Yes I know it's going to happen
I can feel you getting near
And soon we'll be returning
To the fountain of our youth
And if you wake up wondering
In the darkness I'll be there
My arms will close around you
And protect you with the truth
I know you're out there somewhere
I know you're out there somewhere
Somewhere you can hear my voice
I know I'll find you somehow
I know I'll find you somehow
And somehow I'll return again to you
~Moody Blues, I Know You’re Out There Somewhere
He woke up slowly, perfectly content to lie in bed. For some reason he was more tired than usual, and he would’ve liked to simply fall back into slumber. The bed was warm, his eyelids were heavy, and Clark awakened with the feeling that all was right and well with the world… But duty called to him, and he couldn’t turn his back on it. No matter how reluctant he was to get out of bed, he had always begun each day with a quick flight around the globe.
Clark opened his eyes with a sigh, expecting to see the silver-framed photograph of Lois that had greeted him every morning since he returned to the planet. His gaze met something unexpected: the other side of the bed. That was odd; no matter what position he fell asleep in, he normally woke up facing the nightstand. Lois’ smile drew him even in sleep, and every morning he awoke to see her picture watching over him. Clark blinked and sat up slightly, realizing he was also nude, another departure from normality. The covers were bunched up on the other side of the bed in a strange way…
…and between the top of the quilt and the pillow, a lock of Lois’ raven hair was just barely visible. The memory of the last night suddenly returned, and Clark’s eyes widened. Now he was awake.
All of that was real, he thought, gently nudging the quilt down so he could see Lois’ face. Her hair was a tumbled mass of black waves, some of it falling forward to obscure her features, and he chuckled as he stroked the errant curls back behind her ear.
The touch seemed to wake Lois slightly, and she whimpered softly, burrowing back under the covers. Clark chuckled again, feeling his heart swell, leaning to kiss the top of her head. For some time he simply lay there using his x-ray vision to watch her, taking in the grumpy expression that faded again to sleepy content. Lois slept on her stomach, curled up slightly, the pillow dragged down under her cheek and the covers pulled up over her head. She looked so fragile like that, huddling against the blankets to protect herself, her pale skin bared to his sight as if he’d pulled the blankets from her nude body…
The curve of her hip tantalized him, and Clark blinked, cutting off the x-ray vision. It felt like an invasion of privacy in spite of last night, when he’d feasted his eyes on her. And that ended the moment; much as he would’ve liked to spend the day simply watching Lois, duty beckoned.
With another kiss to her forehead, Clark got up and headed for the shower.
If this was a painting, it would be called ‘Afternoon in Milan’, Lana thought, standing on the balcony of her hotel room. The street below her was full of movement, cars and pedestrians and bicycles weaving through the throng. It was colorful, lively, full of new and exciting sights, a city one could fall in love with.
Much to her own surprise, Lana wasn’t enjoying her stay. She felt lonely in spite of rarely being alone, and several times a day she caught herself thinking, I wish Richard could see that or Richard would love this restaurant. It seemed that not even having an ocean between them could stop her from thinking of him.
Calling him every day didn’t exactly help keep him off her mind, Lana had to admit. She’d called him from Smallville, from the airport, and at least once a day from Milan, although she had never actually told him she was in Italy. That made her feel oddly guilty, but at the same time she was reluctant to say anything now.
“How awkward is that?” the redhead murmured to herself. “It’s not like I can casually slip it into conversation. ‘Hi Richard, how’s work, by the way, I’m in Europe.’ Yeah, right.”
“Talking to yourself is the first sign of insanity,” Kay’s voice called to her from inside the room. Lana smiled slightly as her assistant came out onto the balcony with a mug of tea and the day planner.
“Thanks, Kay. Sometimes it’s the only way to hear a familiar accent,” Lana replied with a slight smile as she took the mug and sipped it.
“You don’t have that much of an accent,” Kay told her. “So, do you want to review the expenses for the week?”
“I trust you,” Lana said. “Just please tell me we got that indigo silk.”
“Finally, yes,” Kay said. “And at a substantial discount for all our trouble. What did you do to that supplier?”
“Thanked him for doing everything he could to rectify the mistake,” Lana replied. “Anything else interesting?”
“Not much,” the younger woman replied, flipping through the receipts tucked into the planner. “Oh, the gentleman who owns this place would like to know if you’re free for a late dinner…?”
Kay was looking at her speculatively, and Lana just sighed. “Not this evening, Kay. I’ve got to make a call at ten.”
The younger woman’s eyebrows went up. “Hmm. That’s what, four o’clock Metropolis time? Mind if I ask who you’re calling?”
“Yes,” Lana said. “I do mind. Tell the owner we would all be glad to have lunch tomorrow, though.”
Kay sighed and wrote a note in the planner.
Back from his rounds – an enterprising gang of burglars would no longer be hitting middle-class homes while the occupants were at work or school, and an oil spill in the Pacific had been contained before it could wreak havoc on the environment – Clark changed into regular clothes and stopped by the coffee shop Lois frequented. He got her usual drink and added a bagel with hazelnut cream cheese, then headed back to his apartment.
Lois had moved to his side of the bed and retreated even further under the covers. He grinned and set the coffee and bagel down on the nightstand next to her photo, lying down beside her. Now, how was he supposed to wake her up? Lois had a reputation for being particularly surly first thing in the morning…
The smell of the coffee filled the room, and he heard Lois breathe deeply, then sniffed a couple of times. After a long moment, her hand appeared at the edge of the quilt, reaching out to the nightstand and feeling around blindly. She encountered the cup, gripped it, and started pulling it back under the covers with her as she sat up on one elbow, all without opening her eyes.
Clark laughed as he got under the covers and snuggled up to her back, listening to her irritable whining when he touched her followed by the faint sound of coffee being sipped. “You’re so funny,” he murmured, rubbing her back gently.
“Lea’ me ‘lone,” Lois snarled in a still-sleepy tone, revealing exactly where the twins got their tendency to lie abed. She hunched down even further over the coffee, covers over her like a shield, muttering savagely, “Don’ touch m’ coffee.”
“Lois, I brought the coffee for you,” Clark said gently, kissing her shoulder and snickering in spite of himself when she growled. At least she was coherent…“There’s also a bagel. With hazelnut spread…”
“Bagel? Hazelnut?” Lois perked up a bit, reaching out from under the covers and retrieving the bagel. Her speech still wasn’t the speech of the awake, but she was getting there, it seemed. She still had her back to Clark, and now the slurping of coffee was accompanied by munching.
“You know, you’re getting crumbs all over my side of the bed,” he said conversationally.
“Shuddup,” Lois retorted around a mouthful of bagel, nonetheless sounding a little more awake and articulate.
Clark decided to try and untangle her hair – it was rumpled into a bird’s nest of snarls as ferocious as its owner’s. His fingers running through her hair and the caffeine percolating through her system began to thaw her early-morning grumpiness, and Clark felt a little safer slipping one arm around her waist. At least, now she seemed less likely to try and bite his hand off for approaching her coffee.
Lois chased the last bite of bagel with the last swallow of coffee, purring with contentment as she relaxed back into Clark’s embrace. “Got more than crumbs on your bed last night,” she said after a moment, not even attempting to hide her wicked and self-satisfied grin. A lot more than crumbs. Oh my God.
He laughed, that low, rich, knowing laugh that sent shivers down her spine, and kissed her bare shoulder again. Lois cuddled back against him, wiggling her hips up against him with a sigh.
“We’ll have to change the sheets sometime today,” Clark mused, stroking her belly in slow circles. It was a wonder just to have her here, lying naked in bed with him and absolutely open to his touch.
“Before work…” Lois began, and trailed off, realizing that neither of them was expected in the office today. As a matter of fact, there was nothing she absolutely had to do at all today. Just that was a revelation; that and the fact that she was perfectly content with that. She could just sleep and hang around the apartment with Kal-El…
“No work, beautiful,” he told her, nuzzling the back of her neck. “I guess that explains why you woke up so grouchy this morning, thinking we had to go to work.” He kissed her gently, up by her hairline, and added, “You weren’t this grumpy that morning in the Fortress.”
“That’s because you didn’t get up and leave the bed cold,” Lois muttered in a fond tone, stretching luxuriously under his caresses.
“Ah, so you were awake this morning,” he replied with a smile, trailing kisses across the back of her neck and down her shoulder.
“No, I only woke up ‘cause I felt my solar heater leave.” Lois shivered a little, remembering how she’d rolled over onto his side and buried her face in his pillow because it still held a trace of his warmth and his scent. That in itself had been a luxury. After being allowed so little time together before, after having been separated for years, just having him with her now was like a dream. Amazing how much just being in his arms meant… An instantaneous longing suffused her then, something she could now indulge in that had been denied for so long. Her voice was low when she added half-distractedly, “You were up and out there … how cold is it?”
“Pretty chilly,” Kal-El replied, and mouthed the back of neck lightly. He smiled as he felt her body tense and heard her give a soft, lazy moan.
“Better stay in here where it’s warm then, hmm?” Lois murmured, rolling over at last to sit up from the blankets, baring openly what he had stolen glimpses of via his powers, looking down at him with sultry eyes.
Before Kal-El could begin to make a reply in the same taunting tone, Lois leaned down and caught his lips for a hungry kiss. The next thing he knew, she was nudging him over onto his back, unbuttoning his shirt and pressing her warm lips to his skin.
“I’ve got to remember to bring you coffee and bagels in bed every morning,” he whispered. The surprise, the wonder at her sudden actions was clear in his face, although there was no denying the way his eyes were already darkening and the need she saw in them.
Lois looked up at him with a utterly sinful grin and murmured, “This is just for coming back home to me. Although the coffee doesn’t hurt, either,” before starting on his belt.
The next time Lois woke, the sun was slanting into her eyes. Noon already? It was only supposed to be a catnap. Geez. Fighting off a yawn, she flicked a lock of black hair out of her face and tried to get her head together. All I’ve done so far today is sleep. A slow smile curved her lips, sighing with real languid pleasure. Well, a little more than that. But I haven’t even gotten out of bed yet…
She stretched with a soft groan. Kal-El wasn’t in bed with her, and calling his name revealed that he wasn’t anywhere else in the apartment. He had left for some reason; that fact sent a tiny little thread of unease through her mind. He hadn’t said anything about going back out… “Don’t be a idiot, Lane,” Lois scolded herself aloud, but the worry remained. If he was going to have regrets, now would be the time. And she deeply doubted that she could handle him backing off.
Shaking her head to clear it of those thoughts, Lois got out of bed and started looking for her pajamas. They were nowhere to be found, but one of Clark’s button-down shirts fell nearly to knees, so she wore that as she went exploring.
Last night’s tour had been brief and supervised. Now she was alone, and the instincts of a reporter came to the forefront. After turning the heater up just a notch, Lois looked through Clark’s dresser, flipping through an album of family photos she found in the top drawer. She didn’t need the labels in Martha’s careful script to tell her that little black-haired boy in so many shots was Clark. She knew it, by the shape of his face so like Jason’s, the sweep of his hair across his forehead exactly like Kala’s. A dozen expressions, from pouting disappointment to a moment of pure delight, mirrored her children’s faces, and Lois caught her breath anew with each revelation. Kala’s laugh, Jason’s serious frown, and that intently curious expression both of them wore so often, all here in photographs more than thirty years old.
Captivated, Lois flipped the pages to look ahead. Would Jason have that same abstracted look Clark wore so often in his high school years, reading a book or gazing off at the horizon thoughtfully? Would Kala display the same ferociously happy grin Clark did when he’d had his picture taken with his driver’s license and the keys to the old family truck in his hand?
Only the insistent rumbling of her stomach pulled Lois out of those fascinating thoughts. Feeling a little guilty for snooping – only a little, since he was a reporter too and had probably done the same – she put the album back and headed for the kitchen.
Now her worries were back. She hadn’t seen or heard from Clark since she woke up. Sure, he might be simply tending to his duties, but somewhere in the back of her brain doubt whispered to her. Was he feeling guilty for what they had done? Had he remembered all those reasons he’d given her years ago, all the very rational justifications for why they simply couldn’t be together? It seemed so right when they were in each other’s arms, whispered declarations of undying love as their bodies entwined, but now in the cold light of day, the empty apartment mocked her with his absence as she moved quietly down the hall.
In the kitchen, though, her fears proved groundless. He’d left her a note on the refrigerator door, its tone making her worries dry up and blow away.
Don’t eat the cheesecake sampler; it’s for dessert, and you’ll spoil the lunch I’m bringing back.
When you’re done eating the cheesecake (I know you), please pull the sheets off the bed and toss them in the washer. Fresh linens are in the bottom drawer of my dresser, if you feel inclined. Otherwise I’ll take care of it when I get back.
I’ll be home soon. Feel free to borrow something of mine until we can run by the house and get you some clothes. If you want to do some more research for your next article, you can borrow my shampoo and soap, too. I don’t mind the world knowing that Superman uses organic shampoo – or that it’ll probably work great on your hair, too.
P.S. At least don’t eat more than one slice. And when you do, don’t eat both the raspberry ones, please? I like those.
Lois grinned to read it, amazed and delighted to discover he had no intention of dropping her off at the house yet. “Hot damn,” she muttered, blushing a little and feeling foolish for doubting him.
Not to mention, it was still sometimes a shock to see how very normal Kal-El could be. Here was a man from another star, with all of his fantastic powers, leaving her little notes on the fridge about not ruining her appetite. Once again, she realized she had the best of both worlds, and shivered in sheer delight.
After a few moments of feeling like a silly fangirl, she headed back to the bedroom to pull the sheets, eating a piece of raspberry cheesecake on her way.
Elinore Lane had faced many trials in her life; as the wife of an Army general, she had learned how to cope with all sorts of opposition. But the stony silence of her grandchildren unnerved her. Kala, normally so voluble, was subdued and almost meek, constantly looking at her twin, a shadow of her normal bossy, bubbly self. Jason was stubbornly angry, but refused to talk about what was obviously eating at him.
This afternoon, finally, they seemed a bit more talkative. Their day at school had been fun; Jason’s finger-painting of Gazeera hung on Ella’s fridge door. Kala had painted a very passable horse, and Ella congratulated her on it only to be corrected.
“’S not a horse,” Kala said self-importantly. “He’s a mule, an’ his name is Bob, and he likes carrots but only if they’re cut up first.”
Ella’s eyebrows went up at that remark. It seemed entirely too specific to be made up, especially since the twins had never seen a mule before. “Really? And how do you know Bob the mule?”
“Mister Ben has mules, and he let Mommy and Daddy borrow them so we could all go horseback ridin’,” Jason informed her, walking up to them. Ella was surprised that he would enter the conversation, given his stubborn refusal to really talk about anything for the past few days. He was just as cuddly and affectionate as ever, perhaps more so, but he had been unusually quiet. She had suspected it was all of these mixed-up feelings about his parents breaking up. His upset with his mother, who he’d always been so close with. But now…
Daddy? Ella thought. Richard hadn’t gone with them… “Really? That sounds like lots of fun.”
“Yeah,” Jason sighed, and Kala echoed him.
“Where did you go horseback riding?” Ella asked, still admiring the drawing even though she was listening keenly for the answer.
The twins glanced at each other, conferring silently, and then Kala replied, “At Grandma’s house.”
“Oh?” Ella said, trying to sound nonchalant. They weren’t talking about Richard’s mother, either – Sylvia hadn’t spent enough time around the twins to be considered their grandmother. “And where does Grandma live?”
“Kansas,” Jason said. It seemed that once his silence was broken, he couldn’t quite stop talking. “It’s named after some Indians who lived there a long time ago. Grandma has chickens an’ a goat an’ a pond with a biiiiiig froggy in it, but Mommy said I couldn’t keep the froggy.”
“It was all yucky and muddy,” Kala complained. “Jason woke it up – Grandma said the froggy was hiberninatin’.”
“Grandma sounds like a very nice lady,” Ella said, striving to keep the frost out of her voice. She had been the twins’ only grandparent for so long that hearing about this woman automatically made her suspicious. “Who is she?”
“Daddy Clark’s mommy,” Jason replied.
Ella’s eyes widened in surprise. Daddy Clark? As in Clark Kent? They had to be joking…
Jason saw her expression, and muttered, “Uh-oh.”
Kala was just staring at him in horrified disbelief, her hand over her mouth. She moved it just enough to whisper, “I don’t think we were supposed to tell!”
After that, no matter what Ella asked them, the twins refused point-blank to discuss their trip. Or Clark.
Clark was perfectly happy to stand in line, entirely too content for the crowded state of the sub shop. He was actually humming, smiling at anyone who looked his way, aware that Lois was awake at last.
The woman in front of him looked up, seeing a very tall man humming absently to himself with an expression of pure bliss on his handsome features in spite of the fact that he was still three people away from being able to place his order, and thought, I wish they’d keep these psychos locked up instead of medicatin’ ‘em and turning ‘em loose. Nobody’s that cheerful without drugs.
Clark’s cell phone rang, disturbing his pleasant contemplation of Lois, and he fumbled it from his pocket. “Clark Kent,” he said into the receiver.
“Hi, Clark,” Jimmy replied. “Boy, I’m glad to hear your voice! How’ve you been? Everyone around the office was starting to worry about you.”
Guilt washed over Clark. He’d been so absorbed in Lois that he had forgotten about his coworkers. The last they’d heard, he had been trapped by the earthquake and given personal leave to deal with the effects of that traumatic experience. True, I did come very close to dying, but except for the nightmares I’ve been pretty normal this last week. And then last night I didn’t even have that dream about the island. Maybe I’m recovering – or maybe Lois is my own personal dreamcatcher.
“Well, um,” he said, and decided to tell part of the truth. “I’m … I’m pretty much okay. I went back home for a while, Jimmy. No earthquakes in Kansas, you know.”
“Yeah,” the younger man chuckled. “Glad to hear you’re feeling better, anyway. Are you going to come back to work soon? Things are kinda dull around here with you and Ms. Lane both on leave.”
“Uh, sure,” Clark said. “I think Richard told me to be back tomorrow, actually. I’ll have to check. I’m back in town, but I have some things to take care of…”
“Hey, as long as we know you’re okay, right?” Jimmy sounded almost pathetically glad to hear from him. “Ron’s been worried sick, and I know the Chief is worried about you too because he keeps griping at everyone else…”
It was Clark’s turn to order, and he said, “Excuse me a sec, Jimmy, I’m picking up lunch.” Clark smiled at the cashier, holding the phone away from his ear as he glanced at the menu. “Let’s see … I’ll have the large meatball sub, extra parmesan, provolone cheese, nothing else on it … and I also need a large turkey sub with Swiss, extra mushrooms, and black olives. Oh, and I’ll take two cookies – oatmeal raisin and a macadamia nut white chocolate.” He heard a faint sound from the phone as he finished the transaction and paid, easing aside to wait while his sandwiches were made. “Still there, Jimmy?”
“Sure,” the photographer said, sounding slightly strained. But then he seemed to recover. “Listen, Clark, I gotta run – Mr. White just walked by. But I’ll hear from you soon, right?”
“Yeah,” Clark said, then thought about it. “I, uh, I might be busy, but I’ll try to call you, Jimmy.”
“Okay – see you when you get back to work!”
Clark hung up, thinking that he’d missed something. Jimmy seemed terribly excited all of a sudden, for no reason Clark could think of…
“Ron! Psst! Ron!” The International reporter looked from his work to see Jimmy Olsen standing at the door, looking so keyed up he was practically bouncing in place.
Ron glanced over at Richard’s desk; the editor was engrossed in a phone call, facing away from the office. He probably wouldn’t notice… The tall, dark-skinned man got up and headed out into the bullpen. “What’s up?” he asked Jimmy quietly.
“Big news,” the younger man hissed, looking to see if the Chief was watching before he headed outside. “Not here, though.”
“Jimmy, I don’t want to get yelled at today,” Ron protested.
The redhead grinned back at him. “I know where your sister-in-law is,” he replied, and dashed off. With an exit line like that, Ron had to follow.
Only when the two men were huddled in a disused maintenance corridor would Jimmy finally relax a bit. “Dish,” Ron said. “Last I heard she was at home. The kids are at Ella’s for some reason, and she’s back from that trip she took.”
“She might be staying there, but right now she’s going to lunch,” Jimmy said confidently. “Or actually, lunch is being brought to her. She’s got a date … with Clark!”
“No way,” Ron said, eyes wide. He’d heard from Lucy that Lois and Richard had broken up, but she was dating already? That didn’t sound like the Lois he knew … especially since the breakup was supposed to be hush-hush (which of course meant half the office was already whispering about it). “What the heck, Jimmy? Where are you getting this crazy story?”
“From Clark,” Jimmy said succinctly, rocked back on his heels with a smug expression.
“Clark told you he was taking Lois on a date?” Ron questioned. “That doesn’t sound like him…”
“Well, he didn’t know he was telling me,” Jimmy said. “But I called him when he was getting lunch, and he bought two subs.”
“So the man was hungry,” Ron said in exasperation. “Or maybe someone else is with him – his mom was in town for a while, wasn’t she? Damn, Jimmy, that’s a pretty big leap from two subs to a date with Lois…”
“One of those two subs was turkey with Swiss and extra mushrooms,” Jimmy said triumphantly. “And black olives. Plus a macadamia nut cookie.”
“Holy crap,” Ron said. All the men in Lois’ life had at some point or another brought her lunch, and that was her order all right. And they both knew from having had lunch with Clark that he never ate black olives. He even fastidiously picked them off of pizza.
Jimmy savored the poleaxed expression on Ron’s face. “Isn’t it great?”
“Hell yeah,” Ron replied, giving him a high five. And then he remembered where they were and who was in the International Editor’s office right now. “I mean, I like Richard a lot, he’s great to work for, but…”
“Clark was here first,” Jimmy replied staunchly. “He was crazy in love with her before Richard ever met her. Besides, it’s just a date. He deserves a chance with her.”
“Yeah, he does,” Ron mused. “You know, Richard’s been on the phone a lot. And they don’t all sound like business calls…”