By Allison Forbes <firstname.lastname@example.org> or <email@example.com>
Submitted: October 2005
Summary: On the eve of their son's graduation from college, Clark takes a trip down memory lane, looking at the life he and Lois have built over twenty years.
*** indicates shift in time
~~ indicates slight shift in time to another memory
Yes, the kids' slang is made up. I wasn't sure about the tenses.
This is the House that Love built.
This is the Couple who live in the House that Love built.
These are the Children of the Couple who live in the House that Love built.
That is the Laughter of the Children born to the Couple who live in the House that Love built.
This is the Story of the House that Love built.
June 3, 2018 Metropolis
The townhouse on Hyperion Ave.
"C'mon, Ian! Hurry up! You're gonna be late for your own graduation!" Clark Kent hollered up the stairs. "And tell your mother she needs to hurry too!" Clark went back down the remaining stairs to the front hallway mirror to make sure his tie was straight, even though that was the first thing Lois would do when she finally came down. Even after twenty years, she was still straightening his ties, even if they didn't need it. He sighed happily. Twenty years. Where had it all gone? Seemed like just yesterday they were married on that hilltop, promising to love each other, stand by each other, and be each other's soulmate.
Clark thought that his wedding day was the happiest day of his life, and at the time, it was. But with each passing day, it had only gotten better. Oh, there were bumps along the way, of course. First she'd been arrested and framed for murder by a scientist out for revenge, and then there was that crazy Doodsen woman. Her youth sucking device had nearly killed Jimmy, but thanks to some of Superman's life-force, the young man had escaped death from old age. Unfortunately, it had taken a toll on Clark. He didn't know how much time he'd lost, but, like he'd told Lois back then, it wasn't the years that mattered. It was the moments. Every moment of their life together; every time she smiled at him, every morning he woke up and saw her lying next to him. Every moment they'd spent with their children. That was what mattered.
Sometimes it had seemed like those moments would be cut short. Their first fight, right after Lois had been made acting editor of the Daily Planet, had severely strained their relationship. He'd been supportive of her promotion at first, but when she'd killed his story he'd become angry and resentful of her. His behavior had shocked him, and hurt her. But, Perry had come back for his job, which Lois had gratefully relinquished. They'd both apologized, and made up, and became closer than ever.
Then there was that terrible, bleak period when they were told they couldn't have children. When Dr. Klein told him that he and Lois were incompatible reproductive-wise, he'd felt sick inside. When he told Lois, the whimper that escaped her, and the way she covered her face to hide her tears, made him want to die. He could tolerate a lot of unpleasant things in his life; seeing his wife cry was not one of them. And having to see that look in her beautiful eyes, that look of…terrible sadness and anger at having the *choice* taken from her. It had been so unfair.
He shook his head, letting the unpleasant memories dissolve, and waited for his family to come downstairs.
"Y'know," a soft, slightly annoyed voice spoke behind him. "Just because you can dress at superspeed doesn't mean the rest of us can."
Clark smiled, and turned around. His breath caught at the sight, just like the very first time. She was coming down the stairs, putting her second earring on. A vision in dark burgundy, the dress suit she wore made her middle-aged figure look twenty-eight again. Though not clingy, it still managed to accentuate every line and beautiful curve. He blew out a slow breath at the sight of his wife.
"Lois," he breathed. "Honey…you…look beautiful," he said, walking toward her, wrapping his arms around her still slim waist. Even now, he still had to occasionally pinch himself to remind himself that she was his.
"Why, thank you, Mr. Kent." She smiled, and slid her hands around his neck to kiss him lightly on the lips. She pulled away to look at him, what he was wearing. "You look pretty good yourself," she murmured, going in for another kiss.
"Hmmm," he murmured against her lips. "I love that color on you."
"I know you do," she replied coyly. "Why do you think I wore it?" She pulled away to look at him, then slid her hands from around his neck to smooth his lapels and straighten his tie. "I noticed you're in charcoal." She looked at him from beneath her lashes. "Are you trying to start something here? You know what your wearing charcoal does to me, Kent."
"Hmm, indeed I do," he growled, tightened his arms around her waist, and went in for another kiss.
"Uggghhh! You two aren't gonna be doing that when they call my name, are you?" a voice at the top of the stairs demanded.
Lois and Clark looked up to see their son, Ian Jonathan Kent, descending the stairs. "They're gonna have to hose you two down during the ceremony!"
His parents smiled, seeing the twinkle in his eye. Lois knew he got that from his father. She stepped away from Clark to hug her son.
"Oh, Ian! You look so handsome, sweetie!" she said as she enveloped her firstborn and kissed his cheek.
"Thanks, Mom," he said, hugging her back.
"Ian, your mom and I are so very proud of you," Clark said, his voice a little more solemn. He also hugged his son, then shook his hand. He stood back again, putting his arm around Lois.
"Wow, I can't believe this! Just think, in less than three hours I'll be 'Ian Kent, College Grad'!" he exclaimed, standing erect and putting his hands on his hips, trying to look impressive.
Lois stifled a giggle, thinking he looked exactly like his father did more than twenty years ago, only he was wearing blue spandex at the time.
"You can't believe it!" Lois replied. "How do you think we feel?" she looked at Clark. "Our firstborn, graduating from college! Wasn't it just yesterday you were playing with your little Superman action figures, and sitting on your Uncle Perry's lap while he edited copy?" she sighed, close to tears at seeing her little boy in the young man before her.
"Oh, Lois. Don't start crying now!" Clark laughed gently. "You're gonna mess up your makeup. And besides, there will be plenty of time to cry when they start playing 'Pomp and Circumstance' when he comes marching in with his class." With that, the tears really began to fall. "Oh, honey!" he laughed, gathering her in his arms. He understood how she felt, though; he wanted to cry a little himself.
"C'mon, mom," Ian said soothingly. "Don't forget the party Uncle Perry's throwing for me afterward! It should be totally awesome!"
Lois lifted her head from where she'd been sniffling against Clark's chest. "'Awesome'? I didn't know you kids said things like that anymore. I thought you said things like, 'it'll be a riot', or 'that's really push!'"
"Mom, slang hasn't changed all that much since you and dad used it. I've even heard that some of the things they said back in the nineties are coming back. I heard some guy the other day say 'whatever'! And just last month a girl in my class said 'don't go there'."
"Really?" she said.
"Uh-huh," he nodded.
Clark took this opportune tangent to get the conversation back on track. "Ok, now that we've covered the latest in slang," he said blandly, "Ian, do you happen to know where your brother and sister are?"
Ian opened his mouth to answer, but didn't get the chance.
"I'm COMING!" yelled a voice from upstairs.
"Well, there's Cara," Clark remarked with a smile.
Lois, Clark, and Ian watched as suddenly, a mini- whirlwind came bounding down the stairs. "I'm coming!" it hollered again. Seconds later a nineteen-year old girl landed at the bottom of the stairs. "Ready," she announced calmly, walking over to join the group.
"You're getting much better at that, Care," Ian remarked, another twinkle in his eye. "You're not tearing up the banister as much as you used to."
She gave him a grin that said 'very funny'. "Oh, you think you're sooo smart, just because you're graduating from college."
"At least I've actually been to college," he retorted.
"At least I've been to a country whose main staple food isn't pizza!" she shot back.
Lois and Clark watched this exchange, total bafflement on their faces.
"Well, we know the flying down banisters comes from your side," Lois whispered to her husband, lightly poking him in the chest, "but I think this," she nodded at their sparring children, "this's mine."
"I think you're right, honey," Clark chuckled, moving to break up the verbal melee.
"Oh, yeah, well at least I've never stared at something till it incin-"
"Ahem." Clark cleared his throat. Stopped short by their father's interruption, both children looked at him, their mother, then finally at each other, then looked slightly shamefaced at the floor. "That's better. Now," Clark looked at Cara Elizabeth. "Do you know where your brother is? We needed to leave about ten minutes ago."
Cara snuck in one final glare at Ian before responding. "No, Dad. I don't know where Matthew is."
"Hey, Matthew!" Clark called out. "C'mon, let's go! We're gonna be late!"
"I'll be right there!" a voice called from upstairs. "I can't find my camera!"
"You can use mine!" Clark responded somewhat impatiently.
"Ok, ok," Matthew Clark said resignedly as he came downstairs to join his parents and siblings.
"Oh, Matthew," his mother gushed, seeing her youngest in his dark sweater and slacks. "I can't wait to someday see you wearing a cap and gown over that."
"I guess I'm gonna have to keep my eye on the girls around this one too, huh?" Clark smiled, beaming at his fifteen- year old.
Cara, feeling a bit ignored, placed her hands on her hips. "Am I even here right now?"
Lois and Clark looked at each other and smiled, then turned their attention to their daughter.
"Sweetheart, of course you look beautiful," Lois said warmly.
"Cara, I can't believe how grown up you look," Clark reiterated. "You're looking more like your mother every day."
She nodded. "Thank you," she said, satisfied, then became serious when she looked at her big brother. "Ian, I know it won't sound like much coming from me, but I'm proud of you too. I can't believe my big brother is gonna be a college graduate! This is so weird!"
He looked at her with a mock hurt expression.
"I mean 'good weird', of course." Her voice became slightly wistful. "It just seems strange you being so grown. You used to take me for piggy-back rides through Metropolis Park, and now, you're grown up!"
"Way to go, man," Matthew said, giving his brother a love punch in the arm.
"Thanks Cara, Matt," he said. "And you too, Mom and Dad." He paused for a moment. "Y'know, I have got to be the luckiest guy in the world. I've got the best parents, the coolest brother and sister. How'd I get such a great family?"
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe just luck?" Lois suggested, and they all laughed. Then Clark spoke up.
"Ok, everyone's accounted for. Let's go!" he said, making a shoving gesture with his hands. They turned and headed out the door, Lois and Cara making sure they had their purses. Just before they walked out, Clark stopped Ian, while the others headed toward the car.
"Just one second, Ian," he said. Ian turned to look at his father.
"What is it, Dad?"
Clark didn't say anything, but simply reached up, and straightened his son's tie. "There," he said as he finished. Ian smiled, understanding the simple gesture. "Your Grandpa Kent did that for me the day I married your mother. He said he couldn't believe his little boy was all grown up."
"You're not gonna go and get all sappy on me, are ya, Dad?" Ian asked.
"No," Clark answered softly, shaking his head. "C'mon. Your mom's waiting." With that, they headed out to the car.
The Metropolis Memorial Convention Center was packed with the graduating Class of '18, their families and friends. The Kent family filed in, after first dropping Ian off near the door to join his class. Lois and Clark looked around, finding themselves surrounded by their son's friends and classmates, people they had known for so many years. Finding their seats in the middle towards the front, they sat down and waited, occasionally chatting with other proud parents seated near them. Then the lights dimmed.
Clark, holding Lois's hand in his, felt her tense slightly beside him. Knowing that she was feeling the same sense of anticipation as he, he wrapped her hand in his arm and squeezed. He turned his head to look at her, and noticed a small tear making its way down her beautiful face. She looked into his eyes, and smiled. He lifted his other hand to her face, and gently wiped away the tear with his finger. As the strains of 'Pomp and Circumstance' began, and the students began to march in, they once again focused their attention on the stage.
Clark found he couldn't take his eyes off his son, walking so calmly and confidently in his black cap and gown. Looking at the young man heading for the stage, Clark was reminded of himself when he was that age. There was a lot of Lois in him, too, Clark noticed, as Ian passed his family, winking and giving the thumbs up. Once they had taken their seats, the President of Metropolis University got up, and made his way to the podium to make his speech. But Clark didn't hear it. All he could see was his son, sitting up there, getting ready to graduate from college. He couldn't believe it. The president's speech grew fainter, as Clark watched his son sitting there with his class, and the memories of how it all started began to come back…
September 12, 1993
Daily Planet, Perry White's office
"Lois," Perry growled, "can't you see I'm in the middle of something here?"
"Oh!" she said, as if she hadn't heard him. Perry sighed.
"Lois Lane." He turned to the young man who was interviewing with him. "Clark Kent."
"Nice to meet you," she threw at him, then turned her attention back to Perry.
Clark didn't hear the rest of what she said; he was too utterly transfixed by the living wind that had just blown into the office, talking a mile a minute. She had only just stormed in, but Clark was already spellbound. He had seen a lot of things in his travels, exotic places, fascinating people, and yes, some very attractive women. But nothing, nothing he had seen compared to her. Her name, as Mr. White had just said, was Lois Lane. She had chin-length dark brown hair that swung in every direction when she moved, and her eyes! Her eyes were practically sparkling with life as she talked. They were the deepest brown he'd ever seen, and he felt himself becoming lost in them just looking at her. Suddenly, though, she was leaving, and Mr. White was rejecting him for the job. He felt as if something were being taken from him, a part of himself he couldn't live without. He realized at that moment that, no matter what, he had to get it back.
Somehow, he got the job! And better still, he was working with Lois. They were working on a story about a sabotaged space shuttle, late at night, and sharing some 'out-of- this-world' Chinese food. She pulled open her fortune cookie, and frowned.
"It's in Chinese," she muttered in disgust. He took it from her and easily began to read it. She fixed him with a look of disbelief. "Oh, don't tell me…"
"'A good horse is like a member of the family'," he quoted, smiling.
She shook her head. "I hate that. That is not a fortune!"
He merely chuckled. She looked at him for a moment, as if trying to form a solid opinion of him.
"You are a strange one, Clark Kent," she finally remarked.
"Am I?" he replied, nonplussed.
"Yeah," she said confidently. "But I think I've got you figured out."
"Really? Didn't take you very long."
"Well, that's my business, looking past the external," she boasted.
He couldn't help but stare at her in awe. She was just amazing! So confident in her abilities and skills as a reporter. And he had no doubt that that confidence was well earned. He'd already seen her in action; he knew she was good. Then he found himself staring straight into her eyes, and she was staring back. Something he couldn't define, happened. He could feel it. Then just as it had begun, she ended it.
"Don't fall for me, farmboy. I don't have time for it."
"'Don't fall for me, farmboy…'" Her words echoed through his mind again as he sat there, listening to another speech. But he had fallen, long before she'd warned him off. He smiled as more memories of their first year together came back to him.
He was holding her in his arms, flying her back to the Planet after sending the shuttle up to Space Station Prometheus. If he thought just looking at her was amazing…holding her in his arms, so close he could smell her perfume, it was indescribable! He was surprised he was able to fly straight, since he could feel the warmth of her body, pressed so close he could feel every curve. Flying easily through the large windows of the Daily Planet, he took her straight to her desk. He could clearly hear the gasps and murmurings around him, and saw the flashes of light as people took pictures of the strange being in the unusual suit carrying Lois Lane in, setting her down right at her desk.
He set her on her feet, keeping his hands at her waist lest she lost her balance. He knew he was kidding himself. He just wanted to be able to hold her a little longer! Luckily, she seemed in no hurry to extricate herself from his arms, as her hands were still lightly on his shoulders. She was looking at him, staring into his eyes as if completely hypnotized. He couldn't help but stare back.
Finally, she seemed to snap out of it, if only enough to be able to speak.
"I…I think considering I found you first, you owe me an exclusive," she said softly. He smiled.
"Is that the rule?" he asked, remembering her penchant for rules.
"Well, no," she replied sheepishly, blushing. His heart sped up as her color rose. "But I'd appreciate it very much."
Without replying, he gently rose into the air and flew back toward the window. She wasn't quite through with him, though. He heard her running across the bullpen, trying to follow him.
"Wait!" she cried. "How will I find you?"
As he flew out the window, he turned to look at her and answered cryptically, "I'll be around."
Flying back across the city, he couldn't help but hear a staff member ask her if she'd gotten his name. Her breathless reply would set the tone for the rest of his life.
"Super!" she gasped, her eyes widening. "Superman!"
He was leaning against a desk, looking at some photos with Jimmy when Lois and Perry emerged from the elevator. Even without his fine-tuned hearing, he could tell they were arguing about something; it looked like she was trying to talk him out of something. Apparently, Perry wasn't buying it. Finally, they were close enough that he could hear the conversation without his superhearing.
"But partnership? It's like marriage," she whined. "It takes patience and understanding and a willingness to be supportive."
"I know, honey," Perry replied patronizingly, patting her on the arm. "Fake it. Now, go find your partner." With that, he walked away, leaving a very annoyed Lois gritting her teeth at having been saddled with the newbie.
Clark, on the other hand, couldn't have been happier. Not only was he working in the newsroom with her, he was working with her, as her partner! Could things get any better? She turned around to find him smiling like an idiot.
"Howdy, partner!" he beamed, giving her a little wave. She began to walk slowly toward him, crossing her arms over her chest. He just couldn't resist rubbing it in a little. "Which goes better? 'Kent and Lane' or 'Lane and Kent'?"
Now she was scowling, and jutting her chin out defiantly.
"'Kent and Lane' or 'Lane and Kent'?" he asked again.
"Neither," she answered curtly. Just then, she was interrupted by the young man standing behind Clark.
"'Lane and Kent', definitely," remarked Jimmy Olsen, staff photographer. Clark turned to regard him quizzically.
"Tradition!" the young man laughed. "Martin and Louis. Abbot and Costello. Straight man always goes first."
"Either way it'll never work," she said dismissively.
"C'mon, Lois, it won't be that bad," Clark said reasonably. She had to give this a chance.
"It'll be that bad," she countered. "It'll be worse!" she exclaimed, then sighed. "C'mon, he wants to see us." She turned and headed to the editor's office, and like an obliging puppy, he followed.
He remembered all too well how adamantly she'd fought against working with him. She saw him not as a helpful partner, capable of helping her, and possibly complimenting her work. To her, he was nothing more than an annoying little tag along, some wet-behind-the-ears rookie who needed her there to wipe his nose. She'd scorned him, ridiculed him, and had even stolen his story. But after a short while he'd proven himself, and, as she'd put it, taken her down a peg in the process. The Godzilla incident had really deflated her, and after that, she'd never treated him with…as much disrespect. He became her friend, her confidant, someone she found herself turning to in times of need.
His own heart was beating wildly in his chest; he could only imagine what hers was doing. Well, she was probably just grateful it was still beating at all.
He'd had a sense that something wasn't right. It just hit him out of nowhere, the nagging feeling that something was terribly wrong. He was so thankful he'd acted on his instinct, the voice in his head telling him to get upstairs and check on her. Because when he got to her apartment, and found his partner, the woman he loved being held in a choke hold by her landlord, it was all he could do not to throw the man out the window. Instead he'd calmly instructed the impostor to let her go. When the man hesitated, he said it again, that time raising his hand in a gesture of unspoken threat. The man wised up and dropped her unceremoniously to the floor. Her limp body fell with a sickening thud onto the tile, and the man then grabbed his box and ran like a coward.
Immediately Clark had knelt over her, feeling his heart sinking as he realized she wasn't breathing. He'd gently rolled her onto her back, tilting her face upward, and breathed into her, praying it wasn't too late. She had begun to breathe again on her own, and as soon as she'd realized who her savior was, she'd reached up and wrapped her arms tightly around his neck.
So now he found himself, sitting on Lois's kitchen floor at six-thirty in the morning, hugging her tightly to himself, promising not to leave her. He could almost hear his heart pounding in his ears. There was of course the sensation of holding her so close, which he didn't get to do that often. That always made his heart beat faster. But at the moment, the feeling came from the fact that she wanted him, Clark, to stay with her, and not Superman. He'd offered to go after her assailant, but she'd clung to him, pleading with him not to leave her. Didn't she know that he'd never leave if she wanted him there?
It was finally over. The endless hours of pain and agony suffered at the hands of that madman were finally over. He still didn't have the use of his powers, but somehow, by the grace of God he'd managed to escape that kryptonite cage. He could still hear Luthor's howl of rage when he'd found his prisoner had somehow escaped. He'd made it out of the building, changed into his regular clothes, and went to find Lois. He heard her even before he saw her.
"Where's Clark?" she asked tearfully.
Even after everything their friendship had endured, the hurtful words, the arguments over Lex, the way he'd dismissed her invitation with biting remarks about her blindness, she still wanted him there. His was still the first name on her lips when she was hurting.
"Right here," he responded. The look on her face when she turned around, the tears, made his heart clench in a way kryptonite never could. The next instant she was in his arms, clinging to him like a life preserver in the tempest her life had become. They simply stood there for an endless moment, just glad to have the other back. For a moment, the world faded away, and the last few weeks ceased to matter. He held her tight, just glad to have the woman he loved, or more important, his best friend back. He came back to reality when he heard someone screaming.
"He's gonna jump!"
Clark lifted his head from where it had been resting against Lois's, looked up, and could not make his brain believe what his eyes were showing him.
Lois, feeling the loss of Clark's cheek against her hair, also looked up, and gasped.
Lex Luthor, the man whom she had nearly married less than fifteen minutes earlier, was standing on the ledge of his penthouse balcony, making wild gestures with his arms.
Clark watched as Lex swayed back and forth atop the high ledge, waving his arms. He seemed to be taunting someone. Then, before even he could process it, the billionaire jumped. He heard gasps and screams of disbelief all around him, and he could feel Lois tense beside him. He hated the man more than he'd ever hated anyone, and would have liked nothing better than to see the man brought down, but his inner sense of morality told him, his upbringing screamed at him to try, to do…something.
He angled upward, keeping an arm around Lois, and tried to lift off. Nothing happened. He wasn't surprised. The bastard had kept him locked away in that cage long enough he was surprised he was still standing, period.
"I…I can't," he whispered, his voice tinged with regret. As Lois buried her face in his neck, he couldn't help but feel a small twinge of gratification at what was happening. His conscience was clear; he'd at least tried to help Luthor. But he felt that it was poetic justice; Luthor fell to his death, having rendered the one person capable of saving him powerless. As he brought his hand up to cradle Lois's head, Clark felt great satisfaction that the House of Luthor had finally fallen. He just wished that Lois hadn't nearly been destroyed in the process.
Their friendship had been sorely tested by the Luthor incident, but once she had regained her self-confidence and became herself again, everything seemed to go back to normal. But, he had to remind himself, nothing with them had ever been normal. Months went by, and their friendship had grown stronger, until the day he made the decision to take a chance, and everything had changed…
He and Lois were out on his balcony, enjoying a casual evening drink. Only she was wearing a very decolletage light blue dress with a plunging neckline, her shiny dark hair blowing gently in the breeze, and he was wearing a very chic suit and more stylish hair. Even his glasses were more uptown! He was working up the courage to tell her how he felt, but oddly enough, he wasn't given the chance.
She leaned towards him, placing both hands on either side of his face. He leaned towards her, so close he could feel her breath on his face. She gazed deeply into his eyes, her own dark eyes glittering with passion. Just a little…closer…she opened her mouth to speak…
And sounded exactly like Perry White. Suddenly, the Chief's face was hovering over him, and his daydream shattered as he heard the older man's voice again announcing,
"We'll never get this paper out by deadline!"
"Huh?" Clark was still confused. How had Lois turned into Perry?
Perry rolled his eyes when he realized Clark was not hearing him. He turned and addressed the rest of the Planet staff who were actually listening. Clark vaguely heard the demand for stories to be turned in by deadline. His attention was focused on the beautiful brunette in the gray suit standing at the top of the ramp, getting coffee. Smoothing his tie down, he got up and made his way up the ramp to the coffee stand.
"Uh, Lois," he began, trying to sound casual. "Can I ask you something?"
"Oh, I'm not gonna like it, am I?" she said forebodingly, still stirring her coffee.
"What makes you say that?" he asked, wondering why she always looked for an angle, even with a simple question.
"You've got that tone in your voice. The one people get when they're uncomfortable, like when they wanna borrow something. Like your car, or money," she paused, "or your clothes."
"Oh, yeah, you got me," he replied sarcastically. "I wanna borrow your clothes!"
"Hmm, I bet you'd look real cute in black chiffon," she said, smiling brightly. He had to suck in a breath. Did she have any idea what that smile did to him? 'Focus, Clark, focus, before you lose your courage.'
"What I wanna say is…" he started.
But she cut him off. "I know what you want, Clark."
"I know you better than you think. How much do you need?"
"What?" he asked incredulously. "No, I don't want money, Lois."
"Clark, you don't have to be embarrassed. What are friends for? Just tell me how much!" she said as she kept walking. He stopped walking, and just said the words that would change his life.
"Lois, I want you to go out with me."
Suddenly, it was as if time had simply suspended, and all newsroom noise ceased. She stopped dead in her tracks, and then turned around, astonishment written across her face, her coffee mug still hovering at her lips.
"What?" she asked, her voice barely a whisper.
He had to repeat that? It was hard enough the first time! But he did, and in true Lois fashion she began to babble like a raging brook, not stopping to finish one though before beginning the next. As much as he loved watching her babble and get all flustered, he was beginning to get very nervous. Was she babbling because she didn't want to date him? Had he just irreparably damaged their friendship?
But he wouldn't have time to find out right then, because they were immediately given a new assignment, and an old enemy was about to reemerge, one that Clark had hoped was gone for good.
He remembered their 'almost first-date' in vivid detail. That was the very first instance of real sexual tension that Clark had ever experienced. The sight of seeing Lois through the translucent door was torture, and having her fall right on top of him and spilling champagne all over him had only added to his frustration. It had been all he could do to not simply roll them over so she was pinned beneath him and show her more tangibly how he felt.
And then when she had gotten sick from the Chinese food! That had added a tension all its own to the situation. That was the first time he'd gotten to hold her like that as Clark. He'd carried her from the couch to the bedroom door, a mere eight feet, but she had wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her body into his, so as he walked, he could feel every soft curve against him. It had been torture; sheer, delightful, excruciating torture.
And of course having to deal with a resurrected Lex Luthor had not been fun. Luthor had come back from the dead, determined to win Lois back. In his deluded mind, she still loved him, so he found her irritation at having been kidnapped a bit baffling. He'd gathered his cronies to break a criminal out of jail, but was himself double-crossed. Vale and Kelly had both died, St. John had gotten away, but Superman had rescued Lois, and stymied Luthor's suicide attempt. The uber-villain had not been pleased with his arch-enemy's last words to him as he carried Lois to safety before delivering him to the police.
"Sorry, Luthor, but killing yourself would be the easy way out. You can't cheat justice twice."
Then there was Mayson, the Assistant District Attorney Lois would come to greatly resent, and Clark would privately mourn. Add to that the introduction of Clark's only real rival for Lois' affections. Even twenty years later, Clark could still remember how much he'd hated Daniel Scardino. First he'd tied up Lois and Clark in the slain ADA's office, spewing quick rejoinders at Clark, then started shamelessly flirting with Lois!
Unfortunately, Clark remembered, Lois was not as put off by the suave DEA Agent as he'd been. Clark recalled the pain and intense jealousy he'd felt when Lois started returning his advances, even going out with the guy. He'd known then, if he didn't do something, start being more honest with her about his feelings, not to mention his other identity, he was in danger of losing her forever.
He turned his head from the stage slightly, and looked at the woman sitting next to him. She was still watching the stage; her beautiful eyes glistening with unshed tears.
Yes, the first two years of their relationship had definitely been eventful. And most people didn't even know the whole story. Most people knew he'd been pining for her, and that she'd simply initially brushed him off. Most people also knew that he'd been persistent, and that she'd eventually warmed to him. But not everyone knew why it had taken them so long, even after it was obvious that there was something between them; they couldn't know, because the secret hindering their relationship was so dangerous. And he still felt a twinge of guilt remembering how she'd almost lost her life because of that secret…
He pulled the heavy metal door off its hinges and threw it aside. He could hear his parents behind him as he hurried to the slab where Lois lay. He distantly heard his mother's terrified gasp as he leaned over Lois's frozen form.
"Live!" he whispered, grasping her hand. Then he stood back and aimed a precise beam of heat vision at her body, watching as it dispersed, spreading its warmth over and through her. When he was satisfied that she was sufficiently warmed, he bent over her and pressed his mouth to hers, breathing deeply into her.
"C'mon, Lois, come back to me," he whispered pleadingly, then gave another breath. "Fight, Lois, c'mon. Fight!"
Nothing. "Don't you die on me, Lois!" he cried, practically ordering her not to die. "Now c'mon, don't give up, c'mon," he begged, finally beginning to panic. Still she didn't move. He felt his heart in his throat, choking away what little hope he still had left. It couldn't come down to this. He couldn't lose her now, not after everything they'd been through, not when he still had so much to tell her! Finally his desperation got the better of him.
"Breathe, Lois! Breathe!" he practically screamed. But there was no response. Only her pale face, with her lips slightly parted where he'd tried in vain to breathe life back into her. Despondent, he laid his head on her shoulder, wondering bleakly where that chunk of kryptonite was…
Then he heard the most beautiful sound he'd ever heard. His head snapped up, and she coughed again, struggling to lift her head. Immediately he straightened, and gathered her in his arms, cradling her head against his shoulder. Through dazed eyes, she looked up at him.
"I…heard you calling…heard you calling…" she said weakly. He gently shushed her, not wanting her to overexert herself after what she'd been through. She sighed tiredly, as if the effort of keeping her eyes open at all was too much. She relaxed against him, and he gathered her in his arms and flew her to safety.
He sat her down on the fountain, and began to kneel in front of her. Just then, the cosmos decided to make him work for his reward, and a downpour began to fall. He lifted his head in frustration at the heavens.
"Oh, come on! Gimme a break!"
"You want to go back?" Lois asked through laughter.
He shook his head. Nothing, no evil psychos, no distractions or emergencies or deadlines were going to stop him.
"If the Earth opened up at my feet, I wouldn't move until I'd said this," he said determinedly, then knelt in front of her. He heard her sharp intake of breath as he reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small black box. Looking into her eyes, he saw his own emotions reflected back. They simply stared at each other for a moment, each silently telling the other things they had insofar been unable to. She looked at the box in his hand, and for once in her life, had no words. Finally she looked up at him again, and saw not a strong, confident, easy going guy, but a deeply vulnerable man whose heart he was laying down in front of her. At that moment, he looked so hopeful, yet so unsure of himself, and more than a little frightened.
"Will you marry me?"
So many things went through her mind in that one instant. So many, in fact, that she couldn't voice any of them. But one thought pierced the confusion, and gave her the courage to finally speak. She took a deep breath.
Finding out his secret identity had not been easy for her, and he had had to endure the pain of her initial rejection of his proposal, not to mention her anger at having to figure out he was Superman on her own. But the real trial came later, when a megalomaniac computer geek had nearly killed her, and he had almost lost her irrevocably because of his own stupidity. Eventually he'd come to his senses and apologized, admitting that he'd gone a little insane for a while because of his love for her, and his desire to protect her. She'd thanked him for saving her life, and forgiven him, but her forgiveness had come with a price. She'd made it perfectly clear to him that neither he nor Superman had any right to try to run her life.
That night, per Lois, Lane and Kent went from 'the Hottest Team in Town', to simply 'the News Team'.
Standing outside her apartment after she'd asked him to leave, he'd leaned against the door, wondering how he'd managed to mess things up so royally, and if he'd ever have to chance to make them right again.
"Clark, we're in the 'Rejected' pile!" she exclaimed.
"Lois, don't you think that's probably a good thing?" he asked while x-raying the walls of the hidden room.
But Lois, never one to like not making the cut, even by a psychopath, was still hurt.
"Well, I like to feel wanted!" she said petulantly, as Clark continued to scan the room for anything unusual. "Smiley says we're not compatible. He says I don't trust you or respect you, and he doesn't know why you even put up with me!"
"Lois, the guy's a murderer!" he reasoned, trying to make her feel better.
"Of course I trust you!" she retorted, ignoring his consoling attempt. She swung around to face him. "And I respect you more than anyone I've ever met." Her face became flushed as she bore her soul to him and she began to babble furiously. "And you know, if I do get angry, it's only because I've never opened up to someone so much in my whole life," she threw at him, tears threatening to choke her, "and it hurts when it feels like that trust isn't returned, and y'know you put up with me for the same reason I put up with you, it's because I'm completely in love with you!!"
Emotionally exhausted, she stopped. He turned and walked slowly towards her, never taking his eyes from hers. He stopped just a couple of feet from her.
"And… I love you," he said quietly. They both just stood there for a moment, not quite sure what to do next. Finally he broke the silence. "Did we just make up?"
"I think so," she replied in a small voice. The next thing he knew she was in his arms, and their mouths met in a fusion of passion that left them both breathless. He smoothed his hands over her back, running a hand up to cup her neck, while her own hands ran through his dark hair, holding his head to hers. For a moment, their passion overwhelmed them and he stumbled, nearly knocking over a bookshelf. He caught himself in time, wrapping his arm around her again. After a moment, she pulled away, gasping, and looked into his eyes, now hidden behind the steam covering his glasses.
"Do you think maybe we could do this somewhere not so musty…" she leaned in for another kiss, then just barely pulled away "…not owned by a killer…"
Superman set her on her feet in her apartment, keeping his hands at her waist, not wanting to let her go now that he had her back. Smiley's New Age Arc had been disabled, his frozen kidnapping victims freed.
"Smiley's given up on people ever finding happiness together. But I haven't," he said, wrapping her in his arms. "Have you?"
"No," she answered simply.
"But we keep, messing up," he said, a small humorless chuckle escaping his throat. "Why is that?"
"Well," she replied, looping her arms around his neck. "For starters, people mess up. And I think that the whole idea of marriage just made us both a little nuts for a while. It's a difficult thing to adjust to, being so in love."
He knew it had been hard for her, accepting that someone could love her unconditionally, but he did, and he had to make her see that his was genuine. He knew that grandiose gestures and fancy gifts were not the way to win her, so he used the only way he knew how. With words.
"It's not the 'm' word that makes it forever for me, Lois," he whispered, looking deep into her eyes. "My love is forever because — " He gazed at her, willing her to see into his heart. "Because it just is."
'Because it just is…' Clark thought, a smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. It was simple, straightforward, and had told her more than flowery speeches ever could. He loved her, not because of what she might someday be, but because she was, simply, Lois Lane. He reached over, and taking her small hand in his, wrapped his arm around it, and held it in his. Running his finger over her wedding band, he thought about what was inscribed on the inside -'Forever, CK 96". His ring had the same thing, only with 'LL'. The day he'd put that ring on her finger, his life had seemed to come full circle. His whole life up to that point had been a search, and he'd wandered the earth, wondering if he'd ever find a place to call home. The day he met Lois, he'd found it, and the day he married her, he'd found his place in the universe.
The road there had not been easy of course. They'd had to deal with Lois becoming UltraWoman, learning what it was like to live with his powers, but that had led to the single greatest thrill of his life up to then; when she asked him to marry her! For the rest of his life he would never forget how she knelt in front of him and asked him to be her husband. His reply of 'who's asking, Lois or UltraWoman?' had been answered with her previous question from his proposal, 'who's answering, Clark or Superman?' His heart had practically burst from his chest as he'd answered, then slipped the ring on her finger. They'd kissed, and Clark could've sworn he'd heard fireworks somewhere in the distance.
Immediately they'd started making plans, trying not to let Lois's mother and her wedding coordinator take over.
Unfortunately, even with his Supervision, Clark could not have foreseen the three enemies that would try so hard to come between him and Lois, and their future. First Baron Sunday had tried to literally scare Clark to death with Clark's unconscious fear of darkness and isolation. But the memories of being buried alive had actually been memories of being saved by his Kryptonian parents, who sent him to Earth, and into Lois's life, so they couldn't destroy him.
Then Lex Luthor had reappeared, again, this time hell bent on winning Lois back and tricking Clark into marrying her clone. It had almost worked, but something inside Clark had known that the woman with Lois's face was a fake, and when he finally caught up with Lex, Lois had refused to leave him, claiming that the disruption of their wedding was a blessing in disguise. Horrified, but unwilling to force her to do anything against her will, he'd let her go. The next time he caught up with her, Lex was well and truly dead, but the damage had already been done. She had no memory of herself, him, or of them.
Finally there had been Max Dieter, the so-called savior of the amnesiacs, who claimed that by using his widely renowned techniques, memory-loss victims would regain what they'd lost. At first Clark trusted him, wanting to do anything and everything to help the woman he loved, even if it meant staying away from her. But after a while it became apparent that the good doctor wasn't as benevolent as everyone thought. After handing Lois over to a scientist who was using amnesia patients as killers- for-hire, and trying to seduce her for himself, Dieter was finally brought down, by a punch to the face from the newly restored Lois herself.
Clark's thoughts then went back to one of the single most painful periods in his and Lois's life…
They walked hand in hand towards the concealed spaceship. Everything in Clark told him to turn and run, to sweep Lois into his arms and fly away where these people could never find him. But they'd made this decision together, and now they had to tell them. Clutching his love's hand tightly in his, he raised his other hand into the air, and suddenly a door appeared. The next instant, he was once again standing inside the unusual spacecraft. The two figures in black were waiting for him.
"The time is at hand, Kal-El," the woman with long dark hair said. "Have you come to a decision?"
He looked down, then turned his gaze on the woman next to him, silently letting her speak for him.
"Clark and I have decided," Lois began in a quiet voice, then paused, trying to gather her strength. When she spoke again, her voice held a tremble that broke Clark's heart. "We've decided that he should help you in your struggle."
This seemed to satisfy the woman, who smiled slightly in gratitude. "We are most grateful, Kal-El."
"Indeed, we are most grateful," agreed the dark haired man standing just behind her.
Then the woman's voice took on a more business-like tone. "You realize, of course, that Lois must remain behind. She would never survive the other world."
Clark could hardly tear his gaze from Lois. Finally he turned to address Lady Zara. "Yes, I know," he said quietly.
The Daily Planet was crowded with people gathered to see Superman's farewell to the people of Earth. There were reporters, of course, the mayor, and other dignitaries. But the only people Superman was there for were the three people waiting in Perry's office. Donning the Suit, he made his parting speech, then slowly made his way to the editor's office. The leather office chair was turned away from him, but he knew who was sitting in it. For a moment, he focused his attention on his parents, the two people who'd taken him in, raised him, and loved him as their son. After hugging them, he turned his attention to the chair. Slowly it turned, and his heart broke again as Lois stood up, tears threatening to fall from her beautiful eyes. There were so many things he wanted to say to her, but the lump in his throat prevented him. She stood before him, trying so hard to be brave, for herself and for him, but he could see how much this was tearing her apart.
She reached up, and gently reached into the neck of his suit to find her wedding ring, hanging from a gold chain. Pulling it out, she fingered it slightly, thinking about all that might never be. After a moment, she replaced it, then looked into his eyes.
"Don't forget me," she quietly pleaded.
He had to close his eyes against the wave of pain threatening to overwhelm him. Instead, he looked deeply into her eyes, and shook his head.
"Never," he whispered. Then she was in his arms, holding onto him for dear life. He wrapped his arms around her shaking body, wishing with all his soul he didn't have to let go. But eventually, feeling like someone was removing his heart while it still beat within him, he did.
He flew up to the large windows overlooking the newsroom, preparing to fly away. But then he turned, and looked down into the crowd, and into her eyes. Shining with tears, her eyes begged him to stay. His own eyes were blurring over, so he cast one last glance at her, then turned and flew out the window at superspeed.
They said that God never closed a door without opening a window, and it certainly seemed to be the case when he'd left to go with the New Kryptonians. While he had hated leaving Lois and his life on Earth behind for a time, he had learned a great deal about himself and his heritage. One thing he had learned was that they were a very proud people, with a rich history, although the class system was a bit rigid. The idea that he was some sort of Lord, with a birth wife who had to walk behind him at all times, made him feel very awkward. And having people bow at his feet, reverently chanting his name really had put him at a distance. He didn't even want to think of the 'Ceremony of Union', which had made it legal for him to consummate his 'marriage' to Zara! He could still remember the utter shock he'd felt when she'd explained it to him. It had never occurred to him that he might have to… He was only there to stop a war, and they had him dressed in heavy robes, expecting him to…sleep with this woman who was barely more than a stranger to him! He and Lois had not made love yet, and he had saved himself for her! It was impossible for him to contemplate sleeping with another woman. He'd been appalled at what they'd wanted him to do.
Fortunately, if that was the correct term, it had never come to that. Lord Nor had invaded Earth, he'd gone back to fight him for the freedom of Smallville, been accused of treason, nearly executed, brought back, and Nor had died, along with several of his men, at the hands of a traitorous, over-zealous Army colonel. Zara and Ching, out of gratitude for saving them, had released him from his responsibilities to NK, allowing him to go home. His reunion with Lois was healing, as he had never felt truly like himself except when he was with her.
That night, on her fire escape, he proposed once again. He knelt in front of her, and asked her to just marry him. Not to plan, not to wait, not to let anyone or anything stand in their way of being together. There was an intensity to his voice even he'd never heard before, but he was almost desperate to marry her before Fate threw something else at them. They'd been through so much, both together and apart, that he didn't think he could wait any longer.
"Just marry me, Lois."
She'd smiled at him, tears of joy flowing freely down her face, and lovingly ran her hand over his cheek.
"Y'know, that's precisely what I was thinking!" she'd replied. Without another word, he'd stood up, wrapped her in his arms, and supporting her with one arm, gently pressed her against the fire escape and kissed her with every ounce of love in his body.
With the exception of the Wedding Destroyer, Lois and Clark's wedding day was the happiest day of his life. They stood at the top of that mountain, the sun setting on them almost as if in blessing, as they gave their vows. He hadn't needed a rehearsed script to tell Lois how he felt about her. Every word had come straight from his heart, and he'd begun by simply saying she'd had him from the very first day.
She'd told him that not only was he her best friend, something she'd never had, which was the cornerstone of their relationship, but that he brought out the best in her, and that he'd given her back the ability to love and trust.
Then came the words he never thought he'd hear.
"Lois and Clark, I now pronounce you husband and wife."
His musings of his and Lois's early years were interrupted as the President of Metropolis University finished his speech. Clark once again focused his attention on the stage.
"And now," President Edwards said. "Ladies and Gentlemen, honored guests, and proud parents. Our next speaker is one of our most honored students. He has made his mark here at Metropolis University, both as a student and as a leader. You are no doubt aware that he comes from a remarkable family, but he has made a few waves of his own." President Edwards paused for a moment, and the auditorium buzzed with excitement, knowing what was to come. Lois and Clark exchanged a proud look.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Class of 2018, I give you our keynote speaker, and YOUR class Valedictorian…Ian Jonathan Kent!"
The audience roared with applause, the Kent family louder than anyone, for its favorite student. The young man took the stage, and smiled as he approached the microphone. The applause continued for a few seconds, then quieted as he started to speak.
"Thank you, President Edwards, honored faculty members, fellow classmates. Ladies and gentlemen, although I have the privilege of graduating at the top of my class, I stand before you today simply as part of an amazing student body. The last four years have been the most challenging, and most rewarding of my life. I received a wonderful education, both in and out of the classroom, and made some wonderful friends I will keep for the rest of my life." He paused a moment to take a breath. "As you all know, I come from a family that is kind of famous in Metropolis," he smiled. "My parents, of course, are the two greatest investigative journalists ever, and I can only hope to one day follow their example. But Clark Kent and Lois Lane Kent are more than just great reporters. They are the best parents, the best mentors any child could ever want.
"I remember from earliest childhood how my parents instilled in me the values that they held dear. They taught me the value of honesty, friendship, loyalty, and above all, trust. They taught me to always tell the truth, no matter what, that trust is the most precious thing that friends can share, and that being loyal to that friendship, to all those you care about, is important above all else. And also, that those who are stronger must always protect the defenseless. It is because of their guidance, and lifelong support, that I am the person that I am today." He paused for a moment, shifted his note cards, then continued.
"As I said before, although I am Valedictorian, I am only but one of an amazing group. My generation, the children of the twenty-first century, has been called the ReGeneration, because we were born during a time of reawakening and rebirth. As Americans, we had to take a long, hard look at ourselves. The tragedies that befell this country in the early years of this century tried to weaken us as a nation, but, they only served to strengthen our resolve and bring us closer. We have been stronger in the last twenty years than almost our entire history.
"I am proud to say that is was my generation that saw some of the greatest achievements in the history of humanity take place; after years of setbacks, failed manned and unmanned missions to explore space, we finally put a human on the Moon again, only this time, appropriately, it was a woman! We were also able to more fully explore the surface of Mars, thanks, ironically, in part to Metropolis' own hero, Superman. Also, thanks to Superman's work with the United Nations, we have seen the almost complete eradication of crime, pollution, homelessness, political corruption…the list goes on.
"And of course, one of the greatest discoveries of the twenty-first century. After years of painstaking study and research of the disease, we finally discovered a vaccine for one of the most destructive killers ever known. This disease struck thousands of people every year, young and old alike, it did not discriminate about who its victims would be, and it killed without remorse. I am not talking about some publicity-seeking maniac. It was known as the 'enemy within', the silent killer. Well, the silent killer was itself silenced, forever, when the cure for cancer was discovered more than ten years ago."
The audience applauded loudly at the young man's acknowledgment of one of the twenty-first century's greatest scientific breakthroughs. His parents were especially proud of their son, for the person who'd made the discovery was the same man who'd helped bring Ian, and the other Kent children into the world.
As the applause died down and his son continued his speech, Clark once again found himself thinking back to that time when everything seemed to come together for him and Lois, but at the same time, fall apart…a time when children, his and Lois's, seemed an impossibility…
"Clark! Is it almost ready? You've been cooking for a whole 15 seconds," she scolded him playfully as she set the table for dinner. The door to the kitchen swung open and Clark appeared carrying a plate in each hand.
"Just give me five more seconds," he said, then disappeared back into the kitchen.
"Well, hurry up! I'm eager for dessert!" she ordered suggestively, finishing the table. Just then the doorbell rang. She went to open it, and found a delivery man waiting with a huge box.
"Delivery for Kent," he announced pleasantly.
Lois took in the large box sitting on the dolly behind him. "Wow! Well, come on in, set it anywhere."
He set the package in the middle of the floor while she signed for it. After closing the door behind him, she eyed the box curiously, then pulled the tape off in one long sweep. The flaps fell open easily, and Lois's jaw dropped when a white lace baby bassinet rolled out in greeting. She sucked in a breath as she took in the delicate lace and soft bed padding. Just then Clark emerged from the kitchen wiping his hands on a towel.
"Honey, who was at the-" he began, then his own jaw dropped when he saw what Lois was looking at. She raised her eyes to look into his.
"Honey?" she asked breathlessly. "Is this your way of telling me we can have a baby?"
Unfortunately, as much as Clark would've loved to give her the news like that, he had nothing to do with it. His parents had sent it up as a surprise, all the talk of grandchildren stimulating their 'helping and spoiling' instincts. Their enthusiasm was contagious, Lois and Clark being delighted that they were so anxious to help. All good intentions aside, however, the bassinet soon became an unwelcome purple elephant they couldn't get away from.
Lois was at her desk, working on the Klaus Mensa story, deep in concentration, when Jimmy approached her.
"Doesn't matter how much money you have, when your time is up, it's up."
"Fortune cookie?" she guessed.
"Carter Claven, rich, powerful, healthy, *dead*," he replied, handing her a file. "Fell 30 stories — flop."
He shook his head. "Exercycle. Bike went right now the window with him on it."
"By itself. The cops said the bike seemed to have a mind of its own." The conversation continued, and then Lois noticed Clark come up behind Jimmy, a rather odd expression on his face. After Jimmy left, he asked her, very quietly, if they could talk in private. He led her to the conference room, not saying anything. Lois tried to ignore her nervousness.
"I just got back from Star Labs," he began.
"Oh, well, you could've just called me," she replied, trying to sound nonchalant. "What did Dr. Klein say?" But the look on Clark's face erased whatever light-heartedness she was trying to feel. "Oh, you…couldn't call me, because the news…the news isn't good." She leaned against the table for support, her legs suddenly feeling too heavy to hold her up. Clark closed the distance between them, hating having to be the bearer of such devastating news.
"Dr. Klein ran every test he could think of," he said, his voice barely above a whisper. Lois brought her hand up to cover her face as the tears began to fall. She could feel his hand on her arm in silent support. "Poor guy could barely look at me. He said that Superman's biology and an Earth woman's were incompatible for reproduction," he finished, forcing the words past the lump in his own throat. She whimpered brokenly, and the sound made him silently curse his Kryptonian genes. He gently kissed the top of her bowed head, feeling like the world's biggest heel for doing this to her. It was one thing when his physiology made him different from the rest of the world; it was just him. But now it was affecting the woman he loved.
"I promised myself I'd never make you cry, I'm sorry," he said, squeezing her arms gently.
She lifted her head, inhaling deeply. "I feel so confused. I feel like I've lost something I never really had."
"We haven't lost anything, honey," he reassured her.
She shook her head desperately. "Look, you can't try to make me feel better. I mean, that's what you always do, and it's sweet, but I know how much you wanted to have kids," she exhaled in a rush.
The sounds of the busy newsroom faded, leaving only the quiet of the conference room, as Clark Kent told his emotionally devastated wife that whether or not it produced a child, every single time they made love, it was a moment of creation. For him, that itself was life-creating. His words gave her a measure of comfort, but could not erase the fact that the tiny bassinet was useless.
That night, as they lay in bed, lamenting their inability to have children, Clark once again reassured Lois. They had each other; whatever happened or didn't happen they would handle together. She still expressed regret that a mistake could not be found in the test results. Just then, Clark lifted his head, his eyebrows knitting together.
"What? What are you hearing?" Lois asked.
"I'm not sure," he said, perplexed.
"Well, what does it sound like?"
"I…I can't actually believe what it sounds like," he answered, and got up. She followed him downstairs, into the den…
The discovery of the baby wrapped in a Superman blanket in their living room had been a huge shock for Lois and Clark. And though it had turned out that the baby was not theirs biologically, but had been sent to them as a sort of 'promise', courtesy of H.G. Wells, it had given them new hope to not give up on having a child of their own. They did continue to try, which for them was certainly not a hardship, and Dr. Klein continued his research. Whether it was the scientist's efforts, or simply the heavens smiling on Lois and Clark, their faith was eventually rewarded. Dr. Klein had never been so happy to be wrong when, within less than a year of his initial findings, Clark and Lois discovered they were going to have a baby. When little Ian Jonathan Kent was born in January 1998, a smiling Clark said confidently to his exhausted, yet ecstatic wife, "Didn't I tell you, honey? Our love *is* creation."
Two years later Cara Elizabeth Kent came into the world, perfectly healthy, albeit slightly early. Clark, being absolutely thrilled to have a daughter, had remarked wryly after her slightly hair-raising entrance, "Oh yeah, she's just like her mother, this one."
"Well she would have to be, since her brother was born almost calmly, right on time, with practically no muss or fuss," Lois had replied with a tired smile. Lois had her little Clark, and Clark had his little Lois, Jimmy and Perry White were both overjoyed at being an uncle and grandpa, respectively, again. The Daily Planet staff wholly adopted both children as their own, and no two people on the face of the earth could've been happier than Lois and Clark, and neither of them thought they could be any happier, until…
Everyone, including Lois and Clark, was slightly surprised when, four years later, they had another baby, a healthy boy they named Matthew Clark. When they brought him to the Planet the first time, Jimmy remarked, in his usual, slightly tactless way, "Way to go, CK! Man, you just don't ever stop, do ya?" he asked, slapping Clark on the back.
"Uh, thanks, Jimmy. I think," Clark had replied, smiling uncomfortably. Even without looking, he could see the look on Lois's face at Jimmy's crass remark about their frequent procreating.
"Excuse me?" Lois had demanded, hands on her hips. "You're congratulating *him*? I'm the one who has given birth to three children here. All he did was -" She stopped, her face turning red. Clark cleared his throat self-consciously, and Jimmy had the grace to also blush, although for a different reason.
"Sorry, Lois," Jimmy had said earnestly. "Congrats on the newest Kent here. I know you'll do as great a job with this one here as you have with Ian and Cara."
"Thank you, Jimmy," Lois had replied warmly. She'd never held it against Jimmy that he sometimes spoke without thinking, any more than his tendency to interrupt her and Clark when…
Life had seemed to settle into place for them after that. Clark thought, it was as if Fate had decided to leave them be, let them have some peace, or as much peace as a family with three rambunctious children can have. They traded dealing with psycho- murderers, revenge-seeking scientists, determined ex-fiancees, for something that seemed, almost worse. The terrible twos, three times. When it was Cara's turn, Lois had commented to her husband that she'd almost rather deal with another Prankster, or Dr. Mamba, than a screaming two-year old baby and a jealous, hair pulling four-year old. And just when they'd survived getting Ian into kindergarten, and Cara past her constant screaming fits, Matthew came along. Clark thought it a miracle that Lois hadn't turned him out of the bed after that. Matthew also went through the normal baby trials, and though Lois didn't know how she'd survive, by that time, she was practically a pro.
Time passed, the children grew, became teenagers, Cara watched her brother Ian graduate from Metropolis-White High School, and Matthew began there. Lois and Clark watched their children grow, their love and pride in them shining, while their love for each other also grew, intensified, changed each other, always for the better, and even changed those around them who observed their long marriage.
Clark snuck another glance at his bride (he still thought of her that way, young and vibrant in her wedding dress) and marveled again at the miracle she was. She glanced at him, saw the look in his dark eyes, and smiled, knowing what he was thinking. She was thinking the same thing. He was her miracle, having saved her so long ago from a life of cynical, hard-bitten loneliness. He'd brought such joy into her life, and gave her the three greatest gifts she'd even received. They shared a very small, brief kiss before turning their attention back to the stage, where Ian was finishing his speech.
"And so in closing, I'd just like to say, to my professors, thank you for teaching me, us, as much as you have, and for teaching me a few things you probably weren't aware of," he joked, drawing a collective laugh from them as well as the audience. "Thank you, U of M, for being one of the greatest schools EVER!" Again the faculty and audience applauded. "And thanks to my friends of the last few years for, just being the best friends any kid could want. And most of all, thanks to my parents, Lois Lane and Clark Kent, and of course, my brother and sister. You guys rock!" He nodded in closing, and the applause was broken only by the occasion whooping coming from the graduating class. Ian turned from the podium and returned to sit with his classmates. President Edwards once again took the mike.
"Thank you, Ian, for that rousing, and inspiring Oscar winner 'thank you' speech," he said dryly, drawing laughter from the crowd. "Seriously, though, when you began at the UM, we knew having a Kent among us would be something special, and when we chose you as class speaker, we knew we would not be disappointed. As you said yourself, you're not just our Valedictorian, you're part of a whole, a remarkable student body we are sending out into the world to face new challenges, new adventures. And my colleagues and I could not be prouder. Of all of you!" There was more applause, and then it was time to hand out the diplomas. When it came time for Ian to receive his, Clark could not stop a tear from escaping his eye. He reminded Clark of himself, of course, when he graduated from college, with the same youthful enthusiasm and vigor. But, Clark thought, there was also so much of his mother in him too. The boy never gave up, was fiercely loyal, and could be quite stubborn.
Lois also had a couple of tears fall as she watched her firstborn take his first steps, into manhood. He was so much like her, determined and stubborn, but so much like his father it astounded her. He was gentle and kind, and could not stand by and watch if someone needed his help. It took her breath away to see this young man, whom she and Clark brought into the world, going off into the world.
"…Evan Jake Keifler, Richard Daniel Kennedy, Sarah Marie Kensington, Ian Jonathan Kent…" Ian walked across the stage, took his diploma, shook the President's hand, and turned the tassel on his cap.
"Mom, Dad! This party bangs up!" Ian shouted over the music blaring from the digital sound system. The Class of '18 was celebrating with a wild party at the Metro Club, which had once been a cocktail lounge and undercover hideout for gangsters, but had long since been refurbished, redecorated, remodeled and expanded, and was now used as an all-purpose concert hall/party locale. Tonight, courtesy of the Daily Planet, it was hosting the more than 2,500 graduating students and their families. Lois and Clark were there to celebrate with Ian, along with Cara and Matthew.
"Yeah! This party's frying, for real!" Matthew exclaimed, drawing a confused look from his father.
"'Frying'?" Clark asked, confused, and felt Lois tug on his sleeve.
"Don't ask, just agree," she shouted, though it was unnecessary. Clark nodded in understanding.
"Uh, yeah, it's 'frying', all right!" Clark replied. Since it was graduation, the senior class had been allowed to choose the party's theme. Their selection had been twofold; eighties music, and a disco ball. Clark and Lois were just grateful it hadn't been the other way around; seventies music and Mohawks and parachute pants. So now they were watching two thousand kids dancing to Bryan Adams, Pat Benetar, Huey Lewis and the News, INXS, Duran Duran, and Madonna, while a reflective disco ball hung overhead, sending beams of light bouncing off the walls. Lois and Clark looked around them in amusement.
"So, what kind of music did they play at your graduation party?" Lois asked Clark.
"Well, it was Midwest University. Do you really wanna know?"
"I'm guessing it had 'doe-see-doe' and 'spin your girl all the way 'round' somewhere in the lyrics," she giggled.
Clark looked aghast. "After all this time, I'm still just a farm boy to you, aren't I?" he shook his head, a smile tugging at his lips. She cuddled up to him, wrapping her arm around his waist, and looked into his eyes.
"You'll always be *my* farmboy, yes," she murmured, knowing he could hear her. He looked into her eyes, and his smile grew wider.
"And you'll always be 'my little tornado'," he replied softly, meeting her lips in a soft kiss. She murmured softly, about to deepen the kiss, when a voice interrupted them. And it wasn't Jimmy.
"Aww, come on! You guys promised you weren't gonna do that!" Ian whined from a few feet away. "Come on, you're gonna embarrass me in front of everyone!"
"In the first place," Lois explained when she and Clark had pulled apart. "You asked us not to do this at the ceremony; no one said anything about the party." Ian opened his mouth to argue, but Lois put her hand up. "And secondly, no one is even looking at us. They're all getting down, or shaking their thing, or wanging chung, or whatever you kids today say."
Ian rolled his eyes at his mother's ignorance of current slang. "It's 'putting down tread', Mom."
Lois waved him off. "Whatever. No one's paying us any attention. And you shouldn't be either, sweetie. It's your graduation party, Ian. Go! Find your friends, have fun, get lost in the moment. You'll never have this day again. And it's the moments that matter."
Ian smiled. "You're right, Mom. Okay, I'll see you guys later!" he yelled over his shoulder as he turned and disappeared into the crowd of dancing kids.
"Of course she's right; she's Lois Lane," Clark said softly against his wife's ear. Just then the upbeat music ended and a new, slower song began. Clark turned towards Lois, and held out his arms. Lois went into them automatically, and they began to slow dance to Berlin's "Take My Breath Away". He held her close as the music flowed around them.
"Y'know, this is so appropriate," Clark remarked as they danced.
"What is?" Lois asked dreamily.
"This song, and what you said," he answered.
"Hm-mmm," was all she said, knowing he'd explain.
"'Take My Breath Away'. It's appropriate because that's exactly what you did to me, the very first time I saw you. And you've been doing it ever since." She still said nothing, simply nuzzling his jaw with her nose. "And what you said to Ian just now. He won't ever have this day again. It's this moment, right now, that he should enjoy. And he is, honey, look." Clark directed Lois to look across the room, where Ian was dancing with an attractive young woman, a fellow graduate, and perhaps more from the way they were looking at each other. "Look at that, Lois. That's our son; that's our doing."
"I'm so proud of him, Clark. If I do say so, we did good." He nodded. "You said it first, when we were newly married. When you gave up some of your life for Jimmy. You said it was the moments, not the years."
"It is. We've had twenty years of 'moments' like this, Lois. And this is only the beginning."
She smiled. "And how many more 'moments' do you think we have left, Mr. Kent?
He pretended to ponder the question, then smiled down at his bride. "Oh, I'd say about fifty, sixty years' worth, Mrs. Kent, give or take."