Clark followed Lois into the Riverside house, grinning at the sight of her in pajama bottoms, one of his shirts, and her long coat. She’d been wearing just the shirt up until the moment they decided to go out for dinner, and he could get very used to seeing her wander around his apartment like that. The view of her legs was amazing…
“Holy crap,” Lois said in tones of complete amazement, coming to a halt in the living room, her eyebrows high.
“What’s wrong?” Clark asked as he hurried to her side.
“Nothing, just…” I can’t believe he did all of this. Unasked, even. She looked around, then back at him. Her expression was full of amusement and disbelief. “When did you get a chance to come over and work on the packing?”
“While you were asleep,” he replied, almost apologetic. “I only boxed up the stuff you said you wanted to pack…”
“No, it’s fine,” Lois said as she surveyed the mountains of boxes. All of this without a peep as to what he was doing and without a word from me. This man is too good to be true. Just like I always thought. Shaking her head at him in affectionate disbelief, she could only smile. “I just didn’t expect you to, that’s all. You were out doing rescues and getting my lunch. Where the heck do you find the time?”
Clark shrugged, looking almost embarrassed. “I don’t have to sleep – not much, anyway. And you’ve been sleeping a lot more than usual.”
That devilish smile of hers made itself apparent at those words. She chuckled and leaned up to kiss his cheek, murmuring into his ear, “Yeah, I know – I just I’m just getting a lot more exercise than I’m used to, you know? Not that I mind the workout…”
He caught her around the waist and kissed her. “I’m glad you don’t mind,” Clark told her. “Because I quite enjoy it – and I was under the impression you did, too.”
“Oh, I enjoy it,” Lois purred with a smirk, eyes alight. “I’ve enjoyed it seven times in the last twenty-four hours.”
“Who else has been in the apartment, then?” Clark asked, only partly teasing. “It’s only been three times…”
Oh, you really do have so much to learn on that topic, Kal-El. Not that I’d dream of complaining in the slightest. “Three for you,” Lois said, her grin widening. “I was up to three before you had the first. And I’m counting last night on the couch as one.”
That made him blush, and Lois laughed, kissing him again. God, she loved to make him turn red. “Try not to get too embarrassed while I go grab some clothes, okay, handsome? I love you.”
“I love you too,” he told her, kissing the bridge of her nose.
Clark waited in the living room while Lois hurried upstairs. They were planning something fairly casual, whatever looked good and wasn’t too terribly crowded. While she rummaged around in the upstairs closet, he nonchalantly walked over to the stereo system.
Making sure that Lois was thoroughly occupied and not about to come downstairs, Clark slipped a CD case out of his jacket pocket. Time to reveal the whole reason for his going out this afternoon, other than that landslide in Malaysia, and maybe slay one more of Lois’ hidden dragons. He’d seen Lois set up the stereo system yesterday and the day before, playing a selection of her favorite CDs to accompany the often dull work of packing boxes. He queued up the last track and paused it, listening carefully to Lois as she moved around the bedroom upstairs. And waiting.
Several minutes later, as Lois headed for the stairs, she heard a few bars of instrumental music playing in the living room. She frowned, wondering if Clark had accidentally switched on the radio; she hadn’t taken long enough for him to get bored… The raven-haired reporter hurried down the first few stairs, then came to an abrupt halt as the music began in earnest.
“I know you’re out there somewhere, somewhere, somewhere,” a man’s voice sang. She knew that voice, but couldn’t place it immediately. The song continued, “I know I’ll find you somehow, somehow, somehow. And somehow I’ll return again to you…”
The Moody Blues. Lois stood listening with a puzzled and intent expression; she had never heard this song before, but she recognized the band that had sung the twins’ lullaby. Slowly, she came downstairs, a look of surprise and wonder on her face. What on earth was Clark up to?
“And the strength of the emotion is like thunder in the air. ‘Cos the promise that we made each other haunts me to the end…”
He was waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs, smiling a bit nervously as he waited to see her reaction. Lois walked down to him, a question in her eyes, and he took the clothes from her and hung them over the banister as he answered, “It’s the sister song to Wildest Dreams, Lois. The twin, you might say. And I think it applies.”
With that, she let him draw her in and Clark held her for a moment before leading her out into the living room. He had moved the sofa and chairs back to clear a space in the middle of the floor, and Lois went into his arms easily, still listening. Neither spoke as the song started to unweave Kal-El’s own version of their tale, the two of them swaying gently to the music. The lyrics seemed to soothe parts of Lois’ heart that she hadn’t realized were still bruised.
“From the words that I remember, from my childhood still are true. That there’s none so blind as those who will not see. And to those who lack the courage and say it’s dangerous to try. Well they just don’t know that love eternal will not be denied…”
Lois just held him tighter, starting to laugh even with tears in her eyes. Forever now. No intentions of taking it back. Ever. He was hers. Always had been. Even when he hadn’t been by her side. Her lover’s arms – Clark Kent’s, Superman’s, Kal-El’s – tightened around her, his lips pressing against her hair.
“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.”
Her shining hazel eyes raising to meet his, her expression made it was clear that Lois understood the message he had been trying to give her. She had never been off his mind, had never ceased to exist to him in his absence. As much as she had missed him and longed for him, he had never stopped loving her; she had always been in his heart during his long absence.
Kal-El smiled down at her, no words necessary. He tightened his arms around Lois’ waist, lifting her off the ground slightly as he spun them gently to the music. He closed his eyes with a sigh, nuzzling his face into hers. There was still much to be done – the twins were never far from his mind, and the office would want an explanation, too – but these few days had seemed to be outside of time, a chance for him and Lois to reconnect. They would deal with the real world and its complications later; for now it was just the two of them, and the only thing that mattered was finding their way back to each other after all of the misunderstandings and mistakes. One perfect moment like this…
Opening his eyes again, he saw that Lois had closed hers as well, leaning against him trustingly. And then, as he leaned back from her slightly and those hazel eyes came open to gaze back at him, Kal-El realized that the pair of them were revolving slowly in the air, floating as if the song had lifted them up. Lois realized it at the same moment, and she gave a little gasp of surprise before both of them laughed softly in shared delight.
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…
Richard’s phone rang at four o’clock sharp, as it had for the past two days. Today, however, he was out of the office. He’d left the door open, though, and Ron could hear the ringing from his desk.
The reporter hesitated for only a moment before picking up his own desk phone and punching in Richard’s extension. This was a business line, there could be no harm in taking Richard’s call for him… “Richard White’s office, this in Ron Troupe speaking,” he said in his most professional voice.
“Oh,” a startled female voice replied. “I’m sorry… Is Rich – I mean, is Mr. White in?”
“I apologize, ma’am, he’s out of the office at the moment,” Ron replied smoothly, starting to smile. He knew that voice, even though he’d only heard it twice. “May I take a message?”
“Sure, um, tell him…” She trailed off again, then chuckled. “It’s not important, I’ll just, um, I’ll call back later. Thank you very much, Mr. Troupe.”
“You’re welcome,” Ron said, replacing the phone in its cradle. Only after he was sure the caller couldn’t hear him did he add softly, “Ms. Lang.”
Grinning, Ron picked up the phone again and dialed an extension in the City room. “Meet me in the break room, Jimmy,” he said when the photographer picked up. “I found out who’s been calling Richard.”
The twins’ bedroom at Nana’s house had east-facing windows, so the first light of dawn trickled in to wake them. Kala opened her eyes first, yawning hugely and rubbing her eyes. “Gerrup, Jason,” she muttered in a sleep-thick voice, shoving her brother’s shoulder. “School.”
He grunted something unintelligible, and Kala hit him again, a little harder. “We gotta go t’ school.”
“Thanksgivin’,” he grumbled, elbowing her. “No school.”
She blinked, scowling. “Thanksgiving’s tomorrow.”
Jason shoved the covers back and rolled over to glare at his sister. “Thanksgiving vacation, dillyweed,” he said exasperatedly. “Today, tomorrow, an’ Friday. Mrs. Mosley said.”
“Oh,” Kala replied. “Yeah. Right.” She laid back down and cuddled into her pillow.
Jason stared at her, his expression mirroring his mother’s early-morning grumpiness, and then heaved a sigh. “Girls,” he muttered, and thumped his pillow a few times to fluff it before lying down again.
Several minutes passed before Kala said quietly, “Jason? You awake?”
“’Cos of you,” he replied.
Another few minutes went by before Kala spoke again. “Jason?”
He sighed exaggeratedly. “What?”
“Do you miss Mommy?”
“No,” he said sharply, turning over onto his side, facing away from her. His face was drawn, his brows furrowed, and he bit his lower lip until it hurt. In spite of that, a tear started to trickle down his cheek, and Jason’s breath hitched before he whispered, “Yeah.”
“Me too,” Kala said. “I miss her a lot. I miss Daddy too. Both daddies.”
“I don’t want our family to get messed up,” Jason whimpered.
Kala rolled over and hugged him. “Me neither,” she said. “Grownups make everything so hard.”
“They all said it was all gonna be okay,” Jason said. “But Daddy Richard’s goin’ away already. We’re never ever gonna see him again…”
“That’s not what Mommy and Daddy Richard said,” Kala replied. “Everybody loves us, nobody’s going away. Daddy Clark said so too. He promised.”
That seemed to calm Jason for a moment. They knew a few children whose parents were divorced, and it seemed normal for the daddies to leave and the mommies to bring new daddies home. But Daddy Clark wasn’t like other daddies – he was special. He was Superman. Superman couldn’t tell fibs. That thought gave Jason hope, and his bleak outlook began to lift slightly as the light in the room grew stronger.
That same morning, Richard had barely made it in the door when Perry called him. He leaned in the door of his uncle’s office and said, “Yes?”
“Have you seen Lois lately?” Perry asked.
“Not since the weekend,” Richard said cautiously. “Why?”
“She’s not gonna be in today,” Perry told him.
“Well, you did tell her it didn’t make any sense for her to come in the day before Thanksgiving,” Richard replied. “I remember her arguing about wanting to come in, and you telling her she might as well have the whole week off if she’s only gonna work two days.”
“Yeah, and you remember how much she argued that she didn’t need any time off? That work was the best thing for her?” Perry’s voice had an odd tone to it, somewhere between annoyance and disbelief.
“What’re you getting at?” Richard asked. He was still standing in the doorway, not wanting to step all the way into his uncle’s office and possibly be dragged into some kind of argument. Unfortunately, that meant that the early-arriving employees behind him could hear the conversation. The International editor sighed and shook his head slightly. “Look, Uncle Perry, if Lois decides she needs a little more time off, don’t give her a hard time about it, okay? She’s been through enough…”
“That’s just it,” Perry interrupted. “She didn’t decide. I haven’t heard from Lois at all. Kent called her in.”
“Kent?” Richard repeated, momentarily stunned. Jealousy roared up in his chest; Lois was already with Clark. She couldn’t even wait until they’d worked out what they were going to do with the house, or what they would tell their coworkers. No, she was so eager to get back with her One True Love that she had already dived into bed with him, and not only that, she was calling in sick to spend more time with him!
Wait, Richard’s common sense commanded. Don’t be a jackass. First of all, Lois might actually be sick. Second, what right do you have to get jealous? You’re talking Lana every day, and you kissed her before you ever broke up with Lois. If she was that kind of girl – and in the same country – you’d be trying to get her in bed right now.
Mastering his instantaneous reaction, Richard had to remind himself that Lois wasn’t his anymore. He had no right to be jealous of Lois and Clark – hadn’t he wished both of them the best? Hadn’t he seen during that moment on his plane what they meant to each other, and known that he could never hope to compete with a love like that? And most important of all, wasn’t he falling in love with Lana? The answer to all three questions was a sheepish ‘yes’, and Richard forced himself to look nonchalant when he answered Perry.
“Well, she probably picked up a cold on vacation,” Richard said. “She did go out of town, and you know Lois and cold weather. As long as Clark’s looking after her, though, she’ll be all right.”
Perry’s eyes narrowed. “You know where she went, don’t you?”
Damn. Richard shrugged. “I might – but if Lois doesn’t want it publicly known, who am I to share information?”
Brows furrowing, Perry gave him a long, thoughtful look. “Did she?” he asked.
“Did she what?” Richard replied blankly. He was all too certain that Perry meant ‘did she go to Kent’, and he refused to answer that one.
Perry just nodded. So his nephew knew something and was trying to hide it. Fine – no one kept secrets around this office for very long. Not with an old newshound in the editor-in-chief’s office. He’d find out what was up eventually, probably from Lois herself. “All right, son. Go get to work – what’re you standing around for anyway?”
Richard sighed, shook his head, and went back to his own office. He’d just sat down when the phone rang. “Richard White, Daily Planet,” he said into the receiver, smiling and putting a little extra warmth into his tone just in case Lana had decided to call early. He’d missed her yesterday…
“Richard, this is Ella. Have you seen my daughter?”
He sighed. “I’m sorry, Ella, could you find out who declared me her keeper and let them know she’s a free woman now?”
“Richard, you are the man her kids call Daddy,” Ella said, a hint of reprimand in her voice. “I would expect you to know where the mother of my grandchildren is.”
“Ella, I’m not sure,” Richard said. “The kids haven’t been speaking to either of us, and I haven’t seen her since shortly after I dropped them at your house. I do know she’s off work sick today.”
“Lois has never called in sick in her life,” Ella informed him. “She once tried to go in with a broken wrist and Peregrine had to insist that she stayed home.”
“Well, she called in sick today,” Richard sighed. “Or at least, she’s going to stay out another day like Perry told her to. I’m not surprised she needs some time off.” Before Ella could comment further, he redirected the conversation by saying, “How are the twins? Are they at least talking to anyone?”
“They’re still pretty upset, but they’re talking to me,” Ella said. “I’ve been hearing all about their trip to Kansas.”
When in doubt, play stupid. “Is that where Lois went?” Richard asked innocently.
“I assumed you’d know, since you took them to the airport,” Ella replied. “And since they flew there with Miss Lang, who likes you. Kala’s getting very good at spotting relationships, Richard – so much for not being the one who’s cheating, hmm?”
“Ella, we broke up,” Richard said exasperatedly.
She cut him off. “I’m not interested in your pursuit of this woman as much as I’m interested in the twins’ Grandma, who lives in Kansas. On a farm. And best of all, she was discussed in the same conversation as ‘Daddy Clark’. Do you know anything about that, Richard?”
His jaw dropped – Ella wasn’t supposed to know. They’d have to tell her something eventually, but it wasn’t his place to inform her. And the way she asked the question made it seem like she thought someone else was the twins’ father. He’d never suspected that she believed the story about Garen Lamoureux in Paris…
“Um, Ella,” Richard began, and then mercifully his phone beeped. “Aw, hell. I’ve got another call. I’ll get back to you, okay?”
“Sure. A piece of advice, Richard – don’t try to sound disappointed when you’re obviously relieved, okay? You’re not good at it.”
“And if you don’t get back to me today, Richard, I expect you to be here tomorrow. Just because you and Lois split up doesn’t mean you’re not still invited to Thanksgiving dinner. You’re still part of the family as far as I’m concerned.”
“And considering who my blood relatives are, I’m very glad of that,” Richard said with a chuckle. “I’ll be there.” Then, gratefully, he hung up with her and picked up the other call. “Richard White, Daily Planet.”
“Hello,” Lana said, sounding just as relieved as Richard felt.
“Thank God it’s you,” he sighed. “You just saved me from having to explain the facts of the twins’ parentage to Lois’ mom.”
“Ouch,” Lana said. “I take it Lois hasn’t made an announcement yet?”
“She’s home sick today,” Richard replied. “I’m under the impression she’s been out of touch since she came back from Kansas.”
“And Clark? Do you think…”
“I’m trying not to think, actually,” Richard replied. “Especially since he’s the one who called her in.”
“Oh.” There was a long, awkward pause before Lana changed the topic. “I’m so sorry I missed you yesterday. Someone else picked up your phone, and I didn’t want to leave a message.”
“Really?” Richard said. “We had breaking news at four and I had to run out for a few minutes. It should’ve gone to my voicemail. Do you remember who answered?”
She hesitated, then said, “No, I don’t. I’m sure whoever it was just wanted to do you a favor.”
“Oh well, at least I get to talk to you now.” Richard leaned back in his chair and grinned wickedly. He knew from talking to Lois that Lana was in Milan. But Lana herself had not divulged that information, so he decided to give her a bit of grief over it. Just a little friendly teasing. “How are things in Smallville?” he asked innocently.
“Um,” Lana said hesitantly, and Richard had to suppress a chuckle. “Well, Smallville doesn’t change much. I’m sure you don’t want to hear about a little town in the middle of nowhere.”
“No, really, I do,” Richard replied. He recognized Lana’s brand of creative misrepresentative from having worked with Clark – neither of them would actually lie, but they could dance around the truth for days.
“Richard, nothing really happens in Smallville,” Lana said. “It’s the same as it ever was – the same families, the same gossip, even. I haven’t been listening, but they’re probably still talking about the Eastern woman with the red Mustang.”
“I bet,” Richard said. “But something interesting has to happen in Smallville. I mean, you came from there.”
“Yes, and I left,” Lana replied. “Which should tell you something. I’m not the thrill-seeker Lois is, and Smallville was too boring for me.”
“Do you realize you mention Lois whenever you want me to stop asking about something?” Richard said. “Why are you so antsy about Smallville, anyway? Got a boyfriend back home I should know about?”
“Richard!” Her flustered exclamation made Richard laugh, and after that Lana managed to steer the conversation away from where she was and what she was doing there.