The Long Way Home
Five years later...
Lois sat in the middle of the couch, snuggled up against her husband, so that his arm wrapped round the back of her waist and the tips of his fingers were free to idle across her hip bone. Their four year old was sprawled along the rise and fall of their laps whilst on the floor, Jason and his brother sat leaning against the gaps in their parents' legs. With her left hand Lois swigged from a bottle of beer. Christopher was in charge of the popcorn and Lois periodically bent down to scoop up a handful. All eyes were on the television.
They were watching the Grand Final of a special edition of a game show.
"I seriously hope you're reconsidering your participation in this...nonsense," Lois garbled through a mouthful of Crunch 'n Munch.
"Honey, it's for charity."
"Pfft. Call themselves number one fans?" Lois animatedly gestured to the screen with her beer-hand, "The one on the end doesn't even know the color of your cape!"
"Lois- they're eight years old."
"Clark, a scale replica of you is available in every box of Frosted Wheetos; there's just no excuse." She popped a piece of popcorn into his mouth.
"Sssh; we're trying to listen to the questions!"
"Where did they even find these people?"
"Mom, I didn't hear that last one!"
Without missing a beat Clark leaned forward to Jason; "'What is Superman's favorite milkshake flavor?' LaVonda answered 'Strawberry'. She was correct," before turning to address his wife, "I believe there was some kind of phone-in to enter the competition."
'And now for the elimination round! Remember kids; only the one with the most correct answers gets the chance to meet SU-PER-MAAAN!'
The studio audience ooohed. The Lane-Kents thrilled at the effect their father had on people.
'First question to last round's strongest player. Melissa; can you name Superman's favorite baseball team?'
On the screen, family-favorite Melissa seemed to be struggling.
"She doesn't know it."
"She's going to pass."
"Oh, c'mon, this one's so easy," offered their youngest from Clark's lap.
Lois reached across to smooth her hair. "I know, baby, I know." She shook her head sadly, "Amateurs."
Time was nearly up for Melissa...
'Um, is it...the Metropolis Meteors?'
Three small voices chorused "Yaaay!" and Lois chuckled at her childrens' delight in other children's delight.
"Of course, that's actually incorrect. Although only one other person outside this room could possibly know it, my favourite team is obviously the Smallville Crows, Go Crows, and frankly-"
"But Daaad!" the children groaned together. "High School teams don't count!"
"You can't even watch them on tv!"
"- frankly, I'm a little disappointed that not one of my own flesh and blood has chosen to show a little solidarity and adopt their father's home town team as their favorite."
"Well, what can I say, Kansas?" Lois hitched herself closer so that she could run her fingertips up and down Clark's chest. "Obviously in this particular area our children take after their mother; sophisticated city slickers, through and through. No Nowheresville hayseeds allowed." She stretched to kiss him on the nose victoriously and then settled back against his shoulder.
A knock at the door interrupted them. "Ugh, it's a Friday night!" Lois protested, "Who can that be?"
Her husband and all three children swivelled their heads round in the direction of the front door and were silent a moment in concentration. As one, they said, "It's Mrs O'Halloran."
"Man, it really bugs me when you all do that."
"Well, what can I say, Metropolis?" Clark gently eased himself from underneath his family before lifting and tucking their little girl into the crook of one arm, "Obviously in this particular area our children take after their father; superpowered Kryptonians, through and through. No puny earthlings allowed." He kissed Lois sweetly on the lips before walking round to the door.
"Yeah, kids? I'd be careful about saying that last part too loud, too often in the school yard," she reached to yell over the back of the couch, "And tell her 'No!'"
Pausing in front of the door Clark dipped his daughter so that she could reach a pair of his glasses off the countertop. She put them on his face for him. "There you go, daddy!" They sat on a wonky angle, just off his nose. "Thanks, honeybunch."
He corrected them and opened the door. "Mrs O'Halloran! What a surprise!"
Their three-times divorced, fifty-something, mini-skirted neighbor leaned provocatively in the doorjamb.
She breathed, "Oh, hi Clark. Sorry to bother you so late on a weekend but. I seem to be having more trouble with my plumbing. I was wondering if you could ...come take a look at my pipes again?"
Lara, alarmed, whispered into her father's ear, "Daddy, I can see her knees!"
He whispered back through a closed smile, "Don't be rude, honey," and then raised his voice for Mrs O'Halloran, "Uh, do you need me right now?"
She looked back through half-closed lids. "That would be great."
"Okay, let me just go get my tools." Clark smiled sincerely at her, "I'll be right along," before closing the door.
Lois was waiting for him, kneeling the wrong way on the couch. "Well?"
"I'll just be five minutes."
"Here, you take the munchkin."
"And what is it this time?" Lois balanced Lara on her hip. "Can opener emergency? Spider in the bathroom? Perhaps she's having trouble changing a light bulb?"
"Changing a light bulb can be incredibly dangerous, Lois. Last year, falls in the home and community caused or led to over sixteen percent of all recorded deaths."
Lois was unmoved.
"I think she mentioned something about the plumbing."
She narrowed her eyes, "Did she ask you to look at her pipes again?"
Clark hesitated but Lara nodded traitorously. He gave his daughter the eye, "She...may have phrased it that way, yes."
"That woman is unbelievable!"
"Honey, I'm sure it's a really simple thing. I'll be five minutes."
"Loaning you out to Mrs O'Halloran on the rare occasions when you're not required elsewhere is not my idea of a relaxing night in, Clark."
Lois checked her watch when she heard the apartment door open.
"Hey, sorry I'm a little late." Clark put down his toolbox and took off his glasses. Lois was sat in the dark watching tv. "Where are the kids?"
"It's ten after ten. They're in bed."
"It's okay though, I know what you're thinking but I'm not mad. No, I enjoy spending my evenings alone- it finally gave me some valuable face-time with my friends here," she lifted a bottle and the television remote alternately, "Mr Bud, Mr Weiser and Mr CNN." She made room for Clark to settle in next to her and passed him her beer. "Which, by the way, I didn't know you were in Austria earlier?"
He waved his hand nonchalantly as he took a swig, "Ski resort. Mayrhofen. Helped Mountain Rescue over lunchbreak."
"Anyway," she hunched closer and stroked her fingers through his hair, "how was your evening? Managed to give Mrs O'Gimme-a-break's U Bend the all-clear, did you?"
He rested his head back to look at her, "You know, she's just lonely. I know what that's like."
With his free hand he reached up to rub her cheek with the back of his fingers, "Besides, it's kind of nice that for once it's Clark that gets to fend off the unwanted female attention." He smiled mischieviously, "She really likes him."
Lois resented the implication. She caught his hand in her own, "I liked Clark!"
Clark snorted his beer.
"What?" She feigned offence, "I thought your glasses were ...really ...cute."
"You told me that I looked like Where's Waldo."
"Well, sure," Lois wafted her hand vaguely in the air, "That was probably when you were running around getting your tie," she stopped to airquote, "'accidently' trapped in my coat zipper, or something."
"Honey, it was last week."
"Hey, let's stop right there." She shifted onto his lap and held his face in her hands, "I love your stupid Waldo glasses and I always will, okay?" She looked at him seriously. "Afterall. They brought me to you."
He put down the beer so he could wrap his arms around her. "I'm sorry I wasn't here tonight."
"I know. It's okay."
He gave her a look that suggested he knew better.
"I mean it." She used her thumbs to smooth out his eyebrows. "I love that you care about Mrs O'Halloran's fake, faulty, faucets as much as," she blew out her cheeks, "shooting off to save...some Austrian village... Hottentotten-"
He ran his hands up the outside of her thighs as she straddled him. "Mayrhofen."
"- that's what I said, from an avalanche."
He gently shifted her round so he could lay her down."Really?"
"Yes. You're the best man I've ever known. Why do you think I married you?"
He leaned her back further so they were lying full-length on the couch, "I thought it was for the free air miles?"
She looked up at him and smiled, "Well. That. And you're great in bed."
He tilted his head, listening.
She moved her hands across the muscles in his back. "What?"
"Just checking the kids are asleep."
"Why?" Her eyes danced, "Think you're going to get lucky?"
"I know I'm lucky. Every single moment I spend with you."
They stared dreamily into each other's eyes as he held her. She lifted her head to rub her nose tenderly against his before capturing his mouth in a deep kiss, "I love you... Now C'mon. Time for some sex!"
She sprang up from underneath him and took his hands to pull him up off the couch.
"Oh, Lois! The romance! Your way with words! Hey, you should think about writing for a living."
He lifted her up and she wrapped her legs around him. Their words were punctuated by kissing as they made their way to the bedroom.
Clark backed her up against the door. She bent to place kisses along the side of his face as he used one hand to turn the handle.
"Mmm, did I mention that I won the Pulitzer Prize?"
"Not for at least a couple of hours, no."
The latch came up and he pushed her through, closing the door behind them with his foot. Muffled by the door, their voices faded.
"Yeah, the article was entitled; 'Why Superman Should Just Shut Up And Listen to His Oh, yeah... that feels good. Oh, Clark...yeah, uh...there."
"You know, I don't think I remember reading that one."
"Really? 'Cause...mmm...I wrote a follow- up."
"Mmm. What was that called?"
"We've Got All Night And I'm Going To Give It To You Hard... Hot... And Slow."
"Oh. I like the sound of that."
"Let me show you..."