Lois’ life seemed to echo the weather. She and Richard had not actually had the monstrous argument they both felt looming over them; neither of them wanted to fight in front of the kids. But they had sniped back and forth most of the weekend, mini-quarrels like brief flashes of thunder, all of their spats coming back to the same central theme. Richard seemed to think he should know everything about Lois, everything she had ever done or even thought, and she disagreed.
Saturday afternoon was the perfect example…
“I’m getting tired of not knowing anything about you.”
“What on earth are you talking about, Richard?”
“Well, for starters, you never mentioned there was a gun in this house. I’m really not comfortable with kids and guns, Lois.”
“You think I’d endanger the twins?”
“Lois, kids younger than them have found a parent’s gun and shot themselves.”
“Oh, please. It was in a locked case with a trigger lock on it, hidden in a shoebox in the top of my closet. They would never have found it.”
“Still, nothing! They know it’s not a toy, I showed them.”
“Yes, and we’ll be hearing about that again if they ever need an analyst.”
“My father scared me and Lucy the same way, to teach us never to touch his guns. We turned out all right.”
“Lois, I don’t believe you! You hate the way your father treated you!”
“Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, Richard, and my father was right about guns. If I’m going to wear it, the twins need to know what it is.”
“You’re going to wear it? What, to work?”
“I have a permit to carry, and I’m going to use it. I’m wearing it now.”
“Lois! We’re in the house.”
“And if Luthor comes here, I’ll be ready. Do you have a problem with that, White?”
“No, not really. What I have a problem with is the fact that I was never even consulted. But that’s kind of a theme with us, isn’t it?”
“What? If you’ve got something to say, then say it.”
“Why didn’t you tell me you had a tubal ligation?”
“Richard, I told you I didn’t want any more kids.”
“It’s not the same thing, Lois.”
“I don’t see how it’s different.”
“You don’t see … Lois, there’s a big difference between ‘I don’t want kids’ and ‘I can’t have kids!’ Why do you have to keep secrets from me?”
“I’m not keeping secrets! I told you I didn’t want more children, Richard, that’s why I had the surgery! That’s why I’m on birth control, which I know you knew about. Please tell me you haven’t been wandering around hoping I’ll change my mind.”
“You never bothered to tell me it was beyond the realm of possibility.”
“No, I told you I didn’t want kids. I would’ve told you if and when that changed.”
“Are you sure? You don’t have much of a track record of keeping me informed. I mean, Superman--”
“Don’t even go there! Besides, tubal ligation is reversible – it’s not like you were going to marry a barren woman, Richard!”
At that moment, the twins had started fighting over crayons, and Lois and Richard had put their own bickering aside to break up the kids’. But the angry words had hovered in their thoughts, making them both irritable. They’d sparred verbally all day Sunday, Richard even getting in a jab about not knowing her favorite cereal while they shopped for groceries. Lois had snapped that she didn’t know his, either, and didn’t give a damn.
By Sunday night her nerves were frayed. Hearing on the news about a couple of strange robberies – the university’s science department and a warehouse owned by a medical supply company – hadn’t improved Lois’ mood, either. So that night, when she came into the bedroom and Richard followed her with We need to talk practically written on his forehead, she’d had enough. “Richard, I’m exhausted. I’ve had more than enough to last me for the moment. Don’t even start.”
“I don’t want to fight,” he had said quietly.
She had laughed, bitterly. “Really? Could’ve fooled me. The way this weekend is going, I can’t imagine what else we would do at this point.”
“I might have an idea,” he’d replied, and caught the belt loops of her pants, pulling her close and silencing her with a kiss.
That was one thing he knew about her, knew very well indeed: exactly where her weaknesses were. Unable to help herself and too surprised to stop, she responded. Lois had only had one chance to murmur, “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Not arguing,” he’d replied, gathering her hair at the nape of her neck gently. “Perry’s right – you are gorgeous when you’re angry, you know that?”
But by then he was kissing the back of her neck, her eyes closing in reaction, and she couldn’t quite answer.
Of course, now, she felt guilty about it, and mad at herself for feeling guilty. Why the hell do I feel like I’m being unfaithful when I’m with Richard? I’m wearing his ring, for God’s sake!
Actually… the Romantic whispered.
Just the amused tone in that voice unsettled her. Almost dreading to lower her eyes, Lois glanced at her ring finger, and swore loudly enough to frighten the guy driving the Volvo alongside her. Growling in frustration, she punched the steering wheel. Left it on the sink again. Damn! Men and their need to mark their property… If I don’t go get the bloody thing, he’ll see me without it for sure. Damn his insecurity!
Doesn’t he have a reason for it? That insidious whisper again, but Lois ignored it firmly. Cursing, she turned the car around and headed home.
Clark was always early to work, but that Monday he came in only moments after Perry himself, and went directly to the Chief’s office.
“Good,” the editor said when he glanced up and saw Clark at his door. “I need to talk to you, Kent.”
“Actually, sir, I think I have something to say before you do,” Clark said. His usual meek hesitancy was gone, and for once Perry didn’t barrel over his words. “First, let me apologize for what happened Friday night. It won’t happen again.”
Perry looked at him with raised eyebrows. “Seemed to me like it wasn’t your fault,” he said.
Clark looked down. That’s not what matters. I’ve had the weekend to think about it, and I made a decision. “I accept full responsibility, Mr. White. My behavior was completely inappropriate. I hope you’ll accept my apology … and my resignation.” Perry’s jaw dropped in shock, giving Clark a few moments in which to add, “I’m sorry to do this so soon after I was hired back. My reasons for resigning are personal, and I’d prefer not to explain them.”
“You’re quitting because Lois tried to kiss you?” Perry said disbelievingly.
“No, it’s not Lois,” Clark said hurriedly. And that’s not a lie; it really isn’t Lois. It’s what I did to her six years ago, and how very much I regret it, that I can’t stand to be reminded of every day. Better to do this gracefully. “It’s me. I just … I don’t feel comfortable working here anymore. And yes, Lois being assistant editor is part of that. She and I were such close friends for so long, I don’t want to give the appearance of favoritism.”
“The way she’s treating you right now, nobody could call it favoritism,” Perry snapped. “Hell, if you quit now, everyone’s going to think she chased you off. And that includes me.”
“Mr. White, please don’t blame Lois. She has a right to be angry with me; I never even told her I was leaving. Best friends aren’t supposed to do things like that.”
“Knock off the ‘best friends’ line,” Perry told him. “You’re in love with her, aren’t you? Always have been.”
Clark pushed his glasses a little further up. Sometimes I wish I didn’t work for an extremely observant journalist. “I don’t see how that applies to the current situation, Mr. White. She’s engaged to your nephew. Even if I did have feelings for Lois, it wouldn’t be right for me to act on them.”
“Kent, you’re either the most excruciatingly moral person on this planet, or you studied to be a lawyer before you decided on journalism.” Perry sighed, rubbing his temples. “I know you won’t budge once you’ve made up your mind, either. Look, I hate to lose you to the competition. If you can’t work for Lois, I understand that. How about we transfer you to another department?”
“I don’t know…”
“I’m not talking about Lifestyle or Advertising, Kent. That’d be as much a waste of your skills as letting you resign. Give me a chance to find you a spot somewhere else. You’ve worked for the Planet too long to let you leave without a fight.”
Clark had walked in determined to quit, but he hated to leave the Planet when he had only just returned. Perry’s offer was tempting… “All right, sir, you win. I’ll transfer.”
Perry had to fight down a sigh of relief. Losing one of his top reporters to the competition would be more than a professional mistake; it would be a personal failure as well. It wouldn’t do for any of them to think they were indispensable, but Kent was the least likely to get arrogant about it… I would’ve said the least likely to kiss Lois Lane, too, but I was wrong. Speaking of which… “About the Pulitzers, Kent.”
Clark couldn’t meet his eyes. “Sir.”
“I haven’t said anything to Richard about it, and I very much doubt Lois will, given what happened with Luthor. I’d recommend that you don’t either. Nothing really happened, and as far as I’m concerned, the blame for it lies on whatever she was drinking that night. That’s over, and I very much doubt you’re going to try for a repeat performance, so let bygones be bygones.”
“That’s probably good advice, Mr. White.” Whether or not I take it is another matter entirely.
“Of course it is, it came from me,” Perry shot back. “Now, while I’ve got you here, let’s have a look at the current openings, shall we?”
Lois breezed into the office later than normal, preoccupied and testy. Traffic heading out of the city isn’t supposed to be bad in the mornings! It took me twice as long as it should’ve to dash back there for the ring. Of course, now that I went through that, Richard will never glance at it. Murphy’s Law. Well, I’d better go talk to Perry before I lose my nerve. Courage, Lane – you’ve known Perry since you were sixteen, you can convince him to keep his mouth shut about Friday night…
She was concentrating so fiercely on what she meant to say to Perry that she walked into his office without even really registering the fact that he wasn’t alone. Arms crossed and her brow furrowed, Lois had gone only three steps inside the glassed-in door before she realized her mistake.
Startled by her abrupt entrance, Clark turned, and their eyes met. Watching them, Perry thought that the only thing the moment lacked was an audible sizzle.
Clark had so much he wanted to say to her – and none of it was anything he could say in front of Perry, of all people. I never expected you to have to carry the burden of my secret all these years. You didn’t have to do it, but you did, and I’m ashamed of myself for thinking that you would’ve outed me for revenge the first day I came back.
Lois’ mind had gone blank at the sight of him, loss and pain and a terrible, tenacious love filling her eyes with tears. Her composed expression had faltered, her mask slipping once again. They might have been the only ones in the entire building as she grappled for control. He looked so very grave, so wounded; almost as hurt as she felt. Finally, her inner voice found words. I do not need to be here right now. Overly-emotional twit exiting stage left…
“Ah, Lane, I need to talk to you, too,” Perry said gruffly.
Before she could even get her own brain in gear enough to protest, the spell had broken and Clark rose. “We’re nearly finished here, Mr. White. I’ll just get back to you later.”
Trying to shake off her uneasiness, the dark-haired woman shot him an indignant look. Great. Leave me with the Chief now that I’m all off-balance. Thanks. But with that thought came the realization that they both had already seemed agitated. One dark brow furrowed then as Lois glanced from her boss to Clark and back, finally noticing their tense expressions. Clark was practically scuttling to the door. I have this really bad feeling suddenly… Suspiciously, she asked, “Perry, what’s going on?”
His answer was surprisingly brusque, even for Perry. “What’s going on is your harpy tongue finally drove Clark to resign, Lane.”
Her jaw dropped; her chest too tight to breathe This was not at all what she had been expecting this morning. Despite the words exchanged at The Pulitzer ceremony, Lois was utterly thrown for a loop. “What are you talking about? Resigned?”
Clark had actually opened the door when he heard Perry’s reply, and he shut it again rather more firmly than usual. “Mr. White, I told you it has nothing to do with Lois,” he said sternly.
“And I’m telling you that’s bullshit,” Perry shot back. “Sit down, Lane.”
“This is not Lois’ fault,” Clark said, all but glaring at Perry. “Mr. White, I thought I made it clear that the responsibility was mine.”
Knowing the way she had been treating him just made the protectiveness all the more excruciating. Why couldn’t he just be a jerk about this? Why wasn’t he yelling and screaming at her? Lois finally managed to regain her senses enough to step between them, catching Clark’s gaze. “I don’t need you to defend me, Clark; I didn’t back then and I don’t now,” she said harshly, even more sharply than she meant to.
For just a second, he was startled and hurt, her words applying to more than the current situation. That gave Perry an opportunity to say, “Fine, fine, you’ve made your point, Kent. Now scram, I need to talk to my assistant.”
Clark hesitated a moment longer, but Lois’ stern expression made things clear. She didn’t want him there. “I’ll clean out my desk,” he said quietly, and left.
“Lois,” Perry said warningly.
Her mind was still spinning. Clark, actually quitting? Not like she hadn’t asked him to leave, but… It was too much to process at the moment, and Perry’s glare was more than she could deal with. Before she could stop herself, words sprang unbidden to her tongue. Words that could only be from one source. “Listen, White. You can have a senior reporter or an assistant editor, but not both. Clark and I cannot work together anymore. That’s it; it’s over, finito, finale. Make your choice.”
What the hell did I just do? she thought, even as she spun on her heel and stormed out of Perry’s office. He might very well take me up on that – and fire me. And it didn’t help that Clark was still right outside the office, his wide-eyed expression making it clear that he’d heard her angry words. Lois flinched when she saw it as if shying from a physical blow, unaware that she and Clark were thinking exactly the same thing at that moment: How did I screw this up so badly? From the day we first met, when everything looked so promising, how did we get to this?
Part of Lois wanted to whisper an apology; part of her wanted to simply run. She obeyed the latter, heading for the elevators, completely unaware of anything except her own pain.
The doors were actually closing when Perry slipped in between them, cornering Lois in the elevator car. Before she could even open her mouth, he smacked the ROOF button and the elevator started to rise. “I’m doing this in here away from prying eyes as a favor to you – by rights I ought to bawl you out in front of everyone in the city room. Like it or not, we’re gonna talk about this, Lois.”
Uh-oh, this is bad – he called me Lois, he really means business. “I fail to see where there’s anything to talk about, Perry,” she said coldly, not quite meeting his eyes.
Perry looked at her incredulously for a moment, then thumbed the STOP button, freezing their car between floors. “Then open your eyes, Lois, and look at mine when you talk to me. You’ve been an insufferable bitch to Clark since he came back, and I want to know why.”
How dare he! The General’s Daughter roared like a lion in Lois’ mind, hasty words leaping from her mouth before she could stop them. “Insufferable bitch, am I? Then get yourself another assistant, Peregrine. I never wanted this job in the first place!” Lois’ saner half yelped, Oh, my God, shut up! I’m gonna talk myself right out of a job if I keep this up! That’ll look great – I win a Pulitzer and two days later I get fired!
Perry wasn’t fazed. “Please, Lois, you’re as much a Daily Planet institution as 42-point headlines and bad coffee. I’m not firing you. But I think the gamble I took on you when you were sixteen deserves some honesty, so cough it up: what the hell is going on with you and Clark?”
“Gamble? I won you a frikkin’ Pulitzer, Perry, I think that pays off any gamble you took in hiring me!”
“It wasn’t just hiring you, Lois, and you damn well know it! I let you stay at my house for six months when you first started working here. The only friends you had in this town would’ve killed you with secondhand pot smoke if you’d kept on staying with them. But still, you were an attractive underage girl living with her boss – if that wasn’t just begging for the Star to publish an exposé on my hiring practices, I don’t know what was! Not to mention, I co-signed for your first car, I invited you to my family’s Thanksgiving and Christmas when you couldn’t go home – hell, I was your father in all but blood! That arrogant bastard who spawned you might’ve been a four-star general, but he had no idea how to raise his firstborn. Don’t you think, after all we’ve been through, you owe me the truth?”
Every word seemed to make Lois shrink further into herself. It was true; Perry had been there for her when her own father scorned her. He had encouraged and supported her, emotionally and financially, and all he’d ever asked in return was that she become the best damn reporter she could be. And now he was asking for this as well – a confession.
“Things have just gotten so complicated,” she said at last, frustration loosening her tongue. “It’s not just the four of us anymore, Perry. Everything’s changed in the last six years. Clark walked back in expecting that everything was going to be just the way he left it, and it’s not.”
“Okay, and can you translate that into simpler terms? I’m a man, I don’t do this touchy-feely emotional stuff.”
Lois shot him a look of pure venom. “In man-speak, Clark always had a thing for me before he left. And he still does.”
Perry sighed, rolling his eyes. This is why I never had kids – they state the obvious like it’s a revelation. “So? What’s the problem?”
“What?!” Lois said disbelievingly. How much clearer can I make it?
“You’ve put guys in the hospital before for harassing you,” Perry elaborated. “So take care of it – I know you can. Plus the guy has always had a crush on you – you knew that when he started working here. Him and every other straight man in this office. Hell, I think the one girl in the mailroom’s sweet on you, too. Clark liking you is not news. Cut the bullshit, Lane – what’s really going on?”
“Perry, I just can’t break his fingers or something,” she snapped back. “He’s Clark, not Lombard. But now he’s having a hard time realizing that I’m engaged to someone else.”
“Looked like he wasn’t the only one Friday night at the Pulitzers.” Perry cocked an eyebrow at Lois as he spoke. “Matter of fact, it looked like you started that.”
Her jaw dropped open. Well, Perry, it’s like this. Clark is really Superman, and I’m in love with both of him. Oh yeah, that’s a one-way ticket to Bellevue right there. And if that doesn’t give the Chief a heart attack, I can say I’ve known since I was about four months pregnant with Clark’s twins. I’m also mad at him for leaving me and for erasing my memories. I can’t decide if I want to kick him in the teeth or kiss him, and I’m being torn apart by my own feelings. Oh, yeah, and by the way, Richard’s helping to drive me nuts because he’s getting suspicious and possessive and wants to know everything about me, starting with my kindergarten report card! Bring on the straitjacket, folks, he’ll think I’m insane – and I’m almost ready to agree with him!
All she actually said was, “Perry … I don’t … I don’t know what to do anymore, I don’t know what to think…” And then, hating herself for it, she started to sniffle. I will not cry, I’ve done too damn much crying over this man lately, I will not cry in front of Perry…
Perry watched the conflicting emotions chase each other across Lois’ expression. It was fairly obvious to him, from the way she’d been acting and the near-miss kiss Friday night, that Clark’s feelings for her were at least partly reciprocated – although it would take torture to drag that admission out of her. And of course he’d known how she felt about Superman; no other man on this planet had knocked her for a loop the way the hero had. To make things even more complicated, what she felt for Richard wasn’t faked. The boy had had to chase her for a long time, but Lois did honestly love him; she wouldn’t settle for less. Perhaps if the other two had stayed gone…
Now that Clark and Superman had both shown back up, Lois found herself caught between three men. None of it was her fault, and she was too damned honorable to do anything but be hurt by it. And too damned proud to show the pain – Perry knew how that went, locking the ache way down inside until it turned into anger. Anger could be harnessed and made to drive a person’s ambitions; it was a far more useful emotion than pain. But it could also break loose and lash out, often at the very people you loved best.
Poor Lois, Perry thought, watching her fight to hold back the tears that threatened. What’ve you gotten yourself into now? And in spite of the fact that the one you’re with is my nephew, all I want is for you to be happy. You’re the daughter I never had.
“Easy, Lois,” he said softly. “I’ll take care of it.” Far more gently than the rest of the office would have believed, he drew her into the circle of his arms and let her bury her face in his shirt. Her shoulders shook as he held her, surprised again by how very delicate she was. The force of her personality could overwhelm, and it was easy to forget how petite Lois was, how much spitfire temper fit into such a small package.
After cleaning out his desk, boxing up the few things that belonged to him, Clark took the rest of the day off. He had an appointment later that afternoon to look at a one-bedroom on Shuster Avenue, and that seemed promising, but until then he had nothing to do.
In his pocket, his new cell phone chirped, startling him. The things had become ubiquitous during his absence; even Ma had one, and she’d insisted that her son carry one as well. As a matter of fact, the little display screen claimed his caller was Martha Kent. Pressing the TALK button, he held it to his ear and said, “Ma?”
“The one and only. We just got in, and I saw your messages on the answering machine. You were trying to reach me?”
“Yes, Ma. I tried the house and the cell all weekend. Where’ve you been?”
“Ben and I went up to Emerald Lake. There’s a Scrabble tournament there, and the trout were biting. Of course, I didn’t realize I’d left the cell phone on the charger in the house until we were halfway there. I’m sorry if you worried about me, son.”
He sighed, shaking his head. “It’s okay, Ma. I just needed someone to talk to. Actually…” Clark glanced at his watch. Four hours until his appointment. “Are you busy this evening?”
Martha hesitated. “Oh, son, the bridge club meets tonight. I’m supposed to host; I can’t back out now. But I’ve got a little time before I have to get ready.”
It felt weird discussing this on the phone while walking down the street surrounded by crowds, but at least a third of the people around him were carrying on conversations of their own. Clark had even heard someone mention their bloodwork results, casually discussing white cell counts and lipids while any passing stranger could listen in. He supposed anonymity was privacy enough. “Well, Ma, it’s like this. Friday night, I found out that Lois remembers everything. She told me.”
“Oh, my. And what did you say to her?”
“I didn’t have a chance to say anything. She ran off, and then she left the Pulitzer award ceremony early because that snake Luthor showed up and threatened her kids.”
“Good heavens! They’re all right, though?”
“Yes, I checked. She has police protection, too. Some strange things have been happening lately, robberies that make no sense. We can’t prove Luthor’s involved, but it’s him. I’m certain of it.”
“Whatever he’s up to, you’ll catch him. You’ve always stopped him before.” Ma sounded perfectly confident in him, and he took heart from it.
“Yes, but it’s been so close. Of all the people who want to hurt me, only Luthor really scares me, Ma. And now he’s after Lois and her children.”
“Well, he won’t be able to do much more than threaten with you and the police watching over her. But seriously, Clark, have you had a chance to talk to Lois?”
He laughed. “Not really. And I don’t know what I’d say if I had the chance.”
“Whatever you do, don’t try erasing her memories again! No woman likes to have her mind messed with, and with what I know from reading her articles, that woman least of all.”
“Oh, trust me, I won’t. One mistake is enough to learn from.”
“Smart boy. Now, you wanted my advice, so listen carefully. When you do finally get a chance to talk to Lois, apologize first. She’s going to yell – let her. Half of what she says is going to be just because she’s angry and scared, so don’t take it too personally, all right? All you want to do is make amends; you have to get through that first before you try repairing the friendship. Sound good?”
“Sounds wise,” Clark replied. “I love you, Ma.”
“Love you, too. Be good, and don’t be a stranger!”
“If dinner with your son can fit into your busy social schedule…”
“Clark! Stop being a wiseacre! You’re always welcome here – you’d be welcome tonight, except you don’t play bridge and you’d be bored to death.”
Somewhere, a fire truck’s siren wailed. So much for an afternoon off. “Gotta go, Ma – duty calls.”
“I love you, Clark. Be careful!”
Richard was unusually quiet Monday evening. The whole office had buzzed with tension he couldn’t define or explain, Lois was being distant, and Perry had been distracted. He would’ve liked to talk to his uncle about Lois, about the widening gulf between them, and see if Perry had any ideas on how to bridge it. But the editor seemed to be heavily preoccupied, avoiding him. Even the Monday Morning Massacre lacked its usual bite. Lois was pale and silent throughout.
Something had happened that morning while Richard was running down specifics on the newest designer drugs coming out of Eastern Europe. The twins seemed to have caught the subdued mood, making themselves scarce after dinner. Richard hadn’t even heard them arguing. Like any newsman worth his salary, he hated this feeling, this intuition that something was afoot and he had no handle on it.
Lois breezed through the kitchen like a wraith, pouring herself a glass of milk. Perhaps she thought Richard didn’t see the shot of Scotch she tipped into it; perhaps she didn’t care if he knew that her nightcap had become more high-powered of late. He came up behind her and kissed her hair, feeling her hesitate for an instant before tipping her head back onto his shoulder. Richard hated that, too, that new pause in all her responses, as if she had to remind herself constantly who he was…
“Time to put the kids to bed?” was all he said.
“Mm-hmm. Me, too. I got caught in traffic this morning; gotta go in early, get some actual work done soon.”
What were you doing this morning, Lois? What made you so thoughtful and quiet all day? “Let’s get the brats settled, then. I got them into their pajamas right after the eight o’clock news. Jason wanted to finish that picture he was working on before bed, but he should be done.”
She sighed, taking a deep breath as she unconsciously ran an idle hand through her hair. “Okay. Let’s round them up.”
But there was only one twin to round up. Jason was in the living room, yawning while he finished coloring the last few spikes on a stegosaurus’ back, but Kala was nowhere to be found.
Instantly, Lois’ heart turned to ice in her chest, her pretty face sickened with suspicion that struck her to the core. Luthor. With that thought firmly in her mind, she raced through the house, calling for her daughter, at first angrily, then with increasing hysteria as there were no signs of her. No, no, no! Please God, she’s only a baby! “Kala Josephine, you answer me! Where are you?” The tremble was clear in her voice, but there was no reply from any quarter.
Richard dashed out to the squad car in front of the house; the officers hadn’t seen anything, no one had gone by them. He met Lois as she raced out the front door and stopped her long enough to say, “No one came out the front.”
She looked at him blankly for a moment, mind working double-time, and then her expression turned to utter horror. “The river,” Lois whispered, and tore away from him.
Jason had come to the open front door to watch them with only mild concern in his blue eyes, and Richard went to him, catching him up and following Lois around the house. She had gotten to the dock, but froze there, staring. Richard breathed a sigh of relief as he saw Kala sitting calmly on the end of the dock, looking up at the night sky. Jason squirmed out of his arms and padded to his mother.
Lois had never understood the phrase ‘my flesh creeped’ until that moment. Somehow, she knew not just what Kala was looking at, but who she was looking for. Oh my God, was all she could think, icicles dancing up and down her spine. She didn’t even realize Jason was walking past her, heading out to where his twin sat in her nightgown swinging her feet and gazing at the stars.
The little boy craned his head back to look up, following his sister’s gaze, and then glanced down at her just as she looked at him. They shared a strange, almost secretive smile, and Jason commented, “Pretty.”
“Very pretty,” Kala replied. No further conversation was necessary. They both turned to look at the sky again, unaware that their shared curiosity was giving their mother a massive case of the heebie-jeebies.
Richard came to stand beside Lois. He didn’t know why, but the scene affected him too, filled him with foreboding. There had always been something a little bit … enigmatic about Jason and Kala, some sense that they weren’t like other children. He had always written it off as a combination of their fragility, their precociousness, and the inexplicable bond between twins, but now, it felt like something more. Something else.
The twins were not allowed on the dock alone, and they both knew it. Ignoring either parent when they called was an even worse transgression, and Kala had to have heard Lois yelling for her. Breaking the rules demanded consequences, but Lois was too spooked to care. When she finally found her voice, she simply called their names again.
Both twins looked around, and when Lois said, “Bedtime,” they came trotting back to her as if nothing was amiss, going as far as to both hug her tightly. But that weird feeling still lingered, and when Richard caught Lois’ gaze over their heads, she looked honestly frightened.
The large ballroom’s acoustics amplified the sound of Kitty’s high heels slamming into the hardwood floors, and Lex grinned as she stomped over to him. Still mad about the brakes. Well, I couldn’t take the chance of her acting skills not being up to par. She’ll get over it.
Kitty stalked to his side and stiffly held out his drink; Lex grinned a little more when he saw it. The martini glass was nearly filled with olives, probably only one shot of gin in there to keep the garnish company. He speared one silently, leaving Kitty holding the glass.
She would not look at him; instead she looked at his desk, at the coverage of the Pulitzer award ceremony in the Daily Star. Without naming Lex, the reporter had hinted at some unspecified threat to Lois Lane’s children, and the article made a point of mentioning the police presence around her house.
“Well, I hope you enjoying scaring that Lane woman,” Kitty said nastily. “Whatever you had planned for her kids, you blew it by warning her.”
“My mind works in ways too subtle for the average man – or woman – to comprehend,” Lex all but purred, taking another olive. “I’m not going to do anything to Lois or her kids. Not yet.”
“But why did you do that Friday night then?”
He smiled. “To make her worry. While I get my affairs in order, my enemies will be trying to defend against an attack that won’t materialize. Maximum disruption of her life with minimum effort on my part. And it will wear down their vigilance so that when I finally make my move, they’ll be completely unprepared.” Lex finally took the glass from Kitty and sipped the gin.
“You devious bastard,” she finally said, staring at him.
“Brilliant devious bastard,” Lex corrected, and ate another olive.
Kitty sat on the edge of Luthor’s desk, striking a provocative pose. Lex was deep in thought, his eyes locked on the photo of Lois Lane walking up the red carpet to the awards ceremony, his expression unreadable. After a few moments of being ignored, Kitty sighed, “I suppose we’ll just have to find some way to keep ourselves busy until your mysterious plan comes into effect, huh?”
He smiled that evil smile again. “Oh, I expect we’ll have some entertainment shortly. I’m expecting a package from the Clerk of Records in Paris. Its contents should be … interesting.”
And thus ends Act Two.
In case we haven't said it enough, we love you all. The excitement and encouragement of our readers is what has pushed us to work on this story, to make it the best it can be. And yes, we will soon be returning the favor by reading and commenting on everyone else's work, too.
There will be a little break while we finish plotting Act Three (almost done!) and write up the Interim chapter(s) that take place between the two acts. In the meantime, to get your Little Secrets fix, we recommend the following:
Kala's latest video: How Do You Love?
Kala's videos and other Superman videos she enjoys can be found at the link in the profile.
These were the musical influences for the story thus far:
John Ottman (SR)-Reprise/Flyaway, You Are Not One of Them, How Could You Leave Us?; and of course, Little Secrets/Power of The Sun
Ella Fitzgerald-Heart and Soul ('The Dance')
Diana Krall-Fly Me To The Moon (The song that Jimmy couldn't dance to)
Billie Myers-A Few Words Too Many
Nickelback-Do This Anymore (Any Scene Between Lois and Kal-El)
Breaking Benjamin-Diary of Jane
Tori Amos-I'm Not In Love (Remix)
Robbie Williams-Advertising Space
Five For Fighting-100 Years
Lifehouse-You and Me
Sara Routh-You're Never Gone (Lois on the Dock, Repercussions)
Damian Rice-The Blower's Daughter (Okay, Okay, Cheesey, But It Works)
Matchbox Twenty-You Won't Be Mine (Clark Watching Lois)
Sia-Breathe Me (Lois Struggling With Her Feelings Of Longing For Him)
Evanescence-Call Me When You're Sober (Nix The Drinking References And You Have The General's Daughter's Theme)
And John Williams' AMAZING Original Soundtrack.
There Are More, But Most Of Them Would Give Away Points From Act Three.