Title: Great Expectations, Part Two
Authors: KalaLaneKent and Maryse Bardolph
Theme: Father's Day
Category: Movieverse/Little Secrets-verse
Word Count: 4,414
Summary: It's Father's Day! Gifts are given and secrets are revealed – for better or for worse.
Spoilers: For Superman: The Movie, SII: The Donner Cut, SII: Lester, Superman Returns, and Little Secrets.
Authors' Notes: At the end of the fic. But special thanks to Connie, who gave us awesome chai latte while we worked on this in her café, and to Abby once again, who stayed up at an obscene hour doing creative consultancy work when she had to be at church the next morning. Also, the kids' greeting card came from American Greetings e-card site. Lois' card is our invention.
The next morning was Father's Day. Lois saw to it that Kal-El received an early gift on waking up, one that made him a little late for his morning rounds but was deeply appreciated. Lois got up, too, and by the time he returned from circumnavigating the globe the coffee was ready, and breakfast was cooking.
He came up behind her as she flipped pancakes, slid his arms around her waist, and kissed her neck. Her cooking was a surprise, and on any other day he would've teased her about it, but not this one. "Good morning, beautiful."
"Yes, it was," Lois purred, leaning against him. The smell of food made her a little queasy; the shrimp scampi they'd had for dinner last night must've been disagreeing with her. She nibbled toast while Kal-El indulged in a proper Kansas farmer's breakfast, teasing him gently about his invulnerable arteries.
"So what's the plan for today?" he asked at last.
"That's for me to know and you to find out," Lois said archly. "First things first – since this is Father's Day, you probably ought to go get the kids. The twins and the four-footed brat."
"Putting me to work on Father's Day," Kal-El teased back. "Shame on you, Lois."
"You're lucky you're not in the office, Kent," she replied, eyes agleam. "Besides, I need you out of the house for a little while. There's still some things I have to get ready."
"Procrastinator. Any hints?"
"No," Lois said. "You'll be surprised. Now scram, I have to wrap your gift. And I promised Jason and Kala they could help me bake your cake."
"Oh dear," he teased. "Just don't let them repeat the Christmas cookies from two years ago, okay? I love you – I'll be back soon." Laughing, he kissed her once – twice – three times before she swatted him away. Once he was out of the house for sure, Lois grinned slyly and hurried to get wrapping paper, scissors, and tape.
The gift had already been wrapped once, but Kal-El was one of those annoying people who liked to open their gifts gently, unlike Lois and the twins, who tore wrapping paper gleefully in pursuit of presents. She intended to tease him a bit this time, using several different papers to wrap the gift multiple times.
She also had a phone call to make, relentlessly efficient even on the weekend. Lois slipped her cell phone's headset on and hit speed dial as she started to add the next layer of wrapping paper.
"What's on fire?" Perry's gruff voice answered.
"Nothing, old man," Lois replied, grinning.
"Then why the heck are you calling me? The weekend staff put a misspelling in 42-point type again?"
"Nope," Lois chuckled. "Just wanted to wish you a happy Father's Day."
That actually startled Perry into a few moments of silence, and Lois could just see his expression – the typical scowl warring with a pleased smile. At last, he managed to say, "Lois, I know your mother's awfully fond of me, but I swear I never took advantage of that."
"Because the general had a very well-maintained gun collection," Lois retorted. "Don't try to make yourself sound all noble, Mr. White."
He guffawed. "Lois, if I was afraid of General Lane, I'd never have let you move into my house all those years ago."
"Oh, please," Lois muttered. "Anyway, how's Bryan?"
"Loud, demanding, completely overbearing," Perry said, a hint of pride in his tone. "Kinda reminds me of you, Lois."
"Perry!" she laughed. With their relationship firmly back in the arena of affectionate sarcasm, Lois and Perry bantered on for a few more minutes. She finally hung up with a warning not to let his wife spoil him too much.
Kal-El's gift was irregularly shaped, and wrapping it many times over required more of Lois' attention than she originally suspected it would. He and the twins would be back very soon, so she hurried to finish, ignoring the faint pain in her stomach at first. I will never eat shrimp scampi again…
Then, suddenly, a savage cramp struck. Lois dropped the scissors, gasping in pain and disbelief. No, it can't be, she thought wildly, pressing both hands low on her abdomen.
The pain snarled through her belly again defiantly. After having experienced these cramps just about every month since she turned twelve – with the exception of the last two and the eleven months she carried the twins – Lois knew exactly what it was. But it couldn't be. She was pregnant… Wasn't she? No, no, dammit! I knew it! I am
Biting her lip against the pain, Lois hurried to the bathroom. She'd bought a pregnancy test when she first began to suspect, but ultimately talked herself out of using it. It seemed like knowing for sure would somehow jinx their good luck. They had talked before of the possibly that the twins had been a miracle, one they may never be able to duplicate. No, this isn't right. Not now. Not like this. Fighting back furious tears, she forced herself to open the box even as her stomach churned, her hands shaking despite their sudden numbness. Please, just let it be the damned shrimp or something…
Running up the hallway, Daddy's keys in hand, Jason was laughing with excitement when he made it to the door to their apartment first. He had kept Mommy's secret since last night when they had packed for Nana's. She hadn't been planning to tell them if she had gotten the gift they had discussed or not, but he had pouted, begged and begged, and then promised not to tell Kala and her big mouth, until she had had to laugh and whispered it into his ear. His eyes had widened in wonder as he stared up at his mother in awe. Oh, wow! That's so cool!
Now he couldn't wait to see his father's face when he saw what Mommy had done. Once they had first gotten on the elevator with Bagel's kennel and all of her other stuff, Kala had argued that she wanted to carry the puppy's toy bag. Nevermind that she still had to carry her own backpack; it was because Daddy was carrying Bagel. Daddy had just looked curiously at both of them and agreed. Okay, fine. If Kala wanted to be a showoff, he'd let her do it because he knew what Daddy's present was. Kala had beamed at him in triumph; her brother just grinned.
As soon as the elevator door dinged at their floor, Jason reached up for his father's keys and announced that he'd open the door for them. Although he was given a rather amused look, the keys were handed off to a suddenly-sprinting Jason. Theirs was the only set of rooms on this floor, so it was absolutely safe for him to run full-tilt with his prize.
He only had to play with the key for a moment and then he was in the door. Looking around as he came right into the living room, he immediately searched for his mother. "Mommy!" he called out, eyes darting around for her immediately, moving quickly toward the kitchen. The glass doors to their balcony were shut and the curtains drawn, so she couldn't be there. "Mommy, we're home! Daddy and Kala are bringin' Bagel! Didja finish wrappin' the present?"
But his mother wasn't there, either. He could just see the roll of wrapping paper sitting on top of the counter and a package, as well. That had to be Daddy's Father's Day gift. But then, where was Mommy? And why didn't she come out when he called her or at least say "Hello"? "Mommy? Where are you? Daddy and Kala are almost here."
Turning around, he saw that the door to his parents' bedroom was open. And he thought he could hear noises from inside. Puzzled, Jason started in that direction, having been worried since he had seen the present just sitting out and his fear just growing as he inched into the bedroom. "Mommy?" he whispered in the doorway before going inside.
Lois was sitting on the bed, rubbing her eyes as she looked up at him. Her face was red, and she was sniffling the same way he did when he didn't want anyone to know he'd been crying. Forgetting about his sister and father for the moment, Jason hurried to his mother's side and just hugged her.
Lois wrapped her arms around her son and hugged him back, stifling another sob. For a long moment they just held each other like that, comfort given and received unquestioningly. Then Lois kissed Jason on the temple and drew back slightly, trying to look composed.
His next words shattered her fragile poise. "No baby, huh?"
Lois' jaw dropped. She spluttered, "Whuh? How … how on earth…?"
Those blue eyes were solemn as they met her shocked hazel ones. "You said you were gonna try to get us a little brother or sister. Remember? When you 'n' Daddy came back from Paris?"
"Yes, but … how did you know I thought I was pregnant?" Lois still couldn't wrap her mind around it. She'd guarded the secret so closely.
"You've been goin' around smilin' like Kala when she knows what you 'n' Daddy got me for Christmas," Jason told her. "And you pat your tummy a lot."
"Oh, Jason." His perceptiveness astounded his mother – she hadn't realized that her behavior was so noticeable, but for him to have picked up on her secret hope from just those few indicators amazed her. Lois could think of no other response but to hug him again, and Jason's arms wrapped protectively around her neck.
They both heard Clark and Kala come in the front door, Bagel already whining. Father and daughter headed out to the balcony so Bagel could make sure her very own patch of grass hadn't been moved or marked by some other twentieth-story living canine. Lois sighed and let go, smiling a bit more naturally now. "I love you, baby."
"I love you too, Mommy," Jason said. "It's okay if I can't have a little brother. Can I have a bearded dragon instead?"
Lois broke into startled laughter. "No more lizards! Gazeera's enough for one house. Gazeera's enough for one city!"
Bagel, coming back into the house, heard her voice and dashed toward her, yelping and whining. Lois had no time to brace herself against the Amazing Train-Wreck Beagle, who hit her legs at full speed and started trying to clamber up into her lap.
"Hi, Bagel! Hello, Bagel, hello – AUGH!" Lois had leaned forward to pet the pup, and Bagel leaped upward just as she said hello. Bagel was trying to lick her face, but because she was speaking, Lois got licked in the mouth with puppy breath – not an experience for the faint of heart.
Clark and Kala arrived at the bedroom as Lois pushed the pup back down on the floor, still complaining vociferously. "Oh, yuck! Disgusting! I'm getting up, that was so gross…"
In spite of her half-amused grumbling and her laughter a moment ago, father and daughter both saw her reddened eyes and were concerned. "Honey, are you all right?" Clark asked her.
"Mommy, you okay?" Kala inquired at the same moment.
"I'm fine, I just got French-kissed by a dog," Lois said. "Gah! I need Listerine… Shoo, you guys."
They let her pass, Bagel leaping joyfully at her all the way. Clark's brow knit thoughtfully as he watched her go, but Kala was wise enough to turn her speculative gaze on her brother. "Jason?" she asked over the sound of Lois gargling in the next room.
"No baby," he told her, his lip pouting slightly.
Kala mirrored his expression, groaning "Awwww," and Clark whipped around to stare at them. What the heck? She told the twins and not me?
"No lizard, either," Jason continued mournfully.
"Jason, we don't need another stupid lizard!" Kala groused. "I wanna meerkat."
"You an' your weasels," Jason complained.
"They're not weasels!"
Clark knew them well enough to intervene before the argument could really get started. Even if he was still trying to get a grip on the sudden revelation that Lois wasn't pregnant – but apparently she'd thought she was – he had to cope with the children he already had before letting himself think overmuch about the one he might have had but didn't yet. "C'mon, you guys, enough," he said. "Don't you want to call Daddy Richard and tell him Happy Father's Day? You can use the speakerphone in my office."
"Yeah!" they chorused, racing pell-mell to Clark's study.
He trailed them, quickly dialing the long distance number amid escalating impatience. As it rang, he said, "Kids, don't say anything about … you know, your mom." They nodded rapidly, too eager to speak with Richard to worry overmuch about keeping secrets.
"Hello?" Richard's voice sounded slightly harried.
"Hi Daddy Richard! Happy Father's Day!" both twins yelled into the speakerphone, and were rewarded with a laugh.
"Hi, you two!" he replied warmly. "How have you been?"
"Great!" Jason said eagerly. "We just got back from Nana's house."
"Bagel learned to howl," Kala added. "She doesn't like the neighbor's yappy dog."
"Good heavens," Richard chuckled. "Sounds like fun."
"What about you, Richard?" Clark asked. "Got your hands full over there?"
"God, yeah," he replied with a laugh. "Nowhere near as bad as you, though. Nice work yesterday morning."
"Thanks," Clark replied. "Listen, I'm gonna leave the munchkins to you. I need to talk to their mom… But, um, is three o'clock next Saturday good for you?"
"Yeah, we're pretty much keeping the schedule free. You want the twins back Sunday after dinner? Say about seven?"
"Sure," Clark told him. "We've been letting them stay up until ten on Saturday nights, if they're really good, because it's vacation."
"Oh, you guys are spoiled," Richard chuckled, teasing the twins.
"Nuh-uh! You let us stay up an' watch Godzilla vs. Mothra that time!" Jason replied quickly.
Clark laughed too. "You're busted, Richard. I'm going to leave before they sully your image any more."
"Take care," Richard told him, and both men knew he meant both take care of yourself and take care of them. Lois, Jason, and Kala were still very much a part of Richard's life, and his heart.
Lois was still in the upstairs bathroom when he went looking for her, washing away the evidence of recent tears. Her reddened eyes and down-turned mouth still gave her real feelings away. Kal-El turned her to face him gently, drawing her into the circle of his arms. She leaned her head on his shoulder, unable to voice her need of him.
Fortunately, he knew. This woman, whose father had taught her never to show weakness, bared her vulnerability to him. It was a sacred trust, and he gave her his strength, his warmth, and his palpable love as well as his silent understanding. Lois wrapped herself up in his arms until her shoulders stopped shaking with sobs she wouldn't voice.
When she began to relax, he whispered softly, "Lois?"
"I'm not pregnant," she said in a tiny voice. "I never was. I thought … I hoped… I didn't know for sure, but I really thought I was, Kal-El. I was going to tell you today…" Then her voice hitched slightly, and he kissed her forehead and held her tightly.
"Lois, Lois, my Lois," he murmured softly, swaying with her. "I love you, Lois."
"Don't be," he told her, leaning back to tilt her chin up. Looking into those tear-stained hazel eyes, Kal-El continued seriously, "Lois, you've already given me three miracles I never thought I'd have."
"Three?" she questioned.
"Jason, Kala … and you."
Lois blinked back tears again, hugging him as hard as she could. She who made her living with words had none to express how much she loved him at that moment. His arms enfolded her gently, and he pressed a kiss to her cheek.
After another silence, Lois said tentatively, "We can always try again…"
"We can," Kal-El replied. "But Lois … the twins were conceived after I lost my powers. What if something about the powers is keeping us from getting pregnant?"
"You're not going through that again," she said flatly, scowling. "There's no telling what a second exposure would do to you."
"Lois, that would mean we might never have another child," he told her gently.
She stroked his cheek, her expression fraught between devastation and determination. "No," Lois said, cupping his face. "I won't risk you. Unless… Kal-El, I know how much you want another chance…"
"I'd love to have another baby with you," he replied. "God, Lois, I'd love that so much. But look at what you went through with Jason and Kala. Having them was so hard. They were so fragile – they still are, even if they're coming into some of my powers. Maybe … maybe it just wasn't meant to be."
Hating herself for doing it, Lois started to sob again. "But … but I wanted … we both wanted… It's not fair!"
"Hush, Lois," he soothed, rocking her gently in his arms. "Shh, Lois, my love. We're already so blessed – we have each other, we have Kala and Jason. Not many parents get kids that awesome, you know?"
Lois sniffled, cuddling against his chest. "But you wanted…"
"I wanted you to be my wife, and I got you in spite of all the odds. Then I lost you and got you back, in spite of both of us having to nearly die to be together again," Kal-El told her. "I wanted to have children with you – I wanted that so much, and I never thought it would happen. Even when I was looking right into my own son's eyes, I never dreamed I could be so lucky."
He ran his fingers through her hair, making her look up at him again, and kissed her swollen eyelids. "Every good thing I've done, every life I've saved, every injustice I've righted … none of that makes me worthy of this, Lois. No one ever could be. I'm from a whole different galaxy. I never had any right to expect we'd be able to have a family. Jason and Kala are miracles, Lois. They're the best Father's Day you could ever give me. And if we never have any more children, they're enough. They're more than enough, love."
Lois nodded, not trusting herself to speak, and kissed him gently. They stood there merely holding each other for a long moment, wrapped up in each other and at last satisfied with their lot in life.
Something slapped gently against Kal-El's calf, and something else pressed against Lois' knee. They looked down to see Bagel standing there, nuzzling Lois tenderly while her tail beat a slow rhythm. Her dark eyes looked so more mournful as she peered up at them, evidently having sensed their mood, that even Lois smiled.
"Besides, we have a baby beagle," she said, chuckling tiredly. Bagel took that as a sign that they wanted her to rear up on her hind feet and paw at their legs, and Lois and Kal-El petted her fondly.
"I'd better go check on the twins," he said at last. "I left them talking to Richard, and he's got a lot to do."
"How are they taking it?" Lois asked. "They both want siblings…"
"They're okay," Kal-El reassured her. "Besides, they have Bryan and Kristen."
"True," Lois sighed. "C'mon, let's go parent the kids we have."
Baking the cake went smoothly, thanks to pre-packaged cake mix and enthusiastic assistance from the twins. Jason and Kala had picked white cake with French vanilla frosting, exalting in the fact that they'd finally grown out of their allergies. Clark was banished from the kitchen for once, settled in the living room with his feet up on the ottoman and a root beer beside him.
Once they had it made, they left the finished cake on the dining room table and filed into the living room with their presents. Clark sat up, grinning, as the twins handed him their card.
"We love you, Daddy, for all that you do," he read aloud, and Lois was a little surprised to hear his voice choke slightly. It was their second Father's Day together, but apparently the novelty hadn't worn off. Opening the card, he smiled and read, "But we love you most of all just for being you." Below that Jason and Kala had both printed their names and a huge number of X's and O's to represent hugs and kisses … someone had even added Bagel's name to the card. "Thanks, you guys," he said, and both twins leaped into his lap for hugs.
"Presents!" Kala demanded.
"Okay, okay," Clark laughed. "Let's see … I think I'll open this little one first." Jason, whose gift he'd picked, bounced up and down excitedly as his father undid the wrapping. A slim black wallet lay within, and before Clark could admire it more than a second, Jason reached out to turn it over.
"It already has your initials, Daddy! See?" Clark looked at the distinctive CK, and cut a glance at Lois. She was leaning against the wall, biting her knuckle and trying not to laugh. Yet another Calvin Klein joke…
"Thank you, son. It's really neat to have a monogrammed wallet." Clark ignored Lois' snort of laughter as he hugged and kissed Jason.
"Mine next!" Kala said, pushing her package into his hands. Unwrapping it, Clark found a maroon silk tie with narrow blue and white stripes. "It kinda matches your Superman suit, Daddy."
"Very nice," Clark agreed. "Thank you, baby girl." Kala grinned smugly as he hugged and kissed her.
Lois had gotten him a card that merely read, "To my husband on Father's Day… You're a dream come true." Clark had to bite his lip and smile at her, their conversation a few hours ago making the sentiment seem all the more true.
The last gift was now the size of toaster, and Clark started unwrapping it only to uncover … more wrapping paper. He chuckled at the joke and started on the next layer, which revealed yet another layer. Lois was chuckling again, and he gave her a baleful look. "Lois, is there actually a gift, or is this just layers upon layers of paper and the gift is supposed to be 'perseverance' or something?"
She grinned, and the twins giggled. "It's a gift!" Jason said excitedly, and Kala scowled at him. Clark sighed and resumed unwrapping.
Ten minutes later he uncovered the treasure… "A pack of socks?" he said incredulously.
"Hey, everybody needs socks," Lois said nonchalantly, then scowled. "Oh, crap. Look, the plastic is slit right there at the top." Jason started snickering again, trying to hide it behind his hand while Kala stared at him confusedly. Their mother continued, "Count them, make sure they're all in there."
"Lois, you probably just cut it when you were wrapping it nine hundred times," Clark replied.
"Check," she urged. "People steal stuff like that all the time."
Sighing a trifle testily, Clark started taking the socks out of the package. This is the kind of gift she hates to get … I can buy my own socks. Geez. Suddenly, he felt something in the package that wasn't cloth. Stiff paper of some kind… "What's this?"
Lois just grinned at him as he pulled it out, and the faintly annoyed expression on his face vanished into wide-eyed wonder. "Monarchs versus Royals tickets? Holy … wow, Lois! The Sovereigns Series has been sold out for weeks! How'd you get these?"
"Never you mind," she said. "Just make sure you take these two little baseball fans, because I'm not going. Oh, and peanuts and Cracker Jack aren't included. Happy Father's Day, honey."
"I love you, Lois," he replied tenderly. "I love you, too, kids."
"Love you, Daddy!" they chorused. "Time for cake!"
Unbeknownst to all of them, Bagel had gotten bored during the unwrapping of Lois' gift. She wandered away, her nose to the ground, tracking Jason's scent backwards from the living room. Even at her tender age, the puppy was capable of following a fresh, easy trail like that.
It led her to the dining room table, where more tantalizing scents assaulted her sensitive nose. Something on the table smelled utterly delectable…
Bagel tried to stand on her hind feet, but couldn't see above the table's edge. Not even jumping got her high enough to look. Whimpering softly with frustration, she circled under the table, peering up.
An idea suddenly struck her. Bagel tried clambering into one of the dining room chairs, which happened not to be completely pushed in. A month ago she wouldn't have been able to reach its seat, either, but she was growing rapidly. Front paws splayed on its surface, she heaved her body up, kicking with her back legs for more propulsion.
Her hind claws just barely caught at the edge of the seat, scrabbling for a hold. Bagel was sliding on the smooth wood, and she flung her head back straining for purchase. The table edge was there, and though she thumped it, her fur and puppy fat protected her.
Now she could brace the back of her neck against the table and push down with her front feet, the rear ones still striving to get up on the chair. It wasn't too unlike the way she'd clambered into bed with Mommy yesterday morning, and in a few seconds Bagel had gained the seat of the chair. From that height she could easily see the yummy-smelling thing on the table…
Clark kissed Lois on the cheek as they walked back into the dining room, his arm around her shoulders squeezing her affectionately. "You silly…" he began, and then both adults froze in shock at the sight that greeted them.
The twins peered around them, frowning with curiosity, and then their eyes widened in surprise. "Our cake!" Kala cried.
Bagel looked up, her white-tipped tail lashing. Only she seemed to have gotten a lot whiter in the last few minutes, especially around the head and front legs. Yapping excitedly, she ran across the table and jumped straight at Clark's chest while covered in icing and bits of cake…
"My God, why can't this family ever have a normal holiday?" Lois groaned.
Additional Author's Note: No, they will not be having any more children. With as rare and special as their family is, and everything they've had to go through to be together, we felt that giving them any more children wouldn't serve the story. It works in other people's stories, though, and kudos to them. Also, no, we're not going to tell you who Bryan and Kristin are. You'll find that out by the end of Little Secrets. Lastly, you may all blame the baseball references in this fic on Abby, who's doing her best to make Anissa a ravening Kansas City Royals fan. Clark's team is the Metropolis Monarchs, and no, I won't say who wins the Sovereigns Series.