Chapter One: Regrets and New Beginnings
Lying in the single suite in a Paris hospital, Lois wondered for the millionth time how she could have ever gotten herself into this. In the first months of her time overseas at the Planet’s sister paper, she had struggled to maintain the standards she had always held to, yet she had been all too aware that it had all been just a fruitless search that had finished in a dead-end. The raven-haired reporter could only thank God that, even in Paris, Superman and his disappearance was still a huge angle. She had, of course, continued to file excellent and thought-provoking stories, but her heart just wasn’t in it the way it had always been. Superman and getting the story. The story and getting Superman. Oh, and the Pulitzer Prize. That had been all she needed in her life.
And now, this. Something she had never expected. Something that was beyond her to stop. It was amazing the turns one’s life could take in the span of just over six months.
When Lois thought back on it now, she knew she had felt only one thing when she had discovered that this constant sickness she was feeling wasn’t a prolonged virus. It was the same emotion she was feeling at this moment, as hard as she fought it: cold and utter fear. Pregnant, with child, knocked up, call it what you wanted. It was always something that had been an impossible idea for her. The mere thought that her younger sister Lucy had married directly out of college and immediately had gone about having the first of three children at the age of twenty-two horrified Lois, although Ron was a wonderful man and her parents were overjoyed. That was great for Luce, though, and it seemed to light her up, even as the constant activity of her horde interrupted her sleep. Diapers, drooling, screams in the middle of the night, having to take them everywhere with you, no spontaneity whatsoever. And absolutely no more smoking. The mere thought of all of this could actually make her shudder.
Not that she didn’t love her sister’s kids, all of them very sweet and well-behaved when she come to see her family at her mother Ella’s home for the Christmas holiday each year, but she contented herself with being the favorite aunt who could spoil them and send them home at the end of the day. She was more than happy with her life, with the excitement of Metropolis’ fast pace and this exhilarating romance she had found herself in with the hero that she had named after a fateful accident. Why would she trade that for anything that took up every single moment of your life with the simplest things? Who would be that crazy?
A moment later, Lois’ eyes opened wide with shock and she cried out, completely losing her train of thought and the rhythm of the timed breathing her mother had taught her when she was too stubborn to go to birthing classes. It had been a few minutes since the last contraction and the solid reality of it knocked the wind out of her. She had never been a wimp where pain was concerned, her father The General, had taken care of that early enough. Being forced through Daddy’s boot-camp from the age of eleven on had made sure of that and had made her capable of that surety and daring she had today, much as she had hated him for it at the time. But, dear God, why did this have to hurt so much? And after the utter embarrassment of having gone into false labor in the city room of la Tribune Quotidienne two weeks before, followed by real labor beginning in the midst of a staff meeting. Of course, she hadn’t known it was for real that time, the pain building slowly, until a rock-hard wave of agony had swept through her in the middle of a particularly astute comment. It had been – what, three hours since then? Four? – about two cigarette breaks, back in the good old days. God, for a cigarette!
At this point, she was just wishing it was all over. Or that she could somehow have it all taken back. All of it. Why had she ever been stupid enough to get involved with that damned man in the first place? Especially when they given in to their feelings later, only to have him make her forget it all and then disappear? What kind of idiot was she?
Again, the pain stabbed her suddenly enough to snatch a gasp from the startled woman, her trained breathing technique stuttering to a stop. Biting hard on her lower lip, she smothered her whimper just in time for Lucy to reach over and take her hand, looking down at her with a plainly worried expression. Damn, she had noticed. Which made Lois all the more determined not to let herself cry the way she abruptly wanted to. What was she doing here? Why had this happened this way? And where the hell was he, now that she needed him more than ever?
“Are you okay, Lo? Was it another pain?” Lucy’s hazel eyes searched her own, brushing dampened strands out of her face. From only a foot away, she saw her mother turn and start toward them. “Are you ever going to get her an epidural? Doctor…”
Even as Lucy raised her blonde head, her sister squeezed her hand and shook her head. “I’m fine, kiddo. It’s too late for that now. Just, this is a new experience, you know? I hadn’t expected it to hurt so much?” Smiling slight to reassure her, she just resumed her Lamaze breathing, fighting off the urge to tell her everything for the hundredth time. As angry as she was, she had made him a promise, she knew now. A promise to never tell his secret, a promise to never reveal what had passed between them. And even if he was under the impression that she remembered nothing, she wouldn’t break that promise, although she had been sorely tempted in the months that had followed the return of those memories. No, as it was, her mother and Lucy believed the tale she had spun them. Hurt and alone in France, unable to find the one she sought, she had had a stupid rebound relationship with a guest columnist to cure herself of this fascination that she had with Superman. It was only once he had returned to his home periodical that she had discovered she was late. As it had been a comfortable situation between the two and they had parted as friends, she was sure that it would be a mistake to inform him of impending fatherhood and decided to go this on her own.
Lies, first to last.
Now she longed to tell them her fears, especially the fact that she had only recently realized that this baby, or babies as she found out, would be only half of their own species. The other half of their DNA was Kryptonian, like their father. And she knew absolutely nothing of them, beyond what he had passed on. She didn’t know what to expect, how they’d grow, what they would be able to do and when. And there was the very real fear of whether they could be born like regular children. As close as they had been, it had amazed her how very little she had known him. And how she had missed so many little clues. How blind could one person be?
Now the pain came again, faster and strong, forcing the loud cry from her lips that she had been trying so valiantly to hold back. She could feel something moving inside her, something tightening, her belly distended and hard as granite, and knew immediately what it was. Forcing back another shriek, she raised her frightened eyes to the doctor as she shook, trying not to bear down. Tears stood in her eyes now, both her mother and sister at her side as she asked silently if it was going to happen now. Oh God, where was he?
Doctor Shuler nodded then from her position, acknowledging the question. “Yes, Miss Lane, it’s time. They’re coming. And from the looks of things, one has decided it’s finally time to show. It’s okay to push now. You’re ready - your babies are depending on you.”
In the last few moments before her life changed forever, Lois didn’t know if she had heard anything scarier than that last phrase. And began to cry only brief moments before her first-born did. The baby was crying, breathing. Here. When she tried to gain the strength to look up, all she heard were several moments of gasps of wonder, exclamations from both aunt and grandmother, and a glimpse of fair skin and pale fuzz. Lois barely had a moment to register that this was her child, hers, this was the tiny tenant that she had just evicted before she felt the pain flare briefly. The other one. The doctor had said to expect twins, but she had never imagined. There was hardly enough time for the first to be cleaned and handed to his grandmother before, with only a push or two, the second came into the world with a gusty wail. This time, she looked quickly enough and saw a little dark head as this little creature was taken from her. They looked normal, from what she could tell. Like any other newborn, with nothing to give away their unique parentage. And just as quickly as the second one was taken away, she closed her eyes and swallowed a sob, even as Ella and Lucy cooed over these new arrivals. A moment later, they finally gave her the pain-killer that she had been desperate for before and she waited for it to take effect.
For the second time in the last ten months, everything seemed unreal. This couldn’t have happened, couldn’t be happening to her. None of this was actually happening. She wasn’t really here in this room with her legs nearly to her chin, her mother and sister were back in the states going about their lives, the soft crying she heard was not that of her and her children entwined. She would wake up alone in her apartment, wrapped up in the sheets and sweating, wondering what she had eaten the night before that had given her such an insane dream. She would be home, in Metropolis and probably late for work at the Planet. And Superman would still be here and things would be different between them. None of this foolishness that she was dreaming would have happ…
“Lois, would you like to see your children? I know a little boy and girl who would like to meet you,” her mother voice said suddenly, warm with happiness.
Fighting the urge to just nod off to sleep and sink further into this dream, teary hazel eyes opening against her will before the dark-haired woman could stop herself. When she looked up, Ella was standing at her side with a bundle of blue in her arms, turning to the side as she sat down in the chair at her bedside and giving her a view of the whimpering child hidden within. “This is your son, Lois. Look how perfect he is.” Even as she tried to stop herself, she slid over a bit in the bed to look. And was instantly caught in a cerulean gaze.
The baby was a mottled pink, now that it was clean, though his skin was unblemished and looked soft. Most babies seemed interested simply to sleep after their ordeal, but this one was staring around. And from the moment that she had leaned to look, his gaze stayed on her, watching his mother as if fascinated. He had very little hair on his head, short of a bit of blonde down, but nevertheless he made her eyes water again as she spotted details that no other could, save another mother far away. Lois’ panicked heart began to soften as she watched him, her chest aching as she watched him move. Her mother was right, he was perfect.
A moment later, Doctor Shuler came forward with a burden of her own, just as Lois was timidly asking if she could hold the boy. “Now, you can’t just lavish attention on one there, Mommy. Your little girl wants you, too.” After a moment, she was looking down now at her daughter with a thatch of little black curls, who woke long enough to fix her with eyes dark enough to make her wonder if their color wouldn’t change. Her little rosebud mouth worked as her mother stroked her cheek with a tentative finger, amusing all to predictions of screaming unhappiness. Yet the child only yawned and seemed to decide that she’d rather have a nap first. And, in watching her daughter drift off to sleep, secure in her arms, Lois felt the last of her reserves break. The emptiness that had plagued her for months seemed to fill.
For the first time since Superman had disappeared, he was utterly forgotten as she held his children to her as she began to drowse. The only part of him she would ever have, she thought as she lay there and gazed at them with sleepy eyes, as utterly amazed then by them as the little boy seemed by her. To hell with Jor-El and his pronouncements of wrong and right. If this was all she had, would ever have, she would treasure it, would love them with the love she wasn’t able to give their father. Who was far away in space, who didn’t even know they existed. But she did and that was enough.
Chapter Two: Avoiding The Ghosts of Heroes Past
Lois lay sprawled, tired, across the length of her couch with a finally-napping six-month-old Kala cuddled into her chest. Ella decided now was the time to bringup the topic that she had been saving for the last four months. It would have been unfair to speak of it just after the twins’ birth – heroldest daughter had not quite expected the essential insanity that goes along with the birth of one child, let alone two. That was part of the reason why she had delayed her return to Metropolis. She had claimed that it just didn’t sit right with her that Lois would go it alone with both children so quickly. Lucy had wanted to stay as well, but their family finances had made that a complete impossibility. Her little Lucy was a sweet child, still protective of Lois even though she no longer needed to shield her from their father’s exasperated wrath. It had somehow always fallen to the baby of the family to be the mediator between Lois and Sam. He was gone now, and Ella still remembered all of the endless battles of will that had frequently broken out at random times. Old habits died hard; Lucy was still Lois’ first defender.
Ella startled as Jason burbled in his sleep, smiling at him where he lay dreaming in her arms. For once, the blue depths of his eyes weren’t peering around curiously, both smooth lids closed in heavy sleep. The long walk in the Bois de Bolougne had obviously wiped out both generations of Lane children. From the moment she had first seen her twin grandchildren, her sharp eyes had quickly been able to pick out those features that belonged to the Lane genes and those that did not, leaving her to wonder about those unfamiliar traits. She looked at Lois now, her own eyes having closed with her arm curled around her little girl, dark hair splashed carelessly across the white fabric.
It was just as well that Lucy was back in Metropolis. There were a few things she needed to ask Lois, but she was quite sure that she might have to upset her to get the answers. Things had seemed quite strange with her headstrong child, beginning with the fact that she hadn’t returned home upon discovering she was pregnant. Or the fact that she had never explained fully to Ella when and how it had occurred in the first place. She had never deceived herself into thinking that a woman as independent and striking as her daughter was pure as driven snow. This was a modern and freethinking world they lived in, but she had never known her to be foolish in that respect. And she had observed Lois’ hesitancy and occasional discomfort around Little Sam, Nora, and Joanna. Not to mention the fact that she had made it quite clear that her career was of first and foremost importance. If she wanted children later, there was always time. But not now. She was too young, had too much to do, loved her job. What more could she want?
And now this…
She was very curious about how this had happened in the first place. When Lois had first told her of her plans to go overseas, Ella had completely understood. Her firstborn’s fascination with Superman was well known and smiled about in the Lane household, although her father would have been less than pleased. The hero seemed to have stolen Lois’ heart away from the moment he had saved her from the helicopter crash two years before. It was amusing to Ella how quickly she had approved of this man from another planet, and simply because he had done the impossible and saved her daughter from certain death. Although she had never met him, she had given her tentative approval of him, based Lois’ descriptions of him and his deeds. In addition, her infrequent looks at him on the nightly news, had added to her high estimation of this ‘caped wonder,’ as one paper had called him. This Superman that Lois had given a name. Simply from the tone her willful girl used when discussing him, the look in her eyes, had told her she had better approve. For the first time she could remember, Lois Lane was in love. Honestly and truly in complete enthrallment with this visitor from another star. It was clear as morning sunlight to Elinore.
But then, with no warning at all, he was gone and the entire world was in an uproar. And Lois was frantic, even looked quite pained when she had visited to announce her foreign assignment. It had taken over a month to talk her boss into allowing her to go, she had said as she bit her lip and ignored the chicken marsala in front of her. But she had she had been scouring every bulletin, any notice of a sighting of the Man of Steel, with no results. No one in the US had seen him, not since those awful people had attempted to take over the White House. He had seen to that, that she remembered, but then he had disappeared. She didn’t know anything; neither did rival papers, which for once were sharing information about this frightening event. The next possibility was Europe; maybe he was continuing his clean-up of the damage those three villains had caused during their reign of terror. There had to be something, anything, to go on. And since they had had a close friendship, in the end, Perry had told her that she probably had the best chance to find him.
For an hour, she talked about this new, temporary position she would be taking in Paris, closer to his possible sightings, and how she would be home soon, once she was able to get in contact with him. That she was sure it was all just a misunderstanding and that we could soon all breathe a sigh of relief. Life would go on as usual.
But no mother could miss the dark circles under her eyes, the spark of hurt that she tried not to show. He was gone and it hurt her deeply, that was clear, but Ella was never sure why exactly it troubled her so. It wasn’t as if Superman shouldn’t be allowed time to himself, away from the public’s prying eyes. But why the haunted look in her child’s hazel eyes, why the pale cheeks?
The calls had come on time for several weeks, check-ins with little updates as to where she had been and what people were saying. The trail of her savior had looked warm for a while. But after about a month and a half, the calls had come less frequently, and her Lois had begun to sound tired as well as anxious. And more than a trace angry. Abandoned. In spite of all the little clues, no one had conclusively spotted him in airspace or at any disaster. Her voice conveyed clearly how heartbroken she was.
Just after the trail had gone cold, any trace of his presence on earth finally impossible, the call had come. Lois told her to sit down in a voice very unlike her normal one. First there was the news that she had finally confirmed that her hero was nowhere on Earth. Then, as her tone quivered, Ella’s child dropped another bombshell. She had just discovered herself to be three months pregnant. And, seeming to bite back a sob, that the father would not be involved. No real explanation of why she had gotten involved with someone else while trying to find the man she claimed to love, no plans to come home to have the baby or why she and the father would not be together, just that. “Momma, when it’s time, you’ll come over, won’t you? I wouldn’t normally ask you to do it, but I think I’ll need you. I’ll pay for the ticket and all. Please?”
What could have possibly happened to change Lois’ usual behavior so completely? Going to Europe to find one man, only to have become pregnant by another with whom she no longer wanted contact? And with the way she had obviously felt about Superman, how could she have possibly been with another? Only in anger. Lois was very capable of losing her temper, of being somewhat vengeful with those that had hurt her. But the times this happened were few and far between and Ella never would have imagined it.
Yet, maybe she should have. That very love Lois felt for him, combined with this sudden ‘abandonment’, could just have been enough for her to strike out. To tell herself that she didn’t need him. Now, to be honest, Ella had never known the extent to which Lois and Superman had been involved, had never asked. For the millionth time in the last eighteen months, she wished she had. Because it was impossible to ask her child now. The mere mention of his name caused Lois to change the subject. It was a closed topic, as far as she was concerned. That part of her life was over now. She had grown up now, that was a silly phase she had gone through. Reality had returned, she had the twins now, planned or not, and that was all she needed. Really.
And it was true. The days leading up to the birth had been difficult, making Ella worry that Lois’ mood-swings and general unhappiness were centered on the children. But Lois was finding a way to juggle a return to this French paper and spend all of her time with these new arrivals. It heartened her that Lois was so attached to them, after seeing her initial reaction to their birth. Her regrets had been there for all to see and her heart had gone out to Lois.
She remembered all too well her own hurt, only having hated her Sam once in their life together, and over this same child. He had been disappointed that she had given birth to a girl-child instead of his long-hoped-for boy. Ella, exhausted from the eighteen-hour experience, had been wide-eyed with wonder when confronted with this active and boisterous baby. Hearing the resignation and faint anger in his tone as he complained to the doctor, thinking she couldn’t hear – she had almost risen from the bed to punch him in the jaw. Instead, she had simply held baby Lois Joanne closer to her and let her feel the love she felt for her. And when Sam had been harsh with her growing up, even to the extent of telling her that she was a disappointment and trying to make her twice as tough as any boy, Ella had often stepped into the crossfire to soften the blow. Elinore could only be pushed so far, as well.
Stirring herself from her deep thoughts, she again looked over at her child, her heart aching for her. Her life had not been easy. She had been the oldest, the one to bear the brunt of her father’s dissatisfaction, the first to break down the impossible barriers that Lucy had later simply skipped through. These trials had given her the strength, drive and toughness to become the well-respected reporter she now was. She could give as good as she got. And then she had managed yet another impossible feat, winning the love of a god among men, only to be deserted for some unknown mission. A mission deemed greater than her. Being the wife of a general, she knew that feeling all too well. Oh, her poor strong-willed, unbreakable girl…
After a moment, she rose from her chair with Jason, the boy never even aware of it as his grandmother walked into Lois’ small bedroom to settle him into his crib. She lingered a moment after smoothing the blanket over him, her heart full as her fingers ran over the softness of his hair, which was growing in more thickly now. It was still light, although it was starting to darken somewhat to a dark blond bordering brown now. Lois herself had been born with light hair, while Kala’s had been nearly jet black from the day of her birth, with hazel eyes that very nearly mirrored her mother’s own. And those blue eyes of his. Once again, she wondered at them. Wondered about the Frenchman who was his father. Would she ever know what had happened? Ever know what to expect in these children that were only half her child’s, or would she always been amazed by traits she knew nothing of? She had the feeling it would continue to be the latter, which would have been fine, if she hadn’t had the somewhat guilty realization that there was a grandmother out there who couldn’t share her joy.
What isn’t she telling me, little boy? she asked her resting grandson silently as she stroked his cheek. Why can’t she just explain it? Or even tell me his name? And why didn’t she tell him, for good or ill? And why won’t she just come home where we can watch over her? Oh, Jason, I just want to understand…
With a sigh, she shook her head and smiled at the baby before pulling away. It was just Lois’ way. But, even if they couldn’t talk about the past, the present was still a safe topic. If only she could talk her into moving back to Metropolis, closer to all of the people who loved her, where she was well-known and loved… Where she knew everything and everyone knew her. And she knew that Perry White wanted Lois back at the Planet despite her evasiveness. He had been calling nearly every other day for updates on both her and the babies. There were even times when that young Jimmy Lois spoke of with such a combination of annoyance and amusement could be heard in the background, asking questions as Mr. White spoke to her, the older man constantly hushing the youngster, ordering him out of the office when he interrupted for the thousandth time.
They missed her, that was clear. And when Lois spoke to them, even as she carefully chose her words, it was obviously reciprocated. Everything she had ever cared about was back in Metropolis, except one thing. She needed help with these children and Ella’s visa was running out. And she hoped that the new position that Mr. White had mentioned might be enough to lure Lois home and back to her old life. Especially when they told her that Mr. White had planned to ask her to train as his possible successor. Effectively making her assistant editor-in-chief.
Her feet carried her to the doorway before she even realized what she had done. Ella looked back once again to the tiny being dreaming in the crib before gently closing the door. She would lay Kala down as well, and then she and her daughter would talk. Superman was gone; she had given birth to twins by a man she hardly knew out of hurt and anger. But it was over and done. Let the past stay dead then; life moved on. And so would Lois, if her loved ones had any say in the matter.