And now, on with the show!
I believe in love
Now who knows where or when
But it's comin' around again…
I know nothin' stays the same
But if you're willin' to play the game
It's comin' around again.
~Carly Simon, Coming Around Again
When Martha stepped back from him, her eyes gleamed with unshed tears. For long moments she simply stood there, staring at
“My son,” Martha sighed. “Do you have any idea how much I love you, Clark?”
“Yes,” he replied softly. “Yes, Ma, I know. At least, I think I do. Because…”
“Because of Lois’ twins?” Martha asked, and
“Of the kids?” Martha asked. “By all accounts they’re amazing. I only saw them for a few seconds, but they seemed bright and well-behaved. A lot of children these days would’ve gone wild at the sight of that crowd, and all those cameras.”
“Yeah, the twins are pretty well-behaved,”
Martha pursed her lips slightly. “I’d like to meet the woman first, before I have anything to say about her,” she replied, then her expression softened slightly. “She was completely focused on her twins when I saw her, though. That’s certainly a mark in her favor.”
“Lois would move heaven and earth for those children,” Lana said softly from the doorway. “Martha, I think you’ll like her. She takes a bit of getting used to – she’s sure not like anyone we know from Smallville – but I have the greatest respect for her.”
“Lana, darling,” Martha said with a smile. “I’ll bet
The redhead winced slightly, but accepted the dismissal. As the door closed behind her,
“She’s also the woman you love,” Martha said gently. “And the mother of your children.”
It was still something of a shock to hear aloud.
One silver brow arched up. “You mean the fact that I have two six-year-old grandchildren I’ve never met? And the other fact, that my son isn’t married to their mother?” Clark began to blush as Martha crossed her arms and continued, “
“Ma,” he whispered, unable to meet her eyes. “Ma, I didn’t mean for everything to end up this way. I always intended to marry Lois…”
“But you didn’t,” she replied, and her voice was softer. “
“The situation you’re in now is the consequence of your own actions,” Martha continued in the same mild, factual tone. “And yes, I’m disappointed in you. However…” Martha paused and caught
Those words brought a tentative smile to
That was another topic to which
Lana had just been coming back into the room with a couple of packets of coffee, and she snickered to overhear the last few words. “Oh, you’ll start a river of gossip when folks back home find out about the twins.” As she started the coffee brewing, she raised her voice to a mockery of breathless excitement and accentuated her Midwestern accent. “Clark
“Martha, I’ve lived in
“Yes, well,” Martha began, but Lana didn’t intend to be shrugged off.
“And to be honest, Lois is a city girl. Things are different in Metropolis. Relationships tend to move faster, and a lot of things that would shock people back home are just part of everyday life…” Lana trailed off. It had just occurred to her that the twins were around six years old. Not quite seven years ago, those other Kryptonians had tried taking over the planet, and Superman had been conspicuously absent… Well, I guess I can understand why he didn’t wait, then. Suddenly aware of his own mortality and Lois right there as always… “Given the circumstances, everything that was happening back then, I think we can be a bit more understanding.”
“It’s not that I don’t understand,” Martha said. “The mother in me just wants to crow with delight that I finally have grandchildren, and by all accounts they’re both precocious and adorable.”
“Thank you, Lana, but I think I can handle this without your help,” Martha said. “I do believe I know how to raise my own son.”
“Martha, he left thirty in the dust a while back. If he’s not grown up by now, he never will be.” The quick retort left Lana’s lips before she could censor it, and the redhead covered her mouth in surprise. Oh dear God, I’ve been spending too much time around Lois.
“And I really wish the two of you wouldn’t talk about me like I’m not here,”
“Like Jason and Kala rifling through people’s coat pockets for sugar-free candy,” Lana muttered under her breath.
“All right, enough,” Martha sighed. “Children, it’s late. This old lady needs her rest.”
“You’re not old,” Lana and Clark chorused.
Martha reached over to touch her son’s arm. “
“I know that, Ma,” he replied. “Thank you.”
Mother and son simply looked at each other for a long moment, then both leaned toward each other for a hug. “Good night, son,” Martha said. “Take care.”
“I will, Ma,” he replied. “I’ve got a lot to do, and I’d better get started.”
Martha hugged him as hard as she could, knowing she probably wouldn’t see him for a day or two. But
He held one hand against his side, making a disagreeable face. “I guess this wound isn’t totally healed up yet. I left it bandaged, and it hasn’t bothered me much all day, but it’s still a little tender…”
“Let me see,” Martha said, a trace of motherly worry in her voice.
He wasn’t wearing the suit underneath his clothes, having had to stop by his apartment to change out of uniform before coming to visit. So taking off the buttoned-down shirt and undershirt bared his chest, the perfection of it marred only by two large white bandages. “I’ll be in the other room,” Lana muttered, and
Martha carefully pulled up the edge of the bandage on his side, and hissed with sympathy. The wound left by Luthor’s kryptonite shiv was now a raised scar, slightly discolored. She touched it gently, and
“Leave the bandage off, then,”
The bullet wound was worse; there had been more trauma to his flesh, and it was deeply bruised. But it was healing, too, and Martha sighed with relief that it wasn’t any worse. “You’ll be all right,” she said with finality.
“I’ll look forward to it.” With one more kiss on the cheek, she let him leave. Lana stepped out of the kitchenette long enough to wave goodbye, smirking with amusement.
Ah, déjà vu. Barely a week ago, I was lying awake in this same bed, staring at the ceiling, so supremely uncomfortable that I couldn’t sleep. And here I am again. Lois sighed, shifting a little. She and Richard had planned to let the twins sleep in the master bedroom with Lois, while Richard slept in the guestroom. But Jason and Kala had awakened while being put to bed, and sleepily insisted on having both parents nearby. So the two children occupied the center of the bed, sleeping deeply for the first time since their kidnapping, while the adults slept on either side of them. While Richard and the twins slept the sleep of the exhausted, Lois’ restless mind had awakened early.
Being in bed with Richard – even with the twins as insulation – was distinctly awkward. At first, sheer exhaustion had let her sleep for a few hours, but now she found herself awake again, troublesome thoughts chasing each other around her mind.
For Lois, everything was in flux. She and Richard had officially broken up, but no one else knew it. And they were still presently living in the same house, a situation guaranteed to unnerve her. She worried about how their situation would ultimately be resolved; doing what was best for the twins was easy to say, but in practice they had many decisions to make. Who would keep the house? How would they arrange custody? How in the name of God were they going to be able to continue working for the same paper?
As soon as Lois firmly told herself to stop worrying about the difficulties she would face in breaking up with Richard, another fear popped up. She and Clark had many things to work out, too. She’d kept secrets from him and lied to him, and though
Yes, we love each other, Lois thought. But we loved each other the first time, and look what a mess that turned into. This isn’t some fairy tale where the hero and the damsel in distress declare their love on the last page, and the story ends with ‘and then they all lived happily ever after’. Being with someone, trying to make a life and a family with them, isn’t so easy. In real life, there’s always more to the story past the flowery declarations of undying love. There are always complications.
Not least of which are my in-laws. Lois shivered just a little; Jor-El surely hadn’t changed his mind about her. She couldn’t begin to imagine how the hologram would react to the news that his precious son had gone back to the same human woman who’d tempted him from the path of greatness once before. Not to mention the illegitimate half-breed twins; Lois ground her teeth silently, promising herself that she’d put a bullet through the giant floating head if he said anything amiss about her children. It wouldn’t hurt the hologram, but it would do a great deal for her feelings.
Then she remembered that Luthor had stolen the crystals. He’d been very anxious about a locked steel case on the helicopter, and Lois figured that the crystals were still in it. So maybe she would never have to deal with her father-in-law again. Wait, father-in-law? What the hell am I thinking? I sound like my sister, calling Ron’s parents her in-laws by the third date. Good Lord.
Even if Jor-El was out of commission, though, she still had Mrs.
Lois’ shoulders shook with silent, mocking laughter. I’m so screwed. I can’t pretend to be anything like Lana. Mrs. Kent’s going to hate me, most likely, just as much as Richard’s mother did. I saw how much weight Jor-El’s opinion carried with Kal-El, I’m not eager to see what happens when his mother gives him a piece of her mind about me.
She wrenched her mind out of that track, reminding herself that Kal-El wouldn’t leave her this time – he had never completely given up on her, not even when he had left the planet in search of Krypton. Always, he had held her in his heart, and never loved another. And she had absolutely no intention of letting him go. The love between them was the one thing Lois could be sure of, besides the twins. Her only question was, would it be enough to overcome all the obstacles between them?
Not least of those is which man I’m going to be with. Clark or Superman? He and I and the twins know the truth, but the public doesn’t. It would look very strange if Lois and Superman were to resume the relationship everyone assumed they’d had before, while Clark spent a great deal of time with the twins. Richard, at least, had assumed
On the other hand, they couldn’t allow anyone to even imagine that Jason and Kala were Superman’s. Lois had battled that rumor since they were born, sacrificing her own reputation for her children’s safety. Look what had happened when just one of Superman’s enemies found out about them: Lex had nearly managed to kill the entire family. If the twins’ heritage became common knowledge, every criminal in the world would try to use them against their father – assuming they weren’t kidnapped and imprisoned in some top-secret lab somewhere.
Furthermore, if they somehow managed to convince people that they really were together, people would taunt
A last terrible possibility occurred to Lois then. If she chose
Lois heaved an aggravated sigh and sat up in bed. Enough of this. I’m screwing myself up to back down from this, the one thing I’ve wanted in my deepest heart for years. I never used to analyze things to death in the old days. I’d just charge in and make the best of what I had … which is how I wound up with amnesia and a mysterious pregnancy.
No, diving in headfirst doesn’t exactly work for me anymore. But neither does worrying myself into knots. This time around I’ll be intelligent and actually talk about these things with Kal-El. Before we jump right back into a relationship of any kind…
Firmly putting all of those speculations out of her mind, Lois got out of bed carefully. This is impossible. I’ll just make myself sick trying to puzzle this all out alone. Wait until you can talk to Kal-El. We’ll figure this out. Richard and the twins stayed asleep, the latter curled up together as if to be sure of the other’s presence. Again, she caught herself gazing at the two of them, her heart aching. The two little lives that they had created hung in the balance on this one. There was more than just the two of them to consider this time. We’ll figure it out, most of all for them.
Staying a moment more, the first rays of the sun starting to peek through the drapes, Lois finally turned and started downstairs to make a pot of coffee.
The next few days passed in a blur of activity for everyone involved.
Richard called Lana the very next day, and she was delighted to hear from him. The day after that, however, she started to be very difficult to reach, and he wound up leaving messages on her voicemail or at the hotel more often than not. With Lois and Clark both off work, Richard had precious little time to himself anyway. He still missed Lana, even though he felt slightly guilty about it.
Lana herself avoided Richard as much as possible, precisely because she wanted to see him so badly. She kept in touch with Martha and Clark, though, and even got a call from Lois when the reporter managed to get her ruined cell phone replaced. Lana wound up being a go-between, relaying messages from
Lois tried to go back to work and was gently pressured into taking personal leave by Richard and Perry. Kal-El was busy with the city-wide clean-up and she didn’t feel comfortable pulling him away from that, not to mention the fact that Lana had informed her that Mrs. Kent was now staying at his apartment. That had been reason enough to let things calm down more first, to let him contact her. Nevermind the fact that the separation had begun to tug at her. But she had nonetheless teased Lana about hiding from Richard, much to the redhead’s surprise.
She and the twins spent a couple of days visiting with Ella and the Troupes; Lucy burst into tears on seeing them, having finally heard the truth about the danger they’d been in. Once everyone’s tears had dried, Lois sent the twins outside to play with their cousins and sat Ella, Lucy, and Ron down at the big dining table to tell them that she and Richard were breaking up. “Amicably,” she added quickly, seeing even Ron go pale.
“Are you serious?” Lucy said, wide-eyed.
“Of course,” Lois groused. “Would I even mention it if I wasn’t? Look, we’ve been having problems. And he’s met someone else.”
“That sorry sonofagun…” Lucy began, but Lois cut her off.
“And I approve,” the reporter continued, making Lucy and Ron stare at her wide-eyed. “She’s perfect for him, and I’m happy for them both.” Lois didn’t see the sly, knowing smile on her mother’s face.
“Well … what about the twins?” Ron asked slowly. “And who’s going to keep the house?”
Lois sighed heavily. “We’re still figuring all of that out. You guys are pretty much the first to know.”
“Do the twins know?” Lucy asked, glancing out the window.
“We’re getting there,” Lois said grimly. “They know something’s up, but we want to finalize things before we try to explain it all. I’m thinking about taking them and getting out of town for a few days, and Richard will probably do the same later.”
As for the twins themselves, they went back to school a couple of days later and were instantaneous celebrities. The story of how a bad guy kidnapped them and Mommy, only to have his plans ruined when Superman rescued them, was repeated throughout the school in tones of awe. Every time another child told them how cool they were for knowing Superman, Kala and Jason just shared a small, private smile. They were still having nightmares, but were sleeping in the big bed with Mommy most nights so she was right there to comfort them. Besides, in some weird way their newfound fame made up for the bad memories.