- - - Chapter Thirty-Seven
Richard lay back on his couch. He'd wasted almost two full weeks of vacation time going to confront Lois about the whole Superman thing. He felt completely ridiculous. Superman and Clark were right; it really wasn't any of his business anymore. He shouldn't care. Clark had made it clear that he didn't care what Lois and Superman were doing while he looked the other way. Pushover, Richard thought, getting up to look at himself in the mirror again.
His nose was slightly crooked, red and swollen, and both of his eyes were puffy and sporting greenish bruises. He'd looked great on the drive back across the continental U.S. His nose had been bigger and redder and more crooked, and his black eyes had been really black, his eyes bloodshot. Lois threw a good punch, he'd give her that.
He couldn't let it go, though. It was all he had thought about since he'd pulled into his underground garage the previous night at an insanely late, almost early, hour. He'd even written up an article with accompanying photos courtesy of Sarah Ricks and Georgianna. He couldn't bring himself to publish it, though. Not only would the paper he worked at frown upon another Superman-negative article, but so would just about any tabloid he could bring it to. He had solid proof against the caped hero, and nobody would take it; they saw him as Lois's ex-fiancé who was holding a grudge and grasping at straws. In a way, he was, but he was also feeling for the poor, used Clark. That and he couldn't prove that Jason was Superman's son and everybody he talked to was a stickler on the whole inter-planetary breeding impossibility thing.
There was a banging at his door that he'd heard much too often of late.
He sighed. She'd called him incessantly in his time driving and in Metropolis. She was 'deeply hurt,' in her own words, at his abandonment. She'd promised him juicier pictures once he got back, and said she'd confront Superman with him next time. However, Richard had lost all desire to ever be in the same room with the caped flier again. And yet Georgianna persisted. She hadn't seen the barely contained fury in the alien's eyes, though, the heat vision burning just beneath the surface. She hadn't heard his threat to incinerate or throw Richard into orbit; too bad he hadn't had a tape recorder.
"It's open," he called with a sigh, putting the kettle on for tea. Georgianna had been coming over every day in the past week. She had a system, he'd realized; she would show him the 'juicy' pictures while the water boiled, whine about how she couldn't believe he hadn't taken her with him while they drank their first cups, plan hypothetical confrontations during the second cup, and be incredibly disappointed he didn't share her enthusiasm as she finished off her third. By then they would be out of water for tea and she would 'politely' excuse herself.
"Richard, I've had a thought," Georgianna said, striding into his apartment with the familiar folder in hand.
"And what's that?" He asked, hoping that the fact that she had skipped right over the first two steps meant she'd be leaving sooner.
"I'll jump off your balcony," she said with complete seriousness.
"Really?" Richard asked, sounding too hopeful for the woman's liking; she scowled at him.
"Yeah, I'll jump off and scream and he'll come and we can talk to him about the photos."
"Georgianna," he sighed, wishing he could scrub a hand across his face without aggravating his nose. He settled for running his hand through his hair.
"What? It's a good idea; he'll come."
"Maybe," he shrugged and she glared at him, "but I don't want him to come. I never want to see him again. Hell, I don't care if he and Lois are together and just using Clark. I don't care if he hovers all day up in orbit. I don't care if he has some amazing secret identity. I don't care if you jump off a balcony to talk to him; I just hope you don't use mine."
She looked at him, hurt. "But… I thought you wanted him to expose him…"
"Have you seen my nose?" He asked her.
"Yeah, but he didn't do that. Lois-"
"Georgianna. We were interested in those pictures for two completely different reasons. You're in love with the guy. You want to be his new press contact even though you no longer work for the press," he said calmly. Georgianna, in fact, no longer worked for anybody and he was surprised she could still afford a Californian hotel room. "I, on the other hand, wanted to get back at him for personal wrongs. Now- I had my nose broken and I can barely keep my eyes open without them watering for my efforts. I have no need to go anywhere near Superman or anyone close to him ever again. And they don't want to see me either. And I know they don't want to see you around. So. I think we're done here, it's been nice dumping my tea away with you," he gave a false smile and opened the door again. Georgianna glared and walked out. Richard smiled, locking the door behind her and turning on the history channel after taking the kettle off the stovetop.
- - -
Clark entered the bullpen and stopped dead in his tracks. Lois was at the coffee pot pouring herself a cup of coffee wearing one of the power suits she'd abandoned at the beginning of her second trimester. He marched up and stood behind her, waiting for her to turn around.
"Afternoon, honey," she said as she turned, feeling his familiar warmth behind her. "Want some coffee?"
"Lois," he said deeply, taking her coffee from her and setting it on the table next to the coffee pot.
"Hm?" She asked, turning and grabbing the mug again, taking a casual sip and looking up innocently at him.
"What're you doing here?"
"I work here," she reminded him.
"You're still on leave."
"So're you," she raised an eyebrow, and he raised one right back. Clark took her mug again and set it on the table behind her. By now they had the attention of half the bullpen. Their conversation was soft, not intruding on anybody's work, but they were Lois and Clark, and Clark wasn't stuttering.
"Lois," he said, drawing the name out with warning.
"Clark," she whined right back.
"What about Jason and the girls?"
"Jimmy's with them."
"Jimmy's supposed to be here," Clark reminded her. "You're the one on leave."
"So're you," she said again, putting her hands on her hips and staring up at him like a stubborn child.
"Lois," he sighed. "Okay, you're going home. The doctor said you're still supposed to be taking it easy-"
"Bullshit," she hissed, glaring at him.
"Are you going to walk or am I going to carry you?" He threatened, getting a spark in his eye that told her he was serious.
"You wouldn't dare," she said, her eyes widening because she knew he would; forget his Clark Kent persona around the office.
"Wouldn't I?" He raised an eyebrow, putting his hands on his hips, mimicking her stance. Her eyes widened.
"Clark-" And then she was hoisted over his shoulder in a fireman's carry and he was walking down the central aisle of the bullpen towards the elevators. His face was completely serious, he gave slight nods to the people who were staring and continued on his way as though he didn't have his wife thrown over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. "Put me down, Shrek," she said, giving a half-hearted thump on his back. "Ugh!" She hissed, sitting up and giving the side of his head a good poke.
Clark pushed the elevator button and stood waiting. He could hear everybody behind him talking about what they had just witnessed. Perry was cracking up in his office, having spent a good hour trying to convince Lois to go home right after she'd come in. The rest of the bullpen was completely astonished that Clark had stood up to Lois, and that he had the muscle to lift her up like that.
"That was entirely unnecessary," Lois told him when he set her down in the elevator as they headed to the roof.
"Would you have come willingly?" He asked, raising an eyebrow, his eyes dancing with humor.
"Eventually," Lois said, the same humor dancing in her eyes. "I missed the girls already."
"I know what you mean," Clark sighed, deciding the elevator was going to slow.
"Well, I'm glad I wore pants today," Lois said, nodding sharply and glancing up at her husband, who was chuckling.
"I wouldn't have done that if you weren't," he assured her.
"Good to know," she said, getting a mischievous glint in her eye.
"I would've held you the way I do when I take most people flying," he continued as though she hadn't said anything, holding his arms out the way he did, miming having somebody's back on one arm, their shoulders on the other. She sighed, rolling her eyes at him.
"Fine, I promise to stay home until the three month standard leave period is up and we have a babysitter other than Jimmy."
"Thank you," he said, meaning it, and he leaned down and kissed her forehead gently as the doors opened on the roof.
- - -
It wasn't long before Lois was officially back full-swing. At first she had trouble settling into the assistant editor position that had suited her so well during her pregnancy. It wasn't that she didn't like the work she was doing. She, in fact, enjoyed putting the pages together. She missed the joy of the chase, though. She missed calling contact after contact and chasing down ornery senators on their lunch breaks. Most of all, she missed dragging Clark around the city, or flying around the city with him, chasing after her next big, front page article. Clark had taken over that position all by himself, getting a front page article weekly. She didn't hold a grudge, but she missed seeing her own byline every once in awhile. She still got the Superman exclusives, but Clark wrote those articles up, only giving her credit for the interviews, which was really all she did.
A nanny was hired for the twins. She would arrive at seven in the morning every day and stay until Lois returned around four o'clock with Jason after he finished school. That was one thing about being an assistant editor Lois liked very much; regular hours. She would leave the house with Clark, dropping Jason at school around quarter after seven, and then stay at the bullpen until two thirty, at which time she needed a cab to go pick up their son. Clark was usually chasing a story or itching his hero complex around then, so she didn't have the advantage of his flight. The pair of them would return to the bullpen and Jason would do his homework while Lois finalized her pages. Clark would fly them home and return to finish his story, usually not taking more than a few hours, and bringing dinner with him when he returned home.
The twins had grown fast, catching up to other babies so far as weight went after the first month. They slept a lot, and rarely cried. The nanny remarked on it time and time again. They would grunt with displeasure or give little whining cries when they were displeased of uncomfortable instead of wailing like most infants. They had also quickly developed specific cries for the people they were used to seeing, especially their older brother. Lois could already imagine him following the little girls around when they started kindergarten, marking them as under his protection for any potential bullies; this would be saying something, as Jason was already the tallest, if still the skinniest, kid in his class.
- - - Epilogue
Lois snuggled deeper into Clark's chest, breathing in the scent of him, reveling in the feel of his arms around her. They were in a hotel suite tucked away in the Norwegian countryside. Jason and the twins were with their grandmother in Smallville, and Perry had promised not to call.
"Happy anniversary, Lois," Clark murmured into her hair, squeezing her gently. She planted a kiss on the bare expanse of his chest below her cheek before looking up into his eyes.
"Happy anniversary, Clark," the said back, smiling.
"Two years," he sighed, shifting so that she didn't have to crane her neck quite so much to see into his face.
"Two years," she hummed back and his smile widened.
"I thought we had escaped the repeating game when we left our children in Smallville.
"Clark," she whined, still smiling. "I was agreeing with you."
"You were agreeing with me," he repeated, getting a stern look from his wife.
"Don't even start."
"You started it."
"I thought we left this sort of thing in Smallville for the weekend," she said and he smiled down at her again, leaning down ever so slightly and capturing her lips.
"Remind me to thank Bruce for suggesting this place," Clark said a moment later.
"Really? I thought this was one of those places you saw in a fly-over or something."
"No, this was entirely Bruce's fault."
"I suppose that means we'll be babysitting Helena sometime soon. Jason will like that."
"Probably when Selena goes into labor," Clark said, shrugging. "And I'll be watching Gotham extra close."
"It's worth it."
"Yes, it is."
"I can't believe this is real," Lois said after another pause.
"We own a minivan, Clark, and we live in suburbia. If you had told me when I met you, either side of you, that we would end up married with a minivan I wouldn't have believed you."
"I know what you mean," he chuckled and Lois sighed against his chest.
"And Jason's got his powers under control…"
"And Perry promised not to call all weekend," Clark said, leaning in to kiss her again.
"No work all weekend," she agreed with a smile. "There's another thing I wouldn't have believed I would be enjoying when we met."
"Not working on a weekend?"
"Yeah… c'mon, think of me back then. I would've killed for overtime."
"Or been killed on overtime."
"True," Lois said with a smile, rolling over and grabbing the wine and their glasses that had been abandoned earlier. She poured them each half a glass and handed Clark's to him before raising her glass in a toast. "To not dying for or on overtime."
"To many more years of not dying for or on overtime," Clark amended and she nodded, clinking her glass against his before drinking.
To life after the fall.
- - - End - - -
Thank you all for sticking with me for so long! This is officially 300 pages (almost exactly) in Microsoft Word- pretty much the longest thing I've ever written! Holy crap. Thanks for all the feedback and constructive criticism; I hope everything was tied up alright. I get the feeling that this ending was abrupt, but this is the end. I'm not much for sequels either, so… I dunno- if you tell me it needs one, tell me why, and I'll think about it.
As promised, the original chapter two (where the police officers hear Superman call Martha 'mom') has been worked into another story. I've already started it (which is half the reason updates have been so slow lately, sorry) and will be called 'Identity Crisis' when I put it up. School is officially out for the summer, so I'll have more time to write, but no internet access; updates will be rare, but chapters will be long (hopefully).
Thank you again for reading my fic- I hope you liked reading it as much as I liked writing it!