By Anonpip <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: November 2008
Summary: Lois deals with her granddaughter learning the family secret.
Author's Note: All characters are the property of Warner Bros, December 3rd Productions, ABC, and anyone else who may have a legal claim on them. The story, however, is mine.
Many thanks to NearlyNoelNeill who GE'ed this for me.
Thanks to Carol for beta'ing for me!
The story "Letters from Clark" is a companion piece and shows the letters that Lois gave to Cassie in this story.
August 23, 2043
It was the day of the memorial. Probably my least favorite day of the year -- and that was saying something given what tomorrow would be. It just all felt like such a farce. No one cared anymore. No one had ever really cared. I know I shouldn't have let that get to me, but I couldn't help it. He had spent his life trying to make the world a better place, and when he stopped, all anyone talked about was that he had lost. Not what he had lost -- a wife, children, and friends -- a life.
He died and they all talked about the fact that this meant that someone else won. It was like he wasn't needed anymore. Like he wasn't important anymore.
It had been a bad ending. A terrible ending. Although, I guess that's pretty obvious. The attacks had been going on for weeks and he had been spending more of his time overseas than in Metropolis. It seemed like it was clearly orchestrated to keep him busy. Specifically, he was busy with a bombing in a hotel in Cairo when the kidnapping happened here. By the time he would have had a chance to hear about it, there were thirty people trapped in the abandoned warehouse.
When he showed up, they were more than ready. No one knows how they managed to resurrect the cage, but they did. I know little of what went on in there -- and what little I do know I only know by trickery and deceit. Sort of. We told the police that Clark Kent was in there. It was the only way I could get privileged information. In the end, it was a convenient lie. We needed an explanation for why Clark died the same time as Superman and this provided it. None of the thirty hostages survived. Henderson, who was Chief of Police at the time, made sure that the records showed thirty-one hostages, one of them being Clark Kent.
Still, I didn't need to know the details. Once he got inside, they made it clear that they had the kryptonite cage and I didn't need to hear any more than that to imagine what that had meant for Clark -- how much pain he must have been in, how awful he must have felt to see the hostages shot one by one and not have the ability to do anything about it.
The kidnappers escaped shortly after Clark's death, or so the police estimate. For days afterwards, all anyone talked about was the fact that they had escaped. Everyone linked the kidnapping to the attacks overseas and blamed terrorists. Whether or not it was true, I did not know. But I hated the fact that everyone saw this as a failure of Superman's. They had no idea, could not possibly have understood, what it had been like for him.
They were found weeks later. (As it turns out, they were not terrorists and there was no linkage to the bombings overseas, just a random coincidence.) But by then, no one cared. The world had moved on. And aside from this annual memorial service, no one ever mentioned the sacrifice Clark made to protect us ever again. Once the kidnappers were caught and the immediate threats to Astra, Starlight, and Moonbeam were gone, Superman was not needed. He was superfluous, made obsolete by his children.
The memorial service is still held annually, though, although the number of people who attend it is embarrassingly small. With my parents, the Kents, and Perry and Alice long gone, the number of "personal" friends Superman had who are left is pretty slim. Jimmy comes, of course, although I suppose he's Jim now -- I can't get used to not calling him Jimmy. Henderson also came regularly, as did Cat -- which was a big surprise the first year of the memorial. I'm sure Clark would have been as shocked as I to find out she knew his secret -- figured it out long before I did; although she was gracious about that and told me it was easier for her as she wasn't blinded by love.
Aside from Jim, Henderson, and Cat, though, it's just the family and the politicians now. Not even the entire family comes. While it was common knowledge that Clark and I were friends with Superman, people might question why Clark's grandchildren, whom Superman clearly never met, since they were born after his death, came to his memorial service. So, often it was just me, Jessie, Morgan, and Luke. And this year, even Henderson won't be there. He passed away six months ago.
I dreaded the day each year when I would have to go to the memorial service and pretend it was for a dear friend rather than the love of my life. When I had to make small talk with politicians and listen to one of them give some silly, trite speech about how much Superman's contribution to the city and the world meant. It meant nothing. No one spoke about it anymore.
Not that I begrudge my children the gratitude the city bestows upon them. But even they understand the subtext -- that gratitude only lasts for as long as you win. I wonder sometimes if it will be the same way for them. While they are still young, so maybe it just hasn't shown yet, none of my grandchildren seem to have super-powers. Jessie, Morgan, and Luke may be the last of them. Will that make people more appreciative of them after they die? I pray I'm not around to find out.
"For his many years of service to the people of Metropolis," President Michaels said as he lit the last candle. It was almost over. I was almost free to go home and forget about this day for another year.
There was a small smattering of applause and then the schmoozing part of the afternoon followed. Someone, I was never completely sure who, brought cake and wine; and the attendees of the memorial service stood around and pretended to like one another. This year we were one short. The eruption of a volcano had meant one of the children had had to miss it. They had drawn straws, and although I was not sure, I thought even they saw it as winning to draw the short straw. Morgan was off being Moonbeam and Jessie and Luke were stuck here; although I was happy for their company and they knew that.
"Let's just go, Mom," Jessie suggested and I was about to agree when Cat came over. I was impressed she still flew out every year. Lucy had stopped coming years ago, and the distance from Metropolis to San Francisco was not that different than the distance from Metropolis to Los Angeles.
"Hi, Lois," she smiled at me. The years had been kind to her. Like me, she had stopped dying her hair a few years back -- once you were past seventy-five, it seemed silly not to admit you were old, and she certainly wasn't the woman who had wandered around during the heat wave in a bikini, but she still had a great smile and a feeling of grace that transcended age.
"Cat," I said, moving to give her a hug. "How was the flight?"
"Same as always," she said.
"Ms. Grant," Luke came over and extended his hand to Cat.
Cat smiled. "Your mother tells you too many stories. I've told you several times now that I haven't gone by Grant in years. It's Mrs. Lenox if it's anything like that, but I still prefer Cat."
Luke blushed, even as an adult, he was a bit shy like his father, and like his mother, he embarrassed easily. Although he was not as good at hiding it as I was. "Sorry, Cat."
"No problem, Luke. Where are your sisters?"
"Well, Jessie's over there," he said, pointing to where Jessie was chatting with Jimmy's children, Bailey and Curtis.
"And Morgan couldn't make it," I added.
"Oh," Cat said, understanding. "I forgot. A last minute trip to Belize?"
I nodded. "I think we're going to leave in a few minutes. Do you want to come back to the house?" I asked her.
"Sure. I don't have plans tonight," Cat said.
"Not flying back?" I teased.
Cat laughed. "Those were the days, weren't they? Jet-setting off across the country was not a problem at all. As you well know, my stays in Metropolis nowadays need to last at least two days or sitting in those seats makes my arthritis act up."
"I guess you're sorry you didn't marry Arthur Chow," I said with a smile. "You'd have a private jet."
Cat laughed again. "Can you imagine? Of course, if you'd told me then that I'd fall in love with someone like Matt, I never would have believed it. I was a different person back then."
"We all were," I said quietly. "I would have taken a bullet in the head rather than admit to even the slightest interest in my hayseed partner."
"Well, you *were *crazy back then. You were the only one in the newsroom who didn't realize how hot your hayseed partner was," Cat said, linking arms with me as we walked out together.
"Are you talking about my dad?" Jessie asked, her nose scrunched up.
"Why yes, we are," Cat said. Even at eighty, she was not embarrassed to be caught talking about men. Then again, at seventy-six, I wasn't either. I guess there was an age at which you decided people could either put up with you as you were or not.
"Do you have a car, Cat?" Jessie asked.
"No, I took a cab from the airport."
"No car?" I was surprised. Cat normally didn't like to be in Metropolis without one.
"I know. My night vision is getting awful and so I prefer not to drive if I can help it. I'm getting old."
"Are you guys heading out so soon?" Jimmy called, jogging over. He was in incredible shape for a man approaching seventy.
"I can't stand to be in there another minute," I said to him. "You know how I feel about these things."
"Hi, Cat," he said, giving her a hug. Turning to me, he said, "I know. I just can't believe you almost left without saying anything to me."
I smiled. "You knew where to find us. You're going to join us back at the house, right?"
"Of course. I think Bailey is going to come with the kids as well," Jimmy said.
"Curt can't make it?" Luke asked.
"No, Brian has a Little League game this afternoon. He's leaving here in a few minutes to meet everyone at the field," Jimmy said.
"If you want to see Brian play, we'll understand," I told him.
"Nah, I can't sit on those little bleachers anymore anyway. The play-offs start next week anyway, so I'll be going to games for most of the next two weekends. And after that, Madeleine's soccer tournament starts..."
I smiled. Jimmy's kids were younger than mine and as a result, he had a lot of young grandkids, which could be a bit of a handful when you wanted to be as involved in their lives as Jimmy was.
"Okay, so we'll see you in a few minutes," I said, giving Jimmy a hug before the rest of us climbed into Jessie's car.
Morgan was back and had started getting things out when we got to the house. It had been Jenny's idea. She was young -- it must have been about six years ago now, that she had asked Jessie why Grandma Lois was always so upset when she came back from the service. Jessie struggled with how to explain it to her, and finally decided she couldn't really do it without explaining more than she wanted when Jenny was only five. So, she had tried to divert Jenny from the question by suggesting she do something to cheer me up.
Jenny's idea had been a tea party and somehow that small tea party between my granddaughter and me had turned into a yearly party that typically included all the grandchildren as well as Cat, Jimmy, his wife Sandra, their kids and grandkids, and until this year, Bill Henderson.
The tenor of the party seemed to change every year. This year, my youngest grandchild, Harry, had developed an interest in British history, and in honor of that, we had decided to serve things reminiscent of an Afternoon Tea. Caroline and Joey had spent a large part of the morning cutting crusts off pieces of bread and Jessie had made homemade scones.
As always happened, within a few moments of the party starting, the grandchildren wandered outside to start a game. With all the cousins and Jimmy's grandchildren as well, there were about a dozen children, so plenty for a baseball game or soccer, the games of choice at these events.
Cat, Jimmy, Sandra, and I often stayed inside while the middle generation seemed to enjoy making sure the party itself was running smoothly, moving between cleaning up and going outside to cheer for their respective offspring.
This party was the only redeeming part of this day for me and once I woke up and recalled that I would need to deal with another memorial service, I spent all day looking forward to it. Once the party began, the service was over and I could spend time with those I loved rather than those who pretended they missed my husband, many of whom had barely known him.
Still, the party was tainted by the fact that it was always preceded by the service. I came home from the service so tense and angry, it felt like by the time I relaxed, everyone was going home.
I tried not to do that this year. I reminisced with Jimmy and Cat about our days at the Planet, telling funny stories about Clark -- Jimmy had the best recollection of all of Clark's crazy excuses, and I tried to leave the people at the memorial behind. So, the world at large did not appreciate what Clark had done for them. That should not matter. My friends here did.
Despite my best efforts, though, I was only partially successful. After the party was over, after my friends had gone home, I saw the newspaper article, or blurb really. It was an editorial asking if we should be spending money on a memorial service for someone who had let thirty hostages die. Clark had been dead for twenty years, and he was still being bad-mouthed. It was hard for me not to feel angry about that.
The children, feeling my mood start to switch, got ready to go home. They knew the best thing to do when I was like this was to leave me alone. Clark had always been able to bring me out of these moods, but the children were not as good at that.
By tomorrow they knew, I would be over my anger. Tomorrow was the actual anniversary of Clark's death and while it was not exactly my happiest day, at least it was a day on which I did not need to deal with politicians nor did I need to play down my emotions. While I could only show a small amount of emotion for the death of my friend, Superman, I could be as upset as I wanted about the death of my beloved Clark. Strangely, this meant I was less upset on the anniversary of Clark's death. The anniversary of his death was often a quiet affair, and I did not dread it the way I did the memorial service.
"Grandma," Cassie, my eldest grandchild asked. "Can I spend the night with you?"
Luke immediately came over to suggest that tonight was not the best time, but I cut him off. "I would like that, sweetheart," I said. I thought perhaps having Cassie here would cause me to reign in my emotions and not get so upset.
After everyone had left, Cassie made us hot chocolate. It was a family joke that I could burn water and while I was perfectly capable of making hot chocolate, that would spoil the joke.
We sat down at the table and I tried to focus on Cassie's life, which was about as far removed from either Superman or Clark as I could imagine. "How's school going?" I asked her.
"Okay," she said, shrugging in that way that teenagers always do. When she was young, Cassie was always fired up about school, but since she had been about twelve she had discovered that it was not "cool" to be interested in studying. While her grades had yet to suffer, Cassie expressed less interest in what she was learning than she used to.
Cassie was typically outgoing; she often reminded me of Martha. She always said what was on her mind, but was kind to a fault. Tonight, though, she was quiet and contemplative. "Is everything all right, dear?" I asked her.
"Sure," she said, staring off into space and I decided to let it drop.
We sat there in silence for several moments, just drinking our hot chocolate, before she spoke again. "I read a book the other day," Cassie said and I waited for her to continue. Cassis was an avid reader, so in and off itself this was not news. "I'll go get it," she offered and went to rummage around the backpack she had brought over.
It occurred to me that Cassie must have known she was going to spend the night here, as she had brought a change of clothes. The thought worried me a little -- was something wrong? Cassie and I had always been close, so it would not surprise me if she had a problem she was planning to confide in me, but I had had no indication that anything was going on with her before now.
The book she brought over with her, though, caused my concern to skyrocket, although I was not completely sure why. It was Clark's, or rather Superman's, unofficial biography. Most of the data in there was guesswork, but some of it came embarrassingly close to the truth.
"What made you decide to read that?" I asked Cassie, being careful to keep my voice even. Even though I had retired years ago, sometimes my training as an investigative reporter was still useful. This was one of them. Cassie did not seem to notice anything. On the other hand, it was also possible that was more because she was distracted than anything to do with me.
"Grandma, is Superman my grandpa? Is that why you, dad, Aunt Jessie, and Aunt Morgan go to the memorial service every year?" she asked.
While Cassie was certainly old enough to know the truth, Luke and his wife, Sarah, had decided to wait to tell her about his Astra duties until her younger sister, Sam, was also old enough. I hated the idea of lying to my granddaughter, but I also didn't feel comfortable telling her something her parents weren't ready for her to know.
We had never anticipated this issue -- we had always assumed that if one of the children had questions like this, they would go to their parents. Besides, we didn't think it was likely to come up unless one of them had powers and Luke, Jessie, and Morgan all watched their children regularly for signs of super- powers.
"Cassie, Grandpa and I were very close friends of Superman. That's why I go to the memorial service," I finally said, avoiding her question.
Cassie said nothing for a moment, then she put the book down and said, her voice surprisingly calm, "I think Grandpa was Superman and that's the reason he died the same time as Superman. And Dad is Astra and that's why he disappears all the time for no good reason."
I wasn't sure what to say, but luckily Cassie clearly did not expect a response as after just a second, she started talking again. "I read the book and most of it fits. I checked, and during the time that Superman was supposed to be gone to help with New Krypton, I couldn't find any Clark Kent articles in the Daily Planet. I couldn't find any other time from when Grandpa joined the staff until he died that he hadn't written anything."
I was impressed. I probably should have been more startled, but instead I was amazed at what a wonderful job she had done investigating her theory.
"And I think that that's why I can do this," she finished and a second later was floating three feet off the chair.
I gasped -- I was so surprised. Clark's powers had started to develop around the time he was eight according to Martha and the children had shown powers at the same age. Nothing as advanced as floating, but invulnerability was clear at that age. Cassie had fallen off her bike and broken her arm at ten, so I had been fairly certain that even if some of the grandkids were super, Cassie was not.
My gasp alarmed Cassie and she rushed over, "Grandma! Is it not true? Did my mom cheat on my dad with Astra or something? I was so sure this was the answer?" She sounded so anguished, so upset, that I reached out to engulf her in my arms.
"Your parents wanted to wait until both and Sam were old enough to understand to tell you," I said softly. "We didn't think you had any..."
"I didn't," Cassie said. "Or at least none that I've noticed. I just woke up one day last month floating over my bed."
"Oh sweetie, that must have been so scary," I said.
"Not really," Cassie laughed. "I thought I was dreaming at first. Once I realized I wasn't, I started thinking. It didn't take me long to figure out that Grandpa was Superman."
"Well," I said, pulling back to look at her, "I'm very proud of the work you did investigating. That was excellent work," I told her.
"Grandma," Cassie said, getting serious again. "How did Grandpa decide to help people? I mean with his powers he could have ruled the world or something. Like those other Kryptonians did."
"He was special," I said softly. "You grandfather was raised by two lovely people who always went out of their way for others and your grandfather embraced that way of life easily. I'm sure you've seen the books on what might have happened if your grandfather had tried to rule the world, but they always make me laugh. He had the gentlest heart of anyone I ever met. And what he wanted more than anything else was to blend in. Clark Kent could never have made the choice to rule the world. That type of malice wasn't in him."
"I don't know if I want to be a superhero," Cassie admitted in a whisper.
"Oh, sweetheart. You're too young to be thinking about that," I said, reaching over the table to take her hand in mine. "Your grandfather didn't become Superman until his mid-twenties. Even your dad, who didn't have to wait to come up with the idea, didn't become Astra until he was twenty-three."
"And Aunt Jessie and Aunt Morgan?" she asked.
"Well, your Aunt Morgan was always a little impulsive. She made her debut as Moonbeam without talking to us about it first. She was eighteen. But, like your dad, Aunt Jessie waited longer. She was almost twenty-seven when she decided she wanted to help, too."
"But what if I never decide to do it?" Cassie asked.
"Cassie, you're not required to develop a whole different persona and join your dad and aunts in this. It's your choice. Part of why Aunt Morgan didn't tell us what she was doing was because your grandfather asked them all to wait until they were finished with college. He wanted to make sure that they took the time to think through this choice and only made it because it was right for them. Having a double life isn't easy, and no one knew that better than your grandfather."
Cassie nodded. "So, I have lots of time to think about it," she confirmed.
"You have all the time in the world, sweetheart," I told her.
November 6, 2043
Cassie and I didn't talk about our discussion again. She asked me not to tell her parents what we had talked about and I agreed, although I urged her to tell them herself. She never worked up the nerve to; but Luke and Sarah decided to tell the girls the truth on Sam's thirteenth birthday a few months later. Cassie waited until after Sam went to bed before she told her parents that she could fly.
Luke immediately started talking up all the good things that come with having powers and trying to convince Cassie to take over the family business. Sarah and I asked him to slow down and remember that she was still a little girl. But I think he was too excited about having a child who was super.
Unfortunately, it all sort of blew up in his face. One night, Sarah called me after dinner to tell me that Luke and Cassie had gotten into a huge fight. Luke started bringing up potential names Cassie could use for her super-persona and Cassie broke into tears. She hadn't wanted Sam to know about her powers yet, although none of us were sure why. She had left the table saying that she had thought about it and had no desire to be a superhero and she wished he would just leave her alone.
It's been three months since the argument, and Luke and Cassie barely speak anymore, which has been very hard on Sarah.
I didn't want to get involved in their fight, besides the pressure I had already put on Luke to leave her alone; but Cassie was clearly conflicted about her father's clear desire for her to become a superhero and her own desire not to. I wanted to do something for her.
I had never shown the letters to anyone else before. It had taken years for Clark to show them to me, but now seemed like the right time to share them. They were stored in the secret compartment that still had the Superman suits. While my children were horrified by it, I had never felt ready to get rid of the last of Clark's things.
I brought them to Cassie, and told her she could read them, but I would appreciate it if she didn't share them with anyone else and I wanted them back when she was finished. I felt so sad looking into her eyes. She was so serious when she thanked me and said she would read them, but she was certain she did not want to be a superhero.
August 21, 2044
We had another memorial service today. I hadn't looked forward to this one any more than the others.
The only bright spot had been that Cassie had asked to come. All of the grandchildren were given a reprieve from the service, something they were generally happy about. Having Cassie come with us caused a problem for sure, since normally she was put on baby-sitting duty with Morgan's eldest, Lena.
But we were not about to say no to her. Besides, this year, Jessie's oldest, Brett, was old enough to baby-sit as well. So, we thought they would be okay.
Besides, it wasn't like the kids didn't keep an extra close ear out for sounds from the house when we were gone. In the early years, when Cassie was just old enough to baby-sit, it was not uncommon for Astra, Moonbeam, or Starlight to show up at the house to put out a fight or once, a small fire.
Anyway, aside from Cassie coming with us, nothing was all that different. Well, except that Cat didn't come. She called beforehand to apologize, but Matt was really sick. His Alzheimer's had taken a turn for the worse. I couldn't even imagine having to deal with that.
Jessie said she would fly me to San Francisco next week so we could catch up. I was due for a visit to Lucy anyway and even flying with the children is getting difficult these days, so getting the two visits done at once seemed like a good idea.
The after-party was finished -- this year Natasha was studying German culture, so Jessie, Morgan, and Luke had decorated my backyard to look like it was Oktoberfest. Luke even let the kids try some non-alcoholic beer, although none of them liked it.
Anyway, Jimmy and his family had gone home and the kids were cleaning up when Cassie came over. "Grandma, can I stay over again this year?" she asked me.
"Is this our new yearly ritual?" I asked her. "Because I like it." Cassie smiled at me as I ran my fingers through her curls. "Just make sure to ask your mom and dad," I reminded her.
She nodded her head in agreement before running off to find them.
"So, how are things going with Darryl?" I asked her as we sat down with our hot chocolate. She had just started dating this year and had a boyfriend named Darryl. Sarah said that they were very sweet together and she wasn't too worried. They seemed to spend most of their time studying anyway.
"Good," Cassie replied, blushing slightly. "He's a bit shy around Mom and Dad, but I think they like him."
I nodded. "Your mom has said that they do."
"I brought these back for you," she said, moving to the living room to get something. When she came back, she was clutching Clark's letters in her hand.
"Thank you," I said, running my hand over them lovingly. "They mean a lot to me."
Cassie nodded her understanding before she said softly, "I learned more about Grandpa from those than from that silly book."
"I know," I said. "Everything about these letters screams of Clark Kent -- his closeness to his parents, his insecurities, his desire to help, and his desire to have a life."
"I thought a lot about what he said in his letters about thinking he was here with a purpose," Cassie said. I didn't want to interrupt what she was saying, so I just nodded. "And I thought about why you hate this day so much. How fake it all is. How much about Grandpa wasn't in Superman, or the Superman that they talk about there anyway, and so isn't coming through in the memorial service."
Cassie was quiet for a minute, staring at the refrigerator magnets, but being married to Clark, I had learned patience. Like her grandfather, Cassie would talk when ready.
"It made me feel firmer that I don't want to do this. It seems like such a big sacrifice and no one really appreciates it," she said, sounding anguished.
I wanted to cry. I wanted to reach out and put my arms around her and tell her that it wasn't that bad. But I sensed she had more to say, and I didn't want to interrupt her.
"And then I read the letters again. Really read them. And I realized what Grandpa was saying. How he couldn't just sit by and watch people get hurt when he could help. I think I want to help," she finished quietly. "I want to be like Grandpa."
She came into my arms willingly and I held her tight. "I know that wasn't an easy decision," I whispered to her.
"It wasn't for Grandpa either," she said. "And even if no one else gets that, I do. And I want to be like him. I want to help because it's the right thing to do, even if my life would be easier if I didn't."
I held her tightly and when I went up to bed, I put the letters back in the closet. I don't know if any of the others will need them -- Jessie, Morgan, and Luke never did. At this point, Brett had shown some super-powers, although he wasn't flying yet, and Laura, while only seven, had proven her invulnerability when she fell off the roof earlier this summer.
So, we definitely had some super-powered grandkids. Whether or not they would all take after their parents or their grandfather, I didn't know. And I didn't even care. Clark had taught me that. It has to be the right decision for them.
Still, I couldn't help feeling proud of the decision Cassie had made. Not only had she made a noble, self-sacrificing decision, not only had she thought it out like an adult and not a child, but she had reminded me of something that got lost more every year. I hated the memorial because it was for Superman and ignored who Clark Kent was.
But Clark Kent was Superman, and the two were never as much separate entities as he wanted them to be. And if he had been alive and seen how people responded to his failing to stop the kidnappers -- he still would have gone out the next day to help. Unlike me, he wouldn't get angry. He recognized the weakness of people and accepted us for it in ways I never could.
He loved me for that -- for my desire to push people to behave better. I firmly believe that he had made the world a better place. And I know that Cassie is going to do the same.