By Nan Smith <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: January, 2004
Summary: There is reason to celebrate in this family vignette, and there are a few surprises for Lori, too.
This story is part of Nan Smith's "Home" series. See a list of all the stories in this series and get links.
Ready for the next story in this series? Read Home V: Obsession. Need the previous story? Read Home: On the Fourth Day of Christmas.
Disclaimer: The familiar characters and settings in this story are not mine. They belong to DC Comics, Warner Bros., December 3rd Productions and whoever else may have any legal right to claim them, nor am I profiting by their use. Any new characters, settings, and the story, itself, belong to me.
This is the latest in the "Home" series. Anyone who has not read them is advised that the story will make much more sense if you read at least the vignette, "Home". Basically, this is a soulmates-type of story, wherein Lori Lyons is the next incarnation of Lois Lane, at the end of the 21st Century.
"That does it," Clark said. He sent his story to John Olsen and leaned back, stretching his arms over his head. Lori glanced up from the study of her computer screen.
"So I guess that's it for the day," she said. "I can finish this at home." She told her computer to shut down and got to her feet. "Would you believe I'm starved?"
He chuckled. "I wouldn't believe you if you said you weren't."
She made a face at him. "Okay, I guess I'm in the mood for something a little different."
He retrieved her coat from the rack by the steps. "I have an idea. Do you like Moroccan food?"
"I don't know. I've never tried any."
"Do you trust my judgment?"
She batted her eyes at him. "Always. At least when it comes to food."
Clark laughed. "Spoken like a loyal wife. Want to try Moroccan cuisine tonight? You've tasted some Moroccan food at the Christmas party. Remember the eggplant dip?"
"Sure." She let him help her with her coat. "Let's stop by the apartment and then go eat."
"Good idea." Clark followed her toward the elevator. "If we're lucky, the traffic won't be too bad. A lot of people are off work for the holiday."
The trip to their apartment was accomplished in a remarkably short time, compared to the usual evening rush, but as they walked in the door, the vidphone began to chime. Lori glanced at Clark. "If I didn't know better, I'd think Murphy was giving us special attention today."
"It does seem to happen that way," Clark agreed. "Go on and change. I'll get the phone." He locked the door behind them and glanced at the screen. "Yes?"
The picture resolved into the face of Lori's mother. Clark smiled cautiously at his mother-in-law. "Hello, Mariann."
She smiled at him with equal caution. "Hello, Clark. I was calling to talk to Lori. Is she there?"
"She went to change. We just got off work and were going out to dinner."
"This won't take long," Mariann assured him. "I just saw a report about that horrible Christmas Killer. The police spokesman was giving Lori credit for identifying him, and her picture was on the vidcast. Is she hurt? Did she …"
"Lori's fine," Clark said. "All her work was done at the Planet and the police station. Superman and Superwoman made the capture."
"Oh." Mariann appeared to relax. "After what happened at the Christmas party, I was afraid that she had …"
"She just figured out the Killer's pattern and told the police," Clark said. "Lori is a very smart and careful person, Mariann. You don't need to worry about her. I'm not about to let her get hurt."
Rob Lyons appeared in the vidscreen. His father-in-law was smiling. "We were a little surprised to see a picture of Lori on the vidcast," he said.
Clark laughed. "I saw it this afternoon. We'd been hoping that the news services wouldn't hear about her part, but someone in the police department wanted to be sure that she got the credit that was due." He glanced around as the door to the bedroom opened and Lori emerged. "It's your mom and dad, honey," he said.
Lori stepped into the vid pickup. "Hi, Mom; hi Dad. Is everything all right at home?"
"Yes, of course," Mariann said, quickly. "You know, Lori, just because you're an investigative journalist doesn't mean you have to get involved with killers!"
Lori wrinkled her nose. "I wasn't involved with any killers," she said.
"This Christmas Killer," her mother clarified. "It was your work that led to his capture. They said so on the news. They said he'd nearly killed a young woman when Superman apprehended him. That wasn't you, was it?"
"Oh, that," Lori said. "I barely saw the guy, and I didn't realize he was the killer until much later. I did all the work on my computer. Honestly, I wasn't in any danger at all."
"The girl was a sixteen-year-old student," Clark said. "That was why they didn't give her name. She wasn't hurt; at least not seriously." He looked at his wife, raising his eyebrows in question.
Lori swallowed and slipped her hand into his. "We do have some other news for you, though."
"Oh?" Clark thought Rob sounded hopeful.
"I'm pregnant," Lori said.
Her words fell into a silence and then Rob's face broke into a wide smile. "That's great! Congratulations!"
Mariann didn't speak for some seconds. Then she said, "Are you sure this is a wise move, Lori?"
"Mother," Lori said, "whether it is or not, it's happened."
"You mean you didn't take precautions?" Mariann said.
Lori stiffened slightly and Clark squeezed her hand.
"We weren't *not* trying, Mother," she said. "I hoped you'd be happy for me."
Mariann hesitated, clearly trying not to say the wrong thing. "But, your career —"
"— Will be fine," Clark said, firmly. "Lori and I are reporting partners, Mariann. Just because we're adding to our family, it doesn't mean we can't still do our job."
Rob cleared his throat, softly. Mariann glanced at him and seemed to visibly shift gears. "You're right," she said. "It's none of my business. If you say you can still do your job, I guess you can. Congratulations." She smiled, slightly. "Do you know the sex, yet?"
"No," Lori said. "I want to be surprised."
Mariann raised her brows. "But how will you know what kind of clothing to buy?"
"We'll get the other colors," Clark said, with a smile. "Don't worry. We'll manage. There'll be plenty of time to buy other clothing after the baby is born. In the meantime, I'm taking Lori out to dinner and we're going to be late for our reservations if we don't hurry."
He was sure that Rob was hiding a smile. "In that case," Lori's father said, "we won't keep you. Congratulations, again, to both of you."
"Thanks," Lori said. "We're pretty excited about it."
Rob winked at her. "So am I. Good night, honey, and happy New Year."
"I *knew* it!" Lori said, as soon as the connection was severed.
"Knew what?" Clark asked, although he was already sure what she was talking about.
"Mother," Lori said, sounding resigned. "She's upset about the baby."
Clark put an arm around her. "Maybe a little," he said. "But did you notice what happened?"
"She didn't —"
"Your dad sort of cleared his throat and she stopped in her tracks. I think your mom is trying to make some changes, honey. Maybe what happened last week made her think. She really does love you and your sister, and wants what's best for you, you know. She just doesn't know how not to interfere, sometimes."
"You really think so?"
Clark nodded. "I really do. She doesn't want to lose either of you. Maybe what you and your dad said to her … and seeing you in action at the party … made her realize that you've grown up. Parents sometimes have a little trouble remembering that when their kids grow up, they don't always want Mom and Dad giving unsolicited advice. It's a little scary to think of your little boy or girl becoming a parent. I've been there, too, but I learned to keep my hands off. Making your own mistakes is part of being an adult."
"You don't think our baby is a mistake, do you?"
"Definitely not." Clark pulled her into his arms. "I'm thrilled and so are CJ, Lara, Jon and Annie, and a lot of other people as well." He kissed her gently. "And you'd know it if you weren't so hungry. You're going to be crabbier than a bear if we don't get you some food, so get your coat and let's go, shall we?"
"Clark, I'm never crabby with you!" she said, picking up the item in question.
"No, but the messenger that came by this afternoon with that stuff for you was lucky to escape with his ego in place!" He kissed her on the tip of the nose. "Come on. I know this great Moroccan restaurant that's open tonight. It serves honeyed lamb with almonds and b'stilla. That's that chicken pie you had at Lara's last week. And mint tea. You'll like it."
"My mouth is watering already," Lori said. "It seems like I'm hungry most of the time, these days."
"You're going to be until the baby's born," Clark told her, seriously. "Come on. Let's go feed you." He spun in place and held out his arms.
Lori put one arm around his neck. "Where is this place?"
"San Francisco," Clark said. "Afterwards, we can visit Fisherman's Wharf and see some of the sights if you want. Since it's New Year's Eve, it's bound to be spectacular."
"I'd like that," Lori said as they rose toward the skylight. "The last time I visited San Francisco was when I was about ten and we didn't even have time to visit Fisherman's Wharf. Dad had some kind of business meeting, and it ran way over time. We always intended to go back, but somehow we never managed to."
"Then now's the perfect time," Clark said. "Here we go." He closed the skylight behind them and they shot upward into the night sky of Metropolis. Lori snuggled against his chest and he held her securely against him for warmth as well as for the simple joy of having her in his arms, listening to her heartbeat and the rapid flutter of their unborn baby's heart, as delicate and light to his ears as the beat of a butterfly's wings.
They flew westward to meet the sun, creating the effect of a western sunrise as they moved from darkness into evening and finally to late afternoon. It was not quite four- thirty in San Francisco, and the sky was misty with clouds as they dropped into an alleyway. Clark set his wife gently onto her feet and stepped back to spin quickly into his civvies.
"Well," he said, "shall we go?"
"Do we have a reservation?" she asked.
"Sure do." He held out an elbow and she rested a hand on it. Together they walked out of the alley and stepped onto the slidewalk. "It's only a couple of blocks away."
A pair of street musicians was playing on the corner as they passed by. Clark watched her as she looked around, trying to see in all directions at a city decked out extravagantly for the coming new year. Within a few minutes, he pointed at a canopied entrance. "Here we are."
"The Casablanca?" Lori said.
"Yes," Clark said. "You'll like it." He opened the old- fashioned, unpowered door for her and let her precede him into the restaurant.
As soon as the door opened, the sound of middle-eastern music could be heard, accompanied by the chiming of finger cymbals, the murmur of voices, and the delicious aromas of well-prepared food drifted in the air. A man dressed in a white silk suit and a fez with a gold tassel, straight out of the Arabian Nights, bowed politely as they entered. "Ah, Mr. Kent," he said. "How very nice to see you again. And this is your lovely bride of whom I have heard?"
"That's right," Clark said. "This is Lori. How are you these days, Walter?"
"As well as ever," Walter said, dropping out of character for an instant. "We have everything ready for you. If you'll follow me …"
He led them through a series of small, carpeted, partitioned rooms into one near the back, where a large, low, round table was situated in one corner. All around it, big, comfortable cushions were piled for guests to sit, and Clark made sure that Lori was seated comfortably before taking the spot beside her. From somewhere he could smell faintly the scent of exotic incense.
"Your server will be here momentarily to take your order," Walter informed them. "I hope you enjoy your meal."
"My goodness," Lori said, when Walter had disappeared, "I wasn't expecting anything like this. I thought we were just going out to dinner."
"We were," Clark said. "The Casablanca is run by one of my many … relations, and normally closes on New Year's Eve. However, I had specific orders to bring you here tonight." He nodded at the entrance, smiling. Lori turned.
Lara, accompanied by William Klein, entered, followed by CJ and Rachel, Anne Kent and her husband, George, and Jon Kent and his wife, Donna.
"Surprise!" they chorused.
"Ali outdid himself, tonight," Lara said, as the last of the belly dancers departed, and a smiling young man in Arabic costuming poured a stream of steaming mint tea into Lori's glass.
"Ali?" Lori said.
"Ali Hamad," CJ explained. "My grandson. He and his wife, Patty, own the Casablanca. You've probably seen him on the vidscreen at one time or another. He spends his free time flying around the sky of San Francisco."
"The Blue Djinn?" Lori asked.
CJ nodded. "I'll be sure to introduce him before we leave. He's covering the New Year's Eve celebrations in Golden Gate Park right now. It was his and Patty's idea for us to hold our celebration here." He nodded to the young man who was pouring the last of the tea. "This is Kamil, their oldest son. Kamil, this is Lori."
Kamil's smile widened. "Nice to meet you," he said. "I'll be leaving in a few minutes to take my father's place at the park, so I'll say congratulations and happy New Year, now."
"Thanks," Clark said. "And sometime we'd like to see you and your family in Metropolis, Kamil."
"I'll be a freshman at New Troy State next semester," Kamil said. "Pre-Med."
"Then I hope we'll be able to get better acquainted," Clark said. "I haven't had a chance to see you very often."
"So do I," Kamil said. He bowed slightly to the group. "Good night, and happy New Year."
"I guess," Lori said, after he had gone, "that there are a lot of Kents that I still haven't met."
"Well," CJ said, "there are a lot of Kents, period. Ali's parents are Mustafa Hamad and our daughter Ellen. They were at your wedding last year."
Lori vaguely remembered meeting them. "Maybe I need to get hold of a copy of the Kent family tree," she said.
"Clark can get you one," Lara said. "It's been a long time since we had an occasion this important to celebrate. After we're done here, we plan to take you on a tour of Fisherman's Wharf, since Clark says you've never been there. After that, we thought we'd go to see the New Year in at Madison Square Garden in New York. Does that sound all right?"
Lori nodded. "I'd like that," she said.
Lara lifted her tall glass of mint tea. "To the newest little Kent. And to Lori and Clark. May the coming year be a joyous new beginning for all three."
The others lifted their glasses. Clark slipped his hand over Lori's under the edge of the table. "Happy New Year, honey," he said.
She squeezed his hand. "Happy New Year, Clark," she said.
Ready for the next story in this series? Read Home V: Obsession. Need the previous story? Read Home: On the Fourth Day of Christmas.
Stories in Nan Smith's "Home" series, in order: Home, Home II: Beginnings, Home III: Memories, Home IV: Honeymoon, Home 4a: A Valentine Vignette, Home: A Christmas story, Home: On the Fourth Day of Christmas, Home: New Year's Wishes, Home V: Obsession, Home: Circle of Fate, Home: Vendetta, Home: Family Party, Home: An Evening to Remember, and Home: Murder by Earthlight