long enough and it was time to dry off and catch some sun. As she climbed up the steps she found herself starring at her towel. She looked up to see Clark holding it.
Lois snatched it from him. He held out his hand and she took it begrudgingly. "Thank you. So what can I do for you?"
"I think I owe you an explanation."
"You don't owe me anything, Clark. You are your own person and can do what you like." Lois patted her hair with the towel and lay down on the sunbed. "I suppose she told you I was a man eater."
Clark laughed. "Something along those lines. Why, are you?"
"I'm going back to Metropolis. I thought you should know."
"You're mom told me this morning. Will you try and get your old job back at the Planet?"
Clark sat on the end of her sunbed. "I guess I can only try. I'll have to spin Perry and Jimmy some yarn or I was maybe thinking that I should tell then who I really am. What do you think?"
"Tell them the truth, they deserve it."
"I guess so. I'll fly back most days to visit the twins, and I'd like it if we could be friends," pleaded Clark.
Lois sat up and took Clark's hand. "Sure, friends. This is your home, Clark. Don't feel you have to leave because of me."
"I'm not. The world needs me, Lois. I've been away far too long."
"You certainly have. I was just about to open a bottle of champagne. Would you care to join me?"
"Drinking in the afternoon? Things sure have changed."
"It's not a regular occurrence, believe me. I'll be back in minute. You can take a dip in the pool if you'd like to cool off."
"Thanks, but I haven't anything to wear."
"I've still got some of your clothes. I'm sure I can find something." Lois winked.
Lois went into the house to fetch the champagne and a couple of glasses. Clark wondered why she had become so suddenly accommodating. Things were looking up and he certainly wasn't going to let the moment pass him by. A few minutes later she reappeared carrying a tray with champagne and chocolate and a pair of his shorts under her arm.
Lois threw the shorts at Clark after laying the tray on the table. "See, I told you I'd find something."
Clark picked them off the ground and chuckled to himself. "You bought me these on our honeymoon, and if I remember correctly they were very tight."
Lois had a wicked smile on her face. "Mmmmmm, well don't you want to put them on? C'mon, there's nobody around except me."
"Alright, you're not giving me much choice. I'll go inside and put them on first."
"Sure. I'll pour you a glass."
Lois was just about to take a sip of champagne when she saw Clark standing in front of her, looking incredibly delectable. His body was good if not better than it ever had been. She had to pick her tongue off of the floor.
"Go on, dive in."
"Oh no, Lois, I'm not going on my own. You're coming with me, sitting there like Lady Penelope and having a laugh at my expense". Clark took the glass out of her hand and scooped her up off the sunbed into his arms.
"Put me down, Clark."
"No way." He ran with her to the edge of the pool and jumped in still holding onto her.
Lois pushed herself up from the bottom of the pool to the surface. "You'll pay for that."
"No I won't," laughed Clark. Lois swam over to him and jumped on his back and tried to push his head under the water but Clark grabbed her body and pulled her round to face him.
They stood there in the water just looking at each other. Clark reached up to her face and pushed her hair back with his hand. Lois closed her eyes as he traced her jaw line and her neck and then she felt it, that fiery passion that she thought she would never feel again. A shiver went down her spine and goose bumps ran over her body. She surrendered to him when he finally touched her lips with his. Clark pulled away and looked lovingly at Lois. "I've missed you so much."
Lois still overcome with emotion could only manage a smile. She was now facing the inevitable.
"Shall we go inside?"
Lois hesitated "Clark… I… I can't do this. It wouldn't be right. It's not that I don't want to, it's just too soon."
"Sure, I understand. I'm sorry I got carried away with the moment. I'd better be off then."
Lois gently pulled at his arm. "No, I don't want you to go, Clark. I have to pick the kids up in a minute. You're quite welcome to come with me. I won't bite, I promise."
Clark touched her hand. "I'd like that." He smiled.
Lois and Clark entered the playground which was swarming with eager children. "This is the hard bit. I normally find Faith, but Kieran likes to keep me waiting."
Clark spotted Faith immediately. Her eyes lit up when she saw Clark. She waved frantically and ran towards him with her bag trailing and tousled hair. Clark caught her and picked her up in his arms. She responded affectionately by planting a big kiss on his cheek.
"Where's Kieran, honey?" asked Lois.
"He's just helping Jenna with her English. He shouldn't be too long."
"The little sweetheart."
"Daddy, are you coming round for tea?"
Clark quickly glanced at Lois "I… er, you'd better ask Mommy."
"Sure. Faith, would you go and see what's happened to Kieran?"
"Are you sure about me coming round Lois?"
"It's fine, really. I had a nice time this afternoon. I guess I forgot what good company you are. I haven't given you much of a chance since you've been back. I don't' want the children to see us fighting. We need to get on if only for their sake."
"I agree. Lois, I want you to tell me everything I missed out on while I was on New Krypton. I want to know about the twins and about Metropolis."
"I made videos for you. I hope you have a lot of time on your hands."
Clark stroked her cheek. "I have all the time in the world for my family."
She reached up and caught his hand and held it for a while.
Clark prepared the supper while Lois bathed the children. He decided to make them all pasta carbonara and chocolate mousse for dessert. He whizzed around the kitchen in true super style, cleaning up as he went. In no time at all everything was cooking nicely so he went upstairs to find the kids and Lois. He could hear laughter coming from her en suite bathroom. He opened the door to find all three of them in the huge bathtub with soapsuds full to the rim and bubbles in the air. Clark could feel the heat rising to his face. "I didn't realise you'd be in the bath with them!"
Lois couldn't help but feel sorry for Clark. She could see he felt awkward but that still didn't stop her from bursting out laughing. "Oh, Clark, we always have a bath together. They always soak me, anyway, so if you can't beat 'em join 'em."
"Well, supper will be ready shortly. Is there anything else you want me to do?"
"Why don't you come in here with us, Daddy," asked Faith innocently.
"I don't think there's enough room, sweetheart."
Faith became indignant. "Yes there is. What about when Paul…"
Lois cut in, "It's all right, Clark, we'll get out now before I get all wrinkly." She waved her hands at the kids and they screamed. "Would you pass me that towel over there on the chair please, Clark."
"Sure." Clark handed her the towel.
Clark was perturbed by the continual mention of Paul. He had obviously played a bigger part in their lives than he had originally thought. It was the thought of Lois and him together that angered him more than anything. He couldn't hate her for getting on with her life; he hated himself more for letting go of something so precious. He was positive that Lois still had strong feelings for him; she just had to learn to trust him again.
They ate supper in a jovial fashion, laughing and joking with one another. After their mousse, Kieran brought twister out to play.
"I really don't think mommy can play that, honey. She's full up."
Kieran hung his shoulders and stuck out his bottom lip. "Ohhh please. It'll be fun. What about Daddy? Will you play with us?" he said looking at Clark hopefully.
"Only if Mommy plays," said Clark, smirking.
Lois held her hands in the air. "I surrender. Okay, okay, I'll play twister."
Lois and Clark endured a painstaking one hour game of twister. Kieran and Faith enjoyed every moment of their suffering. Eventually Lois called time out and packed the kids off to bed as it was getting late. Then they flaked out on the swing on the verandah with a bottle of red wine.
"I hate that game," sighed Lois.
"That's a shame. I thought you were a pro."
"I don't suppose it affected your muscles at all. I'm not a contortionist or an acrobat."
Clark moved off the swing and leant on the balcony. "Thank you for today. I've had a really lovely time. It means a lot to me, being able to spend time with the kids". Lois flashed a reassuring smile. "I'd really like to see some of those videos you were talking about earlier."
"Of course you can. Come inside and I'll put them on for you."
They went back in the house and Lois shuffled through her video cabinet. "Here it is. This one shows different stages in the twins' lives. I'll just pop it in the VCR. You don't mind if I do a little work do you?"
"Sounds good to me. Go ahead, I'll be fine."
Lois left the room to finish her story for Perry, leaving Clark watching the video.
The first clip that appeared on the television was of Lois just leaving Metropolis General with the twins. Clark's heart fluttered at the wondrous sight. He could barely take it all in. The camera suddenly focused on Lois. "Hi, Clark, if you're watching this it means you're back home with us where you belong. I wish you were here now sharing this amazing experience with me." She then pointed at each baby consecutively. "This is Kieran Jerome Lane-Kent and this is Faith Ellen Lane-Kent. They were born yesterday at one o'clock in the morning. Say hello to daddy." She picked up their tiny hands and waved them at the camera. "Jonathan and I are taking them to their new home in Smallville." The screen went black for a few seconds then another pictured appeared. It was Lois cradling the twins in his mom and dad's rocking chair at the farm, and they were all fast asleep.
"How's it going in there?" shouted Lois from her office.
Clark suddenly realised that she was saying something. He turned around to answer Lois but she was standing directly behind him. "I said how's it going?"
"It's fantastic, Lois. I can't believe they had so much hair when they were newborn. Hey, why don't you come and sit down watch it with me?"
Lois hesitated. "I… I… I'm not sure. To tell you the truth I could never bring myself to watch them. I played the tapes back once and that was enough."
"What did I do to you?" uttered Clark repentantly.
"Don't eat yourself up over it. You can keep the videos, anyway. I never intended on keeping them for myself. As much as I love the children, it just reminds me of a time when I was alone and scared."
"For what it's worth, I think you did a brilliant job. I know you never thought of yourself as the mothering type but everything you do is with maximum effort. I'm really proud of you, Lois, I mean really, really proud."
Lois blushed at Clark's compliments. "Thanks, Clark. It's nice to hear you say that."
Clark picked up the videos and his jacket. "I had better be going. I leave for Metropolis tomorrow and I have a few things to do before I go. I'll pop round to say goodbye in the morning if that's okay with you?"
Lois brushed the back of her hand across the sofa. "Sure. Tomorrow then."
"Yeah. Good night, Lois." He brushed her cheek with his lips. "Um if it's what you really want, I won't cause trouble for you if Paul moves in with you. Your happiness takes precedence; you deserve it."
Before Lois could answer he was gone. She saw the pain in his face; he wasn't fooling anybody but himself. He was letting her get on with her life. Isn't that what she wanted?
All night she tossed and turned with images and voices of Clark going round and round in her head. They were making it impossible for her to sleep so she got out of bed and went outside on the balcony. Pulling up a chair, she cradled her body with her arms and rocked herself back and fourth. Looking up into the sky, she remembered all the times that Superman had visited her apartment back in Metropolis and all the times Clark had been there looking out for her, and not once had he ever let her down. After everything they had been through just to get to the married stage to have it all taken away. It was too much to bear; Lois had convinced herself that their life partnership was jinxed and that it wasn't meant to be. It saddened her to the very core of her heart.
The next morning Clark dropped by to say goodbye to the twins. He seemed subdued but put on a front for the kids. Faith and Kieran accepted the fact that he was going but he assured them that he would visit habitually.
After hugging the twins he walked over to Lois. "Well, this is it then?"
"Yeah, I guess." Lois promised herself that she wouldn't get upset, but her emotions were more powerful than her will to restrain them.
"Promise me that you'll take care of yourself, Lois. The three of you mean the world to me."
Lois couldn't speak. She was too choked up. Without thinking, she ran into his arms and wept for what she had lost, gained and what should have been. She didn't want him to go, she had never wanted him to leave her side.
Clark managed to pry her away from him. "Hey, what's all this about?"
Lois tipped her head up towards his face, trying to regain her composure. "I've just got this feeling in the pit of my stomach that I can't explain. This wasn't how it was supposed to be, we were meant to live happily ever after."
"Not all fairy tales have a happy ending, Lois". He gave her once last fleeting look and disappeared out of sight.
2 MONTHS LATER, METROPOLIS NEW TROY
Clark Kent sat at the familiar desk at the Daily Planet in Metropolis. Lois had been right about the state of the city, and he understood immediately why she had left. He hardly recognised the place for all the garbage and smog that lined the unlit streets. On every corner someone was committing a crime or becoming a victim of crime. The terror rang through his ears as he lay awake at night.
Perry and Jimmy were now privy to the fact that he was Superman and they had taken it quite well. Perry was embarrassed that he hadn't noticed, and annoyed that Lois hadn't told him. Jimmy was in awe of him for a few weeks until Clark sat him down and explained that he was still his best friend, Clark Kent.
Although the city was in dire need of its caped crusader, Perry suggested that he wait at least a couple of months before making a comeback. Now the two months were up and it was time to make an appearance. Clark sat silently contemplating. No matter where he looked he could still see the empty desk out of the corner of his eye. He hoped that it had all been a nightmare and that he'd look up and see her there but it wasn't a dream; he was living the nightmare. If Lois was here now he would have the confidence to do anything. He longed for her company and soft voice accompanied by encouraging words.
Jimmy walked passed his desk then stopped. "Are you all right, CK?"
"Jimmy, I don't think I can do this without her. Come back after all these years as the superhero who has been long forgotten."
"Well, you've seen what it's like out there. I don't think you'll get anyone complaining. What future will our children have? You can make the difference, Clark. If you don't try you'll never know."
"You know what, Jimmy. You make a lot of sense, thanks."
"That's…" Jimmy blinked and Clark was gone leaving his chair rocking on one leg. SMALLVILLE KANSAS
Lois had just finished marking the last exam paper and she was dead beat. Kieran and Faith were in the other room watching cartoons and making a general mess. Paul would be back shortly and he didn't appreciate an untidy house. She wondered into the living room treading on bits of Lego and toys. "Oh, guys, mommy really doesn't need this right now. Can't you just watch the TV?"
They looked at her sheepishly and began putting things in boxes. "I'll help you; otherwise, it will take forever." Lois was on her hands and knees when the breaking news cut in on the channel on the television. "SUPERMAN RETURNS!" She stopped dead and slowly climbed up onto the sofa to watch the news.
She gasped when she saw the image of Superman and the President standing side by side. The last time she had seen Superman was when he had left earth for New Krypton, and he was looking particularly spectacular in that spandex suit. The twins were also drawn to the screen. "Hey, isn't he that man that teacher talks about in history lessons?" asked Kieran.
"Don't you mean the man that mommy used to talk about all the time," droned Faith.
"Shhh, you two. I can't hear what they're saying," said Lois waving her hand around.
I HAVE INDEFINITELY RETURNED TO METROPOLIS. I COMPLETED MY MISSION ON NEW KRYPTON SUCCESSFULLY. I WILL BE GIVING EARTH MY UNDIVIDED ATTENTION AND WITH YOUR HELP I HOPE TO REDUCE THE CRIME RATE AND MAKE THIS PLANET A BETTER PLACE FOR OUR CHILDREN TO LIVE IN. IT'S GOOD TO BE BACK.
"Mommy, don't you think he looks a lot like daddy?" said Faith.
"A little, yes, darling." <Oh great, a four year old can see past his disguise. What does that say for me?>
"He sounds like him, too." Faith tipped her head to the right and studied the man on the TV.
Lois hated lying to the children. She knew one day they would have to know that their father was Superman but she considered them too young at the moment to understand. After all these years she still couldn't believe that she had actually been married to him; it seemed whimsical. She watched as he shook hands with people and smiled for the cameras. He looked happy but there was definitely something missing.
"Hi, guys," shouted Paul.
The sound of his voice made Lois jump out of her skin.
"What's up, Lo? You look guilty."
"Nothing I'm fine"
Paul pointed at the TV. "You've seen the news then. Mr perfect is back on the scene."
"Paul, what have you got against him?"
"He's so noble and ethical and that suit — c'mon, Lo, there's not an ounce of badness in him. Granted, he did a lot for this planet but that doesn't mean I have to like the guy."
"Well, I for one am glad he's back and I won't have you talking about him like that. Superman is one of the kindest men I have had the pleasure to know."
"Hey, sorry I spoke. You're acting like your married to him or something." Lois laughed at the irony of Paul's reply. She was just about to say something when the phone rang.
"Lois, it's Perry. How soon can you get to Metropolis?"
"Tomorrow, I guess. Why, what's the matter?"
"Haven't you been watching the news, darling. Our hero is back in town. I want you and Clark on the case with an exclusive front page interview. After all who knows the Man of Steel best?"
"Oh, Perry, I'm not sure. I'll have to leave the kids with Martha. How long would I have to stay?"
"A couple of days. Lois, I don't want to sound harsh but if you keep rejecting these one of stories, I'll have to partner Clark with somebody else full time."
"Okay, Chief. I'll be there tomorrow."
"That's my girl. Bye, darlin'."
Paul was standing in front of Lois. "Was that Perry?"
"Yeah, he wants me to cover the Superman story. I'm sorry. I've got to try and get a flight tonight. Will you be okay for a couple of days?"
"Sure. Don't worry. At least you'll be able to catch up with old Mr Perfect."
Lois glared at Paul. "It's my job."
"I suppose you'll be working with Clark, too?"
"Yes. It's over between us. You know that."
"So why don't you get a divorce?"
"Look, I'll talk to him about it when I see him."
Paul could see that he had upset Lois. "I love you, Lo, you know that don't you? I just want us to be happy. Ever since Kent's been back you've been distant with me."
"I'm sorry. It's hard for me that's all. Clark and I have a lot of history."
"Lois, I'm your future now. As soon as you get divorced we can marry and have our own children. Clark is probably getting on with his life. I really think you should get on with yours."
Lois didn't like the tone of his voice or what he was saying. She had never considered having children with anyone else except for Clark. She felt claustrophobic and had a sudden urge to get as far away as possible.
METROPOLIS NEW TROY
Lois stepped into the elevator of the Daily Planet. It was like coming home. Wearing a blue two piece suit with matching shoes and handbag, she entered the newsroom. Perry saw her immediately and rushed over to greet her.
"Lois, it's good to see you. You look fantastic." He hugged her, smiling energetically.
"Thank you, Perry. I'm glad to see things are still the same around here." Lois pointed at Ralph leering at all the women.
Perry laughed out loud and escorted Lois to his office. He sat her down on the couch and shut the door.
"So, how are you really?"
"I'm okay, Perry. I miss Metropolis and working here. Hmm… and that smell of java, it does something wonderful to me."
"Well, we miss you too. How are the kids? Have you got a recent picture?"
"They're as lovely as ever." Lois delved into her handbag and pulled out the photo. "Here, this was taken a couple of weeks ago at school." She handed it to him across the desk.
Perry was taken back when he saw the picture. "Oh, Lois, they're the most beautiful children I've ever seen. You must be so proud."
"Yeah, they're pretty gorgeous but I'm biased. I don't know where I'd be without them."
Perry paused before speaking again. "Um, I'm sorry that I hounded you about the whereabouts of Clark. Now I know why. I just can't imagine what you went through. You really should have told me, honey."
"You were concerned for me. Looking back now I should have told you, but at the time I was scared."
Perry could see Clark hovering outside his door. "Come in, Clark."
Clark was startled to see Lois there. "Lois? I had no idea you were coming."
"Hello, Clark. You didn't?"
Perry coughed loudly. "Sorry, Clark I should have told you but it was short notice."
"Oh, that's okay, Chief. It's a pleasant surprise."
"Clark, would you help Lois get settled. She can have her old desk. Oh and, er, Lois don't forget your picture."
Clark noticed it was a picture of his children. "Can I see, Lois?"
"Sure." She handed him the photo.
A warm smile spread across his face. "It's a lovely photo. Have you got a duplicate?"
"You can have that one."
They walked in silence to their desks. "Lois, if we're gonna work together we have to put everything behind us."
"Strictly professional, Clark. I didn't come here to play games; I came to work."
Clark could see he had his work cut out. He watched her as she shuffled the paper around her desk in a busy manner. "Is everything okay, Clark?" she asked.
"Fine. It's good to have you back."
Lois and Clark shut themselves away in the conference room writing their front page Superman story.
"Well, I guess I had better interview you then," said Lois.
Clark pulled up a chair on the opposite side of the table. "Fire away." "Okay… How does it feel to be back after four years on another planet?"
"I feel relieved. This is my home and where I feel I can make a difference."
Lois scribbled on her note pad jotting down notes. "What did you miss most about Earth?"
"Lots of things, the sun, the moon, the mountains, the dusk, the dawn, the beauty of everything that surrounds you here. I miss the people who inspire me but most of all I missed…" He leaned in over the table toward Lois. "My wife."
Lois froze on the spot unable to breathe. She dared not look up. Her pen was stuck to the paper; she felt paralysed by his eyes. The words tumbled from her mouth. "She missed you, too."
Slowly she looked up. He moved in to touch her hand but she withdrew it. "You asked Lois and I answered."
"We have a job to do, Clark. Please don't complicate things. I really don't think it's necessary."
"I'm sorry. Please carry on."
They managed to draft out a rough article before the end of the day. Clark took it to Perry for editing. "You get off, Clark. Lois is staying at the Lexor — make sure she gets there safely," he said, winking.
"No problem, Chief."
Clark handed Lois her jacket. "I have orders from the boss to take you to the hotel."
Lois saw Perry smiling at her through his office window. Taking her jacket, she gestured to Clark to follow her. "I'm so tired — I don't know what's more tiring a full time job or a part time job and looking after two kids."
"Is everything okay back in Smallville?" Clark asked.
"Yeah, I think I get a little homesick sometimes. I wonder where we'd would be now if you had never left for New Krypton."
"Probably still working at the Planet with ten kids."
Lois affectionately pushed Clark off the curb into the road. "Yeah, I'm not too sure about the ten kids though," she laughed.
"Ah but what fun we would have had making them. Another answer to your question of what I missed most…" Clark smirked as he watched her jaw drop to the ground.
"Don't even say it." Lois began to see the funny side of his comment; after all, she couldn't deny she missed that part of their relationship a lot. It felt like they had stepped back in time and were just partners on the verge of lovers. She always used to love the way he teased her.
"Lois Lane, you have a very filthy mind. Here we are. How's that for door to door service? I'll love you and leave you."
"Thank you. I'm glad you listened to the boss."
"Me too. See you tomorrow then?"
Lois walked into the foyer of the Lexor and up to the front desk. "Hi, I have a reservation in the name of Lois Lane."
The receptionist typed her name into the computer and looked up at Lois with a blank expression. "Sorry, Ms Lane, your name isn't here. How did you make you reservation?"
"Agh… our server has been down for a couple days so it may not have got through, and all our rooms are taken."
"Great, modern technology," said Lois sarcastically.
"You could always try our sister hotel. I could…"
Lois cut her off short. "No, thank you I'll be okay."
She ran out of the hotel hoping to catch up with Clark. She looked left then right but it seemed he was long gone. "Oh damn." Just then she caught sight of Superman throwing some criminals into a van. She ran towards him waving frantically. "Superman!!!"
"Lois, I'm kinda in the middle of something here."
She moved closer to him and whispered, "Your wife needs your help."
She knew he was jesting with her so she waited on the side of the pavement until he was finished. "What's the matter?"
"I need somewhere to stay. They didn't get my e-mail at the Lexor so I haven't got a room."
Clark ushered into a side street. "What do you want me to do about it?"
"Well, I was thinking maybe I could stay with you?"
"I'm not so sure it's a good idea, Lois. What about staying at Perry's or Jimmy's?"
"Well, I just thought I could.."
Clark held up his hand. "All right, you can stay with me. I managed to keep hold of my old apartment. I'm pretty busy at the moment so I'll meet you there in an hour or so."
"Clark, I don't want to get in your way. I'm sure I can find an alternative."
"I'll see you in an hour, Lois."
"Great, now I have to kill some time," muttered Lois to herself. She found a quiet little cafe. She ordered herself a coffee and a piece of chocolate cake, and sat at a table outside. A woman across the street was standing in front of a shop with her two children. When Lois glanced back the woman was with a man who could look at nobody but her. That's how she'd imagined Clark and herself would have been if things had turned out right. She thought of Kieran and Faith and had a sudden urge to speak them.
Lois pulled her cell phone from her bag and dialled home. Paul answered. "Hi, Paul. It's Lois."
"Lo, did you have a safe trip? Where are you?"
"It was fine. I'm in a cafe at the moment, waiting for Clark."
She caught a bitterness in his reply. "Right, well Faith's beside me jumping up and down. I think she wants to speak to you. I'll put her on."
There was a lot of fumbling with the phone before she heard her daughter's voice. "Hi, Mommy. When are you coming home?"
"Hi, sweetheart. Are you and Kieran okay?"
"Yeah. Kieran is at Jenna's and I've just come back from swimming lessons with Paul. When you coming home?"
"Soon darling… soon."
"Love you, Mommy."
"Love you too. Take care and give my love to Kieran."
"Sure. Bye bye."
Lois ended the call. <What am I doing here?> she thought. Looking at her watch she saw she had ten minutes to get to Clark's apartment. Leaving the cafe she headed towards Clinton Street.
She knocked on Clark's door. "Hello… Clark are you in there?"
Lois fell into his apartment as he opened the door. "Come in, Lois." He laughed, taking her luggage and putting it in the living room.
"You've been busy then?" enquired Lois flicking her hair behind her left shoulder.
"I haven't stopped since I came back. You were right about the state of the city. I never imagined it to be as bad as it is. Would you like a drink and something to eat?"
"Oh no thank you. I had something in a cafe before I came here." Lois followed Clark into the kitchen. "Doesn't it feel kinda strange living back here?"
"A little, but it's somewhere to call home. How are you getting on living with Paul?"
"It's…" Lois paused. "…different."
"So apart from that, you're okay and how about Kieran and Faith?"
Lois smiled. "Oh, they're the same as ever. Kieran plays up a lot and thinks he knows best, and Faith… well she's just a lot like you."
"I'll try and pop round more often. I didn't want to see you with you Paul, but I realised I was cutting off my nose to spite my face. I'm sorry. I thought it would be easier living in Metropolis, but it's not. When I'm Superman it's fine; I'm occupied, but at the Planet I just feel lost." Clark heated the cup of coffee with his heat vision and put it on the counter. He felt Lois standing beside him.
"It's hard for both of us. Now I know where you are and that you're okay and that I could get on a plane and be with you within hours, it's even harder." Lois paused. "We saw you on television. I was a little shocked to see you as Superman again after all this time. Faith said that you looked like her daddy. To be honest, I don't know whether to tell them the truth as I really wouldn't want them to find out any other way. What do you think, Clark?"
Clark wrinkled up his face. "Um… leave it for the moment, Lois. I don't think they're old enough to understand. Besides you know what kids are like at school. I want them to have a normal life if at all possible."
"I guess you're right… as always. I think Kieran has got himself a girlfriend, he…" Clark put up his hand.
"Excuse me Lois there's someone at the door. I'll be right back."
Clark reluctantly opened the door. He knew who it was and even though he was expecting her he hadn't planned on Lois being in his apartment.
"Hey, Clark. I'm not late am I?"
"Er no, Lana, you're not late but…"
Lois peered around the corner on hearing a woman's voice. It sounded familiar to her.
Lana spotted a lady's jacket by the door. "You have company?"
Lois took a deep breath smoothed her hair and made herself known. "Hi."
Looking Lois up and down, she turned to Clark. "What's she doing here?"
Clark hesitated before replying, "She's er…"
Lois glared long and hard at Clark. "His wife."
Lana was looking at Clark for an explanation. "Well, that's one little detail you didn't tell me about. I didn't think she would be your type. Then again, there's no accounting for taste."
Lois was fuming. She would have been quite happy to lay her out on the floor. "How dare you!"
"Hey, hey, hey. This stops right here," shouted Clark.
"You bet it does, buster, I'm outta here. You two are welcome to one another."
Lois grabbed her coat and made her way out of Clark's apartment. Standing outside on the street near Clark's apartment, she broke down in tears. Her life had become one big complicated mess. She was with a man, who she initially thought was a genuine nice guy but his possessiveness was becoming too much for her, and now she had just found that Clark was seeing his old sweetheart Lana Lang.
"Damn." She'd left her bag at Clark's apartment with the airline tickets, purse and press pass. Rummaging around in her coat, Lois managed to find one screwed up tissue, which she used to dry her eyes. The only place she could go to now was the Planet, which was quite a distance on foot. Pulling her coat tighter around her body she crossed the road and headed down the street.
Meanwhile back at his apartment Clark was pacifying Lana.
"Lana, I know I should have told you when we were in Smallville. I had so many things to think about."
Lana was sitting on the couch with her arms crossed. "Are the children yours?"
"How can you be so sure? She's probably been with loads of men!"
Clark was beginning to lose his patience. "Why would you say such a thing?"
"Ever since Lois turned up in Smallville, every man has wanted to date her. I couldn't believe it. I mean, she even had baggage."
"Right, I've had enough of this, Lana. I will not have you speak about my family like that, and don't refer to my children as "baggage". Just get out, you're not worth my time."
Lana shot a hard look at Clark and walked out. "And you're not worth mine," she shouted as the door closed behind her.
Without a second glance, Clark changed into his Superman suit and flew out the window. The hours went past and he still hadn't found her. If something had happened to Lois he'd never forgive himself. Then it came to him… the Daily Planet — the one place he hadn't looked, the one place she had to be.
Lois sat at her old desk with a big scrap book in front of her. It held every story that "Lane and Kent" had ever written. She lovingly ran her hand over the front cover, turning it over to reveal the first clipping. A picture of Superman carrying her through the windows of the Planet covered the page. There he was… her best friend, her husband, her lover and most of all her soul mate. Everything they'd been through since that picture was taken had made them stronger. Surely now, they should be stronger than ever. A breeze suddenly touched the wisps of her hair slightly.
"Lois, I've been looking everywhere for you. You shouldn't have left like that."
"I didn't think staying was an option. I would have got the first flight back to Smallville if I hadn't left my bag at your apartment. It was easier to come here… to think things through."
Clark knew she'd been crying and he knew she was deeply unhappy. He walked closer to her desk and pulled up a chair along side her. Gently, he turned her chair around to face him, then he tilted her face up so that she was looking directly into his eyes.
"Lois, I love you."
A single tear fell down her face. "I know you do, Clark. I can tell by the way you look at me… the way you've always looked at me. The day that spark in your eye dies, then I'll know you don't love me."
Clark grabbed her shoulders. "That will never happen."
"I just couldn't bear it if you left again, Clark. You're like the air that I breathe, I need you to survive."
"I'm not going anywhere Lois. I'll never leave you again. I give you my word."
Lois could see his pleading and wanted so much for everything to be as it was. She knew she would never in her lifetime love another man like she loved Clark.
"Clark, you're tearing me up inside. I'm so scared that if I let you back into my life it will all fall apart. There are so many things that I'm feeling at the moment, I don't know if I'm coming or going."
Clark hung his head and sighed. "Listen, let's go back to my place. I think we need to talk, and then you can get your bag and, if you want to go, you can go but please hear me out."
They landed in the alley next to Clark's apartment. Lois realised that she hadn't flown with Clark since he'd left for New Krypton. "That was exhilarating. I'd almost forgotten what a rush flying above the city can give a girl."
Clark laughed. "I'm glad you enjoyed the ride, Lois. It was nice to have a passenger. I'd forgotten what that was like." He offered her his hand and escorted her to the front door.
"You're not expecting any more visitors are you?"
"No, tonight it's just me and my beautiful wife."
Lois suddenly came over all flushed and lost for words.
Clark noticed that Lois was fidgety. "It was a compliment, Lois. Just sit down and I'll make us a coffee. I won't bite, I promise."
"I'm sorry, Clark. It's just strange being here with you, in this apartment, on our own. It just reminds me of days gone by. We were good together, weren't we? Lane and Kent."
"The best. And we still can be good together, Lois. If you want it bad enough, its yours for the taking. I want us to look to the future and watch our children grow up and… er, Lois, is your bag moving?"
"What? Oh that must be my mobile. Speak of the devils." Lois delved into her bag to answer the call. "Hello… yes… no, I'm with Daddy at the moment at his apartment… You've what??? No, you can't keep it Kieran… I'll be the one who has to look after it… Oh, don't start crying. Where's Paul? Tell him to look after it until I get back… Yes I'll see you soon and I love you too, sweetheart."
"They found a kitten in the back yard. They want to keep it."
Clark laughed. "Is that big a deal? I think it's good for kids to have pets."
"Aren't you a soft touch Clark Kent! I can't give in to their every whim. It's not easy to say no when they want things, especially if their friends have got them. I don't believe in indulging children. I want them to appreciate what they have. You can have all the money in the world but if you haven't got love, the money means nothing."
Clark placed the drinks on the table and settled down next to Lois. "It's your call. I guess I'm just trying to compensate for not being there for them." A long silence filled the air before Clark began to speak again. "I have to be honest with you, Lois. I'm finding it hard trying to get back into the swing of things. It's like I've taken two steps back instead of forwards. I wish I had never gone to that damn place; it was selfish of me."
Fixated on his cold coffee he felt a warm touch on his shoulder. "You did what you thought was right. You helped a lot of people, Clark. I wouldn't call that selfish. I, on the other hand have been known to be selfish and it's not a nice thing to be. You changed me, Clark, without even knowing it. You help people. I'd call it a gift. Let's not dwell on the past. What we have to sort out is here and now." Lois reassured him with a quick hug. "That's what I want to see, that famous smile!"
Relaxing a little he pulled one leg up on to the couch and turned to face Lois. "We haven't talked properly since I came back. I realise now that it was foolish of me to think that we could pick up from where we left off. I'd like us to be friends, Lois, even if it means that things don't work out. We can't fight anymore; it's destroying everything."
"I can't argue with you there. I know I've been putting up the barriers but I think I'm ready to let down my guard. We need to sort things out before they spiral into something nasty."
"Speaking of which, does that mean you don't want a divorce?"
Looking Clark straight in the eye she answered his question. "No, that isn't what I want; it's not how I feel anymore. I want to know what it really feels like to be Mrs Clark Kent." She blushed.
Clark breathed a sigh of relief. "I'm so glad you feel that way. What about Paul? I thought well you two were…"
Lois interrupted. "It's complicated."
"Are you in love with him? What is it?"
"I don't want to hurt him. He's been so kind to me and very loving towards me. I feel deeply for him but it's nothing compared to what I feel for you, Clark."
"Then what is it?"
"I dunno. He's been a good tonic for me and I don't want to hurt him."
Clark raised his eyebrows and clenched his jaw tightly. "Lois, if you want to be with me then I'm afraid you're gonna have to let him down gently. Do you need more time to think about it?"
"Clark, I married you and I want to be with you. I had always hoped that you'd come back but after a couple of years passed the hope seemed to fade away, and I had to live a life without you in it. Paul showed me that I could have a future and be happy. How can I throw it all back in his face?"
"Lois, the ball's in your court. I'll respect your decision. Whatever you decide to do, just don't shut me out of the children's lives. If you need time to think about it, that's fine too."
"I think I'd better go home, Clark. This is something I have to deal with face to face. Will you wait for me?"
To be continued…