Thanks for anyone's patience who still is interested in my Story, sorry it took awhile to post this chapter but I had suffered a bit from writer's block. I'm happy to say that Chapter 9 seems to be comming a long a bit easier and should not take me as long to write it. I hope you enjoy, if not...let me know!
Thanks again to SparklingStone and her Beta assistance!
Proximity: Chapter 8
A cool sensation like water flowed swiftly over Lois's bare skin as the sheet slid; her leg curled up possessively. His firm hand slid down her soft torso and a warm pair of lips sizzled with each time they came in contact with her neck. Lois gasped for breath in pure ecstasy as her eyes fluttered shut. His hot breath fell heavily across her skin as he murmured her name.
"Lois, I love you… so much."
"I know," she purred. "But don't think I want you to stop telling me that." Her lips spread into a sly grin of contentment as she rolled her body on top of his broad chest. Lois lifted her head to meet his gaze of admiration. "What are you looking at?"
Her eyes squinted with suspect.
"Can't I look at you?" he queried.
"You may," A slender index finger traced the ravine between his pectorals. "It's when you don't that I'll worry."
"Mmm. Don't think that will ever happen Lois." His chest rumbled as he spoke with her head rested against it.
Kal El's fingers lightly brushed through her tousled chestnut hair, stroking it away from her face in a soothing rhythmic pattern.
"Good." Her eyes lazily turned upward as her chin rested against his sternum. A large smile spread. "Have I mentioned how much I love you?"
"Not in the past five minutes, well apart from… when we..."
Lois blushed. "Are you sure that I'm the only one you've done this with? Don't worry, I'm not the kind of girl who kisses and tells." Her eyes narrowed. "With you though, that might be tough."
A smirk formed at her lover's curiosity. "Apparently you have another ability that no one else seems to know about… other than the ones that help you to fight crime." She giggled before proceeding. "You know, perhaps the boss would like to know why you type so damn fast."
"Kidding, just kidding. I promise, Perry will never know." A devious smirk formed as a lone eyebrow arched. "Unless…"
"Are you threatening to blackmail me Miss Lane?"
She slid up his torso, her bare skin brushed against his in a tantalizing way. Lois nuzzled his neck. "Maybe." Her tongue slid along his throat and her teeth grazed his ear.
"In that case…"
His large hands grasped her waist, smoothly lifted her up and turned Lois onto her back. He hovered above and began to kiss her intensely. Her skin tingled with each move of his tongue against hers.
"Going to need lots, of blackmail…" she breathed. "Keep it coming handsome."
Lois's heart raced as his hands slid down the sides of her torso and grazed her stomach. Her fingers trailed up Kal El's back and grasped his thick black hair in heated anticipation.
Her hazel eyes flew open into pitch blackness. She was face down in a warm pillow and tangled in a swath of her familiar 300 count sheets. A distant bong of a bell-buoy on the water was the only sound that accompanied the deafening pounding of her own heart.
Blinking, her eyes slowly adjusted to the only light in the room, the digital alarm clock on her nightstand. The other side of the bed shifted slightly as the occupant turned.
"Lois, you alright?"
"I'm fine Luce," she grumbled. "Just a dream." And what a dream it was. My mind's gone off the deep end.
Lucy turned facedown into the pillow and soon after, the covers once again rose and fell in a rhythmic pattern. How convenient it must be, to fall asleep again so rapidly. Lois marveled at the talent her sister always possessed.
Lois blinked into the darkness; her heart pounded. The disoriented sensation dissipated as her sister's voice brought her back into her own bedroom. It had been another haunting dream, nothing more than a figment of her hyperactive imagination. It had been confusing if nothing else. Her conscious brain attempted to sort through the illogical dream that clung like cobwebs. The thoughts that raced did not allow Lois to return to sleep.
After blankly staring at the ceiling, she turned to the clock.
"5:02" The digits cast a green glow that dimly illuminated her bedroom.
The covers parted and she slid from underneath into the cold pre-dawn air. Her footsteps padded down the hallway with caution. Everyone in this house needed their sleep. One occupant more so than the rest. When he woke, she needed answers.
Kal El. The passionate dream had been vivid, it caused her to pace the dark kitchen as she sipped a glass of water. It felt so real… so right. An eerie sense crept through her bones- perhaps her haunting dreams were more fact than fiction. It was highly unlikely that Perry gave a shit if Superman could type, let alone his word count. Clark Kent as Superman… well, perhaps fragments of the dream were fiction, but still.
She wanted to wake Kal El and discuss with him her litany of questions and the paranoid thoughts that plagued her in the pre-dawn hours but fear gripped her. The strong potential discovery of Superman that bore any resemblance of how she had found him in the hospital was one that prevented her feet from climbing the steps again before sunrise.
Lois clutched her lighter and cigarettes that beckoned the troubled woman. Her coat slid off the hook near the back door and over her shoulders. Lois eased the door open, stole to the backyard and gazed with wonder into the cold starry night sky above.
An orange ember glowed brightly as the furious woman paced across the porch. The pounding rain had retarded to a hazy drizzle hours ago. Lois was still not able to sleep. Her lips and nerve endings sizzled, both for entirely different reasons.
Lois drew on the cigarette. "Kal El…" she muttered to the damp air. His name had simply fallen out of her mouth so easily.
"How did I know that?""You knew a long time ago. Lois, you knew everything."
The backward roll of his lifeless eyes compounded with the unexpected revelation caused the pit of her stomach to pound. The man who had so passionately kissed her minutes prior had suddenly become a lifeless form. It was an all too familiar sight that elicited an uncontrollable tremor.
Her cold hands feverishly palmed across his chest that slowly rose and fell. Unanswered questions that had hung in the balance for years suddenly began to melt away in a few short days… things had changed so greatly and suddenly it was all being stripped away.
What the hell happened years ago that she could simply not remember such life altering moments… it must have been pretty interesting. What was more earth shattering, was the fact that Sup- Kal El seemed to understand she had known more about him at a prior point in time. He had to know what happened to her, why she had been unable to remember who was Jason's father.
Anger flared in the depth of her brain. Often, despite the constant eye rolls and groans, Lois had genuinely been proud of the known fact that aside from the man of steel himself, she knew more about his abilities than anyone else. Anyone else on the planet.
Apparently an ability to alter minds was one that she was unaware that he had and quite frankly, it was one that somewhat alarmed her.
It was a restless sleep. Periodically Kal El's eyes fluttered open in darkness only to look upon an unfamiliar ceiling and walls. The throbbing ache in his side along the scar had predominantly subsided, a positive sign that he may soon be able to take flight again. When he inhaled deeply, it returned and consequently filled the man of steel with disappointment and further frustration.
He truly needed the sun's rays more than anything else to make any substantial improvement. His eyes slid shut as he drifted into sleep again. They fluttered open only to see a similar brilliant pair of blue eyes peering back at him just over the top of the mattress.
"Superman… are you awake?" Jason whispered.
"Yes Jason" he uttered softly. "I'm awake." Kal El realized he still had been wearing his blue suit and it was damp. His son's eyes sparkled with curiosity as they always did during their conversations.
"Why are you sleeping here?" His chin rested on the edge of the bed.
"I came to see you and your mother but I didn't feel well. I couldn't leave."
The young pair of blue eyes grew wide with alarm. "You can't fly? If you're sick, maybe you need to go to the hospital again."
"I'll be alright Jason. Once the sun comes up I'll feel better."
"What's the sun got to do with you feeling better?" Jason's face shifted from concern to confusion.
"Well, my body likes the sunshine. It sort of gives me energy. Like a battery."
"Oh. Do you have a cold?"
"No," he smiled softly at his son's innocence. "I helped some men on a boat tonight and they had some rocks that they found from the same planet where I was born."
Jason still confused, leaned forward with acute interest as Superman continued. "Those rocks- they're like poison to me. I was too close to them and they made me sick." He smiled reassuringly to the concerned boy. "I'll be fine. It's happened before."
"I remember. When Mommy pulled that green spike out on the airplane. Is that the same stuff?"
"Yes, it was."
This was far more interesting than going back to sleep. Superman was sleeping in the very next room. He was definitely going to have the most interesting story next week at school. Mommy let Superman sleep over. Ha, let Suzzie Kosmarek top that.
The young boy spoke in an animated whisper, "Superman, are you going to live here?"
A rumble came from Kal El to disperse the uneasiness that bubbled inside.
"No I don't think so. Your daddy lives here with your mom."
Jason frowned. His fingers gripped the mattress. "But that's why you should live here."
Kal El's brow furrowed in confusion as he slowly sat up to the edge of the bed. He winced at the twinge of pain in his side.
"Jason, I'm sorry, but I don't quite understand what you're asking."
"Well," Jason softly stated in a hushed tone. His eyes quickly shifted toward the door and back. "Mothers and fathers live together with their kids. Don't they?"
"Most of the time. But sometimes they don't." The direction of their conversation was not one he preferred.
"So if you're my father, then why aren't you living with mommy?"
Kal El's heart swelled with the warmth and admiration that radiated from his son's face. The young boy placed a tiny hand in his large palm; almost reflexively his larger fingers curled around his child's. Kal El's eyes brimmed with tears as he glanced down at his son.
"You are my father…" Jason's young face filled with worry. "Aren't you? I heard mommy say so."
"When did your mother say that?"
"When she and grandma were yelling downstairs… and when you were sick in the hospital. I heard her tell you."
Kal El sighed. There was no purpose to continue with any further denial. Jason was his son. The young boy knew. The father becomes the son. He already possessed two of his own abilities and if the child did not have his guidance it would be too soon before everyone else knew Jason was his. A dangerous possibility indeed.
"Yes Jason. I am. You're my son." The release of those words from his tongue felt so strange to utter aloud, yet they came with such ease. "Don't forget Jason, your daddy, Richard, loves you very much. He's been here since they day you were born."
"I know that" his son stated plainly. "I love him too. I can love more then two people." Jason's shoulders shrugged. "I love you, Mommy and Daddy."
It was not so complicated. He had not one, but two fathers and loved both of them. Why was Superman so concerned? He was his dad, kids love their parents. Duh!
I love you; the words were not ones he heard often, apart from his own mother of course. His son loved him. Incredible warmth spread from Jason's hand to the core of his body. Kal El's chest swelled with pride as he bent over his son and softly kissed the top of the young boy's head.
"I love you, my son." The words that flowed from his mouth were those of Jor El, yet somehow they had become his own. His father's voice echoed in his mind. The son becomes the father.
"Since you love me and you're my father, then why aren't you going to live here?"
"Jason, I wish things were that simple but I don't think it would be a good idea."
His unawareness of the litany of danger the two of them would have to face daily was a confidence that only the innocence of youth could provide.
"Well, a lot of people get excited when they see me."
"Yeah, it's neat." His son beamed.
"But not everyone is excited, not all people are nice. I have enemies. There are people that want to hurt me."
"Uh huh." Jason shuddered. "Like that bald man on the boat. It didn't seem that he liked you much. Or mommy."
"No. That man is an evil person; he's an old enemy and would like to hurt anyone who knows me. I don't want anyone to hurt you, your daddy or your mother. I hope you understand it's better for everyone's safety and privacy that I don't live here."
"I don't see what the big deal is." He hopped off the bed at the sound of dishes that rattled downstairs. Someone was awake. Grandma or Mommy. Both of them would surely punish him if he was caught out of bed.
"Jason, I don't want to bring too much attention to you or your mother."
"Just wear your glasses. No one seems to be so excited when you wear your glasses and regular suits at Mommy's work, when everyone calls you Clark." Jason scratched his head and hovered in the doorway.
Concern prickled across his skin. "Jason, I don't need glasses."
The boy glanced with worry down the dark hallway and back. "So why do you wear them when you're at Mommy's office?" His head tilted in question.
"Jason," the weary man stood and slowly made his way toward the curious boy. His legs felt unsteady for a multitude of reasons. The least of which, was the kryptonite exposure.
"How did you know that?" His son was certainly smart, no exaggeration from Lois was necessary.
"Well, doesn't everyone?"
"No. No one knows I'm the same person." Jason was observant, just like his mother, perhaps more so.
"Are you sure? It's pretty obvious."
"No one at your Mommy's work knows I'm Superman, it's important they don't. It could be dangerous if anyone found out, I hope you understand. Like the man on the boat. People like him can't know."
His son nodded in agreement. The bad man on the boat did not need to know where to find Superman at Mommy's work. "I promise I won't tell. Can't tell even Mommy?"
Oh especially not your mommy. I need to be the one to tell her, not you. "Yes Jason, not even mommy. Especially not mommy."
"Okay. But Mommy should know."
"I'll tell your mom, but right now, it's better this way."
"When I wear regular clothes call me Clark."
"It's important, alright?"
"Please don't forget."
"I won't, it's easy." The boy sighed. He sounded so much like his mother when Lois became exasperated. "I haven't messed up since the day I met you at mommy's work."
Kal El's eyes widened at his son's confession. "You knew I was the same person back then?"
"Duh," Jason's eyes rolled. His mother's carbon copy maneuver. "It was obvious. Are you sure no one else knows?"
"Sometimes adults see only what they want to see. It will make sense when you're older."
"I hate it when Mommy says that," his nose wrinkled in disgust.
"Sometimes she's right."
"Jason!" Lois's whisper echoed up the stairs. "You had better just be going to the bathroom and not where I think you're headed young man" She hissed with warning.
"Uh oh. I gotta go back to bed soon."
Superman nodded. "I think you should listen to your mother. Good night."
The weary man groaned in discomfort as he lay back onto the bed. His head sank into the pillow as his hearing flickered. He was able to hear Jason's sock covered feet as they stole across the carpet in the hallway. His son's grumbling caused him to softly smile as he drifted to sleep again.
"Grown ups…they can be so dumb."
Richard White's blue Saab hummed along the calm roads. It was a stark contrast to the auto choked lanes that traveled in the opposite direction. The coffee he drank earlier had not blended well with the pile of nerves in his stomach. The intermittent cramps were indications of its protest. He knew he had to retrieve more clothing and his razor before he returned to his uncle's.
The worn international editor was somewhat apprehensive about entering his house. Richard did not dread a confrontation with Lois, but rather the lure of comfort of his own house, their things. Their life they had built together. He feared that it would be too difficult for him to leave it and the woman he still loved, again. The visceral pain would be too great to overcome twice. He steeled himself as the early morning sunlight glinted off his dashboard. The familiar red mailbox "312 Riverside" came into view.
A faint rosy hue clung along the eastern horizon and bled into the dark indigo sky. Overhead, a few stars shone as pinholes; they glittered in spite of the dominant city lights. The rain and clouds had dissolved hours ago. The only indications of the prior deluge were errant puddles on the dock that mirrored the graying pre-dawn sky.
Lois inhaled deeply the crisp cold air that carried the smell and promise of winter. The boards of the dock rumbled rhythmically and the gentle creak of the worn wood grew louder. Someone stepped closer.
"Couldn't sleep, huh sis?"
Lois pulled her coat she wore over her pajamas tight to her chest. "Nope. Not well anyway." Her eyes remained unfocused in the direction of the glittering city skyline across the black water. Her mind drifted to the hazy dream that still lingered.
"Me neither. I have to admit, it's a bit unsettling with well, you know who… in the guest room."
Lucy did not need more light to observe her older sister's eyes roll at her comment.
"What?" She shrugged.
Lois turned and raised an eyebrow in annoyance.
"Lois" Lucy continued. "It's Superman…in your house."
"So?" Her sister replied coolly.
"Are you sure we did the right thing? Maybe he should be in a hospital."
"I'm sure Lucy."
"He looked so sick."
"I've seen him look worse. He'll be fine when the sun comes up."
"I hope you're right…"
"I am. Luce, remember who you're talking to." The corners of her mouth twitched as arrogance laced her words. "I happen to be the journalist who has written nearly every exclusive interview with him."
"Yeah, I know…I know. Spare me the rehashing of your journalistic accomplishments. Well, you're the authority on the guy then."
The gentle lapping of the water against the pillars of the dock filled the comfortable silence between the two sisters. Lucy leaned against her older sibling. The two sat, cross legged, starring at the dark waters and brightening horizon. Each supported the other. The younger remained quiet, unmoving as the elder lit another cigarette. Lucy broke the quiet.
"May I?" Her small fingers extended an invitation. Lois's eyebrows jumped in surprise.
"Don't tell Ron, alright?"
"Everyone's got their vices. Knock yourself out."
The light from the lighter danced across their faces as Lucy lit a second. "Kind of like the big giant vice of yours upstairs huh?"
"Cheap shot Luce."
The blonde shrugged. "I call it like I see it…speaking of which, what's going on between the two of you?"
A groan escaped. "Ugh, I don't know anymore. It's a mess."
"Is that why you and Richard parted ways?"
"Mom told you, didn't she…"
"Yeah." Lucy took another drag on her cigarette mirroring her older sister. "All joking aside Lois, I'm sorry it didn't work out. He's a nice guy. They both are." A small hand squeezed the other.
"It's alright. Everyone's bound to know, sooner or later. About Richard, I mean."
Lucy nodded in agreement. "Right. About Richard." Lucy Lane-Troupe's mind raced despite her calm exterior. She could no longer contain her excitement regarding the incredibly juicy gossip worthy details she had stumbled upon earlier; her sister and the man of steel in a heated embrace.
"My goodness Lois… Superman!" She whispered animatedly.
"Whispering's kind of pointless. You know if he's awake and his hearing's returned, he can hear you."
"Don't worry; he doesn't listen in on my conversations unless I ask him."
"Yeah, I knew that." She nervously laughed. "He's an honorable guy I guess."
"Usually." Frustration tinted Lois's statement.
The idea had been at the forefront of Lucy's thoughts since she had opened the back door to her sister kissing Superman… rather passionately as well. Thank goodness the door opened when it did, who knows where that might have led to with the way they had been going at each other.
Lucy had never seen Superman in person, but like many women in her age bracket, she daydreamed about the incredibly handsome hero. Not that she was about to admit it to her husband Ron, or her sister Lois. It would just inflate Lois's larger than life ego anyway. Amidst all her daydreams, there he was feet in front of her and was having an extremely private moment with her sister.
"What was that name you said earlier? The one you called him."
"That's the one. I thought Superman was his name."
"The name I gave him… remember? Kal El is his real name. Apparently."
"He said you knew?"
"I guess I did. Don't ask, I have no idea how. I have a feeling he's got an idea and believe me, when he wakes up; we're going to have a chat about that. Some other things as well."
"Just go easy on him, alright? I know the way your mind works Lois." Lucy warned.
"I can't promise to you. He's kept some important details of my life quiet from me. I am going to get to the bottom of it, come hell or high water."
"I don't think Superman's a vindictive person. Lois, I just don't see it so do me a favor…hear him out before you let him have it. I mean, he does have the weight of the world on his shoulders."
"Lucy, trust me when I tell you that you don't know the entire situation…" Like hell she was going to let her sister in on the little known fact that she had her own smaller version of the man of steel asleep upstairs.
"I'm fine with that Lois, I'm not pushing you to tell me everything, but just think about it for a minute, perhaps he has his reasons. Maybe, just maybe he's trying to do you a favor."
"I don't need favors, I need answers."
"Has it ever occurred to you that he could have kept things from you for your own safety and wellbeing? Just a thought."
Lois fell silent as the sharp direct statement from her sister sliced into her skin. Perhaps her sister was right. But then again, maybe not. There was only one person that could provide the clarity to the situation. He was asleep upstairs.
"Alright, well I'm going inside. It's freezing out here. Sit out here and stew all you want. Maybe the cold air will help you cool off" Lucy grumbled.
Lucy wasn't sure why, but despite Superman's incredible strength, power and abilities…she was afraid for him. She had been on the receiving end of Lois's temper and did not wish it on anyone. Superman especially.
The early morning sunrays slid through the gap in the blinds, dust in the air shimmered in the bright beam of sunlight that cut through the darkness. A small patch of skin tingled with the newfound warmth. Kal El's blue eyes flickered open again with the pleasant sensation on the back of his neck. The heat from the small sliver of sunshine spread across his skin, an analgesic effect began to take hold on the old scar in his back.
He inhaled deeply in contentment at the welcome light. Slowly, he rose and spread his arms, lifted the blinds and allowed the sudden bath of solar power tingle across his skin. The energizing effects had to be what everyone lusted after in their caffeinated drinks.
With his hearing returned, sounds from the kitchen below drifted into focus; audibly, Lois clamored with the dishes in the sink downstairs as she spoke with her mother.
"Why should I take him to the hospital? For what purpose? Cause a media circus?…I am the media, I know how it works. He just needs sunlight. He'll be fine."
"What if you're wrong?" The older woman countered.
"I'm not mom. I know him. Better than anyone on this planet."
"Fine Lois. Look, I can handle Jason's breakfast. Go upstairs and take a shower. I'll get him up."
"Mom, don't you dare wake him up…"
"Oh Lois, Jason. I'll wake Jason up. Now upstairs with you, shoo."
The steaming water poured down Lois's back. It was horrid to admit when her mother was right, but damn the shower did feel like a slice of heaven. Her anger slid down the drain along with the soap residue. She inhaled deeply as the aroma of vanilla conditioner rinsed from her hair.
Perhaps Lucy was right. Kal El had never done anything in the past to harm her, well, accept for the minor detail that he had disappeared without a word… but they had been through that. She was over it. Case in point, he had in fact had almost sacrificed his own life on a few accounts for her wellbeing. She loved him but did not know how to proceed. There were just so many things that remained a mystery.
Ella had finished mixing together the pancake batter for her grandson as she heard the stairs creak.
"Good morning sweetie… come and help Grandma get ready for breakfast and set the table. Alright?"
"Good morning Mrs. Lane." a deep smooth voice caused Ella to turn in surprise and embarrassment. "Considering we've only just met, I think it's a bit forward for such informalities if you don't mind."
"Oh my, I'm sorry." The hand that clutched a dishtowel flew to her chest. Ella returned the dishtowel to the counter and nervously combed through the silver hair with her fingers. "I didn't know it was you." Her eyes were wide in astonishment.
Ella had many conversations of late with her daughter regarding the hero but his presence directly five feet away was an altogether different experience. Every feature of Superman's was striking, he was far more handsome than any other man from this planet she had seen.
Photographs did not do him justice. Not even remotely. His towering presence was regal, yet was not threatening nor was it boastful. His eyes were gentle and kind. The same unearthly shade of blue that she had seen many times in the face of her grandson.
"It's alright Mrs. Lane." He swiftly strode toward the floor length windows of the den, blinked into the brilliant light. "I'm sure Jason will enjoy your breakfast. His mother tells me pancakes are his favorite."
"They are." Ella quickly regained her composure. She never thought she would be having a conversation with the man of steel about pancakes… or anything else for that matter.
Ella flicked on the stove.
"Your grandson is an amazing boy," he marveled.
"He is. Just like his mother. However, he takes after his father lately." Her stiff frame hung over the stove as the griddle warmed.
"Mrs. Lane, I will keep our son safe. You have my word."
Ella looked up in surprise at his calm demeanor and how Superman openly spoke of the child he shared with Lois. His eyes blinked as he smiled with assurance.
"It's alright. I know." A simple nod of his head provided unspoken validation between the two of them that they shared mutual information of Jason's parentage.
She became more relaxed in the impressive man's presence.
He spoke again. "He hears incredibly well. I take it you've noticed."
The weight of the oppressive secret had been lifted. The pancake batter sizzled as it made contact with the hot griddle. It was oddly easy to have a conversation with him.
"So I've been told. Jason and I need to spend some time together to help him keep his abilities under control."
"It's an awful lot of responsibility for a boy who's just about to turn six."
"It is. He will learn how to control it… I did."
The sunlight tingled and heated up his skin, every inch of his body almost hummed with the solar energy. "If you don't mind, I'll step outside awhile."
"Lois told me you need sunlight; don't mind me." Ella gained her confidence. "Superman, there's something we need to talk about," she blurted.
"Anything Mrs. Lane," he soothed. His brilliant blue eyes sparkled in the light and he blinked, waiting for the older woman to speak.
"Well, first… you don't need to be so formal, it's Ella." She swallowed, put down the pancake spatula and approached the man of steel. "Please promise me something… keep Lois and Jason safe."
"Of course I will." He spoke with an air of sincerity and confidence. "I will do everything in my power." Ella felt certain she could believe anything he said. It was an amazing gift he possessed. She could trust him.
"Lois, she's my daughter but sometimes can be pigheaded to a fault." The corners of Superman's eyes crinkled in amusement at Ella's blatant statement. "She'd rather die of pride than admit it, but she needs you. Probably more than you'll ever know."
"Ella, I will take care of my family. I will always be there for them. I won't leave this world again." He opened the door as Ella sighed.
"One more thing before you go…" she hurried through the open door and leaned close to the handsome figure. His warmth radiated in the early winter morning as she touched his arm. "Don't, well… don't hurt her. She loves you. Always has I think." A warm smile spread as his eyes sparkled. "Just don't tell her I told you so. I'd never hear the end of it."
The two walked side by side along the backyard to the dock and open sky.
"You have my word. Something I can promise you as well to keep between the two of us…" The older woman nodded silently before the man of steel continued. "I've always loved Lois. After I left, she's the reason why I returned. I came back Earth, to Metropolis… for her."
A chill traveled down Ella's spine at his sincere confession. His gaze broke from the older hazel eyes and turned his head up toward the house. "You had better head inside, your pancakes might be burning."
Ella nodded and gave him a warm smile as she retreated to the house. She'd be damned if he didn't smell those pancakes burning that far away.
Richard sighed in anticipation as he turned the front doorknob. His would be mother-in-law's car sat in the driveway, never a pleasant sign. Great, Lucy's white Honda Accord was there as well. Nothing like an ambush by the Lane women early in the morning, but ambush or not, he needed to enter the house and retrieve what was rightfully his.
Perhaps they were unaware of the situation. As the door swung open burning pancakes filled his nostrils as his would-be mother-in-law hurried over to the apparently neglected griddle.
"Richard, hi!" She proclaimed with a false sense of eagerness. Then again, probably not.
"Morning Ella." His green eyes detected a flash of brilliant red outside. The sinking sensation in the pit of his stomach did not betray his suspicions as to what it was.
She dumped the burnt pancake into the garbage and turned her attention to the nervous man in the kitchen. "He knows you're here. I'm not sure, but I think he's waiting for you."
"Great." Richard grabbed a cup of coffee, scratched his head and made his way to the back door. Superman's crimson cape swirled as he turned to acknowledge the other man's presence.
Lois toweled off her hair, slipped on her worn jeans and fitted cashmere sweater. She turned her head to shake out the remaining water and the two men below caught her attention in the window. Richard and Kal El were having a discussion.
Curiosity always got the better of her and this was no exception. Her fingers pried open the nearby window a crack in an attempt to hear any bits of conversation that floated up with the breeze.
"I know you can hear me being snoop, does that surprise you?" she muttered as Kal El's movements hitched when she slid open the window. "You boys go ahead, but that's not going to stop me from listening," she whispered. "You and I need to chat a bit later fly boy."
Sunlight tingled across his skin as his human counterpart tentatively approached him.
"Richard." He nodded in acknowledgement of the man's presence.
"Superman." He grunted. "I see you've met my future…" he cleared his throat at the verbal slip. "Former mother-in-law to be." He blinked his eyes at the bright sunlight. "I'm assuming Lois told you."
Richard's eyes remained fixed on Superman. He did not blink. "You win."
Confusion spread across the regal man's features. "Win…"
"You have our son; now you can have Lois. You win." Richard sipped his coffee.
"It's not a competition Richard, it never was."
"Not to you, but for me, it always was. Even before you came back, not a day passed where I didn't doubt that I could ever measure up." He sighed and looked out over the water that glittered in the early sun. "Now I guess I don't need to bother anymore."
"That's not what this is about. It never was. When I came back, I had no intention of dividing your family."
"But you did, it happened. Your being here, the simple fact that you exist, it was enough."
Superman paused, then said, "I wish that we had met under better circumstances Richard." The two would have been friends had things been different.
"Agreed. I take it you felt we needed to speak with each other." The air between the two men was uncomfortable. A tension hung in their words. "About Jason."
Richard's mouth ran dry as he mentioned the boy's name. He was going to loose his son. His boy. After all, who wouldn't choose Superman as a father over himself? He was just a man, nothing special. Superman was, well… Superman.
"Just don't forget that I raised him for five years, please." He pleaded. Sadness filled his words. "Do me a favor… Don't let him forget who I am and how much he meant to me, how much he'll always mean to me." Richard regained his composure. Crying in front of Lois was one thing, but he'd be damned if he did so in front of Superman.
"Richard, I'm not going to take Jason away from you. I would never deprive you of that. You've been his father since the day he was born and have shaped him into the amazing boy he is."
"You're not taking him?"
"No, of course not. I can't be there for him all the time because of who I am. I love him; he's my son but you can be there in ways I can't. I would put him in an incredible amount of danger if anyone knew, especially my enemies."
"Agreed. Your secret's safe with me. I want to keep Jason safe as much as you and Lois."
"I don't think there's a better person suited to raise him than you, Richard."
Superman's faith in him was incredibly overwhelming. Suddenly the weight of the world pressed on the humble man's shoulders. He placed the coffee on a dock post and began to pace.
"I just don't know what do to, or where to go from here. The things he can do-- I don't know how to handle them." His hands bore into the deep jacket pockets.
"Richard, no one does. I don't know what abilities he'll develop further of mine… if any at all." His profession came as a profoundly human statement. He did not have all the answers. "He's half human."
"True. I suppose that means it's all new territory."
The tall hero nodded. His head turned toward the sky and lifted his feet off the deck, his ability of flight had returned. His boots came to rest again on the floorboards.
Sounds of police sirens flooded his ears. He was needed again and would have to deal with any of the unanswered questions Lois had later. Hopefully she would be as understanding as she was the last time.
Richard nodded with comprehension that perhaps the hero was needed someplace and had worldly crises that needed his current attention. "Go ahead. I get it. People so save, fires to put out." His eyes twinkled in fascination as his feet lifted from the earth.
"Something like that. Give Lois my apologies." His eyes looked toward the window on the second floor that remained cracked.
"I think she'll understand. She might shoot the messenger but…."
The man's face turned in confusion with the hero's gratitude. "For what?"
"For being there." His head turned toward the sun and rocketed with newfound vigor into the brilliant sky. His arms stretched outward as he soared higher into the stratosphere.
Richard stood looking skyward, stunned with the incredible sight. "You're welcome. Someday, you're going to have to tell me what it's like, without an airplane."
I hope this chapter worked, please let me know your thoughts!
Sneak peak for Chapter 9:
"The violent interruption and vivid scene that had flashed across her mind a few minutes prior elicited an uncontrollable tremor as Lois struggled to regain a steady hand to push the elevator button. It seemed so...so..real. This was absolute absurdity, that she voluntarily shot her partner. It had been as vivid as the recent odd dreams that had recently plagued her. What proved incredibly disturbing, was it was not a dream; she had been awake.
The elevator door flung open and the roar of the bullpen flooded Lois's eardrums. Her stomach sank as she surveyed the daily chaos...she had to find a date."