Lois (kalalanekent) wrote,

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Posting LS: Chapter Seventy-Nine (Part One)

Welcome back, dear readers! We’re almost to the finish, and this chapter covers a lot of ground. A lot. As in, three months of LS-time. Most of the wedding prep is in this chapter, so read on and enjoy.

A brief note: the scene Two weeks ‘til takes place immediately following the 12 Days of Clois one-shot Little Secrets: The Final Word.
Three months ‘til…
The realtor was one of those women who smile constantly, no matter what her clients do or say, and by the fourth apartment Lois was beginning to worry about her. Has she overdosed on antidepressants? Or is she just a serial killer trying to cover her deeply maladjusted psyche? My God, not even Clark is this chipper.

“And this next one is very cozy,” she said with a grin that bared too many teeth.  “It has a lovely view…”

“Whoa,” Lois said. “We’ve got two growing kids and two adults who are used to having their own offices. I’m looking more for spacious than cozy.”

The briefest flicker of consternation passed over the woman’s features, and then she smiled anew. “Well, if you really want spacious, there is one other apartment just a few blocks from here. I wasn’t going to show it to you, because it’s a penthouse, and you said you have small children, but…”

“We’ve lived on the riverside for two years,” Lois interjected, worrying both about the cost of a penthouse and the fact that she could not remember this woman’s name. “I’m sure they’d be safe… We ought to look at the penthouse, anyway.” And if it’s a penthouse, that gives Kal-El a convenient landing space.

“Of course,” the woman chirped, still with the manic grin. “It’s not far, if you’d like to walk. I always say walking is very healthful…”
Lois quickly learned that the realtor, in addition to being bubbly and nerve-scrapingly cheerful, had no sense of distance. ‘A few blocks’ turned out to be more like ten, through Metropolis street traffic, and in spite of her shorter height, the realtor walked faster than Lois. I will kill Clark for recommending her to me, she thought. ‘She’s very sweet,’ he says. She’s a freakin’ psycho, is more like it.

But further musings in that direction were cut off when Lois recognized her old neighborhood. “Where exactly are we headed?” she asked, hustling to keep up.

“Reeve Plaza,” the realtor replied, and Lois actually skidded to a halt.

“Seriously?” the reporter asked, which made the other woman turn and look at her bemusedly. “I mean, you’re not kidding. The penthouse at Reeve Plaza Apartments?”

“Well, yes,” she replied. “Is something wrong?”

Lois didn’t reply, looking up at the sky silently. Her old apartment was on the market now… It had to be a sign. She looked back down, forcing herself to approach this objectively, and heaved a sigh. “Let’s go look.”

Fifteen minutes later, Lois stood in her old living room, looking out the French doors onto her terrace. She even recognized some of the same plants in the planters out there. The rest of the apartment had been remodeled and enlarged, but what she’d jokingly called Superman’s landing strip was still the same.

“This is the combined living room and dining area,” her realtor said. “Through this door here is the master suite…” Lois followed her, feeling as though she was in some strange dream. There used to be a mirrored wall there, and behind it had been her cramped study. Now it had been expanded into a master suite that included a full bath, and the bedroom would easily hold that king-sized bed. 

The tour continued through the kitchen, still as small as ever, and down the hall past to what used to be the master bedroom. It looked as though the landlord had converted his storage space and added it to this apartment’s square footage; there were two rooms on the same floor as the rest of the penthouse, and one more above it. “The last tenant was using this room as a home gym,” the realtor continued as Lois eyed it with visions of her future home office in mind. “The two rooms below were a study and a guest bedroom. They both have closets and plenty of windows…” Perfect for the twins’ bedrooms, when they decide to separate, Lois thought.

Heedless of the realtor’s voice, Lois headed back downstairs, drifting through the rooms in a haze of nostalgia. She’d eaten standing up in this kitchen and sat staring out of these doors when she was single, and now she was contemplating the place in the context of her husband and their kids.

“Of course the terrace is a wonderful feature,” the realtor said when Lois stepped outside, but the reporter wasn’t listening. She went straight to the edge and peered over, feeling the breeze whip her hair back and sting her eyes. Turning, she caught a glimpse of the same damn patio table, and heard a voice in her mind say Good evening, Miss Lane.

Lois interrupted the woman’s prattle to say, “I’ll take it.” To hell with the cost, as long as it’s not completely ridiculous we’ll manage it somehow. This is the home we’re supposed to have, this is where I’m supposed to be. Back where it all began.
“I take the afternoon off to go apartment-hunting, and I run into a major story on the way to get my kids,” Lois muttered under her breath, elbowing her way through the journalists gathered on the courthouse steps. Kal-El grinned slightly; he could hear her easily over the roar of the crowd. He hovered slightly above the top step; for some reason, even reporters tended to stand back a bit when he was in the air, and he preferred not to be mobbed just now.

Still, they were lobbing questions at him, microphones thrust toward his face. Kal-El raised one hand slightly and got an approximation of silence. “Ladies and gentlemen of the press,” he said in that voice they all knew so well, and continued with his prepared speech about the reconstruction efforts. Metropolis wasn’t back to its old self, three months after the disastrous day of blackouts, earthquakes, and fires, but the major portion of the rebuilding was complete. And today, after much effort, he had finally stabilized the crack in the seafloor caused by Luthor’s island.

After his statement, and the typical question and answer sessions with the press, everyone expected Superman to simply nod, wave, and fly off, as he always had. He, however, had other plans, and even though his heart gave a little twinge at what he was about to do, it was necessary.

“There’s one more thing,” Kal-El said casually, seeking a certain pair of hazel eyes in the crowd. He smiled, and it wasn’t his usual flirtatious grin; this was a much more sober expression than any journalist had seen on his face when dealing with Lois. “If I may, I’d like to take this opportunity to offer Ms. Lane and Mr. Kent my sincerest congratulations on their engagement.”

The shocked look on her face cut through him like kryptonite; Kal-El hadn’t warned her at all. He couldn’t. The old rumors had started up again, and even in the Planet bullpen there was a certain amount of whispering about Lois and Superman. Some people still believed Clark was a fool for getting engaged to a woman who clearly loved someone else – someone for whom Clark was supposedly no competition.  That had to stop before someone noticed the resemblance between Clark and Superman, and this public and unexpected breakup was the only way he could end the whispers.

Lois blinked at him as every other reporter turned to stare at her. She rallied quickly, shaking off the stunned look and giving him an approximation of her usual jaunty smile. “Thank you, Superman,” she replied, just as casually. “I’ll be sure to tell Clark you did.”

“You’re very welcome, Ms. Lane.” He inclined his head to her slightly, and with that rather formal gesture he took to the skies.
Behind him, Lois left the press conference abruptly, whispering under her breath, “Kal-El, I’m gonna kill you for doing that to me!” She was walking fast, and he heard her choke back a sob. 

Worried, Kal-El tracked her from above, and when Lois ducked down an alley several blocks from the courthouse, he quickly touched down and went to her, dressed as Clark this time. “Lois?”

His favorite tough-as-nails reporter was leaning up against the rough brick wall, trying to smother her weeping. Wordlessly, Clark went to her and wrapped her in his arms, kissing her hair and whispering how much he loved her.

At last, she pushed her hair back and looked up at him with reddened eyes. “You probably think I’ve lost my mind,” she said, sniffling.

“Not you,” he replied, gently stroking the tears away from her cheeks. “Lois, I’m sorry to spring that on you. We said we needed to put an end to all the gossip, you know, and I thought if I warned you, your reaction might not be genuine enough to convince the press…”

That made her laugh, if a little brokenly. “Yeah, well, you got a genuine reaction outta me, hero,” she said, her voice bleak.

Then the full impact struck him as well, and Kal-El could only hold her tight and rest his forehead against hers. It was ridiculous to feel his heart breaking, when he was going to marry this woman and be with her and their children forever after, but a part of him grieved for the end of Metropolis’ favorite romantic fairy tale.  The hero and his chronicler had broken up – Lois and Superman were over. No more public flirtation, no more sly in-jokes in front of other reporters, no more flying where anyone could see them… This was the end of an era, and he couldn’t help mourning it even while he yearned for the next step.

“You know the truth,” he whispered into her ear. “You know you won the man and the hero. And this way we can be together without worrying about Luthor or someone else like him…”

Just the mention of the criminal’s name made Lois’ heart skip a beat. “Quit trying to be rational,” she pleaded, pressing her face against his neck. “Just … do me a favor? Shut up and hold me.”

Chuckling, he did so, letting the steady beat of his great heart sooth her until her tears stopped. “Two things to think about,” he murmured as he tilted her face up for a kiss.

“Mmm?” Lois replied, still seeming a bit distracted.

“One, we only have to be that … distant with each other in public, and only for a while. Once people get used to you being married, we can stop being so darned professional. And two, you know Superman will never take up with another woman. Which does a lot for your reputation, Ms. Lane. Speaking of tough acts to follow…”

That made her smile even through the last of her tears, and she swatted him on the shoulder affectionately. “Cute, Mr. Kent. Very cute. Well, since you so fortuitously showed up, you can walk me to my car while I tell you about our new apartment.”

His eyebrows went up. “Oh, so you did find one,” he said. “I assume you’re fairly certain I’ll like it if you’re already calling it ours.” He’d secretly envied the house on Riverside Drive, and longed to live in a big house in the suburbs. Some place where the twins could have a big yard to play in…

“Very sure,” Lois said, grinning wickedly. “I already paid the security deposit.”

“You what?!” That was awfully presumptuous of her, and while he admired her boldness, this was to be his home too. Didn’t he even get a say?

But she turned those mischievous eyes on him, full of devilish good humor, and said, “Wait ‘til you see it. That’s all I ask. Tell you what: if you don’t like it, I’ll forfeit the deposit. It’s perfect though. You just have to see it…”
Two months ‘til…
Not white. Absolutely not. No way. We’ve already had this discussion. Forget it,” Lois insisted, pitching the bridal magazine back across the table at her sister. Ella Lane and Martha Kent both sighed in disappointment; Richard, Ron, and Clark were all trying to look helpful while actually staying out of the discussion as much as possible. Lana just leaned back in her chair and let the Lane girls fight it out. Honorary sibling and Matching Monograms Club notwithstanding, the dress argument was really none of her business. She’d been helping with wedding plans, which just happened to be on the agenda for the family meeting.

“But Lois–” Lucy pleaded.

No. Maybe you failed to notice, but two of the kids playing in the living room are mine. I don’t exactly qualify for a white wedding dress anymore, Lucy!”

Clark chuckled softly, knowing this argument could last awhile. Somehow I don’t think this family meeting is going to go quite as smoothly as the last.

Speaking of the last family gathering, a couple weeks ago… That had been interesting, even though it had only been himself, Lois, Lana, Richard, and the twins. They’d gotten together mostly at Richard’s request – he’d had an announcement to make. A rather shocking announcement, in fact. Clark remembered perfectly his own feeling of astonishment when Richard told them he would be resigning from the Daily Planet. His expression must have mirrored the disbelief and guilt on Lois’ face, because Richard had grinned at him, slapped his shoulder, and said, “And guess who I’m suggesting to take my place?” 

“Richard, you know I can’t take on that much responsibility in addition to my duties…” Clark had begun to protest, but the International Editor had a response for that already.

“Actually, it’ll be easier. You know International isn’t the seething cauldron of controversy and backbiting that City is. You and Ron practically ran it while Lana and I were in Italy and the Bahamas, and nothing exploded. Besides, if you’re the boss of the department and you have a handful of really good folks like Ron backing you up, you can disappear any time you need to. Perry knows full well I wasn’t at that desk eight hours a day, and as long as the work gets done, he’ll let you do the same.”

Clark grinned slightly to remember it; Perry had thought the idea of letting him have International was brilliant. Several staffers disagreed, but to their very great shock Clark had delivered a serious, even-toned lecture that left them feeling as though they were back in grade school and had just misbehaved in front of the principal. No longer being just one of the reporters was very odd, but there was at least one spot of familiarity: in spite of having backed him up at that lecture to his department, Lois was still as competitive as ever. Now they were fighting over whose department got which stories instead of which one of them personally covered a given story, but it was the same principle. And Clark had won even more respect from his staff for standing up to Lois. He’d never so much as raised his voice to anyone, but he didn’t back down from her now that they were engaged. Not even her most profanity-laced tirades fazed him when he had a point.

Of course, satisfying as the results had been, there was an unpleasant reason why Richard was leaving his uncle’s paper, and he had admitted it only reluctantly. “You two are trying to be polite,” he’d said, and continued with a grin for Lana, “and God knows I am the most happily married man on the face of the earth…”

Lois had cut in to finish the sentence when he couldn’t seem to find the words. “It bugs you, seeing us together.”

Richard had sighed and sat back in his chair. They’d held that particular family conference here at the Riverside house, over Clark’s famous secret-recipe pasta sauce, and Richard had laid down his fork in surrender. “Yeah. It bothers me a lot, in fact. I kept telling myself not to let it, that this is the best way for everybody, but… It sucks seeing you with someone else.”

“You’re not exactly alone in that,” Lois had pointed out gently. “That doesn’t mean I want you to run off. It’s just… It’s not easy. We haven’t gotten adjusted to the new status quo yet.”

“And Clark’s probably more secure than I am,” Lana had added, just as diplomatically, “but I can’t say I’m thrilled to have Richard working with the woman he meant to marry. I know I’m being a jealous shrew, and I know I have nothing to fear, but you’re right – I haven’t quite gotten my mind around it yet. And none of that is your fault, Lois.”

Lois just snorted. “Right. I’m gonna go get some coffee.” She had stood to leave, but Clark knew her well enough to realize that she was blaming herself, and caught her arm.

“Lana’s right, it’s not your fault,” he’d told her then. “It’s circumstances, and they have a way of being very inconvenient.”

He’d let her go, and when she came back with coffee for all of them, Lois was a little more on an even keel. “Okay, so, what are you doing if you leave the Planet?”

Richard had just sighed. “Well, I’m thinking of job-hunting in Gotham. I’ve got enough in my savings that I can be picky in looking for a new job, and I think my wife will let me crash at her place in the meantime.” Another grin between him and Lana – they really were entirely too sweet sometimes, and Lois had made retching noises until she got Richard’s attention again. “Now, about the twins,” he said, giving Clark a significant look. “Gotham’s only about two hours by seaplane – twenty minutes by super-flight. So we can still work out the weekends and holidays thing like we planned. I know they’re not gonna like me being that far away, but they’ll adjust, too. Once they realize I’m not gone forever it should be okay.”

The memory brought a sigh from Clark. Jason and Kala had not been understanding; they’d gotten very surly during what was now known as the Brat Phase. It had been so stressful for him, to hear them arguing with Lois over the smallest things, and even worse, after they fought, to listen to the twins sobbing in their room and Lois sniffling in hers. That seemed to be mostly over now; Jason and Kala were seeing a psychiatrist to deal with all the rapid changes in their lives, as well as the nightmares that still lingered from being kidnapped. 

Clark wasn’t particularly delighted by the doctor Lois had chosen: her ex, Elliot Marrin. But Lois did have a point – if the twins accidentally let Clark’s identity slip to Elliot, Lois had enough incriminating photos from their relationship to buy his silence. Clark didn’t exactly approve of her potentially blackmailing the man, but he didn’t want to discuss it too deeply with Lois. He also remembered Elliot far too well from the days when he and Lois had been dating. Luckily for everyone, Elliot had been very professional with the kids, and their sessions with him seemed to be helping a lot. 

After Richard’s entirely too optimistic pronouncement, though, Lois had simply thrown her hands in the air. “Fine,” she’d said. “But you know Clark and I can’t keep this house. We were gonna sell it, but when? The housing market’s down…”

Lucy yanked Clark’s attention out of his memories and back to the present moment. “I don’t care if it’s traditional in China. You’re not Chinese, Lois! You are not gonna wear a red wedding dress!”

“Amen,” Martha said dryly, echoed by Ella.

“Keep it up and I’ll wear black,” Lois said poisonously, glaring at both moms. “Clark likes me well enough in black…”

“Not getting into this discussion,” Clark said quickly. “Not at all. I don’t care what color the dress is, as long as Lois is in it. That’s all I want. I was lucky she agreed to marry me; I’m not pushing my luck any further. You guys fight it out amongst yourselves.”

Lucy just sighed theatrically. “Fine. You can just be hard-headed – I’m going to go make snacks in my kitchen.”

That made Clark grin again; at least one of the recent changes in their lives had been unequivocally for the better. The final decision on the Riverside house had been to let Ron and Lucy take over the payments. With the new baby, they needed the extra space, and within a few weeks the home had gone from being the house full of unpleasant ghosts of the past, to Lucy’s own personal kingdom. With different furniture, a fence around the yard, and the Troupes’ personalities stamped into every surface, even Clark felt comfortable here now.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. You house-proud little broodmare,” Lois called after her affectionately. She found herself, however, facing stern looks from both Ella and Martha. “Look, you two, this is my wedding. I told you I don’t give a damn about all the fiddly little details – you can pick cocktail napkins to your hearts’ delight – but I’m not budging on the dress. Not white. And not frilly. Just go ahead and scrap any ideas you’ve been cherishing about taffeta and chiffon and ruffled sleeves. Forget it.”

“Lois, do you think you could compromise a little?” Ella asked in that so-polite voice that automatically raised her daughter’s hackles.

“No,” Lois retorted. “And the Army-trained hostage-negotiator voice won’t make me. I already let you swindle me into a big wedding instead of something small and private, I agreed to have a memory candle for the General, and I backed down on the colors, too.”

“Red and black are not wedding colors,” Martha said archly.

“Which is why I threw white in there,” Lois replied. “With silver accents. Lovely, and it all matches. And nobody can screw up black, white, and red.”

The coffee finished brewing, and Lucy brought the entire pot in to pour refills for everyone. Ella had flipped the bridal magazine open to a very classic, traditional wedding dress, something with seed pearls and ribbons and several skirts. Lois saw her look down and snapped, “No. No way. Not even if you were boiling me in oil. That dress looks more like a freakin’ cake than a bridal gown – I’d be too worried someone would wander up with a knife and cut a slice out of my … butt.”

Ron and Richard both cracked up, trying to smother their laughter and not succeeding. This particular discussion was seriously pushing the ‘no swearing in the Troupe house’ rule, for Lois at least.

She glared, pointing at Richard. “Shut up, Mr. I-got-married-on-a-beach. You got out of all this nonsense. Clark, why couldn’t we elope?”

“That’d be copying,” he said, smiling. “Besides, then you’d have to be married and settled down sooner.”

“Good point,” Lois said to him, and added with a glare, “I hate you. You’re getting entirely too much amusement out of this.”

“Well, Lois, it’s a nice change to see you not completely determined, with everything planned out ahead of time,” Clark told her gently. “Although I think the rest of you might have to concede defeat on the dress – Lois is the one who has to wear it. She should be able to pick what she wants.”

“And you’re not gonna stuff me in that monstrosity,” Lois added, snatching the magazine back and rifling through it. “The Thanksgiving turkey has more dignity than that woman has in that dress. It’s got a freakin’ bustle. Do I look like I’d wear a bustle? Ever? No. Now, hook me up with something modern and sleek like…”

“Oh no,” Ella and Martha said in unison, glancing at the page she had open. Martha continued, “Good heavens, Lois, you can’t even tell it’s a wedding dress!”

“Why, because it doesn’t look like some psychotic designer – we love you, Lana – vomited tulle all over it?” Lois slapped the open page, while Lana just chuckled. The redhead had taken a small sketchpad out of her purse several minutes ago, and was basically ignoring them all. 

Lucy leaned over her sister’s shoulder and laughed. “No, Lois. It doesn’t look like a bridal gown because it shows too much leg – and too much cleavage. Every single man in the place would be trying to steal you!”

“They can try,” Clark said softly, giving Lois a secretive grin. “It wouldn’t be any different from a normal day at the office.”
“I love you,” Lois purred. 

“Lois, you are not wearing something that could pass for a cocktail dress…” Ella began, and her daughter rolled her eyes.

“Momma, keep it up, and I’ll find myself an ivory sundress and wear that to my own wedding,” Lois replied hotly. “And when everyone asks, I’ll tell them you drove me nuts.”

“Copycat,” Lana murmured, then leaned across the table and held her sketchpad in front of Lois. “What about something like that?”

Lois had already opened her mouth to make a sarcastic comment along the lines of, if you’re not gonna help me fight this battle, stay out of it. But the dress Lana had quickly sketched silenced her, and Lois leaned back in her chair to regard it. “We’ve got this lovely Venetian lace, in ivory,” Lana said. “I could tailor the bodice so it would have those clean lines you like in the modern stuff, but leave the train long and lacy for a more classic look. Not a lot of flowery little details to clutter it up – the lace, backed by satin, would be decoration enough. And a train like that will make you look taller, too, even if you can’t flash a lot of leg.” Lana grinned. “There’s always the tossing of the garter if you want to show off your legs. It would take about a month or so to make, and you can’t gain or lose more than two pounds if you want it strapless, but I think you’d be happy. And it is your wedding.” The last was said with an arch glance at the moms.

Strapless?” Martha said, wincing.

“Nuh-uh, the designer hath spoken,” Lois said quickly. “And she’s unofficially been the wedding planner, too. The bride agrees, so it’s a done deal. Lana, go ahead and show them the sketch of my wedding dress.”

Chuckling, the redhead handed the sketch around to the moms, sitting back with a smile. “Yes, well, you needed someone to keep the details straight and run interference between all interested parties,” Lana said. “I’m actually having fun helping you plan your wedding – considering I eloped to the Bahamas and wound up getting married barefoot on the beach.” She arched one eyebrow at her husband with the last remark.

“I didn’t hear any complaints at the time, Mrs. White,” Richard said, smirking. When she only grinned at him, he reached for the sketchbook – and Lois pitched a napkin at him.

“Hey! Lucy, snag that from him” Lois said quickly. “None of you guys get to see the dress before the wedding.”

“What? Why not?” Richard gave her a quizzical look as Lucy swiped the sketch and made appreciative noises.

“Because you’d tell Clark, and I want it to be a surprise,” Lois said, giving Clark a sly grin that said, Don’t you dare use the x-ray vision to take a peek, hero. 

Clark just chuckled. “I’m still surprised that you’re going to marry me, Lois.”

“And you think Richard and Lana are too cute for words,” Ron said, sipping his coffee to hide his smile.

Lana cleared her throat quietly. “Well, since I’ve just been officially named the wedding planner regardless of how much in love I am with my husband, let’s get organized, shall we? Lois, Clark, how’s the guest list coming?”

Nearly identical sighs answered her, while Ella and Martha grinned to see their kids taken to task. Soon, everyone at the table found themselves involved in the discussion. Some of the broader details had been decided already – the wedding colors, the venue for the wedding and the reception, and Kala and Jason as flower girl and ring bearer. But to Lois’ evident dismay, a great deal remained to be done.

“Bridesmaids,” Lana said some time later, while Ron and Richard were outside keeping the five older kids entertained. Ella was holding Michelle, who had decided that she liked Nana’s white hair and kept trying to play with it. “Are you going to have a maid of honor, or have several bridesmaids?”

“Well, I would pick Lucy, but she got herself married off first,” Lois said.

“Excuse me for having found true love and being smart enough to know it for what it was,” her sister teased.

“Actually, a couple of friends and I swore years and years ago that we’d be each other’s bridesmaids,” Lois admitted. “At the time, it didn’t look like any of us would ever get married… I already asked them when I told them Clark and I were engaged. But I still want Lucy to be a bridesmaid, even if she is a brat.”

“Okay,” Lana said, ignoring the blonde sticking her tongue out at Lois. “How many bridesmaids is that, total? And Clark, think about best man versus having an equal number of groomsmen.”

“Three,” Lois answered. “Lucy, Cat, and Tobie. I told you we thought none of us were ever gonna get married. Loueen will be more than six months pregnant on my wedding date, and she said she doesn’t want to be the pregnant bridesmaid in the lineup. So it’s just three, unless…”

When the reporter trailed off, Lana just smiled and shook her head. “The wedding planner doesn’t get involved in the ceremony, Lois. I’ll be backstage making sure the caterers are doing their job and the right music is playing. Now, Clark…”

“Well,” he said, pushing his glasses up. “My two closest friends are Jimmy and Ron. I guess we can go with groomsmen instead of a best man, because I don’t want it to seem as if one of them is more important than the other.”

“Great, but we need a third for symmetry,” Lana said. “Is there anyone you can think of…?”

“I don’t think Richard would,” Clark replied, “and he’s about the only other man I know that well…”

“I might have an idea,” Lois said, eyeing Martha speculatively. “Clark, we do have a mutual friend who could be talked into a tux… And who would give us perfect symmetry, considering who the bridesmaids are…”

At first Clark misinterpreted her glance at Ma. She’s not talking about Ben, he thought, frowning slightly. Who the bridesmaids are…? Oh! “You think Lieutenant Sawyer would?”

“I actually asked her about being a bridesmaid, since Tobie is, but she refused point-blank to wear a bridesmaid’s dress.” Lois transferred that intense hazel gaze to Martha, and said flatly, “Maggie Sawyer and Tobie Raines are a couple. Even if Maggie doesn’t wind up one of the groomsmen – and I think she’d find it hilarious – I hope you won’t object to the two of them dancing at our wedding.”

“Just what kind of narrow-minded backwoods hick do you take me for, Lois?” Martha replied in the same bland tone, smiling faintly at Lois’ discomfiture.

Lois dropped her face into her hands and sighed. “Martha… I don’t know what’s normal for Kansas, all right? There are still places where people freak out about that.”

“No worse than they ‘freak out’ about unwed couples with six-year-old twins, or interracial couples, for that matter,” Martha replied easily. 

“I’m trying to be polite,” Lois ground out. “Which, you ought to know, I’m not necessarily good at. Or used to.”

Martha reached across the table to pat her hand. “Lois, what other people do with their lives and their loves is no business of mine. ‘Judge not lest ye be judged.’ I was only ever upset about the twins because my son is their father. And since he’s finally making an honest woman of you…”

“Speaking of honest women,” Lois replied, “has everyone in town quit talking about Ben Hubbard and the widow Kent now that you two tied the knot?”

Clark groaned. He and Lois had attended the ceremony just last weekend. Seeing Ben marry his mother had made him quite uncomfortable, but he’d gotten over it. Now if only Lois and Ma would stop heckling each other…

“Wait a minute,” Lana said, heading off any more bickering between Martha and Lois. “This is the same Lieutenant Sawyer who got you into the treatment area at Metropolis General, right?”

“Right,” Lois said, trying to give Lana a significant look.

The redhead caught her meaning. “I’m already a fan. Any policewoman smart enough to recognize that you’re the most knowledgeable person regarding certain superheroes…  I didn’t realize you two knew each other, though. You must have friends in odd places all over the city.”

“Yeah, the guest list includes the custodial staff at the Planet, the bartender at Dooley’s, and a U.S. Senator,” Lois said. To their disbelieving looks, she added, “For once I cleared someone’s reputation instead of exposing a scandal – go figure.”
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