A/N: firstly, sorry for the wait! I've spent a lot more of my free time these last few months away from my computer- which has been great for my jump shot and less so for this last little piece of the story. Thanks for hanging in.
Secondly, just a massive thanks to all who have commented on this story. It's been a pleasure to read your thoughts. With few exceptions, I've actively avoided reading SRfic while working on this. Now it's done I hope to go back over some of the entries I passed over and repay the compliment.
As for future stories, I have a couple of ideas for things but we'll see. I'm an unashamed Lois and Clark fangirl at heart and I so enjoy writing them, I'm sure I'll see you again soon.
Take care everyone, and thanks for reading x
Hope you enjoy.
With the water running Lois sat naked on the wide ledge of the bathtub. She watched as steam clouded the little arch window opposite and filled the room with a pleasing citrussy smell. When she was satisfied with the water level she turned off the faucet and prepared for entry by leaning forward and bracing her arms either side of the tub.
"Alright, kiddo. Here we go."
Slowly, in installments, she eased herself into the water. Once settled and comfortable she reached to pick up her reading glasses and the thick set of xeroxed papers that were resting ready on the side. Leaning back, she licked her thumb, flipped the first page back over the stapled corner and from the loose bun of curls piled on her head she produced a pen so that she could begin making notes.
A relaxing soak in a warm bath plus paperwork always proved too winning a combination for Lois to resist. Even if, in practice, she was forever having to either wipe the condensation from her lenses or make sure the bottom corner of the pages didn't get too soggy. It had to be said the bump made this last part easier. Before she had read through to the end of the first page she heard the balcony doors being slid open. After a moment she heard Clark call out, "Lois! I'm home!"
Without looking up she took the end of the pen out of her mouth. "In here!"
She heard him shuffling around the bedroom, pulling and pushing the drawers of the dresser. There was a polite knock before he cracked the door open and his shoulder and head appeared. The short hairs at the back of his head stood up in uneven tufts where he'd roughly pulled off the suit. A look of worry crumpled his brow. "Everything okay?"
She dropped the notes away out the side and moved the glasses up onto her head where she replaced the pen into her hair again. "Hey, gorgeous."
He returned her smile, "Hey."
"There's some dinner in the oven. I wasn't sure what time you'd make it back."
Clicking the door behind him he held up a hand. "I ate while I was out." He leaned over, holding his arms either side of the tub so that he could dip close enough to kiss her. "Mmmm. You smell wonderful."
A smile curled against his lips. "It's Orange Flower bubble bath. According to Lucy it's very calming and relaxing and good for me."
He straightened and then arranged himself on the other side of the tub, facing her. Dark eyes sparkled back at him. Her face shined, the steamy air tinting her cheeks pink. He was not a sentimental man, he couldn't afford to be, but every so often, just lately, grace would break over him and it gave him a lump in the throat simply to look at her. Her left hand was resting on the tiled ledge and he played with her fingers. "Everything okay?"
"Yeah, my back was a little achy, that's all." Her thumb rubbed across his knuckles. "Long day."
"And this one?"
Lois followed Clark's gaze to her midriff where only the very top of her stomach was exposed above bubbles. She rubbed it with both hands. "Oh, you know. The usual. Spent the afternoon perfecting his acrobatic routine in there."
"How did you get home?"
She glanced at him, a fond look settling on her face. "Jimmy drove. Escorted me right up to the door." She nodded to herself, "There were tears. And hugs. And more tears." Her voice dropped as she confided; "It was pretty emotional."
"Aw, honey. I guess that's to be expected." Clark sighed in sympathy. "Your hormones must be all over the place."
Straightfaced, she said, "Nah, that was just Jimmy."
Clark chuckled. "He knows you're coming back, right?"
"He's a sensitive soul."
They grinned at each other before Clark's eyes fell to the floor beside his legs. He picked up the sheaf of papers. "So what's this?"
Lois peered in the direction. "Oh, that? Nothing." There was a slight ripple of her shoulders. "Much."
"Looks like court transcripts." Clark flicked through the pile. "Alot of court transcripts." He glanced up, his expression, like his tone, both knowing and maddeningly neutral. "From the WestCo-Barresi case."
Lois held out for a moment. Then, primly, she said, "Actually, it's everything the DOS has on the WestCo-Barresi case." She tucked a curl back behind her ear. "The early stuff is missing so someone must've had the same idea as me."
At her husband's look she cleared her throat and tossed an innocent, "What?"
"You realize your maternity leave started? To-day?"
Lois slumped back into the bubbles. She was already rolling her eyes.
"You're not on deadline anymore." Clark held up the papers, "You're not even on this story anymore."
Patiently, Lois looked up to the ceiling. "Yes, of course, I do realize that."
"I promise. I can handle this. I can completely handle this."
"Yes, this I am also well aware of,"
"Because the interesting thing about 'maternity leave' is that you get to leave all of the stresses and strains of regular working life behind for a little while."
"You see how the clue's in the title, there?"
Lois let out a frustrated little sigh and flicked the peak off a convenient mound of foam. "Clark-"
"Of course I understand that the concept of taking it easy is one you have trouble," he paused, "...coming to terms with-"
She cut him off testily, "People aren't going to stop breaking the law and trying to get away with it just because I'm having a baby."
He returned her glare with a level gaze, "That's not my point, and you know it."
She knew he was right. She hunched her shoulders in explanation. "It's nothing, it's background, it's just a little light reading." Her eyes creased at the corners- "To help you."
He leant his elbow on the ledge and rested his chin against the palm of his hand. "You know. There's a word for you."
She found her loofah bath mitt in the water and fiddled at it with her thumbs. "I can't not be doing something, Clark."
"Actually." He lifted his eyebrows, considering her. "There are many words."
"I'll go crazy."
"But the one that springs to mind most readily right now is;"
"I'm not asking for the wind. I just can't be sat at home, baking cookies, practicing my needlework, waiting for Junior to make his grand entrance-" she looked up, exasperated, "I'm not that person."
"And anyway, you're a fine one to talk," Lois continued, gathering her own, irresistible, momentum.
The fingers underneath Clark's chin straightened, "Luckily, I already know this."
"'Taking it easy,'" she scoffed. "You know the only time I ever see you taking it easy?" She pointed: "When you're asleep."
"That's why I requested the 1974 records a week ago."
"And I'm not even kidding, Clark. Take today. One second I'm talking to you about leader lines, the next you're on tv fighting fires on coffee plantations in Africa." She stopped to take a breath and it allowed her thought processes to catch up with her mouth. Her brow lowered. "What?"
He held up the papers. "I requested the missing files. I signed them out a week ago."
He let out a long breath as he reached over to trace his thumb along the delicate line of her cheek. "I promise you, I can handle this." The intense look in his eyes softened as he smiled crookedly at her. "...But I thought you might like to do a little light reading?"
"Are you serious?"
He shrugged, "I have a manila envelope this thick waiting just for you. Now you have the whole set to work your way through."
Lois squeaked, "Oh, Clark."
His hand rubbed at the back of his head. "I was not anticipating you making a start on your first night off."
They looked at each other. "You really are a very good husband."
"That's just the most thoughtful thing."
"Just when I think I couldn't possibly love you anymore than I already do..." she trailed off, her forehead puckering, "And then you make me want to throw myself at you."
"State bankruptcy records," Clark mused, folding his arms along the edge of the tub and resting his head there. "Let no man say I don't know the way to my wife's heart."
She nodded at him thoughtfully. "It's times like these I think we should call in to one of those gameshows couples compete on." Her eyes narrowed- "We could win big."
He deadpanned, "Let's not get carried away."
She chuckled, grinned at herself, at them, at him. A watery finger went to lift the curl off his face. "Anyway. How was your day?" Her head tilted, "Everything okay with you?"
It took about a second for her to read the expression in his eyes and for her face to drop. She flopped back into the water, offering a weary, "Oh, Lord," to the ceiling.
"It's your Good news/Bad news face."
With a circumspection that did not aid his cause, he protested, "No, it's not."
"Yes, it is, Clark- I can tell." Pained, she closed her eyes. "I just watched the latest report, I thought the situation was under control?"
"It was. It is."
She sighed heavily looking at him. "I thought local authorities were involved now- I thought you stopped the fire?"
"I did," he agreed, scratching at a spot just under his ear. "That's ...really the problem."
He was met with an expectant gaze. A couple of seconds went by. And then he folded. "You want the good news or the bad news?"
A clenched fist broke the water. "I knew it."
"The good news is I was able to put the fire out before it got to either the village settlement or the harvest crop."
Lois nodded wide, encouraging, circles, in broad agreement that that was indeed Good News; "...Good."
Clark's head bent to one side. "The bad news is, according to tradition, in the process," in a breath, very fast, he explained, "I may have betrothed myself to the King's eldest daughter."
Lois shook her head lightly. "I'm sorry. What?"
"I betrothed myself to the King's eldest daughter."
She nodded once. Clark fluttered a hand in the air. "Something to do with rewarding, you know, a great act of goodwill."
She nodded again. "Betrothed yourself."
"It's an ancient Ankozi tribal thing. Apparently."
He thumbed backwards, "Remember that conversation about a second ago? About what a good husband I am?"
"Clark Kent: bigamist." Lois clucked. Her eyebrows raised, her voice became wistful, "Now there's three words I didn't think I'd ever say."
Clark's face scrunched. "Well, I hardly-"
"Or should it be 'polygamist'? Bigamy/polygamy?" She singsonged as her hand waggled in theatrical fashion;
Clark opened his mouth.
"I'm a little sketchy on the difference."
"If you practice bigamy, then by definition-"
She turned to him, voice low and serious, "Hey, if it gets down to it and I have to husband-share, I call dibsies for weeknights, seasonal holidays, and special occasions, okay?"
He stared at her. "Dibsies."
Giving it some thought, her mouth quirked and she bobbed her head. "Although I am prepared to negotiate on laundry duties."
He rested his hands on the lip of the tub again. His thumbs lifted, "You don't seem to be taking this very seriously."
Her lips touched. "I'm eight and a half months pregnant and you're announcing your shotgun engagement to a Tanzanian princess." She frowned interestedly, "Do you really want to define the limits of my sense of humor threshold at this point?"
"Technically, I'm not sure it's bigamy if the ...marriage arrangement takes place without the intended's consent. Or, you know. Knowledge."
"Ah, you're saying you were entrapped."
With patience, Clark continued, "As I respectfully but firmly explained to my prospective father-in-law, bride-to-be, and the rest of the extended family and assorted well-wishers, I'm saying that despite being extremely flattered, I would be seeking an immediate end to the engagement. And that in my line of work a simple 'Thankyou' is really thanks enough." He stared at her before amending, "Although, I did add that if they were fixed on some kind of formal token of appreciation, I know someone that could really go for a couple of bars of the dark chocolate they produce as part of their portfolio."
"And how did that go?"
Clark nodded at the door. "There's about a year's supply out there. They also sent me back with some packets of the house blend we had with dessert."
An amused smile tugged at her lips. "You stayed for dinner, then?"
"It seemed the polite thing to do."
"And I'M insuperable."
Playfulness left his tone as he caught her with that look again. Simply, he said, "You're wonderful."
She leaned forward, rested her elbow on the edge of the tub and held her chin in her hand there. Her eyes moved over his face. "So no new Mrs Kent on the horizon?"
Clark paused, moved in closer to mirror her posture. His voice dropped. "I'm pretty much set with the Mrs Kent I've already got."
Even as she was rolling her eyes, their mouths met in a tender kiss. She mumbled, "You're so smooth."
His lips moved against hers, "Even if she is an apologetic workaholic."
"That's so unfair-"
He murmured, "You're reading office paperwork in the bath."
She was grinning, "-there's absolutely nothing apologetic about it."
They pulled away. With the tips of her fingers she combed the spit curl back through his hair. "And anyway. I think the correct term is 'devoted to her calling.'"
"I think the correct term is 'relentless crusader in the name of Truth and Justice.'" His brow creased. "I think I read that somewhere..." She shook her head softly at him. His eyes glinted, "Your high school year book."
She was quiet for a moment. Softly, she said, "I guess it takes one to know one."
They kissed again. When they broke apart Lois sighed heavily, her eyes were shining. "Oh. This kid's just going to have no chance, is he?"
"With these genes?" Clark shook his head. "Louie's already taking bets on when he gets his first byline."
She smiled. "I went over-under on his eighth birthday."
Lois nodded, "The Young Cubs junior section counts- I checked." They chuckled throatily until one of Lois's eyebrows raised. "Actually. That reminds me. I've got something to show you."
With a matching expression, Clark moved closer. "Oh yeah?"
She tsked in admonition. "An actual thing." Something played across her face. "A leaving present. From Perry. It's on the bed."
"Shall I go get it?"
At her nod Clark got to his feet and went to find it. Lois called after him, "In the bag."
When he walked back into the bathroom he was carrying an oblong object wrapped in blue tissue paper. It was heavy. "Do you know what it is?"
He sat down next to Lois again. She peered over so she could watch him. "It's a gift for the baby."
"Not another one?"
"That man," Clark chided as he began to peel away the paper. A long, ebony, prism shape was revealed. Lois turned her attention from Clark's hands to his face. A broad grin broke out there and he gave a delighted chuckle. "Oh my gosh. Look at that."
"It's pretty cool, right?" She whispered back.
Clark ran his thumb over the grooved brass lettering of the name plate.
"I don't care that he doesn't have a desk yet," Lois said. "I don't even care if it turns out he has no interest in a career in anything that has to do with a desk- that's going in his nursery."
Clark read out, "Jason Lane-Kent."
A fluttery thump in her abdomen startled her, "Oh!" She pressed her hands to her sides and grinned back at Clark. "You called?"
"Hi baby!" Clark rose up onto his knees and wiped away a patch of soap suds from the skin of her stomach so that he could stretch right over the stall and place a kiss there. Then he kissed Lois on her forehead. "How about a back rub?"
"Och, that would be great," Lois cooed. She removed her reading glasses from her head and reached over to drop them back on top of the papers. "I'll finish up."
She stopped feeling around for the bath plug when she realized Clark was undressing. She watched him. "What are you doing?"
Having discarded his tee shirt Clark was unbuttoning the fastener on his jeans. "I'm getting in there with you guys."
"No, no. I'm getting out," she advised. "The water's going cold."
His jeans were coming off. "I'll be real quick."
"My skin is starting to prune."
But he was already clambering into the water, his instep touching her waist either side, "As good a raisin as any not to waste time."
She giggled as he slid in behind her, his long legs struggling to find space to unfold. "Clark!" She shrieked when his toes brushed the underside of her ribs, tickling her. "C'mon. You know there's not enough room!"
A wave of soapy water sloshed over the side when Clark's left foot broke the surface and dangled in the air as he tried to angle it into a less cramped position. "There is if you scoosh forward a little."
"I am scooshed," Lois insisted. "There's no more space in which for me to scoosh. Clark! Remember the candle incident! Oof!" His heel caught her shin. "Jeez. You're all knees and elbows!"
For a while there was a lot of breathless cursing and splashing and toing-and-froing. Finally, by both leaning forward simultaneously, enough leeway was created for Clark to stretch out. Now that they were comfortable again Lois could relax back against him.
He folded his arms around her. "See?" She felt him shrug. "Plenty of room."
Lois grunted. "That time we spent five rounds trapped inside the trunk of Assemblyman Breuer's golf cart was more spacious than this."
He pressed a kiss into the waves of her pinned up hair. "It's cosy."
Lois sat back up, looking around. "I've lost my loofah."
Clark listed to one side so he could remove something prickly that had been digging into the small of his back. He put the loofah into her hand. "I was wondering what that was."
She snuggled back into him again, allowing her body to come to rest flush against his.
He began to run his fingers up and down her arms and she hummed in pleasure, just enjoying the moment, the soft sound of their breathing, the peace.
"As good a raisin?"
In response he smiled against the skin of her shoulder.
"Man. You're such a dork." She addressed her baby bump, "Daddy's a dork, Jason!"
"It's fun to pun."
"It's fun to do alot of things."
"My thoughts exactly." Clark's mouth began tracing a line up to her ear. "I guess it's a good job you've got a thing for geeks."
"No." She turned her head so that they were nose-to-nose. "Just for you."
Tenderly, she opened her mouth on his, twisting round to touch one hand to the back of his head and run her fingers through his hair. He pulled her closer, enveloping her in the circle of his arms while they kissed. His hands were all over her as she began to work her way down the line of his jaw and he felt hot breath against his neck when she growled, "Now am I going to get my back rub, or what?"
Reluctantly Clark stopped what he was doing. One eyebrow raised. "I bet my other wife wouldn't be this demanding."
Lois eyed him while she shook her head. "I can't believe you just played the other wife card." She shrugged matter-of-factly. "You've forced my hand."
Catching him off-guard she began scrabbling her fingertips over his ribcage.
"A tickle fight?" He looked down, watching her hands in amusement. "Seriously?"
"What?" Her face was set in concentration. "Afraid you're going to lose to a pregnant lady?" She changed her angle of attack to right underneath his armpits. "That it?"
"Oh, honey," he lamented. "Lose?" The look in his eyes turned dangerous: "When there's about fifty percent more of you for me to tickle."
Her indignant squeal was stifled with giggling as he retaliated by pulling her down on top of him with one arm and using his free hand to feather-brush his fingertips over the sensitive skin at the base of her spine.
Giggling turned into more kissing and Lois's enthusiasm to break free subsided gently away. Thoughts of the tickle-fight were replaced by the pleasure of Clark's hands moving over her skin and were interrupted only when, without breaking contact with his lips, she lifted herself off him, removed the loofah from where it had lodged itself against her hip and threw it out the side.
The glass in the bathroom window above started to steam again.