General Lane stood in the doorway watching his eldest daughter, the one he never expected to have to let go of, to marry off, let alone have any children, hold her newborn. Any doubts of her mothering abilities had gone out the hypothetical window the moment little Jason Joseph had first settled in her arms.
Jason was fragile, small and almost a month early. He always seemed to breathe easier when his mother held him, though.
At a few days old, Jason had yet to be cleared to leave the hospital. Lois had fretted and slept fitfully by his side, never far away. They had brought a cot in so that she could sleep by his incubator. The rest of the family was never far off either, nor was Jimmy Olson from the Daily Planet—the kid was always taking pictures. Perry and his nephew were always close as well, though Richard was terrified of the General and tended to run off to get Lois something to drink when he entered the room.
The General was the only one of them left, though—Lucy had shoved them all into cabs (or, in Jimmy's case, onto his bike) and insisted they go home and sleep.
Lucy had never been able to stand up to him when he set his mind to something—and he was dead-set on not leaving Lois, even though she had been sound asleep when the rest had left.
An hour later he'd gone to get a coffee, coming back to find Lois cross-legged on the end of her cot with Jason sleeping in her arms. She was crying—hard. Streams of tears trailed down her cheeks, shoulders moving with the heavy sobs. Her eyes weren't sad, though; they were fixed on Jason, entranced with him.
Sam didn't think they were happy tears, though.
Sam moved to go comfort her for whatever she was crying about, because he certainly couldn't imagine why she was in the first place. A small hand on his shoulder stopped him. Lucy gave him a serious look and led him around the corner, leaving Lois's door closed.
"What…?" the General began to ask, but Lucy cut him off.
"Daddy," she started slowly, as though explaining something very serious to one of her little daughters; "you know Lois doesn't like anybody to see her cry. It's like her aversion to pet names. She doesn't like any suggestion of vulnerability."
"She is the least vulnerable person I've ever met," the General said stoutly. He could easily recall a few arguments from Lois's teenage years in which she had made him feel vulnerable, but it had never gone the other way.
His youngest gave him a sharp look and made him get some coffee with her to give Lois a moment. They returned a few minutes later to find a remarkably composed Lois putting Jason back in his cradle.
"You alright, sweetheart?" he asked, making his way into the room. Lucy settled in the guest chair with her knitting, ignoring them.
"Don't you think I'm a bit old for pet names, Dad?" She smirked, but her eyes weren't in it.
"Sorry, Lois," he corrected with a deep, slightly mocking, voice.
"And I'm fine," she responded after a moment spent weighing her arguments. "Just worried about Jason."
General Lane heard it again years and years later, when he walked into the bullpen to surprise his daughter, future son-in-law, and grandson, and take them out for lunch.
"…and I just can't believe they'd pull this on us!" Lois raved, hands going mad. That goofy Kent guy stood calmly next to her and waited the rant out.
"Sweetheart," Kent finally cut in, and, surprisingly, Lois fell silent at once and waited to hear what he'd say. "It's fine. Now you get to write an expose."
Lois frowned, but didn't blow up again.
"Hey, honey—" Richard's voice came from one side and suddenly Lois was directing a death-glare at her fiancé. "Sorry, pet-name thing… So, Lois—"
The General didn't hear whatever topic Richard introduced next, as he was too busy wondering how Clark Kent had managed to slip through her well-enforced net.
It dawned on him later that maybe Kent was the reason for it. That only letting him use a pet name made Kent special, and let people who noticed it know just how special he was to her. The thought made the General itchy.