Rating: PG

Disclaimer: Not my characters.

Author's note: Missing scene from "Arrival." I actually started working on this four months ago. Thanks to Smallvillian, my exceedingly patient editor!

Belonging

The hospital staff had some trouble with Jonathan when he and Lois carried Martha into the hospital. In his state of shock, he had resisted them at first, tightening his grip when they tried to take his wife's unconscious form from his arms. Lois had to take his arm and talk to him quietly and gently for a minute before his mind seemed to clear a little, and he reluctantly let the orderly take Martha and place her on a gurney.

But after she had been wheeled down the hall and disappeared around the corner, her husband still stood staring after her. His only movement was an unconscious rubbing of his little finger against his wedding ring finger.

Lois studied his face anxiously. Between exhaustion, worry over Chloe, and fear for Martha, she had never felt so drained in her life, but her companion looked even worse than she felt. She didn't like what little of his color she could see under the caked blood and dirt, and he was breathing harder than he should have been, even after their frantic trip across the hospital parking lot.

Lois took a deep breath to steady her nerves, crushing back the longing for nicotine, and tried to think of something that would bring him back to Planet Earth.

"Mr. Kent." She forced herself to speak slowly and calmly. "Can you tell me where Clark is? Is there any way I can contact him for you?"

Jonathan's eyes wandered vaguely to her face, though she wasn't sure he actually saw her. But his son's name seemed to strike a chord. "Clark went—he went—" He swallowed. "I think—I—I need to—" He swayed a little.

"Uh, yeah. You need to," Lois confirmed, catching hold of his arm again. She eased him into the nearest chair, where he leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes.

The General's long-ago first aid training kicking in, Lois placed two fingers against his neck and counted under her breath for a moment. Jonathan sat motionless, giving no sign that he felt the pressure of her fingers.

His pulse was rapid, but not dangerously so, she decided. Luckily. Sure, they were in a hospital, but from the looks of it, the place didn't have a doctor to spare for anyone who hadn't been directly in the path of a meteorite.

"Mr. Kent? You stay right there. I'm gonna get you some water."

Lois got up with as brisk and competent an air as she could muster—for what reason, she didn't know. He wasn't even looking at her. She took a few strides, then stopped as she realized she had no idea where she was going. "Water," she repeated to herself, in the same bright, authoritative tone that was beginning to annoy even her. "Um . . ."

She jumped as Jonathan's voice came from behind her. "Down the hall and around the corner to the right." He spoke mechanically, still without opening his eyes.

A hysterical and highly inappropriate burst of laughter almost escaped Lois; she choked it back just in time. "Right. Of course." It had slipped her mind for a minute that all three Kents knew the hospital as well as they knew their own house—probably better.

She glanced back over her shoulder at him. "Now stay right there," she heard herself repeating. "Don't move." She wasn't sure why she was so worried that he might move. Maybe her first experience with a Kent male in this very hospital, nearly a year ago now, had made a deeper impression on her than she'd realized.

Hurrying down the dimly lit hall, dodging around doctors and nurses moving in all directions, she found the water cooler in short order. She filled a cup, then after a moment's consideration, filled another one. Coming back from her trip, she found that Jonathan had taken her instructions so literally that he was in exactly the same position. Her breath caught in her throat before she realized that he was still breathing, just more quietly than before.

Don't do that to me, she thought grimly, seating herself next to him. I've had enough panic in one day to last me the next thirty years. "Okay, Mr. Kent. Can you drink this?"

She had to help him with the cup; his hands were trembling so that he got more water on him than in him until she reached to steady it. "That's it," she murmured as he finally managed to gulp some down. Showing signs of returning animation, he drew his sleeve across his mouth as she took the cup back and tossed it on the empty chair beside her.

"All right, now, hold still for a minute."

Inwardly, she rolled her eyes at herself as she pulled a tissue from her pocket, folded it, and dipped it in the second cup of water. Don't move and hold still to a man who couldn't have stood up to save himself from—from space invaders from Mars. Really bright, Lois. Why had her brain decided to pack up and take a vacation just when she needed it?

It didn't take her a second to realize the answer to her unspoken question. She'd been through a lot one way and the other during her time in this anything-but-sleepy little town. But this had turned out to be the one thing she wasn't prepared for.

She had seen Jonathan Kent injured before, but she had never seen him crumble like this—not the man who stood even taller than his young giant of a son, who with one look could make both Clark and Lois feel like a couple of misbehaving six-year-olds. As for Martha, Lois knew already she would be seeing that glimpse of a limp, unmoving hand underneath the china cabinet in her nightmares for years to come.

She noticed for the first time, as she started bathing Jonathan's face with the wet tissue, that her own hands were trembling.

He blinked once or twice, and looked at her as if her features were just now starting to come into focus. "Lois . . . how did you get here?"

Lois looked at him dubiously, wondering now if the shock might have permanently affected his mind. "I drove—remember?" she prompted. "You were in the passenger seat—"

"No—not here." He shook his head impatiently. "At the farm. I thought you and Chloe had gone—somewhere—" He blinked again, trying to remember.

"We did, but we couldn't both get through," Lois explained briefly, not wanting to go into details. "I had to let her off, and then—" She was blinking now herself as the treacherous tears rose in her eyes. "I stopped the car and—and I saw—"

She lowered her eyes and rubbed at them harshly with the tissue.

"I saw the meteors hit the town, and I—I was so worried about you guys. I had to come back. I had to make sure . . . "

"Thank God you did," Jonathan said hoarsely. "Lois, if it hadn't been for you—I don't know if I could have—" His voice broke.

Lois risked a glance upwards, in time to see him turn his face quickly aside and lift his hand to his eyes. Tentatively she reached out and put an arm around his shoulders.

"Shh . . . it's gonna be all right. She's gonna be fine. She's strong," she whispered reassuringly, even as she felt her own control finally slipping away. She closed her own eyes tightly and buried her face in his shoulder as a sob shook her.

She wouldn't realize it until much later, but that was the moment the foundations of Lois's world shifted. There in that hospital, trying to piece together the man who had become more of a father to her than her own, not knowing what was going to happen to the woman he loved so dearly, there was no General Sam Lane demanding she return home, no wayward sister or missing friends, no manic hospital workers dashing from room to room. There was only the place she needed to be. The place she belonged.

The End