Lois (kalalanekent) wrote,

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Heirs to the House of El: When the Spell Unravels (Part One)

Okay, so we reworked a couple of sections at the last minute, which is why you're just now getting it. *crosses fingers* Hopefully this version makes a bit more sense than the original. I expect next week's chapter to be a little more timely. ;)

When Clark dashed out the door without even the least little apology, thankfully without super-speed, it was up to Lois to come up with a plausible explanation. Fighting off the hurt and resentment on the balcony the way she had so many times in the last year, the reporter did what she had always done: shoved her own feelings aside to cover for him. “No big surprise on New Years’ Eve. Seems the guy running the International desk tonight wound up holding a news-worthy baby that was too big for him,” she said as calmly as she could, explaining Clark’s sudden departure with the shrug and the poker face of a long-time veteran of the news game. “There’s something going on out there tonight that’s too hot to miss. So hot he didn’t even get the chance to explain. Big surprise. And with him being editor, it’s his baby now; he’ll be back in time.” Cat Grant and Tobie Raines stared at her as she spoke, taking in her crossed arms, her up-tilted chin, and the narrow gleam in her eyes. The long-time friends glanced at one another then, and each woman saw her own expression mirrored on the other’s face: utter disbelief.

She’s mad as hell, Tobie thought, and asked cautiously, “You all right, Lane?”

It was all the more clear just how tight a grip Lois had on her emotions when she focused her attention on Raines: long years of friendship let her see the fine cracks in façade that most others would miss. “I’m fine,” she replied in denial of those fissures, her tone cool. Almost too cool. The laugh that followed this statement sounded almost natural, Lois adding, “God knows that it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. All part of being married to a reporter, as most of us here know.”

“Hear, hear,” Maggie said with a little more enthusiasm than the comment merited, raising her glass. It gave her a chance to cast a warning glance at Tobie, but the brunette had already taken the hint.

Cat managed to change the topic, and Tobie gave her a quick pat on the shoulder to let her know her adept handling was appreciated. By now both of Lois’ oldest friends knew that she wasn’t just mad – the shine in her eyes wasn’t happiness in the least - she was fighting back tears. They also knew if they tried to offer support, Lois would just get angrier. She wasn’t the cry-on-your-shoulder type; more the bite-your-head-off kind.

The last man who’d made Lois weep had suffered for it. Not Richard – they’d had problems, but even Tobie had to admit he cared a great deal for her. Not Elliot, either; there had been a lot of aggravation with him, but no tears. To find Lois crying over a man, Tobie had to remember all the way back to their college days. She, Cat, and Lois had split the rent on a small apartment, three journalism majors under one roof, rapidly becoming the best of friends. Lois had been seeing a guy called Cameron for several semesters, keeping it strictly a weekend thing; she needed her weeknights to study and work, already an intern at the Daily Planet. A class had been canceled, and Lois had decided to go visit her boyfriend unexpectedly.

She’d caught Cameron in bed with not one, but two other girls, and no excuse whatsoever. Lois hadn’t made much of a scene, turning on her heel and storming out without a word, but she had made it very clear that she and Cameron were finished. Men were a distraction she could ill-afford, anyway, or so Lois had said at the time. Most women in a situation like that would’ve turned to their friends for comfort, and an all-night session of ice cream, booze, and bitching about men would have been prescribed. Not Lois. She just went on about her business with a peculiar glimmer in her hazel eyes, a newly keen edge to her temper and her tongue. That dry, cold determination had infuriated Tobie and Cat more than sobs ever could. They knew she had cried over it, but Lois wouldn’t admit to the tears.

Cameron had foolishly come to Lois’ apartment a few days later to beg her forgiveness. Lois hadn’t been home, but Tobie had lied, inviting Cameron in. Once he was in their tiny living room, she’d locked the door and called out to Cat, letting her know who was now trapped in the apartment with them. The next fifteen minutes or so were still a blur in Tobie’s memory, but she remembered grabbing the golf club the girls kept behind the sofa in case of intruders, and she remembered Cat throwing that godforsaken lava lamp she had.

Oh yes, by the time he had made it out of their apartment and to his elderly Corvette, Cameron was suffering indeed. Tobie grinned; Cat had thrown a good-sized rock through the back window, and she herself had screamed “Fore, you bastard!” before bashing in two side windows. He’d peeled rubber out of the parking lot, Tobie and Cat screaming obscenities in his wake.

Justice had been done, in Tobie’s opinion – Cameron’s bruises were nothing more than the outward evidence of what he’d done to Lois’ heart. He hadn’t even pressed charges, not wanting to admit that two fairly petite women had beaten the crap out of him. The triumphant pair had managed to straighten up the apartment before Lois got home, and had never told her what they’d done. She knew, of course – Cameron showed up in the class the next day, his appearance igniting a wave of gossip, and Lois was a good enough reporter to connect his black eye and the newly-bent golf club.

They’d never talked about it, any more than they talked about their little intervention in Cat’s life, when the drinking had gotten out of hand. They just did it, pulled together and helped each other, and then went back to quarreling like a trio of bad-tempered cats. And whatever was going on right now with Lois, Cat and Tobie would be there to help her, no matter what it was.

Too bad the solution won’t be as easy as kicking Clark’s ass, Tobie thought. One, even Cat would have to stand on a freakin’ chair, he’s so tall. Two, I’d feel guilty about it. I actually like the guy, and I don’t say that about a lot of men. Beating him up would be like kicking a great big puppy. Three, I just can’t believe he’d deliberately hurt Lois. He’s been starry-eyed in love with her ever since he met her, and he’s taken everything she can dish out. I’ve lived with her, I know she’s no sweet-tempered peach, but he actually likes that about her. Most of the time he acts like he’d just about lie down and let her walk all over him.

She sighed; this was nothing that could be solved quickly or easily. Tobie stole a little glance at Lois and saw her smiling at Richard, but her mouth was oddly tense. At least Lana was nearby; the redhead had proven herself quite worthy of joining their odd circle of friends. She cared about Lois as much as any of them, and if anyone could get Lois to talk about what was bothering her without getting their head chewed off for asking, it was Lana.

“Any idea what’s up?” That was Maggie’s voice, and Tobie managed not to startle. Even after all these years, her wife could still sneak up on her; damn sneaky cops, always prowling around.

“Not a clue,” Tobie sighed. “You?”

Maggie shook her head slowly. “I was sure she and Clark were about to go ring in the new year a little early; she’s been parading that dress under his nose since we got here, and he definitely appreciates it. Then he’s running out of here like he’s been shot at, and she’s acting squirrelly. I wish I knew what they said to each other.”

“It could really be a story,” Tobie offered. “That’d explain it, if he ran off to do his job. I’d be pretty pissed if your pager went off right about now, I’ll tell you.”

Maggie smiled. “I know how much you hate me being on call, Tobe. What bugs me is, nobody’s going to die if he doesn’t answer the phone. There are other people at the Planet who can handle the story. So why would he run out like that?”

Tobie didn’t have an answer for that right away, biting her lip worriedly. “Red will get it out of her eventually,” she said, watching Lana slip Lois a glass of sparkling white grape juice instead of the champagne she’d been downing a little too quickly. “If it’s a really big story, he might want it to himself – Lois does that too, you know. Can’t settle into being management. Whatever it is, I bet we’ll know by tomorrow night.”

“I hope so,” Maggie said, and her quiet voice was tinged with worry. “I have a bad feeling about this all of a sudden.”

“Superstitious cop,” Tobie said lightly, trying not to think about the shiver than ran down her back at those words. “You all get nutty about your hunches.”

The blonde inspector chuckled. “I wish,” she replied. “The thing is, by now I should hope I know when someone’s lying to me. Or at least holding back on the whole truth.”

See Who I Am was the most technically demanding song of the three, but Kala had been so exhilarated that she’d simply soared through it, her voice rising strong and pure to hit all the high notes. Then it was on to the Nickelback song, a racy choice, and Kala dropped into the lower part of her range, singing most of it in a husky, challenging tone.

Nick was looking up at her, and the amazement and admiration she saw in his eyes encouraged her. Elise’s excitement over the phone had helped get Kala onstage, and now the fierce gleam in Nick’s eyes spurred her on. She’d been making eye contact with everyone in the audience, letting them think she sang to each of them, but certain lines she’d sung to Nick alone. Usually the lines that could be interpreted suggestively. Kala couldn’t have explained why she was doing that, only that it felt right, and she wasn’t consciously thinking about how to sing each line or how to move. All of that was being handled by the part of her that was completely in tune with the music, lost in the rhythm and the lyrics and the pulse of the crowd. The last actual thought she’d had was during the instrumental section of See Who I Am, when her adrenaline really kicked in. Kala had thought to herself, Why the hell does anyone in the industry bother to do drugs when they can do this? What could possibly compare to how this feels right now? No drug could ever give a high this clean, this pure, this wild – this is life, this is music, this is perfect.

“And now I know who you are,” she sang to Nick, “it wasn’t that hard, just to figure you out.” The music stopped a beat behind her, and Kala tipped her head back, trying to catch her breath, her heart racing.

The club exploded into a roar of applause. Kala, who moments ago had been singing sultry lyrics and giving heated stares worthy of a performer twice her age, suddenly felt like a little girl again. She laughed, a high excited laugh of pure joy, and her dazzling smile evoked even more cheers from the crowd. “Thank you!” Kala called out, and blew a kiss to them all.

Now the nervousness was back, her stomach churning again, part of her still trying to believe she’d just done that. Kala forgot about the possibility of an encore, hung up the mike, and turned to run offstage. The Flying Foxes were waiting to come up, and her heart skipped a beat to see the band, people who had actually sold albums, clapping for her as they mounted the stage.

She turned again, thinking to try the other side of the stage and get the heck out the way of the people being paid to perform, and then she saw Nick again. He had shoved his way right up to the very edge of the stage, and held his arms out. Only Kala could have isolated his voice among the thunderous applause when he yelled, “C’mere! I’ve got you!”

An instant’s decision, and Kala ran to the edge and leaped into his arms. Nick caught her, hugged her tight, Kala throwing her arms around his neck and hugging him back, half-afraid she’d burst from sheer elation. Nick pulled back only to catch Kala’s face and kiss her.

A lot of other people were trying to reach her, too, to congratulate her, but Kala wasn’t aware of them. Nick kissed her like they were the only two people in the room, the only two people in the world, and it only felt right to respond. She wound her fingers into his hair and kissed him back, and applause and wolf whistles rang out around them.

Kal-El surveyed the scene, unable to shake an awful sinking feeling of helplessness. “Reactor four began to overheat almost two hours ago,” Bruce’s voice said over the comm. “The automatic cooling systems failed, and the backup systems weren’t activated. By the time someone noticed how far into the red the control gauges were, the reactor core had already begun to melt. Management initiated emergency shutdown, and employees were already evacuating when the fuel-coolant interaction occurred.”

“Which is when the steam explosion happened,” Diana said grimly. “Do we know how many people were trapped inside?”

“Not precisely,” Bruce replied. “The good news is, the core-debris is still contained; we won’t have to deal with a significant release of radioactive material into the environment.”

“The interior of the building is still hot, though,” Kal-El guessed.

“In terms of radiation and temperature, yes,” J’onn said. “While the emergency shutdown procedures did abate the nuclear reaction, the interior of the plant is still unsafe due to structural instability caused by the steam explosion, the remaining radiation, and the high temperatures.” He paused, and added, “Combustion is likely for any flammable material brought near the core-debris.”

That leaves out one more member of the team, Kal-El thought. He, Diana, and J’onn were all immune to nuclear radiation, but J’onn wouldn’t be going inside if temperatures were that high. The Martian’s particular weakness was fire, and Kal-El could no more ask him to go inside the reactor building than J’onn would have asked him to visit that chunk of kryptonite still circling Saturn.

“J’onn, we’ll need you to coordinate,” Kal-El said. “These comms may not work inside. Your telepathic abilities can also help us search for survivors.”

“Of course,” the Martian replied. “First priority is to drain the coolant that has flooded the sub-basement. We cannot risk another steam explosion, though we have some time before the core debris melts through the concrete floor. Rescue of the survivors may begin concurrently.”

Hal Jordan arrived then, a faint green-glimmering sphere surrounding him. His ring was capable of creating a complete biosphere for him, as well as shielding him from radiation. When one has to stand aside, another steps in, Kal-El thought gratefully.

“Sorry I’m late,” Hal said. “Plans?”

“You should wear breathing masks inside,” J’onn cautioned. “While you are both immune to the radiation, you do not want to inhale radioactive material and carry it in your lungs.”

“Good point,” Kal-El said with a chill, thinking that was the last thing he wanted to bring home on New Year’s Eve.

“The interior is extensively lead-shielded,” Bruce’s voice told them over the comm. “Clark, we won’t have your x-ray vision, so we’ll have to rely on J’onn locating survivors by telepathy. You and Diana split up; one of you should manually open the sluice gates to let the floodwater out, the other will take Hal and start bringing the survivors out. Whoever opens the sluices can catch up to the rescue party afterward.”

Kal-El met Diana’s gaze. They’d known each other for several years now and worked together often enough that they understood each other very well. He liked Wonder Woman quite a lot; she was an excellent complement to his own powers, and in spite of some differences in ideology they made a very good team.

Now, no words were necessary. Diana nodded and went to open the sluices, a task that would require swimming through irradiated water. Kal-El and Hal hurried for the reactor building, both of them listening for J’onn’s directions. Kal-El managed to spare one thought for what he’d rather be doing this evening, and sighed. I hope Lois is okay. I didn’t want to leave her, but seconds count here.

The Flying Foxes show had been fantastic; Kala loved their music anyway, but hearing it live was even better. Throughout the evening, Nick had been very attentive, dancing only with Kala and bringing her something to drink before she even realized she was thirsty. She’d been a little wary of the drink, actually, but couldn’t detect even the slightest taste of alcohol. Her Kryptonian metabolism would likely protect her from it anyway, if Nick was trying anything.

The show was over by ten-thirty, and most of the people in Fuel were probably planning on staying at the club for the after-party. Nick had other ideas. He’d leaned in close so Kala could hear him, and said, “Let’s go get some dinner. I know a pretty good place that’s open tonight.”

It sounded like a good idea to Kala; she was hungry and thirsty and her ears were ringing from the music. Besides, they would be in public, and she’d told her parents she and Sebast intended to stay out until curfew. It wasn’t that much different from her stated plans. Kala had let Nick drive her to a very nice little Indian restaurant, some place where he apparently knew the owners, and she had even let him buy her dinner. They had an excellent selection of vegetarian dishes, and Kala remembered the location for future reference.

They left the restaurant at almost eleven, and Kala got back into Nick’s car. She’d told him at dinner what time she had to be home and where she lived, so she expected him to head for that side of town. Kala didn’t pay much attention to the drive, though. She and Nick were still thoroughly engrossed in conversation.

“I bet if you go back there tomorrow, the manager will want to sign you on,” Nick was saying. “You were good, Kala. More than good; you were great. You should have a contract already.”

“I don’t want to push it,” she said. “I want to finish school first. Everybody who gets signed as a teenager goes completely nuts – the money goes to their heads, and next thing you know they’re being photographed drunk and panty-less getting out of a car. That’s not my style.”

“You’ve got more brains than that,” Nick told her. “You won’t get sucked into all that bullshit. You’ve got more talent, too. Half these singers, they’re just pretty girls who sound good in a studio. You can sing live – no backup, no fancy recording equipment that can fix your pitch mistakes, just you, a microphone, and an audience.”

“Still, I’m gonna finish school,” Kala insisted. “If I’m as good as you say, I can break into the industry anytime.”

“With a voice like that, you can do anything you want,” Nick said.

Kala laughed at his flattery – though he did sound sincere – and looked out the window. That was odd; they were pulling into one of the parks by the river. Kala recognized it with a faint chill. Nick hadn’t taken her home; they were as far from Reeve Plaza as they could get without leaving town or crossing a bridge. “Hey, Nick, what gives?” she asked coolly. “I thought you were taking me home. Did Mapquest fail you or something?”

Nick smiled, pulling into a parking space. There were other cars down by the river, but this wasn’t a prime spot for watching the fireworks, so they were quite alone at this end of the park. He looked at Kala and replied, “I said I’d get you home by curfew. We have plenty of time for a side trip.”

Kala made a point of looking around. “A side trip to a mostly-deserted park in the middle of the night? Really, Nick. What’re you up to?”

He turned toward her and rested one arm on the back the bench seat. “If you were half as sophisticated as you pretend you are, Kala, you’d already know.” Nick’s voice was softly teasing, but the invitation was clear.

Invitation and not demand; if Kala had felt an ounce of pressure, she would’ve turned on him. Guys who pressured Kala tended to learn better very quickly. But this was just Nick, fooling around as usual, waiting to see if she’d take the bait or chicken out. And after he’d been treating her like a grownup all evening, she couldn’t very well turn into a silly little girl all of a sudden, could she?

Kala crossed her arms and leaned back against the door, smirking at him. “Oh, really?” she asked, in the same taunting, playful tone. “What makes you think I’m interested?”

It would have been very easy for him to slide across the bench seat toward her, and Kala hadn’t thought of that until now; she’d merely noticed that the car didn’t have the bucket seats she was used to. But Nick didn’t move toward her. He just grinned lazily, his infuriating, knowing grin. “A lot of little things,” he answered. “The way you smile. The way you kissed me at the club. The way you’re not demanding to be taken home right now.”

“And if I did tell you to take me home?” she asked, lifting her chin and looking at him imperiously. You don’t know me, Nick, Kala thought. You think you do, but you’re wrong. And you really don’t know me well enough to be presumptuous.

Nick waited a few seconds, then reached out and softly stroked her face. One fingertip traced the line of her brow, the curve of her cheek, down to the corner of her jaw. “If that’s what you want, Kala, I’ll take you home,” he said, his voice wistful. “But I wish you would stay. Just a little while.”

A little voice in the back of her head was warning her to be careful, he was five years older than her, and him treating her like a young woman wasn’t necessarily a good thing … but that voice was being drowned out by a lot of others. One was still high on adrenaline from singing, wanting to celebrate this night – none of her friends or family had seen her performance, but Nick had, and he understood why her blood ran hot. Another couldn’t back down from his challenge, no matter how little pressure he was putting on her, and wanted to turn it around so he was the one put on the spot. And still another liked Nick, really liked him; no other guy got under her skin like he did, and those kisses at the club still burned in her memory.

All of that made her say, “Maybe,” and her heart started to race again at her own daring. Nick smiled, a delighted grin that reminded her faintly of Dustin, and then he slid toward her. Kala couldn’t help but chuckle just before he kissed her. What could be the harm in a couple of kisses, anyway?

None of her guests had the slightest clue how little Lois was actually ‘there’ at the party at this point. The brilliant, infectious smile and razor-sharp wit were simply her default setting, randomized while she tried to keep a grip on herself. It felt like walking through a fog, a fog that was stripping away all of the armor that she’d known all her life. And the weakness she felt just frustrated her more. Since when had she needed Kal-El’s presence to save her from her own failings? She should be stronger than this; it was expected of her by everyone. Besides, she had long been used to his not being here. What was one more sudden absence in a lifetime of them? Even that thought infuriated her. Being selfish was something she had never been able to afford to be as a hero’s wife. Yet again, she forced the thought aside. Not now. I’ll deal later.

Laughing along with one of Ron’s anecdotes animatedly, she began to compartmentalize her thoughts. Being blind-sided by Eastlake this afternoon shouldn’t have been enough to unsettle her like this, although she felt like the world’s biggest fool not to have seen that coming. What, now that she was a married older woman, the rules of flirting didn’t apply to her? She could say and do whatever she wanted and the guy in question was not expected to jump to conclusions? Why have it surprised her? The easy answer was just that: the fact that she was so much older than him and married. Her own husband didn’t even pay that much attention to her these days. How could a young man be interested in her, even just that way? Most especially that way?

What made it worse was the fact that she had even started to genuinely like Eastlake, although she was aware that some of that might have to do with the fact that he had something she had wanted. Wanted, hell. Needed. Needed to keep her family safe. Luthor seemed to be drawing closer to the surface, the ten-year mark of his last escapade having passed, and she needed to be ready. He was daring her, hiding in what both of them would consider plain sight. Old sins were coming home to roost and she needed to be ready, to know what direction he would strike from. The family had to be protected, regardless of whatever issues were currently going on within.

Breaking away from the rest of the party with apologies, she went to make herself a drink. The tension amongst the four of them at Christmas had calmed in the last few days, although Kala and Jason had been casting wary looks at each other from time to time. It hurt her heart to see it; the twins had always been so close, being each other’s support throughout their lives. Even when they didn’t come to either her or the other three, it had been clear that they shared their secrets between themselves. Now they seemed to fight more than anything else and it wasn’t the playful bantering that they had been so prone to indulge in. And she knew she was partly to blame; whenever Kala decided to have a temper tantrum over something Lois herself didn’t agree with, her daughter would drag poor Jason into it, usually with the results going in their mother’s favor. And that never set well with Kala. Lois could hardly believe at times that this sullen child could be the same affectionate and loving baby girl that she had raised. Somewhere along the line Kala had started resenting her in a way that she just couldn’t understand and couldn’t stop from getting worse.

The only one that had seemed to get through to Kala other than her over-permissive father had been her grandmother. Emotional pain pierced her keenly at that thought, making Lois pause in her automatic circulation at her own party. It had been six months since her mother’s death and the memory was enough to bring tears to her eyes. There had been a huge hole that opened up inside of her with Ella’s passing, a void into which she couldn’t bear looking. It was as if she had awakened one morning to find her right arm gone; the loss had been sudden and brutal.

Lois steeled herself against the moisture she felt coming to her eyes as she tipped back the vodka martini she had made herself; the burn of the liquor made it easier. It had all happened in a blur, but she hadn’t allowed herself to mourn where others could see beyond the moment of Mom’s death. She couldn’t; she was expected to be the strong one, to get all of the details of Ella’s wishes worked out. There had been slips when reminders of the loss caught her off-guard, but she had kept the pain mostly inside. If only Momma was here, she could tell me how to fix all of this. She’d be more than a little aggravated with me, but she’d explain where I went wrong and how to get it back to normal. She’d tell me I wasn’t a complete screw-up. How in the hell have I managed to make a mess of my life in the half a year she’s been gone?

Why tonight? Why is the entire world crashing down tonight? Lois topped up her drink, nodding automatically to her friends, as she struggled against the wave of despair and anger rumbling within. She assumed the JLA had called him – only their issues tended to keep him out this late.

For the last five years, things with the JLA had been growing steadily worse. At first, it was a great idea – the League took a lot of pressure off Kal-El, and he had more time with his family and his day job. When there were only a handful of known superheroes in the world, they’d all watched each other’s backs, jumped in to lend a hand, and eased each other’s burdens.

Now there more, so many that the League had to deal with a certain amount of bureaucracy. Black Canary had been elected chairwoman of the JLA; four years ago, they hadn’t needed a chairperson or an official meeting place. It was the difference between a group of friends playing basketball on a neighborhood court, and the endless rosters and rules of the NBA. And Kal-El was one of the founding members; he had to be there for every meeting, had to intervene in every dispute, and more and more often, he had to lend a hand to the newer members of the superhero community.

When it was just him, the World’s Defender, he’d seemed to know he couldn’t personally handle every incident. He got to almost all of the major disasters in the world, took care of most of the minor disasters in the U.S., and dealt with practically anything that caught his eye in Metropolis, even to the occasional kitten stuck in a tree.

That still left time for himself and his family, though. Lois was used to her husband forgetting his jacket or his tape recorder or his keys, and taking five minutes to stop a robbery in progress or prevent a car accident. And she could deal with his morning rounds of the world, and with him disappearing to cope with a hurricane or a landslide. The League was supposed to help Kal-El take care of the world, but now he was gone more often, ‘assisting’ with things he would have considered outside his purview ten years ago. And God alone knew what the Giant Floating Head had to say about all this’ Jor-El was probably ecstatic that his son was fulfilling the role of savior.

Did no one else realize that Kal-El had an obligation to more than his mission? Lois knew perfectly well that he needed her as much as she needed him – or she’d used to know that, before. She’d been the one helping him work through the emotional trauma of not being able to save everyone. She’d been the support that never wavered when he realized just how endlessly, impossibly Sisyphean his father’s mission was.

And perhaps only she realized how little sleep he’d been getting lately. Kal-El was developing tunnel vision, focused on his mission and no longer thinking about why he did what he was doing. After all, Lois had written the twin editorials, Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman and Why the World Needs Superman. She knew that there was such a thing as too much help, and if people relied on Superman to fix every problem in their lives, he’d actually be going against the heart of his father’s mission. He was here to inspire humanity to better itself, not to hold their hands every step of the way.

Rather like the difference between parenting a child into responsible, self-sufficient adulthood, and spoiling them into permanent dependent immaturity. Lois scowled, knocking back her drink. Unfortunately, she no longer knew what her husband was thinking about the ideals behind his mission, or his ultimate purpose in life. He didn’t tell her. They didn’t talk about a lot of things anymore – he hadn’t even told her where he was going. She was just guessing it was the JLA this time; it always seemed to be the JLA lately. And maybe, just maybe, part of the reason why he felt so compelled to offer his assistance to everyone else in the League had to do with the fact that if you put the entire female roster in one room, you’d have enough clothing for maybe two whole outfits?

That vicious thought knocked Lois out of her loop for the moment. Now I’m being a vindictive asshole, she told herself. Cut it out, Lane. You can’t be selfish and self-indulgent. Just suck it up and deal with it like you always have – he belongs to the world, not to you. That’s why he was sent here. The mission is his real wife, and you’re just the mistress who gave birth to a couple complications.

Yet in spite of how much she tried to convince herself of that, a hurt, lonely part of her kept crying out, What about our vows? What about loving me forever? What about defying his father and demanding that he be allowed to live a life of his own, not merely exist to serve others? What about all the times he’s whispered in the depths of the night that I’m the reason he keeps on, I’m what gives him strength, and the kids give him hope and determination? What about the fact that he does what he does not just for the world, but for us?

When did everything start to change?

Tags: heirs to the house of el

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