Learning to Love: Lucy's Story

By CarolM <carolmfolc@gmail.com>

Rated: PG-13

Submitted: November 2008

Summary: The companion piece to the author's "Learning to Love"; the events of that story are told from Lucy's perspective.

This is the companion piece to the much MUCH longer [read: closing in on Masques length but didn't quite make it] Learning to Love. While posting that fic, someone asked what Lucy thought about something that happened. However, that whole fic was from either Lois or Clark's POV and so working her thoughts in just didn't work. This was born from that question. I'd originally only planned on writing the first year or so, but it expanded beyond that and now covers essentially the same time period but from Lucy's perspective.

So... if you've read that fic, this one probably won't hold any amazing new truths or shockers or anything like that, but I enjoyed writing it and seeing what Lucy [and Jimmy and Perry and Alice] thought and did at times when we didn't see them in LtL. And knowing what I/we know about Lois and Clark from seeing things from their perspective, seeing things from her side is interesting [and if you haven't read LtL, then you won't know what I'm talking about ;)]. Is it necessary to read Learning to Love first? I don't think so, but *cough* shameless self promotion *cough*, I'd like to think you could muddle through it somehow and let me know what you think, but it's much WHAM/angst-ier.

I do believe that this story can very much stand alone.

I don't think there are any inconsistencies between the two, but I won't swear to it -- if you notice any, let me know? Some of the dialogue [and, I admit, in places, dialogue for most of a scene] is taken directly from Learning to Love.

There are some WHAMs in here -- this is the story of Lucy's life covering the same time period as Learning to Love. Most of the WHAMmy stuff doesn't happen to Lucy but rather around her so...

And a warning -- Lois and Clark are very much the minor characters here. This is *Lucy's* Story. They're there, and prominent at times, but they are *not* the main characters so don't get all mad at me if they don't get enough 'screen time' ;). You've been warned.

Some asked if it was possible to combine this with LtL, but after much deliberation, I decided not to. I grew to love Lucy and Jimmy and their story and they would have been completely overshadowed if I tried that [besides the logistical rewriting nightmare]. It would have made the longest fic ever to this point though ;).

The PG-13 rating comes from later in the story with a very happily married couple exploring the physical side of their relationship [but doesn't cross the PG-13 line] and the references to the WHAMS of Learning to Love -- most of which are felt but not seen here.

Thanks, of course, go to my fabulous betas, Alisha, Beth, Nancy and CarolynK, for invaluable insight, encouragement, badgering, etc.

And, of course, GE Caroline K., for taking this project on.

Feedback, of course, is always welcome.

Story segments in Chapter 1 between the

~*~*~ marks are flashbacks.

><><><>< Indicates conversation overheard and would normally be in italics.


Chapter 1

December 1984

Lucy Lane hated peanut butter. She didn't just dislike it, like someone might not care for lobster or green beans. She loathed it. The mere thought of peanut butter was almost enough to send her running towards the nearest bathroom or trash can to empty her lunch into it.

The only thing that kept her from doing that was the idea that peanut butter tasted worse coming up than it did going down.

She stared at her sandwich and wondered for the millionth time if it was possible to die from eating too much peanut butter. She thanked her lucky stars that she wasn't allergic to peanuts -- because she would have died from anaphylactic shock or something years ago.

It wasn't Lois' fault. Lois had more than proven over the years that she was completely inept in the kitchen, starting with the time she'd used their mother's good towels to clean up the nearly full gallon of milk that she'd managed to pour all over the kitchen floor.

At least Christmas break was only two weeks long. If it was much longer than that, she'd spend New Year's Eve 1984 in the emergency room with peanut butter poisoning.



Four and a half years earlier: June 1980

"I don't want to go to Future Rodeo Clowns of America camp, Mom." Ten-year-old Lucy glared at her half-drunk parent.

"It's not Future Rodeo Clowns. It's a camp for kids to learn about horses and stuff."

"Same thing."

"No, it's not, and you're going."

Lucy glared at her for another minute then stomped off to her room upstairs. Lois had already deserted her for some journalism thing, and then she was off to science camp to appease her father and Lucy would be leaving for something called Horse Lover's Camp for Girls in two weeks.

She hated horses. Did her parents care? No, of course not. They just wanted her out of the house for a while. That was the only reason they'd let Lois go to that journalism camp, and really they'd only agreed to that because that was the only way she wouldn't throw a fit about science camp later in the summer.

She sighed. This was going to be just great.


July 1980

Four weeks later, Lucy watched as her dad pulled out of the driveway. She'd seen him put a suitcase in the car and it looked like there were some boxes in there, too. Was he going to some conference out of town? Why hadn't he said anything? She heard her mother banging around in the kitchen, probably looking for something else to drink.

She sighed. If she wanted something to eat, she was going to have to go down there eventually. If her mom had just started drinking, she might make something for her. If she was passed out, or close to it, Lucy could get something for herself. No, it was the in between that Lucy hated the most, especially without Lois here to help.

She started down the hall, listening for the tell-tale sounds that would let her know what kind of condition her mother was in. It was only mid-morning, but that wouldn't matter to Ellen Lane. As she passed her parents' room, she was struck by the disarray there. It was rarely neat as a pin, but the drawers were open on her father's dresser and it looked like they'd been ransacked. She went in and discovered that not only had her father taken a few clothes for a possible business trip, but everything of his was gone.

She stumbled back as though someone had hit her in the gut. She made it back to her room before and shut the door before she sank to the floor.

She'd thought it was a welcome respite when, out of nowhere, she was informed that she wasn't going to camp this summer after all, but if she had to guess, this was already in the works and that's why she didn't have to go. As hard as she tried to stop them, the tears came anyway.

After her tears were spent, she dug out a piece of paper and a pencil and wrote a letter to Lois. There was no reason for her to be shocked when she came home.


It was another two weeks before Lois returned from Journalism Camp.

"Tell me all about it." Lucy sat cross legged on her sister's bed. Lois had only been home for a few hours but they were already locked in her room in a relatively vain attempt to block out their mom's muttered curses.

Lois shrugged. "I went to classes on how to be an investigative journalist and about photography..."

"Oooo, I love photography. Did you get to take pictures?"

"No, not really. Just talked about it and looked at some. Lunch and dinner were usually some form of mystery meat. Breakfast was usually okay. There was a lake for free time. We went swimming or out in canoes or just walked on one of the trails."

"We? You actually made a friend there? I thought you swore you wouldn't."

Lois shrugged. "I did. I ran into this guy, literally, during registration. We had a couple of classes and free time together so we hung out some."

"Oooo!!! What's his name?"

Lois glared at her. "His name was Clark and he was a friend. Nothing more."

Lucy giggled. "Sure, Lois. If you say so."

Lois and Lucy both stared at the bedspread. Finally Lois spoke. "What happened?" she asked quietly.

Lucy shrugged. "I don't know. I saw Dad putting a suitcase in the car and thought he was going to a conference or something, but when I walked by their room I realized all of his stuff was gone."

"Did he even say good-bye?"

Lucy shook her head. "No."

"I'm sorry."

"Not your fault." She glanced outside. It was getting dark. "I wonder if Mom's passed out yet."

Lois shrugged. "Probably." She sighed. "It's bedtime, Lu."


"Want me to tell you a story?" Lois smiled.

"Fairy princesses?"

"Sure. But tomorrow I've got a new one with a new kind of prince."


"Go put your pajamas on and get in bed. I'll be there in a minute."

Ten minutes later, Lucy was in bed and Lois was seated next to her.

"Once upon a time, there were two fairy princesses named Lois and Lucy. They were very beautiful princesses, but very lonely. You see, their parents had died when they were little and they had no one to take care of them but themselves. They had each other and they loved each other very much, but they still felt like they were missing something. One day, they were having cake and ice cream. It was Lucy's birthday and so they had all of her favorite things to eat. For breakfast they had chocolate chip pancakes..."

"Those are your favorites."

"Well, in this story, they're Fairy Princess Lucy's favorites too."


"So they had chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and grilled cheese sandwiches and Doritos for lunch. For dinner, they had Chinese food from their favorite restaurant in China. They had all the money they needed and they were able to fly to China and get take out. They had finished their dinner and Lois got out the cake. She'd made it and the ice cream from scratch."

"You can't cook."

"In this story, Fairy Princess Lois can."


"So Lois had made cake and ice cream and she sang 'Happy Birthday' to Lucy. As she finished, they heard the sound of fairy wings flapping. They looked for a place to hide because they hadn't heard the fairy wings of any other fairies since their parents had left them and had an accident. But they couldn't hide and they were scared. It turned out they didn't need to be scared because these were fairy princes. Two of them, as it turned out. One of them was a little older and one a little younger. They asked the two fairy princesses if they could take them home to their castle and marry them. Lois and Lucy said yes, but only after they ate chocolate cake and chocolate ice cream."

"I like white cake and vanilla ice cream."

"Next birthday."


"So they ate cake and ice cream and the older fairy prince named... Charlie..."

"I thought his name was Dan."

"Not this time."


"The older fairy prince was named Charlie, Charlie King and the other one was named Luke Skywalker Prince."

"Oh, please. What happened to Jonathan Prince?"

"He's in another story. This time it's Luke Skywalker Prince."


"So Charlie King and Luke Skywalker Prince took the fairy princesses Lois and Lucy by the hand and together the four of them flew away to the princes' castle. Once they were there, they got married. Princess Lois married Prince Charlie King and Princess Lucy married Prince Luke Skywalker Prince."

"Prince Luke Skywalker Prince?"



"So they had a big double wedding with all of the princes' friends there but none of the princesses' friends, because they didn't have any friends because their parents had left them and died in an accident and they only had each other. But now, with their princes, they had new friends who loved them. So they married the princes and they all lived happily ever after."

"How do you know they lived happily ever after?"

"Because when they got married, part of the wedding vows was that Charlie and Luke Skywalker promised that no matter what, they would never, ever, ever leave Princess Lois or Princess Lucy and they, unlike the princesses' parents, kept their promises. So they never, ever left and they lived happily ever after." Lois gently brushed Lucy's hair back. "Sleep tight, Princess Lucy Prince."

"Thank you, Princess Lois King."

"I'll see you in the morning."


Lucy watched as Lois left the room and shut the door behind her. She knew that Lois was going to go find their mom and do whatever it was Lois did that meant their Mom would spend the night in her own room. Lucy wasn't sure what it was, but she knew from spending the last several weeks without her big sister that she did something, because her mother had rarely been asleep in her own room these weeks.

She knew that other kids didn't deal with the same things she and Lois did, and she was fortunate that she had Lois to take care of her and everything else.


October 1983

"Lois! You got a letter!" Lucy hollered up the stairs at her sister. Even though Daddy had moved back in, things were still tense in the Lane household.

It had started, out of the blue a year earlier, when she'd woken up to find her father in the kitchen drinking coffee. They'd gotten married again the night before. Did she know New Troy didn't have a waiting period, they'd asked.

So far there were few signs that he'd gone back to his cheating ways, but Lucy knew it was probably only a matter of time before he did -- or at least before he got caught.

Remarrying had helped her mom. She was sober for weeks at a time sometimes, but then she'd go weeks on end drinking herself into oblivion. The beginnings of those stretches of time seemed to coincide with her father's business trips and last until he'd been home for at least a week -- to convince her he was really staying this time?

Lois bounded down the stairs. "Who's it from?"

Lucy held the letter out of reach. "Who do you think?"

Lois rolled her eyes. "Probably the IRS. They think I'm shirking my duties as a taxpayer and they want to audit me over the $37 I made babysitting last year."


"Then it must the Russians. They want me to go back to junior high and be a spy so they can know what the evil Americans are teaching."

Lucy shook her head again. She loved this game. She knew who it was from and Lois knew she knew, but until she came up with something really good, there was no way Lucy was giving up the envelope.

"It's from the White House. The president wants to adopt me and make me his head speech writer."

"Can I come too?"

"Of course. I'll always take care of you, you know that."

"Can I sleep in the Lincoln bedroom?"


"Okay then." Lucy held the letter out. "I want to read it later."

"Maybe." Lois turned and ran up the stairs, locking the door to her room behind her.

Lucy smiled. Sometimes Lois would let her read the letters. She was more interested in reading the ones that Lois wouldn't let her read, but she knew more than Lois thought she did.

The mysterious Prince Cowboy Charlie King had made his way into the Wild West stories Lois began telling not long after she returned from journalism camp. When letters from Clark Kent of Kansas began to arrive a month or so later, Lucy made the connection. She'd never told Lois that, though. More and more the adventures of Tiny Town Reporter Princess Lois and Tiny Town Photographer Princess Lucy had stories that only could be told by someone who knew what they were talking about. And Lois could only have gotten those stories from Clark.

Lucy had made the mistake of referring to Clark as her boyfriend -- but only once. The glare Lois had given her made her hair stand on end for days and she'd apologized immediately. Not long after that, an evil villainess had shown up in the stories Lois told her. Robber Baroness Lanette, later joined by Robber Baroness Raquel, tried to keep Prince Cowboy Charlie King and Prince Matthew Broderick Prince from the two Princess heroines. Well, Lucy's prince changed based on who Lois -- or occasionally Lucy -- thought was cute at the time, but the principle was the same.

Lucy wondered idly who Lanette and Raquel were supposed to be. Obviously Charlie King was Clark Kent, but who were they? Clark's girlfriends? Did he have more than one girlfriend? Was the other one his sister? Lucy shrugged mentally.

Lucy wondered if Lois would work in the current crush of her life into the stories. She probably would, but that would mean that she would have to tell Lois that she had a crush on Joe -- the guy who was going to take Lois to the dance in a couple weeks.

Nope, no way she was going to mention that to Lois. She wondered what parts of the latest letter would work their way into Lois' stories over the next couple weeks then shrugged. It was almost time for Family Ties.


December 1984

The first day of December was a Saturday and the Lanes spent the day decorating the house for Christmas. Lucy and Lois giggled as they put the ornaments on the tree and the garland on the banister.

Their parents had called an uneasy truce of some sort. Lucy wasn't quite sure what it was but she was grateful. Since they'd remarried over two years ago, things had seemed rocky at best. They fought almost constantly and made up nearly as often. Lucy shared a wall with them and knew far more than she cared to about how often they made up -- something she'd never had to worry about before. Whether or not her Dad was cheating, she had no idea, but her mother's drinking binges had slowed down considerably over the last year. Maybe they'd finally come to some sort of agreement or something; Dad could sleep with whoever he wanted as long as he was home every night or something. The thought sickened her, but she recognized it as a possibility.

The next few weeks flew past and then it was Christmas. The sisters were actually almost enjoying opening presents and, so far, there was no sign of the tension normally present at Lane family holidays.

"Oh, Sam! Thank you!" Ellen hugged her husband. "This is wonderful!"

"What is it?" Lois asked.

"A trip to that new ski resort next weekend -- the one in northern New Troy."

"Next weekend?"

Lucy watched as her sister's face fell, but only for a split second before an unreadable mask slipped into place. Her birthday was next weekend. And her parents were leaving. Lucy knew that Lois was incredibly disappointed -- their mom had promised her just yesterday they'd have cake and ice cream next weekend. But Lois would never let on how much it disappointed her. It was what their parents did. Let them down. Repeatedly. Left them. This time it was to go skiing. Last time it had been when Lois had a small singing part in the Spring musical. The time before that had been when Lucy's pictures were on display with the rest of the high school photography classes'. Who knew what it would be next time.


Lucy managed to choke down the last bite of her peanut butter sandwich and followed it with a glass of milk.

"Lucy, we're back!" Lois walked in, followed by a small, gray haired woman.

This weekend just kept getting better. Mom and Dad were gone and now Great Aunt Louise was here. Lucy would bet money that they had forgotten she was coming. It was a four hour drive to the resort and the roads were still a bit slick from the ice and snow storm the day after Christmas. They'd left two hours ago and then the phone call came. Lois had left grumbling about something but hadn't told Lucy where she was going.

"Hi, Aunt Louise." Lucy stood and gave the slight woman a hug, not out of affection but duty.

"Hello, dear." Louise returned the hug then set her purse down. She looked around then spoke. "I'm willing to bet that neither of you have eaten dinner."

Lucy shrugged. "I just finished a sandwich."

Lois walked in with a suitcase. "I'll make myself one in a minute."

"Nonsense. We'll order out. Is there a good Chinese restaurant nearby or would you prefer Italian?"

Two hours later, they had finished dinner and Lois and Lucy were contemplating a game of Monopoly while Aunt Louise, saying she was tired after the long trip, prepared for bed.

A knock on the door interrupted their plans.

Shooting Lois a puzzled look, Lucy turned in her seat on the couch and looked out the front window. Her eyes widened. "It's the cops."

Lois stood to answer the door. "I wonder what they want."

Lucy followed her and heard steps coming down the stairs behind her.

Lois pulled the door open. "Can we help you?"

"I'm Sergeant Tom Winslow with the Pittsdale Police Department and this is Officer Owen Dale of the New Troy Highway Patrol. Is this the Lane residence?"

Lois turned to look at her, her eyes wide. "Yes," she said. "I'm Lois Lane."

"May we come in?"

Lois nodded and opened the door a bit wider allowing them to enter. Scant minutes later they were seated in various spots around the living room and Lucy and Aunt Louise were also introduced to the officers.

"There's no easy way to say this," Sergeant Winslow began. "There was an accident on Highway 43 as it heads up to Martin's Peak."

Lucy gasped. Lois' mouth gaped open but no sound came out. Aunt Louise closed her eyes and appeared to say a quick prayer.

"The black ice caused a semi-truck heading down the mountain to lose control and veer into oncoming traffic. While trying to avoid the semi-truck, another vehicle -- a large Suburban -- spun another car out of control and over the edge of the cliff face at the side of the road. I'm sorry to inform you that Sam and Ellen Lane were in the vehicle that crashed over the mountain. They did not survive the accident."

Lois had kept her eyes closed throughout the Sergeant's speech. Lucy watched her and her great aunt as she absorbed the news. Tears slid down her great aunt's face.

They were gone. Her parents were gone. What would happen to them now?


The next night, Lucy sat staring out the window when she saw someone walk up the drive. It was a man -- she couldn't tell how old -- but he carried a suitcase. Had Aunt Louise called someone? They had no other family.

She saw him leave her line of vision seconds before there was a knock at the door. She left her room but stopped at the top of the stairs when she saw Lois in the arms of the mystery man. Who was it? She couldn't see him very well -- just that he was tall and had dark hair.

They stood there for what seemed an eternity until Lois finally stepped back and asked him to come in. Lucy strained to hear what they said but only heard something about Kansas. Was this Clark Kent? How had he known? The phone call Lois made late last night? It had to be. But why was he here?

She sat down, not feeling the slightest bit guilty about trying to hear what was being said because by the time they'd moved into the kitchen she could hear little more than murmurs.

Her curiosity finally getting the better of her a few minutes later, she started down the stairs. As she reached the bottom and turned towards the kitchen, she stopped in her tracks.

There he was, on one knee with a box in his hand. Was he...? Could he be...? Surely he wasn't... And even if he was, Lois wouldn't say...

Would she?

Tears welled up in Lucy's eyes as she saw the guy -- whoever he was -- slip the ring on her sister's finger and pull her up into a long hug. She turned and fled to her room. Lois was leaving her too.


A rap on her door a few minutes later broke her out of her reverie. She wiped her tears and moved to open the door. Aunt Louise had heard voices downstairs and wondered if Lucy knew who it was -- since one was obviously masculine.

Lucy shook her head, saying only that she'd seen someone come up the walk and that Lois had been talking to him but she didn't know who it was.

That settled, Aunt Louise led her downstairs to meet the mystery man.

Lucy fully expected to find her sister and her *fiancé* in some sort of compromising lip lock, but no, they were still sitting at the kitchen table. They both stood as she and Aunt Louise entered the room. She watched as Lois put her hands behind her back for a second and then shoved something in her pocket.

"Aunt Louise, Lucy -- this is my friend, Clark Kent. I talked to him last night and he came in from Kansas today." So Lois wasn't going to tell them they were engaged?

Aunt Louise extended her hand and told him that she was pleased to make his acquaintance. They settled down at the kitchen table and the elder Lane proceeded to grill the young man about his plans.

Okay, grill was probably a bit harsh; she simply asked where he was staying. When he said he didn't know, she offered him the couch.

Sure. That's where he'd be. At least until they were all asleep and he snuck up to Lois' room.

She hadn't said anything yet, only giving the interloper a tight smile and small nod. At a lull in the conversation, she finally decided it was time to say something to this home wrecker. "So, you're Clark," she started.

"Yep." He smiled at her. "Lois has told me a lot about you in her letters."

"Really? She's told me a lot about you, too. Smallville, right?"

She held his brown eyes while they spoke. She could sense Lois tensing up in her chair.

"Otherwise known as 'middle of corn country in southeast Kansas'."

"Your parents died in a car accident didn't they?"

"Lucy!" Lois hissed.

"It's okay." He'd looked briefly at his hands as they held his drink. "Yes, my parents died on a mountain road in Colorado. It was eight years ago yesterday."

She narrowed her eyes as she spoke again. "So you're an orphan too?"

He nodded, holding her gaze with his own. What was his game?

"Were you adopted or did you stay in foster care?"

"Lucy!" Lois' protest was louder this time.

"It's okay, Lois. I was in foster care until last May when I graduated from high school. I stayed with a number of different families -- most of them friends of my parents -- until I landed with the Langs for the last couple of years. They have a daughter my age. We'd played together since we were kids and Lana begged her parents to take me in when my other foster family moved back to Wisconsin. They did and were very good to me until I moved back to my parents' farm."

Lana? As in Lanette? The evil villainess from Lois' stories? Had he dated her? And now he lived on his parents' farm. So Lois was going to marry him and move to Kansas. Perfect.

"Smallville... quite a name for a town." She could sense Lois starting to get mad and wondered how far she could push this before her sister blew her top.

"Well," he smiled. He did have a nice smile. "It fits. It's a small town."

"I see." She faked being thoughtful for a second. "Why wouldn't they name it something like Tiny Town? Or is that just silly?" She heard Lois' sharp intake of breath. Yep. It wouldn't take much longer. She looked intently at the man who was taking her sister away. "And you look more like a Charlie than a Clark."

"Lucy Ellen Lane." The explosion came not from Lois as expected, though Lucy had noticed her mouth open, but rather from Aunt Louise. "That's enough. Mr. Kent is a guest in our home."

"It's not your home, Aunt Louise. And soon it won't be ours either." She pushed back from the table and headed up to her room. "Nice to meet you, Charlie," she called back over her shoulder as she started up the stairs. Let Lois stew on that.


Chapter 2

Lucy spent the next several days in a haze. There was cake and ice cream for Lois' birthday on Sunday; Aunt Louise had insisted. The funeral wasn't until after the New Year, so she had to spend New Year's Eve with her great aunt, her sister and her sister's fiance, with the engagement still unannounced. What was with that? Did Lois need permission? Or were they planning on running off to Vegas?

The third day of the new year found Lois and Clark missing somewhere during the morning hours, but the afternoon found all four of them in a judge's chambers with a social worker assigned to their case.

That was when Lucy discovered that she had a new brother-in-law. Well, at least Lois wouldn't be in foster care or the stuffy senior center.

Lucy sank deeper into the chair, sulking for all she was worth. How dare Lois abandon her like this? Hadn't she promised that she'd never leave her? The more she considered it, the more she realized it should have been expected. It was what their parents had done -- looked out for themselves and left the kids to fend for themselves. Who could blame Lois for doing the same?

"We'd like Lucy to live with us."

Lucy's head jerked up when Lois spoke. What?

She saw the judge raise an eyebrow. "Really? You're newlyweds and you want a foster child?"

"She's not a foster child," Lois said. "She's my sister. Great Aunt Louise doesn't really want her -- she hates kids and everyone knows it. I mean, she loves us in that we're-family-and-she-has-to kind of way but given her preference, she would wait until we were about forty to have a real relationship with us. And besides that, she lives 1300 miles away."

Lois and Clark wanted her to live with them? Were they planning on moving her to Kansas too? There was no way! She opened her mouth to speak when she realized the judge was talking about them continuing at Lincoln High and living in Metropolis. She was going to stay here? Clark was going to stay here?

Before she knew it, everyone was shuffling out of the room. She glared at Lois and stalked off to find the car.

Why hadn't Lois told her? Okay, she understood not telling their great aunt, but she'd spent the last few days thinking she was going to end up in foster care or with Aunt Louise. Even if Lucy hadn't known about the engagement and wondered if Kansas was an option, it was cruel of Lois to let her think those were the options.

Well, just because Lois hadn't technically deserted her, that didn't mean Lucy was going to be nice about it.


Lucy lay on her bed and stared at the ceiling. Lois was married. She and Clark were gone. Aunt Louise had sent them to a nice hotel -- Lucy wasn't sure which one -- for a week. A whole week. Lois had left her here with grumpy old Aunt Louise. She sighed. It was only a week and she'd be moving in with Lois and Clark in a month or less.

She supposed it was the best option. The idea of foster care scared her. She didn't want to live with someone she didn't know. Her best friend in fourth grade was Emily. Emily's parents died in a plane crash and Lucy didn't see her again until eighth grade. She'd lived in six different homes by then and was only in Lucy's class for two months before she moved again -- with no notice, which she'd said was the norm.

She didn't want to live with Aunt Louise. Lucy had been there for a few days a couple of summers earlier. It was nice enough. They had a swimming pool and tennis courts, but it was a retirement community. She didn't even know if there was a school nearby.

She guessed another option was running away and trying to survive on her own, but that scared her. At fifteen, she was old enough to get a job, but knew that there were restrictions on when she could work and how much she could work and she knew -- unless she was willing to do things that made her nauseous -- that it wouldn't be nearly enough to live on. Not even close.

She had no friends she could call up and say 'hey can I live with you for the next three years?' She had friends, but not ones like that.

So that left Lois. And Clark. She grudgingly admitted that he seemed nice enough. She hadn't really spent any time alone with him -- she'd spent most of her time sulking in her room -- but he'd actually made them dinner two nights earlier and it was better than anything they'd had in years.

She sighed. Three and a half years until she was out of high school. Two and a half until she turned eighteen. Could she make it that long?

She didn't see that she had a choice.

A knock on her door startled her.

"What?" she asked irritably.

Louise Lane opened the door and came to sit on the edge of her bed. "How are you, dear?"

Lucy shrugged, continuing to face the wall and not looking at her aunt. "Fine."

"You were caught a bit off-guard, weren't you?" she asked gently.

"A little."

"Did you really think Lois was going to leave you?"

Lucy shrugged again.

Aunt Louise moved a hand to Lucy's shoulder. "She loves you, dear. She wouldn't leave you."

"My parents always did," Lucy mumbled.

"She's not your parents."

Lucy shrugged again. "Do I have to go to school tomorrow?" she asked suddenly.

"Only if you want to. Otherwise, you don't have to go back until Monday."

"I think I want to sleep in."

"Okay, then. I won't wake you up in the morning."

"Thanks," Lucy said, still without looking at her great aunt.

Louise squeezed her shoulder gently. "Good night, dear."



Lucy poked at the spaghetti on her plate. Aunt Louise had ordered Italian for dinner. It was her favorite restaurant and normally she loved it, but not tonight. Lois and Clark had come by earlier. He'd needed to do laundry -- it made sense; he'd been there a week already -- but she'd actually had conversation with him. Not a long one, but they'd talked for a few minutes -- mostly about school. She said she was having problems with geometry and he offered to help her once everything settled down. She thought that was nice of him, but she'd believe it when she saw it.

But now they were gone and it was just her and Great Aunt Louise again. She admitted to herself that the last relative she and Lois had wasn't as bad as she'd once thought, but she still had no desire to go live in Texas.

Lois and Clark had found an apartment earlier that day, but wouldn't let them come see it until they'd done some work to it. Lois had told her she'd have a loft area to herself -- it wasn't big, but it would be her area.


Two weeks later, Lucy was in her new home. Lois was right; the loft was small. There was enough room for her twin bed -- she wondered why her dad hadn't ever felt guilty enough to buy her a nice bedroom set like he had Lois -- a dresser and a small nightstand. Her desk was in the nook directly below her loft area. It was open completely on one side with only a red wrought iron railing and circular staircase to separate her from her sister and new brother-in-law.

She rolled over and closed her eyes, trying to shut out the sounds of her *guardians* talking downstairs. With a sudden stroke of inspiration, she dug around in her side table drawer and pulled out the earplugs she'd bought a year or so earlier. She'd taken to putting them in when her parents had a big fight because she knew they'd be making up before long. Now, she'd continue to put them to good use. If there was one thing she really didn't need it was to hear *that*. She shuddered slightly. Maybe they'd at least be more considerate than her parents had been and keep the volume down.

Tomorrow was a school day and her new routine would begin. She wasn't exactly sure what it would be like -- did they all three need to share the lone bathroom at about the same time in the mornings? -- but she was sure it wasn't going to be much fun. The alarm would ring entirely too early.

It was still dark outside when she heard her sister calling for her.


"What?!" she called back irritably.

"Get up! We have to leave in forty-five minutes."

"You don't have to yell," she said as she swung her feet to the side of the bed.

"You've turned your alarm off three times and I've been yelling at you for ten minutes."

She descended the stairs carefully. No sense in falling down them her first morning here. "You still don't have to yell."

"Sorry," Lois said more quietly. "I didn't have time to go up there and wake you up more sedately."

Lucy rubbed her eyes. "Where's Clark?"

"He left over an hour ago to deliver papers."

"Oh." He did? She knew he was interning at the Metropolis Star and delivering pizzas at night. He had a paper route too? "I'm going to take a shower."

Lois nodded. "I'm going to need in there in a minute, if that's okay. Clark put up a curtain in there over the shower doors."

"Fine," she groused. "We shared at home; we can share here." She called back over her shoulder as she walked towards the bathroom. "But don't expect me to let Clark in while I'm in there."

"Don't worry, Lu. He wouldn't ask."

An hour later, they were halfway to school. Lucy stared out the window. Normally, she'd have been getting in the shower right about now, but with all the changes... Lois had to be at school earlier than she did because of her newspaper duties and since Lois was her ride... Maybe she'd get some study time in. Oh, who was she kidding? She'd sleep in the newsroom and Lois would wake her up to go to her first class.

"I'm sorry, Lucy."

Lucy looked at Lois in surprise. "For what?"

"That I didn't tell you what the plan was sooner."

"What plan?"

"To marry Clark so we wouldn't have to go to Texas or into foster care."


"I wanted to. And I thought about it and talked to Clark about it, but we decided to keep it to ourselves until after we were actually married because we didn't want anyone to stick their nose in our business."

"And you think I would have told?"

Lois shrugged. "I don't know. I don't think so, but we didn't want to run that risk at all. That Aunt Louise would overhear or whatever."

"So instead you let me think I was going to end up in Texas or foster care?"

"For like four days. I almost told you a couple of times, but... I just couldn't."

"Do you love him?"

"What?" Lois sounded incensed.

"Do you love him? It's a pretty common question for people who get married. Do you love him or did you get married just to keep us out of foster care?"

Lois sighed. "I do love Clark. And we *had* talked in our letters about getting married someday, but the timing... That was to keep us out of foster care."

"He's Prince Charlie King, isn't he?"

"What are you talking about?"

"In the stories you used to tell me. When you came back from camp, Princess Lois' prince's name changed to Charlie King." Lois had told her one of those stories not more than two weeks ago, but she doubted she'd ever hear another one.

Lois thought about that for a minute. "I guess. It wasn't intentional but I guess he was."

Lucy rolled her eyes. Not intentional. Sure.

"I don't think I'm going to see you much," her sister said quietly.

"Why not?" They were living in an apartment with no real walls. Why wouldn't they see each other?

"I'm going to be working three or four nights a week and most of the day on either Saturdays or Sundays."

"So I'll be home alone?" Maybe this did have possibilities. So she didn't have a boyfriend now; surely she would eventually, right?

Lois shook her head. "No. Clark will be there most nights that I'm not to make sure you do your homework since I won't be able to."

"Great. Another task master. Just what I wanted." She rested her forehead against the window again.

"Give him a chance, Luce. Please. For me."

Lucy said nothing.

"He's a great guy and he's really smart. Let him help you if you need it."

"Fine." She was grateful that they were pulling into the senior parking lot.

Minutes later, she was slinging her backpack over her shoulder and stalking off.


"So, what's he like?"

"Who?" Lucy tried to play dumb. She'd managed to put off telling her friends about her new brother-in-law by saying that since she didn't live with them yet, there was really nothing to know.

"Emilio Estevez. Who do you think?" Lisa glared at her.

"He's... nice, I guess. I still haven't really spent any time with him or anything. We spent most of the weekend packing up the house and moving a bunch of stuff to storage and then moving the rest of everything into the apartment. They moved in last week after he got back from Kansas, but my stuff and some of the living room furniture and other stuff was moved in yesterday."

"How cute is he?"

"I told you he was cute, but he's my brother-in-law."

Lisa sighed. "On a ten point scale... how cute is he?"

Lucy shrugged. "Eight. Nine. Something like that."

"And Emilio?"

Why did she keep asking these things? "Seven. Eight. I guess. Emilio's really not my type."

"So, my point is that he's cute, right?"

"Yeah. And my brother-in-law."

"And nice?"

"I guess so. Give me a couple weeks. Apparently, he's my new homework slave driver."


"Lois is working most nights so I'll be home with Clark and he's going to make sure I do my homework," Lucy said glumly.

"I guess there are worse things in life."

Lucy nodded. "Yeah. Like listening to my parents fight, or even worse, make up."

Lisa shuddered. "Do you share a wall with your sister too?"

She shook her head. "Nope. No wall. Open air."


"Yeah. It's this sort of open floor plan. The living room, dining area and kitchen on one side and the bedroom, alcove-y thing and loft on the other. I'm in the loft. They're right down the circular staircase in the bedroom. No wall."


"You're telling me."

The buzzer signaling lunch was over interrupted their conversation.


Lucy watched as Lois left the apartment. This was it. Her first evening alone with Clark. And she had tons of homework, too. Half of it was geometry. She'd gotten behind with everything that had happened the last couple of weeks and, while her teachers had been very understanding, much more would push the limits. Lois had made her start on her homework as soon as they got home while she got ready for work.

So here it was. She had her papers all over the small kitchen table. There was nowhere for him to work in here -- maybe he'd take the desk under her loft and she wouldn't have to be near him.

Oh, sure he was probably nice enough, but she still didn't have to like him. Even though she was living with them, he'd still taken her sister away. There would be no more stories about princesses and the handsome princes that rode off into the sunset with them. No more late night gab sessions about nothing in particular.

And, she reminded herself, if the dinner he'd made that first week was indication, no more peanut butter sandwiches.

Well, that was something.

Clark walked out of the bedroom and dropped his backpack onto the couch. "Have you eaten yet?"

Lucy's head jerked up. She hadn't expected him to talk to her. "What?"

He walked to the fridge. "Have you eaten?"

She shook her head. "No. All Lois knows how to make is peanut butter sandwiches and I'm over those, thank you."

"I see." He looked at her for a minute. "Do you like chicken salad?"

She shrugged. "I guess."

"Chicken salad sandwiches it is then."

She watched for a minute as he took leftover fried chicken out of the fridge and gathered a few other things to go with it. He moved to the counter and started to work.

He was going to make her dinner? On a school night when Lois wasn't home? What was his angle? Get in good with the sister so he could get some of the insurance money? Was that it? Was that why he'd married Lois? Her eyes narrowed. Surely not. That only happened on soap operas, right?

She turned back to her geometry and managed to get three whole problems done before he spoke again.

"Here." He held a plate out to her with a sandwich and some chips on it. "All we've got is water and tea. Which one would you like?"

She shrugged as she took the plate. "Either one is fine."

He poured them both a glass of tea and cleared a space off across the table from her. They ate in silence for a few minutes and, as she finished her sandwich, he restarted the conversation.

"I feel like we've gotten off on the wrong foot."

She shrugged again. She didn't really care what he felt.

"We probably should have told you either the night I got here or the next day, but we wanted to keep this all as quiet as possible until it was a done deal."

"That's what Lois said this morning." She took a sip of her drink. "What if the judge hadn't given you custody? What then?"

He thought for a minute. "I don't know. I guess Lois and I would be here and you'd be wherever the judge placed you, but I'm glad you don't have to go through that."

"Go through what?"

"Either packing up and going to Texas or bouncing from family to family. It's no fun, believe me."

"My best friend in fourth grade was put in foster care. She was in at least seven homes by the time I saw her again four years later."

"It wasn't quite that bad in Smallville, but by the time I moved in with the Langs, I'd seen my share of moving boxes."

"Was Lana your girlfriend?" she asked suddenly.

He looked up at her. "What?"

"You mentioned that their daughter begged them to take you in. I wondered if she was your girlfriend."

He shrugged. "We went out a few times. She wanted to be my girlfriend, but I've always known I was going to marry your sister someday, so getting seriously involved with anyone else seemed counterproductive and would only end with someone getting hurt."

"Ah." So Lanette was Lana. Figured. He probably just went out with her so he'd have a few notches on his bedpost before settling down. Typical guy after all.

"What about you?" he asked.

"What about me?" she asked back.

"Do you have a boyfriend?"

"I'm not allowed to date until I'm sixteen. That's not until August," she pointed out.

"So? Just because you can't date doesn't mean you don't have a boyfriend." His eyes twinkled. "Trust me on that one."

"Did you have a girlfriend who wasn't old enough to date?"

"No, not me personally, but most of my friends did. Lana and my best friend, Pete, were a thing for a while when we were fifteen. Neither one of them were allowed to date until sixteen. My parents were long gone by then, of course, but they weren't going to let me date until then either. It's pretty standard in Smallville, but everyone knows it doesn't mean there aren't any relationships before then either. We even had a few girls in high school get pregnant before they were sixteen so..."


He looked at her intently. "One of them was another friend's little sister. Rachel..."

"Rachel? Was she another girlfriend?" Lucy couldn't help but interrupt.

He furrowed his brows at her. "Rachel? No. We went to senior prom together, but we'd had a pact to do that since we were eight. We never actually dated. Why?"

"Just wondering." Rachel. Raquel. Lois must have thought something was going on.

"Anyway, Rachel's little sister got pregnant at fifteen last year. Rachel told me that Mary and her seventeen year old boyfriend had..."

Good grief! Was he actually going to give her some kind of sex ed lecture? Apparently, he thought better of it, because he stopped there.

"Anyway, getting pregnant unexpectedly doesn't necessarily have anything to do with intelligence. And having a boyfriend doesn't necessarily have anything to do with dating and being sixteen." He cocked one eyebrow at her. "So, do you have a boyfriend?"

Lucy sighed. "No. No boyfriend. No potential boyfriends. No guy who is remotely interested in asking me out. Happy?"

He smiled at her. She grudgingly admitted that he had a very nice smile.

"Yep. You're my little sister now and I have to look out for you."

She rolled her eyes. "Just what I need. An overprotective big brother. Thanks, but no thanks."

He grinned at her again. "Too bad. You're stuck with me."

She glared at him and stood to put her plate and glass in the sink. Not even a dishwasher in this place. Next thing she knew, they'd be having her do chores too. She plopped back down in her seat and pulled her geometry book back in front of her, determined to ignore him.

"Are you still having problems with that?"

"Yeah," she admitted grudgingly. "It's a little better, but I haven't really been concentrating the last couple weeks."

He wiped his mouth on his napkin and put his own dishes in the sink. "Let's see if I can help you."

"Don't you have your own homework to do?"

He shrugged. "I'll do it later."

Later. Sure. Just what she needed; him helping her and making her feel like an idiot because she couldn't get it herself.


March 1985

Lucy had spent more time with Clark since she'd moved in than she had Lois. She drove to and from school with her sister, but that was about it. Clark was home with her almost every night and they did homework together. Well, Clark did his homework and helped her do hers and kept his own grades up at the same time.

She missed Lois more than she thought she would. They usually had a few minutes to chat before bed, but that was it. On the way to school, Lucy was typically still fighting sleep and barely coherent. On the way home, Lois was trying to beat traffic back to their part of the city so she could grab a few minutes of study time before heading to work, and Lucy was griping about Lois' choice of music. Oh, they'd talk about school and who was dating whom and such, but nothing serious. The thirty minute drive just wasn't a good time for the kinds of talks they used to have sitting on one of their beds trying to ignore whatever was going on in the rest of the house.

And Lois hadn't told her *one* story since she'd moved in.

Okay, to be honest, Lucy knew she was getting a bit old for them, and Lois had lots of other things on her mind, but still... And she was sure Lois wouldn't want Clark to hear her telling stories about Tiny Town and Charlie King and Lanette and Raquel.

She went down the stairs and tried not to look at the bed her sister and brother-in-law shared. It kinda creeped her out that she had to walk through their bedroom all the time. Clark was making dinner for the two of them. Offering to help was the least she could do. Or something.

"What can I do?" she asked, sitting in one of the chairs around the table.

Clark smiled at her. "You're no better in the kitchen than your sister is. You can keep me company though."

"Well, what if I want to be better in the kitchen than she is? I'd like to be able to make more than toast."

"You burn toast."

She gave an exasperated sigh. "Yeah, I know. But I don't want to. I want to learn how to cook."

"Okay. I'll teach you some stuff, but not tonight. I'm cooking and you can keep me company."


"So, besides doing better in geometry, how's school going?"

She shrugged. "Fine, I guess. I don't get to hang out with Lisa very often, but maybe next year I'll be able to."

"Why next year?"

"Well, I'll be old enough to drive and Lois won't be at school with me. I know we hadn't talked about it, but I figured I'd probably have to drive myself."

Clark thought about that as he set the pot of water on the stove. "I hadn't really thought about that. You're probably right though." He leaned against the counter and looked at her. "I don't know that we'll be able to get you a car though."

"What about the money from my folks? Can't we use that for a car? Aunt Louise would let us."

"I know, but Lois is adamant that all of the money goes towards your college education, so no money for a car there."

"She is no fun. She ruins everything," Lucy pouted. Maybe, if she could get Clark on her side, they could convince Lois. Or maybe she'd just go straight to Aunt Louise.

"Now, Lucy, be nice. She loves you and doesn't want you to have to work your way through college like I am and like she's going to. And there really isn't that much money there compared to tuition costs."

She really didn't need -- or want -- another dad, and he was sounding an awful lot like one. "Will I have to live here with you guys still? Or are you moving when you're done with school?"

Clark shrugged. "Don't know yet. We want to work at the Planet someday but we may have to pay our dues somewhere else first. As long as we're here though, you're welcome."

Lucy shook her head. "I think I'll try to get a place on campus at that point. No offense, but I really don't want to live right above you guys' bedroom forever."

Clark got an odd look on his face then tried to cover it with a smile. What was that about? "I'm sure you don't." He changed the subject. "So, still not sixteen, but are there any guys I need to be looking out for?"

She rolled her eyes. "No. And I really don't need a big brother looking out for me."

He raised a brow. "Well, I'm not really your brother, though I'd gladly take on that role if you'd let me, but I'm married to your sister and am one of your guardians. And I hope I'm your friend. As all of those things, part of my job is to look out for you, and I take that seriously." He shrugged. "That's just the way it is."

"Well..." she paused. "Will you tell Lois?"

"I don't know. If it's something I think she needs to know, I will, but I can't keep secrets from her -- it wouldn't be good for our relationship. But, that doesn't mean I would necessarily tell her everything."

"Give me a for instance."

"You tell me you think a guy is cute, I don't necessarily have to tell her. Nice guy at school, no. Notorious criminal or someone she's told me about that has a reputation or whatever, probably. You tell me you're planning on sleeping with a guy, I tell her."

"So somewhere in between is a maybe?"


"I think a guy is cute and hope he asks me out next year?"

"As long as it's not someone she's told me is a creep or a player, probably not. But if she asks me anything directly, I won't lie either."

Lucy took a deep breath. "Okay, there is a guy I think is cute and would like to go out with next year, unless I can convince you guys to let me go to a dance with someone this year."

"Probably not, but nice try." He winked at her before turning back to the stove to put noodles in the water. "What's his name?"

"His name is Jaxon and he's a computer whiz."


"Yeah. I mean, he has a modem and everything."

"Wow. I have no idea what that is, but..." Clark shrugged. "What's he like?"

"He's very nice."

"Does he like you?"

Lucy shrugged. "I don't know. We have the same lunch and we eat together sometimes. He's the cousin of one of my friends."

"Which friend?"


"I don't think I've heard you talk about her."

"Well, friend may be a bit of an overstatement. We were in the same class in 2nd grade and we have a class together now, right before lunch, so we eat together sometimes. He's joined us a few times."

"Is he cute?"

"I guess." She sighed again. "I shouldn't have told you. And it doesn't matter, because I can't go out with him anyway so... By next year, he'll probably have a girlfriend and won't even know who I am."


May 1985

"So, Clark, am I going to be able to spend the night at Lisa's soon?" Lucy had asked him about it the night before and he'd said he'd talk to Lois about it.

He grinned at her. "How about next weekend?"

"Why not this weekend?"

"Next weekend is the prom and Aunt Louise wanted to make sure we were able to go, so you get to go to Lisa's house while we go to prom."

Her eyes narrowed. They were going to prom? "Did I tell you Jaxon asked me to go to the Junior Prom the weekend after that?"

Clark raised a brow at her. "And?"

"And I told him I'd have to talk to you guys."

"You already know the answer," he said gently.

"Yeah, I know," she grumbled. "It's not fair. You guys get to go to prom."

"Lucy, we're both over sixteen, we're married and Lois is a senior. It's *her* prom." He smiled at her. "I'll make sure you get to go to your prom, even if I have to swing for all of it myself."

"Thanks, Clark, but it's still not fair."

"Nothing's fair when you're fifteen. I remember."

Lucy turned on her heel and stalked off to her loft. She stared out the skylight. Were they ever going to let her grow up?


Lucy sat with Aunt Louise and Clark as Lois walked up to the stage to get her diploma. Her sister was a high school graduate. Just one more thing in the sea of change her life had been since the beginning of the year. At least they'd decided they were going to try to buy a car so that she could drive herself to and from school next year.

She sighed. Lois was done with high school. Married to a great guy. Yes, she admitted to herself, Clark was a great guy, even if he was a bit over-protective. Lisa's parents had let her go to Junior Prom with Darren even though she wasn't sixteen yet. Jaxon hadn't spoken to her since she told him that she couldn't go with him. With her luck, he probably wouldn't talk to her again anytime soon.

And now she had all summer to look forward to. She'd probably see Lois more than she had the last few months, if only because she wasn't in school. She knew Lois was taking summer courses at UNT Met, but surely she'd be home sometimes, wouldn't she? Or would she just fill those non-school hours with more work?

She didn't listen as the speakers droned on. She was finally able to put words to the feeling she'd had since she moved in with Lois and Clark.

Lois had left.

As surely as her parents had.

Oh, she was still there physically, but she was gone. Lucy couldn't remember the last time she'd had a long conversation with her sister. Or really, even a short conversation that wasn't in the car on the way to or from school. And those conversations had never amounted to much -- more gossip than anything, if that much. Usually, Lois was quiet, engrossed in driving or deep thoughts or something.

Lucy missed her -- a lot -- but that didn't change the fact that Lois had left her just like everyone else had.


Chapter 3

"What movie are we watching, Aunt Louise?" Lucy asked as she sat on the couch in the suite. Lois and Clark were going out somewhere for her graduation dinner and Lucy was staying in the suite with Aunt Louise so they could have a night 'alone'. Lucy refused to think about the implications of that.

"Well, the late movie is Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in a Frank Capra film."

Lucy raised an eyebrow.

Louise laughed. "You have no idea what that means do you?"

"Not a clue. Clark Gable's the guy from 'Gone With the Wind' right?"


"He's kinda cute."

"Well, this is a better movie. It's called 'It Happened One Night' and it's one of the great romantic comedies of all time."

"If you say so."

Louise glanced at the clock. "It starts in fifteen minutes, so go put on your most comfy pajamas and warm socks and get back in here."

Lucy hurried to do so, not willing to tell her great-aunt that her bedtime was officially in fifteen minutes too. By the time she made it back to the sitting room of the suite, Louise was setting the tub of ice cream on the coffee table. She held out a spoon and Lucy took it from her, a puzzled look on her face. "What's this for?"

"You can't watch Clark Gable without a tub of ice cream, dear."


"We eat ice cream from the carton then popcorn for the second half if we feel like it."

"Okay," Lucy said, hesitantly. "What kind of ice cream is it?"

"Rocky Road."

"We never have Rocky Road. Lois always wants chocolate."

"Well, chocolate is good," her great aunt said, taking a long pull on a spoonful of ice cream. "But you can always have chocolate. Rocky Road is different and interesting and chunky but chocolate is the one you want to have around for comfort food -- you can put hot fudge on it and whipped cream and nuts or make a banana split. You'd miss chocolate if it wasn't there a lot more than you'd miss Rocky Road. Clark Gable is Rocky Road. Someone like Clark *Kent*... he's chocolate."

"Do we really have to talk about Lois' husband?" Lucy mumbled.

"Don't you like him?" Louise asked her.

Lucy shrugged. "I don't really know him."

"You've been living with them for almost six months."


"But you still don't like him, do you?" she probed gently.

Lucy just shrugged, taking a big bite of ice cream and paying for it with a sudden brain freeze.

"Do you feel like he's taken your sister from you?"

Lucy didn't answer.

"She's the one person you've always been able to count on. I know what your parents were like, and if I ever thought the two of you were in any danger I would have done something more about it, but I think I'm starting to see that maybe the physical isn't the only kind of danger you two saw. And now Clark's taken away the only person who's always been there for you, isn't he?"

"Maybe," Lucy said sullenly as her head cleared.

"Did you stop to think what this could be costing her?" Louise asked gently.

"What? She gets to get married and have sex -- legally -- and doesn't have to listen to anyone and all that kind of stuff." Lucy turned bright red as she realized what she said and was grateful when Aunt Louise didn't comment on it.

"And, for all intents and purposes, she has a teenage daughter for now. She has bills to pay and has been working while trying to finish high school. She's got to learn how to be a wife while trying to be a mother to her sister. Don't make the mistake of thinking Lois' life is all a bed of carnations because she married a great guy at seventeen."

"Don't you mean bed of roses?"

"A bed of roses has thorns. And if you think long and hard enough about it, you'll know that could be where Lois is right now."

Lucy didn't say anything as the opening credits began.

It was nearly two hours later, as she popped the last piece of popcorn in her mouth, before Lucy spoke again. "Maybe you're right."

"About what, dear?" her great aunt replied as she stood to turn the TV off.


"What about her?"

"That this hasn't been as easy for her as I thought it was." A tear slid down her cheek.

Louise sat next to her, putting an arm around her and pulling her close. "You miss her, don't you?" she asked quietly.

Lucy nodded without speaking. "A lot. I mean, I see her every day but it's not the same. I don't remember the last time we really talked or the last time she told me one of her stories. I know I'm really too old to believe in fairies and princes that sweep them off their feet, but I miss the time with my sister."

"I'm sure you do. I'd bet money that she misses spending time with you, too."

Lucy shrugged, her head still resting against her aunt. "She's got Clark."

"Yes," Louise said slowly. "She does, but no one can ever replace a sister. Trust me on that."

"How do you know?"

"Well, I'm your dad's aunt. I have siblings. My brother was your grandfather. We had a sister named Jenny. Did you know that?"

Lucy shook her head. "Daddy never talked much about growing up. He never really talked about much at all."

"Well, we had a sister named Jenny. She was two years older than me and two years younger than Tom -- your grandfather. We shared a room the whole time we grew up and we were as close as we could be. She told me about her first date with Daniel and I told her about my first date with Joe. We talked about everything. She even told me about her wedding night. Oh, not details or anything like that, but enough to let me know that I couldn't wait to marry Joe. She left Daniel at home with the baby for three days when I found out that Joe had been killed. All I did those days was cry and stare blankly into space. I ate what she fed me, drank when she held a cup in front of me. She took care of me. And when Danny, Jr. was killed on Iwo Jima, I was at her house when the telegram came and didn't leave for over a week. Daniel was off working a government job somewhere and it was days before he could get home. They were both killed in a car accident in the late 1950s. They'd never had any more children, so that left me and Tom and his family.

"Mama and Daddy were long gone by then. Linda -- your grandmother -- was a wonderful woman, but Tom... Tom was like my father -- or how he perceived my father to be. Daddy loved us all, very much, but never knew how to show it, especially to Tom. Hugging, saying 'I love you', things like that were signs of weakness, especially between a father and son -- at least in our area in that day and age. On his deathbed, he told me that was one of things he'd regretted. Your father was probably seven or eight when Daddy died and he'd seen how your grandfather was. My father often came off as cold and unfeeling, but he wasn't; not really. He loved my mother and us very much but he didn't know how to show it. Your grandfather on the other hand..." She sighed. "He was what he perceived my father to be. As far as I know, he never cheated on your grandmother, but I wouldn't swear to it. Your father was the next step in the line, unfortunately."

She hugged Lucy slightly tighter for a moment, before relaxing her hold. "I still saw Jenny all the time when she married Daniel, but it wasn't the same. But when I needed her, when I found out about Joe, she was there in an instant. Almost literally. And she didn't leave until I was starting to function again. And I did the same for her when Danny, Jr. died. She told me the same thing I'm telling you now. She loved Daniel with all her heart, but sometimes... Sometimes only a sister will do. I promise you, there will be times when Lois doesn't share things with you that she might have before because she has Clark now."

"That's reassuring," Lucy whispered, sarcastically.

"*But*," her aunt continued. "There will also be times when she can't talk to Clark about something or things that he can't understand because he didn't grow up in your house. Then she'll need you. And once you find the man you'll spend your life with, you'll understand. You'll love him with all your heart and you'll confide in him things you could never talk to Lois about, but Lois will always be your sister and you two will always have a bond that she and Clark and you and your husband could never replicate."

Lucy sighed and didn't say anything for a long time.


Two weeks later, Lucy bounded up the steps to the apartment, mail in hand.


He looked up from the couch where he was taking a study break and watching the St. Louis Cardinals versus the Metropolis Monarchs baseball game. Lois was working. "What's up?"

She waved the piece of paper. "Final grades."

He raised a brow at her. "This is a good thing?"

"I got an A in geometry!"

He stood up and she jumped at him, wrapping her arms around his neck.

"That's great, Luce!" He hugged her for another minute before putting her down. "I'm proud of you."

"Well, I couldn't have done it without your help."

"That's what I'm here for, kiddo. And to celebrate, tonight I'm springing for pizza."

Lucy laughed. "You don't have to do that." She paused. "Are you working tonight?"

"Nope. All day off."


"I have to go pick up Lois at ten, but that's the only thing on my schedule today. How about this -- I'll call the store and see if they'll call me if they have any screw ups tonight and we'll rent a movie?"

Lucy practically jumped up and down. "Can we get 'Footloose'?! Please! Lois doesn't want to see it..." Lucy trailed off. Clark probably wouldn't want to see it either.

Clark groaned. "Well, I'd rather get 'Ghostbusters' or something, but since it's your night, 'Footloose' it is. I'll call the movie place and see if they have it in and go get it when the game's over."

She heard Clark talking to one of his bosses at the pizza place and he turned back to her with a grin. "Donny said that he's almost certain that he's going to mess up a Supreme pizza about thirty minutes after the baseball game ends."

Lucy laughed. "And how is he sure about that?"

Clark shrugged. "He likes me. I work pretty much anytime he needs me and I covered for him twice last week when his wife was sick." He picked the phone back up and reserved the movie before heading back to the couch.

Lucy headed to her loft. It wasn't long before she heard Clark yell up that he was leaving and would be back in a few minutes. He was much nicer than she'd originally given him credit for and was a great tutor. Her grades had gone up -- not only in geometry, but across the board. Geometry had gone up the most as it was the one she'd had the most trouble with.

A while later, she heard the door open and Clark called out that he was back and had picked up two movies and a six pack of 'New Coke' to try.

New Coke? She'd heard the commercials and that it was better than old Coke, but they so rarely had soda in the house that she was surprised. She headed down the stairs, avoiding looking at their bed as she always did. "Get the pizza?"

"Yep." He handed her a plate. "Tell you what... it's a special occasion. Let's take our dinner and watch Kevin Bacon get footloose while we eat on the couch."

"Lois will kill us."

Clark grinned at her. "What she doesn't know won't hurt her, and she'd have to catch us first."

"You're on." Lucy stood and got cups down while Clark dished up the pizza. "What's the second movie you got?"

"'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom'."

"Do I have to watch it with you?" she groaned.

"If I have to watch 'Footloose', you can watch 'Indiana Jones'."

"Can I swoon over Harrison Ford?"

"Sure and I'll even make popcorn."



June 1985

Lucy finally broached a subject she'd been trying to bring up for a week. "Lois?" she asked.

"Yeah, Luce?" She didn't look up from her book.

"Lisa and her family are going to DisneyWorld next month and asked if I could go with them."

"Are they paying for it?"

"For gas and the hotel."

"But not the tickets?"


"Then the answer's no."

"Why not?"

"We don't have that kind of money."

"You went to prom and even spent the night at the Lexor. Do we have *that* kind of money?"


"So how come you went?"

"Aunt Louise sent us." Lois shoved her books into her backpack.

"Then maybe she'll send me."

"That would cost a lot more than our prom stuff."

"She also sent you guys to the Lexor for a week and out to dinner and everything."

Lois gave an exasperated sigh. "That's different. She volunteered all of that -- we didn't ask for any of it."

"So where were you going to go on your honeymoon?"

Lois glared at her. "We weren't going anywhere."

"So you were going to spend your *wedding night* in the house with me and Aunt Louise?"

"We didn't have the money for anything else, Lucy."

"Well, at least you two are quiet," Lucy muttered under her breath.


"Nothing. I'm going to call Aunt Louise."

"No. You're not."

"Yes, I am."

"Lucy, it's not going to happen!"

"You're not my mother, Lois."

"But I am your guardian. And you are not going."

"Why not?"

"Because. We don't have the money for you to go to some amusement park for a week. It's not going to happen."

"What about all the money from the insurance and the sale of the house?"

"We've been over this. It's not all that much and it's for you to go to college."

"What if I don't go to college?"

"You're going to college." Lois grabbed her purse and keys. "We're going to be late. Let's go."

"I want to go."

"We all want lots of things, Luce. I'm sorry, but it's not going to happen."

Lucy grabbed her backpack and stormed out. "I hate you, Lois. You're ruining my life." She slammed her car door shut.


October 1985

"He doesn't even know I'm alive anymore, Lisa," Lucy moaned, watching the brown haired senior across the cafeteria.

"He's still mad you couldn't go to prom with him?"

Lucy nodded. "I said hi to him yesterday and he barely looked at me."

"What were you supposed to do? Lois and Clark wouldn't let you go."

She shrugged. "He thought I should have pushed harder, but I knew they wouldn't let me." She poked at her food. "Oh well."

"Excuse me, is this seat taken?"

Lucy looked up to see a pair of dark blue eyes. "Um, no. Have a seat." She motioned to him and turned back to Lisa, thinking he just needed somewhere to sit.

"You're Lucy, right?"

She turned back to him. "Yeah, do I know you?"

"We're in photography together next hour."

"Right, I remember seeing you, but I'm sorry I don't remember your name."

He smiled and stuck his hand out. "I'm Jimmy. Nice to meet you officially."

She shook his hand and smiled back at him. "You, too."

"Um, listen, are you, uh, busy tomorrow night?"

Lucy mentally reviewed her calendar. Lois and Clark were both working and she had nothing going on. "No. I'm not doing anything."

"Would you like to go to the football game with me?" He looked like he was holding his breath waiting for her answer.

She smiled brightly. "Sure. I'd like that."

He pulled a piece of paper and a pen out of his backpack and scribbled something down. "Here's my number. Give me a call tonight and we can figure it out from there."

"Sure." Clark would be home tonight. She'd have to wait until he left to get Lois. "Um, is ten okay? I have something else until about then."

"Sure. I just won't let my mom answer." He winked at her and stood up. "I have a couple things to do before lunch is over. I'll talk to you tonight."

"Yeah." She watched as he walked off. "Well, that was certainly unexpected."

"What about Jaxon?"

Lucy shrugged. "What about him? He's ignoring me. Jimmy is cute and I've heard he's a nice guy. He is in my photography class. I haven't actually talked to him but Danny said he's a good guy, so... I'm old enough to date now, so I'm going to."

"What's with waiting until ten to call him?"

"Clark's going to be home tonight and I really don't want him around while I call. He'll have to go get Lois at ten."

"Ah." Lisa grinned at her. "Guess I'm going to a football game this year."

"What? You're not planning on horning in on my date are you?"

"Oh, no. I'll get Jessica to go with me and we'll watch from a distance."

"You're horrible, you know that?"

"And you love me for it."


Lucy couldn't concentrate on her homework that night. When Clark finally called her on it, she was surprised it had taken him so long.

"What's up, Luce? You've been on the same page for about half an hour now."

Lucy sighed. She was trying to figure out when and how to tell her sister and brother-in-law that she had a date. Should she just mention that she was going to a football game? Should she say she had a date? Should she wait until after she'd talked to Jimmy on the phone later? She'd finally decided she wanted to tell Clark first and let him soften Lois up.

"Well, um... a guy asked me out." She refused to look at him as she said it.

"Really? Who? Jaxon again?" Clark put his pen down, his concentration completely on the conversation now.

She shook her head. "No. He's still mad about the prom thing. This is a different guy. He's a junior and his name is Jimmy. We're in photography together and he asked if I would go to the football game tomorrow night."

Clark frowned. "I'm not sure I like that plan."

"Why not? I'm sixteen and we'll be with like eighty-seven thousand other Lion fans."

"I know, but Lois and I won't be home to meet him."

She scowled at him. "I figured you'd bring that up."

"Do you have a solution?"

"What if I meet him there? Would that be okay? And I promise not to be alone with him. We won't go anywhere else without appropriate chaperones," she added sarcastically.

He thought for a minute. "Let me talk to Lois about it, but that might work."

"Lisa said she and Jessica were going, so if we go anywhere afterwards, I'll make sure they go with us, and if I take the car, then there's no reason for him to have to drive me anywhere and you can be assured that he won't be able to hurt me or whatever."

"Does Lois know him?"

She shrugged. "I doubt it. Lois doesn't know a whole lot of people anymore."

"What's his last name?"

Lucy grimaced. "I'm not sure. It starts with an O or a P, I think. I haven't paid much attention during roll call, but I know it's after Lane and before Tina Rogers." She took a deep breath. "I'm supposed to call him later. Can I tell him I can go?"

"I guess, but if Lois vetoes it for any reason... And you'll have to be home by midnight."

"Fine. I'll let him know it's still not officially approved and I'll have to confirm it tomorrow."



Lucy stood nervously outside the outside the main gate to the stadium. She was fifteen minutes early to meet Jimmy, but she couldn't handle sitting around the apartment anymore waiting. Her first real date and it almost didn't feel like one. A real date would have the guy picking her up at her house, her dad -- or Clark at least -- giving him the evil eye; mom -- or Lois rather -- taking pictures and stuff. Clark had actually given her the camera and told her to make sure someone took a picture of the two of them at some point during the evening. She hadn't decided if she was actually going to go through with that or not.

Their conversation the night before had been short, consisting of her telling him she had tentative approval, but that she'd have to meet him at the game ten minutes before kickoff. He'd agreed to that and said he'd talk to her today as his mom yelled at him to get off the phone. At lunch, she'd seen him start to walk her way, when he got waylaid by a girl. He kept glancing at her and looked uncomfortable the whole time. The bell had rung, ending any hope of a conversation. There hadn't been an opportunity in class either, though they were told that they'd be picking partners the next week. She'd turned down offers from two guys already, saying she wasn't going to think about it until Monday. As they were cleaning up near the end of class, he'd managed to catch her eye and mouthed 'Tonight?' She'd nodded and couldn't help smiling as a big grin split his face.

And so here she was, waiting for him. Lisa and Jessica were clearly visible inside the gate and had agreed to go with them if they wanted to get a bite to eat afterwards or whatever. She looked around, but saw no sign of him.

"Hey," came a near whisper behind her and she almost jumped.

She turned to see Jaxon standing there. "What do you want?"

"Your company during the game tonight."

She took a step back as he reached out to run his hand along her arm. "Sorry, no can do. I'm meeting someone."

His eyes narrowed for a second and she grew increasingly uncomfortable as he looked her up and down. "You'd have more fun with me. Besides, you owe me for prom."

"I don't owe you anything. I couldn't get permission to go. End of discussion. Now, do you mind?"

"Not at all. I'll just wait and make sure you don't get stood up."

"She's not getting stood up." A new voice entered the conversation. "Hi, Lucy," Jimmy said.

She couldn't believe what she was about to do, but Jaxon was scaring her. She reached out and grabbed Jimmy's hand lacing her fingers with his. "Jaxon, this is my boyfriend, Jimmy." She pleaded with her eyes for him to play along.

"I thought you weren't allowed to date."

"Not until I was sixteen. My birthday was almost three months ago." She felt Jimmy remove his hand from hers and she cursed inwardly, until she felt his arm go around her shoulders.

"Nice to meet you, Jason. I'd love to chat but me and my best girl have a game to go to."

"It's Jaxon."

Jimmy smiled and gentle pressure on Lucy's shoulders told her they were moving away. Neither one said anything until they were inside -- Jimmy had bought her ticket -- and settled on the blanket Jimmy had spread on the grass to one side of the football field.

"I'm sorry about that, Jimmy, but thank you."

"Hey, no problem. Rescuing a damsel in distress can only boost my appeal, right?" He grinned at her.

She smiled back. "He was giving me a hard time and I didn't think he'd take the hint any other way."

"What happened?"

"Oh, he asked me to Junior Prom last year and I couldn't go because I wasn't sixteen yet. He got all mad and has ignored me all year so far then said I owed him for not going to prom with him."

"That's ridiculous."

She shrugged. "Hopefully, he'll leave me alone now."

Jimmy leaned back on his elbows. "I hope so."

"Um, by the way, what's your last name?"

He laughed. "Olsen. Why?"

"Oh, Clark asked me and I had to tell him I didn't know. I figured I better by the end of the night because he's sure to ask again."

"Who's Clark? Your step-dad or something?"

Lucy sat still for a minute. "I'm sorry; I'm used to everyone knowing. My parents died right after Christmas. My sister got married a few days later and she and her husband, Clark, are my legal guardians."

"Wait a minute. Your sister is Lois Lane?"

"Yeah. Why?"

"I remember hearing about it and I know who she is -- she wouldn't know me -- but my dream is to be a news photographer so, of course, I know who the editor of the school paper was. I don't know why I didn't make the connection." He reached over and took her hand gently. "I'm sorry about your folks."

She shrugged and noticed how well their hands fit together. "It's okay. I don't miss them too much. They weren't great parents. And Clark's a good guy. That's why I had to meet you here. He wasn't about to let you pick me up until he'd had a chance to meet you, and he and Lois both had to work tonight."

"I see."

She gave him a half-smile. "Yeah. He's more than a bit overprotective. And if we want to go anywhere after the game, we have to take Lisa and Jessica with us -- or at least meet them there."

He laughed. "I was kind of hoping we wouldn't need chaperones, but if that's the way it has to be..."

"I'm not trying to assume you might want to go somewhere afterwards but..."

"I was already thinking about asking you if you wanted to grab a bite to eat once the game's over. How do we find our keepers?"

"Oh, I'm sure they'll walk by before too long. Lisa said the only reason she was coming was to spy on us."


She looked contrite. "I'm sorry. I'm sure this isn't a very good first date. You unexpectedly get a girlfriend and are getting spied on and have to have a chaperone."

"Hey, if that's what it takes... I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to talk to you at lunch today. Angela stopped me and she's impossible to get away from. We went out like twice last year and she insists on talking my ear off every time I'm within ten feet of her. I try to steer clear, but she caught me by surprise."

They chatted through halftime, only paying a little bit of attention to the game. Lisa and Jessica wandered by and plans were made to meet after the game. Jimmy bought some popcorn to share and a soda for each of them.

The game ended with the Lions beating the Pirates from neighboring Pittsdale High by a touchdown. Jimmy held her hand as he walked her to her car, having decided that they didn't want to risk the wrath of Lois or Clark by riding alone after Lucy had promised they wouldn't. Lucy thought he might try to kiss her, but he didn't. Well, the date wasn't over.

After a frustrating fifteen minutes waiting to get out of the parking lot, Lucy sped to Arby's. It wasn't nearly as busy as some of the other fast food restaurants after a football game, which was why they'd chosen it. Lisa and Jessica had promised her earlier that they'd be in the restaurant, but not too close, allowing them to live up to the letter of Lucy's promise. Unfortunately, it was fuller than they'd anticipated and the four of them ended up together, chatting about teachers and fellow students.

All too soon, Lucy glanced at her watch and announced that she had to get going if she was going to make it home on time. Jimmy cleaned up the rest of their trash and her friends made themselves scarce. He walked her back to her car and they talked for a few more minutes.

"I had a good time tonight, Lucy."

"Me, too. I'm sorry about all the rules Clark insisted on."

He smiled at her. "I'm glad you have someone looking out for you. Can you imagine if they'd let you go out with Jaxon last year?"

She shuddered. "After tonight, I don't think that could have ended well."

"Can I call you tomorrow?"

"I hope you do."

"I have to work until six, so it'll probably be seven or maybe later."

"I'll be home all day."

He leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. "Drive safe."

"I will."

He opened the door for her. "You better get going if you're going to make it by midnight."

Lucy said good-bye again and waved as she drove off.

Twenty-five minutes later, she parked in front of the apartment building and ran up the stairs. 12:02. Great. Maybe they were asleep already. The windows were dark and she let herself in, being as quiet as she could. She tiptoed towards the bathroom when she heard Clark.

"You're late," he said quietly.

She looked over and saw Clark leaning up on one elbow. Her sister was sound asleep. Thank God for small favors. "I know. By two minutes. I hit every red light between here and Pittsdale. Hey -- the car started to steam when I was almost home." Maybe she could distract him with car problems.

"I'll look at it. We'll talk tomorrow. Lois has a double shift but I don't work until tomorrow night."

"Okay." She watched as he laid back down, curled up next to Lois. She wondered what that would be like, to have someone like Clark hold her like that. Safe and protected was her guess. Someday... but not for a long time. *She* wasn't going to get married until she was at *least* twenty-five. Oh, she understood why Lois married so young, but she didn't -- and wouldn't -- have those kinds of pressures when she was seventeen.

She quickly removed her make-up and brushed her teeth and climbed quietly to her bed. As she stared at the ceiling, she relived every moment of the night in her head, starting with Jimmy rescuing her from Jaxon. In some ways, she wished he'd kissed her, but in other ways it was kind of nice that he didn't seem to be after one thing, like her friends had mentioned to her about other guys at school.

It was some time before sleep overtook her and she settled in for peaceful dreams.


Chapter 4

Two Saturdays later, she sat in a little café downtown. Jimmy had to work all day and they hadn't been able to go to the football game the night before because the Honda was now incapacitated. The radiator, she thought Clark said. They were down to one car for at least another week. It meant carpooling with Lois or driving the rust bucket to school -- depending on the day.

And she hadn't *really* been in trouble for being two minutes late. Lois and Clark both knew red lights happened sometimes and it wasn't like she made a habit of being late. She hadn't told them about the incident with Jaxon and she wasn't planning on it. She looked up as Jimmy walked in.

"Hey." He kissed her cheek and sat down across from her. "Sorry I'm late. My boss can be a real tyrant sometimes. I had to finish up something for him before I could go."

She smiled at him. "No problem. I don't have anywhere to be anyway. Lois is working a double again so they can pay to get the radiator fixed. It'll be at least another week before it's fixed. Clark's at the Star now and then delivering pizzas later, so I've got all day." She held up her history book. "I brought something to do, just in case."

They'd eaten lunch together several times since going to the football game and spoke on the phone nearly every night. Unsurprisingly, Jimmy had asked her to be his partner in their photography class and she'd agreed instantly. Because there was no way Lois or Clark would let her go out on a school night and they'd both been working Fridays and Saturdays since, an official date had been postponed until she could find a night where at least one of them was home to meet him.

They spent the better part of the next hour talking, but Lucy noticed something seemed a bit off.

"Are you okay?"

Jimmy smiled. "Yeah. Just one of those days, you know?"

Lucy nodded. "Anything I can help with?"

"Not really. I mean, I was getting ready for work this morning and my *dad* shows up. I haven't seen him in like five years and he gets there ten minutes before I have to leave for work. I was going to call in, but he said not to worry about it and that he'd see me soon."

"Oh, Jimmy." Lucy covered his hand with one of hers. "I'm sorry."

He shrugged. "They broke up when I was five. It's been a long time since I saw him much at all." He glanced at his watch. "Oh, man! I gotta get back." He shoved the last bite of his sandwich in his mouth and took a big swallow of soda. "Would you like to come with me? I can show you around a little bit. And if you're with me, my boss is less likely to yell."

"Sure." Lucy was glad for any reason to extend their limited time together. She gathered her things. "Let's go."

Five minutes later, they walked off the elevator and into the Daily Planet newsroom.


"Great. The boss bellows. Come on. Let me introduce you and then I'll have to get back to work." They hurried down the stairs and across the room. "Hey, Chief. This is Lucy. I've told you about her. Lucy, this is Perry White, editor of the Daily Planet."

Lucy extended her hand. "It's nice to meet you, Mr. White. I've heard a lot about you."

He shook her hand. "Not from this fellow, I hope."

Lucy laughed. "Some, but mostly from my sister."

"Who's your sister? Do I know her?"

Lucy shook her head. "I think you met her in passing once or twice on school field trips, but she's been dying to work here since she was like four. She and my brother-in-law are journalism students at UNT Met."

"Oh, well, that's great. Now, I'd love to chat a little bit more, but I've got a paper to get out and Jimmy here has another stack of research to do. Friaz stuck a whole bunch of folders on your desk, son. You better get to it before I hire Lucy here to do your job."

"On it, Chief." He kissed her quickly on the cheek. "I'll call you when I get home."


Perry had turned to head back to his office. "That won't be till midnight if you don't get moving." He looked at Lucy again. "It was nice to meet you, Lucy. Jimmy's talked a lot about you. I hope I can get to know you better before long."

"That would be great, Mr. White."

The editor's expression softened slightly. "Now, Jimmy, make sure she gets out of here okay, then get right back up here." He went back into his office and gave Jimmy a look that clearly meant he needed to hurry up.

"Come on, Luce. Let's get you out of here so I can get done."


November 1985

Lucy walked off the elevator and into the Daily Planet newsroom. She was wearing an almost new pair of slacks, from the thrift store down the street -- she doubted these had been worn more than once or twice, with a new top, from the same store, still with its original tags for nearly four times what she paid for it, and a blazer that she borrowed from Lois. Jimmy waved her over to his desk where he was talking on the phone.

"Come on, Henderson. Perry's gonna have my hide." He paused. "Okay. If I can get him to send someone down there, you'll give it to them?" Another pause. "I knew I could count on you. I'll have Perry send one of the city guys down as soon as he can. You're a lifesaver." He nodded into the phone. "Thanks again. I'll talk to you later. Bye." He hung up and turned to Lucy, standing to give her a hug. "Hey. You look great."

She sat in the offered chair. "Who was that?"

"That was this guy down at the police station. One of the city reporters wanted some information about a suspect in that arson over on Bessolo and he won't give it to me. Something about being 'wet behind the ears'."

"Ah." She looked around. "I really didn't get to look this place over. It's incredible. I can see why Lois and Clark are so enamored with it."

"Me, too. I'm going to be a photojournalist here someday. I just have to work my way up the ladder."

"That's what they all say." She smiled at him.

"Olsen." Perry stuck his head out of his office. "You get that information yet?"

"Sorry, Chief. Henderson will only give it to a 'real reporter'." He used finger quotes while rolling his eyes. "He said if someone can get down there in the next hour, he'll give it to them."

"Okay. I'll get someone on it and then we're on our way out. Danny's covering the night shift. If he just won't mess anything up, we'll be okay."

Forty-five minutes later, they sat in the Whites' living room chatting about life in general. Lucy told Perry and Alice her abbreviated life story.

Alice retreated to the kitchen to put the finishing touches on dinner, while Perry spent nearly half an hour on the phone with the night editor, muttering under his breath the whole time about the idiots who foisted the inexperienced hack on him.

Jimmy showed her around the first floor of the house, pointing out some things that Perry had shown him over the past few months. "Listen, I talked to Perry earlier and he said he and Alice were going to make themselves sort of scarce later so we can at least be kind of alone for a few minutes. There's something I want to talk to you about."

Lucy nodded. "Jimmy," she started, pausing, uncertain. "There's something that I need to talk to you about, too, but it's not something that I want to talk about in front of them -- though they seem very nice -- but something I want to talk about before things go much further with us."

Jimmy started to say something else, but was interrupted by Alice's announcement that dinner was ready.


Jimmy held her hand and led her to the enclosed porch. It was a little chilly, but not too bad. They sat on the wicker love seat and Jimmy put his arm around her.

"This is nice," she said quietly. "Just the two of us, even if it is only for a few minutes. Almost like a real date."

"Well, I'd like to meet Lois and Clark sometime soon so that I *can* take you out on a real date."

"I know. They're just so busy. Between school and work, they're rarely home."

"That has to be hard on them and their relationship."

Lucy thought about that for a minute. "Yeah, it probably is. I never really thought about it before, but it can't be easy trying to make a relationship work when they see each other for half an hour a day or so until they both almost literally pass out from exhaustion."

She stared out the window that looked over the Whites' backyard. Jimmy's free hand took one of hers. "Lucy, there's something I wanted to ask you."


"You told Jaxon that I was your boyfriend and I was wondering if you'd like to make it official. Well, sort of official. I want to meet your sister and stuff before making it really official, but... I like you a lot and I know I don't like the idea of anyone else taking you out."

Lucy smiled at him. "I'd like that." She bit her lip. "There's something I need to talk to you about before I can honestly say I'd like to be exclusive, though."


"I have to know that you'll never just leave." She held up a hand as he started to protest. "I mean, I know that we're young and the odds of us actually ending up together long term, statistically, are pretty slim, but I just need to know that if we end, for whatever reason, you won't just leave. You won't send me a 'Dear Lucy' letter from college in a couple years or just start avoiding me at school or whatever."


She turned to look at him. "I mean it, Jimmy. I'm not asking for a lifetime commitment or anything, but I have serious abandonment issues and I'm not going to get into them right now, but I need to know that you'd never just leave without talking to me about it. Can you at least promise me that?"

"Yeah, I can do that." He gently pulled her head to his shoulder and stroked her hair with one hand. "I promise I'll never just leave. Even if things end between us someday, we'll talk about it."

"Thank you."

They sat in silence for a few minutes before they heard Perry call that it was almost time to take Lucy home. Jimmy stood and pulled her up with him. One hand rested gently on her waist and the other tipped her chin. Before she realized what was happening, his lips were on hers in the lightest of kisses.

It was over as soon as it had begun, but it sent tingles to Lucy's toes.

He smiled at her. "Ready?"



"I'm so sorry, Lucy. I'll be there as soon as I can, but I'm probably going to be thirty or maybe even forty- five minutes late. I'll call when I leave."

Tears filled Lucy's eyes. She mentally berated herself. It wasn't like he was canceling; he was just running late. "Okay. I'll let them know. I'll see you in a little while."

"Who was that?" Lois looked up from her studying as Lucy hung up the phone.

Lucy sank onto the couch. "Jimmy has to work late. He's still coming but it's probably going to be an hour or so before he gets here instead of fifteen minutes. Is that going to ruin dinner, Clark?"

He shook his head. "No, I just put it in the oven. I'll take it out and put it back in later."

A tear made its way down her cheek. Clark returned from the kitchen and sat next to her on the couch, pulling her into a hug. "It's okay, Luce. Work happens to all of us."

"I know, but I just wanted tonight to go so well."

"I'm sure it will. It's just going to start a little later than planned."

Lucy was grateful to her brother-in-law. He always seemed to know the right thing to say.

An hour later, she sat nervously in the kitchen as Clark answered the door. As Clark and Jimmy came down the stairs, she and Lois walked towards them, catching the tail end of the conversation.

"...I can introduce you sometime if you'd like."

"Introduce us to who?" Lois asked.

"Jimmy knows Perry White." Clark told her.

Lois' eyebrows shot up. "You know Perry White?"

Jimmy shrugged. "Yeah. He kind of adopted me. They don't have any kids, Perry and Alice, and my dad's not around, so we're kind of family now. But don't tell anyone." He winked at them. "It would ruin his reputation." He gave Lucy a peck on the cheek and took her hand. "Lucy's met him a couple times now."

Lois' eyes shot daggers at her sister. "You've met Perry White and you didn't tell me? Or Clark?"

Lucy shrugged. "I didn't think it would be a big deal. It's not like I could get either one of you jobs or an internship or anything, but he's a very nice man."

"Not when he's yelling at me," Jimmy grumbled.

Clark indicated that they should head to the kitchen. "So when you asked if you could go to Jimmy's boss' house..."

Lucy nodded. "That's where we were."

"And Perry White brought you home?" Lois demanded.


"And you didn't invite him up -- or us down -- to meet him?"

"Lois, get over it." Lucy rolled her eyes. "If the opportunity ever arises again, I'll make sure to introduce you. But, since you've met Jimmy now, I'm hoping we can actually go on a real date without Lisa and Jessica or the Whites as chaperones."

"We'll see."


Lucy walked Jimmy out to his car. "Well?" she asked.

"I like them." He leaned up against his car and pulled her into his arms. She rested her head against his shoulder. "Do you think they'll let me take you on a proper date now?"

"I hope so. I think they will. I know Clark liked you and -- honestly -- when it comes to my love life, he's much more protective of me than Lois. I mean, Lois is protective, but Clark takes the big brother/guardian/dad-type thing to a whole new level."

"He just wants to make sure you're not getting involved with someone who's going to hurt you."

"Yeah." She pulled back and looked at him. "You're not going to hurt me are you?" she asked with eyes narrowed. "Because I'm taking Karate for my PE credit this year."

He cringed. "I have no intention of hurting you." One hand tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "I can't promise I'll never hurt you, but I can promise I won't do it on purpose. And I promise I won't ever leave without talking to you because I know that would hurt you more than anything."

Tears filled her eyes. "Thank you, Jimmy."

"You know, this is our sixth date." He smiled at her.

"It is."

"I'm thinking it's high time I kissed you for real."

"I'm thinking it is too."

He took a deep breath and swallowed. "Then here we go." He cradled her face in one hand and lowered his lips to hers.

He brushed her lips with his own and then pulled her closer and kissed her more deeply. After a moment they both pulled back. Jimmy rested his forehead on hers. "I think that was worth the wait."

Lucy nodded against him. "It definitely was."

Jimmy gave her another quick kiss. "I think I better go before Clark decides I'm not one of the good guys after all."

"Yeah, you're probably right." Another kiss and she pulled back. "I'll talk to you tomorrow, okay?"

"You better believe it." One more kiss and he got in his car and drove off.

Lucy watched until he was out of sight then went up the stairs, hoping she wasn't in for a repeat of the Spanish Inquisition.


"How'd it go after I left?"

"Pretty well actually," Lucy admitted. "We were all pretty tired but both of them said that they liked you and that it was okay for me to go out with you on a real date. Clark said it wouldn't surprise him if you didn't want to though -- not after Lois did everything but shine a light in your eyes to find out more about the Daily Planet."

Jimmy laughed. "It wasn't too bad. I've gotten much worse from Perry."

"I'm sure you have."

"So, when do you want to go on our first official date?"

"You still want to go out with me after all that?" Even though she was fairly certain she knew the answer, she held her breath while she waited for Jimmy's response.

"Of course I do. So how about Friday night?"

"Sounds good. I can't wait."


December 1985

Two weeks before Christmas, Lois and Clark managed to get an evening off at the same time. Perry gladly gave Jimmy the night off too and now the four of them were decorating the apartment for Christmas.

Jimmy winked at her and hung a sprig of mistletoe in the middle of the arch leading from the living room to the bedroom. She knew it was only a matter of time before he managed to maneuver them under there at the same time.

Sure enough, fifteen minutes later, they were under the mistletoe. It had been completely accidental -- on her part at least -- but there they were.

"I guess this means I have to kiss you now."

Lucy smacked him lightly on the chest. "Guess so. I wonder why you put it there of all places though."

"Oh, no reason. Just a way to make sure you think of me every time you walk through here."

Lois groaned. "Just kiss him already, Lucy. We have to get the rest of this done and it's not getting any earlier."

Lucy glared at her sister, but only for a second. At least she hadn't insisted on taking the whole 'none of that while you're under our roof, young lady' route. A glance at Clark told her that he might though.

Jimmy grinned as he leaned in to kiss her. It wasn't a short kiss, but it certainly wasn't a long one either. Neither one of them wanted to make out in front of either Lois or Clark and they both knew that Lois and Clark wouldn't let them.

Lucy waited most of the day for Lois and Clark to manage to find themselves under the mistletoe. They were so rarely home together for such a long period of time. Surely they'd take any chance they could get for a good make-out session. Wouldn't they? As the evening wound down and Lucy realized that they hadn't been under the mistletoe at all -- in fact, she was certain that neither one had used that archway at all once Jimmy put the sprig up -- she began to wonder, but filed it away for further reflection later.

And that's what she did.

Jimmy had left and she climbed the stairs to her loft -- after taking a shower and doing the rest of her before bed routine -- and resolved to think about that a bit. She thought back over the nearly a year that her sister had been married. When was the first time she saw them kiss? Nothing sprang to mind. When was the last time? Nothing there either. Okay -- it wasn't unreasonable that it could have been a while since she'd seen them together in a situation where a kiss would be called for -- their schedules were all so busy that they were rarely in the same room for any extended period of time.

She assumed Clark kissed her when he left for his paper route in the mornings, since he woke her up before he left, but she had no way of knowing -- and little desire to set her alarm clock that early to find out. She shuddered lightly to think about what else she might wake up to. She knew they'd never kissed in front of her when one or the other came home at night. Of course, they were all three usually pretty tired by then. Clark would often drop a kiss on Lois' head, but that's it. She'd always thought it was for her benefit -- because they knew she had no desire to see them making out.

But... she thought about every time she'd come down the stairs in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. She was careful to limit her intake of fluids late in the evening so she wouldn't have that problem, but it still happened from time to time.

Had she *ever* seen -- or heard -- anything she shouldn't have?

No. The answer was a resounding no. She would certainly have remembered that and the memory would have been seared into her brain. She never remembered seeing clothes lying around the apartment when she came home unexpectedly early or evidence of birth control anywhere -- surely they were using birth control, weren't they? There was no way they would want to add a baby into this mix just yet. She'd seen them spooned together in bed a number of times, but that was it. She knew Clark slept without a shirt on, but Lois usually slept in a t-shirt and shorts -- or flannel pajamas in the winter -- not exactly Victoria's Secret; though, she admitted to herself, it didn't take lingerie to turn a guy on. While lacking in practical experience of any kind, she knew that much.

So, what did all that mean? Lucy honestly had no idea, but she wasn't about to ask questions to find out.


January 1986

Lucy sat in a chair Jimmy had pilfered for her. The Daily Planet newsroom was virtually vacant. The ice had come in with a vengeance and parts of the city were already without power. The worst ice storm in years, a thick coating was wreaking havoc on traffic as well as felling trees and weighing down phone and powers lines to the point of breaking at times. Power poles were going down as well.

"Do you think Lois and Clark will let me stay with you guys?" Jimmy asked his girlfriend. "My mom's out of town and it would take me hours to get home now."

Lucy nodded. "I don't know why they wouldn't. The apartment's not too far from here -- we can walk it if we have to. It won't be fun, but the subway's not running in places and it doesn't seem worth it to have Clark try to drive over here."

The phone rang. "James Olsen."

Lucy smiled at the use of his more formal name. She listened as he 'uh huh'd a few times and 'sure'd a few more then hung up.

"That was Perry. We're all invited over to their house if your apartment doesn't have power. They don't have any but have a fireplace and a gas stove so they can cook."

"I'll call Lois and see what she says."

Ten minutes later, they were on their way out of the Daily Planet and in Jimmy's car. With no power at their apartment, the Kents were on their way to the home of Perry and Alice White in another car.

Grateful that no trees were down to block the roads, the young couple pulled into the driveway nearly an hour and a half later -- over twice the amount of time it should have taken.


They spent the evening playing games, huddled in the living room, close to the fire. The Trivial Pursuit game ended in a tie when Lucy and Jimmy answered their final question in tandem. They listened to Perry griping about his broken leg and how he should be at the Planet trying to coordinate things. Instead he spent part of the evening on the phone with Dave, the night/interim editor, but otherwise managed to put the paper mostly out of his mind.

Clark had brought the mattresses from the spare bedrooms into the living room. The two married couples, obviously, each shared one, complete with sleeping bags zipped together for Lois and Clark and the regular bedding for Perry and Alice. Lucy and Jimmy were on the other mattress but...

"I wish we could zip our sleeping bags together," Jimmy whispered.

"I know, but there is *no* way Clark would go for that," Lucy whispered back. "Perry might, Alice and Lois probably not and Clark... forget about it."

"It'd be warmer. Can't we make that argument?"

"We could, but it wouldn't work. Why do you think they put us closest to the fire? Because we don't have anyone else to keep us warm."

Jimmy reached out one hand to tuck her hair behind her ear. "I know."

"Hey, you two, quiet," Lois hissed. "Some of us are trying to sleep. And no, you're not going to zip your sleeping bags together."

"Caught," Jimmy whispered even more quietly. He leaned over and kissed her softly. "Good night."

Her hand caught his as he started to pull it away. "Good night." She laced her fingers with his and closed her eyes.

Lucy wasn't sure how much later it was when a noise woke her up. Clark was following a hobbling Perry into the kitchen.

"What was that?" Jimmy whispered next to her.

"Clark and Perry just went into the kitchen," she whispered back.

"I thought I told you to go to sleep," came a very grumpy whisper from Lois and Clark's bed.

"Sorry. Clark and Perry just went into the kitchen and woke us up."

Lois sat up suddenly, a strange look on her face as she stared at the blazing fire. She scrambled off the mattress and headed towards the kitchen.

Lucy looked at Jimmy then followed her sister, a sleepy and bewildered Alice right behind them.

Lois pushed open the door to see Perry sitting at the table and Clark pacing around the kitchen. Clark had stopped to look at Perry when they heard him speak.

"I was about three months old when my space craft landed in a field in the middle of Kansas."

Lucy could only stare at her brother-in-law as he turned to stare at them.


Chapter 5

Perry looked around, puzzled, as the room warmed up. "How did that happen? It warmed up in here in the last few seconds."

"I did it." Clark nodded to the seating area in the middle of the room. "Have a seat everyone and I'll explain everything." Once they were seated, he began his story from the beginning again. "In 1966, there was a meteor shower in Smallville, Kansas. One or more of the larger meteors hit the town hall, destroying it."

"That was one of our trivia questions last night," Jimmy interjected, as he pulled Lucy a little closer.

"Don't interrupt, Jim. Let Clark tell his story." Perry frowned his direction.

Jimmy shifted uncomfortably. "Sorry, CK." He leaned back in the oversized chair and pulled the blanket closer around them.

Clark took a deep breath as Lucy saw Lois rest her head on Clark's shoulder. "That was the night that my parents found me in Shuster's Field. I was in a small spacecraft, wrapped in a blanket. My parents followed one of the meteors and found me instead. My parents had been unable to have children, despite years of trying and the best help that doctors could give them in that day and age. When they found me, they weren't sure if I was from another planet or maybe a Cold War experiment from the U.S.S.R., but they didn't care which I was. If I had actually been a little green man, I think they would have still adopted me," he added ruefully.

Lucy stared at her sister as Clark spoke.

He was an alien?

Her brother-in-law, the guy who helped her with Geometry and made amazing chicken salad, was really a strange visitor from another planet.

She turned her attention back to him as he spoke, grateful for Jimmy's arms around her.

"They took me home and reported me as a foundling. Ads were put in the appropriate papers, but of course no one claimed me. They raised me as their own. I didn't know until last year that this... globe that came with my ship held a hologram of some sort with a message for my parents that told them pretty much everything about what was going to happen to me. It would have been nice to know about that several years ago, but it's still good to know that I'm 'normal' for someone like me on Earth.

"By the time my folks died when I was ten, we knew I wasn't normal. I was strong, I was fast -- much stronger and faster than any eight or nine year old should have been. And I was practically invulnerable. I could lift tractors or move the fridge so Mom could clean behind it. I made it around the farm -- about four miles -- in just under two minutes. Even though I fell out of my tree house several times in those years, I was never hurt. The first few times I had some minor scrapes, but by all rights, I should have broken more than one bone at least a couple of times."

Lucy couldn't even blink as he spoke; she just stared.

"I was ten when my folks died. We'd gone to Colorado to go skiing after Christmas. One night my parents went to a restaurant for dinner and then..." He sighed. "There's a lot of things I can do that no one else can. I'm fast, really fast. I can hear things from great distances. I can set fires with my eyes or just heat things up slowly -- heat vision or something. I'm invulnerable to anything I've found. I can see through things. Some of this stuff was just starting when my folks died and out of nowhere that night, I heard my mom screaming. I just left and ran, as fast as I could. I made it to the mountain road just as the car went over. I couldn't turn my hearing and vision off and on like I can now. I could see them through the top of the car as it sank into the water. I could hear their heartbeats..." His voice broke. "The cliff face was too steep. I couldn't get to them. I listened to them as their heartbeats faded out."

Tears had started flowing down Lucy's cheeks, and she could see Lois' tears wetting Clark's shirt. Alice's cheeks were wet and Perry's throat clearing was a dead giveaway that he was affected as well.

Clark took a deep, calming breath. "So, about a year ago, Lois found out my little secret and we went to Colorado where I had buried my ship and the globe and things that came with it when I rented out the farm."

"When did you go to Colorado? I don't remember you two being gone." Lucy sat up a bit and ignored the look she got from Perry because she was truly puzzled.

"Well, see... I'm not just fast and can see through things, I'm also able to fly. Fast. So I flew us there several times. About that time, this globe that came with me from Krypton..."

He could fly?!

Maybe he'd take her for a flight soon.

Could she really have gone from wondering if she could accept that he was from another planet to wondering when he'd take her flying in five minutes or less?

Apparently so.

She turned back to Perry as he abandoned his own admonition. "Pardon me for interrupting, son, but Krypton? What in the name of Elvis is that?"

"It's my home planet. According to the message Jor-El, my birth father, gave my parents, it exploded not long after they sent my ship off. I'm the last survivor, the last son of Krypton, Mom said. In the message he left for my folks, he said that Krypton lived under a red sun and that the yellow sun here would give me special abilities, and it has. I can fly and see through things. I can bend metal with my bare hands. I can lift just about anything. I'm invulnerable. I can also freeze things with my breath and start fires with my eyes. We found this letter from my mom in the ship that said that they'd gotten a message from Jor-El themselves about a month after they brought me home that explained a lot of it. Jor-El left at least five messages on the globe. We've seen three of them but haven't made it back to Colorado since early last summer."

Jimmy shifted slightly behind her as he spoke again. "That's how it's stayed so nice in here -- relatively I mean -- even with the fire. You've been warming it up haven't you?"

Clark nodded. "I didn't want it to get too warm because I didn't want to raise suspicions, but I have tried to keep it a bit warmer than it would have been otherwise."

Lucy giggled as Jimmy exclaimed, "Well, hey, CK -- warm us up! No sense in being cold when we have heat vision around."

Perry laughed. "He's right, warm us up."

She could tell Clark was stunned. "You guys are all really okay with this? With me being an alien?" he asked.

She felt Jimmy shrug as he spoke. "We all have secrets. There's something different about everyone. You're a good guy -- besides being Lucy's brother-in-law and guardian. I like her so I have to go through you -- so I don't see what the big deal is? Except that maybe you could take us to the Caribbean or something and out of this ice storm."

Lucy giggled and she noticed that everyone else was laughing, too.

"Well, hell's bells, son. Having those special things about you will certainly help you as an investigative reporter." Leave it to Perry to think of that. "Now, Jimmy's right -- heat this place up, would you?"

Clark laughed and obliged, sweeping his eyes around the room. Lucy felt a warmth radiating around her before he spoke again.

"How's that?" Clark asked.

Jimmy pulled Lucy a little closer and she giggled as he said, "Now, not too warm, you hear?" Leave it to Jimmy to think of *that*, but he was right. Right now she had an excuse to be this close to him without Clark shooting them disapproving glances. Well, she admitted to herself, he probably still would but...

Before she knew it, Jimmy was still holding her but was sound asleep. She dozed a time or two, but mostly she just thought about Clark and Lois and how all of this affected them.


"What do you think about all this?" Jimmy asked her quietly. Clark was out helping with clean up or something. Lois and Alice were dozing off and Perry was on the phone with the temporary editor at the Planet.

Lucy sighed and snuggled back into his arms just a bit more. "I don't know. I mean, I love Clark. He's a great guy and he works hard to take care of me and Lois. But an alien..." She took a deep breath and then slowly let it out. "I never would have guessed Clark's an alien."

"He doesn't look like a little green man, that's for sure."

"I think it would be harder to accept if I didn't know him already."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, if I'd just met him and found out he was an alien, it would be weird and I don't know that I'd take the time to get to know him because I'd be too freaked out by it. But now... I already know him and I love him. He's the big brother I never had. He's the *dad* I never had. I mean, I had a father in Sam, but he wasn't much of a father *figure*. Clark... Clark's going to make a great dad someday. He helps me with my homework and makes dinner and doesn't let me go out with a guy before he has a chance to meet him. He'd go to the ends of the earth to protect me and Lois, and I know that. And I knew that before I knew he was invulnerable."


"What do you think about it?"

Jimmy sighed. "I think I'm with you. If I didn't already know him, it might freak me out more. But since I do... I'm glad someone invulnerable is looking out for you."

"Me, too."


February 1986

Lucy chewed her bottom lip and watched Clark out of the corner of her eye. He was sitting at the table, some book or other open in front of him.

"Are you going to tell me why you keep watching me?" he asked without looking up.

Lucy could hear the smile in his voice, but blushed anyway. "Sorry."

"What is it?" He turned to look at her fully, stretching his legs out in front of him.

"Just wondering something," she said, staring at her history book, one finger playing with the corner.

"What's that?"

She took a deep breath. "Willyoutakemeflyingsometime?" she asked in a rush.

Clark shook his head slightly. "You'll have to go a bit slower than that."

"Will you take me flying sometime?"

He looked surprised. "You want to go flying?"

She nodded, but still didn't look at him.

He smiled. "Sure. I'd be happy to."

Her eyes lit up as she finally looked at him. "Really?"

"Of course." His eyes twinkled. "As soon as your homework's done."

She groaned. "I should have known there would be a catch. But," she brightened. "I don't have anything due for three days and I only have one more paragraph until I'm done with all my reading."

Clark smiled. "You better get on it then."

Ten minutes later they were on the balcony. "So how do we do this, Clark?" Lucy asked nervously.

He laughed. "First, there's nothing to be scared about."

"I'm not scared," she said bravely.

"If you say so, but seriously. You'll be perfectly safe."

She smiled slightly. "Okay, I'm a little nervous."

"You should have seen your sister the first time I took her flying. She was petrified. Of course," he conceded, "we'd just gotten shot at, she thought I was going to die from a bullet to the stomach and she had absolutely no clue what was going on."

"I bet she was freaked out."

"Yeah, she was," Clark said. He seemed almost nostalgic.

"So, how do we do this?"

"Depends on where you want to go."

Lucy shrugged. "Where do you recommend?"

"Depends on what you want to see." He looked at his watch. "We've got about half an hour before we need to be back. We could... go float above some clouds and watch the stars, or find somewhere the sun's setting or rising and watch it for a bit -- those are some of my favorite things to do. Or we could do a very whirlwind world tour -- check out the pyramids or the Great Wall or Mt. Rushmore. What do you want to do?"

"Could we go to Colorado?"

Clark shrugged. "Sure. Any reason why?"

"Can I see your ship?" She bit her lip and didn't look at him as she spoke.

"Sure," he said, a bit surprised at her request.

"So, how do we do this?"

Clark moved behind her. "I'm going to have to hold you pretty tight, okay?"

She nodded. "Okay."

He wrapped his arms around her and a second later they were airborne and heading west.

Lucy watched the ground passing beneath her. "Wow," she whispered.

Clark bent his head towards her. "Pretty amazing, isn't it?"

She could only nod. She had no idea how fast they were going, but it was mere minutes before they landed in a field in Colorado. Clark had melted a circle into the snow and set her down in the middle of it.

"I'll be right back."

Seconds later, there was a fire blazing in front of her and seconds after that, Clark was back, holding something about the size of a jet ski.

"Is that it?" she whispered.

"Yeah, that's it," Clark said setting it down next to her.

"It's... smaller than I expected." She ran her fingers over the 'S' symbol.

He laughed.


"Your sister said the exact opposite. She expected it to be a lot smaller."

Lucy smiled. "Well, it had to big enough for you and some kind of life support and navigation and an engine of some kind and all that."

"All Lois thought was that it should be big enough for me and that was about it. I think she was expecting something about the size of a baby's car seat."

She laughed. "That sounds like Lois." She walked around the ship, running her fingers over the outside. "What are these?"

Clark shrugged. "I have no idea. I'm guessing it's something written in Kryptonian but I really don't know."

"Maybe it's the story of your parents or your life or something. How do you open it?"

Clark hesitated.


"Would you mind if I showed you the inside some other time?"

"I guess not. Why?"

He took a deep breath. "Well, the globe I told you about is in there and I haven't seen all of the messages on it, but at the same time, I don't want to see one without Lois. I don't know how the thing works. It just starts playing the hologram things sometimes, but since Lois isn't here..."

Lucy nodded. "I can understand that. Some other time then." She rested her hand on the 'S' again as she stared at it. "When was the last time you two were here?"

He paused slightly before answering. "Graduation dinner."

She looked at him, shocked. "This is where you guys came for her graduation dinner?"

"Yeah. We brought a picnic out here and once it was dark, I dug up the ship and got the globe out. Eventually, it played the third message from my parents."


He glanced at his watch. "We better get back."

Lucy nodded. "Okay."

A few seconds later, the ship was gone and the fire was out. Clark moved behind her again. "Ready?"

She nodded. After they lifted into the air, Clark lightly blew the snow around to cover the area he'd melted earlier. It wasn't long before they landed back on the balcony.

"Thank you," she told him.

"My pleasure," he said, smiling as he opened the door to the apartment. "We'll go again sometime."

"I'd like that."

"And now, young lady," he told her with mock severity. "It's time for you to get ready for bed."

Lucy laughed and headed to the bathroom to do just that.


April 1986

"Jimmy, Clark's going to be home soon," Lucy whispered between kisses.

"I know," he said pulling away from her.

"And with that stupid hearing and vision of his, it's not like we can even wait until we hear his key to stop kissing."

"I know," he sighed. He looked at her. "You might want to go fix your make-up then." He kissed her again. "I'll get our books back out."

"Good plan." She kissed him quickly and went to the loft to change clothes. She'd been in her jeans too long and they were starting to irritate her. She heard the door open as she did and when she came back into the living room Jimmy and Clark were looking at some of the pictures she'd taken for their photography class. "Hey, Clark. How was work?"

"Not bad," he said. She could smell the pizza still clinging to his clothes. "This is a great picture, Luce." He held up one of the pictures she'd taken at one of the basketball games the week before.

"Thanks. They used it in the school paper."

"That's great."

Jimmy stuck his books back in his backpack. "I gotta get home."

Lucy nodded and walked him to the door. "I'll see you tomorrow," she said softly.

"Sure will." He kissed her again, aware that Clark was watching them out of the corner of his eye. "Let me know if you want to study tomorrow night. I don't have to work so..."

"I will." She kissed him again and then closed the door behind him.

She walked back down the stairs and picked up her history book as she settled back down on the couch.

"Um, Luce?" Clark said.

She looked at him. "What's up?"

He sighed and sat back in the chair. "There's something I want to talk to you about."

Uh oh. This sounded like one of those 'male guardian' talks. "Sure," she said as she closed her book. "What is it?"

He looked distinctly uncomfortable. "I, um, wanted to talk to you about Jimmy."

"What about him?"

"You know I like him right?"

She nodded.

"I do, I like him a lot, but I'm also your guardian."

"O-kay," she said slowly.

Finally, he looked up at her. "Is there anything I need to know about the two of you?"

She stared at the rug. "No."

"I mean it, Lucy. Are the two of you..." His voice trailed off.

"No! Clark!" She turned eight shades of red. "Not that I'm sure it would be any of your business if we *were*..."

"No," he said firmly. "It is my business. I'm not your dad but I am your guardian. If you were my daughter it would be my business until you were at least eighteen, and this really isn't any different."

"Well, we're not so you don't need to worry about it."

He smiled at her. "Oh I'm sure I'll always worry about you." He sighed. "Listen, you know my mom left me letters, right?"

Lucy nodded.

"Well, the one she left me for my first date said that I should remember that no matter who I'm going out with, she's somebody's little girl and I should think long and hard about how I would want someone to treat my little girl someday. I know you're not my daughter or even my sister, but I feel very protective of you and I want to make sure you're not going to get hurt unnecessarily."

"He's not going to hurt me."

"I know he won't intentionally but... I want you to think about how you'd want someone to treat your little girl someday and don't allow yourself to be treated any less than that -- by Jimmy or anyone else."

"I'll think about it. I promise."

"And I know you think you're falling in love with Jimmy -- and you might be, I don't know -- but something I'd like you two to seriously consider..." He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I'm going to have this conversation with him, too, by the way. I don't know what your physical relationship is like or is going to be like or how long the two of you will be together -- but whether it's Jimmy or someone else, I'd really like you to consider waiting to have sex -- with Jimmy or anyone else -- until after high school. I know you'll be eighteen long before then, but high school and after high school are so different, and a couple who makes it through high school together may not make it through post-high school life."

He sighed. "Mom also told me not to do anything I wouldn't want to tell my wife about someday. I have nothing to hide from Lois and no stories to tell her that I'm ashamed of or that I wish could have been different, but part of that's because I knew at fourteen that I was going to marry her. It's part of being Kryptonian. Does that mean you should wait until you're married?" He shrugged. "I don't know about that, but at the same time... They say confession is good for the soul, but if there's nothing to confess... And if you do decide to," he cleared his throat, "at some point, please be responsible about it. I'm sure you really don't want a baby yet." He sighed again. "Anyway -- I just want you to think about that."

She nodded. "I will."

With that, Clark left to go take a shower.

She stared at the archway. So that was a sex-talk from Clark. Sort of. Or rather a 'please don't have sex' talk. It wasn't surprising that he didn't want her to sleep with anyone for a long time but she didn't think he'd actually come out and say it.

Two nights later, she was up in the loft when Jimmy knocked on the door and let himself in.

"Luce?" he called.

"Up here," she called back.

"Hey," he said softly a minute later as he wrapped his arms around her.

"Hey, back," she said smiling as he moved in to kiss her.

Later, they were lying on her bed watching the stars out of the skylight. Jimmy's arm was wrapped around her and her head was on his chest.

"Did Clark talk to you?" he asked.

She nodded. "Yeah. I guess he probably gave you the same 'don't have sex' talk he gave me."

"Probably pretty close, but somehow I think I'll see him watching us every time I want to do more than give you the smallest of kisses."

Lucy giggled. "He probably wouldn't be too happy to know that we're up here."

"He's not," a voice called from the bedroom.

Lucy and Jimmy winced. They scrambled off the bed. They leaned on the railing looking down on a frowning Clark.

Jimmy spoke first. "I gotta get home anyway." He moved back a bit so they weren't as visible from the ground floor. "I'll talk to you tomorrow."

Lucy nodded and moved towards him, kissing him lightly. "Sounds good."

Jimmy hurried down the stairs, not really looking at Clark. "See ya later, CK," he called as he headed for the door.

Lucy leaned on the railing as Clark watched Jimmy leave. He tilted his head as he looked back up at her.

"Anything I need to know?"

Lucy shook her head. "No."

"Care to elaborate on that?"

"We were looking at the stars out the skylight and talking about what you said the other night."

"Well, you can see the stars out the window in here so there's no need for him to be up there."

Lucy sighed. "So he's not allowed up here?"


"Fine, but nothing happened. And nothing was going to happen. And what are you doing home anyway?"

He shrugged. "No one was ordering pizza tonight so they sent me home early."

"Nothing was happening and nothing was going to happen," she reiterated.

"Good, but that still doesn't mean he's allowed up there."

Lucy sighed. "What time's Lois get off?"

Clark glanced at the clock. "About an hour."

Lucy nodded before moving to flop back on her bed.


They were sitting on the couch two days later, when Jimmy broached the subject again. "So, what did Clark say after I left?"

"That you're not allowed up in the loft."

"That doesn't surprise me."

"Me either, but still... It's not like we were doing anything wrong."

"I know, but he loves you and wants to protect you from the likes of me," he said with a grin.

"There's nothing to protect me from."


Lucy smiled at him. "You know what I mean."

"I know."

"What do you think about what he said?" she asked quietly.

"Well, I don't want to hurt you."

"I know that and we haven't really talked about sex much at all."

"We've been going out for six months. Maybe we should."


"I get the feeling Clark might not hesitate to press charges if he found out we were together before you're eighteen."

"I don't know about that, but he's the closest thing I've ever had to a real dad and I wouldn't want to disappoint him like that."

"So, we're not going to have sex for a while. I like CK and I'm glad someone's looking out for you, even if it means he thinks he has to protect you from me."

"Yeah, not for a while."

"How long until you're eighteen again?" Jimmy said with a smile as he kissed the side of her head.

Lucy laughed. "Fifteen months, but he also said he'd really rather we wait until we're out of high school, and I'll just be going into my senior year."

"I'll be out of high school by the time your birthday rolls around."

"How about... we reevaluate at that point?"

"Sounds like a good plan, but I do think we need to decide what our limits are," he said.

"I know, but I don't want to do that right now. How about another night?"

"Okay." He turned her face towards him. "I haven't told you this yet, but I think I'm falling in love with you." He shook his head slightly. "No, I know I am."

"I'm falling in love with you, too," she whispered.

"And you know what my gut is telling me?"

"It's time for ice cream?"

Jimmy laughed out loud. "No." He looked at her more seriously and said softly, "My gut says that someday I'm going to marry you and make love to you and have babies with you."

Lucy smiled at him. "That's good, because my gut says the same thing."


August 1986

Lucy held the book in her hands, fingering the ribbon that held the pages together. She'd had no idea that Lois had written down the stories that she'd told her while they lived at home. These stories were some of the first ones. Could she read them? Lois had said that her memory had made them into more than they were originally. And then Clark had asked to read them.

But Lois hadn't told Clark about what life was like growing up.

How could she not have told him about life in the Lane house?

She knew that Lois had protected her from the worst of it. Even though they were only a little over eighteen months apart, Lois had grown up much faster and protected her as best she could. That was why she'd made it through high school in three years -- so that she'd be able to take care of Lucy as soon as she turned eighteen.

She'd told Jimmy on their third date that she had abandonment issues and they'd talked extensively about life growing up. The more they'd talked about it -- the more she'd opened up to him -- the less frequent her dreams had become. She *knew* Jimmy would never just leave her and she *knew* Clark wasn't ever going to leave Lois. He loved her. Anyone with half a brain could see that.

And, like she'd told her sister, if Clark wasn't going to leave Lois, then he wasn't going to leave her either.

Maybe it was just easier for her to believe that for some reason, because the look in Lois' eyes seemed to indicate that she wasn't entirely convinced.

Lucy sighed. She needed to start getting ready. Jimmy would be there soon and they were going out for dinner for her birthday.


February 1987

Lucy opened the door to the apartment to find Lois sitting in the big chair, curled up under a blanket, staring off into space. Puzzled, she shut the door behind her and headed down the stairs as Clark came through the archway from the bedroom.

"What are you guys doing home?" she finally asked. "I thought you were both working tonight."

Neither one said anything for a long moment, but finally Clark spoke in quiet tones. "It's Aunt Louise, Luce."

She felt like she'd been sucker-punched. "What?"

"She had a stroke this morning," he said grimly. "She's gone."

Lucy staggered backwards a step or two as tears started to flow down her face. In a second she found herself in Clark's arms as she sobbed.

A knock on the door brought the sobs to a halt, though the tears continued. Before any of them could move to answer it, the door opened and Jimmy came in, his cheerful greeting dying on his lips when he took in the scene in front of him.

The look on his face instantly turned to concern when he noticed Lucy crying in her brother-in-law's arms. "What happened?"

Clark quietly told him and in seconds, Lucy was in his arms instead. He knew how close she'd grown to the elderly aunt since the death of her parents. Finally, she pulled back and kissed him lightly, making a stay here motion before going to talk to Clark.

He was sitting at the kitchen table, a book open in front of him, but it didn't look like he was actually studying.

"Clark?" she asked quietly.

"Yeah?" He looked up at her.

"I know you don't want Jimmy upstairs, but... please? Just this once?"

He paused then nodded. "Just this once. We're leaving for Texas tomorrow. I'm flying. The service is the next night. If Jimmy wants to come, I can come back and pick him up."

She nodded and walked towards the bedroom, motioning to Jimmy that he should come, too. She noticed that Lois hadn't moved since she got home, but figured she was just in shock, too. One part of her mind wondered why her sister wasn't in Clark's arms like she was about to be in Jimmy's.

They climbed the stairs and quickly settled on to her bed, his arms around her, her head buried in his chest as she cried some more.


Chapter 6

"I can't believe she's really gone," Lucy whispered as she rested her head on Jimmy's chest as they rested on one of the beds in her hotel room.

"I know, honey."

They laid there for a long time. "When's Clark taking you back?"

"About ten, I think."

"So we have a little while?"


"I missed you yesterday," she told him.

"I missed you, too."

She tipped her head towards him and he kissed her gently. She shifted so she could kiss him more fully. Before long, the passion escalated, intensified past any point they'd been to in their fifteen month relationship.

"Make love to me, Jimmy," she whispered.

He stilled before rolling onto his back and letting out a breath towards the ceiling. "I'm sorry, Lucy."

She sighed and rolled onto her side, propping herself up on one elbow. "For what? For kissing me?" She wiped a tear off her cheek. "For making me feel loved?"

He moved back onto his side and reached out to tuck her hair behind her ear. "For letting things go farther than they should have. For pushing the limits we set for ourselves."

"You didn't push them by yourself," she pointed out.

"I know, but I promised Clark I wouldn't make love to you before you're eighteen at least. I promised myself I'd never try to take advantage of you. And, most importantly, I promised *you* that I wouldn't do that -- not until we agreed we were ready for that."

"I know..."

He kissed her again, tenderly. "I love you, Luce, and I want our first time together to be special -- whether we wait until our wedding night or some other time between now and then. I don't want it to be because we're sad and want to connect but at the same time know that we promised each other we wouldn't and wonder if your sister or brother-in-law are going to knock on the door at any moment."

"You're right." She sighed. "I know you are, but at the same time..."

Jimmy smiled at her. "I didn't say the idea wasn't very tempting, but at the same time, I know I don't have any protection with me either. And I *know* neither of us wants a baby right now."

She chuckled. "Clark said something about that to me when he had his little 'don't have sex' talk with me."

"Me, too."

Lucy grinned wickedly. "Maybe we could get something from them."


"Well, I know Lois isn't on birth control so they must be using something else..." She dissolved into giggles. "Can't you just see their faces? One of us goes next door all rumpled, hair messed up, shirt buttoned wrong and only half tucked in, missing a shoe and asks for a condom."

Jimmy laughed with her. "That'd go over real well, wouldn't it?"

"Lois would probably be livid and Clark would probably take you to roughly the cruising altitude of airliners and drop you. Or we could be interrupting something over there and then they'd really be upset."

They laughed at that.

"You know," Lucy said thoughtfully after they calmed back down. "I have no desire to pry into their sex life at all, but I've lived above them for two years now and I've *never* heard or seen *anything*. I heard my parents all the time and that was through a wall. I thought about that after Christmas last year -- you know, when you hung the mistletoe up."

"I remember. Clark wasn't very happy about me kissing you and he hid the mistletoe I brought this year and I couldn't find it."

"Right, but did you notice, they never walked through that archway? They went through the other one exclusively and not just that day -- until we took the decorations down. I thought about it for a long time that night and I've kept an eye out since. I've *never* seen them kiss. *Ever*."

"Really?" Jimmy was astonished.

She nodded. "Never. I've seen Clark kiss the top of her head or her cheek sometimes when he's leaving or getting home, but that's it and he does that with me sometimes, too. I've never seen her do even that much."

"Maybe they're just not a PDA couple."

"But at home's not public. It's just me -- and maybe you. When we're watching a movie, how do we sit?"

He shrugged. "Together."

"In a big chair or on the couch or something, right?"


"The only time I've ever seen them sit together like that was the night Clark told us about himself."

"Maybe it goes back to a disdain for PDA."

Lucy shrugged. "Maybe, but I don't think so. Clark hugs me all the time or stands with his arm on my shoulder, things like that, but never with Lois. His wife."

"Maybe it's *Lois'* disdain for PDA."

"I guess that could be."

He was thoughtful for a moment. "When we first started dating, I wondered how they made things work. Now that I know them so much better, I wonder even more. I mean, they rarely see each other except late at night and maybe part of one weekend day. One or both of us is usually around. It has to be hard. I see you -- and them -- a lot more than they see each other, I think."

"Clark told me that life after high school is very different than life during high school and that even a couple that works during high school might not afterwards. That was one big reason why he wanted us to consider waiting until after I graduated to make love together. Couldn't the same thing apply to them and college? Once they graduate next year, their lives are going to be so different. I mean, I know Perry's done everything but hand them contracts for after graduation. They'll be working together -- the same shifts -- and be home a lot more." A tear slid down her cheek. "If what Clark said about high school is true, I wonder if they'll make it after college?"

He reached out and wiped the tears off her face. "I'm sure they'll be fine. They love each other and that can make a lot of things work." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a velvet box. "I was going to wait until Valentine's Day to give this to you, but I brought it with me just in case there was a good time today." He held it out for her to take. "I love you."

She took it from him and opened it slowly. "Oh, Jimmy," she said softly. Nestled in the white satin was a gold ring -- a heart with a tiny diamond in it.

"It's a promise ring. It's my intention to marry you someday. I know neither one of us is ready for a proposal yet, but I wanted to let you know -- to let the world know -- that I've promised myself to you."

She handed the box back to him. "Will you put it on for me?"

He tugged gently on the ring and reached for her left hand, sliding the ring onto her finger. He pulled her hand to his lips and kissed it softly. "I love you."

"I love you, too."


May 1987

"Hey, graduate!" Lucy flung her arms around Jimmy's neck as she finally found him outside the UNT Met gym.

Jimmy wrapped his arms around her and swung her around. "Hey, yourself!" He set her down and kissed her soundly on the lips.

"Hey, now. None of that," Clark said with a smile as he, Lois, Perry and Alice walked up. He looked around. "Where's your mom?"

Jimmy sighed. "She couldn't come. Her boss called her at the last minute and said that if she didn't come to work she'd lose her job."

"Didn't she tell him that her son was graduating?" Lois asked, indignant.

He shrugged. "Yeah, but that doesn't matter to bosses."

"It would to me," Perry said gruffly.

"But not all bosses are like you, Chief," Lucy pointed out.

"True." He clapped Jimmy on the shoulder. "I'm proud of you, son."

"Thanks, Chief."

"Now, let's get back to the house and get this party started."


Lucy sat on the stairs that led from the deck to the yard behind the Whites' house. Jimmy moved to sit behind her and wrapped his arms around her. She leaned back into him. "I'm proud of you, Jim."

"Thanks, babe." He kissed the side of her head.

"Does it feel any different?"

He shrugged. "Not really. I mean, I don't have to get up for school Monday, but Perry's got me working days until the new semester starts, so I still have to be at work early. But since I'm not working nights, that means I can spend more time with you," he said smiling.

"That's always nice." She sat quietly for a minute. "I wonder if I should get a job this summer."

"What makes you think of that?"

"Well, Lois and Clark work their tails off so I don't have to work during the school year, but I'm only taking one class this summer and that's dual enrollment so I'll have a couple of college credits by the time I get there."

"Have you talked to them about it yet?"

"No, but I'm going to be eighteen in a couple months, and then they won't get the foster care stipend but they'll still be supporting me unless I move out and I don't think I want to do that. I mean, I'm not crazy about living above their room still, but I'm still in high school and I don't want to have to work hard enough to support myself because if I did, I'd never make it through school."

"And they wouldn't expect you to."

"I know, but maybe I'll get a job this summer and can at least buy my own clothes and stuff."

"As long as you're in school, does the stipend end at eighteen?"

She shrugged. "I thought it did but maybe not. I don't know. Regardless, I think it's probably time for me to get a part-time job at least. Think Perry's hiring?"

"Probably. If he's not, someone at the Planet is for something."

"I'll talk to him later. Even if I don't need money to help support myself, it's not a bad idea to start getting some savings for college and stuff."

His arms tightened around her. "And stuff?"

She looked up at him and smiled. "Yes. Stuff."

He kissed her gently. "Like what?"

"Oh, I don't know. Cruise to Alaska. Skiing in the Alps. Climbing Everest. Things like that."

"Ah. What about a wedding? Would you want to be saving up for that?"

She wrinkled her nose. "Nah. When I find a guy I want to marry, we'll just go find the nearest J.P."

He groaned. "I'll remember that. Bet you don't want that diamond ring either, do you?"

She giggled. "No, the diamond ring is necessary."

"Well, technically, I already gave you one, so we're good, right?"

She smacked his arm lightly. "Not if you want to get lucky on your wedding night."

He threw back his head and laughed heartily. When he finally calmed down, he said, "So we've been waiting years to finally be together, but for some reason I haven't been able to get you a real engagement ring. We go see the J.P. and get married and we don't make love that night because I didn't get you a ring?"

"Yep." She turned enough to kiss him. "So you might want to remember that."

She was joking -- and he knew she was joking. There was very little that could stop them from being together on their wedding night -- whether they waited until then or not.

"So, you're almost eighteen," he said quietly. "We probably need to talk about that again pretty soon."

"Yeah, we probably should."

"What are you thinking?"

"I don't know. Part of me is thinking that I'll be eighteen and, even though I'll still be living with Lois and Clark, it's not like it would be illegal and they technically wouldn't have anything to say about it."

"Not legally, but I'm sure both of them would have something to say. I *know* Clark would."

"After all he's done for me and Lois, I don't want to disappoint him," she said quietly.

"I know."

"Would you mind if we waited until at least this time next year? After I've been out of school for a little while?"

"Would I like to be with you before then? Yeah, of course, but I understand the decision and really, I agree with it. It wasn't that Clark said..." He used his best stern voice. "... 'you will not have sex with my foster daughter unless you marry her, young man, or you'll answer to me' or anything, but he did ask that we strongly consider waiting until you're out of high school, and Perry and Alice both said something along the same lines. They've lived a little more life than we have and maybe they know something we don't."

Lucy nodded. "That makes sense and, I know it has to be *our* decision, but I don't want to disappoint them either. Can you imagine -- even if we were careful -- what would happen if I got pregnant? What their faces would be like when we told them?"

"I can't forget what he told me. To treat you like I'd want someone to treat my daughter. To be perfectly honest, if we ever have a daughter, I don't think I want her having sex. Ever. Because that means some guy..." His voice trailed off. "But, of course, that's not what I want with you. I want to be with you, to make love to you someday, when the time's right, but my daughter's different... Does that make sense at all?"

"Yeah, it does." She kissed him lightly again. "It means that you're going to be a perfect gentleman -- probably until we get married -- and anytime the thought of doing more than making out with me crosses your mind, you'll either hear Clark in your head or see him standing over us or something."

"Exactly." He kissed her this time. "So we wait until at least next summer."


"I'm sure Clark will be glad to hear that."

Lucy giggled. "I don't think we need to actually talk to him about it."

"I think you're probably right."


August 1987

"You're going."

"No, I'm not."

"Yes, you are."

"No, I'm not."

"It's my birthday and we're going." Lucy crossed her arms in front of her and stared at Lois.

"I don't want to go."

"You said we could do what I wanted as long as it didn't cost much and this is what I want."

"Well, I don't even know if Clark can go," Lois said, sounding defensive.

"Ask him."

"I don't know when I'll see him. He's working late tonight and tomorrow night. We'll both be asleep by the time he gets home."

"So? Leave him a note that you want to talk to him and to wake you up when he gets home."

"I don't want him to wake me up. I'm tired. I've had a long day today and I'm going to have a long day tomorrow and I don't want to go on Friday."

"Then I'll talk to him. I'll see him tomorrow."

"He probably has to work Friday night anyway," Lois told her as she headed to the bedroom to get her work clothes out.

"You don't know?" Lucy asked with narrowed eyes. Something was going on -- something she couldn't quite put her finger on.


"When was the last time you talked to him?"

"Last night." Lois didn't look at her as she spoke.

"What did you talk about?"

Lois glared at her. "None of your business."

Lucy just stared.

"Fine. We talked about this month's budget, if you must know. And how your curfew is going to be earlier and earlier if you don't leave me alone."

"When was the last time you two went out on a date?"

"We're married, Luce. We don't date."

"You should, but that's not my question. When was the last time you two went out and did something together -- just the two of you?"

Lois sighed. "We eat lunch together some days during school."

"That's it?"

"We're both busy trying to make enough of a living to support all three of us and two cars and get through school. It doesn't leave a lot of time and energy for anything else."

"Then this is perfect." Lucy said with a grin. "Jimmy got the tickets for free. We all have Metro passes already so that'll get us there. And I want to go out with my boyfriend and my sister and her husband for my birthday. Practically for free -- so you can't pull any 'not in the budget' nonsense on me."

Lois sighed. "I don't want to go to a baseball game Friday night."

"It's the Meteors versus the St. Louis Cardinals."


Lucy practically gaped at her. "Clark grew up watching and listening to the Cardinals. They're his favorite team and have been since he was little and went to games with his dad." Lois stared at her blankly. "You didn't know that?"

Lois shook her head slightly. "I never have followed baseball and just forgot; that's all." She sighed. "Fine. If Clark says he can go, I'll go."

Lucy squealed slightly and hugged her. "Thanks, Lo."


Lucy followed Jimmy further and further down the stairs at Metro Stadium. Lois and Clark were behind her.

"How'd you get these seats again, Jim?" her brother-in-law called.

"Dwight in Sports got 'em for me." Jimmy stopped about four rows from the bottom of the stairs and the playing field. "This is us. We're even on the aisle."

Lucy headed into the row first. "And we get food down here?"

"Yep," Jimmy said as he followed her in. "All we can eat from the concession stand at the top of the section or we can order off that menu from one of the... waitresses or whatever they call them but that costs money. And the alcohol isn't free either."

"Clark's the only one old enough to drink anyway." Lucy sat in the fourth seat in. Jimmy sat next to her and promptly put his arm around the back of her seat.

Clark sat next to him and Lois took the seat on the aisle. Clark leaned forward and started pointing at people on the field. "Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Jose Oquendo. There's Whitey Herzog. He's managed the Cardinals since 1980. They won the World Series in 1982 and lost to the Kansas City Royals in 1985, but they were so robbed in Game 6 when a Cardinal who was safe was called out and a Royal who was out was called safe."

Jimmy shook his head the whole time Clark was speaking. "But there's Lou Pinella and Don Mattingly and Tommy John and Willie Randolph."

"But the Cardinals are *going* to win the pennant this year. The Meteors... not so much, there, Jim. They won the division in '80 and went to the Series in '81 where they lost to the Dodgers. That's been seven years."

Lucy looked over at Lois behind their backs and rolled her eyes. Lois gave a small half smile and slumped back in her seat, propping her foot up on the arm of the chair in front of her and folding her arms over her stomach.

Jimmy settled back in his seat again, arm immediately going around Lucy. "See how much fun this is, babe?"

Lucy rolled her eyes. "Get me a hot dog and some nachos and we'll talk."

Jimmy laughed. "Come on, Clark. Let's go get these ladies some food before the game starts."

Lucy told him what she wanted and Lois told Clark she didn't want anything. Lucy watched her sister contemplatively. "Come on, Lois. Please at least try to enjoy yourself."

Lois sighed and stood up. "Move over. I'd rather sit and talk to you than listen to the two of them argue over which team is better, and I know you'd rather sit by Jimmy, too, so..."

"Why don't you sit by Clark? I see Jimmy a lot more than you see him."

Lois smiled. "It's your birthday. Sit with Jimmy. Besides, I'm sure Clark would rather sit on the aisle so he can stretch out a bit."

Lucy stood up and moved a seat closer to the aisle. Lois slid around her and into the seat she'd just vacated.

"There. Now you and I can chat and the boys can do their 'my team is better than your team' thing." Lois smiled again at her sister. "Happy Birthday, Luce."


"Hey, what's all this?" Jimmy handed her a tray of nachos and a soda.

"Lois and I would like to have a conversation about baseball players without you two muddling it up with stats and such," Lucy told him as she took the food from him.

He sat next to her, raising an eyebrow as he spoke. "Then what are you two going to be talking about with regards to said baseball players?"

Lucy shrugged. "Thigh muscles, tushies, arms... things like that."

"With us sitting right here?"

"Yep." Lucy took a bite of a nacho.

"Can we comment on the Meteor girls between innings?" Jimmy asked her.

"Nope," she answered around another bite of nacho.

"Isn't that some kind of double standard?"

"Yep. Sure is. It's my birthday. I make the rules."

"I'll remember that," Jimmy told her, a twinkle in his eye.

"I also make the rules on your birthday," she told him as she took another bite of her nachos.

"Really?" he asked, leaning slightly closer to her.

Clark cleared his throat. "So, Jim, how did you convince Dwight to get these tickets for you?"

He laughed. "Chill out, Clark. I got him some information he really needed on one of those fighters next week. He's good friends with one of the PR people here and he got them for me."

"That was really nice of him. Once we get over to the Planet, I'll have to make it a point to get to know him -- and not just so I can get tickets either. Sounds like a good guy."

"He got me tickets to the Meteors-White Sox game in a couple weeks. The seats aren't behind home plate like this time, but Lucy doesn't want to go. You in?"

"If I don't have to work and Lois and I don't have anything planned..." Clark glanced over at his wife.

Lois shrugged. "I don't care if you go. You'll enjoy it."

"Okay, then. If I'm not working, I'm here. Thanks, Jim."

Lucy turned to her sister. "Okay, you've got a good point. I'd rather chat with you than the two of them if they're going to be like this."

Lois laughed lightly. "Told you."

Jimmy turned to Lucy. "I thought I was going to explain the finer points of baseball to you."

Lucy shrugged. "You still can. Lois and I will simply discuss the finer points of the baseball players with each other."

He sighed and turned back to Clark. "At least we won't have to listen to the two of them at the next game."


Clark and Jimmy had gone to get some more food during the top of the third inning, when Lucy turned to her sister. "Are you okay?"

Lois took a sip of her drink. "Of course. Why wouldn't I be?"

Lucy shrugged. "Are things okay with you and Clark? You seem a bit off. Did you have a fight or something?"

Lois shook her head. "No, we're fine. I'm just tired and it's hot. That's probably what you're picking up on."

Lucy raised an eyebrow. "It's seventy-five degrees, slightly overcast and the sun that is out is nowhere near you. It's a *beautiful* night for early August."

"It could be worse," Lois admitted grudgingly. "But there's nothing going on with me and Clark. I'm sorry if I'm being a damper on your birthday -- I don't mean to be. And I *am* tired."

"Would you tell me if there was something wrong between you two?"

Lois paused before shaking her head. "No. I wouldn't."

"Why not?"

Lois looked at her and tucked a wayward strand of hair behind her ear. "Because you have enough to worry about with finishing high school and building a relationship with Jimmy and everything else. I wouldn't burden you with any problems Clark and I might or might not be having."

"I love you, Lois, and I love Clark, even if I wasn't so sure about him at first. And I hate the thought of anything being wrong with you two."

Lois smiled at her. "Our relationship is as solid as it's been in a long time, Luce. You don't need to worry about us."

"Are you sure?"

"I'm sure." She looked up. "Here they are now." She took the hot dog, bag of chips and drink Clark handed her. "Thanks."

"My pleasure." He smiled at her as he sat back down. "It's what I'm here for. That and to try to distract Lucy when some cute second baseman is up to bat."

"What?" Lucy asked.

"I've been informed that it's my civic duty." He glanced at Jimmy. "At least that's what a little birdie told me."

"Really?" She eyed her boyfriend. "And you weren't eyeing the Meteor girls between innings?"

"No." He held her gaze. "I was watching the left fielder."

"Okay, then."

Lucy and Lois chatted while Jimmy and Clark argued over the finer points of the game and called strikes and balls, as well as a hit that was ruled a home run that Clark -- surreptitiously using his vision -- insisted was touched by a fan before going over the wall and should have been a ground-rule double.

By the middle of the sixth, both girls had to visit the bathroom. They managed to get separated in line and Lois was done well before her sister.

Lucy washed her hands and headed back to her seat.

"I just haven't seen you much lately, Lois. That's all." Clark's voice drifted around the corner, stopping Lucy in her tracks.

"I know. We've just both been busy. That's all. Same as always. Work, school, all that," Lois replied.

"Well, neither one of us is working tonight."

"We're at a ballgame with my sister and her boyfriend for her birthday. Do you want to just leave?"

"No. Not that. Just thinking that maybe we could go for a... *walk* later or something. I don't have to work until noon tomorrow so it's not like I have to be up early."

"What about delivering papers?"

"Don's covering for me. I didn't know how late we'd be out. And I covered for him a couple weeks ago while he was out of town. And you don't work until late tomorrow either so we could go out for a bit later if we wanted to."

There was a pause. "Well, I traded shifts with someone who wanted a later shift. I didn't know we were going to be out so late tonight when I did it. And I'm already pretty tired."

"Oh." She heard Clark sigh. "I just miss spending more time with you." He spoke so quietly that Lucy almost didn't hear him.

This time Lois sighed. "I know." There was another slight pause. "I miss spending more time with you, too." There was an undercurrent of strain that Lucy didn't know quite how to place. "But we'll graduate next year and then..."

"Perry said he'll get us on the same shifts at the Planet so at least we won't just be two ships passing in the night anymore."


Lucy suddenly felt guilty for eavesdropping on a private conversation between her sister and her brother-in-law. She rounded the corner, expecting to see the two of them in each other's arms -- even if only for a few minutes since she knew even before this that they didn't see each other much.

Instead, Lois had her arms crossed in front of her and was staring intently either at a piece of popcorn or what was likely a beer stain on the concrete. Clark had his hands shoved in the pockets of his denim shorts and was watching Lois.

Lucy's eyes narrowed nearly imperceptibly. Lois had just assured her that the two of them were as solid as ever, but what Lucy was witnessing now certainly didn't look all that solid. Was *walk* their code for Clark flying them somewhere for some... alone time without her around? Maybe she and Jimmy should make themselves scarce a little more often when the two of them were home at the same time.

Clark looked over and saw her. "Hey, Luce. Ready to head back to our seats or do you want something to get something to eat?"

"I'm fine."

Lois had a bright smile on her face. "Then let's go. That second baseman's coming up this inning, isn't he?"

Lucy grinned, putting what she'd heard in the back of her mind. "Yep. Let's go."

They stretched in the middle of the seventh inning and Clark grinned as Willie McGee crossed the plate in the ninth as the go ahead run. Unable to mount enough of a comeback to even make up that small of a deficit, the Meteors were defeated by the Cardinals, leaving that grin on Clark's face for the rest of the evening.

They got separated as they made it back onto the very crowded subway headed towards home. Lucy held tightly to the pole and Jimmy held onto the bar above his head, his other arm wrapped securely around her waist.

"I don't want to go home," she said into his ear as his chin rested on her shoulder.

"Why? What's wrong?"

"I'll tell you later, but I want to let Lois and Clark go home and go somewhere with just you."

"Whatever you want, babe. It's your birthday. Where do you want to go?"

"Let's go get some ice cream or something."

"Sure you don't want them to come with us?"

She shook her head. "No. Just you and me."


Forty-five minutes later, they had frozen custard in hand and were walking through Centennial Park.

"Want to tell me what all this is about?" Jimmy asked before taking a big bite of his dessert.

Lucy shrugged. They'd stayed on the train after Lois and Clark got off at their usual stop. They'd seen Clark give them a puzzled look as the train pulled out and then he'd held up one finger on one hand and a two on the other while using his best stern-guardian face. "I just wanted to give Lois and Clark some time together. I know they don't see each other much as it is these days and when they are together, they're either studying or doing the budget or we're there or all three. Tonight, they're both off and they can have some time alone together. Summer semester is over so there's no schoolwork to worry about and Lois told me they did the budget earlier this week so... I just thought it might be good for them to have some time to themselves. Without us. And I wanted some time with you, too."

"Good call," he told her before wrapping his arms around her. "I haven't been able to give you the rest of your birthday present."

"Oh? What's that?"

"Now, don't get your hopes up. It's nothing big or anything."

"That's okay. Getting the tickets and some time with my sister was more than enough, even if it didn't cost you anything."

"Well, this didn't cost much either. Well," he conceded. "It didn't cost anything."

She smiled. "The only other thing I really want from you is a good kiss. Clark was watching us the whole time we were on the kiss-cam."

"It's a good thing that's what I got you."

He pulled her slightly closer before lowering his lips to hers.

They were both more than slightly breathless a few moments later.

"Much better," she said smiling at him. "But my custard is melting."

He laughed. "Your priorities are always right on."

"Aren't they?"

He released her and they continued their slow walk through the park.


"Where'd you two go last night?" Lois asked as Lucy wandered out of the bedroom.

"For frozen custard and a walk in the park. I thought you had to work early today." Lucy yawned as she finished. "Where's Clark?"

"He left to deliver papers and pick up an extra shift at the Star." Lois didn't look at her sister as she spoke.

"Ah. I thought he had someone to cover for him this morning."

Lois shrugged. "Guess he got uncovered."

"And you didn't have to work this morning?"

Lois quickly turned to the refrigerator and opened it, but not before Lucy caught a glimpse of a look she didn't quite understand. "No. Do you want some juice?"

"No, thanks."

"Why didn't you tell us you were going somewhere else? We would have gone with you."

"We didn't decide until we'd left the stadium." Lucy shrugged. "And I wanted to be able to kiss Jimmy without Clark looking over our shoulders." She sat on the couch. "I thought you and Clark might want some time alone, too." She watched her sister intently.

"Well, thanks, then. I guess." Lois looked uncomfortable, but was covering it pretty well. But Lucy -- who knew her better than anyone, except probably Clark -- wasn't fooled.

"What is it, Lois?"

"What is what?"

"What's bothering you?"

Lois smiled. "Nothing. I'm fine."

"And you and Clark are good?"

The smile disappeared. "Why do you keep asking me that? I told you last night that we're as solid as ever."

Lucy shrugged. "You're my sister and I worry about you. I just keep getting this impression that something's off with you."

"Well, there's nothing to worry about. Things between me and Clark are as good as ever."

Lucy nodded. "Okay, then. I'm sorry. I won't ask again."

"Please don't," Lois said quietly. "I don't need to worry about you worrying about us."

"Okay." Lucy agreed to let it drop, but continued to turn it over in her mind.


Chapter 7

Two weeks later, on a Sunday, Lucy came home to find Lois in tears.

Lucy hurried down the stairs. "Lois? What's wrong?"

Lois raised the remote and turned the television off. "Just watching 'E.T.'," she said with a smile. "Gets me every time."

Lucy sat next to her on the couch. "Why is that?" she asked quietly. "Because E.T. goes home?"

Lois shot her a look as she wiped her face with a Kleenex. "Well, yeah. And Elliot's going to miss him. And he dies for a while."

Lucy chewed her bottom lip.


"Do you ever wonder if Clark's people might come back for him?" Lucy finally asked softly.

Lois eyed her, an unreadable expression on her face. "No. Why would I?"

Lucy shrugged. "Well, he's an alien. You still don't really know why he's here, do you?"

Lois shook her head. "Not really. Unless he saw the last message from Jor-El without telling me."

"Somehow I doubt that."

"I don't think he has. He said something about core disintegration or something. Like the planet was dying -- I think. I'm not really up on my interplanetary physics. I think he would have said something in the message that Martha and Jonathan saw if there was a chance that others survived."

"I guess."

"What brought that on?"

"Was just thinking about it the other day. Wondering what life was like on Krypton. What life would be like for Kal-El if he'd stayed on Krypton."

"What did you come up with?"

"Probably married to some Kryptonian chick or something by now, I guess. Having all kinds of Kryptonian babies or something."

"He wouldn't be any older than he is here."

Lucy shrugged. "I guess the society I imagined was some sort of quasi-feudal society with Kal-El as some sort of noble or something."

Lois raised an eyebrow. "You mean like Knights of the Round Table and all that?"

"I don't know. Some sort of birth wife, arranged marriage thing where he'd take over the crown or something."

"Why that?"

"Because it was more interesting than him being some kind of peasant or something. What fun would imagining that be?" Lucy asked with a grin.

"Well, I'm not sure I appreciate you birth marrying my husband to a Kryptonian chick and giving him lots of Kryptonian babies."

Lucy laughed. "Well, his Kryptonian birth wife looked an awful lot like you."

Lois sighed. "I'm not sure that helps any."

They sat in silence for a few minutes.

"You know we're not your legal guardians anymore, right?" Lois finally asked quietly.

"Yeah," Lucy answered slowly. "Do you guys want me to move out?"

"No!" Lois answered quickly -- almost too quickly Lucy thought. "Of course not. You're always welcome to live with us, especially while you're still in high school. Besides, where would you go?"

Lucy shrugged. "Maybe live at Jimmy's house." At her sister's glare, she quickly clarified. "Not *with* Jimmy, but he lives in the right district so I wouldn't have to change schools. They have an extra bedroom and his mom is never home, so there would be room for me."

"Are you really thinking about moving out?"

She shook her head. "No. But I know that you and Clark could probably use some more time together without me and Jimmy hanging around."

Lois rolled her eyes, but her breath caught slightly as she did so. "Are you still on that 'are you and Clark okay' kick?"

"No, but I know it can't be easy for you two to try to build a marriage with your little sister around." She glanced around. "Especially in an apartment with no real walls."

"Well, we were fine a few weeks ago and we're fine now."

"I'm glad." Lucy thought about saying more but decided to keep her own counsel for the time being.


"Tell me all about it." Lucy had met Jimmy at the little restaurant across from the Daily Planet and wanted to hear all about his first day of college.

"It was... different." He glanced at his watch. He had half an hour before he had to go to work.


"Well, they didn't take attendance or anything and didn't seem to care if you paid attention."

"That's weird."

He shrugged and speared his fork into the cheese fries on the plate between them. "That wasn't the weirdest part, though," he said before putting the fries in his mouth.

She waited until he finished chewing before she asked the obvious question. "What was?"

"There was this girl..."

She raised an eyebrow. "A girl? James Olsen -- do I need to be worried?"

He put his fork down and sighed. "No. You don't. Not at all..."

"But?" she prompted when he didn't offer anything else.

"I wonder if Lois should be," he finally said quietly.

"What?!" Lucy hissed. "Is Clark cheating on her? I can't believe..."

He shook his head. "No. He's not cheating on her, but I met him for lunch like we planned and there was a girl with him."


"Her name's Mayson. She's blond and pretty but it was the way she looked at him that bugged me."


"Well, during the conversation, she mentioned that she hadn't seen him since classes got out in May, but I got the impression that they'd eaten together a lot last year. It seemed like..."

"Like what?"

"Like she likes him. She told him about some stuff she'd learned from interning with her dad's law firm over the summer. She worked for him and her grandma or something. But her dad's a family law specialist and she said some stuff about kids being emancipated under certain circumstances and emancipated kids being allowed to have custody of younger siblings sometimes and stuff like that."

Lucy's eyes narrowed. "Like Lois could have been emancipated and still gotten custody of me?"

"That's what I got out of the conversation."

"So she wouldn't have had to marry Clark?"


"And this chick's got a crush on Clark?"

Jimmy shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe."

"You guys are planning on having lunch together most of the time, aren't you?"

He nodded. "And even if we weren't, I am now. And I can talk up his relationship with Lois or something if I need to. I don't think Clark would *ever* even *think* about cheating on Lois, but..."

"Some women just don't get the message?"

"Something like that." He looked at his watch again. "I gotta get, babe."

"I love you."

"I love you, too." He stood up and kissed her quickly. "I'll call you when I get home, okay?"

Lucy nodded, but didn't move for a long time after Jimmy left for work. There was another woman interested in Clark. What did that mean for her sister? Clark wouldn't cheat on her; Lucy knew that and she knew Lois knew that. But what about long-term? Would Clark leave Lois eventually for someone else? Would Lois let him? Well, not that she could actually stop him, but would she fight for her marriage? Their mom...

Sam and Ellen.

Sam had never, *ever* been faithful to Ellen and Lucy knew that and Lois knew that. Jimmy had never cheated on her. She *knew* that. Jimmy wouldn't have had much of an opportunity to cheat on her. She knew where he was when he wasn't with her, and she knew his boss. She'd worked a very low level mail room job at the Planet over the summer and had seen his schedule often and knew that she'd been with him virtually every waking moment that he wasn't at work or out with Clark.

So Jimmy wouldn't cheat.

And Perry wouldn't cheat. She didn't think he would anyway. And she didn't think Alice would put up with it if he did.

But Clark? Would he? She didn't believe for a minute that he would cheat on Lois.

But would Lois believe that? The only real example Lois had had of a married couple was their parents, and Sam had been the epitome of unfaithful. Could Lois believe that Clark was cheating on her? Or that he was capable of it?

Surely not.

Could she?

Or was that part of what Lucy had been feeling was off between her sister and brother-in-law? Did Lois have some suspicion or something -- however unfounded -- and that's why Lucy kept getting that 'something's off' vibe from her?

There was no way Lois would *really* believe that Clark was cheating on her.

Was there?


April 1988

Lucy wondered for weeks whether to broach the subject with Lois or not and eventually stopped wondering about it.

Her senior year of high school was busy with schoolwork and after school activities. Lisa had approached her with the idea of joining the Lincoln High Relay For Life group, and somehow they'd ended up coordinating it. Relay For Life was the annual walk-a-thon sponsored by the American Cancer Society to raise money for cancer research. Lisa's grandma had died of breast cancer the year before. They'd been very close and now Lisa wanted to support the group that could keep something like that from happening to someone else.

Between weekly Relay meetings and being a photographer for the newspaper and studying and spending time with Jimmy, her last year of school went by very quickly. She and Lisa applied to work at a summer camp for kids who were wards of the state and were in long term foster care situations. Together they, along with Jessica, were moving into the dorms in the fall. Or that was the plan anyway.

First she had to tell Lois and Clark about it.

Lucy looked up from her spot on the couch where she was reading 'Macbeth'. "What's wrong?" she asked her brother-in-law when she heard an exasperated sigh and his pen hit the table.

"I just can't concentrate on this."

"Hmm..." Lucy thought for a minute and wondered if she could ask him something that had crossed her mind from time to time. He'd never shied away from answering questions about his uniqueness -- not if he knew the answers. She decided to go for it. "You know, Clark, can I ask you something about... you know, being you?"

He shrugged. "Sure. You know I don't mind and I'll answer if I can."

"Why don't you study fast? I mean, you could read that whole book in like six seconds and finish the homework in another four, so why don't you?"

He grinned. "Yeah, I could and I do sometimes. Part of it depends on how much I like the subject. When I do homework and stuff that fast, I can retain the information. I can recall it for tests or whatever. I could even recreate the whole book if I wanted to, but I don't always understand it if I go that fast." He shrugged again.


This time he laughed slightly at her confusion. "I mean, I could tell you how to do a math problem, for instance, and why it works, but I might not actually understand it. I'd just be repeating what I'd read, like a little kid who says he's two years old, but really has no idea what that means or why one day he's magically three."

Lucy laughed. At least he had some flaw. "It's nice to know you have some chinks in your armor."

Clark groaned. "I'm not that different... am I?"

"Sometimes. I mean, you're a great guy, but who else could fly me to LA for dinner right now if I asked really nicely?" Or maybe they could go to one of those Chinese restaurants in San Francisco...

"I told you, I'll take you for graduation." She watched as he stood up and wandered around the living room. "You and Jimmy both."

"Will you and Lois come too?" A double date. Imagine that. Lois and Clark had been married for three and a half years and she'd been dating Jimmy for two and a half, but somehow they'd never been on a double date. Unless the baseball game for her eighteenth birthday counted as a double date.

Clark shrugged. "If we can find a time when we can all make it. Otherwise, I could always just take you and Jimmy somewhere and come back later -- Italy or France or somewhere in Asia... wherever you might want to go."

Come to think of it, when was the last time Lois and Clark had gone on a date? When was the last time they'd spent any time -- besides overnights -- together? Lucy chewed thoughtfully on the end of her pen before speaking again. "Clark, can I ask you something a little more personal?"

"Sure, but I can't promise I'll answer."

"Is everything okay with you and Lois?" She practically held her breath waiting for the answer. The more time Jimmy had spent with Clark and Mayson, the more certain he was the 'relationship' was one sided, but the idea of something being wrong between two of her very favorite people... That scared her. She'd promised her sister that she wouldn't ask about it anymore -- but she hadn't said anything about asking Clark.

He turned from where his circuit around the living room had taken him and looked at her. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, I see a lot more of you than she does; it seems like I always have. I won't pretend to know what you two have gone through the last three years -- and I can't tell you how much I appreciate everything you've both done for me -- but Jimmy and I have been going out for two and a half years now, and now that he's already in college, it's gotten a lot harder. I mean, we used to eat lunch together every day and we'd hang out after school and talk all night on the phone until you made us cut those shorter." She held up a hand as Clark opened his mouth. "You were right. My grades were suffering even though I didn't realize it. After I spent more time studying instead of talking, my grades went up and that's how I have a partial scholarship to UNT Met next year.

"But that's not my point. I mean relationships are hard enough under any circumstances, but yours are more difficult than anyone else I know. You hadn't seen each other in four and a half years. You were eighteen, she was seventeen and two weeks later, her little sister moved in. And let's face it; I wasn't the easiest to live with that first year or so."

Clark had moved to the chair while she was speaking. "No, you weren't, but you're a good kid and you're growing into a lovely young lady."

"Thanks, but like I said, you and I spend more time together, unless you count overnights, but most of that you're asleep." She shuddered. "And I don't want to know any more than that." She really didn't.

Clark grimaced. "Don't worry; I'm not going to elaborate."

She let out a tiny breath of relief. "Anyway, I don't remember the last time I saw you two together for more than a few minutes before bed at night. You're usually both here for part of the day on the weekend, but Lois is usually studying. When was the last time you two had a night out together?"

"Our anniversary." He ran a hand through his hair. "Life's been hard and busy and money's been tight since we got married, and nights out just haven't been in the cards for us. But our contracts at the Star are almost up, and we're almost done at the Metropolitan. Lois has worked so hard to graduate with me this year. Perry's offered us jobs at the Daily Planet. He said they'd be very entry level but that he'd make sure we work the same schedule most of the time -- no more of this opposite thing. A couple of his college students have already told him they're leaving at the end of the semester and he promised to hold the jobs for us."

She finally decided to just take the bull by the horns while she was at it. "Well, there's something I'd hoped to talk to both of you together about but..."

"What's that?"

She took a deep breath and watched his reaction carefully. "I'm going to be moving out pretty soon."

Clark's head rose sharply at that. "What?"

"Lisa and Jessica and I are going to live in the dorms together. Lisa and I were accepted as counselors at a summer camp for kids so I'm leaving the week after graduation."

Clark frowned slightly. "I knew you'd applied but didn't know you'd been accepted."

"The letter came today." She smiled at him. "You guys don't need a third wheel hanging around anymore." They didn't and she was really ready not to live above them anymore.

"You're not a third wheel, Luce. You're family."

"I know but you know the old saying 'Family is like fish -- after three days it begins to stink'. Three years is even worse I'm sure."

"I thought it was 'company is like fish'."

She shrugged. "Potato, patato. Anyway, you guys don't need me hanging around here anymore. My scholarship covers most of my tuition and fees. I've got a couple other small scholarships and I'm hoping that the money I make at camp this summer will cover most of my room and board at least for fall. I was going to ask you and Lois about the inheritance money. I know Lois was saving it for my college and even though I don't need it for tuition, I was hoping I could use a little bit of it to help with room and board. I've got some savings of my own from working last summer, but I've gone through a lot of it for clothes and gas and stuff this year so I was hoping Lois would let me use the inheritance money anyway."

Clark shrugged. "I don't see why not, but you'll need to talk to Lois about it. It's your money -- hers and yours that is." He sighed and ran his hands through his hair. "I think I'm going to go for a walk. Maybe go pick up Lois at the paper." He glanced at the clock. "She should be done soon."

It finally hit her how odd he was acting. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I've just got this feeling and I can't quite figure out what it means."

"What kind of feeling?"

"I don't know. That's just it. I'm just... uneasy and restless and I don't know why."

"Huh." She watched as Clark headed for the door. "See you in a bit."

"Yeah." And he was gone.

She shrugged. She wasn't getting any studying done. A glance at the clock told her that Jimmy should be getting home any minute. As if on cue, the phone rang.


"Hey, babe." She could hear the smile in his voice.

"Hey. How was work?"

"Oh, fine. Did you hear yet?"

She let out a small scream. "I got in!"

"That's great, Luce. I'm happy for you. You'll make a lot more money at that summer camp than you would sticking around here."

"I'll miss you though," she said quietly.

"I know. I'm going to miss you, too, but it's going to be a great experience for you and you can at least sort of relate to those kids in a way most other people can't," he reminded her.

"Oh, I'm excited about it; I just wish I wasn't going to have to go ten weeks without seeing you, that's all."

"We'll muddle through somehow. We can write like Lois and Clark did. That's how they kept in touch for years, and then we'll have sappy love letters for our kids to find and embarrass us over in years to come."

She laughed. "That sounds like a great plan. Blackmail material for our kids. I did tell him about it and that I'm moving to the dorms when I get back." She fingered the promise ring she still wore on her left hand. "I didn't tell him everything though," she finally said.

"You mean about the wedding next year?" Jimmy replied softly.


"That we've already got a date picked out?"


"I'll remember not to mention it then," he said with a laugh. "Besides, I haven't asked him yet if I can marry you."

She played with the ring some more. "Do you think we're rushing that?"

Jimmy thought for a minute. "I don't think so. We'll have been together three and a half years by then. I'll have two years of college under my belt and will be almost 21. You'll have a year of college done and you'll be almost 20. We both know what we want to do with our lives and our career goals mesh well together. We both want kids and we both want you to be able to either stay home or work from home if possible, but we want to wait until you're out of college for a year or so before we start a family. Besides," his voice lowered. "I want to get to that honeymoon with you."

She smiled into the phone. "Have we made a decision about that?"

He laughed. "No, but at the same time, no matter what decision we make about it between now and then, I know what we're going to spend a lot of time doing on our honeymoon."

"True. And I'm looking forward to that, too."

A thump sounded on the balcony and the door opened. "Hang on." She moved towards the bedroom to see Clark set Lois on the floor.

Her sister looked disheveled and bolted towards the bathroom as soon as her feet were on solid ground. Clark looked as mad as she'd ever seen him. "Jimmy, let me call you back later, but it might not be until tomorrow, okay?"

"What's up?"

"I'm not sure, but I'll get back to you, okay?"

"Love you."

"Love you."

"Clark, what happened?" Lucy asked as soon as she hung up the phone.

"That son of a..." He didn't finish the sentence.

"Who?" Lucy was puzzled.

"Professor Paul."

"The newspaper guy?" She thought that's who he was. "What'd he do?"

"He almost raped her. If I had been two minutes later..." Clark's fists clenched into balls. "As it was, she was basically naked when I got there. The first time I actually saw... The first time I really wanted to see how strong I am," he finished.

Lucy wondered what he was going to say, but didn't dwell on it as the rest of what he said sunk in. "What?" she gasped. "Professor Paul? Lois always speaks so highly of him."

"Not anymore." He stopped mid stride on the ceiling. When had he started pacing up there? "Listen, she's going to be in there a while, I'm sure. I'm going to fly west and get her a nice big, fluffy towel and some new pajamas and... stuff. I'm sure something new will be better than something old. I'll be back in a few minutes."

"Okay." Lucy sank onto their bed, a place she'd managed to avoid for three and a half years. "Raped," she whispered. "Almost raped."

She couldn't imagine being so violated, and she couldn't imagine what Lois was feeling. She walked to the bathroom and almost knocked on the door to check on her sister, but the water was running and she could see steam coming out from under the door. She was sure the water was turned up as hot as it could go -- the hot water wouldn't last long.

She wasn't sure how long Clark was gone, but it wasn't long before he came back through the door from the balcony with a couple of Target bags stuffed full of what she guessed were towels and clothes. "She's got to be almost out of hot water," she told her brother-in-law.

"I wonder if she'd let me heat it up for her."

She shot a look at him from where she was seated on the bench under the window in the hall to the bathroom. "What?"

"I mean, I can't imagine she's going to want out anytime soon, but the water isn't going to last long. If I can see it coming out of the showerhead without making her uncomfortable, I can heat it up as long as she needs."

Lucy nodded.

"Would you mind asking her?" Clark said, shifting from one foot to the other. "I mean, after what happened, I wonder if she might be more comfortable with you, you know?"

Lucy nodded. "Yeah." She moved until she stood in front of the bathroom door and knocked softly. "Lois, I'm opening the door." Lucy stuck her head in the bathroom. "Listen, Lois, Clark doesn't want to intrude at all, but we know the hot water's going to run out soon. He offered to come in and keep heating it for you -- as long as you want."

"Okay," she heard her sister manage to get out.

She shut the door and turned back. "She said that was okay."

He nodded and moved into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. She heard them talking and then she moved back to the big chair in the living room. The phone rang a few minutes later.


"Hey, it's me," came Jimmy's voice. "I just wanted to make sure everything's okay."

She sighed. "I'm fine, and I can't really tell you what's up right now, but I don't think Lois and Clark are going to be at school tomorrow."

"What happened?"

"Something happened to Lois -- I don't know a whole lot more than that. Something at the paper." She felt uncomfortable telling Jimmy half-truths, but she also knew Lois would be humiliated if word got out without her okay. She knew that Jimmy wouldn't tell anyone, but she couldn't violate her sister's confidence when she was already in so much pain. "I do know a little more than that, but I can't say without her permission, honey. Please believe me."

There was a long pause. "Okay. Let me know if there's anything I can do."

"I will. Listen, I don't know if I'll see you tomorrow before the Relay for Life walk."

"I know, but I'll be there a little while after it starts. Perry said I could take some pictures and if they're any good, he might use one or two."

"Okay. I'll see you then. I love you, Jimmy. Please know that," she whispered, meaning it like she never had before.

"I do. And I love you, so much."

"I know."

Lucy said good-bye and hung up the phone. Clark came out of the bathroom a few minutes later. "How is she?"

Clark shrugged. "She didn't say much of anything at all. She was crying, but I guess that's to be expected."

"Yeah." She yawned as she looked at the clock. "Clark, I hate to do this, but I had to be at school really early this morning and I'm going to be up all night tomorrow night."

He nodded.

"Wake me up if either of you need me, though."

"I will."


Lois and Clark were gone when Lucy left for school the next morning but she did see Clark for a few minutes when she ran home to get something before the Relay for Life Walk. He filled her in on what had happened that day, and she knew she'd probably get more information from Jimmy when he got to the school later -- Clark said he was working with them at the Planet.

A lot had happened. They'd filed a report with the police, gotten fired from the Star, hired at the Planet and discovered that the university was trying to cover it all up. Jimmy filled in some more of the details for her -- that there was definitely a cover-up and Lois wasn't the first person something like this had happened to. Lucy offered to go to work with him for a while on Saturday afternoon to see if she could help dig anything up.

She'd gone home after daybreak to try to get some sleep. Lois and Clark were asleep when she got in. Well, Lois had been asleep. Lucy had never seen them together like that -- she'd seen them spooning more times than she cared to count -- but if they weren't spooning, they weren't touching. This time, Lois' head was resting on Clark's chest and his arm was wrapped around her back holding her to him. He'd whispered that Lois had already had one nightmare and woken up screaming, wanting to warn her in case it happened again.

That afternoon found her in the offices of the Daily Planet.

"What can I do, Perry?" She sat in the office of the editor-in-chief.

"Well, darlin', you're not officially on payroll."

"I know, but I want to help."

"Well, you can hang around with Jimmy, but officially, you're not here."

"That's fine. I just want to do what I can to help get the bastard who did this to my sister." Fire flashed from her eyes.

"How's she doing?"

Lucy shrugged. "I haven't really seen her. When Clark got her home she went straight to the shower and she was in the shower when I came home yesterday for a few minutes and she was still sleeping when I left a little while ago. Clark did say that she had at least one nightmare last night and she woke up screaming."

"That's not surprising." His expression softened. "If there's anything we can do for them... make sure they know that. I told them both that but..."

"I know."

Lucy gave Perry a big hug before heading to the conference room to see what she could do to help Jimmy.


Chapter 8

Jimmy opened her door after they pulled up in front of the apartment building, pulling her into a long hug after he shut it behind her. "Thanks for your help today, babe."

"I want that bastard to pay for what he's done to my sister and the others."

They stood there for long minutes before Jimmy whispered, "Mayson?"

Lucy pulled back to look at him. "What?"

He nodded towards a blond walking down the street. "That's Mayson."

"What's she doing here?"

Jimmy's face was set as he released her and took her hand. "Let's go find out."

They walked in the door to find Lois curled up on the couch and Clark putting the teapot away in the kitchen.

"Talk to Clark, I haven't seen Lois..." Lucy's voice trailed off as she hurried down to the stairs to the couch. A second later, Lois was in her arms.

They didn't speak but Lucy just held her. She'd never seen her sister like this. She could hear Jimmy and Clark talking quietly in the kitchen


She and Lois both jumped slightly as Clark's voice carried across the room. She shot a glare at him and she saw his guilty look as he repeated his question to Jimmy.

She didn't know how much longer it was when she realized that her sister was asleep. She called to Clark and he easily picked Lois up and carried her to the bedroom.

Jimmy was sitting next to her, pulling her to him when Clark returned a moment later to lean wearily against the bricks of the archway. "I'm gonna go take a shower real quick and then stay with Lois. She doesn't have nightmares as much if I'm there with her." He looked at Lucy. "Will you take care of her if she wakes up before I get done?"

Lucy nodded. "Yeah, I will."

Clark started to move back into the bedroom when he turned. "Jimmy, I'd appreciate it if you'd keep what we talked about between us at least for now," he said with deep breath. He looked at his sister-in-law. "That's not something I say lightly, Lucy, I promise."

She nodded. "I know. When it's time for me to know, one of you will tell me."

"Thanks, Luce."

They watched as Clark headed towards his dresser and then the bathroom.

"He doesn't say that lightly, you know. He knows how secrets can hurt a relationship but..."

She patted his leg. "I know and I can live with that. I know there's a lot of sensitive stuff going on with all of this. It's possible that Lois could tell me things that I can't tell you, too."

He kissed the side of her head. "I know."

Clark was already done with his shower and they could hear the bedsprings creak slightly as he climbed into bed with his wife.

She looked back at Jimmy to see him watching her. "What?" she whispered.

He shook his head. "Come on." He took her by the hand and they went to sit on the front steps, Lucy on the step below him, his arms around her.

"What?" she repeated.

"I feel horrible even thinking this after everything..."

"What?" she asked relaxing back into his embrace.

He buried his face in the crook of her neck. "That I can't wait until I sleep with you in my arms every night."

She smiled. "I can't either." They sat in silence for a long time. "I've never seen her like this," Lucy finally said.

"Like what?"


"She's not broken. She's a fighter."

"Oh, I know that, but she's always so strong. She was the one who took care of Mom when she was falling down drunk. She was the one who made me wait outside while she checked to see if Daddy had any girls over when we found him home unexpectedly in the middle of the afternoon. She was the one who married a guy she hadn't seen or talked to in years to protect me from the system. She's the one who has worked so hard to get done with high school and college in six years total. There's one guy in my class who was a freshman with her." Lucy shook her head slightly. "She's the strong one and to see her like this..."

"It's hard, isn't it?"

She nodded.

"I know you didn't mean to say that you weren't strong, but you are, you know that right?"

She nodded again. "I know, but that's not what I meant."

They sat quietly for another undefined period of time. "I mentioned our first date to Clark," Jimmy said breaking the quiet.

"What about it?"

"That I sort of saved you from a guy."

Lucy winced. "I never told him about that."

"That was when he made you two jump."

"I wondered what that was."

"So he may ask you about it." He sighed. "I should probably head home."

Lucy turned her head and kissed him softly. "I can't wait until you don't have to."

"Me either."

"We need to talk about that again soon."

"I know."

"I bet you've already thought about it, haven't you?" she asked with a smile.

"Well, yeah."

"What are your thoughts?"

Jimmy thought for a minute. "Even though it's not official, we've already set a date. I've got your ring picked out and as soon as I get the cash together, I'm going to buy it and talk to Clark, so there's an end in sight."

She nodded. "That there is."

"Thirteen months."

"Give or take."

He took a deep breath. "We've made it thirty months or so already. Do we want to wait another year?"

"Well," she answered slowly. "I'm going to be gone for almost three months this summer."


"So, it's only ten months."

Jimmy chuckled. "That's one way to look at it."

"What's the other way?"

"That I won't have seen you in three months when you get back."

Lucy laughed with him, before turning serious. "I don't want to make this decision while we're rolling around on the couch."

"Do you know how hard it is to roll around on a couch? We've tried a time or two," he pointed out.

She smacked him lightly. "You know what I mean. I don't want to get home and get carried away in the moment. Whenever we decide it's going to happen, I want it to happen right, not just some rip each other's clothes off on the floor in front of the door because we can't make it to the bedroom thing. That's not to say that we can't ever do that, but not the first time."

"I know and that's not what I want for our first time together either."

"So do we wait until we get married?"

Jimmy sighed.


"Well, I don't want you to think that not waiting isn't tempting, because it is, but at the same time..."

"You still see Clark hovering?"

"Sometimes, but this is *our* decision now, not his."

"I know."

"I think that there's something..." He paused, searching for the right words. "...inherently sexy about making love to you for the first time knowing that, legally, you're all mine and I'm all yours. Standing in front of our family, our friends, pledging our lives, our hearts, to each other before we share our bodies completely."

Tears slid down Lucy's cheeks.

"And I know that, until Clark, you never had an example of what a faithful guy could be like and somehow, knowing it's permanent..."

"Thank you," she whispered. "You have no idea how special that makes me feel, how loved."

"I do love you."

"I know."

He thought for a minute. "Three hundred and ninety-two days from today... You'll be my wife and I don't plan on getting much sleep on our wedding night," he whispered huskily.

"What do you plan on doing? Playing Scrabble?" she asked innocently.

Jimmy threw back his head and laughed. "Not exactly," he finally said, still gasping for breath.

"I had no idea you'd find that so funny," she told him with a grin.

"Sorry, but after waiting three and a half years, I think Scrabble is going to be the *last* thing on my mind."

"What if I want to play?"

"Well, is there such a thing as strip Scrabble?"

"Mr. Olsen," Lucy asked, faking shock. "Whatever gave you the idea I'd want to get naked with you that night?"

"Once we've got those rings on our fingers, I plan on getting naked with you on a pretty regular basis."

"What else do you plan on doing?" she asked quietly.

He took a deep breath. "I think we better save that discussion for another night." He kissed the side of her head. "A year from tonight we'll talk about it in more detail. I think talking about it too much, too soon..."

She kissed him soundly. "Yeah."

"But for now, I need to go." He kissed her again. "I love you."

"I love you, too."


Lucy stared out the skylight, tears slowly streaking down her cheeks.

It wasn't that she didn't want to be with Jimmy completely -- she did -- but that he wanted to wait until they were married, committed permanently to each other, meant a lot to her. He was right. Until Clark -- and later Perry -- she hadn't really believed that a man could be monogamous. Oh, she'd never really thought about it in those terms specifically. She just knew that in a marriage, men had girlfriends. It was normal to her. Just like a drunk mom was.

She'd rarely had friends over because of her parents and she'd seen the relatively normal lives that other families led, but she thought they were just better at putting on a front than her family was.

And now... she *knew* Jimmy would be faithful to her. And not just because Clark would drop kick him to the moon if he ever hurt her. Because he loved her and that's what people did -- or rather didn't do -- when they truly loved someone. They didn't hurt them, and she knew that Jimmy knew what cheating on her would do to her.

That she was important enough to him to want to wait meant the world to her. Not that she wouldn't have known that he loved her regardless, but it was going a little bit farther than strictly necessary. Going the extra mile. Or the extra year.

It made her love him even more.


May 1988

"What're you fuming about?" Jimmy asked her quietly. Lois and Clark had graduated. Three of the four conspirators involved in the sexual assaults of female journalism students and the subsequent cover-ups had pled guilty to various charges and the fourth probably would soon. The press conference had been held earlier in the day and Lois had made a statement to the press and the public formally acknowledging what had happened to her. Perry and Alice had joined the four of them for dinner. Lois and Clark had gone outside to talk while the rest of them played Trivial Pursuit during the second half of the evening.

Perry and Alice had left not too long before and Lois and Clark were getting ready to turn in for the night. It had been a night of some surprises and Lucy was still trying to process some of them.

"I'm not fuming."

"Well, you're not happy."

"Clark -- *Clark* -- managed to get trapped under Lana -- his ex-girlfriend -- on my bed. He won't let you look at the stairs for fear that we'll have sex -- and you and I both know that if we really wanted to have sex, not allowing you upstairs wouldn't stop us."

"I know that and they know that, and you and I both know that Clark had to be caught completely off-guard for that to happen."

"I know." She sighed. "Really. I do." She smiled over at him. "And they *are* moving out. I get to live here instead of on campus."

"Too bad you already have roommates," he told her with a grin.

"This time next year... they'll have moved out and you'll be moving in."

"Works for me." He held her hand gently. "You're going to miss them, though."

"I know. I *won't* miss walking through their bedroom on a regular basis though."

"Can't say I blame you there."

"I mean, it's nice that they're not like my parents -- fighting and making up all the time but..."


"You know, I've still never seen them kiss," she said quietly.

"I've been paying attention since you mentioned it. And I haven't either. Forehead, hair, sure but..."

"Do you think that's odd?"

He shrugged. "It works for them."

"I guess."

"So, where are we going for dinner?"


"Clark's still flying us somewhere, right?"

She nodded. "I dunno. Where do you want to go?"

"It's your graduation dinner, so you decide. Where did Lois go for her graduation?"

"Clark took her to Colorado and they had a picnic. But I think if Clark's providing the transportation, I'd rather go somewhere a little more exotic."

"Me, too," Jimmy agreed. "But we'll have to figure out if I'll need to do a currency exchange."


"Clark's providing transportation, but I'm not letting you buy your own graduation dinner."

"You never let me buy anything," she pointed out. "Not even tickets to my own prom."

"Hey, you're my girl. It's my job. Besides, you had to figure out what to do about a dress. I just wish you weren't going to have to wear Lois' old one."

She shrugged. "I'm going to visit the thrift shops again this week and see what I can find. And Lois' dress is pretty timeless. I thought about asking if I could use a little bit of the insurance money, but Lois is so adamant that it's for college expenses only..."

"I wish I could..."

She shook her head. "When I'm your wife, you can buy me clothes. Until then it's limited to birthdays and stuff."

"Well, we're not spending the night at the Lexor like Lois and Clark did so... what're we doing after it's over?"

"Spending the night together," she said with a grin.

"That's next year."

"We're invited to Lisa's for a movie marathon with her and Billy and Jessica and Tom."

"Gotcha. But aren't they all..."

She nodded. "Yeah and they know we're not. Or that we haven't anyway. And I told them that I didn't want to come if they were all going to be sneaking off and leaving us alone in her basement. If they want to sneak off and abandon us all night, then we can go somewhere else."

"Movie marathon sounds good."

"We could even *sleep* together," Lucy told him with a smile.

"Just don't tell Clark."

"Don't worry."


June 1988

"What do you think they'd do if we went into Victoria's Secret?" Lucy whispered to her sister in the dressing room at Old Navy.

Lois glanced at her. "I don't know. Are you planning on it?" she asked sharply.

"Relax, Lois," Lucy told her sister. "I don't need to go get anything Victoria's Secret-y. Jimmy and I decided that we want to wait until we get married to... need anything like that. I'm just thinking about some nice new underwear, nice bra or two, stuff like that. I just wonder what they'd do."

"Clark would probably look at you or Jimmy or both with some sort of disapproving look."

"Try *extremely* disapproving look."

Lois glanced at her puzzled.

"I told you he talked to us a long time ago about... that stuff."

"I know."

"Why do you think Jimmy never goes up to the loft? Clark has very... conservative ideas about what Jimmy and I should be doing together and -- for the most part -- we've agreed to boundaries that Clark would approve of. Well," she said with a shrug. "I think he'd rather us have no physical relationship at all -- not even hold hands -- and for us to adopt rather than... need Victoria's Secret stuff to get pregnant someday. But for now at least, we've decided to wait until we get married, and I'm quite certain Clark is very happy about that. If you were to go into the store, I'm sure he'd be... pleased with whatever was purchased. If *I* were to go in there... he'd probably have a coronary. Jimmy would, too."

Lois stared at her for a long moment before nodding slightly. "Probably."

"So should we go in there just to mess with their heads?" Lucy asked with a grin.

Lois shook her head. "Not today."

"Some other time then." Lucy watched her sister contemplatively as she moved to the cash register. Something was bothering her, and Lucy couldn't put her finger on it.

Lois made a noncommittal noise as she turned to the cashier, leaving Lucy to ponder what it was. Lucy set her selections on the counter after Lois' were rung up. Even though she was eighteen and out of high school, they were using part of their inheritance from Aunt Louise or from their settlements from the University and the Star over the whole assault/firing thing to buy her a new wardrobe -- to buy all three of them a new wardrobe. Jimmy needed some new clothes, too, and had come along on the shopping spree. None of the three of them had purchased anything *new* in years -- unless it was something new that ended up at their favorite thrift shop or maybe a package of new socks from CostMart -- and they were making up for it in spades today.

Lucy sighed and followed her sister out of the store.

Next up: swimsuits.


Lucy held her sister tightly. "I can't believe you're leaving," she whispered.

"We'll be back soon. Clark can fly us back whenever we want and hopefully you'll have time to come out between camp sessions."

"I don't think I am." She moved back and swiped at her cheeks. "I wish I was but... I just don't think there's going to be time to go to Greece to see you guys for even a day or two. And you guys get to go off and explore the world. I hope Jimmy and I can do that some day."

Lois wiped her own cheeks. "I know and I know we haven't seen each other as much the last couple years as I wish we had. I've missed you -- a lot -- even though we live together."

"I know. It's not like it was before -- where we could just chat as long as we wanted at night or whatever." Lucy sat on the edge of the bed her sister shared with her husband -- something she'd only done once before. "But things are different now. You've got Clark. I've got Jimmy -- I mean, I don't *have* Jimmy like you have Clark, but I do have him." She fiddled with the promise ring he'd given her the year before. "You worked so hard so I wouldn't have to, and I've never told you how much I appreciate everything you sacrificed for me. You didn't have to. You didn't have to marry Clark so young so that we wouldn't be in foster care. You didn't have to save every dime of the money left to us for my school money. There's a lot of things that you didn't have to do for me that you did and I've never *really* said thank you."

Lois sat next to her sister and wrapped her arm around her shoulders. "I'd do anything for you, Luce. You know that."

Lucy nodded. "I know, but I had a hard time accepting that for a while. It was Aunt Louise that finally made me start seeing things differently. Then Jimmy said something off-hand even before he met you guys and... At first, when I knew you were going to marry Clark but before you did, I thought you were leaving me here. That you were going to move to Kansas and forget I ever existed."


Lucy shook her head. "I know better now but... For the first six months or so, not seeing you and everything hurt so much still. It wasn't like before. I never saw you. I still felt like you had abandoned me. Even though you were still here physically... When you had your graduation dinner with Clark, Aunt Louise called me on that. She asked me if I really thought that it was all a bed of carnations for you."


Lucy smiled. "A bed of roses has thorns. Carnations don't."


"That was when I first started thinking about it, sometimes, how hard it must be for you." She took a deep breath. "I still don't know how you and Clark have done it. How long you two have made it given everything..." She was still for a long moment, her head still resting against her older sister's shoulder. "Are you two okay, Lo?"

"Yeah, Luce," Lois said softly. "We're okay."

"Were you?" she finally gathered her courage to ask.

"What do you mean?"

"I know you asked me not to ask you about it again, but were you two always okay? I don't mean the occasional fight or whatever, but truly okay?"

Lois took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "No. We weren't."

The answer didn't shock Lucy as much as she wished it did.

"You know what life was like at home. Clark and I... we'd sort of stopped talking that first summer. After high school. Then I started college and we both got even busier. We'd go weeks without really seeing each other for more than a few minutes at a time. When he met Mayson..." She paused.

"What about her?" Lucy asked after a moment.

"I saw the two of them together the day they met. I thought she was flirting with him -- and she probably was -- and I thought he was flirting with her -- which he probably wasn't. All I could think was that it was Daddy all over again. Some... other stuff happened that made me even more sure that he was sleeping with her."

Lucy sat up at that and turned to face her sister more fully. "You really thought he was cheating on you?"

Lois nodded. "For two years," she finally said. "Until... that night. We went to Colorado after you went to bed and had a big... fight, I guess was part of it. I accused him of cheating on me and he looked at me like I was crazy and we had it out. He'd never been alone with her. He was never anywhere private with her; only in public, but... I saw what I wanted to see; what I'd been conditioned to see by our parents."

"And you didn't ask him about it before that?"

Lois shook her head. "No. Why would I? If I confronted him and it was true -- like I believed, then it would be over and I couldn't risk that," she whispered. "I couldn't risk him leaving. They'd take you away from me if he'd left and I couldn't..." Tears flowed down Lois' cheeks.

"Oh, Lois." This time Lucy put her arm around her sister's shoulder and pulled her to her. Tears flowed down her cheeks as well. She'd had no idea what her sister had gone through for two years.

"The last year was a bit better," Lois said, pulling back slightly. "After Aunt Louise died, he made a more concerted effort to spend time together. Part of me thought that it was just him trying to throw me off scent. You know, spend more time with the 'little woman' so she doesn't realize that..." Her voice trailed off. "But the reality was that he was just trying to spend more time with me. We had so little time together..."

"You were willing to stay with a guy who was cheating on you so that I could stay with you?" Lucy asked quietly. "I mean, I know he wasn't *really* cheating on you but..."

Lois nodded against her sister's shoulder. "I'd do anything for you," she reiterated. "And I do love Clark and I can't imagine myself growing old with anyone else, but... I couldn't take that risk, not for you."

"Oh, Lois." Lucy hugged her tighter. "I wish you would have said something to me. Jimmy knows Mayson and he could have told you..."

She shook her head. "No need for recriminations now. Clark and I are moving past it and we're going to be fine -- we *are* fine."

"I'm so glad. He loves you so much."

"I know."

"I'm still going to miss you," Lucy said with a sad smile. "You'll send letters and postcards, right?"

"Of course. And you can read all about it in the Daily Planet Weekend Travel Section -- 'Travel the Planet: Lane and Kent in Greece', remember?"

"It's not the same. I want to know more than what you'll put in articles."

"You got it."

Lucy looked at her watch. "I've got to go, and you and Clark have to get packed and I'm sure you have all kinds of stuff to do before you two have to leave."

Lois sighed as she looked around the mayhem in the bedroom. "Yeah, we do. At least I'm going to let Clark handle the packing. He can have it all done in about twelve seconds."

"Lucky you. I hate packing."

"I know."

Lucy wiped her cheeks again. "I'm meeting Jimmy at the Planet for a few minutes before I head down to meet up with Lisa and to leave for camp."

Lucy stood and pulled her sister into her arms again. "I love you, Luce. And I'm proud of you."

"Thanks, sis. I love you."

They stood there as long as they could before Lucy absolutely had to leave.


"Thanks, Perry," Lucy whispered as she gave him a big hug. "I'll have him back to you before you know it."

"You better, darlin'," came the gruff reply. "He's supposed to be working, not playing kissy-face with his girlfriend."

Lucy smiled at him. "I'm gonna miss you, but I'll be back before you know it and then you'll be my boss."

"That's right. And don't you forget it either."

"Like you'd let me."

Jimmy hung up the phone. "Okay -- I'll be back in a few minutes, Chief."

Perry nodded. "See you in a couple months, Luce. Alice sends her love and wishes she could be here to see you -- and Lois and Clark later -- off, but she had some meetings she just couldn't get out of."

"No problem, Perry. Give her my love back." Lucy gave him another hug before taking Jimmy's hand and heading towards the stairwell.

"Where're we going?" he asked.

"The roof."

He smiled. They'd spent quite a few of their breaks on the roof the summer before while she was working in the mail room. When they reached the roof, he pulled her into his arms. "I'm going to miss you."

She kissed him softly. "I'm going to miss you, too." She sighed and rested her head on his shoulder. "I said good-bye to Lois earlier and I don't think I'm going to see Clark again before I have to leave."

"I'll tell him."

"Lois told me about Mayson," she said after a long pause. "That she really believed that Clark..."

"I know. That's what Clark didn't want me to tell you that night after we saw her leave the apartment. That and that there's more going on than we'll probably ever know."

"She said that they're doing fine now, but that they weren't for a long time, and not just because she thought he was cheating on her, but she didn't elaborate."

"He didn't either." He kissed her hair. "You know I'd never do that to you, don't you? I could never, *ever* cheat on you."

"I know."

"Did you tell her about the wedding?" he asked quietly.

She shook her head. "I was going to, but... It just never came up."

"I haven't talked to Clark yet either. Of course, I haven't bought your ring yet, so..."

She moved back slightly to look at him. "And you're not going to take me to see it?"

He shook his head. "Nope. My surprise."

She sighed. "Just remember it better have diamonds or you'll be playing Scrabble by yourself on our wedding night."

"It does."

"Only because you want to get lucky," she teased.

"You better believe I do," he teased back.

"I'm glad I'm going to be too busy to miss you too much," she said quietly, resting her head against him again.

"I wish I was. I think I'll let Perry run me ragged."

"So, are you going to sleep in the loft? Or in Lois and Clark's bed until I get back?"

He could hear the smile in her voice. "Where do you think?"

"I think that you've been dying to sleep in the loft for ages, but that you don't think Clark would approve even if I'm not there, but that sleeping in Lois and Clark's bed -- which is bigger and gives you more room to sprawl -- creeps you out a bit."

"How well you know me. Are you keeping the loft when Lisa and Jessica move in or what?"

She nodded against him. "And I'll even let you come up sometimes."

He laughed. "That'll be a welcome change."

"As long as you behave yourself."

"You know, after we get married, we'll leave your bed up there as a guest room or something and sometime..." He stopped, grinning at her.

She giggled. "Yep. Sometime we'll go up there."

He glanced at his watch. "You gotta get going, babe."

She looked at him, tears in her eyes. "This is silly. It's two and a half months. It's not forever. It's not even approaching forever."

"I know, but we've never gone more than a couple days without seeing each other and then we were able to talk on the phone whenever we wanted."


He kissed her softly. "I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you, too. Don't go find any other girls while I'm gone, okay?"

"Don't worry. No other girls even come close to measuring up to you. Besides, Perry's bound to have me so busy, there's no chance." His brow furrowed. "A couple of those summer interns were kinda cute though."

She smacked his chest with her hand. "James Bartholomew Olsen."

He winced. "Hey, you don't have to full name me." He kissed her gently. "I love you, Lucy Ellen Lane."

"I love you."

He walked her downstairs before kissing her again as she stood waiting for the subway. He watched as she walked onto the train and sat down, blowing him a kiss as the train pulled out. When it was finally out of sight, he turned and walked back to the Daily Planet.


Chapter 9

August 1989

"Is anyone home?" she asked breathlessly.

"Not for about thirty minutes," he replied, his lips still on hers, fumbling with the key in the lock. Unable to make it work, he pulled away from her. He rested his forehead against hers, trying to catch his breath. "I thought this was exactly what we didn't want. Though for the life of me right now, I can't remember why."

"What exactly did you think was going to happen when we got inside?" she said, looking up at him through her eyelashes, a coy smile playing around her lips.

"I have no idea, but the way we were going there..." He kissed her again, softly. "We've never kissed quite like that."

She sighed. "I know. I missed you."

"I missed you, too."

She giggled. "I could tell."

"Ten weeks is way too long to be apart." He kissed her again before moving away from her to find his door key. "Are you really sure you want to wait until May to get married?" he asked with a grin.

"You haven't talked to Clark yet and you haven't given me that ring yet and if you don't..."

He sighed as he finally opened the door. "I don't get to see you naked on our wedding night."

"Got that right," she told him, grinning as she walked inside in front of him.

"And how do you know that I haven't talked to Clark?"

"Have you seen them since they left?" she asked quietly as she sat on the couch.

He sat sideways, facing her. "We've got thirty minutes to ourselves before Jessica and Lisa get here and you really want to talk about whether I've seen your sister and brother-in-law?"

She smiled, shifting to face him. "No, not really," she whispered.

"Good." He put a hand on either side of her face and kissed her again.


"How were your classes?" Jimmy set his tray on the table next to hers.

She shrugged. "About what I expected. Syllabi, all that fun stuff."

"Same here. What time do you have to be at work this afternoon?"

"Three. Perry's got me meeting with one of his more senior research and photography assistants to teach me the ropes." Her eyes twinkled.

"Really? Which one?" His eyes twinkled back.

She shrugged. "Not sure. Some older guy, I think. I'm really not looking forward to it. He's supposed to be not very nice and horrid looking."

"Hey!" he exclaimed, indignant.

She laughed. "I'm supposed to meet you in the newsroom at three and you're supposed to start showing me what I need to do. He even said I can share your desk."

"What? You don't get your own?"

"Nope. Apparently, there's more staff than there was when you started and not enough desk space to go around, so we get to share."

He winced. "I'll have to show you how I like stuff. Or come up with some sort of sharing plan -- like tape down the middle or something."

Her eyes narrowed as she took a long drink. "You don't want to share?"

"I love you, you know that, but I've seen your desk at the apartment. I know I tend to be a bit of a slob at home but my desk is different."

She rolled her eyes. "I know how neat you keep your desk. It's the exact opposite of your room."

"And your desk is the exact opposite of *your* room, which you keep neat as a pin."

"Your point?"

"That once we get married, we'll either have neat desks and a neat apartment or messy desks and a messy apartment. Or one of each."

"Well, this'll be good practice then. I'll do my best to keep the desk neat, and once you move in, you'll keep the apartment neat."

Jimmy's eyes narrowed. "Why do I feel like you're getting the better end of that deal?"

She took a bite of her sandwich and shrugged with wide-eyed innocence.


September 1988

Lucy flopped in the big chair that she usually shared with Jimmy for movie night, but he was nowhere to be seen. Tonight was a girls' night in.

Lisa and Jessica were on the couch and Mel Gibson and Danny Glover were about to kick some serious tail.

Of course, the girls just wanted the eye candy.

Both had recently broken up with their boyfriends, which Lucy was at least sort of grateful for. Neither were completely heartbroken over it, though they were upset, but at the same time Lucy was glad there weren't going to be any boyfriends spending the night any time soon. They had decided on a door knob hanger to be their 'do not disturb' sign, but Lucy really hoped they wouldn't be needing it. She wanted her friends to be happy, but for the moment she didn't want the reminders of what they were doing that she and Jimmy weren't -- even if she did think it was the right decision for the two of them.

She had kept the loft for herself, just as she had told Jimmy she would. Before the break-ups, all three boyfriends had built double bunks for Lisa and Jessica for the bedroom. Lucy had been right. There was a lot more space in this apartment, for cheaper than a dorm room would be, and they didn't have suitemates to worry about. And they didn't all have to have twin beds either. Lisa and Jessica had appreciated that when they'd had boyfriends.

So tonight was ice cream, popcorn and ogling night.

Nearly two hours later, Lucy clicked the TV off.

"Much better," Lisa sighed.

"Yep," Jessica agreed. "That, and I have a date next Friday, makes what's-his-name leaving that much more bearable." She still refused to use the name of her ex-boyfriend.

"Who with?"

Jessica grimaced slightly as she looked at Lucy. "Jaxon."

Lucy raised an eyebrow. "Really?"

Jessica nodded. "I ran into him the other day and he asked me out." She shrugged. "I said yes. I'm not expecting it to be the great love affair of my life or anything like that, but he seems nice enough -- and he left you alone, Luce -- as soon as he knew you were with Jimmy."

"And he did apologize," Lucy admitted grudgingly. "But please, be careful, would you?"

Jessica nodded. "I was hoping that you and Jimmy could double with us." She bit her bottom lip as she looked at Lucy.

Lucy thought for a moment. "We both have to work all weekend."

Lisa jumped in. "Well, *I* have a date that night, too. Why don't we double?"

Jessica giggled. "Looks like we might be needing that door hanger sometime soon after all."

Lucy sighed. "Just please remember to use it, would you? I *really* don't want to walk in on anything."

"And we don't want you to, believe me," Jessica told her. "Now, remind me again why you two are waiting?"

Lucy sighed. They'd been over this repeatedly. "Well, before, Clark told us both that he'd prefer we wait and at least insinuated that he wouldn't hesitate to have Jimmy brought up on charges of statutory rape once he turned eighteen. I don't think he really would have -- I think he was just trying to scare us but... And at the same time, he and Perry and Alice and Lois all encouraged us to wait until we were out of high school and *we* decided together that's what we wanted to do."

"You've been out of high school for months," Lisa point out.

"True, but we've already got a wedding date picked out and we know that and..." She shrugged. "For a lot of reasons I really don't want to get into, it's right for *us*."

Jessica bit her lip some more, watching Lucy contemplatively.

"What?" her friend finally asked.

"Well, how can you know if you two are... you know, compatible in that area if you haven't... I mean, how can you know that you two are really meant to be?"

Lucy stared at the brick wall for a few minutes before answering. "Well, we both know that we want to, believe me. That's not a problem, but we love each other and that's just one aspect of why we love each other -- the physical attraction. As for compatibility... well, part of it is that we figure whether we wait or not, we're in this for the long haul so if it's not... storybook at first, we'll figure it out whenever it happens. I mean, heaven forbid, something happened to Jimmy where he couldn't... you know, for some reason. Cancer, accident that left him paralyzed, whatever -- that wouldn't change whether or not I love him and want to spend my life with him."

Lisa shrugged. "I guess not, but if you know you're going to spend your life with him, why does it matter if you wait?"

Lucy sighed. She'd never confided in them -- even though they were her best girl friends -- what life was like growing up in her house. Well, not both of them. Lisa knew some, but Jessica didn't. She didn't think Jessica especially would understand -- without lots of soul baring -- why disappointing Clark was such a motivating factor initially or why it meant *so* much to her that Jimmy wasn't only after her for her body but was willing, and was even the one who suggested, to wait until they were legally married.

Finally she spoke again. "I can't really explain it much better than that, guys. But it means a lot to me that he's willing to wait, that he was the one who suggested we wait. I don't know how to make you guys understand it, but, for us, it's the right decision and one that lets me know just how much he loves me."

There was a long, semi-awkward silence, before Jessica got up to put 'Indiana Jones' in for a little bit of Harrison Ford ogling.


October 1988

Lucy pulled her coat a little closer. If that door hanger wasn't removed -- and soon -- she was going to start ringing the doorbell incessantly.

They'd agreed on a few ground rules.

No boys walking around in *any* state of undress. Boxers weren't enough. Shorts were required at a minimum.

No boyfriends spending the night if they snored and only occasionally if they didn't.

No door hanger sessions during certain times of the week. These times varied from week to week and included times when one roommate or other would *need* to be home to get ready for work or whatever. The calendar needed to be marked as soon as possible, preferably before Sunday of a given week.

No leaving the door hanger on any longer than necessary so others can get in the apartment.

No dominating the apartment so others couldn't have time alone.

And no... nookie while others were home, no matter how quiet you thought you were being. Or anywhere except your bed and maybe -- *maybe* -- the shower, but definitely nowhere that would be considered 'common areas'.

This was one of those times that Lucy needed to get in and get changed and get her things so she could go to work. One of her roommates -- she wasn't sure which one -- had either forgotten to take the door hanger down or forgotten that she needed in or didn't care that she did.

She looked at her watch again. She should have been in there nearly thirty minutes ago, and Jimmy was going to be there any minute to pick her up. She looked at what she was wearing. It would do for work. It didn't violate the dress code or anything but was less professional than she liked to look and if the door wasn't open in about two minutes, she wasn't going to have time to change anyway.

She heard someone coming up the stairs. Seconds later, Jimmy came into view. Puzzled, he stopped a few steps from the stop.

"What's up? Why are you sitting out here?"

She jerked her thumb towards the door. "Door hanger is on."

"I thought this was an off-limits time this week."

"It's supposed to be." She looked at her watch again. "I have about forty-five seconds before it doesn't matter."

They heard giggles coming from the apartment and Jessica opened the door. By the time she had it open, Lucy was standing there, and looking furious.

"What's wrong?" Jessica asked innocently.

"I have to work. There was an hour blocked out today -- go check the calendar." She pushed her way past her friend and into the living room.

"Um, Luce..." Jessica started.

"What?" Lucy threw over her shoulder as she stormed into the other room.

"I don't think..."

"What the hell are you doing here and put some freaking clothes on, would you?" Lucy averted her eyes from whoever it was by glaring at Jessica over her shoulder while she headed towards her stairs.

"I tried to tell you I didn't think he was completely dressed yet," Jessica called.

"I don't care. You should have checked the calendar more closely," Lucy called back from her loft where she stayed behind the screen while she quickly changed pants. The blouse would be fine, but the jeans weren't quite nice enough for work.

She came back down the stairs a minute later to hear Jimmy's exclamation.

"Jason! So good to see you again, man."

She could almost see the smirk, even though she couldn't see him.

"It's *Jaxon*," came another male voice.

"Right, Jason. Haven't seen you since you tried to intimidate Lucy into spending a football game with you when she didn't want to."

"Jimmy, don't give him the time of day. We have to go to work." She grabbed her purse from where she'd tossed it on the couch. "We'll talk about this later, Jess." She bounded up the stairs and out the door, leaving it for Jimmy to slam behind them.

He gladly obliged.


Lisa had her books spread out on the table when Lucy walked in. She looked up. "Hey, Lucy." She chewed thoughtfully on her lip. "You know, I never told you I'm sorry Jessica gave you such a hard time that night about you and Jimmy and everything."

Lucy shrugged as she sat on the couch. "It's okay. She doesn't know why it means so much to me that Jimmy wants to wait."

"You've never told me everything, have you?" Lisa asked quietly, without accusation.

"No," Lucy whispered. "Only Jimmy knows everything. Except Lois but that's because she lived it with me and protected me from a lot of it."

"And Clark?"

Lucy shrugged. "I don't know how much Lois has told him," she said truthfully, knowing only that it wasn't much.

"Well, I'm proud of you guys for deciding what was right for you and sticking with it. I mean, I don't know that someday I'm going to wish I'd waited for Mr. Right, but even though we're not together anymore, John's a good guy and he wasn't *just* out to make himself feel good. He cared about me and that I enjoyed it as much as possible at first and more the longer we were together."

"And Mark?"

Lisa shrugged. "I don't think he's the great love of my life. He might be. But I haven't slept with him yet either. Jessica and Jaxon were in bed on the second date."

"They were?" Lucy asked, astonished. "I knew it was fast, but I didn't know it was that fast."

She nodded. "Yeah. I got here right as she was taking the door hanger off."


"You know it doesn't bother me that you two use the door hanger sometimes so you can have some time alone, right?"

"I know. We really haven't had a good opportunity to do so yet, though I'm thinking about it for Friday night."

Lisa raised her eyebrow. "Why?"

"Jessica and Jaxon were going at it yesterday when I had time blocked off to get ready for work. I had about thirty seconds to get changed."

"Isn't Friday their big three week anniversary or something?" Lisa asked, rolling her eyes.


"Well, you won't hear anything from me about it. They did make me late for work the other day. I say go for it. Spend a couple hours making out or whatever it is you two do when you're not having sex."

Lucy smiled. "I think we just might."


"Are you sure you want to do this, Lu?"

She opened the door and stuck the hanger on the outside.

"Of course, I am," she fumed.

"I mean, really sure?" He met her as she reached the bottom of the stairs and took her in his arms. He held her for a moment before kissing her softly. "Are you sure this is the best way to deal with Jessica not following the rules?"

"I'm completely sure," she told him with a smile. "Don't you like the... fringe benefits that come with this revenge?"

He grinned. "Oh, yeah." And he kissed her again.

"Come on." She grabbed his hand and led him to their favorite chair. "What movie did you get?"

Jimmy laughed and held it up.

"Good choice."

"And you're really sure you want to do this?"

"I'm not making her miss work or anything. I'm just taking away her rendezvous with Jaxon this evening." She rolled her eyes. "It's their three week anniversary or something big like that."

"Hmmm... that's a big important occasion," Jimmy said, settling her in front of him.

"Oh, it will be after we get married, but I'm not too concerned about them missing out on some alone time. We stay away from here enough for the two of them sometimes; they can give us some alone time in equal measure. What we do with it is our business, not theirs."

"Are you sure Jessica will see it that way?" he asked as he pulled her a little closer and kissed the side of her neck.

She sighed softly as she relaxed in his arms. "No, but I don't care at the moment."

"Are we actually going to watch any of this movie?" he murmured into her neck.

"Not planning on it."


They weren't sure how much later it was when a knock on the door interrupted what was shaping up to be a very nice make-out session on the couch.

"Who is it?" Lucy whispered.

"How am I supposed to know?" Jimmy whispered back. "I'm not Clark. I can't see through doors."

"Think its Jessica?" She grinned as she said it.

"Could be." He kissed her again. "Want to look?"

"Not really. Lisa's working tonight so I know it's not her, and actually, Jessica and Jaxon made her late the other day and I mentioned that we should do this -- not you and me, but me and her -- and she said that you and I should do it tonight. She said she'd call if she was coming home for any reason."

"Gotcha." He grinned down at her as another knock sounded. "So we keep making out?"


"Works for me."

The clicking of the VCR into rewind mode told them that the movie was long over.

Lucy sighed. "Guess it's time to take that door hanger off. I think I either want to be asleep or long gone when Jessica gets back, but..." She smiled up at him. "...that was worth it."

"And you're really still set on a May wedding?" he asked as he sat up. "You don't want to get married... say at Christmas? Or next weekend?"

Lucy laughed as she straightened her hair. "We'll make it to May. It's seven months."

"No, it's *seven months*," he whined.

She wrapped her arms around him and rested her head on his shoulder. "It'll be okay. We'll make it."

He sighed and wrapped his arms around her. "I know, but that doesn't mean I don't wish it was sooner."


"What the hell were you doing?" Jessica demanded up the stairs the next morning.

Lucy groaned and pulled the pillow over her head.

"I'm not going away."

Lucy sighed, got up and headed down the stairs. "What?"

"You knew Jaxon and I were coming back here last night and Lisa was working so what the hell were you and Jimmy doing putting the door hanger out?"

Lucy rolled her eyes. "A three week anniversary is not important enough to reserve the apartment, and we were here first. We have *never* used the door hanger for any reason until yesterday, but you almost made me late for work and you did make Lisa late last week because you didn't pay any attention to the calendar."

"So you locked us out?"

Lucy shrugged. "It was the first night Jimmy and I had to ourselves in weeks and we wanted some time alone together. Deal with it."

Jessica sighed. "You guys aren't even having sex."

"So?" Lucy glared at her. "Does that mean we don't get time alone together? You didn't object to that when we were making up the rules. I said then that if you guys could lock us out for sex, we could lock you guys out for alone time and you didn't say anything about it."

"That was before you interfered with my date."

Lucy headed for the bathroom. "Get over it. I have to get ready for work."


December 1988

Lucy watched as Jimmy pounded on the door to Lois and Clark's room at Perry's.

"Come on, guys. It's Christmas morning." His voice more than bordered on whining.

Lucy couldn't quite make out what Clark said back. Jimmy mumbled something else before saying, "Good!" loudly.

It wasn't more than a minute later that Jimmy was pounding on the door again. "Guys!"

A few seconds later Clark opened the door. "Good grief, Jim. Your presents aren't going anywhere."

"Perry won't let any of us go downstairs until everyone goes," Jimmy told him petulantly.

Lucy caught her sister's eye as she exited the room behind Clark. That was a mistake, as they both dissolved into giggles.

"Jim, you're worse than Lucy ever was," Lois told him when she caught her breath.

"Hey!" Lucy said, indignant.

Perry and Alice came out of their room, robes over their pajamas. "Merry Christmas, kids," they said, in tandem.

The younger couples laughed, but Jimmy still had a slightly pouty look on his face.

One Lane family tradition had stuck. On Christmas Day -- unless there was some compelling reason to do otherwise -- they stayed in their pajamas all day. Clark was going to make breakfast and Christmas dinner since he could do it quickly and well.

But first came presents.

Lucy was disappointed that an engagement ring wasn't among them but did her best not to let it show. She knew it was coming, she just didn't know when.


March 1989

Lucy fidgeted slightly as she waited for Jimmy. There had been no more problems with Jessica ignoring the calendar to spend time with Jaxon, even though they were still dating. Lucy didn't get why her friend was sleeping with him when they weren't exclusive, but Jessica was okay with it so...

Jimmy was on his way over to pick her up for their long awaited trip to The Blue Note. Clark had promised to take them all last summer, but they'd had to leave for Greece more quickly than originally planned and they hadn't made it. Clark was making up for it tonight by taking them all.

Before long, they were sitting eating dinner and chatting with Lois and Clark and Perry and Alice. Once dinner was over, Clark asked Lois to dance, but Jimmy stopped them by clearing his throat.

"Um, before you do that..." He cleared his throat again nervously. "There's something I want to say."

Clark sat back down expectantly and Lucy watched her boyfriend, puzzled.

He shifted to look at her. "Luce, we have been together for years now and I know we're still young, but I love you. I love you more than I could have ever believed possible." He slid off of his chair and down on to one knee, pulling a box out of his pocket and opening it as he went. "Lucy Ellen Lane, will you marry me?"

Lucy heard Lois gasp at the same time she did, but was unable to take her eyes off Jimmy.

Tears spilled over on to her face as she pulled the promise ring off her finger. "Oh, Jimmy! Of course, I'll marry you!"

He slipped the new engagement ring on her finger before he pulled her to her feet and wrapped his arms around her, kissing her soundly.

His arms were still around her as he turned to the others. "If my *fiancee* agrees, I'm going to take her to dance." Lucy nodded before walking to the dance floor with him.

She moved close to him, resting her head on his shoulder. "It's about time," she whispered. "I was starting to wonder if you were going to propose at the rehearsal dinner."

Jimmy laughed softly. "I didn't get a chance to talk to Clark until after Christmas or I would have proposed then."

"I wondered why you didn't. I'll even admit to being a little disappointed."

"Well, I didn't get to talk to him until right before they left. Every time I started to bring it up, someone or something interrupted." He kissed her head. "I did tell him when the wedding was though so they wouldn't be surprised. When they didn't come home last month, it through a bit of an additional wrench in the works. I didn't want to propose without them there."

"I'm glad you didn't." Lucy sighed a happy sigh. "I'll have to take Lois shopping tomorrow. I need to get my dress picked out officially. And get her one and... And I need to ask Clark if he'll walk me down the aisle..."

"And I have to ask him if he'll be my best man, but no worries right now."

She smiled up at him. "No worries right now." She watched as her sister and brother-in-law danced on another part of the floor. "Have you noticed there's more PDA between them than there used to be?"

"I noticed at Christmas, but I wasn't sure what it meant."

"I'm still not sure, but it's nice to see."

"We'll have to try to talk to them tomorrow, too."

Lucy nodded against him. "I have no desire to ask Jessica about for advice about sex."

Jimmy laughed softly. "Not when she's with Jaxon, that's for sure."

She looked up at him again. "Have I told you how much I love you?"

"Not since I asked you to marry me," he grinned.

"I love you."

"And I did get you a diamond," he pointed out.

She fingered the ring. "Yes, you did."

"Does that mean I get to make love to you on our wedding night?"

"Unless you'd rather play Scrabble."

"Not a chance."

She kissed him softly. "Good."

"I love you, Lucy."

"I love you, too."


Chapter 10

"Where are we going?" Lois asked her sister.

"Dress shopping."


Lucy shifted uncomfortably in her seat. "Well, the wedding's May 20."

"What?" Lois asked surprised. "That's only nine or ten weeks away."

"Seventy days. And I'm counting every one," Lucy said wryly.


"So I can get my hands on Jimmy," she said with a shrug. "I've been waiting almost three and a half years. The next ten weeks are going to go *so* slowly."

"How long have you two been planning this, exactly?" her sister asked, with narrowed eyes.

Lucy bit her bottom lip. "Since last year."

"What?!" Lois exploded. "Clark said Jimmy didn't talk to him until Christmas."

"Well, we were going to give you guys the heads up last summer, after graduation, but with everything that happened..." Her voice trailed off. "He did tell Clark the date when he asked him at Christmas," she finished defensively.

Lois sighed. "Well, I'm still annoyed with him for not telling me about it in the first place."

"He didn't tell you?"

Lois shook her head. "I was as surprised as you last night."

"I knew it was coming but not when. I knew it had to be pretty soon though. Invitations are going out in a couple weeks."

"Will we at least get one of those?" Lois asked sarcastically, her smile offsetting her tone.

"Maybe. You *are* still going to be my matron of honor, aren't you?"

Lois smiled at her sister. "Of course."

"And I'm going to ask Clark to give me away and I know Jimmy's planning on asking him to be his best man, too."

"I'm sure he'd be honored," Lois told her.

"You'll never guess who's able to perform the ceremony."



"Perry?!" Lois asked, incredulous.

Lucy nodded. "He's ordained by the First Church of Blue Suede Deliverance."

"You're kidding!"

Lucy shook her head as she pulled into the parking lot of the dress shop. "He told us a couple months ago when we started looking seriously for someone to officiate."

"Let me guess, they were in Graceland?"

"Have him tell you the story sometime," she said as they walked in.

Ten minutes later, Lois was seated in the dressing area waiting for Lucy to emerge.

Lucy and Alice had been there a few weeks earlier and picked out three dresses that they liked, but Lucy had held off on making a formal decision until her sister was with her.

She emerged from the dressing area and Lois caught her breath.

"You look fabulous, Luce."

Lucy blushed slightly. "Thanks. I take it you like it?"

"You're gorgeous."

Lucy moved to the small platform in the middle of the room surrounded by mirrors. "We picked out three. Alice and I have a favorite but I don't want to tell you until I know what you think."

Lois nodded and walked slowly around her sister. "What's the most important things to you in a wedding dress?"

"Well," Lucy answered with a twinkle in her eye. "I actually can wear white so..."

Lois laughed. "You have no idea how glad I am to hear that."

"Don't worry -- we'll talk about that later," Lucy told her, not noticing the look that crossed her sister's face as she did.

"What else?"

"Something I can wear for several hours without being too uncomfortable. Something fairly simple and in my fairly modest budget. We're having a full reception. Not *too* fancy, but a buffet dinner. Dancing. I want a two piece veil, so it has to work with that. I do want a train but nothing overly long or anything like that."

Lois nodded as Lucy spoke. "Anything else?"

"Something that won't take scissors for Jimmy to get me out of in less than an hour and a half," she said, blushing as she did.

Lois smiled at her. "You could always change before you leave."

Lucy shook her head. "We've waited for this for so long. I'm his wedding present and he's mine. I want to unwrap him and he wants to do the same."

Lois wouldn't look her in the eye. "I think that's really all I need to know about that."

"Regardless, something that he can help me out of fairly easily. I don't want to spend two hours undoing buttons or something."

Lois nodded. "Well, let's see the other two."

Lucy tried on the second dress, which Lois liked as well, and finally, tried on the third.


"I *love* it, Luce," Lois whispered.

"Isn't it perfect?" Lucy whispered back as she stepped back up onto the platform.

The strapless dress was simple in its elegance. With a short train that could be bustled for the reception, instead of buttons or a zipper, the back laced up with white satin ribbon.

"Jimmy will love it," Lois said with a smile.

"Won't he?" Lucy's grin widened. "And it's not hard to get out of," she whispered.

Lois laughed at that. "He'll definitely love that."

"So this is it?"

Lois nodded. "This is it."

"Good. Now we can find you a matron of honor dress."

Lois groaned. "I think I'd rather have a root canal."


Lucy was quiet, sitting on one of the chairs of the balcony, staring at the stars.

"Hey," Jimmy said quietly, sitting in the chair next to her, taking her hand in his own.

"Hey, yourself."

"Did you get a dress?"

She nodded. "Lois loved the same one that Alice and I did."

"That's good." He kissed her fingers. "Am I going to like it?"

She smiled at him. "It's easy to get out of."

He threw back his head and laughed. "That *is* the most important thing. I don't want to spend an hour and a half unwrapping my wedding present."

"That's exactly what I told Lois."

"I never did manage to talk to Clark today. It was almost like Perry was making sure I couldn't."

Lucy stared at the stars for a long time before answering. "There's a reason for that."


"Perry probably was helping him avoid you."

"Why would he do that?"

Lucy sighed. "Because of what Lois told me today."

"What's that?"

"That..." Her voice trailed off.

"What?" he finally asked her.

"Remember how we've noticed that we've never seen them kiss and stuff?"


"Well, they've never..." Her voice trailed off and she didn't continue.

"They've never what?" Jimmy asked confused.

"They've never made love," she finally said, in a rush.

"What?!" he exclaimed.

She nodded. "She told me today. When my parents died, she was afraid they were going to either send us to live with Aunt Louise, who we both hated at the time, or separate us in the foster care system. Of course, we found out later they probably wouldn't have ever sent us to live with her because of her age and stuff, but we didn't know that then. She called Clark the night they died and he came to see us the next day. She told him all that and he asked her to marry him. She told him that night that she wasn't ready for a physical relationship and he promised never to push. And he hasn't. He was going to ask her on a real, official date after graduation last year, but after everything that happened..."

She took a deep breath. "They still haven't gone out. They still haven't kissed since their wedding night when they woke up making out or something. Well, I guess she kissed him in Colorado after the whole thing last year because of some deluded things that Mom or Dad or both had told her over the years growing up. She wouldn't tell me what because she didn't want to taint me and our experiences together -- at least not yet, maybe someday she said. And I guess he sort of made a move on her after the whole Hurricane Gilbert thing but it was really more sleepwalking than anything."

She sighed again. "She said he's not happy about it and that he'd love nothing more than to be with her, but he's kept his promise. She said she still has flashbacks from last year and that attraction has never been the problem, but... Maybe someday, when she tells me whatever it is that Mom and Dad did or said but... For now, I just don't understand. She says she loves him but..."

"Wow," Jimmy breathed, leaning his head back. "I guess that explains some things."

"Like why I never heard anything I shouldn't or saw anything I shouldn't or saw any condom wrappers lying around..."

"Why they didn't make out under the mistletoe..."

She nodded. She giggled suddenly.


"I hate that their relationship is that way, but can you imagine if we had gone next door after Aunt Louise's funeral?"

Jimmy groaned. "It would have been bad enough normally but..."

She turned serious again. "It's a lot to absorb. To find something you thought to be true suddenly shifted so completely. She said that a big part of it was that they haven't had any time together -- not until after graduation."

"We'd talked about that. About how hard it must be on them."

"Still... I never would have guessed. And it makes more sense about how or why she believed he was sleeping with Mayson. That's one thing that's bugged me since she told me she believed it before they left last year. How she could still be with him like that if she believed he was cheating on her. And for two years."

He nodded. "I never thought about it like that but... It would be hard for her to pretend like everything was fine when she thought he was cheating on her, but for her to have sex with someone she thought was cheating on her just to make sure he doesn't leave so she can keep custody of you..."

"I guess she wasn't." She shifted in her seat to look more fully at him. "But it wasn't like they were successfully pretending everything was fine. I mean, as far as Clark knew, it sounds like it was just a time-together thing more than anything else. I think it probably bothered him -- a lot -- maybe, but if we really look at the time we did see them spend together... Everything wasn't fine," she finished quietly.

"Because they weren't all over each other?"

She shook her head. "Remember the baseball game? I thought they were acting strange -- almost like they were avoiding each other or something. I thought maybe they'd had a fight or something, but I'd never seen them fight or argue or anything like that. The more I think about it, the more I realize I never really saw them together at all."

"Me either."

Lucy shifted back into her seat. "But anyway, that's why Perry was running interference today. It took me like two and a half hours to drag that much out of her. She did say that things have gotten better the last six months or so and that they're more affectionate with each other, but mainly, she suggested I talk to Alice. I'm guessing they'd suggest you talk to Perry."

"I guess so. I do still want to talk to him though. Just not the talk I originally planned, I guess."

"I guess."

He stood and tugged on her hand, pulling her into his arms. "Hey, even if we decide we don't want to talk to Perry and Alice or whatever, we'll figure it out together. I love you and I want to be with you and you love me and you want to be with me. Even if we do talk to them, we'll have to figure out what works for us. What we like, what we don't like, all those kinds of things. We'll figure it out together."

"I know. It makes me sad for them though. Something that's supposed to be so wonderful..."

"It won't be like that for us," he whispered.

"I know." She looked up at him and kissed him lightly. "I love you, James Olsen."

"And I love you, Lucy Lane."

"Seventy days."

"Seventy days, babe." He grinned. "And you'll be my wife."

She smiled back. "I can't wait."


May 1989

"I can't believe how fast time has flown by," Lois said as they walked through the mall.

"Speak for yourself," her sister said. "In some ways, it's flown but in others... Let's just say there's a time or two Jimmy and I wished we hadn't promised we'd wait until Saturday. And there's a reason the wedding's at three and the reception at five."

Lois groaned. "That's more than I needed to know." She looked around. "What are we shopping for exactly?"

"Well, I need a couple new dresses and a couple new swimsuits."

"What's wrong with your swimsuits?"

Lucy shrugged. "Nothing, but you guys said we're going somewhere fairly remote and private and I want a swimsuit or two I can wear in front of my husband."

"Ah," Lois said, understanding dawning on her. "One of those skimpy ones we didn't look at last year."


"So it's back to Scardino Swim and Ski, huh?"

Lucy nodded. "If that's okay with you."

"Fine with me. I really don't need any new ones, though, so wherever you want to go is fine."

"Then let's go. I saw one in the window the other day that I thought was perfect."


They sipped smoothies as they walked towards the car.

"I still cannot believe you thought that was an acceptable swimsuit," Lois said, shaking her head.

Lucy giggled. "I'm only planning on wearing it where only Jimmy can see."

"Still... I don't think I'll tell Clark that was on the shopping list."

Her sister groaned. "Please don't. He might decide to strand us on separate desert islands until we're fifty."

"Where to next?"

"The apartment. Lisa and Jessica moved out last weekend and Jimmy and Clark are moving his stuff in Thursday. Having Clark around to help with that will be really nice, but they're supposed to deliver our new bed this afternoon."

Lois raised an eyebrow at that.

"What? You think we're going to use my little single bed or that double bunk bed contraption? Lisa and Jessica took that to their new apartment. And, I know you and Clark are still on your world tour and all and said that we could have whatever furniture we wanted while you're gone, but we decided to draw the line at your bed." She took a long sip from her straw. "Besides, Jimmy's mom is feeling all guilty about not being around much or helping pay for the wedding and bought us a really nice new bed."

"I see."

Lucy rolled her eyes. "You'd rather I still slept in the loft and Jimmy slept at his mom's house or something after we get married, wouldn't you?"

"So what if I'm not sure I like the idea of my little sister and a guy -- even one as great as Jimmy -- doing... you know?" She made a vague motion with her hand as she waited for Lucy to unlock the car.

Lucy waited until the doors were shut and she'd pulled out of the parking spot to speak again. "You know what, Lois?" she whispered conspiratorially.


"Saturday night..."

"What about it?"

"Jimmy's going to see me naked."

Lois groaned.

"And I'm going to see him." Lucy sighed. "Can't you just be happy for us?"

"I am, Lucy, I promise. The whole topic makes me uncomfortable and I'm glad that you guys are going to have what we don't, but at the same time... I don't want details."

"Well, even if we didn't tell anyone we're planning on making love on Saturday, everyone would know it anyway. That's what people do on wedding nights."

"Most people anyway," Lois sighed, almost under her breath, a tear sliding suddenly down her cheek.

Lucy reached out a hand and squeezed her sister's arm, but she didn't say a word.

She didn't know what to say.


"Let's go over the schedule for tomorrow and then I have a something for you." Lois sat on the couch with a cream soda in her hand. "Tomorrow morning, we're getting a massage at nine. That's the first thing on the agenda. We're meeting Alice and Cat back here after that. Cat's going to do hair and make-up for us. We'll eat lunch around eleven thirty. Finish hair and make-up, get dressed -- that actually shouldn't take too long -- and the limo gets here at 12:45 to take us to the church for pictures. Clark and Jimmy will meet us there, but you won't see Jimmy until the wedding. Wedding is at three. Reception is at five. The limo will take all six of us over there. Limo leaves for the Lexor whenever you two want it to, but..." Her eyes twinkled. "...please at least wait until we're all the way out before slamming the door shut and taking off."

Lucy laughed nervously. "We're not going to skip out on the reception. I promise. We may not stay very long once everything is done that's supposed to be and we've chatted with the guests a bit, but we'll be there at least through the dollar dance. Believe me."

Lois laughed with her. "Staying through the dollar dance is definitely a good plan. You guys can use the cash."

"Are we going somewhere expensive?" Lucy asked.

"I told you the honeymoon's all taken care of."

"I know, but are we going to be spending twenty bucks or more for every meal?"

"When I said it's all taken care of, I meant it."


"Did you pack that swimsuit?"

Lucy giggled. "Will there be somewhere I can wear it?"

Lois laughed with her. "Yes. And that's all I'm telling you."

"Okay." Lucy moved to sit sideways on the couch, legs crossed in front of her. "So what did you get me?"

Lois went to get something out of her suitcase and brought it back.

Lucy opened the wrapping paper and then the box before she gasped. "Lois, it's beautiful." She held the black satin gown up by the delicate spaghetti straps.

Lois smiled. "I know you don't plan on needing it for your wedding night so I didn't get white, but maybe some other time..."

"It's perfect, Lo." Lucy leaned over and hugged her sister tight for a long moment. "I'm going to go get ready for bed. I love you, Lois."

"I love you, too."

Ten minutes later, Lucy found Lois sitting on her bed in the loft. "What are you doing up here?"

"Why are you sleeping up here instead of on the nice, big new bed?"

Lucy blushed. "We agreed neither one of us would use it for anything until after we got married."

"So where am I sleeping then?"

Lucy bit her lip. "I guess you can use it. That's not one of us. I guess I didn't really think that through," she said apologetically.

Lois shook her head. "I'm not using your brand new bed before you do. I'll sleep on the couch."

"Are you sure?"

Lois nodded. "I've missed that couch, believe it or not."

Lucy pulled the covers back and slipped in between the sheets, but Lois made no move to leave.

"There is one more thing."

"What's that?"

"Scoot over a bit."

Lucy obliged and Lois sat against her headboard. Lucy rested her head on her pillow and Lois gently stroked her sister's hair.

"Once upon a time, in a land not so very far away, there were two very lonely little girls," she started.

A tear slipped down Lucy's cheek.

"They had a mom and a dad, but their mom was always drinking until she was drunk and their dad... Well, he had lots of other friends that he would rather spend time with." Lois smiled at her sister as a tear ran down her own cheek. "The two sisters had each other. They were only about nineteen months apart, but sometimes it seemed like so much more than that. The older sister would often tuck her little sister in at night and make up stories to tell her about magical lands far away where the sisters were fairy princesses and the fairy princes came and swept them off their feet and they lived happily ever after."

Lois wiped at her cheek with her free hand. "For a long time, the older sister didn't believe in 'happily ever after', but the younger sister never gave up on it. One day, when they were teenagers, their parents were killed in a car accident. A few days later, the older sister married an old friend to keep them out of foster care. She wanted more than anything for her little sister to be spared the additional trauma of bouncing from place to place after the lives they'd already had.

"The sister and her new husband did get custody and the younger sister lived with them until she graduated high school and they left to explore the world. But at some point, the younger sister met Prince Charming. Prince Jimmy Charming."

Lucy let out a little laugh through the tears.

"Prince Jimmy Charming rescued the younger sister and protected her on their first date. He protected her from many things, and then one day about three years later, he asked her to be his wife. And now they were getting married. The older sister had grown cynical over the years. She still didn't believe in the happy endings she'd given to all of the stories she'd told growing up. Her own husband, Prince Clark, believed in them and worked hard to make sure that someday she would again, too, but it was going to take a long time. And so when Prince Jimmy proposed, the older sister felt a moment of sadness. She didn't want her little sister to get hurt, but over the years, Prince Jimmy had proven over and over how much he loved the younger sister. The older sister still had a hard time believing."

Lois wiped her cheeks again. "But then, at the rehearsal dinner, the older sister saw the younger sister and her groom dancing at the restaurant and suddenly she knew. Happy endings do exist and they exist for the little sister. Tomorrow Princess Lucy will marry her Prince Jimmy Charming and live happily ever after. The older sister knows this now and is so happy that Princess Lucy has found the other half of herself. Someday, the older sister knows that she'll love Prince Clark like Princess Lucy and Prince Jimmy love each other and like Prince Clark loves her, but for now, she's happy knowing how much her little sister loves the man who's going to be her husband. Who is going to take care of her, have children with her, grow old with her. Princess Lucy and Prince Jimmy are going to live happily ever after, the older sister is sure of it."

Lois paused, before standing and bending down to kiss her sister's head softly. "I love you, Lucy, and I'm so proud of both of you. I'm so glad you've gotten your happy ending. Sleep tight," she whispered. "Tomorrow you marry your prince."


Chapter 11

"You look gorgeous, Luce." Clark smiled down at her.

She took a deep breath. "I'm nervous as hell." She smoothed her hands over the bodice of her dress.

"Twenty minutes," Lois told her as she walked back into the bride's room of the little church.

Lucy let out another deep breath. "Only twenty minutes." She sat down carefully, her feet tapping nervously. "Have I said 'thank you' to you guys for helping pay for the wedding? It was really nice not to have to use everything in our savings accounts to pay for this."

"It was our pleasure, Luce."

"Tell me who's here, Clark," she told him nervously. "Do your buzz-buzz thing and see who came."

"My buzz-buzz thing?" he asked with a raised brow.

"You know -- look through walls and all that."

Clark stared at the wall. "Well, Alice is here. Eduardo and his wife are talking to Cat and *Albie*."

"Can you believe she's dating Albert Chow?" Lois interjected.

"Can you believe she calls him Albie?" Clark returned. At Lucy's glare, he returned to staring through the wall. "Tina's here. Jessica and Lisa are manning the gift table and guest book."

"Are you guys opening presents tonight?"

Lucy shook her head. "We'll open them when we get back. Opening them tonight is just another way to delay getting to the hotel. Perry and Alice are taking them home for us." She fiddled nervously. "And thank you guys for that, too. And the honeymoon, even if you won't tell us where we're going."

"You'll find out tomorrow," Lois told her with a smile and a wink at Clark, who grinned back.

"Well, still... thanks."

"Our pleasure," Clark said with a smile.

"How's Jimmy?" she asked nervously.

Lois shrugged. "I haven't seen him in a while."


"Me either."

"Do your buzz-buzz thing," Lucy told him impatiently.

Clark chuckled and looked at the wall. "He's pacing nervously, talking to Perry."

"What's he saying?"

Clark shook his head. "I'm not telling you that. And if I was with him, I wouldn't tell him what you were saying either."

"Then who else is here?"

"A bunch of people from the Planet just got here. I see a couple of your friends from high school."

"Are Jimmy's parents coming?" Lois asked quietly.

"We never heard from his dad," Lucy told her sadly. "His mom said she'd try."

"How can they not be here?" Clark said sadly.

Lucy shrugged. "I'm not sure when the last time he heard from his dad was. Couple years ago at Christmas, I think. It's been a lot longer than that since he's seen him -- right after our first date, actually. And, until this week, even though he's lived with his mom officially, he rarely sees her. She's out of town all the time on business. I'm not sure he's actually seen her since he officially proposed. She left him a note on the table one day a few weeks ago saying that she was going to try. I'm not sure he cares. I mean he cares, but I think he'd be more upset if you guys or Perry and Alice weren't here."

"That's not right," Clark mumbled.

"It's the way it is," Lucy sighed.

Alice chose that moment to walk in. "How're you doing, Lucy?"

She nodded nervously. "Okay. Ready to get this show on the road and get it over with and get Jimmy back to the hotel."

Alice laughed. "I can tell you with complete certainty that he feels the same way. Perry sent me in to tell you that we're about ready. Five minutes. Clark, will you tell us when the doors are all shut and stuff?"

He nodded.

Lucy stood up and smoothed the bodice of her dress again. "I think I'm ready for this. I mean, I know I'm ready to be Jimmy's wife, but the rest of this..."

Lois helped her straighten her dress, and together, she and Alice flipped the veil over Lucy's face.

Clark stood. "It's time, Luce. Jimmy and Perry are standing outside and Lisa and Jessica just finished lighting the candles and everything."

Lucy nodded. "Okay. Let's go."

Lucy and Alice carried her train, spreading it out behind her as they reached the main door to the sanctuary. Alice left them then to go take her seat. As soon as she was seated, the music began. Lisa and Jessica gave Lucy a small hug each, trying not to mess up her dress and veil and whispering for a minute, before they moved to either of the doors, opening them enough for Lois to walk through. Clark, unobtrusively, watched his wife walk to the end of the aisle. As she started up the steps, he turned to Lucy.

"Are you ready?"

She nodded, a sudden sense of calm coming over her. "I am."

The music changed and her friends opened the doors in front of her.

Her hand was tucked in Clark's elbow and he covered it with his own. "Here we go."

Together they walked down the aisle, Lucy searching for Jimmy the minute she stepped through the doors. About halfway down the aisle, she finally caught his eyes through the crowd. A grin split his face and she smiled back, stopping only when Clark applied slight pressure to her hand telling her it was time.

Perry said a few words that she didn't really hear, and then Clark said something and kissed her cheek, whispering, "I'm so proud of you, Luce," as he did. Then her hand was in Jimmy's as she walked up the steps to stand in front of Perry.

The rest of the ceremony was a blur to her. She promised to love, honor and cherish. She promised to be faithful, to take care of each other no matter what life threw at them. She knew he said the same things. She remembered taking the ring from Lois and silent tears slipping down her cheeks as she slid it on Jimmy's finger. More tears fell as he slipped the wedding band on hers.

Perry's voice finally penetrated fully into her consciousness. "Then, by the power vested in me by the state of New Troy and the First Church of Blue Suede Deliverance, I now pronounce you husband and wife." He turned to her *husband*. "Jimmy, you may kiss your bride."

She heard the cheers and catcalls as Jimmy lifted her veil and placed one hand on the side of her face. Resting the other hand on her waist, he pulled her towards him and kissed her soundly on the lips. The kiss was entirely too short and too chaste for her taste.

"Soon," he whispered, smiling at her, tears in his eyes, then he gave her another quick kiss.

They turned as Perry spoke again. "Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor and privilege to present to you for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. James Olsen."

She took her bouquet back from Lois and tucked her arm in Jimmy's elbow as they walked down the aisle.

They had an hour before the reception started at the hotel a couple of miles away. They couldn't afford the Lexor, even though that was where they'd planned on staying even before Lois and Clark had offered to put them up in the Honeymoon Suite for the night.

They stood in the receiving line, holding hands whenever they could between well wishes from friends. Most of the Daily Planet newsroom had shown up -- at least those that weren't working -- as had Franklin Stern and his wife, and friends from a number of other departments. Even Inspector Henderson was there. There were a few friends of both of theirs, from a variety of places.

Jimmy kissed her often as they took the rest of the pictures. It seemed like forever before they entered the limo with Perry, Alice, Lois and Clark.

"Now, kids, I appreciate that you two have been waiting for this and all, but would you mind holding the making out to a minimum on the trip over?" Perry asked with a twinkle in his eye.

Lucy laughed and Jimmy smiled. "Well, only because I can't get to her with this dress in the way."

Ten minutes later, they exited the car at the hotel. Before long they were seated and Lois and Clark brought them both something to eat. Lucy didn't eat much, but sort of pushed her food around on her plate. Jimmy leaned over to whisper in her ear. "You do need to eat something, honey. We need our strength."

Lucy practically choked on the water she was sipping and she turned a lovely shade of pink.

"Hey, just because we have to wait a little bit longer doesn't mean I'm not thinking about it," he whispered.

She smiled at him. "I know; I am, too. You just caught me off-guard, that's all."

The band leader, a friend of Jimmy's from high school, chose that moment to announce their first dance. Jimmy pushed back from the table and helped her up, leading her to the dance floor. Once there, he pulled her as close as he could. She rested her cheek on his shoulder. The strains of Elvis' 'I Can't Help Falling In Love With You' filled the air as they moved together on the dance floor.

"I love you, Mrs. Olsen," Jimmy told her as he kissed her forehead.

"I like the sound of that," she told him with a smile.

"Me, too."

The song ended all too soon and they danced with Lois and Clark, followed by Alice and Perry. They were soon joined by other couples on the dance floor. The dollar dance followed, and they pulled in a tidy bit of cash with that.

Soon, they cut the cake and tossed the garter and the bouquet.

"The limo's waiting," Lois told her. "Whenever you guys are ready."

Lucy nodded. "I'm ready. I'm starting to get tired and..."

Lois smiled at her. "You don't want to be too tired before you get to the hotel."


The band leader told everyone of their impending departure and the remaining crowd gathered outside the door to the hotel, rice in hand.

Hand in hand, they ran through the line of friends and climbed into the limo. Jimmy seated himself next to her and wrapped his arm around her as she settled in next to him.

"You already checked in, right?" she asked, her left hand playing with his wedding band as she snuggled in a little closer.

He nodded. "Clark and I came by earlier and checked in and dropped off our bags and..." His voice trailed off.

"And what?" She looked up at him, puzzled.

"Your wedding present," he admitted sheepishly.

"I thought you were my wedding present," she whispered huskily.

"I have something else for you, too, but it's your second present. I'm your first one."

"I can't wait."

"Not much longer," he whispered, his tone matching hers.

She turned towards him, grateful that she'd removed her veil before the reception, kissing him softly on the chin. "I love you, Jimmy."

They pulled up in front of the Lexor and a moment later the driver opened the door. Jimmy exited then held his hand out to Lucy to help her out.

They shared soft, gentle kisses as the elevator took them towards their floor.

"Don't move," Jimmy told her as he opened the double doors to the suite. He turned back to her and lifted her into his arms, carrying her across the threshold.

Lucy giggled. "How gallant of you."

He set her down and shut the doors, leaning against them to look at her. "You're beautiful, Luce."

She blushed. "I'm nervous," she whispered.

He smiled at her. "I am, too. We'll take our time." She nodded as he walked towards her. He took her hands in his as he kissed her softly. "We have all the time in the world," he whispered, before kissing her again.

How long they kissed, she didn't know, but it seemed like forever. She could get lost in his kisses, and she did just that, her arms wrapping around his neck, pulling him to her as he wrapped his arms around her, holding her as close as he could.

But then, it wasn't enough and she slipped her hands in between them, shoving his jacket off his shoulders, before tugging on his tie and beginning to unbutton his shirt. Once his shirt was off, he stopped, pulling back to look at her.

So far, this wasn't anything new. They'd had make-out sessions where he wasn't wearing a shirt before, but this was different.

"There's no boundaries tonight," he whispered.

She nodded. "I need to get out of these shoes though," she told him with a smile, kicking them off as she did so.

He laughed and toed his own shoes off. "Good. I hate those things." He pulled her close, reveling in the feeling of holding her against his skin. It wasn't long, however, before he spoke. "As much as I hate to break up the romance of this moment...," he whispered.


"I gotta go to the bathroom. I meant to go before we left but..."

Lucy smiled at him. "Well, I did go before we left, but don't let me stop you." She rested her hands on his chest. "I'd rather you go now than have to stop later."

He kissed her softly, tenderly, then headed for the other room.

Lucy moved to the window, staring out over the lights of the city.

"Penny for your thoughts," Jimmy whispered in her ear as he moved behind her to wrap his arms around her waist, pulling her back to him.

"Just thinking how beautiful it is and how nervous I am."

He kissed the hollow of her neck. "No more than I am."

"I thought guys were supposed to be all confident about this stuff."

"I've got as much experience as you do."

"You dated before me."

"Not seriously. I never even rounded first, much less made it to second with any girl before I met you."

"I have no idea what that means."

He chuckled as he continued to pepper kisses down the side of her neck and onto her shoulder. "I'm not really sure either. All I know is that I kissed a couple other girls, but I felt more, *wanted* more, the first time you held my hand in front of that football stadium than I did with the four or five other girls I dated before you."

She moaned softly as he worked his way back up to her ear. "That's good to know."

"Are you going to tell me how this thing comes off?" he whispered. "You look great in it but..."

"You want to see me out of it?"

"Oh, yeah."

"Untie the ribbon," she whispered huskily.

His hands ran up and down her arms as he stepped back. When he reached her shoulders, he ran them down her back until the settled on her waist. He took a deep breath before moving them to the center of her back, tugging gently on the ribbon until the bow came undone. Slowly, he unlaced it. Her arms held the bodice in place as he pulled the ribbon completely free. He moved back closer to her, wrapping his arms around her again.

"It's okay, babe. It's just me."

"I know. There's a hook-and-eye at the top, too," she told him.

He moved back, fingers trailing down her shoulder blades until he reached the top of the dress, fumbling a bit with the clasp. Once he was done she turned to look at him. He pulled her back into his arms, the dress now held up between their bodies. She moved back just enough to look up at him and press her lips to his.

"Are you ready for this?" he asked softly.

"I've never wanted anything more," she answered.


Lucy rested her head on her husband's chest as he tugged the satin sheets up around them. "Wow," she whispered.

He kissed her forehead. "I know."

"That was..."

"I mean..."

Lucy sighed. "Exactly." She kissed his chin. "The only thing I'd like more would be..."

"...more?" Jimmy asked her with a smile.

"Well, yes, but first..."


"My other present."

Jimmy chuckled. "It's in my suitcase."

"So go get it."

"I don't have any clothes on."

She giggled. "Don't you think we're a little past that now?"

He blushed furiously. "Well, it's one thing while we're making love, but to just walk around all naked might take some getting used to."

"Bet you'd be okay with me walking around naked all the time," she said, drawing random patterns on his stomach with one hand.

"Well, yeah, but that's different."


He kissed her. "You're gorgeous, for one thing, and it's not me being naked."

She laughed and rolled over, carefully taking the sheet with her.

"Hey, no fair."

She picked his boxers up off the floor and handed them to him. "Here. Be all modest and go get me my present."

He kissed her before pulling his boxers on as he stood up. He moved to his suitcase and pulled out a box. "Here."

She pushed herself into a seated position, the sheet still firmly in place.

"Now who's being all modest?" he asked with a grin.

She shrugged. "You are."

"So if I show you mine?" he asked with a raised brow.

She shrugged again and pulled at the ribbon on the box.

"Before you open that, you are going to have to share it."


"You'll see."

She opened it. "Jimmy! Where did you get the money for this?" She pulled the new camera out of the box.

"Well, once Lois and Clark said they were going to pay for half the wedding, I had a lot of money left over that we'd planned on spending on that. Well, not a *lot*," he conceded. "You know how much I have in my account, but I'd managed to squirrel away some cash anyway and used that and some of what I had left and... there you go."

"I'm not sharing," she told him.

"Until we can get me a new one, you have to."

She looked him up and down. "I charge rental fees, you know," she told him.

"What kind of fees?" he asked, taking the box from her and setting it on the side table.

"The kind that require you to walk around naked," she giggled.


"Yep. Making the bed naked, making dinner naked, doing my homework for me naked, doing laundry naked."

He groaned and flopped onto his back. "You don't ask for much, do you?"

She moved until she was sitting next to him. "Don't use my camera and you won't have to worry about it. But right now, I need a shower. All this hairspray and gel and whatever else Cat did to my hair is driving me crazy."

"Only if I get to join you," he said, his eyes twinkling.



"So where do you think they're sending us?" Lucy asked around her bite of pizza.

Jimmy shrugged as he took a swig of his soda. "All Clark would tell me was that it's someplace warm and private and to bring swim suits, if we wanted."

"If we wanted? If there's somewhere to swim, why wouldn't we want a swim suit?"

"Because it's somewhere private?"

"Where could we be going that's *that* private?"

"I don't know. Did you bring a swim suit?"

She nodded. "Yep. Couple of new ones and one not-so-new one."

"New ones?"

"Yep. Bought them after you proposed."

"Really?" he asked with a raised brow.

"Yep. And you'll only see them if it's private enough that no one else is going to see them." She took another bite of pizza.

"Well, then what's the point of having them?"

"You're not willing to walk around sans clothes in front of me yet, are you?" she asked, eyeing the maroon robe he wore, as she tugged the lapels of her white robe slightly closer together.

"Good point."

"And if we're someplace that's almost completely secluded, then I might wear them on the off chance that someone might walk by and I wouldn't want to not have anything on, but since it's unlikely that anyone will walk by..."

"You'd be willing to wear one of them then?"


"Well, I guess we'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out where we're going."

She wiped her fingers on a napkin. "I'm done. I know I should have eaten more earlier but..."

"Too many nerves?"

She nodded. "Too many nerves from the wedding itself. Too much nervous anticipation about tonight."

"I'm glad you got over that."

"Me, too. But then I burned all those calories a little while ago," she said coyly.

"And then you burned some more in the shower a little bit later..." he reminded her, moving closer to her. "Thank goodness for big showers," he whispered.

She turned to look at him. "And I'm about to burn some more?"

"Oh, I hope so," he told her grinning, before he moved to kiss her again.


"Our own island paradise," Jimmy said, slipping his arms around her. "So does this mean that I get to see those swimsuits?"

"Do I need them?"

"You won't get tan lines without them?"

She laughed. "I guess not. Did we bring sunscreen at least? I *really* don't want to get burned."

"Me either. It's in one of the suitcases in the hut."

She didn't know how much later it was that she was resting in his arms on the bed. "I thought we were looking for sunscreen."

"We were. We got sidetracked when you showed me what I *think* was supposed to be a swimsuit."

"What?" she asked innocently. "It's a two piece."

"A bottom and a hat?" he asked with a raised brow. "Were you actually planning on wearing that?"

She giggled. "Not where anyone but you could see."

"That's good. I wouldn't want anyone else to see you in it."

"I'll make sure I'm not wearing it when Clark comes by then."

"Good plan. Neither one of us would be able to look him in the face ever again."

"I think he'd probably be the most embarrassed out of all of us."

"Probably." She giggled again. "You should have seen Lois' face when I bought it."

"She was with you?"

Lucy nodded. "Yep. And she said there was no way she was going to tell Clark about it."

"That's a very good thing, I think."

"That's what I said." She looked around the little room. "Can you believe he made all this?"

"It was nice of him."

"It was Lois' idea."

"I heard."

"The other was really great of them, too," she said quietly.

"Giving us the rest of your inheritance money? Yeah, that's great."

"We won't have to struggle like they did."

"We won't have a teenager to raise either."

Lucy yawned. "You've worn me out, Olsen. I think I need a nap."

He laughed. "I told you a long time ago I didn't plan on getting much sleep on our wedding night."

"Well, you didn't. And neither did I." She yawned again to emphasize her point. "When we got to the hotel. In the shower. After the pizza. This morning. Again this morning. Just now."

"I think I'm ready for a nap, too," he told her, stifling a yawn. He rubbed a hand up and down her arm. "I should have asked you something else last night," he said softly.

"What's that?" she murmured, snuggling deeper into his embrace.

"Did I hurt you? I mean, it didn't seem like it, but..."

She shook her head against him. "No. I expected it to, at least a little bit, but it didn't hurt at all."

"Good. I'm glad."

His only answer was a soft, feminine snore.


"I did get you another wedding present," Lucy said, walking onto the beach and sitting next to him on the blanket before holding the box out to him. "I meant to give it to you last night but got sidetracked."

Jimmy took it from her and shook it. "It rattles."

She nodded. "It's not a camera or even close, but I hope you like it."

He ripped open the paper and then looked at her with one eyebrow raised. "Scrabble?"

"We were supposed to play strip Scrabble last night, remember?" she asked innocently.

He laughed. "Did we ever figure out how to play that?"

"Well, I think we'd have to put clothes on first."

"Good point. And that would be a waste of a perfectly good private hideaway."

They lay back on the blanket wrapped in each other's arms. "There's so many stars here."

"It's beautiful," he agreed, and she realized that he wasn't looking at the stars anymore.


"As wonderful as that week was, I think I'm glad to be home," Lucy said, sinking down onto the couch.

"Me, too," he said, flopping down beside her. "It got a bit warm at times and I think I still have some sand... Well, let's just say I need a real shower."

"Me, too."

"Well, let's see what we can do about that, Mrs. Olsen." He glanced at the clock. "We have an hour before we're supposed to be over at Perry and Alice's. I don't think that's enough time for both of us to take showers," he said suggestively.

"Well, then what do you suggest we do, Mr. Olsen?" she said moving closer to him.

"Oh, I think you know."

"Call Perry and Alice and tell them we'll be late?" she asked innocently.

"Well, that, too."

It was an hour and a half before they made it to the White home.

"I should have known you two would be late," Perry grumbled.

"Sorry, Chief," Jimmy said with a smile, sounding not at all apologetic.

"Sure you are."

Alice just laughed. "Leave them alone, Perry. They're still on their honeymoon."

Lucy blushed and Jimmy grinned at that before his eyes lit up. "Where's the presents?"

Alice laughed again. "Not until after dinner. I know you two have been on a deserted island. I'm sure you could use a home cooked meal right about now, and it's just about ready."

"You guys always make me wait for presents," Jimmy muttered. "Perry won't let us go downstairs at Christmas, Lucy made me wait until last week..."

Lucy smacked his arm. "We both decided that."

He glared at her. "...to give me Scrabble." She giggled as he sighed loudly. "Okay, let's eat. And fast because I want to open presents."

Two hours later, they had finished dinner and presents were opened. Their friends had been more than generous with their gifts. A number had given various amounts of cash. Others had given things necessary to help set up a household. Even though Lucy had lived in the apartment for years, many things hadn't been updated or replaced over the years, and everything from new towels to new potholders to new dishes were more than welcome. Lucy had received a number of nightgowns and things of a Victoria's Secret nature at a bridal shower hosted by Alice for her friends a few weeks before the wedding, though she had yet to actually wear any of them.

Jimmy, however, was most excited by the CD player and stack of CDs from Franklin Stern and his wife and the new camera from Cat and *Albie*.

Perry and Jimmy loaded everything into the car before they settled back around the living room with a cup of coffee for everyone.

"Now listen, you two. My newsroom is not a make-out parlor," Perry told them with his sternest look. "I won't have you all over each other while you're there."

Jimmy sighed loudly as he pulled Lucy slightly closer to him. "I guess we'll need another week off then, Chief."

Lucy blushed again while Alice laughed and Perry tried desperately to keep the smile off his face.

"Well, fine," he groused. "Just don't take it overboard."

"We won't, Perry," Lucy assured him. "As long as he doesn't borrow my camera." She gave Jimmy the most innocent look she could muster.

Jimmy groaned, causing the other couple to look at each other puzzled. "You don't want to know," he told them. "Trust me. Besides, now that we have two nice, new cameras, I won't have to borrow yours."

Lucy sighed. "You will if you can't find the other one when you need it."

Perry looked at the clock. "I know you two don't have to be at work until later tomorrow, but not all of us have that luxury. Time for this old man to hit the hay."

Good-byes were said and the young couple headed home. Lucy yawned as they neared the apartment. "You get to bring everything in."

"Why is that?"

"Because I'm going to go take a shower to wake up a bit because I don't know about you, but I really want to break in our new bed tonight and we can't do that if I'm sound asleep two minutes after we get inside."

Jimmy laughed. "I don't think I want you falling asleep that quickly."

"Me either. Besides I have a few new nightgowns and such that I want to wear before too long."

"As long as you don't wear them too long, that's fine with me."

Lucy groaned. "You have a totally one-track mind these days, don't you?"

He turned the car off and turned to her. "So do you. Besides, you wouldn't have me any other way would you?"

Lucy smiled at him, resting her hand on the side of his face. "No, sure wouldn't."

Sometime later, Lucy was drifting to sleep in his arms. "That was worth staying up a bit longer for," she murmured.

Jimmy kissed her forehead. "Definitely. I love you, Lucy Olsen."

"And I love you, Jimmy Ol..."

Jimmy smiled as he pulled the sheet a little tighter around them. "Sweet dreams, love," he whispered before closing his eyes and going to sleep himself.


Chapter 12

Jimmy drew lazy circles on Lucy's back. "You never did tell me what you and Lois talked about yesterday in Paris."

Lucy sighed. "I told her how wonderful the week was, basically, and how I wished they were experiencing that, too. She told me that they did have their first date last week after Clark took us to the island and their second date was Friday night. And he kissed her."

"He told me about it. He said it was amazing."

"That's what she said, too."

"Well, maybe it'll happen soon for them then."

"I hope so, but I wouldn't hold my breath. She also told me some of the stuff that my mom had told her. I'll tell you about it some other time, though, but it does explain some things," she said glancing at the clock. "If we're going to get anything done before we have to go to work..." she reminded him with a sigh.

"You mean lazing around in bed isn't enough?"

She laughed. "That's all we've done for a week."

"I know. I just hate that the honeymoon's over."

"It's not over," she told him. "We just have to work in the middle of it."

"And classes start in two weeks."

"Well, we're only taking one class each so it won't interfere too much."

Jimmy sighed. "Guess we better get some stuff done around here."

Lucy rolled out of bed and headed to the bathroom, calling over her shoulder as she went, "Last one out makes the bed."


Lucy finally arrived home two hours after Jimmy got off work. She looked around and sighed. Their first day home and there were already work clothes strewn about the apartment.

Grumbling a bit, she walked down the stairs, picking up Jimmy's clothes as she worked her way around the living room. She could hear the shower running and picked up a pair of sweat shorts and a disgusting T-shirt, wrinkling her nose as she did. She tossed all of it into the laundry hamper, continuing to mumble under her breath.

She walked back out into the kitchen and sorted through the new mail -- they'd sorted through the mail from the last week that morning. She picked up one envelope and stared at it for a minute. There was no return address, she noticed as she flipped it over in her hand and was addressed to only James B. Olsen. It wasn't a credit card offer or other piece of junk mail. It was even hand addressed.

She looked on the table to see if she could find whatever had come in it, but there was nothing.

"It's from my dad," came Jimmy's voice from behind her.

She turned to see him leaning against the brick archway between the kitchen and the bedroom, a towel wrapped around his waist, his hair and chest still wet.

"A letter?" she asked curiously.

He shook his head. "A check. The address on the check is the one where we sent his invitation but the postmark is from the west coast."

"Just a check?"

He nodded. "Said 'congratulations' on the memo line." He turned from where he was leaning and picked it up off the nightstand, flipping it over and over in his hands. "Part of me wants to rip it up and throw it in the trash," he said quietly.

"Why is that?" Her tone was equally quiet as she leaned against the table, sensing that he wasn't ready for her to be close to him.

He shrugged. "I haven't heard from him in two and a half years. I haven't seen him since right after our first date for like ten minutes, and it was five years before that. We didn't even get his card back saying he wasn't coming to the wedding. I didn't expect him to actually show up, but I would have thought he'd have the courtesy to at least let us know for sure. I'm not sure I want to accept anything from him."

"That makes sense," Lucy said slowly. "But what about the other parts of you?"

Jimmy sighed and moved to sit in one of the kitchen chairs, still holding the slip of paper in his hand, staring at it. "Another part of me says it's a lot of money and even with what Lois and Clark have done for us, we'd be stupid to throw it away."

"I can understand that, too."

He reached for her and wrapped his arms around her as she settled herself on his lap, resting his head on her shoulder. "I would rather have just had him show up, make nice with Mom and everyone, than have a bunch of money."

"I know." Her arms went around him as best she could and she just held him. "Are there any other parts of you?" she asked long minutes later.

"A couple. One says tear it up and mail it back. One says send him a long letter detailing all of the feelings and stuff I've had over the years -- how he abandoned us and all that, but I'm not sure I want to do that."

"Why not?" One hand played with his hair.

He thought for a minute before answering. "I think I'm afraid of what he'll say back or, even worse, that he won't say anything. And then there's the part of me that says to send him a wedding picture, write 'thanks' on the back, cash the check and buy something we really want with it or put it in savings or something."

"What do you think is the way to go?"

"Well, I really want to tell him off, but I think just sending a picture is probably the best way to handle it."

Lucy nodded slowly. "It's probably the most adult, mature way to handle it."

"Do I have to be adult and mature about it?" he asked with a sigh.

"No," she started thoughtfully. "I don't guess so, but you're not a teenager anymore..."

"I'm a married man, a professional." He sighed. "Well, a professional gopher, anyway, but on my way to being a true professional in a job that I love. Being mature about it is probably the way to go. And turning down two grand isn't very mature I don't think."

Lucy didn't say anything for a minute.

"What do you think, babe?"

"Well, in your experience with your dad, will he come back at some point with strings attached to it? You know, something like, 'I sent you money for your wedding ten years ago and now you need to do this for me'."

He shook his head. "I don't think so."

"Then I think keeping the money is probably the right thing to do."

"Me, too."

"And I think the grown-up, mature thing to do would be to either write a thank-you note and send it with a picture or just send the picture with 'thanks' on the back like you mentioned."

He sighed and buried his face in her neck while he tried to regain his composure. "I'd much rather have him here," he finally whispered. "When he was here, he wasn't a *great* dad, but he wasn't bad either. He came to some of my soccer games and Little League games as a kid. We went to baseball games sometimes. And then he just left. I mean, I know there was a lot more to it than that. Mom never really said too much about it, but I know that they were having problems for a long time before he left, but I didn't know that at the time.

"I mean, at first I heard from him all the time. He'd call or come by at least once or twice a week. Then it was a call and a postcard or letter a week. Then it was every couple weeks. Then once a month, and by the time he'd been gone for a year and a half, it was cards on birthdays and Christmas, and then not even that the last couple years. I know Mom got child support until I graduated from high school, but that's it. I saw him when we started dating my junior year. Before that was sixth grade."

"I'm so sorry."

Jimmy shrugged in her arms. "Most of the time, it doesn't bother me much. I've got Perry, who's been much more of a dad to me than mine ever was, even in the early years. He's taught me more about being a man, and now a husband, than my dad ever did."

"Still..." She kissed his forehead softly.

He pulled back to look at her. "Have I ever told you how glad I am that you said you'd go to that football game with me?"

Lucy smiled. "Not recently."

"I am," he said seriously. "I don't know what I'd do without you."

She kissed him lightly. "You won't have to find out for a very long time."

"Good," he told her before kissing her again.

Later that night, they settled into bed -- for the first time since their wedding, going to bed purposefully rather than falling asleep in each other's arms after making love together.

"I'm sorry about the clothes and stuff," Jimmy said softly as he curled up behind his wife.

"It's okay," she told him as she snuggled back into him.

"I didn't want for you to come home to clothes all over the place and stuff our first real night here."

"I will admit to being a bit annoyed when I got home but after I found out why... Where'd you go anyway?"

"I rode my bike to the batting cages. I felt the need to do something physical to work out the frustration and stuff. If Clark was here, I probably would have called him for a basketball game. He'd let me be quiet but competitive and intense without pushing me about what was wrong, but since he's not... Anyway, I rode over there, threw some pitches, hit some balls, ran out of change, which made me even more mad since I was upset over a two thousand dollar check from my dad, rode the really long way home and was all yucky by the time I got back here so I just stripped and got in the shower. I was going to pick them up when I got out, but you were already here."

"It's okay. Really. I'd rather you didn't make a habit of it but today was... extenuating circumstances."

"I did throw the hardest pitch I've ever thrown."


He nodded behind her. "Yeah. I just imagined I was throwing it at my dad and BAM! There it was."

"I'm sorry he's not here for you."

"I know. But I've got you now."

"It's not the same."

He sighed and kissed her shoulder. "I know we have to be at work early and we're not planning on doing anything but sleep, but do you *have* to wear pajamas to bed?"

"You are."

"I'm wearing boxers."

She shrugged. "You know the deal."

He sighed. "Fine. Be that way." Another kiss to her shoulder offset his words. "I love you."

"Love you."


July 1989

"*Olsens*! My office! NOW!"

"Duty bellows," Jimmy whispered as Lucy stashed her purse in the locking bottom drawer of their still-shared desk.

"You missed him and you know it," she whispered back.

"It was quieter when he was in Graceland with Alice."

They hurried into the editor's office, taking seats close together on the couch.

Jimmy's arm stretched along the back. "What's up, Chief?"

Perry leaned against his desk. "Well, now, Jim. You've been wanting to do a little bit of writing, right?"

He nodded.

"And Lucy, you've been wanting to do a bit more photography?"

She nodded.

"Well, this is something that you can both work on together. It's nothing big. Probably no more than a paragraph or two tops, but it will help you get your feet wet." He reached for a sheet of paper and handed it to Lucy. "Coates Emergency Shelter is getting a new playground." He rolled his eyes a bit as he continued. "*Albie* Chow donated a nice, big new playground to them. Now, this story itself isn't big, but I want the two of you to approach it like you were writing a longer piece on the Shelter itself. In fact, I actually want you to do that. It's unlikely that I'll have a place to run it, but it'll be good practice for you. I want you to take a bunch of pictures, decide what approach to take, and all that." He moved back behind his desk. "Now the unveiling is in about an hour, so you two better get your cameras and get moving."

They scurried out of the office, talking briefly to Cat as they did, asking if she could help them get a few minutes with Albert sometime soon. She said she'd let them know later.

Before long, they were entering the Coates Emergency Shelter.

"Can I help you?" Santa asked.

They glanced at each other.

"We're with the Daily Planet," Jimmy told him. "We're covering the new playground for the paper."

"That's great!" He started walking, motioning for them to follow. "Today, I'm Santa."

"I'm Jimmy and this is my wife and partner on this, Lucy Olsen."

Santa stopped long enough to shake their hands. "Partners? I'm surprised this story is big enough for that."

"Well," Lucy told him. "We're both still students at UNT Met, too. Our boss is having us write a longer piece about the Emergency Shelter in general. If it's good enough, he'll run it, too." She glanced at Jimmy. "I wouldn't hold my breath on that one, though. We'll do our best, of course, but we're just students."

"Well, let me see what I can do to help then. Maybe we can get you two a real story instead of two sentences below a small, blurry picture." Santa led them to an office area, shutting the door before he pulled his beard down. "I get the 'Christmas in July' thing, but this suit is a bit warm this time of year."

"I bet," Jimmy said with a smile.

"Well, let me get you two some information on the Shelter." He pulled a folder out of his desk. "It's all in there in more detail, but basically we take kids who are pulled out of their homes with nowhere to go on an emergency basis. We do have a more formal orphanage as well, but it's in a different part of town. Here, we take kids who don't fit in any of the foster home spots available or sibling units that we don't want to separate but don't fit yet. We can house up to thirty kids at any given time, from birth through seventeen."

"You take babies?" Lucy asked, looking up from her notepad.

He nodded. "Sometimes, babies are taken from the home. Sometimes, a teen mother is taken from the home and brings a baby with her."

"Aren't teen mothers emancipated?" This came from Jimmy.

"They can be, but they have to apply for emancipation. If they do, it's automatic at that point, but if they don't, then they're still in the care of their parents or other guardians. Sometimes, we'll pull a fifteen or sixteen year old -- or even younger occasionally -- out of a home and they'll bring their child with them." He handed them a few more pamphlets before standing back up and resituating his beard. They followed him out of the office and down the hall. "Right now, we have a six-day-old baby girl. Her mom is currently in prison with no relatives or anyone else to take care of her. They had a foster family placement arranged, but it fell through at the last minute. I'm not sure why."

"That's so sad."

"Most of these stories are, Mrs. Olsen."

Jimmy glanced at her with a slight smile as she spoke. "Lucy, please."

"Lucy, then. Are you familiar at all with how the foster care system works?"

Lucy hesitated. "Sort of. My parents died when I was fifteen and my sister was seventeen. She married her... high school sweetheart, for lack of a better term, and they were granted custody of me until I was eighteen or out of high school."

"You were lucky. No chance of bouncing from home to home or anything like that."

"My brother-in-law comes from a small town in Kansas. He was orphaned when he was ten, and he bounced around a lot until about his sophomore year in high school or so, I think."

Santa nodded. "That can be pretty typical. Was he adopted?"

"Well, he was as a baby. He was a foundling, but in high school he moved in with some of his parents' best friends and he lived with them for about three years until he graduated high school and moved back to his parents' farm before moving here to marry my sister."

"Here we are," he said, stopping in front of a door. He opened it quietly. There was one of the child care workers in a rocking chair holding a tiny baby, giving her a bottle. "This is Danielle," he whispered.

"Can we take some pictures?" Jimmy asked quietly.

Santa nodded. "As long as you don't use her face you can."

Lucy took a couple of pictures as the worker burped the baby.

Santa turned to her. "Would you like to hold her?"

Lucy glanced at Jimmy, wide eyed. "Can I?"


Lucy handed her camera to Jimmy as the worker stood up carefully to hand her the tiny Danielle. Lucy settled her into the crook of her arm and sat in the rocker. She didn't even notice as Jimmy snapped a number of pictures of the two of them sitting in front of the window. She finally looked up at her husband. "Do you want a turn?"

Jimmy shifted uncomfortably. "I might break her or something."

Santa laughed softly. "You'll be fine. Here, Lucy, let me have her." Lucy passed the baby over and stood up. "Now, Jimmy, have a seat."

Jimmy sat down and Santa carefully placed the little girl in his arms. He looked at her for a long moment. "She's so tiny," he whispered.

"She's a newborn," Lucy whispered back.

"Still." Jimmy rocked carefully. "Hey, little girl." He stroked her cheek with one finger. "You're beautiful, you know that?"

Santa glanced at the clock a few minutes later. "Okay, we've got to get downstairs for the playground opening. Albert Chow should be here in a few minutes..."

"He's coming?" Jimmy asked, surprised, as he handed Danielle back to the worker before standing up.

Santa nodded as they left the room. "He donated the playground equipment and the money to make the area itself safer and fenced in better and so on."

"Maybe we'll have a chance to talk to him," Lucy said quietly to Jimmy.

He nodded as they walked outside onto the new playground.


Lucy held the picture as she sat at the desk.

"What's that, Darlin'?" Perry perched on the edge.

Lucy smiled at him. "One of the pictures from the Emergency Shelter." She handed it over.

"Well, look at him," the editor said softly.

She nodded. "He's a natural, isn't he?"

The picture was of Jimmy, holding Danielle and stroking her cheek, a look of wonder on his face.

"Sure is."

"Don't tell him I have that, would you? I don't want him to think I'm dying to have a baby just yet or anything, but I love that picture of him."

"He won't hear it from me," Perry promised. There was a twinkle in his eye as he spoke again. "I take it that means I won't need to be handling maternity leave for you anytime soon?"

Lucy laughed as she shook her head. "Not planning on it. We want to wait until I've been out of school for a couple years before we start a family."

He nodded. "Well, one of your pictures made the paper. Small, on an inside section, buried between things no one really cares about, but it's there. Jimmy's got a paragraph next to it."

She grinned. "That's great! I don't care if no one will actually see it! Well," she conceded. "I do care, but that's not the point." She glanced at the clock. "Anything else before I get out of here?"

He glanced around. "Where's that husband of yours?"

"He left a couple hours ago. He came in early today."

"Well, don't let it be said that I'm not a sucker for young love or something like that. Did you two write that longer piece?"

Lucy nodded. "It's almost done, I think."

"Well, try to get it to me by tomorrow, would you?"

"We'll finish it up before we get here tomorrow afternoon," she promised.

He clapped her on the shoulder. "See that you do. See you tomorrow, darlin'."

Lucy gathered her things and headed home.


"What's this?" she asked as she walked down the steps in the apartment.

"Merry Christmas in July," Jimmy said with a grin.

She looked around. There were tiny colored Christmas lights around the living room, but it all snapped into place as she glanced towards the bedroom.

She laughed. "Mistletoe?"

"What are you talking about?" he asked innocently as he stood in the archway to their room.

She walked towards him, tossing her purse to the side as she did. She joined him under the mistletoe, kissing him softly.

"Clark wouldn't ever let us have mistletoe around," he reminded her, wrapping his arms around her.

"Do you blame him? Knowing what we know now?"

"I don't think that had anything to do with it. I think he just didn't want me getting that close to you."

"How close?" she whispered.

"This close," he whispered back as he kissed her.

Long minutes later, he smiled back down at her. "I knew this was a good idea. And you know what we haven't done yet?"

"What's that?" She followed his eyes up to the loft where she noticed a white glow. "What did you do?"

He kissed her again before taking her by the hand and leading her to the stairs. "I'll show you."

There were white Christmas lights illuminating the area softly, she saw when they made it up there.

He looked at the ceiling in surprise. "Now, how did that get there?"

Lucy looked up and laughed. "More mistletoe?"

He shrugged. "Even if Clark had let us have mistletoe, he wouldn't even let me up here, much less let me put mistletoe up here, so I thought I'd walk a bit on the wild side. We said we wanted to come back up here sometime and we haven't yet so..."

She pulled him close. "You know you don't need mistletoe to kiss me, right?"

"I know, but this way you can't refuse." He grinned before kissing her again, walking her back towards her old bed.

"Trying to get me in bed, are you, Mr. Olsen?" she asked, more than slightly breathless.

"You better believe it, Mrs. Olsen."

She laughed as they landed on the bed. "Good."


"Have I told you you're insatiable?" Lucy asked as Jimmy wrapped his arms around her from behind.

"Not this week."

"Well, you are," she told him looking at the mistletoe hanging above their bed. "But we have to get up and finish that story for Perry in the morning so..."

He sighed as he walked behind her towards the bed. "We need to get some sleep."

She nodded. "That does not mean, however, that I won't take full advantage of the mistletoe once we're done. If we get done in time before we have to leave for work."

"We'll hurry then."

"I'm sure we will."


October 1989

"Where are you two off to?" Perry asked.

"We're off," Jimmy told him.

"Oh, I know that, I'm just curious. You're not usually in such a hurry."

"We're taking pictures for the Coates Emergency Shelter. Their brochures and stuff have pictures of kids who have kids of their own now. We volunteered to take some new ones for them," Lucy said.

"That's great, kids. You two have been volunteering over there anyway, haven't you?"

Jimmy nodded. "We try to get over there at last once a week or so."

"They should have the new promotional material before the Christmas season, so hopefully, they can get some donations and a bunch of their kids are going to be on Angel trees and stuff."

"That's good. Get out of here, you two. Don't want them waiting on you."

The next day, they left the darkroom very satisfied. "There's some great pictures here, babe. You did a good job," Jimmy told her, looking at a picture of two kids racing down one of the sets of slides.

"You took some great ones, too," she said, passing over a picture he took of a young boy holding Danielle with the help of one of the workers. The little girl was still at the shelter awaiting placement. Her older brother, Joel, had joined her in the shelter a few weeks after their first visit. "That's a great picture of Joel and Danielle."

"I heard they have someone who wants to adopt him."

"But not her?" she asked quietly.

He shook his head. "I don't get it. He's a great little boy and she's a doll. Why wouldn't someone want both of them?"

Lucy sighed. "I don't know." She sank in her chair. She'd finally gotten her own desk, which had been situated at a right angle from his. "Sometimes I wish we could take them home," she said quietly.

He reached for her hand. "We can't, Luce. We've been over that."

"I know."

"Maybe someday we'll be able to adopt a couple of kids in addition to any we have of our own, but it's going to be a while before anyone would seriously consider us as adoptive parents."

"I know, but still..."

He held her hand and rubbed it gently. "I know." He tugged on it until she rolled next to him, glad it was late enough that the newsroom was fairly deserted. "Come here." He wrapped an arm around her as best he could. "They'll find a good home for her."

"I hope so."


Chapter 13

November 1989

Lucy rolled over to look at Jimmy.

"What did the doctor say?" he asked sympathetically as he sat down on the edge of the bed.

"Bronchitis," she said hoarsely. "She gave me some medicine and said I should be feeling better in a couple days." Coughs wracked her body momentarily. She sipped from the glass of water Jimmy handed her. "She also gave me some really strong cough suppressants that should kick in here pretty quick."

He brushed the hair back off her face. "Maybe you'll be able to get some sleep tonight."

She smiled weakly. "You mean, maybe *you'll* be able to get some sleep tonight. I'm sorry I've been keeping you up."

"Hey, I'm just glad you're going to be feeling better soon."

"You're just mad because I haven't been up to having sex with you."

"Well, that too, but I hate seeing you not feeling well, and the Christmas Kick-off party at the Shelter is in three days. I know you don't want to miss that. You're already going to be miserable for Thanksgiving." He kissed her forehead. "Get some sleep. I'll be in in a little bit."

She nodded and closed her eyes, pulling the blankets closer around her.


"I can't believe she's still here," Lucy said as she held Danielle.

"I know," Santa said. "But for some reason, we're having a hard time getting her and Joel placed."

"Well, Perry said we could do another story. He said he got some good feedback on the one we did last summer," Lucy told him. She was glad she wasn't going to have to miss the party. She wasn't feeling like herself, but her doctor had assured her that she wasn't contagious and that the kids would be safe from her germs if she went to the party.

Santa nodded. "We got a few donations from it, too."

"Can we use a picture of Danielle?" Jimmy asked.

Santa hesitated. "You can take some, but let me double check before you use them."

Jimmy nodded. "We can do that."

He snapped a couple of pictures a little while later as Lucy sat on the floor with the baby, 'helping' her open one of her Christmas presents.

They wrote the story the next day, and Perry started it on the front page of one of the local sections, finishing it on one of the inside pages with a picture by each of them, including one of Lucy with Danielle and Joel.


Lucy sighed. She'd been back at work for two days and was nearly back to normal. If only the exhaustion would go away so she wasn't practically dead on her feet by the time she got home from work or school.

She opened another drawer. Where were all her pens? She'd had several before lunch. She'd only been back a few minutes; where could they all have gone?

She leaned over to Jimmy's desk, but didn't find any there either.

And where had he run off to?

They'd eaten lunch together and then she'd visited the ladies' room, but he was nowhere to be found. The door to Perry's office was closed. Maybe he was in there.

She sighed again and headed to the supply closet to get another box of pens.

She was caught only slightly off-guard when she felt arms grab her around the waist as soon as the door shut.

"Took you long enough," her husband growled in her ear.

"I was wondering where you were," she said, her head falling to one side allowing him greater access to her neck. "Do you know what happened to all my pens?"

"Not a clue."

"I don't believe you." She leaned back into him as one arm continued to hold her against him and the other hand slipped under her shirt to briefly caress her stomach before moving up to other -- more interesting -- places.

"Do you have any idea how much I've missed you?"

"I think so."

"It's been eight days," he murmured into her neck. "Four hours, six minutes and two seconds since we made love."

"You keep track like that?"

"No, but it's pretty close. Before work, eight days ago. Then you got too sick."

She turned in his arms, kissing him fiercely as he pushed her up against the door. "I'll make it up to you tonight. I promise," she whispered between kisses.

"Are we both off at four-thirty today?"

"I am."

"Good." He lost himself in the kiss for another minute. "Have I mentioned how glad I am you rarely wear shirts that tuck in anymore?" he managed to get out.

"Did you ever wonder why that was?"

"Not really. I don't look a gift horse in the mouth."

She kissed him again, hard, before pulling back. "We've got to get back to work."

"I know." He leaned his forehead against hers. "What did you come in here for again?"

"To make out with my husband?"

"Besides that."

"Pens. I need pens."

He straightened her shirt and she ran her fingers through his hair first and then her own before kissing him again lightly.

"Why do you think I stopped wearing lipstick to work anyway?" she asked with a wink as she grabbed a box of pens and headed out the door.


December 1989

A week after their story on the Shelter Christmas party appeared in the paper, Lucy got a phone call that excited her.

"Who was that?" Jimmy asked as Lucy set the phone down.

"Santa," she said with a smile. "They found a foster home for Danielle and Joel upstate in Bremerton. He said they're possibly looking to adopt before long."

A grin split his face. "A home for Christmas. What more could they ask for?"

She nodded. "I'll miss her, but I'm glad she's going somewhere. He said it's a great family that has a boy Joel's age, but they're unable to have any more kids so they've been talking about adoption for a while. When they saw the picture of me with the kids in the paper, they knew those were the kids they wanted. They'd already been approved as foster parents so that part was easy."

"That's great."

"They're picking them up this afternoon."


Lucy rolled her eyes. "Duty bellows."

They entered the office to find Perry sitting behind his desk. "I just got a call from Alice. Lois and Clark are already here. What do you two have to finish up?"

They glanced at each other. "I think I'm done, Chief," Jimmy said. "I finished up that stuff that Eduardo wanted and there's nothing else that can't wait until tomorrow."

"Same here. Cat just dropped some stuff off for me, but she doesn't need it anytime soon," Lucy told him.

"Then why don't you two get on out of here and let them know that I'll be along as soon as I can."

They scurried out of the office before he could change his mind.


"Why are you so nervous?" Jimmy asked from his spot on the couch.

"It's the first time they've been over since it became *our* apartment," Lucy told him as she plumped one of the pillows on the chair.

Jimmy grabbed her hand as she walked by, pulling him onto the couch with him. "They won't care if the place is trashed."

She glared at him.

"Okay, they might if it was *trashed*, but it's not and the plumping of one pillow or the slight rearranging of the apples in the bowl on the table isn't going to change the fact that they're going to be happy to see *us* not the apartment."

She sighed and settled in next to him. "I guess."

"Wanna recreate something?" he whispered into her ear, before kissing his way down her neck.

"What's that?" she sighed.

"Making out and hoping Clark didn't catch us."

She looked at the clock. "We don't have enough time..."

"I didn't say anything about *that*. I said 'making out'."

She turned to look at him. "I guess there's worse things in the world than making out with you for a few minutes before they get here."

"I'm not so sure I'm interested if you're going to be like that," he pouted.

She shifted so she was facing him, one leg across his thighs. She leaned in, and when she was millimeters from him, she whispered, "I could always go back to plumping pillows."

"Not a chance," he whispered back, claiming her lips with his own.

They were stretched out on the couch when there was a knock on the door.

Jimmy groaned as he rested his forehead on hers. "Couldn't they have called and said they weren't going to be here for an hour or so."

Lucy laughed as she sat up and handed him his shirt as she picked up hers. "You knew they were going to be here any minute. Why'd you take these off anyway?"

He kissed her quickly. "I like feeling your skin on mine, that's all. And I left your bra on," he pointed out as he pulled his shirt over his head. "You better head to the bathroom for a minute."

She nodded, pulling her sweater over her head as she walked to the bathroom to fix her hair and make-up.

She came back out a minute later to Jimmy grinning and Lois and Clark looking uncomfortable. "What'd I miss?"

Jimmy looked at her. "They were just asking if they were interrupting something because it took too long to answer the door."

Lucy shrugged. "Nothing that we didn't know was going to be interrupted any minute, so get that look off your faces." She smiled at them. "Now I need big hugs from both of you."

Lois shook her head slightly. "We're going to have to get used to the two of you being all over each other, aren't we?"

"Only if you want to be around us," Lucy told her, grinning, as she wrapped her sister in a big hug.

"I may have to reevaluate how much we want to see you," her sister grumbled as she hugged her tight.

Lucy laughed and released her, turning to give Clark a big hug as well, before moving to sit next to Jimmy in their favorite chair. She squeezed his hand lightly as she noticed Clark putting his arm around Lois on the couch. He squeezed back -- he'd noticed it, too.

The four chatted for a while, talking about Japan -- where Lois and Clark were currently living while exploring parts of the Far East -- and school for Lucy and Jimmy as well as their work at the Planet.

Clark glanced at the clock a while later. "We better get back. Perry said he'd be home in about half an hour, and Alice said dinner would be ready when he got there so..."

Jimmy squeezed Lucy's hand tightly as he spoke. "We'll leave here in a few minutes. We're taking presents over tonight but we still have a couple more to wrap. We're heading straight over there after work tomorrow and that way we won't have to come back here."

Lucy squeezed back. "I may go ahead and pack our suitcase, too, so we don't have to worry about it tomorrow either. We won't be far behind you guys."

Lois rolled her eyes. "Don't get up. We'll let ourselves out," she said as they headed for the door.

"We'll see you guys in a bit," Clark said as they left.

Lucy turned to look at Jimmy. "What's that all about? The presents are all wrapped and the suitcase is packed and in the car already."

He kissed her. "I know we knew they were going to interrupt our make out session earlier but..."

She kissed him back. "We don't have long."

"That's okay."


"Don't you two ever stop?" Lois whispered as the sisters carried Lucy and Jimmy's bags up the stairs.

"Not if we can help it," Lucy whispered back.

"Don't think we don't know what was going on when we got there and after we left."

"Before you got there, we were making out. That's it and that's all that was going to happen because we knew you were coming," Lucy informed her. "And after you left... we're *married*. We enjoy being together -- a lot -- and technically we're still honeymooners. You asked if you were going to have to get used to us being all over each other and I told you yes, but I promise we won't go too far in front of you guys. But when we're alone, it's our business and I don't really care if you know if I spent some time this evening making love with my husband. Besides, we're not even late for dinner."

"That's not the point..." Lois started.

"Fine. Next time, instead of making up something about needing to wrap presents or pack our suitcase, I'll just tell you I'm kicking you guys out so I can jump Jimmy. How's that?"

Lois sighed but didn't say anything else as she set a bag of gifts down in the room Jimmy and Lucy would now use together for Christmas Eve at the White's house.

Lucy set their suitcase on the bed. "I'll be down in a few minutes," she told her sister, turning her back to the door. She heard Lois close it as she left. She sank to the bed and swiped at the hot, angry, hurt tears that were coming down her cheeks. Why did she let Lois upset her so much about this?

She heard the door open and shut quietly behind her. "Lois said you might need me," her husband said quietly, moving to sit behind her. She leaned back against him as he wrapped his arms around her. "What is it?"

She shrugged. "She told me she knew what we were doing after they left and I felt like she was acting like we were teenagers sneaking around trying not to get caught. We're married adults. We're not late for dinner -- or we weren't before she upset me -- so what's the big deal if we spend a few quality minutes alone together?"

Jimmy didn't say anything as he just held her for a few minutes. "Maybe she's jealous or something?"

"Why would Lois be jealous of *me*? She's the one who graduated high school at 17 and college at 20 with a great job traveling the world. She's, literally, a millionaire and her first story for the Daily Planet was this huge investigation that brought down a professor, a university VP, a cop and her former boss at the Star. She's brilliant, successful and married to a fabulous guy who's hotter than just about anyone else on earth, except you, is incredibly nice and cooks and *flies* and loves her more than anything. What on earth do I have that she could be jealous of?"

"Well," he started slowly. "Dunno about the 'hot' part, but you have a husband who loves you and who shows you how much on an almost daily basis. You don't have the baggage that she does because she protected you from so much of what happened in your house growing up. You've had the luxury of teen years like she didn't. You didn't have to grow up nearly as fast as she did. You didn't think your husband was cheating on you for two years. You weren't attacked by one of your professors. You made love with your husband on your wedding night and never looked back. She doesn't have that with Clark. Not yet."

She sighed as he hugged her a little tighter. "Maybe, but does she have to try to make me feel guilty about it? Clark would fly them home in a nanosecond if she told him that she wanted to make love to him. And you are *hot*. So why should I feel bad about kicking them out of *our* apartment so that I can spend a little bit of time with you?"

"You shouldn't. Not unless it really does interfere with plans or something -- and then only if it's on a regular basis or makes us miss a plane or something like that, but ten minutes late for dinner once in a blue moon, I wouldn't worry about."

"You know, I hadn't ruled out tomorrow night while we're here, but I hadn't really planned on it either. I know we hadn't talked about it, but now part of me says let's sleep about as much as we did on our wedding night just because she's next door."

He laughed lightly. "I don't know about that, but I wouldn't rule anything out tomorrow night. And once we get home tonight, if you want me to, I'll show you again just how much I love you."

"As soon as we fall inside the door?"

"We'll see, but I want more than that tonight. I want to show you exactly what Lois has to be jealous of."

"Thank you," she said softly. "How do you always know just what I need?"

He kissed her hair. "Because I love you and I know you better than anyone else does, even Lois." He held her for another minute. "You ready to go downstairs? Dinner was just about ready when I came up."

She inclined her head towards the attached bathroom. "Let me go splash some water on my face." She stood up and started towards the other room, when he stood behind her and pulled her to him, cradling her face in one hand. "What?"

He smiled tenderly at her. "I love you, Lucy Olsen. More than anything." He kissed her softly. "And in a couple hours I'll show you just how much. I promise."

"Thank you," she said, again kissing him lightly. "I'll hold you to that."

"Get cleaned up and I'll meet you downstairs in a few minutes."

She nodded and headed to the bathroom.

She was quiet for the rest of the night, smiling and chatting a bit with Clark, Perry and Alice, but avoiding Lois, who seemed to be avoiding her as well. Jimmy never strayed far from her side as they played a game of Scattergories before they headed home.

Once they got home, Jimmy kept his promise and took his time showing her just how much he loved her. As she rested in his arms, tears slid down her cheeks. "Thank you," she whispered.

"For what?"

"For loving me."

"I don't know how not to love you anymore, babe. You're the other half of me. And don't ever let anyone make you feel guilty about showing each other how much we do."


January 1990

Lucy rested her head on the wall behind her. New Year's Day and this flu bug was wiping her out. Fortunately, Jimmy didn't seem to have caught it yet.

Finally deciding that she could get up, she went to collapse on the couch. She clicked the TV on and flipped through the channels finally settling on the Today Show when nothing else jumped out at her.

"And next," Bryant Gumbel told her, "Dr. Johnson on why antibiotics and birth control don't mix."

Her eyes widened. Had her doctor mentioned that when she had bronchitis? She'd been so miserable, she didn't remember much of what had been said except 'here's some drugs that will make you feel better'. She watched the next segment with great interest and knew that, if she felt better in a little bit, she'd be making a trip to the drug store.

After she ate a very light lunch, she went into the bathroom to anxiously await the results. She made herself wait a full five minutes before looking at the stick.

Two lines.

She went to sit on their bed, staring at it. She'd have to tell Jimmy tonight and then decide when they were going to tell everyone else. And what they were going to do about work and school. She was on overload.

The ringing phone brought her out of it.

"Hello?" she said, a bit shaky.

"Hey, babe. How're you feeling?"

She sighed. "A bit better."

"Listen, I only have a minute, but Perry asked if I could play poker with him tonight. Is that okay?"

"Um..." She paused. "I'd rather you didn't, if that's okay."

She'd never told him she'd rather he didn't do something if they didn't have anything specifically planned. "Okay," he said after a pause.

"I'm sorry, honey. Most days I wouldn't mind, but not tonight. Please," she added quietly.

"It's okay," he said quickly -- a bit too quickly Lucy thought. "Really. I'll just tell Perry I can't come, and I'll be home a little after five, okay?"

Tears filled Lucy's eyes. He sounded a bit sad or annoyed or something. "Okay. Maybe later this week? Or next?"

"I'll tell him and see you in a bit."

"Okay. I love you."

"Love you, too, babe." She heard Perry shouting in the background. "I gotta go. Bye." And he hung up.

Lucy flopped back on the bed, tears streaking out of her eyes.

Stupid hormones must be getting to her already.

She knew that once she told him, he'd understand why she hadn't wanted him to go, but until then... He was annoyed with her and that hurt. He should know she wouldn't ask him for no reason at all. It wasn't like they never saw each other or anything like that.

She was asleep on the bed, when he got home.

She knew he was trying to be quiet, but he woke her up nonetheless.

"Hi," she said quietly, leaning against the brick of the archway.

"Hey. You didn't have to get up. I know you're not feeling well. I would have even stayed out of your hair all night."

She shook her head. "I know. It's not that."

He stopped at her serious tone. "What is it?"

She went to sit down on the couch. "I needed to talk to you. That's why I didn't want you to go to Perry's tonight."

He sat next to her, taking her hand in his. "What is, babe?"

She wiped at her cheeks with her free hand. "I saw something on TV this morning and... It made me think. So I went to the store... and then after lunch..." The tears came faster.

"Hey." He pulled her to him, wrapping his arms around her. "Whatever it is, it can't be that bad."

She sniffled, trying to get herself under control. Finally, she just blurted it out. "I'm pregnant."

He was silent for a minute. "Could you say that again?"

She took a deep, shaky breath. "I'm pregnant. We're having a baby."

"Wow," he said, sinking back a bit further into the couch.

"Tell me about it. This morning, they were talking about antibiotics counteracting birth control. I think my doctor may have said something about it when I went to see her when I had bronchitis but I really don't remember. And then, between Thanksgiving and Christmas..."

"We were busy," he finished for her.

She nodded. "Busiest since our honeymoon, I think. Making up for when I was sick and then the whole Lois thing..."


"And that's about when I'd have been ovulating so..."

He grinned suddenly. "We'll always have a souvenir of our first Christmas as a married couple."

"Are you okay with this?"

He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Well, it's a lot to take in, and I'll freely admit to being caught more than a bit off guard."

"I know you were kind of annoyed that I didn't want you to go play poker and then I was sleeping when you got here... But I didn't want to put this off and I didn't want to wait until after you got home from Perry's because there's no way to know how late you'll be."

"I was a bit annoyed," he admitted. "I didn't see why I needed to sit here while you slept in the other room, but I also knew you wouldn't tell me you wanted me home just because you didn't want me to go out without you. And now that I know why..." He blew out another breath. "Wow."

"Yeah. 'Wow' is about the mildest of some of the stuff I've said today."

"So what does this mean for you? For school? Work?"

She shrugged. "I don't know. I think I'll be due in the summer so hopefully I won't miss much school -- maybe next fall, but we'll have to see about that. Maybe I can overload this spring to help with that. As for work..." She paused. "I think I'll be okay. It's not like I run around dangling over the jaws of death on a regular basis or anything."

"You have no idea how glad I am that you don't." He wasn't sure when, but at some point, one hand had found its way onto her still-flat stomach. He rubbed it gently. "There's a baby in there," he whispered in awe. "*My* baby. *Our* baby."

"You're okay with this?"

"Well, it's happening whether we're okay or not, so we might as well be okay. We've always said we wanted kids; this is just a bit earlier than planned."

"A bit?"

"Okay, a lot earlier than planned, but it's going to be just fine. We'll figure it out. Lois will give us some of the inheritance money to get some baby stuff -- like a crib or whatever else we need. We don't have to buy new. We can send Alice garage sale hunting this spring. You know how much she loves that, and you can go with her whenever you can."

"What about your parents?" she asked quietly.

He sighed. "I'll try to call Mom, but I have no idea how to get a hold of my dad except for that address, so I guess I'll send him a card."

"It's a good thing we kept that money then, huh?"

Jimmy laughed. "Yeah, I guess so. What about Perry? How soon do we want to tell him? You probably don't really have the flu," he pointed out.

"Probably not, and today was better than yesterday." She sighed. "We probably need to tell them pretty quickly. I mean, I may need to run to the bathroom every once in a while, and I need to find a good doctor. I know Alice loves hers so I can get a recommendation from her and hope that she's taking new patients. And we need to figure out how much our insurance will cover and all that so we can start planning for those expenses."

"What about Lois and Clark?"

Lucy glanced at the clock. "It's already tomorrow there. Do you want to call them first? Or do you want to wait until we've been to the doctor or what?"

Jimmy thought for a minute. "I'm not sure about right now. Their flight just got in not too long ago. Why don't we call them before work tomorrow? It'll be tomorrow evening there and they'll have had time to recover a bit. We can tell them, then see if Perry and Alice want to have dinner tomorrow night and tell them."

Lucy moved so that she was facing him head on. "Have I told you today how much I love you?"

He grinned. "Not since I got home."

"I love you. So much it hurts sometimes." She leaned in and kissed him softly. "And now we're going to have a baby."

His grin got even wider. "We're going to have a baby!"

She nodded. "We are."

He stood up and yelled at the top of his lungs. "*We're* *going* *to* *have* *a* *baby*!!!"

Lucy laughed. "We are."

He grabbed her hand and pulled her up into his arms. "You're going to have my baby." This was quieter.

"I am."

"I love you."

"I love you, too."

He looked concerned suddenly. "Can we still... do the things that got you this way in the first place?"

"That would be what you're the most concerned about," she said with a smile.

He shook his head emphatically. "That's not it at all. I'm most concerned about you, but..."

"But you really don't want to go nine or ten months without being together?"

He grimaced. "Not really."

"We went three and a half years," she reminded him.

"But I didn't know what I was missing then," he whined, before growing serious. "If you can't, you can't, but I'd really rather you could."

"I know. And I don't think it's a problem at all unless there's something wrong, but I can't imagine that there is." She kissed him. "And I think a celebration might be in order."

"Are you sure you're feeling well enough for that."

She smiled at him, taking his hand and heading for the other room. "Oh, yeah."


Lucy rolled over to pick the phone up, hoping to get to it before it rang again and woke Jimmy up. It wasn't like she was sleeping anyway.

"Hello?" she said quietly.

"Lucy?" came the voice over the phone line.

"Lois! We were going to call you in the morning to make sure you got in okay."

"Well, I only have a minute. I wanted to let you know our flight got really delayed. There was a medical emergency of some kind -- a heart attack, I think -- so we landed in Hawaii and then as we were getting ready to take off there some problem with the reverse thrusters or something I think Clark said. Anyway, we sat on the tarmac for ages and they finally got us off and we're getting ready to board the next flight. I know you're not feeling well, but I don't know that we'll be in before you'd have called tomorrow."

"Well, there's a reason I haven't been feeling well," Lucy told her, grateful for the opening.

"What's that?"

Lucy took a deep breath, grateful that Jimmy had woken up enough to put an arm around her for support. "I'm pregnant."

"What?" Lois asked after a second.

"We're having a baby." Lucy held her breath waiting for the reaction.

"Wow. I didn't know you guys were planning on..."

"We weren't," Lucy interjected. "The antibiotics from when I had bronchitis reacted with my birth control. At least that's what we think. I just took a test this afternoon. We haven't told anyone else yet, but I'm going to see if Alice can get me in with her doctor and we'll know more after I see someone."

"Are you happy about this?" Lois asked quietly.

"I am," Lucy answered in the same tone. "We didn't plan this, but we want this baby very much. He or she will never have any reason to believe otherwise, even if it is completely unexpected at this point." Lucy heard Clark telling Lois it was the last boarding call for their flight. "You better go. Let someone know when you get home -- even if you just call Perry. I'll talk to you again soon, okay?"

"Okay. Let me know if there's anything we can do or anything."

"Well, we may need some of the money for baby stuff, but other than that... We're fine."

"Good. Love you, Luce. Congratulations. Tell Jimmy, too."

"Love you, too. Tell Clark."

"I will. Gotta run though."


Lucy hung up the phone gently.

"What'd she say?"

Lucy shrugged. "They got delayed and won't be home for a while but their plane was boarding. She just said she didn't know we were planning on getting pregnant and asked if I was happy about it and that's about it. Congratulations. She loves us, gotta go, bye."

"Well, we've had time for it to sink in and she hasn't. I'm sure she'll be more excited for us next time you talk to her. You caught her off guard, just like you did me last night. It took me a few minutes to catch up and she didn't have time," he reminded her with a yawn.

"You're right." She sighed. "I guess I was just hoping for a more immediately excited response."

"Well, you'll have a chance to try it out again tonight on Perry and Alice."

"If they're not busy," she reminded him. "We haven't even asked them yet."

"It's Wednesday. They're never busy on Wednesday." He pulled her closer to him. "You need to get some sleep, babe. You're sleeping for two now you know."

Lucy laughed. "Maybe I won't be nauseous this morning so I can actually go to work."

"I hope you can. I missed you yesterday."

"I was too sick and then too shocked to miss you too much."

"Well, I *hope* you're going to be with me today. Perry can holler at you for a bit because you know that once he finds out he'll treat you with kid gloves and I'll have to do all the hard work."

"You wouldn't have it any other way."

Jimmy sighed. "No, I wouldn't. Get some sleep."

"Yes, sir." Lucy sighed as she settled in next to him, but it would be a while before sleep finally came.


Chapter 14

"Are you sure you're feeling better, Lucy?" Alice asked, concern in her voice as Lucy just pushed her dinner around on her plate.

Lucy smiled. "Yeah, I am. Really."

"Is something bothering you then?"

Lucy looked at Jimmy who shrugged. "It's up to you."

Perry and Alice exchanged a look. "What is?" Perry asked.

Lucy took a deep breath. "Well, we were going to wait until after dinner, but... I don't have the flu."

Understanding began to dawn on Alice's face, but Perry just looked puzzled.

Lucy grasped Jimmy's hand. "We're having a baby," she blurted out.

Perry's jaw dropped. "What?"

"We're having a baby," Jimmy repeated quietly, a big grin offsetting his tone.

Perry whistled. "Wow," he said leaning back in his chair. "Was this a planned thing? I didn't think you two were..."

Lucy shook her head. "Antibiotics and birth control don't mix."

Alice nodded. "I've heard that."

"What do you two think about it?"

They shared a look, but Lucy spoke first. "I saw a thing on the Today Show yesterday about it. I took a test after lunch and then spent the afternoon in shock. That's why I didn't want Jimmy to play poker last night. I wanted to tell him when we'd have time to talk and I didn't want to wait."

"Well, of course, darlin'. No question about it. He needed to be home last night, not losing five bucks to me," Perry told her.

"We're happy," Jimmy told them. "We hadn't planned on kids until Lucy was out of school for a couple years, but we'll find a way to make it work so that she can graduate, though it may take an extra semester or two by the time it's all said and done. Once I graduate, that'll help since I'll just be working and not interning or taking classes and stuff."

"Will you stay at the apartment or look for something else?" Alice asked.

Lucy shoved her plate back, not even pretending to eat any longer. "It's delicious, Alice, really, but my stomach's in knots right now." She sighed. "I don't know. We haven't talked about much of anything yet. By the time it all sank in last night, we pretty well went straight to bed." A glance at Jimmy said there was no reason to mention they hadn't gone straight to sleep. "And we had to be at work fairly early this morning, but I did talk to Lois for a minute and told her."

Jimmy leaned over towards Perry, a big grin on his face. "I'm going to be a dad!" he whispered conspiratorially.

Perry laughed. "Let's head into the living room and talk about this some more."

Lucy picked up her plate and stood to take it into the kitchen.

Jimmy took it from her. "Nope. I got it."

Lucy rolled her eyes. "It's dishes to the sink."

"I told you I'm going to take care of you," he reminded her. "Now let me." He kissed her quickly. "Go have a seat and put your feet up."

"You go on with her, sugar. We'll get all this," Perry said picking up his own plate.

Lucy sat in the big chair and propped her feet up on the ottoman, her head falling back and her eyes closing as she did.

"You okay?" Alice asked softly.

"Yeah," she said without moving. "I didn't sleep much at all last night."

"I bet." She took a sip of the coffee she'd brought with her. "And you're okay with this?"

"Does it matter? Abortion isn't an option, so we're having a baby whether we're ready or not." She sighed. "But for the record, I am excited -- or I will be once it sinks in a bit more. I think Jimmy's taking to it a lot better than I am or adapting quicker than I am anyway. Every time I looked at him today, he was grinning."

"I wondered why he was smiling so much tonight." She took another sip. "What can we do to help?"

"We talked about sending you on garage sale hunts this spring if you wanted to, and I'd go with you when I can. We're gonna need all kinds of baby stuff. Crib, changing table, all that other stuff."

"I'd be happy to. You know I garage sale nearly every Friday and some Saturdays anyway."


"What's your first thought about the apartment?"

Lucy thought for a minute. "I love it there. I never thought I'd say that. For a long time, it was the place where I tried to avoid hearing Lois and Clark... practice making babies, but I got over that and now it's our first home together. Something bigger would be so much more expensive."

"Where would you put the baby if you stayed?"

"Well, I don't think the loft is a good option for a baby. Trying to walk up and down the steps holding a baby would be too hard, I think." Alice nodded. "Maybe under the loft. Move the desk and stuff and there should be room for a crib and maybe a dresser under there."

"What about work and school?"

She sighed. "I have no idea what we're going to do just yet. I want to finish school. I want to be a photojournalist with Jimmy, but having a baby this early... We won't have the chance to travel and stuff like Lois and Clark have until the kids are all out of the house -- however many kids we end up having. I had thoughts running through my head today at work, but it's not like I've talked to Jimmy about them yet."

"What's that?" Jimmy asked as he walked into the room with Perry.

"Work, mainly," she told him. "I love my job and I want to do the things we talked about doing before we had kids, but that's not going to happen now. So what's the backup plan? Do I still work at the Planet? Do I find something else? Stern's opening a daycare this spring anyway, so that would take care of that, but we'd always talked about me staying home or working from home part time when we had kids, but we'd thought it was going to be years from now. Having a studio of some kind or something like that but..."

Jimmy reached over from his seat on the couch to grasp her hand. "We'll figure it out, babe."

"I know."

They talked for a while longer until Lucy yawned and Jimmy insisted that he take her home to get some sleep.

Later that night she woke up to find the bed next to her empty. She sat up and looked around to see Jimmy sitting on the window seat. She stood and walked towards him. "What's that?" she asked gesturing towards something in his hand.

He smiled and held his other hand out towards her, pulling her to sit on his lap when she took it. "It's a picture of you and Danielle." He handed it to her. "From the first day we were there. I've always loved it and thought you looked so natural with her, and now we get to find out for ourselves."

She took it and stared at herself with the little baby. "I'm glad she has a home now."

"Me, too."

"I have a picture of you with her from that day, too, you know."

"You do?"

She nodded. "Perry's seen it but he promised not to say anything because I didn't want you to think I had some baby biological clock thing going on. I told him that you looked so natural with her, too, and he agreed."

"How're you feeling?"

She shrugged. "I think I may have really had a bit of a stomach bug because I felt so much better today, but I guess we'll have to wait and see."

"I love you, you know."

"I know. But will you still want me when I'm huge?" Lucy asked without looking at him, voicing the thought that had been bothering her all day.

He used one hand to turn her face to look at him. "I can't think of anything sexier than knowing you're carrying my baby."


He kissed her gently. "Promise."


Lucy and Lois sat in the living room. Jimmy and Clark had left a while earlier to head over to the storage unit where they'd housed much of what Aunt Louise had left them. Lois and Clark were moving into her brownstone the next day and the guys had gone to start organizing -- at least in their minds -- what they needed to do.

"I'm glad you guys are moving back," Lucy told her sister. "I've missed you."

"I've missed you, too." Lois paused for a second before continuing. "And I owe you an apology." She didn't look at Lucy as she spoke.

Lucy's brows furrowed as she tried to think what Lois would have to apologize for, but nothing came to mind.

"I gave you a hard time at Christmas about you and Jimmy and I shouldn't have," Lois told her. "You guys *are* married adults and as long as you aren't right in front of us or regularly making us late for stuff or whatever, you guys can do what you want in the privacy of your own home." She winced. "You have no idea how hard that is for me to say. Even though you guys have been married for a while now and I know you two waited for your wedding night, it's easier from ten or more time zones away where I can imagine that you two hold hands and that's about it. Being confronted face to face with the change in your relationship was a bit much for me. And I know you said we'd have to get used to it, but I didn't really think you meant it, you know?"

Lucy nodded. "Apology accepted."

Lois sighed. "And I didn't really want you to say that you wanted us to leave so you could..." She rolled her eyes. "... jump Jimmy, I think you said but... even when I did think about you two..." She waved her hand vaguely towards the bedroom. "...I guess I never thought that you'd be so... open about the change in your relationship -- so much more openly flirtatious and a lot more thinly disguised insinuations and apparently any preconceived notions I might have about how seldom you two might engage in those sorts of activities were completely off."

"I would imagine so," Lucy said quietly. "But I won't apologize for loving my husband and enjoying a wonderful, active, healthy sex life with him."

"You don't need to. And I really am sorry if I made you feel like that part of your relationship with Jimmy was..." She sighed. "Oh, I don't know. Something to be ashamed of or something you needed to try to hide while we're around or something like that."

"Well, we won't. We don't want to make anyone uncomfortable or anything, but we're also not going to... change who we are together either. I mean, it's not like we're going to make out or grope at each other in front of anyone, but we're also not going to stop holding hands or kissing or touching each other either. We might even sneak in a fairly passionate kiss or two or engage in a mild groping session when we're *alone* in another room together, but not in front of other people. We're not exhibitionists."

"That's good." She winced. "And I don't want to know if you've ever snuck off into the supply closet or not either."

"For the record, we haven't."

The door opened and Jimmy and Clark walked in laughing about something.

"We better get going, Jim," Clark said as their chuckles subsided. "You ready, Lois?"

Lois nodded and stood, giving her sister a hug before she headed for the door. "I really am happy for you, Luce."

"I know," Lucy whispered back.

As soon as they were gone, she moved so Jimmy could sit close to her. "What was that all about?"

"Let's just say that Lois probably thinks we're half naked already," Lucy said, snuggling back against him.

"Why aren't we?" he asked, kissing the curve of her neck softly.

She laughed. "She also thinks we engage in short but passionate embraces and groping sessions every time we're out of the room together."

Jimmy was puzzled. "But we do."

"Not *every* time," Lucy protested weakly.

"Nearly so."

"That's not the same as *every* time."

Jimmy laughed. "Close enough."

"She also said she didn't want to know if we've ever snuck off to the supply closet together."

"What did you tell her?"

"That we haven't."

"You lied to her?"

Lucy shook her head emphatically. "I did not. We didn't *sneak*. We've never *sneaked*. We just walked into the supply closet together in full view of everyone and came back out a few minutes later with our arms loaded with supplies."

"And your hair was slightly messed up and your skirt twisted."

"All we did was kiss a bit."

"Just kiss?" Jimmy asked kissing her neck again.

"Okay, you pushed me up against the door and copped a feel real quick while we kissed, but that's it, before we grabbed a few notepads, pens and what turned out to be eighteen boxes of paper clips. And it was like the second day we were back after our honeymoon. She was insinuating a lot more than that, and that didn't happen."

"But it is every time we end up in there together," he pointed out.

"Not the hair messed up, skirt skewed part. That was only the first time. Cat suggested we be a bit more careful about our appearance when we reemerge and we have been."

"Your point is?"

"My point is -- so?"

"That's precisely why absolutely no one was surprised to find out that you're pregnant."

"So we can't keep our hands off each other in private," Lucy sighed as he resumed nuzzling her neck.

"Who cares what your sister thinks anyway?"

"Me. Sometimes."

"So why exactly aren't we half naked yet?"

She sighed softly. "I don't know, but I'd bet money that once Lois and Clark are in the newsroom and doing those sorts of things, we'll have to fight for supply closet time."

"I don't really want to think about them," he said as he pushed her to a standing position and walked behind her towards their room.

"Me, either."



February 1990

"Have you gotten a hold of your mom yet?" Lucy asked as she brushed her hair.

Jimmy shook his head as he tucked his shirt in. "No. I've called a bunch of times and left messages for her to call me and every phone number I can think of -- even Perry and Alice's and Lois and Clark's in case she tries to call when we're at one of their houses, but nothing yet."

"What are you going to do?" she asked quietly.

He sighed. "Send her a card, too, I guess."

"We'll do that today," she promised, moving to put her arms around him and hold him for a minute. "We'll send both of them cards this afternoon."

"What kind of cards?" he asked.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, just a blank note card that says 'hey, you're going to be a grandparent' or something all cutesy like a Valentine's card to Grandma or Grandpa?"

"What do you want?"

He sighed. "I can't imagine them actually being grandparents to this baby. Not like Perry and Alice will."

"Blank card it is. Do you want to write them or do you want me to?"

He kissed the top of her head. "They're my parents. I'll take care of it."

She pulled back enough to look up at him. "I love you, Jimmy." She kissed him softly.

"I know, babe. I love you, too."

That afternoon, she sat at her desk and watched as he struggled with the words to write. He finally sighed and passed the card over. "What do you think?"

She read it. There was no title or salutation of any kind. It wasn't addressed to 'Mom' or 'Dad', it just started. "'We just wanted to let you know,'" she read, "'that we're expecting our first child this August. Sincerely, James and Lucy Olsen.'" She sighed. "Well, it's succinct."

He shrugged. "I don't know what else to say."

She flipped the care over to see 'Greetings' on the front in gold scroll. "Is this for your mom or dad?"

He shrugged again. "Either. Sure, I lived with my mom until we got married, but it's not like I ever saw her after I was about fifteen or so. Sometimes once a week, rarely more, usually less. She worked hard to make sure we had a roof over our heads and all that, but I have more of a relationship with the Cat in the Hat than I do with her."

She grabbed his hand. "Come on." She led him to the supply closet. "I don't care what anyone thinks we're doing," she told him as she pulled him into her arms. His head dropped onto her shoulder and they stood there for long minutes.

"Is there something wrong with me, Luce?" His voice was muffled by her body.

"No, baby. There's nothing wrong with you. You are a wonderful, caring, compassionate, smart, professional, kind, loving person. You're the best husband I could ask for and you're going to be a great father." She moved back and held his face between her hands, the tears in his eyes breaking her heart. "You are going to be the best father you can possibly be because you know how much it hurts when a parent isn't there."

He rested his forehead on hers. "How do you always know just what I need?"

She smiled as she remembered his words while sitting on the bed two days before Christmas. "Because I love you and I know you better than anyone else."

"Thanks." He stood up and took a shaky breath before the boyish grin she loved so much crossed his face again.


"We should probably get back out there before they all think we're doing things in here that we're not." He pulled her close, kissing her softly. "I love you."

"I know." She smiled back up at him. "And get those thoughts out of your head. I don't care how long we've been in here, we're not doing *that*."

The door cracked open just a bit. "Lucy? Jimmy?" It was Clark.

Lucy rolled her eyes. "You can come in."

He pushed the door open farther. "Um, Jim, your mom just called but said she couldn't hold and didn't know when she'd be able to talk to you."

The grin disappeared and he leaned against the shelving. One hand ran through his hair.

"Oh, Jimmy. I'm so sorry." Lucy's face fell. "If I hadn't pulled you in here..."

He shook his head. "No. I needed that." He looked up at Clark. "Don't go there, man. I was trying to figure out the right wording on cards to my parents to tell them we're having a baby. Lucy knew I needed a minute." He sighed. "I've been trying to get a hold of her and leaving her messages for weeks. She calls back when it'll take a minute to get me and can't hold that long, how did she expect to carry on an actual conversation with me?"

Lucy moved back to his side and wrapped her arms around him. "It'll be okay."

"I know."

Clark sighed sympathetically. "Listen, how much longer are you supposed to be here?"

Jimmy looked at his watch. "Not much longer, but Lucy's got a couple more hours."

"Do you have anything that can't wait, Luce?"

She grimaced. "Yeah. I've got some stuff Burns needs this afternoon. I don't know how much longer it's going to take."

"Is it something I can do for you?" Clark asked.

She shook her head. "It would take me too long to get you caught up."

"Well, I can get out of here for a bit with you if you want, Jim. Go play some basketball or something. Whatever you want."

"Go ahead. I'll tell Perry and mail the cards unless you want me to wait." Lucy smiled at them.

"Okay." He kissed her. "Thanks, babe. And I would appreciate it if you'd mail them. The addresses are on my Rolodex."

"That's what I'm here for." She smiled. "Now, you two get out of here and go be all testosterone-y."

She watched as they walked to the elevator before she headed to Perry's office to tell him Jimmy had left for the day and Clark would be back in a bit. She sighed as she noticed Lois waiting for her by her desk. "Don't start with me," she warned when she got close enough. "It wasn't what you were thinking."

Lois sat in Jimmy's chair. "I'm thinking that Jimmy's mom called and said that her son had been trying to get a hold of her but she couldn't wait and that there's notes on your desks telling someone that you're having a baby and nothing else. I'm thinking that Jimmy can't get a hold of his parents and you two needed a minute together."

Lucy sighed and gathered the note cards. "You're right, but what are you doing reading stuff on my desk?"

Lois shrugged. "I'm an investigative reporter -- most of the time. It's what I do."

Lucy tried to deflect. "Are you okay? You've been in the newsroom a lot the last week or so."

Lois sighed. "Don't try to change the subject. I'm fine, but is Jimmy?"

Lucy nodded. "I think he will be. He and Clark went to go play basketball for a while and burn off some testosterone."

"Good for them." Lois paused for a minute. "Are you guys going to be at dinner Saturday?"

Lucy thought for a minute. "I don't know why we wouldn't be."


She thought Lois looked relieved when her phone rang.

"I'll talk to you later," Lois called over her shoulder as she headed back to her desk.


The ride home from Perry and Alice's house Saturday night was quiet.

"I guess we know whether things have gotten better between Lois and Clark," Lucy said as they walked in the apartment. "She's only about four and a half weeks or so behind me in her pregnancy."

"Lois is pregnant." Jimmy shook his head. "That's pretty big news."

She yawned and stretched her back out. "She told me that she wasn't planning on telling me when their relationship changed, but that was only a couple weeks ago. She had to have gotten pregnant around the first of the year."

He moved behind her and dug his thumbs in the small of her back. "Right there?"

She nodded. "How'd you know?"

"I can tell," he said with a smile. "Your back's been bothering you all night." He kneaded the muscles of her lower back with his thumbs. "Why don't you go take a hot shower and see if that helps?"

"I think I will, and then I'm going to go to sleep, I think," she answered with a yawn.

"Good idea. And you can sleep as late as you want tomorrow. We've got the day off."

She nodded again as she walked towards the bathroom. "I think that's a good thing. I need the break."

They spent most of the next day doing laundry and cleaning the apartment before breaking out their books and doing some homework.

Finally, Lucy pushed back from the table. "I don't think I can concentrate any more. What do you want for dinner?"

Jimmy shrugged. "Do you want to make something or order out?"

Lucy grimaced. "I don't really want to make anything."

"Pizza it is. Our regular?"

She nodded. "Would you mind going to pick it up so we don't have to wait to get it delivered? Their delivery times have been unreal lately."

He left a few minutes later, and she picked up the mail they'd tossed on the counter the night before.

She picked up one envelope in particular as she passed it. It was addressed to both of them but she wavered before opening it. Finally, she decided to go through the rest of it and then decide. Another envelope caught her eye as well.

She sighed and opened both of them, hoping to get it done and put up before Jimmy got back. She put them inside one of her textbooks and cleaned up the table. She'd tell him about it after dinner.

They talked of baby names and plans for the apartment as they ate but Lucy grew more and more quiet as the meal went on, anticipating what she was sure was going to be an unpleasant conversation for her husband.

Jimmy wiped his mouth with a napkin, looking intently at her. "What is it?"

She grinned wryly. "That obvious?"

"To me it is."

She sighed and reached for the book she'd set to the side. "I was going through the mail from yesterday while you were gone."

"What was in it?"

"Two things." She took a deep breath and let it out slowly before she continued. "One shouldn't surprise you at all. We'd already talked about it."

"What's that?"

"A check from your dad."

"Ah." Disappointment flitted across his face. "No note or anything?"

She shook her head. "Same as last time, only the postmark was from Florida."

"I see." He picked an olive up out of the pizza box and started shredding it with his fingers. "How much?"

"Two grand again," she said quietly.

"Glad to know Dad's apparently doing well for himself," he said sardonically. He leaned back and sighed. "What else?"

She paused before continuing. "A note from your mom."

"What'd she have to say? Or do I want to know?"

"She said congratulations and that she set up an account at one of those baby stores in Pittsdale for us to buy whatever we need up to whatever dollar amount she put in there. She didn't say how much."

"That was nice of her." He rolled his eyes as he spoke.

"There was more."


Lucy didn't look at him for a minute, but watched him carefully as she spoke. "She's moving. To New Zealand."

Jimmy let out the breath he'd been holding.

"She said if you wanted to come pick up anything else from the house you need to do it by the end of the month. She's already got a buyer for the house."

He leaned back in his chair. "Why does this surprise me?" he asked softly. "It shouldn't. She didn't come to graduation. She didn't come to our wedding, and she's local -- usually."

Lucy moved to stand behind him, wrapping her arms around him, her chin resting on his head. "I'm sorry."

He shook his head. "It's not your fault." He sighed. "We've been together for over four years now and I lived with her for most of that. Have you even met her?"

Lucy hesitated. "Once. I don't think I ever told you about it -- I don't know why, something happened and I just forgot, I guess. It was... I guess about a year or so after we started dating. I stopped by your house to drop something off for you. You weren't there but she was just getting ready to leave. I only talked to her for a minute and she was gone. She said something like, 'Hi, nice to meet you. See you around. Tell Jimmy I'll be back sometime next week.'"

He leaned his head back against her chest. "At least you met her once, I guess. You know what our baby's grandma looks like."

"I'd much rather you knew her," she responded quietly.

"Yeah, well, that's not going to happen."

Lucy sighed and kissed the top of his head, resting there for a moment. "I love you."

Jimmy sighed. "I know, babe. I know."


Chapter 15

March 1990

"What're you doing?" Lucy whispered as she woke up.

"Shhh," Jimmy said, looking at her sternly from where he was half lying on top of her stomach, one hand resting on her expanding abdomen. "I'm talking to my baby."

Lucy grinned. "Do you really think he can hear you?"

He glared at her. "Quiet, please. How do you expect her to hear me if you're talking?"

She giggled a bit. "Okay. I'll be quiet."

"Now, I'm not going to change the conversation just because you're awake."

She nodded.

He moved closer to her, laying his cheek on her stomach. "Here we come, walkin' down the street," he sang. "Get the funniest looks from, everyone we meet... Hey, hey we're the Monkees! People say we monkey around, but we're too busy singin' to put anybody do-wn." He glanced at her and glared again as she covered her mouth trying to hold in the laughter. "Just tryin' to be friendly, come watch us sing and play, we're the young generation and we got something to say. Hey, hey we're the Monkees! People say we monkey around, but we're too busy singin' to put anybody do-wn."

She couldn't hold back any longer and she dissolved into giggles.

"Hey," he said seriously. "I'm having a very serious conversation with my baby here."

It turned into full-blown laughter, but she covered her mouth trying to stifle the sound.

"If you don't stop, I'm going to have to make you," he growled. "This is a private, serious time with my child."

"And how are you going to stop me?" she managed to get out between laughs.

He moved up her body until he was leaning over her, one hand on either side of her shoulders. "Like this," he growled as he bent his elbows in an imitation of the downward motion of a pushup so he could kiss her, careful to keep his weight off her stomach. After a long minute, he pushed back up. "Can you be quiet now?"

She nodded, slightly breathless but with a smirk on her face.

He moved back down to her stomach, leaning on one elbow, his other hand pushing her shirt up to expose her stomach, now larger than it used to be. His fingers drew random patterns on the soft skin. "Now, since your mom doesn't like my singing much, I won't move on to Elvis, though Grandpa Perry will be disappointed. He married us, you know. Someday -- when you're older -- you'll have to ask him how he got ordained at the Church of Blue Suede Deliverance. It was a beautiful wedding. Mostly because of your mom. She was gorgeous. She still is and she will be for as long as I have the privilege of being her husband. She's worried that having you growing inside her is going to make her unattractive, but I'm telling you, she's glowing. She's never been more beautiful. Except maybe on our wedding night, but you're not old enough for that kind of conversation and, if I have my way, you might never be."

He glanced up at Lucy to see the laughter gone and replaced by a smile and tears. "She cries at the drop of a hat these days, but you probably know that. But even then, she's beautiful. And when you're big enough, I'm going to teach you how to ride a bike and throw a fast ball and..."

"What if she's a girl?" Lucy whispered.

He glared at her again. "She can still throw a fast ball. And hit better than all the boys. And if you're a girl, I'll make sure the boys treat you right. And I'll teach you how to dance so you can dance at your wedding with your husband. That is, if I ever let you date. And even then you'll have to take your indestructible cousin with you. But I'll teach you to drive and to play basketball and take you fishing and all those other things. But most of all, I'm going to be here, Little One. I'm never going to leave you and your mom. I'm going to love you and take care of you and be there for you and do everything in my power to make sure you're well taken care of and that you know how much I love both you and your mom. And I'm going to love your mom so that you know what a happy, loving marriage is like. And I'm probably going to embarrass you to no end when you're a teenager because your mom and I... we'll still be acting like honeymooners. You'll say that you hate it, but really, you'll be happy that we still love each other and you don't have to worry about whether or not we're going to split up someday." He kissed her stomach gently. "I love you, Little One. I always will."

He moved back up to lean on his elbow next to her, his head resting on one hand and his other hand still resting on her stomach. "Good morning," he said, kissing her softly.

"Good morning." She smiled at him. "Do you do that often when I'm asleep?"

"Well, it's the first time I've sung the Monkees, but sometimes."

She looked at the clock. "I need to get up and start drinking all that water."

"What time is the appointment?"

"The ultrasound is at 9:30. I have to get 32oz of water down between now and 8:30 and I can't pee until after it's over. We see the doctor at ten I think."

He stood up and held out a hand which she took gladly as he helped her stand up.

"And since I'm not going to be able to go until then, I need to go now."

"I'll get you something to eat and your first glass of water."



"There we are." The technician pressed the wand into Lucy's stomach. "That's your baby."

Lucy's eyes filled with tears as she held Jimmy's hand. "There he is," she whispered.

"Yeah," he whispered back, the grin that had been on his face almost non-stop since he realized he was going to be a father got even wider.

"Do you want to know the gender?"

Lucy shook her head. "No. We want to be surprised."

"Okay then." The technician pointed out the heart and arms and legs and spine. They saw eyes and a nose and ears and even a minute of thumb sucking.

They left the room with a couple of pictures in hand and headed for the waiting room. They sat on one of the small couches and Jimmy pulled her close to him with one arm, kissing the side of her head. "I love you."

"I love you, too," Lucy said quietly as she stared at the pictures.

A few minutes later, one of the nurses called her name and they headed to an exam room.

Lucy grimaced as she weighed in and rested on the table as the doctor measured her stomach. She held out a hand and helped Lucy sit up.

"Everything looks great," Dr. McCorkle told them. "The baby is the right size for nearly twenty weeks and development is right on."

The couple let out a sigh of relief. "That's good to know," Lucy told her.

They talked for a few more minutes, before the doctor asked one more question. "Anything else?"

"I don't think so." Lucy looked at her husband. "You?"

"Well," he shifted uncomfortably. "Can the baby hear anything?"

Lucy rolled her eyes. "Apparently, he's been talking to my stomach in my sleep."

The doctor laughed. "That's never a bad thing."

"He sang the Monkees theme song this morning," Lucy told her with a raised brow.

The doctor laughed. "I don't think that'll cause any permanent damage. Keep right on doing that, both of you."

Jimmy still looked uncomfortable. "But if talking to the baby is a good thing, what about other sounds?"

"Well, loud sounds might startle her. Or soft singing or reading or something like that might help him calm down if he's bouncing around."

Jimmy glanced at Lucy. He hadn't mentioned this to her. "What about sounds and stuff when we're doing... other things?"

Dr. McCorkle smiled compassionately. "Having sex -- even loud sex -- won't hurt the baby or harm her psychologically or anything like that."

Jimmy looked relieved.

"Glad to hear that are you, honey?" Lucy said in a slightly singsong voice.

"Well, yeah," he replied slightly defensively. "I mean, I know I walked in on my parents once and I know you heard your parents all the time and I wouldn't want to do that to an unborn baby."

"It's fine, Mr. Olsen. And it's really not that uncommon a worry for parents."

A few minutes later, they left and headed for their next stop of the day.

"Lucy! Jimmy! I'm so glad to see you!"

Even though they'd met the director of Coates Emergency Shelter on many occasions when he wasn't in the Santa suit, they still called him Santa in their heads. It fit.

"I was hoping you'd be here today," he continued. He motioned for them to follow him. "We had a teenager come in yesterday who brought her baby with her. She's in school but the little guy could sure use some TLC."

"Of course," Lucy said. Even before they found out she was expecting, they'd often spent time with the Shelter's smallest residents. First, with Danielle and then with others, both before and after the little girl found a new home.

"This is Tony."

"Hi, Tony," Lucy said quietly as she picked him up out of the crib. "How old is he?"

"About two weeks. Someone at the hospital got suspicious about some things while his mom was there and called DFS."

Lucy sat in the rocking chair and cradled him against her shoulder. She'd learned a lot about babies since the first time she'd held Danielle. So had Jimmy, but today he had other plans.

"I'm going to go find Derek and see if he wants to play outside. It's pretty nice out today."

Lucy nodded. "Go ahead," she said quietly so as not to bother the baby she held against her. "We have about an hour before we need to go."

He stroked his hand along the back of Tony's head as he walked out the door to find the three-year-old he'd befriended a few weeks before.

Lucy could see out the window from where she was rocking Tony. A few minutes after Jimmy left she saw him carrying the little boy on his shoulders as he ran around the playground area. A smile crossed her face. He was a natural with kids. He loved them and they loved him. He and Derek were soon going down the slide together before they went to the swings.

She continued to rock the baby until she saw Jimmy and a pouting Derek head inside. She stood and laid the baby in the crib, leaving the room as Jimmy walked up holding the little boy.

"He doesn't want me to leave," Jimmy told her with a sad smile as Derek buried his head in Jimmy's shoulder. He set him down on one of the benches. "I gotta go to school, buddy. I'll come see you again soon. I promise." He knelt in front of Derek and dug something out of his pocket. "I brought you something to keep for me until I get back."

"What is it?" Derek said in a small voice.

"It's a silver dollar." He pressed it into the boy's hand as one of the childcare workers came to get him. "Will you take care of it for me?"

Derek nodded. "Thanks, Jimmy."

Jimmy ruffled his hair. "Anytime, bud. I'll see you soon, okay?"

Derek nodded again and walked off with the worker.


April 1990

Jimmy was sitting on the floor with his back to the couch. Lucy handed him the lotion before moving carefully to sit in front of him. She rested her back against his chest as he slowly rubbed the lotion over her expanding stomach.

"I've been thinking about something," he said as he squirted some more onto one hand.

"I can't imagine what that might be," Lucy said with a smile.

"Now who has the one track mind?" he asked, kissing her shoulder as he did. "That's not what I was talking about."

"Then what?" she asked back, her head falling back to rest on his chest.

"The baby."

"What about her?"

"What if something happened to us?" he said quietly.

"Nothing's going to happen."

"I know, but I was thinking that we probably need to get wills drawn up and decide who we want to take him if something does."

Lucy sighed. "You're probably right. What're you thinking?"

"That everything we have goes to the baby or to whoever takes the baby to help with expenses and stuff."

She nodded against him. "Not like we have much but..."

"Once you get the inheritance, we'll have something -- both the stuff from your folks and from Aunt Louise."

"True. Who do you want to give custody to? I don't want our child to end up in the system."

"Lois and Clark are the obvious choice."

"They would be the best option," she agreed. "With Perry and Alice as back-up, probably."

"Right. I don't want either of my parents coming in and trying to claim her. I want it to be ironclad that they can't get him."


"I don't think either of them would but..."


He continued to massage her belly gently. "I'll talk to Clark soon."

"I can talk to Lois if you want," she said, relaxing even more against him.

"No. You're my family. It's something I need to take care of."

She laughed.


"Thank you for taking care of it."

"That's what I'm here for."

She turned her head to look at him. "That's not all you're here for, is it?"

He looked at her with a curious expression. "What else would I be here for?"

She smacked him lightly, before struggling to her feet and holding a hand out to him. "Come on. I'll show you."

He laughed and led her to the other room. "One track mind."

"You know it."


"Come on in, Clark!" Lucy called.

Clark opened the door to find Lucy struggling with a box. In a second, he was at her side taking it from her. "What do you think you're doing?" he asked.

Lucy sighed and stretched her back. "Trying to get the stuff moved from the alcove so we can get the crib set up in there."

"That's right. It was delivered the other day, wasn't it?"

She nodded. "Yeah." She smiled as she sat in her favorite chair. "You should see Jimmy. He's trying to be all Bob Vila or something. He's so excited about trying to put it together."

"I'd be happy to help, if you want me to."

She shook her head. "It's something he wants to do. Some sort of father-to-be right of passage or something."

"Were you guys able to get everything you need?" he asked her sitting on the couch.

"Yeah. His mom left plenty on the line of credit at the store. We asked if we could cash out some of it, though, and they said we could. We got a nice crib that converts to a toddler bed and later a double bed and a matching dresser, but I see absolutely no reason to spend $250 on a bassinet that we'll only use for a couple months -- if that. And we may want to leave it over at Perry and Alice's or something rather than here since the apartment's so small. Alice thinks she can get one for about twenty bucks at a garage sale. Same with portable playpens. The store his mom sent us to is very upscale which is nice for some stuff but completely unnecessary for others. The crib bedding there is as much as our king size bedding and you know that's not cheap. So we asked if we could cash out the rest."

"Has he heard from her since she moved?" Clark asked quietly.

"She sent a change of address card not long after she moved, but that's it."

He sighed. "I don't get that."

"Me, either." Lucy played with the pillow. "Clark?"

"Yeah?" he said, breaking out of his thoughts.

"I said something to Lois a couple years ago, but never to you."

"What's that?"

"Thank you."

"For what," he asked, confused.

"For taking care of me after our folks died. You both went above and beyond for me and I never told you how much I appreciate that."

"My pleasure, Luce," he told her with a smile.

She shook her head. "Seriously. Since we got officially engaged and Lois told me... you know, so many things snapped into place and I know it wasn't easy for either one of you. You worked so hard and..." A tear streaked down her face. "I don't think I can ever thank you enough for coming here and marrying Lois and taking care of me, but mostly taking care of her, regardless of anything else."

"I love her," he said quietly. "I don't know how not to."

She smiled. "I know the feeling. I don't know how not to love Jimmy anymore, but I don't think I could have without you. Not like this."

"What do you mean?"

She shrugged. "I don't know exactly. I do know that knowing you loved both of us made me see relationships differently because you're so different from my dad. And I do know that waiting until our wedding to..." She blushed as her voice trailed off. "Anyway, I think that made a huge difference. I think that if the physical part of our relationship had been different and been a focus earlier on, it would have been hard to have the basis for the rest of it, you know?"

He nodded. "I think so."

"When we had a fight, we couldn't just fall into bed and forget it ever happened or whatever. We had to learn better communication skills and how to listen and talk to each other and so on. And once we *did* get married, I think it made the other that much better because we knew each other so well already. And I don't think we would have waited even until I turned eighteen if you hadn't shared what your mom said and strongly encouraged us to. The temptation was certainly there long before then," she told him, without looking directly at him.

He shifted uncomfortably. "Well, um, I'm glad I could help then. I think."

Lucy laughed lightly. "You did. A lot." She turned serious. "I know things are better between you and Lois, but I also know that they're still not great -- and I don't know that because she's said anything or anything like that -- I just know. I do hope that things get better for you guys before long. I know her pregnancy has some to do with it, but... I love you guys and I want you to be happy."

"Well, I'll admit it was a bit hard for both of us to see you two when we came back for Christmas. It was the first time we'd really seen you since you got married and the change..."

"Yeah," Lucy said wryly. "Lois mentioned that."

"I know." He smiled at her. "But it's obvious to anyone that you two are very happy together and you'll be the parents that teenagers hate because you're still all over each other after twenty years of marriage or whatever and that's a good thing. Really. I'm happy for you and I know Lois is too."

She started to say something else, but the door opened just then.

Jimmy bounded down the stairs. "Sorry I'm late, man. You know Perry." He moved quickly to kiss his wife. "I told you we're playing basketball right?"

"Yeah. Lois is coming over in a little bit to watch a movie."

"I need to change, CK, and then I'm ready to go." He grabbed Lucy's hand. "I do need to talk to you real quick, though, babe. 'Scuse us, Clark?"

He nodded as the young couple moved towards the other room.

Jimmy yanked some clothes out of his dresser and headed towards the bathroom. When they were safely in the hallway, he pulled Lucy to him, growling slightly as her stomach got in the way a bit and kissing her deeply.

"What was that for?" she whispered, breathless.

"I've been thinking about doing that all day and was hoping Clark was going to be late," he whispered back, his hands sliding over her growing stomach. "And we haven't had one of those 'sneak into the other room to be alone for a quick, passionate kiss and grope' sessions in a while."

She managed to keep her giggle in. "Well, what are you waiting for? Clark's right out there and you know his hearing, even when he's not trying to listen for stuff so..."

He kissed her again, quickly and deeply, his hands sliding up as he did. "I won't be late," he whispered as he feathered kisses down her neck.

"Good," she whispered back, giving him one more kiss before he went to change clothes.


May 1990

"Happy anniversary, Mrs. Olsen." Jimmy kissed her neck.


"It's our anniversary."

"It's 12:01," she mumbled as she finally managed to see the time.


"So we didn't get married until 3 in the afternoon."

"It's still our anniversary."

"That's what you said six hours ago," she groused.

"And it was our anniversary already in England and I didn't hear you complaining," he reminded her.

She rolled over to face him, yawning as she did so. "I wasn't, but I am tired."

"We have all day off," he reminded her, one hand caressing her cheek.

"I know and I thought I knew what we were spending all day doing. I just didn't know we were spending all night doing that, too."

"That's why we have tomorrow off, too. To sleep," he told her, the boyish grin she loved splitting his face.

"Can't we do both both days instead of just sleeping tomorrow?"

"Are you really that tired?" Jimmy asked, his face falling.

Lucy sighed. "It's not that I don't want to be with you. Honest. I'm just so tired these days... If I'd known you planned on waking me up it would be one thing. Heck, I probably would have stayed up, but I was in the middle of this wonderful dream..." She smiled at him.

"What was it about?" he asked softly.

"You and me and the baby. Only he wasn't a baby anymore."

"Ah." He ran a hand down her arm softly. "I'm sorry I woke you up. I do know that you need your sleep."

She smiled at him. "Well, I'm awake now..."


"Mm hmm." She kissed him. "Did I ever tell you how glad I am I married you?"

"Not recently."

"I'll have to change that."


June 1990

"Did they seem a bit off to you tonight?" Lucy asked as Jimmy massaged her shoulders.

"How so?" They'd spent the evening at the very formal Daily Planet fundraiser with many of their colleagues.

She shrugged. "I don't know. The whole Clark promised not to leave her side thing and all that."

"The last time they went to a fancy thing was their anniversary and he *did* leave then so it make sense he'd promise not to leave tonight."

"I guess. I just picked up a weird vibe while I was dancing with him tonight, that's all. Like he was watching her or something."

"Well, she's his wife and she looked great. I know I was watching you all night."

She shook her head. "No. It was something different."

He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her back to him. "We'll ask them about it another time."

"You were watching me all night?" she asked with a smile.

"Heck, yeah."

"Why is that?"

"Because, babe. You look hot."

"And you still think I'm sexy even though I'm as big as a beached whale?"

"Oh, yeah. I told you that knowing that's my baby growing inside you was a turn on."

"Would it be stretching the truth to say just about everything is a turn on for you?"


"Did I tell you how great you look in that tux?"

"Flattery will get you everywhere," he told her, planting a kiss on her shoulder.

"Good. Then you won't mind going to get me some ice cream."

Jimmy sighed. "What kind?"

Lucy smiled to herself. "Chocolate. With whipped cream and a banana and nuts and cherries."

"Got it."


Chapter 16

July 1990

Lucy stretched her back as the elevator continued its downward descent. The baby was getting heavier and heavier and her back muscles were bothering her more and more with each passing day. She'd have to get Jimmy to give her a back rub later.

She dug Lois' keys out of her purse. Her sister and brother-in-law had gone to Smallville for the weekend on the spur of the moment and had asked Lucy to take the silver Jeep Cherokee home. She ran her hands through her hair and realized she still wasn't used to the new cut. Of course, she hadn't realized how much like Lois' it would look when she'd gotten it.

She moved closer to the cars parked to her right as she walked through the parking garage, giving the van driving down the aisle plenty of room to get by. She looked up in shock as it stopped next to her.

The sliding door opened and before she knew what happened, she was thrown on the floor of the van with a bag over her head.


She winced as her body ached all over.

She had a vague recollection of being thrown in a van and a hood going over her head.

The baby!

A kick to her ribs told her that the little one was alive and kicking. "It's okay, Baby," she whispered. "We're going to be okay." She hoped she was convincing herself of that.

She could see a sliver of light coming from under the door. There was nothing in the room except her.

She moved closer to the door, one hand rubbing her stomach nearly constantly, reassured by the movement she felt.

When she got to the door, she heard voices. Commanding her pounding heart to be silent, she did her best to listen.

"That's not Ms. Lane," came one voice she immediately labeled Goon 1.

"Well, sir, it is Ms. Lane, but apparently, the *wrong* Ms. Lane," said the now appropriately named Goon 2. He had an English accent, she noticed.

Then what he'd said sunk in. The wrong Ms. Lane? They were after Lois? Why?

"Well, she needs to be taken care of. We can't allow her to be identified. Not until we have her sister in custody." Goon 1 seemed to be in charge and seriously upset that she wasn't Lois.

"Are you certain that is a wise move, sir?"

Goon 1's voice grew slightly louder. "If she is carrying my child, she must not be allowed to raise it. I *will* *not* allow that to happen again. Not after..." Lucy couldn't make out what he said. Jason? Jeron? Jerrod? Something like that. Then something else sunk in.

Carrying his child?

Lois was carrying Clark's child. They'd finally been together after all those years and she'd gotten pregnant. Why on earth would someone else think she was having his baby? There was no way Lois would have cheated on Clark.

"Of course, sir. But you are nothing if not cautious. Given the protection you most certainly used in Tokyo, is it possible for her to be carrying your child?"

They'd been in Tokyo for their anniversary, and they seemed certain that was when conception had occurred. But Goon 1 had been in Tokyo? And would have needed protection? When pushed, all Lois and Clark would say was that their anniversary had been very special in more than one way.

"Even the most effective birth control has a small failure ratio." Lucy knew that drug interactions were the major cause of her own pregnancy, but she also knew that the statement was accurate.

"Quite right."

"Is it possible that she knows her husband may not be the father of her child?" Goon 1 asked.

"Unlikely. She was given the GHBP."

GHBP? She wracked her brain to remember what she'd learned at the safety seminar they required of incoming freshman at UNT Met. It was a date rape drug. But what did P stand for? Did it cause some sort of amnesia? But didn't GHB do that? Girls who were given GHB didn't remember what happened to them, did they? So what was the P for?

If this guy -- whoever he was -- had drugged Lois and raped her, what would they do to her now that they knew she wasn't Lois? Fear started to grip her again. It had abated some when she realized she was alone and -- for the moment at least -- safe and the baby seemed to be okay, but now it was back with a vengeance. Would they kill her? Would Jimmy find her in time? Would Clark be willing to risk his identity to find her if that's what it came down to?

She made herself take a deep breath and returned her attention to the men outside. Once they found her, she was going to have to be able to tell the police what she'd heard.

"She was?" Goon 1 was shocked to find out that she'd been given that particular drug, or so it seemed to Lucy.

"Yes, sir. You were with eight women the week you were in Tokyo. Two were given nothing. Two were given the pheromone only. Two were given GHB only. Two were given the combination. She was one of the ones given the combination. The GHB should have lowered her inhibitions as well as giving her no memory of the time after it was administered. The pheromone component should have intensified her attraction to you."

He *had* drugged her!

Every curse word Lucy could think of flew across her mind, and none of them came close to what she wanted to call Goons 1 and 2.

"She did not act attracted at all," Goon 1 told Goon 2. "I would have surmised she was one of the GHB-only test subjects."

She practically retched as the realization hit her again that her sister had been raped. She managed to calm herself slightly as she realized that it explained so much if they suspected this had happened. Why it took them a while to get excited about the baby. Why they didn't seem more upset that she was on... limited activity during her pregnancy -- something that would have driven Jimmy crazy. And herself, too.

She willed her churning stomach to calm.

"No, sir. She received both." They were talking again and Lucy forced herself to listen, trying desperately to record it all, in her head.

"You are quite certain?"

"Yes, sir."

"I gave you my list of which women I thought were given which drug. Why was I not informed as to which on that list were incorrect?"

"I was under the understanding that Miranda had informed you, sir." Miranda. Lucy repeated the name to herself several times. It was the only real name she'd heard so far. She thought she'd heard a muffled 'St. John' and maybe 'Jason' before she reached the door and started listening better, but she wasn't sure.

Goon 1 sighed. "Well, continue to develop the formula, and we'll try it again soon."

"Yes, sir. There are still reports that the GHBP leaves the user with severe headaches the next day. Miranda is working on refining the formula."

"Her memory also stops before the dose was administered. What the two of you told me was that the memory would stop somewhat after the drug was ingested." So Lois didn't remember any of what had happened? Then how could she and Clark know?

"We've been testing the new product for over a year now, sir." If Goon 2 was calling Goon 1 sir, that meant English accent was the subordinate here, something else she needed to remember. "That particular batch of GHBP had that problem with it."

"I am not going to fund this much longer. Miranda promised me a drug that would not only allow the woman to be responsive but also to remember nothing of the events. The only reason I did the tests myself in Tokyo is because you and she both assured me that the formulation was nearing perfection, and that's been seven months ago now." Lucy sucked in a breath. The fear was starting to come back with the icy tone in Goon 1's voice.

"Ms. Lane's reaction -- or lack of reaction -- is one of the reasons why the formulation underwent such an overhaul. It will be ready for you to test again soon."

"It better be. I will not tolerate this kind of incompetence for much longer. Either get me something I can market or I will be looking for replacements for both of you," Goon 1 threatened. As much as she didn't want to meet either one of the two in a dark alley -- or even a lighted street -- it occurred to her that Goon 1 was much more dangerous.

"Yes, sir."

"Now, see that Mrs. Olsen is taken care of properly." She was right. That didn't sound good. Tears streaked down her face despite her best efforts to stop them. Jimmy! she cried silently. He would find her. Or Clark would. With all the things Clark could do, surely he was out looking for her.

"Of course, sir."

She breathed a slight sigh of relief as they left. Her eyes had adjusted to the little bit of light that came in from under the door. She looked around the room more carefully. There was nothing. Nothing she could use as a weapon. Nothing she could use to protect herself. No food. No drink. No way to relieve herself should the need arise -- and the need had been arising frequently in recent weeks.

She replayed the conversation over and over in her mind, wanting to make sure she remembered every detail. Not only would she help nail the bastards for having her kidnapped but also for what they'd done to Lois. After everything her sister had been through, drugs and rape were the last thing she needed. Not that it would ever be good for anyone, but especially not for her.

Tears flowed down her cheeks. Surely it was dark out by now -- unless it was already the next morning. Was Clark out searching for her? Did they even know she'd been kidnapped, or did they just think that she was missing? Had there been a ransom demand? And if they knew, had Jimmy or Perry or Alice been able to get a hold of Clark and Lois? They were in Smallville, after all.

What if they couldn't find her? Would the Goons leave her here to starve to death? Or was there even ventilation? Would she suffocate from lack of breathable oxygen? She could feel herself start to hyperventilate and made herself calm down using the breathing exercises she'd learned in her Lamaze classes to help.

Surely, if he knew, Clark was using his abilities to try to find her -- to do his buzz-buzz thing to search buildings or look for clues in the parking garage. But would he be able to get to her or tell police where she was without giving himself away? And would he be willing to risk his identity and his abilities to get to her? Lois had made him promise not to give himself away while doing rescues, but would that apply to her?

She closed her eyes. No. It wouldn't. She knew it wouldn't. Lois had always said she'd do anything for her, and she was sure that meant risking Clark's identity and their privacy. She was being paranoid. The darkness was starting to get to her. Lois and Clark would do whatever was necessary to find her and get her out.

But then what would happen to them? To their baby? Their lives would be under a microscope. The paparazzi they saw on television staking out the homes of stars would be nothing compared to what would happen when the world discovered that Clark Kent was the only known living alien. Clark might be invulnerable, but Lois wasn't and the baby wouldn't be and every time cars would follow them around, the risk of an accident hurting Lois or the baby would increase. And Clark wouldn't take kindly to his family being put in danger.

And then there would be the xenophobic nutcases.

They would want to kill Clark simply because he wasn't a native of Earth. They wouldn't be able to and that would make them mad. They'd come after Lois -- probably declaring her some kind of traitor or something to the human race -- and the baby for being a 'half-breed' or 'hybrid' or 'alien bastard' or some kind of nonsense like that.

She could see Clark lying and saying that no one was aware of his alien origins in order to protect her and Jimmy and Perry and Alice and her baby from those same xenophobes. He'd probably lie about Lois knowing, too, but she doubted that would deter the diehards.

Was it worth it? Was Clark risking his identity worth saving her if that was the cost? Maybe Clark should sit on the sidelines. Maybe they hadn't been able to get a hold of him and he was blissfully unaware of what was happening so he *couldn't* risk himself and his family's safety. Maybe they'd find her before Clark had the chance to make what could be the biggest mistake of his life.

She knew the logic was flawed, but being in the dark was starting to make her think crazy things. If she ever got out, she'd never tell anyone what she'd thought about. Not even Jimmy.

Jimmy would move heaven and earth to save her.


Her husband.

The love of her life.

The father of her child.

Her eyes filled with tears again. He had to be freaking out. Panicked. Sick with worry. She couldn't even begin to imagine how she would feel if something happened to him, but it wasn't *just* her, which would scare him enough. She was having his baby. His fear would be doubled.

If not more. She was sure he was scared that the ordeal was going to send her into early labor.

She wasn't sure how much time had passed since the Goons left, but she guessed maybe an hour.

She could hear people talking in the distance, but she didn't dare make any noise in case they were foes and not friends.

And then came a familiar voice.

"Mrs. Olsen?" It was Clark. But his tone was off, and what was with the formality? Was he afraid to let anyone know that he knew her? Had he used his powers and was already trying to distance himself for her protection?

"Clark?" It slipped out before she realized it and she mentally kicked herself for it.

The voice was closer this time and quieter. "Don't use my name, Luce." Okay. Whatever was up, she wouldn't use his name. Maybe he was undercover as one of the thugs that was supposed to take care of her. Or maybe he wanted it to appear she didn't know him -- at least for now. "Mrs. Olsen," came the authoritative voice again. "Please move back from the door."

She scurried -- as best she was able -- to the farthest spot from the door she could reach.

In seconds, the door was gone and she was shielding her face from the light. Clark was holding her in his arms.

"Are you okay, Mrs. Olsen?"

She nodded, still unsure why he was calling her Mrs. Olsen.

Clark addressed someone else. "Inspector Henderson, her husband is waiting for her at the Daily Planet. I'm going to take her there and then I'll be back. There's already an ambulance en route to take her to Metropolis General. You'll be able to speak with her after she gets medical attention."

Lucy heard a muffled response and then Clark was carrying her through a roomful of people who seemed to be gawking at him.

"What's going on?" she whispered, well aware of his hearing ability.

"I'll explain in a minute," he murmured.

She rested her head against his shoulder, burying her face in his neck.

Then they were in a stairwell, floating down through the center until they reached the ground floor. He carried her out the front door and then launched them into the air.

"Can you tell me what all this is about?" Lucy finally asked again.

"Jimmy and Perry are at the Planet waiting for you."

"How is he?"

"Panicked. He'll be a lot better as soon as he sees you, but you're going straight to the hospital," Clark said, his voice grim.

"I'm fine," she protested weakly. "But what about you? What's with the 'Mrs. Olsen' nonsense? And flying in front of people?"

"I'll explain it all later in more detail because we're going to be there in a minute, but Lois and Alice made a costume for me to wear so that no one knows it's me. Don't use my name, okay?"

She nodded and she heard him let out a breath.

In a second, they were floating through the now open newsroom window.

He landed near Jimmy, setting her on the waiting gurney. He whispered a word or two to Perry, but Lucy didn't notice because Jimmy was at her side, holding her tightly, tears streaming down both of their faces.

"Are you okay?" he whispered as he clung to her.

She nodded. "I think so." She held on to him like she was never going to let go. "What's going on?"

"I'll explain everything later, babe." He pulled back from her, running a hand down the side of her face and threading his fingers through her hair. "Did they hurt you?"

She shook her head. "They knocked me out with something, but they didn't hurt me."

"Thank God." He rested his forehead on hers before kissing her, pressing his lips solidly against hers.

The paramedics politely, but persistently, insisted that it was time to move. Never letting go of her hand, Jimmy walked next to her, handing his camera to Perry as the editor walked with them to the elevator. "There's at least a couple pictures on there, Chief. I won't swear that they're any good but..."

Perry clapped him on the shoulder. "I'm sure there's something we can use. Take care of her."

Jimmy nodded as he walked into the elevator. "Always."


Lucy talked to Inspector Henderson when he came by. They had her hooked up to monitors to keep an eye on the baby's heartbeat as well as to make sure her uterus wasn't contracting. She still had several weeks before her due date, after all, and they wanted to be certain she wasn't going to go into premature labor because of the trauma.

Before long, however, Dr. McCorkle smiled at the young couple. "Everything looks fine, Lucy. Whatever they gave you to knock you out doesn't seem to have affected the baby at all."

Lucy closed her eyes and breathed a sigh of relief. Jimmy clutched her hand a bit tighter.

"Now, I did talk to Superman..."

"Who?" Lucy interrupted as Jimmy squeezed her hand even harder.

"The..." She pondered for a moment how to describe him. "...hero, I guess, who rescued you. Blue tights. Red cape. Flies."

Lucy nodded. "He didn't tell me what his name was when he rescued me." That much was true.

"He was worried about the baby. I don't know how to get a hold of him, but if you see him, you can tell him that everything looks great. I do want you to take it really easy for a couple of days." She smiled at them again. "I'll get the paperwork started so you can get out of here before too long."

Lucy nodded. "Thank you."

She left them and Jimmy rested his head against Lucy's. "Are you sure you're okay?" he whispered.

"I am," she whispered back, one hand resting on his face. "I promise." A yawn betrayed her true feelings. "I am a bit tired, though."

"Get some rest," he told her, kissing her forehead. "I'll be right here."

She closed her eyes, grateful for Jimmy's hand holding hers, his thumb gently rubbing across her knuckles. She didn't know how long she dozed, but her rest was interrupted when she felt Jimmy tense next to her.

"What are you doing here?" he hissed.

She tried to open her eyes, but they were too heavy with sleep.

"I saw you on the news and I wanted to make sure you were okay." Lucy didn't recognize the voice.

"*I'm* fine," Jimmy said, releasing her hand as though he realized he was squeezing it tightly.

"This is your... wife?" She noticed the slight hesitation.

"You'd know if you'd bothered to show up at the wedding."

Lucy tried again to open her eyes and succeeded in opening them slightly, but the room was darkened and the two men were out of her field of vision. She was now sure that this was Jack Olsen.

"It's been a long time," the other voice conceded. "A couple years."

"Four," Jimmy told him.

"Four, then."

"And five before that."

"Who's counting?"

"I am," Jimmy said coldly. "The last time I saw you was the day of my second date with Lucy. I said I was going to call in to work, I would have called her and canceled and she would have understood, but instead you said not to bother, you'd see me again soon, and I didn't hear from you again until after we got married."

"You cashed the checks."

"Why wouldn't I? I'd be an idiot to turn down that kind of money even if we didn't really need it -- which we didn't. We didn't *need* it, but why turn it down? Two grand is nothing to sneeze at."

"Then you know I care."

"No, I know you still think writing a check will solve everything. You could have at least sent your response card or a note or even a phone call, but you didn't. I've heard from you twice in four years and now you show up here and want what, exactly?"

"To make sure you're both okay. And my grandbaby."

She could feel Jimmy seething. "You have no right to be here."

"What about the alien? Did he hurt her?"

"What?" Lucy sensed his confusion.

"The so-called Superman. Did he hurt her?"

There was no way Jack Olsen could know that the 'so-called Superman' was Jimmy's best friend in the world besides her.

"Get out," Jimmy said in a low, authoritative voice.


"Get out. He saved her. He helped me find her and he saved her. That's the only reason you're here. You want to know more about him. You don't care about me or Lucy or the baby, do you?" He didn't stop long enough for an answer. "Get out and don't bother coming back until you do." She heard Jimmy moving and a second later he was sitting by her again, taking her hand gently in his. His other hand smoothed her hair back from her forehead. "Go back to sleep, babe." He kissed her hand and pointedly refused to look towards the door where she was sure his dad still stood. "I'm not going anywhere."


Lucy got her first good look at the superhero a little while later. Despite everything, her mouth twitched at the corners. "Superman, is it?" she asked, trying desperately to control her reaction for the benefit of the nurse in the corner.

"That's what they're calling me," he said in a deep voice, but the look of chagrin on his face was purely Clark and disappeared as the nurse turned around. "I wanted to check on you and make sure you're okay, Mrs. Olsen."

"I'm fine."

"She is," her doctor said, entering the room with Jimmy right behind her. "She's getting ready to get on out of here."

Superman glanced over at the nurse. "Can I speak with the three of you in private for a moment?"

The nurse took the hint and left the room, shutting the door behind her.

"I've spoken with both Inspector Henderson and Perry White, and they agree that the danger to Mrs. Olsen -- as well as Mrs. Kent since it seems that she was the intended target -- is not over."

Lucy blanched at that and Jimmy held her hand even tighter.

Dr. McCorkle nodded as she thought. "What can we do to protect them?"

"Well, for tonight, I'll be keeping an eye on them locally, but tomorrow I'm going to take them somewhere they should be safe. The biggest problem is that it's not near Metropolis."

The doctor leaned against the counter. "Well, obviously, we need to do what's necessary to keep them safe." She sighed. "Could you help arrange for me to visit them regularly?"

"I would be happy to do that. Mr. Kent also told me that there is a very good midwife near where they'll be if you would be willing to consult with her in case we're not able to get them home before the babies arrive."

"Of course."

Superman hesitated. "There's one other thing."

"What's that?"

"It doesn't concern just Mrs. Olsen and Mrs. Kent, but... I have a feeling that I may run into a woman in labor from time to time, and while I have a general understanding of the process, it would help me -- and them, I'm sure -- greatly if I could work with you a bit, just to make sure I know enough if something happens and I can't get a woman to a hospital or other more appropriate location in time."

She nodded. "I suppose that is a good idea. Any patients of mine would have to agree, of course, and probably sign a waiver of some kind. I imagine I could find one or two patients who would consent to allow you to help at delivery so you can have some practical experience before you would ever have to try it by yourself, in the field, so to speak."

"He can help with me, and I'm sure Lois will let him, too," Lucy chimed in. "Jimmy and I are both grateful to him already."

Superman nodded his thanks. "If possible, I'd like to be on hand for a delivery before Mrs. Olsen or Mrs. Kent go into labor, in case I'm unable to get them to the local midwife or back here."

The doctor frowned. "Will they be able to get a hold of you that easily?"

The hero paused. "They will have the ability to contact me quickly in case of emergency."

If the need to try to keep Clark's identity a secret hadn't been so great, Lucy thought she would have laughed. They wouldn't even have to do something silly like yell 'Help, Superman' to get his attention. 'Hey, Clark' would work just as well.

Superman continued. "That's not something that anyone needs to know, of course."

"Of course." She turned to Lucy. "Lucy, here are your discharge papers. Someone should be by in a few minutes with a wheelchair to get you out of here. I believe Perry and Alice are out there waiting for you." She smiled at her patient. "He must care a lot about you for him to leave the paper to be here with a story as big as this guy..." She jerked a thumb towards Superman. "...flying around."

Tears filled Lucy's eyes. "He's family," she whispered. "He's the closest thing to a real dad I've ever had, except possibly Clark. They'd both do anything for me and they'll never know how much that means to me."

Superman cleared his throat, obviously slightly uncomfortable though probably not for the reason the doctor would assume. "I better be going, but I'll take the two of you, along with the Kents, somewhere safe tomorrow and I'll be keeping an eye on you this evening. They're already waiting for you."

Lucy and Jimmy nodded and smiled their thanks, unable to tell him what they truly thought until they were out of view of others.


Lois wrapped her arms around her as best she could with their stomachs in the way. "Are you okay?"

"I'm *fine*. I promise."

Just then Clark walked back in wearing the bright blue suit and red cape.

Lucy raised a brow at him, one arm still around her sister's waist. "Seriously, Clark?" She let go of Lois as Clark got closer.

"I blame your sister," he said pulling her into a hug, holding her for a long moment. "I'm so glad you're okay."

"I am. I promise," she reiterated. "But tights? Really?"

"No one's looking at his face," Alice told her. "That's the whole point."

Clark turned scarlet at that. "Well, at least no one can see my rear end," he muttered as he let Lucy go. "I'm going to get out of this thing."

He went upstairs and was back down a minute later in blue jeans and a T-shirt.

"So where are you taking us tomorrow, Clark?" Jimmy asked.

"Smallville. The farm is still listed as belonging to my parents, and I hope that Luthor won't think to look there, but there's the advantage of being a small town. Everyone will know why we're there and protect us if anyone's sneaking around watching us. And Laura Lang is a midwife and can work with Dr. McCorkle in case you guys aren't back here before the babies come."

"How'd it go with Henderson and everyone else?" Perry asked. "Did they have any problems with you?"

He shook his head. "No. They were kind of in awe, honestly, which doesn't surprise me given that I flew down in the middle of them at the Daily Planet."

"Did they find anything in that room?"

Clark sighed. "No. There wasn't anything in the room that Lucy was in or the room outside it and none of the people at the law firm know anything. They didn't even know about the room."

It was at that point that both Lucy and Lois crashed. Having run on adrenaline for far too long, they were both in dire need of sleep. Grateful that they usually kept a change of clothes at Perry and Alice's -- for any kind of 'just in case' situation -- Lucy pulled a nightshirt and shorts on before settling into bed. She closed her eyes, praying that nightmares wouldn't come, and was reassured that everything was going to be okay when Jimmy came in the room. Quickly getting ready for bed himself, he climbed in next to her and pulled her to him.

Tears fell for the first time in hours, wetting his chest and her forehead as they clung to each other.

"I was so scared, babe," he whispered. "I didn't know..." He choked up. "I didn't know where to start to look for you. It was Perry's idea for Clark to fly around after dark -- which wasn't too much longer -- and Alice's idea for the costume so he could play superhero and rescue you using his powers, if needed. And then they told us about..." He took a deep breath. "Well, I won't tell you the whole story now, but basically what you figured out from the conversation you overheard."

"I knew one of you would find me," she told him, punctuating the statement with a huge yawn.

"We'll talk about it more tomorrow," he whispered into her hair. "Get some sleep, okay? Clark won't let anything happen to us tonight and there's no way I'm letting any bad guy near you again."


Chapter 17

Lucy wandered around Clark's childhood home. He'd brought her there first and would be back momentarily with Jimmy and then Lois. She wrapped her arms around herself as best she could. Even though she knew there was no way the bad guys could know where she was, she was still a bit uneasy being alone for the first time -- even for a few minutes.

Clark had spent part of the day very visibly flying around in his new Suit, helping out at a couple of car accidents as he did. The rest of them spent the day at Perry and Alice's working on follow-up stories about the new hero, and Perry spent much of it on the phone with the weekend editor making sure the Superman coverage was what it should be.

Lois and Clark had written the front page article for the Sunday edition, with one of Jimmy's pictures of Clark carrying her through the open Daily Planet newsroom window splashed across half of the top section. After dinner, they'd gone back to their apartment, Clark in tow, and packed up a couple of suitcases and he'd brought her to Smallville. A 'thump' in the backyard told her that he'd returned with her husband.

Sure enough, Jimmy walked in holding their suitcases.

"So this is it," he said looking around. "Are you okay?" he asked, noticing her uneasiness.

She nodded. "I just didn't like being alone, even for a minute." She turned towards the stairs, quickly changing the subject. "I haven't ventured upstairs yet. Lois said they have the master bedroom, and then there's Clark's room from when he was a kid but they're going to put a crib and stuff in there and we get the other room. She said it's only a double bed, though."

He kissed her, bags still in hand. "Guess I'll just have to stay extra close to you then."

"You would anyway," she said as she started towards the stairs.

"True. But now I have even more reason to stay close to you. I *have* to," he told her with a grin. And now that he knew she was uneasy being alone, he'd make sure she wasn't.

She turned halfway up the stairs. "Just how close are you planning on staying?"

"How close do you think?"

She went the rest of the way up to the second floor, peering in each room as she walked by. "That's Lois and Clark's," she told him, pointing the room on the left. "And this must be Clark's old room." That was the first room on the right. "This must be us," she said poking her head in the second door on the right. She turned around. "And there's the other bathroom."

"Well, we're as far from them as we can get I guess," he said with a twinkle in his eye.

She rolled her eyes. "I have to take it easy for a few days," she reminded him.

"I know, but we're already through day one, that leaves one or two more."

Another 'thump' and voices outside announced the arrival of Lois and Clark.

"We've never shared space like this with anyone," he said uncomfortably. "At Perry and Alice's we have our own bathroom and everything."

"I know. But it'll be okay."

"I know," he sighed. "And we have to remember why we're here. To keep the bad guys away from you four."

"Us four?"

"You, Lois and the babies."


Jimmy set their bags next to the dresser and they headed back downstairs.


Lucy was nearly asleep two nights later when voices drifted up through the open window.

Clark and Jimmy were on the porch below her, Lois having gone to bed even earlier than she did.


"I don't know what we're going to do," Jimmy said, his voice heavy.

"What're you talking about?"

"How long are we going to be here?"

Clark sighed. "I have no idea. Hopefully, we'll figure it out soon, and you'll be able to go home and finish getting the apartment ready. I know it's not ideal but..."

"We've got a little bit of vacation time built up and some savings, but not nearly enough to get us through the next four and a half weeks until Lucy's due date and her maternity leave after that. And we both just passed our anniversary dates, so we won't be getting any more any time soon."

"You've got access to money, Jim, if that's the problem. Lois'll give you guys the inheritance money for just about anything."

Lucy could almost see Jimmy shake his head. "That's for Lucy's college education. I don't want to use it. We'd already planned to put whatever's left over into a college fund for Junior."

Clark didn't say anything for a long minute. "What're you going to do?"

"Try like crazy not to lose the apartment, I guess. I think we can swing about two months of neither of us working..." He took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. "You guys are still working, even if it's from here. You're writing more about your trips and working on your book and all that. Lucy and I... we're not. We're basically unemployed at the moment."

"Let us help then."

"No. It's my job to provide for my family."

"But you wouldn't be having problems if it wasn't for what happened, and it was a case of mistaken identity. It should have been Lois taken and since you're having a bit of a hard time because of it, let us help."

"Thanks, man, but no. It's my job."

"And sometimes, it means you have to accept help when it's offered. Lois and I can afford it, no problem, and the last thing we want is Lucy stressing about money," Clark reminded him.

"I won't tell her. I'll figure something out and not tell her."

"Let's ignore for the moment all the things wrong with that statement on a relational level and just go with this... You don't think she'll know that something's bothering you?"

"Sure, she will. I can tell her it's just worrying about Luthor and all that, because that really is still worrying me."

"And you think she'll buy it?"

"If you don't say anything different."

Clark sighed again. "I don't like it. I wish you'd let us help you."

"She'll know, won't she?"


Jimmy sighed and didn't say anything.

"I could always send a check to your landlord, you know."

"Let me think about it, okay?"


"I'm going to go up and hold my wife for a bit," Jimmy told him, footsteps echoing off the porch as he walked toward the door.

"I'm going to give the farm a once over and then I'll be in, too."


Lucy stared at the ceiling. The financial aspect of all of this hadn't even occurred to her. He was right, of course. Neither of them had tons of vacation time built up and they had counted on her working more hours this summer to offset her maternity leave -- which would have been during the school year when she worked less anyway.

They'd never lived *well*, but they'd never wanted for anything either. They made decent money given their ages and current stations in life. They lived as well as she had in the early days with Lois and Clark, but they didn't work nearly as hard as her sister and brother-in-law had the first few years of their marriage. They didn't go out often, but they had no problem entertaining themselves at home most of the time.

Part of that had been voluntary the first year, when she shared the apartment with her friends. Unable to count on help from either one of their families with the cost of the wedding, they'd lived meagerly. They'd gone on inexpensive or free dates, spending evenings at home studying or watching movies or even with Perry and Alice. Once they were married, they had other things to occupy them many evenings. They'd saved some money but not enough to carry them if they were out of work for more than a couple of months.

She wouldn't have a problem using the inheritance money from her parents to live on, but for some reason, Jimmy was as bad as Lois when it came to insisting that it was for school only.

Jimmy tried to be quiet as he came into their temporary home away from home.

She rolled over. "I'm up."


She shrugged in the moonlight. "Couldn't sleep, then heard something outside." She looked him straight in the eye.

"Ah." He toed his shoes off. He quickly stripped off his shorts and socks before sitting on the bed next to her. He tugged his shirt over his head and tossed it to the side with the rest of his clothes. "How much did you hear?"

"Enough to know you weren't going to tell me and then some."

He sighed before rolling to lie on his back, his knees bent, fingers laced behind his head, staring at the ceiling. "I don't want to use the inheritance money," he started. "That's for your school and the baby's school."

She propped herself up on one elbow, her head resting on her hand. "Is it that bad?" she asked quietly. Neither were the best money managers but had worked hard together to make sure they lived within their means. They shared in monthly budgeting responsibilities, but he'd taken over most of the checkbook balancing and bill paying once she got pregnant. It was part of his whole 'taking care of her' thing and she thought it was sweet -- one less thing for her to worry about.

"Not yet," he told her honestly. "We can swing a couple months with no income, maybe, but that's it. We still have to pay rent and electric -- though that should be really low since we won't be there -- and car insurance and life insurance and food and rental insurance and... We don't have any car payments or anything which helps." He sighed. "There's still plenty of bills to pay even if we're not there. We could cut the cable and the phone until we get back. That should save some money. Not turn the phone all the way off, of course, but at least cut out the extras and the long distance. Won't save much but a little bit."

"So what are the options?" she asked quietly.

"It's my job to take care of both of you," he said, twining his fingers with hers.

"And sometimes, that means accepting help when it's offered," she told him softly. "We didn't blink when they offered to pay for half the wedding."

"That was different," he insisted.


"Because I wasn't your husband yet. I hadn't promised to take care of you regardless of anything else."

Lucy sighed. "So what are we going to do?"

He let go of her hand and reached out to brush her hair back. "I don't know, but don't worry about it. Let me take care of it."

"We're in this together," she reminded him.

"I know, but let me think about it and we'll talk more tomorrow, okay?"

She nodded before kissing him and snuggling in next to him, knowing it would be a long time before he slept.


She rolled over to see Jimmy staring out the window into the early morning sunshine. "Did you sleep at all?" she asked.

"Not much," he admitted, turning around to watch her.

"Did you come to any conclusions?"

He sighed, leaning against the window sill. "If they offer again, accept the help." His shoulders slumped as he said it.

"What made you decide that?"

"The baby."

She pushed herself up to a sitting position, waiting for further explanation.

"We have enough in savings to get us through a couple months if we're careful with any extra expenses, but that wouldn't leave us with anything for diapers or formula if we need it or hospital bills or anesthesiologist bills if you get an epidural, things like that." He moved to lie down next to her, pulling her to him. "I hate that we don't have enough to cover all this and that we even have to consider accepting help from them."

"We're just starting out," she reminded him. "We've been married just a little over a year. We make decent money for people our age, but still not great compared to expenses or what we'll make in a few years. We're in school still. We do have money in savings. How many of our friends can say that?"

"Not many," he admitted.

"So we're not doing *bad*, we're just in an unexpectedly difficult financial situation that's not of our making."

"I know. But it's still not an easy thing to admit that we need help."

"I know."

There was a knock on the door.

"Yeah?" Lucy called.

"Clark's making breakfast. Do you guys want some pancakes?" Lois asked.

Lucy's mouth started watering at the mere mention of food. "Yeah. We'll be right down."

"I'll let him know."

She leaned over to kiss Jimmy softly as they heard Lois walk away. "It'll be okay."

"I know, babe." He rested on hand on her stomach and was rewarded with a kick. "Let's go get the two of you something to eat."


"What's that?" Lucy asked, resting her chin on Jimmy's shoulder as she sat next to him on their bed.

"I found them in the suitcase. I'd forgotten about it."

"What is it?"

"It's that victim assistance stuff Henderson and Perry told us about. Perry gave me the paperwork for both of us but I forgot all about it."

"I really don't remember much of what they said," Lucy admitted.

"It's a program that helps with expenses incurred as the result of a crime of some kind. For us, in theory at least, it'll help cover your hospital expenses from the other night and lost wages and help pay expenses for things like rent and stuff while we're holed up here." He sighed as he flipped through the packet. "There's a ton of information that they want, but if it's approved, it'll cover everything for both of us. You have to miss work because you can't be anywhere that Luthor might find you. I have to miss work because I'm not about to leave you alone and there's always the chance -- according to Henderson -- that I could be used as bait or something like that. I'm not sure if that's really a valid concern or if he was just giving me an excuse to leave. Either way, I'd be what they'd call a secondary victim."

"And we're considering this, I take it?"

"Well, we pay taxes. Not much but we do. It's there for people like us whose lives are disrupted because of a crime."

"And it's different than taking money from Lois and Clark?" she asked quietly.

He nodded. "Yeah, it is."

"Why is that?"

He shrugged. "I can't explain it. Taking money from them is like saying I've failed to provide for my family and have to rely on them to take care of us. This... this is an official government program designed to help with stuff like this, meaning they expect to have costs incurred as a result of crimes and that people will need help with them. It's not a failure."

"You're not a failure no matter where the money comes from."

"Thanks." He leaned his head against hers. "I'm more comfortable with this though. I think if we did take money from Lois and Clark, every time I see them -- or not every time, but often enough -- I'd think that we owe them. And every time we get a raise or another check from my bastard father, I'd think that we owe them at least some of it to pay them back even though I know they wouldn't expect us to. And I don't want that change in our relationship."

"Okay, then." She took one of the packets from him. "Let's get started on this." She scanned the first page. "We don't have all of this information here. We'll have to get the police report number and stuff like that."

"I'm sure Perry has it."

She pulled two pens out of her purse. "Here. You start on yours and I'll start on mine."

He flipped the page over. "We'll have to get our insurance policy numbers and stuff, too."

Twenty minutes later, they'd both filled out what they could. "I'll have Clark get these to Perry," Jimmy said. "He can get them to Henderson or whoever it is that needs to get them."

Lucy wrapped her arms around him and pulled him back towards her. "Are you okay with this?"

He didn't say anything for a long minute. "No, but it's what has to be done."

"I love you, Jimmy Olsen."

"I love you, too, Luce."


"What what?"

"What aren't you telling me?"

"I'm sorry," he whispered.

"For what?" she asked, one hand moving to play with his hair.

"For having to do this. For not protecting you. For not finding you faster. For not finding you at all."

"Oh, honey." Lucy held him tighter. "None of this is your fault. There was no way you could have known that I was going to be in danger. Or any way for you to find me faster -- or even at all. The only way you could have is if we found out you were Clark's fraternal twin or something. That's the only reason he found me. And if he hadn't or if he couldn't have done the things that he did, you wouldn't have rested until I was found, right?"

He nodded. "It still stings a bit that your brother-in-law was able to save you when your husband couldn't."

"You never know. There might be a time when you can help Lois and the baby when Clark can't."

"Because he's off saving the world somewhere? Because that's the only reason I can see that he might need help protecting his family," Jimmy told her, a trace of bitterness in his voice. "It's not the same."

"No, it's not, but it doesn't change anything."

"It doesn't?"


"If Clark wasn't married to your sister, you wouldn't be interested in a guy who could protect you from anything?"

"Look at me." He didn't move so Lucy forced him to face her. "After everything we've been through, after everything we've said and done together since the first time you asked me out and since we've been married, do you honestly think that I would ever look at another guy?"

"Even if I wasn't around for some reason?"

She wasn't sure where the self-doubt was coming from, the feelings of inadequacy when compared to Clark, but she knew he needed her love and reassurance. She let go of him and stood to lock the door to their room, moving to close the window as well.

"What are you doing?"

She pulled her shirt over her head before reaching behind her back to release the clasp of her bra. "Showing you how crazy that idea is."

"We can't do this," he told her. "Your doctor said..."

"A couple of days is up," she informed him, pushing him back against the bed. "And I want to make love to my husband and something tells me you need me to." She wiggled out of the rest of her clothes before moving next to him. "Just let me love you," she whispered, moving to kiss him.

He pulled back. "I don't know, babe. Are you sure?"

"You promised me that there would be nothing sexier than knowing I'm having your baby. Is that still true?"

He nodded. "Yeah," he finally said quietly. "It is."

"Then show me." She moved to kiss him again, and this time he didn't move away.

He kissed her back with a fervency, an urgency, he never had before and she let him take control as, once again, they reaffirmed what they meant to each other.

She rested in his arms some time later. One of his arms was around her and he played with the hair at her temple.

"Thank you," he whispered. "I needed that."

"I know. I did, too." She grinned wickedly. "Do you think they heard us?"

He rolled his eyes. "I have no idea, but I'm going to pretend they were in another county."

"Works for me." She sighed contentedly. "Can I ask you something?"

"After that? There's something you think I won't want to talk to you about?" he asked, incredulous.

"About your dad."

"Ah." He paused. "What do you want to know?"

"Why do you think he wanted to know about Clark? I mean, I heard him ask about the 'so-called Superman' but couldn't that have been genuine concern about an unknown entity -- at least to him. He had no way of knowing that we know and trust him."

He shook his head. "He's worked for the government for years. I'm not entirely sure what he does. Officially, he works for the State Department, I think, but I've suspected for a long time that he's really part of the NSA or CIA or NIA or something like that."

"Why is that?"

He gave a one-armed shrug. "It's not anything I can really quantify, just things he's said or done over the years. The few times I did hear from him. That would explain why he was so interested in Superman. You didn't see his face change when he started talking about him. It would surprise me if he actually saw us on TV. I think someone else found out who it was that was rescued and then realized that he was related and sent him to interrogate one or both of us. And once I called him on it... I could see in his face that he was trying to find a way to lie his way out of it."

"I'm sorry."

"I'd rather have you any day."

"Are you sure? You wouldn't rather have your dad in your life?"

Jimmy leaned up on his elbow before kissing her. "Do I need to show you again?"

She smiled up at him. "It wouldn't hurt."

"I'll spend the rest of my life showing you how glad I am you're my wife," he said seriously.

"I'll hold you to that," she answered softly.



They'd been in Smallville for a week and a half. Desperate to get away from the farm, even for a few minutes, they headed into town to pick up a few groceries. Clark had headed to one of the western states to help with the search for a little boy who had managed to get lost.

They wandered around the small grocery store, taking it in. They picked up some milk and eggs as well as cereal and a few other things.

"Hey! You must be Lois' sister!"

Lucy turned to see a blond woman smiling at them.

"I'm Maisie," she told them, holding out a hand. "We heard the four of you were staying out at the Kent place while this whole kidnapping thing blows over."

"I'm Lucy," she said, shaking the offered hand. "And this is my husband, Jimmy."

"It's so nice to meet you both. We were horrified to hear what happened. And that it should have been Lois!" Maisie shook her head. "We adopted her as one of our own when she was here last fall for the Corn Festival, and the idea that someone would want to kidnap her... We're awfully glad that you're safe. It sure is lucky that this Superman showed up just in time to find you."

Lucy nodded. "I'd never been so grateful to see anyone in my life."

She moved closer to Lucy. "Is he as good-looking in real life as he is on TV?"

Lucy shifted uncomfortably, glancing at Jimmy. "Well, I was pretty freaked out when he rescued me. I'm afraid I didn't really look very closely."

"Well, that's certainly understandable." Maisie glanced at her watch. "I've got to get back over to the diner. You tell Lois and Clark that I said 'hello', will you?"

Lucy nodded, wincing as she did.

"Are you okay, darling'?" Maisie rested a hand on Lucy's forearm.

Lucy nodded as the sensation passed. "I've been having Braxton-Hicks for the last few days, but that one was the worst yet."

The older lady looked concerned. "Well, if I see Laura, I'm going to send her out to see you. That looked like more than Braxton-Hicks to me and you should have her look you over."

Lucy nodded. "Thanks, but we really do need to get back. We told Lois and Clark we wouldn't be gone long."

After a few more words exchanged with various residents of Smallville, they were on their way back to the farm.

No more than three minutes later, Lucy gasped as a contraction overtook her.

"What is it, babe?" Jimmy asked her, concerned as she grasped his hand tightly.

It was a minute before she was able to respond. "That hurt," she whispered. "And I think my water just broke."

"It's too early," Jimmy said, pressing down a bit harder on the gas pedal.

"Three weeks. That's not too bad," she whispered, tears coming down her face. "I hope Clark's back or that Maisie finds Laura soon."

It seemed like forever before Jimmy spun the tires a bit turning into the drive. "Wait here," he said grimly. "Let me see if Clark's here."

A second after he walked into the house, Clark was standing next to the car, lifting her carefully. "I got you, Luce. How ya doin?"

"It hurts," she whimpered as another contraction overtook her.

"I know."

He carried her up the stairs and set her in the middle of the bed in their room. Lois and Jimmy were right behind them.

Clark left to get supplies while Jimmy helped her take her shorts and underwear off and Lois moved to make the bed with a tarp under a sheet. Once she was settled back against the pillows, a sheet draped over her legs, she grimaced as Jimmy did his best to remember what they'd learned in some of their classes and checked her cervix.

"It's too fast, isn't it?" she whispered between contractions.

"At least eight centimeters," he said as Clark came back in the room. "This is going way too fast for a first baby. She's been having contractions off and on for a couple of days but nothing too serious. We thought they were just Braxton-Hicks," Jimmy told him.

"I called Laura," Clark said. "She's on her way, but she wasn't home so it could be a while before she gets here. We're on our own until then."

Lucy rolled onto her left side, tears streaming down her face. "It hurts," she cried. It wasn't too long before the contractions slowed down a bit and she breathed a sigh of relief with slightly more rest between each one. She clung to Jimmy hand as he brushed the hair off her face.

"You can do this, honey," he told her, kissing her forehead.

"I may have to hurt you after this," she told him weakly.

"I can take it."

She let out a little cry. "You have to check again, Jimmy. Something feels weird."

He squeezed her hands. "Let Clark, honey. I know he's your brother-in-law and all, but he's the one who worked with Dr. McCorkle."

Lucy nodded as Jimmy and Lois helped her roll onto her back.

"I think it's time to push, Luce," Clark told her. "The baby's coming."

She nodded. "I don't think I have a choice," she whispered.

After the longest twenty minutes of her life, she finally delivered the baby.

"You want to do the honors, Jim?" Clark asked as he held the baby in his hands.

Jimmy moved towards the foot of the bed. He looked at her with tears in his eyes. "It's a girl."

Lucy fell back against the pillows, tears continuing to stream down her face. Jimmy wrapped the baby in a blanket and handed her to Lucy. She stroked the tiny face as Lois kissed her hair.

"Luce, you did great. She's beautiful."

Lucy laughed just a bit. "She looks kinda gross."

Lois laughed with her. "We'll get her cleaned up and you'll see."

On a euphoric adrenaline high, she barely noticed as Clark finished what he needed to do. It wasn't long before they heard the front door open and a voice call out.

"We're up here, Laura," Clark called back.

In just a few minutes, Laura was double checking what Clark had done post-delivery. Lois and Clark had gone downstairs while Jimmy stayed by Lucy's side.

"Superman did a good job," Laura commented as she helped clean up the room a bit.

"How's she look?" he asked Laura.

"She looks good," Laura said, looking over the tiny baby as Jimmy helped Lucy put some clean clothes on and then back onto the now clean bed. "She's a little small, but not too bad. She's only three weeks early. We'll want to keep an eye on her, but I think she'll be fine." She finished swaddling the baby. "Now, are you planning on nursing this angel?"

Lucy nodded. "I don't know how long I'll be able to because of school and stuff, but I'd like to try at least for a little while."

"Well, it may hurt a bit at first. In fact, it probably will, but it's good for you and good for her. You ready to try?"

"Already?" Lucy asked shocked.

"This is the best time. It's something she should know how to do instinctively."

Lucy nodded and after a few minutes, the baby was nursing like a champ.

"I'll leave you two for now, but call me if you need anything or have any questions or anything else. Day or night, okay?"

Lucy nodded, distracted by her daughter. "We will. Thanks, Laura."

Laura left the room, quietly shutting the door behind her.

Jimmy kissed the side of Lucy's head, one arm wrapped around her as they watched their daughter eat her first meal. "I'm so proud of you, babe. You did great."

"I didn't have much choice in the matter," Lucy said honestly.

"Still, you did great."


"Have we picked out a name yet?"

"I still like Abigail."

"Me, too."

"It wouldn't have anything to do with that intern would it?" she asked with a grin.

He laughed lightly. "I only have eyes for two women and you know that."

She turned slightly to kiss him. "I know."

"So Abigail it is?"

She nodded. "Abigail Alice Olsen."

"Too many As?"

She shook her head. "I think it's perfect."

He reached out a finger and stroked her head. "Hi, Abbie," he whispered, using their chosen nickname. "Welcome to the world, little girl."


Chapter 18

"I'm honored," Alice whispered as she held the baby girl for the first time. "Abigail Alice." They'd kept her middle name to themselves until Alice and Perry were able to make a quick visit to Smallville four days after she was born.

"You've meant a lot to us," Lucy told her. Alice had made a beeline for the living room where Lucy and Lois sat with baby Abbie. "It was one of the first things that occurred to us."

"Would you have used Perry for a middle name if she'd been a boy?" Lois asked.

Lucy bit her bottom lip but didn't answer.

Alice laughed. "I won't tell if you don't."

"Where is Perry?" Lucy asked.

"He's talking to Clark and Jimmy -- probably either about the investigation or the Superman merchandise."

"Superman merchandise?" There was shock in Lois' voice.

Alice smiled as she continued to look at the baby she held. "You should see my new collection. T-shirts, coffee mugs, action figures..."

"Dolls? There's dolls that look like Clark?" Lucy raised an eyebrow.

"Action figures," Alice corrected.

"Same thing," muttered Lois. "Women ogling my husband."

"No, dear," Alice told her. "That's what the life-size cardboard cutouts are for."

Lois groaned and glared at Lucy, who barely managed to stifle a giggle. With another dirty look, Lois moved to the kitchen to check on the guys.

A minute later Perry walked in. "Hey, darlin'. How ya feelin'?"

Lucy reached up as he leaned over to hug her. "A bit sore still, but not too bad really."

He moved to sit next to Alice on the couch. "Look at this little beauty." Alice carefully handed her over. "Hi, Abigail," he whispered.

"Abigail Alice Olsen," Lucy told him.

He looked up, his eyes wide. "That's... Wow." He smiled at Alice. "I can't think of anything more fitting." He paused for a second before looking back at Lucy. "Just promise me you won't give a little guy the middle name 'Perry', would ya?"

Lucy laughed and shared a look with Alice as Perry turned his attention back to the baby. "Promise."


September 1990

"Lois? Clark?" Jimmy called as he and Lucy walked in the front door.

"Up here," Clark called back.

Lucy had unbuckled Abbie from her car seat when she heard Jimmy call back down.

"Lucy! It's a boy!"

Lucy stared at the staircase for a minute, before hurrying up them. "Did I hear that right?"

She saw Jimmy sitting on the bed next to Lois, who was holding a small blanket-wrapped bundle. "Yep," he said with a smile. "A boy."

Lucy hurried to the side of the bed, handing Abbie to Jimmy. "Move, honey. I've got to see this little man." She sat down in the spot Jimmy had vacated. "Oh, Lois, he's beautiful," she whispered. "And he looks just like Clark."

Her sister grimaced. "I think he looks more like a California Raisin right now."

Lucy laughed. "You delivered him, Clark?"

Clark nodded. "Lois did all the hard work," he answered quietly, kissing the side of Lois' head. "She was a trooper."

"I'm just glad you got here when you did or I would have had to deliver him myself," Lois whispered.

"You still shouldn't have waited so long to call me," he admonished.

"Where were you?" Lucy asked, holding her arms out in silent request. Lois carefully passed the baby over.

"There was an airliner that needed help with its landing gear. I *could* have left a lot earlier than I did if I'd known I was needed," he said giving Lois a stern look. "Laura was here a little while ago and said that everything looks good."

Lucy handed him back to Lois. "What's his name?"

There was a catch in Clark's voice as he answered. "Jonathan Joel, after my dads."

"That's perfect," Lucy whispered. "Are you going to call him Jon then?"

"I think so," Lois told them. "I guess we could go with JJ or something though."

Clark shook his head. "He's a Jon."

Lois smiled. "Jon it is then." She yawned.

"Let me take him and you get some sleep." Clark took Jon from Lois' arms and handed him to the now-standing Lucy. "You did great, honey," he said as he kissed Lois' hair. "Get some rest."

Lois nodded and was asleep before they left the room.


"The fates are conspiring against us," Jimmy whispered.

"What do you mean?" Lucy whispered back around her yawn.

"Your doctor gave us the okay to make love again and Abbie and Jon were up all night last night," he said, kissing her neck.

"I know, honey, and I want to, really I do, but..." Her voice trailed off as she dozed.

"I know. You're exhausted."

Lucy hovered in that land between awake and asleep. She could hear Jimmy talking about something but wasn't quite sure what it was. She thought she heard herself responding but figured that it was just her imagination. Her mind was working but her body was exhausted.

And her mind wasn't exactly being coherent. She thought he said something about going home, but she couldn't quite make it out.

She finally mustered enough energy to roll over and rest her head on Jimmy's chest. "L'v 'ou," she murmured and didn't remember anything else until the sun crept in through the window.

"Jimmy!" She sat straight up and looked around, but he was nowhere to be seen.

She wrapped her robe around her and headed out into the house. "Jimmy?" she called quietly, when she noticed Lois and Clark's door still closed.

"Down here," she heard from the living room.

"Did I sleep all night?" she asked, yawning as she padded down the stairs.

He nodded. "Abbie slept most of the night, believe it or not. Nearly seven hours."

"Thank God." She sat on the couch next to him.

He was holding their daughter but handed her over. "I was warming a bottle up for her so you could sleep, but I'm sure she'd prefer you."

Lucy winced slightly at the discomfort in her breasts. "I'd prefer it, too." In just a minute, Abbie was suckling contentedly, a blanket nearby in case her uncle decided to put in an appearance. Lucy breathed a sigh of relief as the pressure abated on one side.

"I talked to Clark last night," Jimmy finally said as Abbie burped and Lucy switched sides.


"Going home."

Lucy's brow furrowed. "Did you say something about that last night?"

"Yeah. You said only if we could make love the minute we walked in the door."

"I did?"


"Well, that *does* sound like something I'd say, and we never have fallen in the door and gone for it."

"And we have said that's something on our 'to do someday' list," Jimmy added suggestively.

"Maybe going home is a good idea." She bit her lip. "But what about Luthor? He may still be after me thinking that I could identify him."

"Well, Abbie will be in the Planet daycare. You won't go anywhere alone, even if it means you spend the day at Perry and Alice's or hanging out in the conference room. It's still well known that Superman is looking out for you and that he wants to find out who it was that kidnapped you." Her head rested on his shoulder. "Clark and I talked about it last night and we think you'll be okay."

"If you guys think it's okay..."

"We do." He kissed her head. "And Clark said they'd watch Abbie for us for a couple hours when he takes us home."

Lucy sat up and looked at him. "What exactly did you tell him, James Olsen?"

He shrugged. "That I've missed making love to my wife. He *offered* to keep her for a while."

"Well, then. When do we leave?"

Jimmy laughed. "After lunch, probably."

Lucy groaned. "That long?"

He laughed again. "Think of it as anticipation."

"I've been anticipating for six weeks, thank you."

"Then a few more hours won't hurt." Jimmy jumped up and walked off, taking advantage of the still-nursing baby to keep her mother in place.

"Keep that up and you'll be waiting a few more hours, James Bartholomew Olsen," she called.

"No, I won't," he said sticking his head out of the kitchen. "You won't be able to wait that long."

Lucy threw a pillow in his general direction but missed by a mile, scowling as he headed into the kitchen. "He's right, you know," she whispered to her daughter. "I won't be able to wait that long."


Lucy pulled Lois into a long hug. "I can't believe you're leaving."

"I know, but I can't stay any longer. Jimmy's got to go back to work and so do I. I've managed to make it to most of my classes because of Clark but I can't take the S-Express to school forever." Clark had provided transportation for both of them to school and from for the last couple of weeks.

"At least you only have classes two days a week."

"I know. Besides," Lucy whispered. "My six-week check-up was yesterday so... thanks for keeping Abbie for a couple hours for us. I'll give you a call in a little while so Clark can bring her home."

Lois rolled her eyes. "Do you two ever stop?"

Lucy's eyes gleamed wickedly. "Not unless we have to." She bit her lip thinking of what was going to be happening in the next few minutes before her voice dropped conspiratorially. "And your check up isn't too far off either is it?"

Lois glared at her. "Don't go there, Lucy."

"Sorry." Lucy wasn't the least bit contrite.

"Right. I'm sure you are." She hugged Lucy again. "I'm still going to miss you."

"I'm going to miss you, too."

"Are you sure it's safe for you to go back?" Lois asked concerned.

"As safe as it can be. Luthor knows we're on to him and that Superman is keeping an eye on me. Jimmy has class the same time I do and I'm *never* alone right now. Even if it means keeping Abbie with me and hanging out in a conference room for a while. And I can stay with Perry and Alice if I need to."

"Luthor really doesn't like Superman, does he?" Lois said biting her lip.

"No, but there's nothing to worry about. Clark's invulnerable."

"I know but..."

"You still worry about him," Lucy said gently.

"And not just physically. Even though I know he can't be hurt, I worry about what's going to happen if he's not fast enough or can't save someone. It was one thing when he knew he couldn't jeopardize us, but now that he can help openly... I think he might take it a lot harder."

"That's what he has you for. To make him realize that he *can't* do it all."

Just then Clark landed back in the farmyard. "Ready, Luce? Jimmy's waiting for you."

She nodded before hugging Lois one more time. "Love you, sis."

"Love you."

Lucy watched the ground go by but didn't say much as they flew.

"You okay?" Clark asked quietly.

"Huh?" Lucy looked at him in surprise. "I'm fine."


Lucy blushed. "Sorry. I just can't wait to get home, that's all. And thanks for taking Abbie for a couple hours."

Clark chuckled. "I think Jimmy might have found a way to disembowel me if we didn't. I think he wants you all to himself for a little bit."

"I know he does." Lucy refused to look at him, certain her face matched his cape. They were nearing Metropolis before she spoke again. "Would you mind dropping me off on the street rather than the balcony?"

Clark shrugged. "No problem."


"How long do we have?" Jimmy asked, his voice muffled by the side of her neck as he pressed her against the door.

Lucy put her hands on his chest and pushed him slightly away. "Not like this."

"I don't think I can wait any longer." He pulled her to the floor on top of him.

She kissed him fervently. "I didn't want our first time after my check up to be like this."

He tugged her shirt up and over her head. "Then our second time can be different. It's been too long."

She groaned and pulled his shirt over his head. "I can live with that."

He undid the snap on her jeans with one hand. "You told me last night we were going to fall in the door and make love on the landing."

She giggled and kissed him again. "I bought something special for today."

"You can put it on in a few minutes. We don't have to call Clark until we're ready for him to bring Abbie, and I told him it would be a couple hours."

"Good," she whispered, kissing him one more time.

It wasn't very much later when she went to the bathroom to put on her new purchase. She stared at her reflection in the mirror -- grateful it only showed from about the waist up -- and tears came to her eyes. She loved her daughter, but pregnancy had taken a toll on her body. She had believed Jimmy when he said he had found her extremely attractive when she was pregnant but she wasn't pregnant anymore. She suddenly wished she had bought something that covered a bit more. The bra was solid but the rest of the black baby doll style gown was sheer and split down the front. A year ago, she would have looked great. Even seven months earlier before her stomach started growing.

But now...

The stretch marks were very noticeable and her stomach muscles weren't even close to where they were not too long before.

Maybe Jimmy wouldn't notice. Maybe... except it was mid-afternoon in Metropolis so there was no way that she could manage to get some mood lighting to hide her changed figure.

"You okay in there?" her husband finally called.

She took a deep breath and opened the door, walking through the short hallway and leaning on the brick between the hall and the bedroom. She wanted to ask what he thought, but she couldn't bring herself to do it.

Jimmy was stretched out on the bed, propped up on one arm. He looked her up and down but didn't say anything. She'd heard his sharp intake of breath when he'd first seen her but was that a good intake or a bad one? The longer he waited, the more afraid she was. Finally, he spoke. "You look..." He looked her up and down again. "Beautiful."

Tears filled her eyes again, as self-doubt crept in. She ran her hands along her stomach, showing between the two sides of the sheer fabric. "I've got stretch marks and my stomach muscles are shot," she whispered.

He stood up and walked towards her. When he got close enough, he framed her face with his hands and kissed her gently. His hands moved to her stomach and he traced her stretch marks with his fingers. "You carried my baby. You *made* my daughter in here. The stretch marks and stomach muscles are badges of honor because you protected her and kept her safe for almost nine months." He took her hand and led her to their bed, motioning for her to lie down. He stretched out next to her, his head at her abdomen and he gently kissed each of the stretch marks. "They're your Abbie marks, babe. And they're beautiful. You're beautiful. You're even more attractive now than you ever were. I love you more every day. How could you doubt that I find you attractive after what happened the second you walked in the door?"

"You haven't really seen me since Abbie was born. I mean, not really. And -- let's face it -- we barely got our clothes off a few minutes ago."

He moved up next to her, one hand brushing hair off her face. "But you're beautiful. You always have been. And you don't care that I'm not in quite the shape I used to be in. My six-pack is more like a 2-Liter these days." He lightly traced the stretch marks again. "You could gain 400 lbs or shrink down to nearly nothing and I would still only have eyes for you because I love you."

Tears slid down her cheeks. "And I love you."

He moved up to kiss her again. "Let me show you."


Chapter 19

October 1990

Lucy nudged the air mattress up against the wall and flipped a blanket over the top of it. Abbie and Jon were downstairs in their bouncy seats while she made up the bed in the nursery.

Perry and Alice were taking the bed in the room she and Jimmy had occupied for several weeks after the kidnapping. Lois and Clark had moved back to Metropolis a couple of weeks earlier, but they all had come to Smallville for the Corn Festival.

In an hour they were leaving for the dance contest. Lois and Clark weren't planning on participating this year, but Perry and Alice were. She and Jimmy were discussing it, but neither were very good line dancers.

Before long, they were seated at one of the tables near the dance floor watching as Perry and Alice stomped and twirled their way to second place. The two collapsed into their chairs with their trophy.

"That was great!" Clark exclaimed. "I had no idea you two could dance like that."

Perry laughed. "We can do a lot of things you kids don't know about. You didn't think you guys invented dancing, did you?"

"Well, no," Clark admitted. "But it's a side of you we'd never seen."

The six of them laughed and talked for a while longer before heading back to the farm. The next day was spent doing carnival type things. Both Jimmy and Clark tried to ring the bell in the strength challenge, but they were all laughing too hard after Alice pointed out Superman at the top.

That night was the dance. Lois wore the burgundy dress she'd bought the year before and Lucy had found one in hunter green. Laura Lang watched the babies for a while so Lois and Lucy could dance with their husbands.

Sleeping on the air mattress wasn't exactly Lucy's preference, but that was how it went sometimes. And since they were sharing the room with Abbie... Well, technically, they shared their room with their daughter at home, too, but that was different somehow and they'd kept their hands -- mostly -- to themselves while in Smallville.

Sunday dawned bright and clear. Jon had been up much of the night and Lois decided to sleep for a while with her son. The Whites and Olsens headed into Smallville with Clark following by air as there wasn't enough room for them all in one vehicle, and to take both would leave Lois without transportation.

After several hours of soaking up Smallville hospitality, they decided to head back to the farm for some rest before the big fireworks finale that evening.

Clark was going to fly back to meet them, but they saw him talking to Sheriff Rachel Harris as they drove off. A minute later they heard a sonic boom.

"Well, that was odd," Perry said as he drove.

Jimmy shrugged. "Maybe he heard about a mudslide or something."


Fifteen minutes later, they pulled around the farmhouse to park under the tree behind the house and were greeted by army Jeeps and men with guns.

Perry threw the car into reverse only to find himself blocked in by more men with guns. "Great Shades of Elvis," he muttered.

Lucy and Alice stared at each other in the back seat.

One of the men tapped on the glass with the muzzle of his gun. "Everyone out."

"I don't think they're playing around," Perry said grimly. "I think our best option is probably to go along until help arrives."

Lucy thought that this was probably where Clark was headed, but kept her opinion to herself. Leaving Abbie in her car seat, she unbuckled the carrier from the seat.

"Take the baby out of the seat," the man ordered.

Lucy hesitated, looking at Perry for guidance. He nodded, so she carefully unbuckled her small daughter and held her tightly as she climbed out of the car. Somehow, Jimmy and Perry managed to get her and Alice in between them, attempting to stay between Alice, Lucy and Abbie and the gunmen.

Three minutes later, they were in the barn under the watchful eye of two other men with semi-automatic weapons. Lucy wasn't familiar enough with guns to know what kind.

A third man poked his head in through the door. "They're bringing them out. Luthor has the kid."

Lucy was the first one to grasp the significance of the statement. "No," she whispered.

"Superman will be here," Jimmy reassured her, pulling her behind him.

"Oh, I hope so," one of the men said. "Trask has a plan for him."

"Trask," Perry whispered. "The nutcase from Metropolis." He turned to the man. "Let us go," he bellowed, motioning with one hand for Lucy and Alice to take Abbie into one of the empty stalls.

The two women moved quietly as their husbands distracted the gunmen with raised voices. Their retreat was noticed a moment later, and they were all forced back out the door.

Luthor and a man with a goatee -- Perry quietly identified him as Nigel St. John -- were standing nearby; Jon in Luthor's arm and a gun in his other hand. St. John held a struggling Lois by the upper arms.

They all gasped as they saw Clark being dragged across the yard. He was cut and bloody, something they hadn't believed possible.

"Where is Superman?" they heard Trask ask. "Tell me or I kill your wife and friends and your son. One by one. While you watch."

Perry and Jimmy again situated themselves between Lucy holding Abbie and Alice standing in front of her.

"You wouldn't," they heard Clark whisper.

They watched as Trask grabbed Clark's hair and forced him to look him in the eyes. "Yes, I would. Where's the alien?"

The four of them gasped as Clark groaned. "I'm right here."

They saw Trask laugh. "You? You're Superman? You can't even hold your head up."

They watched as Clark struggled to push himself up and look at Trask. "I *am* Superman."

The army man laughed again. "Go get the box. If Clark Kent really is the alien, it should affect him."

A man brushed past them with a silver case in his hand. "Here it is, sir."

"Open it," Trask ordered.

"Yes, sir." The man who had first told them to get out of the car did as he was told.

They saw a green glow and heard Clark groan and collapse at almost the same moment.

"*Clark!*" Lois screamed from the other side of the barnyard. "*No!*"

Tears flowed down Lucy and Alice's cheeks. What was happening?

Trask turned to Lois. "I'm sure you're wondering what that is and why it affects that alien you keep protecting." She nodded weakly.

"It's a piece of the planet he's from -- a meteorite. Some have called it Kryptonite since it's from the planet Krypton. Our research shows it is likely to harm the alien and perhaps even kill it," Trask told her.

Perry whispered to Jimmy. "We have to get it away from him."

Jimmy nodded. "How?"

Trask snapped the box shut with his foot and Lois lunged for it. Nigel pulled her backwards and the two tumbled into the lake.

Lucy saw Lois emerge from under the water as Trask kicked Clark repeatedly in the gut. Trask opened the box and pulled the rock out for a minute, holding it close enough to Clark for him to start screaming. He put it back in the box as Luthor started yelling at him. He left the box open and moved it far enough away that Clark couldn't reach it. Nigel was nowhere to be seen.

Lucy looked towards the road where she could hear the sound of sirens.

They could hear the two men arguing. "We cannot allow either of them to live," Trask told Luthor.

"Yes, we can," Luthor said back. "I will not allow you to kill the child that could be my son."

"We don't know if it is your son. If it is the offspring of the alien, it must be eliminated."

"No. If this is my child, I will not allow him to be raised by someone else and I will not allow you to kill him while paternity is in question. I've financed your operations for the last several months and you will do as I say."

Trask took a step closer and looked at him with the most menacing look Lucy had ever seen. "I do not answer to you. A DNA test will be done and if it's not your child, then it will be eliminated."

A small, diabolical smile crossed Luthor's face. "I will take the child with me until such tests can be completed."

"No. We will take it into custody."

"I do not trust you."

"I don't trust you."

"If this is the child of the alien, then we can raise him to be *our* Superman -- one who answers to our commands and does what *we* want."

"No. A half-breed alien must be killed."

Lucy eased back towards the barn as Jimmy moved towards Clark. When Trask seemed to be the most distracted by his conversation with Luthor, Jimmy lunged towards the silver case and snapped it shut. He grabbed it and ran out of the farm yard. She could see Clark's eyes close briefly and his face relax in immediate relief as Jimmy took off with the case.

Most of the other men had jumped into Jeeps and taken off at the first sound of sirens coming from the direction of town.

Clark managed to pull himself up and tackled Trask in the small of his back. The sound of a shot ringing out caused her to freeze. Luthor disappeared into the pond, taking Jon with him. Lucy handed her baby to Alice and headed towards the pond but stopped when Lois swam quickly that direction and Clark somehow managed to dive into the water himself.

Lois got to her son and Clark placed himself between her and Trask.

Trask had managed to stand up while Alice took Abbie into the relative safety of the barn. "Out of the pond," he hissed, pointing his gun the direction of the Kent family.

"No," Lucy heard Clark say as his arms reached back to pull Lois and Jon closer to him.

Perry and Lucy continued to edge towards Trask as his attention was turned towards the pond.

Jimmy came back from wherever he'd been and tackled Trask from behind when he was distracted by the sound of tires coming up the drive. They fought and Lucy screamed as Trask finally managed to stand over Jimmy, pointing his gun down at her husband.

A shot rang out and Lucy screamed again until she saw Trask fall backwards into the pond.

Lucy ran towards Jimmy but was stopped by Lois' screams.

"*Clark!*" Lois grabbed at him with one hand as he leaned slightly. "Perry! Help! Clark's been shot!"

Jimmy scrambled to his feet and ran towards the pond, Perry hot on his heels. They positioned themselves on either side of Clark and helped him out of the pond. Lucy was right behind them and wrapped an arm around Lois as they struggled towards shore.

Cars poured into the farm yard. Minutes later, Pete, one of Clark's friends from high school they'd been introduced to that weekend, was at his side, but Clark brushed him off, telling him to check Jon out first. A few minutes later, Jon was pronounced fine and Pete turned to bandage Clark's arm. Grateful it was a through and through, Lucy sagged against Jimmy, who held her tightly. Perry had headed towards the barn to tell Alice it was all clear.

Lois' legs buckled underneath her as Pete worked on Clark. Lucy was at her side helping her sit on the edge of the ambulance. Lucy took Jon from her, while Jimmy sat next to her for a few minutes.

Jimmy moved as Clark, with a fresh, white bandage on his left bicep, sat next to Lois. He wrapped his arm around Lois as Jimmy took Abbie from Alice and wrapped an arm around his own wife. "It's over," Clark whispered.

"Are you sure?" Lois asked as tears finally flowed down her cheeks.

Clark nodded. "They're both dead. So is Nigel."

"Are you really sure?" Lois asked him.

"Yes. Luthor hasn't come out of the water yet..." All six watched as bodies were pulled out of the pond. "...and Trask... Rachel got him right through the heart."

With that, Lois slumped onto Clark, unconsciousness overtaking her.

"*Pete*!" Clark yelled and his friend turned from where he was looking over the three bodies.

He ran to Clark's side and helped move Lois onto a gurney. Pete checked her vitals as Lucy slumped against Jimmy, tears flowing down her cheeks.

Alice came up and took Jon from her, and she turned in Jimmy's arms crying on his shoulder. Perry wrapped his arms around Alice and kissed her hair as she held Jon.

A few minutes later, Pete turned to Jimmy. "Can you carry her upstairs?"

Jimmy nodded. "Is she okay?"

"Yes. It's just the stress of the day -- exhaustion for lack of a better term. I'll give you a list of things to watch for, but she should be just fine."

Jimmy scooped Lois into his arms and headed for the house. Lucy hurried after him, setting Abbie in the bassinet in the living room and ran up the stairs ahead of him, turning down the sheets on the bed in the room Lois and Clark shared. Jimmy gently put Lois on the bed and Lucy covered her with the camouflage blanket she loved.

They closed the door and headed back downstairs.

Clark had made it inside as the police covered the outside of the house. Perry and Alice were right behind him with Jon. Alice worked to make a bottle while Clark took Jon and sat in the chair, whispering to him the whole time. Lucy sat as close to Jimmy as she could, using a blanket to cover herself up as she nursed her daughter.

After after-action interviews with Rachel and the FBI officials who had shown up a few minutes later took most of the afternoon. Alice made sandwiches for dinner, and it was still early when she and Perry headed for bed, worn out by the day's events.

"I think I'm going to head up, too," Lucy said a few minutes later. She hugged Clark tightly for a long time before she kissed Jimmy lightly and took a sleeping Abbie from his arms. She went upstairs and carefully laid her daughter in the crib, barely managing to change before collapsing on the air mattress.

Tears flowed as she huddled under the blanket, the events of the day overtaking her. It wasn't ten minutes later that Jimmy came in and shut the door quietly behind him. He quickly stripped down to his boxers and crawled in next to her.

She rolled and buried her head in his chest.

"Shhh, babe. It's okay."

"I know," she whispered. "But we could have all been killed today, even Clark."

"He's fine. He told me. He doesn't have any powers but he thinks they'll be back soon."

"I'm so proud of you."

"Me? Why?"

"Remember a few months ago you were so upset because you couldn't save me and the baby?"


"Today, you rescued all of us. Perry and I were both looking at Trask himself, but you went for the case. If you hadn't, Clark wouldn't have been able to move and tackle him. If you'd gone for Trask first, one of them would have gotten you before you could get them, but he was distracted enough that he didn't notice you taking the case." She kissed him softly. "You saved us all today by being smart." She kissed him again, tears flowing down her cheeks. "I love you and I want you to make love to me, Jimmy," she said quietly. "I know Abbie's right there, but she's asleep."

"Clark's going to bring Jon up when he goes down for the night. I told him we'd get up with him if we need to."

"He won't go down for the night for a couple more hours," she told him, pulling him to her. "I need you."

"I know, babe. I need you, too." He kissed her softly. "Have I ever told you how glad I am you said yes to that football game?"

"Not recently."

"I am. So glad. So glad that you said yes then, that you said yes when I asked you to marry me, that you're my best friend, my soul mate, that we've learned to love each other."

She kissed him again. "Show me, Jim."

He rolled them so she was on her back and he was on his side next to her. "I'll spend the rest of my life showing you how much I love you."

"I'll hold you to that."

"I hope you do." He brushed the hair off her face, bathed in the glow of the moonlight on a clear Kansas night. "I love you, Lucy Ellen Olsen. And I will for the rest of my life."