Okay, so…this week was Inventory at my job (also known as Post-Christmas Hell Week) and for that reason, we’re stretching the definition of ‘Saturday posting’. But we’re only an hour late! *big grin*
Lois grinned evilly. She had to admire this Jonathan Kent; he might look and sound like your basic salt-of-the-earth Farmer John type, decent and hard-working, but he was shrewd enough to have skewered her dad right there. It was almost enough to mollify the slow-burn of exasperation at how damn trusting Kal-El was.
Back on New Krypton, he’d had the sense to play his cards a little closer to the vest. Here, he seemed to think he could trust everyone. Well, the bulletproof thing might’ve had something to do with that, but she was still annoyed.
Lois’ annoyance had a much better target at the moment, and watching her father try to backpedal was very satisfying. “Of course it’s going to take time to set up the logistics,” he said smoothly, and perhaps only she could see that he was making it up as he went along. “It may take more than a day to call off the manhunt and arrange access to the facility where the ship is stored.”
“That’s fine,” Kal-El said, and put his hand over hers. Then those royal blue eyes were meeting her hazel ones, and Lois’ aggravation seemed to melt away—with a final flicker of peevishness that he could do that with just a look. “We have a lot of catching up to do.”
“Of course,” her father grumbled, and Lois managed not to laugh openly at him.
He recovered a bit by adding, “We will of course retract the escaped prisoner story, but all the same, it’d be best if you stayed under cover. I’d prefer if you would keep me informed of your whereabouts, as well, just to minimize any potential problems.”
Don’t make a run for it, in other words, and Lois just rolled her eyes as Kal-El agreed politely. Then her father was rising to leave, and he gave her one last indecipherable look before turning away.
The next few minutes saw the removal of soldiers from the Kent farmhouse and environs, with Martha Kent diligently sweeping out the dirt they’d tracked in. “Well then,” Jonathan sighed, and looked around. “That was … eventful.”
“Maybe it’s better to just get all the revelations over with,” Pete said, still eyeing Kal-El. He’d been particularly impressed with the casual strength that had bent back the rifle barrels, it seemed. Someone like Kal-El, who now had the ability to wreak all kinds of havoc, and who chose to use it to prevent further destruction, definitely spoke to Pete’s sensibilities.
“And we did come over for dinner. That’s as good a time as any for sharing information,” Lana interjected.
“That we should,” Martha said, and luckily for them all the roast in the oven was still just as delicious as it would’ve been before the unexpected reunion and arrival of the soldiers.
Once they were all seated around the table, Connor napping in his car seat beside Lois, they were able to pick up the thread of conversation that had been derailed earlier. “I’m still serious about marrying you,” Kal-El said. “And it seems your father is realizing that it might be in his best interest to agree to a wedding.”
“What gave you that idea?” Lois scoffed.
“The fact that he left,” Lana answered. “Lois, the two of you managed to back him down—with a little help from Jonathan.” The redhead grinned at that, and Jonathan raised his glass of tea in acknowledgment.
“I was expecting something more along the lines of ‘never speak to my daughter again’,” Kal-El admitted.
Pete chortled. “Maybe he knows his own child better than that. I can imagine what Lois would say to him.”
“I’d tell you, but we’re in polite company,” Lois sweetly replied.
Lana chose that moment to elbow her, albeit gently. “Yes, well, try telling off an overprotective daddy without resorting to a drill sergeant’s vocabulary. Much more of a challenge.”
That piqued her curiosity a bit. “Your dad didn’t want you dating Pete?”
The Rosses and the Kents all laughed. “Oh, no,” Pete told her. “My dad didn’t want me getting mixed up with her.”
“Oh, no, you’re going to tell the story,” Lana sighed.
“You started it,” Pete pointed out.
“And now someone has to finish it or I’ll die of curiosity.” Lois crossed her arms and eyed them both. Honestly, she’d wondered how the two had gotten together.
Pete’s grin was dazzling. “Cheerleader, prom queen, probably the wealthiest family in Smallville? Dad figured Lana was just flirting for the shock value and didn’t really mean anything by it. Or that she was planning to get me beaten up by her quarterback boyfriend. What was his name, hon? Whitney?”
Lana sighed heavily. “I’d broken up with him a year ago. He just never acknowledged it and kept asking me out, no matter how many times I said no! And anyway, I think your father’s opinion of me was a bit worse than that.”
Leaning toward Lois with a conspiratorial smirk, Pete continued, “She stood up to him, though. Sat on the front porch swing until he had to invite her in or look like a jerk. Red did have an ulterior motive, though. I had the best grades in American History, and she wasn’t getting her notes from anyone else.”
“Well, I did want to pass, and that teacher bored me to tears. But we didn’t come over here to rehash our high school drama.” Lana looked toward the Kents, and then met Kal-El’s gaze. There was a question in her green eyes, even a little challenge, and he met it solidly. It hadn’t taken him long to realize that the Rosses, and Lana in particular, were as protective of Lois as the Kents were of him.
“Even if you two were the talk of the town,” Jonathan teased, then turned more serious. “You’re right, we need to put our heads together. Miss Lane—”
“Lois, please,” she interjected.
“Lois, then. Can we trust your father to take care of Clark? Or do you think he’s got something else in mind?” It was an honest question, and Lois saw that the older man had come to think of Kal-El as a son. Despite all the revelations, he was still the young man the Kents had grown to love. A pang of envy went through her; not only did Kal-El have a father who adored him, no matter how aloof Jor-El could be, he’d also found another father-figure who was protective of him despite the whole ‘bulletproof’ thing.
“I don’t trust my dad for one second,” she said flatly, then looked Kal-El in the eye. “You don’t trust him, either. As long as he needs you, you’re safe. But he won’t spare you for my sake or Connor’s. Duty comes before family, with him, and if it’s in the best interest of the United States, he’ll throw you to the Consulars in a heartbeat.”
She thought he would argue—Kal-El, who always saw the best in everyone, who had even been able to forgive her betrayal, would surely underestimate her father’s patriotism. Instead he just nodded slowly. “I would say it surprises me that a man that ruthless had a daughter like you, but I know you.”
At that, Lois bristled. “And what exactly do you mean by that, Kal, son of El?”
Another of those stunning smiles, though this one had a trace of regret in it. “You’re a founding member of the Resistance, Lois. And you were getting information from me for them. I know you’ll do almost anything for a cause you believe is righteous. Not to mention, you escaped from military custody and went undercover to protect our son.” He put his hand over hers then, stroking a fingertip across her knuckles. “I’m the same way, though. Remember, I’m the one who committed treason and flew an experimental spacecraft all the way here, only to crash it, because I believe what my people did to yours is so fundamentally wrong I still can’t explain it in words.”
For a long moment, Lois could only blink. “Wow. So, is seeing right through people also one of the new little ‘quirks’ you’ve picked up?”
“Actually… ” Kal-El’s eyes lit up in a mischievous grin.
Lois cocked her head when he trailed off. This particular power had only just started to show, and Kal-El took a moment to focus. He stared at her intently, trying to figure out how it had worked before. He’d really needed to see through the barn then. Now, it was just a test, and nothing seemed to be happening.
She crossed her arms, her expression showing the slightest hint of annoyance. Kal-El narrowed his eyes, concentrating fiercely, needing to know if this was something he could control. Being able to see through solid objects would be a huge advantage in any sort of espionage.
Connor chose that moment to wake up, making a little mumbling noise, and Kal-El turned toward him. The car seat was angled so Lois could see into it at a glance, but the side prevented Kal-El from seeing his son. And as Connor let out a whine, he wanted to know why.
The plastic went misty, then the fabric underneath, and he saw Connor clearly. That also happened to reveal the boy’s complaint. “He’s lost his pacifier,” Kal-El said.
Lois was already reaching to replace it, and stopped to stare at him. “What?”
“I can see through things, sometimes,” he told her. “I saw through the barn wall earlier. And I just saw Connor through the side of the car seat.”
As he spoke, he wasn’t consciously trying to see through Lois anymore, but at the incredulous look on her face he smiled. This time trying to look through was more impulse than effort, and it was her blouse that went misty, revealing a charming pink bra.
The smile became a broad grin, and Lois arched an eyebrow at him. “I’ll tell you later,” he laughed.
“Kids,” Ma sighed, and Kal-El realized he might not have been as subtle as he’d thought.
“Seriously, though,” Pete said. “Whatever General Lane wants, you have to stay in touch with us. He has a duty to use you and your powers. I can’t say that I don’t want you to help us win this war, but I can see that you want to win it for yourself.”
Kal-El had to break in. “Not quite. I don’t want to win a war. I just want to end it.”
“Amen to that,” Lana replied, taking a sip of sweet iced tea.
“For you—and for us—an end to this is winning. Nobody here wants to rule the world.” Pete’s bright smile flashed forth. “Well, maybe Lois.”
She stuck her tongue out at him, but Kal-El noticed that she didn’t actually disagree.
Pa spoke up then. “The generals are the ones thinking about winning wars. None of us want General Zod to get what he wants. I’m not sure I even want things to go General Lane’s way. The one thing we can’t do is accept a lesser evil. If you want to make things right, you can’t do it halfway.”
“There’s got to be a way to end up in peace,” Ma said. And the rest of dinner circled around that topic, how to get life back to normal. The easy trust and casual friendship among the group was exactly what Kal-El wanted—for both of their peoples.
After dinner, Kal-El helped clean up, while Martha Kent wouldn’t hear of company lending a hand. They had coffee in the living room, Lois easing herself down into an overstuffed chair. Connor had had his dinner as well, and drowsed on her shoulder.
Lana was curled up on one end of the couch, and as the Kents came in, she thanked them for dinner. “I’m afraid we’re going to have to head back to the house, though. If we stay much longer, General Lane will think we’re conspiring against him.”
“Aren’t we?” Lois asked with mock-sweetness, getting a chuckle from everyone.
“And I think Clark should come with us,” Lana continued. “I feel a bit safer having him and Lois and Connor in town. More witnesses, in case General Lane does decide that dragging everyone off to area 51 is a good idea.”
“What is area 51?” Kal-El asked.
Lois smirked. “You’ll love this. A base out in the middle of the desert where some people thought aliens landed, back in the 50s.”
He did laugh, but turned serious again. “Ma, Pa, this is probably going to be the last night I spend in Kansas for a while, so I don’t really want to go…”
Jonathan scoffed. “Son, if that was my wife and child, wild horses couldn’t keep me away. Go. We’ve had you all to ourselves for weeks.”
“And you will come back,” Ma declared, her voice firm. “I don’t care what happens out there, you’d better come home to me.”
“I will,” he told her.
Their eyes met, and what she didn’t say spoke through them. You are the son I never had. I can’t lose you. And his response in his steady regard, I will be as safe as I can be, but I must do this.
Knowing that they would part quieted the usual after-dinner chat, and Kal-El went out to the Rosses’ car with Lois and Connor. He rode in the back, letting Connor amuse himself by patting at his hands. “He’s so perfect.” The words were out loud before Kal-El even realized he’d spoken.
Lois sighed. “Yeah, he is. Not the souvenir I expected when I headed out to New Krypton, but a damn good one.”
The sun was going down, and in its slanting rays he saw her with unusual clarity. Lois had been so young when she first came to New Krypton, a girl just about his own age, scared but determined beyond her years. Now she almost seemed older than he was, more serious, and that probably had a lot to do with the little life that depended entirely on her. “I love you. You know that, right?”
“Even though I turned your life upside-down?” She asked it as if she expected him to recant.
He could only answer with the truth. “Especially because you turned my life upside-down. Where would I be without you, Lois?”
“Home, for one.”
“Home is where you are.”
Her eyes looked startled, even though he’d said as much before, and Lois reached for his hand. Their fingers interlaced, they rode the rest of the way to the Rosses’ house in companionable silence.
Only when they turned into the garage, Lana stopped, her hand on Pete’s arm. “I think we’ll drop you kids off here,” she said. “Pete, honey, we need to swing by the store. Martha’s strawberry-rhubarb pie reminded me I’m out of flour, and we’re almost out of sugar.”
Kal-El saw Pete look confused for a second, and then his features smoothed out. “Oh, right. Here, Lois, take the house keys.” She took them, a bit bemused—just as Kal-El was.
Lana turned in her seat and regarded them with a mischievous grin. “Don’t worry, we’ll take at least an hour shopping. And we’ll call when we’re on the way back.”