-1As a Father and a Mother
Author's Notes: And this would be more fic from the depths of my hard drive, since I've been slow lately and folks have been bugging me. Bugging me actually makes me happy and frustrated at the same time -- I like that people care about what I write these days ... however, I do have real life obligations. Sorry guys ... if I ever win the lottery, I promise I'll quit my day job and write fanfic full time.
I started this back in July, after watching Superman Returns. After reading it over, I think this one's worth completing, so I'm adding it to my queue of stories to finish. It's about the lengths to which parents will go for their children; somehow, I don't think Clark Kent would be any different in this regard.
(For those of you who have been asking, I should have some more Kenshin up in the next day or two, as well. The delay is due mostly to a very emotionally tough chapter. It's got a lot of layers and I have to get 'em all right. Sorry for the delay.)
And what the heck, a shameless plug -- I've got a new fannish blog at firefox dot org. (Standard disclaimer: unaffiliated with Mozilla since 1997!) C'mon over and say hello!
Clark Kent, reporting from downtown Metropolis, where Lois Lane has just purchased lunch in the park for herself and her son, Superman thought, with wry amusement. He stood on a rooftop and peered over it as Lois collected a hot dog, chips, and a soda from a street vendor. It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Superstalker!
And a very hungry Superstalker ... A hot dog sounded pretty darn good. His stomach growled. He promised himself, Later. As myself. I'll change first. I'm not in the mood for signing autographs today.
He hadn't actually been looking for Lois while patrolling the city but he'd impulsively decided to follow her when he saw her below. He tried to justify it to himself with the fact that Lex Luthor still hadn't turned up (although his helicopter had been found on a deserted island) and that the city was a dangerous place even without the criminal mastermind's presence, but honesty compelled him to add to himself, Bull, you're just infatuated and engaging in rude stalking behavior that you should be embarrassed by.
He'd just about decided to lose the costume and find lunch when he noticed that Lois had sat down on a bench and Jason was busy feeding his hot dog bun to ducks. "Superstalker" decided that watching Lois and Jason was more appealing than eating, at least for the moment. The park was nearly deserted.
That's my kid, he thought, defying his sense of guilt at watching them unseen, I've got a right to watch over him. And his mother.
One of the ducks was lame; Jason ran after it, caught it, and wrapped his arms around it in a hug. Oddly, the duck didn't struggle. He watched as Lois told him to put the duck down; Jason protested, but did. The duck waddled off. He noticed it wasn't lame after all -- he'd been mistaken.
Lois looked up, scanning the skies. For him? Maybe. Probably. He didn't think she could see him at this distance; it was an overcast and somewhat hazy day and he'd look just like any other person standing on the roof. He wasn't flying.
Jason followed his mother's gaze, then looked down, pointed exactly at Clark, and said, "He's there, Mommy!"
"Where?" Lois' voice, tinny at this distance, asked.
"On the roof of that building! He's watching us!" Jason started jumping up and down and waving his arms in excited greeting. "He sees me! Superman! Superman!"
Huh. Looks like there's no doubt that he's got my gifts.
"I don't see him," Lois said, dubiously. "Are you sure?"
Superman, cover blown by a four year old, shrugged mentally and swooped down to the park. Ducks and pigeons scattered as he landed. Jason ran forward silently, threw his arms around Superman's legs, and gave him a silent and rather strong hug.
He tousled the kid's hair affectionately. "Hello, Jason."
"Hi Superman! Mommy didn't see you but I did!" Jason stepped back, and offered Superman a piece of ketchup-smeared hot dog bun. "Want to feed a duck?"
"Honey, I think Superman might be a bit too busy to feed ducks," Lois said. There was apology in her voice.
Superman smiled, at Jason. "I always have time to feed ducks."
Gravely, he accepted the bit of bread, tore it in half, and handed part back to Jason. The ducks, formerly startled by his arrival, were already back and begging for food. He tossed his bread and smiled at the quacking mob scene.
"They're hungry!" Jason said, excited. He threw his piece of bread into the flock as well. "Mommy, can we get more bread? Please?"
"Maybe later," Lois promised her son. "Go play on the swings, Jason."
With several backward glances and a disappointed, "Aw, mom!" Jason obeyed. He was a good kid, Superman noted, but a normal one. Most children would have protested much more about being sent away from Superman and told to swing instead.
"So what brings you here?" She asked, bluntly. Suspiciously. Like she couldn't imagine that he'd ever be social with her.
"I was patrolling and I saw you and Jason," Superman said, truthfully. "It's a slow day -- I think everyone's watching the Big Game, even the bad guys -- and I had the time for a visit."
Lois rolled her eyes. "The Game. Yes. Richard and his buddies are having a party. I couldn't take the testosterone anymore so I said I'd take the munchkin to the park for awhile." She studied him for a moment. "I suppose you don't know much about earth sports."
He grinned at her. "I don't know about that, however, duty called." In truth, he'd rather have been watching the game himself, but it would have been by himself, since somehow Clark had found himself without an invitation to anyone else's Big Game Party -- he'd only been back in town a few days, after all. Watching sports on TV by oneself just wasn't the same as watching it with a bunch of other guys.
Lois glanced past him and shouted at Jason, "Not so high, honey!"
Jason was swinging so high that he was nearly horizontal with the ground. Superman observed, watching him. "That looks like fun."
"He's going to fall off and break his neck," Lois grumbled. "Jason! Slow down!"
"Awwww, Mom!" But he obeyed, unhappily.
"I doubt he'd be hurt by falling off," Superman observed, quietly. There wasn't really any reason to keep the pretense up between them anymore that the boy wasn't his -- they both knew the truth. "If he's like me, will be awhile before he can control his powers consciously, but he can access them if he needs them now. He would probably fly; if he didn't fly, he'd not be hurt by the fall."
"Yes, and I'd die of a heart attack before he hit the ground. I'm his Mother, Superman. Let me worry even if it's irrational!" Lois sounded annoyed at him. She glared, hands on her hips.
He held his hands up defensively, "I apologize, Lois."
Her eyes narrowed at him. "Yes, you do have a lot to apologize for."
I don't need to be psychic to know what she's referring to. He nodded gravely, hoping she'd drop it. He knew Lois' temper and didn't really want to deal with an angry Lois Lane in public. "I am aware that I could have handled things a little better."
"That's the understatement of the day. I'm still a bit fuzzy about how exactly the munchkin happened. Was I drunk?" Lois said, sounding irritated.
Oh, boy, dangerous territory here. He really didn't want to discuss this at all, and particularly not in public. Nobody had yet run up to him asking for an autograph or a picture but that was inevitable. They were being watched by a small and curious crowd from a distance. He hoped Lois' comments hadn't carried to anyone. And even if there was nobody listening the subject still wasn't one he wanted to talk about just now.
"Lois, we'll discuss it later."
"We've got a lot to discuss," she muttered. She didn't sound angry, just very annoyed. He knew quite well how quickly that annoyance could turn to hot rage, but he judged he was safe from the Wrath of Lois for a moment. "Tonight?"
He nodded. She was going to hold him to it, drat it all. Well, it's not like I actually expected Lois Lane to drop the subject of her own son's conception. "I'll meet you outside tonight."
This is going to be such a fun conversation. Superman spotted Lois sitting on the dock beside the float plane. Her feet were hanging over the edge and dangled towards the water several feet below. The tide was out. He could hear shouting inside the house -- cheering, really. Richard and his friends were watching another game, though the "big one" that Lois had referred to earlier had doubtless ended hours ago.
From inside, his super-hearing picked up the comment, "I'll get more cheese. Anyone want another glass of wine?"
Male bonding rituals, Richard-style, apparently. That had been Richard's voice, and he sounded more than a little drunk. Superman genuinely liked the guy, but wondered a bit about what Lois saw in him.
Maybe it's just that he's a decent guy who could be a good daddy to her son.
"Superman," Lois said, when he landed on the dock behind her and it swayed under his weight. "I wasn't sure you'd come."
"You asked," he said, softly. He had a hard time denying her anything -- and this, well, he figured he owed her this.
Water lapped at the underside of the dock, making odd gurgling and thumping noises. The plane rocked gently against its moorings. A firefly buzzed through the air between them. Lois was silent, not looking at him: she stared out over the water, watching city lights in the distance.
"Why can't I remember?" she asked, finally.
He sat down next to her, a safe distance away, deciding to shed his mystery and dignity for once. Lois deserved better than the mysterious Superman -- she deserved to see the man he was, who was profoundly sorry for all the harm he'd caused her. "I'm not perfect, Lois. I made a mistake."
"Sex with me was a mistake? So you made me forget it?" Her voice rose perilously towards a screech. "I didn't even know you could do that!"
"That wasn't why ..." He swallowed. Careful, Superman, or you'll lose her forever. He didn't want that. Even if they could never be lovers again, he didn't want to lose her as a friend. "Lois, you found out some things about me and we tried to deal with it but knowing the truth about me was hurting you so badly. I thought it best that you went on with your life, without me. I never would have done what I did if I knew you were pregnant. I certainly never would have left."
"So you stole my memories of us having sex?" She said, confused. And still angry. "What, were you really bad in bed or something?"
"No! Well -- no! At least, you didn't complain." That had been a fumbling mess, though. At least the first time. Lois thought it was funny that I was a virgin. He knew he was blushing and was grateful for the dark. He paused, then added, "It wasn't about that, Lois, it was about ..."
Pain shot through him as an unseen force punched him in the shoulder. He was thrown backwards across the dock, head over heels, sent sprawling. Lois screamed, and a couple seconds later, he heard the report of a gun.
Somebody's shooting at us! He realized, dimly. He hurt. He tried to get up, to protect Lois, but he couldn't make his limbs work right. He hurt, he hurt like Kryptonite, with a horrible burning pain. He could feel blood pouring down his arm, and Lois was screaming his name in a panic. He couldn't move ... couldn't even speak.
Something thunked into the dock next to him, and again, a few seconds later, he heard the report of a rifle.
"Fuck!" Lois exclaimed. He felt her trying to drag him by his arm. He tried to help her by standing up, couldn't. Lois screamed at the house, "Richard! Call the cops! They're shooting at us!"
A bullet hit his calf. The pain was unbearable and he screamed. Lois swore again, and managed to yank him off the dock and into the water. He hit with a cold splash. The water revived him a bit; he struggled to swim. Lois' arm was around him. "Son of a bitch! Superman, you've got to help me! They're shooting at us!"
"Can't ..." he gasped. His vision was getting dark. It was hard to breath. "Kryptonite bullets."
"Lex?" Lois said. "I'm going to kill that man myself!"
"Lois, I love you ..." Water splashed across his face, and he inhaled some and coughed. Coughing hurt, and left a nasty metallic taste in his mouth. "I've always loved you. Always will. I'm sorry ..."
"Don't you die on me!" she hissed. She was swimming, though he couldn't see where. A hard object bumped against his head. "Climb!"
He couldn't. She swore furiously. She let go of him; he went under for a second, then she was tugging him up with his cape. Somehow, she managed to pull him half out of the water. He got a foot under himself, hooked on a hard object bobbing in the water, and he pushed and she pulled and he slithered through the open door of the float plane and collapsed on the deck. She pulled his legs in the rest of the way, and then slid the door shut.
A window shattered with explosive force. Lois screamed.
"Lois, can you fly this thing?" Superman gasped.
"Richard's been teaching me -- Jason! I've got to get Jason!" She started to open the door again, and a bullet hit it with a thud. She yanked it shut again, ducked. "Superman, they're shooting at us! They're trying to kill you!"
He was too far gone to respond. Dimly, he heard the float plane's engine start, and felt it start to leave the dock. It stopped, hard.
"We're still tied up!" Lois screamed. "Son of a bitch! Where does he keep that knife?"
He should do something, he really should. But darkness washed over him, and he was falling a long distance, and then he knew nothing more.