Lois (kalalanekent) wrote,

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Heirs to the House of El: A Trip Down Memory 'Lane' (Part One)

Here we are again, one week from vacation and a few days from posting our 12days_of_cloisfic exchange assignment. Yes, the Infamous Lane-Kent Birthday Party is coming up in two weeks (which we'll be working on in the mountains. You guys know how well we write on vacation, (i.e. Awesome. Most of IAL was plotted in a cabin in the woods in February and Unfamiliar was written on a long weekend for Anissa's birthday in July. ;) See?) so we plan to come home with all kinds of evil afoot.

We don't leave until next Saturday night, so no worries just yet. ;) And expect a few phone calls from the road. For now, enjoy!

Jason took the subway further downtown, while Kala went uptown on the green line. She took a seat and dropped her bookbag in front of her, leaning back with a sigh and closing her eyes. The subway was loud, and Kala liked to practice her concentration on the daily ride. Singling out one sound from hundreds, or blocking them all to focus only on her own heartbeat, helped her control her often-annoying super-hearing. She wasn’t too worried about being bothered during the ride; Kala carried herself with a certain confidence that the average purse thief found off-putting.



In spite of that, though, within a few stops she felt a ghostly touch at her elbow. Her awareness snapped back to the present, but she didn’t open her eyes just yet. The gentle brush of fingertips became a caress, someone’s hand running lightly down her bare arm, and then back up toward her shoulder. “If your name isn’t Nicholas Powell, you’re about to get your ass kicked,” Kala stated aloud, eyes still closed.



“Just seeing if you were in there,” a male voice replied, and Kala turned to look at Nick sitting beside her. He was a college student who often took the subway around the time Kala got out of school, and sometimes talked to her. A good-looking blond, Nick seemed to have appointed himself Kala’s protector whenever Jason wasn’t around. His wicked grin was for her alone at the moment. “I worry about you, meditating on the subway.”



“I’m fine,” Kala replied loftily. “But thank you for being so chivalrous.”



“You’re welcome,” he replied, reaching out to brush Kala’s hair back off her neck. She looked at him archly as he continued, “I like this blouse. Especially the black-on-black embroidery on the collar here.”



Kala met his eyes bluntly before she scoffed, “No, you like an excuse to play with my hair.” Nick’s flirting amused her, and she’d never told him to quit, although she didn’t exactly encourage him either. He was too old for her, too likely to be interested in only one thing, but if they both walked away from a conversation smiling, well then, where was the harm?



In reply, he ran his hand into the raven waves at the nape of her neck, gathering up her hair and tightening his grip on it ever so slightly. Kala looked at him steadily, her face betraying no emotion other than challenge and wariness, in spite of the shiver down her spine. After a moment, Nick let go, running his fingers through her hair once. “You have great hair,” he commented with studied casualness. “It’d be your best feature, if not for those eyes.”



“And you have an endless store of flattery,” the dark-haired girl replied, pretending to stifle a yawn. The train came to a halt, and a few people got out of their car. No one else got on, as rush hour hadn’t yet begun.



“At least I’m not missing my stop.” Nick gave a wolfish grin when the doors had shut.



Oh, that just figures. Boys. Kala couldn’t resist a knowing smirk at him. “I’m not missing my stop, wise guy,” she shot back wryly. “It has absolutely nothing to do with you, Mr. Powell. I’m riding all the way to University station today.”



He hadn’t seen that coming, as his astonishment was clear. “Oh really? And what’s a little girl like you doing going to college?”



He was hardly getting on her good side with comments with that. “Hardly little.” Kala made her tone positively world-weary, stretching in her seat and watching from narrowed eyes to see if she was succeeding in flustering him. “Well, I thought I’d get myself another college boy or two,” she continued loftily. “Maybe start my own little harem and share it with Sebast. You’re very much his type, you know.”



“But he’s not my type,” Nick said, smirking. “I prefer women.”



The bait was too easy to resist. Her crooked grin nailed him to the spot. “Or jailbait who look older than they are.”



“Sixteen’s legal in this state,” he told her calmly.



The Lane smirk was in full effect when she just as calmly informed him, “And if a good thing we both know I’m fifteen.” Convinced that she had the upper hand – for the moment – she sighed and continued, “Anyway, I’m going to invite a family friend to our birthday party this weekend. Which, unfortunately, I can’t invite you to, because then I’d have to explain how I know you. And I don’t think my mom would be very pleased to know I talk to strangers on the subway.”



“I was only a stranger the first time we met,” Nick corrected with that devilish grin, his demeanor not changing one iota. Then he gave a shrug. “But I see your point. Are you inviting your boyfriend?”



“I don’t have one this week. But I’m inviting the next couple of contenders,” she drawled out with a nonchalant shrug of her own. “I’ll go out with whoever’s the best dancer at the party, assuming he knows how to act at a party with grownups.”



“Lucky guy,” Nick murmured, giving her a fond smile. “I’m sorry I’ll miss the party – especially since I’m a better dancer than most guys your age.”



Kala looked at him askance for a moment before deciding to smile. “It’s too bad you’ll miss out.”



Nick grinned at her, the affection of a moment ago melting into something more wicked. He leaned in closer to whisper, “You’re the one who’s missing out, little girl.” The subway car came to a halt then, and he got up to leave, still with that insolent expression on his face.



Kala laughed merrily. “You’re wasting your breath, Nick!” she called after him. “You’re not offering anything I’m interested in.” He only laughed back, and once he was gone Kala let her head drop back against the seat with a sigh of utterly mixed feelings.



Nick was presently the only guy Kala knew whom she couldn’t control. Most of them, if she showed the slightest interest, wrapped themselves around her little finger with minimal effort on her part, slavishly eager to devote themselves to her. The less interest she showed, the more determinedly they pursued her. All of that was amusing if eventually exasperating, but Nick didn’t seem to play by the same rules. Kala wasn’t even sure if he was playing the same game, and she had the nagging feeling that she was no longer ahead in the score.



With an aggravated groan, she steadfastly put him out of her head and focused on remembering which dorm Jamie Sawyer was in.





At the offices of WGBS News, the receptionist recognized Jason and waved him through. He found his way to the studio where Cat Grant was currently shooting the afternoon news, and waited until they ended the segment before stepping forward and giving her a little wave.



Cat beamed. “It’s my favorite boyfriend!” she called affectionately, making Jason blush in spite of the fact that she’d been calling him that since he was five. She ran up and hugged him, stepping back to beam. “I swear you get taller every time I see you,” she said, eyeing him critically. “Are you sure you have any of your mother’s genes?”



“Besides the one for sarcasm and the hair color?” Jason offered.



With a laugh, she led him away from the cameras. “Sweetheart, you’re not mean enough to really be sarcastic. And that’s your father, because your mom is the most viciously snarky woman alive. I say that lovingly, you know.”



Jason shrugged. “You’ve been friends with her longer than I’ve been alive, Aunt Cat, so I guess you have a right to say it.”



“Oh, ouch.” Cat mock-winced at that, laughing. “Remind me of my age and hit me with ‘Aunt Cat’ in the same sentence. Maybe you are your mother’s son after all, Jason.”



“You’re not old! Why does everyone keep saying that? None of you are old!” he protested, and Cat patted his shoulder.



“I know, I’m just messing with you, Jason. It’s what honorary family does, remember? Anyway, I’m sure you had a reason to visit – besides spying on our technology for the ancient and backward print media.”



The boy could help but blush and give an embarrassed shrug. Having family is various types of communications made for never-ending rivalry. “Mom says the Planet’s website is cooler than yours.”



The blonde couldn’t help but laugh at that. “Yeah, she also says she kind of likes Perry White’s coffee, so we know she’s crazy.” Seeing he was turning a flattering shade of red, she finally relented and asked, “What really brought you down here, sweetie?”



“I brought you something,” Jason replied gratefully, and handed her the invitation. The camera guys were watching them with amusement, so Jason did his best excited-little-boy grin, the expression Lois had once likened to a shark on Prozac.



Recognizing that expression, Cat chuckled fondly and opened the invite, her eyebrows going up. “The Centennial? My, my, someone’s rich stepmom went all out.”



That grin of Jason’s returned to normal, although it was clear that he was pretty proud. “Nope. Uncle Perry said we should have a grown-up party, and he sort of hijacked the planning from Mom and Dad. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned around and asked Lana to plan it.”



“Me neither,” Cat sighed, smiling herself. “She said she’d plan my wedding too, if I ever settle down…” She paused for a moment, thoughtfully. “You know, the Centennial seems to host a lot of important stuff for your family. You guys are having your sixteenth there, Lois and Clark got married there, Richard and Lana made the gossip column kissing in the lobby…”



Reminded of the detail, Jason squinched his eyes shut and wrinkled his nose. “Difference is, this party will not revolve around kissing.”



“Are you trying to tell me that you’re not bringing your girlfriend to this little soiree?” Cat poked him teasingly in the side with a mischievous grin.



The comment got its deserved effect when that blush returned. “Aunt Cat!” Jason yelped. “Of course I’m bringing Giselle. It’s just, the whole party’s not gonna be about kissing.”



“Poor thing, all of us shouldn’t have so much fun teasing you. You always did turn red as a beet when we did.” Cat laughed kindly, hearing the plaintive note in his voice. Jason had always been the shyer twin when they were younger, hiding behind Lois every time they met someone new. He had grown bolder, partly due to Kala’s childhood habit of grabbing his hand and dragging him out to meet people, but even now he tended to act put upon when teased too much – unlike his sister, who would sass back until she got upset and pouted. “Of course I’ll be at the party,” Cat said warmly. “Can I bring a date?”



“Sure,” Jason said, straightening up from his slouch. “Just make sure he doesn’t look better in a suit than I do.”



Laughing again, Cat kissed his cheek. “Not many men who do, kiddo,” she said affectionately. “In case nobody else has told you today, you’ve grown up to be a very handsome young man. And I am famous for my good taste in men.” She winked, and Jason just grinned back instead of the long-suffering groan she expected to hear.



“Cat, on air in one minute,” someone called, and Cat sighed apologetically.



Jason just smiled. “I’ll see you at the party? Right?”



“Wouldn’t miss it,” Cat replied, and then hurried back behind the desk before the commercial break ended. Jason would’ve liked to hang around and check out the cameras, but he would only be underfoot during an actual news broadcast. He headed out quietly, giving Cat one last wave.





The irritatingly-early investor had glanced into Lois’ office, immediately seeing the one thing she hadn’t gotten a chance to clean up – the litter of notes and coffee stains across her desk. “A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind, or so I’ve heard,” he’d said with a wink, and Lois was surprised to hear herself chuckle. Maybe this guy, one of the young bucks who’d inherited stock from his father, was actually going to be fun. She caught herself smiling, and turned away in time to see Perry looking toward the doors.



Starting to smile, Perry coughed and assumed his usual gruff tone instead. “Dammit, boy, when you resign from a job, you generally quit hangin’ around the place.” He folded his arms and did his best to look disapproving, but Lois could see the gleam in his eyes.



“Aw, Uncle Perry, how could I resist the ambiance?” Richard called as he walked in, carrying a bag full of take-out containers. Beside him was Lana, who waved at Perry as she strolled toward Lois. Kristin detoured straight to Jimmy’s desk, in search of some sugar-free candy, and Lana smiled as the red-headed photographer greeted her daughter with a hug.



“Ambiance, hell, you just miss a ­real newsroom,” Perry growled at his nephew. “That damn fancy magazine of yours lets you leave this early?”



“They’re lucky to have me, and they know it,” Richard retorted.



Meanwhile, Lana had greeted Lois with her usual hug and peck on the cheek. “Hello, darling,” she said. “We brought something sinfully spicy for you, and normal food for everyone else. Can you take a late lunch?”



“I already took lunch,” Lois replied, hugging her back with a bit of distraction, but unable to resist glancing at the takeout bag with interest anyway. A delicious smell was wafting through the room, making her mouth water.



“And I’ll bet you spent your lunch break working or trying to spruce things up for the investors tomorrow,” Lana countered, arching auburn brows. “May I remind you that I hold stock in this newspaper too? As an investor, I demand that the Assistant Editor get her daily quota of scorching-hot snacks. And I further demand that you take twenty minutes and actually have a break, which you tend not to do.”



Lois sighed extravagantly. “You hear that, Perry? I can’t say no to her – she’s a stockholder and the boss’ niece-in-law.”



“Go on, Lane,” Perry said, favoring Lana with a warm smile. “For my sake, don’t tick her off. You never know when our favorite millionairess may decide to buy the paper and fire me for not letting you have enough time off.”



“I only threatened that once,” Lana corrected, giving Perry a hug.



Richard had already wandered into his old office and set down the food, giving Clark the hybrid handshake-hug that was currently fashionable between men. He came back to open his arms and beam at Lois’ back, posing for the moment she turned around. “Hello, gorgeous,” he called out, giving a low whistle.



At the sound of that particular voice, Lois smirked before whipping around with dramatic disapproval. “Oh my God, I can’t believe they still let you in here. Now Lana, I completely understand. She’s a shareholder and makes a good impression. But you? The male model?” Crossing her arms, she looked him critically up and down with one dark brow ticked up as she frowned at him. “I guess they have to. I mean, you’re family to several employees and married to an investor. What is the world coming to?”



“It’s so cute when you try not to admit how much you love me,” Richard replied, grinning at her. “Face it, you pine when I’m not around. Who else is such a perfect foil for your sarcastic profanity, hmm?” When that only got him a raised-eyebrow look, he added, “And my sexy jeans-modeling abs are pretty tempting, too.”



“Oh, knock it off, flyboy. I only saw you three days ago,” Lois muttered, but she couldn’t really hide her grin when she hugged him anyway. Lana watched them as she walked over to Clark, both of them amused by Richard and Lois. Once upon a time, Lana had been very nervous whenever her husband was around his ex-fiancée, but after ten years she’d become much more accepting of their rather quirky friendship.



“You missed me anyway,” Richard said confidently, adding an affectionate squeeze to the hug. “I’m irresistible.”



Lois snorted with amusement. This was an old and well-loved argument, only few of the word choices changing each time. “Irresistible? Like a bug-zapper, maybe – you know you’ll regret it, but you keep flying back anyway. Not that I have a choice in the matter; this bug-zapper follows me around.”



Smirking, he made as if to rumple her hair. “Are you trying to tell me that after all this time, you still find me electrifying? Or am I just a fatal attraction?”



The look of horror that Lois turned on Clark and Lana made them both break into laughter. That was pure awful, even coming from Richard. As the redhead leaned against Clark, snickering uncontrollably, Lois hissed to Richard with revolted disbelief, “And I used to sleep with you?”



Richard didn’t bat an eyelash, already expecting her reaction. “And you used to like it a helluva lot,” he shot back, swatting her rump.



That, the swat and not the comment, was enough for her to fight herself free and glare hell-fire flames at him. It was rare that he was this bold at the office; it was even more rare that she wasn’t actually physically attempting to harm him for it. “Yeah, that says a lot, doesn’t it? Thank you, Richard, for pointing out just how crazy I am. Puns like that, you should come with a warning label and a muzzle.”



“Don’t give me an opening line like that if you don’t like puns,” he replied, giving her a mocking leer. It only took Lois a second to catch his meaning, her typical unintentional double entendre, and then she was muttering imprecations and trying to punch him in the ribs while Richard laughingly defended himself.



Clark had slid his arm around Lana, resting his chin on the top of her head as they both watched Lois and Richard making a spectacle of themselves. “It never gets old,” Clark sighed, hugging her.



“The Lois and Richard show?” Lana asked, chuckling. “No, it doesn’t. What’s truly strange is that they both enjoy it.” Leaning back against him for emphasis, she added, “By the way, nice work yesterday.”



“The headlines were pretty good,” he murmured, knowing she was talking about yesterday’s rescue of twenty-five children from an overturned bus. Since it had happened in Mexico as part of a Spanish-class trip, he had both caused the Superman story and covered it in the International section of the paper.



Lois had snagged someone’s stapler and was threatening Richard with it. That was the usual stage at which Clark and Lana intervened, but Perry stole their moment. “Cool it, kids,” he barked from behind Lois, causing them both to turn around and look at him like a couple of startled school-children. Lois hid the stapler behind her back. “This is a business, not a playground. I hope you both realize that investor saw you smack her ass, Richard.”



Clenching her jaw, Lois drove her elbow into Richard’s ribs without even bothering to look around. “Richard, you idiot,” she growled.



“Ow! Hey, you called me a bug-zapper…” Richard trailed off, seeing the ‘how-old-are­-you’ look on Perry’s face.



“Come on, you two,” Lana finally said, catching the back of her husband’s jacket and tugging him toward Clark’s office. “The food’s getting cold. Kristin?”



The little girl never failed to come running when called, even if she had to stop on the way to hug Uncle Perry. As soon as she was close enough, she caught Lois’ hand and reached up, demanding to be carried. And she was all too aware of the fact that the reporter was more than willing to do so. “C’mere, cuddlebug,” Lois said warmly with a soft smile, swinging Kristin up into her arms and kissing her. Beaming at her, she asked as Kristin cuddled into her shoulder, “What’ve you been doing since you got out of school, kiddo?”



“Pesterin’ Mommy an’ waitin’ to call Kala,” Kristin replied honestly. Her blue eyes got very wide then, and she looked over her shoulder at Lana. “Mommy! Kala’s outta school! You didn’ tell me!”



Lana handed over her phone, shaking her head slightly. “Sweetheart, I was so busy getting together snacks for these ravenous reporters, I forgot. Here, press six and then press talk.”



“I know,” Kristin replied crossly, opening the phone. Lois just chuckled; the twins at that age had barely known what a cell phone was, much less how to work one, but Kristin spent so much time traveling at Lana’s side that she’d actually been perplexed by the first corded phone she ever saw. As they headed in to Clark’s office to eat, Kristin’s happy chattering provided the background music to their meal.





Kala didn’t look out of place on a college campus, and she knew it. She walked purposefully to Jamie’s dorm, went inside with a group of girls, and headed straight up to Jamie’s room. She knocked on the door and felt it open slightly, sticking her head into the room to call out, “Jamie? You in?”



“Hey, Kala,” Jamie called. “Come on in. I’m almost done with this chapter anyway.” The dark-haired teen trotted into the room, eyeing the posters on the wall critically. Somebody had liked the recent raunchy teen comedy, but it surely wasn’t Jamie. Her taste ran more to dramatic films. At least the room wasn’t as cramped as some dorms; Jamie only had to share with one other girl, whereas some rooms had up to four students.



Jamie got up from her desk, taking off her glasses to rub her eyes. These were elegant rectangular lenses and very light frames, nothing like the Coke-bottle glasses she’d sported in years past. Time had been kind to her in other ways; the weedy, mousy-haired kid Kala had met so long ago had grown into a tall and willowy young woman. Even her hair had finally decided to lighten to something closer to Maggie’s blonde, and she had also developed some of her mother’s grace and poise. And funnily enough, Jason still couldn’t quite string together a sentence around her, which was why Kala had graciously decided to invite her.



She hugged Kala, stepping back to look at her warily. “All right, you have that look in your eye,” Jamie commented. “What are you up to?”



“Nothing.” Kala’s tone was positively sweet, handing over the invitation. “Well, nothing besides inviting you to the event of the century. I turn sixteen this Saturday, you know.” After a pause, she added as an afterthought, “Oh yeah, Jason is too.”



Jamie chuckled. “As if you forgot.” Glancing at the invitation, she gave Kala a sly look before adding, “You two won’t be little kids anymore.”



Kala gave her the full treatment: long-suffering sigh, eye roll, and head dropped back as if her neck had suddenly broken. “Jamie!” she whined. “Stop acting like a grownup. You’re supposed to be on our side.”



“Maybe you’ve forgotten, but I am a grownup,” Jamie said archly. When Kala just pouted at her, she laughed. “You know I’ll be there, Kala. The Centennial – is this black-tie?”



Kala smiled as if she had been assured of her appearance all along. “Wear a knockout dress,” the younger girl had smiled promptly. “Something that shows a little leg. Give Jason a heart attack for his birthday.”



“It’s so sweet that you think of your brother,” Jamie drawled sarcastically, whapping the invitation against Kala’s shoulder.



Kala snickered. “I do what I can. Anything to show my sisterly love.”



“You unmerciful little brat. I’ll think about it, okay?”



“Thanks,” Kala chirped happily, hugging her. “Now, you know I’d love to stay and drive the college boys crazy, but I have to get a couple of other invites done. Including some real grownups.”



Jamie just shook her head. “Go on, then. I’ll see you at the party.”



Any other comments Kala might’ve made were interrupted by her cell phone ringing. “Lana? I wonder what’s up?” Kala said under her breath, recognizing the ring tone instantly. “I’ve got to take this. See you, Jamie!” The blonde waved her understanding, and Kala flipped open her phone as she left the room. “KLK Enterprises, how may I help you?” she answered in her most adult voice.





“Little Red!” The delighted smile that lit up Kala’s face at the sound of Kristin’s voice would’ve surprised many of the other kids in school, most of whom had never seen her so brilliantly happy. “How’s the bestest little sister ever?”



“Great!” Kristin replied just as cheerfully. As she proceeded to tell Kala all about her day – including the fact that she was at the Planet with Richard and Lana – the dark-haired teenager headed back to the subway station.




Jason knocked on the Thomas’ door, already smiling. He’d known since he was little that his music teacher was awesome, but as he grew older, he learned how to truly appreciate her many gifts. Not only was she a talented musician and singer, but she had the patience and the passion for music to pass that learning along. Over the years, she’d become a good friend to his mother as well – not the sort of friend she went out drinking with, like her usual gang of troublemakers, but someone she could talk to about kids or husbands over a perfectly-brewed cup of coffee.



Her daughter, Ashlyn, answered the door. She’d grown into a pretty young blonde whose love of singing rivaled her mother’s, and Jason had often felt privileged to accompany her on the piano. “Hi, Jason,” she said, smiling brightly. “Come on in.”



“Thanks,” he replied. Jason and Ashlyn had gone out briefly at fourteen, but had discovered that they didn’t actually like each other like that; they just enjoyed going to movies and plays together. Trying to call those evenings ‘dates’ had just made things awkward and silly, so they invited Kala and Sebast along and called it friends’ night, or an un-date. Smiling at his good fortune in having friends like Ashlyn, who didn’t think it was embarrassing to know all the words to all the Disney songs at the age of sixteen, Jason asked, “Are your mom and dad home?”



“Mom is, Dad’s at work,” she replied. “Why?”



“I have something for all three of you,” Jason said, and unable to resist the question in her eyes, he added, “Invitations to my birthday party this weekend.”



“Awesome!” Ashlyn had a smile that lit up not just the room, but the rest of the recipient’s day. “C’mon, Mom’s in the music room.” She caught his hand and practically pulled him along.



Mrs. Thomas looked up in amusement at her daughter’s sparkling eyes and Jason’s friendly grin. “Hello, Jason,” she said, rising from the piano to give him a hug.


“Hi, Mrs. Thomas,” he replied. “I just dropped by to invite you and Mr. Thomas and Ashlyn to my birthday party.” With that, he brought their invitations out of his backpack and handed them over.



“Can we go, Mom?” Ashlyn asked before even opening hers.



Mrs. Thomas looked the invitation over seriously, checking the time and location, before smiling broadly. “Yes, I think we can all make it.”



“Great!” Jason said, giving her another spontaneous hug that made her laugh at his open affection. “It wouldn’t be a real birthday party without you, you know. You were always there for me and Kala when we were little.”



“You are such a sweet boy,” she told him. “Your parents must be so proud.”



Jason ducked the praise with a little laugh. “Nah, they just expect me to have some manners and class,” he responded. “I wish I could stay, but…”



“More people to invite, hmm?” When he nodded, Mrs. Thomas patted his shoulder. “Go ahead, Jason. Ashlyn really ought to be doing her homework anyway.”



The girl sighed good-naturedly and showed Jason out of the house with a roll of her eyes that was more token teenage gesture than genuine sarcasm. “See you at the party!” she called as the door closed.






Perry had warned that Richard and Lana could hang out only if they stayed out of trouble. That was easy for Lana, currently in Lois’ office helping her get her desk clean and organized – the box of miscellaneous junk hidden in the supply closet offended her Midwestern sensibilities, and she’d cajoled Lois into actually cleaning. Kristin sat on the couch in Lois’ office, oblivious to both of them as she used Lois’ pens and copier paper to draw a picture; her phone call to Kala had brightened her already happy afternoon. Richard leaned back in the chair, his feet up on his old desk, watching the three with an affectionate smile.



Absently, Richard picked up the baseball on Clark’s desk. Jason had caught it at a Metropolis Monarchs game, and Clark kept the souvenir on a little stand. Richard tossed it into the air and caught it, still watching Lois’ office. Lana opened a folder, looked shocked at the contents, and whapped Lois on the shoulder with it. Kristin glanced up, saw them looking incredulously at each other, and then ignored them in favor of her picture again.



Richard chuckled. “Those two never cease to amaze me,” he opined, tossing the ball again and catching it. “They have next to nothing in common, except their taste in men, and you’d think that would have them at each other’s throats. But they’re close. Sometimes I think Lana tells Lois stuff she doesn’t tell me.”



“If you think that’s odd, think about you and I being friends,” Clark replied, watching his souvenir being casually tossed around.



Richard just grinned. “Yeah, but I’ve always been a fan of yours.” He didn’t need to mention the S-shield decal on the wing of his seaplane; it had been there years before he actually met Clark.



Clark looked thoughtful before he spoke. “Even when I stole your fiancée and your kids?” The soft tone in his voice still held a bit of guilt after all these years.



Richard caught the baseball and turned to look at him with a long-suffering roll of his eyes. “This again? She was never mine, Clark. And the kids, well, I knew they weren’t biologically mine from the start. You didn’t steal them, either, we’re sharing. I happen to think Jason and Kala benefit from having both of us as role models.”



“There’s a part of Lois’ heart that will always be yours, Richard,” Clark reminded him. “She loves you. If you ever doubt it, realize that you smacked her on the bottom a little while ago and none of your bones are broken. That’s love.”



Tossing the ball again, Richard chuckled as he looked across Perry’s office at the two women again. “Yeah, and I think everybody knows I’ll always love her, too. But it’s not like it is with you – I swear, every time you and Lois look at each other, I hear faint instrumental music in the background.”



That got a laugh from Clark. “Unfortunately, sometimes it’s the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Trust me, Richard, life isn’t perfect even for me.”



Richard paused to consider this, biting his lip thoughtfully. While trying to decide if this was the place or time to be giving Superman relationship advice, he tossed the ball into the air once more. When he reached to catch it, however, it wasn’t there. He fumbled for it, hoping he wasn’t about to drop Clark’s souvenir…



…and then realized Clark was holding the ball. And smiling. “Okay, that is not fair,” Richard said.



On to part two

Tags: heirs to the house of el

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