By rkn <email@example.com>
Submitted: November 2008
Summary: A divorced, fighting Lois and Clark!? What will it take to create a "happily ever after" for our favorite couple?
This is a "futures" story and everything happened as it did in the series.
Tears pricked Lois Lane-Kent's eyes as her babies walked across the stage to receive their high school diplomas. Her babies. JC and Mariel, the children that she and Clark had been told that they would never have, that would be impossible for them to conceive. But Clark had been right. When they made love, they made love and it had resulted in creation. Oh, the joy, the amazement. She had hid her symptoms from Clark, not really believing that she could be pregnant, and not wanting to give him false hopes. Once her physician confirmed by blood tests that she was indeed pregnant, she had feared that she would lose the pregnancy and she had still hesitated to tell Clark knowing how distraught he would be if because of his "differences" she lost the pregnancy. But when her next visit revealed that she was carrying twins, well, she could no longer keep it from Clark whatever the outcome. No father could possibly been happier than her husband had been the day he opened the envelope containing her ultrasound pictures.
And here they were. Jonathan Clark, JC, was planning to attend the University of Kansas in the fall, working towards a degree in political science. He had all of his father's powers and hoped to advance his father's work with the warring foreign powers and bring peace to the world. JC was spending the summer with the senior Kents helping them around the farm. Jonathan and Martha still loved their Smallville life, but most of the farm work was done by hired hands these days.
Her little girl, Mariel -- named for Martha and Ellen -- her little girl, who wanted such different things than Lois had wanted at her age. Mariel was planning to marry her high school sweetheart who was a sophomore at Metropolis University in the pre-med program. She was like Lois, however, in that she wanted her own way. She desired her parents' blessing, but she was going to marry Brian anyway. Clark and Lois had given their approval on the understanding that Mariel would at least earn her associates degree at Metropolis Junior College. With Brian's encouragement, Mariel had agreed, though she rolled her eyes, insisting that her time would be better spent working and saving the money for when she and Brian had babies, which she wanted as soon as possible. Even Brian sided with her parents that babies should wait until at least his graduation from Met U. and hers from Met Jr. Mariel might be a little stronger, smarter, immune to pain than her peers, but she had not inherited the majority of her father's ability. Mariel was perfectly content with that. "I don't want the constant distractions. 'The hand that rocks the cradle rocks the world.' My kids will be Superman's grandchildren. They will be the founders of Utopia and I want to be a part of that." Lois and Clark had shared with their children their adventures with H.G. Wells. Neither JC nor Mariel had been the baby that Herb had brought to them when they had been in the depths of despair over their inability to conceive. So it made sense the baby was probably Mariel's or JC's.
Lois glanced over at Clark. He had the biggest smile on his face. He was so proud of his children. He hadn't been the perfect father. Superman had kept him away more often than he liked. But he had done his best to be at every school play, music recital, ball game, though he had probably missed more than he had made. Amazingly, the twins seemed okay with that. No, it had been Lois who had attended every event to support her children, had taken them to ballet and soccer as children and then supported them in basketball and football in junior high and into high school. And she didn't regret it. She didn't.
Her gaze moved to her father clearing his throat and pretending that his eyes weren't watering. After naming JC and Mariel after their grandparents, Lois and Clark had intended to name their next child after Sam, but it had never happened. The third child they had wanted had never been created.
Her mother was making no attempt to hide her tears. Her parents had remarried when the twins were two. Mariel and JC did not even remember a time when the Lanes weren't married. Farther down the row sat Jonathan and Martha. Lois' tears threatened to fall again. The couple had come to mean so much to her. They had always accepted her unconditionally, loving her for her own sake. She and Clark had leaned on them so much as they had tried to guide JC through his "super" puberty.
Lois' eyes returned to her children. Their big smiles that mirrored their fathers shone back at her. They were good kids. They had minds of their own- where had they gotten that from? -- but they were good kids. She and Clark had done a good job despite all the obstacles. She looked over at Brian seated at her side. That boy had better appreciate what he was getting. In a month Mariel would be Mrs. Brian Dawson.
Clark would be busy being Superman and reporting for the Daily Planet. And her? Her heart cramped. She would be doing what she had done for the last sixteen years. Editing the Daily Planet. For two years after the twins were born she had tried to keep up her career as a reporter. But when the twins started going through the terrible twos she had accepted a job as assistant editor working thirty hours a week learning from Perry White. Much of her work could be done from home.
When the twins had entered school, she had thought about going back to reporting, but Perry was beginning to hint at retiring and she knew that she was up for the job. And maybe that would be the best thing. She couldn't be off chasing stories when she couldn't rely on Clark to pick up the kids when she was interviewing a source. This was why today she was the editor of the Daily Planet and only wrote the rare article.
She clapped along with their parents and Clark and Brian wolf-whistled as the twins stepped down from the platform. Yes, her children were miracles, the future of Utopia and she didn't regret a minute that she had spent with them. Not a minute. It was just... her mind wandered to that empty spot on her wall where she had always imagined her Pulitzer plaque hanging. Hah, she hadn't even seen a Kerth nomination in the last five years, and that was for her editorial work not her journalism.
"You have backup for this statement, Clark?" Lois questioned.
"Of course I do, Lois. Who's the journalist here?" he teased her.
"I was a journalist."
Clark seemed to realize that he had hurt her feelings. "You were the best, Sweetie."
"I was, wasn't I? Clark..."
"What would you think about me becoming--"
He got that look on his face. "Got to go, Lois," he said pulling at his tie, bussing her cheek with a kiss as he sped from the room.
"Yeah, thanks for listening, Clark," she muttered.
Her super husband had dinner waiting for her when she got home. "Sorry for running out on you today, honey."
"Did you get a story out of it?"
"Yeah. I'll type it up and get it e-mailed to you tomorrow morning."
"What's wrong with tonight?"
"Well, I kind of had other plans. At least I hope I do."
"And those would be?"
"Look around, Lois, Frank Sinatra on the stereo, candlelight...*pasta*."
"I know what pasta does to you."
"Mmm-hmm," Clark growled slipping his arms around her.
It was the next morning when she realized that she had never got to put the idea that had been flitting around in her head to Clark. She wasn't sure when it had started. Maybe it had always been in the back of her mind.
An earthquake kept Clark busy the rest of the week and Lois stayed busy being mother of the bride. She couldn't believe her little girl was getting married tomorrow. She hoped Clark wouldn't miss the rehearsal dinner.
Clark made the rehearsal, slipping in with some excuse about a news-breaking story that just couldn't wait. No one seemed to question his explanation, just greeted him with open arms.
For the second time in less than a month, Lois sat looking with teary eyes as she proudly watched her children. Mariel in the beautiful white gown they had shopped for together and JC standing at Brian's side taking seriously his role as best man. They were so young. She hoped that she and Clark hadn't made a mistake letting Mariel marry so young. Mariel thought this was what she wanted now, but what if she resented it, wished she had waited, had established a career before jumping into marriage? But today her daughter was beaming happily at the man at her side, certain that he was what she wanted.
Lois sighed wearily, rubbing her temples as she looked critically over the layout for tomorrow's front page. "I hate this job," she complained to no one.
"You shouldn't say that where the boss might hear you."
Lois head jerked up. "Perry!"
When Perry had retired as editor he had taken a seat on the board knowing that he could never completely let go of the Daily Planet. He liked to come in every once in a while and talk of old times and would fill in for her when they went on vacation. But that had been a while. Lois frowned trying to remember when that was.
"I'm sorry, Perry. It's just been a really stressful day and I just can't seem to make this look right."
"Let me take a look." Perry took the layout board from her.
Within minutes, her front page was completed and ready to go to the printers. "Anything else wrong, Lois?"
"Of course not, Perry."
"You missing the kids?"
Lois smiled. "They are certainly not missing me. JC is loving spending time with his grandparents in Smallville and Mariel is on her honeymoon."
"Hard to believe they're all grown up now."
"So ... empty nest syndrome?"
"Something like that."
"But it gives you and Clark more time together. Why I remember when you and Clark couldn't keep your hands off each other. Trying to turn my newsroom into the honeymoon suite. You know Elvis and Priscilla..." and Perry was off on one of his old stories that Lois had heard a hundred times.
"Clark, I've been thinking. Now that the kids are settled, I'd like to start reporting again."
"Really? I thought you liked your job. You do such a good job." Clark brushed her hand with his thumb.
"I do like my job--"
"In fact, I think you do a great job."
"Well, I wouldn't--"
"But there is something that you do even better."
"Yes! I'm so glad you understand--"
Clark's hand slipped beneath her blouse and fondled her breast. "Much better."
Lois sat soaking in the whirlpool tub. She had done it. She was a reporter again. It felt ... great.
"Lois!" Uh oh. Clark did not sound happy. He burst into the bathroom, splintering the door since he did not bother to turn the knob.
"Exactly what is going on? Since when do I find out from office gossip that my wife quit her job?"
"I didn't exactly quit my job."
"Oh? So you are still editor of the Daily Planet?"
"I'm still working for the Daily Planet."
"Don't you think you owed it to me to discuss it with me?"
Suddenly Lois was incensed. "I tried, Clark. But you were always too busy. I took the editorial position because the kids needed one parent that could always be there for them. Well, the kids are grown now and I want to get back to my career."
"So you're saying that me and the kids kept you from being a world famous reporter! Well, sor-ry!"
"I never said that! I just said that I wanted to go back to reporting."
"Lois, you're forty-eight years old--"
"So are you!"
"But I'm Superman."
"Are you seriously telling me I'm too old to be a good reporter!"
"Yes. No. I'm saying that you can't go about this the way that you used to. Metropolis has changed. And you'll have to re-establish your sources--"
"I'm not going to be reporting in Metropolis. I'm going to Irrat."
"Irrat! Lois, that is a hotbed of terrorism. You can't trust your best friend there. No. It's too dangerous."
"Excuse me! Did you just say 'No'?"
"That's right. No wife of mine is going into a situation like that! Reporters are killed in Irrat all the time."
"I'm just going to be talking with the natives, not trying to infiltrate a terrorist organization!"
"It's too dangerous. I can't always be there to protect you!"
"Did I ask you to?"
"You're my wife. I am not going to stand by and let you get yourself killed!"
"Then maybe I shouldn't be your wife."
Clark stared at her in shock. She was shocked as well. How could she say that? She loved Clark with all her heart. He was just being so unreasonable.
"I can't believe you said that. I had no idea that you resented me and the kids all these years."
"I didn't say that, Clark. All I said was that--"
"That being married to me, having our children kept you from what you really wanted."
"No! I love you. I love JC and Mariel. I just want to see if I still have it. To see if I can get that Pulitzer I always wanted. That's all, Clark."
"You're not going."
"I am going."
"No, you're not."
Lois pulled herself from the tub and tied on her robe. "You've blown this all out of proportion, Clark." If Clark was really worried about her safety, why didn't he offer to go with her? She had originally launched this idea to the board as Lane and Kent together again. When had that gone horribly wrong?
Lois struggled against her bonds as the sweat and the tears slid down her face. She had come to Irrat to spend two weeks getting a few quotes from the natives. To write a great story. To re-launch her career so that she could return to Metropolis and re-establish contacts and sources, to return to the job that she had loved. She sniffed. She wondered if it would make Clark Kent happy to know that he had been right that it was too dangerous.
After that first fight, they could hardly speak to each other without arguing. So before she had left Metropolis she filed the divorce papers in a stupid need to assert her independence. The tears began to flow down her face in earnest. She loved Clark. She had always loved Clark and her children. Her little boy and her baby girl. Her baby girl that would be a mother herself in about seven months.
Had it really been two years since Brian and Mariel had gotten married? They had planned to wait until graduation to have children but "the best laid plans of mice and men and all that," Mariel had said. Lois wondered if it had truly been an accident. Graduating was just not that important to Mariel. She wanted to be a wife and mother.
Lois had never intended to be in Irrat this long, but that first story had been so well received that the Daily Planet encouraged her to stay another month and gather materials to write another. At the end of that month she had gotten to know several of the natives and earned their trust. Somehow she had ended up doing what she had told Clark she wasn't going to do, get involved with the terrorism that was rampant in Irrat. First it was a story on their victims, then on the family of one of the terroists, then an interview with a former member, and it just went on from there. Two weeks ago she had been invited to speak with their top leader. She would be blindfolded and taken to interview him in one of his many hideouts. It would be a great story.
What the Daily Planet, and certainly those she interviewed, didn't know was that she wasn't just reporting in the Daily Planet. She had been approached and asked to serve her country by relaying information. She, Lois Lane, was a spy.
Unfortunately, it was suspicion of her activities that had caused the terrorist head to refuse to let her leave the camp once she had interviewed him. Another of his camps had been destroyed by the US Military and he determined (and rightly so) that she might be slipping information to the military through her stories.
"Stupid, stupid, stupid," she muttered, pulling at her bonds again. She had no idea what she had intended when she left Metropolis. To prove that her own life wasn't over now that her children no longer needed her. To prove that she had worth, that Clark wasn't the only one in the family that could contribute to society. Normally she would have talked to Clark about it, but Clark had seemed suddenly very busy with his Superman duties. She twisted her hands again trying to free them. She should have never agreed to a meeting with the leader, but she had been greedy to get the story. She knew in her gut that this would be the one that would get her that Pulitzer.
"Need help with that?" a familiar voice asked from behind her.
"Shh!" he hissed sharply. "You know better than to address me as Clark in public."
"Sorry." He was right. She could place their children in danger and she never wanted to do that.
"I told you this was too dangerous."
Despite the fact that she had come to the same conclusion herself only minutes before, his comment struck her the wrong way. "Just go, Superman. I'll be fine."
He crossed his arms and looked at her with his Superman glare. "Want me to untie you first?"
"Don't be such a smart--"
"Ah, ah, ah. Watch your language." He pulled her bonds apart with a tug. She scowled as she rubbed the circulation back into her wrists. He could have been a little more gentle.
Clark squinted and she knew he was looking through the tent walls. "Your captors are on their way in. Want a ride out of here?"
She wanted to refuse his help, but that would be foolish. She was a mother, soon to be a grandmother. And she wanted to live.
"If you insist."
"For a distinguished example of investigative reporting by an individual or team, presented as a single article or series, in print or in print and online, the Pulitzer for Investigative Journalism goes to... Lois Lane!" The room erupted in cheers. Lois walked to the platform to accept the plaque. She looked down at her children beaming up at her. Brian's hand was resting on Mariel's bump. Mariel looked so beautiful. Six months pregnant and glowing with happiness. JC was seated beside them with his date. The ceremony was just a mellow luncheon in the rotunda of the Low Library on the Columbia University campus, but it meant everything to her.
She thanked the Daily Planet. She thanked Perry. She thanked her parents and her children. And she thanked Clark Kent for teaching her to find the story in those "human interest" pieces. How could she not? They had been married for twenty years.
He was there too. She had seen him standing at the back of the room.
After Clark had rescued her, she had returned to the States. She had been interrogated by military intelligence and was released from her duties once they were satisfied that they had all the information that she could give them.
She went back to the Planet only to find that in her two-year absence, her job as editor had been given to her ex-husband. While the board offered her a job, she had no desire to work for Clark Kent. She had always hated him editing her copy. And she had no desire to work for an inferior paper. So she had written a book about her experiences in Irrat. Stern Publishing had advanced her more than enough to live on and with the expectation of royalties from the book; she had taken early retirement from the Planet. She wasn't sure what she would do next, but she felt like she had finally achieved the success she had needed. She had what she had always wanted. Everything except the man she still loved in spite of everything. Had it been worth it? He just made her so mad!
"Dance with me? For old times' sake?" She knew the owner of the hand extended into her line of sight even before looking up into his gorgeous brown eyes. Mariel and JC had insisted on taking her to eat at the opulent New York hotel she was staying in. But where had Clark come from?
"For old times' sake," she agreed placing her hand in his.
She discovered the touch of his hand on the small of her back still made her tingle. The brush of his hips against hers still sent a wave of desire flooding through her. And the sight of him in a tux still made her want to tear his clothes off and make love to him until they were both exhausted.
It started with an invitation to dance, but it hadn't stopped there. As they danced their bodies moved closer and closer together, remembering. She hadn't been with anyone since their divorce. A piece of paper meant nothing. Clark was her husband, would always be her husband. The vows they had given each other usurped any they had spoken on their wedding day, "In my heart, I'm your husband," "and I'm your wife."
"What'd you have for dinner?' she asked huskily.
"Hmmm?" he drew her even closer to him. Oh, yeah, no mistaking it. He was just as turned on as she was.
"I was wondering what you had for dinner."
She could hear the confusion in his answer, "I had the alfredo."
"Pasta, huh? I remember what pasta does to you."
He pulled back from her just enough to look into her face. "Lois, don't play with fire. You might get burnt."
"I just spent almost two years in Irrat. I like it hot."
Clark kissed her temple as they cuddled in the early morning light streaming through the window. "I'm so glad you're back. We'll get remarried and everything will be back the way it should be."
Lois stiffened. "Clark, this doesn't change anything. We can't be in the same room without arguing ... or making love ... and it still doesn't change the fact that you think you can run my life. You can't protect me from bad things, Clark. You can't wrap me in cotton wool. I won't live like that."
"Well, forgive me for caring!"
"See, Clark, we can't even make it twelve hours without arguing." She slipped from the bed and began to pick up her scattered clothes. "It just won't work, Clark, unless you can let me be who I am."
"I am not going to stand by and do nothing while you get yourself killed!"
"You knew I was a reporter when we married. It didn't bother you then!"
"Why can't you see that you're not twenty five anymore!"
Lois slammed the door to the bathroom in response.
It was blue. The stupid line on the stick was blue. How had that happened? Okay, she knew how that had happened, but she and Clark had been married for twenty years and only conceived once.
Why hadn't she thought about birth control? But birth control hadn't been a part of her and Clark's love life since a year after the twins' birth. She cursed her mother's "fertile Myrtle" genes. Ellen had finally given up on ever going through "the change" and at fifty-six had had a hysterectomy. Lois snorted. The only change she had experienced was the occasional missed period over the last two years which could be caused by stress as much as anything else. Until she missed two in a row. Even then, she thought maybe it was starting. By the time it was three she started throwing up every morning. Not a sign of menopause. It had been time to pull her head out of the sand so she bought a test kit when she picked up some saltines and sprite. Lois groaned. She was fifty years old for God's sake. This wasn't supposed to happen to her. Mariel was due any day. She was going to be a grandmother. Could she really do the whole breast feeding, potty training, soccer mom thing again? And people would know. They'd know she slept with Clark. After they were divorced. Lois groaned again. It was so embarrassing. The whole world would know that Lois Lane couldn't keep her hands off her husband. Ex-husband. Whatever.
"It appears that you've missed your yearly visit for several years now, Lois. That's really not a good idea at your age. You really need yearly-" her gynecologist/obstetrician began.
"I've been in Irrat," she responded irritably. "Yearly visits with you weren't high on my to do list."
Dr. Streeter looked a little surprised at her snapping response. She recalled Lois as being a happily married woman, deliriously in love with her husband and immensely proud of her two children. "Okay. Well, I'm glad you came in today. We'll just take a look, get some samples, and make sure that everything is fine. I have noted that at your last visit you were still menstruating regularly and that you and your husband did not practice any methods of birth control. Just put your feet up here--"
Dr. Streeter's head flew up from where she was draping the sheet.
'That's right. You heard me. I did the test. It was blue. Positive."
"And your husband--"
"Ex-husband. I divorced Clark two years ago."
"I'm sorry to hear about that. Were you practicing birth control with your new partner or partners? We'll need to check you for a few more--"
"The baby is Clark's."
Again Dr. Streeter looked as if she were trying to hide her surprise.
Lois glared at her. "Come on, Dr. Streeter. You've seen my husband. If you were slightly tipsy and hormonally charged, you'd jump his bones too. Any woman would."
"Ex-husband," Dr. Streeter muttered.
"Come on, can you blame me? Oh, what am I going to do?" Lois wailed. She went from angry indignation to tears in an instant.
Dr. Streeter seemed pleased to have the situation back under her control. "First we're going to confirm your diagnosis," she said, opening a drawer and removing a blood collection tube. "And while the test is running, we're going to make sure that you are healthy. If you are pregnant, which you very well could be, we'll take a look, make sure the fetus is healthy and how far along you are, and discuss your options."
As tears streamed down Lois' face, Dr. Streeter collected all her samples before turning to pick up the gel. "You've done this before Lois, pull up your gown. Remember, the gel is going to be cold."
"Why hasn't that changed?" Lois muttered.
She heard the swish-swish of the ultrasound machine. This wasn't right. Clark should be here. She remembered his joy over learning of the existence of the twins. She had kept her suspicions about her pregnancy from him then, too, though for completely different reasons.
"Well, there it is. Looks like you're about eleven weeks."
Almost against her will, Lois turned to look at the screen.
"Oh my, God," she breathed. There it was. Another little miracle. A baby who shouldn't be. Her and Clark's creation.
"You can see the hand here and here's the spine, this little string of pearls..."
Lois wasn't listening. On the screen the baby squirmed as if disturbed from sleep. She felt a rush of love pour over her.
"If you don't want to go through with the pregnancy, we can do a D&C--"
"No. No way."
Dr. Streeter smiled to herself. She'd had a feeling that Lois' despair over finding herself pregnant would disappear once she saw her child. Lois had accompanied Mariel on several of her last OB visits and she knew how much the family treasured children.
"Then we need to discuss things like proper diet, exercise. You definitely fall into the category of advanced maternal age. I'd like you to see a doctor who specializes in high-risk pregnancies."
"Is something wrong with my baby?"
"Not that I can tell. Your baby looks perfectly normal to me, but you may want to have some genetic testing done since the chances of genetic abnormalities greatly increase with age. At you and your husband ... ex-husband's ages, your child is more likely to be born with down syndrome or autism. You're at a higher risk to develop high blood pressure and gestational diabetes as well as excessive bleeding and premature delivery."
"Can you recommend someone?"
"Sure. I'll give you some names and you can give them a call."
Lois left the office a little dazed yet exultant. She was really pregnant. She was fifty years old and she was having a baby. She was going to be a grandparent and she was going to have Clark's child.
How in the world was she going to tell him? What in the world was she going to say to her family?
As if to confirm what she already knew, she spent much of the next week hanging over the toilet. It was a good thing that she hadn't needed to work. If so she would have been calling in dead!
Dr. Streeter called to tell her that all her tests looked good and again recommended that Lois get in touch with an obstetrician specializing in high risk pregnancies and have some genetic testing done just so that she would know ahead of time if she would face some extra challenges with this child. Lois scoffed to herself. Dr. Streeter had no idea. Lois wondered if this child would be super-powered like JC.
"How are you feeling?" Dr. Streeter asked her.
"Sick. Most of the time."
"Well, there is a flu going around so that could also be part of it. Drink a lot of fluids. You don't want to get dehydrated and call me if you're worried about anything. If the nausea doesn't clear up pretty soon, let me know and I'll call in a prescription for you. The good thing is you'll be in your second trimester very soon and if you're lucky the morning sickness will go away."
"I sure hope so. Funny how you forget all this stuff."
Lois groped for the ringing phone. The second she opened her eyes she would be fighting overwhelming nausea.
"Hello," she moaned.
"Mom? Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, Mariel."
There was silence for a few seconds and Lois squinted her eyes open to glance at the clock. "Mariel, it's 3:00 in the morning."
"Oh! Right. I just wanted to let you know that Brian and I are heading to the hospital. I thought you might want to meet us there."
Lois sat up quickly. "Oohh." Big mistake.
Lois ignored her worried question. "How far apart are the contractions?"
"They're about five minutes apart and Brian checked and I'm at five centimeters, so I really am in labor."
"I'll be right there." As soon as I throw up, she thought as she ran to the bathroom.
She was not going to do this again. It wasn't just morning sickness that one forgot in twenty years.
Lois cringed as a moan escaped her daughter's white lips. Despite Lois and Brian's urging she had refused an epidural. "It hardly seems fair", she had whispered to Lois. "I hardly feel pain anyway." Well, it looked like she was feeling this. For someone not accustomed to pain it had to be overwhelming.
"I need to push!" Mariel insisted.
"You haven't been here long, and this is your first baby," the nurse said calmly. "Try to relax. It takes time."
"At least check," Brian cajoled the nurse. He must have learned charm from his father-in-law because the nurse caved.
"All right, but I'm telling you, this could take a while." As she talked she lifted the drape from around Mariel's knees. "Oh, my word."
Lois moved to the foot of the bed in time to see her granddaughter's curly black hair slip back out of sight as Mariel struggled to obey Brian's urges that she not push. It was too much. The contents of Lois' stomach when tumbling into the nearest trashcan.
"I'll call Dr. Streeter right away. Looks like this little girl is in a hurry," the nurse began.
"Mom?" Mariel questioned ignoring the nurse.
"Ms. Lane, if you're sick, you shouldn't be in here. I know you want to see your grandchild come into the world but I also know that you don't want her exposed to germs."
Dr. Streeter entered the room. "Mariel! They told me at the nurses' desk that you had come in so I thought I would peek in and see how you were."
"She's actually ready for you, Dr. Streeter," the nurse said proudly as if she had managed that herself.
"Really! In a hurry are you? Brian, how are you holding up? Still going to catch the baby? Lois, good to see you."
"Ms. Lane is vomiting. She should leave," the nurse informed condescendingly.
"She's fine," Dr. Streeter and Lois said simultaneously. The nurse sniffed and turned away.
"Thank you," Lois mouthed to Dr. Streeter.
Mariel groaned with effort and Lois winced as her daughter squeezed her hand. No way. No f ... uh ... freaking way was she doing that again. Lois wondered if she could just schedule her c-section now. There was no way she was going through labor. And she was getting a hysterectomy while she was at it. She was done with the whole reproductive thing.
But tears of joy poured down her face as Brian and Dr. Streeter laid the slimy baby on Mariel's stomach and the nurse began to clear her nose and mouth. She was beautiful. So tiny and perfect. "Oh, Mariel," she breathed.
Mariel was crying too and Brian hurried to the head of the bed to kiss his wife. "She's beautiful. Our little Laney. She's beautiful, honey."
"Brian! I wanted to tell Mom."
"I think your mom is so wrapped up in her granddaughter that she didn't even hear me," Brian teased.
"Hmmm?" Lois asked raising her head. Honestly she was feeling a little faint. She hadn't eaten since the night before and she had lost that. Maybe she should sit down. She moved to the chair at Mariel's side when the nurse took the baby to the examination table.
"Mom, Brian and I wanted to name the baby after you. You're so brave and strong. Everything we want her to be when she grows up. We're naming her Laney."
Her daughter thought she was brave and strong? Lois felt so many emotions welling up in her that she could hardly hold back the sobs. Why in the world had she gone to Irrat, thrown away her marriage trying to prove herself? Her daughter thought she was brave and strong. "You need to call Clark," she mumbled stumbling from the room as her daughter and son-in-law's attention returned to their new daughter. She had to get something to eat. Hopefully the cafeteria had toast.
She stood at the window staring in at tiny Laney. She was the most beautiful baby. Lois thought she looked just like Clark. Her hand rested on her flat abdomen. Would this baby look like Clark too? She sensed him come up beside her.
"Remember when it was Mariel in there? She was so tiny and she was such a little miracle. Her and JC."
"I remember," she said thickly.
"We're grandparents, Lois."
"I called JC and Mom and Dad. They're going to be here tonight. JC's giving them a ride."
"Good. I look forward to seeing them." Things were a little strained between her and Clark's parents, naturally, but they all knew that they still loved each other.
"She's so perfect," Clark whispered.
"Clark," Lois choked. "We have a problem. Well, not a problem really because that makes it sound like something bad. And it's not bad. It's good. Great. I mean, it wasn't planned or anything but--"
"You're babbling, Lois," Clark teased her.
"I am not." She hesitated a minute before handing him the picture she had been carrying around in her purse for a week. But he needed to know. "Here." She almost shoved the picture at him.
Clark looked at it briefly. "Why do you have an ultrasound of Laney? Is something wrong with her? Something we should have seen on this?"
Deep breath. She could do this. "Clark, that's not a picture of Laney. Look again." Clark turned the picture to get a better look. "It's not Mariel's baby, Clark. It's this baby." She laid a hand on her abdomen. "Our baby."
Hah! He had guessed every Christmas and birthday present for twenty years and she had finally surprised him. Clark's eyes flew to hers awaiting the punch line. "You ... you're not joking," he finally said slowly.
"No. Dr. Streeter confirmed it last week. We're going to be parents again in six and a half months."
"Oh my God," Clark started seeking a chair to fall into. "The night after your Pulitzer luncheon."
"I guess you thought that you were finally-" Clark had certainly heard her complaining about her mother's overly estrogen-loaded genes often enough.
"Yes, until I started throwing up."
"I don't even know what to say. Do you mind if I ...?" Clark touched the rim of his glasses.
"No. Peeking never hurt the twins, so I guess it's okay."
Clark pulled down his glasses and studied her for a minute. "Wow. It's really there." She knew it was not that Clark hadn't believed her simply that he wanted to see the life they had created for himself.
"Dr. Streeter wants me to make an appointment with a specialist."
"A specialist? Are you okay?"
"I'm over twice Mariel's age, Clark. I should be well past such things."
"Obviously your body disagrees."
"So does yours. Not that that is such a surprise." Ten years ago Lois had started helping Clark highlight his temples with gray hair color so that he would appear to be aging. Changing into Superman now included making sure the gray was colored with black mascara. She wondered who helped him color his hair now, Martha or Mariel, or if he managed the task himself. "Our baby is at a higher risk for genetic disorders. I mean it would be if ... but I don't even know if that needs to be a concern considering your super genes."
"Or it could be an even greater concern."
She nodded. Kryptonian and human genes had merged inexplicably and correctly once. Could they expect such a gift twice?
"Mariel's baby is a quarter Kryptonian and she seems fine. Maybe it is not really as big of a deal as Sam and Dr. Klein thought."
"And you? Are you okay?" He spoke with such concern that tears pooled in Lois' eyes for the hundredth time today.
"I'm... I'm fine, Clark. I'm worried about ... about a lot of things, but I'm fine. Seeing Mariel go through labor... I just ..."
Without asking permission, Clark's arms moved to surround her.
"Hey, hey. It's okay. Mariel thinks she's SuperWoman. You can have all the drugs you want."
"I think I'll just schedule a c-section. Actually, I think it's pretty likely at my age. I read that it was. I'm kind of old and worn out."
"You are not old and worn out."
She looked askance at him. "Just who was it who told me that I was too old to be a journalist?"
"I never said that! What I said was--"
Lois pulled from his arms. "Forget it, Clark. There's no use going over it all again."
He caught her hands. "Please, Lois. Let's not fight. Not today. We have a new granddaughter and we're going to be parents again. This is a good day. A great day. Let's not ruin it. Please."
"Okay. Okay, today we don't fight."
They all gathered in Mariel's room. The happy new dad, Brian; a beaming JC completely taken with his new niece; Martha and Jonathan, Ellen and Sam, and Clark, seated at the edge of it all. She had never thought about it, but he was alone again without her. She had given him two beautiful children, his blood family, but they had lives of their own. It wasn't right. The strongest, best man in the world should not have to feel alone.
Her thoughts turned back to Mariel's fussing. "You still look pale, Mom. Why don't you sit down? Are you sure you're okay?"
"Mariel, I'm fine. Let it go, okay?"
"You threw up, Mom. I can't ever remember you throwing up."
"I was excited."
"You threw up? When?" asked Ellen.
"When that stuck up nurse finally listened to me and checked to see that I really was ready to push."
"Mariel!" JC groaned.
"Oh, it was the best!" Brian teasingly told JC. "Laney looked like she was covered in grape jelly, all slimy, and ... Mom, are you okay?"
"I'm fine. I think I will sit down though."
"Lois, you do look a little green. I hope you're not coming down with the flu. Jonathan had it last week and I was so worried I would catch it and not be able to come see the baby. Don't want to share bad germs or anything," Martha commented.
"I don't have the flu!"
"Lois, germs are-" Lois eyes met Clark's as Sam launched into a medical explanation on germs. Just tell them, she begged.
"Lois isn't sick," Clark said standing to his feet. All eyes turned his way. Clark moved to Lois' side and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Funny. I had always planned to give you guys this speech when you were a little younger, certainly before you started having kids of your own. And I was going to start out, 'When mommies and daddies love each other very much...' Well, you're both grown up now and realize that that's not the way it always happens," Clark's voice held a note of bitterness.
"Dad, what are you talking about?" JC asked puzzled.
"Are you and Mom getting married again? You should, you know. You both love each other like crazy, you're just so stubborn!" Mariel said emphatically.
"What I'm trying to say is-" Clark began again.
"Oh my... Lois ... really," Ellen began to stutter.
"What?" asked Sam in confusion. Ellen whispered in his ear.
JC's eyes flew open wide. His Lane grandparents had no idea he could hear the whispered information. "You've *got* to be kidding," he said slowly.
"What?" Mariel asked her twin exasperated.
"Lois is pregnant," Clark finally finished.
Martha and Jonathan looked shocked. Mariel uttered a surprised cry. Brian smirked unable to hide his amusement at his in-law's shock.
"And who the hell is the father?" JC yelped.
"Me, of course," Clark said calmly.
"I mean biologically," JC clarified. "Just because Mom's your wife doesn't make you this kid's father."
"He's my ex-husband and he is the biological father. Good grief, JC, I had no idea you had such a low opinion of me."
JC instantly realized he had hurt his mother's feelings. "Mom, I'm sorry, I didn't mean... I mean you and Dad are divorced so it's kind of surprising that you two would... this is just ... well, a "super" surprise."
"Nothing super about it," Sam broke in. "It's Ellen's family curse, at least if you ask the women. Not so bad if you ask me, eh, Clark?"
Well, who knew Clark Kent could still blush?
"Okay, people," Mariel said. "I just had a baby and that is *way* more information than I needed to know. Mom, when are you due?"
"The first of March. But at my age there's a pretty good chance I won't go full term."
"Maybe this baby will be born on Clark's birthday." Martha must have recovered from the shock of becoming a great-grandparent and learning that she was going to be grandma again.
"That would be nice," Jonathan commented.
JC caught her arm and pulled her aside as they filed out of Mariel's room when the nurse insisted that visiting hours were over.
"I'm really sorry, Mom. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. I just didn't know that you and Dad ... you and Dad were..."
"We're not. It just ... happened. Until today I haven't even seen him since ... it happened."
"I bet you were surprised!"
"Surprised, scared, embarrassed."
"Mom, it's okay. It'll be fun."
"JC, I know Grandpa said there was nothing super about this pregnancy but I know what you meant. And maybe it is about your dad being super. My chances of getting pregnant were incredibly small even with a, well, normal man. But with your father, according to the testing we had done before you guys were conceived, well, it really should have been impossible. I was suspicious that Mariel was fudging a little bit when she said that Laney was a surprise, but now I'm not sure. Perhaps she is "super" receptive. I'm... I'm just saying be careful, JC. I know you're a man now and you don't want me telling you this, but being half human, you are even more likely to be genetically able impregnate someone, and with super sperm..."
"Mom, don't worry. I can be "very patient" too. And when the time comes, well, I promise to be careful." JC took his mother's embarrassing lecture graciously trying to make up for his thoughtless comment earlier.
"I need to get Gramps and Nanna back to the farm. Take care of yourself, okay? And take care of my little brother or sister. Wait, do you know yet which it is?"
"No. That's something I need to discuss with your father."
JC shook his head smiling, "You'd better re-marry him, Mom. This kid needs a dad."
Clark caught up to her as she was getting into her new Jeep Liberty.
"I think we have a lot to talk about."
Lois nodded. "We do, but I'm exhausted. Could we make it tomorrow afternoon?"
"Why not tomorrow morning?"
"Because I'm going to be hanging over the toilet. I'd rather not be throwing up while we try to sort through this."
"Sorry. I forgot about that part for a minute."
"Trust me. You forget about a lot of parts. Or no one would do this twice."
"Tomorrow afternoon then. Why don't we meet in Metropolis Park?"
"I'll be there."
Lois liked the park. It was so peaceful and held such good memories. "They're going to want to do genetic testing, Clark, because of the likelihood of abnormalities at our age. But I don't think that is a good idea. Do you?"
"If someone was to notice the differences and since they would be looking for abnormalities..."
"It's not safe for JC and Mariel."
"So, no testing then. Just tell them that the results would make no difference. We're having this baby anyway."
"I called a couple of the specialists that Dr. Streeter recommended. One of them has privileges at Metropolis General so I think that would be the best choice. I have an appointment next week. Will you ... do you want to come?"
"I'll be here as much as you'll let me."
"It's your baby too, Clark. I want you to be there."
"Why is the gel always cold?" Lois muttered as the technician prepared her for the ultrasound.
Clark squeezed her hand. "It'll be okay, Lois."
Trust Clark to know that she was really just nervous about what the doctor might find.
The doctor made lots of notes as she ran the sonogram over Lois abdomen.
"Is everything all right?" Lois finally asked.
"Everything looks fine at this point, Ms. Lane. Two arms, two legs, ten finger and toes. Heart looks good."
"It's just one, right?" asked Clark.
"Yes. Which since you've had twins in the past is kind of unusual. Statistically, at your age, you were more likely to conceive twins with this pregnancy than your prior one." Dr. Groner looked intrigued at the thought.
"One is plenty," assured Lois.
"I see that you've declined genetic screening?" the doctor asked a little disapprovingly.
"We're keeping the baby anyway, so we don't see the point," Clark hurried to give their prepared explanation.
"Well, some couples would rather know one way or the other just so they know ahead of time what they are getting into."
"Hah. No prospective parent knows what they are getting into," Lois scoffed.
The doctor broke into a smile then. "You're right about that. At least you've been through all this before and have a good idea of what to expect. Did you discuss a birthing plan with Dr. Streeter?"
"Dr. Streeter just confirmed the pregnancy and offered a little support to me in my shock. She did say that I might need a prescription for the nausea."
"It lasts until about 1:00 but it is every day and pretty severe. Dr. Streeter said to drink lots of fluids."
"Continue doing that and I'll send some samples home with you. You can see if they help. Are you contemplating a natural childbirth?"
"No way!" Lois said emphatically.
"Our daughter just gave birth," Clark explained. "Lois was there for moral support."
"Not sure how supportive I was, but I do know that I don't want to go through that. I was thinking of a c-section."
Dr. Groner nodded. "That's a good plan. At your age the likelihood of you needing a c-section is at least forty percent anyway. By planning on it ahead of time, we can be in better control of the situation."
"I'd like a hysterectomy at the same time. We can do it then, right?"
"We certainly can. It's probably a good idea. At your age the chances of developing cancer are increased because of all the extra estrogen in your system."
"Can we schedule it for February 28th? It's Clark's birthday."
"That's a little earlier than I was thinking, but if your pregnancy progresses normally I don't see why not. I'll have the nurse schedule it. I'm going to write you a prescription for some vitamins that will be more effective for you than the ones Dr. Streeter has you on and get those samples for you. Your sugars look good, but we need to continue to monitor them because you are at a higher risk for gestational diabetes at your age." Dr. Groner left the room.
"I'm glad she's gone. If she said 'At your age' one more time, I was going to slug her, Clark!"
Clark chucked and helped her sit up.
"I'm not kidding!" she insisted.
"Let me buy you dinner," Clark said.
"You don't have to do that."
"Lois, just let me buy you dinner."
She didn't want to go home to her empty, lonely apartment anyway. "All right. No pasta though."
Clark gave a great shout of laughter. "I promise. No pasta."
"It's pretty amazing isn't it? A baby."
"If you dare say 'at our age', Clark, I swear I won't be responsible for my actions."
"Well, it is, isn't it? Was it me, was it you, was it both of us ... just the right time and the right place."
"Well, I don't see how it could be me. I mean, yes, I'm fertile, but my eggs are just as old as any fifty year old's. You're the one with stabilized aging."
"When we were trying to conceive the twins, I remember reading that abstaining could help. Do you think that could have something to do with it?"
"I don't think that would make a difference for me, Clark. The eggs are either there or they're not."
"I meant me."
"Well, I suppose. Do you remember how long it said? Had it been that long?"
Clark looked surprised. "Lois, I've never been with anyone but you. I've never wanted to."
"Really? You're, well, you're you and you're gorgeous and, well ... really?"
"Lois, you may have divorced me, but I'm still in love with you."
"We argue all the time."
"We haven't argued in," he checked his watch, "two hours."
"No wonder I'm tired."
"From not arguing?"
Lois laughed. "No, from being up for so long. I think that I should take my 'at my age' body home to bed."
There was a flash in Clark's eyes and for a moment she thought Clark was going to make some sexy comment about her body. But he didn't. Which was fine with her. Wasn't it?
"Lois, it's Clark."
"I was just wondering how you were feeling."
"I was thinking, wondering, about expenses. This is my baby too. I need to help cover any expenses."
"Clark, it's only ten in the morning. Tell me you weren't up all night obsessing over this."
"Well, not all night. I put out a fire in a warehouse in Hobbs Bay."
"I gave Myerson the story. He writes pretty well."
"Yes. Next to you, he was my best reporter."
"Still, I was wondering--"
"Clark, my insurance will cover my medical costs."
"What about clothes for you and the baby. And furniture. And where are you going to put the baby in your apartment? There's only one bedroom."
"The baby can my share my room. Wait a second. You've never been to my apartment, how did you know it is only a one bedroom? And don't tell me that Mariel just happened to mention it."
"Okay, so I check on you occasionally."
"Clark, you cannot run my life!"
"Lois, I'm not trying to run your life! I was just checking up on you. Admit it. It has come in handy once in a while."
"Okay, I admit it, but you--"
"Please, let's not argue, Lois. I'm not trying to tell you what to do. I'm not trying to run your life. I'm just trying to be responsible, do the right thing."
"I think I have it covered. But if you really want to do something for me... "
"Some of that Lindbergh cheese you got me when I was pregnant with the twins and some of those sausages from Germany would be great."
"Yes. It seems like since I've had my pregnancy confirmed that all the symptoms have intensified as if trying to make up for lost time. Nausea, cravings..." and not just for food. But she wasn't going to mention that one to Clark.
"Lindbergh and brats coming right up."
Lois hung up the phone and dragged herself from the bed to unlock the front door. She had just settled in bed again when Superman tapped on her window.
"Aaagh. Why didn't you just come to the door as Clark? Now I have to get up again."
She unlocked the window.
"Sorry," he said stepping in.
"You have the cheese and sausages?" Clark handed her the package. "Then you're forgiven. Want some?"
Clark curled his lip. "I think I'll pass."
Lois began to un-wrap her snack.
"Lois, that cheese is an assault on super senses. How can you eat that stuff?"
"Normally I can't stand it either, but I guess our babies like it."
"Do you ever wonder if this one will be super powered like JC or more like Mariel?"
"It will be interesting to find out."
"Have you seen Laney lately?"
"Mariel and I are going to lunch today."
"Good. She's a beautiful little girl."
"They both are."
"Mariel seems really happy."
"I think she is."
"Well, I guess I should go."
"You can stay if you want. I... I get lonely sometimes. I thought maybe you did to. Unless you need to get back to work."
Clark only nodded, "I can stay," but his eyes said a lot more. He *was* lonely too.
"I was kind of surprised to see Dad when I picked you up," Mariel commented.
"Trust me, daughter, there is nothing like Superman's fast food express when you have super-baby cravings. I think he needed to do something, so I let him."
"Goodness, I remember those days. Pickles and ice-cream. And Brian. I could hardly keep my hands off him. It's amazing that he passed his exams. I didn't leave him much time to study!" She grinned in happy memory.
"Is my granddaughter sleeping through the night?" Lois asked to change the subject quickly.
"Not yet, but she only wakes up once or twice. Once I feed her I roll over and go back to sleep. Brian rocks her until she goes back to sleep while he studies. She doesn't care what he's saying so he recites to her. She'll probably want to be a doctor too."
"It sure would make her Grandpa Lane happy to have a doctor in the family."
It developed into a pattern. Not every day, but several days a week Clark would call and ask if she was craving anything. The nausea was beginning to fade so she felt a little guilty staying in bed until mid-morning in hopes that he would call and then bring over her breakfast order. It reminded her of when they were dating and while she had been rattling on about how he didn't have to bring her chocolate and snow he had zipped out and gotten them for her. He still wanted to fulfill her every wish and she still just really wanted one thing- for Clark to love her and allow her to be who she really was. Lois truly believed that Clark had accepted that fact at the time, but over the years he had become accustomed to the comfort of knowing that the most danger that Lois would find herself in would be a car accident or food poisoning from her own cooking. She might be fifty years old but she was not ready for the old folk's home. Lois Lane would never be the type to sit safely at home while the world rushed around her. Becoming a mother had already placed her in that role once before. It had been the right thing to do for her children. She knew that. And this pregnancy was keeping her tired enough that she hardly cared what was going on in the world around her. Why should she resist being served coffee and chocolate in bed by the handsomest man in the world, the man that made her blood sing thorough her veins, who made her feel ... alive?
As she propped herself against the pillows leaning against he headboard, Clark tapped lightly on her open door. She looked up at him.
"I brought your box of Double Fudge Crunch bars from the Planet concession area. Honestly, Lois, is it really right to keep getting the Planet's break on these when you don't work there any more?"
"I had it written into my early retirement settlement," she teased back reaching for the box. She groaned as she opened the wrapper on one of the bars. "That smells so good."
Clark shook his head in amusement, "I've never understood why you like those so much. You can have the best chocolate in the world and you prefer the cheap stuff."
"Just because something is expensive doesn't mean it is better. I like cheap chocolate. So what?"
"How are you feeling this morning?" he asked sitting down on the side of the bed.
"Not bad. Must be the chocolate. Oh!" her hand flew to her stomach.
"What's wrong? Are you okay, is the baby--"
Lois laughed. "You are so obsessive. Everything's fine, but I wonder if this baby is a girl. She seems to like chocolate. That's the first time I've been sure I felt her move."
"You still don't even look pregnant. It's hard to believe she's really there sometimes."
"So that's why you've been feeding me. You're trying to fatten me up so you can watch me get as big as a whale."
"You're not going to get as big as a whale. Trust me, after that beaching in Australia, I have moved my share of whales so I know what I'm talking about. You have lost weight in the last two years though."
"In Irrat we just ate when we could. Food's not really plentiful there. And then with the nausea I lost a couple pounds, but Dr. Groner is encouraging me to try to keep my weight gain to a minimum. At my age, you know, carrying around an extra thirty pounds will be hard on my bone structure."
"Dr. Groner is getting on my nerves. You're a very young fifty, Lois, and Dr. Groner is no spring chicken herself."
"Oh! There she goes again. Look and see what she's doing."
Clark pulled his glasses down. "She's moving her legs. Now she stopped, just kind of hanging there, relaxing, and uh, Lois, did you want to know the sex?"
"Why, can you tell?"
"Well, the way the baby's sitting, it's kind of out there for anyone to see."
"To anyone who's super and can look anyway. I guess, since you know, you might as well tell me."
"Well unless our kid has three legs--"
"A boy! I guess *he* likes chocolate."
"Our little Pulitzer," Clark said reaching to rub her barely there bump affectionately.
Lois couldn't help but laugh.
Clark turned his head to look at her. "Lois, we need to talk about what we're going to do about us. This baby deserves two parents."
"Not today, Clark. I don't want to fight. We just found out we're having a boy. Let's just enjoy that, okay?"
"Okay, as long as you realize we are going to have to talk about this sometime. And *before* Pulitzer here makes his appearance."
"I tried to talk to Lois about our relationship today," Clark said, leaning back in his chair.
"And how did she respond?" Dr. Caroll queried in her calm therapist voice. "That she didn't want to fight."
"And how did that make you feel?"
"How did I know you were going to ask that?" Clark sat forward earnestly. "It frustrates me. I want this settled."
"And what does "settled" mean to you?"
"Me and Lois back together again. Married. Living in the same house. Back the way things were."
"But Clark, from what you've told me, "the way things were" wasn't actually so great."
Clark sighed. When Lois had left him two years ago he had gotten horribly depressed. It was part of the reason that he had agreed to take Lois' vacated position as editor of the Daily Planet. It required less of him emotionally than reporting did. But his kids were very worried about him and with the tenacity of Mad Dog Lane, Mariel convinced him to see a therapist that Brian recommended. Clark had argued that it was dangerous for him to confide in any one. He could not take the chance of his "super" secret slipping out.
"Who was married to Lois Lane, Dad? Clark Kent or Superman?"
"Clark Kent. Superman doesn't have a wife."
"And Clark Kent can find plenty to talk about without Superman ever entering the conversation. You're scaring me, Dad. Mom is off in Irrat and I miss her and it's almost like you're all I have left and-" Mariel's voice was thick with tears. Her emotions were real, but she also knew what would turn her dad into mush.
"Okay, okay, honey. I'll go," he assured her.
And that was why two years later he was still sitting across the desk from Dr. Caroll. Once he had come out of the depression of losing Lois, he still continued to see Dr. Caroll on an as needed basis.
"Sorry, Dr. Caroll. I was a little lost in thought there. I guess I did think things were good at the time. But if things fell apart so quickly when the kids graduated then you're right, they really weren't as good as I thought."
"Perhaps that is why Lois is hesitant to enter into a relationship with you again."
"We're already in a relationship. We're having a baby. We're parents and grandparents together. We're in a relationship whether she likes it or not."
"That is all true, Clark, but that's not what you want, is it?"
"It's not all I want. I'm trying to follow your advice and not pressure her, but it is so hard. I hate being in limbo."
"Now that's interesting. So when you and Lois were married, you felt that things were settled. That your life was complete."
"Yes! Lois was always there for me."
"And then suddenly she wasn't. You had felt that you had finished, accomplished, completed your relationship. Clark, did you ever hear the theory that a relationship is like a tender plant that has to be nourished?"
"Clark, I think that you and Lois started out with a good foundation. That is probably what kept your marriage together for so long. But somewhere along the line you let other things take the place of time that you should have been spending with Lois tending the plant of your relationship. Maybe your job, your children, some other outside pursuits?"
"I ... yes, I stay pretty busy."
"How do you think that made Lois feel?"
Clark squirmed. "Like she wasn't the most important thing in my life. But she is! She knew that. But the ... other things ... that I do, those are important too. She knew about those obligations when we married."
"Clark, your situation isn't all that unusual. I feel that you and Lois still care for each other. I think her pregnancy is evidence of that. You need to court her, and when, *if* that brings about a remarriage, you need to continue to court her. Show her that no matter what your obligations, her wants and needs are important to you too."
"She has said that she tried to tell me that she wanted to return to reporting but I wouldn't listen. Everything just got so busy right then."
"If you want your relationship to work, you're going to have to make the time, Clark."
"So noted, Dr. Caroll."
"Now, let's end on a good note. Tell me about that new granddaughter of yours."
Court Lois. Well, that shouldn't be too hard. He saw her several times a week under the guise of satisfying her weird pregnancy cravings hoping to keep the morning sickness at bay. But his x-ray vision had told him that the past few times he come by, Lois had already been up and around and had fled into her bedroom and back into her bed as soon as she heard his key in the lock. His key that she hadn't even asked how he had obtained. He had persuaded Mariel to let him make a copy of hers so that Lois wouldn't have to get up to let him in. Mariel was anxious to see them back together and had risked her mother's disapproval to aid the cause.
"Are you busy tomorrow night?" Clark asked as he sat on Lois' bed sharing her rocky-road ice-cream straight from the carton.
"Why?" Lois asked him, giving him a suspicious look.
"I'd like to take you and Pulitzer out to dinner."
"You've *got* to quit calling our son Pulitzer, Clark! Someone is going to ask why." But the way she grinned told him that she rather liked his pet name for the baby.
"If you'll go out to dinner with me, I promise I won't call him Pulitzer, not for a few hours anyway."
"Why is it that 'take me to dinner' is now 'go out to dinner with me'? Are you asking me out?"
"Well, I'm not asking you for money." They both smiled remembering the first time he had tried asking her for a date and she thought he was asking for a loan.
"A date? You mean a real date? Like where I take out my best perfume, the one I bought after seeing 'Love Affair', the good one not the remake- or is it the re-remake now?, and put a dab behind my knee, even though I have no idea why?"
Clark struggled to remember his lines from that life-changing conversation they had had so long ago. "Yeah... I guess that's what I'm saying."
"Where is Jimmy when I need him?" Lois grumbled.
"Perhaps you'd like to think about it since I've already had time to think about it, plan what I wanted to say, what I'd say depending on what you say..."
Lois laughed before her expression grew sober. "What is this about, Clark?"
"This is about you and me. At the least, we need to have a very amicable relationship for the sakes of all our children, and at most, well, let's just see what happens, okay?"
"Clark, I'm not sure I can do this again."
"It won't be *this*. I made mistakes, Lois. I can't say I won't worry about you. It isn't possible for me to keep that promise, but I will try to remember that you have another identity than wife and mother just like I have another identity than Clark Kent, Editor, Daily Planet. You've always allowed me to be Superman and I need to allow you to be Lois Lane, Super Reporter. I want to give you the same support that you have always given me. So we're not going to do "this" again; I want to try for something better. Something that will make you feel fulfilled in all your identities."
Wow. How could she refuse after a speech like that?
Clark snapped shut his cell phone with a sigh. "I'm sorry, so sorry, Lois. I need to stop off at the Planet right quick before dinner. I'm really sorry."
"Clark! I was editor for several years. It's okay. I understand that there are times when only the boss will do."
"It'll just take a minute."
"Fine. I'll just wait here."
"Why? Come in and help me and maybe I'll get this taken care of in half the time."
"No, I'm fine here."
"Lois? What's the problem?"
"You *are* mad at me."
"No, I'm not."
"Yes, you are."
"No, I'm ... well, actually I am starting to be. Just let it go, okay?"
"I don't want to run into anyone, okay!"
"I just don't."
"It's 7:00, Lois. There will only be a few people there working late."
"Take a peek and tell me who."
"You're kidding, right?"
Lois gave him a disgusted look.
"Okay, not kidding." He pulled down his glasses and peered through the ceiling of his car, the paring garage and several floors of the Daily Planet. "Looks like a researcher, one who has started since you left, Morty in Obits, Jane in sports, also new, the security guard--"
"All right, then."
Clark replaced his glasses and looked at her. "That was quick."
"I have to pee. Pulitzer's sitting on my bladder."
Clark started to chuckle. "Stop laughing, Kent, or I can find my way home."
"Sorry. Hopefully this won't take long and we'll be back on our way."
"Clark? Clark!" Lois' whisper invaded Clark's thoughts as he looked over tomorrow's proof while mentally cursing his junior editor who was conveniently incommunicado after cutting off one of the sentences on the front page.
Clark looked up from the proof and looked out to the pit. Where was she and why was she whispering?
"Clark, I need your help."
The baby! Something was wrong with the baby.
"I'm sort of stuck."
Not the baby then. Stuck where? Clark set the proof down and told the copy boy standing by to take it back to the print shop. "One second, I need to check on something right quick."
"I'm stuck in a storage closet by the bathrooms."
How had she ended up in there?
"The door must have locked automatically. Please get me out."
The pit was deserted when he walked past. "Lois?" he called.
"Clark! In here."
"Lois, what are you doing in the closet?"
"Just get me out of here, Clark!"
"As soon as I can, but Lois, I don't have a key to this closet."
"Why ever not? You're the editor! You should have keys to every room on this floor. In this whole building! Why don't you have a key to this closet?"
"It's a cleaning supplies closet, Lois, for the cleaning crew. I really have no need to get in there and we keep the cleaning supplies locked up because they kept disappearing."
"Disappearing? Who was taking them?"
"I don't know for sure. It might be someone doing it as a prank, or someone trying to save money by taking products to use as home. Or someone picking up the chemicals to make drugs--"
"Making drugs from supplies pilfered from legitimate businesses. That would make a great story, Clark!"
"Great story or not, you're still stuck in the closet. So sit tight while I find that security guard. Oh, and I need to give the okay on the proof so Bob can get it back downstairs--"
"Why can't you just get me out of here?"
"I can, but people might wonder why Superman busted down the door of the supply closet. There's no window to that room and the hinges are on the inside. There's no way that Clark Kent can get you out of there."
"Lois, are you okay?"
"Yes, just hurry, okay?"
"Do you want me to stay with you?"
"No, I'm fine, but you better be glad I already peed or secret identity or not Superman would be getting me out of this closet pronto!"
"I'll be right back, I promise."
Clark rushed back to his office. "Just go with that," he told the waiting copy boy and scooped his cell phone off his desk. He quickly punched in the number to the lobby while he walked back to Lois. "Yes, this is Clark Kent. Please tell the guard I need him in the pit with the keys to the cleaning supplies closet as soon as possible."
"Are you going to get me out of here?"
Clark sighed. "Yes, but apparently the guard is new and not yet entrusted with all the keys so the head of security has to be tracked down, and he's not answering at home--"
"So it's gonna be a while."
"It's dark in here, Clark."
"I'm right here, Lois." Clark scooted down against the wall and stuck his fingers under the door. Warm fingers grasped his instantly. "What exactly were you doing in the closet?"
"I was headed to your office when I spotted Ralph heading towards the men's room. So I ducked in here so he wouldn't see me."
"I know Ralph can be a pain, but--"
"I didn't want to see him, I didn't want to talk to him, and I didn't want it announced to all and sundry that I "did you" even after I divorced you."
"And don't try to tell me that Ralph wouldn't do that. We both know that he would."
Clark chuckled. "Probably."
"Lois, is it so bad? Are you really so upset about Pulitzer? Sometimes you seem really happy about it and then there are times, like now... I just don't get it, Lois."
"Oh, Clark." He heard her give a deep sigh. "I *am* happy about the baby. It certainly wasn't something I ever dreamed about, at least not in the last eight or so years, but I love him already. I worry all the time about him, I'm afraid I won't be able to carry him long enough to give him a good chance at life. I'm afraid that I won't be a good mother, that I'm just too old and out of the loop. I'm afraid people like Ralph will judge me and our child. And I... I'm... Clark, I don't want to do this alone."
"You're not alone, Lois." Clark squeezed her fingers. "I'm here for you in any way you want me to be. And not just because of the baby, but because I love you and I'm the biggest fool in the world for letting you get away. What happened to us, Lois? Why?"
"Clark, don't think for a minute that I regret being JC and Mariel's mother. To even be a part of two such wonderful people's lives is an honor. But I *do* wish I could have done both. Other women have a family and a career. I don't understand why I was so incapable of doing so. I needed to get that story. I needed to prove to *myself* that I was the reporter that I always wanted to be."
"And I didn't listen."
"Why, Clark? I always thought we had a pretty good relationship. Why didn't we talk to each other?"
"I always felt bad that I wasn't able to be there for you and the kids as much as I wanted to be. Yet any time I had to miss being Superman because I was with you I felt bad. I constantly struggled with what was more important. Spending time with my family or saving someone else's family. Once JC and Mariel graduated I felt like I didn't have a right to tune out those calls for help any more. Like maybe now I could make up for any calls I hadn't answered in the past because I chose to spend time with them. But I forgot the most important person in my life. I took it for granted that you would understand."
"I do understand that you have to help people, Clark. But I still miss you when you're not there. And because of the reason, there wasn't anyone else I could talk to. Mariel was just starting out in her own marriage and your mom doesn't need to be worrying about us."
"Why ... why did you divorce me?"
"Oh, that was so stupid. I guess I figured that if we weren't married then it wouldn't hurt that you didn't have time to talk to me. And we argued all the time anyway. I wish I hadn't done it. And I never meant to go to Irrat by myself. It was supposed to be Lane and Kent together again, but it just--"
"And I got mad instead of listening to your explanation. But I was scared that you were getting farther and farther away from me."
"We were a pair of fools. That's what we were."
"Lois, we don't have to stay fools. If you will let me back into your life, it will be different. JC is ready to take on more of Superman's responsibilities. He can especially handle all the PR stuff that he can schedule around his classes. And Mariel is happy as a stay at home mom so Pulitzer can stay with her anytime that you need to work."
"I'm not even sure I want to go back to work. I'm not really sure what I want to do, but right now... I'm just so tired all the time." Lois voice was wobbly with stress and tears.
"Ah, Lois. I wish there was something I could do."
"You can't. I know you would if you could."
"So where do we go from here?"
"Out of this closet would be nice." Clark could sense Lois mentally square her shoulders and push away from the moment of weakness. Lois might be willing to let him back into her life, but she wasn't going to throw the door wide open. No, Clark was going to have to work at opening the door slowly and carefully.
Clark could hear Lois moving around.
"How soon is your guy going to get here?"
"Shouldn't be long now."
"Well, it had better be sooner than later."
"Lois! Are you OK?"
"I need to pee again!!" she wailed. "And stop laughing!"
Clark smothered his chuckle.
"Well, that was a date to remember." Clark was walking Lois to her apartment door.
Lois laughed. Feeding a pregnant woman put her in a remarkably good humor considering how the evening had progressed. "Yeah, after being stuck in the closet for an hour, the rest of the date had a hard act to follow!" She gave a huge yawn. "Pulitzer and I need a rest after all that excitement."
"I am SO sorry", Clark apologized as he had continued to do throughout the evening.
"Clark, you didn't put me in the closet. Of course, you did leave me in there for an hour." She couldn't resist rubbing it in.
"How can I make it up to you?"
"Let me think on it and I'll let you know."
Clark gave her a rueful glance. "Okay, other than the closet incident, did you have fun?"
"Yes, it was very nice. And don't worry; I won't slam the door in your face."
"Good to know. And do you kiss on the first date?"
Clark raised his hands in surrender, "I take that as a no."
"I just... I just, I need time, Clark."
"You've got it. You're the boss."
"No! I don't want to be the boss! That is not what I'm saying. You are so infuriating. And I'm so tired!"
Clark quickly took the key from her, opened the door and ushered her inside to sit down. "That's not what I meant. It came out all wrong."
"I don't want to be the boss. I want us to be in this together."
"That's what I want too, really. What I was trying to say is that I want whatever you want. We'll do this, whatever this is, wherever this leads, at your pace."
Together. I promise."
Lois' scowl left her face and she nodded.
Clark could see that she was clearly exhausted. "What can I do to help you the most right now?"
"Just point me in the direction of my bed and lock up behind you."
"It's not that I don't want to kiss you. That has always been good between us. The problem would be stopping, and I'm tired, and I don't think we're ready for that just yet."
Clark immediately stood taller, as if a burden had been removed from his shoulders. He looked up and met her eyes. "Thank you for telling me. Now, you need to get to bed. I'll lock up."
With the awkwardness of that first date out of the way, Clark and Lois spent more time together and Clark carefully planned "real dates" as well. Lois appreciated that he was going very slowly. Although old hurts sometimes caused their tempers to flare, they both had acknowledged to themselves that they wanted to get back together full-time eventually.
How long they would have continued on this road, who knows? But as Lois completed her twentieth week of pregnancy, stories began to circulate in the news of escalating terrorist threats in Irrat. Lois could not help but think of the people that she had spent two years with, of the children who were happy despite the conditions that they lived in, who didn't even know that there was a better life than the one they had. Clark was very sympathetic to her sadness and for the first time she shared with him her experiences, not just what she had printed in the Daily Planet or was publishing in her book.
"I wish we had gone together," Clark said regretfully as he held her close in his arms as they sat on the couch watching an update.
"Hmmn. Me too."
Their coziness was interrupted as Clark's body became stiff just as the news announcer flashed upon the screen. "This just in: The terrorists have dumped a container that is leaking radioactive materials into the water supply in Irrat. It appears that the container began to leak in the terrorist's camp. When the terrorists began to suffer the effects of radioactive poisoning, the affected terrorists were instructed to get rid of the poison in the place it would do the greatest damage while unaffected members of the terrorist group got as far away from the substance as possible. Many of Irrat's citizen's are beginning to suffer from the poisoning of their water supply. Red Cross workers have only just identified the illness that has been affecting Irrat's citizens for several days and the quick thinking of Irratian soldiers led to the discovery of the source. The US will be dispatching a shipment of safe drinking water and medical supplies to Irrat as soon as possible and offering their assistance with the clean up." The picture of the Irratian people that flashed across the screen made Lois' stomach churn. She began to cry as she recognized some of the faces.
Clark stood quickly, "Lois, I've got to go."
Lois nodded. "I know. I'm coming too."
"No, Lois, you can't--"
"This is not the time to try to tell me what to do!"
"Lois." Clark said nothing more as his hand slid over her stomach where she was now most definitely starting to show.
"Oh. I forgot for a minute."
"I'm sorry. I know you want to help." Clark spun into his Superman costume.
"Be safe, Clark."
"I'll be home as soon as I can. Call Mariel and JC if you need anything. Please take care of yourself." He dropped to his knees and placed a kiss on her tummy. "You, too, Pulitzer. No funny stuff. Behave and go easy on your mom." He stood back to his feet and pressed a kiss on her forehead, then headed to the window.
Lois grabbed his arm. "Clark, I love you."
Clark stepped out of the window, turned, and floated down until he was eye level with her. "I love you, too, Lois. Always." Then he turned and shot off towards the east.
Within seconds, Superman's arrival in Irrat had made the news, and her phone began to ring.
"Mom? I just saw the news. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, Mariel, but I was wondering about the paper."
"Dad'll call in. He's very careful to either make an appearance or call in sick. He probably will give Perry a call to fill in as editor if it looks like an emergency will take a while. Which this one will since he'll be radioactive."
"Perry and Alice left for Graceland yesterday."
"Wow. Bad timing."
"I'll go in."
"Do you think that's a good idea? With the baby and all?"
"It's a great idea. I need to keep busy. And the baby's fine."
"Dad won't like it."
"Well, he wouldn't let me go with him. So if I can't be there helping, I'll help here so that he can be there."
"So ... how are things going with you two?"
"They're going. When there's anything that you and JC need to know, we'll tell you. Otherwise, just let us figure this out on our own."
"Got it. So, if Laney and I come by and make sure you stop for lunch tomorrow, will that be okay?"
"Of course! I love to go to lunch with my girls."
Lois' heart was beating fast with excitement as she entered the newsroom the next day. She had chosen an outfit that was comfortably loose, hiding Pulitzer's presence. Not that anyone would be expecting someone of her age to be gaining weight due to a pregnancy, but she didn't want to be the topic of discussion in the newsroom. Not for that reason any way. She was looking forward to working again. She already had an editorial floating in her head that she needed to get down on paper to accompany the inevitable articles about the situation in Irrat. Since she had worked with most of the reporters when she had been editor, convincing them that Clark had asked her to fill in while he was sick and Perry was on vacation shouldn't be a problem.
As she anticipated, no one had questioned her stepping in to the editor's position. She couldn't believe that a few weeks ago she hadn't wanted to come in to the Planet for fear of someone speculating about her and Clark and now she didn't care what they thought. She guessed that knowing that both she and Clark were going to make the changes necessary to make their marriage work, that they both wanted it to work, made all the difference. Mariel insisted that she take a break for lunch and fretted the whole time about Lois taking it easy. Lois countered that she was taking it easy and that she had every intention of leaving the Planet at a reasonable hour, and going home to put her feet up. She appreciated that Mariel worried about her even while she was amused at her mothering.
She signed off on the layout at 6:00 and left the night editor in charge of any problems that might crop up overnight. Clark had confidence that the young man would be an excellent editor one day but had mentioned that he still need a bit of mentoring at this point.
She *was* more tired that she had let on to Mariel and she had no intention of arriving early at the Planet tomorrow. She watched the news in Irrat, which was full of praise for Superman's assistance with the radiation clean-up, then rolled over and went right to sleep.
It was 9:00 the next morning before she opened her eyes. She frowned at her swollen ankles as she dressed and made a note to herself to keep off her feet as much as possible.
That's pretty much how the rest of the week went. She had called Dr. Groner about her swollen ankles and Dr. Groner had said that it wasn't abnormal but that she needed to watch her diet and if she started experiencing headaches or dizziness to come in to have her blood pressure read and her urine checked for protein.
Clark woke her with a tap on her window. She instantly came awake and hurried to let him in. To anyone else, Superman would appear as he always did, but Lois could read the weariness in his eyes and the droop of his shoulders. "Oh, Clark." She put her arm around his waist and led him to her bed, giving him a little push to encourage him to sit. She sat beside him. "Was it bad?"
Of course, she knew that it had been horrible. Sometimes Clark would talk about it. And when it was really bad, he wouldn't talk at all. He would just want to hold her. Her heart broke for all the times over the last few years when there had been no one to hold him after the many disasters he assisted with. Clark let out a shuddering sigh as he nodded. Lois moved behind him and rubbed his shoulders.
Lois continued to rub, even removed his cape because the folds kept getting in her way. She wasn't sure when it had happened, but she realized that the tension in his body had changed. "Clar--"
Clark turned and almost lunged for her. She fell back onto the mattress. "Lois, Lois." He pressed kisses on her face until he found her lips. After a thorough kiss that made her head spin, he kissed his way down her body to her stomach. He rubbed her belly, kissing her abdomen, taking joy in the life there. Lois watched him as he knelt there, still dressed in the Suit. Then he looked up at her with both a deep hurt and need in his eyes. "Lois--"
"Yes." Lois plunged her fingers into his thick hair, guiding back up to her lips. "Yes."
When Lois awoke the next morning, she stretched, and a smile crossed her face and she acknowledged how wonderful she felt and just why she felt so good.
She squinted open her eyes to see Clark lying on his belly, looking at her. "What?"
"I'm afraid to say anything. I said the wrong thing last time."
"So you're not making any assumptions this time?"
"Good, you learned something. Now let me have the sheet. I really need to go pee." Lois pulled the sheet around her and hurried to the bathroom. She could hear Clark's chuckle in her wake.
By the time she returned, dressed in sweat pants and a faded, well-worn Metropolis Tigers sweatshirt, Clark had a fresh plate of croissants and fruit waiting. He quickly helped her rearrange the bedding and they enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in bed.
Later, Lois would remember that as the last "normal" day of her pregnancy. She and Clark enjoyed each other's company all day- and all night! -- but when she woke the next morning she had a blindingly horrible headache and felt very light-headed. Clark was easily able to persuade her to take a trip to Metropolis General's emergency room to meet Dr. Groner. As they had instantly suspected, Lois' blood pressure had skyrocketed and she was suffering from preeclampsia. Dr. Groner assured them that while it wasn't a good diagnosis, of course, it wasn't totally unexpected at Lois' age. Lois waited until Dr. Groner's back was turned to roll her eyes at Clark.
"You don't appear to be having any contractions and the baby doesn't seem to be in any distress. As you know, the only cure for preeclampsia is delivery, but I want to put that off as long as possible to allow the baby to grow. So what I'm going to do is prescribe bed rest. Complete bed rest!" she said over Lois' protests. "I'm also prescribing an antihypertensive drug to help to manage your hypertension and magnesium to hopefully ward off any seizures." She could tell by the way Lois and Clark's faces sobered that they were acknowledging the seriousness of the situation. "Your job will be to avoid stressors, take your medication, and watch your diet. If you're unable to do that at home, I'll have to hospitalize you."
"It won't be a problem, Dr. Groner," assured Clark.
"Yea, at my age, all I do is sit around playing shuffleboard all day anyway," Lois grumbled.
"You have someone who can stay with you Lois?" the doctor inquired.
"Clark. Clark can move in with me. And if Clark has to be gone, my daughter Mariel can be with me." Clark's eyebrows were lost in his hairline for a moment but he agreed readily.
"Good. You're at the very beginning of your twenty-second week. If your son is born now, his chances aren't that good. With all the medical advances that we have made, nothing can match even one more day that he spends right where he is now."
"Dr. Groner., I promise you, I have no intention of doing anything to jeopardize my son's life in any way," Lois vowed earnestly.
Dr. Groner nodded. "I'm keeping you overnight, just to make sure that you're stabilized. Someone will come by soon and take you up to Labor and Delivery. Let's just make sure that this is only a visit."
Dr. Groner left and Lois focused on Clark's concerned face. "Clark--"
"Oh, Lois. Yesterday... I would have never... I'm so s--"
"Clark, don't even go there. We've known all along that this was more than a possibility. I wouldn't trade the last two days for anything."
"But, Lois! If--"
Lois laid her finger across his lips and met his eyes. She held his gaze until he nodded. "But just so you know, buddy, no more funny business until Pulitzer arrives. In fact, it could be about the time the next Pulitzers are awarded before--"
Clark silenced her babbling with a kiss.
While Lois got very little sleep during her night in the hospital, with expectant mothers coming and going at all hours, her condition hadn't shown any signs of worsening so Dr. Groner went ahead and released her upon her solemn vow to stay in bed.
When she got back to her apartment, she found that Clark had moved a small amount of his stuff into the apartment and Mariel had managed to find time to make and freeze several day's worth of food so Clark wouldn't even have to cook. "I figure Dad'll have his hands full keeping you in bed."
"Now, I've promised to be good. I don't know why everyone assumes I won't," Lois grumbled good-naturedly. But she knew that the rest of this pregnancy, however long, was going to seem like forever.
Each week was a milestone that she and Clark celebrated and marked off the calendar. She cried when at twenty-five weeks Dr. Groner said that Pulitzer's chances had improved significantly. As much as she had balked at the prospect of being pregnant in the beginning, she had never wanted anything so fiercely as she wanted this baby to have every chance at a normal life. Not even the Pulitzer that lay on a shelf in her living room, neglected, and collecting dust.
Clark, Martha, and Mariel put together a simple Thanksgiving dinner, with Clark overseeing a healthier version made for Lois. JC, one handedly, moved the couch into Lois' bedroom, and everyone piled onto the bed, couch, or floor to eat while they watched the first Christmas specials play on the TV. Clark and Lois sat close together on her bed, playing with their granddaughter, exclaiming over how smart and beautiful she was. Mariel elbowed JC and nodded at her parents. JC rolled his eyes and muttered, "Just like the old days," but there was a very pleased smile on his face. After a few hours Clark chased everyone out and joined the clean-up crew in the kitchen.
"So, Dad, you and Mom. Are you ever gonna get married again? I mean, the baby could come any day." JC voiced the question they were all wondering about.
"Someday. Probably. Right now we just take one day at a time. Sure, I'd re-marry your mother in a minute. But we have something more important that we need to focus on."
"I never really understood why you guys split in the first place. I mean, Mom went on investigations before, and it was never a problem. And I know you guys love each other, so it wasn't that. I don't think you guys were staying together just for us, but when you got a divorce so soon after we graduated..." Mariel's voice trailed off.
"Oh, sweetheart, our divorce never had anything to do with you or your brother. I'm sorry you ever thought that for a moment."
"For two people who make their living with words, we did something pretty stupid. We forgot to talk to each other. We assumed that after twenty years words weren't necessary. You mom assumed that I would understand that she was ready to do more investigative reporting, and I assumed she understood that I was ready to pick up more responsibilities as Superman." Clark shook his head. "It was a lesson that we should have learned year ago."
"Guess you won't forget again?" JC asked wryly.
"I sure hope not. And I hope that you both can learn from our mistakes and not repeat them."
For the rest of the world, Christmas came soon after the Thanksgiving holidays. Parties, family get-togethers, and gift-buying filled the days quickly. Not for Lois and Clark. Clark assigned more of his duties to the night editor so he spent only a necessary time at the Planet each day and carried out his Superman duties when Lois was asleep. Which wasn't often. Spending all day in bed didn't make her tired enough for her to sleep well, and Pulitzer was getting big enough now to make his presence known and his mother uncomfortable. But he was growing, which was the point. Each week Lois reveled in the opportunity to leave her bed and apartment to visit Dr. Groner and see the progress their son was making; the changes that were happening as he prepared for life outside her womb. Her eyes filled with tears as she watched him kick and squirm or suck his thumb. Or jump when he had the hiccups.
"Honestly, Ms. Lane, I never expected you to make it this far. I don't think I've ever had a patient so determined to follow directions to the letter."
"I knew the first time I saw her she was pig-headed," Clark teased. His voice softened, "And brilliant."
Lois smiled lovingly at him.
"Ugh, you guys make me sick," Dr. Groner teased.
"At our age, you mean?" Clark teased back.
"At your age? You guys act more like my teenage patients!"
Lois lay in bed wide awake as she watched the moon move across the sky thinking about what Dr. Groner had said. She wondered if it was possible that she loved Clark even more now, if she wasn't even closer to him now than she had been through all their years of marriage. "Clark", she murmured softly.
Clark jerked awake. "Lois! What is it?"
"Nothing. Sorry, Clark. Go back to sleep."
"No, I'm awake now. Is it the baby?"
"Something bothering you?"
"No. Yes. No, well, maybe."
Clark chuckled. "Which is it?"
"I know we don't have to, that Pulitzer will never care. But I'm an old-fashioned girl at heart, Clark."
Clark quirked an eyebrow, "Old-fashioned is not a word I would ever use to describe you, Lois."
"Right. So ... never mind." She rolled over onto her other side, sighing as Pulitzer promptly kicked her in the ribs, then squirmed around as if trying to find a comfortable position again. Unfortunately, the position he found comfortable didn't make her comfortable and she flipped back over again to gaze out the window.
"Lois. What is it?" Clark asked softly.
"I want to be married again before the baby gets here," she finally blurted.
"Lois, we can't plan a wedding. It would just be too much. It is more important that Pulitzer get here safely than that his parents are married when he arrives."
"So let's not plan a wedding."
"Okay, now I'm confused."
"Everyone's going to be here Christmas Day already."
"You're talking about Christmas Day as in next week Christmas Day, right?"
"Do you know of any other Christmas Days that will happen *before* Pulitzer arrives?" she asked sharply, clearly losing patience.
"All right. It was a dumb question. But that's next week, Lois."
"Which is the point. Let's not plan a wedding. You go sometime this week and get the license. I don't care when and how. I don't need to know. Perry and Alice are already planning to stop by sometime on Christmas Day. We'll just ask him to perform the ceremony while he's here. Anybody in our family that's still around gets to be witnesses."
"Okay," Clark said slowly, still visibly mulling over the idea.
"Everyone is already coming, we don't need invitations. Everyone is already bringing all the food, so no need to plan a reception. Since it is Laney's first Christmas, I know there will be cameras, so no need to worry about a photographer. I have to stay in bed, so no need to shop for a dress."
"Okay," Clark repeated, this time with more assurance in his voice.
"And Perry's already coming. So the only thing we have to plan ... *you* have to plan is getting the license."
"Okay." Clark already making a mental list of things to do. Like make sure that Perry's ordainment by the Church of the Blue Suede Deliverance was still in effect.
"So there really couldn't be a better time to-" she broke off. "Okay? You said okay?"
"Did you think I'd say no?"
"I just thought you might need a little more convincing."
"I must say, Ms. Lane, that getting proposed to by you twice in a lifetime is not something I'm likely to forget. Or take for granted," he added humbly.
"So next week."
"Do you think Pulitzer will stay put until then?"
Lois shrugged. "Dr. Groner seemed pleased today. He's twenty-nine weeks. We'll just have to will him to stay put. Maybe you should talk to him in your Superman voice."
"I would if I thought it would do any good. But he probably takes after his mother."
"Grandpa Perry! Grandma Alice!" JC and Mariel both rushed forward to embrace the pair as Clark ushered them into the crowded bedroom.
"Great shades of Elvis! It's like a can of sardines in here! Lois, how are you handling all this, honey?"
"I'm fine, Perry. Have a seat ... if you can find one."
"Oh, let me see that little girl," Alice cooed reaching for Laney.
"Actually, Perry, don't get too comfortable," Clark said moving to stand by the bed and taking Lois' hand.
"Well, Clark, I've never known you to be unsociable," Perry commented, eyeing Clark questioningly.
"Lois and I have a favor to ask you."
"Clark, you know I'm more than happy to stand in for you at the Planet whenever it is that Junior there decides to make his appearance. Just call and I'll be there with bells on."
"What about blue suede shoes?" queried Lois.
"Blue suede shoes, sure," Perry answered clearly wondering if all the weeks in bed had damaged Lois' head.
"What Lois means, Chief, is we wondered if you were still ordained by the ... the Church of Blue Suede Deliverance?"
JC hooted. "Dad, there's no such thing!"
"Now, listen here, son. It so happens that there is. And it so happens that I am, still am, an ordained minister of the First Church of Blue Suede Deliverance," Perry stated indignantly.
"So we wondered," Clark continued, trying to take back control of the conversation, "if you would be willing to marry us?"
Finally, "Well, now, Kent, marriage is more than just a ceremony. You need a license--"
"Got it," Clark said picking it up off the dresser next to him.
"-- and rings--"
"And those," Clark assured, pulling them from his pocket.
"--and, and, well, I guess we're going to have a wedding, then."
Lois sniffed. "Sorry, guys, I'm just a little emotional."
"Uh, Mariel, honey, leave Laney with my Alice and come stand by your mom. JC, stand up here by your dad. Clark, give the boy the rings."
Clark complied while Perry muttered trying to remember the right words to say.
"Uh, uh, Dearly Beloved. We are gathered here to ... ah, shucks. Folks, you know why we're here. We're all, each and every one of us, here because we love these two stubborn mules. There's no one I know who deserves each other, or loves each other more than these two. So, Clark, do you take this woman to be your wife?"
Clark gazed at Lois, his eyes shiny with tears. "In my heart, I am your husband."
"And I'm your wife," she answered.
"Well, okay, I guess you guys just need me to say, uh, by the power vested in me by this state and the First Church of Blue Suede Deliverance, I now pronounce you husband and wife."
Clark quickly leaned down to place a loving kiss on his wife's lips.
"Uh, well, you may kiss the bride. Not that you're waiting for me or anything," Perry muttered. But the gleam in his eye signaled that all was once more right with the world.
Lois and Clark returned to reality as their family clapped, beaming at them.
"It's such a surprise!" "So beautiful." "How did you pull this off?" "When did you guys decide to do this?" Happy exclamations rang all around them as their family moved in to greet them both with enthusiastic hugs.
"Oh, by the way, Dad, did you guys want these?" JC asked holding up the rings.
"I do!" Lois said emphatically, reaching for the rings, wondering what Clark had purchased.
Clark retrieved the rings from his son. "Just a minute, everyone. Now this," he said holding up one of the rings, "is Lois' original engagement ring. This ring has been some pretty unusual places and seen me- us- through some pretty hard times." Visions of the rejected ring floating in the vastness of space and of himself desperately clutching the ring as Baron Sunday used Clark's own fears to torment him flashed through his mind. Clark then picked up the matching bands. "These are our original white gold bands, symbolizing our marriage, entwined with new platinum bands, symbolizing that our marriage is now even stronger."
"Oh, Clark," whispered Lois, getting all weepy again.
Clark slipped the rings on her fingers and handed her his band so that she could return the favor.
"Oh, Clark," Lois said again when she saw the three diamonds nestled in the twists of both her and Clark's wedding bands.
"Those symbolize out three beautiful miracles."
"Every time I look at them, I'll remember what is really important."
Lois wondered if she had ever been happier. Of course, she wished she was off bed rest, that her pregnancy was more normal, but she felt so blessed and safe in Clark's love. Pulitzer would be entering this world into a family eagerly awaiting his arrival and mindful of just what a blessing his creation was.
"You're ready to do the C-section?" Lois asked surprised.
"No, Lois, you knew this was a probability. Your proteins are up again. It's time for you to move to the hospital. In a perfect world, this is just a precaution. But should you have any drastic changes or start seizing, the safest place for you is in the hospital where we can deliver you immediately. You're at thirty-two weeks, which is more than I ever hoped for, but now is when your son is really going to take off and start growing and gaining weight putting much more strain on your body. I'm going to start you on some medicine to speed up his lung development, so that he'll be ready when the time comes."
"But she's okay?" Clark asked Dr. Groner worriedly.
"That's why I want her in the hospital, to make sure she stays that way."
"Of course, Dr. Groner, whatever's best."
Lois glared at him then turned to Dr. Groner, "Are you sure I can't just stay home? I promise, I'll be good."
Dr. Groner shook her head, "You need to be in the hospital if something goes wrong. In the time it took you to get here, it could be too late, for the baby *and* for you."
"Well, then, I guess I'll just have to get used to hospital food."
Dr. Groner frowned as she looked over Lois' chart. "Can we get an ultrasound in here ASAP?" she asked the nurse who moved quickly to comply.
"Is something wrong?" Lois and Clark asked simultaneously.
"Your proteins aren't leveling off, Lois. I want to take a good look at this baby and see at what stage his lungs are. I think we need to deliver sooner than later."
The nurse wheeled in the ultrasound machine. Lois heart pounded as she clutched Clark's hand, feeling very light-headed, while Dr. Groner moved the wand over her stomach. They both watched as their son squirmed and kicked against the disturbance. Dr. Groner nodded. "He looks good. Lois, I'm going to book the ER. We're going to have this baby today."
Clark and Lois looked at each other. "Wow."
Clark released her hand. "I'm going to go call Mariel and JC and let them know."
"Lois, you'll be under a general anesthetic, rather than an epidural, since we're going to go ahead with the hysterectomy while we're in there. But I promise that you'll get to see this little guy as soon as possible."
"It's been so long, it just seems unreal that it is all going to be over today."
"Or maybe today is when is just really gets started," Dr. Groner commented, reminding Lois of the years ahead.
No matter how routine a surgery is, it is always scary. Lois was shaking as she held Clark's hand in the operating room as they waited for the anesthetic to be injected.
"It'll be okay, Lois."
"Clark, stay with the baby."
"He'll be so little. I don't want him to be alone. Especially if..."
"Lois, he's a fighter. He's already defied impossible odds to be in existence."
"I know that, but I still want you to stay with him."
"Guess even Superman can't be two places at once," he whispered to her. "I'll stay with the baby, but my heart's going to be in here with you."
Lois smiled drowsily as the anesthesia began to take effect. "No, your heart *will* be in two places at once. You'll take one look at him..."
"Lois, wake up."
Clark chuckled. "She's waking up."
Lois eyes flew open. "The baby! Is he okay?"
Clark laid a restraining hand on her shoulder. "Easy there. You did just have a large portion of your insides removed." Lois relaxed and he took her hand. "Pulitzer is fine."
Dr. Groner entered the room. "You're awake! Great. Your family is wanting in here to see you, but I told them they had to wait. How do you feel?"
Lois thought a minute. "It might be the drugs, but not too bad really. After I had the twins I remember feeling very crampy, but I really just feel sore where the sutures are."
Dr. Groner smiled. "Surprisingly, recuperation from a Cesarean hysterectomy is less painful than from a C-section. With a C-section, there's a lot of discomfort because the uterus is contracting against the incision used to get the baby out. But because you had a hysterectomy, there's no uterus contracting, so a lot less pain."
Lois nodded grateful that she had gone ahead with the hysterectomy. "How's my baby?"
"He's a little jaundiced, so we put him under a sun lamp. Amazingly, not too long after that we could tell he was breathing much better and he started acting hungry." Lois and Clark looked at each other and smiled in shared amusement at their son's reaction to the rays of the sun lamp. "We've still got him on oxygen, but not nearly as much as I would have thought. His tests look really good. He's about three and a half pounds so I'll want him to stay here for a few more weeks, but I wouldn't be surprised if you had him home before his original due date."
"When can I see him?" Lois asked eagerly.
"I'll have a nurse bring him in. You're going to breastfeed, so the sooner he gets to eat the better. Although he really likes the sugar water the nurses gave him."
"He has a sweet tooth just like his mother," Clark joked.
"I'll let your family know that they can come in," Dr. Groner said, as she left the room.
Brian and Mariel and JC crowded into the room with Lois and Clark with smiles and exclamations of "Congratulations!"
Clark couldn't stop smiling. Lois was obviously very happy, yet anxious to see the son that she had been waiting for so long. It seemed like ages before the nurse finally wheeled the bassinet into the room. "He can't stay long," she warned. "We need to get him back under the lamp. He will probably have a little trouble regulating his own body temperature since he's so young, but he'll get there. He's already a favorite in the nursery."
Tears streamed down Lois' face as Clark handed her son to her. "Oh, Clark. He's so tiny."
Mariel leaned over to look at her new brother, "I can't believe Laney was ever this small."
JC leaned in, stroked his brother's cheek and kissed him mom on the forehead. "Good work, Mom," he said hoarsely.
"Are you ready to try feeding him, Mrs. Kent?" the nurse asked.
The kids all stood. "We'll go and let you guys have some privacy," Brian explained. "But we'll be back soon. The grandparents are all making plans to come by tomorrow."
Lois' tears finally cleared as she stared down at the tiny miracle nursing slowly at her breast. Clark sat next to her examining their son's tiny hands and fingers.
"It's so amazing."
"What are we going to name him?"
"What's wrong with Pulitzer?"
Lois laughed. "That one's not on the table, Kent."
"Well, we always said we'd name the next one after your dad."
"He doesn't look like a Samuel to me."
Lois looked at her husband. "What do you think he looks like?"
"Joseph. Joey. "
"Joey. He does look like a Joey. What gave you that idea?"
Lois laughed. "Only if you promise not to tell anyone why you named him that. He'd die of embarrassment."
Lois lifted the now sleeping baby and looked at him, tracing his small features. Then she gasped. "No, it couldn't be ... but I'm sure of it."
"Lois?" Clark asked in alarm.
"Clark, look at this baby."
"Look really hard, Clark. I've seen him before."
"That's not possi--"
"Yes, it is. He was a little more filled out, but it was him."
"What are you ... the baby! The one H.G. Wells brought to us!"
"I was sure he must have been JC or Mariel's child but it wasn't."
"It was Joey."
Clark wrapped his arms around them both. Clark and Lois gazed down as the sleeping child, completely amazed at their miracle that had come to them and saved then from despair not just once, but twice. Their little miracle. Their ... creation.
"And the award for distinguished editorial writing, the test of excellence being clearness of style, moral purpose, sound reasoning, and power to influence public opinion in what the writer conceives to be the right direction... Lois Lane."
Lois beamed happily as she walked to the platform. Another Pulitzer, this time for the editorial she had written while Clark had been in Irrat.
Clark had laughed heartily when she had received the call to notify her of the win. "Wow, Lois, three Pulitzer's in just a little over a year."
"You've got to stop calling him that."
"Ah, Joey doesn't mind. Do you, kid?"
Joey had gurgled happily.
Lois accepted the award, thanked her family and colleagues, and returned to the table to sit with Clark.
"So, are you up for some dancing tonight?" he asked.
"Why, are we going dancing?"
"I'm going to fly Joey back to Metropolis to stay with Mariel and you and I are going to go to this hotel I know about. If memory serves, there's a great alfredo on their menu, and you know what pasta does to me."
Lois burst out laughing.