Now, dearest readers, may I present the closing chapter to Act Six (only the Epilogue chapters are left now)
Lois chuckled softly to herself as Perry ranted. Not even on the Monday after Christmas would he let up on the Monday Morning Massacres. Several junior reporters were wide-eyed, and one intern was literally shaking. They’ll get over it, Lois thought disdainfully. We all did. If you can’t handle a little pressure, journalism is not the career for you, my friend. And your editor yelling in your face is nothing compared to, oh, interviewing convicted serial killers. Toughen up, kids.
She caught Clark’s eye and smiled. As usual, he was standing, while she had quickly nabbed one of the seats around the conference table. Only the most senior reporters dared to take a seat during the Massacres; they were closer to Perry and thus more likely to get singled out. Lois, of course, had figured out ten years ago that Perry was actually quite fond of her, and his bellowing wasn’t a real threat. Also, no sane reporter ever tried to answer him.
“Freizon, why didn’t the twenty-car pileup on the Douglas Interchange get covered for more than ten lines?” Perry barked at Bill, who merely shrugged. “Troupe, I realize your wife was in labor, but how could you let the Christmas Day bombing in Iraq pass you by?” Perry had snarled that at his usual tone and volume, then softened his voice just a trifle to add, “Congratulations, by the way.” Ron just nodded, trying not smile, as Perry turned around and snapped, “Lane, why the hell are you chewing a pen and not taking notes?”
“I missed breakfast,” she deadpanned, smirking.
“You don’t eat breakfast,” Perry shot back. “You might be assistant editor, but dammit, you’ll pay attention in meetings!”
“Yes, Chief,” Lois replied with a staged yawn.
Perry sighed heavily. He and Lois – as well as several senior reporters – knew that he’d yelled at her for the same thing for several years. Lois still only took notes when she felt like it, and she had never forgotten anything from the meetings. Still grinning mischievously, Lois leaned back in her chair and sipped her coffee. As soon as Perry turned away to harangue someone else, Lois turned to glance at Clark, giving him a sly little grin.
“Any questions?” Perry said at last.
To everyone’s surprise, Jimmy spoke up. He’d been standing at the other side of the conference table from Lois, and when she leaned back in her seat his eyes had narrowed. “Sure, Chief,” the photographer said. “What’s that on Ms. Lane’s finger?”
Ron burst out laughing as everyone else turned to look. Lois realized only then that she’d been holding the coffee mug in her left hand, the pen in her right. All that morning, she’d worn the engagement ring backwards, with the stone toward her palm, and hidden her hands as much as possible. But the emerald had clinked uncomfortably against the mug’s handle, and Lois had subconsciously turned the ring back around during the meeting.
Now every reporter in the place leaned forward to stare. “Well I’ll be damned,” Perry said. “Kent! You call that an engagement ring? That’s no diamond.”
“Yes, sir,” Clark replied calmly, and Perry had to look at him askance for the complete lack of stuttering nervousness in his voice. “Lois and I are getting married.”
“Eventually,” someone wisecracked from the back of the room.
“Hey, Clark,” Bill chuckled. “Is that kryptonite?”
The entire room erupted in laughter, as Clark looked embarrassed and Lois grinned, winking at him. Once the roar died down a bit, Lois stood up. “I will have you pack of jackals know that he actually talked me into a spring wedding,” she said, daring them to laugh. “I wanted fall, but oh no, the sooner the better. Not like the kids aren’t already six years old…”
“Smart man,” Ron muttered, elbowing Clark fondly. “Don’t let her get away.”
“I won’t,” Clark replied. “Not this time.”
Lois caught that, and laughed, her eyes blazing with amusement and good humor. In the midst of everyone talking at once and trying to see the ring, Perry’s phone rang, and he irritably pointed at Jimmy to go answer it. “This is not a goddamned circus,” the Editor-in-Chief barked. “You can all irritate Lane on her own time. Worse than a bunch of gossipy old women, I swear…”
“Chief, it’s your wife,” Jimmy called across the bullpen.
Perry sighed dramatically. “For the love of God, tell her as often as she bitched about my girlfriends calling me at work when she was my secretary, she calls me more than all of them ever did!” Jimmy bit his lip as he went back into Perry’s office to relay that. The Chief continued to his assembled reporters, “What do you think this is, the Star? Sit down and shut up! We were having a meeting here before Lane had to flash her rock around the place!”
He got something close to silence, only to have Jimmy interrupt again. “Uh, Chief? She says it’s important.”
“She always says it’s important,” Perry bellowed back. “Last time it was what kind of air freshener to buy. Tell her if the house isn’t on fire and no one’s bleeding or dead, it can damn well wait!” Once again, Jimmy sighed and trudged back into Perry’s office.
“So have you guys set a date?” someone asked, taking advantage of Perry’s momentary distraction.
“No, our mothers are doing that,” Lois replied, rolling her eyes. “They’ve been waiting so long to marry off their firstborns, I’ll be lucky if I get to pick my own dress.”
More laughter at her remark, but it died away as Jimmy came out into the bullpen again. His face was white with shock, and his eyes were wide. “Uh, C-Chief?” he stammered. “You really wanna take this call.”
“What the hell’s the matter now?” Perry growled. Olsen opened his mouth but hesitated, and the Editor-in-Chief snapped, “Out with it!”
“She’s pregnant!” Jimmy yelped, wincing.
Perry’s jaw dropped. Absolute silence descended on the newsroom, with most of the men looking at Perry in admiration, and several of the women staring in horror. The first to recover was Lois, who roared with laughter, slapping both palms down on the table. “Holy shit!” she cried, wheezing. “Old man, I didn’t know you had it in you!”
Several coarse comments were whispered in the back of the crowd at that, but at last Perry recovered his wits enough to speak. “I’m gonna shoot our mailman,” he snarled, and stalked to his office.
Two days before the New Year, Richard arrived back in Metropolis, tanned and immensely pleased with himself. He came up to the Daily Planet on his first day back, just to visit – he would come in to actually work the next day. Greeting everyone with a broad grin, the sight of him was enough to bring Lois and Perry out of their offices. “I see Florida was good to you,” Perry grumbled, while Lois just grinned.
Richard hugged his uncle and his ex before replying, “Actually, I wasn’t in Florida for more than a day.”
“Then where the hell have you been?” Lois asked, surprised.
“The Bahamas,” Richard said, his eyes alight with mischief.
“Richard!” Lois exclaimed. “The whole point of you missing Christmas this year was so you could see your father! And then you went to the islands instead?!”
He ushered them both into Perry’s office before answering her – Richard had learned his lesson regarding the office rumor mill. Once the door closed behind them, he explained, “No, see, I went home and saw Dad, and we spent most of the first day together. Problem was, while he and I were out having father-son time, Mom had gotten suspicious because I was staying at the hotel instead of the house.”
“Anybody sane would stay at a hotel,” Perry interjected. “Those damn dogs of hers are a curse on mankind. Miserable little rats.”
“Well, Mom was suspicious enough that she snooped around the hotel,” Richard continued. “And she found out I’d checked in with a woman who definitely wasn’t Lois. Now, I haven’t actually talked to my parents about everything that’s gone on the last month or so, so she jumped to conclusions. And it was one hell of a jump.”
“Oh?” Lois asked, one eyebrow going up.
“The same one your mother came to when she first met Lana, only Mom was nowhere near as polite as Ella,” Richard said, taking a deep breath. “When I walked in the door, Mom was waiting for me. I don’t remember her exact words, but it was something along the lines of ‘I can see why that Lane woman would drive you to stray – Lord knows she’s the meanest-tempered shrew I’ve ever met – but I do not appreciate you bringing your light-skirted friends home with you, Richard James White.’ And she went on to tell me that I was supposed to be coming home to spend time with the family, so on and so forth, et cetera, and she didn’t appreciate being used as a convenient cover-story for my cheating.”
Lois’ jaw had dropped. She had never liked Sylvia, but if the woman had been in front of her just then, she would’ve dropped all semblance of propriety and punched her in the face. How dare she even suggest…
Perry was fuming just as much as Lois, his eyes flashing in anger and his brow furrowed. Before he could work up a scathing bellow of fury, Richard continued, “Mom had just managed to insult Lois and Lana in the same breath, and I wasn’t gonna stand for that. So I looked at her for a minute, turned to my father, thanked Dad for a lovely day, and told him I was sorry, but I wasn’t going to listen to that kind of trash talk about two women I love. And I also told him – not Mom – who Lana is, and that she was exactly the kind of woman he always wanted me to meet and settle down with. The kind of woman I still figured I wasn’t worthy of, but I intended to do my best to live up to her standards.”
“Atta boy,” Perry said. “I feel sorry for Theo, but…”
“He’s coming up to Metropolis next year,” Richard said. “Without Mom. As for her, it turns out she’s actually quite a fan of some of Lana’s clothing, so she was properly humiliated. I didn’t wait for an apology, though – Lana and I checked out of our hotel and went to the Bahamas. After a couple days on the beach, I was almost ready to forgive my mother.”
“Well, sounds like you had an interesting vacation,” Lois said, trying to find a way to segue gently into the news about herself and Clark.
Unfortunately, Perry was standing beside her, and he rarely broke things gently. “Almost as interesting as staying here,” the editor-in-chief said casually. “Lois and Clark got engaged on Christmas Eve…”
That was the moment that Clark walked in, presumably coming by to welcome Richard back. The International editor just stared at him, and then turned a look of open-mouthed shock toward Lois. “Thanks, Perry,” she grumbled. “Richard, I was trying to find some polite way to tell you…”
He looked at Clark instead, and cut off Lois’ attempt to salvage the situation. “Dammit, Clark, you copycat! Why’d you have to go and get engaged on Christmas Eve just like me?!” With so much surprise in his tone, it was hard to tell whether he was exasperated or amused.
“Hey, wiseguy,” Lois snapped, getting defensive. “You and I got engaged at the office Christmas party, the week before Christmas…”
“I’m not talking about you,” Richard replied quickly, making a shooing-off gesture in her direction. “Lana and I got engaged Christmas Eve. C’mon Clark, pick something original for the wedding date, okay?”
Perry groaned, and even though Richard was clearly chuckling, Clark was too flustered to reply. Lois’ sharp eyes had noticed a thin line of white around Richard’s left ring finger, though, and she called him on it. “I see you must’ve gotten jewelry for Christmas, Richard. Or are they giving out engagement rings to men now?”
He sighed and rolled his eyes, reaching into his pocket. “Well, Lois, I was trying to find some polite way to tell you…” The ring he took out and placed back on his hand was a simple gold band. “We got married Christmas Day,” Richard announced. “At least I can’t forget my anniversary.”
Now it was Lois’ turn to stare thunderstruck. “You crazy sonofa…”
“Congratulations,” Perry said, slapping his nephew on the back. “I’ve still got you beat.”
“You do?” Richard asked.
“You’re gonna have a cousin,” Perry told him, grinning.
Confused, Richard looked at Lois doubtfully, and she swatted him. “Not me, you idiot. We haven’t been back together that long, and I can’t, remember? You bitched about the surgery for days when you found out. God. No, blame him, your psychotic uncle. Loueen’s knocked up.”
“Lois,” Clark scolded, scandalized by her word choice.
“Well? That’s exactly how she phrased it to me.” The raven-haired reporter folded her arms and glared.
Richard was just staring at Perry. “You’re how old and just now getting around to having kids? Jeez, Uncle Perry! I mean, Lois practically counts as yours, but…”
“Be glad she’s not mine,” the Editor-in-Chief replied. “If she was, she’d be your cousin, and that would’ve made the last three years illegal. In this state, anyway.”
Lois and Richard exchanged a dubious look, then they both burst out laughing. “Yeah, well, now that I’m married and you’re about to be – watch her, Clark, don’t let her pull the indefinite engagement trick on you,” Richard warned, turning back to Lois after the aside to Clark, “I guess I can call you my cousin. But I’m probably the only guy I know who has an aunt younger than his wife – and now I’m gonna have a cousin younger than my kids.”
“I guess you and Lana will have to do something about that, then, huh?” Lois teased. “Where is she, anyway? Lounging at the Centennial?”
“Waiting in the car,” Richard said.
Lois had to fight a smile. Typical Lana. Don't face conflict; hide from it. “Oh, hiding from me?”
“Being polite,” Richard corrected. “All right, then. All gossip aside, Uncle Perry, Clark, tell me how things have been going in International while I was gone.”
While the three men started talking business, Lois quietly excused herself. But she didn’t head back to her office like they expected – she went to the elevators and then the garage. Richard’s parking spot was right next to hers, and she strolled up to the Saab with a little smile on her lips.
The redhead in the passenger seat was reading the newspaper and didn’t hear Lois approaching, so the reporter rapped on the half-open window, letting the emerald in her engagement ring strike the glass. Lana startled, looking up wide-eyed, and Lois just grinned and held up her left hand. “I’m not gonna kill you, cheerleader, so get the hell out of the car,” she said, half-affectionately and half irritated. “It takes a good ten minutes just to get to the office from the garage to the office, and you know Richard’s gonna be gossiping with the boys half the morning. There’s no sense in you hiding down here all that time.”
Lana just sighed as she opened the door. “I wasn’t sure how you’d react. It seemed like a wonderful idea at the time, and I don’t regret it in the slightest, but…”
“So you eloped with my ex,” Lois said. “Yeah, I was a little pissed off at first, but Richard’s not mine anymore. And I’m more than happy with the man I have.”
“I’m glad,” Lana replied. “I wouldn’t stand for Clark being with someone who doesn’t love him with all her heart.” Her tone held a hint of steel at those words, but she softened it with a smile. “Don’t worry. I have no intention of telling anyone that fearless reporter Lois Lane is an absolutely moony-eyed romantic at heart.”
Lois gave a snort of laughter. “Yeah, right,” she muttered reaching in to catch Lana’s hand and drag her out if necessary. “Nobody’d believe you.”
“Very true,” Lana said, letting herself be helped out of the car as if it were her own idea. “Still friends?”
“Are you still alive? Obviously the answer’s yes.” They both chuckled at that, heading for the elevators companionably.
“So, how’s everyone taking the news about you and Clark?” Lana asked.
Lois’ smile was pure deviltry. “One of the perks of working for the Planet is that you get a certain amount of free advertising space each quarter. A bunch of the guys pooled their ad space together and ran a quarter-page photo of me and Clark, with the word ‘Congratulations’ above it.”
“How sweet,” Lana said, giving her a amused look. “Jimmy Olsen took the photograph, right?”
“Of course,” Lois replied with a grin. “It was a recent one – from the Christmas party, in fact. I didn’t know he’d taken it. You ought to ask him, he’s probably got a few of you and Richard together. Anyway, it’s all romantic and lovely and classy – until you look at the very fine print at the bottom of the shot. It’s got our names, but instead of saying something like ‘Engaged,’ it says ‘About Darned Time.’ I guess they have a point.”
Lana laughed out loud. “Only you, Lois.”
Lois heard her cell phone chirp for the millionth time that day and smiled. All the family and friends had her number, and most of them had been sending her voicemails and text messages during the day, trying to coordinate tonight’s New Year’s Eve party at her house this evening. This time, it was probably Clark, letting her know that he was getting ready to take the twins to the Fortress and would be back in time to help her set up. They had quarreled slightly over it, but after several whispered reassurances, Lois relented in the end despite her misgivings. No matter how much she distrusted Jor-El, Kala and Jason still deserved to see the Fortress and their grandfather. To understand who they were. And to begin to learn about their legacy. She had to admit that he was right on that.
The subject line read, “Should old acquaintance be forgot?" Not Clark, then. Someone else, probably one of the friends she hadn’t heard from in a while – Cat Grant, maybe. Already grinning in anticipation of the blonde news anchor’s hilarious messages, Lois opened the text message.
This old acquaintance has not forgotten your phone # – or who fathered your kids. Come to 42 St station if you want your little secrets to remain secret. Alone – the alien isn’t invited.
She felt her heart stop, gazing down at that screen. The chill of deja vu roared through her. Oh God, not again…
Kal-El landed lightly within the Fortress of Solitude, setting Kala and Jason down beside him. These days, the Fortress was no longer as accessible as it had once been; he had activated several of the security features in spite of his qualms. A human who trespassed here now would find himself rendered unconscious by a force field and flung into a cell in the lower levels. Kal-El had always left those devices off in the past, judging it unlikely that any random wanderer would find this place. Now, though, there was a very slight possibility of someone who meant no harm being injured by the force field, but he considering that an acceptable risk in light of the fact that Luthor knew where the Fortress was – and it had regenerated itself once, so there was no point in destroying it again. No, he had to use other means of protecting its secrets, even if those methods meant he had to fly carefully in via the interlocking crystals that made up the roof.
Besides, if he had razed the Fortress, he wouldn’t be able to see the looks of wonder on his children’s faces right now. Both twins, having been full of questions and excitement during the flight up, had fallen silent and somber as their eyes took in their surroundings. They could seem to decide how they felt about what they were seeing. Jason stared around him, his jaw hanging open in awe, while Kala craned her head back to peer up at the interlaced crystals above her. “Wow,” the little girl said wonderingly, a trifle louder than she meant to as a small smile curved her lips.
Both flinched as the whispery echoes of Kala’s word reviberated. Never in their short lives had they ever seen anything quite like the shelter that loomed before them, never been in an open space quite this large, bigger than a convention center and several stories tall. The scale dwarfed them all, even Kal-El, and inspired a cathedral hush. His interest captured, Jason took a few tentative steps as if the explore, marveling at the geometric arrangement of the crystals. Curiosity overwhelming fear; I wonder who he gets that from? Kal-El smiled slightly at his son…
The sound came suddenly, yelled, just to his right. It was obvious when he looked that Kala had shouted, finally succumbing to temptation. She was looking out across the chasm below the platform as if testing the length in her mind. Her eyes widened as her voice echoed back to her, multiplied and resonating strangely among the crystals.
“Kala!” her father called sharply, only adding to the echoes, while Jason giggled. Kala could only stare around her, awestruck by the layers of sound, before she glanced up at her father with a guilty smile and a shrug of her little shoulders.
Sighing, Kal-El shook his head affectionately. This wasn’t exactly what he had expected when he had pushed for this trip alone with them. Then again, how could he have known their reactions? At first, he’d been worried that the twins would fear the Fortress. After all, the only Kryptonian architecture they’d ever seen was Lex’s damned island, and that had been an exact copy of this. Although now that the Fortress was fully functional again, it was warmly lit, the antithesis of Luthor’s creation.
Instead of being frightened, Kala and Jason were curious and excited, as their giggling at the echo proved. “All right, you two,” Kal-El said gently. “Do you want to see your grandfather?”
The twins turned to look at each other at that, both grinning. “Really?” Jason asked as he looked up at his father, wide-eyed and a little confused. “But you said…”
“Not in person,” Kal-El told him, shepherding them gently toward the console with its array of information crystal now intact. “It’s like a movie, but instead of being on a screen the image floats in midair. And he can talk to you.”
“Cool!” the twins chorused.
At the 42nd street subway terminal, Lois waited and wished for a cigarette. Her nerves were strung so tightly she almost screamed whenever a passerby bumped into her, but she had to control her fear. Had to. If she let herself get so wound up that her heart raced, Kal-El might hear and decide to cut short the twins’ introduction to Jor-El to come down here and see what was going on. And Superman’s presence just now would not be welcome.
You are a total idiot for meeting Lex alone and on his terms, part of her mind hissed. What if he decides to kill you right away? Just put a bullet in your head and be done with it? You couldn’t stop him if he did.
A colder voice in the back of her head whispered, Lex would never just shoot you. He wouldn’t make it that easy. No, if he’s hinting around about secrets and demanding to see you, he wants exactly what he says he wants: a deal. That was one thing she didn’t have to fear. Lex had no intention of killing her when he would much rather let Lois live and watch her – and his nemesis – suffer from whatever diabolical plan he’d dreamed up now. He was too sadistic for a simple assassination.
Every facet of her personality agreed on one thing: Too bad the bastard didn’t get himself killed over the last couple months.
At least she had been able to get away with a minimum of fuss. Kal-El was busy with Jason and Kala at the Fortress; she had resisted that idea at first, but as it turned out, that saved her from having to explain her whereabouts. And it kept all three of them well out of harm’s way. Oh, sure, this probably wasn’t the smartest thing she had ever done; a wiser woman would have kept Kal-El on standby. But Luthor had kryptonite and the will to use it, and he wouldn’t have called Lois here if he didn’t have some plan set up in case Superman did arrive. Lex was never that unprepared, as Lois had learned the last time they crossed paths.
Just then, her cell phone rang. “Lois Lane,” she answered sharply.
“Hello, Lois,” Lex purred. “And are you at 42nd Street?”
“Yes,” she ground out. “Where the hell are you?”
“That’s for me to know and you to find out, Lois,” he replied. Lois gritted her teeth; he was plainly enjoying this, and she had no intention of making it more fun for him by getting openly frustrated.
“Fine, Lex,” she sighed instead. “What is this, a scavenger hunt? You wanted to see me. How am I supposed to find you?”
“Head downstairs and take the uptown line,” he replied. “Get off at the Cleveland station and call this number back.” With that he broke the connection, and Lois muttered a few choice words as she hurried down the steps to comply. Precious time was wasting, and she couldn’t risk Kal-El coming down here. She couldn’t.
Barely twenty minutes later, she used her caller ID to call Luthor back. “I’m here,” she said, trying to keep down the tension in her voice.
“Very good,” he replied. “Now, you know where the temporary storage lockers are? Head over there. I’ll hold – you wouldn’t be tracing this call, would you?”
“Of course not,” Lois snapped. “You probably stole the phone anyway.”
“Very smart,” he commented.
Silence reigned until Lois reached the lockers; it was the kind of place that made her nervous. Half-deserted and poorly lit, these tiny storage units were rarely used anymore. “Okay, Luthor, here I am,” she said into the phone. “Where are you?”
“First, a question. Do you happen to have a gun on you? In that purse perhaps, or concealed under your jacket?”
Lois’ blood ran cold, and she whirled around, staring wide-eyed. The sonofabitch could see her! But where was he? Nowhere in her vision – and not knowing exactly where he was made her more uneasy than facing him. His voice chuckled in her ear. “Don’t try to spoil the surprise, Lois. You’ll see me when I want you to. Now, are you armed, or aren’t you?”
“You’ve got my gun, or don’t you remember?” she replied, letting anger burn away fear. “You shot two men at point-blank range with it. Two helpless, tied-up men. Somehow I’m not surprised you’d shoot someone in the face when they couldn’t even raise a hand against you.”
“They both let you get the drop on them,” Lex replied. “They’d outlived their usefulness, and I think we both agree that they knew too much to be allowed to live. Besides, tell me you weren’t tempted to pay Riley back, just a little, for all he’d done to others and all he meant to do to you. I understand his signature move was branding his initials on a woman’s breast with a lit cigarette. Quite stupid, to use his real initials.”
Lois couldn’t help shuddering. “Yeah, he was a charmer. Just the kind I’d expect you to make friends with. Let’s get on with this, Luthor. How could I be armed if you have my gun?”
“You have another by now, Lois. Don’t try to fool me – I know you. Put the purse and your coat in a storage locker. Do it now. And if you have another pistol or a knife in your boot, I suggest you leave that as well.”
The reporter had no choice but to comply. She was carrying her new Ladysmith in her purse, and she did have a weighted blackjack in the pocket of her coat. No knives in her boots, though. With that done, hastily, she picked up the phone again and locked the locker. “All right, Lex, it’s done. Come on, enough bullshit. Cut the cat and mouse.”
“Last instruction,” he said. “Go to the platform for the red line and wait for the next train.” With that, he hung up the phone, and Lois swore under her breath.
The next train was already whistling in the distance, and a sizable number of commuters were waiting for it. Lois elbowed her way to the front, wondering where Lex wanted her to get off this time. If her cell phone didn’t work while the train was moving, would he just call the whole thing off? Or…
Doors opened in front of her, a flood of passengers getting off as others tried to get on. For a moment, the crowd was in flux, and Lois had to fight to keep her feet. In spite of being in the front of the crowd, it looked like she might not get on this train.
And then a man stepped off, just after the last of the disembarking passengers, and caught her around the waist as easily and naturally as if he’d been planning it for days. Lois looked up, startled, and recognized Luthor’s cruel, mocking smile.
Just a little while later, the twins weren’t quite as excited. “Father, this is my son, Jason, and my daughter, Kala.” The little boy gazed up at the image looming above him, barely listening to Daddy. When the giant floating head had first appeared, he and Kala had jumped back, saucer-eyed with shock. The expression on the face wasn’t particularly friendly, either, and that made Kala gasp and duck behind Daddy.
Jason, however, didn’t shrink back as Daddy introduced the white-haired man. “Jason, Kala, this is my father, Jor-El. Your grandfather.”
“Welcome, Jason and Kala of the House of El.” The voice seemed to come from everywhere, smooth and very formal. Jason felt more than saw Kala, who was now peering around Daddy’s hip, flinch again; with the echoes in here, his voice was also rather loud.
Usually, his sister was the first to investigate any new thing; Jason had held back from trying the echo earlier, knowing that she wouldn’t resist shouting. But since she was afraid now – and he couldn’t blame her, since Jor-El did look a lot like the Wizard of Oz, just a big glowy head floating around – Jason had to be the bold one. He took a step forward, craning his head back to meet his grandfather’s gaze. “You’re from Kryp-tin, like in Mommy’s story,” he stated, trying to make his small voice just as grave.
“Yes,” Jor-El replied, his tone not changing. “I, and your father Kal-El, are Kryptonians.”
“You two are Kryptonians also,” Kal-El informed them, stroking Kala’s hair. “Half, at least, since Mommy’s from Earth.”
Kala had edged out to stand in front of her father and was stealing nervous glances at Jor-El. “Daddy?” she finally whispered, looking up at him with a expression that was obviously worried. “When we get old, are we all gonna turn into big floaty heads like him? Even Mommy?”
“No, sweetheart,” Kal-El chuckled, then looked to his father’s image. “Father, they are not accustomed to this holographic projection. Would you be so gracious as to assume human size?”
“Of course, my son.” With that, the floating head vanished, replaced by a slightly-flickering image of the same white-haired man, but now he stood about Daddy’s height, wearing strange reflective white robes. Jason, however, grinned. “Neat! How do you do that?”