Navigating Denial


Rated G

Submitted August 1999

Summary: When Lois and Clark's son, Perry, realizes he has super-powers, there is only one conclusion he can draw — his mom had an affair … with Superman!


What was that quote? The boy was sure it was from Sherlock Holmes. Anger and confusion had clouded his thoughts. He was usually very good at bringing up obscure bits of trivia, but that was just one more of those *things*. Those things that made him different. Not at first, and not at once, but gradually, and inexorably. Those things were taking him over. Remaking him. Into what? He could not concentrate. The truth had overtaken his best efforts to deny reality. He was not human. He never would be. Not even this truth, however, hurt as much as not being told.

The boy stopped in front of his home. He used his new-found power to see through objects. Neither of his parents were home. He walked inside and sprayed every room with his x-ray vision. He was looking for … what? He was only sure he'd know when he found it. A metal box tucked behind an old comforter in the closet. He retrieved the metal box, and though locked, it was nothing for him to simply thumb it open. He pulled out old newspaper clippings. It became immediately apparent why these clippings had not been put into the family scrap book. They all showed Lois Lane in the company of Superman, and even one showed his mother kissing Superman moments before he was to fly off and do battle with the Nightfall asteroid. "How could I be so blind?" He put the clippings back into the box, and then stuffed the box back behind the comforter.

The boy left the house and started heading up Hyperion. He had no destination in mind, but he knew he did not want to be home when his parents got there. He felt betrayed. Having the truth confirmed did nothing to make him feel better. He'd suspected for a long time of course. How could he not? He was faster and stronger than the other guys his age, but even this he tried to justify as good genetics. His genetic makeup was good all right. It was "super." His personal fable ended when he looked right through the chalkboard in class that morning. He couldn't excuse the truth any longer.

He continued his aimless walk, but stopped short when he noticed himself across from the Daily Planet. Why not? It was more or less a milk run for him. A travel pattern ingrained in his head. He decided to hurry on, but since fate had nothing but the cruelest of timing planned for him this day, his mother emerged from the building. "Perry!"

The boy contemplated the possibility of just walking on, as if he had not heard her, but he knew how insistent she could be. He sighed and crossed the street. She put an arm around his waist and kissed his cheek. "How was school, sweetie?"


"Any homework?"


Lois studied the boy a moment. "Is something wrong, sweetie?"


Lois knew her son like she knew her husband. They both became monosyllabic and disconnected when holding something in. "Perry, you know you can tell me anything."

Perry looked at his mother accusingly, "Well, you know, mom, that goes *both* ways."


Perry shook his head, "Never mind. I'm sorry. I just have some stuff to do." Without another word, Perry hurried up the street.

Clark approached his wife while straightening his necktie, "It was a false alarm at the jewelry store. Was that Perry?"

"Uh huh. Something's eating at him."

"How do you know?"

Lois smiled and finished straightening Clark's tie. "He had that *obsessive* expression."

Clark smiled, "Like father, like son."

Lois clasped her husband's hand as they began their leisurely stroll, "I'm serious, Clark, he seemed upset."

"I'll talk to him."

"I hope you get a less cryptic response."

Clark glanced down at his wife. Though now in her 40s, she was still as beautiful as ever, and was often whistled at by men half her age, "How do you mean?"

Lois shrugged, "I told him he could tell me anything, and then he said …" Lois cut herself off, and then turned sharply to face her husband, "Oh God, Clark, I think he knows!"

"Lois, honey, he can't. I mean he hasn't exhibited any powers. Believe me, when I first found out I was different, I went straight to my parents. It's a scary thing."

Lois sighed, "I guess you're right. I know we decided not to let him in on *your* secret until he was 15, but — "

"That's just a few months away. Don't you think it's slightly possible you've been thinking about that moment when we tell him, and just maybe got a little — "

"Carried away?"

"Um … well, not that you ever get carried away," Clark smiled.

"Nice recovery, Kent." She took Clark's arm and they continued walking. "I guess you're right. There's a thousand things a fourteen year old can think of as earth-shattering. I sometimes forget how melodramatic I was at that age."


Lois brought her briefcase around and smacked Clark soundly on the rear, "Keep up the sarcasm and I'll cook dinner."

"I didn't know sarcasm was grounds for murder." The couple, and their laughter, disappeared around a corner.


Perry took a deep breath, and entered Dr. Klein's private lab. "Hi, Uncle Bernard. Busy?"

Klein smiled, "Not really, Perry," he said, but did not look away from his microscope, "I've been working on a method to defeat the tendency of Reverse-Transcriptase virii's to mutate." He pulled out the slide, "As soon as I put this away, we can continue our discussion of nanotubule synthesis by bacteria."

"Not today, Uncle Bernard. I want to discuss something else."

Klein smiled, "Happy to, Perry. You're the brightest kid I know, and not just because you call me 'uncle'."

Perry took another deep breath, "I know the truth, Uncle Bernard."

Klein blinked a moment, "The 'truth'?"

"About who my father *really* is."

A flask Klein had been lifting to the rack slipped from his fingers. Perry, in a blur of motion, retrieved the flask before it hit the floor. He handed the flask back to Klein, "The truth."

"Thank heavens," Klein sighed, "I'm glad you were told. I don't like keeping that kind of secret."

"I wasn't told," the boy said sourly, "I don't hold anything against you, Uncle Bernard. I mean it makes sense they had to come to someone like you. I just don't know if I can forgive my mom."


"You can't understand how I feel, Uncle Bernard. I'm a freak!"

The boy began to pace, "Why did she have to love … *him*?"

"Perry," Klein said softly, "He's the finest man I've ever known, or ever expect to know."

"So that excuses everything?"

"No, I didn't say — "

"Truth and justice, that's a joke! Where was the truth, Uncle Bernard? He lied!" Perry looked down at the floor, "she lied," he said, in a much softer voice, "My mom lied."

"Perry — "

"I have to go," the boy said, his voice cracking a little. He left the lab swiftly, but closed the door none too gently.

Klein picked up the phone and dialed Perry's parents even before the tubes in the rack stopped rattling from the boy's thunderous exit. He explained the situation to Lois, who seemed to possess an almost psychic awareness of Perry's distress, and promised that Clark would look for him immediately.

Klein closed his eyes as he hung up the phone. Was it really that long ago that Lois walked through the door and dropped *the* bombshell? It was so vivid a memory. She was a bit upset, distracted, but that was really nothing new for Lois Lane. He had asked her what she needed, and she became restless, or agitated, as if she could not sit still.

"Well, I have news," she had said, but was looking everywhere but directly into Klein's eyes. She glanced at her watch frequently. "Kind of big news, actually — "

"I hope good news, Ms. Lane." He had prompted.

"Very …it's very good news." Her voice was airy with nervousness, and still she consulted her watch. "I'm … I'm expecting a baby."

"Wonderful!" Klein had beamed. "Congratulations!"

"Thank you," she had responded, still obviously holding something back. "Um … I do need a good doctor though."

Klein shrugged. "No problem, I know a fine OB/GYN I went to school with, and she — "

"No, Dr. Klein. I was hoping that you would be my doctor."

Klein remembered how flabbergasted he'd felt at that moment. It was so out of the blue, and so bizarre a request. "Ms. Lane, I don't do clinical work, but even if I did, it wouldn't be in that field. I'm flattered you would — "

"I need a scientist with a medical background, Dr. Klein." She had blurted out the sentence.

"I don't understand."

"I'm pregnant with Superman's baby."

Klein clearly recalled how his head began to swim, and how his blood had turned to ice, "Oh, God," he had whispered. "I knew you were close to Superman, but I didn't think you were *that* close!"

"Dr. Klein — "

"I guess I saw all the signs; the way you looked at him, the way he looked at you."

"Dr. Klein — "

"You were always here for him when he was in trouble — "

"Dr. Klein, please — "

At that moment Clark Kent had come rushing through the door. Klein smiled to himself remembering how terrified he had felt. Petrified that Clark would become violent. He had stood in front of Lois in a protective stance, "I know how you must feel, my boy, but violence is never an answer! Don't make me call security!"

"What?" the handsome young man had asked, and truly seemed lost.

"I told him that I was pregnant with Superman's baby," Lois had said matter-of-factly.

Clark Kent's face had brightened, "Great! So, Dr. Klein, are you going to be Lois's doctor?"

Klein's terror transformed into indignation, "Is this modern marriage? Is this all the more wedding vows mean? I've always respected you two and Superman more than anyone I've ever known, and now you turn out to be … hippies!"

Lois smiled that crooked smile. Klein came to realize over the years that smile indicated he had said something to date himself. She rose from the chair and stood next to her husband. "I love Clark more than anything or anyone, Dr. Klein." She then loosened Clark's necktie. "The rest is up to you, sweetheart."

"Thanks, honey," he had whispered, and kissed her softly.

"This is something I've never told anyone, Dr. Klein. Not even Lois technically, since she figured it out for herself." He removed his glasses, and tucked them into his jacket. He looked familiar, but not familiar in the sense of just being Clark without glasses. He loosened the tie further, and then pulled open his shirt. The Superman costume fairly seemed to glow with vivid color contrasted by the pastel shirt and gray jacket.

"It can't be," Klein had whispered. Not in an attempt to be quiet, but because he felt he was scarcely breathing.

Clark spun around a couple of times. Now fully in the Superman disguise, the young superhero spoke in a plaintive tone, "Please, Dr. Klein. Will you take care of my wife?"

Klein remembered how dumbfounded he had felt at that moment. He had sat in stunned silence for a long time, and then smiled. He smiled not just because they had trusted him with the world's biggest secret, and not even because they were intrusting him with their child, but because he had been wrong about …

"Oh my!" Klein exclaimed as he snapped back to the present. The images of years ago dissolved like a sand castle hit by a wave. "*That's* why Perry is so upset!" He redialed Lois.


Lois and Clark sat on the sofa. Both periodically consulting their watches and the front door. Clark sighed impatiently, "Are you sure Bernard's right about this? It seems so farfetched."

"Sweetheart, you told me yourself how scary it was when you started discovering your super powers, right?"

"Yes, but — "

"And your first thought was to go to your parents, right?"

"I know, but I can't believe he'd — "

Both became quiet as they heard the front door open. Perry stepped in, and no longer looked angry. If a description could be given to his expression, 'resignation' would come the closest. He looked up, "Sorry about earlier. I'm okay now."

Lois ruffled Perry's hair, "No permanent harm done, sweetie. You want your dinner?"

"I guess so," he said flatly.

As soon as Lois disappeared into the kitchen, Clark looked down at his son, "How long have you known?"

The boy looked stunned, but only for a moment. "How long have *you* known?" He asked, and the sarcasm resurfaced.

"Since Dr. Klein called."

"Oh … I'm … I'm sorry you found out that way."

"It's okay, Perry."

"Okay? Okay! How can you be okay with this?"

"Because I love you, Perry."

The boy, a tensed mass of conflicting emotions and loyalties, put his arms around his father, "I love you too," he said, his voice breaking. He began to sob, "I don't want to be Superman's son."

Clark stroked his son's hair, unable to recall the last time he'd seen him cry, "It's not as bad as you think, Perry."

"I know, it's worse!" He broke away from his father and dropped down on the sofa and covered his tearful eyes with his arm. "I want things back the way they were … the way I *thought* they were."

"Nothing has really changed, Perry."

The boy sat up, "How can you say that? How can you stand the truth?"

Clark sat next to his son. "The truth is just the truth. It doesn't matter if you just now discovered the truth, or you discovered it years ago, nothing can change it, or what you are." Clark put his arm around Perry's shoulders, "I know how you feel."

"Right," Perry laughed bitterly. "I'm not talking about zits or the senior prom here!"

"I know," Clark smiled, "you're talking about this." He lowered his glasses and stared intently at something on the coffee table. Perry followed his gaze to a bowl of ribbon candy. As he continued to watch, the candy softened, and then began to lose shape. After a moment it began to bubble. The boy's eyes widened as the bowl too became pliable and lost its shape, allowing the now liquid contents to ooze steaming onto the cool glass table top.

Perry, his eyes still bulging, and his jaw gaping, turned back to his father, "You — "

"Your mom's gonna kill me for that," Clark said, and pushed his glasses back into place. "Believe me, Perry, it's not all bad. When you're older you'll be able to do the best part," he said, and levitated off the sofa.

"Mom!" The boy screamed, and ran for the kitchen. Lois, who was just about to put his plate on the table, was interrupted in mid-stride. The boy hugged her, and buried his face in her shoulder, "I'm sorry, mom. I'm really really sorry!"

"For what, Perry?"

Clark, now dressed in the Superman costume, walked into the kitchen, "For thinking you and I had an affair." He emphasized *I* by tapping the S shield on his chest."

Lois smiled, "So Bernard was right."

Perry blushed, "I really am sorry, mom, dad." He looked at his father, "Wow, you really are *him*."

Clark took the plate and set it on the table, "I really 'are'," he smiled and leaned against the table and folded his arms. "Still wish things were back to normal?"

The boy sat at the table and sighed with relief, "They are, dad. I wanted to be your son, and I am, and I wanted mom to just love you, and — "

"She does," Lois completed his sentence. "That's why you didn't come to your dad or me when you first discovered your powers."

"Yeah," Perry said, and blushed again. "I didn't think dad knew, and I wasn't sure you knew … well, I mean you might not know if I was Superman's son, or dad's son. Maybe I should say 'Clark's' son, but I don't like thinking of dad by his first name — "

"You've inherited my babble gene," Lois shook her head, "I'll never forgive grandma Ellen for letting you watch Melrose: The Next Generation when you spent the summer with her."

Clark laughed and pulled Lois to him. Perry glanced up from his plate and watched his mother and Superman share a kiss. He suddenly remembered the Sherlock Holmes quote from The Sign of the Four, "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."