Metropolis, March 21, 2015. It was a rare evening that all four Kents were together and they decided to make the most of it by playing a board game before watching a DVD. Around 8 o'clock they moved into the living room and settled themselves down for the show; Lois and soon-to-be six year old Haley were waiting on either end of the sofa, ready to snuggle in with Clark once he plopped the disc into the machine, and thirteen year old Jason sat curled up on the floor at Lois' feet, holding fast to the almost-overflowing bowl of popcorn.
Clark put an arm around each of the girls in his life, drawing them closer to him so that they could all share in one another's warmth. He turned to Lois and her head tilted up in anticipation—closing his eyes, he placed a tender, passionate kiss on her forehead and as he pulled away he could practically hear her purr in satisfaction. The fact that such a simple act made them both so blissfully happy made him grin from ear to ear.
A loud bang sounded on the television and the little girl to his right twitched violently. "It's ok, Cookie," he whispered as the opening previews continued to roll, "It's only make-believe." She gave a feeble nod as he brushed the hair out of her face and proceeded to kiss the top of her head, but as the violence on the screen became more gruesome, Clark decided to distract his youngest by asking, "Are you all ready for our special day tomorrow?"
Haley immediately whipped her head around and gave him a lopsided grin, displaying the recent gaps made between her baby teeth and her new, permanent teeth. "Yeah!" Aunt Lucy had decided to gift her niece with her old childhood bedroom furniture, and Lois and Clark both agreed that along with the new bed and chest of drawers they would do away with the faded Robin's egg blue walls and Noah's Ark border. The pair also decided to include Haley in the project, and they hoped to finish it up before her upcoming birthday.
Clark bopped her playfully on the nose and made her giggle. "Have you got a color picked out yet?"
"Uh huh," she replied, enthusiastically nodding her head, the scary preview forgotten. Then in one swift motion she got to her knees and leaned up against her father, cupping her hands around his ear to whisper her answer.
"Oh…oh I see."
She plopped back down in her seat with a satisfied smile on her face.
"What are you two whispering about over there?" Lois inquired, her curiosity finally peaking. "No secrets now—well, except the one." From his perch at her feet Jason snorted then threw a handful of popcorn into his mouth.
"It's a surprise, Mommy!" she exclaimed, pouting. Clark couldn't help laughing at the mini-Lois expression on his little one's face.
"Not helping," his wife whispered out of the corner of her mouth. Turning back to Haley just before the opening credits rolled, she added, "Ok, Baby Girl—it's your birthday and your room. Just don't you and your father make a mess tomorrow while I'm gone, ok?"
"No Mommy, not us." The seriousness of the little girl's tone made Lois laugh uproariously and she settled into the crook of her husband's arm just as the show began, still struggling to stifle her giggles.
Metropolis, March 22, 2015, 9:08 am.Lois gave a kiss to the kids as she got out of the cab of the small rental van, extracting promises from both Jason and Haley that they would be on their best behavior that day while she helped out their Uncle Perry, while also making her husband promise to drop the kids off in the bullpen should the need arise.
"I know, Lo, don't worry," he replied, leaning out the driver's side window to give her a kiss before she scurried across the street and into the Daily Planet building. Jason shifted over into the front seat beside his father and quickly latched the seat belt into place before they eased out onto the road once again.
Fifteen minutes later and they sat stuck in traffic a mere seven blocks from where they'd started. With Haley playing with her teddy bear, Bobo, and jabbering to herself in the backseat, Jason took the opportunity to ask his father a question. "Dad, why didn't you just fly to Nana's and get the bed and stuff? Wouldn't it have been easier?"
Clark eyed the stretch of traffic ahead and sighed; it was going to take awhile before they cleared the accident a mile up ahead, and even with the police diverting traffic around the scene it would still be very slow going until they reached the City limits. He turned to look at his lanky teenage son beside him. "Yes, flying would've been easier."
"But it also would've been too conspicuous. People would've seen me and wondered why I was flying furniture all across town, thereby raising more questions then your mother and I want to answer; besides, it's safer for your Nana if she doesn't know anything 'special' about me. And you know, Jason, sometimes doing things the human way is much more rewarding. I could have had your sister's room all painted and set-up for her in under an hour, but this way I get to spend some quality time with her…I remember doing things like this with my Dad and I want you and Haley to have memories like that too."
"I guess that makes sense," the boy replied before turning to look out the window at all the pedestrians. "But I don't see what's so rewarding about sitting here bumper-to-bumper for the next half hour."
"You are soooo your mother's son," Clark cracked up. The vehicle in front of them lurched forward one car length and drew his attention to the road once more.
Metropolis, March 22, 2015, 12:45 pm. Jason had been dropped off at a friend's house after the furniture had been collected and the paint picked up from the local hardware store, and now Haley and Clark stood in the middle of her empty bedroom staring at the old nursery walls, paintbrushes in hand. The blue tarp that had been laid over the carpet crinkled under the little girl's feet as she hopped up and down animatedly. Her father's old work shirt—which she now wore backwards as a smock to protect her clothes from the inevitable splatter—swung back and forth around her ankles.
"Can I start yet?"
Clark stepped forward and put a bit of painter's tape around the baseboard on the floor, then stepped back next to his daughter to survey his work. "Just one second, Hales," he replied, noticing a spot that he'd missed above the window. Hovering a few inches off the floor so that he was eye level with the top of the sill, he pulled a piece of tape off the roll and plunked it down, ensuring that he wouldn't have to touch it up again later. His feet touching ground once more he turned back to face his daughter and smiled. "Ok, now we can get started."
She dashed over to the cans of paint and empty trays on the opposite side of the room with a speed she inherited from her father and waited impatiently for him to pour out the contents.
"Now remember, you want to spread it around on the walls and make it nice and even. Not too thick or too thin, ok?"
Haley eyed the paint greedily as he poured it into the tray. "Uh huh," she muttered rather distractedly.
Tipping the can back and setting it on the floor, he watched her tentatively dip the end of her brand new brush and swirl it around in the color until a vortex formed in the center. She spent several minutes simply swirling the paint, clearly torn between wanting to put the new color up on her walls and playing with it in it's container. Her indecisiveness made him smirk; Haley was so unique in so many ways, not just in physiology, and it was little glimpses of moments like these that made him smile and appreciate his kids even more. There had been a time not too long ago where he didn't think having a wife and kids was a possibility he should even be entertaining, yet here he was in the bosom of his family and it made him feel so…complete. He snuck another look down at his daughter; clearly Haley was going to need a little nudge if he wanted to get the room done before Lois got home.
"Do you want to put some of that on the wall, Honey?"
His voice broke her intense concentration on the paint and she turned to him with wide blue eyes. "Oh!" She yanked the brush right out of the container and toddled over to the wall, slathering it up and down over the pale blue. "How's this, Daddy?"
But Clark couldn't speak. In his daughter's haste she'd flicked the brush back so that he now had a long streak of speckles reaching from his waist all the way up to his mouth. For the first time in her life Haley had been too fast for the Man of Steel.
He set the roller down as he coated the last corner of the first full wall and stood back to survey his work. His daughter, bored by the lack of detail, had already started up on a fresh wall and was painting a stick figure picture in the corner with the tip of her brush.
In the blink of an eye he was crouched down beside her with a brush in his hands, one edge dipped in the paint, ready to join in her fun. "What are you painting here?"
Haley lowered the brush down on the tarp and smiled in satisfaction at her work. "That's me in the cornfield at Grandma's…and there's one of the horsies…and that's Jason jumping really really high like he did last summer!"
"Wow, that's not bad!" he replied enthusiastically, nodding in appreciation. "Now, what do you think of this?" Straightening up, Clark proceeded to paint a little doodle all his own in the middle of the wall; a thick batch of clouds and a smiling sun shining down on him and his daughter as he held her hand and hey soared high up in the sky.
The little girl screwed her mouth up to one side and examined the artwork with a critical eye. "It's ok," she finally admitted, narrowing her eyes as she studied the two stick figure images again.
Clark scoffed. "Just ok? It's a masterpiece! The Sistine Chapel can't compare!"
"Daddy, don't be silly!" she teased, giggling as he bent down to scoop her up. The two of them took another look at the artwork which was now at her eye level. "Will I be able to fly like you too someday?"
He stopped and stared at her; it was a question he hadn't been expecting from his six year old, at least not yet. Jason was impatient about his Kryptonian powers and was always wondering when more would come; Haley, on the other hand, was much more laid back about her abilities, preferring to take the new changes in stride and not question if or when they'd make themselves manifest.
"I don't know, Hales. There's a good chance you'll be able to, but we'll have to wait and see when you get older, ok?"
She bit down on her lower lip and Clark could see that she was staring at her little stick figure self again. "What's the matter?"
"I was thinking," she said slowly, weighing each word in her head before she spoke.
"Thinking about what?" he prodded her.
"Well…when I start flying, can my cape be this color instead of like yours? Because I like this color better."
Clark furrowed his brow, unable to reconcile the image before him with the one in his head; his sweet little girl all wrapped up in one of his old off-white work shirts, versus the young woman she would become, super-powers and all, flying around in a leotard and cape. He must have been lost in thought for several minutes, because he soon felt Haley tugging at the sleeve of his shirt and trying to re-gain his attention.
"Please, Dad? Pretty please?" She looked at him with pleading eyes and he felt his willpower begin to wane.
Metropolis, March 22, 2015, 6:23 pm. "I'm home!" Lois cried out from the doorway as she pulled her key out of the lock. "How does everyone feel about burgers for dinner?" She moved down the hall toward the bedrooms to find her missing family.
She heard a soft thumping in Jason's room and, knocking on the door, waited to be invited in. When he didn't respond she let herself in and found him propped up in bed with his headphones in his ears and a car magazine in his hands, his foot tapping against the baseboard in time with the beat.
"Jason?" she tried again, waving to him from the doorway. Finally he pulled the headphones out and draped the oversized set around his neck. "How do you feel about burgers for dinner tonight?"
"Yeah, cool," the teenager replied, music still blaring out the earpieces, before he delved back into the glossy pages.
With a sigh Lois turned away and found Clark slowly backing out of their bedroom, closing the door quietly behind him. Knowing his wife was close at hand he turned around and held out his arms for an embrace.
"Hi," she murmured into his chest as he wrapped himself around her. "Where's the Baby Girl?"
"Asleep," he replied, jerking a thumb over his shoulder at the closed door. "In our room. Don't worry, I won't let her nap too long, I know how cranky she gets." Clark held her in his arms a moment more before starting in excitement. "Want to see how her room turned out? I just put the last of the furniture in there."
He took her by the hand and led her back down the hallway, pausing only when his hand was on the knob. "Now it's going to be a little chilly in here; we had to keep the windows open so the air could circulate."
"And if you don't like the way I placed the bed or anything I can always move it."
Lois tossed her hair over her shoulder. "Ok…"
"And if you see any spots that look like they could use a touch-up just say the word, because there's still a little bit of paint left…"
"Oh for Pete's sake, Clark, just let me see the room already!" she exclaimed loudly, irritation and amusement clearly written on her face.
"Ok." He pushed the door open with ease, revealing the old nursery which had now been transformed into their daughter's 'Big Girl' room. The headrest of Lucy's white-painted, oak, twin bed rested against the wall not far from the door, with matching nightstands sitting on either side of it, while a large dresser from the same set sat against the wall opposite the footboard. Haley also had a few of her old pieces of furniture in her new room—a toy chest, two long, lean bookshelves, etc.—that rounded out the space; but it was the new color on the walls that left Lois momentarily speechless.
"Clark, you didn't…" she whispered, stepping further into the room and letting go of his hand.
The poor man furrowed his brow as he stood in the doorway, staring at her. "What?"
"Pink?!" she squeaked out, standing full in the room and gesturing at the bubblegum pinks walls on all sides. "You let her paint the room pink?!?"
"Well we did tell her she could choose…" he began reasoning.
"Yes, but I thought she'd choose lilac or cream or something other then…" Lois swallowed hard, the noxious word struggling to pass her lips, "…pink."
The tall man smirked where he stood, arms folded across his chest, eying her from head to toe and back again, his smile growing wider with each passing scan. "I seem to recall a time when you liked pink, Lois; in fact, you even asked me if I liked pink."
Her hazel eyes went wide as he called her out and she huffed, "That was one time, and it was only because it was laundry week! And so sue me if I was a little star-struck talking to a man who could fly! Besides, would you have rather I'd gone commando during our first interview?!?"
Clark could do nothing but blush a deep shade of red at the thought of x-raying Lois on the balcony of her old apartment, and seeing her in all her glory. Just then Jason groaned from across the hall behind the closed door of his room, and he shouted, "Ewww, MOM! That's just GROSS!!!"
Clark stepped forward into the room as his wife made her way toward the edge of the bed to take a seat, the two of them chuckling while trying to keep their voices down. "Honey, we did tell Haley that she could pick the color," Clark reminded his wife again.
"I know…but pink is just so…so…girly. It's…"
"It's everything you weren't at her age," he finished for her, drawing his arm over her shoulders so that she could lean against him.
Looking up into his face, she asked, "Is that wrong? Is it wrong to want my daughter to be just a little bit like me?"
With a small laugh he leaned down and kissed the top of her upturned forehead. "Sweetheart," he said, "She's more like you then you'll ever know, but for some reason you just can't see it." He let out a soft sigh. "You'd think after all these years…"
The door creaked as it was pushed back a little further, revealing Haley standing in the doorway and framed by the light in the hall as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes. "Daddy!" she wailed, still irritable from her too-brief nap. "You said I could help you move stuff!!!" She stalked into the room and made a bee-line for the bed her parents were sitting on. Crawling up in-between them she stood on the mattress and surveyed the space. "AHHH! DADDY, Mr. Alligator can't sit next to Bobo! He might eat him!!!"
The little girl dove for her pillows, separating the carnivorous reptile from her defenseless teddy bear lest he get attacked. Clark could only chuckle as Haley raced around, righting his wrongs, and he caught Lois staring up at him with a look of embarrassment as she recognized Haley's little mannerisms as a reflection of her own.
"And you put my Bella Ballerina books in the wrong order!" their daughter cried as she stood in front of the bookshelves.
Clark leaned down and kissed his wife's forehead as she let loose a soft groan then winced. Their little girl jutted out her hip and struck her hand there just so, another oft-repeated Lois gesture.
"Oh yeah, just like you," he stage-whispered as he rose from his seat, still smiling at her as he went to help his daughter re-arrange her toys.