Submitted: July 2007
Summary: Lois and Clark meet when they're teenagers. Will they make irreparable mistakes? Or will they eventually come of age?
This story has been sitting half written on my hard drive for so long, I forget now when I actually started it. Probably three or four years ago now. I wrote bits and pieces, then went back and added to it, changed things around, and rewrote until I finally had something worth reading. At least I hope it's worth reading.
I'm not exactly sure exactly who all I managed to wrangle into beta'ing this for me. If I'm not mistaken, I think Sue S. was the only brave soul. Thanks Sue… I'm still laughing at some of the comments you made! If by chance there was someone else, I apologize for not remembering you. Like I said, this one has been around on my computer so long, I never thought it would see the light of day.
I also apologize for not posting this to the boards first. I'm the type of reader who prefers to read a story completely finished, and I'm also way too busy to keep up a posting schedule that wouldn't offend anyone. I do hope anyone who reads this finds it enjoyable. As usual, look for something a little different. I'm sure you're familiar with my writing by now.
No copyright infringements intended.
Comments very welcome. Good or bad.
A slight breeze played across the tops of the corn fields as a silver van eased to a stop, preparing to dump twenty eager teenagers in front of a large, rustic cabin. Lois Lane stepped down from the vehicle that had transported her in from the airport in Wichita. A wide smile spread across her face as she drank in the new sights around her. She'd arrived at Camp Joy, a summer camp designed for children with learning disabilities. There were several sites all over the country and Lois had applied to be a counselor at all of them, hoping for a spot at a location in California. Unfortunately, she drew a tour of duty in, of all places, Kansas… Smallville, Kansas. Lois Lane, big city girl, had pulled duty in the country… on a farm… in the middle of neverending wheat fields!
She'd make the best of it, she'd decided the day she'd received her information packet. Being chosen as a counselor for Camp Joy was considered an honor among high school students. The positions were only offered to the top three percent of students across the country. Eight weeks in the middle of Nowheresville would be worth it when the editor of the Daily Planet decided to appoint her to an intern position at the paper.
Lois focused on the head counselor as he began passing out cabin assignments.
Adjusting to life in the country was a bit more difficult than Lois had anticipated. She'd always believed herself a morning person until she'd come to Kansas. How wrong she'd been! A full day of work was done before dawn, then the structured activities began. By the end of the first week, the vivacious girl from the city had learned what being completely exhausted was all about.
Relaxed into a routine by the second week, Lois began to really enjoy the whole camp experience. She'd never imagined that helping those kids achieve small milestones would be so rewarding. To listen as a child read his first complete sentence, or see the smile when another learned to fly a kite by himself was very inspiring for the young woman. And she'd discovered that little people weren't quite as annoying as she'd pegged them to be.
Another aspect of camp she enjoyed was meeting a lot of wonderful people. One of those people was Karen Byers, one of Lois' cabin mates. Karen was a fiery redhead from San Francisco. She and Lois had a lot in common; they both wanted to have careers in a man's world. Karen wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force, while Lois had her sights set on being a top reporter for the Daily Planet in Metropolis. There were a couple others Lois liked, but Karen had become a quick friend.
"Come on, Lois. We're missing all the fun."
Lois turned to the redheaded girl. "I'm coming. I'm coming." She tied her shoe, smoothed her hand through her hair, and followed her friend out of the cabin door.
Lois also enjoyed going out with a group of the counselors and meeting up with local kids for a little fun. They would all gather at a place called the Blue Hole. The Blue Hole was a rock quarry on the outskirts of town and it boasted some of the cleanest, blue water because it was constantly fed by a spring- perfect for swimming. In the case of the local teens, the seclusion offered a great place just to 'hang out'.
And Lois enjoyed the Friday night parties because it made her feel important to answer the hundred and one questions from a bunch of kids who had never been off the farm. So, during most of the duration of camp, those nights were highly anticipated.
"Don't look now, but I think you have an admirer," Karen told Lois as they stood around with the others on another Friday night.
"I know. He's been eying me all night."
"He *is* cute," Karen admitted after careful inspection.
"He's okay," Lois lied. Truth was the guy in question was extremely cute. He was tall and well built for his age, certainly no older than the rest of the teenagers there. He had beautiful black hair and, even with glasses, he didn't hurt the eyes.
"I'll bet you don't have enough nerve to go talk to him," Karen challenged.
"Oh yeah?" Lois Lane was never one to back down from anyone or anything, and she wasn't about to start now.
"Yeah. In fact, I'll wager next week's clean-up on it."
"You're on," Lois said as she extended her hand for them to shake on it. Karen grinned widely as Lois stood up and approached the poor, unsuspecting victim.
The guy stiffened as he saw Lois coming his way. She stopped a foot or two in front of him and smiled.
"Hi. I'm Lois."
He smiled and reached for her outstretched hand. "Clark."
"Well, Clark, do you always oogle girls at parties?"
Clark's smile faded somewhat as his friends cheered their pleasure at his discomfort. He withdrew his hand, his cheeks rosey with embarrassment. "Sorry to disagree with you, *Lois*. I don't feel I was oogling you. I do think you're a very pretty girl and couldn't resist a peek or two. Excuse me for noticing." He turned with a snort and walked away.
Lois felt ashamed of herself. It wasn't often boys paid her compliments. Everyone knew her and how stubborn she was, and though she'd never cared what anyone thought of her, this boy's opinion suddenly meant everything. She ran after him.
She caught up with Clark as he shut the door of his truck. He looked up at her when she gripped the metal. "Clark. Wait. I'm sorry. Guess I'm not used to guys watching me."
Clark slowly smiled. "I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable."
"No, no. You didn't. In fact, I'm flattered. And if you think about it, how would I know you were checking me out if I wasn't checking *you* out?"
Clark blushed and looked down at his hands on the steering wheel. "I guess that makes us even."
"Yeah. So won't you come back to the party? We could talk."
"Okay." Clark crawled from the truck and walked back to the group with Lois.
"I hope to have several articles to submit when I finally apply to a big paper," Clark told Lois as they sat on the back of his truck. They'd talked at the party for a while before he offered to show her his hometown. He didn't know why he'd been so bold, but he was loving every minute of their time together. From the moment he'd noticed the girl after she'd joined the party, it was all he could do to keep his eyes off her. Lois was, without a doubt, the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen. She was also easy to talk to, unlike the girls he'd grown up with. He felt relaxed with her in a way he never had with anyone, and it wasn't long before he was pouring out some of his deepest thoughts and desires to her.
They talked on into the night, content to stay where they were. Clark told her about his parents, his friends, football, and some of the places he'd been traveling to since graduation. Lois told him about big city life, her kid sister, and her annoyingly old-fashioned parents. Neither wanted to part company, but the approaching dawn finally pulled them apart. Clark drove Lois back to the camp and they quickly made plans to see one another the following weekend.
And for the next three weeks, Friday nights found the couple engaged in conversation for hours. They would meet one another at the Blue Hole, sometimes participating with the group for a while before they'd venture away to be alone. There seemed to be an unspoken agreement to be just friends and nothing else, both knowing that the summer was drawing to an end and they would soon go their separate ways. Keeping things platonic made the most sense and rewarded them both with an invaluable friendship.
Lois and Clark had grabbed a burger at the Dairy Freeze, then headed off to the drive-in for a movie. They'd walked the track at the park at least ten times, talking endlessly. Clark had told Lois that he planned to leave the following Monday on one last trip before heading off to college, so neither was anxious to part company. It was Lois that asked to see his house, and not wanting to deny her anything, Clark pointed the truck in the direction of his folks' farm.
They parked behind the barn and crept around in the darkness so they wouldn't wake Clark's parents. On a challenge, Lois and Clark ended up sitting on a hay bale in the loft.
I'll bet you bring all the girls here," Lois told Clark.
"Just the special ones." He was smiling at her in the darkness.
"Oh, a few." The conversation had somehow turned dangerous, something they hadn't allowed it to do since they'd been seeing one another.
"And tell me… do you kiss 'em?" she asked as she leaned toward him, intentionally goading him.
"Maybe," he answered with a grin.
Lois' challenging smile faded. Clark was so gorgeous sitting there in the moonlight shining through the loft door. She knew she shouldn't, but she lifted a hand to touch his face. It was all she'd been able to do not to touch him the last few weeks. Just one touch couldn't hurt.
Clark's smile faded and his hand came up to her face. Obviously he had no problems with this turn in their relationship. "What would you say if I told you I'd like to kiss you?"
She answered by leaning forward and pressing her lips to his. Kissing boys wasn't something she'd done often, but resisting this one was impossible. Their teenage enthusiasm and curiosity took over quickly. Lois straddled his lap, buried her hands in his hair, and attacked his mouth. Clark's hands were roaming her back, and he grunted when she anxiously kissed him. She wasn't exactly sure what had come over her. Never had she dreamed of being so bold with a boy before. Yet, she couldn't stop herself. And knowing this was probably the last night she'd ever see Clark seemed to fuel her actions.
Clark grasped her sides and withdrew from the kiss. "Lois, we shouldn't do this."
"I know, but…" She simply looked at him for a long moment before leaning back in to kiss him again. When things became intense once more, Clark put a halt to the action.
"Lois," he breathed, gasping to catch his breath.
"Don't tell me you're gay or something," Lois stated, in defense of her wounded pride. She was so sure he liked her; there was no mistaking those heated looks he'd given her. And though she wasn't very experienced when it came to boys, being pushed away when you were throwing yourself at someone was hard to take.
"What? Waiting for marriage? Clark, everybody does it."
What? Where had that thought come from? Was she really considering doing more than just kissing with Clark?
"I know. And I'm not waiting for marriage, but we need to be careful. You know… protection."
"Got it covered." She scrambled off his lap and dug around in her backpack until she found a condom. Clark's brows raised when she held it out to him. "Took it from my dad's stash. Wanted to look cool. Sometimes at camp the kids like to see what everybody else has in their bags. I didn't want to be dubbed the 'virgin'."
"Are you?" Clark asked seriously.
Lois lowered her head in embarrassment. "What if I am?"
Clark crooked his finger under her chin and raised her head. "It's nothing to be ashamed of. Too many kids think you *have* to have sex to be cool."
Her heart thundered in her chest from the newfound burst of boldness. She'd always been focused on her future, not giving much thought to relationships. Truth be told, she had never been that interested in boys.
Not until this one. There was just something about Clark that Lois found irresistible. Maybe a part of her knew after tonight they'd never see each other again and that would make Clark safe. He could never hurt her the way she'd seen her friends get hurt. Their boyfriends always bragged about sex. Lois would die if some boy did that to her. Clark couldn't do that, at least where she could feel the effects. Besides, she didn't think it was in his nature.
She slowly straddled his lap again. "I want us to learn together, Clark," she whispered and realized that was exactly what she wanted.
Clark gripped her waist, swiftly losing the battle with his mind. Truth was his eighteen year old body was raging with hormones and when she moved, he reacted instantly.
He whimpered when she kissed him.
Clark was having a similar battle within his mind as Lois was. Unlike Lois though, he'd often thought about situations just like this. Knowing he was unique from any other boy alive had prompted him to make a silent promise not to be careless with his sexuality. But Lois' kisses were amazing. Maybe he could just go part way. His hands roamed, causing both to moan at the contact.
Soon that wasn't enough for Lois. She pulled back from the kiss and jerked her shirt off. She reached up behind her back and flipped the clasp on her bra, pulling the lace from her body.
Clark's eyes widened as she bared herself to his hungry gaze. He may have reasoned it would be okay to go part way and no further, but the sight of her partially naked body, there, in his lap, was too much for him to handle. "Lois, you are amazing."
Lois pushed him away from her and started pulling at his shirt. He quickly snatched it off and lost himself in another kiss.
Lois was the impatient one, rising to her feet to finish undressing. Clark couldn't move. He hadn't intended to go *this* far. He didn't know how to stop it now though as he watched Lois settle on the quilt that was spread out on the loft floor. She reached for him and he came willingly. Their mouths bathed each other in wet, hungry kisses as their hands wondered and explored unknown curves.
Lois pulled Clark's glasses from his face so she could see his beautiful eyes.
Clark was breathing almost as hard as Lois. He had to break the kiss to catch his breath. He was about to say something else, but Lois swallowed his protests in another kiss.
That was too much. A moment later he lay with her, void of his clothes.
Lois reached for him. His heart pounded loudly as he stared down at her. "Are you sure?" he asked softly.
Clark went to her then, trembling as he initiated another kiss. A stray thought caused him to jerk from her.
Lois' confusion cleared as Clark scrambled to retrieve the foil package. Thank God he'd paid attention in sex-ed, he thought absently, then he was with her again.
It was a little while later when he asked, "You okay?"
Lois smiled over at him. "Very okay. That was great."
"Quick," Clark mumbled.
"What did you expect?"
"I don't know."
She leaned over and kissed him lightly. "It was… super."
And Lois realized that she *had* enjoyed it. She'd recalled a bunch of 'first time' stories her friends had told her, none too promising. However, with Clark she'd relaxed and enjoyed his touches, his kisses. He was right; it had been quick. It had also felt wonderful. Suddenly she couldn't figure out why she'd waited so long. But her conscience quickly reminded her that she was still so very young. She'd waited for the right guy and the right time. Here, in a hayloft on a Kansas farm, she realized she'd found both.
He smiled and kissed her again, then drew back. "Guess we should get up."
He kissed her once more before rolling away to get dressed. A few minutes later he was exiting the still usable outhouse behind the barn.
Lois was fully dressed and waiting on him when he came out.
"I can't believe you have an outhouse." She stared at the item, still unable to believe what her sight was telling her.
Clark chuckled softly. "I think Dad has an emotional attachment. We do have indoor plumbing."
"That's good." They stood in awkward silence, neither knowing what to say. Finally Lois spoke. "I, ah, I need to get back."
"Yeah. My folks will be up soon, too. Come on. I'll drive you."
She nodded and let him lead her to the truck. He held the door while she climbed in. Ten minutes later, he stopped outside the gate of the camp.
"Clark, tonight was very special to me. It always will be."
Here it was. The let down. But what had he expected? They were kids with their whole lives ahead of them.
He lifted his hand to her face and smiled. "It was special to me, too. *You* are special to me."
Lois grinned and leaned in for a long, lingering kiss. She hugged him, then scrambled from the truck. Clark watched her disappear into the darkness. For a long while he simply sat in the truck, looking in the direction Lois had disappeared. He couldn't figure out just what had made him forget all of his promises to himself. From the time he'd been mature enough to make his own decisions, choosing not to have sex had been at the top of his list. He didn't want to be like some of his buddies: have sex with a girl, then forget she existed. Lately, he'd told himself that he wanted to wait for the right girl. Of course, he'd known he'd meet a lot of interesting and beautiful women in his life. He hadn't made a vow of celibacy or anything, but he'd certainly never thought his first time would be in the loft of his parents' barn either.
Lois Lane had changed his life in only a matter of weeks. She was unlike anyone he'd ever met. Intelligent, funny, beautiful… Clark felt as if he'd known her his whole life. She had also changed his life completely. *Tonight* changed my life, he thought. Tonight had been a night full of firsts: His first love, his first 'time', and his first broken heart.
Clark's induction into manhood was over but never far from his mind. He thought about Lois at least once every fifteen minutes. He was glad he was traveling because his thoughts often reminded him physically of what he'd shared with a special girl. He had to get a grip on his hormones before classes started in a few weeks. Luckily his newfound ability to fly provided him with a distraction.
And her night with Clark affected Lois more than she cared to admit. He was constantly on her mind. She called his house the following weekend only to find out he'd left again, just as he'd told her he would. So she put on a brave face and got on with her life.
Camp ended a week later, with no one the wiser to Lois' plight. She left Smallville and her memories of Clark Kent behind. She'd start Metropolis High in two weeks as a senior and was going to be swamped. She'd save her dreams for an occasional escape from the madness.
"Lois, what's wrong?" Tammie asked her friend as Lois came out of the bathroom stall. "You've thrown up three times this morning."
"I don't know." Lois splashed cold water on her face. "I can't be sick now. I've got too much going on."
"Maybe you should go home and rest."
"Can't. Got a staff meeting with the paper last hour."
"Okay, but you can't say I didn't warn you." Tammie checked her make-up in the mirror. "C'mon. Coach Taylor will spaz if we're late. She's teaching the finer points of femininity today."
"Sex-ed in health already?"
Lois sighed and followed her friend to class.
Lois couldn't catch her breath as she listened to Coach Taylor express the importance of birth control during sex. She leaned over to Jack, the class clown.
"Ask her if it's possible to get pregnant from minimal contact."
"Sure. Coach, can you knock a girl up if ya' just take a quick peek?" Jack smiled, happy to cause a few laughs, as always.
"Jack, pregnancy is possible any time your body makes contact with hers intimately without protection. There is semen present from the moment a man becomes aroused… and long after the deed is done," the teacher explained.
"So, there's a chance of pregnancy with a touch?" He just couldn't help himself. Now that the question had been asked, maybe it wouldn't hurt to find out all the important details. One never knew when it would come in handy.
"I'm afraid so, Jack. And contrary to popular belief, you *can* impregnate a girl the first time. Hers or yours."
The rest of the class went black to Lois. She was in shock. She may be pregnant. How could she have been so stupid? Sweat beaded on her forehead and she nearly passed out. A few moments later she jumped to her feet and ran for the bathroom.
The coach looked to Tammie for answers. "She's been sick all day," the girl said with a shrug. The coach nodded and continued her class.
Two days and a trip to the clinic later, Lois' suspicions were confirmed. She was seven weeks pregnant. Suddenly the most wonderful night of her life became her worst nightmare. She had no idea what to do.
Lois went through the next week in a daze. How did she deal with this? She was only sixteen, a full month away from her birthday. Her parents would go ballistic. All her dreams would be crushed. Not to mention what all of her friends would think.
And she didn't even want to think about Clark. What would he think? She'd wanted to have sex more than he had. His parents would be so disappointed in him. In the short time they'd gotten to know one another, she knew he'd want to do the 'right' thing. He'd do whatever was necessary to ensure the baby was taken care of, gladly giving up all his plans and dreams to unselfishly care for another. How could she do that to him? Yet, how could she keep something like this from him?
Confused and scared, she lowered her head in her hands and cried.
Lois was so ashamed of herself for being careless. She could only imagine how her parents would react. So, with help from Tammie, she made an appointment at a clinic in mid-town to have an abortion. She felt it was the only thing she could do. Both she and Clark were so young, with so much ahead of them. A baby would ruin all of that. She gathered her courage and headed downtown to the Women's Clinic.
But the trip proved fruitless. The literature was much too graphic. Lois' conscience would not allow her to do such a thing. She bolted from the building only to end up back where she'd started.
As one week rolled into two, Lois realized she had to do something. Her parents were asking questions about her strange behavior, so she decided this was something she couldn't hide forever.
She looked up from the dinner at her silently eating parents, thankful Lucy was at a friend's.
"Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you."
The older Lanes looked up at the deadpan expression on their daughter's face. Both waited patiently for her to continue.
Lois closed her eyes, took a deep breath, then said, "I'm pregnant."
They just stared at her for several long moments in shock. Her mother put down her fork, wiped her mouth, and practically yelled, "WHAT?!"
"By who?" her mother demanded.
"Does it matter?" Lois knew if she told her parents who the boy was, they'd probably attempt to have him arrested.
"Yes. He's responsible for this," Ellen told her.
"Damn right he is," Sam agreed. "Lois, you're a minor. If he's not, he's committed a crime."
"No. His only crime was listening to me. *I* wanted it to happen. *I* asked him."
"Lois, my God, this is a disgrace." Ellen couldn't believe her daughter had done something so degrading. The girl had always been a little over the top, but this… this was outrageous!
"Why mother? You're not the one pregnant." Despite how she felt, the young girl gave as good as she got.
"No, but my sixteen year old daughter is. How do you think that makes me look?"
"Like your daughter has a mind of her own."
"Don't talk to your mother like that," her dad told her. "Now…" He took a breath. "Are you sure about this?"
"Nine weeks sure."
"It was that damn camp. I knew you shouldn't have gone." Ellen stood and stomped to the end of the table. She was in full rant mode, yelling for twenty minutes. The whole time Sam had remained silent. Finally, he cleared his throat.
"This is what is going to happen. You will tell us who the boy is. We will go to see him and his parents."
"I won't tell you if you're planning to have him arrested. I won't!" She jumped up and ran from the room.
That night she listened to her parents yell about her. She had never been such a disappointment to her folks. That made her feel even more ashamed. The next morning Sam and Ellen woke her.
Sam sat on her bed. "Lois, we have made a few decisions."
"Don't I get a say in the matter?" Lois asked her father.
"I think you've said and done enough," Ellen replied sarcastically.
Sam looked up at his wife. "Ellen." When she was silent, he turned back to Lois. "You and this boy have only two choices. Since we don't believe in abortion, you will either put this baby up for adoption…"
"You and the boy will get married and take responsibility for what you've done."
"It's the right thing to do. We prefer the first option, but since we can't force you to sign the papers…" Sam allowed his sentence to trial off.
"And what about marriage? You'll force me to do that?" Lois was furious. True, she didn't want to abort her baby and she hadn't even thought about adoption, but that option didn't seem like something she would like either.
"You did this, little girl," her mother told her.
"Ellen, please." Sam's frustration with Ellen was evident. They'd argued most of the night about what to do. His wife had declared abortion was the only option, despite the fact they'd never been a couple to support such a thing. This was her daughter, and Ellen felt Lois' future would be wasted if she was strapped to a baby.
Sam faced Lois once more. "We're not forcing you. We gave you options."
"Why do I have to marry him?" Lois asked. She'd had a great few nights with Clark. In another time, another place, Clark could have easily been someone she would consider having a relationship with. But marriage… at sixteen? What about her career? What about her plans?
<And just how do you plan to do any of those things with a baby?> Her conscience was very quick to remind her.
She forced herself to listen when her father spoke again.
"Because if you want to keep this baby, somebody has to take care of it. We're not going to. Besides, you don't want your child born a bastard," Sam pointed out.
"You are so old fashioned." Lois folded her arms across her chest in a huff.
"That may be, but the fact remains, we can make this hard for you," Sam threatened.
"Just give it up for adoption," Ellen told her.
Lois glanced at her father, his eyes held a deep concern for her. Ellen had told Sam his position in the medical world was far too important to throw away on the compulsive actions of his teenage daughter. He'd argued that the final decision was really out of his and his wife's hands. But Ellen, being the narrow minded, egotistical person she was, argued that such a scandal could ruin them. The woman enjoyed their station in life. Being the wife of a successful doctor afforded her many luxuries. Her friends would surely turn against her if they allowed Lois to have a child out of wedlock. Further, it was just disgraceful.
Lois didn't miss the underlying worry in her father's eyes, but wasn't about to stand down on this one. "I think the father has a say in that."
"I think the father has done enough," Ellen ground out.
"Ellen, please!" Again Sam was trying to quiet his wife down.
Lois couldn't think straight; she couldn't breathe. Maybe she should have kept this from her parents as long as she could.
<Then what? They'd have made you give it up then for sure.>
Was that what she wanted? Marrying Clark certainly wasn't. Besides, who was to say he'd agree to such a thing anyway.
"Lois," her father cut through her musing. "Think about this carefully," he told her.
She stared over at him for a moment before something he'd said came back to her. "What did you mean, you could make this hard on me?"
"He meant that we'd disown you!" Ellen's voice had raised in frustration. Lois was a sensible girl. So why was she making this so difficult?!
Lois could only stare at her mother. Did she mean what she'd just said? Slowly Lois faced her father again. "Daddy?"
Sam sighed heavily and glanced down at his hands before meeting his daughter's gaze. "Lois, you have to understand my position here. How would it look if I allowed my unwed daughter to have a child and raise it under our roof?"
"Is that what this is about? Your image?!" Lois was angry. Her parents cared more about how they looked to the neighbors than they did about the future of their child!
"It's not that…" Sam tried to explain.
"I'm sorry if I embarrass you…" Lois was so angry she had started to shake.
"Yes!" Sam shouted as he shot to his feet. "You have embarrassed us! You're sixteen, Lois. Sixteen! You're not even finished with high school. What will you do now? And without our help?"
"A baby is a lot of work," Ellen added. She should know. Lois came along before she'd planned to have children. Thank goodness she and Sam had already wed.
"You can't do it alone," her father continued. "Do the right thing. Give the baby up. Even marrying the father isn't a much better option."
"Certainly not," Ellen agreed. "What kind of life could a teenage boy possibly provide you with." This time she folded her arms.
"You can't expect me to just give up this baby without talking to the father first." It was lame, she knew, but it was the only thing Lois could think to say. And she really did want to talk to Clark. If she was going to give this baby up for adoption, he would have to be told.
Sam sighed again. "You have two days."
Her parents turned and left her alone. What now? Could she have this baby and give it away to strangers? Could she do that to Clark?
He'd told her that he was adopted and how he'd always longed to have a connection to himself. He adored his parents, but not knowing anything about yourself had to be devastating. How could she do that to him?
The last thing she wanted to do was marry him though. They didn't know each other. What would they do if they married? Yet, to have this baby she had to marry him. Then again, maybe she could just give it to Clark. After all, she really didn't want to be anyone's mother.
"Mom, he didn't say what this was about?" Clark asked his mother of their intended visitors.
"Just that you had to be here." Martha set the tray with coffee on it on the table in the den. Sam Lane had called three days before and said he and his wife, Ellen, were coming to talk to them. He told them to have Clark there. And now it was about time for their arrival.
"They're here," Clark said as his hearing picked up the hum of the engine of their car. A few minutes later, his father opened the door to the couple. Clark stood across the room as they entered. He was more than a little disappointed that the older couple was alone. He'd hoped Lois would have come with them.
Jonathan had introduced himself and Martha. He held out an arm to Clark. "And this is my son…"
"Clark," Sam interrupted. He made no attempt to shake the boy's offered hand. "I'll get right to the point." Sam squared his shoulders and began. "We have a daughter."
"Lois?" Martha asked.
"You've met her?"
"No. Clark told us about her."
Sam cut his eyes at Clark again. "Did he? Did he also tell you that he and Lois have a… past, if you can call it that?"
Clark shifted from one foot to the other as he and his parents listened in rapt attention to Sam Lane. Somehow the man had found out about the night in the barn. His heart rate increased as Sam continued.
"At the risk of sounding indelicate, these *children* decided to engage in some very adult activities."
Martha and Jonathan turned to stare at Clark. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
"Mr. and Mrs. Kent, your son has impregnated our daughter."
This time Clark's eyes were as wide as his parents'. "What?!"
"Lois is almost ten weeks pregnant with… *Clark's* child." Sam glared over at the young man.
Clark struggled to breathe. How had this happened? They had used protection. <Oh God!> He bent and put his hands on his knees. He'd touched her briefly *before* he used the condom. <Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!>
His parents were stunned. By Clark's reaction, the news was possibly true.
"No need to pray about it now," Ellen clipped out.
Sam gave her a warning glare and watched as Clark stood back up. "What do you have to say for yourself? Did you not realize Lois was a minor?"
"Clark Kent! What the hell were you thinking?"
Clark met his father's angry gaze. He'd never seen such disappointment and shame there. His mom was on the verge of tears. All the hopes and dreams their son had talked of for years were destroyed in a single moment of stupidity.
Clark stood straighter, fully prepared to take responsibility for what he'd done. "Mr. Lane, I take full responsibility for what I've done."
"You bet you will." Sam pulled some papers from his jacket. "We gave Lois two choices. We give you the same." He held out the papers to Clark.
"What are they?" Martha finally found her voice.
Clark's terrified eyes met his mother's after he'd read over the documents before him. "They want my permission to allow the baby to be adopted."
"What?" Martha grabbed the papers.
"This is the smart thing to do," Sam told them. "We don't believe in abortion."
"Thank, God," Martha mumbled as she continued to read.
"Is this what Lois wants? Where is she? I should really be talking this over with her."
"Lois is a child. She doesn't know what's best for her. We do." Ellen glared at the three people in front of her.
"Ellen!" Ellen threw her hands up at Sam's tone. "What Lois wants is irrelevant. You should have thought about the consequences of your actions before you forced yourself on my daugher."
"I did not *force* myself. Yeah, I should have had more control. I should have known better, but arguing about it now won't help."
Sam was taken aback by Clark's tone. "That's right, it won't. But as you've said, it's time to take responsibility. Sign those papers so we can put this behind us."
"Put it behind us? You want me to just forget this? Forget that somewhere in the world there would be child that carries my genes? How do I do that?"
Martha put a hand on Clark's arm. "Mr. Lane, this is a touchy subject for Clark. He's adopted."
"I'm well aware of that. Lois has told us. That's why we've agreed to her request. She wants Clark to have the baby."
"What?" Clark was stunned. How could she want such a thing? More to the point, how could he do that to her?
"We gave Lois two choices. One was adoption."
"And the other?" asked Jonathan Kent. He'd folded the adoption request and was staring pointedly at Sam Lane. He'd made the decision he didn't like the man.
"For them to do the right thing. That's the only way we'd allow her to keep this child. No grandchild of mine will born a bastard."
"Is that what you want, Mr. Lane? For me to marry your daughter?"
"None of this is what I want. My daughter is a high school senior. She's going to be a doctor someday. She can't possibly do that strapped to a marriage or a baby."
"But she's expected to do that grieving for a child she'll never know?"
"She wants this! It was her choice not to marry. She wouldn't agree to any kind of adoption unless it was to you. So…" He pulled another set of papers out of his jacket. "That's a paternity acknowledgement. It says you admit you're the father and agree to custody once the child's born."
Clark read over the papers before looking back up at Sam. "This will still make your grandchild a bastard," he said softly.
"No. This will make *your* parents' grandchild a bastard. Once you sign those papers, the child is yours."
"And Lois?" Martha spoke up. "Where's Lois? Shouldn't the boy have the opportunity to hear from her own mouth that this is what she wants?"
"Lois has been sent to a school in up-state New Troy. She will remain there until the birth. When the time comes, we will call and you can come take the child away."
Clark was furious as well as hurt. "How can you speak of this as just an inconvenience? You're taking away a piece of her. I find it hard to believe she really wants this."
"Okay, Mr. Smarty. What if she keeps the baby? What will you do? Stay here in Kansas with Mommy and Daddy while she struggles to take care of it?"
"I'll say this one more time. Lois did not do this alone. This is my child, too. I am fully prepared to care for it." Clark's stance was one of power as he faced down his 'opponent'. If Sam Lane wanted to battle, he'd give as good as he got.
"How? Flipping burgers at the drive-in won't cut it." Sam was just as stubborn as Clark and refused to let a mere boy intimidate him.
"I know that!" Clark shot right back.
"And Lois? Will you take care of her? She's still a baby herself." This time it was Ellen Lane who asked the questions.
"She's my baby's mother. Of course I will take care of her." That was a given. Lois would be very well taken care of.
"You should have done that to start with!" Sam had lost his patience. He was furious and glared at Clark. "What kind of values have your parents taught you? You take advantage of an innocent girl just to get your kicks."
Clark saw red. He stepped forward and was about to grab Sam when Jonathan stepped between the two. Jonathan struggled to hold Clark back. "My son may be a lot of things: irrational, compulsive, young, but he's not a rapist, as you suggest." He held up his hand to forestall Sam's outburst. "I am aware of the laws that say he can be arrested for this. However, if this boy's guilty of anything it's giving into raging hormones. I am positive that if Lois had indicated in the least that she wanted to stop, he would have."
"Absolutely," Clark agreed right away.
"Now," Jonathan went on. "It happened and the most important thing is this baby. Why don't we all sit, have some coffee, and talk about this rationally?" There was an intense stand-off before the Lanes moved.
When they had all settled, Jonathan spoke again. "I couldn't possibly call myself a good father if I didn't ask to see proof of what you say to be true."
Sam nodded and pulled still more papers from his pocket. "This is the results of the pregnancy test, the initial exam, etc."
Clark read over his father's shoulder. The older man looked up at him. "She's roughly ten weeks along. Does that fall into a possible time frame that could make you the father?"
"Yes," Clark told him flatly.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, Dad. Until…" He looked up at Sam, then back to his father. "Lois and I…"
"Come on, boy. No sense in being modest now," Sam threw out. "Mr. Kent, Lois told us she was a virgin that night. Yet another thing your son took from her."
Clark had to grind his teeth to keep from opening his mouth.
Jonathan met Sam's gaze again. "And could there have been anyone after Clark?"
"Our daughter's not a…"
"I never said she was, Mrs. Lane. I just want my bases covered."
"Read further into the doctor's report. He thinks it's highly unlikely that she's had sex more than the one time."
"Dad, Lois wouldn't have said the baby's mine if it wasn't," Clark told his father with sad eyes.
Jonathan read back over the doctor's report for a few moments before he spoke. "Clark, what do you want to do?"
"I *want* to talk to Lois."
"Not possible," Sam told him immediately.
Clark was about to protest, but from the look on Sam's face, it was no use. He thought about what this meant, what it could mean. He thought about Lois giving up her child. He also felt a rush of emotions that she'd bargained with her parents to give the child to him.
"I truly don't see how you could just give away your grandchild," Martha said softly. "Or ask your daughter to give away her child. Don't you realize how badly this will scar her?"
"Fine. Do you want to hear it from her lips?" Sam got up and made his way to the phone. He dialed several numbers, spoke to someone on the other end, and waited patiently for his daughter to answer.
"Daddy? Is something wrong?"
"Lois, these people want to hear you tell them your decision. I'll let you talk to Mr. Kent." Sam thrust the phone out to the other man.
"Ah, Lois? This is Jonathan Kent."
"Mr. Kent," she said flatly.
"Lois, is this true? Is this Clark's baby?"
"Yes, sir," she answered softly. "I'm so sorry."
"Don't be. What's done is done? Now, won't you tell me what you'd like? Do *you* want to give away your baby?"
"Clark doesn't want it?"
"Clark doesn't want to take it away from its mother. Lois, you don't have to do this."
"Yes… I do. They won't let me keep it unless I marry Clark. I don't think either of us is ready for that."
"I may agree there, but dear, if you want to keep your baby…"
"No, Mr. Kent…" She grew silent and Jonathan could hear her struggle with her emotions. "It's the only way," she finally whispered. "Tell Clark I'm so sorry," she sobbed before she hung up.
Jonathan lowered the receiver and looked up at his son. From the look on his face, Clark had heard the conversation as well. The older man shook his head in silence before he hung up the phone.
Clark pushed around his father and snatched up the paternity papers that were now lying on the coffee table. He stepped over to his mother's desk and found a pen before he quickly signed the papers. He stopped in front of Sam Lane with very angry, very pain filled eyes.
"I signed the damn papers. All I ask is that I get a monthly report on her condition. I want to know she's okay. And if she ever feels she wants to change her mind, I won't keep her child from her. I also want to know immediately when she goes into labor. I want to be there for her."
"Don't you think you've been there for her enough?"
"Mr. Lane, if I could talk to Lois, I'm positive I could get her to change her mind. Is that what you want? Me married to her? Because I would do it just to spite you."
"Why you little…" Sam shot to his feet.
"Enough!" Martha yelled. "I think Clark's requests are more than fair. With his signature on that piece of paper, he is entitled to know the progress of his child." She reached across to take the papers from Sam's hand. "I'll make copies for Clark's records." She turned and left the room.
Ellen was the one to finally speak. "We can arrange monthly updates, and I will inform the staff myself to contact you when the time comes." She stood and looked at Clark. "You will see one day that this is for the best."
"Mrs. Lane, regardless of the fact that I will get this baby, he or she will still be your grandchild. How could you turn your back on that?"
Clark could tell he'd hit a nerve, but the woman remained silent. She simply nodded and exited the house.
Martha returned a few moments later to hand Sam the paternity papers.
"I still feel adoption would have been bes…" Sam said as he stuffed the papers back into an inside pocket of his jacket.
"And I feel letting your daughter decide what she really wants would have been rational." Clark couldn't help the retort that slid from his lips.
Sam and Clark stared each other down for a few tense seconds before Sam left.
When the house was quiet, Jonathan turned to his son. "This is, ah, this is a shock."
Clark hung his head in shame.
"Damn, boy! What were you thinking? I know your hormones are raging and that sex is common. Hell, I even had sex at your age. But I was smart about it." Jonathan could only stare at his son after his unusually loud outburst.
"No, Martha! We've taught him better!"
"I know you did," Clark told him quietly.
"Then why? Why didn't you take precautions?"
"We did… just not soon enough. Dad, I swear… this is… well, it's just as shocking to me." And it was. Clark couldn't comprehend everything he'd learned earlier. He was only eighteen years old, with his entire life stretched out before him. The last thing he needed was to be someone's father.
"Son, you have to use protection *before* ejaculation," Jonathan explained. Obviously all those talks he'd had with his boy hadn't been enough.
"I did. Just in the heat of the moment, I… God…" Clark shoved a hand through his hair. "I only touched her, Dad. What are the chances of a girl getting pregnant that way?"
"In your case, pretty damn good!" The older man couldn't help himself. He was upset and incredibly ashamed of his son.
Clark stared at his father. He could see the pain in the man's eyes. It was something he'd never seen there or at least something he'd never put there. "I'm so sorry," he whispered.
"Yeah, well, this is not going to be easy. Your life will change dramatically."
"I have to agree with your father on that one. As much as we love you and have always supported you, this is your responsibility. We will help you all we can, but *you* will raise this baby. Not us." Martha's heart and mind was having a duel internally, but she knew the road that lay ahead. Her son had made his bed and the only way for him to grow up was to lie in it.
"Yes, ma'am." Clark's gaze dropped to the floor as his mind rushed ahead to all the work to come.
Jonathan scratched his chin as he started for the kitchen. "You'll have to go back to work. And that fancy scholarship will have to be traded in for one at community college."
"I want to keep going to school. It's only sensible to further my education to provide for my child." That much the young man knew to be true. There was no way he could afford to give his child what he or she would need if he didn't do that.
"And you'll have to use your savings to buy what the baby needs," Jonathan went on.
Jonathan studied his son's expression for a moment before he turned and left.
Clark could only hang his head. He felt horrible he'd caused his folks so much grief. How would they ever trust him again? He fought back tears when his mother touched his arm. No words were said. None had to be. Clark could see her pain as well.
Martha smiled sadly and left Clark to his thoughts.
He eased to the sofa and held his head in his hands. In a moment of boyhood exuberance he'd not only lost his virginity, he'd become a father. Now he had to learn how to be what his child would need.
"Oh, Lois," he sighed softly at further thought of having to take this child from her. The question of whether he'd take his own child was one that never had to be asked. Of course he would! At the same time he was in so much pain knowing he'd be taking *Lois'* baby at the same time. How would they ever survive?
"Lois! My office. Now!"
"Ah, oh. Looks like you're in the doghouse."
Lois smiled up at her young colleague. The boss barking at you was just an everyday thing around the newsroom. "Probably wants some puff piece wrote up." Lois shrugged her shoulders and went to see what it was she'd done now.
She pushed open the door to find her editor gazing down at some files on his desk. "You wanted to see me, Chief?"
"Yeah. I have an assignment for you. Come on in." When Lois stood at his desk, Perry looked up at her. "I have a friend in the mid-west. He says there's some government agency doing some digging on small farms all over the place. Says they're looking for pesticide poisoning in the ground water. My friend thinks it's something else altogether."
"Well, that's what you're going to find out. Here."
Lois took the offered file and read. Her eyes flew wide open just before she closed the file. "I can't take this one."
"And just why not?" The editor wasn't accustomed to his reporters telling him what assignments they would or wouldn't take.
"It's personal." She placed the folder on his desk, hoping he'd drop the subject.
Of course this was Perry White. He hadn't become editor-in-chief because he could yodel. "I see. Here I thought you were a professional."
"I am a professional."
"Then what's the problem?"
Lois opened her mouth, then shut it again. Carefully she regained her emotions before speaking. "Perry, I cannot go to Smallville. Can't you just trust me on this one?"
"Lois, this story reeks of government conspiracy. Something big is happening and I want to know what. I have to put my best reporter on this one."
"But Perry nothing. It's this or the dog show."
Lois mentally debated with herself for several minutes. Finally she took a deep breath. "Okay. I'll go, but I don't have to like it."
"Just get the story. All your travel arrangements have been made. Look in the folder." He pointed his finger at the file. "Now get out of here. You've got to pack."
Lois took up the offending object again, then trudged through the door. This was the last thing she had expected today… or ever. She didn't know how she was going to handle this. She summoned all of her inner resolve. "Come on, Lane. You're a pro. Get it together," she argued with herself. It was this or reporting on Fido's shiny coat, and she'd worked far too hard to become the best investigative reporter in the city to sit through the judging of pampered pets. She'd handled tougher assignments than this one. Besides, she would go in, get the story, and get out before she could even think of all the reasons why going to Kansas was a bad idea.
Lois ignored all the prying eyes as she carried her bags across the parking lot of the small motel. She had to keep reminding herself this was Smallville. People looked at newcomers this way. They were curious, not rude. In fact, they were quite friendly. Be that as it may, she still didn't want to be here. She was so glad this corn festival thing was going on. With any luck, this trip would be uneventful.
An hour later, Lois was fuming at the woman posted in front of the barricade that had been erected around the latest dig. The property of Wayne Irig had been taken over by government workers. They were still insisting that they were looking for poisonous seepage into the ground water. Lois had seen just about all kinds of construction equipment in Metropolis. The equipment on this site had nothing to do with water or poisons. It looked an awful lot like some sort of radiation seeking devices. But why would there be any type of radiation here? If that woman had only given her more to go on…
She made her way back into town to find the annual festival in full swing. The town square had been transformed into a mirage of vendors and rides. Lois had to admit this would be the ideal place to ask some questions. Small town people knew everything about what happened around them. And they loved to talk. And with so many people milling around, what were the chances of her seeing someone she'd rather not?
Spending the afternoon listening to one story after another about small town life was not exactly Lois' idea of the kind of work she should be doing. She had been right though. She'd learned that the locals didn't think the government workers were looking for poisons either. They couldn't fathom what it was the government would be looking for in their small community, but they all had a guess. Some thought that they were looking for bodies killed by the government in experiments during the Vietnam War. Others thought they were looking for money. And then there was the alien theory. Lois giggled at all the wild speculation. She would start over again tomorrow.
The day had wound down to give way to a beautiful starlit night. The bright sparkles were visible even under all the lights of the amusements around her. Funny how she'd never noticed how pretty a night sky really was. Maybe she could enjoy the show a little longer while she ate dinner.
Lois ordered a generous plate of barbeque from one of the vendors and found a seat at a table near the bandstand. She may as well sample the music while she ate.
Half way through her meal, something caught her eye on the dance floor that had been set up. An older woman was dancing with a small boy. His face was lit in a beautiful smile as he stared up at the woman with all the love his small frame could muster. The woman's face held the same loving expression as she swayed to the music. When the song ended, the boy bowed gracefully before leading the woman off the floor. They disappeared into the crowd on the opposite side.
For a moment she felt a rush of warmth through her body. She wondered what he would possibly look like now. He would be about the age of that boy dancing earlier. He would probably also have dark hair. Maybe big brown eyes and a bright smile. Was he a smart boy? Of course he was. He had great genes.
She smiled and wiped at the warmth that ran down her cheek. Lois hadn't thought about him for more than a second or two in a long time. If she knew what was good for her, she would stop this train of thought now. Her appetite gone, she pushed back and started to her motel. Vaguely she was aware of the line-dancing going on beside her.
She remembered a friend had taken her to a few classes last year. That had been interesting to say the least. Lois turned to watch the dancers for a second. That was her mistake. She froze when she saw him. It had been eight years but there was no denying that the man dancing there was *him*. She could only stare.
Transfixed, Lois watched as he executed the steps of the dance perfectly. He was enjoying himself because he smiled brightly at his partner. Another mistake. His smile was just as beautiful as she remembered. It had been that smile that had undone her back then. Add his warm laughter and that had been a deadly combination.
Panic raced through her veins. She should leave before he saw her. Run while she could. But her feet refused to cooperate. She was transfixed by this man that was once the boy she had known. Time had been really good to him. She could see, just from his demeanor, that he was sure of himself, comfortable in who he'd become. Why had she seen him? Why now?
She was about to tear her gaze away when he spun in her direction. His eyes fleeted across her for an instant. Lois was glad when he appeared not to have recognized her. That relief faded when he stopped. His eyes locked firmly on hers and his smile faded. Fear overtook her, and she bolted in the direction of her motel. She didn't dare look back to see what he was doing now. She just ran.
"Clark? Are you okay?" Rachel noticed her dance partner had stopped. When his smile faded, so did his color. He didn't look especially good right now. "Clark?"
"Huh?" He finally seemed to have noticed the woman at his side. "Yeah. I'm… I'm fine. Guess I'm a bit more tired than I thought. Maybe I should… go get some rest."
"Sure. See you tomorrow?"
"You bet. Thanks for the dance, Rachel."
Clark smiled and slowly walked toward the darkness at the edge of the square. He stopped to look in the direction the woman had gone. There was only one place she could be if she was in Smallville. But why? If he knew anything of her reputation at all, she was here because of the digging going on by the government on the local farms. Lois Lane hadn't become one of the best investigative reporters in the country by writing about dog shows. And if the government was looking for what he thought they were looking for, he could be in trouble. It wasn't a question of if Lois discovered his secret, but when. That would also open up a whole new can of worms.
Clark mentally debated with himself for a moment. Should he go talk to her? Would she want to see him? Either of them? Surely she would have contacted them long before now if that's what she wanted. And if he saw her again, would she walk away with his very soul? He decided to leave the past buried deep in the bruised emotions that would always be part of his relationship with her. If she wanted anything from him, she knew where he was. With a lot more to think about tonight, Clark headed for the booth where his mother was putting her treasures away.
Lois slammed her motel room door behind her as if it could block out the memories that were rushing in on her. Why did she have to see him tonight? The small boy earlier had been enough. But him…
She inhaled until she thought her lungs would explode, but the images were there. The pictures she'd worked so hard to suppress long ago. It had taken her three years to put Clark Kent's image out of her mind. He was just a boy then. Now he was a man. And even though it had been over eight years since she'd seen him, she knew it was him. The same dark eyes, thick black hair, and that incredible smile were exactly as she remembered. Now here, in the darkness of her room, she couldn't imagine why she'd ever thought she could come to Smallville and not see him.
Clark Kent had been like a breath of fresh air to a teenage girl who was much older in deed than she was in years. Other boys had always been a turn-off to Lois. Adolescent in their behavior and certainly none had ever appealed to her physically. But Clark, Clark had appealed to her in every way possible.
Lois still couldn't tell you why she'd decided Clark was the one she'd had to lose herself to for the first time in her life. She'd rationalized her actions as just over-active teenage hormones. Neither had thought much about it at the time. They'd just known that one night would be all they'd have. So, together two children became a man and woman on a soft quilt as the moon's light highlighted their bodies.
Good-bye was both sensual and bittersweet. That night and the last kiss would be all they would ever have to remember the other by.
Or so she'd thought. Discovering that her night spent with the farmboy she'd later admitted that she'd fallen hard for had resulted in a pregnancy had stunned Lois beyond comprehension. And the road that had spread out before them had been riddled with debris that proved to be the greatest obstacles she'd ever had to overcome.
Sam Lane may have been one of the best doctors in the world, but he was the worst father. He was never around when Lois or Lucy needed him to be. When Lois found out she was pregnant, Sam seemed to be all over her. He was absolutely horrified that his daughter could have been in this position. His reputation would be tarnished with a pregnant teenage girl. Before he could manage to form any kind of plan, Ellen Lane blew her stack. Lois' old-fashioned parents set out to Smallville to confront the boy that had done such a thing to their daughter.
Lois only spoke to either of the older Kents once. Telling Jonathan Kent that the decision for Clark to take the baby was for the best had been one of the most difficult things she'd ever done. When he'd asked her so softly what she'd wanted, it was all she could do to keep from yelling out that giving up her baby was not it. But she'd choked out that she wanted Clark to have the baby and slammed the phone down. Returning to her dorm room at the Catholic girls' home, she sank to the bed and cried herself to sleep. From there, it had been a series of ups and downs for the young mother.
Lois never even saw her baby's tiny face or body. He — they'd at least told her that much — was taken away from her immediately. The only comfort she had was that his father was getting him. She knew he would be in good hands. She had trusted Clark with her body, now she had to trust him with a piece of her life.
She never saw Clark again. She did talk to him once after the baby was born. Lois needed to be reassured that Clark was okay with taking their baby. He told her he was more than okay. She refused to get into the subject of how things had gone so horribly wrong between them. Hearing the disappointment and pain in Clark's voice had been heart wrenching, but she'd managed to stand her ground. Later, she had given in to her mother and slowly moved on with her life.
It took three years to put Clark and the baby out of her mind. Well… not out, but far enough away so that she didn't think about them every time she turned around. It had been excruciating at first. In the end, school, then work became her way of life. She didn't have time for her painful thoughts.
Lois swiped at the tears that had found their way down her cheeks. In the cold reality of the night, she knew it had been wrong to just walk away. She'd listened to her mother when she'd told her the baby was better off without her. She'd listened to her father when he'd said she was too young to keep a child. She'd listened to her mind when it told her she wanted to be a journalist more than she wanted anything else in the world, even though her father insisted she become a doctor. She had gotten everything she'd always said she would. So why did she feel so miserable?
Lois slowly made her way into the washroom and got ready for bed. Her mother was right. That baby was better off without her. And he wasn't a baby any more. He was seven now. He certainly didn't need her to interfere with his life, she told herself as she climbed under the covers.
She forced her thoughts to that deep ravine she'd mentally built years ago even as her eyelids drifted shut. Letting go of more tears she didn't know she still had to cry, she fell into a restless sleep.
It was hard to concentrate on your work when all you could think about was a person from your past. Clark had gotten up that way. His mind was still on the woman he'd seen last night. He'd known instantly who she was. Even though she was just a girl the last time he saw her, he would never be able to get her face out of his dreams or thoughts. How could he? Each time he looked at their son, he saw her. The little guy had those same large brown eyes; his facial features were thin and well defined, leaving little doubt that he'd grow into a handsome man. And his spirit was exactly the same as the girl Clark had known.
Clark often wondered if she was still full of fire. He imagined she must be from her writing. Always careful to download her stories from the net to keep from seeing pictures of her — scared his emotions would drive him to contact her, something she obviously didn't want- Clark had read everything she'd ever written. He even read the articles to his son at night, wanting desperately for the small guy to have a connection to his mother.
That had been the toughest part. Clark was only a boy himself when he found out about Lois' pregnancy. In an instant that boy became a man. He grew up faster than he thought possible. He'd had a difficult time just accepting Lois wanted him to take the baby. He'd wanted to talk to her. Her father wouldn't hear of any contact. When he'd listened to the conversation between Lois and his own father, his heart had broken into a thousand pieces. Did the night they spent together mean so little to her? He'd refused to believe that. Yet, she hadn't tried to get in touch with him either. Clark resigned himself to the fact that Lois was incredibly intimidated by her folks. So nine months later, Clark welcomed home his baby son. Together, he and his parents, gave the baby a good life.
But Clark had never understood how Lois could have just walked away like she had. The one and only time she'd talked to him, he'd heard the difference in her voice. He had almost felt the confusion and the anger, the doubt. He'd tried to reason with her. In the end she'd simply said the baby was better off without her. Clark didn't give up immediately. He'd sent pictures and letters so she could see for herself what she was missing. However, all the mail came back unopened. Soon they came back with the message that the addressee had moved and left no forwarding. Clark's heart sank. He had to resign himself to the fact that Lois was indeed walking away.
He never gave up hope that one day the phone would ring and it would be her. He often dreamed that she would write and ask to see the baby. Then she'd come and fall madly in love with the baby they'd made under the moon's light that night. Ideas of being a family and raising a lot of babies danced in Clark's head. But the phone never rang. The letters never came. Lois really had moved on as if she'd never been pregnant at all. Clark was forced to put her out of his mind just to save his sanity. There was someone else now that depended on him for care, and he wouldn't let him down.
But everything he ever resigned himself to had changed last night.
Clark pushed the papers around on his desk in frustration. He'd had to come in to the paper to straighten out a problem this morning. He would be joining his mom, dad, and son at the festival later on. The big dance tonight would officially close this year's celebration, and he was taking Lana. But right now the only thing he wanted to do was find out why Lois Lane was in Smallville.
After fighting sleep for what seemed like hours, Lois decided to do what she always did when she felt stressed: work. She'd been sitting in the bushes watching the government agents outside the perimeter of the latest farm for the last three hours. She should have left when she started to because being led into the tent at gunpoint was not her idea of the best way to spend a Saturday.
A large man in fatigues was grinning evilly at her when they sat her down in the hard chair. She glared at him, but he refused to be intimidated.
"Ah, Ms. Lane. How are you?" His voice even sounded evil.
"You know my name but I don't know yours."
"True. I am Jason Trask and this is my agency, Bureau 39."
"How nice for you. Do you always lead women around at gunpoint?"
"I do when the security of our country is threatened."
"Security of our country? What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about the threat of the impending alien invasion," he told her in a voice that sounded as if he couldn't believe she's ask such a stupid question.
"Aliens? You're kidding, right?" Lois was staring at him incredulously.
"I'm afraid not, Ms. Lane."
"So, what do aliens have to do with Smallville?"
"Everything. The advance guard landed here." Trask sat down in a chair across a table from Lois.
"Advance guard?" Lois chuckled softly. "Don't take this wrong, but I think you're a taco shy of a combo meal."
"Laugh all you want to, but we have proof. The alien came here as an infant. He was raised as one of us. Ingenious idea if I say so myself. Become a human to outward appearances, gain our trust, then send for the troops. I won't let that happen. This country is not theirs for the taking."
Just then a young soldier ran into the tent. "Sir, the General is on the line."
Trask picked up the phone from the table. "General Holcomb." He listened intently for a few moments. "What?!… Yes… No… I understand. Yes, we've found several samples. Our scientists believe it would be poisonous to them… Yes… We'll be packed and on the plane by noon." Trask clicked the phone back down, then turned to several officers standing close by. "Pack it up, soldiers. We're needed in Washington, ASAP." He turned to Lois then. "Listen carefully. I'm only going to say this once. My agency tracks and traces alien activity on this planet. We have traced one such occurrence here. It is believed the baby that landed is now a man, probably your age. We will stop him before he can lead his own people against us." He leaned over to stare her in the eyes. "If you look up Bureau 39, you will find nothing. But rest assured, we will stop this invasion." He stood and turned on his heel. Outside, he barked several orders to his men. A few minutes later the woman that had been posted at the barricade came and escorted Lois back to where they had found her.
As she drove back to town, Lois couldn't get what he'd said out of her mind. This guy was definitely a quack. Aliens indeed. She laughed away that theory as she pulled into the motel parking lot. A quick shower was what was called for here.
Try as she might, Trask's ramblings ran through her mind over and over. She found herself at the library conducting a search on the mysterious officer she'd encountered. She found that Jason Trask had been an officer in the Army in the sixties. However, the official reports she found said he had been killed in a training operation in 1962. There was even a picture of the man. Although he was a lot younger in the image, there was no doubt it was the same man Lois had met that morning. With that information, a ton of questions began to flood Lois' mind.
She couldn't find a Bureau 39 anywhere. She had expected as much. But why would the military list a man as deceased when he wasn't? Further searches revealed at least six other men had died with Trask. She guessed they might even still be alive as well. Lois found unconfirmed reports that the government had once had an agency dedicated to alien detection. The report also said that agency had been dismantled. Having been held at gunpoint by the insane leader of said group, Lois was sure the agency was still active and thriving.
Getting as far as she could with her search on Trask and the military, Lois switched tactics. Trask had said there had been a baby here in Smallville. Since she didn't believe there were actually aliens, she figured the madman had affixed himself on some poor local child. If he was half as crazy as she thought, this baby had grown to a man and was likely in jeopardy of being Trask's target in this sick game he was playing.
Since Trask said the child was probably her age, she began her search from 1965 and continued through to 1968. There were nearly sixty births of local children, another four foster children came into the community as infants, and at least six relatives took up the care of children that were kin to them. What stopped Lois dead in her tracks was the one and only adoption by a local couple that had been filed in 1966. Although adoption records were sealed, Martha and Jonathan Kent had run an ad in the local paper, dated June 1966, in search of the biological father of a minor child they intended to adopt. There was only one child she knew of that the Kents had. Theoretically she'd known she would probably find something about Clark's adoption. It still didn't help ease her nerves when she was actually looking at the information on the screen.
The ad in the paper read as if he was the son of a relative of one of the Kents. Vague as it was, it intrigued Lois. Call it reporter's instinct, but she definitely couldn't let this drop. Another search told her Jonathan had one brother, James. Martha had one sister, Opal, and a brother, Daniel. James died in the Vietnam War before he had any children. Opal lived in Metropolis, no children to her credit at all. Daniel had three children, all alive, well, and living near him and his wife in Arizona. The search soon narrowed on cousins and in-laws. Three hours later Lois was drawing a blank. None of the relatives she researched had a baby in 1966. Clark had told her his birthday was February 28, 1966. Whomever he had come from, a relative was not one of them.
She sat back in her chair exasperated that she couldn't find what she was looking for. Why did Clark's birth and adoption bother her so much? And why was it she could still recall nearly every word he'd said to her that night? Clark still bothered her and she hated to admit that. She never had before. Taking a deep breath, she brushed it off as being curiosity. Other than the things they'd shared with each other, Lois knew nothing at all about Clark Kent.
"That's all this is, Lois," she told herself. "You're just curious because you don't know everything about everything."
That had become one of Lois' faults as she tried to move on after the birth of her son. She would never know a thing about her baby other than the fact that he was a boy and what little she knew about his father. She would always know he would be raised in Smallville with loving grandparents and would probably be a lot like his father when he was grown. That would be where it ended. Clark had sent numerous letters. She'd returned them, deciding it was better if she were to make a clean break.
With all she would never know, Lois made it a rule to find out everything she possibly could about anything else she ever came in contact with. That was why she had been valedictorian of her senior class despite being pregnant and giving birth just weeks before graduation. Again she received top honors of her college class, painfully fighting and recovering from all the demons that had followed her through her days. And that was also the reason she was at the top of her field in only a few short years in a profession that was reserved mostly for men. That incurable thirst for knowledge drove her to be tough and withdrawn. She might enjoy success professionally, but personally she hid behind an invisible wall to protect her from the pain she'd endured all those years ago. The same pain she would endure for the rest of her life.
"Excuse me, Miss. The library is about to close."
Lois was jolted back to her senses by the voice of the little old librarian. Lois had been here all day. "Sorry," she replied sheepishly.
Lois smiled at the friendly woman as she gathered up her things and headed toward the door. A thought entered her mind. She stopped and turned back to the librarian. "Could I ask you a question?"
"Have you lived in Smallville your whole life?"
"Born and raised. I'm afraid I'll die here as well. Thinking about moving here?"
"Oh no. I wanted to know about someone that lives here. You see, I work for the Daily Planet newspaper and I'm doing a story on one of your citizens." She bit the inside of her lip as the lie slipped easily from her mouth. She had questions, and since asking from the source was not possible, she'd do the next best thing.
"Who is it, sweetie? I'll be happy to tell you anything I can."
The woman smiled at the mention of his name. "Little Clarkie. Yes, I know him well. Taught him third grade, then piano for six years. Wonderful student, excellent child, and even better man." The woman moved past Lois to lock the door. "Come have a cup of tea, and I'll tell you all I know about Clark."
Lois followed the woman into her office. She sat across the desk from the elderly lady as she watched her fragile hands prepare them a cup of tea. "Thank you," Lois told the woman when she set the cup down.
"You're welcome." The lady sipped carefully, then lowered her cup. "Clark Kent. Well, I guess you know he is the only son of Martha and Jonathan Kent?" At Lois' nod, she continued. "They adopted him, you know. Martha got the fever in '58. Made her barren. Everyone thought Jonathan would leave her, but he just loved her more instead. Loving couple those two. Always showing affection in public. I thought it was so cute. They endured droughts, tornadoes, and failed crops along with not being able to have children. When they got Clark, the whole town rejoiced for them."
"Did they get him from an agency?"
"Oh no. All the agencies told them they were too old. They were only in their thirties for heaven's sake. Anyway, Martha had a cousin from out west that got herself into a state at the tender age of fifteen. Her parents decided she should give the boy to Martha and Jonathan. And what a wonderful choice. That woman was the best mother these old eyes had ever seen. Jonathan was the doting father. There's no way you could have ever told them that baby wasn't theirs. Still can't."
The woman laughed and sipped her tea again. "Like I said before, Clark was a wonderful child: polite, well-behaved, and smart as a whip. He was at the head of his class every year and excelled in sports. Graduated with honors, receiving offers for a scholarship in academics and athletics from several colleges across the country. His parents were proud as peacocks. Course, the summer after his graduation, he made a few mistakes that cost him his passage out of Smallville."
"Mistakes? What mistakes?" Lois knew perfectly well what she meant. She just wanted to hear the local version of their boy scout's fall from grace.
"Clark met a girl that summer. He found out in the fall that she was in the family way. Oh, that boy was just beside himself. He wanted to send for her, marry her, and take care of their baby. Her parents would have none of that. They saw the whole thing as a huge mistake. They wanted her to…" the woman leaned over the desk and whispered, "… get rid of the baby. You know, adopt him out."
Lois feigned shock. She knew small town folks saw things entirely differently than those from the city. "Did she?"
"No. Somehow her parents allowed her to carry the child, but she still didn't keep the little guy." The woman chuckled softly. "Thank God she let the father have him."
"Ah, Clark has the child?"
"Oh, yes. He never had to think twice about it. He handed in his scholarship to Midwest University and came home to go to community college over in Dalton. Clark worked at night after classes when the baby was sleeping, not wanting to leave him to anyone else's care any longer than he had to. Everywhere you saw that boy he was carrying that baby proudly. And he was a wonderful father. Still is.
"As soon as he finished getting his degree, he and the boy took a place in town. He went to work for Mr. Parsons at the paper and you know what?"
"He became editor of the Post last year when Mr. Parsons retired."
"He's an editor?"
"Well sure. But didn't you know that?"
"Well, ah, yeah. I just forgot. I have so many stories going at once I sometimes get them confused."
"You should prioritize, honey."
"I'll keep that in mind. So, what's going on in Clark's life now?"
"He's the editor of the Post, as I said. He moved back out to the farm to be close enough to help his parents. His boy is a happy and healthy young man. He's just like his father at that age: bright, athletic, and well behaved. Pity though."
"Of all the things Clark can give the boy, his mother isn't one of them. That girl has never even written to inquire about him. Yet, Clark insists that she loves him."
Lois was blown away. Clark actually told people she loved her son. How could he know something she didn't even know herself?
"You know," the woman told Lois. "He never has talked about another girl the way he did that one. He sure must have loved her."
"Wh… why would you say that?"
"Most men would have moved on, found a mother for their child. Clark has never been close. He's dated, still does. Just never lets them get close to that boy. Guess he doesn't want to put that child through a relationship that might end up worse than the one he's already living through."
Lois took in the woman's words carefully. One thing jumped out at her. Clark had been devastated by her pregnancy, and he'd wanted to marry her. Of course that was something she was never aware of. Not that it would have made a difference. They were only children themselves. Marriage would have been a huge mistake. She knew that much when her parents had given her that option. She would have regretted marrying Clark and in time so would he.
She met the woman's gaze again. "I want to thank you for talking to me."
"No problem. I don't spend time talking to many pretty young ladies these days." Lois blushed from the compliment. "Well," she said, standing. "You better get on over to the diner for a bite to eat. The dance is starting in an hour. You could get a lot of information on Clark there. He'll even be there."
"Thank you." She shook the woman's hand and stepped out onto the sidewalk. How had an investigation on Trask turned into a curiosity hunt on Clark? Lois stopped in her tracks. Clark was born in 1966. He lived on the Kent farm, not more than a mile from where all the government activity had been taking place. Could he be the fixation of Trask's overactive imagination? And if he was, what could that mean?
As much as she hated to admit it, she could get much farther if she talked to Clark. He was the editor of the local paper. Surely he'd know about the recent activity. However, if this story had to die right here and now, Clark Kent was one person she would not speak to. That decided, she entered the diner for dinner.
Clark finally managed to put thoughts of Lois Lane to the back of his mind. He picked Lana up for the dance and within an hour, his mood was much better than it had been.
He liked Lana, probably even loved her. He just wasn't sure if that love was what successful, long-lasting relationships were built on. Clark loved spending time with Lana and they had spent a few nights kissing passionately on her sofa. But each time she tried to take things further, Clark pulled away. After all these years, it was still impossible to forget the only time he'd ever felt alive, like a man.
With those thoughts came a whole new set of problems and worries. He didn't tell Lois about himself that night. No one but his parents and son knew that he was really a very different kind of person. And then of course, he and Lois had made another life that night. Growing up he'd wondered if he would ever be able to father a child here on Earth. He found out for sure long before he witnessed the hologram contained in the small globe that had guided him to Shuster's field that May night. The hologram of his birth father put to rest any other doubts he'd harbored about not being a real man. Clark had been sent to Earth because it was Krypton's sister planet and in fact, both were completely compatible with each other, including biologically. The only difference between the two had been the red and yellow suns. That, his father had theorized, would give him some pretty incredible abilities one day. Well, that he was all too aware of.
Those abilities were absolutely extraordinary. Although he'd kept the secret all his life, he never had been able to stop the feeling that he should be helping with those gifts. And the older he got, the more he wanted to help. He just didn't want to jeopardize his private life or his family to do it.
'Enough,' Clark thought to himself. 'Just enjoy your evening with your beautiful date.'
He smiled and took Lana's hand in his for another dance.
Lois continued to roll thoughts of the government cover-up and Clark Kent around in her head, more so of Clark. And with thoughts of Clark, came thoughts of their son. That was one place she didn't want to drift. It would be so easy to just take a peek, see him for herself. She'd know some of those things she'd thought she never would. But it would also be too easy to fall into that self-pity she'd lived with for so long after he was born. Truth be known, it wasn't all self-pity. A great deal was guilt.
She felt guilty for giving him up. Lois had walked away. Clark was the one who was there. He was the one who had sacrificed his future because she wasn't strong enough to help raise their son. He'd cared for the baby that grew to be a young boy. He'd supported him and loved him. She had only looked ahead, refusing to look back. She'd buried herself in her work so she wouldn't think about the small life she would never touch, never be part of. She had run. While that might have been because of being intimidated by her parents to begin with, they hadn't kept her from going to him after she'd left home. She'd done that all by herself.
All of a sudden Lois was sick. She ran into her washroom, emptying her dinner into the toilet. Honesty was a mean monster. And for the first time in her life, she admitted she'd made huge mistakes where her son was concerned.
Knowing it was too late and that she couldn't change things, Lois sank to the floor. She allowed herself to feel all the pain she'd buried so long ago. There, in the silence of the room, she cried for all she'd given up.
Having cried all her tears, Lois forced herself to get up and make her way to the dance on the square. The quicker she gathered a few quotes for her article, the quicker she could leave this place. She needed to put as much distance between her and the things she'd done as soon as possible. She knew now she would never out run her demons, but she could at least continue to give her son what she always had: a good life without the threat of ever seeing her.
Lois rounded a corner, her attention on the passing car that held some rather loud teenagers. She wasn't paying attention to where she was going and didn't see the kissing couple until she bumped into them.
"Oh, I'm so…" She froze. Her eyes were locked with the one person she hadn't wanted to get this close to. Suddenly the only thing she could think of was remaining absolutely still. Maybe he wouldn't recognize her.
Clark, too, was in shock. He was inches from the woman who had occupied all his thoughts today. As if frozen, he just stood there.
Lana noticed the strange reaction from Clark and this intruder. She forced a smile across her lips and cleared her throat. "Clark? Are you okay?"
He blinked several times before her words registered. "Ah, I'm…" His eyes darted between Lois and Lana, resting again on Lois. "H… how are you?" he asked Lois, forgetting he'd been addressing Lana at all.
"You know her?" Lana wasn't letting him forget.
Clark ignored her question, patiently waiting for an answer. Lois finally dropped her gaze to her feet for several moments before looking up at him again. "I'm… okay. You?"
"I'm okay. You, ah, you… look great."
"Th… thank you. So do you."
Lana had had enough of this. She leaned in front of Clark with her hand extended to Lois. "Hi. I'm Lana Lang. I'm Clark's girlfriend."
Lois blinked, seeming to finally notice Lana. "Hi. Lois Lane."
"The Lois Lane? Why, Clark, I didn't know you knew her?"
"Yeah. I met Lois several years ago. This is the first time I've seen her since then." There was so much underlying current in that comment. And his eyes never left hers, a thousand questions racing around in his mind.
"That's nice. So, Ms. Lane, what brings you to our little town?"
"Ah, the government activity."
That temporarily piqued Clark's interest. "Why is the Planet interested in local ground water testing?"
"Why isn't the town?" Lois countered. "According to the reports I've read, tests were run in the eighties for what they say they're looking for now."
"I read those myself," Clark relented. "What do you think is going on?"
"I had thought it was some big conspiracy until today. I had a run in with the commander of the operation. Seems he believes there is a threat to the world of possible alien attack."
Lana laughed at that, but Clark's expression flashed a hint of terror for just a second. Lois blinked several times before stammering, "Well, I need to get a few quotes so I can wrap this thing up. No story here that a good psychiatrist couldn't handle. Nice to see you again, Clark."
"Wait. When are you going back?" Lois might need to run again, but Clark saw this as the one and only chance he'd probably ever get to talk to her.
"I could… give you some articles you might not have on this thing."
"That's okay. Like I said, they think there are aliens. I think the Planet should get as far from this as possible. Ms. Lang, nice to meet you. Clark."
Lois stepped around them, only to be stopped by a hand on her arm.
She looked back into the pleading eyes of Clark Kent. "Take care of yourself," he said softly.
Her eyes began to sting with unshed tears. She pulled away and hurried down the sidewalk without responding. His voice was so sad, so full of emotion. If she didn't get away from him, she would break down. And that was something she had no intention of explaining.
Clark watched in pure agony as Lois retreated into the darkness. He wanted her to say more just so he could hear her voice. If he'd thought she was beautiful when she was sixteen, she was absolutely gorgeous now. Although she was obviously affected by their meeting, she still appeared not to want to face the things that hung between them. He turned his attention back to his date when he heard her raise her voice.
"You haven't heard a word, have you?"
"Sorry. Guess I didn't expect to see her tonight."
"Obviously. Just who is she to you anyway?"
"Someone I thought I knew once." Clark looked in the direction Lois had gone, then back at Lana. "How about I walk you home? I don't feel so well."
"I wish I could affect you that way."
"My God, Clark. You lost all your senses when you saw her. Apparently she still means something to you."
"That's ridiculous. I haven't seen Lois in eight years."
"And if I have anything to say about it, it will be eight more before you see her again."
Clark felt his temperature rise. Lana was angry and had no right to be. After all, he was here with her, wasn't he? "Why is this woman such a threat to you?"
"A threat? Please. I could care less about Lois Lane. I just feel that if you haven't seen her in all these years, you shouldn't react this way."
"And just what way is that?"
"Like some love sick school boy. She's Lois Lane, Clark. She doesn't have time for you."
"What does that mean?"
"Lois is a different breed of woman altogether. She lives to advance her career. I know her type. I used to be her. She only wants to use people to get what she wants. Probably sleeps around to bag all those great stories."
"Lana, I thought better of you than that. I didn't know you could be so crass."
Lana stared at Clark. "You were in love with her, weren't you?"
"That's not the point here."
"It is the point. You had feelings for this girl and seeing her again showed you the cold reality. She's not the same person you remembered."
"No, she's not!" Clark snapped. He couldn't understand why Lana was upsetting him so, but she was. He wanted her to hush. Lois Lane was the mother of his son. In his eyes, this meant more than Lana would ever know. "Lois is nothing like the person I remember. If she was, she would have been here!"
"What are you talking about?"
Clark took a deep breath. "Look, I would just like to take a nice long walk. Call me later so I know you made it home all right."
"But I thought you were walking me home?"
"Lana, please." He started to say something else, but thought better of it. He stuffed his fists in his pockets and walked away, leaving Lana in stunned silence.
Seeing Lois from a distance was one thing. Standing close enough to touch her was another. Clark knew he had been in love with Lois. Her absence had left an ache that buried itself deep within his very soul. It had taken years for him to get past her enough to go on with his life. Having a child depend on you for its very life helped ease the pain, but it hadn't taken it away.
Until tonight Clark hadn't realized just how angry he was with Lois. He was angry because she had been so likable. He was angry with her for saying yes that night. He was angry for her refusing to talk to him or see the baby. He was angry with her for sending her child to a stranger and never even checking to see if the child was okay. He was angry because she hadn't even mentioned their baby's existence tonight. Most of all he was angry with himself, for not trying to do something long before now.
Clark looked up to where his walk had led him. He was standing on the rocks of the quarry. The place where he'd first spoken to the person that would change his life forever. All his life he'd wanted to feel a connection to this world. He had that night, with her. If he was honest, he did again tonight when he saw her.
Lois had stopped running when she realized she was well out of town. The darkness engulfed her body the way it invaded her soul. Why did all this have to happen tonight? She should have argued with Perry more. She should have taken the dog show piece. Coming here had been a mistake waiting to happen. The more she tried to make herself believe she could just move past this, the more she had to admit she wasn't sure she wanted to.
Earlier, after she'd gotten sick in her room, Lois had faced some horrible realities. She'd made terrible mistakes. She hadn't even allowed herself to feel her pregnancy beyond the slight physical discomfort. Of course, her father had made sure she had plenty of pain medication throughout the delivery. She wouldn't have known the sex of the baby had it not been for a nurse that looked as if she knew exactly what Lois was feeling.
But how could she? Lois hadn't known herself. The months following the delivery had been awful. She was missing something she never knew she'd had. That baby *had* been hers. He had grown inside her and her body had given him life. And he'd spent the last seven years of his life unaware of the fact that his mother thought about him nearly everyday. She tried desperately not to do it. Even lied to herself that she hadn't. None of it stopped her though. If not but just a single thought, she'd thought of him every day.
After seeing Clark, and after endless walking and thinking, she had to admit she would very much like to see him, just once. Even if it was from a distance, she'd like to know what he looked like. She'd refused letters from Clark back then, knowing they probably contained pictures. If she'd allowed herself that indulgence, she would never have been able to stay away from him. With all her honesty, came the sad knowledge of just what kind of person she was. And her son had certainly been better off not to have known her.
The back screen creaked as Clark pulled it shut. His mom had left the kitchen door open so the house would fill with the cool night air. When he stepped onto the porch, he realized she was sitting at the kitchen table.
"Mom? What are you doing up so late?" Clark placed a kiss on her cheek.
"Hi, honey. I couldn't sleep without your father in the bed with me."
"Where's he at?" Clark asked as he sat down.
"He took Lane to camp out in the tree house for the night."
"Ahh. He's got to learn to say no to that kid once in a while."
"I don't think Jonathan will ever be able to say no to that child. Oh, Clark, he's so much like you when you were little."
Clark chuckled, fiddling with a napkin. When he didn't look back up at his mom, she knew something was on his mind.
"Want to tell me about it?"
Clark's lips drew into a smile as he met his mother's gaze. "You know me so well."
"Even as a child, it was hard for you to cover your emotions." She placed a hand on his. "What is it, Clark?"
"Mom," he began, but had to stop when tears filled his eyes. His mother tightened her grip on his hands, conveying silent support. "I saw her," he whispered.
"Her?" Her brows knitted in confusion for a moment before understanding dawned. "When? Where?"
"Tonight. Here, in Smallville."
"What?!" She drew her hand to her face. "She's come for Lane!"
"No, Mom. She didn't even mention him."
"Then what does she want?"
"Actually, I saw her last night in town. I kept telling myself all day that it was just my overactive imagination. But we bumped into each other tonight, literally. After the shock wore off, she told me she was here looking into that water testing the government has been doing. She knows they're not looking for contaminated water, too. Said the guy in charge told her they were looking for aliens. She thinks he's crazy." Clark looked down at his hands. "Mom, I felt so many things when I saw her. Fear, anger, excitement…"
"And how do you feel now?"
"Honestly, I don't know. I just can't understand how she could… walk away." He looked back up at her. "I was so angry at her. I wanted to yank her up and shake some sense into her. Lane's the greatest. How can she not want to know him?"
"Honey, I can't begin to tell you I understand what she's gone through or is still going through. But have you ever stopped to think that maybe she's not quite sure herself? You of all people should understand some of the things she may have been through."
"Kind of 'put yourself in her shoes' kind of thing?" His mom nodded. "I know you're right."
"No. No buts… just an 'I don't know'."
"Mom, I know it sounds crazy, but I want to see her. Talk to her. Not to force Lane on her. Just as a… friend. More than anything I think that's the one thing Lois has lacked."
"You're probably right, son. You've had us and Lane all this time. Lois may not have had anyone. If you feel you should see her, then do it. The worst that could happen is that she'll tell you to get lost… or take Lane."
"Mom, she's not going to take Lane."
"How do you know?"
"I just do. Tonight, when I saw her, I could almost feel her confusion and pain. She's not heartless, she's just hurting."
"And my boy scout wants to help her?"
Martha laughed softly as she reached to take his hands again. "I often wonder what things would have been like if her parents had let her keep the baby or you two had married. Somehow I know everything would have been okay no matter what."
"That's because you raised a smart boy."
"You better believe it." Martha cupped his cheek, his hand closed over hers. "Now go! I'm sure if you don't see her tonight, she'll be gone tomorrow."
"Yeah. She said as much." Clark placed a kiss on his mom's cheek. "Thanks, Mom." He let his fingers linger on the back of her hand before he turned and left.
Lois continued the aimless walking as she tried to think of various ways to get a look at her son. She didn't want Clark or the Kents thinking she was here to cause trouble. The boy didn't know her. The last thing she wanted was to disrupt his life. She was certain he didn't understand what she'd done. Heck, she didn't understand herself, and the last thing she wanted was to hurt the little guy… or Clark.
Lois stopped when she heard voices. Looking around, she realized she was in the edge of someone's yard. The voices were coming from a tree house a few feet from her. Curiosity being her weakness, she moved closer to the tree to listen to the conversation.
"And what about that one, Grandpa? Do you think that one's got a little boy on it my age?"
"Could be, boy. Look here. These look like a hunter with his arrow drawn."
"Wow! They do. You're good at this. I wouldn't have seen that one if you didn't show me." A long silence fell between them. The little boy's voice broke it again. "Grandpa, do you think my mommy ever thinks about me?"
"Oh, I'm sure she does."
"Sometimes, I look up at the stars and imagine that she's looking at them, too."
"Maybe she is, Lane. Maybe she is."
Lois stilled when she heard the man say that name. Could it be? She made a quick survey of her surroundings. The light coming from the security lamp near the house cast just enough of a glow for the massive barn to be visible in the distance. Though it was in the shadows, there was no mistaking that particular building. She was at the Kent farm. And that was her son talking up in that tree house.
She stifled her gasp with her hand. His name was Lane. Clark had named him with a direct reference to her. And he wondered about her. That meant his father talked to him about her. She was slowly forming the character she thought Clark was.
Understanding gave way to clarity. She needed to get away before she was found here. Lois didn't want Clark to think she was here to cause them further heartache. She slipped back into the shadows. Before long she was running again, trying desperately to outrun her very own self.
Lois rounded a corner and ran into someone for the second time that night. Fear gripped her when the implication set in. She was in the middle of nowhere, suddenly not so alone.
"Hey, hey, hey. Are you all right?"
That voice. She recognized that voice. "Clark?"
He turned his body and in the dim light of the moon so each could see the other. "Lois? Are you okay? What are you doing so far out?"
"I'm fine. I was just… running."
"Little late for exercise."
"I wasn't exercising."
"Oh. I was on my way to see you," he said after a silence.
"You were? Why?" Lois drew a deep breath, then held up her hand. "Never mind. I know why. Don't worry. I don't intend to cause you any trouble."
"I know. Actually, I thought maybe you could use a cup of coffee and a little conversation."
"You want to drink coffee and talk?" She eyed him skeptically before she continued. "I get it. Clark, we could drink coffee and talk for the next twenty years, and I don't think I'd ever be able to tell you why I did all I've done. I've spent the last twenty four hours trying to answer that myself."
"I just want to know why you never called. You could have at least done that. Didn't you want to know how he was?"
"Yes! You'll never know just how much I wanted to know. But what was done was done. He was better off without me."
"What?! Lois, you're his mother!"
"Don't you think I know that?!" Her voice bordered on hysterical. "Clark, I have missed him everyday of his life."
"You sure have a funny way of showing it!"
"What was I supposed to do? Just show up out of the blue and say, 'Hi. Sorry I haven't been around. I would like to see my son now.'"
"That would have been a start."
"Yes, really!" Clark flinched as pain surged behind Lois' eyes. "Lois," he said in a calmer voice. "I know we can't go back and change the past, but we can go forward. He's here now, and he needs desperately to know the woman that gave him life."
"I think you need to know him, too."
Lois stared up into Clark's dark, intent eyes. The compassion behind them was something she'd never seen in a man's eyes. Slowly she dropped her gaze, the tears spilling down her cheek.
"Lois." Clark reached out to lay his hand on her arm, but she pulled away.
"He doesn't need me," she whispered. She turned and resumed her run.
Clark was sitting on a bench outside the office of the motel Lois was staying at when she ran up. He had flown overhead to make sure she arrived back okay. When he knew for sure she was going back to her room, he went ahead to wait on her. This time she wasn't leaving without talking to him.
She stopped when she saw him stand up. "How did you get here so fast?"
"Doesn't matter. Lois, could we talk? Please."
She brushed past him and walked down the breezeway toward her room. "There's nothing to talk about."
"His name's Lane. Jonathan Lane," Clark called behind her. Lois stopped with her hand on her doorknob. "He has your eyes and your fire. He's in second grade; makes all A's and reads on a fourth grade level. He's absolutely amazing. You should see him. Loves to fish and he's started writing. In fact, his essay entry at the festival won first prize. Excellent story. You should read it." Clark extended a piece of paper to her. When she didn't move, he started to read it.
"'You should see her. She's beautiful. Her long black hair touches her shoulders as it moves in the wind. Her big, brown eyes are bright. And her hands are so soft. Her touch is gentle.
But the most amazing thing is her smile. It covers her whole face and lights up any room she's in. I love her smile.
Happy, that's the way I like to think of her. In my thoughts, she's perfect. She's never angry and she always has time for me. She's stronger than she looks because when she holds me I know she would protect me with her life.
The topic of this year's essay was to describe some of your favorite things. Some of mine are thinking about my mother. That's all I can do. You see, even though I think she's the best mom in the whole world, I've never met her… except in my heart.'"
Lois was sobbing by the time Clark finished reading the essay. Without thought, he closed the distance between them and took her in his arms. She just buried her face in his chest and allowed the tears to wash away the pain that ate at her heart. When she calmed, Clark slipped the key to her room from her hand and opened the door without letting her go. He leaned to lift her into his arms and carried her to the bed. When he put her down, she rolled over and buried her face in the pillows. Clark eased to the edge of the bed.
"Lois," he started softly. "I can't begin to say I know what you've gone through, but I do know a little about some of the things you've felt. No matter what's happened, Lane has always known who you are. I've never tried to hide you from him. You're the reason he's alive. We've spent many long nights talking about the person I remembered you to be and the kind of person we thought you were now. And I've always told him that you love him. No, I didn't tell him that you would come to see him someday because I simply didn't know. What I did know was what I felt that night in your arms. Anybody that can love like that definitely loves her child."
Clark reached out and rubbed her arm. "I am so sorry you were alone. I wish you'd let me in. We could have gone through this together." He squeezed her arm gently. "Why don't you think about at least seeing him before you go back? No one will force you, but the option is open to you. We'll be home all day tomorrow." He stood up and made his way to the door. "If I don't see you again, I meant it earlier when I said you look good. You're even more beautiful now than you were eight years ago. And no matter how painful this has been, it really was good to see you again… Goodnight, Lois." With that, he pulled the door closed behind him.
Lois rolled onto her back. He'd said Lane knew about her. The essay said the boy loved her even though he'd never met her. Clark had even said she could see him. He was exactly the same as he was then; the most caring, giving, and trusting person she'd ever met. But could she upset any of them by seeing Lane? She knew she had no right to put the little fellow through any more undue pain. She didn't need any more either. Right now though, seeing her son was the only thing she wanted to do.
Lois watched from her car as the older man climbed from the tree house. Unable to sleep the night before, she'd driven around aimlessly. She ended up at the edge of the field near the tree house where she'd heard his voice the night before. She decided to just catch a quick glimpse of him. That would satisfy her enough to move on with her life again.
It had to.
Lois gasped softly when he emerged from the little building.
He was the boy she'd seen dancing with the older woman the first night in town. Clark was right. He was incredible, even from this distance. His happy laughter drifted on the air as he ran after his grandfather. The man ruffled his hair, then pulled him into his side. A small arm encircled the large man's back as they made their way to the house.
How had she walked away from him? Lane was obviously a great little person. Suddenly Lois was sick again. She launched herself from the car so she could empty her stomach. The nausea gave way to yet more tears. Life was just so cruel.
"Score!" Clark yelled as the basketball fell into the net.
"Come on, Dad. You're bigger than me. It's not fair."
"Not fair?" The boy took advantage of his father's distraction to knock the ball from his hands. "Hey!" Clark watched with delight as Lane heaved the ball up to the net.
"Score!" The boy mimicked his father's earlier words.
Clark laughed softly as his son celebrated dramatically. His smile faded as his super hearing picked up another sound. He tuned in to hear soft feminine laughter. Looking around, he saw the source to be a woman in a car just outside the gate parked on the side of the road. He x-rayed the car to discover that it was Lois. He couldn't help the smile that found its way to his lips. She may not be here with them, but she had made a step in that direction.
Lois' laughter faded when she noticed Clark looking her way. She expected him to indicate her presence somehow. However, he resumed the ball game with Lane, apparently content to just let her sit there and watch. And he didn't appear to be pointing her out to Lane. She was quickly learning that Clark Kent was the most trusting soul she'd ever known.
"Clark, honey, do you know there's a car sitting in front of the house?" his mom asked him as he stepped up onto the porch a while later.
"Yes, ma'am. It's Lois."
"Really?" Martha glanced in the direction of the car.
"I think she needs a little time."
"Bless her heart. So I take it you saw her last night?"
"Yes. She said Lane was better off without her."
"Oh dear. What must she think of herself?" Martha's motherly concern quickly kicked in. This lady might have the power to take away an important person in their lives, but she'd never be able to treat her badly, especially when the younger woman was obviously hurting.
"I know, Mom. She was so sad. The pain I saw in her eyes shouldn't have to be endured by anyone. I told her a little about Lane. I think she was shocked he had her name." Clark looked out at his son throwing the ball up at the net. "I read his essay to her."
"I can't imagine how that felt," Martha whispered.
"It was painful. She broke down. All these years I've been right. She does love him."
"Of course she does, honey. She wouldn't have fought so hard against her parents to send him to you if she didn't love him."
"I told her she could come see him."
"Good. Maybe she'll actually make it all the way to the house before his bedtime."
Clark laughed softly as he took his mom's hand. "Have I told you lately that you're the best?"
"No, but now's a good time."
Clark smiled and accepted the hug his mom was offering. "I love you," he told her when he pulled back.
"I love you, son."
"Dad, I'm going to help Grandpa," Lane yelled when he tired of tossing the basketball.
"Okay. Just be careful." Clark waved at Lane before he ran off across the field to find his grandfather. Helping with the trot lines at the pond was one his favorite things. It gave him an excuse to get wet.
Clark noticed a few minutes later that Lois was walking toward the house. He met her half way. "Hi."
"Hey," she said, still looking in the direction Lane had gone. Her gaze slowly met Clark's. "Thanks for letting me sit."
"Lois, I meant it when I said you could see him. If you prefer to do it from a hundred yards away so be it."
"Why, Clark? Why are you so willing to let me into his life?"
"Because you're his mother."
"A mother he knows nothing about."
"He may not know you with his mind, but he does with his heart."
Lois just stood and looked at Clark. This man was incredible himself. He was letting her call the shots, even though she hadn't been part of their son's life since his birth. What had she done to deserve that respect?
"You're even better looking in the light," Lois commented absently, trying to cut through the thick emotions that lay on the air and saying the first thing that came to her mind.
"Thank you. So are you." Clark gave her one of his best smiles.
Lois felt faint. He did have the most gorgeous smile. She found herself smiling back, but quickly dropped her head as the heat crept up her face.
"I didn't mean to embarrass you," he told her.
"No, no. I did that myself." Unable to believe she'd let her thoughts slip from her traitorous mouth, Lois looked around the farm her son called home. "Nice place for a growing boy."
"Absolutely. He loves it here. He'd probably love the city, too. He has the most insatiable appetite for knowledge. He wants to know everything about everything."
Lois chuckled softly. "So do I. I hate being kept in the dark." She grew silent as she realized the irony of that statement. Clark was about to say something else when she spoke again. "I guess I figured with all I'd never know…" She let the rest of her sentence trail off.
"You never had to be kept in the dark. I would have been content to share him with you, even if it was only from a distance."
Lois looked up at him with tears in her eyes. "I'm beginning to realize that now," she whispered.
Clark's heart clenched tight in his chest. He hated to see her in this much pain. Yet, he didn't know her well enough to help her. They shared a son and a piece of him loved her very deeply for that, but the fact still remained that he didn't know Lois at all. Everything he'd learned about her during their short time together had been contradicted the day he found out about Lane.
She turned back to gaze out at the field again. "My mind is telling to me go, just leave him alone. But my heart… my heart wants to see him up close, talk to him," she finished on a sob.
"Lois, I told you last night that option was open to you."
"And what if I see him, Clark? Then leave? He'll be upset. I don't want to do that to him."
"And what if you see him and can't leave?" Lois' eyes widened. "It is entirely possible that you will meet him and fall so completely in love with him that you'll want to be part of his life."
"I know I did. I do every day. You can't know Lane and not want that. He is the most incredible person alive."
"And… and… what if that does happen? Are you willing to let me be part of his life?"
"Absolutely," Clark answered without hesitation.
"Clark…" Lois swiped at the tears on her cheeks. "I live in Metropolis."
"So? He's always wanted to see the city."
Lois simply stared at Clark for several moments before she spoke. "I've never met anyone like you," she told him softly.
"I hope not," he told her with a smile. She finally allowed the one playing behind her lips to spread out. "Wow. You have a great smile. You should do it more often."
She ducked her head again and scuffed her foot in the dirt. "This is… well, it's a lot to take in all at once."
"I understand. You forget, I've been there."
Lois met his gaze again. "I guess you have." They were silent for a moment while they tried to gather their thoughts, neither exactly sure what to say next. She glanced around at the field, half wanting the boy to come running back toward the house. "I think…" She gestured behind her with her head. "I'm not quite ready… yet."
Clark sighed heavily. He had to remember no matter how badly he wanted Lane to meet his mother, the decision was entirely Lois'. "Okay."
She nodded briefly and turned to go back to her car.
Clark watched as she got in and drove away. He looked down sadly at his mother when she touched his arm.
"Oh, Clark. Now I know where Lane gets his incredible looks."
"Yeah. She's even more beautiful now than she was then."
"Do you think she'll want to meet him?"
Clark took another glance to where Lois had been before smiling down at his mother. "I sure hope so." He wrapped his arm around her and led them back to the house.
How had he gone from such intense anger for the woman that had abandoned her child to this feeling of compassion for the scared little girl he'd just seen? Easy… his love for Lane. He'd do anything for his son. As much as he would hate to have to leave Smallville, he'd take Lane to Metropolis just to be close to Lois if she ever expressed the desire that that was something she wanted.
Lois paced back and forth in her small room the rest of the afternoon after seeing her son, then had lain awake all night. Clark told her she could see Lane. Did she want to? A huge part of her did. Just as huge a part wanted to get on a plane and go back to Metropolis and pretend none of this had ever happened. Her rational side told her that would never be possible again. She would be unable to wipe the image of the small boy from her mind. And what was more, she was beginning to think she didn't want to.
She looked down at her watch. Clark should be at the paper. Maybe she would go talk to him once more. Just as she was about to leave, the phone rang.
"Yes. Who is this?"
"This is Martha Kent. Lois, would Clark happen to be there?"
"He left just before dark last night to go to his office after he got a call. He said he wouldn't be long, but he hasn't been home. I'm starting to get worried. I thought maybe he'd stopped by to talk to you at some point."
"No. I haven't seen him."
"Thank you. Sorry to have bothered you."
"Wait! Mrs. Kent, does Clark do this often? Disappear for long periods?"
"No, of course not. He likes to eat breakfast with Lane. He wouldn't miss that unless something serious had detained him."
Lois was even worried now. Her mind tried to process what little she knew about Clark. "Did you call his other friends? He was with a woman the other night."
"Yes. I called everyone. Lana hasn't seen him. She and Clark had a disagreement so she wasn't very helpful at all."
"Oh." An idea came to Lois. "Do you think he might be looking into this government excavation mess?" She had completely forgotten about everything but Lane, even the story she'd been sent to get.
"Who knows? Sometimes I think the boy looks for trouble."
Lois couldn't help but smile. That's what Perry told her about herself. "If I hear from him, I'll let you know."
"Thank you… And Lois?"
"The invitation to see Lane comes from myself and my husband as well as Clark. Lane's mother has always and will always be welcome at our home."
Lois was so shocked she had to grab the small table for support. "Th… thank you, Mrs. Kent," she managed after a moment. "You don't know what that means."
Lois listened to the dial tone for several moments before the problem at hand came back to her. Clark was missing? Where could he have gone? Everything she'd learned about him told her the man was the most responsible person she'd ever met. Why would he just disappear?
She snatched up the keys to the rental car and left to see if she could help the man she suddenly wanted to get to know a lot better.
Lois' destination was the newspaper where Clark worked, but a plain white van she passed got her attention. It may not have if she hadn't recognized the driver. He was one of the officers she'd seen with Trask the other day. She quickly followed the vehicle at a distance.
It had taken the better part of an hour but finally the van pulled up to a dilapidated old shack. She parked her car in the trees and crept closer. When the officer opened the door, she saw Clark sitting at a table and Trask paced back and forth in front of him. She thought the Colonel was supposed have gone back to Washington.
Within seconds, Lois was close enough to hear the conversation inside the building.
"We can stay here forever, Kent. You are going to tell me what you know about the alien."
"I don't know what you're talking about. I've told you the same things over and over again."
"And I've told you! An alien creature landed here as an infant. You see the small craft. Even you can't deny that is an alien vessel."
Lois had to see this spaceship. She stood on her tiptoes to peek through the window. A shiny gray… spaceship?… Whatever it was sat on top of a table in the corner.
"This landed the same year you were born. I think the alien has somehow infiltrated you into his plans. All I want to know is when will the invasion take place? How many will there be?"
Clark simply heaved a breath, but didn't speak again.
"Maybe if you had some persuasion to talk. Say… your son."
"You leave my son out of this!" Clark barked at the man.
"Touchy, touchy. Tell me, were you the first to taste that fire?"
"The fire that's known as 'Mad Dog Lane'? I'll bet she was a hottie even at sixteen." Trask seemed to be baiting Clark even more.
Clark shot to his feet only to be subdued by two officers.
Trask grinned widely. "I see she's still a sore spot. You know, I talked to her the other day. She's nowhere near as intimidating in person as I'd heard she was. I would have thought abandoning her child the way she did, she would have been fire and ice."
Clark jerked away from the men holding him and before anyone knew what had happened, he was holding Trask against the wall in a death grip. "Let's get one thing straight. Lois Lane and Lane Kent have nothing to do with this. If you feel I'm connected to your insane ravings, then you deal with me. And I suggest you shut your mouth."
Trask stared Clark down. After a moment, the young editor's mild manners returned and Trask was released.
"I think you are connected to the alien," Trask gasped after a few moments. He smoothed the front of his uniform and went to retrieve a metal box from beside the small ship. "We found other things along with this ship."
Clark theorized whatever was in the box was what they'd been digging for. He also knew the government agents had long ago stolen the tiny ship from his parents' property. He and his dad had buried it together when he was just a boy. They felt it would be safer buried on the back nine than in the farmhouse cellar. How wrong they'd been.
"In this box is what I think is a piece of the planet this alien came from, or at least some meteorites from the atmosphere around the planet. It's alien in origin and emits a strange radiation, completely harmless to humans. I believe it would kill our intruder though." With that, Trask lifted the lid of the box.
Clark felt pain wash over him the likes of which he'd never known before. His head throbbed, he felt faint, and he could tell his powers were draining. He doubled over to hold his stomach and collapsed.
Trask's brows rose out of sight. "Well, I'll be damned."
Outside the window a stunned Lois Lane almost fainted. What the hell did this mean? Was Clark some kind of alien? That was insane, yet he was writhing in pain on the floor. And to prove it wasn't a hoax, Trask shut the box lid a couple of times. Each time he did, the pain lines on Clark's face faded only to return when the box was opened again.
"Lane," she whispered. If Clark was some kind of freak, what did that make her son? She covered her mouth and took a step backwards and stepped right into the arms of a soldier.
"Well, well," Trask almost sang when one of the three soldiers brought Lois inside. "What do we have here?" He studied the woman as she stared down at the helpless man lying on the floor. "Please don't tell me you didn't know about him." When she failed to say anything, Trask laughed. "You didn't." He bent over Clark. "Shame on you, alien. You should have told your little girlfriend just how different you were. It's a shame she has to suffer now because of it."
Trask looked back up at Lois. "If you'd never slept with this… freak, there wouldn't be a half breed running around. You will suffer because your son will have to die."
"I'm afraid we can't leave the thing to contact any of his people."
"He's… not… a… thing," Clark managed to grind out.
"You're quite right. He's a memory. Go get the little bastard," Trask barked at his men.
The two officers that had been holding Clark earlier left for the door, but they both stopped short.
"Colonel, you should see this."
Trask turned to see at least ten police cars and several unmarked cars outside.
"This is the FBI. Throw down your weapons and surrender," called a voice on a megaphone.
"Like hell I will." He grabbed Lois around the throat and went out the backdoor, only to find more police. "Get back or I'll blow her head off."
Clark felt a little relief. When Trask passed the table, he knocked the lid closed on the box of the deadly meteor. Summoning all the strength he had, Clark heaved himself off the floor and launched his body at Trask and Lois. The action caused Trask to lose his hold and knock Lois to the ground. Clark heard a gunshot and immediately crawled to cover Lois with his body. He held her head tucked against his chest as more shots rang out around them. When it became quiet again, he leaned back to look at the woman beneath him.
"Are you all right?"
"I think so."
She nodded and slowly Clark eased off her. They were soon caught up in the middle of a swarm of bodies.
It turned out Colonel Jason Trask had been under investigation for numerous crimes. The FBI had gotten wind of the fact that the decorated officer was alive even though he was listed as deceased. The Army denied knowing and cast off Trask as a good officer gone bad. Everyone knew that was probably not true, but how did you prove something against the Army?
Lois and Clark were both checked over for injuries before being released. It appeared no one was the wiser about Clark's identity because the police simply thought Trask had gone mad. Lois offered Clark a ride home, needing desperately to speak with him.
She was silent all the way back into town, but glanced over at Clark several times. His color wasn't the best and she could tell he struggled to grasp exactly what had happened. Instead of taking him to the farm or the paper, she pulled into the parking lot of her motel.
"What are we doing here?" Clark asked.
"I think we need to talk."
Clark simply nodded before he scrambled to follow her into her room. Once inside she wrapped her arms around her body and studied a point on the floor before she spun to challenge him.
"Who are you?"
Clark sighed heavily. "Okay. Let's see if I can get this right."
Lois listened in rapt attention as Clark detailed his life for her. He told her all about the side of himself that only his parents and Lane knew. He told her of his origins, his powers, and without meaning to, a great deal of his feelings spilled forth.
Nearly two hours later, Lois reached over to lay her hand on Clark's arm. "I'm so sorry, Clark. I had no idea you felt all those things," she said softly. He gave her a weak smile.
When she'd first seen from that window that Clark was from another planet, she'd been terrified. Horror stories of aliens had flooded her mind. But listening to Clark, she knew all that had been ridiculous. Clark was just as human, probably more so than anyone she'd ever met.
"So, you can really fly?"
"That's so cool!"
"You think so?"
"Clark, the things you can do are incredible. I'll admit at first I was afraid of the reality of this. I was afraid for Lane. But… this is… well, it's great!"
"Lois, I'm sorry I didn't tell you that night. It's just that I vowed never to tell anyone and well… things got out of hand…"
Lois' smile faded as she held Clark's gaze. "Is that all it was to you, Clark? Out of hand?" Why had she asked that? Hadn't she agreed with herself that she would never return to that night, to those feelings?
"No," he whispered. "There hasn't been a day since I haven't thought about that night and our time together. What we shared… it just felt right. How is that possible? We were kids."
"I know." Panic began to rise in Lois. She knew exactly what Clark meant. So many times she'd argued with herself over her feelings for that handsome black haired boy, finally convincing herself that it was just infatuation.
And she believed it until she'd seen him again. When he'd smiled that first full smile at her…
She had to break this tension… now. Almost jumping to her feet, she declared, "You need to call your mom. She's worried about you."
"My mom? How do you know?"
"She called here looking for you."
"Is that why you came out to that farmhouse?"
"I was actually going to your office when I saw the van. I followed it on a hunch, like I always do. But it looks like I wasn't the only one interested in what Trask was doing."
"Yeah. I'm just glad you didn't get hurt."
"Thanks to you." She smiled and handed him the phone.
Clark accepted the offer and called his mom to let her know he was okay. He hung up and stood to go.
"I should go. I'm still not feeling the best."
"Sure." Lois followed him to the door.
He turned back to Lois. "Have you thought any more about seeing Lane?"
"That's all I've thought about. Clark, I just don't know what to do here."
"Just see him. Talk to him. We can take everything else from there."
"What would I say to him? How do I explain where I've been? Why I haven't come to see him?"
"You'd know what to say."
"How can you be so sure?"
"I'm not sure, Lois. I just know if you don't do this, you'll regret it for the rest of your life." That was so true. Lois could only hang her head. Clark lifted his hand and squeezed her shoulder. "Just think about it. We're listed in the book."
She nodded and held the door while he left. Could she go see Lane? Should she? One thing was for sure. Clark had been right. If she didn't, she'd regret it for the rest of her life. And she just didn't think she could heal again.
Clark smiled down at the paper before him the following morning. A huge headline in the Daily Planet told of Colonel Jason Trask's fall from grace. The by-line belonged to Lois Lane… with special contributions from Clark Kent. He was overwhelmed she would give him credit when he hadn't even helped write a single line. He took it as one way she was trying to make up to him for the lack of contact over the years. He quickly rethought that. He wasn't sure yet just how he perceived Lois, but shallow was not it.
"Watcha' smilin' at, Daddy?"
Clark looked over at Lane before he pushed the paper in front of the boy. Lane read carefully before he looked up at his father.
"You've seen her?"
"Where? When? Why didn't you tell me?"
"The last I saw her was yesterday. She was at the farmhouse Trask had me in. I didn't tell you because I was hoping she'd come see you."
"Is she going to?"
"Lane, I just don't know. She's really, really scared. Lois is confused and ashamed of the things she's done. She wants to see you but is scared of what you'll say or do."
Lane hung his head to look at his mother's name on the paper. "Could you just take me to get a glimpse?"
Clark smiled and laid his hand over Lane's. "That's what she did with you."
Lane's eyes flashed up at his father. "What?"
"She was here Sunday afternoon. She watched you play ball."
Lane's little eyes filled with tears. "Does she know I'm a good boy? If she knew, maybe she'd want to come."
Clark's heart wrenched in his chest. He hated to see his son cry. He lifted his hand to cup the side of the boy's head. "She knows. Give her some time. She really does want to see you."
Lane wiped his tears with the back of his hand. "I really want to see her."
"I know you do, son."
"Daddy, why don't you hate my mommy for leaving me?"
Clark reached over and tugged his son onto his lap. "Lane, I could never hate your mother. I can't explain why. She's even more incredible now than she was all those years ago. And while I am very angry she chose not to be part of your life, I'll never point a finger and accuse of her anything. We were only children then. I can't begin to understand all she's been through."
"Sometimes I get so mad at her," Lane admitted softly.
"I know. It's okay to be angry. But your mother loves you, Lane. She always has and no matter what happens, she always will."
"How can you say she'll love me if she never comes to see me?"
"Because… I was there, with her, so long ago. There was so much love in that girl. There's no way she could ever live without loving you."
Lane leaned against his father's chest. "Daddy?" he asked after several moments.
"Did you love my mommy back then?"
"I didn't know it at the time, but yeah. I loved your mom."
"Would you have married her?"
"In a heart beat."
Lane pushed himself up so he could wrap his arms around Clark's neck. "I love you, Daddy."
"And I love you, Lane."
"Grandma says you can't love a child without loving the one that helped make his life possible. She says she loves your real mommy and daddy very much."
Clark tightened his hold on the small body in his arms. "And I love your mother," he whispered. The small boy began to cry softly. What Clark wouldn't give to have Lane do this with Lois just once. Clark knew if she held him, she'd never be able to let go.
Lois hadn't thought twice when she'd sent her story to Perry and added Clark's name for special contributions. It seemed the logical thing to do. If it hadn't been for Clark, there would have been no story. Technically he hadn't helped write it, but he still deserved every bit of recognition that she got.
Perry had been over the moon. So much so, it didn't seem to bother him when Lois asked for a week of her vacation time. He didn't even question the fact that Lois hadn't taken time off work since she was an intern at the Planet. He figured she had to have a good reason.
She'd asked for the time off on a whim. The more Lois had thought about her son the more she knew she couldn't leave Smallville without seeing him. She just prayed she could go home without being close enough to see him again. Then she thought about Clark. With his powers, seeing Lane might not be so scary.
Lois lifted the phone and dialed a number she'd gotten from the front desk clerk. The secretary at the Smallville Post put her through to Clark immediately.
"Lois?" The excited voice on the other end asked.
"I have to say thank you for what you did. You didn't have to use my name."
"No, but it just felt right to give you credit. There would have been no story without you." She smiled at his statement, thankful he hadn't immediately asked about her decision to see Lane.
"Even so… what you did was generous."
"Glad you like it." She lapsed into a silence, not sure of what she wanted to say.
"Would you like to see him?"
Lois was so relieved when Clark made the suggestion. "I think maybe I would."
"Do you want to come out to the farm for dinner? We could grill something. Lane loves to grill."
"I know there is so much you don't know about him…"
"You're right. I don't know him. How does a mother do what I've done? And how do I make up for that? He must be really confused."
"I won't lie. He is confused. And he's angry. He thinks you didn't come see him because he was a bad boy… that he disappointed you in some way."
"He said that? You told him you saw me?"
"I did. He and I had a talk this morning over breakfast. Lois, he wants to see you." Clark chuckled softly. "He even asked if I could take him to just get a glimpse of you. See, he's his mother's son."
Lois laughed slightly. It sure seemed like Lane had gotten something from her. "What time?"
"Any time after five. I get off then. Of course, with it being summer, Lane's home with his grandparents…"
"No! I, ah, I would just feel better if you were there. I never met your parents. Remember?"
"Okay. Hey… how would you like to come over to my office? I'll give you some more information for follow-ups on your story."
Lois had to smile. This man was after her heart. Anybody who talked shop was all right with her. "I may drop in."
"Okay. See ya' later."
"Bye." She hung up the phone in deep thought. This afternoon she would meet her son for the first time ever. What would she say? What would he say? What was she supposed to do? How did she treat him? How would he treat her?
Clark had said Lane was angry. That was understandable. He was only seven. It must be so difficult for him to imagine the reasons his mother didn't come see him. She would welcome an outburst. She'd always been told that even negative reaction meant there was feeling behind it. If she were meeting either of her parents for the first time, she would probably be livid. But considering Lane was half Clark, his spirit was probably just as gentle as his father's.
That thought made Lois smile. She had to admit Clark Kent had grown up nicely. Though only a little over a year older than her, he was certainly more of a man than ones she'd met twice Clark's age. And she'd be blind not to see his compassionate nature shining through. Part of who he had become was because of her, she knew. Giving responsibility of Lane completely over to the boy Clark had been had forced him to become a man more quickly than even he might have wanted. Yet, he didn't seem to regret a minute. When he talked of his son, there was a light in his eyes. She'd never seen such a light from her own father or any other for that matter. No, Clark didn't regret having Lane. It also appeared he didn't hate her for leaving their son. That, more than anything, scared Lois. Her son's father was an incredible person and she wasn't sure how she felt about it.
Lois opted not to go to Clark's office. She, instead, took a scenic tour of the small town her son was growing up in. She saw the quaint little elementary school where he attended classes. She wondered if he sat at the counter in Maisy's and ate hot fudge sundaes. Did he like chocolate like her? It was obvious he had Clark's compassion or he'd never want to see her.
As five o'clock drew closer, Lois began to get nervous. Part of her wanted to run as far away as she could get. But how did one run from herself? She knew she'd have to go through with seeing Lane or she'd never be able to make it through her days again. Silently she cursed… and thanked Perry for giving her the time off. Never had she been more confused and elated at the same time.
She made the turn onto the drive leading up to the Kent farm with a stomach full of butterflies. Her eyes immediately found Lane. He was throwing a baseball with his dad.
Lane caught the ball from his father and turned slowly when he heard the hum of a car engine. "Is that her, Dad?"
Lane watched as Lois stopped the car by the fence near the barn. She cut the engine and sat there. Inside his seven year old chest, his heart thundered loudly.
"Ah, maybe you should go see if she's okay?" Lane suggested to Clark. Clark nodded and started toward Lois. Lane reached out to tug on Clark's arm. "You can tell her I'm scared, too."
"Okay, son." Clark cupped Lane's face and smiled. "Here. Hold my glove." The small boy took the offered item as his father walked off.
When Clark was just about to her car, Lois opened the door and stepped out. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched Lane walk to the back door of the house and hand the baseball equipment to his grandfather. He took a seat on the steps to wait patiently.
"Hi," Clark told Lois as he reached her.
"It's okay. He says to tell you he's scared, too." Clark reached out and rubbed her upper arm lightly. "Come on."
"Are you sure this is okay?"
"Lois, why wouldn't it be okay? You're his mother. You have every right to see him."
"And you have every right to hate me."
"I could never hate you. You gave me Lane."
His voice was soft and tender when he said those words. Lois looked up at him to see he'd meant what he said. "I also gave you seven really tough years. You've done this alone."
"So have you," Clark whispered, tears threatening to spill from his dark eyes. He blinked a few times, then smiled. "Come on. He really is anxious to meet you."
Lois hadn't missed Clark's emotional response. Could he feel compassion for her? Could he possibly want to help her in some way? Did he want to what… be her friend? After all she'd done to him and Lane? Lois shook her head slightly. How had such a man been created? He must have fantastic parents.
Lois forced a smile and begged her nerves to calm. "Okay." She walked slowly beside Clark and watched as Lane rose when they drew closer. She could see his small body tremble with the fear he certainly felt and in that moment Lois felt like kicking herself. More pain. That's all she'd ever done for her son. It was all she could do to keep from turning and running away… yet again. But that would destroy the little guy more than speaking with him would. Not only would Lane have to go through life wondering why his mother had given him up as a baby, but if she ran now, he'd always wonder why she'd given up on him when they were so close to meeting. He'd think there was something wrong with him and that was something Lois could not allow him to live with.
The adults stopped a few feet from the boy. Clark silently faded into the background.
Lane stared into Lois' eyes for several long minutes.
What's he thinking? she asked herself as they looked at one another. Is he disappointed? Excited? Scared? He reminded her a lot of Clark so long ago. His big, brown eyes were a perfect match for his father. He was small, like her. And the nose — that was her nose!
"Hi," Lane finally managed, breaking into her thoughts.
"Hi." Lois was just as scared as the child was. She could see him tremble and she couldn't manage to find any other words.
"I'm Lane." The boy lifted his shaky hand.
"I know. Your dad told me." Lois slowly lifted her hand to take his. "I'm Lois."
Lane looked down at his hand in his mother's, a place he'd wanted it to be so many times. Her skin was so soft and the warmth seemed to wrap out around his very heart. When he looked back up at her, he had to blink to see through his tears. "You don't know how long I've waited to meet you," he whispered.
Lois was melting. Her son was crying and telling her he'd wanted to meet her. Her eyes filled to overflowing. "And you don't know how so very sorry I am for the things I've done."
Lane scrubbed across his wet cheeks with his free hand, refusing to lose the contact with the woman he thought he'd never meet. "I think I should tell you that I'm really mad at you."
"I would be disappointed if you weren't. I'm disappointed with myself. And I'm so ashamed. I may have been a child when you were born, but it didn't take me seven years to grow up."
"Grandma says you never grow up. You come of age."
Lois smiled through her tears. "You sound like you have a terrific grandmother."
"She's the best." Lane wiped his face again. "She says if you'd had a choice you wouldn't have let me go."
"Oh, Lane," Lois choked out. "I have to be honest with you and tell you that I don't think I'll ever be able to explain the things I've done."
He nodded his head as if he completely understood her answer. "Then you won't get upset when I say I'm not sure I'll ever understand."
"I have no right to get upset with anything you say or do. Look at what I've done. It amazes me you even wanted to see me."
"Why wouldn't I? You're my mother. If we never see each other again after today, I'll be happy."
Lois could only stare at Lane. It appeared he was more like Clark than she'd imagined. Only a child of Clark's would say something like that.
Lane looked down at their hands again. "I, ah, I hope this is okay. To hold your hand?"
Lois squeezed the little hand in hers. "It's perfectly okay." She stepped a little closer and kneeled in front of him. "Lane, I'm not sure what to do either. And I'm scared just like you."
"About meeting you?"
Lane stepped even closer to his mother. He lifted his other hand and touched her face. "You're more beautiful than I imagined," he told her softly.
Lois reached up to imitate his gesture. "So are you."
Lane held her gaze as his small thumb stroked her cheek. He stood that way for several moments before releasing her hand and wrapping his arms around her neck.
Lois was stunned. She would never have thought he would show so much emotion or affection so soon. Her own emotions washed through her in waves as she lifted her arms to hold his body while soft sobs wracked hers. Holding her son for the first time was the single most remarkable feeling in the world. She felt lightheaded and warm all over. So many times she'd imagined this moment. But reality was much better than her imagination. Since the day she'd given birth, she'd always felt like something was missing. Part of her very soul was gone and there was no way to repair. Holding Lane now, she felt complete. She felt whole again, for the first time in eight years.
"Don't cry," Lane told her. "I'm a good boy."
Lois laughed softly. "Oh, Lane. I know you're a good boy." She shifted and pushed him back to look at him. "None of this is your fault in any way. The reasons I didn't come see you have nothing to do with who you are or if you were good or not. I didn't come because I wasn't ready to admit I could love you and take care of you. I wasn't willing to admit that I'd made mistakes and that having you was *not* one of them. And I was scared to face your father."
"Daddy? Why? He's the greatest."
"I know that now. I think I knew that then. I was just so scared to face him and have him think the time we spent together never meant anything to me. And I guess… I guess I didn't want him to know how much it did mean."
Lane looked down at Lois with an odd expression on his face. "I don't think I understand that one."
Lois laughed and rubbed his face. "Sometimes I don't think I do either. But, Lane, nothing has ever been *your* fault and nothing ever will be."
"That's what Daddy says."
"Yeah, well, your daddy is pretty smart."
"He's the best." Lane glanced over his shoulder to see Clark standing at the grill trying to look as if he hadn't heard what they were saying.
Lois looked over at the man in question. "I have to agree with you there."
Lane offered Lois one of his patented Kent smiles, proving that he was indeed Clark's son, just before he wrapped his arms around her neck again. "We like to hug in this family," he offered.
"I see." When he pulled back to look at her, she rubbed her hands up and down his arms. "We never did much of that in my family."
"Maybe…" Lane stopped and hang his head.
"What?" She lifted his chin. "Tell me."
"Maybe I could help make up for that by giving you a few extras?"
Lois smiled brightly up at the boy. This was her son. How had she given birth to this person and turned her back on him? "I think I would like that. But, Lane, you, in no way, have to do anything you're not comfortable with. You don't have to hug me unless *you* want to."
"I want to," he assured her. He reached down and pulled on her hand. "Come on. You have to meet Grandma and Grandpa."
"Okay." She let him pull her into the house where Martha and Jonathan were working in the kitchen to help prepare dinner.
"Grandma, Grandpa, this is Lois Lane. Lois, this is Martha and Jonathan Kent."
Martha smiled over at the younger woman. "Lois, it's so nice to finally meet you." She offered her hand in greeting. "We feel like we know you already. Clark and Lane have talked about you every day since I remember."
"Well, looks like I have a reputation to live up to."
"Not at all. I'd be blind not to see that you're everything they said you were and more." Martha didn't want the young woman to be overwhelmed, but her words refused to remain unsaid.
Lois was genuinely surprised by the welcome from this woman. If some girl had treated her son as badly as Lois had treated Clark, she'd want to wring the girl's neck.
Jonathan stepped over with a huge smile. "You're certainly pretty."
"Thank you," Lois said, blushing.
"You're welcome. Guess we know why this little guy's so gorgeous. He sure doesn't get it from Clark," the older man teased.
"I don't know, Mr. Kent. Your son is quite handsome." Lois couldn't believe she'd just said that out loud. These people made her feel incredibly comfortable and she found herself wondering what it would have been like had she taken the other option her father had posed so long ago.
"You're right," Martha agreed. "He is handsome." She reached out and ruffled Lane's hair. "Why don't you show Lois your room, sport?"
"'Kay. Come on." He dragged Lois through the kitchen and up the stairs to the small room he and his father had transformed into a child's paradise. "It used to be Daddy's. He has Grandma and Grandpa's old room now. He built them a new one downstairs. Grandpa says he's glad because his 'room-a-something' could use a break from climbing steps."
Lois laughed softly at his explanation of Jonathan's arthritis. She looked around at the small treasures that graced the shelves and walls. These things defined who her son was.
Lane contented himself to watch his mother. He'd waited on this day for so long. He climbed up on the bed and held his chin in his hands as his eyes followed the woman that had haunted his dreams for so long.
Lois got a feel for the boy Lane had become. From the many trophies that graced the top of one shelf — he liked sports — all kinds, to the many certificates from accomplishments in school, ribbons from county fairs, and pictures. A happy boy smiled back at her from the many images inside the frames. How could she have been so stupid? She lifted a picture of Clark holding a newborn Lane.
"That was taken the day he brought me home." When he'd grown old enough to understand his father's words, Clark had told him what an incredibly terrifying time that had been. A boy had gone off to bring back his baby to raise alone.
Lois turned to Lane. "He looked so happy."
"He said that was one of the hardest days of his life. He said it nearly killed him to have to leave you."
Lois gasped softly. Clark had wanted her, too? She'd heard that from the old librarian and from Clark's attitude, it was very true. She replaced the picture and went to sit beside Lane. "You really love your daddy."
"Oh yeah. And he loves me."
"I know." Lois looked down at her fingers before meeting Lane's eyes again. "Lane, I'm so sorry."
"I know," was all he said before climbing onto his knees and hugging Lois again. When he pulled back, he was smiling. "Only a million more to go."
"I don't think that would be enough," she told him through more tears.
Lane smiled and jumped from the bed. "Want to go see my tree house?" He knew his mom must feel awful, but seeing her tears was too much for him to handle. He would much rather see her smile.
"Sure." Lois followed Lane back down the stairs and out the back door.
Martha smiled over at Jonathan. "I think he likes her."
"I don't blame him," Jonathan said with a grin.
"Oh, Jonathan," Martha giggled out as he kissed her neck. Lois might be a pretty woman, but Martha was his queen.
Clark smiled in the direction of the tree house. Lane and Lois had disappeared up the ladder nearly half an hour ago. He'd heard laughter several times. He'd only tuned in his hearing once. The pair had been playing a game so he'd left them to their privacy.
He'd just placed the steaks on the grill when his hearing picked up another car engine. He lowered his glasses and groaned. The new visitor was Lana. This was not what he needed now.
Clark forced a smile when Lana approached him a few moments later.
"Clark," she breathed as she leaned in to hug him.
"Lana." This was the last thing he needed tonight. He knew she'd want to discusss their disagreement and that was something he just didn't feel up to sparring with her over. Lois was the mother of his son and like it or not, Lana would just have to accept that. Of course, since he'd seen Lois again, Lana had been the farthest thing from his mind.
"You haven't called. Surely our little spat didn't offend you that much? Now I could have understood if we'd actually been fussing about something important."
"Excuse me?" Typical Lana, he thought absently. She was usually a very sweet person, but now and then that selfish side of her reared its ugly head.
"Come on, Clark. I mean, we had a disagreement about Lois Lane. Lois Lane. It's just laughable."
"You're still convinced she's some hybrid breed of woman that does anything she can to get a story?"
"Of course. Like I said. I used to be one of those women." She shifted closer to Clark and placed her hands on his chest. "Come on, sweetums. Let's not talk about that woman any more. I forgive you for acting like a jerk. Let's just kiss and make up."
"Lana." Clark grasped her wrists to stop her progress across his chest. "Not everything is what it appears to be."
"Oh, precious, I know. I know you have some kind of past with Lois. I also know you better than anyone else. You're over some silly little crush and we can move on with our relationship."
"No, Clark. Let's just put Lois Lane out of our lives and move on."
"Then I guess you'll have to put me out, too."
Lana turned slowly to the voice behind them. Lane was standing next to none other than Lois Lane herself. Her brows disappeared under her hair. "Lane. As in Lois Lane?"
"Lana, this is my mother," Lane told the other woman.
Surprise flitted across her face, then she turned back to Clark with fire in her eyes. "Why didn't you tell me she was his mother?" she ground out in a voice just above a whisper as she led Clark farther way from the others.
"Honestly… because it's none of your business." The past couple of moments had clarified a great deal for Clark. Suddenly he couldn't understand what had ever attracted him to Lana. She was possessive, spoiled, and selfish.
"None of my business? Clark, people who are considering marriage should talk about things, especially about the missing mother of one's child."
"*You* were talking about marriage. I never said I wanted to get married." This time it was Clark's voice that was barely above a whisper.
The stunned woman could only stare at the man before her. Finally she managed, "I guess now I know the reason. You didn't want the little woman to drift back into your life when you were attached."
"No, Clark. I've given you two years of my life. I deserve your respect. Part of that is to be let in on your little secrets."
"Okay. Here's a big one for you. Yes, I've enjoyed our time together. I care very deeply for you. No, it would have never led to marriage. One, and probably the most important reason, is because you don't like my son. Damn, Lana, I'm not blind." He had been lonely, incredibly lonely. And Lana had been there. She'd spent time with him and that time had helped with the loneliness. But he'd seen the underlying current of dread whenever Lana had spent time with Lane. The woman hated kids and had never hid that fact when they were growing up. The only reason she'd taken to Lane at all was to get to him. Clark had known that and yet he'd still spent time with her. It was just so much easier than spending every day alone. Even a content father needs the companionship only a woman can offer and Clark was no exception.
"That is so not true," she argued.
"Regardless, there's another reason that would keep us apart, even if there was no Lane at all."
"I know. Your fear of commitment."
"I have no fear of commitment. I have a fear of not feeling alive again." His voice had risen earlier, but now it dropped to a passionate murmur.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means that if I'd married you, I would have never felt like a man in your arms." Clark wasn't sure why he was telling her this now. He should have done it a long time ago, but if she wanted to know now he'd tell her.
Lana gasped. "I can't believe you said that. Do you find me that despicable?"
"No. I just discovered a long time ago that things have happened in my life that will keep me from ever having the kind of relationship with a woman that she deserves or is entitled to."
"What does that mean? That you're… gay?"
"No. It just means that I could never give you what you want or need."
"Because of Lane? Clark, I could learn to love Lane." Desperation creeped into Lana's voice and she lifted her hands to his chest.
"Yeah, but I can't unlearn how not to love his mother," he whispered. Clark's eyes shot up to glance at Lois where she and Lane watched silently from the other side of the yard. He was sure she hadn't heard him, but was unable to remain near her another second without telling her. And that was something that he wanted to keep to himself out of fear that she'd leave and never come back again. He sighed heavily and pulled Lana's hands from his body. "I'm sorry." He cast a final glance behind him, then hurried in the house.
Lois was rooted to her spot on the ground. She was in total shock that she had just witnessed this argument. Who was this Lana person? She didn't like Lane? Though she hadn't heard all of what had been said, she had heard that much when Clark raised his voice. And what had he said to Lana right before he glanced at her? Whatever it was it had really ticked Lana off. The woman looked about ready to explode.
You could almost see steam rise from Lana's ears as she watched Clark retreat from the yard. Laughter seeped through her consciousness and brought her back to her surroundings. She turned to glare at Lane. He was holding his stomach as he laughed whole-heartedly.
"What is so funny?" she demanded.
"You," he gasped through his laughter. Lois' eyes had grown wide at the child's behavior. She wasn't exactly sure why he felt the need to do this, but he soon calmed enough to look at the woman before him. "You should see your face, Lana. I've seen you mad before, but this is too much."
"Lane, maybe you shouldn't be so rude," Lois offered quietly.
Lane's smile faded as he gazed up at his mother. "Sorry. It's just she's so…" The boy threw up his hands in frustration. "She and Daddy have been seeing each other for a while. She's tried everything to get him to marry her." He glanced over at Lana. "She's made a fool out of herself trying to get him to… you know," he said with a shrug. "Do that yucky stuff adults do."
Lois had to cover her mouth to stifle the grin that threatened to cover her face.
"Behind his back she's hated me. I think it's because he never would tell her who you were. It's just so funny. I can't help it. She's spent two years with him and you only spent a few weeks. That says a lot about the kind of people you both are." He wasn't sure what all his dad had said to Lana, but he was fairly certain it was about his mother.
The silence engulfed them after Lane finished speaking. The truth in his words slammed through the air with unforgiving force. Even a child was wise enough to understand the situation.
"Well," Lana said after a while. "I guess you should be happy then."
"That he likes my mother better than you?" When he noticed his words had struck a nerve, he finished with a smile. "Yeah. I am." The boy took Lois' hand and started for the house again. They left Lana fuming in the backyard. After a moment, she composed herself and left.
Jonathan smiled at Lane and Lois when they came through the door. He and Martha had been involved in a heated embrace when Clark came through the door. It was obvious to them both that something had upset him, but they didn't know what until they saw who else was in the yard. Jonathan left his wife's arms to go outside to tend the grill while Clark gathered himself back together. His boy had grown up so quickly and even Jonathan had been extremely disappointed in the young man years ago. But he couldn't be a prouder father right now. He sincerely hoped everything would work out for Clark and his small family.
"Let me show you something," Lane told Lois as he took a book from the shelves in the den. They settled on the sofa and he opened the scrapbook to reveal articles she'd written over the years.
"You kept these?"
"Me and Daddy. He wanted me to know you… as much as I could."
Lois lifted her hand to run her fingers through his hair. "How can either of you not hate me?"
"There's a point in every man's life when he experiences something so profound that it becomes part of his very soul." Lois and Lane looked up to see Clark leaning on the frame of the door. "Most never realize what it is that has happened until it's too late to do anything about it. Few ever experience a love that actually permeates his entire being. All too often that man is not wise enough or strong enough to hold on to what could define his entire nature. But one thing is for certain, he's a fool if he denies it."
Lois could only stare at Clark as his words rang through her mind. Lane was right. Clark did like her and judging from the passion she heard in his words, he more than liked her. She wasn't sure how that made her feel though. Everything was so confusing right now. She knew she was very impressed with the man Clark Kent had become, but right now her son was much more important. Yet, her conscience quickly reminded her that Clark was a large part of who her son had turned out to be.
"Daddy wrote that in his book," Lane told her.
She blinked and forced herself to look down at Lane. "Did he?"
"Yep. He sold it to a publisher and they're gonna print it and everything."
Lois pushed his hair back off his head. "Now I know where you get your talent for writing."
"Yeah," the boy agreed. "My parents."
Clark chuckled softly and went to sit down beside Lane on the couch. "That and you're just smart." Clark tickled his sides, exciting laughter.
Lois smiled over at the pair. Why was it she felt so comfortable here? Could she have felt that way if she'd chosen a different path all those years ago? And what about now? Where did they go from here?
Clark pulled Lane onto his lap and looked over at Lois. "I, ah, I guess I should apologize for that little scene outside."
"There's no need…"
"Yes, there is," Clark interrupted her. "I should have spoken with Lana in private."
"A long time ago," Lane put in.
Clark looked down at him with apologetic eyes. "You're right. Forgive me?"
"Nothing to forgive." He leaned his head forward and rested it against his father's briefly.
From her position, Lois found herself wishing for that kind of closeness with her son. It was irrational to expect that at this stage, but none the less her heart craved his attention. How stupid could one woman be? Everything she could ever possibly want lay right before her all those years ago. How would things have been if she'd married Clark? Would he look at her the same way he looked at Lane? The same way he'd looked at her just moments ago, she reminded herself. There was no way she could have mistaken that heated stare. Clark had been looking into her very soul. But that look couldn't mean what she thought it did… what she found herself hoping that it did. For some reason she found herself wanting to believe he was in love with her and that time hadn't passed them by.
"Okay," Clark agreed with a smile as he hugged his son.
Lois' lips spread out into a smile of her own as she watched the exchange between father and son. It was a hard thing not to do when she saw Clark smile. His brilliant expression could melt the coldest of hearts and have any woman eating out of his hand in seconds. She could easily see why Lana was so interested and tried so hard.
"Let's go check those steaks," Clark said as he hoisted Lane over his shoulder and stood. He grinned down at Lois. "Think we should keep this sack of potatoes?"
"I'm not a sack of potatoes," Lane bellowed from across his dad's shoulder.
"Did you hear something?" Clark asked Lois.
She laughed softly as she rose to her feet and pretended to look around. "I did. What do you think it was?"
"Don't know. I've been having trouble with this wise cracking little fly."
"Dad-dy!" Lane laughed out when Clark tickled him under his arm.
Clark and Lois started toward the back door once again. "I heard it again."
"Yeah," Lois replied. "Sounded an awful lot like that fly."
"You guys are not funny," Lane said as he lifted his body up to look at them.
Lois chuckled and followed them out of the door.
"Hey, guys," Clark said to his parents. "I have this problem."
"Oh, yeah?" said Jonathan as he looked around from his position in front of the grill. Martha smiled from her seat a few feet away.
"Yeah. There's this little bug that keeps bothering me, and I don't know what to do about it."
"I think you should just toss it out in the barn," suggested Martha.
"Okay," Clark said as he heaved Lane from his shoulder. He held the boy by one of his legs and one of his arms and started to swing him in preparation to toss him aside. "One…"
Lois' eyes grew wide with fear. She knew what Clark was capable of. Would he really throw Lane?
No… no. That was silly.
She was near panic now. He really looked as if he'd throw him.
"Three!" Clark swung Lane around and he landed against Lois' surprised frame. She caught him with a start, but it was too late to keep them from falling over with the sudden weight of his body on hers.
Lane was rolling in laughter. Lois held his small body as tightly as she could. It had been the first reaction she could think of.
Clark's laughter filled the air as he looked down at the terrified woman on the ground. "Man, you should see your face."
"That's not funny, Kent!" Lois almost yelled at him.
"Come on. That was funny. You didn't honestly think I'd throw him from here to the barn?" He placed his hands on his hips and looked at her.
"Well… I was wondering there for a minute," she confessed.
Lane lifted his head to look at her. "He never tosses me more than twenty feet."
Lane fell into another fit of laughter. "You're too easy, Lane."
It took Lois a moment to realize she'd just been had by both Kent men. "Ha, ha. Very funny." She tried to sound angry but the laughter was contagious. She wrapped her arms around Lane and joined him.
Clark clapped his hands together and turned back to the grill. It was so good to have Lois here with Lane. Of course, it didn't make him feel too awfully terrible himself. Jonathan relinquished the cooking to his son and soon dinner was finished.
The small group sat around the picnic table in the backyard as they ate and Lois listened to story after story in an attempt to get to know her son. Luckily for her it seemed as if everyone had silently agreed not to talk about the negative aspects of the decision she'd made so long ago and a good time was had by all. The Kents were all as equally interested in this new person as she was them. Without knowing it, Lois had always been a silent member of this family and they were simply welcoming her home.
Lane held his mother's hand as he and Clark walked her to her car. Dinner had ended hours ago and Lois had announced only moments ago that it was time she said goodnight. Silence had surrounded them as they made the short walk across the drive to her rental. They stopped and Lois knelt in front of Lane.
"I've asked for a week's vacation so that I can spend more time with you… if you'd like that."
Lane brightened a bit at her words. "I'd like that very much."
"Good." She reached up and smoothed some of his unruly hair back on his head. "Martha told me that I could come out bright and early in the morning and spend the whole day with you."
"I just wish you didn't have to leave tonight," he said with a frown.
"Lane, this has been one of the best days of my life, but it's also been emotionally overwhelming." She let her hand drift back down to take his other one, holding them both in front of them. "I think I need a little time to sort out all of my feelings."
Lane glanced at their joined hands, squeezed hers, then looked up at her with a smile. "No regrets?"
"Not one," she whispered as tears filled her eyes.
He pulled his hands from hers and leaned in for a hug. "Only nine hundred, nintey nine thousand, nine hundred ninety to go," he told her softly in her ear. Or his best estimate… he'd hugged his mother several times over the course of the night.
Lois laughed softly as she drew back to look at the incredible boy before her. "I'll see you in the morning."
"I'll miss you."
"And I'll definitely miss you." She smoothed her hand over his head one last time before she rose. Clark had opened her door for her and offered a beautiful smile as she neared. "Thank you," she managed in a strangled whisper.
"That sentiment goes both ways," he replied honestly. "Drive carefully."
"I will." She smiled one last time at Lane, then ducked into the car. Clark shut her door, then moved to pull his son close to him as they watched Lois drive away.
Her car was long gone from the drive before Lane turned his face into his dad's body. "Hold me, Daddy."
Understanding the emotional overload his son must surely have felt, Clark immediately pulled Lane up into his arms. The boy cried softly against his father's shoulder as Clark held him tightly. "Shhh… it's okay, kiddo." His large hand cradled the boy's head as he walked slowly back toward the house. They settled on the porch swing, Clark content to hold Lane for as long as he needed him to.
It was a long while later before the boy finally spoke. "I always knew I loved her, but I never thought it would feel like this." He turned his face into his father's neck, took a deep breath, and drifted off to sleep.
Clark sighed heavily, completely sharing his son's feelings. He'd fallen in love with Lois Lane all over again. But right now, his feelings would take a back seat to that of his son and his son's mother. They were all that was important now.
Lois had never been one to 'rise with the chickens', as they say, but she found it utterly impossible to sleep a second past five the next morning. Heck, she'd found it almost impossible to go to sleep. Meeting Lane had healed a gaping hole in her heart and she was unable and unwilling to deny that fact any longer. She'd lain awake in her motel bed reliving the reunion over and over in her mind. She loved everything about her son. He was petite, a lot like her, yet solid like his father. He had thick, black hair and the largest brown eyes she'd ever seen. His skin was the same beautiful tone of Clark's and his voice could hold her captive. It was soft, happy — softer than Clark's, but Lois imagined that's what Clark had sounded like when he was a child. Lane had very strong hands: large like his dad's. She'd learned his shoe size as well as that of his clothes. His favorite movie, his favorite foods, favorite subject in school… Lois had absorbed it all. He liked baseball but loved football. He could play basketball very well and earned the MVP award on his soccer team. Swimming was the 'bomb' and mucking out the horse stalls in the barn was 'gross'. His grandparents were one of a kind and his Daddy was the greatest. She'd discovered years of information about her son in a single evening and now she couldn't get enough.
At five a.m. she'd found herself pacing her small room as thoughts of Lane overwhelmed her. How could she have been so stupid? He was absolutely incredible and she freely admitted she'd been a fool for walking away. More to the point, she'd been a fool for staying away. The guilt had nearly eaten her alive the night before during the short drive from the Kent farm to the motel. She just couldn't believe that Lane, Clark and the Kents had accepted her as readily as they had. It said a great deal about the kinds of people they were. She just hoped they'd remain as open and accepting because she'd realized that she could no longer live without her son.
That was another huge problem. How could she ever get on a plane and fly back to Metropolis to live hundreds of miles from him? Simple. There was no way. With dawn just breaking, Lois ventured from her room toward Maisey's diner. In a farm community, she knew the small restaurant would open early and she needed coffee while she formed a plan for a future with her son.
The aging owner greeted her with a friendly smile and a fresh cup of coffee when Lois entered the diner. She chose a booth near the back and produced a note pad and pencil to start laying out new plans. It would be tough to leave behind her dream job for life in the country, but it was a sacrifice she'd gladly make for Lane. She'd been working on several different novels for years. Maybe it was time to dust those off and send them to a publisher somewhere. She'd already been offered a chance to have her work published by Franklin Stern on more than one occasion. The publisher, and owner of the Planet, had told her that he could see a powerful thriller hidden within the depths of her writing. He'd almost begged her to produce something for his perusal. Writing novels could very easily afford her a great deal of time to spend with her son. Yes, she'd give Mr. Stern a call.
But first she needed to talk to Clark. Would he feel put out if she told him she wanted to move closer to Lane? Would he feel as if she was automatically assuming her place in the boy's life? No way. What she'd seen of Clark Kent told her that he would be absolutely thrilled that she'd made such a decision so soon. So, first things first. She'd speak with Clark, then Lane, and finally with Perry and Mr. Stern. She had a substantial amount of savings so she'd be okay as far as money was concerned to begin with. The most important thing was that she had a plan and she was fairly certain Clark could offer suggestions on places to live.
She smiled as she lifted her coffee cup to her lips.
It was July, which meant no school. And though Lane often rose early to help his grandfather with farm chores, he'd risen this morning for an entirely different reason.
His eyes glanced at the clock and he groaned. It was far too early to call anyone, even the mother he hadn't spent nearly enough time with during his short life.
"Relax, son. I'm sure she'll be here before lunch time," Clark told Lane over his newspaper.
"It's not funny, Dad. I can't help it because I want to see her." He stuck his bottom lip out in a pout and crossed his arms over his chest defiantly.
Clark slowly lowered the paper as he realized the pose his son had assumed could only be characteristic of Lois because he certainly didn't do that. "I know you want to see her."
"Won't you just fly to town and see if she's awake? I could call her if she is…"
"Lane, it's six thirty," Martha told him.
"I know. I know." He slumped even further into his chair, willing time to pass more quickly.
Clark was unable to stand his son's misery. He pushed up from the table and offered the boy a smile. "I'll go."
Lane immediately brightened. "Thanks, Dad!"
"You're welcome." Clark ruffled the hair on top of Lane's head before he stepped out of the back door. He took to the air, flying high enough not to be seen, then zipped toward town. A frown c to begin with rossed his face when he scanned Lois' room and found it empty. A moment later he spotted her coming out of Maisey's diner. She got into her car and drove off in the direction of the Kent farm. Clark had to smile. It seemed she was just as anxious as the little boy back home.
He wasn't sure why he didn't fly back to the farm and inform Lane that Lois was already on her way. He decided instead to follow her from the air. When she pulled into the drive and cut her engine, he wondered if she'd changed her mind. Lois climbed from her car to take a seat on the hood, content to watch the farmhouse in the distance. Clark realized that she must have thought it too early to call and was going to wait it out until later in the morning. His heart swelled with joy that she felt that way. It surely meant that Lane would finally have his mother in his life.
Clark chose a location closer to the house to land, then headed in Lois' direction. She looked incredibly embarrassed to be caught sitting on her car when he reached her.
"I, ah, I… I…"
He held up his hand and smiled at her. "It's okay. You could have come on up to the house. He's been up since about five thirty, barely able to contain himself. He sent me to town to take a peek and see if you were awake so he could call you."
Lois allowed herself to relax a bit as she slid from the hood. "Really?"
"Yeah." Clark gestured toward the car. "Why don't you drive up to the house?"
"Ah… actually, I'd like to talk to you for a second," she told him nervously.
"Sure." He found himself hoping she wanted to discuss her future with Lane. What if she was going to tell him she would leave and wasn't coming back?
"I… I made a few decisions," Lois told him as she started to pace in front of the car.
Not good, Clark thought. She sounded so unsure of things.
"Lane is amazing. I can't believe I stayed away all this time. Last night as I drove back to town, I was almost sick with guilt. You've done a fantastic job with him."
Or maybe she was going to say something totally different.
"I barely slept last night and was pacing the floor at five this morning because I could think of nothing but that little guy." She stopped and faced Clark. "I can't live without him… not now that I've met him."
Was she about to say what he thought she was? Did she expect him to relinquish his son without a fight? Sure, she was his mother, but Lane was his life. He couldn't live without him either.
"I, I want to know if you'd be all right with me living closer."
Clark's brows rose toward his hair. He hadn't expected that at all. "Ah, closer?"
"Yes. As in somewhere in town."
"You want to move to Smallville?"
"Yes." Lois crossed her arms over her chest, reminding Clark of Lane's defiant stance that morning at breakfast. When he chuckled softly, she furrowed her brows. "What?"
"Lane did that exact same thing this morning. At the time I attributed it to being a characteristic inherited from his mother. It's nice to see I was right."
Lois glanced down shyly, but smiled.
"Lois, you've only just met your son. Do you think it's wise to change your entire life for him?"
Lois met Clark's gaze with fierce determination. "You did."
Clark sighed and pushed his hands into his pockets. "I can't argue with you there."
"I know this is kind of… out there, but Lane's just met me as well. And Smallville, the farm, you and your parents are all he knows. I wouldn't dream of taking him away from here. But I can't see remaining in Metropolis only able to spend two or three days here and there with him. I have years to make up for, Clark. Here, where it's quiet, we'd have the time to do that."
"What about your career?"
"It can wait. Plenty of women put their careers on hold to raise families. I'm young. I have time." She uncrossed her arms and waved a hand toward the house. "I have to do this. I can't walk away again."
He studied her expression for a long moment before he spoke. "You know, I think there's an opening at the Post. Nothing as exciting as writing for the Planet, but it's during school hours. The person who took the job would be able to pick their son up after school every day. Maybe go to the park and help with homework. Of course, fall is right around the corner, which means so is football. I've heard the pee-wee team needs an assistant coach."
Lois' lips slowly spread into a wide smile. "You do understand?"
"Lois, hearing you say you want to be here, with Lane, is like some kind of gift. For so long it's all he's longed for. He will be so thrilled."
"I know so. He'll have me building you a room onto the house." Clark stopped briefly, then pointed in the distance. "You know, there's a small apartment above Dad's workshop. The hired hands used to stay there, back before I moved home to help my folks out. It would make a great place for you."
"Oh, I couldn't ask you to…"
"Nonsense," he cut her off. "Mom would be livid if I didn't offer. Besides, wouldn't you like to be that close to Lane? He could come over any time he wanted."
"Why? Why are you being so accommodating?" she asked through tears. "If I were you, I'd shout at me to get my sorry ass back on the first flight I could and get the hell out of your lives. There's no way you could possibly want me that close to you or Lane."
"That's all I've ever wanted," Clark told her softly.
"That's just not possible! People like you don't exist. You're some kind of fairy tale or dream I'm going to wake up from." Her arms became animated as she continued her rant. "I'm an incubator, not Lane's mother. I can't possibly move within a few hundred yards of your house and pretend to be mother of the year. I can't assume a place I have no right to be in."
"What?!" She stopped cold and glared at Clark.
"I want you here, with Lane." He made the statement softly and sincerely. It had the desired affect because Lois' expression slowly began to crumble. Clark stepped forward and closed his arms around her body as she broke down for a second time in his embrace. "Shhh… It's okay."
Unlike the first time she'd done this, Lois' hands went up to grasp his shirt tightly and she buried her face in the hollow between his neck and shoulder. "I've always known I loved him…"
"But you never thought it would feel like this," Clark finished for her, the same words his son had spoken the night before.
She drew back with a surprised expression on her face.
"Lane said the same exact thing last night," he answered her unspoken question. Unable to resist, his hand came up to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear. "You both need each other. And it's perfectly okay to love him."
"But I haven't been here," she whispered.
"He's your son," Clark countered.
"It doesn't change what I've done," she whimpered.
"You can make up for it though. You do want that?" Clark's hand slid down to her shoulder.
"More than anything." A fresh bout of tears started to slide from her eyes. "But how can I ask you… or him to let me in?"
"How can we not let you?" He squeezed her shoulder. "Come be a mother to your son, Lois. You'll never regret it."
Lois swallowed a few times, then leaned her forehead against his chest as more tears seeped through. Clark bowed his head and rested his chin against the crown of her head while his hand cradled her neck, the other holding her close. He wanted so badly to press a soft kiss to her hair, but that was something that could wait. She and Lane were first.
After a long while, he kneaded her neck gently. "Hey, what do you say we go see that boy of ours? He's probably standing on his head because I'm not back."
Lois slowly lifted her head and offered him a watery smile. "I'm surprised he hasn't come out looking for you."
"Me, too." Clark reluctantly released her as she pulled out of his embrace. "Leave the car. I'll move it before I go to work." She simply nodded and continued toward the house. He stuffed his fists into his pockets again as they walked up the drive. "So, will you take the apartment?"
"Let's ask your parents first. If they have any doubts whatsoever, I'll just find a place in town."
"Fair enough," Clark readily agreed, knowing full well that his parents would want to move her in immediately.
"I'll have to go to Metropolis for a bit to take care of the move."
"Hey, how would you like for Lane to come with you?" Clark cast expectant eyes at her. "I mean, if you want him to."
"Oh, Clark, I don't know. We don't know each other well yet."
"You're not going today are you?"
"No, no! But…"
"But nothing. Spend the rest of your vacation getting to know him. If he wants to go, and you want him to go, I think it would be a great idea. You could show him the city and spend some much needed time alone with him."
Lois stopped and stared at the man before her. "You'd trust me to take him all the way to Metropolis?"
"You trusted me to get him this far."
Bam! That was the single most incredible thing she'd ever heard. That one sentence told her that Clark totally and completely trusted her with their son's life; he trusted her to bring him back again. And that trust meant more to Lois than anything ever had. Not even winning a Pulitzer meant as much.
She stepped forward and wrapped her arms around his neck. "You will never know what you've just done for me," she whispered in his ear. She tightened her hold when Clark's arms lifted to surround her. Before she drew away, she placed a soft kiss on his cheek, then turned to hurry toward the house.
Clark was stunned by her actions, but understood how she felt. He couldn't imagine his life without Lane, so he could only guess how she felt now. And to have him tell her that he trusted her must be overwhelming. He gathered himself back together, because feeling her lips pressed against his skin had done a number on his system, and ran to catch up. They smiled at each other a moment before the back door swung open.
"You're here!" Lane jumped from the top step into Lois' waiting arms.
"Of course I'm here." She twirled with him held next to her body, laughing softly, before lowering him to the ground.
"I was so excited. I got up really early and I asked if I could call. But it was only six. Then Daddy went to see if you were awake and when he didn't come back I was scared you'd left and he couldn't find you and now you're here and I couldn't be happier!"
Even Lois had to take a breath after Lane finished. He rushed through his explanation, clearly her rival in the babble department. "Lane, I'm never going to leave you again."
The boy stopped and stared at her. "Promise?"
"There will probably be times that we will be apart for a while, but I won't ever leave your life again. In fact," she told him as she knelt before him. "I wanted to ask you how you'd feel if I moved to Smallville to be close to you."
Lane's eyes shot wide open, his excitement clearly shining through. "Really? You mean it?"
"I do. I know we've just met and all, but I'd really like for us to get to know each other and I don't think that could happen with me all the way in Metropolis."
"But what about your job? Daddy told me how it was your dream to work at the Planet."
"Lane," she managed before tears started to choke her. "You are much more important than a job at the Daily Planet. I'm just sorry I never realized that before."
He smiled brightly as he wiped tears from her cheeks. "I promise to be a good boy so you'll never regret your choice."
"There is no choice anymore," she confessed truthfully.
The boy threw his arms around her neck, squeezed tight, then planted a wet kiss on her cheek. "Come on. Let's go see if we can get a ride with Grandpa on the tractor."
Lois laughed softly as she took his hand and rose to her feet. "See ya' later," she told Clark over her shoulder.
"Have a good time," he called back, laughing himself.
He shook his head as they made their way across the yard. Martha's hand on his shoulder finally brought him back to reality.
"I didn't mean to eavesdrop she told him. "But did I hear Lois correctly? Is she going to move to Smallville to be with Lane?"
"Yes, ma'am." Clark grinned up at his mother.
"Oh, honey. That's wonderful."
"I offered her a position at the Post…"
"Good. And you know what? We could fix up the apartment over the workshop. That is if she'd want to live that close."
"You know, Mom," Clark told her as he wrapped an arm around her shoulder. "That is a great idea."
Happy chatter could be heard as mother and son plotted Lois' new life in Smallville… or least her new living quarters.
A small face pressed against the glass, huge eyes peered through the window as the silver jeep streaked through the city streets. For a boy from the country, Metropolis was like a whole other world. Lane was in awe of the sights and the sounds, asking tons of questions as he rode with Lois from the airport. A week's vacation had turned into two for the hard bitten reporter, but she could no longer put off the inevitable.
Lois had spent evenings over the last week in conference calls with Perry and Franklin Stern. Not being able to completely sever her ties with the Planet, Perry suggested that she write a weekly column in the Life section. Mr. Stern quickly agreed. Though both men had been clearly shocked by her news, they saw her as a daughter neither had ever had and hated to see her leave. But after a lengthy explanation, they completely understood. Even so, Mr. Stern demanded that she produce that novel he'd been hounding her to write. Lois had to grin when she thought how pleased he'd be to see her when she arrived at the Planet. Not only did she have a thriller, which she had cranked out during her sleepless hours between visits with her son over the last two weeks, but she had an outline for another story— the story of her life. That one had essentially written itself.
She had spent every day with Lane, arriving at the Kent farm early each morning and staying well into the night. Mother and son explored their new relationship. Lois was in no way naive enough to think that she could ever make up for the time away from Lane, but she was determined that their future would be full of happiness, joy, and above all else, love. And she did love her son, more than she could have possibly imagined. That decision hadn't come so easily though, as she'd struggled almost constantly with the overwhelming guilt of what she'd done to the boy. It had been Clark that had come to her and explained that if she continued to allow the guilt to eat away at her, she'd never be the kind of mother Lane needed. From that night on, Lois had reconciled those horrible feelings and moved on. The time that followed had been absolutely magical.
Nearing the end of the first week, she and Lane had spent the night camped out in his treehouse. This time it had been she who gazed up at the stars with him and talked of other mommies and little boys. It had been the best night of her life, even better than the night spent with his father so many years ago. It was during the second week, once they'd settled into a routine of sorts, that Lois' thoughts started drifting to Clark. He was amazing, the most gentle soul she'd ever met. He'd quietly taken a back seat to her growing relationship with Lane, rejoicing in the fact that his son was happy. But she'd noticed the longing glances he'd given her on more than one occasion. And the wistful smiles when he thought she wasn't looking had told her volumes of how he felt for her. She wondered more than once if it was possible that he had feelings for her. By the end of the second week, she found herself hoping that to be true because she'd definitely discovered that her feelings for him were still under the surface and stronger than they'd ever been as an idle teenage infatuation.
Clark's parents had acted exactly as he'd said they would, offering immediately for her to take the loft apartment over the shop. Jonathan had even begun working on the space so that it would be ready for her to move in by the time she arrived back from Metropolis. Lois had been pleasantly stunned with the Kents' easy acceptance of her, but soon learned that was simply their nature. After all, they'd accepted a child that dropped out of the sky. She and Martha had become instant friends and she found herself looking forward to becoming part of that incredible family.
True to his word, Clark allowed Lane to return to Metropolis with Lois when it was time for her to go take care of personal affairs to secure her move. She'd argued with him to no avail. 'It could take me as much as three weeks,' she'd said. 'More time for you to be with your son,' he'd answered. In the end, Lane had told her that he really would like to go with her, so she'd picked her son up, his small hands clutching his backpack, and together they'd boarded a plane — a first for him — and had flown to the big city. It was also his first trip away from his home, so he'd had to receive ample reassurance from his father that Clark would fly out to see him in a few days, just so 'Daddy' wouldn't miss him so much. With a gentle hug, the large man sent his son off with his mother for the first time in his life. Mixed feelings abounded, but everyone knew things were finally as they should be.
Lane's wide expression told her that he was impressed with her workplace as Lois smiled down at her son. She held his hand as they stepped off the elevator and onto the newsroom floor.
"This is where you work?" he asked her as his eyes continued to survey his surroundings.
"Well, I used to," she reminded him. "Now my job is going to be taking care of you."
He grinned up at her, clearly thrilled with that thought. "I like that."
"Me, too." Lois squeezed his hand and led him down to her computer. For several minutes she caught up on her e-mail and messages, and Lane just stood silently watching the activity around him. Finally she rose from her chair and reached out to take his hand. "Come on. There's someone I want you to meet." They walked the distance to the editor's office, knocked, and were ordered in. "Perry?"
"Hey, darling," came the gruff editor's southern drawl. He rounded the desk, looking at the boy by her side with a smile. "This must be Lane." Perry thrust his hand out to the young man. "Hi, big guy. I'm Perry."
"Hi, Mr. White. I've heard a lot about you." Lane shook the older man's hand.
"I wish I could say the same. Fact is, Lois didn't tell me about you till just recently." Perry moved to perch on the corner of his desk as his guests took the seats before him.
"I'm really sorry about that, Perry," Lois began, but the editor cut her off.
"Nonsense. We all make mistakes, but the important thing is that you're working to correct this one." He smiled brightly at Lane. "And judging by the looks of this little guy, I'm sure you're helpless otherwise."
"That's for sure," Lois said as she cast a loving gaze at her son. Lane smiled right back at her.
"Well, now…" Perry rose and went around behind his desk and took up a file. "I have all your paperwork together. There's an outline in here for the column. All I need from you is your signature in a few places and you can get out of here and start your new life with your son."
"Thanks, Perry. You don't know what this means to me."
"Sure, I do. I have two sons I don't know myself. If I could get that time back, I'd take it in a skinny minute." He thrust the papers at her and shoved a pen in her hand. "Sign these so you can get on back to Kansas."
Lois chuckled as she leaned forward and penned her name to the papers before her. She smiled at Lane, they said their good-byes, with a promise to see Perry again before they left, and went to see Franklin Stern. The publisher was ecstatic about the material Lois presented to him and assured her that he'd have a contract drawn up before the end of the week. So, with that bit of business taken care of, Lois and Lane headed to her apartment.
Lane's small hands smoothed over every piece of furniture, book, and trophy assembled in Lois' pristine abode. Having sunk herself so deep in her work that she barely had time to be in her apartment, served well for keeping the space clean. She smiled over at the curious boy before sifting through her mail. Being gone for two weeks had served to pile the correspondence high, mostly junk. As she sorted through the piles, she made mental notes of the places she'd have to call the following day.
"Is this your parents?"
Lane's voice brought her attention around to where he stood at the end of one of the sofas clutching a frame. "Yes."
He glanced down at the photo, then back at her. "Will we see them before we go back?"
"Well…" She dropped the mail to her desk and made her way over to sit next to Lane. "I hadn't planned to."
"Dad's told me about them," he told her as he sat beside her. "I guess that was pretty tough for you."
"It was very tough, but I don't regret having you," she said as she smoothed her hand over his hair.
"I wish things had been different. You know, that you and my dad could have been together or at least took care of me together."
"I wish that, too, Lane. You'll never know how much."
He glanced back down at the photograph he held. "Are you close to them now?"
"Not really," she said as she fingered the frame. "We see each other mostly at holidays. You were born, then I graduated high school. I started my internship that very summer. When I started college in the fall, I moved into the dorms and have been on my own since."
"Well, you're not on your own anymore," Lane pronounced with a smile.
"And I'm so glad," she agreed as she leaned over to rub her nose against his.
They shared a brief laugh before Lane refocused on the couple in the picture. "Guess they don't know about me. I mean, they do, but they don't."
"No, I haven't spoken with them since I've met you, if that's what you mean."
"Think they'd… like to meet me?"
Lois studied the boy a moment, then slid over to wrap her arm around him. "Lane, I know you have wonderful grandparents back in Smallville. But Sam and Ellen Lane are nothing like them."
"I know, but I'd really like to meet them."
"Sure. I have to thank them for you." He flashed her a brilliant smile that melted her heart.
"You look so much like your father when you do that," she told him as her hand came up to stroke his hair.
"Is that good?"
"That's very good." She grinned, reached out for the frame he held, then leaned back against the cushions. "So, you really want to meet them?"
"Okay. But let's wait till tomorrow. Right now I'm starved and pizza is sounding awfully good."
"Yeah." Lane giggled as she tickled his sides, then proceeded to tell her what he liked on his pizza as she lifted the phone to place the order.
That night was spent with Lois and Lane sharing dinner at the coffee table and playing card games, allowing for plenty of happy chatter. A very content Lois Lane held her son close to her body as they both drifted to sleep sometime later.
There was only the briefest of moments that a wave of nervousness washed through Lois as she'd readied herself just after lunch to take her son to meet her parents. Then an overwhelming sense of love replaced the trepidation. If her parents didn't like her son, then it was their loss. She was completely in love with him and nothing they could say or do would change that. She and Lane had talked about them again on the drive over to their posh estate in the suburbs. She'd explained to Lane that they were a different kind of people than he was used to and that he shouldn't expect too much. So, it was with pride that she sat next to her son on the white sofa as her parents' butler went in search of his employers.
Lois and Lane were talking softly when Ellen and Sam entered the room.
"Lois!" Ellen gushed as she extended her hands to take those of her daughter. Lois had risen and the brief contact was the only show of affection the two women shared before Sam leaned over to place a kiss on his daughter's cheek.
"To what do we owe this pleasure?" Sam asked as he made a show of being pleased to see his daughter. Truth was that he was still upset with her for becoming a journalist instead of a doctor.
"Nice to see you, too," Lois said wryly, then glanced down at her son, who was now standing as well.
For the first time the older couple noticed the boy. "Who's this?" Ellen asked as she eyed the boy with an expression of distaste.
"This is…" How did she do this? This was the child they had wanted her to kill.
"I'm Lane," the boy said as he extended his hand to Sam. "Lane *Kent*," he finished with emphasis on his last name.
Sam had automatically reached to take the young man's hand, but was frozen in shock as the name registered. He stared wide eyed at the little boy.
Ellen's breath caught and she took an involuntary step backwards.
"I can't begin to tell you how utterly satisfying that just was," Lois said, a touch of humor in her voice. She reached over to rub Lane's shoulders. "He insisted that he meet you."
Sam finally recovered enough to retrieve his hand. "I, ah… ah…" He took a deep breath, then reached to rub the back of his neck as he continued to stare at the boy.
"Don't worry, Mr. Lane, I won't bite," Lane added very seriously.
Lois couldn't stop the chuckle that escaped her mouth. Lane was priceless!
"I see you've turned out just as I'd pictured," Ellen commented, her usual air of supremacy firmly back in place.
"And just what does that mean?" Lois asked.
"It means that being reared by a hack from nowheresville has left him as wanting as that backwards family of his."
Lois was about to speak when Lane cut her off. "Mrs. Lane, my father graduated college. He's editor of a newspaper and will earn his master's degree next year. He's published a book while he helps work his folks' farm. A farm that has been in my grandfather's family for six generations and last year Grandpa said he was debt free. He signed a contract with Aaron's Produce and people come from all over the country to buy his cattle. My grandma is also a college graduate and will be the oldest artist in the state to open an exhibit at the art museum in Wichita later this summer. I make straight A's in school and even won an essay contest at this year's Corn Festival. I was 'Rookie of the Year' on last year's football team and played All-Stars in baseball. I won the second grade spelling bee. We have satellite TV, a fax machine, and cell phones. We even have running water."
Lois smirked at that, but didn't say a word.
"I'm just seven years old, but even I know that we're not backwards. I just wanted to meet you both," he continued as he glanced from Ellen to Sam. "To say thanks for my mom. Even if I'd never met her, even if I'd never been born, the world would have been a very dull place without Lois Lane." He faced his mother then. "I'll wait out front." He glanced back at the couple as he started past them. "It really was great to meet you both." Then he was gone.
Lois had to stifle the tears that had filled her eyes. Her son was wonderful. "How can you stand there while this wonderful little person is practically begging you for acceptance?" she asked, her voice soft and low, full of emotion.
Sam turned from where he'd watched the boy leave the room to face his daughter. "You probably won't believe this, but…" He rubbed his neck again as he made his way over to his desk. "The years have a way of catching up to you, showing you just how human you are." He sifted through a desk drawer as he continued to speak. "The last few have forced me to put my life into perspective. And the things I've realized have been quite… sobering." He'd found what he was looking for and now opened a small manilla envelope. He glanced down at the items in his hands before looking up at his daughter. "I've made horrible mistakes where you're concerned, Princess."
A surprised gasp escaped her lips before she could stop it. It had been years since Sam had called her 'Princess'.
"There have been many, many times I've thought of that little fellow out there." He flashed one of the items in his hand to reveal a picture of a tiny baby. "I've kept this photo… to remind me of my shortcomings." He dropped heavily to the chair behind him. "What was he like? Was he a good baby? You were a good baby," he said looking down at the picture. "Was his father capable of taking care of him?" He pulled a piece of paper from the stack of things. "I started a savings account for him. Thought I might actually go out to Smallville later this year…" He looked up at Lois and smiled. "You know, after I retire. Thought I might be able to convince Mr. Kent to take this for the boy's college."
"You haven't told me this, Sam," Ellen commented as she moved toward the desk. Her attempt to snatch up the paper was stopped by the protective hand of her husband.
"Look at this one." He flashed another picture at Lois. The toddler in the image was smiling up at whomever had taken the picture.
That's when Lois noticed there were a lot of photos, all of Lane during different phases of his development. She wanted to ask how he'd gotten them, but remained silent.
"Backwards? No, certainly not, Ellen. In fact, Martha Kent is one of the most intelligent women I've ever met." He fingered what appeared to be a letter. "She's also compassionate and totally devoted to her son and grandson." He looked up to stare into Lois' eyes. "I wish I could say the same."
"Daddy," she whispered as more tears filled her eyes.
"Are you telling me you've been communicating with that woman?" Ellen demanded.
"Yes," Sam stated flatly. "And I'm glad I have been. I've watched my grandson grow through these pictures and I've read about him through his grandmother's eyes." He pushed up from his chair. "But you know what? I'm ready to know him from him." He strode around the desk, ignoring the astonished look on Ellen's face as he headed toward the front door.
Outside, Lane had settled on the front steps. He wiped the angry tears that stained his cheeks. He felt so badly for his mother. How could your own parents not care about you? He sure did miss his daddy at the moment. He jerked his head around when the door behind him opened. He was surprised to see Mr. Lane instead of his mother.
"Hey there, big guy," Sam told him as he came to settle on the step beside Lane.
"Hey," Lane said flatly.
"I've heard that you're a very smart boy," Sam began. Lane merely shrugged. "So, you might actually understand some of what I'm about to say."
That got his attention. Lane looked up at the older man expectantly.
"What happened all those years ago, when we found out that your mom was going to have you, well, that was a mistake. Not having you," Sam assured the boy. "Just how I acted. And I've had to pay for that. I, ah, I got a letter from your grandmother right after you were born."
"You did?" She hadn't told him about that. Guess even Grandma was allowed to have her own secrets.
"Yep. Took me three months to write her back, but I sure am glad I did." He faced the small child and smiled. "I've watched you grow through pictures she's sent me."
"Why didn't you ever come?"
"Well, I thought that maybe that wasn't what your mom wanted. And I guess I was scared to face your dad after the way I acted."
"My dad's the greatest. He would have understood."
"Yeah, I think he would have. The point is I've been a fool and I would like to say that I am very glad to meet you." Sam extended his hand again to the grandson he'd never met.
Lane glanced at the hand, then jumped up to wrap his arms around his grandfather's neck. It took a moment for the surprised man to respond, so Lane drew back enough to look at him. "In this family, we hug a lot!" This brought a teary smile to the older man's lips just before he wrapped his grandson in his embrace for the first time.
A few moments later Sam smoothed a hand over the boy's head. "Lane, I'm very glad to finally meet you. And I would like very much to be part of your life now."
"I'd like that, too. But…" The boy's head drooped.
"What?" Sam urged.
"I would rather you be part of your daughter's life," he told his grandfather as he lifted teary eyes to the older man.
"Oh, how wrong I was," Sam said more to himself than to Lane. He cupped the boy's cheek in his large hand. "Your father has done a wonderful job." He studied the boy another moment before he reached down to take his hand. "What do you say we go see if your mother would like to join us for an outing?"
Lane smiled brightly. "Yeah." Together they reentered the house to find Lois and Ellen sitting silently in the den.
Ellen rose and approached the pair. "I don't know what's gotten into you," she told Sam, "but I do hope you recover soon." She looked down at the boy. "You've fared well without us until now, you should be…"
"Stop! Just stop it, Ellen!" Sam demanded. "Look at him. He's our grandson!"
"He's the bastard child of our daughter!"
"Enough! We may have wanted a different life for our daughter, but we cannot change the past. He was born and he breathes in part because of us. You can do what you want to, but I won't waste another second of his life. Or that of our own children." He reached over to extend his other hand to Lois. "Now, if you'll excuse us, I would like to take these fine people out for the afternoon. Honey?" he asked Lois.
"I'd love that," she replied and allowed her father to lead them out the door.
Ellen was left to boil in silence.
Lane climbed into the back seat of his mother's jeep and listened as his mother and her father started to talk. They'd make comments and ask him questions now and then, but for the most part his mom was in exactly the same position as he was. She was getting to know a parent she never had before.
"And then we went to the museum. And Mr. Lane knows so much about all the paintings there. Then guess what? We went to the Daily Planet! *He* asked to see where Lois worked. He told her he was proud of her and, and he hugged her! It was so great, Dad!" Lane finally ran out of steam as he related the previous day to his father. Clark had flown to Metropolis to check on him and was immediately bombarded with everything the boy had done since he'd been gone.
Huge tears filled Lane's eyes as he stepped forward to hug his father. "I felt so happy for her, Daddy," he whispered. Clark's large hand cupped the back of his son's head, tears threatening his own eyes. He glanced up to see Lois turn away, fighting her own emotions. Lane pulled back to offer Clark a watery smile. "He said he's proud of her for cashing in her career for her son. And he wants to see you to ask if he can come out to Smallville so he can bond with me. Isn't it great?"
"It is," Clark agreed as he wiped tears from Lane's cheek. "Sounds like you and your mom have had a wonderful time."
"The best." Lane smiled back at Lois. "I've missed you, too, though."
"I've missed you," Clark agreed as he lifted his son high in the air, exciting a giggle as he settled on the sofa beside Lois. "How are you?" Clark asked Lois as he tucked Lane into his side.
"I'm… riding an emotional rollercoaster."
"I'll bet. I'm glad to hear that some bridges seemed to be getting rebuilt."
"Yeah," she agreed with a smile. "It's great to oversee that particular construction."
They shared a brief laugh before Clark's head snapped up.
"What?" she asked.
"Someone's in trouble."
"And you want to help?" Lois asked him.
"Well, yeah. It's really hard to listen and know I can do something."
"Then do it," she told him.
"But what if someone sees me?"
"Have they ever seen you before?" she asked, her expression begging him to deny that he'd used his powers to help others before.
Clark grinned at her. "Point taken."
"Go, Daddy!" Lane pushed on his father's side, urging him to his feet.
"I'll be as quick as possible," Clark apologized, then disappeared.
"Wow!" Lois breathed.
"You get used to it," Lane commented. "But the flying never gets old." He smiled up at his mom, then insisted they start dinner.
Lane had waited for his father as long as he could, but his tired eyes finally closed. Lois carried him to the bedroom, tucked him in, then went back out into the living room. She was taking care of the loose ends involved with her move. She had several places to visit the following day and wanted all the paperwork done. A gentle tap on the door brought her from her task a few moments later. She opened the door to see Clark.
"Hi. Hope it's not too late," he told her.
"No. Come in." She stepped aside to allow him the space to enter the apartment. "I'm afraid Lane was just too tired to wait up any longer."
"I'll call him in the morning," Clark said as he settled on the sofa beside Lois. "Getting everything taken care of for the move?"
"Yeah. Closing out a few accounts tomorrow. It'll probably be a boring trip, so I asked my father to take Lane for the morning. Is that okay?"
"It's more than okay. I'm thrilled for him… and you."
She was almost lost in his beautiful, dark eyes. They held so much compassion and caring. "You told me that you were here for me." It was more of a question than anything.
"Clark," she breathed as tears filled her eyes. "I feel so… full. My heart's just so full. I have my son and it appears I have at least one of my own parents. Now I know how Lane feels."
Clark smiled at her as he reached for one of her hands. "I'm so happy for you," he told her softly.
"Would you… listen while I…"
"Vent?" She nodded at him. "Should I continue to hold your hand?"
"I can see that you and I are gonna have a great relationship," she teased with smile.
"I'm counting on it."
Lois looked down to where her small hand was trapped in his larger one. Strong fingers smoothed over her soft skin as she searched for the words to say. She wasn't sure what had prompted her to ask Clark to listen to her, but her emotions were soaring out of control and she needed to relieve some of the pressure. Clark was the closest thing Lois had ever had to a true friend before and if he was willing to listen, she was in desperate need of talking.
Clark hefted the ax over his head and brought it down with a thud into the stubborn stump. He could have easily removed the offending wood from the edge of the field, but felt the need to burn off a little frustration. It had been nearly two weeks since he'd listened while Lois Lane poured her heart out to him. She related every emotion she'd ever felt toward her parents, their son, and the time since Lane was born. She'd talked of the collapse of what remained of her relationship with her parents after Lane was born. He could almost feel her drive as she talked of her work at the Daily Planet. Her lack of a personal life, her despair over walking away from her son. He'd listened to it all. The only thing she hadn't spoken of was her feelings toward him.
And that's why he suddenly felt the need for physical release. Since that talk, which ended in a tender embrace, he'd seen Lois three more times. He'd flown to Metropolis to spend a day with Lois and Lane. She'd shown him the city through her eyes, and he knew why she loved it so much. They'd shared coffee one other time and he'd taken Lois and Lane flying. While she seemed to have accepted him as a ready friend, she had also become very guarded around him. She hadn't been that way in Smallville. She'd been open and accepting, even flirtatious. While it was wonderful to have been there for her, Clark was beginning to feel the need to vent himself. He would love to talk to Lois the way she'd done with him, but something in her posture every time he was around her now told him that maybe she didn't want to hear it. Clark was beginning to wonder if their new relationship was something she was truly prepared for.
Prepared or not, Lois and Lane would be arriving soon. She'd wrapped up her business in Metropolis, her small apartment had been prepared and was waiting for her to move in, and their plane was in the air.
The ax connected with the wood and Clark left it there. He looked out across the field into the late afternoon sun. Would he ever find common ground where Lois Lane was concerned?
Martha had just finished placing the casserole dish on the table when the back door banged open.
"Grandma!" Lane shouted just before he launched himself into her waiting arms. He and his mother had just arrived from Metropolis.
"Lane!" She kissed his face several times, smoothing her hands over his head as if to make sure he was real.
"Did ya' miss me?"
"Every minute," she assured him as she pulled him back to get a good look at him. "Look at you. I believe you've grown two inches."
Lane giggled and leaned forward to rub his nose against hers. "You're the best, Grandma! Where's my daddy?"
"He's out on old Maggie somewhere. I told him to be back for supper, but he hasn't shown up."
"'Kay." He pulled away from Martha in time to see his grandfather deposit his bag inside the door.
"Why don't you take this and put it away, Champ?" Jonathan suggested. He'd driven to Wichita to retrieve the pair from the airport.
"Sure, Grandpa!" Lane grabbed his backpack and headed up the stairs.
"Where's Lois?" Martha asked.
"She got out at the apartment. Said she wanted to change clothes before supper."
Martha shook her head and continued to prepare for dinner.
Lois had changed her clothes and put away several items before she set out for the farmhouse. Just across the drive leading up to her apartment was a pond. As she stepped onto the small patch of grass at the bottom of the stairs she noticed someone standing in the water on the other side of the pond. Curious, she changed directions.
"Clark?" she asked as she realized who was waist deep in the water.
He looked up and immediately smiled. "Hi!"
"What are you doing in the water?"
"Fishing?" Her expression was one of disbelief.
"Sure. I just…" He stopped long enough to shove his hands into the water and pull out a large catfish. "… grab 'em."
Lois' eyes widened in surprise. "Oh! Yeah, guess you don't need a pole."
"Not really," he replied as he released the fish back into the water.
Lois made her way over to the bridge that crossed the neck of the pond and leaned on the rail to look down at Clark.
"How was your flight?" he asked her.
"Fine. I prefer the personal touch though," she told him as her eyes swept over his naked torso. Once she'd gotten over the initial surprise of seeing him catching fish with his bare hands, she'd noticed he wasn't wearing a shirt. He'd certainly filled out over the years, she thought as she continued to stare.
"Huh?" She hadn't heard a word he'd said. "Did you say something?"
"I asked if Lane was at the house."
"Ah, yeah. He wanted to see his grandmother…" Her eyes swept his body once more before settling to look into his. "… and you."
There was no way the look in her eyes could be mistaken. Clark's mouth was suddenly dry as he held Lois' gaze. Her expression left little to doubt exactly what she was thinking. Though he was pleased with this reaction, he couldn't help but wonder about her recent behavior toward him.
"Ah, how do you like the apartment?" Clark asked, choosing a safer topic than what was on his mind.
Lois had to force herself to concentrate. Clark was easily the best looking man she'd ever seen. She'd been impressed with his physique years ago. She was almost speechless now. "The apartment is very nice," she finally managed. "The furniture is so much more comfortable than the designer stuff back in Metropolis."
"It's not a problem to bring it out."
"My dad's going to sell it for me."
"Are you sure? You're giving up so much…"
"I'm not giving up a thing," Lois cut in, a beautiful smile spreading across her lips.
Clark smiled as well. "I can't tell you how glad I am to have you here."
"I'm glad to be here," she told him as she started back across the bridge. 'Extremely', she mumbled under her breath, causing Clark to chuckle softly. "Come on, Farmboy. Your mom said supper would be ready by the time we arrived. And I'm starved."
"Yes, ma'am. Sheez, already issuing orders," he teased as he waded out onto the bank.
Lois twirled around to drill him with another comment, but stopped short. Clark was only wearing a pair of black shorts. The kind that hugged all the essential parts. And being wet defined each one of those parts.
He glanced down at himself, then blushed. "Sorry," he told her as he reached for his jeans.
"I'm not," Lois said under her breath as she turned toward the farmhouse once again.
Clark almost fell over in his attempt to dress. Maybe he should tell her that he could hear those comments.
Lois wanted to start work at the Post immediately, but Clark insisted she stay home with Lane for a couple more weeks. She finally agreed, using the extra time to create a stronger bond with her son. She also used the time to start writing another book and settle into life on the farm. Everyone, especially Clark, was surprised how easily she seemed to adapt to her new life. It only took a few days before she was rising with the sun and lending a hand to help with farm chores. Several mornings found Lois mucking out the horse stalls when Clark came in to milk the cows they kept for that purpose. And after several hilarious attempts to learn the finer points, Lois had learned to fill the milk pails herself. Martha was giving instruction on managing a household while gaining a daughter she'd always wanted.
There had been trips into town. Lane had proudly introduced his mother to everyone, causing quite a buzz through the local gossip mills. Clark had held his breath during those first few days, afraid that small town talk would send Lois running back to the city. Instead, she'd pushed up her sleeves and jumped right in. She'd made several acquaintances and had even had a few phone calls. It seemed the young woman had made an impression with everyone, not just the Kents. And with his mother close by, Lane had a smile on his face constantly.
Clark seemed to be the only gray spot in Lois' blue sky. They continued to develop a strong friendship, spending many nights out on the front porch talking. Yet, there was a slight hesitation on Lois' part every time she was around him. He'd noticed her watching him on more than one occasion, and she would often mumble comments about him that she thought he couldn't hear. But the tension Clark could see almost overwhelm her every time he got near her was becoming unbearable. He hated seeing her that way.
Lois pulled another tissue from the box on the nightstand and wiped her eyes. "Oh," she commented as the credits rolled across the television. A soft tap on her door made her jump.
"Who is it?" she called as she pulled on her robe.
"Hang on." She made her way over and opened the door. "Is something wrong? Is Lane okay?"
Clark was about to reassure her when he noticed her swollen eyes and red nose. "Are you okay?"
"You've been crying." He stepped forward, fighting desperately to keep from reaching out to her.
"I was watching a movie." She shrugged. "I can't help it."
Clark offered her a smile.
"Lane?" she prompted again.
"He's okay. I just… I wanted to talk to you. I know it's late, but I couldn't sleep."
"Yeah. I've watched three movies," she told him as she stepped aside so he could come in. "I'll make us some coffee."
"Sounds great." Clark settled on the sofa and waited patiently for her to join him.
"It'll be done in a second," she told him once she'd prepared the pot to brew. She eased down beside him on the sofa. "Is something wrong?"
"You tell me." He looked up at her with a worried expression.
"Lois, have I done something to offend you? You tense up every time I come around. If you're talking with someone, you'll stop when I enter the room. And even when we're talking, you act as if you want to bolt at any second." She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear as she turned to stare down at the floor. "I was very touched when you talked to me in Metropolis. It just seems that since then you really don't want to be around me."
Lois continued to stare at the floor for a few moments before she turned to look at Clark. His wide, chocolate eyes held so much concern that she instantly melted.
And that was the problem. Being around him always made her heart skip a beat. When she'd opened herself up to him in Metropolis, she'd realized that her feelings for him were building to uncontrollable levels. That scared her. Trusting people had never come easy to Lois, and she was afraid to open herself up for more hurt. At the same time she knew that this man would never do anything to intentionally cause her pain. Compounded with the reunion with her son and father had her head swimming.
She was about to open her mouth, but decided on another tactic altogether. She reached out and grasped Clark's face just before she covered his lips with her own. The kiss was immediately deep and intoxicatingly passionate. When she pulled back, he was stunned.
"That's what's bothering me," she exclaimed as she rose to her feet. "I tense up because I'm scared I can't control myself. I want to, to…" She stopped to look him. "I think I'm in love with you," she whispered.
Clark slowly closed his mouth. "I think I'm in love with you, too," he replied softly.
"And I'm terrified," she continued, once again pacing the floor.
"Of being hurt, of falling too deeply." She folded her arms across her chest as she continued to pace. "I fell in love with you once and look how that turned out."
"Lois, we're not kids anymore."
"I know," she replied as she moved over to sit on the chair next to the sofa. "I feel like I've known you my whole life, but at the same time…"
"We don't know each other at all," he finished for her.
"Exactly. We're at the beginning of something, yet right smack in the middle of something else."
"And that scares you?"
"And excites me and so many other things I can't describe." She ran a hand through her hair in frustration.
"What do you want, Lois?"
"What do I want? I want a friend that will never betray me. I want a companion because lonely hurts."
"I've always been your friend, even if you didn't know that," Clark replied. "And you're right. Lonely does hurt. I'd always thought that's what my life would be like because I'm different from everyone else. And while my life is very full with Lane and my parents, it still lacks something."
"You," he almost breathed.
She could only fall further into those deep brown pools. His gaze felt almost like a warm caress. One she thought she could get used to.
Lois lifted her hand to gently cup Clark's face. "Since I've met Lane, I can't help but wonder what our life would have been like had we gotten married."
Clark smiled softly. "And I wonder what tomorrow will be like."
She continued to smooth her hand over his face for a moment before she reached down to grasp his hands with both of hers. "Clark, will you go out with me?"
"Absolutely," he replied with a wide smile as he intertwined their hands.
"Will you… take me flying? I only date guys who fly," she teased with a grin.
"Depends," he shot back, a twinkle behind his dark eyes.
"If you can handle my baggage. I have a son, you know."
"Oh really?" she asked as she eased over onto the sofa beside him, still holding onto his hands.
Clark nodded. "He's seven and in desperate need of a mother."
"So you're looking for a commitment?"
He shifted, pulled his left hand from hers, then lifted it to cup her cheek. "Lois," he whispered, suddenly very serious. It was Lois that met him half way. The gentle touch of her lips sent his system into hyper drive. When she moaned, he nearly passed out.
Two, three, four… one kiss died into another. Lois wound her arms around his body and Clark held her as if she was fine porcelain. She asked for and received permission to invade his mouth with her tongue. Soft moans punctuated the silence of the room as they slowly explored one another's mouths. It was Clark that drew back to look at her.
"I've wanted to do that for eight years."
A wide smile spread across Lois' lips as she pulled Clark close for a tender embrace. He shifted to lean back on the sofa and pulled her into his side. They remained that way for several moments, basking in the newfound closeness between them.
"You have to know," Lois started, breaking the spell, "… that another reason I tense up around you is because I want to haul you off to my bed when I see you."
Clark laughed out loud. Lois pulled away to look at him. "I'm serious. You're…" She waved her hand, "… gorgeous. And for eight years the image of you in the light from the moon in the loft that night has been a constant companion. You were nice to look at then. And now…" She grinned at him. "Let's just say you filled out in all the right places."
The heat rose to Clark's cheeks, but he couldn't erase the smile on his face. "I feel the same way about you." His hand smoothed down her arm.
"Don't say that," she told him as she rose to her feet. "Please don't say that," she said again as she made her way into the kitchen to prepare them a cup of coffee.
"Don't say it?" he asked as he rose to follow her. "I would think you'd like to know I find you desirable."
"That's the problem," she told him as she twirled to face him. "I don't just find you desirable. I really, really have a hard time trying to control myself when I'm around you." His brows furrowed slightly as he watched her begin to tense even as they spoke. "I'm attracted to your charm. I'm in awe of your compassion. I envy your perspective on the world. I feel your emotions toward others, especially our son. But dammit, Clark, all I want to do when I see you is f… find out if you feel as good as you look."
When she'd finished, all she could do was look at him wide-eyed. He slowly approached her, lifting his hands to hold her face. "We're not kids anymore, Lois," he told her again. This time it meant something totally different.
"No, we're not. That's why I should be able to handle this," she pouted.
"You're adorable when you do that," he said with a smile as he stroked her cheeks with his thumbs.
"Pout," he replied just before he leaned to kiss her again. The kiss was slow and passionate, holding untold promise. When he withdrew, he took a step back. "I want you just as badly, but I refuse to mess this up. We have a second chance. I won't throw it away."
"Where are you going?" she asked as he stepped toward the door.
"Home… to take a cold shower. Goodnight, Lois." And with that he stepped out the door.
Inside, Lois trembled slightly. "Damn him," she said. "I'll never get to sleep now."
Outside, Clark grinned even brighter as he lifted into the air. She wasn't the only one who wouldn't sleep tonight.
And that's the way it was between them. They went on their first date the following night, an event that thrilled Lane to no end. They spent the night sharing dinner at a restaurant in Dalton, took a stroll in the park back in Smallville, and stood on the bridge at the pond just before Clark walked her to her door. They bantered endlessly about everything, including their overwhelming desire for one another. Most nights found them together. They'd spend the earlier portion of the evenings with their son, then talked for hours after he was in bed. Debates were heated and the kisses were even hotter.
Lois had started to relax. In fact, Clark was convinced he was beginning to see the real Lois Lane. She was strong willed, pig-headed, passionate, and absolutely intoxicating. Of course, she felt the same way about him.
Slowly, one week faded into two. A month passed. Lois had started work at the Post, breathing new life into the small publication. She and Clark both enjoyed the success of their first books. They had also written another. Martha's art exhibit opened to tremendous reviews and the Kent farm logo graced the packages of a variety of produce. Summer gave way to fall and school started for Lane. Sam had even made arrangements to visit.
Clark kept his temper firmly in check, refusing to speak to his son. He'd had to pick Lane up at school for fighting and the boy refused to offer an explanation. They pulled into the driveway and Lane exited the car, slamming the door with a bang.
"Get back here," Clark shouted at Lane as he climbed from the driver's side.
Lane stopped at the bottom of the stairs, but didn't move or turn around.
Martha had heard the commotion and stepped through the back door.
"Clark?" Lois asked as she approached from across the field.
"Lane?" The boy didn't move. Clark had stepped within inches of him now. "You turn around now," he almost growled.
The boy didn't dare disobey when his father used that tone. He slowly turned around.
"Clark, what's this about?" Lois asked as she made it to his side.
"Our *son* punched a little boy in the mouth. The child lost his tooth." Clark stared down at Lane, who refused to lift his eyes from the ground.
"It was a baby tooth. He'll get another one," Lane mumbled sarcastically.
Lois reached down to grasp the boy's arm. "That's not funny, young man." Her sudden action took him by surprise, causing him to lift his eyes to hers. "Why would you hit another person like that?"
"I asked the same question… ten times!" Clark pronounced as he folded his arms across his chest.
When Lane refused to answer, Lois practically shoved him toward the door. "Maybe you need to sit in your room awhile to think about things."
Lane snatched away from her and shouted, "And maybe you need to just leave me alone!"
Before Clark could stop himself, he'd grabbed Lane and swatted him quickly on his rear. Everyone froze when Clark straightened again. He'd never spanked his son before; he'd never had to. Huge tears welled up in Lane's eyes as he stared up at his father. The large man wanted to die. He took a step toward Lane, but the boy backed away from him.
"You apologize to your mother," Clark finally managed softly.
"It's her fault," Lane whinned as the tears began to fall. "He said things about her."
"Is that why you hit him?" Lois asked.
"No! I hit him because I was mad." Lane glared at his mother. "I was mad because he was right."
"Right about what, son?" she asked as she kneeled in front of Lane.
"That I have to call my own mother by her name. You've never even acted like you wanted me to call you Mom." His lip trembled as huge tears fell from his eyes.
"Oh, Lane." Lois reached out to him, but he jerked away.
"Just don't. Maybe Billy was right. Maybe you don't really want to be my mom after all. Why don't you just go back to the city?!" He turned and started up the steps, but Clark had him by the arm before he could move.
"Let him go, Clark," Lois said as she placed a hand on Clark's arm.
"No. He shouldn't speak to you like that."
"Look at him. He's scared."
That's when Clark noticed the fear behind his son's dark eyes. The anger left him in a rush and he reached down to lift Lane into his arms. The boy was tense as his father tucked him against his chest.
"I'm sorry for scaring you, Lane," Clark told him softly. He pulled the boy back to look at him. "I'm not letting you down though. You and I are going to take a walk and I'm going to hold you until you feel like talking." Lane turned his head away from Clark. "I'm a very patient man, son," he said as they started across the yard.
Lois sighed heavily, tears threatening to spill over. Martha stepped down from the porch and placed a hand on the younger woman's arm.
"He was upset, honey. He didn't mean it."
"I know, Martha. I just… I thought I should let him ask to call me Mom. I never thought he'd believe I didn't want him to."
"I know," Martha soothed as she pulled Lois into her embrace.
It was nearly dark before Lois ventured toward her apartment. A very upset little boy was waiting on the steps. He stood as she approached.
"I'm sorry for how I acted," he cried.
"And I'm sorry you thought I didn't want you to call me Mom." Lois reached down and lifted him into her arms, hugging him closely. "There's nothing I want more. I just wanted you to do it in your own time."
"That's what Daddy said." Lane squeezed her neck tightly. "I'm ready… Mommy."
"Oh, Lane." Lois held his head and cried with her son. They finally cried themselves out and drew apart to look at one another.
"I'll never be a bad boy again," he promised.
"You're not a bad boy. You just made a bad choice."
"Daddy set me straight in a hurry though," Lane commented as he reached back to smooth a hand over his rear.
"He didn't hurt you, did he?"
"My feelings." Lane placed his hand along his mother's cheek. "I think I needed it."
"Hopefully that's the last time you'll need it." The pair turned to see Clark leaned against the side of the building. "I won't apologize for the swat," he told Lois. "I explained that to him. I did apologize for scaring him. I never want my son to fear me. I'd never do anything to hurt him."
"Oh, Clark, I think he knows that."
"I know, Daddy. Guess maybe that's how Billy felt today."
"He might have," Clark agreed as he approached the pair. He lifted his hand to smooth over Lane's head. "Stay here with… Mommy tonight." He leaned to place a kiss on Lane's forehead. "And it's early chores for you tomorrow, young man."
Lois quirked a brow at him.
"He's suspended for three days from school," Clark explained. "And he has to apologize to Billy and his teacher. Right?"
Clark reached up to rub Lois' arm. "See you two in the morning." He turned to walk away.
"Doesn't Mommy get a kiss?"
Clark faced them again with a smile starting to spread across his lips. "Watch it, kid!" They all chuckled, but Clark stepped back over to offer Lois a brief kiss. "Better?"
"Can't blame the kid for wanting to take care of his mother," Lois told Clark as she started up the steps.
"Oh, I intend to take very good care of his mother," Clark said, an underlying current marking his tone.
"I bet you do," she tossed at him just before she opened the door.
"Damn!" Clark swore as he started toward the house.
"We heard that!" came the voices behind him.
Clark chuckled and continued across the yard. Their first minor complication might be behind them, but his continued state of 'Lois euphoria' grew thicker.
Things settled again for the budding little family in Smallville. Another week passed, but Lois' attraction to Clark only intensified. She often found herself thinking of him when they weren't together. And even if her mind wasn't on him, her libido never failed to remind her that he wasn't far away.
She rolled over onto her back, staring up at the ceiling. Lois had been trying to fall asleep for three hours to no avail. Her whole body seemed to be alive. Every time she closed her eyes she saw Clark. His bare, wet chest glistening in the afternoon sun. Tight shorts gripping him in all the right places.
He was right; they weren't kids anymore. And her body was screaming for attention. More precisely, her body was screaming attention from a certain super man.
"Oh, Clark," she breathed as she closed her eyes, picturing herself again… doing that… with him. She rolled over and screamed into her pillow in frustration.
In the hayloft of the barn a few hundred yards away, another person found it hard to sleep because of the constant insistence from his body. Clark had begun to think that he wouldn't sleep again as long as Lois lived so close. He never failed to become excited almost instantly when he saw her. Sure, he'd told her they should slow things down a bit. He just wished he could convince his body.
He glanced down at the quilt lying on the hay. Though different from the one that was there years before, the image was the same. Lois, naked to his hungry eyes, asking for him.
"Oh, Lois," he breathed as he closed his eyes, trying desperately to find relief from his torturous thoughts.
Clark moved to lie on the quilt, feeling a little closer to the woman of his dreams.
"Damn!" he gritted out between his teeth. It wasn't enough. It never was. Since he and Lois had started seeing one another he'd spent a lot of time thinking of her this way. He hadn't spent this much time alone since right after the first time they'd been together. If they didn't do something soon, he was sure he'd burst.
He gathered himself together and zipped toward the pond for a quick dip before he returned to the house. It wasn't until he came up for air that he realized he wasn't alone.
"Has it gotten that bad?"
Clark turned to the voice. Lois was sitting on top of a large rock near the bridge. He had to remember to breathe because she was only wearing her panties and a t-shirt.
"Bad enough that nothing I do is enough," Clark told her honestly as he made his way toward the rock.
"Then maybe I can help," she offered as she deliberately stretched, offering him a tantalizing view.
"Maybe you can," he said as he pulled himself up onto the rock in front of her.
They simply held one another's gaze, allowing the heat between them to roar into an inferno.
"I need to shower," Clark finally managed.
"I can wait," she replied.
"We need protection," he added, not sure why he sounded as if he was trying to find an excuse not to do this.
"Got it covered," she countered. "I saw a doctor weeks ago. I knew that eventually my patience would run out."
His gaze flitted across her body just before he reached out to grasp her arms. "Hold on."
"Wow!" was all she could say when he stood her on her feet beside her bed. Before she could say anything else, he was gone. It was only seconds before he was back. He'd showered and only a towel covered his damp body. "Wow," she whispered again as she lifted her hands to his bare chest.
Clark leaned forward and devoured her in a soul shattering kiss. He pulled away from the kiss and rested his forehead against hers. "Oh, God. You don't know how much I needed that."
"I need you, Clark."
"You have me," he told her as he helped divest her of her clothes.
"Now!" she explained as she guided him toward the bed.
He moaned loudly as she devoured him in another kiss. "This won't last long," he told her as he drew back.
"I know." She gripped his shoulders, then trailed a line of kisses down his neck.
It was mere minutes before he kissed her tenderly, the rapid pace of their hearts trying desperately to calm. Slow, deliberate kisses soon had them gasping once again.
"Maybe I should call you 'superman'," Lois said with a grin as she smoothed her hands over his beautiful torso.
"It's been eight years, Lois. What did you expect?" He squeezed his eyes closed as the sensations rushed through his body. This was better than flying.
"Yes!" she breathed against his damp skin.
She was beautiful, Clark thought as he looked down into her face. Her body recognized his, his soul recognized hers. Definitely better than flying!
"Did you feel it?" she asked as she kissed his neck.
"Oh, I definitely felt it."
"Not that, smarta—." She giggled as she drew back to look at him. She waited until he opened his eyes before she said, "I felt like I just came home."
He lifted a hand to gently caress her face. "I felt that way the day you told me you loved me. Just now I felt whole for the first time in eight years."
Tears sparkled in her eyes as she smiled at him. "I do love you… so much."
"And I love you." They shared a soft kiss, both relishing in finally being together. "I need another shower."
She giggled as he floated them into the bathroom, then squealed when he turned the cool spray from the shower on. He laughed softly as they shared the cleansing waters. But soon enough the laughter died.
It wasn't until they settled, completely sated.
The steady drum of Clark's heart soothed her as Lois lay on top of his chest in the afterglow of their lovemaking. His hands smoothed over her back, her arms, and through her hair. She rubbed his arm, hand, and fingers, but neither said a word. They'd been that way for nearly twenty minutes. Both were content to allow the moment to seep into their very souls.
"I've never slept with anyone else," Lois finally said into the silence. Clark's hands stilled on her back. "Every time I went out, I compared him to what little I knew about you. And no one ever came close."
"Shh…" She leaned up to place a finger over his lips. "It was my choice. I know you've had desires. I just don't want to know right now."
Clark placed a kiss on her finger before pulling it away from his lips. "They were all satisfied tonight. Well, maybe not all. I'll probably need constant attention now," he said jokingly, but she wasn't smiling.
"No one, Lois. Just you."
She moved up so they were face to face and placed a hand on his face. "My beautiful, Clark."
"And I'm all yours. Just you."
Clark tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "You're the woman that was made for me."
"And you were made for me," she told him as she smoothed her fingers over his features. "But answer me one question?"
"Why the hell did we wait so long to f…" The rest of her sentence died as Clark covered her mouth with his own. Feminine giggles and male chuckles filled the air just before soft moans. They might have waited a while to start a physical relationship, but both were determined to make up for lost time.
Muffled giggles brought Clark from his fague. He rubbed a hand across his face to clear the haze of sleep so that he could open his eyes. The movement of his arms caused Lois to stir.
"Not yet," she mumbled. "Too early." She buried her head against Clark's side, refusing to wake up.
Clark couldn't help but smile as he smoothed a hand over her face. But soon enough he was reminded of the sound that had awaken him. He turned his head to see Lane standing at the foot of the bed.
"Gee, Dad, did you try to kill her?"
Immediately Clark was wide awake. His eyes searched frantically to make sure he and Lois were both covered. Then what Lane had said registered. "What did you say?"
The boy laughed again, then shrugged. "I've done most of the morning chores while you two slept the day away. I'm going to help Grandpa with the south field. I just wanted to say good morning." He waved a dismissive hand at his father as he started for the door.
"Lane?" his father called. The boy stopped at the door. "Good morning," he said with a smile.
The boy grinned widely. "A very good morning," he replied before he exited the apartment.
When the door clicked shut, Lois mumbled, "Please tell me we're covered."
"Yeah," Clark told her with a smile as he leaned to place a kiss on her temple.
"Guess we'll have to make sure to lock that door next time." She stretched slowly.
Clark was treated to a tantalizing view when the sheet pulled away during her stretch. "Next time?" he asked absently as he lifted a hand to smooth over silky skin.
"Mmm." Lois dropped her arms on the pillow above her head, enjoying the feel of his hand on her body. "We have eight years to make up for, Flyboy."
"Flyboy? I thought it was Farmboy."
"And baby," she told him as she opened her eyes to grin up at him. "And honey." Her hand came up to smooth over the side of his face. "And Superman." Her hand stilled and her eyes widened. "That's it," she announced as she pushed up to a sitting position.
"What's it?" Clark asked as he sat up next to her.
Lois was intently studying his face. She reached up to push his hair off his forehead. "Superman," she answered, as if he should know what she meant.
"I'm not following, sweetheart."
"Last night, when you came up from under the water in the pond, then in the shower, I noticed that with your hair wet, and without your glasses of course, you look totally different."
"Bad different?" he asked with a sour expression.
"Clark, it is not possible for you to look bad." Her eyes flicked over his body before settling on his eyes again. "But without your glasses and your hair back, you do look different."
"And what does that have to do with anything?"
"Your powers. When we were in Metropolis, you said you like to help when you can. Well, Superman would be it." She finished with a flurry of her hands, then pulled the sheet around her as she eased from the bed.
Clark had to grab the comforter in his disappointment that she'd left the bed, but his eyes followed her as she moved into the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. "I'm still not sure what 'Superman' is."
"But you will," she told him as she finished her task.
"Care to explain to me?"
She'd made her way toward the bathroom, leaving the door cracked. "Just trust me on this one."
Clark shrugged and stretched back on his arms to wait for her. A moment later she stepped back into the room. He simply watched as she hitched up the sheet and settled over him.
"I'm working from home today."
He glanced down at where she'd settled. "Need help?"
She giggled as she leaned forward to kiss him softly. "Very funny," she said when she drew back.
"Oh, baby, I'm not laughing."
"Clark, you are insatiable!"
"Me?" he asked innocently. "I seem to recall you were right there with me every second."
"What can I say? I was desperate." She batted her eyes at him.
He couldn't help but chuckle as he reached forward to run a hand over her shoulder and bare arm.
"Where did you learn to make love like that?" she asked seriously.
"What can I say? I was desperate," he repeated her statement.
"I'm serious, Clark."
After careful manuevering, he was leaning against the headboard, Lois still straddling his lap. "Lois, I wasn't lying when I said there has been no one else."
"Why not? You were single, gorgeous…" She allowed her eyes to trail a seering path down his body. "And you work very well."
"I could ask the same thing about you."
Lois tucked a strand of hair behind her ear as averted her gaze from his. "I guess the main reason I chose to stay celibate was my serious trust issues." Her eyes met his again. "And my heart never fully recovered."
Clark lifted a hand to gently cup her cheek. "Do you think I'll be able to help heal it?"
"I'm counting on it," she told him as she leaned forward to kiss him softly. When the kiss ended, she pulled away and lay against his chest. He sighed and wrapped his arms around her protectively. "I guess our son likes his parents together."
"I guess he does," Clark agreed. He coaxed her until she was looking up at him. "What you asked earlier… I think maybe I let my heart guide my actions. I've had eight years to think about what I'd do with you if I ever got the chance again."
"I thought about you, too. Not so much the last few years, but at first… You, then Lane, filled my every waking thought. I wasn't sure I'd survive."
"I wish you'd called. I would have come."
"Well, I'm here now." She hugged him closer.
"And I'll always come when you need me."
"God, Clark, please mean that because I think I might need you for a long, *long* time."
Again, Clark lifted her head to see her face. "I'm yours, Lois." He leaned down to kiss her tenderly before engulfing her in his strong embrace again. They stayed that way for several moments before reluctantly separating to prepare for the day. Clark needed to get to work and Lois had plans to share with Martha. After a shower, coffee, and sweet good-bye kiss, they parted.
A doubtful expression told her he wasn't convinced her idea would work. His brows rose as she presented the brightly colored costume.
"You have *got* to be kidding! I can't wear that." Clark held up his hands and backed away from her.
"Come on, Clark," Lois said as she looked down at the bright blue suit she held up. "It's not that bad."
"Yes, it is," he said as he moved over to finger the offending item.
"Just try it on, Dad. It'll be fun." Lane climbed onto the bed and crossed his legs expectantly.
"Fun? All of you have a perverted sense of style." He made that comment even as he took the suit from Lois, then turned toward the bathroom.
Lois, Martha, and Lane all shared a brief smile as the door closed behind him. A few moments later a simultaneous gasp escaped their lips when they were treated to their first sight of a budding hero.
"Do you think it's tight enough?" Clark asked as he moved toward the full length mirror on the other side of the room. "And these briefs," he said as he fingered the offensive item.
"One thing's for sure," Martha began, "they won't be looking at your face." She gazed proudly at the image her son projected.
Lois laughed softly as she ran a hand across Clark's chest. "You look great."
"Yeah, Dad," Lane quickly agreed.
"Something's missing." Martha gazed between Clark and the mirror before exiting the room. It was a few minutes before she returned clutching a blue blanket. "This is the blanket we found you in," she gushed, showing Clark the item. She fingered it briefly before pulling something from a large, manilla envelope. "This was attached to it. We figured it was the shield of your birth family or something."
Clark took the piece of cloth from her hands. It appeared to be an 's' inside a triangular shield.
"It would look great on the front of that suit."
"It would, Martha," Lois quickly agreed.
"And hang a cape on the back," Lane went on as he jumped to his knees. "You'd be so cool!"
"A man doesn't stand a chance around here," Clark mumbled as he went to change out of the suit so his mother could attach the 's'.
"Hey, guys, you're going to miss the launch," Jonathan called from the den. The space station Prometheus was about to launch. "Did you… ah…" He'd turned when he heard voices coming into the room. His eyes landed on his son, dressed in full 'Superman' regalia.
"What do you think?" Clark asked his father.
"Impressive." And he was. Without his glasses and his hair slicked back on his head, Clark, dressed in his tight fitting costume, was very impressive.
Everyone's attention refocused on the news just in time to hear the announcer talking about a problem. A bomb had been found aboard the space station shuttle.
"Oh dear!" Martha gasped.
"Cl… ark…" Lois closed her open mouth because the door had just banged shut. Clark was already gone. The members of the small family smiled at one another as they turned back to see if there would be coverage of the world's newest superhero.
"That was amazing!" Clark paced back and forth in front of the porch, unable to stand still after his very first public rescue. "No one looked at me like a freak. They were grateful!"
"Of course they were," Lois gushed. She was so proud of him. He'd made it to the space station in time to divert disaster. He'd also lifted the station into space.
"It was awesome!" Lane agreed. "The looks on their faces… I forget some people have never seen a man fly before."
That stopped Clark's pacing. He looked at his son, then shared a brief gaze with Lois before they all burst out laughing. When they'd recovered, Lois stepped down to stand in front of Clark. "So, does the world have a new superhero?"
"I don't know if I'm ready for all that," he said as he wrapped Lois in a loose embrace. "But Clark Kent finally has an outlet for his powers."
"All right!" Lane shouted, pumping his hand in the air.
"Will Lois Lane's by-line grace the official announcement?"
"As long as I get the exclusive," she managed around a kiss.
"I'm exclusively yours," Clark assured her when he drew back.
"Should I leave?" Lane asked his folks with a wide grin.
"Very funny, wise guy," Lois said as she looked up at him.
"You should get down here so we can go flying," Clark told him with an extended hand.
"Even better," Lane agreed as he ran down to meet his parents. Several minutes later, the trio was floating above the clouds.
The world got a superhero while a family got a super man. Clark quickly adjusted to life in the spotlight because of the gratification he received from being able to help others with his abilities. Though limited to major emergencies he used the gifts he was given. Major news organizations from all over the globe scrambled to find out what they could about the mysterious flying man. The exclusive graced the pages of the Daily Planet under the by-line of Lois Lane. Many wondered how she'd managed such a feat from a small town in the mid-west, but they readily soaked in every bit of information they could get.
Months began to drift by. Bombarded with crazed military personnal, sadistic madmen, and even a woman claiming to have the love child of Superman was not enough to sway the bond being formed in the house of Kent. Late the following summer, a little over a year after Lois had entered her son's life, she and Clark were finally married. They built a house on the farm and reveled in being able to care for their son together.
Lane was thrilled with his new life. Having both parents was truly a remarkable gift. He'd also gained two sets of grandparents. Sam had indeed made it out to Smallville that first fall. A week into his visit Ellen showed up. She'd done a great deal of soul searching, and with help from the rest of the family, she'd begun a new journey as well. The Lanes moved into a large house in town following Sam's retirement and staunch city folks adapted quickly to life in the country.
And it was all because of a very active little boy with black hair and brown eyes. He was the one to ask for a new baby that next Christmas. And not being able to deny him a thing, or simply bursting to express their love at every turn, his parents granted his request the next fall. A baby girl was born, this time, to very thrilled parents.
What had started as exploration during their innocence had turned into a lifetime of happiness and love. Together Lois Lane and Clark Kent had come of age.