Another Saturday passes and we're back with the new chapter. And you should be able to tell from the icon that Lana and Lois finally get to spend some time together. Will it bode well or ill? We invite you to find out with this week's offering:
Small town homecoming queen
She's the star in this scene
There's no way to deny she's lovely
Perfect skin, perfect hair
Perfumed hearts everywhere…
Senior class president
She must be heaven sent
She was never the last one standing
A backseat debutante
She’s everything that you want
Never too harsh or too demanding…
She is the prom queen, I'm in the marching band
She is a cheerleader, I'm sitting in the stands
She gets the top bunk, I'm sleeping on the floor
She's Miss America and I'm just the girl next door…
~Saving Jane, The Girl Next Door (Lois and Lana’s Theme)
Lois stood beside the rented Mustang, the trunk open and the doors unlocked. It wouldn’t kill her to wait, no matter how deep the ache in her stomach was. Clark had been without seeing the twins longer than she had, and his chances to be alone with them were few and far between. Give him some Daddy-time, she’d thought as she drove to the airport.
And from the delighted giggling she could hear from just inside the doors, it had been a good decision. Clark walked out laden with luggage while the twins each held an arm. Lana followed him, chuckling to herself as the twins caught sight of Mommy. They both ran to her, diving into her open arms, and the next few minutes were a chorus of plaintive murmurs of “I missed you” from both Lois and the kids. Nothing in the world was quite as wonderful to her as those two little voices after a separation. Somewhere in between the love-fest, Lois nodded and smiled acknowledgment to the redhead.
Clark loaded the luggage into the trunk as they cuddled, and by them time he got everything packed the twins were ready to go for a ride. “All right, munchkins,” Lois said as she stood up from hugging them, planting one last kiss on the tops of their heads. “Who’s sitting where? We can’t all fit in the same seat.”
“I’ll ride in the back with Jason and Kala,” Clark volunteered, Lois beaming at him.
“Yay!” both twins said excitedly.
They all managed to fit in the car, Lana sliding the passenger seat as far forward as she could to give Clark more leg
room. “Thanks for giving me a lift,” she told Lois as the reporter maneuvered out of the terminal traffic.
“No problem. You brought them all the way out here for us; it’s the least I could do,” Lois replied easily. “So, did you have a good flight?” Then her eyes flicked up into the rear-view mirror at her kids, chattering away with their father. “And did my wild heathen children behave?”
Lana shrugged. “It was decent, as airplanes go. Jason and Kala were little angels.”
Lois snorted at that. “Did Richard drug them?” Sardonic hazel eyes glanced into the backseat and asked Jason and Kala with a grin, “Your daddy slipped you two some NyQuil before boarding, didn’t he?”
“Lois!” Lana looked scandalized even as the twins giggled, all too used to the teasing. “They really are well-behaved.”
“We each got a new book,” Jason announced proudly. “I let Kala read hers first ‘cause a gennelman always lets a lady go first.”
Lois’ eyebrow went up, and she gave Lana a look. Please tell me she’s not trying to win their favor that way… “Uh-huh. And I suppose you paid for this out of your allowance?”
Both twins went silent at her tone, but Lana simply crossed her arms and returned the look. “Lois, I bought them each a book. In-flight movies are usually terrible anyway. But if you’re going to look at me like that, I’ll buy us all lunch, too. I can afford it.”
“Yeah, I know you can afford it – I do read my own paper – but I’m not used to taking charity,” Lois replied. Mentally, she winced. Stop being such an idiotically over-protective mother. Grow up, Lois. It was just a couple of books on a long plane flight. Give the woman a break. It was actually really sweet of her. She just bought them a pair of books to keep them occupied on a long flight. Stop trying to read more into it.
“It’s not charity, it’s returning a favor,” Lana said, amusement lurking in her green eyes. She had an idea what had started this and was trying to make it clear that she wasn’t trying to curry favor.
Before Lois could say anything, Clark spoke up from the backseat. “Sorry, ladies, but this is the Midwest. If anyone buys dinner for the whole party, it has to be the man of the group.” And into the half-amused, half-annoyed silence that followed, he added, “Jason, I hope you brought your allowance.”
It was an unexpected joke at the perfect time. All of the adults broke into good-natured chuckles at Jason’s perplexed look. After a moment, still not understanding, he asked, “Can we get burritos?”
“Sure, sweetheart,” Lois said, her defensive mood gone. “If we can find a good Mexican place nearby…”
Richard went back to the riverside house after he watched the twins’ plane depart. Without the kids and Lana and the newspaper to distract him, he fell into a thoughtful mood. The house felt hollow in their absence, and he caught himself walking softly so as not to break the silence.
This is ridiculous, Richard thought. It’s not like this house is haunted or anything. But the more he thought about it, the more apt that seemed. Haunted by the ghost of a relationship, maybe. What Lois and I had together was mostly lived here, and it’s gone now. Still, everywhere I look in this house I’m reminded of her and the twins, of everything we shared. All those memories … Lois in the kitchen glaring at crème brulée as if she could caramelize it with her stare or nearly catching the room on fire the one time she had trying to make stir-fry on her own … the twins making a fort out of sofa cushions and their mother’s velvet throw … watching Lois’ eyes widen in wonder and delight as we walked through the front door for the very first time … Jason sitting at his keyboard with a scowl of utter concentration, reminding his of pictures he had seen of Mozart, playing a piece over and over until he got it just so… Kala singing Aerosmith loudly along with his stereo system in the living room, making up the words as she went along … and let’s not even start on the memories upstairs.
For a moment, there was the ghost of Lois past, as she had been the night they had moved in, at the head of the stairs in only a short dark blue silk robe, her head cocked to the side with a taunting question in her expression and heat in her eyes. He shook his head and she was gone.
Sighing, Richard walked up the stairs in spite of what he remembered. He wouldn’t be living here anymore – that much he was certain of. What to do about the rest, however… How the hell am I going to keep working with both of them? Lois and I fought over stories before – we’re department heads, we have to. But now that we’re also exes, those battles are going to have a lot more venom. I don’t think either of us can help being competitive at work.
Not to mention, no matter how amicable this breakup is, I do not want to see Lois and Clark all lovey-dovey around the office. I’m willing to give her up – it’s what’s best for everyone, especially the twins – but I’m not willing to watch her with someone else. I’m sure they’ll try to be discreet, but still…
He walked into the bedroom, imagining a trace of Lois’ perfume on the air. Richard wouldn’t admit it to anyone, but he missed her acutely. They had been so much a part of each other’s lives for the past three years that facing a future without her simply ached. Even if there was a possibility of someone else sharing that future, someone whose smile seemed to lighten his heart, ending a relationship still left him melancholy.
Richard sat down on the bed. I guess I’d better do something productive, or I’ll just mope. Let’s see, we’ve still got some boxes in the storage room. I may as well start packing up some of my stuff.
And while I’m at it, I might as well start trying to figure out what I’m going to with my life now.
By the time they reached the Kent house, the five of them were quite ready to get out of the car for a while. Clark in particular needed to stretch his legs; the Mustang hadn’t been designed with the idea of a six-foot-four man sitting in the backseat.
The twins had drifted off to sleep leaning on Clark, much to Lois’ amusement when she glanced back to find out why the back of the car was so quiet. Clark had been holding very still, just watching the twins doze with paternal pride blazing in his expression. His delight in them touched her deeply. Her worries about his adjusting to fatherhood were melting away by the moment.
When the car came to a stop, Jason and Kala looked up blearily. They tumbled out, yawning, as Clark unfolded himself from the backseat with a wince. But for the twins, their lethargy disappeared the moment they saw the chickens pecking around in the side yard. “Mommy!” Jason said. “They’ve got chickens!”
“And a goat, and a dog,” Clark added as the twins shyly approached the birds. “The neighbors have cows.”
The front door opened, and Martha stepped out, Shelby at her side. The elderly Border collie wagged his tail slowly at the sight of the strangers. Martha seemed hesitant for a moment, watching the twins with longing in her eyes while they looked back at her curiously. She seemed almost afraid to approach them.
“Hi, Ma,” Clark called. “Jason, Kala, this is my mother.”
“Hello,” Martha said softly, coming down the steps. It was impossible to miss the look in her eyes, the smile on her lips.
The twins approached her together, fearlessly looking up. “You’re Daddy’s momma?” Jason asked.
“Yes,” Martha said, smiling. “You can call me Mrs. Kent, or if you want, you can call me Grandma.”
Lois felt her throat tighten at the wistfulness in the older woman’s voice. Now she felt the first touch of guilt for not contacting Martha sooner – how could she have doubted that Martha would love her firstborn grandchildren?
Kala and Jason glanced at each other for a second in that wordless communication common to twins. “Grandma, can we pet the doggy?” Kala asked.
“Sure you can,” Martha said, grinning. Hearing yourself called Grandma… There really were no words for how she was feeling. “His name is Shelby – Shelby, c’mere. Meet the children.”
The elderly dog obediently sat down and offered his paw to both twins, accepting a generous amount of petting as well. “I know it’s been a long drive,” Martha said, looking up at the three adults briefly. “Let’s go inside and have some hot chocolate.”
“We can’t drink milk,” Jason said mournfully.
“Have you ever had goat milk? Lots of people can drink it if they can’t drink cow milk.” Martha looked up at Lois, who winced slightly. “Or I can just make it with hot water and some extra creamer.”
“That should be fine,” Lois said, trying not to look nervous.
“Extra marshmallows?” Kala asked hopefully.
“Those, too,” Martha said indulgently, and led them all into the house.
Kala and Jason followed her into the kitchen with utter trust, craning their heads back to look at the exposed rafters and peering at the photographs on the wall. Lois hung back a bit, giving Martha some time with them, and Clark and Lana waited with her in the living room. “Well, Clark, this is the first time in over twenty years your mother has completely ignored me,” Lana teased.
“Yeah, I think she’s forgotten who I am, too,” he replied with a soft chuckle. “I can’t believe I ever worried she wouldn’t like them.”
“Me neither,” Lois sighed with relief.
“You had no way of knowing,” Lana told her. “You’ve barely met Martha. And you know a little bit what this town is like – you had no reason to guess they’d be welcomed so warmly.”
The two women smiled at each other tiredly, and Clark breathed a little sigh of relief. From the kitchen, they heard Jason ask, “Grandma, do you know why they named it Kansas?”
Lana groaned, Lois stifled a snort of amusement, but to everyone’s surprise Martha answered the question easily. “There used to be a tribe of Indians called the Konza living here, Jason. When Europeans settled here, they called them the Kansa, and this was Kansa’s territory, which is how we got the name.”
Clark’s jaw dropped, and Lana whispered, “Hallelujah! He’s been asking that since before we left. Clark, your mother is amazing.”
“Trust me, he’ll find something else to drive you crazy with before the trip’s over,” Lois muttered as the phone rang in the kitchen. “Once Jason gets it in his head to find something out, he just doesn’t quit. Ever.”
Lana started to reply, but Clark quickly covered her mouth with his hand and pointed at the kitchen. A second later, they heard Martha’s voice, and what she was saying silenced them all. “Why no, Annette, I don’t expect them here for an hour or more yet. But I’ll have Lana call you… What?” She laughed heartily. “Land sakes, no! Have you been talking to Jane Lutter again?”
Lois saw Lana’s lip curl and an unfamiliar expression of anger blaze in her green eyes. Clark just looked perplexed until Martha continued, walking into the room with them in a vain attempt to keep the kids from hearing the conversation. “Of course not, Annette. I can’t believe you’d credit such a foolish thing.” She waved at Clark to go in the kitchen and take care of the hot chocolate, which he promptly did, shushing the twins as he went.
Lana and Lois stared at Martha while she gave them both a strained smile. “Annette. Listen to me. I know you saw your daughter last Christmas. She didn’t have them then, did she? And she hasn’t seen my son in seven or eight years. At least.” By then Lana’s jaw had dropped in shock, but it took Lois a moment more to catch up with what was going on. “Annette, those are not Lana’s kids.”
Lana had to grab Lois’ arm before she could exclaim something disbelieving and probably profane. Martha looked at her with a helpless little shrug, and said into the phone, “Because I know who their mother is, Annette… Yes, I know all about it! Those are Clark and Lois’ kids, and they’re staying with me… Are you still there? … Why didn’t I say anything? Well, because Jane Lutter and her biddies would have a field day, obviously. I did want them to have a chance to settle in before everyone found out that ‘the Eastern woman’ you’re all in such a tizzy over is the mother of my grandkids.”
Lois threw her hands in the air and stalked off, muttering under her breath. Lana followed her into the kitchen. Clark was standing by the stove, looking embarrassed and horrified, with the twins standing right in front of him. A moment ago they had been watching the hot chocolate intently, but now Kala was staring at the wall separating her from the living room with a confused look on her face, and Jason was glancing from her to his father.
“Daddy?” Kala whispered. “How come they’re talking about us?”
“Everyone wants to meet you,” Clark said just as softly. “And a silly person saw you get off the plane with Miss Lana, and they thought she was your mommy. Now her mommy’s a little upset because she thinks Lana never told her she had kids.”
Both twins looked up at him, then over at Lana, then back at Clark. “That’s silly,” Jason commented bluntly, keeping his voice down. “Miss Lana likes our other daddy, not you.”
Lana’s cheeks blushed to match her hair, and she headed outside onto the back porch without ever meeting Lois’ eyes. Worriedly, Jason glanced after her. “Is she mad at me?”
“No, sweetheart,” Lois said, suppressing a chuckle. “Grownups don’t like everyone to know who they like.”
“Besides, Lana likes me as a friend,” Clark said, glancing at Lois. “That almost made it sound like she’s mean to me or something.”
“Oh,” Jason said, wide-eyed.
“Boys,” Kala sighed, with a passable imitation of her mother’s cynical eyeroll.
Lois just looked at Clark, raising her eyebrows and fighting a smile. “Perceptiveness, 100. Tact, 0.”
Martha walked back into the kitchen, shaking her head as she replaced the cordless phone. “Ma, what happened?” Clark asked.
“Jane Lutter’s niece works at the airport,” she sighed. “And she inherited the loudmouth gene from her aunt.”
Clark sighed gustily, and in response to Lois’ questioning look, he said, “The twins starting calling ‘Daddy’ as soon as they saw me. Mrs. Lutter’s niece must’ve seen them with Lana and then heard that, so she put two and two together and got twenty-two.”
“Well, I’m sorry to cut your respite short,” Martha said. “I had hoped to keep this a secret for a day or so, but I had to tell Lana’s mother who the twins really belong to just to keep Lana from being scolded within an inch of her life. I still don’t envy that girl when she goes home.”
“It’s all right, Martha,” Lois groaned. Eyes heavenward, she rubbed her forehead. “It seems I’m just destined to cause controversy.”
Martha actually chuckled. “Child, this town could use a little shaking up now and then. At least Jane Lutter has something else to talk about besides poor Ben getting his feet under the table here.”
The three shared a snicker while Jason and Kala stared up at them bemusedly. Before Jason could start asking what that expression meant, Lois said thoughtfully, “I’m surprised Lana’s own mother would believe a rumor like that. I’ve only known her a couple weeks, and I know she’d never do such a thing.”
“Not to mention, she was still married to Don when these little darlings were born,” Martha replied. “But it’s common knowledge that Clark was head over heels for Lana when they were in school. Now that she’s been divorced for three years and Clark’s been back in town, her mother’s been looking hopefully in his direction.”
Lois bit her lip as Clark chuckled nervously. “Ma, that’s such old news.”
“Oh, and I know it,” Martha said blithely. “Besides, anyone who sees you with Lois knows better. But you and Lana are the two who left town and made good – and who still come home on occasion. Both of you being single, people will want to match-make until they realize you and Lois are an item.”
That was about enough small-town gossip for Lois. She glanced at the twins, absorbed in their hot chocolate and in their study of their new grandma, and then said with what seemed like her hundredth sigh in the last two days, “I’m going out for some air.”
“Can we come?” Kala asked eagerly. “I wanna see the farm.”
“And miss your hot chocolate? Wait until you’re nice and warm,” Lois said, smoothing back her hair. “Then you can come out, okay? I’ll be just outside.”
“I’ll show you how to feed the chickens and milk the goat, if you want,” Martha said, still totally absorbed in the children. “And Shelby always likes a game of fetch.”
Lois felt totally comfortable leaving them with their father and grandmother. It was rare that she trusted the twins with anyone on such short acquaintance, but just look at the difference Jason and Kala had made in her own dealings with Martha. As for Clark, he’d protect them with his life if necessary.
The reporter headed out to the back porch, where she found Lana leaning against the railing. The redhead turned to look at her when the door opened, and the pink in her cheeks wasn’t from the cold air. “Lois, I’m sorry,” she said.
“What for?” Lois replied, leaning against the railing beside her. From here, the view was of the barn and the cornfield, with a brown and white goat contentedly nibbling the grass within reach of her tether.
“I feel like I’m stealing your man,” Lana said, very softly.
The raven-haired woman just shrugged. “Which one?”
The comment was meant to provoke, and Lana’s eyes widened. “Lois!”
“Well? I just found out that everyone in town apparently thinks you and Clark are the One True Pairing of Smallville,” Lois said, a touch of annoyance in her voice. “I knew you were his ex, but…”
“I’m not his ex, Lois,” Lana said. “We never dated.”Says post is too large. On to Part Two then!