Lois balanced a cardboard drink carrier and made her way through the screen door. As she stepped into the kitchen, the door swung shut behind her.
"Hey, Mrs. Kent," she called out, setting the carrier on the counter and dropping her messenger bag on the floor. "I brought your favorites…"
Martha paused on her way from the den, stopping to watch for a moment as Lois chattered away to the air as she unloaded the treats she brought.
Martha smiled to herself and walked into the kitchen. She stood next to Lois at the counter and reached out to tuck an errant strand of hair behind Lois's ear.
"Honey, it's time," Martha said softly.
A brief look of confusion flicked across Lois's face. "Time for what?" she asked with a mischievous smirk, handing the older woman one of the two covered cups.
Martha sighed and sat at one of the stools that was pulled up to the kitchen island. She patted the stool next to her, indicating for Lois to sit down.
"Is everything OK?" Lois asked, lowering to the stool.
Martha seemed to hesitate as she wrapped her hands around the Styrofoam cup. "You've been wonderful for these past few months. I think I allowed myself to lean on you because it made it easier with Clark having been so angry…"
Lois frowned. Part of her was angry with Clark's apparent abandonment of his mother, but another part understood that he was acting in extreme grief and guilt. She swallowed her indignation. "It's okay," Lois replied, speaking carefully so her voice wouldn't catch. "I wanted to be here…"
Martha smiled and turned to face Lois. "I don't think I got the chance to properly thank you for taking care of the arrangements for the fu..."
"You don't have to," Lois interrupted, glancing away from Martha's gaze. "Besides, Chloe helped. It wasn't like I did it all." Lois's eye darted around for an excuse to keep moving. "I forgot napkins," she announced, moving to stand up.
Martha stopped her with a hand on her arm. "Sweetie, wait."
Lois swallowed and sank back to her seat, still avoiding looking at Martha.
"He was so proud of you."
The soft words caused Lois to turn sharply toward Martha.
Martha chuckled lightly at her expression. "It's true. He was going to wait until after the party, but he wanted to tell you what a wonderful job you did. And he meant that; win or lose."
Win or lose. Lois swallowed. But he had won.
And she had missed it.
She understood Clark's misdirected feelings of anger and guilt because she felt the same.
Smallville Medical wasn't a very large hospital. Perhaps had it been Metropolis General, things would have been different. Perhaps then she wouldn't have known at all.
Lois had protested the entire way to the hospital. Strapped to a gurney and being poked and prodded in the back of a siren-wailing box was not her idea of a nice ride. A small part of her discontent stemmed from the fact that she was riding in this tin box with a couple of strangers. Sure, she had told everyone to go back to the party, but she had kind of hoped that her own cousin would have wanted to keep her company.
Lois hadn't even been able to wish Mr. Kent congratulations as she was wheeled out on her back like an invalid. At least someone had thought to tell her the results. How lame was it to miss a part that you planned?
When she had finally been released, she had talked her way into using the phone at the desk at the nurse's station to call for a ride, but had been unable to reach Chloe. Then, while she was venting to the nurse, a walkie-talkie on the desk spurted to life announcing the arrival of an ambulance.
For no apparent reason, hairs had risen on the back of her neck, as if death had walked near her and decided to move on. Time had seemed to slow to a crawl as she turned to face the double doors that opened to allow the outside world to seep in.
"No," she whispered, seeing the brilliant flash of red hair that appeared as a gurney flanked by paramedics entered. In that moment, her heart painfully contracted as if a large hand had reached inside her chest and squeezed. She barely registered that the nurse was saying something to her as she darted down the hall.
Too late. There had been no time for goodbyes. No time for endearments, and no time for tears.
Lois had stood at the door of the trauma room, looking through the window, sadly watching Martha grip a hand that would no longer return the gesture. Feeling a presence, Lois had turned.
"You should go in…" Lois advised.
"I don't think that would be appropriate." Lana placed a hand on the window for a few seconds before taking a slight step back.
Lois frowned, confused. Lana's expression was one of pity and sympathy… but not of deep pain and loss; like what Lois was feeling. But before Lois could think about that further, the door opened and Clark stepped out. His face a myriad of warring expressions: pain, remorse, grief, and determination.
He and Lana exchanged a glance, and Lois thought she read another emotion in his gaze. Regret. Then, without a word, he walked briskly down the hall and out the main doors.
Lois turned back to the room. Exhaling a short breath, she pulled her shoulders back and reached for the door handle.
Lois blinked, realizing that she had been lost in her thoughts. "I think there's some Lemon Cake left. Do you want a slice?" she asked, starting to stand.
"No, thank you." Martha watched silently as Lois went to cut a piece of cake.
Lois ignored the untouched Chocolate cake as she reached for the Lemon one. Once upon a time, chocolate had been her weakness. But that was before… if it hadn't been for her stupid stress-induced chocolate craving, she wouldn't have been standing on an unstable stool. She wouldn't have cracked her head on the floor and been rendered unconscious. She would have been with Mr. Kent when he left the party. She would have been able to call for help. What the hell good was all that CPR and ECC (Emergency Cardiovascular Care) training if you couldn't use it to save the ones you love?
"You left your books on the table last night after studying… I put them in your room." Martha shared. Lois had returned to the farm to help out. "Agriculture 101?"
Lois turned away from slicing the cake. "I thought it would be interesting?" she offered sheepishly.
Martha chuckled. "That's really sweet of you, but…"
Lois walked over and took one of Martha's hands. "We can run this farm, I know we can."
Martha squeezed her hand. "Honey, you can do anything you set your mind to… but you're not meant to be a farmer. And, without Jonathan… I don't think that I am either."
"What do you mean?"
"I sold the farm to Central Kansas's Agriculture program. The state's land grant program is preserving the remaining farm land in the county for research purposes."
Lois's eyes widened. "You sold it? All of it?"
Martha gave her a sad smile. "Not the house or the barn; that will stay in the Kent family forever if possible. I kept the surrounding acreage to keep a buffer, but the rest of it… the stock, the machinery… sold."
Lois's eyes took on a faraway look. She had convinced herself that being here with Martha and saving the farm, had been her purpose. Now, she wasn't sure what to do.
Martha watched her face with a Mother's intuition. "Lois, I would like to show you something… would you come with me into the den?"
Lois silently followed Martha into the den and sat on the couch. Although her world was being shaken on it axis for yet another time, she refused to let it take her under. Lifting her chin, she smiled.
Martha shook her head in marvel at the child's strength as she reached into the closet and pulled out a gift bag. She sat next to Lois on the couch and cleared her throat. "Remember the night before Clark and Chloe's graduation… before the meteor shower? That was the night you told us that we were the parents you always wanted…"
Lois swallowed and kept her smile in place; her eyes suspiciously bright.
"We were both extremely touched to hear that. With all that happened after that, we didn't get a chance to tell you… we think of you as a daughter as well… He… Jonathan… he didn't want to overstep his bounds. You already have a father, but he was so happy to hear you say that. All he would talk about during this campaign was how professional, and how natural, you were at running the campaign. He knew you could meet any challenge… and if you could, then so could he." Martha sniffed and smiled, brushing at the corner of her right eye. "I just wish he would have had the chance to tell you himself."
Lois exhaled a slow breath and focused her attention on her tightly clasped hands in her lap. "Me too," she said, the words coming so soft that they were barely audible.
Martha reached into the gift bag and pulled out a briefcase. She rubbed a hand over the soft leather and handed to Lois. "Jonathan was planning to give this to you the day after…" Her voice faltered as she found it hard to finish the sentence.
Lois's hands shook as she ran a finger lightly over a gold clasp. "I… wow." She opened it to see a note written in Jonathan's firm handwriting.
Love, Your Biggest Fan.
Lois replaced the note carefully and closed the briefcase. Closing her eyes, she calmly ran a finger along one of her eyebrows, using the repetitious motion to keep her composure.
"You're going to do great things, Lois Lane. Everyone who loves you can see it, and your dad would expect nothing less." Martha reached over and took a hold of the hand that was in danger of rubbing an eyebrow off.
"You've been so strong… for me… for Clark… but now it's my turn to comfort my girl." Martha scooted closer and wrapped her arms around Lois, feeling her tremble.
"It's okay," Martha told her, but Lois remained motionless, almost not breathing.
"It's okay," Martha repeated, softer this time, stroking the young woman's hair.
Lois lost her battle as she released a shaky breath that ended in a soft sob. As her arms came up to hold onto the woman she loved like a mother; holding on as if Martha were a lifeline, Lois found herself unable to keep at bay the tears she hadn't allowed to fall since that fateful day.
She had convinced herself that she wasn't entitled to her grief. After all, she wasn't family… regardless of how she felt about these people whose lives she had impeded on. But, with two simple words, she had been grounded, adopted, and justified; two simple, powerful, and life-altering words.
Even as the tears streamed in rivulets down her cheeks, Lois wondered if one day she could yield as much power as Martha Kent did… to one day be able to touch another person's soul in a positive manner with words.
Martha didn't try to stymie her own tears. Grief was one of those things that just had to be played out until the song finished. And somehow, the only thing she could think of to say was the only thing Lois needed to hear.
A/N: I felt the need to give Lois a time to grieve. Looking at her expression from the shot of her at the funeral, it looked like she was determined to be strong. I think she and Pa Kent got pretty close while on the campaign trail, so she would definately be taking this hard, but would need permission to cry- if that makes sense. Anyway, it's a sad one, but I think its needed so the healing could begin.