And another.... ;) I wish I could think of something clever to say here. I promise that I'll be more amusing in the more current posts.
Clark hurried into the Daily Planet bullpen, his notebook full of ‘man-on-the-street’ reactions to Superman’s return. Lois wasn’t back yet; good, she had probably been forced to see a medic. She definitely looked a bit dazed. Some of that was the shock of his reappearance, but she might have had a slight concussion too.
Jimmy was still out, likely trying to snap a photo of Superman. Clark smiled a little wryly to himself; if things were going as badly for the young photographer as he’d said, he would certainly try to make sure that Jimmy got a front-page photo soon. Have to do something showy in Metropolis soon, like the time those robbers tried to escape on a yacht and I left the whole boat in front of the precinct. That would get Jimmy back into Perry’s good graces. But first I’d better make some plans to announce my return – circle the globe a time or two, rescue some people, and hurry off before people can ask questions. I’m not ready for questions yet.
With a start, he realized that he had taken his return as a fact, not a fluke. This would not be a one-time rescue; Superman was back in business full-time. Sitting down at his desk, he wondered why.
I was so ready to give it all up, to retire Superman forever. Lois made a lot of good points in that article of hers. People came to rely on me, and after I left, they spent more time wondering where I’d gone than trying to do the things I’d done for them. I believed her; I believed the best thing for the human race would be for this savior never to return.
But there are some things people can’t do, like catch a falling jet. And there were some people who were inspired by me, who kept up their work even after I left. The women’s shelter is still there, so are the soup kitchens, and that project that takes autistic children horseback riding got some publicity not long ago. I guess that much is still the same: the people who are actually doing good just quietly keep on doing it. It’s the ones whose job it is to find evil and expose it that think there’s nothing good left, just because they see so many terrible things.
Maybe Lois was wrong. Maybe the world still needs a savior. And maybe the reason why I’m already planning my reintroduction to the world is that helping people is my cause. I may not precisely have a home here anymore, but I have a purpose.
His pleasant introspection was interrupted by a young voice asking inquisitively, “Who’re you?”
Clark looked up, startled. Two children, about six years old, were standing by his desk and looking at him curiously. Their faces marked them as twins, and their resemblance to their mother and the photos on her desk told Clark just whose twins they were.
“Um, hi,” he said, looking from one to the other. The girl’s hair was as dark as Lois’, with her same hazel eyes, and the boy had sandier hair with blue eyes. Right now they were totally focused on him. “I’m Clark. Kent. An old friend of your mother’s, from before you were born.”
“Really? She never talks about you,” the girl said. She turned her head then, frowning slightly as she looked over at her twin, questioningly. “Has she?”
“Never?” Clark asked. She never once mentioned me?
“Nope,” the boy replied. He didn’t take his eyes off Clark even when he pulled out an inhaler and took a deep gasping breath off of it.
The little girl sighed. “Please ignore my brother; Mommy says Daddy lets him watch too many monster movies.”
“Kala!” the boy hissed, glaring at her. The sudden pink in those pale cheeks just seemed to egg her on.
“Jason, you’re never gonna grow up to be Godzilla, so quit trying!” his sister replied. With this, she shook her head, rolling her eyes in a gesture that was all too familiar.
That really seemed to make him flush. For a moment, the presence of a grown-up was forgotten as what seemed to be an old argument broke out. “Mommy said that I could be anything I wanted to be, Kala! Anything! So stop being mean.”
“I’m not being mean. It’s the truth!”
“Mommy meant anything real! A human being can’t grow up to be a lizard, Jason. Stop being…”
Clark’s eyes flicked back and forth between them as if he was watching a tennis match. Oh, they were both so Lois – Kala’s sarcasm, Jason’s stubbornness.
Just when it looked like the squabbling would turn nasty, a man’s voice intervened. “Kids! Jason, Kala, enough.” He was tall and handsome, with an easy smile, and he offered Clark his hand freely. “Sorry, they can get underfoot a bit. I’m Richard White.”
The fiancé. Clark’s stomach suddenly turned sour. Now he could see Richard’s lighter hair and eyes in Jason, and he assumed as many people did that Richard was the twins’ real father. “Yeah, hi,” he said a little weakly, shaking the man’s hand. “I’m Clark Kent.”
“Really? Glad you’re back! I’ve heard so much about you.”
“You have?” Clark said, with hope rising.
“Sure, Jimmy won’t shut up about you.” Richard’s grin was friendly and open as he picked up Kala, ignoring her protests. “These two were supposed to be in my office. I didn’t want them watching the news, you know?”
“Oh,” Clark said. Her kids could’ve seen that? I’ve got to give the man credit; he had better sense than to let her kids see her almost get killed. “Oh, yeah. They’re no bother, really.”
“Thanks,” Richard said. “We try not to bring them up here every day, but Perry says he’s never going to see his grandniece and grandnephew unless they come to the office. Say, Kala, is there a good reason you’re both roaming around?”
“All the fun stuff in your office is locked up,” she complained.
“And you changed your password, she can’t play solitaire,” Jason added.
“Mr. Kent’s nice, can we stay and talk to him?” Kala added.
Clark was a little taken aback. The twins seemed like the sort of children who were always into something, and he couldn’t imagine how interesting such a pair of bright, curious kids would have made Lois’ life. His Lois – perpetually rushing, always driven, frequently impatient, stopping a dozen times a day to answer “Why?” – the thought was almost more than Clark’s mind could bear. He wasn’t even sure if his super-speed could keep up with them.
Richard was saved from having to answer Kala by a very familiar voice saying exasperatedly, “Jimmy, for the hundredth time, I’m fine! The medics kept me long enough to sequence my freakin’ DNA, and they said I’m fine to come back to work.”
Kala squirmed out of Richard’s arms, and she and Jason raced to the door. Several reporters looked up from their work to glance at them as they tore up the center aisle, shaking their heads or giving amused grins. It seemed as if this was a common enough occurrence. They were only a foot from her when Clark saw her eyes look their way, Jason calling out “Mommy!” With alertness he hadn’t been aware that she had had before, Lois’ eyes flew to the sound instantly, any anxiety draining from her face. The smile on her face was haunting in its beauty and affection as she went down on one knee and opened her arms as both flung themselves into her. Jimmy, seeming a bit embarrassed, made his way into the bullpen ahead of her.
She’s a good mother, Clark thought with pleasant surprise. Heck, she’s a great mother. Whatever happened to the woman who said, “My sister has three kids, two cats, and one mortgage. Yech! I’d go bananas in a week”? Lois really has changed.
And I think I like the new Lois even more.
Lois hugged the twins so tight, she heard Jason wheeze. Choking back the pressure of tears she felt behind her eyes, she nuzzled her cheek against the cool softness of Jason’s hair. The rush of love she felt for the both of them increased when she turned to kiss her daughter’s forehead, catching a whiff of cotton candy. It was amazing the reaction she had to just the scent of Kala’s shampoo. All of the ramifications that were now before her were forgotten and there were only the twins. Thank you, God, thank you. Thank you for letting me come home to these two. I don’t know what I’d do without them.
Completely unaware of her mother’s inner turmoil, Kala wrapped her arms around her mother’s neck and returned the embrace. As soon as he caught his breath, Jason did the same, a pleased grin on his face. For a moment, their joyous reunion was silent.
Then Kala pulled back slightly and said in a scolding tone, “Mommy, you’re late!”
Still locked in her unreserved gratefulness, her comment startled Lois, who looked at her with incredulous eyes before breaking into amazed laughter. She had been so worried that they had seen everything somehow, that she or Jason might have had the slightest inkling of the last two hours. That they had possibly known just how close she had come to never seeing them again. Instead, Kala’s tone, not to mention Jason’s curious look, implied that she had just taken a long lunch or something. It just figured. And it was better than them knowing the truth.
“Oh well, forgive me, your highness. Many apologies.”
Lois stored away all of the conflicting emotions roaring through her to arch a critical eyebrow at the child, breaking them both into giggles. It was one of the wonderful things about her children, their early understanding of sarcasm. That tone would most likely worry some children that they had done wrong; hers knew that it was simply Mommy being silly. Although she was wondering if it was the best thing, as Kala was showing signs of being just as snarky and a bit of a daredevil. Jason, on the other hand, was quieter than his twin. More thoughtful, spending most of his time trying to understand everything by observation. They balanced each other out, she thought with a proud smile, ruffling the boy’s hair affectionately.
Still giggling, Jason beamed and stepped away with Kala. Holding his hand out to her, he offered like a little gentleman, “Come on, Mommy. I’ll help you get up.”
There was another warm feeling in her chest as she daintily rose to her feet, doing the work herself as she held his small hand. I must be doing something right. Oh, his teenage years are going to kill me. Taking a hold on Kala’s hand, the Lanes made their way into the now-even-noisier bullpen. As she asked them about their afternoon, asking first about the zoo, she clearly felt the eyes of the rest of the crew on her. They wanted to ask her about the accident, she knew, and they were dying to corner her on it, but hung back in respect of the kids. She respected how hard it was for them to force back the urge to just walk up and bluntly ask her; it would be killing her, too, if it hadn’t been her. As it was, Perry would be asking soon enough. And she wasn’t quite sure how ready she was yet.
“…And I told Daddy about the meerkats and how Kala was scaring them when she kept poking her head against the glass. They ran to their little house and stayed there staring at her,” Jason was saying, grinning at his sister. “They were scared of her big head.”
“I do not have a big head, Godzilla-breath! And Mrs. Thomas said that they’re normally ‘fraidy-cats. Is because of other animals’ prayed drive.” Kala was scowling at him, something that happened often enough not to faze the boy anymore.
“Prey drive,” Lois corrected gently, squeezing her hand. At the far end of their sixth year, it always blew her away to hear the amount of knowledge that they had acquired so far. She knew full-grown adults that weren’t as intelligent. “Bigger animals try to eat them if they’re not careful. They have to be very good at getting away, so they tend to hide, sweetheart.” Trying not to laugh as she glanced over at Jason, she said in a serious tone, “So, see, Jason, Kala’s big head had nothing to do with it.”
“So there, lizardboy!” Kala smiled smugly, looking over at him again from her left side. It was only when Jason was laughing that the little girl thought back on it that she realized what her mommy had said. Her outraged expression was utterly precious; it was the main reason she occasionally tweaked her nose like this. “Mommy!”
“What, sweetheart? I love your big head. More brains to put in there, huh?”
“Uh-huh. Su-ure.” Jason was just loving the fact that the shoe was on the other foot for the moment. His blue eyes gleamed. “Kala and her big brain. Right, Mommy.”
Still pouting, their victim gave an imperious sniff before adding as if they hadn’t spoken, “Anyway, Mrs. Thomas said to tell you hello and everything. And then Daddy picked us up and we came here. He said that you wanted to see us, but you weren’t here. Why not? What made you late, Mommy?”
They were drawing close to her office now and she could hear Jimmy’s voice up ahead as well as Richard. Silently, Lois groaned in frustration. Of all of the timing… Isn’t that just the question of the hour? What are you going to tell them, Lo? Her confidence faltered instantly. How could she answer this without lying to them? Well, guys, Mommy was falling out of the sky in a burning plane and your real father saved her after being gone since before she knew she was going to have you. And he doesn’t even know that Mommy still knows. But don’t worry about it. Really. Mommy knows what she’s doing. Sure. Of course.
It was in the midst of this mental battle when both kids stopped. Glancing up, her eyes moved from Jimmy to Richard, a frazzled smile rising to her lips. Lois was intensely relieved to be off the hook for the question now. So much so that hearing Jimmy’s ecstatic next words stunned her even as she turned her head to acknowledge the third person in the party.
“Hey, Lois! Isn’t this great? Look who’s back.”
Then hazel eyes met cerulean.