By Bellarata <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: April 2008
Summary: A rewrite of the episode "Home Is Where The Hurt Is." Superman is sick and Sam Lane realizes that his daughter loves two different men -- Clark Kent and Superman. Or does she? (Because come on, how can he not put two and two together???)
a/n- This is a rewrite of the episode Home is Where the Hurt is. I was greatly dissatisfied how this episode went and I had to do something about it. This is my first Lois/Clark fic and I hope I don't screw it up!! If this storyline has already been done, my apologies! Know it wasn't intentional -- I tried to find other HIWTHI fics and couldn't find any that were along these lines. Thanks for reading!
A rueful smile tugged at Sam Lane's lips as he sat in the darkened bedroom of his daughter's fiancé. This wasn't how he expected to be spending his Christmas, that much was for certain. When he'd made the impulsive decision to show up uninvited on his eldest daughter's doorstep to spend Christmas with her, he'd pretty much anticipated how it would play out. Lois would be surprised, yet wary -- and with good reason. He had thought he could bulldoze his way back into her life under the distorted cloak of Christmas spirit, knowing his daughter wouldn't have the heart to toss him out on his very deserving behind into the cold. Not on Christmas. It had been unfair and an act of a desperate man -- and he was ashamed of himself. He had assumed she'd be alone at Christmas, as she usually was. What he hadn't anticipated was finding her apartment occupied by strangers who were obviously very much at home in her daughter's life. Strangers who obviously cared about his daughter like she was family.
It had made him realize even more how much he had failed her as a parent.
When Lois had finally walked through her door, Sam had taken the coward's way out and hid in the bathroom, finding that he needed a moment to work up the courage to face the disillusionment and disappointment in his daughter's eyes when she realized that he had planned to hijack her holiday by showing up unannounced. But before he could muster up the courage to finally face her, his ex-wife had shown up, obviously with the same intent to use Christmas tradition as an excuse not to be alone.
Things had gone downhill from there, and he had no one to blame but himself.
Bringing out his latest creation and introducing her as his fiancée? What had he been thinking? That had slipped out before he could help himself -- an automatic defense mechanism against the one woman who still had the ability to turn his life inside out without even chipping a nail. A woman who he had been lucky enough to have as his wife at one time -- before he ruined it. Ruined everything. Who had he been trying to fool? Even as he said the words, claiming his robot as his betrothed, he knew it had only proved to make him even more pathetic and low in the eyes of those he still loved so dearly.
There were times that he didn't like himself very much -- and sure couldn't blame others who felt the same way.
Yet -- here he was. He'd been offered a gift that he didn't think he had quite deserved. A chance to make a difference. A chance to make his daughter see him as something other than a failure and a disappointment.
A chance to be the hero that Lois had used to regard him. A brilliant doctor, she had called him. Lois had asked him to save Superman -- and he was determined to do just that. His daughter had asked him for help, something she hadn't done since she was little. It felt good. It gave him hope. 'I need your help,' she had said to him, something he had never thought he'd ever hear from her lips again.
He just prayed he didn't screw it up.
Sam shifted in his seat, the past hours more draining than anything he'd ever experienced in his life. His eyes found the sleeping form of his daughter, snuggled against the super hero who'd saved the world more times than he cared to think. Well, now it was his turn to save the world -- by saving Superman.
He just prayed he could do it. The Kryptonite was doing its job -- robbing Superman of his very life, clearly evident in the labored breath and skin that had long since turned ashen. Superman was dying and Sam was the one who had put the very first nail in his coffin by suggesting that the only way to save this hero was to bring him to the brink of death. God, he hoped he was right and that it would work. He didn't want to think of the consequences if he was wrong.
Sam watched Lois shift uneasily in her sleep, noticing the way she pressed herself even closer to the man who occupied her fiancé's bed. It made him feel... odd, watching his daughter sleeping so intimately with another man in Clark's own home. Surely he wasn't the only one who felt that way? He thought back to the conversation he'd overheard between his daughter and the man who wasn't her fiancé. 'I love you," had been the very last words Superman had uttered to his daughter before the Kryptonite had stolen his awareness, rendering him mercifully unconscious. A coma, Sam had declared, watching as Lois' face had crumpled and she had lowered herself to Superman's chest, the tears flying down her cheeks to stain the very *S* that had become such a symbol of hope to Metropolis. To the world. It was so hard to think that he was from another planet, when he was lying next to his daughter looking so completely human.
His daughter loved this man. And this man obviously loved his daughter. So where did that leave Clark?
It was a simple leap of logic, one that Lois was making no attempts to hide. Her daughter loved Superman -- yet she was engaged to another man. It was obvious in the tortured tears and sobs she made no attempt to still, she was crying over him as a lover. Not as a friend.
Something wasn't quite making sense here.
Quiet footsteps interrupted his musing, and Sam watched as Clark Kent's father lowered himself wearily into the empty seat next to him. Feeling decidedly awkward, Sam's gaze darted from Jonathon to the sleeping pair on the bed. He almost felt like he should apologize for his daughter's actions, sleeping so intimately with another man in his son's own bed. It seemed so... scandalous and so wrong. Sam didn't want this man thinking badly of his daughter, regardless of the circumstances. Yet... there was neither reproach nor judgment in the other man's eyes. Instead there was a mutual look of worry and despair. A look of... love. It was quite clear to Sam at that moment that Jonathon Kent loved Superman as a...
And as if a cloak had suddenly been lifted and the truth revealed, Sam knew. Without a doubt, he knew.
Superman was Clark Kent.
"Lois," a tortured voice called out, jerking Sam Lane out of the uneasy sleep he had finally slipped into. It had been a long time since he'd had to sleep in a chair. "Lois..."
It was a voice Sam didn't think he'd be hearing again, each hour that had dragged endlessly on without any improvement from the patient he was here to save had left him with the sinking feeling that he'd made a serious error in judgment. That instead of being a savior, he had managed to single-handedly kill Superman -- finishing up what the virus had already set in motion. Zapping any defense and immunity Superman would have had to fight the alien virus that was ravaging his body.
Sam heard his ex-wife rush into the room and they shared a brief, relieved look. Superman was awake. That was more than either had hoped for, the outlook had been so grim. Keeping his promise to Lois, Sam made the call to her apartment to relay the news, keeping it short.
"Lois," Superman bit out once more, his eyes blinking rapidly as he did a quick survey of the room, his brain slowly catching up from its round trip journey to death's door. He could still hear her calling his name -- 'Clark,' she had uttered, her voice low and desperate -- and so full of love. It had been that love that had managed to penetrate through the thick fog that had been slowly trying to suffocate him, drowning him as surely as the Kryptonite in the room. It had brought him back from the abyss, had given him the strength to fight for his life when death would have been so much easier. It didn't hurt when you were dead. He may have been unconscious, but it didn't mean he was blissfully unaware of the raging battle taking place in his body. Superman wasn't that lucky.
Lois wasn't there, regardless of the voice that he had heard calling his name.
"Where is Lois?" Clark asked desperately, fighting to sit up, his eyes darting to the lead chest where the glow of green rock still painted the room. Clark drew a sigh of relief when Sam quickly closed the lid, feeling his strength slowly seeping back.
"Where is Lois?" he repeated, not caring how desperate he sounded. In the grand scheme of things, protecting his true feelings for Lois while he wore the face of Superman was low on his priorities at the moment. Something was wrong. He could feel it.
If Sam Lane ever doubted that Clark Kent was good enough for his little girl, all thoughts to the contrary were swiftly erased. It wasn't every day that a man came along and loved his daughter so completely, so selfishly.
"Now son, just try to relax. She's on her way," Sam informed him quietly, watching as his patient's color gradually returned to a shade the good side of normal. He caught Ellen's eye and they shared a relieved glance. He had done it. He had been the hero his daughter had demanded of him. He hadn't seen his ex-wife look at him with such reverence and appreciation since their early days of marriage and damned if it didn't feel just a little bit good.
With a quickness that belied any lingering illness or weakness, Sam watched as Superman leapt from the bed, his face contorted with pain as he quickly cupped his ears with the palms of his hands.
"There's something wrong," Clark ground out. "Can't you hear that?"
"Now son, you're still weak," Sam soothed, reaching out to rest his hand on his patient's shoulder. He didn't think Lois would like it if her fiancé wore himself out before he had a chance to return to his full health.
Sam opened his mouth to tell Clark exactly that, knowing that Lois' concern for him could be used to bully Superman back into bed -- where he needed to be. Before Sam could even get the first word out, however, a gust of air was all that was left behind as Superman disappeared from the apartment in a blink of an eye.
Sam glanced at Ellen and they shared a look of confusion.
"Where did he go?" Ellen asked, slightly dazed. She'd never seen Superman before in person and the reality of his powers was so much more impressive first hand, she had to admit. She thought he'd be taller though.
"I think we should head over to Lois' apartment," Sam revealed, heading for the door. The worry and panic he had seen in Superman's eyes before he'd sped away made him uneasy, and he had a feeling that Lois was in trouble. For the first time in a long time, Ellen followed him without question or hesitation.
Or complaining. Maybe miracles did happen.
The drive to their daughter's apartment seemed to take an eternity. Multiple attempts to reach Lois at her place or on her cell phone had been in vain.
Sam was worried.
"Do you think something happened to her?" Ellen finally asked him fretfully as they neared their destination, not quickly enough for either of their peace of minds.
"I don't know, Ellen. I've got a bad feeling though."
"If something happened to her... do you think Superman made it in time?" She wrung her hands nervously. "I mean... he was so weak."
Sam shook his head. "I don't know."
She was silent for a moment. "It's nice that Lois is friends with Superman."
The irony of that statement wasn't lost on Sam as he quickly parked in the street and they rushed to their daughter's apartment.
As it turned out, if it hadn't been for Superman, no amount of haste on Sam's part would have saved the lives of Lois or Martha and Jonathan Kent. Superman had been right, Lois had been in trouble. She had almost died at the hands of a diabolical genius who knew his deadly way around kitchen appliances.
But Superman had saved them. Had saved his daughter.
Of course, Superman hadn't stuck around after the heroic rescue and Sam played along. Finding Clark Kent, looking exceptionally haggard, sitting at his daughter's kitchen table when they arrived hadn't surprised him. Sam listened as Lois explained that Clark had been up all night on assignment and had just gotten home, using fatigue as a way to explain the pale skin and dark shadows apparent beneath eyes that were only partially masked with Clark's glasses. Sam merely nodded and commented that it was a good thing that Superman had been there to save the day, ignoring the single tear that had trailed down Lois' cheek as she had buried her face into Clark's neck. Or the way Martha and Jonathan had hovered over their son, their relief that he had lived to sit there with them not something they could easily hide.
And damned if his robot hadn't come in handy, that voice recognition and recall feature he'd added being key in identifying who had tried to murder his daughter. So his ridiculous folly hadn't been completely without merit.
But the real treat was the way his daughter had regarded him, like Superman hadn't been the only hero that day. It would have been easy to whisper to her that he knew the truth, but not yet. He wasn't ready for her to regard him with suspicion again, wondering where his true intentions lay. Not that he had any ill intent, but Lois had every reason to be wary.
Besides, Sam needed to have a few words with her daughter's fiancé first.
Decorating a Christmas tree was something that Sam used to take for granted when his kids were young.
Not anymore. He had missed this simple tradition.
The entire evening had been further proof that miracles truly did happen. How else could he explain the complete lack of drama or tension while spending Christmas with the family that he'd thought he'd lost so long ago?
"Well, it's the finest Christmas I've had in a long time," Sam admitted, giving his daughter an appreciative look. "Thank you, honey."
Lois returned the sentiment with a smile. "Thank you, Daddy. For...making it that way for me too." She wished she could tell him exactly how much she valued his actions, how much he had saved her by saving the man she loved...
But secrets had to be kept. She hated that part.
"Clark, who does Superman spend the holidays with?" Ellen asked innocently, adding ornaments to the tree Sam had brought over earlier.
"Friends... Loved ones... He's a pretty lucky guy," Clark replied easily, sharing a knowing and tender look with Lois.
Sam kept his smile to himself. Oh, if Ellen only knew... That Superman had his arms wrapped around their daughter at this very moment...
She'd never believe him.
The evening passed pleasantly. The very fact that his family could spend such quality time together again without discord a remarkable thing. And it was occurring without the numbing effects of alcohol, which had been such a focus of those last months of his marriage. Well, maybe a little champagne and eggnog, but certainly nothing compared to the previous drink-into-oblivion that Ellen used to indulge in -- the only way she could stomach being around him. He wasn't proud of his behavior during their marriage. Or after. He'd acted badly, had continued acting badly, not knowing how else to act...
Until last night.
This easy camaraderie and family intimacy was beyond anything that Sam had anticipated when he had barged into his daughter's holiday.... And he was determined not to blow it.
"I believe we're finished!" Martha announced. "Light 'em up!"
The subsequent black out proved that it would take more than a serious lack of light to put a damper on their Christmas spirit.
"Just a second, take it easy." Clark wondered if this was going to be a job for Superman.
"I guess it's a one tree apartment," Lois commented, not bothering to hide the fact that she liked having two trees. It seem to unify the beginnings of a family dynamic that just possibly could make sense again.
Sam grinned, this was something he could easily fixed. "No one panic," he announced, gesturing to the couch. "Baby Gunderson... If you wouldn't mind..."
He watched as his robotic creation took a seat, her insipid smile not wavering as Sam plugged the trees into her ears, beaming proudly as light bathed the apartment once more. That cheesy smile of his robot was something he definitely needed to work on. Nobody was that cheerful all the time.
Sam accepted the applause and cheers with a grin. At least his creation wasn't completely without worth. He'd already explained to Ellen earlier that day the true purpose of Baby Gunderson -- that she was part of a government contract he'd been given to create a robotic spy capable of blending in.
He had a lot of work to do, as Ellen so bluntly had pointed out. But then again, he already knew that. Baby Gunderson was a definite work-in-progress.
Sam watched as Lois and her fiancé slipped out to the fire escape, hoping that an opportunity would reveal itself where he could talk to Clark alone. Sam had kept a close eye on him all evening, looking for any ill-effects from the prolonged exposure to Kryptonite and the virus that had overwhelmed his system not even twenty-four hours prior. He may be Superman, but he was still Sam's patient.
And the man with whom his daughter was very much in love.
When Lois slipped back inside -- alone- Sam took the opportunity given to him and headed for the window. He found Clark sitting on one of the steps that led to the apartment above them, his gaze fixed on the vast sky above them.
"Dr. Lane," Clark greeted him with a wariness that Sam had no trouble picking up on.
"It's Sam." He took a seat next to Clark and cast his eyes upward, marveling at the fact that her daughter's fiancé' had come from a place even further away than the tiny blips of light dotting the night. And yet... he was more human than most.
So, what did that say about the human race?
Nothing good, that was for certain.
They studied the sky for several moments, the silence becoming a living, breathing thing. Sam was at a loss as to how best to approach this sensitive subject. He knew that great lengths had been taken to ensure the protection of Clark Kent's dual identity, and quite frankly, he didn't know the reaction he would get.
"How are you feeling? Sam finally asked, his tone slightly abrupt and to the point.
Clark jerked in surprise. "Oh, um... ok. I took a nap today so I think I'm all caught up on my sleep. I'm used to pulling all-nighters."
'Oh, I bet you are,' Sam thought to himself, thinking back to all the times he'd seen Superman's heroic acts live on the late night news.
Sam studied the super hero at his side, the moonlight revealing features far less peaked than earlier that evening. "Look, son... I may not have practiced actual medicine for quite some time, but doctor/patient confidentiality is something I still take very seriously," he trailed off, not quite sure how to proceed.
"You know." It was a statement not a question.
Sam nodded. "Yes, I know. And that is why I needed to ask if there were any ill effects that I should know about? You gave us quite a scare, you know."
Clark shook his head warily, wondering where this revelation was going to take them. A slight lingering weariness was all that remained from his trip to oblivion. "How?"
"How do I know?" Sam clarified, proceeding when a curt nod was sent in his direction. "I may not know you or your parents very well, but I do know my daughter, Clark. Her reaction to Superman's illness wasn't exactly... typical. I would have been blind to not notice that Superman loved her -- and more importantly -- Lois loved Superman. It was the only explanation that made sense. Lois wouldn't kiss another man in her own fiancé's bed with his parents in the next room without a darn good reason."
"Oh. You saw that?"
Sam nodded his head in response, taking note of the tightly clenched fists of the man at his side.
"Your secret is safe with me, Clark. I just want you to know that. And it would be safe even if we didn't have doctor/patient confidentiality. I won't betray that trust. I couldn't."
"Thank you. I appreciate that." Clark slowly let out the breath he'd been holding. His worst nightmare was coming true -- his secret revealed because he couldn't control the depth of his feelings for Lois.
"No need to thank me, Clark. I'm the one who should be thanking you. You saved my daughter this morning."
A small smile tugged at Clark's lips. "Well, it wouldn't be the first time."
Sam chuckled. "And I suspect it won't be the last, either, if I know my little girl."
"She...has a penchant for getting into trouble," Clark admitted wryly.
"Well, I'm just glad that she has you in her life," Sam revealed. "Both of you."
"Daddy?" There was a hint of uncertainty in the question.
Sam turned and gave his daughter a tender smile, not hearing her approach. "Lois. I was just having a few words with Clark."
"Oh?" Her eyes narrowed with suspicion.
"He knows." Clark took the glass of eggnog that was held out to him and tugged Lois onto his lap, pressing a quick kiss to her temple.
Startled eyes flew to her father's face. "You do?" she questioned, wondering what her father would do with this information.
Sam nodded. "As I was telling Clark, his secret is safe with me."
Tears threatened to spill down Lois' cheeks. "Thank you."
Martha Kent appeared at the window, interrupting any further conversation. "Time to come in! It's time to open those presents we didn't get a chance to open this morning," she announced, shivering. "Besides, it's too cold to stay out there, you'll catch your deaths."
"We're coming, Mom." Clark pushed Lois off his lap and got to his feet, turning to Sam Lane. "I never really got a chance to thank you, Sam. I don't know what would have happened to Superman if you hadn't been there."
This was a moment that Sam would remember for a long time. His life had felt like a worthless mess for longer than he cared to think about -- but being credited for this one thing that he'd managed to not screw up went a long way in restoring his fractured self-esteem. "I'm just glad I was able to help," he replied simply as he followed his daughter and her super hero betrothed into the welcoming warmth of Lois' living room.
Much to Lois' surprise, the evening hadn't digressed into a feuding nightmare that had plagued more than one of her family's holidays. She couldn't wait to tell her sibling about this miracle of civility, feeling fortunate that she'd been the one to witness this particular phenomenon. In fact, her life was feeling pretty darn perfect, if she did say so herself -- although the second cup of eggnog might have been partially responsible for her warm thoughts. Her living room was a disaster, littered with brightly colored wrapping paper and empty boxes. She wasn't bothered by it though; sometimes it was handy having a fiancé who could move at super speed -- even if he did frequently get stuck with her more mundane chores. He never complained about it though.
Yep, she was a lucky woman.
Clark pressed a quick kiss to her lips and murmured, "Don't move." Lois watched him disappear into her bedroom before returning with a large, brightly colored box and her lips curled into a wide smile.
"Is that for me?" she asked happily. She loved presents. And she especially loved big, colorfully wrapped presents given to her by the man she loved.
"Yep," Clark replied, setting the gift at her feet. "I know how much you like big gifts."
She grinned cheekily and kissed his cheek. "Bigger the better."
Sam watched this byplay with interest, his appreciation for Clark growing with each passing moment. Even without the added bonus of her daughter being engaged to Superman, it was quite clear to him how much his daughter was loved -- cherished, even. It was a rare thing.
Watching Lois tear the paper away in a frenzy that was reminiscent of when she'd been a child, he smiled. Some things never changed.
And just when he didn't think his esteem for Clark could get any more impressive, he realized he was wrong as Lois managed to rip the remainder of the paper way, her accompanying happy squeal music to his ears.
Superman had given his daughter a new microwave -- her previous one orbiting space, most likely.
Yep, his daughter was in good hands.