By Adrienne Vukovic (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: Clark gets in trouble with Lois for possibly endangering their son's life.
Author's note: This fanfic has been sitting on my hard drive in one form or another for a very long time. The first draft was written in January 1996, thus you will have to excuse the lack of acknowledgment of Dr. Klein's TFH discovery that LNC shouldn't be able to have children. Besides, LNC always win in the face of adversity, or against unbelievable odds. So this is just something else that they will overcome one way or another, although I do not broach the subject here.
This piece is about one small serious issue with a lot of associated fluff. Thanks go to Debby Stark, Kate (Lois_Lane on IRC) and Gail for their helpful comments and editing.
I don't own the characters in here (with the exception of Jason). Does ABC still have a hold on them? WB and DC Comics own them, although I prefer to see DC in CK's clothes than that pony-tailed guy they used in the comics. I have just borrowed them for a short story, and you can have them back now.
Clark took Jason for a ride. Well, a flight actually. Jason loved being above the clouds as much as his mother did. While Lois was sleeping in, Clark thought he and their son would duck out and buy a nice breakfast somewhere. Chocolate croissants from France maybe? Fresh tropical fruit from Hawaii? Clark pondered his options.
Clark held Jason under one arm, his cape flowing behind, allowing the child to watch the world slip by underneath him. Jason was always silent, fascinated by the world below when he flew with his Dad.
Upon hearing a surprisingly loud rumbling noise from his son's belly, Clark slowed and rolled lazily to his back, shifting the baby to sit astride his stomach. Reaching into a hidden pocket, Clark handed the baby a Jason-sized piece of bread, and watched the baby gnaw on the food, gurgling happily and enjoying the view far below. Jason loved to watch the tiny little cars so far below him. Clark spied a flock of birds flying not far above his position. He pointed them out to Jason, who gurgled more happy noises. Jason tried to crawl off Clark to follow the birds. Holding Jason down before he managed to leave the safe platform of his chest, Clark began to follow the birds. The routine was a familiar one to both. Jason sat still again, while his Dad helped him get closer to see the birds better. It didn't matter what kind of birds, as long as they were in the sky Jason would want to follow them.
It was while flying over the southern coast of the USA that Clark figured it was time to get to the task at hand -- breakfast. After waving good-bye to the birds the pair headed out toward the islands of the Caribbean. Even though it was still early morning on a Sunday the place was a bustle of people. Finding a safe place to land and change wasn't always easy. Moments later, Jason and father emerged from a quiet back alley, Superman gone, Clark Kent emerging in his place. Once at street level and able to move around freely, they headed toward a market place.
For Lois, any freshly baked pastry would do, Clark had decided, just as long as it had chocolate in it somewhere. Walking through the market, Clark spied a fruit vendor.
"Perfect," he said to Jason. "Fresh papaya to complement the pastries, if we ever find any." Jason who was happily absorbing the unusual sights and sounds of the foreign market place gurgled in response to his Dad, then spied some bananas at the vendors stall and quickly lunged toward them. Complimenting his son on good taste, Clark bought a small sugar banana too. Knowing Jason was still a little too young to understand that the banana would have to wait till they got home, Clark found another Jason-sized piece of bread for him to chew on for the trip home. Clark chuckled to himself realising he would let Jason smear food on his best formal suit but not THE suit. How do you explain that to a child not yet walking?
They moved off toward an indoor shopping hall, hoping to find a bakery. Clark followed his nose and was quickly successful. Fruit and fruit tarts with chocolate decorations in possession, Clark looked around the area for a safe place from which to depart.
The trip back to Metropolis was much faster. The Kent Express could arrive virtually instantly if Clark wanted it to, but Clark tended to limit his speed with Jason in his arms. Still, Superman and passenger were back in Metropolis less than five minutes after Clark and Jason left the bakery. They arrived just in time to witness a bus full of children, apparently all from the same sports team, careening out of control, heading down a steep hill with a sharp drop on one side. Clark knew he had to help, even with Jason in arms. From his height he could see that the authorities already knew the bus was in trouble but could do nothing until it came to rest. Unless he helped, that would be at the bottom of the ravine.
Descending to almost ground level, he dropped his purchases, and, pulling his cape over the arm with Jason, he set off after the bus. He grabbed the rear tow hold; he allowed the bus to decelerate at a safe rate. The bus came to rest precariously over the edge of the road. Having determined that both the hand brake and foot brakes were non functional, Clark had no choice but secure the bus somehow before Jason began protesting loudly at being covered and unable to see. Clark knew he would have to find a way to leave before Jason revealed himself, getting his father in hot water with his mother, and most likely the rest of the country. With one hand Superman pulled the bus a little way back up the hill where there was a tree large enough to stop the bus rolling any further. After checking that the tree would hold the bus, Superman quickly took off, straight up, before the approaching horde of emergency vehicles reached him.
Superman, with son and items he had purchased not ten minutes earlier arrived home, having spent the whole trip home scolding himself for endangering Jason. Lois was still in bed when they arrived. She was listening to the hourly newscast on the radio. Clark put Jason in his chair in the kitchen while he put breakfast-in-bed necessities on a tray. Of course, he listened to the radio too. He hoped that the bus incident had yet to reach broadcast status but was also curious to learn that everything gone smoothly after his hasty departure.
When the jug boiled for the coffee, Clark poured the water, the last element on the tray to be ready. Clark picked up the tray and Jason and walked to Lois in bed. Lois smiled and greeted her family good morning. Her first priority was the coffee. While she sipped her first coffee of the morning, Clark seated Jason on the bed and peeled the banana for the baby. He apologised to him in fatherly tones that he couldn't have eaten earlier, when they bought it.
"When you have mastered eating your banana without leaving me wearing most of it, then you can eat them on the way home."
Lois grinned as she watched the exchange. Just as she was settling happily to watch her family and enjoy her imported breakfast, the radio news, interrupting the weather information with a late breaking story, informed her that Superman had saved a bus-load of people, not five minutes earlier. He had also left in somewhat of a hurry, not talking to anyone at the scene, according to the report.
Lois' internal grin departed in a hurry. Clark felt her mood change. A cold stare came his way. Clark knew what she was upset about. But he really had no answer. When it came to ignoring those who needed his help, Clark could not resist.
"Lois you know I can't just let a full bus plummet off a cliff!"
"And what about Jason? He could have gotten hurt, you know he isn't invulnerable, and what if someone saw Superman with a baby in his arms?" Lois was trying to maintain a level voice in front of Jason and only just succeeding.
"I would never endanger Jason, and you know that. No one saw him. We left before any cameras arrived and I was careful to hide him so he could not be seen from the bus. I thought briefly about putting him down with the food, but I decided that taking him in arms was safer. It was the best of a less than appealing set of options, Lois." Clark wanted Lois to understand his predicament. He wasn't thrilled at having to make a choice between thirty strangers and his son either. But there had been no apparent danger to Jason. Clark went on to describe exactly what he had done, and how he had hidden Jason with his cape.
He didn't really expect this to appease her. Lois' underlying fears were for Jason's safety. He just needed her to sort her fears from her anger before they could continue their 'discussion' of the matter.
"That really doesn't change the fact you put your own son in danger," she snarled.
Lois got out of bed after a few moments' uncomfortable silence, and headed to the bathroom with her coffee, leaving banana-covered Jason with Clark in the bedroom.
Lois tried to keep her thoughts rational as the hot water from the shower poured over her. Clark had described how he pulled his cape over to hide Jason, and how he had left in a hurry, before Jason became restless from being unable to see. Lois fumed for a few moments, gathering her thoughts in order to chew Clark out in the correct order. She wanted to know how he would have prevented Jason from getting hurt if the bus had gone over the edge. She wanted to ask him what he thought would happen if someone had seen Jason in his arms. Surely there had to be a better solution, and they needed to find it. No doubt Clark would find himself in a similar situation again someday.
She realised that Clark would more likely let others meet their fate than let Jason, or herself, get hurt, but accidents did happen. This wasn't the first time Superman had had to make a rescue while he was out with Jason, but it was the first time the rescue had been so urgent that he couldn't quickly drop Jason at home first. There had been a leaking oil tanker not two weeks earlier, but the 30 seconds extra it had taken Clark to deposit his son with Lois was not life threatening.
Clark returned to the kitchen with Lois' ex-breakfast- in-bed. After consuming his share, which included the bruised part of the papaya from when he dropped it, he set the remainder out on the table for Lois, cleaned up Jason, and took him to his room to change him. Deciding to go out to the local park with his son while it was still early, they arranged the necessities for a trip to the park and left Lois a note before leaving.
Jason and I are at the park. I know I took a risk this morning and I am sorry. If you want to talk we will be playing in the sand. No superheroes and no emergencies. Just the rest of your family who misses you.
I love you,
Lois reread this several times while eating her half of the papaya. She knew when she married him that she could never ask him to refrain from being himself, and helping whenever he saw need. And she new that Superman would find an explanation for having Clark's son with him.
Mostly she feared for Jason's safety. Lois' thoughts were in the middle of wishing Clark would take the issue more seriously when she realised that if anything he took their son's safety more seriously than anyone. The few scrapes and bruises Jason had managed in his short life had brought home to both parents that Jason was by no means indestructible. Once she had isolated this as the cause of her emotional response, she felt ready to go and talk about it with Clark.
She approached them in the sandbox, carrying Jason's always forgotten bucket and spade. Even if Jason was too young to use it, there was no point in having it sit in the cupboard at home.
Clark smiled, both at Lois and at the two items that he could never remember to bring along till it was too late. Sitting down behind Jason, she took his hands and helped him to fill the bucket with sand to make a sandcastle.
Clark was silent, watching, knowing Lois would want to have a chance to speak first, to comment on his letter.
After the first castle was tipped out and had only half crumbled away, Lois checked around her for unwanted ears before speaking. The playground was empty. She explained her real fear to Clark. Accidents happen, even to Superman.
"I can accept that Superman with his best friend's son is a reasonable excuse if anyone ever questions Jason flying with you, but I still want to know what you would have done if the bus had gone over the edge."
"I never doubted that I could catch the bus before that happened. I really don't know what I would have done had it left the road. That possible outcome never occurred to me till after we left the scene," Clark admitted softly, almost ashamed that he hadn't thought a bit further in advance before getting involved. "It is so hard to weigh up the possible danger to one person that you love with the death of thirty people you don't know."
As the third sandcastle was tipped out, she belatedly realised Clark had been reliving the incident in his mind since he left the scene, looking for an alternative to how he responded. It wasn't that he had been careless with Jason's safety. He had just drawn a blank to options that he, and she, would have preferred. Understanding Clark had not taken Jason's presence lightly, she moved closer to him in the sandpit and, leaning on him, she offered her emotional support and unspoken apology for assuming Clark had neglected Jason in his situation analysis not that much earlier in the day.
"Just try and keep him as far away from trouble as you can, okay?" she asked, more conviction in the look in her eyes than the spoken word.
"Lois, do you honestly think I don't do that already?"
Lois knew that no real solution to their problem existed. She knew she couldn't ask him not to take Jason out flying, but also that she couldn't ask Superman to stop rescuing people. But she only now realised Jason would always be Clark's first priority, and that nothing could ever change that.
Relieved that she finally understood his actions, he placed an arm on her shoulder while he told her how he came to his decision that morning. With no time to take Jason home before stopping the bus, he could either have put Jason down and left him alone, or take him along. Leaving the almost mobile infant alone for any period of time being unacceptable, Jason had to go along.
"You know, Clark, he disappears in an instant. Leaving him alone is never an option. Imagine when he starts walking, he could get up and disappear into the unknown, only to reappear in 20 years time as the incredible Super-Wolf-Man or something. A flying hairy superhero raised by the wolves." Lois joked, knowing it would never happen since Superman would quickly catch up with the 'runaway', but strangely she found the image hilarious.
Both smiled at the thought and the sombre mood was broken. The parents went back to the business of helping Jason build a second level to their sandcastle. Lois thanked Clark for the wonderful fruit he brought for breakfast.
As the hour grew more respectable and other fathers and sons arrived on their weekend trip to the park, the Kent Family made moves to leave. Clark held Jason up which allowed the child to destroy the sand masterpiece they had created by jumping on it. Lois began wiping the sand off Jason, checking all the places that only exist after trips to a sandpit, knowing that the other half of the sandpit would end up at their apartment despite her cleaning efforts. It always did.
Lois gave Jason a quick ride on the swing in her lap before they began walking home. Jason, back in Clark's arms, happily spread another banana over himself and on the napkin on his dad's shirt.
Extra thanks to Debby for the SuperWolfMan idea. I really liked it and I don't think I did it justice ... sorry!