CHAPTER 25


This story is about truth, beauty, freedom; but above all things, this story is about love. -- Moulin Rouge


Friday evening, two months later

Clark let go of Jory's hand as they approached the apartment door. Jory's remarkable recovery had allowed him to be released from the hospital after a week's stay, and now the four-year-old was as active as ever.

He looked down and pulled Jory's impatient hands from the doorknob. 'Hop one foot,' he signed, invoking a game he'd begun to play with the little boy as a way of curtailing his energy.

Grinning, Jory complied, hopping delightfully on one leg while waiting for the door to be opened.

Hearing the locks unlatch, Clark looked up to see Lois's face appear.

'Hi hi hi hi hi hi!' Jory signed, still hopping.

Lois laughed and stepped aside so Jory could hop on in. She raised her head again to meet Clark's gaze. "So… you going out on patrol?" she asked.

"Yeah," Clark answered with a nod. Superman had returned from his extended vacation, and as had become their custom, Jory was spending the weekend with his mother so Clark could do his side job freely. Their family dynamic had become one of divorced parenting… except they had never had the marriage part.

Suddenly he remembered the bags he still had. A little backpack was slung over his shoulder and a paper bag of groceries was tucked against his side. "Oh, uh, here…" he said, unhooking the backpack and handing it to her. "The essentials," he explained.

Lois smirked knowingly. "Chocolate the bear and his scarf." Everything else – clothes, toothbrushes, and the like – were things Jory had sets of at her house already.

Clark laughed and nodded, shifting the paper bag toward her too.

She peeked inside as she accepted it. "Red wine?"

Clark shrugged. "I thought maybe we could talk when I get done tonight."

She arched an eyebrow at him. "Talk?"

Clark couldn't help but grin widely. They were divorced parents who were… reconnecting. "Well, yeah," he said as if it were obvious. "…Unless you want to do something else."

He watched as her eyes narrowed playfully and felt – not for the first time – fully satisfied with where his life had brought him. It was almost as if he had been cornered into living; starting out as a child sent from a distant galaxy to land in the arms of a man and a woman, to growing up in the midst of confusion, fear, and pain – all so he could end up right here, standing at a door… loving a woman and a child.

A child who, in his own way, was sent from a distant galaxy to land in the arms of the two people who needed him most.

Lois rolled her eyes at him and sighed, giving in. "Come here," she ordered.

Smiling Clark obeyed – this game as familiar as the one he played with Jory – and moved in to capture her mouth with his own. The sound of her satisfied moan made him want to tell Superman to take another day off.

He pulled away when he felt a small hand patting his leg. Apparently Jory wanted a kiss too.

Clark leaned down and picked the little boy up, and Jory turned toward Lois with puckered lips and a lifted chin.

"Tell me I don't look that pathetic," Clark teased.

Lois glanced at him under her eyelashes as she moved to meet Jory's silent demands. "More," she replied.

"Mmmmm."

Clark blinked in surprise as Jory and Lois pulled away from their shared peck. "Did you hear that?" he asked. "Kiss him again."

Slightly frowning, Lois leaned in again.

"Mmmmm."

Clark looked down at Jory with wide eyes. "He moaned." He looked up at Lois. "He moaned because you moaned when you kissed me."

Lois's eyes grew wide. After the marrow transplant, the doctors had cautioned them against hoping for anything more miraculous that Jory's health stabilizing as normal. Since the deformation in his ear canal had been an apparent birth defect, all of their expectations had been against the possibility of the defect getting fixed.

In truth, Clark had found that he didn't care. Jory was the same wonderful little person whether he could hear or not. He had learned Lois's lesson. It hadn't been about fixing him – it had been about loving him.

Lois studied Jory's face as she kissed him again.

Jory's response was bright and matter-of-fact. "Mmmmm."

Her eyes widened. "Holy…"

"Lois!"

She started laughing. "I was going to say 'wow.'"

Shaking his head, Clark joined in on her laughter, pulling Jory tighter against his chest as the little boy returned his hug. He reached out and pulled Lois into the embrace, so they were standing half-in and half-out of her apartment in some sort of awkward man-woman-child-plus-bags giggling human sandwich.

Clark didn't care how they looked, and even though it was apparently the beginning of a life-altering breakthrough – he really didn't care that Jory appeared to be able to hear. He didn't mean that in an insensitive way… he just knew that it didn't change the way he felt about him.

What he cared about was that this was his family – forged by fire, hardened by vise. Together with these two people – and by extension the families they brought together – they would create the foundation from which his life, his love, and his future pursuit of happiness would evolve.

And that – above everything else he knew to be true – was all that really mattered.


The End.