Submitted April, 2004
Summary: Lois learns something unexpected about the man she's about to marry. Will the news cause a permanent rift or will Lois decide that she can love a "Chip Off The Old Clark"?
As with anything I write, I think the readers know to expect something different. With this one, you'll definitely get different. I heard a song once and after seeing the episode COTOC I thought it would be cool to see if I could weave them into a readable story. I also wondered how Lois would handle this particular situation. So…
Huge thanks to my wonderful beta-readers. I'd be completely lost without Jenni Debbage, who is also a dear friend. Avia, who makes me rewrite and rewrite more, is simply the best. And to Wanda Detroit, who I recently met. She's become a quick friend and provides the best encouragement!
Lois and Clark is property of Warner Bros. and DC Comics. No infringement is intended. No profit will be made from this. All other disclaimers apply.
Huge, soulful eyes, filled with tears, stared out the second story window of the modest suburban home as the gray sedan pulled into the drive. He didn't want to go with them. He'd really thought he'd found his home here. The Sanders were the best people he'd ever met in his short life, besides his mom of course. But Mom was gone; she'd left him that horrible night over two years ago. And since then it had been one foster home after another.
He turned and looked at Kitty. She'd always insisted he call her that, even right from the beginning. She'd said, 'Mrs. Sanders is Jeff's mother.' Even then he'd liked Kitty.
"I don't want to go."
"I know, sweetie, but it's time." She held out her hand to the small boy and he reluctantly took it to be led downstairs.
Jeff, a large man with a gentle spirit, watched as the boy he'd come to love came to his side. He kneeled and pulled the child to his chest. "We'll never forget you, Robin," he told him softly.
Robin pulled back to look at Jeff. "I won't forget you." After hugging Kitty, he allowed the social worker to take his hand and lead him to the car. He took one last look at the home he wanted so badly to be his before climbing inside the vehicle. He turned to peer out the back glass, waving to Kitty and Jeff as they stood on the sidewalk watching him go. When he couldn't see them any longer, he settled in the seat and waited for the story he knew was coming. The social workers always told him the background of the next family he would go to live with. He just hoped they liked baseball.
Lois held her left hand up so the light shone on the brilliant little stone that graced her ring finger. She liked admiring it, unable to believe that she'd waited so long to say yes.
She had said something about it, then was immediately lost in her thoughts again, so she had to focus to hear what Clark was saying.
"… And how long it took for you to *finally* put it on."
She giggled as she responded to him, thinking how nice it was to just spend some quiet time together. They lived on the edge, so being able to do something as mundane as share dinner at home was a welcomed break.
They continued their light conversation as Clark prepared their dinner. She told him she was looking forward to him cooking and he admitted there was a lot he didn't know about her. That thought startled her. There was a lot she didn't know about Clark as well.
Oh, who cares! His lips were doing wonderful things to her neck right now.
"Mmm," she moaned as she searched for his lips with her own. Clark met them with a smile on his face. Her eyes were glassy when he pulled back to look at her. She smiled and drew her hands down to run over his chest.
"That feels good," he told her softly.
"You feel good," she replied before leaning into another kiss he was only too happy to grant. She was smiling when she leaned back. "You know. we could just skip dinner and be naughty."
Clark laughed softly before he leaned to nuzzle her neck. "Yes, we could," he agreed.
Lois giggled again before drawing back to look at him. "This does bring up an interesting subject that we haven't talked a lot about."
"That subject." She waggled her brows at him, a little embarrassed to say the words. When he played innocent, she couldn't help but roll her eyes. "Me and you. This. *The* subject."
Clark acted as if he'd just reached a dawning revelation. "Ahh. *that* subject." He tightened his grip around her waist and grinned widely. "Just so you know, I have no problems in that area."
Lois smacked his chest playfully. "I didn't think you did. I was just wondering, you know, how you feel about that."
"I feel." he growled and leaned to kiss her neck. "I feel very." he mumbled against her skin.
Lois laughed at him before pushing him away. "Clark, I'm serious." She stepped out of his embrace so she could walk back to the counter to retrieve her wine. "Is this something we should. do?"
"Well, I was kind of hoping we would," he told her with an odd expression on his face.
She chuckled at him, almost spewing wine out of her mouth. "I'm serious here."
"I am, too. If we're planning to get married, I would hope *that* is an important part of our relationship."
She shook her finger at him. "Would you straighten up? I just want to know if. *this* is something you want to do now or later. Should we jump into that kind of relationship? Should we wait until our wedding?"
Lois had started pacing and waving her hands, which meant unless he wanted to listen to a twenty minute babble session, he'd better stop her now. He reached and grabbed her so he could grind his mouth into hers, a little more forceful than his usual attention so that he could get attention completely. When he drew back, Lois had to struggle to catch her breath.
"Wow!" she told him when she could speak again.
"Yeah." He leaned to kiss her again softly. "You bring up an interesting subject actually."
"Uh huh. And just so you know," she said as she pulled from him again. "I'm not. inexperienced. I mean, I've done. *that* before. Not a lot, but a few times."
"Lois, neither of us was born on the day we met."
"I know. I just don't want you to think I'm some kind of floozy."
He laughed softly. "I don't think that. I've known you for nearly two years and in that time, you've only dated one guy. And I don't think you're into one-night stands."
"No! Absolutely not." She stopped and looked at him for a moment. "Clark, I never slept with Lex."
He could do nothing but look at her. As much as it had pained him to think about, he assumed Lois had been intimate with Lex. She had been engaged to the man after all. Intimacy often played an important role in such relationships, so…
He refocused attention when Lois spoke again.
"I guess I didn't feel comfortable. doing that, with him. I asked him to wait until our wedding night."
"Is that what you want now?"
Lois paused to better look at the man before her— his beautiful eyes, wide with uncharted appeal. She wondered what those eyes would look like in the heat of passion.
"No. I don't think I do want to wait."
Clark's lips spread into a brilliant grin. "Mmm," was all he could manage as he advanced on her again. After a slow, sensual kiss, he drew back to look at her. "Lois, I won't push you and we don't have to start an intimate relationship for my sake."
"I know that, Clark." She rubbed his face with her fingertips. "I want to start one for mine."
He smiled again and let his hands roam her back. "But we don't have to start tonight. or even tomorrow. I'm here and I'm not going anywhere."
"What do you say we just. go with the flow? Whenever it happens, it happens." She wrapped her arms around his neck and prepared herself for another kiss.
"I like the sound of that." His lips met hers just as the phone rang. "Mmm hmm hmm," Clark moaned in disappointment. "Looks like the fates would leave us alone for one night."
Lois giggled when he didn't let go of her to answer the phone, deciding to see if she could distract him by kissing his neck.
"Mr. Kent? Clark Kent?"
Clark pulled back from Lois a little when he didn't recognize the voice. "Yes?"
"This is Dana Grange from Metropolis Department of Family and Children's Services."
Clark's expression grew serious and he patted Lois' arm to get her attention. She backed off, understanding this conversation was a serious one.
"I don't understand. Why is MDFCS contacting me?"
"Well, we'd really rather explain in person. Would it be possible for you to come down to the office in the morning?"
"Good. We'll see you at 8:30. And thank you, Mr. Kent."
"You're welcome." He replaced the receiver and turned to Lois with a frown.
"MDFCS? Do you think this could be a story?" she asked with a slight twinkle in her eyes. She loved being led to a big story, even if the caller had contacted her partner first.
"What else could it be? Last I checked I hadn't beaten the kids or slapped the wife around," he joked.
Lois snorted at him. "You're terrible."
"Yeah. But you love me." He stole another kiss before they moved to finish their dinner.
The rest of the evening was spent in conversation during their meal and cuddling on the sofa. Clark accompanied Lois home shortly before eleven and said his good-byes to do a quick patrol. Although they hadn't chosen to consummate their relationship, those thoughts hadn't been too far from either's mind. Clark's meeting the next morning too was far from their minds. It was strange how love could change your priorities.
Lois and Clark shared breakfast en-route to MDFCS the following morning, deciding they might have indeed had a story come to them. They arrived with five minutes to spare and asked for directions to Ms. Grange's office.
Dana Grange was a young black woman that carried herself with an air of power and authority. She extended her hand to Clark when she came down the hallway to greet them.
"You must be Clark Kent," she said with a smile.
"Yes," he replied as he shook her hand.
Dana withdrew and looked at Lois. "And you don't need an introduction. I recognize you from your photos." She reached to shake Lois' hand.
"Thank you, I think." Lois shrugged slightly at Clark.
"I didn't realize you were bringing your partner, Mr. Kent."
"Isn't this about a story?"
"No. This is personal." The woman's expression had grown quite serious.
"Personal? I'm afraid I don't understand. I wasn't aware I needed the assistance of your agency," Clark stated in confusion.
"No, I'm sure you weren't," Ms. Grange replied.
Her cryptic answer didn't sit too well with Lois. She shifted next to Clark, but he settled her with a gentle touch to her arm.
"Shall we speak in private?" Ms. Grange asked Clark.
Clark glanced at Lois before speaking. "Ms. Grange, Lois isn't just my partner at work. She's also my fianc,e. Whatever you have to say to me, you can say in front of her."
Dana appeared to look Lois over before she smiled. "This may make things a little easier then. Please, come to my office."
Clark looked at Lois before taking her hand as they followed the woman down the hall to her office. She offered them a seat and took the one behind her desk.
"I'm not exactly sure how to say this. First, Mr. Kent, do you know a Kimberly Logan?"
Clark was puzzled by that question, but could answer immediately. "Yes. She and I went to college together, but I haven't seen her since."
Dana nodded her head as she sifted through some papers. "You and she were part of Midwestern State class of."
"1987," Clark helped out.
"Right." Dana put the papers down and leaned back in her chair to look at Clark. "About a month ago, the Oregon Department of Family Services contacted us. Ms. Logan passed away two years ago."
Clark was silent for a moment before he spoke. "I didn't know."
"She died in a car accident."
"I don't see where this has anything to do with me," Clark told her with a frown.
"Well, you see, Mr. Kent, Ms. Logan left behind a shocked, grieving father and a son."
Clark's mind raced through his memories of his relationship with Kim and suddenly he felt as if the wind had been knocked from him. He'd shared an intimate relationship with Kim and now a social worker was speaking of a son. Did they believe him to be this child's father? Was it possible the girl he'd known could have done something as terrible as to keep such information from him? Sure, they'd had a rough time at the end of their relationship, but had he *really* not known her at all?
Lois' eyes immediately shot to Clark. Judging by his reaction, she had very good reason to be concerned over this news.
"Mr. Kent," Dana continued. "We have reason to believe Ms. Grange's son is."
"Mine," Clark finished for her.
Now it was Lois' turn to catch her breath.
"Oh, God," Clark gasped and dropped back against the chair.
Dana reached for the papers on her desk again. "Jackie Davies from Oregon DFS was put in charge of the child's case when his mother died. His grandfather was no longer able to care for the boy after a month and has since died of heart failure. That left the minor ward of the state as Miss Logan had no other family. Miss Logan left a will, but unfortunately the only named caretaker for her son was her father. However, the will did go on to state the names of the men that could be the child's father."
"Names?" Lois was temporarily snapped from her thoughts. "How many?"
"Five, counting Mr. Kent."
Lois was numb, unable to determine which emotion she felt more. What kind of woman had Clark been involved with? Or was this some cruel joke? She could stare between him and Ms. Grange incredulously.
This couldn't be happening. Not now. He finally had everything he could possibly want. What if this child was his?
"Miss. Logan stated in her will that she had been assaulted," Dana went on. "Did you know about this?"
"Yes," Clark replied. "She had been to a frat party during spring break. Four guys raped her in one of the rooms of the frat house. She was too humiliated to turn them in because she'd indulged a little more than she should have. I tried unsuccessfully to change her mind, but she insisted no one would believe her."
"So I guess you were the boy scout whose shoulder she cried on?" Lois asked sarcastically, unable to remain quiet any longer. It wasn't a fair assumption to make, but the pain she felt from this news was starting to take over. Lashing out was her way of dealing with those types of situations.
Clark looked over at Lois. "Come on. Don't do this here," he pleaded in a fierce whisper. The last thing he needed was for Lois to blow things out of proportion without hearing all the relevant details first. Of course, he could certainly understand how she felt. He was incredibly shocked by this revelation. Yet, right now he needed Lois to remain calm because he was certain he'd need her more than he ever had.
Lois tried to glare at Clark, but failed miserably. While she knew this was neither the place nor the time to get into a heated debate over Clark's past relationships, she couldn't stop the feeling of betrayal welling inside her. Just the night before they'd discussed the intimacy issue, and she'd opened up to Clark about her past. Why hadn't he done the same? Was he ashamed of the things he'd done? This felt remarkably the same as when she'd finally learned his other secret.
Dana began to doubt her earlier conviction that Clark's impending marriage was a good idea after all when she saw Lois drop her head and Clark sigh heavily. She could tell the young couple loved one another and desperately needed to discuss this. However, she had a job that needed to be done. "Anyway, the boy was born in 1988. When he was left to the state, Mrs. Davies did everything she could to place him with a good family until the men on that list could be ruled out."
"And this took two years?" Clark asked, unable to stop the question from leaving his lips. No matter if this boy was his or not, the little guy hadn't deserved to be without a secure and loving home.
Lois forced her mind to remain open, her nerves calm as Clark spoke. It was definitely something his compassionate nature would lead him to ask. Even if his words did make him sound like he was… Well, he didn't *really* sound glad. But…
<Please don't let this be happening.> Lois pleaded with whoever might be listening.
"You have to understand that this isn't the only case our offices handle, Mr. Kent. Things like this take time. And there were four other men to discount."
"Discount?" That jumped out at Lois. "You've proven these men weren't the father?" <Oh, God, please no.> If the other men were not the father, there was a very good possibility that Clark could be. And if he is? What would that mean to them?
"Yes, Ms. Lane. The other four men could not possibly be this child's father. The tests were conclusive. You see, the child has a very. odd blood type. In fact, it's so odd, the labs have been unable to determine the type."
Clark wanted to panic. Until just now, he hadn't even thought about the blood tests. Of course, he was aware that paternity was proven that way. He couldn't take a test like that. Someone might discover more about him than he wanted them to know. But what about this child? Whether the boy was truly his son or not, there should be proof. As his mind rushed forward to search for a solution to this mounting problem, he looked to Lois with an anguished expression.
She, too, had panicked when Ms. Grange mentioned blood tests. Wide, fearful eyes searched Clark's for answers to the many questions building around them.
"It's amazing really," Ms. Grange continued, temporarily distracting the couple from their fears. "The child's blood isn't radically different from any other, but it does contain properties not seen before."
"Properties?" Clark needed to know as many details as possible. Finding out about a potential child and losing his identity all once was too much to contemplate.
"Healing properties, a few more white blood cells, and doesn't break down as easily. The scientists say he's simply incredibly healthy. Other than that, nothing extraordinary. So, proving or disproving you as the child's father should only take a matter of hours. The lab knows exactly what to look for."
"And I'd have to give a blood sample?" Once again, he felt panicked. How could he do that? Needles couldn't puncture his skin. Lois shifted in her chair, a sure sign that she was afraid of that scenario as well.
"No, no. Your mouth would be swabbed. It would only take a second."
Unable to trust her emotions a moment longer, Lois shot to her feet, mumbled 'excuse me, and hurried from the room. She'd wanted desperately to hear every detail, but the shock of the whole situation, compounded with her fear over Clark's identity would no longer allow her to remain seated. She entered the hallway just as the first tears that had been threatening spilled down her cheeks. How did she deal with this? Just this morning she and Clark had been blissfully happy. The fates seemed to thrive on making their lives miserable. This time she'd also been incredibly. hurt. How was she supposed to feel about this? She'd only just gotten over the whole Superman issue, only to find out Clark was keeping more secrets. Granted, he hadn't exactly lied to her this time, but he hadn't told her the entire story. Even when he'd had the opportunity during their discussion the night. They might have been interrupted by Ms. Grange's phone call, but he'd had ample time to tell her about his past.
She sighed heavily as she paced the hall. It wasn't exactly being fair for her to assume that Clark might have known he could have a child out there somewhere. It was obvious that he was just as shocked by this news as she was. Yet, all the reasoning in the world would not change the fact that she was hurt… incredibly hurt. She felt betrayed, even if she shouldn't. The wounds from finding out about Clark's secret identity were just too fresh in her mind.
And speaking of Superman, there was the paternity issue. If Clark submitted to such tests, would his secret be revealed? What would that mean to him? To them? It was all just so overwhelming.
Clark rose and watched her hurry away. He knew this had to be an incredible shock to her, but what was he supposed to do? He had to find out what was going on and determine this child's paternity for certain. His mind was already racing ahead to dealing with this new obstacle. The social worker's voice brought him out of his musings.
"I'm sorry about that," Dana told him.
He looked down at her and tried to force a smile as he eased back into the chair. He had to settle his nerves so that he could handle this situation with a clear head.
"I know she has to be upset," Dana went on. "This is a shock."
"You could say that again. I had no idea this child existed."
Dana gave him a sympathetic smile. "Miss Logan stated this in her will. She said that she hadn't contacted any of you because she wasn't sure how to handle the situation. She hadn't wanted her son hurt in any way, saying he would be better off."
"Yeah. Better off," Clark mumbled more to himself than to the social worker. How could Kim have possibly thought such a thing? How could she have done something like this to anyone, especially him? He thought they'd been close enough during their relationship for her to come to him if she needed some kind of help. Undoubtedly, he hadn't truly known Kim at all.
"Believe me, I understand how you must feel. We contact fathers all the time who never knew they had children."
Clark didn't know what to say or do. He and Kim had stayed in contact for nearly a year after she'd decided to move to Oregon with her father. That meant she knew about the baby then. He was born before they stopped communicating. How could she have done this to him? To anyone? Granted, the boys who'd assaulted her probably didn't deserve to know. If they'd been able to do such a horrible and disgusting thing to Kim, surely they wouldn't want to be told they might possibly be someone's father. But he and Kim had been so much more to each other. How could she have kept something so important from him?
"Mr. Kent, I hate having to move so swiftly, but we need to get this test done. This child has been bounced around for over two years. His last foster parents wanted to adopt him."
Clark's eyes shot up to Dana's. He may not have known about this child, but was this something he wanted? He'd been adopted and though he'd gotten really great parents, he was quite sure if this child was his that he should be the one to take care of the boy. That thought alone was scary. Add in everything else in his life, mainly Lois, and he became absolutely terrified. What would this all mean to them as a couple? No matter the test results, where did they go from here?
"We can't decide what to do either way until this test is done," Dana continued.
Then there was the issue of the paternity test itself. Was this something Clark could safely do? Would there be repercussions for Superman? Would his secret be discovered? He figured he should know such things before hand. How he wished Lois were here with him. He needed her, to talk this over with her. He needed his best friend.
"You said you swab the inside of the mouth?" Ms. Grange nodded. "What happens then?"
"There will be a simple typing analysis of the specimen. As I said earlier, the child's sample is already patterned, so a match will only take a few hours."
"There are no extensive break-downs or studies of the sample?"
Dana's brows furrowed in confusion from his question, but she answered, "No. Simple match process."
"What happens to the sample when you're done?"
Again, an odd question, but she'd answer his inquiry. "The samples are dipped in a solution for the testing process. It's virtually useless for anything after that, so samples are destroyed."
Clark nodded before he grew thoughtful. Finally he came up with another question. "And what happens after the test?"
"Well, if the test proves he's your son, you will have authority to grant adoption if you'd like. I can tell you that he was very happy in the Sanders' home. Oregon officials had removed him after the Sanders expressed an interest in adopting him because that's procedure. But they are still very interested. Of course, you also become custodial parent. If you should choose to exercise that right, Oregon would transport the child out here and you'd take physical custody once all the paperwork is signed."
"And just like that I'd be someone's daddy?" Clark said softly, almost mournfully. If it was proven he was this child's father, no matter what decision he made about the child's welfare, Clark knew his life would be forever changed.
"Unfortunately, it only takes a moment to become a father. Becoming someone's daddy will take a little more time than that. Our office will spend a few hours or so acquainting you with the child before we turn him over to you. And, if you decide you can't handle the responsibility, the adoption option would remain open. His foster parents in Oregon wanted whoever is determined to be the father to know that fact."
Part of him wanted to protest anyone adopting his potential child, but rational thought told him he should get all of the facts before making any kind of decision. He also liked Ms. Grange's answer about being a daddy. Her answer reminded him a lot of something his father would say. He decided he liked the young woman and that she was genuine in her concern for this boy. Clark was also concerned about the child's well-being.
"And if he isn't my son?"
"If it's proven that you're not the father, the foster parents will move ahead with the adoption. It's a good thing, too. If you're not the child's father, we have no idea who could be. As I've said, Ms. Logan specifically named you and the others as possible matches."
Clark nodded. He was still incredibly shocked and a little hurt. If this child was his, that meant that Kim had deliberately kept that knowledge from him all these years. Even if she hadn't known for sure that he was the baby's father, he would have been more than willing to help her in any way he could have. And remembering how close he and Kim used to be, that help might have lead to much, much more.
He had to mentally shake himself. What could he possibly be thinking? Kim hadn't been the one for him. His feelings for Lois proved that beyond doubt. He felt things for his partner he'd never once felt for Kim, even though they'd had a much more intimate relationship than he and Lois shared now. Simply put, he was completely in love with Lois and had never been with Kim.
How ironic, he thought. He'd possibly had a son with a woman he hadn't been in love with and may lose the woman he *did* love because of it. He mentally sighed and tried to refocus on the situation at hand. He couldn't put off the inevitable forever… even if he wanted to.
"How soon can we do the test?"
"We can get your DNA sample right now. We have a collector on site." Dana rose and started for the door, taking for granted that he was ready to give the sample needed for the test. Clark took a deep breath and followed.
In the hallway, Lois was pacing furiously. She stopped and faced him.
"Well?" she demanded.
"They want to take a DNA sample." Clark could only ask for her to understand with his pleading expression. He knew she was upset. Heck, he was upset. Right now though, he really needed her.
Lois could only stare at him. How could he be agreeing to do this test? Didn't he realize what it could mean for him as Superman? For them as a couple?
<<Well, what do you expect him to do?!>>
Lois knew Clark would want to know for sure if he was this child's father. Heck, she wanted to know. The rest of their lives hang on that fact. If this child was his… if the test showed…
<<What Lois? What if the boy *is* Clark's? What then?>>
She didn't know what would happen then, but she had to know the results for sure. Lois also knew that Clark would not agree to a test that would put his super side at risk of exposure. She finally looked away before reluctantly following Clark and Ms. Grange at a discreet distance.
"This is painless," the man collecting the DNA sample told Clark as he slipped on his latex gloves. He lifted the long swab, ready to take the evidence that would decide Clark's future. "Open wide."
Lois gulped loudly as she watched the process. Of all the things to be happening today, this was certainly not anything she could have imagined. She wanted to yell out for him to stop, but knew they could not move on until he had. Blinking to stop the sting of more tears, she kept her eyes riveted to the scene playing out before her.
Clark opened his mouth to allow the cotton end of the stick to be rubbed inside his cheeks, even as his mind raced to process all that was happening. How could he have fathered a child and not known it? How could he have lived day in and day out without ever knowing he had a flesh and blood relative somewhere out there? And what about the boy? He'd lived the last two years thinking he was alone. Was the child showing signs of being super? Had others noticed? So many questions…
He was brought back from his fugue as the man began to withdraw from him. When the procedure was finished, the swab was placed in a sterile container and sealed with tape.
"Thank you," the man told Clark.
"Yeah." Clark's normally polite manner seemed to escape him right now. Somehow he couldn't bring himself to respond with a cheery tone. "How long before we know?" he asked Dana.
"I've asked for priority on this one. Normally it would take about forty eight hours, but we should know something by 3 pm."
Clark nodded and looked up at Lois. She averted her eyes from his, causing his heart to clench.
"Mr. Kent," Dana went on. "If the child is determined to be your son, we would like to move ahead with the acquaintance process. That is, if you are prepared to take custody."
How did he respond to that? His compassionate side wanted to shout that if this child was his, of course he'd take custody. Yet, right now his selfish, fearful side was demanding to be heard. The reality was that this situation could ruin the life he was trying to build with Lois. He momentarily wasn't even sure he wanted to know at all if he the father. Ms. Grange had told him there was a good family willing to adopt him and for the briefest of seconds, he wanted to say he'd agree to the adoption without ever knowing if the child was really his. But he couldn't do that. And he couldn't make such a huge decision now. He had to talk to Lois and could only hope she'd be open and willing to discuss this rationally.
Then there was also a part of him that was tingling in anticipation. If this was true, the child would be his only true link to this world. To the alien part of him, this could mean a great deal. But, he realized as he saw the expression on Lois' face, this could wreck his life as he knew it. At this point, no matter what the test proved, there would be a long, hard road ahead for him and Lois as a couple. He sighed and focused on Ms. Grange again.
"How about we just wait for the results first? I think we need a little time to process this all," Clark told her as he rose from the chair.
"Yes, of course. I will call you as soon as we know."
"Thank you." Clark pulled a card from his pocket. "This is my number at the Daily Planet."
"I'll talk to you this afternoon."
Clark nodded and turned to open the door. Lois beat him to it, snatching the knob in agitation. She hurried through and down the hall. She wanted to put as much distance between herself and Clark as she could to have a moment to think.
Clark had just managed to make it into the jeep before Lois shoved it into gear and left the parking lot with a squeal of tires. He knew his partner well enough not to say anything until she regained a little control.
Neither said a word until Lois stopped inside the parking garage at the Planet. She snatched the keys from the ignition before twisting toward Clark.
"This is unbelievable!"
"Tell me about it," Clark mumbled.
"A son, Clark! That's. that's. I just don't know how to handle this!" Her voice had risen considerably, her hands gripping the steering wheel until her knuckles nearly turned white.
"Oh, and I do?! Lois, this isn't exactly something I'd ever imagined."
Her head shot back around to glare at him. "So, this is definitely a possibility? This child *could* be yours?"
He wished so desperately he say no. He'd run over his time with Kim over and over in his mind several times. They'd taken precautions. In the beginning both had taken the responsibility for protection. But the last couple of times, Clark had forgone his side of the equation, reassured that her birth control pills were enough. Unfortunately, even the most reliable methods are not fool proof.
"Yes," he told Lois softly. "There's a possibility."
"Damn, Clark! Didn't you think at all? You don't play games with something like that."
"Don't you think I know that?" He was irritated that she didn't have more faith in him. "Lois, Kim was not some fling. She and I never intended to start anything, but we did care for one another a great deal. We were not careless. We took precautions. Unfortunately, even the best protection in the world fails."
"Have you ever heard of abstinence?" She added a considerable amount of sarcasm to that question. She was upset and wanted him to feel just as badly as she did.
"Excuse me? Weren't you the one that stood in my kitchen last night and told me that you weren't exactly a virgin?"
"But I don't have a child!"
"And until today, I never thought I did! What do you think, Lois? I hid this child from you? That I. abandoned him? Ran out on his mother?"
"I don't know what I think!"
Clark could only stare at her with his mouth hanging open. This hurt worse than when she rejected his declaration of love last year. He shook his head in frustration and looked out the front window. "I can't believe you would think such a thing. I wouldn't lie about something like this."
"Yeah, well, the thing is you did lie. every day for nearly two years."
He looked back at Lois with pain filled eyes. "That was different and you know it."
"I don't know anything any more," she finished on a whisper before flopping against the seat. They sat in silence for a long moment before she spoke again. "How many others will show up claiming you're their child's father?"
"Lois." He couldn't believe she was doing this.
"No! Don't avoid the issue. Answer my question!" she demanded with a pointed finger.
He'd had enough. She was being childish and he couldn't stand another second. "Fine! There was only one other woman besides Kim. A beautiful young woman and a princess to boot. I met her in Nigeria and our relationship lasted for nearly a year. For a while I really thought she and I might have something special. But she was forced by the customs of her country and her position to marry another. We were both devastated, but I moved on and so did she. No, she will not say I'm her child's father. I know because I've talked to her about three months ago. Although, she is very pregnant. with her *husband's* baby!"
Clark took a breath and went on. "Yes, Lois, I have indulged in the pleasures of intimacy. But no, I can't say I regret any of it. It's not something I did outside the two relationships I've told you about simply because I didn't feel like I was with the right person. And by the way you're acting, it'll be a long damn time before I experience that release again because I seemed to have found the wrong person again!"
Lois was shocked into silence as Clark threw open the door and exited. He slammed the metal back with a bang before he strode off for the stairwell. This was one of the few times in her life she couldn't think of a single thing to say or do. All she felt was this all-consuming pain. Rationally she knew she shouldn't be this upset, but irrationally the thought of Clark with someone else was unbearable.
That gave her pause. Is that what was really bothering her? Was she jealous because Clark had in fact *had* a life before her? She'd had one before him and expected him to just take it in stride.
She leaned her head to rest on her hands where they once again gripped the steering wheel. Lois had to admit the child bothered her as well. How was she going to deal with that? She and Clark were supposed to be planning a wedding. Now they may be shopping for toys and sneakers. Was that something she wanted? Could she, would she, stay with Clark if this child was his? She was startled when she realized she couldn't answer that question. Oh, she was horrible.
Clark's words repeated themselves painfully in her head. In her heart she knew he'd only said what he had about not having found the right woman again was said through pain, but it didn't make it sting any less for her. Those words had cut like a knife, exactly the intention he had in mind. Or did he? Clark wasn't one to say things he knew would be hurtful. But knowing still didn't make it any easier. Of course, this situation wasn't exactly easy.
She reluctantly hauled herself from the jeep and up to the newsroom. Luckily Perry had a story that required them to do separate research. She wasn't sure she could stand herself let alone face Clark now.
She took her information and left again just as quickly as she'd come. She'd vaguely noticed Clark was already gone. It appeared he needed to be alone as much as she did.
His side of the research for their latest story took Clark only about on hour to accomplish, and he was able to do so outside the office. Then he chose to spend a little while patrolling as Superman before returning to face Lois again. Flying usually helped to clear his mind and if there was a time he needed to clear it, now was the time.
What was he going to do if this child turned out to be his? He had no idea how to take care of a child. Sure, he had the best role models in his parents, but they lived all the way in Kansas.
And his parents. They'd be stunned. What would they think of him? What would they think of Kim? They'd met her once. Would they react poorly of her and reflect that back onto the child? He answered that quickly, of course not. They'd go out of their way to help the little boy out while he adjusted to his new father and surroundings.
Then there was Superman. How would he handle being Superman *and* a single parent? It would be almost impossible to keep his alter ego a secret. Was it fair to ask a small child to keep such confidences? And what about the need to fly away in a hurry? He couldn't do that with a child in the house. If ever he needed Lois more, it was now.
Lois. What about her? She was so upset over this. He couldn't blame her for that. He'd be upset if he was in her shoes. She'd had a difficult time reconciling her feelings over his dual identity and now she had to deal with another life-changing part of his past. How would she possibly deal with this? Obviously it was going to be a huge problem for them both. He needed her more now than he'd ever needed her before, yet it just didn't seem she felt the same way. He also needed to apologize for his hurtful comments in the car that morning. Causing Lois even more pain hadn't been his intention, but he couldn't have stopped himself if he'd tried. He had already been in shock when she lashed out at him. Thinking that she could believe him to be so careless and irresponsible tore through him with unforgiving force, causing him to say things he definitely didn't mean.
He shrugged off further thoughts when his pager vibrated against his side. It was a number he didn't recognize, so he landed in the nearest alley and hurried down the sidewalk to the Planet. It could be Ms. Grange calling with the results to this test, then he'd know the direction in which his life would moving.
Clark hurried past Lois to his desk and dialed the number in his pager. "This is Clark Kent returning your call."
"Mr. Kent, this is Dana Grange."
"Yes, Ms. Grange. Are the results in?"
"Yes. We got them back a little sooner than expected, but I would like to deliver the results in person. Is it possible to meet this afternoon? I can come out to your home."
Clark's heart sank and soared at the same time. He was no idiot. She'd suggested a meeting at his home for a reason. While he wanted to argue that he'd come right over for the results now, he really wanted to talk with Lois. "I can be home by six," Clark told her. "344 Clinton."
"Good. I'll see you then."
Clark dropped the receiver in silence. This couldn't be happening. He had just managed to get the girl. The child wasn't supposed to come for a few years yet. And how could Kim have done this to him? He'd thought they meant something to each other, if nothing more than close friends. This wasn't something close friends did to one another.
He glanced over at Lois, who averted her gaze in a hurry. Apparently she'd been listening to the conversation. How was he going to tell her this?
He shoved a hand through his hair in frustration before turning to face the jury. He approached Lois, who was doing a very good job of ignoring him. "Lois?"
She tapped against the keyboard furiously a second more before turning to Clark. "What?"
"Could I speak with you a moment?"
She didn't answer, but rose and stomped into the conference room. She was pacing in agitation when he came in and closed the door. To add a little more privacy, Clark shut the blinds.
"Ms. Grange called," he began when he'd finished his task. "She's coming to my place this evening to give me the results. I'd really like for you to be there with me."
"I don't know, Clark. This is." She looked away as tears filled her eyes.
He went to her side, automatically reaching out to comfort her. He was touched that she didn't pull away. "Lois, I know this is shocking. I'm just as stunned as you are. And I realize you're a little angry…"
"I'm hurt, Clark."
"I understand that."
"Do you?" She met his gaze for the first time. "I know we both have a past. It wasn't like I expected you to be a virgin. I just expected to be the one to give you sons," she whispered.
His heart wrenched and he reached up to cup her cheek. "Lois, until today I wondered if I could actually father children because of my biology. And I know you're hurting because this child may be mine, and I'm sorry for the things I said earlier. But Lois, I'm hurting, too." His hand fell to her shoulder and down to grasp her hand. "To know there may have been a child out there that was mine and I never knew… That means I have missed so much precious time," he finished on a whisper. "That's time I can never have back."
Lois wanted to die. She'd never seen Clark cry, but his eyes filled with tears. All day she'd thought only of herself; of how she'd deal with this. She'd failed to think of Clark. With the tender heart he had, this had to be killing him. She'd admitted that there was no way Clark would have abandoned a child had he known about him. Those comments had been said in an attempt to hide her bruised feelings. Now her pain seemed to pale in comparison to his.
She reached down and grasped his other hand in hers. "I know you're hurting."
"You have a funny way of showing it." Clark couldn't stop the smart remark. His wounded pride over her treatment of him earlier stung incredibly. He couldn't stop himself from lashing out.
"What should I do here, Clark? Welcome this child with open arms?"
"I would hope that you'd at least give it some consideration *if* the child is mine. That would make him a part of me. When you love someone, you love all of them."
"I do love you."
"Just not a part of me from my past?"
Lois stared at him for a moment. She couldn't believe he was getting so upset.
<<Can't you?>> her conscience pointed out.
"Clark, I just didn't expect to have to be anyone's mother before I became a wife!"
"Who asked you to be a mother?!" He wanted to take that one back almost as soon as it left his lips. He watched as it hit Lois full force, once again stoking her raging emotions.
She turned and stomped to the door. Clark scrambled to catch up before she could leave. His hand reached out to grasp her shoulder.
"Lois, I'm sorry."
"Yeah," was all she said as she stood stiffly in his grasp.
He lifted his other hand and gently squeezed her shoulders. "I don't know what to do here. I have so much floating around in my head. A seven year old boy. How could I have missed that? And to find out about him and lose you in the same day? That would kill me. Lois, please, please don't leave me now. I need you."
"And if he's yours? Where do we go from here?"
"I don't know. They will bring him to me. or. or I have the option to sign adoption papers for his last foster family."
Lois turned to look at him. "What?"
"Ms. Grange said his foster parents want to adopt him, if I should choose not to take him."
Lois searched his face for several long moments. She knew that was a painful subject for Clark. How could he do something like that with his own son?
"Is that something you'd consider?" she whispered. Is that what Clark was thinking of doing? Would he give away his child because of her? More to the point, did she want him to? Horrified by her true feelings, she held her breath as she waited for him to answer.
Clark didn't think he could possibly feel any worse, but he was wrong. She wasn't simply asking if adoption had crossed his mind. She was asking if he'd consider doing that for her. How could she ask him to do something like that? He'd be forced to choose between her and his own child. Could he live with a decision like that? Could he live without her?
He looked down as more tears came to his eyes. As much as he wanted to say no, he just couldn't.
<<God, forgive me.>>
"Maybe… maybe I should at least hear about this family," he told her softly as he lifted his eyes to meet hers.
<<I just can't lose you.>> He glanced down at the floor briefly before looking back up at her.
Lois almost gasped at his expression. How could she do this to him? Did she really want him to make a choice like that? She didn't know what she wanted. She *did* know he was in pain and needed her. She reached out automatically to embrace him. He came to her willingly and together both wept softly.
Lois and Clark quickly finished up at the office and left so they could have some time to talk before Ms. Grange came to deliver the news that could change their whole lives.
They entered Clark's apartment in silence, both too miserable to be the one to start the conversation. Clark took off his jacket and tie before he put on a pot of coffee. He leaned against the counter as he waited on the pot to finish.
Lois chose to change into a pair of Clark's sweats before she ventured into the kitchen where he stood. She leaned against the counter beside him, content to remain silent as well. After a while though, she'd had as much as she could stand.
"How could a woman do that to a man?" She chose to direct her turbulent emotions on someone other than herself or Clark. There was enough anger and hurt to go around and she was fairly certain they'd go through the whole array of feelings before this was settled in any way.
"I don't know. The only thing I can come up with is that Kim was still in so much pain from her attack that she wasn't thinking clearly."
"Well, don't you think you rushed things a bit after that?"
Clark looked over at Lois with wide eyes. "She and I slept together *before* the attack."
Lois shut her mouth again. Why did she keep saying such flippant things? She just couldn't help herself for putting blame on Clark for this. If he hadn't slept with the girl in the first place…
She sighed and tried to remember that she wasn't the only one upset by this whole thing. "I'm sorry, Clark. This is just." She stopped and wiped the moisture welling in her eyes. "I'd told myself earlier I would stay rational about this because we needed to talk. But I'm so… sorry," was all she could offer him for the moment.
He reached out and rubbed her arm. "I know. I'm sorry, too. But Lois, Kim and I were good friends. It wasn't like we rushed into a physical relationship or anything. And sex didn't define our relationship. Yes, we slept together more than once, but after her attack she felt she could never be desirable again. I tried to reassure her otherwise, but, unfortunately, it only made things worse. She eventually moved to her father's in Oregon."
Lois resumed her position against the cabinet, standing in silence for a bit. She vaguely wondered when Clark's compassionate qualities had started to develop. He'd shown his girlfriend that he cared and wanted to help her heal even as far back as college. So why had the girl done such a thing to him?
Clark sighed heavily, all his emotions starting to weigh heavily on him. "I truly felt I knew her," he said absently.
Lois turned to focus on him, immediately ready to offer comfort. No matter what was happening or how much pain she was in, Clark was hurting too. Since she'd admitted this man was an essential part of her future, being there for him was no longer a choice.
"I don't think I was ever 'in love' with Kim, but I did love her. And I cared about her feelings. I thought she'd felt the same way. Since speaking with Ms. Grange and learning about this boy, all I've been able to think is 'how could she?' I know she was in a lot of pain after her assault, but keeping something like this, from me… I can't believe she did that." He finally met Lois' gaze. "Now I understand a little about how you felt when you found out about Superman."
"Clark, this is very, very different."
"No, it isn't. I kept something from you that altered the rest of lives together."
"And so did Kim," Lois finished for him. While this secret had altered *their* lives, it was Clark she thought of now. She reached out to smooth her hand over his upper arm. "I can't even imagine what you must feel."
"I feel very… hurt." The last word slipped out even as understanding began to dawn. Lois felt exactly the same way. So, where did they go from here?
They both lapsed into silence for several moments, each allowing a little more understanding of the other's feelings take place. Finally Lois' mind shifted gears. "How do I live up to the image of what she meant?" She gave voice to a thought she'd had several times since that morning.
"Clark, this child will remember his mother. How do I compare to someone that isn't even here anymore?" Lois had switched gears, the way she had a habit of doing, and jumped directly to motherhood.
"Lois, Kim was a great person and I'm sure the boy knows that. He's also old enough to know that you're not her."
"And he's old enough to resent you for not being there," Lois pointed out a matter that had occurred to Clark more than once today, again switching gears trying to keep up with her wandering thoughts.
"I know. What if she's told him all kinds of things? How do I ever convince him that I never knew?"
Without realizing it, they'd begun to look ahead to adjusting to life with this child. "I wish they'd told us his name. I hate just calling him *him*."
"Yeah," Clark agreed before they both lapsed back into silence. He turned when he realized the coffee was ready and made them each a cup so they could settle to drink it on the sofa. Once settled, Clark looked over at Lois.
"Maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea if I find out what kind of people those foster parents are," Clark commented suddenly. If this child was his, there was no way he wanted to give him up, but at the same time his rational side kept chiming in that the child might be better off somewhere that he was familiar with. Since finding out about this child, he'd only thought of himself and how this could affect his relationship with Lois. Maybe it was time to think of what was best for the boy.
Lois met his gaze, able to see all the uncertainty in his eyes, but unable to disagree. "Couldn't hurt to have all the facts." That's what they'd do as reporters.
"No." He sipped his coffee for a moment. "We're talking as if we already know he's mine."
"Come on, Clark. Why else would Ms. Grange come here to give you the news? She wants to see where you live in case you want your son, not to mention the unusual properties in his blood. You don't get those from any regular Joe."
Choosing to deliberately forego thinking of his super side and how it pertained to this whole situation just yet, Clark looked around his apartment. It was a great place for a bachelor, but not so great for a growing boy or and the neighborhood wasn't the best either. "Another strike against me in the. child rearing department," he thought. Was he actually trying to convince himself that the adoption would be a good idea?
Lois didn't know what else to say and judging by Clark's silence, neither did he. It was obvious he found his apartment wanting, so she reached out to lay a hand on his leg. "I like this place," she commented. "In fact, I had planned to ask if we could live here after we'd married."
"Yeah." She looked around the room. "This place is great. Warm, cozy. Everything my place isn't."
"And now? Will there be a wedding now?" Clark had to ask. She'd been so upset since they'd learned of this child that he wasn't even sure if they'd be friends after this, let alone get married.
Lois met his hopeful eyes with her confused ones. She just couldn't answer that question. There was nothing more she wanted in this world than to marry Clark. But if this child turned out to be his, she wasn't so sure. She loved him and she'd always love him, but a child, a seven year old child was something she couldn't embrace as if it were the most natural thing in the world. She'd need time, to adjust and get to know that child, to accept the part of that child that was someone else entirely. She hadn't known *Kim* and was still dealing with how she felt about Clark knowing her. And Clark would need time, too. They shouldn't throw in a marriage on top of everything else.
When she didn't answer, Clark laid his head back against the cushions and closed his eyes to stop the tears stinging his lids. He'd wondered all day if she meant what she'd said at the Planet. Now he knew. Lois loved him, he knew that. Yet, it appeared her emotions wouldn't extend to include his son. If he took the child, would she ever accept him? Would being a father really destroy their relationship forever?
He'd argued with himself since their discussion at the Planet that he hadn't heard her clearly or that he'd misunderstood. There was still a part of him that didn't believe it now. There was no way Lois would ask him to choose between her and his own child.
<<She didn't ask.>> Sure, she *hadn't* asked, but it's still what she meant, he argued back.
Clark fought to contain his emotions. If he wanted Lois to be his wife, there was no way he could be someone's father.
"Clark, I love you and I *do* want to marry you. But…" She allowed the tears that had threatened earlier to escape unheeded down her cheeks as she leaned to place her coffee mug on the table. "I have so many things running around in my head. I found out you shared a somewhat special relationship with another woman. It's completely irrational, but it hurts. I mean, I know you love me…" She choked back a sob, causing Clark to lift his head to look at her. She forestalled anything he was preparing to say by continuing to talk. "Then I'm angry with her for keeping such a thing from you. How could she? You're the most wonderful person in the world. Even if there had been no possibility of you being the father, you and she were friends. She should have told you."
Lois shot to her feet to pace, the emotional overload too much to allow her to remain seated any longer. "And a baby. No. A boy. You've missed all that time. My heart aches so badly for you, even while my mind is screaming out of total fear."
"Fear of what?" Clark asked her softly.
"Of being a mother! I never thought I'd be anyone's mother. Look at my role model. My life inside a dysfunctional, loveless family convinced me a long time ago never to bring a child into that kind of situation. Sure, I've thought about it since we've been together, but thinking and having it become reality is something else altogether. And when we get married, I *will* be this child's mother!" She finally run out of steam and just stared down at Clark.
He sat up, placed his mug on the table beside hers, then reached out to grasp her hand, his eyes boring into hers. "Any woman who can be so passionate will make a terrific mother."
"Oh, Clark," she gasped before dropping to the sofa.
He wrapped his arm around her shoulder, pleased beyond belief when she snuggled closer to his side. Unable to think of anything else to say past the lump in his throat, Clark leaned back against the sofa, pulling Lois with him. Maybe what they needed now was this connection and a chance to absorb the day's many shocks. There would be plenty of time for talking later. And maybe, just maybe, they'd be all right. For now they would offer each other silent comfort as they waited for their future to be told.
Clark was roused from sleep by the knocking on the door. He and Lois had given in to the tension release and slept for the last hour in each other's arms. When he straightened, she awoke as well. He offered her a sad smile before rising to answer the door.
"Good evening, Mr. Kent," Ms. Grange told him when he opened the door.
"Good evening. Please, come in." He stood aside to allow her entry. He didn't miss the fact that she seemed to be inspecting her surroundings.
Dana stepped down into the living room toward the chair. "Nice to see you, Ms. Lane."
Lois nodded, but didn't speak. She rubbed her hand over her neck to loosen the tight muscles from her nap.
Clark gestured the social worker to another seat, then jumped straight to the point. "Ms. Grange, I hate to be rude, but please just tell us," Clark told her as he settled back beside Lois on the sofa. He didn't miss the fact that Lois seemed to have pulled away from him emotionally. Their earlier connection was completely gone.
Dana removed a file from her briefcase and held it out to Clark. "The child is, without a doubt, your son, Mr. Kent."
Lois wanted to scream. This was exactly what she was expecting, but it hurt beyond belief.
Clark couldn't say a word as he reached for the file and read over the contents. There was no doubt his DNA profile matched that of the child's. He wasn't remotely inclined in this area, but he could see the matching lines and scribbles.
"I'm sorry this is such shocking news. It pains me to have to disrupt your lives, but I had no choice. You were named as the child's potential father. My office had to follow up." Dana had done this so many times over the years. But in her experience, it was a positive sign that Lois was seated next to Clark. It meant they'd discussed possibilities for the future. With any luck, this couple would provide a loving home for the child. She was also certain, that given time, happiness would replace all the surprise and pain.
"Ah, yes. I know you did," Clark said as he finally found his voice. He glanced back over the file just to be sure there was nothing that could link him to Superman. There were comments about his apparently healthy system, but nothing more. He felt satisfied that only the most superficial tests needed to ascertain paternity had been conducted on the sample he'd provided.
"Mr. Kent, I understand this is a lot to process. However, we need to move ahead with some kind of formal arrangements for the child," Ms. Grange told him.
Clark sat in silence for a long moment before glancing at Lois. She was staring at a spot on the coffee table without making a sound. With Lois, one could never tell if that was dangerous or not. In this instance, Clark knew all too well. He'd hoped he'd been wrong in his assessment of her feelings toward this situation. Obviously that wasn't the case. By the way she refused to speak and from her withdrawal from him, Lois was definitely unable to accept these results. Not for the first time in his life, Clark knew what it felt like to feel sick to his stomach. This was comparable to how he'd felt watching Lois accept Lex Luthor's proposal of marriage so long ago.
Dana finally decided to share information on the child to see if it would provoke Clark into making a decision one way or another. "His name is."
"You know, Ms. Grange," Clark interrupted her. He'd surprised even himself when he'd spoken up. The words that followed were just as much of a shock. "I don't know this child. I wouldn't even know where to start to be his father. If your office is satisfied that those foster parents are good people, then I feel." He took a breath to muster up the courage do this painful thing. "I feel I should at least hear about them. Are they good people? Does he want to stay with them? Maybe I shouldn't disrupt his life further." His voice broke on the last word. He felt as if he'd stepped from his body and watched while another man said those words. Had he just told Ms. Grange that he wanted to give his son up for adoption? Shouldn't he at least meet this child, find out what *he* thinks? Maybe he should politely tell Ms. Grange that he and Lois should discuss things from here and get back in touch? There was so much to consider. Would this child possess any of his super genes? And if so, what would happen some day when those started to manifest themselves? He now knew exactly what Lois felt. Overwhelming confusion, fear, and uncertainty.
Dana sighed in frustration. This same thing happened over and over. But she knew this man already had feelings for his son. She could clearly see the dilemma playing itself out in Clark's expressions. Why was he choosing not to even look at the file on him? "Very well. I do think you should look at this." She intentionally placed the folder on the table in front of Lois as she went back into her case to retrieve the file on the Sanders. If her guess was correct, Lois Lane had become an award winning reporter because of an insatiable curiosity. Maybe Lois would venture a look and convince Clark that adoption wasn't the best decision after all.
Lois' mind pushed out the sound of Dana's voice, her eyes firmly glued to the manila file before her. She'd been so surprised when Clark spoke up that she couldn't find her voice. She knew the only reason he was entertaining the thought of adoption was because of her. Had her reaction led him to believe that this situation was too overwhelming? Did he really feel he had to choose between her and his son? That she would demand such a thing of him? Knowing Clark, he probably felt this was simply too much to ask of her. Why couldn't he just tell Ms. Grange that they needed time to discuss things?
As Clark was shown various papers about the people that wished to adopt his son, Lois become entranced by the information held in the folder lying before her. Curiosity won out and she reached for the file. Intent on her task, she failed to see the slight smile that graced Dana's lips.
Lois' hand covered her mouth as she got her first look at the gorgeous little boy in the photo attached to the top of the first page. His light brown hair and blue-gray eyes reminded her nothing of his father, but that smile was unmistakable. Brilliant white teeth glistened in the light just as Clark's did when he wore a full smile. Was she so hurt that she couldn't support Clark at a time when he needed her most?
"The Sanders seem like good people," Clark remarked, even though he'd only half listened to Dana's introduction to the people he was seriously considering allowing to raise his son. His mind was already looking ahead to living without the boy.
"They are exceptional individuals," Dana assured him.
"And the little fellow likes them?" Clark asked again. She'd told him once that his son liked the Sanders and wanted to live with them.
"Yes, Mr. Kent, but…" Dana's voice trailed away as she glanced at Lois. The reporter was fully engrossed in her perusal of the file she held. The social worker wished the other woman would bail her out here. She wasn't quite sure what she could say to convince Clark to at least look at the information on his son. "I've talked extensively with Mrs. Davies about this case. While the child was comfortable with the Sanders, he'd also asked many, many questions since he was told that we might have found his father."
Clark looked up at Dana. "Ms. Grange, I'll be honest and tell you that's one of the reasons I'm considering allowing the Sanders to adopt him."
"I don't understand, Mr. Kent." Her soft features furrowed in confusion.
"This child has already been moved from place to place, and he was told he didn't have a father. We don't know each other. But he knows the Sanders; he's used to them." Clark glanced quickly at Lois, who wasn't saying a word, then lifted the papers before him again. "I just… I think maybe it would be best not to disrupt him anymore."
Dana nodded slowly. "Very well." She retrieved more papers from her case, then handed them across to Clark. "All you have to do is sign these papers and the adoption process will be started," Dana told Clark, even as she kept a careful eye on Lois.
He took the papers and read them over quickly before reaching for the pen Dana offered.
He lowered the pen to the first page. A few strokes and this would be over. He and Lois could get back to their lives; try to put this behind them.
<<Hah! This will never be over. You'll always wonder about him.>>
<<Yeah, but I'll have Lois and we'll make lots of babies.>>
He couldn't help but counter his own thoughts to defend his decision. This felt so wrong.
<<Losing Lois would feel worse though.>> He had to command his hand to stop shaking. He took a deep breath to steady his nerves before focusing on the papers again.
<<This is the best thing. The boy doesn't know you. He likes these people and he wants to be with them.>>
With a final resolve, he took a deep breath and demanded his hand to stop shaking. He was about to start the stroke to put his name on the paper, when Lois covered his hand.
He looked over at her with a questioning expression.
Across from them Dana released a shaky breath. Maybe there was still hope things would work out.
She placed the file in front of Clark. "Look at him, Clark. He has your smile."
Clark's eyes filled with tears as he got his first look at the child he never knew existed. Lois turned the page to show him more.
"His name is Robin Douglas. He was born November 16, 1988. He loves baseball and Superman." She had to laugh at that one. "Look how cute he is in his costume." She leaned into Clark's side. "Like father, like son," she whispered for his ears only.
A small chuckle escaped Clark's lips as he lifted his finger to smooth over the image of his son. Robin had his arms crossed over his chest and looked like a pint sized Superman.
"And chocolate. He loves chocolate," Lois finished on a sob before she fled the room.
Clark put down the file and got up to follow. "Excuse us for a moment," he shot at Dana as he hurried after Lois, who leaned across the balcony wall, looking up at the stars. "Lois?" Had he completely misinterpreted what she'd meant during their discussion at the Planet? She'd never come right and told him that adoption would be best, but she hadn't denied it either. "I was under the impression that maybe you thought this might be the wisest decision for us."
Unable to argue, she gulped before she whispered, "I did. until I saw him." And she really had… She'd been worried that having this child turn out to be Clark's son would affect their relationship beyond repair. For the briefest of moments she'd allowed her selfishness to lead Clark to believe he'd have to make a choice between her and Robin. Her pain had stopped her from correcting that mistake. Listening to Clark talk about adoption, then seeing him about to sign away a child he'd never met, all because he felt it was what *she* wanted, slammed home the reality of her actions since discovering this child existed. This child was part of Clark and no matter what decision he made, that would never change. And if she loved Clark, really loved him, there was no way she could allow him to make such a choice.
She faced Clark. "I'm still hurt and confused and I have no idea where to go from here. I'm scared I'll let this come between us. What if I resent him, just like my dad resented the fact I wasn't a boy? I'm scared he'll end up hating me and hold a grudge against you. What if he doesn't like the city? What if he cries all the time? What if he throws temper tantrums and refuses to eat? I don't know what to do if he gets sick. How do I handle all his needs? I don't even know how to cook! For a second Clark wanted to remind her that she wasn't alone in this situation. They'd face tomorrow together and share the work, but he wisely allowed her to finish her rant, knowing she needed to let it out. "And what if." She stopped as more tears came. "What if I fall as completely in love with him as I did his father?"
Clark's heart swelled with love for this woman.
"Clark, I don't know what to do with a boy. But I do know I can't let you give him up for me. You love me enough to do it and I love you enough not to let you."
His hand came up to cup her face gently. "You're everything to me, Lois. Without you, I'd be lost."
"I know that now." She covered his hand on her face. "I can't believe how selfish I've been acting. I'm terrified of what tomorrow will bring. I don't know what kind of mother I'll be, but if you did this, I'd never forgive myself. We can't give him up," she whispered.
"Thank you," he told her. He hadn't realized just how relieved he was until this moment. He leaned his head to rest against hers and closed his eyes to catch his breath. It felt so good not to have to say good-bye to Robin before he'd even said hello.
Lois lifted his face and kissed him softly. "I love you, Clark, so much… all of you."
"And I love you." He pulled her against him for a comforting hug they both needed at the moment as another thought occurred to him. "Lois," he said as he drew back to look at her. "You heard what Ms. Grange said. Robin really liked the Sanders. We can't be sure he'll like it here with us at all. Everything will be just as new to him as it is to us."
"I know," Lois admitted reluctantly. "What if he comes here and doesn't like it and still wants to live with the Sanders?" She had to force the lump down her throat.
Clark sighed heavily. He couldn't find the words to say what he was thinking. How would he ever give the child up once he'd met the little guy?
Lois pulled him back down for another hug. "Why don't we cross that bridge when and *if* it comes?"
"Okay," he whispered against her shoulder, squeezing just a little tighter. Having the assurance that Lois would be by his side no matter what soothed his fears… for now.
Lois was first to withdraw. "I guess we should get back."
"Yeah." Clark smiled when she took his hand to lead him back inside. "Ms. Grange."
She held up her hand with a smile. "No need, Mr. Kent. Your reaction is typical of the fathers I see daily. I'll contact Mrs. Davies immediately. Robin will be put on a plane tonight and should arrive by early morning."
"A plane? Alone?" Lois spoke up, her protective nature quickly replacing her hurt and fears. "Can't we go out to get him?"
"I'm sorry, Ms. Lane. We have to follow procedure. Once he's here, he and Mr. Kent will be introduced and observed for a period of time before we relinquish custody. And as you will be heavily involved in his life, Robin should meet with you as well."
"Good," Clark said. "I intend for Lois to be a huge part of his life."
Dana smiled brightly. Yes, her first assessment had been dead on. Robin was a lucky little fellow. "The meeting will last about three hours. If all goes well, and Mr. Kent still wants to assume custody, you will be allowed to bring him home."
Lois and Clark exchanged a glance before turning back to Dana.
She rose with a notepad in hand. "I have to look around your apartment."
"It's not very big," Clark told her regretfully.
"It's fine, Mr. Kent. Besides, I think Robin needs you much more than an apartment." She offered him a smile before inspecting the rest of the place. Satisfied that the child would have adequate provisions, she returned her notepad to her briefcase. "Mr. Kent, I know this is an incredibly strenuous situation to deal with, but I have faith you and Ms. Lane will be able to adjust quickly."
"It's not so much us I'm worried about," Clark voiced his fears aloud.
"I've been involved with hundreds of cases like this, Mr. Kent," Dana told him. "An overwhelming majority work out even better than anticipated. I know you're worried how this child will react, but don't. As I've said, Mrs. Davies told me that Robin has stated more than once that he's always wished that someday his real father would come for him. Yes, he liked it at the Sanders, but that was before, when he thought no one else in the world wanted him. More than anything that's what kids really want; someone to love them and want them. You'll see. Things will work out just fine." She smiled at Clark, then lifted her briefcase and looked at the couple one final time. "I'll call you as soon as we know something."
"I'll be looking forward to your call." Clark showed Dana to the door before going back to join Lois on the sofa. "Lois, are you sure about this?"
"Did you really feel I'd put you in a position to choose between us?"
He met her gaze with absolute conviction. "Lois, you are so important to me. I'm not sure I know how to breathe without you."
"And you'd have given up a son you've never met…" Her words drifted off as the implication hit her fully. Again, she felt horrible for putting Clark in a position where he felt as if he had to choose. "I'm so sorry, Clark," she whispered through tears. "I never meant for you to feel that way. I was just so hurt and confused. Then I let my fears take over, and I never tried to explain…" She choked on a sob, unable to continue.
"Lois…" His hand lifted to her face, overcome with emotion.
"Loving someone means loving *all* of them," she told him when she'd regained control. "I forgot that for a while." She reached out to push his hair off his forehead. "I love you," she told him again, wanting to be certain he understood that.
"I love you," he said with a smile.
Lois smiled through more tears before she rose to her feet.
"Where are you going?"
"Shopping. We need to turn your loft into a bedroom and you need to fly out to get your parents. They'd kill you if you didn't."
"Let's just hope they don't kill me anyway."
"Clark, they'll be thrilled to find out they have a grandson."
"Yeah." He stared at a spot on the table.
She reached out to lift his chin so she could see his eyes. "We'll make it. You'll see."
His hands lifted to grasp her thighs. "Lois, you have no idea what your support means to me."
She ran a hand through his hair. "I have a pretty good idea." They shared a tender kiss, which escalated into an all out assault on the other's senses before they stopped. The past twelve hours had been so emotionally charged that this basic instinct to reconnect had taken over. It was as if each needed some kind of reassurance that things really would be all right.
Lois was gasping for air as she looked down into Clark's eyes. "As much as I'd love to stay here and do this, we really need to get going. Barker's closes at ten o'clock."
Clark smiled up at her. "Yes, ma'am." He let Lois pull him to his feet. "But can we do more of that when we get back?"
Lois just laughed as she handed him his jacket and they left the apartment.
Lois traded favors with the manager at Barker's department store to have a twin bed and dresser delivered to Clark's apartment right away. A baseball themed d,cor was added in the form of a matching bed set, a table that looked like a ball sitting on bats for legs, several pictures, and a shelf to hang on the wall. Lois had to go one step further and buy a new mitt, ball, and bat. She insisted Clark couldn't meet his son for the first time without a gift.
Clark opted to be more practical. He'd scanned over the file before they left the apartment and judging from Robin's height and weight, he'd picked out a few essentials such as underwear and socks. A couple of jogging suits were purchased as well so the child would have enough until they could buy him new clothes. He and Lois both were pretty sure Robin wouldn't have a large amount of things, being as he'd travel cross country on plane. They were also unsure of how much the child would possess since he'd been bounced around the foster care system for so long.
Around midnight, and with a little super help, the couple had finally finished their chores of transforming the small loft into a suitable bedroom. Neither had mentioned the possibility that Robin might decide he didn't like it here at all. They were convinced that if they showed the child he was indeed wanted, he'd never consider leaving. And having a bedroom ready and waiting would go a long way to proving their case. Besides, Robin needed these things. Satisfied to have a starting point, the couple finally left the room to turn in for the night.
Lois yawned as they descended the stairs of the spiral case. Clark's hands came up to rub her shoulders. "I'm sorry, honey. I kept you up way too late."
She stopped once they were off the steps and turned to grin at Clark. "What did you say?"
"I said I kept you up late." Clark's hands fell back to his side.
"I'm sorry?" He wasn't sure what she was after.
"The other word?" Her grin had spread across her face.
Clark furrowed his brows, but realized what she meant. "Honey?" he asked uncertainly.
"Honey. I never thought of myself as a honey." She wrapped her arms around his waist.
"Do you like it?"
"Oh, I do," she said as she stared up at him. "Got any more names to call me?"
"Mmm…" Clark contemplated that thought as he lightly rubbed her back and shoulders. "Sweetheart. darling. my little tornado."
Lois giggled up at him. "This is sick."
"Yeah," was his answer before he pulled her into a hug. "So, Ms. Lane, are you going to let Superman fly you home since it's so late?"
"Actually, I was thinking Superman would let me stay with him tonight." She drew out of their embrace and looked up at him anxiously.
His brows rose with her suggestion. "You want to stay here? With me?"
"Well, who else am I going to stay with? Robin's not here yet."
Clark shrugged a little, but kept his hold around her waist. "I just thought. we were going to. let that happen?"
"We are. And as much as I want it to happen, it won't be tonight. Today has been so emotionally charged that I think we need to reconnect. I just want to stay here with you; sleep in your arms." She hugged him tighter and laid her head on his chest. "I think we both need the reassurance of each other's closeness."
Clark smoothed her hair back so he could place a kiss on her forehead. "I'd like that."
"Good," she replied with a smile when she pulled back. "Give me your shirt." Her hand was waiting patiently for the item.
"I want to sleep in your shirt. I don't have anything else," she added for reasoning.
Clark had to stifle a groan at the image she'd created. How was he ever going to survive the night just holding her? He shrugged from his shirt and chuckled when she ran into the bathroom.
Five minutes later, she crawled into bed next to him, snuggling up to his side.
"This is nice," she said after a while.
Clark's fingers stroked her shoulder and the arm that was wrapped across his stomach. "It is."
"Although. if we're going to do this often, you may want to consider adding a wall and door to the loft."
"What do you think he's like?" Clark had been lost in thoughts of his son for quite a while.
"I don't know. What kind of person was his mother?"
"Kim was. a little wild. She liked to party and hang out with friends. Brilliant woman though. Scored out the roof on her SAT's. She was labeled a genius by several institutions in the country. I never could understand why she didn't use it."
Lois lifted her head to look at Clark in the pale light from the window. "She didn't do well in school?"
"Oh yeah. She could sleep through class and still ace a test. But, Lois, this girl was really gifted. She seemed to know everything about everything. Even though I comprehend at a much quicker rate than most people, this girl made me look slow. If I'd been like that, I would have started my own business or invented something. Kim just shrugged it off and went to the next party."
"So, how did you get hooked up with her?" Lois moved her hands up to Clark's chest and settled her chin on top so she could look at him while they talked.
His fingers began idly playing with her hair. "I met her in one of my study groups. She tutored everyone. She was a free spirit; open, outgoing, passionate; everything I wasn't. To a boy fresh off the farm, that was an exciting thing. She told me she liked my Kansas charm." Clark grinned at Lois.
"Yeah, well, that definitely goes a long way for you."
"I guess I was attracted and she didn't mind. We went out as friends for a while before we ever thought of being anything more. Things just kind of happened from there."
"What about your powers? Weren't you ever worried about her finding out about them? I mean, she didn't know, did she?"
"No. She didn't know. By that time, I'd learned to control most of my powers. So, I was pretty good at hiding them. And for a boy who'd spent a lot of time alone, her attention seemed a little more important than anything I could do. It was nice to spend time with her."
Lois smiled with him. "I suppose she had to be a pretty decent person for you to spend time with her."
"She was. Kim was great and I fell pretty hard. I realized later that all it had ever been was a caring friendship, not love at all. But at the time… well…" He trailed off as he remembered his time with Kim.
"How did you take it when she was attacked?"
"I was devastated. You know me. I thought I should have been able to help her. I blamed myself for a long time before I realized what I was doing was only hurting her more. We didn't stay together long after that. She couldn't seem to get herself together, so she went back home to her dad's. That broke my heart, but I thought her well-being was more important at the time. We wrote to each other a few times, but lost contact after a year or so."
"And you never had an inclination that she was keeping such a secret from you?"
"None. She and I had discussed the possibility of a pregnancy resulting from the attack early on. She'd taken her pills religiously since she was in high school, so we both figured she would be protected."
"Maybe not from super sperm." Lois grinned and stretched up to kiss his chin.
Clark stilled and pushed her back. "Lois, what if that's it? What if my sperm is super? How can we make sure you don't become pregnant the first we make love? Or every time?!"
Lois reached up to smooth his hair behind his ear. "Clark, I'm sure you're not overly potent. There could be all sorts of things that resulted in the pregnancy for Kim. Her system could have been off, she could have been taking another medication that offset the birth control's effectiveness, or she simply could have been one of those unfortunate women whose system is stimulated by hormones. Besides that, you said you'd had another sexual relationship that *didn't* result in pregnancy. So, you can't be all that super. And even you were the one that pointed out no form of protection is one hundred percent effective."
"I sure hope so. I'd hate to have to spend our whole lives worrying about having too many children."
She kissed his chest lightly. "Well, I think we have a few more things to think about right now."
Clark cupped her cheek in his large hand. "I love you, Lois."
"And I love you." She kissed him softly before settling back down against him. He pulled her just a tad closer as they drifted to sleep. Neither knew where tomorrow would take them, but they knew they'd face it together.
Robin made his way slowly out of the terminal from the plane he'd just gotten off. It was his first time on a jet and he'd really enjoyed it, though he wished it could have been daytime so he could have seen more. But the lights over Metropolis were pretty, so he'd been entranced.
He walked silently beside his escort from the Oregon Children's Home. They stopped before a young woman that was waiting for them when they entered the expanse of the airport. She smiled down at him and held out her hand.
"Hello, Robin. I'm Dana Grange."
"Hi." He shook her hand as his eyes drifted around him. This place sure was big.
"Are you ready?"
He nodded and lifted the pack over his shoulder to make the journey easier. He waved quickly at the man who'd flown with him and waited for Ms. Grange to finish speaking before he was led toward the exit. This time they'd told him they'd found his dad. He was excited and incredibly scared. He didn't know this man. What's his name? What's he like? And was he anything like the man in his dreams?
Dana looked down at the boy with a smile. "Don't worry, Robin. I'll let you know what we know about your father. Mrs. Davies said this was something that you've always wanted."
"Yeah," he agreed as he kept pace with the woman. He hoped this social worker would be as nice as Mrs. Davies. *She* was the only constant he'd known since his mother's death. But his thoughts drifted quickly back to his father. His mom had always avoided answering his questions about a 'daddy', stating they were all the family the other needed.
That hadn't been true though. His mom had died and left him with his grandfather. Then Grandpa had passed away and he was alone. He'd been so scared when the county workers had taken him into that first group home. He'd cried a lot back then, wishing his mom were still alive to take him back home. She hadn't come though and he'd had to live with so many different people. After a while, he'd decided that he was all the family he'd ever have and it was time to take care of himself. So he'd stopped all that crying and went with the flow. He'd made some really good friends, only to have to say good-bye each time that he'd been moved. Then he'd moved to the Sanders. He'd really liked it there and wanted them to keep him for always. Only there was this man, this one last man that might be his father. He'd been told that before. Only this time it was true. He really did have a father, just like Billy Patterson had told him once.
Billy had been a kid he met in a group home. He was older and had been around. Billy told him that even if he didn't know him, somewhere there was a man that was his father. Or at least there had been 'cause kids have to have one. Now he was about to meet that father, the one he hadn't known. He was so scared. What if this man didn't like him? What if he didn't like this man? He'd decided on the plane trip to be on his best behavior so his father wouldn't want to send him back to another home. He'd also decided to give the guy a chance. Maybe his father was just as scared as he was like Mrs. Davies had suggested. He was told this man hadn't known about him at all, but was very eager to meet him. Well, he was eager too. Scared, but eager.
Why didn't Mom ever tell me about him? Robin thought as he obediently followed Ms. Grange through the exit and toward a parked car.
Dana rubbed his shoulder as they approached her sedan. By day's end, this child would have a reason to smile again.
Since it was still very early when Robin arrived in Metropolis, Dana took the boy home with her. With only a few hours of sleep, they left for the DFCS office around mid- morning. There was a lot of paperwork to be done before Robin could meet his dad. He waited patiently in one of the large chairs in Ms. Grange's office, content to watch the hum of action in the outer office. He'd learned a long time ago that it was better if you just behaved and kept quiet. Besides, you could learn a lot when adults thought you weren't listening.
Dana smiled over at him as she dialed the Daily Planet. After finally meeting Robin face-to-face, Dana was sure Lois and Clark would be thrilled with the decision they'd made.
Robin's head whipped around when he heard Ms. Grange say his father's name.
<She's talking to him!> He watched intently until she replaced the receiver.
"You're all set to meet your father," Dana told the anxious little boy before her.
"'Kay," Robin said, then turned his head back toward the doorway.
"How would you like to see some pictures of him?" She had to do something to relieve some of this child's apprehension. It was easy to see the small boy was frightened by the whole situation, but she could also see the twinkle in his eyes every time Clark Kent's name was mentioned.
Robin turned back to the woman and nodded quickly. That's exactly what he wanted. Maybe he would feel better if he knew what his father looked like. He made his way over to the desk slowly when Dana pulled out a file and opened it. With a deep breath, he stepped over to Ms. Grange's side and prepared himself for his first look at the image of his father.
"Lois?" Clark waited patiently behind her while she finished typing a sentence.
"Yeah?" She turned to meet his gaze.
"Really?" She rose to her feet from her chair. "When can we meet him?" Her earlier reservations had been replaced with excitement due in large part to her curious nature.
"Four. They're meeting us at Centennial Park at the West entrance playground."
Lois glanced at her watch. "That's three hours! How are we supposed to wait that long?"
"I know. But, honey, I think maybe we need to talk to Perry."
"Yeah," she agreed reluctantly. She knew telling people about Robin was inevitable, but she felt like being selfish again. She wanted to be sure of her feelings, more confident with her new role. Besides, she felt she and Clark needed time to become acquainted with the boy first.
"Lois?" Clark was concerned by her response. "What's wrong?"
"It's just." She looked away from him a second. "I just want today to be for us. and your folks. We can tell everyone tomorrow."
"Are you sure that's all? You haven't changed your mind?"
"I haven't changed my mind. I'm so excited to meet him. I just want a little more time to adjust to this and get to know him."
"I'm sure." She smiled to reassure him before kissing him quickly. "Now what do you say we talk to Perry and play hooky the rest of the day? There's no way I could concentrate on anything until we've met him."
Clark grinned down at her. "How about that? Lois Lane wants to play hooky."
"Yeah, well, write it down. It may be a while before it happens again." She smiled as she passed him on her way to Perry's office.
Ten minutes later, they boarded the elevator to spend the afternoon together waiting on four o'clock to arrive.
Lois and Clark decided to spend the afternoon walking, window- shopping, and talking. And it wasn't long before Lois discovered she wasn't totally averse to playing hooky.
"This is fun," Lois told Clark as she stopped in front of a store to admire a dress in the window. "Oh, Clark. This dress is amazing."
Clark admired the white satin and lace with a huge grin on his face. He'd love to see Lois in that. "Would you like to try it on?"
She looked over at Clark as if he'd lost his mind. "Are you crazy? This dress probably costs a month's salary."
"So," he said with a shrug. "I would hope you're only going to be married once." At least he hoped she was still going to be married. When she didn't immediately disagree, he continued. "I think you should have what you want."
"What I want is for us to be able to afford to buy groceries. We can't spend the next twenty years paying for my wedding dress."
Clark shifted to come closer to her, having registered what she'd said. "Does this mean we're still getting married?"
"What?" She fully faced Clark with a confused expression. "Clark, why wouldn't we get married?"
"Well, yesterday we got some pretty shocking news, and you were pretty angry. I just thought."
"Yesterday I was hurt and confused."
"Lois, you were angry."
"Okay. I was angry, but did I ever say I wanted to call off the wedding?" And even as she said that, her conscience reminded her of the doubt she'd had where their relationship was concerned.
"No," he drawled. "But I asked you about it last night and you couldn't answer."
"Do *you* want to call it off?" she countered to keep from answering him.
"Lois, no!" He took a step closer to her, reaching to hold her upper arm. "I have wanted nothing more in my life for the past. two years. But I'm not so na<ve that I would automatically assume we'd just go ahead with our plans regardless of this major change in our lives."
"And I acted like an ass." Lois couldn't stop herself from admitting that.
"No, no, no. Honey, you acted better than many other woman would have acted in your place." He leaned over to kiss her forehead. "This whole thing is still a little surreal to me."
"I know." She lifted her hands to rub up and down his arms swiftly. "I know you're scared and confused and very hurt over this. I should have never acted the way I did." Her hands clasped his larger ones in hers. "But, baby, I don't think I could face tomorrow without you in it. And I *definitely* want to get married."
"The *instant* family doesn't bother you?"
"I won't lie and tell you things will be all rosy and bright. I can tell you that I will never stop loving you and since Robin is part of you, I'm confident I'll come to love him just as passionately."
Clark pulled his hands from hers and lifted them to cradle her face. "The woman that was made for me," he whispered softly. "How did I ever live without you?" He smiled before his lips met hers in a sweet kiss. When he pulled back, he glanced at the dress in the window. "You're sure about the dress?"
Lois turned her head to look at the wonderful display. "Yeah. I was thinking of asking your mom to sew me one."
Clark's brows rose as she met his gaze again, his hands dropping to her arms. "Really?"
"She did a good job on your clothes." Lois giggled and tugged on Clark's lapels. He laughed softly, enjoying this moment. "I thought we could come up with something beautiful and elegant. and a lot less expensive than that one."
"Okay. I just want you to know you can have what you want."
"I do," she told him firmly.
Clark could only smile brighter down at her. This woman was everything he'd ever dreamed of as he'd grown into a man. He would never understand why he'd wasted all those years looking in the wrong places.
"Did you call me baby?" Clark asked as they started to walk again. Lois held his arm tighter and giggled.
Clark watched Lois pace in front of him for the tenth time. "Lois, honey, you're making me nervous."
"I can't help it, Clark. Where are they?"
"It's just now four. They'll be here."
"I know." She turned around again and stopped dead in her tracks. Ms. Grange was approaching them, holding Robin's hand.
Robin was really nervous now. He was also incredibly excited. Ms. Grange had read some of his father's work to him and shown him pictures. He had to admit he liked what he saw. His frightened eyes met the dark eyes of a woman he recognized from some photographs. That was his father's partner and fianc,e, Lois Lane. She looked really nice, just like in her pictures. And it made him feel better that she looked as scared as he felt.
"Clark," Lois whispered.
He looked up from his perusal of his fingers. He followed her wide-eyed expression to the small boy approaching with the social worker. He rose to his feet slowly, unable to tear his eyes from the child.
Robin's eyes shifted from Lois to the man standing beside her.
His small body started to tremble in anticipation; his hand clutched Dana's hand just a little tighter.
"It's okay," Dana told him softly. "He *wants* you."
Robin didn't indicate he'd even heard her; his eyes were still glued to his father. He was about to meet his father for the very first time! This was more frightening than going to that first group home.
<<Please let him like me.>> Robin's eyes searched Clark's features for any indication that this man would be mean or demanding. He'd met a man like that once and didn't want to repeat the experience. But Clark was even nicer looking in person than he was in his pictures. Robin had been almost relieved to see a picture of Clark smiling broadly. Anyone who smiled like couldn't be all that bad. Could they?
"Look at him, Clark. He's so adorable," Lois whispered as she blinked back tears that she hadn't realized had formed. How was it she'd gone from completely hurt and uncertain about this child to this?
"Yeah." Clark was more nervous than he'd ever been in his entire life. Even proposing to Lois had been a piece of cake compared to this. What do you say to a child you never knew you had?
Large, tear filled eyes looked up at Ms. Grange. "She's crying," Robin said, unable to stop the salty water from stinging his lids when he saw Lois wipe her cheek. He'd always been particularly sensitive to others emotions and this was no different. If this woman was crying, it couldn't be good.
"I think she is happy to meet you."
"Really?" Robin looked back at Lois. Could this woman, who didn't even know him, be happy to meet him? Happy enough to cry about it? The only person he'd seen cry out of happiness was his mom. He kept his eyes glued firmly to Lois as they drew closer.
"Good afternoon," Dana spoke up as they stopped before the couple. She didn't receive a response as both the people before her were occupied with something else. She stopped a few feet away from the couple.
Robin's eyes were glued to Lois'. He was still in shock this woman was having this reaction because of him.
"Hi, little guy," Lois beamed down at him as she bent to get a better look.
"Hi." He could only stare. She was a very pretty lady and she had a great smile. It helped to ease him a bit.
"I'm Lois, your father's partner at work and his fianc,."
"I know. Ms. Grange told me and I saw pictures."
"You did?" He nodded as Lois kneeled in front of him.
"Yes, ma'am," he decided to add. It wouldn't hurt to show her that he was polite. Billy had told him a long time ago all the things to say and do to make adults like you. Of course, his mom had always taught him to be considerate. 'Good manners go a long way', she'd said. She'd been right too. Robin had discovered that he was always treated well when he behaved and minded his manners, which had helped since his mom died. He'd heard enough horror stories of kids who weren't treated very well because of their behavior, so he'd adopted a quiet, reserved demeanor that had served him well.
Lois couldn't keep the smile from spreading across her face. Robin was even more handsome than the photos they'd seen. She couldn't believe she could have ever thought about not meeting this little person and getting to know him. She absolutely beamed at the comment. Robin certainly seemed to be very polite.
Robin's mouth twitched when Lois smiled at him. He glanced up at Clark, who was looking on in wonder. When his eyes fell back to Lois', he gave in to the smile that was dying to get out.
"Oh, wow!" Lois couldn't resist; she had to touch him. Her hand went out to his arm, lightly rubbing, as yet more tears filled her eyes.
The boy couldn't believe how good it felt for someone to want to meet him so badly. Even when he had been placed with the Sanders, they hadn't expressed this kind of emotion. It was more than a month before he could get Kitty to touch him. For a child who had always thrived on physical attention, by the time Robin made it to the Sanders, he was starved for affection. His mother had showered him constantly with hugs and kisses and to suddenly have that taken away was difficult for his five year old mind to comprehend. He glanced at the hand that had just left his arm before his eyes drifted back to Lois'. He couldn't help but wonder if she liked giving and receiving hugs.
He and Lois shared another smile before he looked up at Clark.
Clark, who had been watching the scene unfold before him, couldn't have been more thrilled. His heart felt as if it would burst with emotion. The woman he loved more than life itself was actually beaming happily at his son; the son he hadn't known existed.
He kneeled down beside Lois so he could look into Robin's eyes. "Hi, pal. It's really good to meet you."
"Really?" Could his father really mean that?
"Absolutely." Clark smiled to assure Robin he meant what he said. He was rewarded with a small smile. "I never knew. about you. They showed me pictures just last night. I would have been there, had I known it." This was something Clark wanted to make perfectly clear from the beginning. He never wanted this child to think he was unwanted by his father. Though he did feel pretty guilty about having almost given him up for adoption.
"Mom never told me about you either. Only that she didn't really know who my father was," Robin told him sadly. Why hadn't she told him? Clark Kent really seemed like a nice man.
Clark nodded, relieved to know he hadn't been made out to be some kind of dead beat dad. He had wanted to believe Kim wouldn't have done such a thing, but the fact she'd never told him she'd had a son at all had him wondering.
"Hey," Clark spoke up. "Did you enjoy the flight out?"
"Yeah!" The boy brightened for a moment, then frowned. "It was dark and I didn't see much though."
"I'll bet we could arrange for a flight soon, in the daytime," Lois told him, unsure where to begin. She had no idea what to say or do, still terrified that Robin would hate her. Or worse, hate her and Clark.
"That would be cool," he said with a smile. "Would you come, too?" He felt he liked this woman already. He would certainly want her on a flight with him.
"Of course, I'll come," Lois told him readily.
Robin smiled even brighter at that. Lois and Clark exchanged a glance and a soft laugh which made all the butterflies in his stomach leave him in a rush. He liked the sound of their laughter. It told him a lot about what kind of people they were. And they sounded nice— very nice!
Clark looked back at him. "Would you like to swing?"
"Or you could open your gifts?" Lois spoke up quickly.
"You bought me gifts?" His little eyes widened as he spotted the gift-wrapped boxes on the park bench behind the adults.
"We did," Clark told him as he rose. "Come on."
Robin followed behind Clark, Lois on his heels. Dana drifted some distance away from the small family to allow them to get to know each other. She didn't want to be in the way.
Clark lifted two boxes wrapped in baseball themed paper and held them out to Robin.
"Wow!" He couldn't contain his excitement. It had been a long time since he'd gotten a gift that would be his. With that thought, his smile faded and he looked up at Clark. "Will they be mine to keep? For always?"
"What?" Clark frowned and eased back to sit on the bench so he could look into Robin's eyes.
"Before, when I've gotten gifts from other families, I could only keep them as long as I was at that home."
Clark set the gifts on Lois' lap, as she'd settled next to him on the bench. Her smile had faded and her expression had taken on a serious tone.
"Robin, we got these things for *you*. That means you can keep them. No one is going to take them back."
"And we'd really like for you to stay with us," Lois assured him.
The boy looked between the two adults for a moment before he spoke again. "Ms. Grange told me you were getting married. I just thought. I thought." He looked between the adults before he dropped his eyes to the ground.
"You thought what?" Clark reached out to lift his chin gently.
"Well, I figured that. once you were married." He refused to look at Clark.
Lois immediately understood the child. She shoved the gifts to the empty space on the bench before reaching out to take both of Robin's hands. "Robin, look at me." She waited until his big, scared eyes met hers. "Clark is your father. And I hope that you'll call me your friend. Yes, I'm going to marry your father, very soon. But no, you don't have to leave. Your father wants you to live with him until we're married, then we both want you to live with us."
"R. really?" He'd started to cry and his lip trembled.
"Yes. Really," Lois had to finish on a whisper because she was starting to choke up as well.
Robin looked down at her hands, squeezing just a little tighter, before he looked back up at Lois with a smile. "I think I like you."
"Oh, sweetie." Lois could only smile in return. She didn't think she could speak past the lump in her throat.
Clark blinked several times to stop the sting of tears behind his lids. He couldn't believe Robin would have thought that once he was married there would be no place for him here.
"May I open those gifts now. Lois?"
"Of course you can." She gave his hands a final squeeze before she lifted the packages and scooted over to make room for him to sit down. He eyed the empty spot for a moment, then climbed between Lois and Clark. "Open this one first," she told him, placing the long narrow box in his lap.
He quickly tore off the wrapping; Lois and Clark watching with huge smiles. "Oh wow!" His small hands smoothed over the cool metal in the box. It was a brand new Louie Ville SluggerT— the finest bat made. "Wow!" His eyes danced between Lois and Clark. "Thanks! This is great!" Really great. His father really was nice… and so was Lois!
"You're not done yet," Clark reminded him with a pointed finger at the other box.
Robin made short work of the wrapping on the other box. "No way!" He lifted the leather glove from its tissue cradle. "And a ball! This is too much!"
He looked up at Lois as if she had two heads. "Like 'em? I love 'em! My old stuff was for little kids and it got left at the storage place. I had a glove at Kitty and Jeff's, but Mrs. Davies said I had to leave it. That was the rules."
"Well, pal, these are yours." Clark rubbed the new leather of the glove, delighting in his son's enthusiasm. He looked up to exchange a quick smile with Lois.
Robin smoothed his hand over the leather several times before he turned to Clark. "Do you like baseball?"
"Sure. I also like basketball and football."
"He played football in college," Lois boasted.
Robin's head shot around to Lois. "Really?" He smiled back at Clark brightly. "Did you make a touchdown?"
"Don't listen to him, Robin. One thing you have to know right away about your father is that he doesn't brag very much. He scored *a lot* of touchdowns. He won the 'Most Valuable Player of the Year' the last year he played. He even has the trophy at home to prove it."
"No way!" The small boy was completely entranced by his larger than life father. "Can I see it?"
"You'll see everything. My home's going to be your home."
"I only had one home before." He dropped his eyes to the gifts in his lap. "Mom used to give me gifts. She gave me lots of stuff."
"Your mom was a very special person," Clark told him softly.
"Yeah. I miss her."
"And that's okay. You can miss her all you want." Clark wanted so badly to reach out to him, but felt it would be best to let him come on his own. He had no idea how the boy had been treated over the last two years and he certainly didn't want to traumatize him.
The small boy looked up at Lois. "Is that okay with you?"
"What? To miss your mom?" She wore a frown as she tried to comprehend what the child meant.
He nodded at her. At the group home once there was a girl who met her dad for the first time only to be hated by her step mom. The little girl came back to the group after only a month. She was eventually adopted, but had cried for days because her step mom hadn't liked her. Robin felt he already liked Lois and desperately wanted her to like him. There was no way he wanted to *ever* go back to a group home again. So maybe if he didn't upset her… "I don't want to hurt your feelings."
"Robin, you could never hurt my feelings by missing your mother."
He let the smile tugging the corners of his mouth spread out. This woman was too good to be true. She'd just told him it was all right to miss his mom. And he did, an awful lot. "I'm glad, 'cause I don't think I'll ever stop missing her."
Lois smiled brightly, too. "You don't have to." What she wouldn't give to reach out and tuck that stubborn strand of hair behind his ear. <<He's so adorable!>>
"Hey, pal," Clark spoke up, wanting to keep the mood light. He knew they'd eventually have to talk about sensitive areas with Robin, but not now. Now he just wanted to get to know the guy a little better. "How about I pitch you a few balls?"
"Yeah!" He jumped up and waited patiently for Clark to take off his jacket. He hadn't played ball in a long time. Robin glanced at Lois. "Will you come, too?"
"Sure." She stood and put her jacket down with Clark's so they could make their way to the small open space in front of the bench. "But I have to warn you that I don't know a thing about baseball."
"That's okay. I'll teach you. Here, you can wear my glove." He offered up his newest possession with enthusiasm. He couldn't believe Lois was going to play with them. Kitty had *never* played ball with them. His mom had. She'd had a mean curve ball— or at least that's what Grandpa had said.
As he lifted the bat to his shoulder, he wondered if his father and Lois really meant all they'd told him. So far he really liked them both. Maybe this time would be the last time he'd have to move.
Clark couldn't help but smile. He'd thrown the ball dozens of times to Robin, who'd hit quite a few. He'd had to run after the ball before it went into the woods. The boy's happy laughter filled Clark's senses, making him aware of how glad he was to have chosen to meet this little person.
Robin felt so glad to be able to laugh for a bit. His seven year old shoulders carried around a lot of baggage. He spent most of his time feeling sad, missing his mom and granddad, which was a change from how he felt when he'd first been placed in the group home. Back then he'd just been incredibly scared, unsure of what the next day would bring. When he'd started moving from foster home to foster home, he'd been confused. He thought that each time he moved it was because of something he'd done. After a couple of moves, he'd decided to be on his very best behavior so that he wouldn't have to leave next time. Although, there had been a couple of places he wanted to leave the same day he got there. But somehow he'd managed to get by. His easy going nature served him well. When he met Kitty and Jeff, he was sure he'd found his home. Yet, there had always been something missing. He never felt like he was truly part of the family. They'd wanted to adopt him and he'd wanted to stay, but when Mrs. Davies had told him that they'd found his real father, he'd been too excited for words. Sure, he still missed the Sanders and would like to see them again someday. Yet, he also hoped his dad remained as nice as he seemed because Robin felt himself becoming fast friends with both Clark and Lois. And a kid needed friends.
And Lois. Lois had kicked off her heels and played ball with them in her skirt and stockings! She hadn't even complained the first time about ruining the net items on her feet. Clark couldn't be more thrilled. She played catcher for father and son, yelling loudly each time Robin hit the ball. This only seemed to further the boy's pleasure. His bright smile reached his eyes, making them twinkle in the afternoon sun.
Clark hadn't missed the obvious admiration Robin felt for Lois either. It was clear that Robin was clearly his father's son, having lost his heart to Lois Lane. This only made Clark happier, if possible, about their choice.
After the game of ball, Robin challenged Lois to a race on the swings. He wasn't disappointed in the least. Her competitive spirit shone through, but instead of deterring Robin, it seemed to stoke his nature as well. They threw insults about each other's ability to move their swing back and forth, while Clark served as motor to keep them in motion. When the race was finally finished, Clark bought everyone something to drink and they settled at a picnic table to talk for a while.
"Thanks for the CokeT," Robin told Clark after he'd taken a healthy swallow.
"You're welcome." Clark smiled across the table to where Robin had chosen to sit so he could see both himself and Lois.
"Are you always so polite?" Lois ventured. She'd been trying to decide how to get Robin talking about the past couple of years and his feelings. She didn't want to come right out and ask him how he'd come through with such an obvious good nature, so maybe asking a few indirect questions would start the conversation.
The boy shrugged his shoulders. "I guess I like to be polite." He took another sip from his soda can before saying more. "It helps to be polite in some of the places I've been."
"Was it… bad?" Lois wasn't sure how to proceed, but desperately wanted to know how Robin had been treated.
"Not too bad. I was scared at first. I didn't understand why my mom left me." He looked down at the can he held between his hands. "Then Grandpa left me too."
"You do understand that it wasn't their choice?" Clark asked him.
"Yeah." He sighed, then looked up at Clark. "I just miss still miss 'em a lot."
Clark smiled sadly at him. What else could he do? He'd never pretend to know what Robin felt because his parents were still alive.
Lois, on the other hand, almost felt at times that her parents were dead. They'd never been there for her when she'd really needed them. Maybe that's why she suddenly felt such a strong connection to Robin. "Did you move a lot?" she asked, trying to steer the conversation back to safer ground.
"I think seven times." He seemed to think about that for a moment before he looked back at Lois. "Yep. Seven. I went to a group home first. Then three different homes, back to the group home, then Kitty and Jeff's, then the group home again."
"Well, now you're here and I hope you'll always be," Lois said with a smile.
"Robin, Ms. Grange said that the Sanders wanted to adopt you," Clark began.
"Yeah. They asked if I'd like that and I said yeah, but that was before I knew about you. I didn't find out until I was sent back to the group home. Mrs. Davies came to see me and said they thought they'd found my dad in Metropolis."
"And how did you feel?" Clark wasn't as careful as Lois. He needed to know if Robin truly wanted to be with them. He'd never forgive himself if Robin would rather be where he felt more comfortable.
"I was excited. I'd always wished my dad would show up one day and take me home for good." Robin hang his head while he spoke, afraid to look Clark in the eyes. What if this man didn't want to hear these things? What if this man wasn't as happy to learn about him as he'd been to learn about his dad? Clark had told him that he'd never known about a son. What if Clark just didn't like him enough to keep him?
"I can't lie and say I wasn't shocked when I found out about you," Clark said softly. Robin seemed to be a very intelligent child. The least he could do was be honest with him. He watched as the boy slowly lifted his eyes to meet his. The fear and apprehension was clearly written in his expression. "I never knew that you could be out there somewhere. But, Robin, if I had known, you would never have had to live in those homes. You would have had a home with me."
"And we really hope that's what you want," Lois added. "I know we don't each other very well, but already we like you. We want you to stay."
Robin considered all they'd said for a long moment before taking another sip from his soda can. Finally he looked up at Clark. "Would it be okay to call Kitty and Jeff? Maybe write them."
"It would be more than okay," Clark assured him.
"Maybe soon we can even visit them," Lois said.
The boy nodded carefully as he studied the people before him. "I think I'd like to stay," he told them finally.
"Good." Lois absolutely beamed. For a brief moment she'd been afraid Robin would tell them he'd like to move back with the Sanders.
"I sure am glad you want to stay," Clark told him with a grin.
"Thank you." Robin couldn't help but add. It wouldn't hurt to mind his manners. There was no way he wanted to give either his dad or Lois reason to change their minds about him staying.
"There's those manners again," Lois spoke up. "I've never met a child so polite."
"Mom always told me that I should be polite."
"So did my mom," Clark told him softly, then winked.
Robin's nose wrinkled as he smiled at Clark. He sure was glad his father was so nice!
"Well, your father is about the most polite person I've ever met," Lois commented. "Drives me crazy sometimes." She rolled her eyes for emphasis.
Robin smiled at her. "Does he do things like hold the door open for you? My grandpa said he used to do that for my grandma."
"He does," she told him. "And he brings me coffee every morning and lately he's added breakfast."
"She won't eat breakfast if I don't bring it to her," Clark defended himself.
"How long have you two known each other?"
"About two years." Lois smiled briefly at Clark.
"But she wasn't crazy about me at first." Clark just had to point that out.
"Well, you weren't." He looked back at Robin. "She thought I was a hack from nowheresville."
"Where ya' from?"
"Really? Did you grow up on a farm?"
"As a matter of fact, I did. And," Clark reached into his back pocket to take out his wallet. "My folks still live there."
Robin sat up straighter then. "Your folks? I. I have grandparents?"
"Yep. See." Clark extended his wallet to Robin so he could see the picture of the Kents.
The boy climbed onto the bench on his knees to get a better look. "Oh wow! They look so. so. wow!"
"They are," Lois spoke up. "They're the sweetest people in the world."
"And they're here in Metropolis to meet you." Clark's eyes softened as his son looked up at him.
"Really? They want to meet me?"
"Sure. Mom cried when I told her about you this morning. I had a friend of mine fly them out."
"A friend that flies?" Robin's brows furrowed a moment before realization hit. "He's a pilot?"
"Not exactly. He flies by himself, without an airplane," Lois threw in before Clark could answer.
Robin was really confused then. A friend who flies… by himself. There was only one person he knew that could fly all by himself. His eyes widened and he looked at Clark in disbelief. "Superman is your friend? No way!"
"Yep," Lois told him with a grin.
"Get out! That is *so* cool!" His eyes shifted from Lois to Clark, then back down to the photo. "But I think they're even cooler," he said softly. He'd never been more excited and absolutely terrified in all his life. He didn't know these people, was still scared they'd find out they didn't really like him enough to keep him with them. Yet, he couldn't stop himself from being glad his father had been found. Then to find out he had grandparents, too! It was all too much. He wanted to know everything; do everything!
Clark's eyes misted over as he thought about the life this little fellow had been forced to live the last couple of years. He knew none of that had been his fault, but suddenly he felt so guilty. He reached out to lay his hand over Robin's. "I'm really sorry I didn't know about you."
Robin looked up at him with sad eyes. "Me, too." They stared at each other a moment before he shifted his gaze to Lois. She was wiping tears again. He smiled at her, still unable to believe a woman that really didn't have a connection to him at all would react this way to him.
"Hey," Lois began after a moment. "You know what? Since Clark and I are going to be married, I guess you'll have to meet my parents. Or maybe not. They're so different from Clark's folks." She realized what she'd said with a start. Her head whipped around to face Clark. "Clark, we haven't told my parents; they're going to have a fit. Well, Mom will. You know how she gets. Daddy will… well, I'm not sure what Daddy will do, but we still have tell them about Robin. And of course, now we'll have to make accommodations where the wedding's concerned. Yet another thing Mother will freak out about." She stopped when Robin started to chuckle. "What?"
"I bet you do that every time you're nervous."
"Do what?" she asked.
Lois narrowed her eyes at the boy who seemed to be too smart for his own good. She figured he'd gotten a little wiser than most from being forced to grow up quickly over the last couple of years. She hoped she and Clark could give him back his childhood now.
Clark chuckled softly at her expression. "Lois, you're in trouble."
"It seems so." She reached across and ruffled Robin's hair. "Smarty pants."
He laughed softly and looked back down at the photo again. "Do you have pictures of your parents?" he asked Lois without lifting his eyes.
"Sure." Lois dug through her pocket book for her wallet and produced the items asked for.
Robin took them into his other hand and held them side by side with those of the Kents. "Yesterday I didn't have anybody. Today I have a great big family." His eyes shot up to Clark. "It is okay for me to say that?"
"Robin, you're home. You'll never have to move anywhere else again." Clark offered him another smile.
He smiled back and continued his examination of the photographs. After a moment, he laid them on the table and looked up at Clark. "What should I call you?"
"What do you want to call me?"
"Well." He glanced back down at the images, then back to Clark. "I'm not sure."
Clark smiled at the boy. He felt so many things for this precious child already. Robin had just met his father, one he never knew about, after being jostled from home to home for two years. Clark was amazed how extremely well adjusted the child seemed to be, but saw clearly the uncertainty and fear behind his blue-gray eyes. As much as he would like to hear the word 'Daddy' come from his son's lips, he knew that right now building trust was the most important step in their relationship from here. He'd allow Robin to decide when and *if* that was something he ever wanted to call him.
"How about we start with Clark? Maybe you'll think of something later on." He added the last bit just make sure Robin understood that whatever name the child chose for him was perfectly okay with him. He added a soft smile for good measure.
"You won't be disappointed that I don't call you Dad?"
Clark reached over to grasp his hand. "Robin, I know you're scared. I am, too. So is Lois. This is really big. And I wouldn't dream of scaring you more. I want you to be comfortable, happy here. When you are, you may feel like calling me Dad. Until then, I'm just happy to be able to have you with me."
Robin's eyes filled with tears as he stared at Clark. "I think… I think I'm glad the social workers found you," he said softly.
Clark squeezed his hand, fighting tears himself. "I think I'm glad they did, too."
Lois wiped her tear streaked face. Watching Clark deal with this initial meeting furthered the guilt she felt for having ever made him think that she'd want him to choose between her and Robin. The first chance she got she was going to offer up another apology and a hug. For the first time she understood the words 'wouldn't have missed it for the world'. "Hey, tell us about Robin Douglas."
"What do you want to know?" He withdrew his hand from Clark's and took another drink from his can of soda.
"What grade are you in? Do you like school? What kinds of foods do you like? Stuff like that."
"I'm in second grade. Guess I'll have to switch schools again." Clark nodded sadly. "What school will I be going to?"
Clark exchanged a glance with a startled Lois.
"Oh, Clark. We haven't even thought of that. Should we send him to public school or a private one? There's a great school just a few blocks from the Planet. I had to do a mood piece on it for Perry once. If he went there, we could have lunch with him sometimes. Of course, there's another great school a block from my place. And what about after school? He'll have to have a sitter. Should we get a private sitter or put him in the Planet daycare? I don't really like the idea of him being there with all those kids. You know, germs and everything. Kids in daycare just seem to stay sick. But again, he'd be close and I think I really like that idea. What do you think?"
"Wow!" Robin had to take a breath. She'd exhausted *him*. He looked over at an amused Clark. "She's amazing! She didn't take a breath the entire time!"
Clark dissolved into laughter, causing Robin to join him a second later. Lois stared at them in shock. This subject was serious and they were laughing! But she couldn't stop her laughter for long. When they recovered, Clark spoke first.
"Well, I think we could visit those schools. I'm sure we could decide which one is best together. And we have to look at the costs as well. Some of those places are out of our league, Lois."
"Nonsense. I have a healthy savings account. Robin should go to a good school. It doesn't matter what it costs."
Clark tilted his head at her, his brows nearly retreating into his hair. She'd been the one to point out a money situation earlier in the afternoon and now she was acting as if they had plenty of it.
"What?" Lois asked.
"Lois, I can't ask you to pay for Robin's school," he whispered.
"You didn't ask. And don't you think we should discuss this later?" She cut her eyes at Robin.
Clark glanced over at the boy, who was watching intently. "Later," he vowed before focusing on the boy again.
"I don't have to go to private school. I've always been to public school."
"You don't worry about that, sweetie. You'll go to the school you like. If it's public or private, it's okay. Either way it'll be taken care of," Lois assured him with a smile. She received another stern glare from Clark. She flashed him a smile and turned back to Robin. "Robin, I don't know how things were at your house when your mom was alive, but here, you don't have anything to worry about. We will have to adjust to taking care of a child, although I'm sure that you'll help us out." She winked at him before continuing. "We'll ask lots of questions and we want you to ask lots, too. We'll all learn together. Okay?"
"You really want me here?"
"Oh, honey, of course, we do. Do you want to be here?" Lois asked him, speaking before Clark had a chance to.
Robin looked from Lois to Clark. "Would it hurt your feelings if I told you that I think I really like her?"
Clark laughed softly. "No. I really like her, too," he said in a whisper as he leaned over closer to him.
Robin laughed again. "I sure hope she's around a lot."
"Believe me, you're going to get tired of me," Lois assured him.
"No way." They shared a smile before he went on with the details of his short life.
He told them about school and how much he liked it. He told them about some of the ones he'd been to and his favorite teacher. He told them he liked pizza and pot roast, but would eat almost anything. He was an early riser and usually went to bed early as well. He liked to sleep with a special item: his mother's shirt. He told them about his love of baseball and was thrilled when Clark told him they would see about him playing for the youth recreation league the following spring. Cartoons were good; the news was not, unless it was about Superman; he liked riding a bike, although he didn't have one; he didn't wet the bed anymore— there had been a ten year old boy at the group home who did; he could bathe himself, including his hair; and he really liked wearing sports' jerseys. Lois and Clark mentally filed every bit of information away for later use.
They talked for over an hour before they were interrupted by Ms. Grange.
Clark automatically stood when she approached. For some reason he wasn't looking forward to hearing what she had to say. But his anxiety was quickly dispelled.
"Mr. Kent, I think my office will be pleased with my report. I see no reason for this visit to continue."
"Why? Is something wrong?" Lois asked.
"No, Ms. Lane. I think you can take Robin home now." She smiled and watched as Lois and Clark exchanged a relieved glance before she pulled several papers from her briefcase and put them on the table. "We just need Mr. Kent's signature and you're free to become a family."
Clark let out the breath he'd been holding and smiled down at Robin. The boy was smiling as well.
"These give you custody. And this one," she held one up. "Will legally change his last name to Kent. You simply have to file it at the registrar's office in family court. They'll send a new birth certificate with you listed as the father and then you'll need to file for a new social security card."
Clark hadn't thought of that detail. He looked down at Robin before he responded to Dana. "Maybe we'll give him time to think about that one. If he wants to keep his mother's name, he's welcome to. I wouldn't want to take away his identity."
"Robin Douglas Kent," the boy whispered softly. His eyes went up to Lois. "If I keep my name, it'll be the different one when you get married."
"Well, Robin, it doesn't matter what your name is as long as *you* know who you are," she told him.
He looked back over at Clark. "Could I decide later?"
"Of course. We have all the time in the world."
Robin smiled and watched as Clark signed the necessary papers to take him home.
Dana smiled when Clark straightened. "His things are in my car. There are more in storage in Oregon. Ms. Logan had provisions for the space to be paid for a period of five years. There's also a small amount in an account for Robin. It's all in this paperwork. I'll send you a copy by messenger tomorrow, after these are filed." She smiled down at the boy. "What do you say we go get your bag?"
Robin glanced anxiously at Lois and Clark. "Will you come?"
"Sure. Just let me gather up our things," Clark told him.
"I'll get 'em." Robin jumped from the bench and ran to retrieve his new gifts. He also grabbed Lois and Clark's jackets from the bench. He was back beside them in a moment, wearing a bright smile.
"Here. I'll take those jackets," Clark told him.
The boy pulled away from him. "No! I want to carry them."
"Okay," Clark said with a smile. He put his hand on his shoulder and the small group started for the park entrance. Ten minutes later, they had retrieved Robin's backpack and were headed for Clark's apartment.
The trip across town was another new experience for Robin. Portland was a big city, but nothing like Metropolis. His eyes had a tough time keeping up with all the sights as he mashed his face against the back window of Lois' jeep. He asked a ton of questions about his new home, all of which were answered with equal enthusiasm.
Soon enough the group stopped outside Clark's building on Clinton.
"This is 344 Clinton, your new home," Clark told him. "I'd really like for you to learn the address in case you need to use it for any reason."
"Okay," Robin told him as he unbelted from his seat.
"And Lois' address is."
"344 Clinton," she spoke up. Clark looked over at her with a surprised expression. "Actually I live on Carter Avenue and we'll show you where, but I'm going to be moving here with you guys very shortly, so you won't need to know that one for long."
"You're going to move in? Here?" Clark asked.
"Of course. We're getting married." She rolled her eyes as she climbed from the jeep. Clark got out and waited for her to come around.
"But we haven't even set a date yet," he reminded her.
"Before Christmas," she told him firmly as she helped Robin get his things out of the car.
"Lois, that's in less than two months."
"I know." She patted his cheek with a smile before holding out her hand to Robin. "Ready?"
Clark was left in stunned silence as he watched her and Robin walk away. Had she just said she wanted to get married almost right away? He grinned at that. If that's what she wanted, who was he to say no? He jogged to catch up.
Martha and Jonathan both rose from the table when they heard the door open. They stood side by side as Lois and Clark entered with their newly found grandson.
Robin was so nervous, even more so than when he met his father. His stomach was churning and his little body was trembling when they stepped through the door. He kept his eyes firmly on the floor, not wanting to be disappointed if these people didn't like him. <<Please let them like me!>>
Clark kneeled in front of him and took his hands. "Hey, pal, what's wrong?"
"What if they don't like me?"
"They'll love you. You were scared to meet me, but you did it and that turned out okay."
Robin lifted his eyes to Clark's. "It did," he agreed. "I really like you and Lois."
"I'm glad, because we really like you," Clark told him softly. "And so will my parents."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm positive." He stood and extended his hand to the boy. "Come on."
Robin looked up cautiously at the people waiting for him. They looked like he felt. Their faces were drawn into anxious lines and they seemed to be as nervous as he was. Immediately he felt a rush of relief. There was nothing to be scared about. These people were great and he could sense it. His lips curled into a smile as he and Clark made their way within a few feet from them. <<They look just as nice as Lois and Clark. And they're my new grandparents!>>
"Hi," he said with a quick wave of his hand.
Martha smiled through tears. "Hi, there." She leaned over to look at him. "You sure are a handsome fellow."
"Thanks. And you're pretty." Robin felt even better. Lois had cried when she met him and he liked her a lot. If this woman was crying, he was sure he'd like her as well. Of course, she might not be crying for the same reasons. Maybe she was disappointed or…
His thoughts were interrupted when Martha spoke again.
"Thank you. My name is Martha. I'm your grandmother."
"I know. Clark told me. I saw a picture, too." He looked up to Jonathan. "And you're Jonathan."
The old man smiled and kneeled in front of the boy. "That's right. And you're Robin."
"Yes, sir. My mom named me after my uncle. He died when they were kids."
Clark looked at him with furrowed brows. "I didn't remember that until just now. She told me about Robin. He was only ten when he died."
"Yes, sir. And Douglas was my other grandpa's name." Robin's eyes drifted back to Jonathan. "Is it okay if I'm still called that. me being named after him and all?"
"A name doesn't make a person," Jonathan told him.
"Wow! Lois said almost the same thing." He looked back up at Clark. "If my name was Kent, does that mean I'd have my other grandpa's name, too?"
Clark grinned at his reasoning. This was a bright boy. Someone had certainly done a good job with him. "Yeah. Dad's name is Kent, too."
"Maybe I could try it out for a while." He grinned at Jonathan. "That way I'll have your name, too!"
Jonathan chuckled at the child. "Ah, boy, you're a bright one."
Robin was pleased with himself. He looked over at Martha. "Is that okay with you?"
"I think it's just fine," she said through more tears. She couldn't believe they'd never known about this child.
Lois came up on the other side of Robin, resting her hand on his shoulder. "Want to see your room?"
"I have a room?" His very own room? He hadn't had one of those since his mom died. Even at the Sanders he shared a room with their son, James. It was great and all, but to have something that would be just his… that was… wow!
"Sure. Come on." She smiled when he took her hand. They made their way up to the small loft. "It's not very big and it needs more work, but we thought you should have a little something before you got here."
Robin stopped at the top of the stairs and looked around with wide eyes. They had decorated the room with his favorite pastime. "Wow! This is great!"
"You like it?" Clark asked as he draped his arm over Lois' shoulder.
"I love it!" He approached the bed and smoothed a hand over the new comforter.
"Try it out," Lois suggested.
"What?" The boy looked at her with questioning eyes.
"Everyone knows you're supposed to jump on new beds to make sure you like 'em," she told him as she kicked off her shoes and stepped up on the bed.
Robin giggled at the display she presented before toeing off his shoes and joining her. They jumped and laughed happily. Clark was content to simply watch. His parents had finally made it up to the loft. Martha snuck her arm around Clark's waist and he pulled her to his side.
"He's incredible, honey."
"Yes, he is," Clark told her and dropped a kiss on her head. They continued to watch the two playing on the bed, content for the moment.
The bed was only used as a trampoline for a few minutes before Robin was ready to explore his new home. He walked around the apartment slowly, inspecting everything as he went. His fingers touched this and that while his mind processed his new surroundings. He liked his new home. It was small, but that meant he would be in close contact with his father and Lois. That was even better.
He continued his exploration, stopping once in a while to smile over at the adults who sat at the table, content to give him this time. He liked them, too. His dad was great. He could tell they would become good pals. And he already felt he was starting to love Lois. Was it possible to love someone instantly? He didn't care if it was possible. He just knew it felt good to be around her. Besides, she was so much fun! She was the first person he'd liked this much since his mom. It was nice to feel happy again.
<<I think I'm going to like it here.>> Robin smiled to himself before continuing around the room.
Clark turned back to the other adults sitting at the table. "I think he likes it here."
"Who can blame him?" Lois smiled as she tore her eyes from the small boy to look at Clark. "I've always liked your place."
"Then why did it take you so long to say yes?" he asked with a twinkle in his eyes.
"Would you rather I had just moved in and we lived in sin?"
"That could be good." He waggled his brows as he leaned over to kiss her softly. The older Kents laughed at the couple. They were so glad to see them like this. When Clark leaned back, Robin was standing beside them. "Hi, pal."
"Hi. Do you like that?"
Clark looked at him strangely for a moment. He looked over at Lois before he answered. "Yeah. I like kissing her."
"Okay," was all Robin said before he climbed into the chair next to Lois. Maybe he'd get a chance to kiss her soon as well. He wondered if he'd like it, too. He missed being hugged and kissed. That was something that had always been plentiful when his mom was alive. He'd kissed Karen Thomas in First Grade, but it just wasn't the same. Everyone knew girls have cooties!
Lois giggled as she reached over to smooth Robin's hair back. "Are you hungry, sweetie?"
"What would you like?" Martha asked. "We can order anything you want."
"Clark said you cook really good pot roast. I like pot roast. And potatoes and carrots."
Martha smiled at him. "Well, it's a little late to cook that tonight, but we can have it tomorrow if you'd like."
"Sure. You can even go shopping with me for the necessary items." Martha reached over and patted his hand.
"I'd like that." He looked down at the hand on his. "Could we. order pizza?"
"I think pizza would be perfect," Jonathan announced as he rose to place the order. "Tell me what you like on yours."
"Pepperoni and lots of cheese." Robin looked to Clark. "Is that okay?"
"Sure. But we may not get to eat like that often. I want you to eat better than I do. Lois says I eat like an eight year old."
Robin giggled and wrinkled his nose at Lois. He sure did like her. She smiled back and reached for his hand. This time he threaded his fingers with hers, causing her to blink in surprise. Instead of saying anything though, she simply squeezed and started a new conversation with him.
Dinner had been great. Robin laughed and talked happily with his new family. He had never been anywhere, including the Sanders, where he felt so good. The only other place he'd been and felt this way was at home with his mom. He briefly wondered if his mom would like Lois. He sure hoped so. Maybe he'd ask Clark later. Right now his new family was more interesting than thinking about other things.
The small family cleared the table after dinner and played a board game. They were all amazed that Robin could play so well. And not at all surprised when Lois played to win. In the end, the boy was victorious and she couldn't be happier for him. It was the first time Lois hadn't minded losing.
Clark showed him his new clothes and pointed out everything in the bathroom so Robin could take a bath. When he was done, he joined Lois and Clark on the balcony.
The couple had been cuddling together in a single chair when the boy came out, and they turned when they saw him.
"Hi," Clark told him. His hand smoothed up Lois' back, holding firmly when she tried to get up. "Want to sit with us?"
Robin nodded and walked over to sit in the chair next to them. He was silent for a long while, content to just sit there with those two people. He really liked his new home. Martha and Jonathan were just as nice as Lois and Clark, which helped to ease him more. He'd been so scared they'd decided they didn't like him and send him away to another home. Mrs. Davies had told him that the Sanders were still interested in adopting him, but somehow that just didn't feel right now that he knew he had a father.
He was sure he'd like Metropolis as well. He'd enjoyed the ride from the park. There was so much to look at. Surely there would be lots to do. Hopefully he'd make some new friends. And if all Lois and Clark had told him was true, this time he wouldn't have to say good-bye.
Finally he looked over at Clark. "Will we go check out schools tomorrow?"
"If you'd like. I want you to get comfortable just being here before I throw too much at you." Clark ruffled his hair. "So, how do you like it here so far?"
"I like it. Mom used to say that love grows best in small houses." His eyes snapped up to Clark. Had he said too much too soon? He didn't want to scare his father.
Clark smiled brightly. "She was right. There are fewer walls to separate us."
Robin's eyes widened further. "That's what she said!"
"Your mom sounds like she was a wonderful person," Lois told him.
"She was, but you're great, too," he added anxiously.
"Robin, you don't have to keep trying to avoid hurting my feelings. It's alright to talk about your mom."
The boy met Clark's gaze. "I know why you like her," he said, referring to Lois.
The man laughed softly and rubbed Lois' back again. "She's the best."
"And don't you forget it," she warned him as she leaned forward to nuzzle his cheek.
Robin covered his mouth with his hand to cover his giggles. He liked the display of affection between the adults. He'd never seen his mother with a man. She'd told him he was all the man she needed.
Clark couldn't be happier. The day had gone so well. They'd met his son for the first time and Lois was completely awed by him. He was so thrilled the two of them seemed to like each other so well. It made adjusting so much easier for all concerned. He'd been nervous about dealing with the emotional overload, but communication had been key. Once he and Lois had talked, things seemed to fall into place. He knew there was so much more to come. However, he now knew he had unconditional support. Learning to be parents to a seven year old boy would remain a learning process, though learning *with* Lois was better than not having her at all. Again, he thanked the powers that be for sending him into her path. And he thanked those powers for sending him Robin. He wouldn't have traded this day for anything.
They all sat in silence for a few minutes before a huge yawn overtook Robin.
"Hey, sleepy, pal?"
"A little. I was up really early." He furrowed his brow a moment. "Or really late." He shrugged with indecision.
"Didn't you sleep on the plane?" Lois asked.
"No, ma'am. I was too excited."
Lois grinned at that. "I understand. Neither I nor your dad slept much last night either. We were kind of excited, too."
"Lois?" the boy asked seriously.
"Do you really like me?"
Lois eased from Clark's lap and settled on the iron table in front of him. She wasn't sure what had prompted his question, but felt there was more to it than just him wanting to be sure she liked him. "Why would you ask me that? I thought we'd had a good time today and you knew how I felt."
"Yeah." Robin shrugged and looked down at his feet. "There was a kid at the group home who went to live with her dad and her step mom didn't like her very much. She came back to the home and was adopted by another family." Robin looked up at Lois. "Her step mom didn't want her."
Lois reached out to take his hands, her thumbs smoothed the backs reassuringly. "Robin, I am so glad I've met you. And yes, I really like you. I could not imagine sending you anywhere now that I've gotten to know you a little. I want you here… always."
He pulled his hands from hers and reached up to wipe her tears. "I really like you, too."
"I sure would like to hug you," she whispered.
Robin paused only a moment before he pushed his arms up around Lois' neck. He had wanted someone to hold him and tell him everything would be okay for so long. If she was offering, there was no way he'd turn her down.
Lois' arms went around him in a flash, giving as good as she was getting. Clark had to wipe his own eyes as he watched them. He'd be so glad when Robin felt comfortable enough to hug him.
A few moments later, Robin pulled back and he and Lois shared a brief laugh. He gave her another hug before pulling completely away. He grinned brightly at Clark. "I'll bet you like hugging her, too."
"I do," Clark told him happily.
"Would it be okay if I went to bed now?"
"Sure. Would you like us to come with you? You know, tuck you in. I know you're a little old for that. Well, maybe not. My folks still tuck me in sometimes." Clark stopped when Robin and Lois both smirked at him. "What?"
"Guess he babbles, too," Robin giggled.
"And don't let him ever tell you differently," Lois told him.
He laughed again and followed Lois and Clark back inside. He stopped just inside the door. "I'd like to say goodnight to Martha and Jonathan."
"Absolutely." Clark smiled after him as he went into the other room.
He was startled when Lois grabbed his arm. "Clark, we didn't get him a toothbrush. Do you think the store on the corner is still open? I could go and be back in a flash. Or maybe Superman could go?"
Clark couldn't help but smile. He wasn't even sure if she knew what she'd just said. He raised his hand to cup her cheek. "Lois, honey, Mom dragged Dad out shopping while we met Robin today. She said she had to do something to keep calm. She bought a toothbrush, bubble bath, a few toys, and some other stuff she thought a boy his age would need or want."
"Oh, I love your mother." Lois kissed him softly before Robin rejoined them. They continued their journey up to his room. The boy was settled, with the shirt he liked to sleep with, and Lois practically pushed Clark out of the way to pull the covers up to his chin. "Goodnight, sweetie."
"Why do you call me sweetie?"
"You look like a sweetie to me," she shrugged. "I can stop if you don't like it."
"No. I like it."
"Good." She rubbed his hand before she rose to give Clark a moment. She smoothed a hand over his arm as she passed him.
Clark sat down on the edge of the bed. "I'm glad you're here, Robin."
"Me, too. I like my room."
"We still have a little work to do. We can add more decorations and we have to get you some more clothes."
"G'night." He watched Clark rise. "Clark?"
"Thanks. for being my dad."
Clark couldn't speak past the lump in his throat. He went back to kneel beside the bed. When he could talk, he reached out to move a lock of hair off Robin's head. "And thanks for being my son."
Robin smiled brightly. Yes, he liked it here. He snuggled into his pillow, smoothing his cheek against his mother's shirt, then closed his eyes. It would be nice to dream about something other than his next home.
Clark offered a final smile before he rose to leave him alone. He flipped the lamp off, but switched on the small nightlight Lois had suggested they get to use until Robin became familiar with his new surroundings. He could only stare at the form of his son from the top of the stairs. So much had changed. And so much *would* change. For once, Clark would happily embrace every second.
He stood there until Lois placed a hand on his shoulder, then reluctantly allowed her to lead him downstairs. After bidding his parents a good night, he left to take Lois home.
"You know, you haven't left to be super all afternoon and evening," Lois remarked as she changed lanes in preparation to turn onto her street.
"I honestly haven't heard any calls." He shifted toward Lois. "We'll have to decide what to do about Robin and Superman. He's a bright kid, Lois. He'll figure it out before long. Especially sharing such tight quarters."
"Yeah. I've thought about it, too." She moved the jeep expertly into a space in front of her building, shifted into park, then cut the engine. "Do you think he'll inherit your powers?"
"I don't know. Maybe some. Maybe none. At least we know nothing extraordinary shows up on DNA tests," he commented with a slight smile.
"I was so worried about that."
Clark reached out to rub her shoulder. "I looked at all the tests carefully. There was nothing there to connect me with Superman."
"Oh, Clark, I know you made sure." She smoothed her hand across his thigh soothingly. "I'm so sorry about how I acted…"
"Lois, no. We've been over this."
"I know, but I can't help but be ashamed of my behavior."
"You? I've wanted to scream. I was so angry with Kim when I first learned about Robin."
Clark stared at the hand on his leg for a long moment before lifting his eyes to Lois'. "Now I think I've never been happier or so confused or so excited or so terrified. And I think I've fallen in love with you all over again. God, Lois, seeing you with Robin…" He cupped her cheek gently. "My heart has never been as full. I honestly didn't think I could feel so much so soon."
"I know. Clark, Robin is so… wow!" Her hand came up to cover Clark's on her face. "And I feel all those things, too. I just knew I'd have no idea how to act or what to say to him. But when I saw him all I wanted to do was hold him."
"I know." Clark smiled and held her hand as he shifted both to lie between them. "The comment you made at the Planet… about you being the one to give me sons…"
Her finger covered his lips, silencing him. "I *will* give you sons one day. Or maybe daughters." She smiled at him. "But Robin *is* *our* son." She leaned forward to kiss Clark softly before leaning in to silently ask for him to embrace her. "Clark, we'll figure all of this out together," she told him in his ear as she continued to hold him and be held. "The Superman issues, the school thing, new clothes, new toys, bad moods, hurt feelings, bumps, bruises, and anything else we need to figure out."
Clark squeezed Lois just a tad tighter. "I love you, Lois."
"And I love you." She drew back to smooth her thumb across his lips. "All of you," she whispered before she kissed him again.
A huge smile graced Clark's lips when he drew away. "As much as I'd love to stay here all night, I should get back to Robin. I don't want him to wake up and find me gone."
"Yeah." Her smiled faded as she fumbled with her door, then exited the car.
Clark saw the change come over Lois and waited on the sidewalk for her to come around. "Honey, what's wrong?"
She looked up from where she was digging in her purse for her keys. Huge tears had filled her eyes and caused Clark instant worry. "I just miss him already," she whined, then hurried up the stairs and into the building.
Clark didn't catch up with her until she stopped in front of her door. She'd chosen to take the stairs with speed comparable to Superman. "Hey. Come here." He pulled her into his arms for another comforting hug.
After a long moment, she lifted her head and offered Clark another smile. "Sorry. Guess it's pretty silly for me to be acting like this."
"Not at all. I'm thrilled you feel so much for Robin so soon."
"I do, Clark. I really do."
He placed a kiss on her lips before unlocking her many locks for her. "The sooner you get to sleep, the sooner morning comes and you get to see him again," he told her with a grin.
"Any time." They exchanged another quick kiss before Lois shut herself inside her apartment and Clark left to make a quick patrol over the city. He went home later that night, feeling better than he'd felt in a really long time. And inside the apartment on Carter Avenue, an emotionally spent Lois fell into bed, quickly drifting into a deep sleep.
Clark awoke the next morning to the sounds of his parents and his. son. God, that was a beautiful word. From the sounds of things, they were having a good time. He lifted his head from the pillow to see the trio happily making breakfast together. He smiled as he sat up.
Robin turned to set the table when he saw Clark getting up. "Hey!" Man, he really felt good being here.
"Hey." He smiled even brighter when he saw the boy was grinning from ear to ear. "Good morning."
"Good morning to you. We didn't wake you did we?" He'd wanted to the second he'd waken up. He was still very excited about all the new people in his life and had realized that he missed his father. How strange was that? Missing someone that was in the same house with you? But he'd also been extremely happy to spend time with his new grandparents. He and Martha and Jonathan had talked for a few minutes before deciding to make breakfast together. They'd even let him crack the eggs!
"No, no. It's time to get up. There's a lot to do today."
Robin nodded and continued his task. When he was done, he looked up at Clark. "Martha says it would be okay to call Lois and invite her to breakfast. Would it?" Lois was definitely someone he'd wanted to see the minute he got out of bed. He really missed *her*.
Clark smiled brightly, remembering what Lois had said the night before about missing Robin when they'd arrived at her apartment. It seemed Robin missed her just as much. "Sure. I think she'd like that. Would you like to do it?"
"Yes please." He waited while Clark dialed the phone, then handed it to him. Two rings later Lois picked up.
"Robin!" She sounded delighted to hear his voice, which helped to excite the small boy even more.
"I missed you this morning." Was that too much to say? <<It's true. I do miss her.>>
"I missed you, too, sweetie."
He smiled and continued. "Lois, would you like to come have breakfast with us?" <<Please let her say yes!>>
"How could I refuse such a handsome young man?"
He giggled softly. "So you'll come?"
"I'll be there in twenty."
<<She said yes!>> Little did he know the woman on the other end of the line had been debating with herself since before dawn about going over to Clark's so she could see *him*. "Okay. Thanks, Lois."
"No, thank you."
"Bye." Robin was absolutely beaming when he turned back to the adults. "She said yes."
Clark was instantly reminded of his when Lois had said yes to *his* question. Judging by the look on the boy's face, Robin was just as happy as he'd been. "Wonderful word, huh?"
Clark suddenly jumped to his feet. "Hey, I have a great idea. How about you and me run down to the corner and buy Lois some flowers before she gets here?"
"Really? That would be great! I'll get my shoes." With speed that would rival Superman, the boy retrieved his shoes and hastily put them on. Clark chuckled and went to find himself some jeans.
He reentered the living room where Robin waited patiently. He checked the child's appearance and noted the jacket he wore was a little small and his shoes looked ready for retirement. "You know, kiddo, we really need to pick you up some new things today."
Robin glanced down at himself. His new sweats stuck out as his other things were a little old. It had been a while since he'd gotten new stuff. Still, he didn't want Clark to go to any trouble. "These things are okay."
"These things look a little worn," Clark told him as he put his own jacket on. "And your jacket is a bit small. We should get you one that fits before you start school."
"I just don't want to be a bother."
Clark kneeled beside him. "Son, you're not a bother. I may not have known about you until two days ago, but I do now. And I intend to take really good care of you."
Robin's eyes widened as he stared at Clark. After the first word of his father's speech, he hadn't heard another word. "You called me son."
"Yeah, I guess I did." Clark smiled softly, hoping he hadn't said too much, too soon. He didn't want to spook Robin in any way.
A wide smile spread across the boy's lips as he continued to look at Clark. "I like it," he told him softly.
"Good. Because I like saying it." Clark ruffled his hair, relieved that he hadn't over stepped any invisible boundaries. "Could you do me a favor?"
"Sure. I like doing favors."
"How about you relax and let me take care of you? You're home and we want you here and I'm going to take care of you. So are Lois and Mom and Dad. That means you'll have new clothes and shoes if you need them."
Robin smiled at his dad. He felt the last bit of doubt about coming here leave him in a rush. It was replaced with a warmth he hadn't felt since his mom was alive. This man was for real. He *did* care and he *did* want him; wanted to take care of him. "I can do that."
"Good. Now let's go get those flowers."
He nodded happily and took Clark's hand as they left the apartment. From the kitchen the older couple smiled at each other. Without a word, they made the biggest decision of their lives.
Twenty minutes later, just as promised, Lois stepped through the door of the apartment. Robin, who'd been waiting patiently on the steps, jumped up to greet her.
She grinned down at him. "Hi, sweetie!" She said, just as excited to see him.
He produced a small arrangement of yellow roses from behind his back in a flourish. "These are for you!" He'd been worried about her reaction to the flowers, but Clark had assured him that Lois loved receiving flowers. He'd even given one to Martha which had earned him a watery smile. That made him feel warm all over again. Now if he got the same reaction from Lois…
"Wow! They're beautiful. Thank you." She took them with a smile. It was all she could do to keep from reaching out to him. Obviously, he was aware of what she thought because his next words thrilled her beyond belief.
"It's okay for a hug, isn't it?" Her reaction had been too much, and he wanted to hug as much as she wanted to hug him. It felt good to be hugged.
"Oh," Lois couldn't manage anything else past the lump in her throat. She leaned down and the happy little boy threw his arms around her neck. She squeezed his small body with her free arm. How was it possible to love someone you'd just met this much? Her fear of falling completely in love with him was no longer a fear, but an incredible gift. She felt wonderful.
Robin released her and stepped back. "Good morning."
Lois laughed softly. "Good morning."
From the kitchen, Clark and his parents were all smiles. They were pleased to see the boy so relaxed with at least one of them. The two by the door separated and made their way to the table. Robin was working overtime to impress Lois. He held the chair for her as she sat down. Martha took Lois' flowers to put them in water while Clark went to see if he could greet his fianc,e.
"Morning," he told her as he leaned over to kiss her lightly.
"I think I have some competition," he whispered.
"Are you jealous?"
"I believe I am," he said honestly.
Lois frowned at him. "What?"
Clark simply shrugged with a smile and sat down. Robin hadn't missed the exchange and went over to sit beside his father. This surprised Clark because he'd thought the boy would have sat next to Lois. They began their breakfast quietly. When Robin had eaten his fill, he looked up at Clark.
"You're not jealous because Lois likes me so much, are you?" Clark's reaction had bothered him throughout their meal and he could no longer stop himself from asking. He couldn't help himself from liking Lois so much. And it felt so wonderful that she liked him just as much. The hugs weren't so bad either.
"You're jealous because I asked her for a hug."
"Robin, no." He reached out to grasp his hand. "I'm glad you're comfortable enough to hug her. And I'm thrilled you like her so much."
Robin's eyes filled with tears. "Please don't lie to me. Mom lied to me. She told me she didn't know who could be my father, but she wrote your name on a paper. She never told me your name might be Clark Kent. She never told me anything. She said I was better off without you. But." He sniffled as more tears came. "But I wasn't better off. You're a great guy and I really do like you. It's just that when Lois is around I feel really warm inside."
Clark wanted to cry with him. This child was so observant; it would only be a matter of time before he figured out his dad was a little more than he appeared to be.
"You're right," Clark admitted. "I am a little jealous because she gets to hug you."
Robin looked at Clark for a long moment before he eased from his chair and Clark met him half way in a hug. The larger than life man was reduced to tears as he held his son for the first time.
Robin turned his face into Clark's neck. If he'd known it would feel this good to hug his dad, he'd have done it already. His grandfather had never hugged him, just his mother. But Clark's hug felt as good as his mother's… and Lois'. Would he always hug him like this?
The Kents wiped watery eyes as they watched their son hug *his* son. Lois was making a beeline for the tissues on the table beside the sofa.
It no longer mattered that his mom hadn't told him about his father. It only mattered that he was here now and that his father's hug made him feel safe. He hadn't felt that way in so long. "Don't ever let me go," Robin whispered his fears aloud.
Clark's large hand covered the back of his son's head. "Not a chance, kiddo." They drew apart a moment later and smiled at each other. Lois handed them a tissue and they wiped the other's face, laughing softly. "We need to stop all this crying."
"Yeah. Someone's gonna think we're sissies."
Everyone laughed out at that. When they'd collected themselves, everyone shared clean-up duty and prepared to face their day.
First order of business after breakfast was to call Perry and tell him they'd be a little late. Lois and Clark wanted to take Robin shopping for a few new clothes before they did anything else. The boy had been surprised when the couple told him he would be going to their workplace with them. Clark smiled and told him the best way to tell people about him was to show them. So, the trio was soon out the door.
With a new pair of jeans, a baseball jersey that represented his favorite player, a new pint-sized leather jacket like his father's-Lois couldn't resist- and new sneakers, a wide- eyed little boy held tightly to Lois and Clark's hands as they rode the elevator up to the newsroom floor of the Planet. When the doors opened, the child could only stare.
"This is where you work?" he finally asked them.
"Yep," Clark told him. "Come on. Let's go meet everyone."
His eyes darted around the room as they made their way down the ramp. A few people said good morning and he offered up a brilliant smile. His mom had never taken him to her workplace before so this was a real treat.
"This is where I work," Lois told him as they stopped by her desk to put her things down. "And your dad works right over there," she pointed out the desk not far from hers.
Robin looked over at his father's desk as Clark let go of his hand and ruffled his hair.
"I need to check my mail real quick."
Lois smiled and pulled out her chair. "Would you like to help me check my e-mail?"
"Sure." He stood patiently beside Lois' chair as they waited for her program to come up.
"Not much here," she told him. "Perfect for a day off to spend looking at schools." She smiled and wrinkled her nose at him. "Oh, wait. There's one from your dad." She opened the mail and read out loud.
'Lois, Kind of slow, so I thought I'd say hi. I love you. Can't wait to make you my wife. Clark' Robin grinned brightly. "He's crazy about you, isn't he?"
"He is." She met his gaze. "And I'm crazy about him."
"I'm glad, 'cause I really like you, too."
"And I really like you." She reached out to rub his nose, receiving a beautiful smile. "What do you say we reply?"
"Clark," she repeated what she typed. "I'm glad you said hi. I love you, too. I'm dying to be your wife. Not long now. Love, Lois."
"And Robin," he spoke up.
Lois smiled and added the tag. "And Robin."
"Could you add something?"
"Sure. What do you want me to add?"
"Add, PS, I'm glad she said yes because I think you made a great choice." A very great choice! He was already starting to look forward to the future. Briefly he wondered if she'd be as wonderful if he misbehaved. Billy had told him once that the true test of someone's feelings for you was to find out how they reacted when they saw your bad side. Was that true? He'd never tested anyone like that. He chose to be quiet and reserved and it had been a good choice. No one had ever minded that he was a good boy. Would Lois scold him if he was naughty? Would she still want him after? How would Clark react? Right now he wasn't sure if he ever wanted to find out. He liked that warm, fuzzy feeling that came from being close to Lois and Clark too much to misbehave. Besides, they'd be awfully disappointed with him.
Lois stopped typing when she realized what he'd said. She turned to him with watery eyes. "Oh, honey."
Robin smiled and shrugged. "I can't help it. You're great!"
"So are you." She couldn't resist pulling him to her side. "You hit the send key."
"Okay." He punched the key she indicated and they continued with some tasks she wanted to take care of. A few moments later they heard Clark laugh softly. Both heads turned to see him grinning widely.
"I can see right now that you and I are going to spoil somebody rotten." Clark winked at Robin.
Robin glanced back at Lois before turning to answer his dad. "I can't wait!"
Clark chuckled again before focusing on his tasks.
Lois ran her hand up and down Robin's arm as they waited for another program to finish loading. Ten minutes later, the trio walked into Perry's office.
The editor looked up from where he and Jimmy were going over some photos. When Clark shut the door, the younger man offered to leave.
"Actually, we're glad you're here, Jimmy," Clark started. "We want you two to meet someone."
Perry and Jimmy had already noticed the boy holding Lois' hand, but hadn't said anything.
"Perry, Jimmy, this is Robin. He's my son."
Both men's brows rose out of sight. Neither could utter a word past the apparent shock. Lois decided to help them out.
"I must have looked like that, too," she said with a grin. "Clark didn't know about Robin until two days ago. He received a call from MDFCS and was told he might be Robin's father. They were able to determine for sure within just hours. And here he is." Lois switched hands she was holding the boy's with so she could also rub his shoulders.
"Ah, well." Perry rose and came around to lean against his desk. "I guess I have to say hello," he told Robin.
"Hi. Lois and Clark tell me you're the 'Chief'."
Perry laughed out. "Yeah, yeah. That's what they call me."
"And they said you're a huge Elvis fan."
"Now you're talking."
"I like 'Jailhouse Rock'. My mom used to sing it when she wanted to cheer me up."
Perry's laughter boomed around the room. "I think you and me are going to get along just fine." He extended his hand to the boy in greeting.
Robin stepped away from Lois and shook the offered hand with a smile.
"I'm Jimmy," said the still stunned looking man. He'd finally recovered enough to speak.
Robin reached out to grab the other man's hand. "Lois says you're the best on computers and video games."
"Well, I don't know about the best." Jimmy blushed at the praise.
"I like 'Treasure Planet' myself."
Jimmy's ears perked up at the mention of a game. "Me, too. I'm on level four!"
"I'll bet if you ask Jimmy, he'll show you some of the other games he's got," Clark suggested.
"Really?" Robin's eyes were hopeful when he looked back at the other man.
Jimmy had been around long enough to know when he was needed and he recognized this moment perfectly. "Sure! In fact, I've been working on a making a game myself. Wanna see?"
Robin looked back at Clark. "Can I?"
Jimmy smiled and waved a hand toward the door, indicating Robin should follow him. When they went through the entry into the newsroom, both were already in fast chat mode. It looked as if they'd become immediate friends.
Clark watched them go before he turned back to Perry. "Sorry to just spring that on you like that."
"Sounds like it was sprung on you the same way."
"It was. It was a shock, to say the least, but I'm glad he's here," Clark told him.
Perry noticed Lois was still looking out the window at the boy. "And you, Lois. How are you dealing with this?"
She faced Perry. "I won't lie to you. At first I was even more shocked than Clark. Then I remembered how much I love Clark and knew that the biggest part of loving someone is accepting them completely."
Perry cast his gaze at Clark. "Son, I don't know what you've done to her, but *this* is not Lois Lane."
Clark laughed softly and reached out to put his arm around Lois' shoulder.
She grinned at them. "What can I say? He's spoiled me."
"Well, I'll be darned. Lois Lane finally admitted she's an old softy like the rest of us." Perry wasn't giving her an inch. He wanted to take full advantage of the situation. He may never get another chance. "And the boy?" he asked her, suddenly very serious.
"What can I say, Perry? I think I've fallen in love with another man." She turned back to look out the window again.
Perry's brows rose in surprise. "This must make you feel good, Clark?"
"It does, Perry. And he likes her just as much." Clark beamed with pride.
"What about the child's mother?"
"I met her in college. We spent a few months together and went our separate ways." Clark didn't feel everyone had to know exactly what had happened. "She moved back home to Oregon and I never suspected anything like this. Two years ago she died in a car accident. Robin went to live with his grandfather, but it wasn't long before the man died of heart failure. That left Robin in the care of the state until now."
"And it took them two damn years to find you?" Perry was just as bewildered as Clark had been.
"Afraid so. They told me these things take time."
"And where's he been all this time?"
"In foster care," Lois spoke up. "He was bounced around like some. some. ball!" The men watched as 'Mad Dog' took over. "Perry, I think we need to do a series on the foster care system and child services. Make someone aware of the problems those agencies face. We may be able to keep another child from having to spend two years in the system when he has a parent who wants him."
Perry smiled over at Clark. "That's our Lois."
"The genuine article," Clark agreed with pride, just as he'd done some time before.
"What?" she asked indignantly. "I can't help it. I see an area I can help and I want to help." She and Clark shared a smile at the underlying private joke there.
"So," Perry started again. "I take it this means you two will become a little family when you get married?"
Lois gazed at Robin once more. "I'm crazy about Robin and can't wait to marry his father so we can be together."
Perry smiled brightly. "I never thought I'd see Lois Lane as someone's mother."
"Yeah, well, neither did I," Lois admitted with a blush as she faced Perry again. "Then again, I never thought I'd get married either." She reached out and grabbed Clark's hand. "Just goes to prove that there was a right person for even me."
Clark beamed at Lois. He was glad things had worked out the way they had. He was getting the best of both worlds and couldn't be happier.
"Then you're going to need the Planet daycare," Perry announced as he went around his desk. "I never much liked those places, but if Robin's in the daycare downstairs, he'll be close. And you never know when I'll be persuaded to let him come up and ah, listen to the King with me." He busied his hands dialing his phone. A sly smile spread out to make his eyes twinkle and he winked at the happy couple before him. A few moments later an appointment was made for Lois and Clark to go take a look at the daycare center on the first floor. They thanked Perry, made a few provisions to add Robin to Clark's personal records, and left to find the boy in question.
Robin turned to see Lois and Clark approaching the desk where he sat beside Jimmy. They were in a heated game of 'Office Boy', a game Jimmy was trying to create. "Hey guys, come look. Jimmy's game is cool!" He pressed the buttons on his controller enthusiastically as he refocused on the game.
"Hey!" Jimmy fell back against his chair in defeat. "You beat me again. That's three out of four."
Robin laughed softly. "Told ya' I loved video games."
"I see." Jimmy sat back up and ruffled Robin's hair before looking at his co-workers. "Guys, Robin's the best."
"Thanks, Jimmy," Lois beat Clark to the punch. He smiled and relinquished control to her. "Hey, sweetie, we need to get going."
"Okay. Could I come back and play with you again, Jimmy?"
"Sure. I'll even do one better. I'll make you copy of all my coolest games so you can take them home with you."
"Wow! I'd like that." He turned to look at Clark. "Would that be okay?"
"I don't see why not," Clark told him.
"But you have to remember you're starting school soon and you'll have to do your homework before play time," Lois told him as she helped him slip into his jacket.
"Yes, Mom," Robin mumbled under his breath. They all froze when they realized what he'd said. His frightened eyes met Lois'. "I, I, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to." <<Please don't let her be mad!>>
Lois leaned over and cupped his cheek. "Thank you."
"Huh?" Robin was thoroughly confused by her reaction. He thought for sure she'd be upset at him for calling her 'mom'. He'd argued with himself for a long time the night before about this exact thing. He wanted Lois to be his mom, but was afraid that would be wrong. He felt it would be disrespectful toward his own mother and she wouldn't want such a thing. He also wasn't sure how Clark would feel. They'd all only just met; he wasn't sure it was all right to feel this much so soon. But how did he stop it?
"I think that's the best compliment I've ever received," she said softly before leaning forward to kiss his forehead. She stood and went to retrieve her jacket and pocketbook.
Robin was stunned. She hadn't been upset! And she'd kissed him! His hand came up to touch the skin where her lips had been.
"I know how you feel, son," Clark told him. "I felt the same way the first time she kissed me."
Robin stared up at Clark for a moment before his lips spread into a smile. Over two long years without a simple thing like a kiss. Kitty had never kissed him. She'd offered hugs, and they'd been nice, but this… this was… <<WOW!>>
Clark put a hand on his shoulder. "Tell Jimmy good-bye so we can catch up with her. We can't keep a lady like her waiting."
The boy grinned and turned to give Jimmy a high-five. "Later, Jimmy!"
"Later, kiddo. I'll get those games copied today."
"Thanks." Robin turned and followed his father so they could catch up with Lois. She'd had to take a moment to recover from the latest emotional waves rolling over her. This small boy continued to move her beyond what she'd ever thought possible.
By lunch time, Lois, Clark, and Robin had made it back to the apartment where Martha and Jonathan had a hot meal waiting for them. Robin ran in excitedly.
"Martha! Jonathan! Guess what? We found a school. It's two streets over from the Planet and it's really great! My class is so cool! It has desks and a huge table for group play. It has little cubbies on the walls for my things and lots of books. My teacher said I could read them all! And Lois said she's taking me to buy a brand new backpack and pencils and everything!"
Martha smiled down at him when he finally ran out of breath. "It sounds like you've had a wonderful morning."
"I did. I met Perry and Jimmy and played video games. The Planet's really cool! And I saw the daycare where I'll be staying after school."
"That's sounds so wonderful," Jonathan told him. "I sure am happy to see you so pleased."
"Well," he looked back at the couple behind him who weren't so thrilled at the moment. "I could be happier." He kept recalling the argument Lois and Clark had gotten into on the way back to the apartment. It had made him feel so confused. He was happy about his school, but so disappointed that it caused the adults to be upset with one another. As the argument had continued, he'd began to wonder if his new home would remain his for much longer.
"Honey, what's wrong?"
"Martha, Lois and Clark have been arguing about me since we left the school." His little eyes were so sad. Surely Clark's mother could make this situation better. He really, *really* didn't want to leave. He liked it here.
Martha looked to her son for an explanation.
"Mom, the school costs nearly two thousand dollars a year, which is okay. I can swing the monthly payments. But Lois wants to take the money from her savings and pay up the next three years."
"We can save a thousand dollars, Clark!"
"But it's your savings!"
"Exactly. *My* savings! If I want to pay for his school, I will!"
"But it's not your responsibility." Clark's words hang in the air as they stared at each other.
Lois found her voice after a pregnant pause. "I'll pretend you didn't say that."
Her tone left little doubt that she was hurt and angry. "Lois, I'm sorry."
"Stop!" He couldn't stand this anymore. They were fighting about him, and it was too much for him to handle. Both adults turned to see Robin looking at them with tears in his eyes. "If you two are going to argue over me, then I want to go back to the Sanders!" He shouted and ran from the room.
"Robin," Clark started after him, but his mother stopped him. "Let him go. You and Lois need to straighten this out between yourselves and go to him together."
Clark's eyes followed his son up the stairs before he looked back to Lois.
His mother sighed and looked from one to the other. "I can not believe you two let that boy think you were fighting because of him. I've never been more ashamed of you." She crossed her arms in frustration as she continued to glare at them.
"Clark wouldn't let it drop," Lois said defensively.
"Lois, that's no excuse," Martha scolded. "You two should have known better than to have a disagreement of any kind in front of him."
The couple dropped their heads, both incredibly ashamed of themselves. Finally Clark sighed and looked up at Lois. "I'm sorry, honey. I think your offer to help is wonderful."
"Clark, don't you see? If we're going to be married, we're going to be a team. Teams work together. And that money will become ours. Everything I have will become yours. Just as I would hope you'd consider everything that's yours becomes mine."
"I do, Lois. I do." Clark took a half step toward her. "Including my son," he whispered.
"Especially your son. He will be my responsibility just as he's yours. I wouldn't have it any other way."
"I know. And I am so sorry I said that. I hurt you the same way I did the other day when I told you no one asked you to be his mom. Truth is, Lois, I *want* you to be."
"I want to be, too, Clark. Part of that is sending him to a good school and using our savings to pay for it. Please. let's do this."
"Yes." He reached out to take her hands. "Lois, I really think it would be wonderful if *we* paid for it."
"With *our* savings," she stated once more to be absolutely certain they were in agreement.
Clark smiled down at her. "With our savings," he agreed.
"Thank you," she told him as her arms went around his neck.
"Honey, we've got to apologize to Robin," he told her as he held her close.
"Well, make it quick because he's going shopping with his grandfather and me," Martha spoke up.
Lois and Clark pulled apart to take hands and went to talk to *their* son together. The little guy had been very serious about leaving. He sat on the bed with his backpack full of his things.
"Please call Ms. Grange," he said quietly. He didn't want to go, but there was no way he'd be the cause of anyone's pain. Fighting always caused people pain.
"Robin," Clark started. "We'd like to apologize." He went to kneel before the child. "We were not arguing about you. We were disagreeing about money."
"Money to pay for *my* school," he pointed out.
"True. But, son, we both know we were very wrong. We've talked things through. I can't promise we'll never argue about issues that concern you again. Truth is, Lois and I often argue about things. Not because we enjoy hurting one another or that we don't love each other. It's just that we're both so stubborn we argue for what we believe in and feel strongly about. We feel very strongly about you and the things that concern you. And we might argue. It only means we're trying to work something out, not that we don't care or want you."
Robin looked up at the adults. He wanted so much to believe them, but how could he? He'd seen them argue about him and it had been painful.
Lois chose to sit next to him on the bed. "We're so sorry. We should have known our behavior would hurt your feelings. Robin, adults fight from time to time. It's how some people express themselves, like Clark and me. While we can't promise not to argue in the future, we can promise that we'll always do the very best thing possible for you." She brushed a strand of hair off his forehead. "Please don't leave us."
He looked up at Lois. "You'd let me go?"
"If." She had to stop to swallow the lump in her throat. "If that's what you want."
He looked to Clark for confirmation. The man had to blink back his own tears.
"Son, this is your home, but if you'd rather go back to the Sanders." He looked down to keep from crying. When he'd regained control, he tried again. "We'd hate to lose you, but we won't stop you." Unable to stand it any longer, Clark rose. "I need to." He gestured toward the stairs before he hurried away.
Robin's eyes flashed back to Lois. "I upset him."
"He just doesn't want you to leave."
The boy sat silently for a long moment. Did his father and Lois really care that much about him? Enough to argue? Enough to let him leave if he wanted to? He finally looked back up at Lois. "I can go to public school. I liked it there, too," he told her.
"Oh, sweetie. Your father and I talked that through. We really want you to go to the other one."
"Hey! I can pay for it!" The boy jumped to his feet and ran down the stairs. Clark was sitting at the table with the Kents. "Clark, you don't have to argue about the money and Lois doesn't have to pay for it. Mrs. Davies told me a long time ago that I have a trust fund. My mom left money for me. You and Lois don't have to argue any more."
Clark stared at Robin a moment before he reached down to lift the boy to sit on his lap. "Robin, Lois and I weren't arguing because we don't want to pay for it. We do. We like that school and think it's a good one. We want you to go there. I just didn't want Lois to take out all her savings to do it. I forgot that she and I are a team and we need to work together."
"It doesn't matter which school I go to. I told Lois I liked the public school. I can go there. I just don't want you and Lois to argue about me. It makes me sad."
Clark lifted his hand and smoothed Robin's hair across his head. "I'm sorry we made you sad. I promise that, even though we may disagree in the future, we'll always care for you. We're learning how to be your parents, and we might make mistakes, but we do want to be your parents."
Robin looked over at Martha and Jonathan, glanced at Clark, then back to his grandparents. "If they argue about me again, can I come live with you?"
Jonathan chuckled softly. This had to be the greatest little man alive. "Tell you what. How about your grandmother and I come stay close to you so if you have any problems, you can stay a day or two until it can be sorted out?"
"Mom? Dad?" Clark was staring at his parents.
"We were going to tell you over lunch that we've decided to sell the farm and move here to be close," his father said with a smile.
"Clark, Robin's our grandson and we wouldn't get to see him very much all the way out in Kansas. Let us do this. You and Lois could use the help." His mother's expression was hopeful.
"You can't sell the farm!" Clark protested.
"We can," Jonathan told him. "We had an offer from Tim Murphy last year. He wanted to add our place to his 'ranch'." Jonathan emphasized the word with his fingers. "We weren't interested then, but now." He smiled at Robin.
"But." Clark started.
"But what, honey?" Martha asked him. "Clark, we're not getting any younger and we want to see Robin every day. We've missed the last seven years just like you."
"I know, but."
Lois had made her way into the kitchen with the others. She reached out and squeezed Clark's shoulders. "I for one think it's a terrific idea."
Clark looked up at her. "Lois!"
"What? Clark, they want to do this and they don't need your permission."
"I know they don't."
Martha chose to focus on someone a little more important in this equation, so when his eyes filled with tears, she reached out to take his hands. "Robin, honey, what's wrong?"
They other adults grew quiet to listen in.
"I. I." He swiped a hand at the tears that had made a path down his cheeks. They really did want him! All of them! "You're really moving here?. For me?"
"For you," Martha told him softly. "And so we can help out your folks."
"Would you like that, son?" Jonathan asked him.
"Could I see the farm once before you sell it?" He couldn't think of anything else to say. So many thoughts were rolling around inside his head all at once. How had he gotten so lucky?
"Of course you can," the older man told him. "It'll take us a little time to square things away."
"Robin," Martha began. "Why are you crying?"
"'Cause. 'cause I feel kinda' special."
The older woman smiled at him brightly. "You *are* special. Very, very special."
Robin looked around at Clark. "Clark, I don't think I want to go back to the Sanders."
"I'm glad." He squeezed the boy's sides just before the child slid from his lap.
"Martha?" He stood before her on trembling legs.
"Would it be okay to ask for a hug?" Wide, hopeful, eyes shined brightly up at Martha.
Martha almost jerked the child off his feet to embrace him. He leaned back enough to look at her before laughing and moving over to hug Jonathan, foregoing permission in his excitement. But the older man welcomed him with open arms, holding him just as gently as Clark had done that morning. Did everyone in this family hug this good? When he'd had his fill, he settled against his grandfather's chest so he could see Clark.
"My grandparents like me enough to sell their home and move." He looked up at Jonathan. "How far is Kansas?"
"A long way. Nearly a thousand miles," the man replied.
"Wow," the child whispered. "I'm worth a thousand miles, five thousand bucks, a whole farm, and new baseball gear." He'd ticked each price off on his fingers. "I'll have to be a very good boy until I'm like. fifty!"
Jonathan pulled him closer to his chest as the adults dissolved into laughter. When they'd gotten themselves under control, Martha got up to get lunch on the table.
"Mom, Dad, are you sure about this?" Clark asked again.
"We're sure," his dad told him.
"But the farm. you've had it so long. How can you stand to leave it? And you said you'd never be happy in the city," Clark reminded his dad.
"Son, we'll miss the farm. But we plan to bring all our wonderful memories with us. Home is where family is. Here, with you and Lois and this little guy." Jonathan squeezed the little body in his arms. "This is home. And as for living in the city, well, I never had a reason to be here before."
Lois moved around to take the chair beside Clark. "I think it's great. I'd kill to have my parents love me like that."
Clark reached over to lay a hand on hers. "Honey."
"It's okay." She offered him a smile to assure him she was fine. "Besides, now I'll have parents who do." Her eyes met Martha's and at that moment Lois had never felt so loved.
"Is everything okay now?" Robin asked after a while.
"Everything is fantastic, kiddo!" Clark winked at him. "You can go to school close to the Planet *and* Lois and I will pay for it. No arguments about it at all. We promise."
"But it's okay to use my money," the child told him.
"I think I'd like for you to use that money for yourself. Maybe put it in savings for college or…"
"Maybe buy yourself something special," Lois added. "Isn't there something you want?"
"I already have what I've always wanted."
"You do? What is it?" Lois' curiosity was too much. She just had to know.
"A family," Robin whispered. When all of the adults looked as if they'd cry, he immediately said, "No crying! Sheez, we are *all* sissies!" Instead of crying, the adults burst into laughter.
Lois and Clark reluctantly parted ways with their son so the boy could go shopping with his grandparents. The team decided to go into work to keep their minds occupied, but Superman was needed before the trip to the Planet could be completed. They'd have to discuss the Superman issue very seriously soon. The small guy was so observant it was only a matter of time before he figured it out on his own. The couple wanted to tell him so they could answer any questions he might have.
Though not very much work was done that afternoon, Lois and Clark were able to keep their mind off of Robin. They arrived at Clark's apartment to the wonderful smells of a home-cooked meal. They also noticed the table had been set for two extra people.
"Mom," Clark asked. "Is someone else coming?"
"I thought maybe a couple of other people would like to meet their future grandson," she told him. While extremely presumptuous of Martha to invite Lois' parents to dinner, she also felt the younger couple might need someone to run interference for them. Learning of Robin's existence and being thrust into instant parenthood was enough for anyone to handle. They certainly didn't need an overbearing mother breaking their spirits as well.
"My parents are coming?" Lois' expression looked a little worried.
"Yes. I hope it was all right that I invited them." Now Martha was the one worried.
"Well, I had planned to ease them into this, but…"
"Martha smiled and placed a hand on the younger woman's arm. "They both sounded excited to be coming… if that's any consolation."
Clark reached out to touch Lois' shoulders. "We have to do this sometime, honey. Might as well be now."
Lois offered a small smile and leaned her head against his chest for a moment. When she leaned back, her eyes were searching the room. "Where's Robin?"
"And Dad?" Clark added.
"They are… trying out a new bike," she finished in a rush as she went back to the stove, clearly avoiding the younger couple.
"New bike? What new…" Clark stopped when he realized what she meant. "Mom!"
"What?" She faced her son with a stern glare. "We wanted to buy him a gift. And the bike was on sale," she told him defensively.
Lois lifted her hand to Clark's chest. "Clark, don't. They have the right to spoil their grandson. They have seven years to make up for."
Clark smiled and looked down at Lois. "I was only going to say that I hate I missed his reaction to such a generous gift." His eyes went back to his mom's. "Thank you very much."
"You're welcome. He thanked us over and over as well. He's such a sweet little boy. Kim instilled him with a good character." His mother remembered Clark's college sweetheart. She'd thought at first that the young woman was all wrong for her son, having met Kim on a trip to visit her son. In fact, she'd never believed she could make him truly happy, but had liked her none the less. Most importantly, she'd made her son happy at the time and that was enough for Martha.
"That she did," Clark agreed. "I just wish she'd told me about him from the beginning."
Lois rubbed Clark's chest again. "You've got to stop beating yourself up about this. That's the past. He's here now and that's our future."
Clark lifted his hand to cup her cheek. "Our future… I like the sound of that. And I love you," he told her softly just before he kissed her lips.
The door banged open and a happy little boy bounded down the stairs. "Hey!" Clark released Lois just in time to catch his son.
"Hey!" Clark was thrilled the child was displaying this kind of affection for him.
"Miss me?" Robin asked when Clark settled him on his arm to look at him. The boy's outgoing, trusting personality was so much like himself.
"I did… very much." He ruffled the boy's hair before receiving a fierce hug.
Robin was grinning at a surprised Clark when he drew back. He didn't wait long before he reached for Lois, who took him straight from Clark's arm to hug him tightly against her chest. The boy wrapped his arms around her neck and laid his head down on her shoulder.
"Hey, why does she get the full treatment?" Clark protested.
"Because she smells good," Robin told him without lifting his head from the shoulder he was snuggled into. And she felt good. He was no little kid anymore, but it sure felt nice to be held. It made him feel safe.
"Good point." Clark shrugged and went to help his dad tuck the new bike out of the way beside the door.
"Thank you, son," Jonathan told him. "That boy rides like a pro. I think I'll buy your mom and me a bike so we can ride with him some days."
"You really do want to move here, huh?"
Jonathan reached out and clapped Clark's shoulder. "We really do. I'm looking forward to spending my retirement playing with my grandson."
"Are you going to be able to do that? Retire, I mean."
"Yeah. Your mom and I have talked and our savings is enough for me to be able to stay home and your mother…" He looked up to the kitchen where the woman in question was working. "Well, I think she may want to tell you something."
Clark looked up at his mom. "Mom?"
The woman turned and smiled at her son. "I had a talk with Perry today."
Lois shifted Robin so she could listen to the news as well.
"He thinks it would be a good idea if I came to work for him."
"At the Planet?" Clark asked.
"Yes. You're looking at the Planet's newest advice columnist." Martha smiled proudly.
"It's going to be called 'Ask Mom'," Robin announced proudly. "The Chief said he wished he'd thought of it a long time ago."
"How did he come up with the idea now?" Clark asked.
"Well, I'm not sure. He called here before we left and congratulated us on the addition to our family, then he paused a moment before he invited us to stop by the Planet. He asked how we felt about our grandson and we told him we were planning to move to Metropolis. He said he thought that might be the case and offered me the position. He said that with my life experience I'd be perfect for the position." Martha finished with a shrug.
"But I thought the point of coming here was to spend time with Robin," Clark continued.
"We will be spending time with Robin," his dad told him. "She'll go into the office while Robin's at school. The Planet's also generously giving us a computer to have at home, so she'll be able to check mail and whatever extra work she chooses." Jonathan smiled then. He was proud of his wife as well.
"Wow!" Clark said as he beamed at his mother. "I'm very proud of you, Mom. Congratulations!"
"Thank you." She smiled and leaned into the half hug that Lois was offering.
"Yes. Congratulations," Lois told her. She struggled to adjust Robin's position in her arms.
"Hey, Sport, maybe you need to get back down to your feet. I'm sure you're a little heavy…"
"No!" Lois cradled Robin's head against her shoulder and walked around Clark back to the living room. They settled on the sofa and Clark could only smile as they rattled on about Robin's new bike. He didn't have long to enjoy the scene because his hearing picked up a call for help.
"I, ah, I need to run to the store…" Clark started, catching the attention of those around him. "… to get some milk!" He hurried through the front door without a backwards glance.
The adults knew what had happened, of course, but Robin stared at the door for a moment before turning to his grandmother. "Guess you should have told him we picked up milk today."
Martha smiled at him. "Yeah. I guess I should have." She gave him a wink, then continued with dinner preparations.
Robin faced Lois again, Clark's departure forgotten, and continued talking about his bike.
The table had been set, dinner was waiting on the stove, and a pair of small hands had been washed when a knock sounded on the door.
"I'll get it," Robin announced as he ran up the stairs. He opened the partition and immediately recognized Lois' parents from the pictures she'd shown him. What took him by surprise was that they were engaged in a heated embrace. He smothered a giggle, waiting patiently for them to separate.
"Mother! Daddy!" Lois had made it to Robin's side and was shocked to see her parents kissing. The last time they'd been together, the older couple had argued the entire time.
Sam and Ellen pulled apart and faced their daughter. "Hi, sweetheart," Ellen said cheerfully. "It was so nice to get an invitation to dinner from Martha tonight. I've been dying to see her again." In usual Ellen fashion, she breezed in past Lois and Robin, greeting the Kents first and commenting on the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen.
"Hi ya', Pumpkin," Sam told his daughter as he leaned to kiss her cheek. "And who's this?" he asked of Robin.
Lois, who was still too stunned to speak, could only stare at him with a gaping mouth.
Robin smiled and reached out to shake Sam's hand. "Hi. I'm Robin." He chose wisely to wait for Lois to explain exactly who he was.
"Hi, Robin. It's nice to meet you." Sam smiled brightly as he shook the boy's hand.
For the first time, Ellen noticed the small boy. When she'd shrugged from her coat and allowed Jonathan to take it, she turned to Lois again. "He must be one of your assignments," she commented. "I swear, Lois, you and that fianc,e of yours have some of the strangest cases."
Lois pulled Robin over in front of her protectively after they'd stepped back down into the living room. "Actually, Mother, Robin's not an assignment. He's our son. Well, Clark's son, but he'll be mine, too, considering we're getting married and all. So, meet your future grandson!" She finished with a wide grin, not knowing exactly when she'd decided to just spring that on her parents like that.
Ellen's mouth dropped open, while Sam could only stare between Lois and Robin. "What?!" It was Ellen who found her voice first.
"Robin is Clark's son," Lois repeated. She looked down at the small boy and smiled. "Our son."
"Please tell me you're kidding," her mother said.
"Not a bit. We only found out about him a few days ago. Due to situations beyond Clark's control, we never knew about him. His mother died two years ago and he's been in foster care. The agency finally found Clark and now Robin's home." She finished her explanation with a note of finality, daring her mother to question it.
Of course, Ellen Lane questioned everything. That was the one trait she'd passed along to her award-winning daughter. "This is Clark's son?"
"Yes," Lois told her.
"And he didn't have any idea he'd had a son until a few days ago?" Lois nodded. "Come on, Lois. You're not that naive! Men tell you things like that when they want to cover their own…"
"Ellen!" Sam cut off the swear word he knew was coming.
"Well, they do, Sam! Think about it. This child has to be about six or seven years old. How could Clark not know about him?!"
"Because my mom never told him," the boy spoke up. All eyes focused on the child, who was clearly distressed by Ellen's reaction. He was terrified that a negative reaction from Lois' parents might cause Lois and Clark to rethink having him here. But what could he say to make her like him? "He really didn't know, Mrs. Lane," Robin told Ellen, then looked up at Lois. "I'll wait in my room until dinner's over." He'd just wait out the storm and pray for the best. Ellen's initial reaction hurt so badly that there was no way he could sit through dinner with her.
"No you won't. We're having dinner together," Lois said.
"Please, Lois. I don't feel much like eating now."
Lois wanted to smack some sense into her mother. How could she have hurt Robin's feelings like this? "Tell you what," she started as she kneeled before Robin. "How about you go on up, then I'll join you as soon as I have a word with my… *mother*." She flashed an angry glare toward Ellen before refocusing on Robin. He simply nodded sadly and turned toward the other room. He stopped just inside the doorway and faced the adults again. "It was nice meeting you, Mr. Lane. Lois told me you're a doctor. I'd like to be a veterinarian some day." Lois' dad hadn't said anything negative. Was that a good sign?
Sam found his voice and walked over to the child. "That sounds like a fine plan," he said as he knelt to look the boy in the eyes. "Maybe I can show you my lab sometime."
"Really?" A small spark of hopefulness twinkled in Robin's eyes. Maybe Lois' dad was okay about him after all.
"Sure. I'm always in need of an assistant."
"You want me to help you?"
"I'll even get you a pint-sized lab coat," Sam finished with a smile.
Robin smiled at the man before peering past him at Ellen. His smile faded as he turned dejectedly toward the stairs to the loft. He felt really bad that Lois' mom didn't like him. He was scared that her feelings would cause problems for him and Lois. And there was no way he wanted that to happen.
Sam waited until the boy had made it up the stairs before he stood to face his ex-wife. "Ellen, you should be ashamed of yourself," he told her softly.
Ellen had the good grace to look chastised.
"Mother, I want you to know that I really want you to accept Robin. It doesn't matter whether you believe that Clark knew nothing about him or not as long Clark, Robin, and I know the truth. And the truth is that we knew absolutely nothing about Robin until two days ago. But we know now. Robin is Clark's son and will be mine when we're married. He's precious and adorable and we love him very much already. I'd be thrilled if you came to at least tolerate him. Although I have to tell you right now that I will not allow you to hurt his feelings again like you've done tonight." Lois finished her statement and marched up to the loft.
Just then the front door came open and Clark stepped in. He stopped dead in his tracks and stared at the others in the room. "Ah, hi," he managed weakly.
"Hi, son," Sam said as he extended his hand in greeting.
"Sam. Good to see you again."
"It's good to see you. I can tell you've been taking care of my daughter." Sam beamed at the younger man as he shoved his hands in his front pockets.
"Absolutely, Sam." Clark smiled right back at the other man before his eyes finally fell on Ellen. By the expression on her face, she wasn't happy at all. "Ellen, you're looking well." He stepped around Sam, but stopped short of greeting his future mother-in-law.
"I was very well until a few minutes ago." She grabbed Clark's arm to guide him to the far side of the room so they could talk quietly. She knew she'd made a huge mistake earlier and didn't want to cause further harm, but felt her opinion had to be stressed. "How the hell could you not know you were someone's father?" she whispered fiercely.
Clark sighed, trying desperately to control his anger. "Robin's mother never told me."
"And you didn't feel it necessary to take precautions?"
Leave it to Ellen, Clark thought. Only she'd come back around to that. "I don't mean to be insensitive, but that's my business, Ellen."
"Your future with my daughter is my business. And you bringing a child into your marriage affects my daughter."
"I know she's your daughter, but she's also her own woman. She and I have talked this through and together we'll take care of our son. I'm sorry if that causes you distress, but I can't change the fact that he's here." Clark turned away from Ellen, realizing for the first time that Lois and Robin were not in the room. "Where are Robin and Lois?" he asked his parents.
"Ellen let her mouth overload her…"
"And you have the gall to say something to me about my swearing," Ellen interrupted Sam.
Clark shot her an angry glare before looking to his parents for answers.
"Robin wasn't feeling very good so he went up to his room. Lois decided to join him," Martha explained.
Clark knew immediately what that meant. He faced Ellen again. "I've never said much about your treatment of Lois, although I haven't liked much of it. Since the first day I met you, you've been insensitive to her feelings. She's your daughter, Ellen, and she deserves your consideration. Robin is my son, but he will also be Lois' son. While I can't make you like him, I can tell you that Lois loves him. That alone should be enough for you. And as long as you have a relationship with Lois, as her future husband, I will insist that you keep in mind she's an adult and doesn't need your permission to live her life. However, because you *are* her mother and she loves you, she would like to have your support… even if you don't like all the choices she's made. I will also insist that her son be shown just as much consideration." He looked over at Sam. "Excuse me. I think I may be needed upstairs."
Everyone watched until Clark had disappeared into the loft before Martha spoke up. "Ellen, would you and Sam come out onto the balcony for a few moments? Jonathan and I would like to speak with you both."
Ellen stood motionlessly for a moment before she headed in the direction of the balcony. Sam sighed heavily and followed her out. Jonathan closed the door when he and Martha had stepped outside to join the other couple. He knew his wife was going to try to become the peacemaker and in this instance, he totally agreed with her.
Lois was sitting on the edge of Robin's bed, rubbing his back when Clark came in. She looked up with a sad expression on her face and shrugged. Robin hadn't said a word to her since she'd come up.
"Hey, kiddo," Clark said softly as he sat down at the head of the bed. "What's wrong?"
Robin remained silent for a long moment before he rolled over and sat up next to Clark. "I'm sorry, Lois," he said sadly.
"Because your mom doesn't like me." His sad eyes peered up at her.
"Robin, my mom not liking you is not your fault. You're a great little person and if she can't see that, it's her loss." Lois reached out to smooth her hand over his cheek.
"I just… I don't…" He stopped and dropped his head.
"What?" Lois coaxed. "What are you thinking?"
"I'm thinking that if your mom doesn't like me, it'll cause problems and you won't like me anymore." He was too hurt to lift his head, so he kept staring down at the covers.
Lois gently shifted him into her lap and lifted his chin so she could see his eyes. "I want you to listen to me. Really hear me. Nothing, *nothing* could make me not like you. Mother doesn't have to like you; Martha or Jonathan, Perry, Jimmy, or even your dad can dislike you." Robin's brows rose to his hair. "But I promise you that I will always like you."
Robin could only look at her, trying to determine if she was telling him the truth. Her eyes held the soft light his mom's had when she looked at him. Did that mean Lois already loved him like he loved her? He decided that she was definitely telling him the truth and pushed his arms around her neck. "And I'll always like you."
Clark smiled as he watched the woman he loved embrace his son. This might not have been the scenario he'd envisioned for his life, but he didn't think it could get much better.
"Are you sure it doesn't bother you about your mom?" Robin asked when he pulled back to look at Lois.
"Of course it bothers me. I don't understand why anybody wouldn't like you!" Lois smiled at him brightly.
Robin giggled and wrinkled his nose at her. She really was the best.
His smile soon faded when he heard Ellen speak.
"I, ah, I don't mean to interrupt…" She trailed off, searching the room for the courage to do what she came to do. "Clark," she finally decided to start with him. "I have to thank you. What you said downstairs made me realize that I've acted horribly. Lois, I'm sorry I reacted the way I did. And a conversation with a couple of very proud grandparents got me thinking I might miss out on a lot of fun if I don't get with the game." She moved forward and extended her hand to Robin. "Hi. I'm Ellen and I'm going to be your grandmother."
Robin slowly got to his feet before reaching out to take Ellen's hand. "I'm sorry if you were upset about me, but I promise I'm a good boy."
Ellen smiled as her other hand came up to hold Robin's. "Martha was right. You're adorable." She offered the small boy a smile and received one in return. "Now, I have a huge favor to ask you."
Robin's eyes lit up. "I love doing favors!"
"Good. I want you to come down and have dinner with me."
"I can do that!" Robin told her with enthusiasm. It sure was good that she'd changed her mind about him. She might not like him like Lois did, but to have her like him at all was great!
"Then let's go!" Ellen shifted, but held the smaller hand in hers as they proceeded down the stairs.
It was a long moment before Clark and Lois looked at one another. "Can you believe that?" Lois asked him in bewilderment.
"No," he said immediately.
She slowly smiled and leaned over to kiss him. "Come on. Let's go eat."
It was easy to tell that she was excited by her mother's actions. Lois would be the last one to ever admit it, but her mother's opinion *did* matter to her. Clark hoped this would be the beginning of a much better relationship between mother and daughter. He chuckled and followed her down the stairs. Dinner wouldn't be ruined after all.
Robin stared up at the ceiling as he lay in his bed. Dinner with his other new grandparents had been great. Well, once Ellen had gotten over her shock it had been great. They'd talked endlessly, the same way he'd done with Martha and Jonathan. Robin liked Sam almost instantly. It had taken a while for Ellen to relax completely, but when she had, things had been so much more fun.
But when Clark had rushed from the house again, with an excuse that he had forgotten a meeting with a source, Ellen had said several bad words about Clark that Robin hadn't liked. He'd thought she didn't like his father at all, but she'd apologized when Sam glared at her, which made him feel much better. They had all started to chat again, then Clark had come back. He'd said that the source didn't show up. Dinner continued once more.
Sam and Ellen had promised to call soon, and they had invited everyone over to their place for dinner the following week. Lois had asked about *their* place. Apparently Sam and Ellen had been divorced long ago. They'd told Lois that they had recently decided to start dating again, which made Lois happy. Of course, that made Robin happy, too. He liked Lois a lot and if she was happy, then so was he.
The little boy frowned when he thought about Clark though. Clark had run off right in the middle of tucking him tonight. He'd even left Lois to drive home alone. Robin hadn't liked that one bit. Maybe he'd have a talk with his father. He just didn't understand why any man would want to treat Lois that way!
Two weeks. Two long, wonderful weeks, Clark thought, as he made his way down the sidewalk toward Lois' apartment. His son had been with them for two weeks. Robin had started school, absolutely loving his class, which made Clark glad they'd decided on the private institution. Lois had taken Robin shopping for supplies and they both had taken him to buy new clothes. Toys filled a box beside the door in Clark's apartment, a picture of Robin graced both his and Lois' desk at work, and preparations were being made for a December wedding. Lois and Clark had discussed things and offered his folks her old apartment once the older couple moved to Metropolis. The Kents agreed and arrangements had been made for the lease to be transferred to the new tenants. Martha and Jonathan had left three days earlier to go back to Kansas to sell the farm and make the final moving arrangements. It was only after his parents had left that Clark noticed the change in Robin's behavior.
The boy grew quiet, withdrawn. He often went to his room immediately after coming home from school and only came out for dinner and to take his bath in the evenings. He didn't talk much during their morning routine and said very little on the way to school. Clark had spoken to Robin's teacher and was assured that the child was very outgoing, and had made lots of friends already. Clark just couldn't understand it.
The boy's birthday was only days away, yet the little fellow was not in the least bit excited. Clark had asked several times what kind of gift was appropriate for an eight year old, only to receive a bored shrug. 'It doesn't matter', was the answer Clark got each time. Even Lois hadn't gotten a positive response.
And thank God for Lois. She was absolutely wonderful with Robin. She'd confessed to Clark on more than one occasion that having Robin with them had completely changed her perspective about family. She often gushed about *her* son, sharing pictures and advice with the staff at the Planet. Lois had officially joined the 'mother's group' and was enjoying every minute of it. Clark was thrilled to see the transformation from the person who'd responded so negatively to the initial news that he might have fathered a child. There had been several apologies about her reaction, but they'd finally decided that all the guilt and blame had to be put aside to concentrate on raising their son. Now Clark just wished he knew what was wrong with Robin.
Even Lois had gotten the cold shoulder lately. Sure, Robin seemed to respond to her more than he did anyone else, but there was still an underlying hostility there Clark couldn't quite put his finger on. He'd asked, and Robin had assured him, that there were no problems with his new home. Robin had told him that he liked both Lois and Clark very much, along with his home, school, and his new grandparents. So what was the problem? Could the little guy be having some kind of difficulties dealing with his feelings? Was there resentment over Clark not being there after all? Or did Robin simply miss his mother? Clark wasn't entirely sure, but he would definitely miss his mother after two years. Heck, he'd miss his mother after two decades. Maybe it was time to seek advice on this subject. More than anything, Clark wanted to make sure Robin was happy. And right now, the little fellow was anything but.
Lois opened the door, greeted him with a kiss, then immediately apologized for not being ready early enough to drop Robin off at school.
"It's okay, honey," Clark assured her as he plopped heavily onto a kitchen chair.
Lois stopped on the way to her bedroom. "Okay. Let's have it."
"Clark, I know you a little better than that. Something's bothering you." She took a seat next to him and waited for him to answer.
He sighed heavily before looking up at her. "Lois, there's something wrong with Robin."
"You mean his quiet, reserved behavior lately?"
Clark's brows rose in surprise. "You've noticed?"
"Of course I have. It started the morning after the first dinner with my parents."
"What?!" Clark had only noticed the last few days.
"Of course, it's gotten worse since your folks went home."
"Help me out here. I thought it *started* when my folks went home."
"Come on, Clark. Haven't you noticed how the enthusiasm seemed to have faded from his behavior? He stopped apologizing for everything and his affection with us has been more guarded."
Clark grew silent as he thought about the last couple of weeks. Lois was right. Robin had seemed a little more withdrawn even then. "What do you think is wrong?"
"I'm not sure. Maybe he's missing his mom. I also think that maybe he's worried about what will happen once you and I are married. We did start talking about wedding plans then." And they had. They'd called to book a hall for the reception. They'd also visited the chapel where the ceremony would be held.
"We should reassure him that he's the most important thing in our lives."
"Tonight. Let's take him to do something fun. I hear kids really like Chuck-E-Cheese," Lois offered hopefully.
"Sounds like a plan." Clark smiled at her before hurrying her to get ready for work. Leave it to Lois. She always knew what to do.
Robin was thrilled to spend the night with Lois and Clark, eating pizza and playing games. And his dad didn't run away even once! He'd tried hard to figure out just why that happened, but couldn't come up with anything. His dad was always leaving him and Lois stranded for the most outrageous things. He'd even left them that day they'd been looking at the wedding chapel! How could he do that?
Only more questions surfaced as Clark's disappearing acts continued over the next couple of weeks. There had been a huge birthday party at the Planet for Robin. A conference room was decorated in a baseball theme and there was a cake large enough for fifty people. Presents were heaped high enough that surprised little eyes couldn't see over the top. Yes, he'd thoroughly enjoyed his party. Lois and Clark both had told him how happy they were for him to be with them, but before they could make it to the jeep to go home, Clark had run off.
And it continued to happen, causing Robin to grow more despondent about his future with his father. Plans were made to spend Thanksgiving in Kansas with the Kents, but at the last second Clark begged off because of some work he remembered. Robin and Lois flew out without him. He joined them later in the evening, although the damage had been done. Robin was completely upset. Maybe it hadn't been such a good idea to live with his dad after all.
But Lois was the best. She was always there for him. She never left him when they were together. Suddenly Robin realized that not only was he hurt that his dad constantly ran out on him, he was angry because Clark ran out on Lois. Didn't he know she was the most wonderful woman alive and shouldn't be treated like that? Heck, even the Lanes had made the time to fly out to Kansas to spend Thanksgiving with their new family. And where was Clark?! He'd run out right in the middle of dinner! This time there'd been no excuse at all.
The child sat up in bed as he thought about everything again. Why didn't Clark's disappearances bother Lois? She never got upset. One time she seemed to be, but then she'd sighed and asked if there was anyone who wanted a Happy Meal. Of course, that was a kid's favorite meal, so Robin had shrugged off his father's disappearance and headed off to McDonald's with Lois.
Then there was Martha and Jonathan. They never got upset at all. They always smiled and said Clark would be back as soon as he could. Ellen wasn't as understanding. She asked over and over what was up with Clark. Sam didn't seem to care either way. What could it all mean?
Two days later, and after a rather enjoyable trip to the Kent farm, even with Clark's behavior, the small family was back at home. Robin was still at a loss for what to do. He wanted to understand everything, but what should he do? Should he ask them about Clark's strange behavior? He'd been with them long enough to know they wouldn't send him away. Both Lois and Clark were always assuring him this was his home. So why didn't it feel like much of one? And of course, he'd never behaved in a way that would make them change their minds either. He was just so confused!
"Robin?" Clark shook the boy's shoulder with a bit of impatience. He'd heard an emergency call for Superman on the evening news. It would be impossible for him not to go. As much as he hated to have to drag Robin from his sleep, it was unavoidable. "Robin, son, wake up!" Using a bit more force in his tone to arouse the child, Clark winced at the terrified expression he received.
"What? Are they here to get me?" Robin's eyes searched frantically for the social workers that would take him away.
Clark stopped, immediately understanding his son's question. "No one is here to get you, son." His strong hands gently lifted Robin and cradled him against his chest. "I have to go take care of an emergency involved with my job. I need to take you over to Lois'. That's all." Clark lifted the backpack he'd already packed with some of Robin's clothes and his school books. He hated doing this with no more of an explanation, but right now he didn't have a choice. Superman was needed and there was no time to explain.
That's all?! He was ripping him from his bed in the middle of the night and all he could say was 'that's all'! Now Robin was more confused then ever. He'd convinced himself earlier that asking about Clark's strange disappearing acts might be the best thing to do. He'd planned to do so first thing tomorrow. Now this.
Clark ushered Robin out to a waiting cab and gave Lois' address. During the short drive, the boy grew angry. When they stopped in front of Lois' apartment, Robin snatched away from Clark when he tried to lift him into his arms again.
"I don't need you to carry me. I'm not a baby!" Robin stomped past Clark in his bare feet and into the building.
With a frustrated sigh, Clark paid the cab fare, gathered Robin's bag, and hurried after the boy.
Lois opened the door to a very upset child.
"Let me guess. You're okay with this?!" Robin didn't wait for an answer. He stomped past her and into the bedroom and slammed the door.
"Robin!" Clark called to him.
"Let him go, Clark. He doesn't understand."
"I know. And I just don't have time to explain right now."
"I know you don't. We'll take care of it as soon as you get back. Be careful." She gave him a gentle kiss, then pushed him into the hall. Seconds later she heard the sonic boom that signaled his take off. She relocked all the locks before facing in the direction of the bedroom. With a heavy sigh, she started into the other room.
Robin was already in bed when she got there. He'd pulled the covers up around his head and was turned away from her side.
"Can we talk?" Lois asked hopefully.
"NO!" he almost yelled.
"No," he repeated in a softer tone.
"Okay. But I'm here when you feel you need to." He didn't respond, just buried himself deeper in the covers. Lois reluctantly removed her robe and climbed into bed. It was excruciating to know her son was hurting and there was nothing she could do to relieve his pain. She couldn't help until he allowed her to. Until then, she'd let him know how much she cared and make sure he knew she was there for him. She rolled to her side, sighed again, then closed her eyes.
It would be much later before Robin would fall asleep. He could only lay in the dark, imagining some of the worse things about his father and Lois.
Robin awoke the following morning to find Lois glued to the television in the living room watching coverage of Superman helping with an earthquake in another country. She barely noticed when he flopped down at the table to eat his breakfast. Nothing was said until it was time to go.
"Come on, sweetie. We're going to be late." Lois had gathered up her things and was waiting for Robin by the door.
He didn't utter a sound as he angrily snatched up his pack and headed out the door.
"I still don't want to talk," he yelled back at Lois. He'd already made it the elevator and Lois just made it in before the doors slid closed. She cast him a questioning glance, but remained silent on the ride down. The tension only grew thicker during the ride to Robin's school.
"Okay. I'll see you this afternoon," Lois said in a cheery tone, hoping to break through the unbearable ice that had built up between them. He'd never acted this way before, especially with her. Yet, she could hardly blame him. There was so much that he didn't understand. She and Clark had really erred by not telling Robin about Superman before now. At least if he knew, he might understand everything that had happened lately. She was forced to wait on Clark's return though.
"Whatever," he shot back as he headed into the building. He was angry. Very angry! No one would tell him anything and he just didn't understand. Lois acted as if nothing was wrong with Clark leaving all the time. Maybe staying here had been a bad idea.
Lois got more of the silent treatment that afternoon. Robin did his homework and played video games until time for dinner. He ate in silence and never even looked at Lois. When he'd gotten ready for bed, he found Lois pacing the living room floor. She'd stop every now and then to look out the window into the darkness, then she'd cast a weary glance at the news coverage on television. She looked upset and that automatically snapped Robin from his anger… at least with her.
"Lois?" he asked softly as he stepped into the room.
"Yeah?" She turned to face him, worry clearly written on her face.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," she said as she approached him. "I'm just worried about Clark."
"Where is he?"
"On an assignment. He shouldn't be much longer though." She kneeled down in front of him so she could look into his eyes. "I know you don't understand…"
"I don't. All those excuses. And he's never been gone this long."
"I know." Lois rubbed his arms lightly. "When he gets back, we'll all have a long talk. Okay?"
He studied her for a brief moment. Was it okay? Clark had left him in the middle of the night. He'd been so afraid and still was. For some reason, Robin couldn't shake the feeling that there was more to everything than Lois or Clark was letting on. Normal fathers didn't do things like this. And to make matters worse, now he was confused about how he felt towards Lois. He'd been angry at her this time. But seeing her upset reminded him how much he'd come to care about her. She was a great person and Clark shouldn't treat her the way he did. Great! Now he was angry all over again at Clark!
He nodded before turning dejectedly toward the bedroom. She wasn't going to tell him anymore tonight. He should just go to bed before he said something to hurt her feelings. He might be upset with her, but he didn't want to hurt her any more than she appeared to be now.
Robin climbed into bed, still trying to make sense out of everything. Had he done something that was so bad they wouldn't tell him? Were they making plans to send him away? And if so, why did Lois spend so much time making sure he was happy? He was just so confused. Why wouldn't his father just talk to him? He was starting to miss those nice hugs, but with everything that had been happening, he hadn't felt up to being very affectionate. Even the hugs he shared with Lois didn't feel the same. And there had been none today.
<<I really miss you, Mom.>> Robin rolled over on Lois' bed, a tear escaping his eye. Why couldn't everything just be the way it had been those first two days? He'd been so happy.
Soft voices pulled him from his sleep. Rubbing his eyes, Robin sat to determine who was with Lois in the other room. An immediate thrill came over him when he realized the other voice belonged to Clark. He tossed the covers back and hurried to the door. Before he made it though, he remembered that he was angry with his father. He stopped and peered into the living room. Shock and confusion overcame him when he saw the couple in the other room. Lois wasn't talking to Clark at all. She was talking to… to Superman!
"Was it bad?" she asked the caped hero.
"Yeah." His features clearly showed his exhaustion. He looked over at Lois briefly, then stepped toward her. She immediately understood his request and gathered him into her arms. "Oh, Lois… so many died," Clark said into her shoulder.
Superman had been to Japan to help when an earthquake completely destroyed a small village near the coast. The devastation was unreal and he'd gotten there after most of the damage had been done. Though he'd saved a great many lives when the aftershocks came, the large part of the day and half was spent pulling the dead from the rubble. Lois had been worried about the emotional impact on her gentle hero. And rightly so. The strong man trembled in her arms as she held him tightly.
From his position at the kitchen counter, to where he'd crept in curiosity, Robin gasped.
The couple turned toward him, both surprised to see Robin there.
"Why?" Robin asked Lois. "I thought you loved my dad." But just a few minutes ago, he'd thought this was his dad; he sounded just like him. His eyes flashed to the superhero and he stared intently for a long moment. Impossible! It was impossible! Superman could not be… Could he? "Clark?"
Clark looked to Lois for help. "It's time," she told him.
He nodded and took a few steps to kneel in front of Robin. "Yeah, kiddo, it's me."
The boy's eyes shot wide as he continued to stare at Superman. "Why? Why did you lie to me?" he managed after a long moment.
"Robin, this is a huge secret. I wasn't sure you could handle it."
"Don't you trust me?"
"With my life, son, but I wanted to protect you. Me being Superman is… well, it's not exactly the easiest thing in the world."
"Why do you keep it secret?"
"So I can live my life as Clark. That's who I am. Superman is just something I can do. It's something I have to do. I was blessed with all these gifts and helping others is as much a part of me as being your dad is."
"But you haven't been around much lately," Robin told him, resentment filling his words.
"I know," Clark admitted. "And I'm so sorry about that. I guess in my… *need* to hide this from you, I've only made the situation worse."
"You hurt my feelings," Robin said as his bottom lip started to tremble. "I thought you didn't want to be with me. And I thought everybody else was crazy. They smiled when you ran off."
"I'm so sorry, Robin," Clark told him again.
"I'm mad at you!" he blurted out.
"I thought you were hurting Lois and I didn't like that. Lois is the best and you treated her like she wasn't."
Clark dropped his head, unable to keep looking his son in the eyes.
"Sweetie, why didn't you say something?" Lois asked as she moved to kneel beside Clark.
"Because I was scared I'd be sent back to foster care." His eyes filled with tears as he stared at Lois and Clark.
"Robin, you listen to me," Clark started. "We would never send you anywhere. You're our son; this is your home."
"Even if I'm still angry?"
"You can be angry with me for as long as you need to be. I know finding out this secret is a really big thing."
"And, Robin," Lois put in. "This doesn't change how your dad feels about you. He still wants you and always will. And please don't let him being Superman change how you feel about him. Sure, it's huge, but he's just Clark. You'll realize that very quickly."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Clark asked her with a grin.
"It just means that fate blessed the right soul to be Superman," she told him, then focused on Robin again. "And I'm sorry for not telling you. Clark and I talked about it, although we never reached a decision when to tell you. I felt we should do it together."
Robin could only stare at them. He'd imagined some of the worst things on Earth. Not this! This was… it was… WOW! His father was Superman! How did he deal with that? He blinked several times, then glanced back into the kitchen. "Could I have a drink of water?"
"Sure." Clark hopped up and fetched a glass of cool water. Robin took it and drank in silence.
"You're welcome." Clark took the glass from the small hands stretched out to him.
Robin looked up at him for a long moment before he thought of something else. "Could I ask you questions about Superman?"
"You can ask as many questions as you want," Clark said with a smile.
"'Kay." He turned toward the bedroom. "Just not tonight. I want to go back to bed."
Clark and Lois continued to look into the darkened room long after Robin had gone back to bed.
"It was time, Clark," Lois assured him.
"I know." He reached out to pull her into his embrace, placed a kiss on her lips, then stepped back. "I should go. It's late."
"If you're sure you're okay," Lois said as they walked toward the living room window.
"I'll be fine. My son sobered me a great deal to what's most important in my life."
Lois reached out to smooth her hand across his chest. "He'll be all right, but all this does bring up an interesting point. This emergency called you out in the middle of the night. Poor Robin must have been so confused by being dragged from his bed."
"No wonder he's so angry with me." Clark thrust his hand through his hair in frustration. "I was thinking of cutting back a bit on my Superman duties."
"That's a start," Lois told him as she pushed her arms around his neck. "I was thinking that maybe I… could move in with you two a little sooner."
"What? Honey, the wedding's only three weeks away."
"I know, but I really think it would help to reassure Robin that we're serious about having him with us and *that's* what's best for him."
"Yeah. You're right." Clark's eyes flashed toward the bedroom before focusing on Lois again. "By the way, thank you for being here the last few days. I don't know what I'd have done without you."
"Clark, Robin's my son, too. Where else would I be?"
Clark smiled and accepted the kiss she was offering. Reluctantly he drew away from her. "Goodnight, honey."
"Goodnight." She closed the window after he'd gone and turned to go to bed. To her surprise Robin was standing in the kitchen. "Hi."
"I'm glad," he told her.
"Excuse me?" Lois asked as she turned out the lights on her way toward the bedroom.
"I'm glad I'm your son." He'd listened to the conversation between Lois and Clark and it had felt good to hear her say that. He hadn't been in the room and she didn't have to say it, but she had. That had to mean that she *really* did want him after all. At least one of the adults did, he thought bitterly. He was still incredibly upset with Clark. And he didn't fully understand why.
She smiled and heaved him up into her arms, carrying him against her chest all the way to bed. She loved her little man more than life itself, something she realized was absolutely insane to have ever been scared of.
Robin was confused by what he'd learned about Clark. Would this change everything? Or make them better? At least now he'd know why Clark ran off all the time. He'd be able to track him on television, know where he was most of the time. He'd also be able to talk more with Lois about everything. If she was glad he was her son, wouldn't she be willing to talk with him about everything that bothered him? Again, he thought how much he missed his mom. She always seemed to know what to do to make him feel better when he was down. And he was definitely down now. But it sure did feel nice to have Lois hugging him again.
Clark sat at the table when Robin made it to the kitchen the following morning. The boy climbed into a chair and lifted his juice to take a sip.
"I'm glad it's Saturday. I thought maybe we could talk," Clark started after a moment.
From the other side of the kitchen where she was cleaning up some of the dishes, Lois listened but remained silent.
Robin didn't say anything, choosing instead to eat for a moment.
"Robin, I know I handled things badly. I'm so sorry. I should have told you long before now."
"I got into a fight at school yesterday."
Robin's confession came out of nowhere. Both Lois and Clark raised questioning brows and were immediately focused on the child.
"We, ah, we didn't get a call," Lois finally managed as she made her way over to the table.
"My teacher said she wouldn't call this time because I've never been in trouble. She said I should really think about telling you though." Robin studied the table for a moment before he went on. "I wasn't going to."
"Do you mind telling us why you were fighting?" Clark asked.
"'Cause a boy said something I didn't like."
"What did he say?" Lois wanted to know.
"He said he didn't know why you were marrying Clark because his mom said you liked Superman better."
"Now I feel like a big dummy because you *do* like Superman!" He glared at Lois, unable and unwilling to hold his feelings in any longer.
"Robin, you can't tell others that," Clark cautioned.
"I know! I know what a secret is. I know how to keep 'em. But you didn't trust me and you lied to me! It was bad enough that my mom never told me about you, but you told me you wouldn't lie to me. 'Member?" He stressed the last word so that Clark could not possibly misunderstand this situation.
"Yes. I do remember." Clark reached out to take Robin's hand, but the boy pulled away from him.
"Don't touch me! Don't ever touch me again!" He crossed his arms over his chest, signaling the end of the discussion.
"I don't know how things were done at your house when your mom was alive, but around here there will be rules." Lois took both Clark and Robin by surprise when she spoke, her tone projecting frustration. "Clark is your father, young man, whether you like it or not. And I don't think speaking to him in that tone is appropriate for a boy your age. Just as you feel you deserve Clark's respect, he also deserves yours. I would like for you to apologize immediately!"
Robin stared at her with mouth agape for a long moment before he jumped from his chair. "You can't tell me what to do! You're not my mother!"
Instead of allowing his angry words to hurt her feelings, she allowed his outburst to further her frustration. "No, I'm not. But I will be one of your caretakers and you *will* show respect to adults, including those who've hurt your feelings!"
Finally pushed to lash out, Robin slapped his juice glass across the table, splattering both Lois and Clark with the orange colored beverage. "I hate both of you!" he shouted before he stormed into the bedroom and slammed the door.
Clark, who was paralyzed with fear, grew even more confused when he turned to see Lois laughing softly. "Lois?"
"Welcome home, son!" she yelled at the closed door in front of her. She calmly started cleaning up the mess their son had made, wearing a brilliant smile.
He could only stare at the woman, who'd obviously lost her mind, as he sat trying to figure out how to repair his son's bruised feelings. There was something he just wasn't getting here, Clark thought as Lois continued to clean the kitchen with a cheery attitude. Robin was angry, incredibly angry. The little guy would probably want to go live with the Sanders now. So, why was Lois acting as if nothing was wrong?
Behind the bedroom door, a little boy stared out the window with huge tears running down his cheeks. Lois had actually raised her voice to him. It had surprised him, but at the same time he felt… relieved. She hadn't automatically insisted that he would have to leave because of his bad behavior. And when he said that ugly remark and slammed her door, she'd welcomed him home.
Home… Was he really and truly home? Would they still keep him after all this? It was clear Clark was sorry for hiding his super secret from him. It was also clear that he was worried about how to make everything okay again. He'd tried to. He was the one who had wanted to talk. He'd apologized and meant it.
Robin glanced back at the door, using his sleeve to wipe away his tears. He was so confused. How did he feel about his dad being Superman? He wasn't sure and wouldn't be until he knew more. In his anger, he hadn't asked Clark all those questions on his mind. Would they answer them now? After how he'd behaved?
He took a deep breath. Only one way to find out.
Before Clark could ask Lois why she wasn't more upset, the bedroom door opened. He and Lois both watched as Robin silently entered the room. The boy stood next to the table for several minutes, as if unsure what to do next, before he reached for the kitchen towel on the counter and began to help Lois clean up the mess he'd made.
They worked in silence until the floor, table, and dishes sparkled again. Robin silently took his seat again and without raising his eyes, he spoke so softly, Clark almost had use his super hearing to understand him.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean what I said." And he didn't. He liked Lois and his father. He'd decided while he was helping clean the kitchen that it didn't matter if Clark was Superman. It didn't matter that Lois corrected him. Didn't that mean she cared for him? That's what Billy had told him once. If adults really care about you, they try to make you mind. They *want* you to behave. It made you a better adult, or so Billy said. Maybe he'd ask. He finally lifted his tear filled eyes to Lois. "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings."
"I know you didn't." She reached across to rub his arm. "But, Robin, I'm glad to see you let out a little of that frustration you have to be feeling. It's healthier than being so quiet all the time."
"Huh?" He didn't understand that one. Did she just say she was glad he'd been angry?!
"Sometimes it helps when we get angry and shout. But I'd much rather you shout things you *do* mean instead of things you don't."
He studied her for a moment before he spoke again. "You mean, it's good to be mad?"
"At times. It helps us deal with our feelings, those we don't understand."
"So, if I wanted to shout really loud that I miss my mom, that's okay?"
"That's more than okay. First, though, I think there's someone else you need to apologize to." She cut her eyes toward Clark who sat with a silly grin on his face. Sometime during their little chat, he'd finally realized why Lois hadn't been upset before.
Robin had been testing them, even if he hadn't realized it. He'd wanted to know, for sure, if they'd still want him if he misbehaved. And Lois… when had she become so adept at being a mother?
"I'm sorry, Clark. I do want you to touch me." He stopped a moment, then took Lois' words to heart. He inhaled sharply before raising his voice. "I want you to touch me a lot. And I'm angry because you've been gone all the time and haven't done that." Another breath and his voice gained strength. "I miss our morning talks on the way to school and the ones right before bed. I want to know what you do all day and I want to tell you what I do! And I want to know you weren't really hurting Lois, 'cause she's the best and I like her lots! I'm angry 'cause you didn't tell me, but I think it's cool that you're Superman!" Right before he spoke the last word, he paused and whispered 'Superman' before adding. "See! I can 'member a secret!" he finished on a whisper.
Clark eased from his seat to kneel before Robin, his hands holding the boy's small waist. "I'm sorry, son. No more secrets. And us Kent men have to take care of Lois because she's one of a kind." He winked at the boy, eliciting a small smile.
"Clark, did you love my mom?"
"Well, I loved her as a friend. A very good friend. She meant a lot to me." He wasn't sure how they'd switched gears so quickly, but he'd answer any questions Robin might have.
"Did she know about Superman?"
"No. At the time I hadn't become Superman yet. I didn't find the courage to do that until I moved to Metropolis and met Lois. She helped me make that decision."
Robin glanced at Lois before focusing on Clark again. "Will I be super one day?"
"Maybe. I just don't know, but I'll always be here for you. I'll help you every step of the way and so will Lois."
"Could we… go flying?"
A smile spread across Clark's face. He could almost see the excitement dancing behind Robin's eyes. For all his confusion, his curiosity was starting to win out. "I'll take you flying. I just can't do it all the time."
"I know. Could you answer those questions now?"
"I'll answer them all."
Robin nodded as Clark began to withdraw to retake his seat. "Clark?"
"Yes?" He stopped, bent over to look into his son's eyes.
"Maybe you could give me a hug first." His huge soulful eyes filled with tears again.
Clark reached down and pulled Robin from the chair, clutching the boy to his chest. He closed his eyes and simply drank in Robin's scent. He'd never tire of this. Having his son in his arms was one the best sensations on Earth. Even better than flying.
They drew apart some time later, shared a soft laugh, then pulled Lois up to complete their circle. It was a little while later before they settled together on the sofa to answer the many questions Robin bombarded them with. There was a few super displays, more apologies, and even some rules were put down. The trio spent the afternoon laying the ground work for their new family.
With a normalcy resumed within the Kent-Lane family, Lois began to make arrangements to move in with Clark and Robin, which made the boy very happy. He looked forward to having Lois with him all the time. He also came to grips with his super father, totally astonishing the adults with how well he dealt with the situation. Martha and Jonathan completed their move to Metropolis, further adding to the boy's joy. All that along with the realization that he could finally relax and enjoy his home without fear of being sent away, Robin started to blossom. He just didn't have time to worry anymore. Besides, there was too much to look forward to: Lois was moving in, the wedding was coming up, and so was Christmas! That meant Santa would be visiting! Of course, he'd already received the best gift of all: his new family.
Robin jumped up and down impatiently as Clark arranged the Christmas tree in the corner of the living room. They stepped back to admire their work. "What do you think?"
"It's perfect. Can we decorate it now?"
"Wouldn't you like to wait for Lois?"
"Oh, yeah. But we can put the lights on," he said hopefully. "You could even do it fast. I don't like that part."
Clark smiled and took the strand of lights Robin had pulled from the box of decorations. He'd pleaded with his dad for two days to put up the tree, so Lois had taken it upon herself to search out the apartment for the necessary items. There had been no choice then. Clark and Robin were relegated to picking out the perfect tree that evening while Lois attended to final arrangements involved with her move.
And Robin asking Clark to do something with his super abilities was even more special. Following their talk and family ground laying, he'd often asked for displays of 'super' talent. Clark explained that it wouldn't be possible to show off all the time, but secretly loved doing it. Robin's wide-eyed appreciation always brought a smile to his face.
The lights had just been draped over the tree, at super speed, when the door banged open. Lois stumbled through, loaded with several boxes of things from her apartment.
Clark shot up to the door and reached for her burden. "Here, honey, let me take those."
"Thanks." She immediately searched for Robin. "Hey, sweetie. I missed you this afternoon."
"And I missed you. Now come on. Let's light the tree." He pulled her by the hand the rest of the distance to the other side of the room.
Lois laughed softly at his enthusiasm. Truth was, she was just as excited this year as he was. Never before had she envisioned herself as happy during the holidays. Clark had changed all that. And with a child to play Santa for, Lois had been constantly shopping.
"Here we go," Clark said as he plugged in the lights. The little bulbs twinkled brightly, filling the room with warmth.
Robin's eyes stared at the tree, his mind already rushing forward to Christmas morning. This year would be different. There would be lots of warmth, gentle hugs, and happy smiles. There would be a huge dinner- Martha had already informed him- and gifts, real gifts. Sometimes he felt a little sad because he was so happy and his mom wasn't here anymore. Lately he'd taken to just talking out loud to her when he was confused or sad. It always seemed to help, even if he didn't understand why. Mom wouldn't be here this Christmas, but he'd never forget her. And he could hardly wait to share such a special day with his new family.
After a long moment, Lois said, "How about you boys help me bring in some more of my things? I think I'll be staying here from now on."
That got both Robin and Clark's attention. They smiled at one another and raced out the door. Lois could only laugh. If she'd known moving in could get them moving so fast, she'd have done it a long time ago.
Clark entered the bedroom, clad in sleeping shorts. He smiled at the woman lying in his bed. She was leaning against the headboard, reading over some papers. "I think we made his night," he observed as he crawled into bed and glanced up at the loft. A wall and a door had been erected, just as Lois had suggested, to allow them a bit of privacy. Still, Clark often thought of finding a bigger place. He and Lois had even begun looking. They would have liked to have found something before the wedding and Christmas, but there just hadn't been enough time. The first part of the New Year had been set aside to find a new apartment. For now, their cozy place would have to do.
"I think so," she commented without looking up from her work. The little family had spent the night decorating the tree while sipping hot cider and telling favorite stories. Robin had laughed at all the tales, thoroughly enjoying getting to know his new parents.
<<She's incredible!>> Clark thought as he moved closer to Lois. He snuggled into her side, nuzzling her neck with his face. He placed several small kisses on her skin before he withdrew to look at her. "You know, usually you're more focused when I kiss you."
"Huh?" She looked over at him. "Sorry." A soft kiss was placed on his lips before her attention was once again on the paper in her hand.
"Must be some story," he said as he tried to read what was so captivating to her.
"Oh, Clark. I'm sorry." Lois held the paper out to him. "This isn't a story. It's your son's school work."
"Really?" Clark sat up a little and looked over the papers. He was very impressed. Every paper in his hand was perfect. "Wow!"
"Yeah. We have a brilliant son," Lois told him with a grin as she turned to her side.
"Then why did you look like you were a little upset before?"
"I wasn't upset. I was… falling in love with my son all over again." She shifted through the papers until she came to one in particular. It was a letter to Santa Claus. Apparently it had been an assignment.
Dear Santa, This year I don't want too much 'cause I have everything a boy could ever need. I have a great dad and by Christmas, I'll have a mom as well. My grandparents, the ones from Kansas, are moving closer, too. We're all going over to my Metropolis grandparents' house for Christmas dinner. There will be turkey and ham and potatoes and lots of other vegetables. Martha said there would be plenty of pie. I like pie. Nope, I have everything. So I was wondering if you could give my gifts to my friend Kenny. His daddy was in the military and won't be home this year 'cause he was killed during a training mission. He could really use a new toy to keep him occupied so he's not sad thinking about his dad. Maybe I'll ask my dad to talk to Superman and see if a small flight could be arranged. My dad's friends with Superman, you know. Merry Christmas, Robin PS: My teacher had to help with this letter 'cause I couldn't spell all those words.
Clark looked up at Lois. "Did he tell you about Kenny?"
"No, I just read it here. I'm sure he was planning to talk to you soon."
His son was truly a remarkable person. Early on Robin had told them he hadn't been able to keep some of his gifts the last two years in the foster care system. Clark would have expected the child to ask for several new toys, but asking for another child meant so much more. Kim really had instilled Robin with a strong character.
The papers were placed on the night stand, the light switched off, and Clark settled next to his fianc,e. Pulling her to his side was as natural as breathing.
"We have to help him make Kenny's Christmas special, Clark," Lois said after a moment.
"We will, honey. Superman is going to take the little boy flying."
"Good." Lois leaned forward to kiss Clark's neck, then placed another kiss on his ear.
"Mmm, baby, that feels good."
"You ain't seen nothin' yet," she told him softly as she rolled over on top of him. Clark wasn't allowed to comment for several moments because his mouth was otherwise occupied. Lois was kissing him passionately, leaving little doubt about her desire.
"Lois. honey." Clark murmured between kisses. He held her face as he searched her eyes.
"Just let it happen, Clark," she whispered.
He whimpered and surrendered to the woman in his arms. There were no passionate cries or incredible, uncontrollable lovemaking, but the couple slowly and deliberately made love for the first time. There might not have been fireworks or out of this world physical experiences. However, there was intense feeling and undeniable love in each and every movement. It was the most perfect experience either had ever shared.
Robin woke just a little before the alarm sounded the next morning. He tiptoed down the stairs, smiling at the two tangled bodies in the bed below him. It was hard to tell where his dad ended and Lois began because they were holding each other so closely. Lois' dark hair stuck out from under the comforter and his dad seemed to smile in his sleep. Again, Robin was thankful he had such loving people to care for him. It sure made missing his mom easier.
He continued to the bathroom to get ready for school. Maybe he'd surprise his folks with breakfast.
Breakfast turned out to be cereal and milk, but both adults ate it enthusiastically. He was glad to have Lois with them, Robin concluded as they finished eating. On the way to school he told Lois and Clark about Kenny and together all three began plans to help the other boy out for Christmas.
Clark whistled softly as he waited outside Robin's school for afternoon dismissal. Because it had been an incredibly slow news day, he'd opted to take the afternoon off. He wasn't sure how he'd gotten lucky enough to get a bit of down time for Superman as well, but spending time with son was certainly more appealing. Father and son had grown increasingly closer since Robin discovered 'the secret' and when the boy expressed a desire to help Clark shop for a wedding gift for Lois, he was all too happy to make that wish come true.
The throng of pupils burst through the front door and happy chatter filled the air. Robin was almost in the middle of the crowd, but he immediately spotted Clark.
"Clark!" His smile spread across his face as he hurried up to his father. "Is something wrong? Jonathan usually picks me up."
"No. Nothing's wrong. I thought maybe you could help me pick out that gift for Lois."
"Yeah! I'd love that."
"Good." Clark frowned when Robin automatically started down the sidewalk. It had become routine of late that they shared a hug when they saw one another after being separated for any length of time. "Hey, don't I get my hug?"
"Come on, Clark. It's not cool to hug in public. How about a high five?"
Clark's frown deepened as he slapped the smaller hand stretched up in greeting.
"Don't be mad. I'm too big for hugs in front of my friends." Robin looked around to make sure no one had been in ear shot of their conversation.
A tad disappointed, Clark relented to his son's wishes. The other kids probably would tease him if his father hugged him in public. He brightened a little and they set out for a small shopping center a few blocks from the school.
Three hours later, father and son were sharing a cup of hot chocolate at the Fudge Castle. They'd searched high and low for the perfect gift without luck. Nothing seemed to be the right choice.
"Maybe we could give her some new equipment for work," Robin suggested after taking a careful sip from his cup.
"Yeah. I guess she'd like that." Clark had grown frustrated with what to get Lois for a gift. It needed to be personal, from his heart. After all, they were promising to share the rest of their lives together. Any gift given should have deep meaning.
Robin stirred the marshmallows around in his cup for several moments before smiling up at Clark. "Hey, I got it! We could go have pictures of you and me taken. She'd love that."
Clark lifted his eyes to Robin, a smile spreading out across his lips. "You know, you might be onto something."
"Sure, I am. How 'bout that place at the mall? Hollywood Pictures. Danny's mom took them last week and they got great pictures."
"Son, I think that's perfect. Finish your chocolate so we can get to the mall. With any luck, the studio will still be open."
Robin finished up his hot chocolate before Clark led him out to the jeep. A short time later, they were picking out several outfits for their portrait session. They posed as baseball players, firemen, and cowboys. There were several shots taken where they seemed to be at play, creating excellent 'natural' shots. But the shot that would grace a custom frame to be presented to Lois as a special wedding gift was of father and son sharing a brief kiss. The episode left Clark both stunned and elated. He could barely finish the transaction to purchase their portraits before numbly heading out to the car.
"Clark, is there something wrong?" Robin asked his father as they pulled up in front their apartment building on Clinton. Clark hadn't talked very much on the ride home from the mall and Robin had begun to wonder if he'd done something to upset him.
"Not at all. Why do you ask?" Clark cut the engine and shifted in his seat to face the boy.
"You were quiet on the ride home. Did I do something wrong?"
"No, son. You did something right." Clark's large hand smoothed the hair on the side of Robin's head.
"Huh?" He screwed up his face in confusion.
"Back at the portrait studio," Clark began in way of explanation. "Robin, I never imagined you'd be comfortable enough to kiss me when the photographer asked us to create a scene we thought would bring Lois to tears."
Robin's eyes widened in panic. He wasn't sure what had made him do something so foolish. He was the one who had told Clark it was uncool to hug in public, then he went and kissed his father. It had felt so right at the time. Lois saw them hug all the time, but to see them share a really special moment like that would surely bring her to tears. "I'm sorry. I know boys don't kiss their dads. But I didn't think you'd mind this one time. I just think Lois would like to see it. And since you never got to do that when I was little… and well, I, I, I…" He stopped and stared at Clark for a moment, relieved to see him smiling. "I just wanted to see what it felt like. I mean, I know what a kiss feels like. Mom kissed me lots. I just… your hugs feel so good. You know, in here." His small hand covered his chest briefly. "I wanted to see if a kiss would, too." His voice was a mere whisper when he finished, his eyes pleading with Clark to understand. He knew it was unusual to see fathers and sons share kisses, especially boys at his age. Yet, he'd been unable to stop himself.
Clark leaned forward and briefly kissed Robin once more. "I thought it felt really, really good."
When Robin heard Clark's voice break and saw tears well in the man's eyes, the boy scrambled to get his arms around his father's neck for a powerful hug. They held on tight, both absorbing as much of the comforting feelings as they could from the other. Finally Robin drew back to look at Clark with a smile.
"You know, I think maybe it might be cool to hug your dad in public."
"I think maybe your dad would think it was the coolest thing in the world." They shared another hug before exiting the car and making their way up to the apartment. They'd enjoyed their time alone, but both were anxious to get back to Lois.
Robin pulled on the bow tie of his pint-sized tux as he waited patiently beside his dad. He was best man; he would give his dad Lois' wedding band. This was an important job and he took it very seriously. In a few short moments, his dad would marry Lois. He couldn't wait!
He looked up to share a bright smile with Clark. He wasn't sure when it had happened, but he'd starting thinking of Clark as his dad instead of his father. His mom had told him once that any man could be a father. It took a very special person to be someone's dad. Clark had proven himself worthy of that title a long time ago in Robin's eyes. Lately he'd even thought he might ask to call him that. Before he could think too much on the subject, the music changed and the audience rose to their feet.
There she was. Her dress made her look like an angel. She and Martha had spent two whole days perfecting that masterpiece, not allowing Robin or Clark to see it until this moment. It had been worth the wait. Lois was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen… next to his mom.
Lois' smile lit the room as she made her way toward them. Robin had never thought he could love another woman the way he'd loved his mom, but he definitely loved this one. Lois was everything he could ask for. That was even what his dad had said so many times. Now he understood. Of course, Clark loved Lois a little differently than he did, which was okay. As long as the only other man to love Lois so fiercely was his dad, it was okay.
Clark stepped forward and took Lois' hand. He leaned close and whispered in her ear. She smiled, then winked down at Robin. A broad smile graced the boy's lips as the couple stepped forward to begin the ceremony. Ancient words were repeated, then Clark told Lois how much he loved her and that he'd always take care of her. Robin shifted so he could see better and listened while Lois declared her devotion to his dad. Then it was showtime. His small hand retrieved the ring from his pocket and watched as his father slipped it onto Lois' finger.
She must be nervous, Robin thought, as he watched Lois' hands shake as she pushed Clark's wedding band into place. Then the minister announced that the couple wanted to say something else. What else was there?
Clark turned to Robin. "Would you come stand between us?"
The boy was surprised, but did as he was asked.
"We wanted to tell the world how much we… love you," Clark told him. "And I wanted to ask your permission for Lois to come into our lives. I don't think either of us could live without her, so would you join me in welcoming Lois to our home? Would you help me take care of her and love her? Give her everything she needs?"
Robin was surprised that his dad would include him this way. He hadn't expected it at all, but was more than willing to take care of Lois. He looked up at her and smiled. "I'll always help take care of her," he said softly.
Lois smiled through tears, then reached out to take one of Robin's hands. "I had never seen myself as anyone's mother. In fact, it's the last thing I ever wanted. Even after Clark and I decided to get married, I wasn't sure how I felt about having children. Needless to say, I was swept off my feet when I met you. Will you allow me to take care of you? Will you let me live in your home and be your mother?"
Robin shoved his hand into his pocket and fished out a gift wrapped box. He opened it while he explained what it was. "I had planned to give this to you at the reception. Martha helped me pick it out. But I think it will answer your question." Robin gave the empty box to Jonathan, who had stepped up to offer his assistance. Light bounced off a gold necklace as Robin held it up.
Lois covered her mouth as she bent to allow him to place the item around her neck. A small heart-shaped locket held a picture of Lois and Robin. On the back was an inscription that read: 'To Mommy with love'. The little boy was pulled into an embrace as the bride cried softly.
"Welcome home… Mommy," Robin whispered in her ear.
Lois laughed through her tears when she drew back. "He said yes," she declared happily, causing everyone in the room to laugh softly.
Dozens of smiling faces and misty eyes focused as the couple was directed through the rest of their wedding ceremony. Their son remained between them and could only wrap his arms around Lois' waist when the groom kissed the bride because he'd been squashed between them. When Clark drew away from his bride, she leaned and kissed Robin's lips before Clark hoisted him into the air. Happy laughter filled the room as Mr. and Mrs. Clark Kent… and family were presented to their guests. Lois was escorted out of the chapel by two handsome guys.
"Do you think he's okay?" Lois asked for the tenth time as she gazed down at her portrait. Just as they'd hoped, Lois had been reduced to tears by Clark and Robin's wedding gift. They'd presented her the framed image at the reception and the moment she'd seen what it was, her eyes had filled to overflowing.
"I think he's just fine. Mom and Dad and Ellen and Sam are going to spoil him rotten while we're gone." He smiled down at the picture she'd refused to leave home without.
Lois' finger traced a path over the details under the glass pane. The image of Clark and Robin sharing such an intimate gesture had robbed her of her breath when she'd first laid eyes on it. It was so moving to see Clark able to share such a special moment with his son; a moment that was years past due.
Clark gently removed the frame from her hand and stood it on the table beside their bed so Lois could see it the moment she awakened the next morning. He offered her the glass of champagne he'd just poured even though he was having difficulty concentrating. Lois was wearing the most revealing little garment, causing his temperature to rise considerably.
She took the glass, but quickly set it aside. "I don't want a thing to cloud this moment," she told him as she took his glass as well. Apparently all thoughts of their son had been cast aside for now.
"Honey, it's not like we haven't done this before," he reminded her as she pushed his silk robe from his body. They'd made love nearly every night since she'd moved in a few days ago, had even stolen a couple of hours away the day before to spend in privacy. With the wedding preparations spiraling out of control, they'd needed to step back and take a deep breath. Of course, they'd taken several.
"I know, but how many times do you get to make love on your wedding night for the first time?"
"True." Clark surrendered to the kiss, then guided Lois down to the bed. Once settled, he drew back to look at her. "I love you, Lois Lane."
"And I love you, Clark Kent."
They met in a passionate kiss. Neither seemed to notice, or care, when they drifted from the bed, never breaking the kiss as they floated three feet above the mattress. This time there would be undeniable, uncontrollable passion, unstoppable cries of ecstasy, and there would definitely be fireworks.
Lois and Clark had only made it out of their hotel room when they left to go home. For an entire week they'd been absolutely insatiable. When they hadn't been making love, they'd talked endlessly. Plans were made to finalize their search for a larger apartment. And of course, they'd talked about Robin. Both couldn't wait to get home to play Santa. It was strange how far they'd come since the day they sat in the office at MDCFS listening to what they'd been sure was the end of their world. From a scared, confused couple to a loving family, Lois and Clark couldn't be happier.
Or could they?
They had been smothered in hugs when they arrived home from their honeymoon. Robin rattled on endlessly about all he'd done while they were gone and asked if they'd missed him. He declared that he'd missed them terribly, but was glad they were finally married. He'd also proudly announced that he'd finished his Christmas shopping. Now if he could just be patient until the big day.
Christmas Eve was spent entertaining Robin's little friend Kenny and his mom. Superman flew Robin to the other boy's home, a sack full of gifts thrown over his shoulder. Both the boy and his mother were treated to a flight before father and son left. Though the pain of losing his father would always remain, Kenny was able to smile again, even for just a bit. That made Robin even happier. It also impressed his super father.
"Honey, we're home," Robin called as they stepped into the apartment.
Lois laughed at him as he jumped into her lap. She and Martha had been sitting on the sofa talking when the Kent men came in. "I see," she told him as she lifted her eyes to Clark. "Did you teach him that?"
"Nope. I would have taught him to add this." Clark grinned as he leaned over to kiss Lois.
"Ah, I don't think it's a good idea if I kiss my mom like that," Robin said when the couple parted.
"You're probably right." Clark ruffled his hair before he moved over to greet his own mother.
"Hey, son," Martha said as she laughed. It was truly amazing how strong a bond had been created within the small family already.
"Where's Dad?" Clark asked.
"I'm here," his dad called as he entered the room. "I was making sure the balcony was cleared for Santa to land." He winked at Clark, who understood that his dad had stashed the loot on the balcony.
"Oh, right. And someone has to get to bed early." He looked down at Robin.
"I know. But could we open one gift first? Lois said we could."
"Okay. Just one." Clark moved toward the tree, but Robin stopped him. "I want all of you to open my gift."
Everyone nodded, then settled while Robin retrieved each one's gifts from under the tree. For Martha, there was a new briefcase. Lois had pointed out that with Martha's new job, the case would be useful. For Jonathan, there was a pair of new gloves— stylish enough for the city, but insulated to keep his hands warm.
Lois carefully tore the wrap from her gift and covered her mouth with her hand. It was only a nightshirt, but the words on the front were what had Lois in tears. 'World's Greatest Mom' was written in red.
"Thank you, sweetie. I love it."
Robin smiled at her, then waited while Clark opened his gift. Inside was a photo of Lois, Clark, and Robin. It had been taken by Martha during that first week. The three were playing happily on the living room sofa. There was also a picture to mirror the one he and Clark had given to Lois. The small boy had felt really good when he'd kissed Lois, completing understanding why his father was so fond of it. He'd suggested the idea for the matching portrait to Lois the day after the couple returned from their honeymoon. Lois had been thrilled with it and they'd rushed out to the mall. Judging by the smile on Clark's face, they'd made the right decision.
"I couldn't decide what to get you. But I thought a reminder of all the good things would be okay."
"It's a wonderful gift. I love it." Clark smiled over at him, failing to notice the envelope underneath the frames.
"Clark, I think there's something else in there," Lois said when she saw the brightly colored envelope in the box.
Clark carefully opened the envelope and pulled out the paper inside. Robin had written him a note: 'What do you get someone who has everything? How about a football game on Saturday night? Just you and me?' Two tickets to the final game of the Metropolis Stars football season were attached. "I think this is perfect," Clark told Robin.
"Good." The boy grinned widely.
"I think it's your turn," Jonathan announced as he rose from his chair.
"No!" The older man sank back to his seat.
"Don't you want to open a gift?" Clark asked him.
"Just one. Well, one from each of you… if it's okay. I mean, you might not want to give it to me, but I hope you do. And…" He stopped when he noticed Lois and his dad were smiling at him. "What?"
"You've been around Lois too long," Clark told him with a chuckle.
"And what's that supposed to mean?" Lois asked him.
"Just that he's picked up your babble gene." He winked at her to show he was only teasing.
She replied with a smile before looking back at Robin. "Go on, sweetie. I'm sure we might be able to grant your gift wishes."
Robin nodded. He'd rehearsed this for days. He closed his eyes, saying a silent prayer that he got it all right. He opened his eyes to focus on Martha and Jonathan, took a deep breath, then asked in a rush that would rival Lois, "I'd like to know if I could call you Grandma and Grandpa… or Papa and Nanny or something. Martha and Jonathan doesn't seem right anymore."
Martha could only wipe tears as she smiled at him. "I like Nana."
"And I've always seen myself as a Papa," Jonathan added.
Robin smiled brightly as he ran to hug his grandparents. "I like those, too," he said as he released Martha's neck. After a few moments, he moved to stand in front of Lois. "I called you Mommy at the wedding. I hope that was okay."
"Sweetie, that was more than okay." Lois took his hands and waited for him to finish. She'd wanted him to ask this question for so long, but had patiently waited until he decided he was ready for such a huge step.
"All I want for Christmas is to be able to call you that all the time. I asked my mom when I prayed and she thinks it'll be okay."
"Robin, I would love nothing more than for you to call me Mommy." Lois swallowed a lump that threatened to overwhelm her. "But there's a gift I'd like for you to open now. I think you'll understand why once you've opened it." She retrieved a box and handed it to the boy.
He lifted a frame from inside after he'd dispensed with the wrapping and stared at the picture it contained. It was his mom, Kim, and him. It had been taken a few weeks before she died. Both had bright smiles as they looked at one another. "I think she would have liked you, Mommy."
"I think I would have liked her. I want you to place that picture on the bookshelf with the other family photos." His eyes shot up, questioning Lois. "She's family. Her picture belongs there." Lois had felt it only fitting to include Kim in their family. After all, she'd given them such a wonderful gift.
Robin nodded, then walked over to set the frame on the shelf, right next to one of Lois and Clark. He turned and went to Lois' waiting arms. "I love you, Mommy," he whispered as he hugged Lois. Oh, God, how he loved this woman. Yes, his mom would have definitely liked Lois.
"And I love you, son." Lois smoothed her hand over his head when he pulled away.
Robin turned to Clark. "I hope you're okay with that." His small finger pointed toward the new picture.
"I'm perfectly okay with it, son. And it's okay to miss her."
"And love her," Lois added. "She'll always be your mom."
"But now I have a new mommy. Not many kids get to have two great moms."
"Not many moms get to have such a great kid either. Kim had your past. I get to have your future. For that, I feel very blessed," Lois told him through more tears as she fingered a few strands of his hair.
Small eyes peered up at his father. "You gotta love her."
"You can't help but love her," Clark agreed with him. Both laughed softly before the boy spoke.
"My teacher asked us last week if we were ready for Christmas. We all shared our wish list. Mine only had a few things on it. I wanted to call Nana and Papa something besides Martha and Jonathan. Tomorrow I'm going to ask Sam and Ellen if they'd mind if I called them Grandma and Grandpa. Lois said yes to me calling her Mommy. Only one wish left."
"Yes," Clark answered before he could ask. He was pretty sure the boy was going to ask to call him daddy. He'd wanted that for the past month. He'd longed for it since the day they spent searching for Lois' wedding gift. He was thrilled that Robin finally felt comfortable enough to say it.
Robin smiled widely at him. "Sheesh, couldn't let a guy finish?!"
"Sorry," Clark offered sheepishly. "It's just that I hope you're going to ask to call me dad. I'd love it. I've wanted you to for a while, but didn't want to scare you or suggest it first. I wanted you to do it on your own when you felt comfortable being here. And I hope you are. Comfortable that is…"
"Daddy?!" Clark immediately stopped talking. "You're babbling." Robin laughed with his dad before reaching out for a hug. "I love you, Daddy."
"I love you, Robin." Clark's large hand cupped the boy's head as he held his small body. Hearing daddy was one thing, but to hear 'I love you, Daddy' was indescribable!
"Hey," Lois interrupted them after a moment. "I think I have a gift for you both that you'd like to see."
Clark shifted Robin in his lap and took the envelope from Lois. He opened it and took out the paper inside.
"Is that what I think it is?" Robin asked.
"Well? Enlighten the rest of us," Martha said.
"'The family court of Metropolis, county of New Troy, wishes to inform you that effectively immediately, Robin Douglas Logan will forever be known as Robin Douglas Kent.'" Clark smiled brightly at his son. "This is truly a wonderful Christmas gift, but when did you decide this?"
"I asked Nana to help me last week. You signed the papers and never even knew you'd done it." The boy finished with a smile Clark was sure he'd picked up from watching Lois.
"Mom!" Clark tried to sound serious, but it came out sounding more like a soft laugh.
"What? The child wanted to give you and Lois both a wonderful Christmas gift and I knew you wouldn't mind this one." Martha leaned over to pat Clark's arm.
"No, I don't mind at all," Clark said softly, his voice full of emotion. "I couldn't have asked for a better gift."
"Me neither," the boy agreed, then leaned forward to rub his nose against Clark's. "But I really would like a new video game," he whispered.
Clark dissolved into laughter, lifting Robin as he stood. "Then we need to get you to bed."
Robin squirmed to the floor, hugged his grandparents goodnight, then raced into the bathroom to brush his teeth.
Later, after his parents had tucked him in, and his grandparents had left, he could hear Lois and Clark talking softly downstairs. He crept to the top of the stairs just outside his bedroom door and watched as the couple danced and exchanged kisses by the light of the Christmas tree. He didn't understand a whole lot yet, but one thing he did understand was that his mom couldn't have picked a better daddy.
"Merry Christmas, Mom," he whispered before hurrying back to bed. Santa would be here soon. And there was no way he'd ruin his mommy and daddy's big night. Sometimes it was best to let the adults believe as well.