Lois (kalalanekent) wrote,

Posting Chapter Fifty-Six: What About Now? (Part Two)

And it continues...

(While I space to make it easier to read)

(And one more time. Blah, blah, blah...)

Do you love her…? It wasn’t as if Lois hadn’t asked him this before, that morning at IHOP. It was the sincerity of the question that seemed to drive him speechless, and Richard spread his hands wordlessly. “I…  Yes. I love her; at least, I’m almost totally certain. Lana’s the one who’s holding back, asking for time to decide.” Richard sighed in frustration, raking his hands through his hair in unconscious imitation of Lois. Lana seemed to want to hold off on calling it love; the one time she had said it, doing so had nearly brought her to tears. “I know for absolute fact that I really like her – a lot. She’s … well, she’s nothing like you, but not in a bad way. If that makes any sense. I’d have to get to know her better – you know, when we’re not being almost killed – to be a hundred percent sure if this is love. But I like her, I respect her, and the attraction’s definitely there.” And he winced slightly to say it, hoping the answer hadn’t been too frank.
Lois winced too – it didn’t precisely bother her to hear that, but picturing it in her mind did sting. Seeing them together would likely be rather difficult. Still she asked, “Do you think you could love her? I mean, be with her, marry her, all of that?”
“Yes,” Richard said without hesitation. “If … if she’ll let me. I’m still not sure how she feels.”
“Then I’m happy for you. Genuinely happy.” Lois’ smile grew teasing as she added, “What is it with you and difficult women, Richard?”
“I had my lifetime allotment of easy ones in college?” The moment the words left his mouth, Richard groaned and dropped his face into his palm.
Lois just rolled her eyes with a sigh. “We know, we know. Good-looking pilot, four years older than most people there, fresh out of military service, and bursting at the seams with smarm and charm. It’s a wonder you made any kind of grades.”
“Says the woman who lived like a nun with my uncle through most of college,” Richard countered. “Except on weekends, when you cut your own frighteningly efficient swath through the available masculinity.”
“One, you had more partners in college than I have in my whole life – and don’t tell me it’s a guy thing. I spent a whole year with the same person, in fact, which you never did ‘til you met me. Two, I kept a 3.8 GPA in spite of my wild weekends, and Perry freakin’ admires me for it.”
“Fine, the moral high ground is yours,” Richard said, raising his hands in defeat. “But just try to tell me you and Clark shook hands when you left the restaurant. If I busted you two in the supply room when we were still engaged, I hate to think what you’d be like now that you’re free.”
Lois turned an outraged look on him, but it quickly faded. Idiot, he figured it out. And you thought you were being so sly that day. Like we didn’t have the guilt all over our faces. “That wasn’t intentional in the supply closet, you know. Neither one of us expected… I was just about to blister his ears for even being within a foot of me and…” Her expression was painfully sheepish, “It just kinda happened.”
“Now you’re avoiding the question.” Richard didn’t really want to hear details, either, but since his business was public knowledge anyway, it only seemed fair. Besides, this was something like prodding at a sore tooth – it hurt, but it was almost irresistible. And sometimes, if you did it enough, you’d stop feeling the pain.
The dark-haired woman paused to take a deep breath, and then let it out with a sigh. He had a point, whether it was an uncomfortable one or not. And it was very likely that he wouldn’t understand the logic. Very few people beyond her and Kal-El could. Slowly, as it was something she was still getting used to, Lois replied, “No, you’re right. No handshake. Funnily enough, I don’t think we’ve ever done that. But, I did something last night I never thought I’d do in a million years. Last night, I kissed Clark Kent.”
Richard’s eyebrows went up. “Oh really,” he said, strangely nonplussed. “You mean you … wait. You had to have kissed Clark before.”
“Not Clark. Kal-El, but never Clark,” Lois said, eyes downcast. Understanding dawned in Richard’s eyes, but Lois’ mind had returned to the previous evening, to Clark walking her to her car. He had always been so chivalrous, and yesterday was no exception.
 A little of that old Lois-and-Clark awkwardness manifested when they arrived at the car. Lois had unlocked the door and turned to say goodbye, only to catch a certain very serious look in his eyes. Clark was standing quite close to her, and Lois looked up at him. At that moment, she had realized that she was on the verge of kissing him. Kissing Clark. The glasses were still on, and she’d been calling him Clark all night. No use telling herself Clark was just a disguise Kal-El wore. Clark was as much a part of the man as Superman was.
He had seen the look of surprise on her face, seen her hesitate. His slightly hurt, slightly wistful expression was very familiar to Lois, but at that moment she hadn’t wanted to see it cross his handsome features again. He was the father of her children, she ought to get used to the reality of who he was … all of who he was…
Lois had caught his tie, looking up at him intently. She had never let herself cross this line with Clark, always pulling the glasses off as she kissed him. But it surprised her to realize that it was Clark she wanted to kiss now. There was no danger any longer of leading him on, of shattering his feelings for her by indulging his crush on her and then not following through. She’d suddenly thought, Well, Lane, you can finally have your cake and eat it, too. You get both men – your best friend and the hero.
Thinking that, she had leaned up to him, and Clark slid his arm around her waist shyly. Lois had a moment to think how unreal it must be for him to kiss her at last, when as Clark he had been pining over her for so long. And then all questions of identity blurred beneath the thrill of the kiss, as if it were the first time. That intense magnetism between them wasn’t deterred by a pair of glasses and a different kind of suit.
A long moment later, they’d stepped back, both breathless. Lois had looked up at him smiling and murmured tauntingly, “This doesn’t mean I’ll stop calling you Kal-El, Clark.”
In the present, Richard cleared his throat. “So, what are you going to do? While he’s gone, I mean?”
“I’m not sure,” she replied diffidently.
“You’re not going to wait, are you?” he asked. “Lois, you never wait for anything. Permission, traffic, Christmas morning – you always jump the gun if you can.”
“Which is what we’re trying not to do,” Lois replied, sounding harassed as she put her head in her hands. 
“Hey, it’s all right,” Richard soothed. “It’s just… This is a side of you I’ve never seen before. Lois Lane, fire-breathing reporter, being cautious and sensible. It’s practically a sign of the apocalypse.”
Lois peeked out at him from between her fingers and sighed, but there was a hint of amusement in her voice. “Shut up and make me some toast, boy-toy.”
Richard’s outraged reply was cut off by Jason running into the room. “Daddy! Kala’s callin’ me lizardbreath again!”
His sister was not far behind with her own complaint. “Daddy! Jason pulled my hair!”
“Did not!”
“Did too!”
“You were callin’ names first!”
“Jason, you wanna be Godzilla! That means you’re gonna get lizardbreath!”
Lois and Richard just looked at each other and burst out laughing, thoroughly confusing both twins. “I guess they’re back to normal,” Richard finally wheezed.
“You two, stop fighting, get upstairs, and finish getting ready for school,” Lois said as soon as she got her breath back. Seeing Kala open her mouth, Lois added sternly, “I don’t care who started it, you will not be late for school today. Go. Now.”
Sulking, the twins turned and trudged upstairs. Richard and Lois needed none of Kala’s special hearing to catch the little girl’s bitter words to her brother. “She always believes you.”
“Does not! She yelled at me, too,” he hissed back. 
“Does so!”
“Does not!”
“Jason, Kala!” Lois called. “One … two…” The twins’ suddenly racing footsteps sounded more like a couple of elephants than a pair of kindergarteners.
“Oh, man,” Richard sighed, shaking his head slightly. “You think Clark is ready for this?”
“They’re six, and I’m still not ready for them,” Lois replied dryly. Then she smiled and added, “I do love them, even if they drive me crazy. They’ll probably have me as gray as my mother by the time they hit high school.”
Lois almost managed to settle into a routine over the next couple of days. Almost. Not going to work was still driving her nuts, but the extra time she spent with her family more than made up for it. Especially now that Perry wasn’t answering her phone calls. Having dinner with Ron and Lucy, window-shopping with her mother, or just spending an afternoon playing with the twins was precious, the more so for how close she had come to never being able to do those things again. Every moment spent with them seemed golden, and it almost eased the persistent ache in her chest.
Almost. Kal-El was out of touch, in Smallville, giving her time to decide. He had the cell phone and she could call if she liked, but she had kept herself busy as not too seem too needy. Lois had already made her choice; her heart had made it the moment he returned, little as she wanted to admit that even to herself. But she understood what this meant to him. Kal-El would never be comfortable in a relationship with her if he felt he’d somehow ‘stolen’ her from Richard, so this separation was necessary.    
Speaking of Richard, he and Lois were still feeling their way along the new parameters of their relationship. It seemed they would still be able to be friends after the breakup; a few sharp words had been exchanged, but they quarreled less now than when they were together. Richard had decided, after walking in on her half-dressed that time, to stay with his uncle. Lois could see the logic in that decision – if they weren’t constantly around each other, such incidents were less likely to occur and wound them both with memories. And she had spent last night in the most lonely and melancholy of states. It was over and they knew that, but it was a lot to adjust to. And the house seemed a lot emptier without Richard in it.
Worse, Jason and Kala were with him at Perry’s tonight. In their absence at afternoon, every little noise was magnified, even the clocks ticking unnaturally loudly. The near-silence made Lois tense, and she had been prowling around the house as the afternoon wore on.  It was simply impossible to get comfortable in her own home. She’d tried to lose herself in a book twice, but had reread the same page several times without getting any sense from it. Television was out as well; at this hour, all that was on were reruns of ridiculous sitcoms, the never-ending parade of talk shows, news she’d already heard at noon, and the most banal programming of all, reality TV. Lois had turned the television off and tossed the remote onto the couch in disgust when the antiques road show started to look good.
That was how Lois had wound up in her study, staring at her computer and missing the twins. She hadn’t wanted to explain too much to Jason and Kala just yet, although it was clear that they had strong suspicions. All of the adults needed to get themselves settled first, and explain things to the twins only when the three of them were certain of what would happen. She knew that Kal-El had spoken with them on the subject just enough to reassure them that they were loved, and Lois and Richard had both offered the same sureties. They avoided talking of the future, a final break with this life they all knew, and if Lois was honest with herself, that was at least partially because she was afraid the twins would blame her for the upheaval in their lives.
Oh, yes. I can see this discussion going so well. “Jason, Kala, you both remember a time before Mommy met Daddy, but for most of your lives he’s been here, telling you bedtime stories and taking you to school and watching old monster movies with you. Well, because Mommy’s decided all of a sudden that she loves your biological father more, we’re going to change everything you’ve come to rely on. Everything. Mommy can’t stand to stay in this house with all the memories, so we’re going to move, and Daddy won’t be living with us anymore. And maybe if we’re really lucky, freakin’ Superman, who happens to be your father, will come and live with us and disrupt your lives even more.” Dear God.
Lois shook her head at those thoughts, sitting in her study with a mug of coffee. Why did this always have to be so damned difficult? No matter how much Jason and Kala liked and respected the man they now knew was their father, it was a lot of changes very fast, and they had never been pleased by that. And this was never something she had ever asked them to do. This is such a mess, and I have no idea just how they’ll react. Except I’m pretty sure it won’t be good. This is the hell of being a parent – you have to do what’s best for the kids, even if they don’t necessarily like it. I’m sure Kala would be pleased as punch if she could keep both daddies in the same house… The reporter allowed herself a snort of laughter at that notion, trying not to acknowledge the guilt. Not snowball’s chance in Hell of that. Clark and Richard get along well enough, thank God, but with me under their noses all the time? No. Besides, the office gossip would go wild.
With those melancholy thoughts plaguing her mind, Lois brooded and stared at her coffee mug. The possibility of a wonderful future lay in front of her, one in which Lois could finally have the man she had always wanted, could reunite him with his children. An end to secrets, an end to guilt. But how was she to get from here to there without breaking apart everything in the process? Sighing, she leaned her head against her palm. What am I going to do? How can I even begin to get this right?
The radio had been playing softly ever since settled in the study, and now a new song came on. The singer’s voice matched her own feelings, full of longing and hope and a shadow of loss. Slowly, Lois raised her head.
Shadows fill an empty heart
As love is fading,
From all the things that we are
But are not saying.
Can we see beyond the scars
And make it to the dawn?

Change the colors of the sky.
And open up to
The ways you made me feel alive,
The ways I loved you.
For all the things that never died,
To make it through the night,
Love will find you.

What about now?
What about today?
What if you’re making me all that I was meant to be?
What if our love never went away?
What if it’s lost behind words we could never find?
Baby, before it’s too late,
What about now?
Lois sat very still, listening, her coffee forgotten. Once before she’d heard this same man on the radio, singing words that might have been plucked from her own heart. This time, it seemed almost as though Kal-El were calling to her through the music, his yearning for her as strong as it had ever been. The song continued, weaving into Lois’ mind and heart, speaking of love that had never disappeared, only dimmed. Like a fire banked beneath ashes, it needed only a breath across the embers to spring to life again.
Now that we’re here,
Now that we’ve come this far,
Just hold on.
There is nothing to fear,
For I am right beside you.
For all my life,
I am yours.

What about now?
What about today?
What if you’re making me all that I was meant to be?
What if our love had never went away?
What if it’s lost behind words we could never find?

What about now?
What about today?
What if you’re making me all that I was meant to be?
What if our love had never went away?
What if it’s lost behind words we could never find?
Baby, before it’s too late,
Baby, before it’s too late,
Baby, before it’s too late,
What about now?
Stunned by the poignancy in the man’s voice, Lois just sat there, the echoes of the music resonating through her soul. Her coffee had grown cold by the time her eyes lost their wistful faraway look, filling with determination instead.
Clark had spent the past couple of days keeping himself busy. He was still visiting Metropolis during the day, helping with the reconstruction, but during those trips he studiously avoided seeking Lois out. He’d said he wanted to give her time and space to be certain of what she wanted, and even eavesdropping on her was a kind of cheating.
The twins, however, were a different story, and he practiced listening for their heartbeats. God forbid anything should ever happen to them again, but if it did, he wanted to be ready. Flying over their school and singling out the distinctive rhythms of their hearts made him feel connected to them, and to their mother.
Martha had also found ways to keep him occupied around the farm. She was worried about his wounds still, but after a few more days’ exposure to the sun, they looked like old scars. That set both their minds at rest, and it was with a certain amount of pleasure that Clark helped her milk the goat and weed the garden. 
Nights, though, were another matter. At night Clark was profoundly lonely. Ma went to bed early, and so did nearly everyone else in town. The only people awake close to midnight were a few local teenage boys whose energy was inexhaustible, and they were preoccupied with their own pursuits. By day, Clark had plenty to keep his mind and body active, but unless an emergency occurred somewhere needing Superman’s attention, at night he suffered enforced idleness.
So he lay awake as he had the past two nights, staring up at the ceiling, missing the city. Missing Lois, if he were honest. I haven’t been away from my job at the paper for a while, either. I’m not sure if I miss it because it kept me busy and informed, or because I was almost guaranteed to see Lois every day while I worked there.
Clark chuckled softly to himself. Heck, I miss them all. Perry trying to be gruff so no one notices how much he cares about us; Jimmy and his never-slackening enthusiasm; Ron inviting me over for dinner; even Richard, whom circumstances say I shouldn’t consider a friend.   
I wonder how Richard and Lana are getting along. She’s absolutely smitten with him, and every time she and Ma talk you can hear the wistfulness in Lana’s voice. I hope everything works out for them. They both deserve happiness. 
Thinking of Richard led to thoughts of Jason and Kala, and Clark’s heart ached even worse. The twins, his twins … he should be spending every spare moment with them, trying to make up for the years he’d lost and would never get back. The thought ran through him bitterly, and he nearly got up right then and flew to Metropolis in search of them.
No, he told himself sternly. You missed six years. A few more days won’t make that much difference, and they need time. Time to come to grips with the idea that you’re their father, time to cope with Lois and Richard breaking up. And the three of us need time to decide what we’re going to do so we can explain it to them without sounding like we haven’t got a clue. It’s never good for children to see their parents floundering for a solution. We can’t let Jason and Kala start blaming themselves for all of this. They have enough to deal with just having been kidnapped by Luthor.
The thought of the megalomaniac touched Clark’s soul with frost. He’d looked for Lex after the first few days, which had largely been spent in critical repairs around Metropolis, but Luthor seemed to have vanished. It was too much to hope that his helicopter had crashed, and Clark assumed his nemesis was still alive. I’m almost afraid to find him now. Lieutenant Sawyer contacted me – as Superman, of course – about some strange crystals they found on board the yacht. At least those are back where they belong now – not that I’ve had the courage to use the father crystal – and guarded by some of the Fortress’ less benign security devices. I can’t take chances anymore. But there’s no telling how much Luthor already learned, and he may still have kryptonite. 
Thinking of the Fortress had brought his mind right back to Lois. She was the reason he hadn’t spoken to Jor-El. Clark couldn’t handle his father’s condemnation at the moment. At least his mother seemed content to let him handle the situation, having stated her feelings on the topic.
But oh, how he missed Lois. The sunset the other night had been glorious, and he’d yearned to share it with her. One of the local boys had bought himself an old hotrod, and Clark had wished Lois were around to impress the kids with her car knowledge – nothing made her feel better than surprising people who underestimated her. And Ben had come to dinner last night, making Clark wish fervently for Lois’ presence to restore his sense of humor. 
Sighing, he admitted defeat. He and Lois had both said they would call if they needed each other, and as long as Clark stuck to casual topics he could soothe himself with her voice and not feel like he was pressuring her. Reaching for his phone, he flipped it open and dialed her cell phone.
“Clark?” She sounded very startled but not sleepy, so he hadn’t wakened her.
At the sound of her voice, he sighed and lay back down on the bed, the phone against his ear and his eyes closed. “Hello, Lois. I was just… How are you?”
Her tone was strangely guarded as she replied. “I’m … fine. What about you?”
“Bored,” he admitted. “I miss … the city, you know. You, Perry, Jimmy, everyone at the office, really.”
“Oh, so now I’m in the same category as Perry and Jimmy again, huh?” He could hear the smile in her voice, the warm and teasing tone that was just like old times.
“Not hardly,” Clark told her. “You’re in a class by yourself, Lois, always have been.”
“You’re sweet,” she said, half-distractedly. “So what brings you to call me at almost eleven?”
Clark glanced at the clock. “Yeah, it’s four minutes ‘til eleven here.  I figured you might be up, and I just wanted to talk.”
“I plan to be up for a few more hours,” she replied, and her voice was wary again, almost secretive. “Anything in particular you want to talk about?”
“No, not really. I … Lois, I wanted to hear your voice. I miss you.” Clark could’ve kicked himself for saying it, after all his promises to himself about not pressuring her.
“I miss you, too,” Lois murmured back. “I’m glad to hear it, Clark, considering how my evening’s been.”
“Oh? How bad was it?”
“Not so much bad as – oh come on! What the hell? You’ve got to be kidding me! Clark, do you really have a town called Possum Trot?”
The question seemed so out of the blue that Clark could only answer it, wondering why she would suddenly ask something like that. “Well, yes, it’s a little town a few miles from here. Never incorporated…”
His first thought, that she’d been looking at a map, vanished. Unincorporated towns like Possum Trot didn’t appear on most maps. About the only other way she could’ve seen that name would be to drive past the sign for the turnoff.
The sign that was barely two miles from the Kent farmstead. And now that he let himself listen, Lois’ heartbeat was awfully close by… “Lois, where are you?”
“Umm…” While she hesitated, he took note of the sounds in the background of their call. Not just static, he could faintly hear a car engine and the rush of air as she drove.
“Lois,” he said a little louder, jumping out of bed and scrambling to find his pants. And a shirt. Shoes – no, shoes weren’t necessary. “Where are you, Lois?”
“Well, if I’m where I think I am, look out a window in a couple minutes,” she said sheepishly.
“My God,” he whispered in shock. Clark dropped the cell phone as he got dressed, his hands shaking with delight and anxiety. She was here, right here in Smallville, only moments from his touch. Never in his wildest imaginings did he think Lois would come after him, drop everything and fly halfway across the country just because she missed him. His heart pounding wildly, he raced across the upstairs hall and nearly tripped going down the stairs. Even his powers were forgotten, his entire mind focused on the thought of Lois arriving here.
At last he made it through the darkened house to the door, flinging it wide just in time to see headlights up the road. Clark flipped the porch light on to alleviate the darkness and hurried down the front steps barefoot.
Lois pulled the rented car up in front of the house, getting out almost shyly. Clark had stopped just past the steps, staring in disbelief at her while she looked at him nervously. Please don’t send me away was written in her expression, and for a long moment they simply looked at each other.
Then Clark broke into a broad grin and opened his arms, and Lois ran to him laughing. No words could express his joy at seeing her, so Clark swept her up in a joyful hug and swung her around and around. For once, Lois didn’t scream to be let down, but only locked her arms around his neck and laughed the louder.
When he let her down again, Lois looked up at him with her eyes shining and whispered, “For keeps this time.”
Clark leaned his forehead against hers, still grinning, and whispered back, “For keeps.” 
Neither of them looked away from each other, not even noticing the presence that watched them from the open door until Martha quietly cleared her throat.
Tags: little secrets post

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