By Alicia U. <email@example.com>
Submitted: January 2002
Summary: In the author's "Final Forgiveness," Sam Lane was diagnosed with terminal lymphoma, and Lois, Lucy and Ellen all dealt with his illness in their own ways. This story continues to explore everyone's reactions to his death in the several following months.
Lucy Lane rolled out of bed and stretched lazily. It was a beautiful Saturday morning in California, and what made it even more beautiful for Lucy was that it was the day that she was finally moving back to Metropolis, the home that she had missed so desperately these last few months. It had been a horribly stressful last few months for her. She was in her final semester of college and getting ready for her finals when she found out that her father, who she hadn't spoken to in nearly thirteen years, was dying of a terminal form of lymphoma. Her sister, Lois, had tried to convince her that she needed to give her father a chance to make amends so she wouldn't regret not talking to him one last time before he passed away. Lucy was under enough stress with her impending final exams; she did not need to think of her father. Plus, Sam Lane had never been much of a father to her, or to her entire family for that matter. She had too many reasons not to forgive her father for everything he had done to her in her life, but when Sam Lane lay on his deathbed, Lucy realized that he was the only father she would ever know. She traveled to Metropolis on the day Sam died, and made her peace with him. It might not have settled everything that had happened between the two of them, but at least she had seen him and talked to him one last time. No matter how badly he had hurt her, he was and would always be her father, and she owed it to him and to herself to be there when he died. As soon as he told her that she would always be his little angel, he died in her arms.
Now, finally, all of her troubles seemed to be over. She had made a final peace with her deceased father, and even thought she regretted not being able to spend more time with him while he was alive, she was satisfied that he had known that she loved him in spite of everything he had done. And, just a week ago, she had finally earned her degree in elementary education. For the past four years, Lucy had worked long and hard for that degree. The flighty days of her youth had come to an end, and she was ready to settle down into a real, adult life with a real job back home in Metropolis. Sure, California was a great place to live. Lucy loved the warm weather, the sunny beaches, and all the good friends she had made there, but Metropolis was her home, the place where she belonged. She missed her sister and desperately hoped to renew the close friendship that they'd shared when they were children. The one thing she had missed the most in her years in California was her close bond with her sister. When they were growing up, at times, Lois had seemed more like a mother to Lucy than her mother ever did. In the past few years, though, Lucy and Lois had drifted apart, and Lucy knew that Lois wanted to renew their close relationship as much as she herself did. One of the only things she would regret about leaving California would be leaving her roommates, Jenny and Chen. Over the three years they had lived together, they had forged a very close friendship. She would always treasure the advice they gave her when her father was dying. It was Chen who had convinced her to give her father a second thought, and it was Jenny who had helped her realize that she had to give her father a second chance. Jenny was the one who convinced her that she had to see he father one last time before he died. For that advice, Lucy would be eternally grateful.
Now, on her last day in California, she knew exactly how to thank her two roommates, the two young women who had proven to be her best friends. She had called her sister when she knew for sure that she would be moving home. Lois agreed to find out if Superman would mind helping her move. Lois had called her yesterday and told her that Superman had agreed to help her move and to stop by and meet her roommates. Superman had been Jenny's obsession since the day Lucy met her, and Chen also had a thing for the Man of Steel.
Lucy stared at the boxes that cluttered the floor of her now-empty room. A tear ran down her cheek as she realized that at this time tomorrow, she would no longer be in the room that she had called her own for the past three years. No matter what anyone tried to say, those three years were probably the best years of her young life. She had made so many friends, fallen in love so many times, shared so many laughs, and cried so many tears with so many people over the last three years, and that was what she was going to miss the most.
Lucy heard a gentle knock on her door and then Jenny's cheerful voice. "Lucy, are you up, girl?"
Lucy giggled silently. She sure would miss Jenny's cheery voice in the morning, as much as it annoyed her to no end.
"Yeah, Jen, come on in."
Jenny, followed closely by Chen who was carrying a tray full of Lucy's favorite brunch foods, walked into Lucy's room. Jenny's eyes were filled with tears as she ran to hug Lucy.
Jenny sobbed, "Oh, Lucy, we're going to miss you so much!"
Chen added, her eyes also showing traces of tears, "We brought you your favorite breakfast."
Lucy smiled; yes, she really was going to miss these girls. "Thanks, guys. I'm famished."
The three young women sat on Lucy's bed, which was now only a mattress and a box spring on the floor, and they devoured their food amidst casual conversation. They talked about Lucy's new job, about Chen's latest class that she hated, and finally about Superman. Jenny could never get enough of that topic, and she never tired of trying to speculate just what he was doing at that moment.
Lucy made sure she sounded nonchalant when she said, "Well, Jen, that's easy," with a noncommittal look in her eyes. "He's on his way over here."
Jenny and Chen both did double takes. Superman was on his way over here? "What?" they shrieked simultaneously.
Jenny went into a manic state, running around the room and screaming, "I have to get dressed. Where's my makeup? Chen, have you seen my eyelash curlers? What should I wear?"
Lucy and Chen stared at her in amazement. How one woman could have that much energy or talk that quickly was beyond either of them. Finally Jenny ran out of the room in a panic, trying to remember where she had put her bathing suit.
Lucy and Chen looked at each other and Chen raised her eyebrows. "Aye yah, bathing suit? What does she plan on doing with a bathing suit? I bet you're not going to miss that, huh, Luce?"
A single tear dropped down Lucy's cheek. She brushed it away and sighed. As much as Jenny had annoyed her in the past, Lucy would always remember her fondly, and even miss her little idiosyncrasies. "Actually, Chen, I am going to miss it. I'm going to miss both of you so much!"
Chen swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat. She wrapped a small arm around Lucy's shoulders and squeezed her into a tight hug. "I'm going to miss you so much, Lucy." A small smile perked on her lips. "But why can't you take her with you?" She teased, "Please? I don't know how much longer I can take it!"
Lucy giggled. She might miss Jenny occasionally, but she would never want to live with her again. "Sorry, Chen, never, never again!"
"Ba paw." Chen broke down laughing because she knew Lucy had no idea what she had just said.
"What was that, Chen?" Lucy grabbed Chen and shook her. "If that means what I think it means, you're dead."
"Lighten up, Luce, it didn't mean anything bad. Well, not really that bad. Okay, it means bitch. But I mean it in only the nicest terms."
Lucy realized then and there that she would miss Chen more than anyone she had met in California. Where else would she get to perfect her newly acquired skills in Cantonese?
In Metropolis, that same morning, Lucy's sister was just rolling out of bed when she realized that her husband was already up. Lois Lane stood up and stretched lazily. This was the first Saturday she'd had off from work in a long time, and she fully intended to spend it relaxing. Clark was going to help Lucy move back into her mother's house this afternoon and then they were going to have a nice, quiet family dinner at her mother's house. It had certainly been a while since the words nice, quiet, and family had been used to describe dinner at her mother's house, but Lois was willing to believe that it could be a success. Somehow, the one good thing to come out of her father's death was that she and her mother had become much closer. However, Lois had been a bit apprehensive about eating her mother's cooking because it was notoriously bad, probably more notorious than her own cooking was! However, her mother had assured her repeatedly that they were going to be eating take out tonight so she had nothing to be worried about.
In the months since the Lane family had reunited to help Sam as he faded away, Lois and her mother had become very close. Ellen was no longer the domineering, annoying, interfering mother that she once was. Somehow, losing Sam had made her realize that she needed to have a better relationship with her daughters and, luckily, she realized that she would have to adjust her own attitudes to make her daughters more willing to accept her. Ellen watched Sam deal with the fear of dying alone and she seemed to realize that it would be her fate too if she didn't rectify her relationship with her daughters now. In fact, Ellen was starting to act more like a friend to both of her daughters and less like the domineering woman she had once been.
Lois, too, was somewhat changed. She understood her mother so much better now, and they had forged the beginnings of a good friendship. She could not wait for Lucy to get home so that they might again be able to renew the close bonds of the friendship they had once shared. Lois looked at the clock on the bedstand. It was still too early for Clark to go help Lucy. No matter how excited she was to have Lucy home for good, she didn't want to wake her sister up at eight a.m. in California.
Lois padded downstairs into the kitchen to see if she could find some breakfast for herself. When she reached the bottom of the stairs, she heard Clark fly in through their bedroom window. Seconds later, she felt, rather than heard, him approach her from the back. She turned around and caught him as he was about to place a kiss on the back of her neck. "Hey, Clark, you're home. Where were you?"
Clark smiled and pulled her into a hug. He sighed as she captured his lips with her own. When the kiss broke, he said, "It wasn't anything much, just a little charity event. I figured I'd be back before you even got up."
Lois raised her eyebrows. "A charity event? So early in the morning?"
Clark trailed his hand down her back and she sighed in contentment at the shivers he was sending through her body. "Well, it's not early in New Zealand, in fact it was late evening."
Lois' eyebrows climbed even further up her forehead. "New Zealand?"
Clark laughed heartily at Lois' bemused expression. "Yeah, I do it every year. It's a charity dinner for the Aukland Children's Hospital. A lot of people only come because Superman is there. I only stayed for a few minutes. I'm sorry, I just must have forgotten to mention it."
'Yeah, he conveniently forgets to tell me a lot of what Superman does,' Lois thought. However, she begrudgingly admitted to herself, 'But I still love him anyway.' She smiled and looked into his the deep pools of brown that were his eyes and said, "Just as long as you're not out with another woman, I don't care."
Clark shook his head vehemently and kissed her cheek. "Never, Lois. You know I'd never do that." He stared into her eyes and said, "I cross my heart."
Lois blinked a stray tear out of her eye. The thought of a man being unfaithful to his wife had just brought back an image of her father, and image that she would not want to remember. She had been trying to remember the positive things that her father had done for her and her family. Lois closed her eyes, trying to force herself to remember her father when he saved Clark's life or when he had apologized for everything he had done to hurt her in her life.
Clark gently brushed his thumb across her face to brush away her warm tears. He quietly whispered, "I'm sorry, honey. I'm so sorry."
Lois buried her head into his shoulder. "It's okay," Lois said, her voice muffled by his sleeve.
Soon, Lois forced a happy thought into her mind and suggested that they grab a quick breakfast.
In another part of Metropolis, Perry White, editor of the Daily Planet, lay in bed alone. He sighed when he realized that this was the first day off he had taken in over fifteen years. What was he going to do on this day off? He was going to spend it alone, what else? Sam Lane, even though Perry hardly knew him, had taught him a valuable lesson. Dr. Lane spent most of the last fifteen or so years alone, and when he found out that he was dying, he had almost faced a slow, lonely death alone and unwanted. Perry knew he was headed down the same treacherous road. He and his wife, Alice, had divorced nearly a year ago because Alice had finally gotten sick of the way he was more attached to his work than he was to her. His life nearly paralleled Sam's in the fact that he was never there for his wife or children when they needed him the most. What right did he have to ask his family to accept him now? What he wanted most in life was to have a relationship with Alice and his kids. He didn't want to be like Sam when his time came. Perry wanted a doting family surrounding him when he was on his deathbed. And he wanted to experience the family life that he had missed for all those years.
He had called his ex-wife as well as his sons, but they did not seem responsive to his efforts. Jerry was still in prison for the bad cheque scandal, but he was due to be released soon. Perry wondered if he had been there for Jerry when he was growing up, would Jerry have turned out to be a criminal? Larry must have had caller ID, because whenever Perry called, someone picked up the phone and slammed it down again. And Alice, whenever he called her, listened to him for a few minutes, but she always ended the conversation, "I wish I could believe you, Perry."
Perry despaired that he would never get a member of his family to speak to him civilly again. He would do whatever it took to get his family back, no matter what it entailed. If he had to call every day, if he had to drive all the way to Iowa, or even if he had to quit the job that he loved, if he could get his family back, then that's what he would do.
Back in California, Jenny ran around the apartment like a chicken with its head cut off trying to make herself look perfect for Superman. She honestly believed that she might be able to make a play for him and that he just might take her in his arms and fly away with her.
"How much longer 'til he gets here?" Jenny exclaimed. She was dressed in her bathing suit, a skimpy, pink bikini with her hair and make-up perfectly done.
Lucy and Chen looked at each other and rolled their eyes. Chen audibly sighed, but Jenny didn't hear.
Lucy scowled at Jenny. "Why on Earth are you wearing your bathing suit, Jen? What are you trying to prove?"
Chen flopped on the couch, eagerly waiting to see just how Jenny would explain herself this time. Knowing Jenny, it would probably be a doozy of an explanation.
Jenny casually flipped her hair over her shoulder. "Puh- lease, guys. Honestly. Do I have to explain everything to you? Obviously I am appealing to his primal side. I have a figure to die for, if I do say so myself, and I am going to use it to my every advantage. If he really is a red- blooded man, he won't pass me up."
Lucy just shook her head. Maybe she had made a mistake when she had asked Superman to stop by for a visit. He was doing her a huge favor, and she didn't want to make him uncomfortable in any way. But Chen did deserve to meet him, and she would not let Jenny's antics deprive Chen of the opportunity of a lifetime.
"Jen, just try to act like an adult when he's here, please," Chen pleaded. "I don't want to be embarrassed by my roommate acting like an obsessed child."
Jenny flopped onto the chair opposite Chen and stared at her with cold eyes. "I would never do anything like that to embarrass myself, let alone you. Don't you think I have more class than that?"
Lucy muttered under her breath, "Sure. Right. Whatever. What did I get myself into? Maybe I should just call Lois and have her tell Superman that I changed my mind. Nah, it's okay. I need to get home today!" Then out loud she said in a menacing tone, "Jenny, you'd better get into some real clothing before Superman gets here, or I'm not liable for what I'll do to you."
The TV was playing loudly in Perry's living room tuned to a broadcast of a big college football game that Perry wasn't remotely concerned about. He lay on the couch just staring blankly at the television without really watching it.
Perry momentarily closed his eyes, trying to relieve some of the pressure that had built up there. What had he done to screw up his life so badly? His wife didn't want to give him another chance. His one son was in prison and his other son ignored his phone calls all together. Maybe he had worn out all of his chances. Maybe he didn't even deserve the time of day from them. But he thought that if he made a conscious effort to reform his life, they might come back into it.
Perry wondered what Sam Lane had done to reconcile with his family. Then he realized that the only reason Lois and her family had given Sam a chance was because he was dying. Perry did not plan to die any time in the near future, so he would have to come up with another way to get his family back.
He eyed the phone cautiously. Should he do it? Should he try to call Alice again? It was worth another shot, so he picked up the phone and dialed those familiar numbers.
Back on the other side of Metropolis, Lois and Clark finished their leisurely brunch and snuggled on the couch together with the morning edition of the Planet. Clark read the Sports Page while Lois scanned the City Page.
Soon Lois folded the paper up and said. "Clark, honey, thanks for doing this for Lucy today. It's going to be so great to have her back at home."
Clark nodded as he put his own part of the paper down. He rubbed her shoulders as he said, "I know. Believe me, I know. This is all you've talked about for the last week and a half. Lucy this and Lucy that." He smiled to take the edge off his words. Clark was also very happy that Lucy would be back in Metropolis. Being an only child, he had always wanted brothers and sisters. It wouldn't be exactly the same, but now he would have a sister.
Lois playfully swatted him in the chest. "I know, but I am just so excited to have her back. She and I were so close when we were young, and I am just hoping that we can renew that friendship."
Clark pulled Lois closer to him. "Honey, I am sure the two of you will be able to work out whatever differences you've had, and you will be close again. Just look at how your relationship with your mother has changed in the last few weeks."
Lois turned to him and smiled. "It's almost too good to be true. She's like a whole new woman. I haven't heard her say one bad thing about my father, my sister, or me in the last few months. I hope she's really changed for good."
"I think she has, Lois. I really do. Your father's death has really affected her; I can see it in her face. I don't think she wants to be in Sam's position when it's her time to go." He pulled Lois closer and tilted her head up.
Lois murmured, "I don't want her to be alone either."
Clark bent down and captured her lips with his own. They lost themselves in their passionate embrace until they both ran out of breath. Lois came up for air with a thoughtful look on her face. She whispered, "Mother won't be alone when her time comes. I'll never let that happen to her."
Clark pushed a stray lock of hair out of Lois' eyes and let his hand linger on her cheek for a moment. "No, *we* won't let that happen to her."
"Lucy, how much longer 'til Superman gets here?" Jenny shouted frantically from her room.
Lucy, who had been trying to get the last of her belongings together from her room, answered, "A few minutes, Jen, depending on whether there's any emergencies. He'll be here soon. You'd better have changed, though, or you're not going to meet him."
Chen walked into Lucy's room dressed in a casual green tank top and a pair of short denim shorts. If she was anxious about meeting Superman, it didn't show, and Lucy was grateful that at least one of her friends was acting like a mature adult. "Did you need any help, Luce?"
Lucy shook her head. "Nope, I'm just about finished here."
Chen sighed. "I can't believe that at this time tomorrow you're not going to be here. What am I going to do?"
Lucy hugged her friend tightly. "I know, Chen. I am going to miss you so much. I promise I'll email you every day, and I'll try to call you guys once in a while."
A tear rolled down Chen's cheek. "Oh, Lucy, what am I going to do without you? It's just going to be Jenny and me. How am I going to survive with her?"
Lucy gave her friend a small smile. "Don't worry. You'll manage. You always do."
The two women each carried a final box out to the living room. After they put the boxes down, Chen flopped down on the sofa and Lucy perched on the edge of one of the chairs. Lucy sighed, "Well, I guess that's it. My room's completely empty."
Jenny walked out into the living room still dressed in her bathing suit, but she had wrapped a short cover-up skirt around her waist. Her hair was teased up into a twist. She had to find the position on the sofa that would make her look the most casual. She flopped down onto the sofa and spread her arms across the back. "How do I look?" she asked in a breathy voice.
Chen and Lucy shared a look and they both rolled their eyes. Jenny would never change. She had spent so much time just trying to look casual, or what her twisted mind might have believed was casual. Both Lucy and Chen wondered why Jenny thought Superman would even take a second look at her when there were so many other women in the world. Lucy knew that at one time he had rejected Lois, so why would he go for Jenny when he could have had Lois?
Lucy glowered at Jenny; that girl would never learn. She didn't look the slightest bit sexy in that outfit. First, she looked silly, and then she looked desperate. "Jenny, I thought I told you to put on some clothes."
Jenny narrowed her eyes at Lucy; who was Lucy to tell her how to dress? If she wanted to wear a bathing suit, how could Lucy stop her? How did Lucy know that she wasn't planning to go swimming after she met Superman?
Jenny ran back into her room and grabbed a hot pink halter- top and threw it on over her bikini top. "There, is that better, your highness?"
The women sat in an uncomfortable silence waiting for Superman to arrive. Jenny fidgeted in her chair, trying to calm her nerves while she waited for Superman, the man of her dreams.
Soon, they heard a noise from one of the windows. Jenny involuntarily screamed. Superman had finally arrived. However, when neither Chen nor Lucy had moved, Jenny got up to look out the window. "Where's Superman? Isn't he here? Didn't you guys hear the tapping on the window?"
Lucy took a deep breath. "No, Jen, I heard a creak from one of the windows. It didn't even sound like a knock!"
Suddenly, they were all taken aback by a loud knocking on that same window. "Superman! It's Superman! He's finally here!" Jenny yelled.
Lucy approached the window, hoping Jenny hadn't scared Superman off, and timidly waved at Superman. She unlatched the window and he flew in.
Superman saw Jenny running towards him and whispered to Lucy, "Is that a bathing suit your friend's wearing?"
Lucy whispered back, "You'll see. I am so sorry, Superman."
Superman cringed, and Lucy thought he looked just like someone else when he made that face, although she couldn't place just who he reminded her of.
When Superman took his first few steps towards Lucy's friends Lucy noticed what she thought was hesitation in his step. Could Superman have been nervous about meeting her roommates? Had Lois told him about Jenny's obsession? Lucy couldn't figure out who he reminded her of, but he sure did remind her of someone else.
Lucy pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind when she stepped up next to Superman and put her hand on his arm. She indicated her friends and said, "Superman, these are my roommates, and best friends, Jenny and Chen."
Superman nodded at each of them as Lucy introduced them. He flashed a megawatt smile at each of the girls individually and they both felt a bit faint. First he looked at Chen, extended his hand, and said, "It's nice to meet you, Chen."
Chen grinned back at Superman, overcome with just how good looking he was in person. She took his accepted hand and shook it never wanting to let go. "Superman, it's so good to finally meet you. I'm a huge fan."
"Thank you, Chen. I'm just trying to make a difference in the world. I am just glad there are so many people that appreciate what I'm trying to do."
When Chen finally let go of Superman's hand, he turned to Jenny.
He extended his hand to her, but before even his quick reflexes could react, Jenny grabbed Superman and hugged him tightly. "Superman, I've been waiting for you all my life!"
Superman coughed nervously. This woman was obviously insane. She was wearing a skimpy skirt and shirt that left very little to the imagination and a very strong perfume, holding him tightly, and professing her undying love for him. He tried to gently pry her off of himself, but to no avail. Jenny was holding him and was not letting go anytime soon. He looked at Lucy for guidance.
Lucy closed her eyes and sighed. She rubbed her pounding head, wishing she had never invited Superman to meet Jenny. Lucy should have known that Jenny would do something immature like this when Superman arrived. Superman should have come in the middle of the night when Jenny would have surely been asleep. Oh well, it was too late now.
Meanwhile, Jenny refused to let go of Superman. She clutched him as if she were drowning and he was her life preserver. Superman looked very uncomfortable, and he was trying unsuccessfully to pry Jenny off. Her grip was strong and he didn't want to break her fingers trying to pry her off.
Lucy studied the situation in front of her. What should she do? Should she let Superman deal with Jenny by himself? That wouldn't really be fair. She had invited him over to meet her friends, and he didn't deserve to be attacked. As she stared at Superman, she noticed that his hair was mussed from Jenny's attempts to hold on to him. Who did he look like? The question raced through Lucy's mind. He looked so familiar. She knew that if she could just look at him a little longer, she'd be able to place him.
Chen sat quietly on the couch watching the spectacle Jenny was making. She wanted to help Superman, but she had no idea what to do. Sometimes Jenny could be so immature. Chen was still yet to figure out what Jenny was trying to prove. Jenny was making a fool of herself, and it obviously wasn't turning Superman on in the way she had intended. If Chen was going to try to woo Superman, which she would never dream of doing, she would have worn a sexy outfit, maybe a short skirt with a long slit and a low cut shirt that accentuated the little curves that she had. She didn't picture Superman as a man that was attracted to tawdry, promiscuous women. If he was, he could have had any number of women. The one woman he had ever seemed to be even the slightest bit interested in was Lucy's sister, Lois Lane. And from the pictures Chen had seen, Lois was far from a scandalous dresser. In fact, Lois seemed quite conservative in her dress, definitely preferring business suits to bathing suits.
Finally, the exasperated, almost frightened, look in Superman's eyes gave Lucy the final clue she needed to realize just who Superman reminded her of. He reminded her of Lois' husband, Clark Kent. She shook her head to clear those vial thoughts from her mind. No, Clark couldn't be Superman. It had to be her mind playing tricks on her. Clark was extremely good looking, and his muscles were oh so impressive, but it wasn't possible. Was it?
Then she closed her eyes. Suddenly she realized that she couldn't prove that Clark *wasn't* Superman! Clark really could be Superman! It wasn't *likely* but it was *possible*. Had she ever seen the two together? No. And that would explain Superman's apparent feelings for Lois. Oh, and how had Superman known that her father was on his deathbed? If he wasn't Clark, then Lois must have had some special means to contact Superman, which was highly unlikely given that Superman had arrived in California a mere few minutes after she had gotten off the phone with her mother. Lucy gasped; Clark really was Superman! She looked over at him again. She studied his profile and tried to recall what Clark looked like from the side. They both had the same chin! Maybe her mind was playing tricks on her, but she could have sworn that Clark and Superman had the same facial structure. True, Clark wore glasses, but he probably didn't need them.
Wow, Lois was married to Superman! That was so cool! Suddenly, Lucy's mind screamed, 'Get Jenny away from Lois' man!' Lucy gritted her teeth as she watched Superman—no, Clark—trying to fend off her crazy roommate. At least Clark was being the loyal husband and fighting against Jenny's advances. Actually, Lucy was surprised that Clark was being such a loyal husband, and she was envious that Lois had found someone so loyal. But what did she expect? He was Superman, and he had to have a history of fending off women that tried to manhandle him. How was Lois able to deal with that? She made a note to ask her sister about it that night.
Lucy sighed audibly. Chen looked sympathetically at her. They were both completely embarrassed at Jenny's conduct. Lucy ground her teeth; she had to get Jenny away from her sister's husband!
Superman looked to Lucy again with pleading eyes, hoping to enlist her help. Lucy got a determined look in her eyes that reminded Clark of Lois at her best. It was funny how two sisters with such different personalities could be so alike sometimes. Or maybe, Lucy and Lois were more alike than either cared to admit.
Lucy stomped over to Jenny and grabbed her arm. Jenny turned and loosened her grip on Superman just enough for him to escape from her clutches. Superman moved back to sit on a couch on the other side of the room, pulling his cape around himself. Lucy pushed her finger into Jenny's chest, her eyes betraying her murderous feelings. Clark had to suppress another laugh because Lucy was reminding him more and more of Lois when she wanted something and nothing would stand in her way.
Lucy pushed Jenny back into a corner before she started talking. "Jennifer Marie Wisniewski, what is your problem? Were you raised by wolves or something? What possessed you to think you could get Superman to notice you by acting like a fool? And why wouldn't you let him go? I mean, please, I thought your parents raised you better than this. You know Superman came here to meet you as a favor to me because I asked him to. He didn't ask to be ambushed as soon as he flew through the window…"
Superman cleared his throat. "Lucy, it's okay. It's really okay."
"No, Superman, it's not okay. It's high time Jenny learned some manners." She turned to glare at Jenny again. "Jenny, I want you to explain to me why you attacked Superman like that. And you owe him an apology."
Jenny visibly sunk. Her shoulders slumped and her eyes lost their previous shine. She said in a small voice, "I just wanted Superman to like me. I don't have many sexy clothes, so I put on my bathing suit at first so Superman would have a view of my figure. And I just wanted him to see me for the woman I am, sweep me up in his arms and fly me away."
Lucy still looked at Jenny scornfully. Chen and Superman sat quietly, fearing that if they spoke, Lucy would turn her anger on them. Superman, obviously uncomfortable, figited in his seat. Both Lucy and Lois were not to be stopped mid-tirade.
Lucy narrowed her eyes at Jenny. "Continue," she growled.
Jenny moved her thumb to her mouth and began chewing on the skin surrounding the nail. She looked to the floor when she said, "I'm sorry for embarrassing you, Luce. But this is my dream come true; Superman's in my living room. I didn't know how to act. Well, yes I did. I let my hormones take over. I mean, a Greek god standing right in front of me. What would you do?"
Superman looked at the ground in modesty. Why did people always have to compare him to a Greek god? Surely he was not that good looking, was he? It was those darned tights! But his mom told him that they cut down on wind resistance, and he had almost grown used to them. And he guessed he agreed with Lois when she said that it was a good thing people looked at his body and not at his face. However, he still did have the right to be a little self-conscious.
Lucy snarled at Jenny, so Jenny quickly added, "Okay, maybe I went a little over board…"
Chen coughed. "A little. Huh."
Jenny continued in almost a whiny tone, "But Superman is my dream man, the one man that I have wanted ever since I first saw him. I can't apologize for my feelings, but I can apologize for my behavior."
Lucy nodded her approval.
Jenny looked Lucy directly in the eyes and said, "I am very sorry for embarrassing you in front of Superman. It was such a nice gesture for you to ask him to meet us, and then I just ruined it for all of us. I am surprised he just didn't fly out the window."
Lucy nodded but checked her response. She wanted to say something nasty to Jenny, but she realized that a nasty response would get her nowhere.
Then Jenny turned to Superman, who was still studying the floor. "Superman, I am so sorry. It's just that I've been in love with you from the moment I first set eyes on you. You are just the most perfect male specimen I have ever seen."
Superman looked up. He was blushing, a very unSupermanlike behavior. "Now, Jenny, I am flattered by everything that you've just said, but you don't even know me. How could you love me without even talking to me? I think you're confusing love with physical attraction, and that isn't fair to either of us. Besides, I could never have a girlfriend. My life is just too busy to be tied down to one place."
Lucy nodded and added, "Would you really want to be stopped everywhere you go by people who want Superman's autograph? Would you like Superman to have to fly away to save someone at every opportunity? I don't think so."
Jenny nodded remorsefully. A tear fell down her cheek when she said, "I'm sorry, Superman, for causing you all this trouble."
Superman stood up and shook Jenny's hand. He moved towards Lucy's stuff and said, "Lucy, I think it's about time we start moving you back home. It's been nice meeting you, Jenny, Chen."
Fifteen minutes later, Superman had moved all of Lucy's stuff back to her mother's house, and all that was left was Lucy herself. She hugged both Jenny and Chen, and promised to call or email as soon as possible. Superman swept her into his arms and Lucy waved goodbye to her two best friends as she left California forever.
When Jenny was sure Superman was out of hearing range, she whispered to Chen, "I bet he's gay!"
Chen shook her head and walked towards her room. Jenny followed her, shouting, "I've never had a guy that was *that* unresponsive to me, if you know what I mean."
Chen slammed the door in Jenny's face.
Back in Metropolis, Perry waited anxiously for Alice to pick up the ringing phone. It had rung six times, and Perry was about to hang up when a breathless woman answered.
"Hello," she breathed.
Perry was silent for a moment, nearly forgetting why he had called. The sound of her voice was like music to his tortured ears. He cherished the sound of her voice, for he was never sure if this would be the last time she would allow him to call her.
"Darlin'…" was all Perry could say.
"Perry? What's wrong?" Alice asked anxiously.
"Oh, it's nothin', honey." There was an uncomfortable silence. "I wanted to ask you if you wanted to have dinner with me." Before Alice could say 'No' or even protest, he added, "No commitment at all. I miss you so much, and you know I've been trying to reform my life, and I just want you and the boys back in it. Believe me, no strings attached. I promise."
Alice sighed. How many times did she have to tell him no? How could she be sure he was telling the truth? How many times could she let him break her heart? But, if he only wanted to talk, what would be the harm in that? Maybe she had let him suffer long enough. "Okay, Perry, just dinner. But I'm holding you to that no strings attached deal! How does tomorrow sound?"
Perry exhaled at breath he hadn't known he was holding. Maybe this was the beginning of the rest of his life. He would convince Alice that he'd changed. She would see the new Perry White, and he hoped she'd approve. "Thank you, darlin'. I promise you won't regret this! So, I'll pick you up at 7?"
"No." Perry's heart fell, but then she said, "How 'bout I meet you there?"
Perry was a little disheartened. Alice wanted to meet him there; that meant she still didn't trust him. But she was still going to see him; at least that was a positive step. "Okay, so 7:00 at The Garden."
"Okay, Perry, see you then."
"Thank you so much, Alice. I'll prove to you that I've changed. You're going to meet the new Perry White. I promise," he drawled.
Alice sighed, "I just wish I could believe you, Perry. You don't know how much I want to believe you. I just don't know if anything can ever change. You like your life the way it is. You love working long hours and late nights. Perry, you know as well as I do that ink runs through your blood. The grind at the Daily Planet is what you live for. It's what comes first. I don't know if I could ever accept that again."
Perry bit his lip. Had he ever realistically believed that she would come running back to him after a single phone call? However, he was making progress. This was the longest conversation they'd had in a year. And she had agreed to see him for dinner. "I hope things can change between us, Alice. I'm trying my best, really I am. I am sick of not having you in my life."
They hung up, and Perry flopped back onto the sofa. He knew that this dinner would be all he'd be able to think about for the rest of the day. In fact, he would probably have to fight to concentrate on anything else.
Suddenly, the football game that he wasn't really watching caught his attention. Metro U. had just scored a touchdown and they were panning the crowd. A man that looked surprisingly like his son Jerry was dancing on top of one of the chairs with his shirt off and the letter "M" painted on his stomach in red. Perry sighed. Jerry was in prison and wasn't due out until the end of the year. Today, he decided to take a ride upstate to visit the son he hadn't seen in two years.
Lucy shifted in Superman's arms. She felt very uncomfortable flying with him now that she knew the truth about him. Should she tell him that she knew?
Superman stopped flying. "Lucy, what's wrong? Are you nervous about moving back with your mother?"
Lucy closed her eyes. She had to come clean with him. "Superman, or should I say, Clark, I know the truth."
Clark nearly dropped Lucy. "What?" he exclaimed.
Lucy nodded. "I just figured it out before, when you were trying to pry Jenny off of you. Don't worry, I think it's kinda cool. Just think, my sister's married to Superman." Lucy wondered why she was taking this news so well. Why was she taking this new development in stride instead of freaking out about it?
Clark took a deep breath. Jenny had really taken it out of him. He didn't think he would ever get used to the fanatics out there, and he sure hadn't thought he would run into one in his sister-in-law's apartment. "Lucy, you can't tell anyone about this. Please. Lois and I were going to tell you and your mother about this soon, and I am so sorry you had to figure it out this way."
Lucy rolled her eyes. Why was Clark making such a big deal about this? She already told him that she thought it was cool, what more did he expect from her?
Clark added, "Thank you for getting your friend away from me back there."
Lucy smiled and her eyes shone as she remembered the look on Jenny's face when she had threatened her. "No problem, Clark. I should have known that she'd act like that, but I thought she had matured. She hadn't acted like that in months, so I thought it would be okay if you came over."
Clark smiled also. "She sure had a killer death grip. I didn't want to break her fingers."
Lucy squeezed her eyes shut, trying to forget about Jenny, the psycho-roommate. "Clark, I am so glad I am out of there. That girl was going to drive me crazy. I swear, I hope Chen convinces her to get some psychiatric counseling."
Clark nodded and then he laughed. "Did you know she thinks I'm gay?"
Lucy laughed heartily. From what she'd seen of Lois and Clark together, Clark was definitely *not* gay! "Why do you think that?"
Clark coughed and turned a shade of red that almost matched his cape. "Well, uh, when we were flying away, I caught the end of Jenny and Chen's conversation. And, um, well, Jenny thinks that I should have, um, responded to her when she was all over me, and since I didn't I must be gay."
Lucy covered her head in her hands, not wanting Clark to see her laughing hysterically. When she was finally able to speak, she sputtered, "I am going to kill that girl when I can get my hands on her! How dare she say something like that? I wonder when she'll figure out that some men just aren't turned on by things like that. *Some* men might be *faithful* to their wives. Besides, if I do say so myself, Jenny is nothing compared to Lois, so why would you want her after you've had Lois?"
Clark's face turned redder and redder with every word Lucy said. "Exactly, Lucy, exactly. I love your sister so much, and I could never do anything that would hurt her…"
Lucy interrupted, "Why is Lois always the lucky one? Why did she find someone like you? Why can't I find someone like you?" A single tear fell down Lucy's cheek, and Clark's heart went out to her.
Clark took a deep breath. He knew that Lucy had been having troubles with all of the men in her life, and she tended to find the worst men and think she could change them. But Clark also knew that his good friend Jimmy Olsen had a crush on Lucy and that he was the type of man that would be perfect for Lucy, loyal, trustworthy, and funny. "Don't worry, Lucy. I'm sure you'll find someone. You're still so young. Lois and I were in our late 20's when we met."
Lucy looked up into her brother-in-law's deep brown eyes that were filled with emotion and smiled. He was right. She was only twenty-four; she still had plenty of time to find a man like Clark. "Thanks, Clark. I needed that."
Clark, who had been drifting towards Metropolis during their conversation, answered, "Anytime, Lucy. If you ever need anyone to talk to, I'm here for you. I've always wanted a sister, and now I have one."
Lucy smiled brightly. She was right, Lois did get all the breaks; Clark was, indeed, the perfect husband. He even accepted her, Lois' flighty little sister.
Before Lucy knew, they were floating above the Metropolis skyline. Lucy watched wide-eyed as they passed over the Trade Towers, the LexCorp tower, the stadium, the Daily Planet building, and the rest of the city. She took in the beauty of the city she had grown up in from a new perspective. Before when she had flown in Superman's arms, she had been concentrating on other, more important, things, but now all she wanted to do was watch the city as it passed beneath her. She had grown up in Metropolis, but she had never realized just how beautiful it was.
Clark chuckled and Lucy asked, "What, what's so funny, Clark?"
"I was just thinking about how alike you and Lois are."
Lucy guffawed, "What! Lois and I are *not* alike! What are you talking about?"
Clark laughed again. "Lucy, that's *exactly* what Lois would have said. You even have the same facial expressions. And this is how Lois acted the first time I took her flying. I think you have so much more in common than either of you realize."
Lucy nodded. When she and her sister were younger, people had remarked how Lucy seemed like Lois' little shadow, with Lucy trying to copy everything that Lois did. "I guess we are, Clark. Would you mind if we stopped at your place first? I want to talk to Lois."
"Sure, as long as you're sure your mother won't mind."
"Oh, she won't mind."
Before Lucy could even blink, Clark had swooped down to the brownstone on Hyperion and had dropped her into their living room. He shouted, "Lois, I'm home!"
Lois came out of the kitchen to greet him, but she stopped cold when she saw him still in his Superman outfit with Lucy standing next to him.
Lucy's face glowed as she smiled at Lois. She ran towards her sister and enveloped her in a hug. "Lois, it's so good to see you again. I missed you."
Lois had not forgotten Clark standing behind the couch, still in his Superman uniform, but she hugged Lucy as tightly as she could. "I know, sis. I missed you too. It's so good to have you home!"
Lucy backed away from Lois and they both turned to Clark. Lucy grinned like the Cheshire Cat when she said, "I told Clark I wanted to see you before I went over to Mom's."
Lois opened and closed her mouth. How had Lucy known about Clark? Had Clark told her? Had she figured it out? Lois addressed Clark, "Honey, Lucy knows?"
Lucy nodded happily. "I figured it out, Lois. And I think it's really cool. My sister's married to Superman!"
Clark sat down on the couch heavily. "Lois, she figured it out. I don't know how, but she did. I know we wanted to tell them together, I'm sorry."
Lois moved behind the couch and wrapped her arms around Clark's neck. "It's okay, honey. Lucy, how did you figure it out? It took me two years of working with him every day to figure it out."
Lucy winked and then said, "Well, sis, I guess some Lanes are more observant than others."
Lois glared at her sister, but then she smiled. "Seriously, Luce, how did you figure it out?"
"Well, my roommate, Jenny…"
Lois groaned; she remembered the time she had spoken to Jenny on the phone. That woman had the gall to ask her how Superman was in bed. Of course he was wonderful, but it wasn't Jenny's business to know. "Oh no, not Jenny."
"Yeah, well, she kinda ambushed Clark when he came in. And he made a face that I remember Clark making the last time I saw him, so I just made the connection. Now we see that the sister without the journalism degree is the better investigative reporter." She smirked at Lois happily.
Clark smiled and tilted his head up to give Lois a kiss. "I guess it runs in the family."
Lois' eyes sparkled when she looked at Lucy. "I'm glad you know, Lucy. You know I trust you, but I just have to remind you not to tell anyone about this, not even Mother."
Clark grabbed Lois' hand and said, "Lois, she's not going to tell anyone about me."
Suddenly Lucy sat fell down onto a chair and her face twisted almost as if she were in pain. She muttered, "Oh my God, Clark is Superman!"
Lois nodded, her face clearly showing her confusion. "Yes, but you knew that."
Lucy started sweating and ran a hand through her hair nervously. "Clark is Superman."
Lois quickly moved to stand next to Lucy's chair. She held her sister's hand and asked quietly, "Lucy, what's wrong?"
Lucy stared blankly at her sister, almost like she didn't realize Lois was standing right there next to her. Her mind was racing faster than she could keep up with it. Even though she had flown in Clark's arms a mere few minutes before, it seemed to take on a dream-like quality to her, and she almost wanted to believe that it truly was a dream. Clark was Superman. That would certainly take some getting used to. Suddenly, she squeezed Lois' hand more tightly as she finally seemed to realize Lois and Clark were still in the room. She smiled warily at her sister; those tabloid journalists had been right. Lois indeed had had a fling with Superman, indeed; only there was a whole dimension here that no one had explored.
Lucy broke free of Lois' grip and she began pacing around the living room. Clark and Lois both watched her, exchanging slightly bemused looks.
Lucy thought back to that night more than three years ago when Lois had first met Superman. Superman was the first man in such a long while that Lois had babbled on and on about to Lucy. In fact, Lucy doubted that Superman would ever give her sister the time of day. And throughout the years, Lucy had heard all the rumors about her sister and Superman, but she had never honestly believed them. Now to find out that all off the rumors were true seriously knocked Lucy out of her equilibrium. It seemed like everything that she held certain in the world was crashing around her. Okay, maybe it wasn't quite that bad, but for some reason this hurt Lucy. Why hadn't Lois chosen to tell her sooner? Why did she have to figure it out for herself? Lucy had thought their relationship was stronger than that. But maybe it wasn't.
Lois and Clark watched in amazement as Lucy continued pacing. She muttered, "How? Lois, I've always known you've had a thing for Superman ever since the first time you met him. But why didn't you tell me about this before? And after all I'd done to try to convince you to give up your Superman fantasy and look at the wonderful man you see every day. Some respect I get. I'll bet you were laughing at me the whole time. And I suppose Mom doesn't know either. Huh, this is just so weird!"
Lois put a comforting hand on her sister's shoulder to stop her pacing. "Lucy, I know this is a shock. Try to imagine how I felt when I found out. I mean, he asked me to marry him before he told me. And why didn't I tell you earlier? Well you have to understand that this is a huge secret. I was the first person that Clark's ever told about himself other than his parents, so you should feel honored that you're the second person he's shared his secret with."
"What?!?" Lucy's eyes opened wide and she turned to Clark with her mouth hanging open. "You didn't tell Lois that you're Superman until after you proposed? What a creep, Lois, what did you do?"
Clark turned away and Lois smiled at him. "Well, he didn't know that I'd already figured it out. I wanted him to tell me for himself, but then when I thought he was going to tell me, he ended up proposing to me."
Clark interjected, "But, honey, I was going to tell you as soon as you answered me."
Clark stood and wrapped Lois in his arms. He continued, "I needed to know if Lois loved me for the person I really am, Clark, rather than for the man in the Suit."
Lucy studied her sister and her husband. The two of them made such a cute couple; she looked like she fit perfectly against his chest, and every time they looked at each other, Lucy could see the love radiating from their eyes. It was like everything else vanished from the room, and they only had eyes for each other.
Lucy sighed. How she wished she could find someone she could share her life with like that.
Lois and Clark must have forgotten Lucy was in the room, for Lois whispered what sounded like, "I already loved you, Clark."
And then Clark breathed, "You know I've loved you since the moment I laid eyes on you."
Lois nodded and outlined the "S" on his Suit before she said, "And I'll always love you 'til the end of time."
Lucy turned away as her sister and brother-in-law engaged in a passionate kiss. Finally, Lucy cleared her throat to remind them that there was, indeed, someone else in the room.
Lois and Clark looked up both slightly shocked that Lucy was still there. Lois' cheeks reddened as she spoke. "Oh, Luce. We must have forgotten you were still here. Sorry."
Clark added, "Yeah, we're sorry," almost sounding that he was more sorry that Lucy had interrupted them than sorry that they had embarrassed Lucy.
It seemed so funny to Lucy that Clark was still wearing his Superman suit, but he was acting just like the brother-in- law she had always known. It was still hard for Lucy to reconcile, but now she was beginning to understand that Clark was Superman, but he was, first and foremost, Lois' husband, Clark Kent.
Lucy wondered what it was like living with Superman. Like she had told Jenny, she wondered how often Clark was called away for emergencies. Had he ever left to be Superman while they were in the throes of passion? What did they do at work when he had to leave? Did Lois have to cover for him constantly? How did Lois feel about that? But those were questions for another time, like when Clark wasn't around.
Lois cast a glance at the clock. "We only have half an hour 'til we have to be at Mother's. We'd better get going."
As soon as Lois finished talking, Clark transformed into a blur. To Lucy, he looked like the Tasmanian Devil of Looney Toons' fame. He almost created a whirlwind of red and blue, and a second later, Clark stood dressed in a black tee shirt and a faded pair of blue jeans with his glasses in his hand. Lucy stared slack-jawed at Clark. In less than a second, Clark had transformed himself from Superman to Clark, and Lucy was amazed at the difference a new hairstyle and a pair of glasses could make.
Suddenly a question played in Lucy's mind. "Clark, where did the boots go?"
Both Lois and Clark chuckled and Clark said with a mock- serious expression etched on his face, "If I told you, I'd have to kill you."
Later that day, Perry got out of his car in the parking lot of the New Troy State Penitentiary. He inhaled deeply before he dared enter the rather uninviting place. The bright white walls surrounded by fences topped with barbed wire did nothing to quell Perry's anxiety about entering the prison where his son was.
Perry approached the gate slowly, almost regretting his decision to come. But he had driven all the way upstate, and it would be wrong if he did not do what he came to do. The guard at the front gate let him in and called inside for them to have Jerry meet his visitor. A guard led Perry to the visitors' area, and told him to sit down. Perry shifted in his chair uncomfortably until a guard let Jerry into the room.
Jerry's eyes brightened when he saw his father and he exclaimed, "Dad, it's so good to see you! How long has it been?" Before Perry could even react, Jerry had wrapped his arms tightly around his father.
Perry's breath caught in his throat as soon as Jerry's arms wrapped around him. Had Jerry forgiven him? No, that would be too good to be true! Perry choked out, "Son, it's been too long. It's good to see you."
Jerry smiled at his father, the man he had disappointed so much. He couldn't believe his father had willingly come to visit him. Jerry knew that the reason they had not kept in touch over the years was because he was a horrible disappointment to his father. Everything he had ever done in his life had been wrong, and his father did not even want to acknowledge that Jerry was his son.
All Perry could do was stare at his son. He couldn't believe that Jerry still cared for him. It had been Perry's neglect of his parental responsibilities that had led Jerry to commit his crime, and they had lost contact over the years because Jerry resented him for all of the years Perry had neglected his family.
Perry and Jerry sat together at a table in the room, talking for hours about Jerry's boyhood, and Perry apologized for leaving their family alone for so long. Jerry, in turn, apologized for everything he had done to disgrace their family. By the time the guards came to get Jerry to take him back, Perry felt he had made real progress with his son, and that they might have forged the beginnings of a new relationship.
Perry sang along loudly to his Elvis cassettes the whole drive home, unable to wipe the silly grin off his face. He had finally begun to make peace in his family; Jerry had accepted him with open arms, although they still had so much to get out in the open. At least Jerry was responsive to reopening the lines of communication. Now all he had to do was convince Alice and Larry that he had changed, but he knew it was easier said than done.
Ellen Lane waited impatiently for her daughters to arrive at her house. Ever since Lucy had called to tell her that Superman dropped her off at Lois' house, Ellen had been anxiously waiting for them to arrive. She caught sight of Lois' silver Jeep Cherokee when it turned the corner onto her street, and she stood on the front porch to meet them. As soon as Lois stopped the car, Ellen rushed towards it. Lucy was first to jump out, exclaiming, "Mother, it's good to see you!"
Ellen hugged her younger daughter and squeezed her tightly, not really wanting to let her go. Ellen prided herself in the changes she had made since Sam's death. She felt that she had become a better person, and also more approachable for her daughters. Both of them had been talking to her more and spending more time with her since they had found out about Sam's cancer. She saw what her ex-husband had gone through and wondered if the same thing would happen to her. Would Lois and Lucy ignore her when she was on her death bed? Whether consciously or unconsciously, she had lost all of her anger directed towards Sam, and, in turn, her personality had brightened and her daughters found her a good companion and a friendly ear to talk to.
Ellen rubbed Lucy's back. "It's so good to finally have you home, dear. What do you say we head inside and eat some of that food that's been sitting there? I hope it's not cold."
Lois, Clark and Lucy all ran into the house at the mention of food and Ellen muttered, "Are they my children or are they animals that escaped from the zoo?"
Ellen smiled and followed the group inside, finally happy to have them all together again for a happy occasion. The last few times the four of them had been together were times of intense pain and grief over Sam's death. It felt wonderful to have everyone together under one roof to celebrate something positive at last.
They all practically inhaled their dinners, only stopping briefly to talk about Lucy's finals, her new job, Lois and Clark's latest story, and the latest article Ellen had read in a magazine about couples that have children later in life. When Ellen brought up the article, both Lois and Clark inwardly groaned. Was she trying to tell them they'd better start having children quickly while they were still young enough? They weren't too old; Lois had just turned 29 while Clark was only 30. They both wanted to wait at least a year before they tried to have a baby, but for the last month or so, Ellen seemed to be trying to tell them that she wanted a grandchild. That's what they got for mentioning that they *might* want to consider having children in the future. This might have been a toned-down version of the old Ellen, but it was still Ellen. But it was something that both Lois and Clark had decided that they could live with.
After they had finished dinner, Clark volunteered to clean the table. Lois was surprised that he hadn't been needed as Superman yet the whole night. Suddenly, just as Lois had been contemplating their good luck, Clark's head cocked to the side and he froze. Lois cringed and her mother watched as Clark ran out of the room.
After Clark left, Ellen pulled Lois into the living room. Ellen hissed, "Where did Clark run of to so fast?"
Lois took a deep breath. Ellen was really going to lay it into her now.
Ellen put her arm around Lois' shoulder. "Lois, dear, you know you can talk to me. Is there something the matter with him? Is your marriage in trouble, sweetheart? You can tell me. I know the signs, dear. I can see that he's clearly cheating on you. You know I *do* have some experience in this area."
Lois sighed. She and Clark had planned to tell Lucy and Ellen about Clark that evening, but so far it hadn't gone as planned. Lucy had figured it out herself and had ruined the surprise, and now Lois was going to be forced to tell her mother the truth in order to explain Clark's mysterious exit. It didn't really bother her telling her mother, but it was always hard letting another person in on the secret, as much as they deserved to know. However, Lois kept feeling worse and worse lying to her family about Clark's disappearances, especially because she knew her mother suspected that Clark was being unfaithful. In the last few months, her mother had proven herself a trustworthy confidant and a valuable ally. But Lois still wished she and Clark had told her father the truth about Superman before he died. She felt so bad thinking that she let him go to his grave without being entirely honest with him. He did have the right to know about Clark; he deserved to know! But now it was too late, and Lois focused her thoughts on telling the living members of her family the truth since there was no way she could change the past.
Lucy had followed her mother and sister into the living room and had sat on the couch. She stared at Lois with a cocky smile playing on her lips, almost taunting Lois to tell Ellen about Clark.
Lois took a deep breath. "Mother, I think you should sit down."
Ellen saw the serious look in Lois' eyes and immediately sat down. What had begun as a happy, exciting evening in Ellen's opinion was rapidly declining to another evening of pain and hurt. She sank down into a nearby chair and nodded for Lois to begin her explanation. She was ready to comfort her baby girl when she finally acknowledged that her husband was having an affair.
Lois ran a hand through her hair nervously. She wasn't sure how her mother would take this news. Hopefully, Lucy wouldn't telegraph that she already knew.
Lois took a deep breath before she began, hoping for the best. "Okay, Mom, Lucy, there's something Clark and I were planning to tell you tonight, but it looks like I am going to have to tell you without him."
Ellen looked over towards Lucy to see if she had any idea what was going on. Lucy didn't appear to know what Lois was going to say, and if she did she was sure hiding it well. Ellen indicated for Lois to continue. However, she now wondered if they had another secret other than the fact that Clark was having an affair. Maybe Lois was pregnant and they were staying together for the sake of the baby despite Clark's affair. Yes, that had to be it, what else could it be?
Lois ran her hand through her hair, hoping to stall for time so Clark might have time to return. Ellen stared her patented stare of death at Lois, and Lois stood in the center of the room, unsure of what to do. When it became painfully obvious that Clark would not return, Lois continued. Clark just ran out before because… Mom, Clark is Superman."
Ellen's jaw dropped. "Lois, you're kidding, right? You're just in denial because he's having an affair. You have to admit these things before I can help you. If you can't admit he has a problem, there's nothing I can do to help you."
Lois took a deep breath trying to control her emotions before she spoke. How dare her mother think that about Clark! She closed her eyes tightly and counted silently to ten before she spoke. "No, Mother, I'm telling the truth. Clark really is Superman. He'd never cheat on me! How dare you think that!"
Ellen shook her head violently. She jumped out of her chair and exclaimed, "I refuse to believe that, Lois. If you and Clark are having problems, just come right out and tell me. Lois, I refuse to believe such a contrived story! Dear, your relationship has all the signs of marital infidelity. Believe me, I'm an expert."
Lois flopped onto the couch next to Lucy and her head fell into Lucy's lap. The one time she had actually told her mother the truth about her life, her mother didn't believe her. It was almost funny. Maybe Lois would look back on this day and laugh, but at this moment she just wanted to break down and cry.
Lucy had not yet commented, so Ellen turned to her. "Lucy, what do you think about this story?"
Lucy patted her sister's back and said, "I believe Lois, Mom. Why would she lie about this?"
Suddenly a gust of wind blew through the window, they heard a soft woosh, and then Clark emerged from the kitchen. He surveyed the scene, and took a step back when he saw that he was the object of Ellen's death stare. "Hi?" he tried timidly.
Immediately Ellen rose from her seat. "Clark Kent, where did you go? Wait; don't tell me. I know you're seeing another woman. You don't have to pretend any more. Lois told me. Okay, maybe she didn't tell me, but I figured it out. And right in your mother-in-law's house! I'm ashamed to even talk to you. Poor Lois tried to cover for you with the most improbable story. She must really love you if she makes up stories like that to lie to her family. Please. Like you're really Superman!"
Clark looked at Lois blankly. Ellen had obviously caught him off guard. Her onslaught of outlandish allegations had startled him and he obviously didn't even know how to respond. Lois whispered in a voice that only Clark could hear, "Honey, I told her the truth, but she didn't believe me."
Clark rolled his eyes in despair. Now they had let Ellen in on the secret too. Plus she didn't even believe it! It was so hard for him to tell anyone about his secret, let alone two people in one day. He sighed, "Ellen, Lois wasn't lying. I am Superman. I had to leave before because there was a bomb on an airplane just above Metropolis."
Ellen put her hand on Clark's shoulder and shook him, trying to make him tell her the truth. "Clark, I know you probably even believe that, and I see Lucy obviously does too, but I am the only sane one in this room! I know you're not Superman. Now stop all of this lying and tell me the truth!"
Lois stood up to support Clark. He wrapped her in his arms and kissed the top of her head. In an exasperated voice, he said, "Ellen, I am Superman. Why else would I have left? I would *never* do *anything* to hurt Lois." He pulled her closer. "*Ever*." When Ellen still didn't look like she believed him, he asked, "Do you need me to prove it to you?"
Ellen nodded, and Clark levitated a few inches off the floor holding Lois all the while. Lucy's mouth hung open for effect. Ellen looked like she was almost ready to believe Clark. She opened and closed her mouth without letting any words escape. Clark floated back down and he decided she needed more proof because she still wore the doubtful look on her face. He aimed his heat vision toward the candelabra that was sitting on the mantle piece, and suddenly it lit.
Ellen's breath stuck in her throat. Had Clark really just done those things? Maybe he really was Superman. Besides, why would Lois blatantly lie to her like that? She hadn't really wanted to believe everything that she had thought about Clark anyway, and believing that he was Superman was a lot easier than believing he was cheating on her daughter or maybe doing something even worse. However, for a split second, she seriously considered hitting the liquor again. The thought passed as quickly as it had come, thankfully. She had to keep reminding herself that not all men were like Sam. Clark did seem to love Lois with his whole heart and soul, and appeared to want to do everything in his power to make her happy. Ellen stared at him again, wanting to speak, but the words wouldn't come out.
Clark was Superman! She'd sure have to think about that for a while. Her daughter was married to an alien, an alien for God's sake. Could they have children together? Maybe she should stop pressuring them for grandchildren. All of a sudden, Ellen spurted out, "But can you have children together? If you're an alien, I mean, Clark."
Clark wrapped his arms protectively around Lois' front again. They had been talking about the possibilities of ever having children since before Sam had died. They still didn't know if it was possible for them to have children, but they had decided to put the discussion on hold for at least a year. Clark bent down and rested his chin on the top of Lois' head.
Ellen watched the couple's interplay. She felt sorry for challenging Clark's love for her daughter. Obviously Clark loved Lois more than she could ever imagine someone loving another person. It was obvious in the way he looked at her, like she was the most precious being in the universe to him.
All three had not noticed Lucy slip out of the room and go up to her bedroom. She wanted to give them their privacy, and she felt like she was just a third wheel. If only she could find someone like Clark to spend the rest of her life with. Quietly, she set about the task of moving into her room.
Back downstairs, Clark was saying, "Well, Ellen, we're not sure about that. I'm not sure how different we are genetically, and…"
Ellen interrupted, "But you still can… you know, right?
Both Lois and Clark turned red, and they looked at each other realizing just how compatible they were. Lois nodded, and Clark smiled nervously. Lois choked out, "Well, uh, Mom, he sure has all the right, um… parts."
Clark turned even redder as Ellen nodded, patted her arm, and said, "Well, that's good, dear. I didn't want you to be missing out on anything."
Clark looked uncomfortable, and Lois feared he would try to run away. However, Ellen changed the topic of conversation away from sex because it was making her just as uncomfortable as it was obviously making her daughter and son-in-law.
It took nearly half an hour before any of them realized Lucy was no longer in the room. Clark was the first to realize that Lucy was no longer there. "Hey, did anyone see where Lucy went?"
Lois and Ellen, who had been heatedly discussing some of the excuses Lois had used to cover for Clark's absences, obviously had not noticed Lucy was no longer in the room. In fact, neither had even heard Clark's inquiry. Clark waved his hand in front of Lois' eyes as Ellen was saying, "Come on, Lois, he had to pick up your chocolates of the world shipment? Please, who would believe that?"
Lois noticed Clark's hand waving in front of her face and grabbed it. "Clark, quit it! You're making me dizzy."
Clark stopped his hand and covered Lois' mouth with it. "Do you like this better?"
Lois tried to bite it, but he moved his hand so she wouldn't crack her teeth. He said, "Lois, Ellen, have you noticed that Lucy isn't here any more? She must have left a while ago, but none of us noticed."
Ellen looked down; it was like when Lucy was a child again. Everyone in the family had the tendency to ignore Lucy and go on with their lives as if she didn't exist. Ellen knew that Lucy had always felt that her family wouldn't even notice if she ran away. Ellen bit her lip and sighed. "I'd better go see what's bothering her."
Lois and Clark both nodded in response. "I think she might have just wanted to give us some privacy. Or maybe she was just tired and wanted to get some rest or maybe she wanted to unpack," Lois said.
Lucy appeared at the top of the steps dressed in a pair of old flannel pajamas laughing at her family. "I wanted to get some unpacking done, so I slipped upstairs. I didn't want to interrupt you, so I didn't say anything."
Ellen met Lucy at the steps. "We're sorry we didn't notice that you left, dear. I was just so shocked that Clark is, well, you know, my mind wasn't working right." Ellen was consciously practicing not telling anyone about Clark, since Lois had made her promise never to tell a soul about Clark's identity.
Lucy smiled, her eyes moving to each member of her family. "Really, you don't have to worry about it. I was happy to get some unpacking done. This is a big deal, so I wanted to let you deal with it without me there to get in the way."
"Are you sure, Lucy? This is big news for you too," Ellen pleaded. "I want you to be able to talk about it too."
Lucy grinned and descended the stairs. Her eyes took on a teasing gleam as she snuck up behind Clark and slapped him on the rear end. And Clark grabbed her and twirled her around. She giggled hysterically as she choked out, "I think it's cool, Mom. Superman's my brother. How many girls can say that, even if I can't tell anyone?"
The next morning, at the Daily Planet, Jimmy Olsen met the reporters as soon as they stepped out of the elevator. He grabbed Lois' arm and almost jumped up and down in excitement. Lois glanced over and looked at Clark with a bemused expression on her face. Clark raised his eyebrows in response.
Jimmy asked excitedly, "So, Lois, Lucy's back in town, right? You told me she was coming back last night, right? So, what do you think she'd think if I asked her out?"
Lois smiled at Jimmy, humoring him, as she made her way towards her desk. Jimmy still held onto her arm, and Clark diverged towards the coffee machine.
"Wow, Jimmy, you sure don't waste any time!"
Jimmy smiled and flashed her his sweet, sad, puppy eyes. Lois rolled her eyes and Jimmy said, "Please, Lois, next time you talk to her, could you mention my name? Maybe throw in a couple of compliments. You know, make me sound good."
Lois sat down at her desk and turned her computer, on all the while looking at Jimmy's expectant face. "If I do it today, will you quit bugging me and get to work? I need you to pull up everything you can find on Meteor Airways. Someone planted a bomb on it last night. Superman stopped it before it blew up, but he thinks it might be linked to the bomb in Centennial Park last month and to the bomb at that warehouse a few weeks ago. The bombs were all made the same way, and Superman thinks they were all made by the same person."
Clark handed Lois a cup of steaming coffee and perched on the side of her desk. "Yeah, we need a passenger list of everyone that was on the plane. Loparo Consultants owned that old warehouse, but it's been vacant for a few years. And then the Loparo children were at the park the day the bomb went off."
Jimmy grinned and wiggled his eyebrows. "If I get to work, you'll call Lucy and put in a good word, right?"
Lois sighed audibly and eventually nodded. "Okay, fine. Now will you get to work?"
Jimmy's grin widened almost to his eyes, and his eyes took on a new twinkle as he walked away. He turned around and said, "Aren't you going to call? What are you waiting for?"
Lois rolled her eyes and Clark laughed. Lois said, "Jimmy, it's only 8am. Lucy doesn't even wake up 'til at least noon. We're having lunch with her this afternoon. I'll talk to her then." And when Jimmy looked at her suspiciously, she added, "I promise."
"I'll make sure she does, Jimmy," Clark added with a grin. His eyes twinkled because he realized that Jimmy might be the "perfect guy" the Lucy had thought was elusive. Jimmy was a good friend, and he knew Jimmy would treat her well.
Jimmy smiled again. "Thanks, CK, I knew I could count on *you*."
That afternoon, Lois and Clark met Lucy at a deli close to the Planet. The three grabbed a booth that was rather secluded from the rest of the noisy customers. Lucy and Lois had both ordered pastrami sandwiches on rye with fries and cream soda. Clark ordered a double cheeseburger with an extra order of fries and a double-thick chocolate milkshake.
Lucy saw Clark's food and made a face. "I bet he can eat all that and not gain an ounce."
Lois mirrored Lucy's expression and said, "I know; doesn't it just make you sick?"
The sisters nodded, and Clark looked hurt. "You know I can't help my metabolism."
Lois wiped some catsup from the corner of his lip with a kiss. Then she patted his shoulder lovingly. "Honey, we know you can't help it, but that doesn't mean we can't hate you for it anyway."
Lucy gave him a wry grin. He buried his head in his hands, muffling his voice as he said, "I should have known I'd be double teamed. I should have brought Jimmy for protection." Clark knew full well that Lucy would hear him mention Jimmy and hoped she would broach the subject of Jimmy with Lois.
As Clark had hoped, Lucy had picked up on the Jimmy reference. She smiled wistfully when she said, "So how *is* Jimmy? That was him at the funeral, wasn't it? He is kinda cute in that little lost puppy dog sort of way. He looks like he's sure grown up since the last time I saw him." A far away look passed over her face as she remembered the last time she had seen Jimmy. It had been a good date, but not a memorable one. They were both immature and they weren't looking for the same things in a relationship. But now they were older, and Lucy wondered they might be more in sync now. Actually, now Lucy was looking for a man to have fun with, someone that she got along with well, but also someone that could possibly have marriage potential. If she remembered correctly, she and Jimmy had had a lot in common when they had dated before, but they never followed up on their relationship.
Lois winked at Clark as they both noticed the look that crossed Lucy's face at the mention of Jimmy's name. Maybe their matchmaking would be easier than either had thought. Lucy was obviously thinking about Jimmy, and they both thought Jimmy would be a perfect match for the younger Lane.
Lois giggled, drawing her sister out of her reverie. Lucy smiled self-consciously. "Lois, is Jimmy seeing anyone right now?"
Lois glanced at Clark and smiled. Clark nodded, taking this as his cue to step into the conversation. "Well, Luce, I happen to know that he was talking about you before. He's been asking me about when you were supposed to be home ever since a couple of days after the funeral."
"Really?" A curious expression formed on her face as she considered the possibility that Jimmy might be thinking about her in the same way she was thinking about him.
"Yes really, Luce. You know Jimmy's had a thing for you for a while."
Lucy's cheeks turned a bright red now that she realized that Jimmy might have been harboring the same feelings for her as she had for him since the last time she'd seen him.
A wide grin broke across her face as she said, "Tell him to call me."
When Lois walked through the elevator, Jimmy pounced. He had probably been waiting by the elevators just watching for her to return the whole time she was gone. Clark had left to be Superman just as they were walking through the main doors to the lobby. He had flown away so quickly she hadn't had the opportunity to tell her where he was going.
Jimmy looked up at her, pleading with his eyes for her to give him good news. Lois was in control of the situation now. Jimmy asked, "So, Lois, how was lunch?"
Lois returned his smile and started at walk away. Jimmy followed her like a dog following his master. She shot over her shoulder, "I don't know. Did you find anything for me?"
"Come on, Lois, you're killing me!" Jimmy produced a large manila folder overflowing with papers and other files. Lois hadn't even realized he'd been carrying it. "Here it is. Everything you could ever want about the Loparo family, Christopher Loparo, Loparo Consultants, and Meteor Airways. I even highlighted everything that relates the three even if it is insignificant."
Lois flipped through the pages, obviously impressed. She smiled as she slipped him a small piece of paper with Lucy's number written on it. "She wants you to call her."
Jimmy's eyes lit up and his face broke out into a wide grin. He nearly jumped out of his skin because he was so excited. "Oh my gosh! She wants me to call her!" Jimmy was now almost hyperventilating.
Lois smiled and put a hand on his back, saying, "Breathe, Jimmy, breathe."
When Jimmy regained his composure, he impulsively grabbed Lois and hugged her. "Thank you so much, Lois. I knew you and CK'd come through for me!"
Before Lois could respond or even catch her breath, Jimmy had darted away to find the nearest phone. Lois laughed to herself, realizing, not for the first time, what a good couple Lucy and Jimmy would make. She hoped it worked out for her sister and her friend. They both deserved someone they could be happy with because both had suffered through countless bad relationships.
Lois immersed herself into the file before her and hardly noticed when Clark entered the newsroom. When he put a hand on her shoulder, she nearly jumped out of her chair.
When Lois regained her composure, she noticed the haunted look in Clark's eyes. "What's wrong, honey?"
Clark looked almost reluctant to speak. Finally the pleading look in Lois' eyes made him speak. "Lois, honey, Alice White had been in an accident just a few minutes ago. I got there in time and flew her to the hospital. Don't worry, she's okay, but she's hurt."
Lois' face turned bone white and she gasped for air. She felt like someone had punched her right in the gut and sucked the air out of her lungs. "What? What happened? Does Perry know?"
Clark took a deep breath. "She'll be okay." Lois breathed a sigh of relief. "I got there in time. Thank God."
Jimmy approached the couple with a huge grin on his face. Lucy had just agreed to go out with him! And she seemed just as excited as he was about it. He wiped the happy expression from his face when he saw that Lois was near tears and that Clark just looked wiped out. "Lois, CK, what's wrong?"
Clark took another deep breath, telling the story just got harder every time and now he couldn't tell the whole story because Jimmy did not know he was Superman. "Jimmy, Alice White was in an accident. She's going to be fine, but it was a nasty accident."
Jimmy clutched Lois' desk for support. "What?"
"I was walking back here and when I was at the corner of Fourth and Eucild when I heard car wheels screeching. I turned around to see a red Corvette crashing a red light and smashing a blue Ford Probe. The Probe looked familiar, but I couldn't remember if I knew anyone that had a Probe until Superman arrived. He pulled Mrs. White out of the car, and flew her to the hospital. I had no idea what was wrong with her until I talked to Superman later."
Lois squeezed Clark's hand, encouraging him to continue his story. Jimmy listened in silence, afraid that if he moved he would surely fall over in shock.
Clark continued, "The man driving the Corvette was hurt a lot worse than Alice was, though. Superman had a hard time getting him out of the car. He was completely unconscious and there was blood oozing from his mouth. Superman told me he was Christopher Loparo. There was a car chasing Loparo's car and that's why Loparo crashed the red."
"Christopher Loparo? You've got to be kidding me! Is he okay? Did Superman catch the car that was chasing him?" Lois exclaimed. "No, wait, how's Alice?"
Clark took another deep breath. "She's stable. Broken ankle, broken wrist, some nasty cuts and bruises, but she's okay."
Jimmy and Lois collectively heaved a sigh of relief. "Does the Chief know?" Jimmy wondered.
Clark shook his head. "I don't think so. Look at the way he's smiling and whistling in his office."
Lois frowned, "Do you think we should tell him?"
Clark bit his lower lip. "Yeah, I think we have to. He might take it better if he hears it from someone he knows."
Lois, Jimmy, and Clark all nodded in agreement.
In the relative privacy of his office, Perry tapped his pen merrily against his desk humming along to The King. He tried to keep his mind focused on his work, but he could not keep his mind from wandering. Dinner tonight with Alice was going to be wonderful. He promised himself that this time it was going to be different, so different. Even if they never got back together, he just wanted to make up for everything he had done wrong in their thirty-some years of marriage. For whatever reason—he couldn't figure out— Alice had finally decided to talk to him, to let him prove that he was a different man now. And he still loved her, God, how he still loved her. He never stopped loving her, and he knew that he would still do anything in his power to protect her from all the world's evils from this moment on.
When he looked out into his newsroom, he was troubled to see that Lois, Clark, and Jimmy were all staring at his office, each looking like they wanted to move, but none wanting to take the first step. Perry folded his arms over his chest in his best 'I am in charge and you'd better listen to me' position and walked to the door. "Lane, Kent, Olsen, get your hides in here."
He would have almost laughed at them had they not been wearing expressions of such uncertainty and pain. What could have possibly caused them to act like this? What did they know that he didn't know? They all hesitated, not wanting to be first into Perry's office. In fact, Jimmy tried to hide behind Clark and Lois turned her eyes away from him, avoiding the inevitable pain that would occur if she made eye contact with him. Right then Perry knew that something was terribly wrong. Lois never avoided eye contact with anyone unless she had horribly bad news.
Perry took a deep breath. Obviously there was something wrong here. What could have happened to make all three of them, the three employees he though of like his own surrogate children, so uncomfortable around him that they could not even look him in the eyes? He took a deep breath and hollered, "Now, kids, get the lead out! Or else you'll all be whistlin' Dixie down at the unemployment office!"
Lois led the way into Perry's office and when she was next to Perry, she immediately, almost impulsively, took his hand. Perry wasn't sure what to make of her gesture, but all he knew was that it was sure making him nervous. He cleared his throat and demanded, "Now would one of you please tell me what's going on?"
Lois and Jimmy both looked at Clark, who was staring intently at the ground. Perry barked almost to the point of desperation, "Clark, you can tell me. What's wrong, son?"
Clark took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Why did he always get nominated to deliver the hard news? Why did he always have to experience pain first hand? But Perry had to be told, and Clark wanted to do it before anyone from the hospital called. "Chief, I was walking by the corner of Fourth and Euclid just a few minutes ago and I witnessed an accident. Perry, it was Alice."
Perry turned white and he began to shake. "Tell me she's all right, son. For the love of God, please tell me she's okay."
Clark smiled shakily. "She's okay, Chief. But Superman told me that she has a broken ankle, a broken wrist, and some cuts and bruises. She's going to be in pain for a while, but she is fine."
Perry let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding and opened his mouth to speak. Just as Perry was about to speak, the phone rang.
Perry lunged for the phone and picked it up before it rang twice.
"Hello?" Perry prayed that it was Alice calling.
A welcome voice came through the phone, "Hi, Perry…"
Perry heaved a sigh of relief. "Oh, God, Alice, darlin', it's so good to hear your voice. Clark just told me what happened."
Jimmy, Lois, and Clark all exited quietly, leaving Perry to talk to Alice in private.
"I don't know what happened, Perry. There was a red car that came out of nowhere and hit me. Thank God Superman get there so quickly!"
"Alice, are you okay?"
"It hurts; it hurts really bad, but I can handle it. They've hopped me up on a lot of pain medicine. They told me I broke my leg and my wrist, but my ribs hurt the worst. But they told me that I only bruised them."
Perry's breath caught in his throat again. What pain she must be in. He only wished that he could have helped her or even that it could have been him instead of her in this position. "Oh, Alice. I'm so sorry."
"Perry, you have nothing to be sorry for. It was a freak accident. It could have happened to anyone."
"Yeah, but it shouldn't have happened to *you!* Where are you?"
"I'm at Mercy Hospital in the Emergency Room. They haven't given me my casts yet. I'll probably be here for a while yet."
"Okay, honey, I'm leaving now, so I'll be there in ten minutes at most."
"Perry, you don't have to do this. I'm fine. You have a paper to run."
Perry knew Alice was probably testing him to see how he would respond. "Damn the paper, Alice. Lois and Clark know what to do. I need to be with you right now."
Perry could almost hear the smile in her voice when she said, "Okay, Perry, I'll be here. I'm not going anywhere any time soon."
As Perry was hanging up the phone, he was already grabbing his jacket and briefcase. When he reached the door, he bellowed, Lois, Clark, you're in charge. The evening edition is all set; all you have to do is put the paper to bed. I'll be at Mercy Hospital, page me if you need me. He reached the elevator and left before anyone had the opportunity to respond.
In nine minutes flat, Perry arrived at Mercy Hospital and barreled into the Emergency Room's waiting room. He immediately ran to the information desk and asked, "I'm looking for my wife, Alice White. Where is she? Is she okay?"
The young woman behind the desk smiled at Perry and said, "Let me check the computer. Yes, she's here waiting for a doctor to see her. I can take you back to her if you want."
Perry breathed another sigh of relief. If he was allowed to see her, then it couldn't be that bad. "Thank you, Miss, I'd appreciate it."
She led Perry down a long white corridor to a set of curtained-off rooms. She led him to the furthest curtain, and left when he walked up to Alice's bed.
Alice looked horrible, frankly. She had two black eyes, a long jagged cut across her forehead, and another cut running up her left arm. Perry rushed to her side and grabbed her unbroken hand. "Alice, I'm so sorry."
Alice squeezed Perry's hand trying to reassure him that she wasn't hurt as badly as it looked. "Perry, thank you for coming, but you have nothing to be sorry for." At Perry's strange look, she continued, "Really, you don't. I'm so glad you came, I really can't even put it into words, but I'm okay. I'm really okay."
Perry heaved another sigh of relief. Alice was still alive and well if just a little worse for the wear. "So, when are they going to spring you from this joint?"
Alice smiled when she said, "I just have to wait to get my stupid casts on. How long does it take them to make a cast? It can't be this long. I feel like I've been here forever. But they said that the doctor will discharge me as soon as they're done." "I'd be happy to help you home. I could help you around the house 'til you feel up to it." Perry waited with bated breath for her response.
Alice shook her head. "What about the paper, Perry? You can't leave it alone. I'm sure I can manage well enough for myself."
Perry shook his head vehemently. "No, Alice, I meant it before when I said I was trying to change. That's what I was going to tell you at dinner tonight. I'm trying to delegate more of my responsibilities so I can spend more time with the people I care about." His eyes pleaded with her to understand. "Alice, honey, you have to believe me. I know you don't want to get back together with me, but I do want to at least be friends again." As Alice opened her mouth to speak, Perry cut her off, "No, let me finish. I love you, Alice. It's just taken so long for me to realize that. I want you back in my life, honey, if only as a friend. I miss you more than words can describe. You complete me. Without you, I'm only half the man I once was."
Alice's breath caught in her throat. She wasn't sure what to say. Sure, the last year without Perry in her life had been hell, but so had the last ten years of their marriage when Perry devoted his entire life to the paper. Oh, she wasn't sure what she wanted. All the days they had been separated, she had longed for him to come to her and say just those words, but now that he was here and had actually uttered them, she wasn't sure what to do. She had never planned to have Perry stumble back into her life; in fact, she had resigned herself to a life alone. Now that Perry had opened her mind back up to the thought of their reconciliation, Alice wasn't sure what she wanted any more. Of course she wanted Perry back; after all, she had never stopped loving him. On the other hand, though, Perry had hurt her so badly that she wasn't sure if she could ever trust him again.
Finally, Alice responded, "I don't know what to say, Perry. I know I've never stopped loving you, that's for sure. Perry, you old hound dog, you've hurt me so badly I don't know what to do. If I let you into my life again, how do I know you won't hurt me again?"
The pain was evident in his eyes as he said, "I know I've been such a bum to both you and the boys, but now I am trying to make amends, trying to put my life back together. Hell's bells, Alice, can't you see I'm putting my heart on the line here. Couldn't we just be friends again? I'm not asking for a commitment or even a second thought, but I am asking for a chance. Please, Alice, I'm just a guy trying to put his life back together. I'm hangin' out on a limb here."
Alice sighed and felt her once iron-like resolve crack. "Okay, Perry, I'll give you another chance. Just as friends, though. You can help me out this week, and only until I get back on my feet. But what about the paper?"
"Screw the paper, honey. My assistant editors can do the job for a while. And if they can't, I know Lane and Kent will keep them on their heels. You're what's important here, darlin'." Alice could tell by the look in his eyes that everything he had said was coming directly from his heart.
Alice cringed when she tried to smile, but Perry knew she was accepting his offer when she said, "Okay, Perry. I'll give you this chance. But it doesn't mean that I'm going to take you back. Yes, believe me, I want you in my life, but I don't know if I can handle another broken heart."
Perry gently ran his hand down her cheek, careful to avoid the cuts and bruises. He gazed into her eyes with eyes full of hope and declared, "I love you, Alice. I always have and I always will."
Lucy paced around her mother's house trying to calm her nerves about her date that night with Jimmy. A quick glance at her watch told her that she only had four hours and thirty-seven minutes until he was supposed to pick her up. Ellen watched her younger daughter from the kitchen and half-laughed every time Lucy glanced at her watch or turned on the television only to turn it off a second later. This was exactly the same way Ellen had behaved so many years ago when she waited for Sam to arrive for their first date. Ellen had known Sam was the man she would marry from the first time she set eyes on him, so she wanted to make the evening of their first date extra special. Today, she could tell that Lucy felt the same way. For her daughter's sake, Ellen prayed that Jimmy and Sam shared none of the same qualities and that he would treat Lucy right for the rest of her life.
Ellen caught herself thinking that Jimmy and Lucy would get married. She laughed again, knowing that she had jumped ahead of herself. Who was to say if Jimmy and Lucy would end up the way she and Sam had? Ellen didn't even know if Lucy and Jimmy were just going out as friends or if they were "more than friends." But Lucy was a big girl and had to make decisions for herself, and from what she had gathered from her conversations with Lois and Clark, Jimmy Olsen was a decent young man with an aspiration to take the world of photo journalism by storm.
Lucy paced her way into the kitchen, and Ellen greeted her, "Lucy Lane, you are going to wear a hole in that carpet pretty soon." She patted a chair next to her and continued, "Hot date tonight?"
Lucy rolled her eyes, but took the pre-offered chair gratefully. "Yeah, how'd you know? You talked to Lois, didn't you?"
"No, dear. You know you and I are a lot more alike than either of us would like to admit." Ellen smiled smugly. At Lucy's doubtful look, she continued, "I used to act the same way before I'd go out on a first date, or any date for that matter. Honey, don't worry everything's going to be fine."
Lucy sighed. She didn't really want to be having this conversation with her mother, because she had a feeling that Ellen would use this conversation as a stepping-stone to confront her about her previous relationships. Lucy now realized that every one of her past relationships had been with men who were either white trash or something equivalent. Her psychologist that she saw in California had convinced her that she constantly sought out men that would treat her poorly because that is what she had experienced all her life. She had an absence of a strong male role model during her childhood, and that was what attracted her to men of the same character as her father. Lucy still was not sure whether to believe that therapist or not, but she knew that she didn't want to get into a discussion about her past loves with her mother.
Ellen surprised Lucy, though, when she said, "I know you've made mistakes in the past, but those are all behind you now. I just want you to be happy, sweetheart."
A tear involuntarily rolled down Lucy's cheek as she realized that her mother was being sincere. What a difference a few months could make. Before her father's death, this would have sparked a major war between the two women, but today all Ellen offered was her support. Lucy smiled a shaky smile and tentatively reached out to her mother. Ellen met her halfway and they hugged tightly, just happy to share each other's company. It was a wordless, emotional next few minutes both women content to revel in their newfound companionship and understanding. To Lucy, this was probably the beginning of her new relationship with her mother, finally being able to share her life with her mother without the fear of scorn.
Four hours and thirty-six minutes later, as Lucy was checking her make-up one last time, the doorbell rang loudly. Lucy almost jumped through the ceiling. Jimmy was here!
Suddenly her mind seemed to have left her, and she started mumbling. "He's here… he's here." Why was she so nervous? It wasn't like she hadn't gone out with him before. So why was today so different? Could she really like him that much? It was her only explanation.
Lately, every time she saw Jimmy, her stomach did flip- flops. It seemed she lost the capability for normal function whenever her eyes met his. Did it mean that she was in love? Or did it mean that she was just in lust? How well did she really know him? With her luck, Jimmy would turn out to be another jerk that would end up breaking her heart and leaving her in no time at all.
But if Jimmy was like that, wouldn't Lois tell her that? Her sister wouldn't set her up with someone that would hurt her. Would she?
The doorbell rang again. She forced these pessimistic thoughts to the back of her mind. Now certainly wasn't the time to have second thoughts. Not when he was ringing her doorbell! So with one last glance in the mirror, she headed towards the door.
Somehow, Lucy knew that her mother was peering out at her from the kitchen. It was embarrassing, but sweet in a strange way, that her mother was trying to look out for her. It was interesting that she tried to screen Lucy's dates now as an adult. Maybe Ellen was always too drunk to care when Lucy was a teenager and was trying to make up for it now.
Lucy took a deep breath and opened the door. Jimmy was standing there with a single red rose. Lucy smiled widely. The last time a date had brought her any kind of flowers was back in high school for her senior prom. And then it was a scary green corsage.
Lucy grinned widely at her date, trying to mask her nervousness, and said, "Hi, Jimmy."
Jimmy bit his lower lip. Wow, he certainly hadn't expected her to be so mesmerizing. She was probably the most beautiful woman he had ever set eyes on, and he knew that he was falling for her. Of course they had known each other before, but they had been so much younger then. Neither of them was looking for a real relationship at the time. Now Jimmy was much more mature and ready to take the next step in a relationship. He wanted someone he could spend his life with, and he had a strange feeling that Lucy was the one.
Jimmy held out the rose and said, "Um, this is for you." He was embarrassed because he couldn't afford a dozen roses, but he hoped that she appreciated the effort.
Lucy smiled at him and took the rose. It was beautiful. She knew that he didn't have much money, and just the thought that he had wanted to get her flowers showed her just how much he had changed since the last time they had gone out. She said, "Let me just put this in a vase," and headed into the kitchen to give the flower to her mother to put it in some water.
A few seconds later, Lucy came out of the kitchen and grabbed her purse. "Okay, Jimmy, are you ready to go?" He helped her into her jacket, and they left.
After dinner, Lucy had suggested that they take a walk through Centennial Park. Even though it was very crisp and there was a threat of snow, Lucy didn't want the evening to end. She wasn't sure if she'd ever felt so comfortable around a man before. It wasn't even a question of if he would try to take advantage of her; she knew from the last time they went out that he wouldn't. She actually felt like she had known him her whole life. Even though it was their first date, Lucy knew that she was falling for Jimmy. She was falling for him hard. Hopefully, she wouldn't end up falling flat on her face.
As they walked through Centennial Park, Lucy remarked, "You know, I really missed this place when I was in California. You wouldn't know how much you miss Metropolis until you're gone." She gazed up at the vast skyline. "I never thought I'd say it, but I love Metropolis. It's so beautiful."
"But it's not as beautiful as you are," Jimmy said, honestly. Then he immediately turned bright red. He didn't mean for that to be said out loud! God, now she probably thought he was trying to come on to her… poorly. Now he had mad a fool out of himself! What was he trying to prove?
To Jimmy's surprise, Lucy smiled at him. There was something in her eyes that he just couldn't decipher. Either she was going to kiss him or slug him. And if she was anything like her sister, he knew exactly what she would do. Without a second thought, he prepared himself for the inevitable blow that was to come.
Somehow Lucy knew that Jimmy was sincere with his comment. In fact, it was probably one of the nicest things anyone had ever said to her. The way he backed away sheepishly was just so cute! It seemed like he was really nervous around her. She hoped that he was nervous for the same reason she was.
There was only one way to know if she was right. Their eyes met, and Lucy knew what she had to do. She wrapped her arms around his neck and her lips met his.
First they kissed softly, tentatively. Then, to both of them, it seemed like the rest of the world just disappeared and they lost themselves in this kiss. Both of them knew that this just felt right. It was like they had been lost, and now they had finally found the place where they were supposed to be.
The next morning, Lucy woke up lazily and stretched. She had to fight the urge to call Jimmy and wish him a good morning. He was probably at work anyway.
All day it felt like she was walking on air. She and Jimmy had hit it off so wonderfully. In fact, they were seeing each other again tonight. She wondered if she showed up at the Planet to "visit Lois" if she would seem too desperate.
Finally she decided that if she wanted something, she would have to go for it. She got out of bed and dressed in a hurry. Since it was almost lunchtime, maybe they would all want to go out for lunch. Maybe then she wouldn't look too desperate.
So, thirty minutes later, Lucy stepped off the elevator and into the Daily Planet's newsroom. She immediately scanned the newsroom for Jimmy, but instead she saw Lois headed towards her.
She smiled at her sister and walked down to meet her. "Hey, Lois."
"Lucy, what are you doing here? I assume your date went well?" Lois' eyes held a twinkle that they always used to have when she had a secret that she was just dying to tell.
"Lois, you know something. What did Jimmy tell you?" Lucy was wary of anything her sister might know, especially when she looked like that.
Lois sighed. Of course Jimmy had told her about the date, but she wasn't sure if she should tell Lucy about what Jimmy had said. Or at least she shouldn't say anything where Jimmy might be able to overhear.
Lois knew that she had to tell Lucy what Jimmy had said. She would burst if she didn't tell her soon. She headed to her desk and scrawled a note for Clark. "Lucy, let's go get some lunch. I'll tell you then."
A few minutes later, Lois and Lucy were sitting in a booth at a nearby Chinese restaurant, and Lucy was ready to strangle Lois. "NOW can you tell me, Lois?"
Lois' eyes sparkled when she said, "Now what are you going to do for me when I tell you?"
Lucy rolled her eyes. "LO-is, you don't want me to start talking in that annoying voice that used to drive you crazy!"
"Okay, okay." Lois was excited about what Jimmy had told her, and she just hoped that her sister wouldn't break his fragile heart. "Jimmy ran into work this morning bubbling over about the wonderful night he'd had last night. You must have really made an impression."
So Jimmy really did have a good time last night? Maybe he did feel the same way about her that she did about him! She wasn't sure if she should tell her sister exactly what she felt about Jimmy.
Finally, she broke down. She was never able to keep anything a secret from Lois. "Lois, I think I might be falling in love with him."
Normally, Lois would doubt her sister when she said something like that. Her sister was the kind of person who fell in and out of love very easily. However, this time, she recognized something in Lucy's eyes. It was the same look that she had in her own eyes whenever she talked about Clark. Maybe her little sister had finally found someone to love. And Jimmy deserved someone like Lucy. She knew that Jimmy felt the same way about Lucy because he'd had the same look in his eyes this morning when he talked about Lucy. Maybe Lois was being idealistic, but she just knew that Jimmy and Lucy were perfect for each other. Maybe she was jumping to conclusions, but she sure wished her little sister all of the happiness that she and Clark shared. God certainly knew that Lucy deserved it!
Life was certainly looking up for Perry. The night before, he had helped Alice back to her apartment and made her dinner. Okay, he got some take-out from the restaurant on the corner of the street. Still, Alice was appreciative, and that was all that mattered.
From the few hours he had spent with Alice, he knew that he was still in love with her. In fact, his love for her had grown stronger in the year they had been separated. He'd even sensed a glimmer of hope that maybe she still felt the same way about him.
He'd stayed with her until she had finally fallen asleep, late into the night. He knew that he missed her more than anything, but he never realized the void in his heart that had been there since she left. But when he saw her yesterday, he felt a surge of love rush through his veins. No matter what else happened, he had to cling to that love. Everything would work out between them eventually. This time he was going to change. Nothing would come between them. Nothing. He would make sure of that.
They'd had a long talk last night, first small talk about nothing at all, but then their conversation drifted to more important topics—their relationship, specifically.
Perry had told her how much he still loved her and how much he missed her, but she was a hesitant in her response. But, after a deafening pause, she had said something that made his heart soar, "Perry, you know I still love you," and then flop back down into a dejected heap, "But you've hurt me so much. I don't know if I can ever be with you again."
He took a sharp breath. This was exactly what he had waited to hear for so long. It was almost like his dream was finally coming true. But then his heart came crashing down from that wonderful high. He had done too much to her. Their differences really were irreconcilable and it was all his fault.
Why was he kidding himself? He and Alice would never be able to get back to the love that they once shared. Of course he still loved her, but there was no way she would ever be able to forgive him and give her heart to him again.
But even if she wouldn't give her heart to him, he hoped that she would take him again as her friend. What he had missed even more than her love had been her companionship. She had always been the one person in his life who had understood him. She knew him almost better than he knew himself. It had been killing him slowly inside since he was missing her so badly. He had always been able to talk to her about anything.
He nodded his head, now knowing what he really wanted. Of course he wanted Alice to be able to love him again, but he knew that he could wait. He would be able to settle with her just being his friend again. It was all he really needed. "It's okay, darlin'. I don't think I really expected you to give me another chance. I just know that I still love you, and if you don't love me, then I can deal with that." He took a deep breath. "I just want you back in my life. It can be anything you feel comfortable with, Alice. I just missed being around you. You're my best friend. And everything just feels so weird not having you to talk to about things."
A tear fell down Alice's cheek. She didn't know what to say. Of course she had missed Perry. She had loved him so much, but he had done so much to hurt her. But he had been her best friend. Maybe she owed it to him to give him the chance to be her friend. Deep down, she was sure that she still loved him, but she wasn't sure that love was all their relationship needed. She needed to be able to trust him completely, and she just wasn't sure that she was the main priority in his life.
When she really thought about it, though, she did miss having Perry in her life. He had always been someone that she could talk to and he always made her feel better. She missed spending time with him. Maybe she would be able to enjoy his company again.
The last year had been hell for the two of them. It wasn't going to get any easier if they stayed apart. Maybe they weren't ready for a romantic relationship yet, but maybe Perry was right. They did need each other. And when she really thought about it, she needed him in her life. She didn't trust him enough yet to allow herself to fall in love with him again, but she did want to be with him somehow.
"Okay," she said tentatively, "This is hard to say."
Perry's face visibly fell. He was worried that she would deny him of the one thing he really wanted out of life. If she didn't at least want to be friends with him, he didn't know what he would do.
"Perry, you know I still love you too. I've never stopped loving you. But, love isn't everything."
Okay, that made Perry feel a little better. If she admitted that she loved him, maybe he still had some kind of chance. The old hound dog was back in the game!
"You hurt me, Perry, and I can't just forget that." She paused for a second and then smiled up at him, "But I can work on it. But you have to prove to me that you've changed. I'll give you a chance… a chance to be my friend again. And I really can't deny that I still have feelings for you."
Perry felt his breath catch in his throat. Was he hearing what he thought he was hearing? Could Alice really be considering giving him a chance? She really never stopped loving him? He had definitely never stopped loving her. "Alice, darlin', I'll wait. I'll do whatever you want me to do. I just can't bear to think of living another day without you in my life."
Alice felt a tear run down her cheek. She really had missed her old hound dog. Something deep inside of her told her that Perry really had changed. Something must have happened to make him see what was really important in life.
Perry knew that Alice was giving him this chance through some miracle. He couldn't screw it up because he only had such a thin margin for error. But he didn't mind. Alice was giving him a chance that he had never really imagined every having.
He owed it all to Sam Lane. Sam's death had made him realize just where his priorities should be. It was like a swift kick in the pants making him realize that he was missing out on a relationship with Alice and his sons. Jerry had been the easiest to reconcile with. And it looked like when he got out of prison, Jerry was willing to give him another chance. His other son, Larry, was more skeptical, but he seemed willing to hear Perry out. He'd made plans to visit Larry and his wife over the next weekend. And now even Alice was going to give him another chance. It really seemed like Perry's life was going to turn out okay.
When Alice tentatively reached out to hug him, Perry hugged her tightly against him, not really completely believing that he was holding her in his arms again. He looked up to the sky and silently thanked Sam Lane for making him realize what was truly important in life.