Lois groaned and covered her face with a pillow, turning over on the overly soft, musty-smelling mattress. A rooster was crowing the dawn. A real, live, god damn rooster crowing – over and over and over. Even after three days, she still had the sense that this place just had to be a joke. She certainly wouldn't put it past Clark to engineer something so elaborate. Knowing that he hadn't, that this was entirely genuine (that he was entirely genuine), just made it that much more irritating. As she drifted back into a half-sleep, she dreamt, and when she woke suddenly a few minutes later at another sound, the fuzzy-lit images her mind had conjured of soft lips and strong hands on her body made her curse herself along with the stupid bird outside.
She rolled over and looked out the window to try to identify what had made her snap awake and sat bolt upright in bed when she saw Jason shoot straight up past her second floor window, screeching in utter delight. She was at the window when he passed back by on his way down from a height of at least seventy feet.
He caught the boy easily and they both looked up sheepishly at her.
"Sorry, Lois," he said as she leaned out the window, glaring daggers at him. "You know I wouldn't let him get hurt."
She opened her mouth, and then shut it, jerking her head back inside the house, furious. Because of course there was no danger in it. She fell back onto the bed and covered her face with her hands.
There was no denying that this visit was doing wonders for Jason. After so much tension and change, something about being able to be Clark as Clark, rather than Superman, was making all the difference in the world. Some of the confusion had fallen away, and an easy familiarity was taking its place, little by little. Which was wonderful, and, to her, terribly dangerous. It was so much easier to hold onto her anger when Jason was struggling. Now, this warmth, this tenderness – it was really starting to get to her.
Lois sighed, got up and dressed and went down to help Martha with breakfast, and she only rolled her eyes a little when she glanced at the clock and saw the ungodly time of 6:57 glowing on the display.
Around mid-morning, Lois, still trying to shake this growing sense of easiness which was doing nothing but making her uneasy, went for a walk while Jason and Shelby played fetch with Martha's watchful eye on them. She'd thought Clark was off somewhere busily being a hero, but she turned the corner around an old wooden storage shed and saw the family cemetery on a gentle knoll behind it. Clark was there sitting on the ground, talking to his father's grave. It was such a human moment to witness, and it reminded her of how much he had lost, and how much he had to carry, and it made her feel, as usual, petty and small.
But how could she forgive him?
Even that question, which had been shouting in her mind since he told her the truth, given the truth back to her, grew quiet as he turned his head, hearing her coming through the grass, and now she had to continue toward him as he stood, framed in the golden sun, his hair ruffling in the breeze. Just the sight of his muscles swelling gently against the old plaid shirt made heat explode in her belly and seep slowly through her legs.
She made her way up the small hill, acutely aware of the country quiet and his eyes on her. He turned when she stepped up beside him and her gaze followed his.
Beloved Husband and Father
"I wish Jason could have met him," Clark said softly. "He was the best man I ever knew. At least he'll be able to see and hear Jor-el one day, but Pa is lost to him."
"Jor-el?" she said. "What about Lara?"
A shadow passed over Clark's face. "She never came back after…" he looked away, off toward the north. After a moment he went on, "Even when I regrew the Fortress, somehow, every memory bank of her was gone."
There's always a price, she thought. Everyone believed him to be invulnerable, imagined Superman as never knowing pain.
"It'll be good for him to see something of Krypton. One day. I suppose we should wait awhile before – I should wait awhile," he corrected himself, and she could see the difficulty it caused him, having to be so careful not to push at the hard boundaries she had set up between them, "before showing him the Fortress. Give him time to get used to everything first."
Lois nodded, and neither of them spoke for a long moment. She realized she was staring into his eyes, those eyes of impossible blue; he was close enough that she could feel the heat radiating off of him, a warm, low glow.
"I don't want you to think," she said at last, "that I'm not still angry with you. Because I am."
He nodded slightly, "I know."
"I still can't believe you'd do something so selfish," her voice rose, shook a little as the emotions came slamming home again, "so immature, so completely and utterly out of bounds. When I think of it I become ill and hate you and wish we'd never even met and you just stand there all heroic and everyone constantly thinking you're a good guy and I want to scream to high heaven –" She cut herself off abruptly, staring fiercely at him. "God, why don't you ever fight back? Why don't you tell me, in moments like this, to just shut up, or get some anger management, or –"
"Because I think you're pretty beautiful when you're mad, Lois."
Her hands came up, her fingers clawed and she nearly shouted, "I could just choke you!"
He gave her a regretful look, as if he completely understood her frustration and hated having to add to it, "No. You couldn't."
"OH!" her right fist clenched and she shook it at him, right under his nose.
Clark blinked, "What was that?"
"I can't make obscene gestures any more, with Jason around all the time," she said brusquely.
"So you shake your fist at people?"
"Yes," she said.
Clark stared at her for a moment, and then burst out laughing. Lois had to turn away quickly, lest he see the smile she was struggling, and failing, to keep off her face. As his laughter faded into chuckles, she felt him come closer to her back, and knew he could hear her heart racing. Lois tried to breathe calmly, but as the moment stretched she knew she was becoming lost, all over again, lost as she'd been from that moment when he'd first snatched her out of the sky. Easy, miss.
I've got you.
His voice was very quiet, "I'll wait, you know, as long as you want me to. As long as it takes. Even if that is forever."
When she spoke it was so close to silent that if it had been anyone else, they wouldn't have heard her. "Yes."
Her hair stirred, so softly it could have been the wind, but she knew it was his fingers, knew he hadn't been able to stop himself from touching some part of her.
"Okay," he whispered. "Okay."
One of them had to walk away. Neither of them did.
Lois opened her eyes, amazed to find that they had been closed, turned, and they were in each other's arms in a heartbeat, without thought or intention or anything other than a force not unlike gravity – natural, physical, fundamental. As she felt his arms along her back, lifting her off the ground, his lips soft as the warm sun rays, as her fingers curled in his hair, Lois knew the purest sort of happiness. And when she pulled back an inch, opening her eyes to find them floating, she didn't think even Clark had realized they'd taken off.
He caressed her cheek with a tender fingertip as pain flickered through his eyes. "I'm sor-"
She laid a finger over his lips and shook her head. He kissed her softly and held her in a close embrace.
"But don't think I won't bring it up the next time you piss me off," she whispered in his ear and he laughed, carrying her into the stratosphere.
Martha had Jason help her carry the fried chicken and potato salad and fresh greens out to the picnic table that sat in the shade of the huge old oak Clark used to climb when he was a little boy. She was happy with the early spring, for it meant a good long growing season for the wheat. As Jason set the heavy paper plates out at each place with the concentration only a four year old can give to setting the table, Martha turned in no direction in particular and called out.
"Clark, lunch is ready!"
Jason looked up curiously and she waved a hand at him, "Oh, he'll be right along."
"What about Mama?"
Martha looked over his head, out across the field, and nodded in that direction. "I reckon he found her all right," she said.
Jason turned around and didn't see the knowing smile settle onto his grandmother's face at the sight of Lois and Clark coming towards them hand in hand.
Lois took Jason's face in her hands and kissed him tenderly before they all took their places around the table and the serving was set to with dishes crisscrossing the table and Jason repeatedly rising up and everyone petting Shelby as she circled them, eagerly wagging her tail, looking hopeful for a treat or two. As they ate, Martha teased Jason and Clark and smiled warmly to hear the family laugh in between enthusiastic compliments on her cooking. Clark blew flies away, and at least ten of them ended up in Oklahoma to buzz around picnics there. He held Lois's hand, resting on the red checked tablecloth, and he and Jason finished off a whole apple pie all by themselves. They all sat quiet and content in the long afternoon, Jason leaning a little sleepily against his grandma.
His heavy eyelids blinked and then widened as his little head cocked slowly. "What's that sound?" he asked.
Martha was rocking him ever so slightly, smiling at the way Clark was looking at Lois. "What sound, honey?"
He shook his head. "I never heard it before," he said in his piping little boy voice. "It's like… singing, but not voices. It's getting louder, a little bit at a time."
A slow smile was breaking on Clark's face as he put an arm around Lois, who leaned in against him. "Is it coming from the tree?"
Jason concentrated, his smooth brow knitting as he turned his ear toward the big oak. "Yes."
"It happens every spring," he said. "One of the prettiest sounds on earth."
Lois asked, "What are you two talking about? I can't hear a thing."
"Not from here," Clark said. "But if you put your ear to the tree you might be able to catch a little of it. They're being born."
"Who is?" she asked, trying not to lose her ability to speak as she was transfixed by the simple reality of seeing him, feeling him, coming back at last to loving him without reservation.
Clark Kent looked at his son, his mother, his love, and finally knew his place without question. Here, on this earth, with his family.