A/N: If I put a long excuse up here for the massive delay would anyone care? :P Let's just say I fucking hate earthquakes and aftershocks and people who give you less than a month to move out of your house for quake repairs.
Anyway, I wrote a few little LJ-only Revelations oneshots but has decided we don't get to link from profile pages anymore, yay. Not. So I'm not too sure how to get you to them. Hopefully by the next chapter it's all fixed and I can link anyone interested. Anywho, you've waited enough and I hope it was worth it. Enjoy.
Chapter Twenty-Seven: Breaking And Interviewing
The usual way to enter the building required an extensive background check, booking six months in advance and providing Security with one's date of birth, social security number and proof of country of citizenship.
Superman had never bothered with that though, Clark Kent didn't either. He had no doubt the people here had already collected all that information and more the day his two lives became one.
Security was still tight, even at two in the morning, Clark managed to avoid most of the guards but was aware he had been seen on the security cameras and quiet alarms had been set off. He walked at a normal pace, seeing no need to hurry now he was here.
He had almost reached his destination when they finally caught up with him.
Clark stopped, putting his hands up slowly. He didn't recognise the voice but then again, he didn't know many of the night guards. Superman may not have wasted time on security checks but he at least usually had the courtesy to show up during the day.
"Now turn around slowly."
Clark complied, turning to face the guard who was holding a gun and shining a flashlight in his eyes. It would have blinded a human but Clark had no trouble seeing the man holding the weapon.
He was clearly highly trained, no mall-cop security guards here. FBI was Clark's guess, Lois would know for sure.
"Who are you and how in the hell did you get in here?"
Clark frowned, the flashlight obviously wasn't enough to recognise him by, despite his face being on the news 24/7 for the past week. Still, the man in front of him hardly looked the type to sit on the sofa watching TV.
"I said, who are you?"
"It might be easier if I showed you," Clark replied, deciding on a route that would be the quickest way to get where he needed to be.
He reached inside his jacket, noting with interest that the guard had an impressive reaction time, pulling the trigger of his pistol before Clark's hand had even found his pocket. He stopped moving at a normal pace then, speeding towards the man, pulling the bullet from the air as he did and pulling something that was very much not a gun from his pocket.
"Clark Kent, Daily Planet," he announced, flipping open his press badge to show the man. "I'm here to see the President."
"You're kidding, right?" The most powerful man in the country tried to look annoyed a few minutes later, but in his pyjamas, with his hair sticking upright and a small smile on his face the impact wasn't quite there.
It was much the same thing everyone else that they'd encountered in the hallway on the way to the Oval Office had said.
"I'm short on time and I wanted to get your attention," Clark told him, his amusement at the other man's appearance not quite overriding his nerves at how this meeting was going to go. He was of the opinion that the current President was a good man (he'd voted for him) but just because he had a good relationship with him as Superman, it didn't mean he would with Clark Kent.
"You managed," the man replied drily, sitting in his chair heavily, accepting the coffee one of his staff gave him with a grateful nod.
"Could we speak privately?" Clark asked, counting the sounds of seven security men behind him.
"Of course," the President said, surprising him a little. "If you will, gentlemen?" He indicated to the door.
No one moved.
"Oh, come on," the man sighed, rolling his eyes. "I highly doubt he's going to harm me and if he did, do you really think you could stop him?"
Clark only just managed to keep his face expressionless. The security guards filed out. It hurt him, that he'd spent almost three decades gaining the trust of people on Earth only to have them suddenly think just because he wanted to protect his family that he wasn't to be trusted after all.
The President rubbed his eyes, stifled a yawn and took a drink from his coffee before speaking again. "I want you to know I agree with what you did," he stated plainly, "my family's been targeted more than once because of what I do and if I had my way I'd simply be referred to as 'The President' and no one would know who I or my family really was. But life can't always be so simple."
"No, it can't," Clark agreed with a heavy sigh.
"Is your daughter well?" the man asked, sipping his coffee again. "Eleanor, was it?"
"Yes, and yes, she's back home now."
"I'm very pleased to hear that," the President told him, his voice sincere. "I have a son her age, just after the start of my term someone tried to break into his school to hurt him. Nothing happened so I know it's hardly comparable but it gave us such a scare and I know if I could have protected my family the way you did your children I wouldn't have hesitated to do so.
"Ah," he sighed, finishing his coffee, not waiting for Clark to reply to his previous words, "I must apologize for the small-talk, I probably should be more accustomed than I am to waking up at odd hours but it always takes me a moment and a good coffee to fully get my mind into the present."
"I understand," Clark assured him.
"Anyway, let's get down to why you're here, and let me say this before you start: I still trust you as much as I did before," he told Clark, "and I know a lot of people who agree. If you really were a bad person why on Earth would keeping your identity a secret be a worry? If you really were out to hurt anyone why the hell would you trouble yourself getting married and having a family and hiding for thirty odd years?"
"What about my children, do you trust them?"
The man sitting across from him nodded, he'd clearly been expecting that. "I don't know them," he pointed out truthfully, "but we do have a saying here, innocent until proven guilty. I'm certainly not going to act on some of the more extreme suggestions members of the public have given us."
Clark frowned at the reminder. He'd been trying to avoid the news stations and papers reporting on those people but he'd still heard the talk. That his children were dangerous because of their powers and should be locked up. Thankfully most people seemed to disagree but it was still getting far more serious coverage than he'd have liked.
"I guess you know they're why I'm here?" he asked.
"The government hasn't commented on the situation," Clark said, trying but not quite succeeding to keep his voice even. "I know me having a secret identity might not have been top priority but surely the existence of more people with my powers…" he trailed off, not entirely sure how to properly finish the sentence.
"We haven't commented but we have been watching. No offence to your kids, I mean, we assumed the best of them but we were ready if they turned out to be using their… abilities to harm anyone."
"So you're going to leave them be." He tried to keep his voice as even as possible, not presenting it as a question.
"You're a smart man, Superman-"
"Call me Clark."
"- Clark then. You know I don't simply have the power to snap my fingers and make a new law."
"No," Clark acknowledged, "you're not all-powerful but you are powerful. My children are American citizens. I simply want your assurance you will do everything in your power to see that they remain so with all the rights and privileges that accompany that until we figure something out."
"That 'something' being how to remain politically neutral while still having this rights of Americans I'm assuming?"
"Yes," Clark answered bluntly. "None of us are willing to become pawns in any political game. We will not use our unique abilities unfairly in favor of any one country over another. But we do have to live somewhere."
"And if I don't agree?" the President asked, his tone entirely unthreatening. Though whether it was the late hour dulling his tone or he simply wanted to know Clark wasn't sure.
"We'll have to move," Clark replied, "obviously I don't want to do that, three of my children still live at home and I don't want to take them away from their friends." He ignored the voice in his head reminding him that's what he was doing to Chris anyway. The President didn't need to know that. "There are many countries on Earth and there will be one which will give us the rights we want."
"Well, clearly I'd rather keep you here," the President told him, keeping with the completely honest tone of the conversation. "I won't try and draft any of your children or ever ask you to represent America on the world stage but no matter how neutral you are it's good to be able to claim you as ours. Not politically of course," he added with a shrug.
Clark knew exactly what he meant and he wasn't naïve enough to deny it or pretend he thought he could change it.
His spaceship had landed in Kansas almost completely by chance. It had been programmed to come down on land, near people, but other than that there had been nothing special about landing in America.
"Are you willing to say that on record?" Clark asked. "I hope you are, though it is your decision. Still, I'm not leaving until I get an answer," he told the President, keeping his tone unconcerned, as if he was completely prepared to sit in the office for the rest of the night if it took that long.
"Well, I'll see you tomorrow, then," The President replied, "now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get some sleep."
The flight back was calm, the sky from D.C. to Metropolis was clear and thankfully disaster-free. At least free of disasters he could help with.
He landed silently on the balcony when he arrived back at the apartment.
He had expected everyone to be asleep so he was surprised to see the lights on in the living room. He opened the door and stepped inside to see Ella and Dean sitting across from each other, both holding steaming mugs- hot chocolate if he knew his daughter.
Dean looked up when he entered but Ella's reaction was more extreme, jumping out of her chair and whirling round to face him as if he'd startled her.
"Ella?" he asked, confused at her reaction and surprised to see her looking almost frightened. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," she replied quickly, "how long…"
Clark frowned. "I didn't hear anything you were discussing," he told her, "if that's what you're worried about…"
"Oh." Ella frowned, looking a little embarrassed now and Clark was relieved to see her shoulders relax and hear her heart rate slow. Nothing serious, just a fright and something she didn't want him to know. Run of the mill for teenagers these days.
"It's nothing serious, Dad," Dean said in his calm, quiet voice, "but it's between Ella and me."
"It's not that I don't trust you," Ella rushed to explain, her voice still a bit unsteady and refusing to meet her father's eyes. "It's just… personal."
"It's okay," Clark assured her, surprised when he looked closer to see her shaking. "I trust you too, if it's personal and you feel more comfortable discussing it with your brother then that's fine. I know you'd come to me if it was something serious."
The look on Ella's face almost made him smile, if there was one thing Jonathan Kent had taught him it was the 'I trust you' were the three most effective words a parent could say to their child.
But after a moment he watched his daughter's face shift from uncertain and guilty to steady and serious. "I will," she told him, and this time he knew she was telling the truth.
Lois felt the bed dip as her husband returned from his visit to the President. The seven-year-old-boy-sized space heater curled around her shifted slightly but didn't wake up.
She opened her eyes to his father's concerned face. "Another one?" he asked, stroking Chris' hair as the boy clung to his mother, his head buried in her chest and his arms tight around her waist.
"Kind of," Lois replied quietly, careful not to wake him, "he came in here, he looked scared and said he couldn't sleep."
Clark bit his lip as he stroked his son's hair. "Do you think we should get him to talk to someone?" he asked, keeping his voice low too.
"I do still have Dr. Hadley's number somewhere," Lois sighed, remembering the kind psychiatrist who Jason had seen after the incident with Luthor on the yacht so many years ago, she was also familiar with Sophie and Dean after they had been attacked when she had angered the wrong man with a story. "If she still practices. But it's been less than a week, he might recover with just our help," she told Clark, also remembering the dent Dr. Hadley's prices had put in their wallet.
Of course no amount of money was too much to help her son but she did hope he might just need some time and help from his family to naturally recover from the trauma. "If he still seems this upset in another week we'll talk to him and then maybe call her."
"Okay," Clark agreed. He leaned down and kissed the top of Chris' head.
"You know," Lois sighed, keeping her voice soft, "I know I go on a bit about how I can't believe we have six children-"
"A bit?" Clark interrupted, raising his eyebrows.
"Okay, a lot," Lois conceded with a quiet laugh, "but then I think that to have less children would mean I wouldn't have some of them and I just can't choose which one I could imagine life without."
"I wish I had a recorder with me right now," Clark teased with a grin. "I think the news that Lois 'Mad Dog' Lane is secretly happy to be a mother of six might eclipse even Superman's secret identity in newsworthiness. Shall I call the Planet and tell them to stop the presses?"
Lois rolled her eyes. "You ever tell anyone I said that and I will carry through with my threat of castration by kryptonite," she told him as threateningly as she could manage without waking her son.
Her husband winced but the gleam in his eye said he knew she was joking. Perhaps if Chris hadn't been there he would have come back with a remark about how she'd never complained about making them, then blushed adorably and reminded her just how much she loved him.
Of course, that kind of talk invariably led to other sorts of things between them and the reminder of what could result from that was still curled up between them.
She was glad to see the man she'd fallen in love with coming back though, life really never would be the same but he was joking with her again, and smiling like he hadn't since before this had all happened. If tomorrow went as well as she dared to hope it might, then things could even start to get better.
It would be a long road, but it would be a good first step.
"We are lucky, aren't we?" he asked, smiling at his son's sleeping face.
"We are," Lois agreed, "even with all that's happening you know we'll always be a family, right? We will protect them."
"I know. Night, Lois. I love you."
"Night, Smallville," Lois replied, stifling a yawn, "Love you too."
The woman had the type of face that looked like it had never known a smile. Even if she hadn't told Smith what she'd be wearing he still would have been able to pick her out.
"Miss Green?" He asked, if only for formality's sake.
"I am," the woman replied, "and you must be Smith."
"I am," Smith replied, though it hadn't been a question.
"I found your idea very intriguing," the woman who called herself Miss Green started, "I'm rather annoyed I didn't consider it first."
Smith smiled modestly, not bothering to mention it hadn't been him who had thought up the device. He'd uncovered the unique blueprint in the apartment of a man he'd killed for the mob last year. The man either hadn't had the resources to create it or had been unwilling. A lot of people in his line of work liked to plan ways to hurt the Man of Steel though, and Smith was just glad he had kept the plans.
He never intended to ever see the alien face-to-face but this device, if it worked, would certainly help the men he did plan to send to meet Superman and his half-breed children.
The woman across from him probably didn't care who was going to use them though. As far as Smith knew her only loyalty was to money. She worked for anyone who was willing to pay and right now that was him.
"Can you do it?" He asked after a moment. He already knew she could, or else she'd never have bothered to arrange a meeting after he'd sent her the plans of the device.
"I don't insult you by asking stupid questions," the woman replied calmly, "if you want this contract to go smoothly I suggest you do the same."
Smith frowned slightly but nodded. She was right, he had disclosed almost this whole plan to her and she hadn't batted an eyelid. No doubt she had already thought of at least five other plans that were easier and smoother than what he requested but she merely stated her price and promised him a reasonable date to complete it by.
"I need it sooner."
"I have other work, Mr. Smith," the woman told him, her voice neutral.
"I'll double the payment." For the first time emotion showed on her face, the slightest crease of a frown on her forehead, gone in a moment but still there. He knew exactly what she was thinking. It didn't matter though, she wouldn't ask him why he needed the work sooner or why he was willing to pay so much money.
Not that the money mattered to Smith, the job would net a considerable profit once it was completed and the extra suffering the Kents would endure as the means to his end? Well, that was personal satisfaction worth more than any amount of money to him. And he had plenty to spare.
"I can have it ready in two weeks," the woman told him, professional as ever. She was being paid, what did she care what Smith did with her products? "It would not be physically possible to have the work completed any earlier."
"Understood." Smith nodded, two weeks was plenty of time. "Half today, the rest on completion. I will send delivery details nearer the date."
She got up to leave, picking up the suitcase Smith had bought with him. Before she walked out of the café he had to ask one more thing.
"What do you think of this thing with Superman then?"
"It doesn't bother me," the woman said calmly, seemingly unfazed at his sudden question. "I was surprised but my feelings towards him have not changed. Goodbye."
Smith just shrugged and finished his coffee. He didn't mind, he wasn't doing this for anyone else. Sure, he could get a few other jobs accomplished in the course of his plan and bring in considerable money but destroying Clark Kent and his family would be the best payment he'd ever receive.
"You know," Jason Kent sighed loudly over the commotion in his apartment, "avoiding things like this is why I moved out."
He thought he heard someone call, "Shut up, Jason" but on the whole the eleven other people in the living room and kitchen ignored him.
"You're out of milk," Tristan told him, shaking the bottle upside down over his cereal just to make sure.
"There's some long-life stuff in the cupboard under the oven," Evelyn told him, emerging from the spare room dragging two more chairs.
"Okay, so when does it actually start?" Dani asked the room in general as she finished her toast.
"I think Dad said nine or something?" Lucy told her sister's roommate, over the heads of Evelyn's brother and sister who were on the couch beside her.
Jason rolled his eyes and decided to just give up. He still wasn't exactly sure what had happened this morning. One moment he'd been having breakfast with Richard and Eric, who'd stayed the night, and discussing plans for moving apartments with Evelyn, next thing Sophie had showed up with her roommate in tow announcing that they were going to have breakfast and watch their Dad's press conference at Jason's place because having them there would just stress Dad out.
All of which Jason had agreed with (well, not the part about Dani being there but the other law student had immediately set to making herself quite at home and he had decided fighting with his sister wasn't worth the effort).
Next thing he knew, Dean had carted Lucy, Ella and Chris in through the window, explaining that Lois thought being … alone with her husband that morning might help relax him for the press conference and Jason couldn't really blame them for all leaving as soon as they could.
Evelyn's New York-based siblings, Nina and Mitchell had shown up together and when Evelyn didn't act surprised Jason was worried she had told him they were coming and he'd forgot or not been paying attention so he hadn't said anything and then when Tristan had shown up he'd been beyond trying to figure out what was going on and just nodded when his friend and workmate had told him he'd already called work to say they'd both be in late and it was okay because today was the day they showed at least half and hour of pre-filmed segments anyway so did he have anything to eat?
"There are far too many people here," Jason commented to no one in particular.
The apartment wasn't bad for two, both Jason and Evelyn had incomes quite a distance above average but this was New York. The apartment felt full with six people, with the current amount it had packed into it, Jason was expecting it to burst at the seams any second.
"Oh!" Sophie's excited yelp from the couch managed to make everyone be quiet at least though. "Uncle Jimmy just text me to say Dad's there-"
"The news is saying that too-" someone else interrupted her before being interrupted themselves by at least three variations of 'be quiet!'
"- and the President of the United States."
"Did he say what the President is going to say?" Jason asked, once the chorus of surprised exclamations and one 'who's President now?' had died down.
"No, he actually asked me if I knew," Sophie replied, "but he mentioned Dad wasn't surprised so maybe he had a talk with him sometime?"
"Dad went out last night," Dean and Ella said in unison.
"Actually he went out four times," Dean continued. "He could have stopped by the White House any time."
"In the middle of the night?" Mitchell asked, "Without calling? Would they just shoot him for trespass- ohhh, right. Bulletproof."
"Still, can't have-"
"Shhhhhhhh!" Whoever had been about to talk was interrupted by at least three people shushing them as the reporter's face disappeared to be replaced by the stand for the press conference.
"We are being told that the President will be making a statement before Clark Kent speaks. No details have been released on what he intends to say in his address but there are unconfirmed reports he will be in support of Clark Kent and his family-"
"Of course he'll want to keep the world thinking they're American," another reporter added, "even though I doubt Sup- Clark Kent will ever work for the government there's no denying America can- oh, we've just received word the President is about to speak-"
The reporter was cut off as the screen suddenly switched to a room in the Planet building, currently set up for the press conference. Where a reporter from what seemed like every paper or news station in the country, and many international ones as well, was seated in front of a lectern bristling with microphones.
Suddenly Jason felt a hint of doubt creep up on him. He'd been for this press conference from the moment it had been suggested, helping convince his Dad it was the best option right now.
"A lot of people still do trust the Planet," he'd told his him last week, "but there are plenty who don't any more and the ones who do still want their own chance to talk to you. A press conference is a much better option to satisfy them than doing a separate interview with each."
Now, seeing all the reporters, ready and more than eager to throw all they had at his father, he wasn't so sure. Clark was more than capable of holding his own against even that many people but the real worry in Jason's mind was that he would want to. Ever since the secret had been blown he'd been far too worried about people still liking him, now Jason only hoped his Mom had been successful at reminding him that pleasing everyone was impossible, even for Superman.
He was so wrapped in his own thoughts it was a second before he realized the President was already speaking. He didn't think he'd missed too much though.
"It is my intention,"the man was saying, "to clarify the laws surrounding rescue workers who work with abilities like Superman's. Using both past court rulings of the last 30 years along with advice from all sectors of the emergency services and legal advice from the UN and sources within the United States."
"Could you give us an example of what effects you are hoping to achieve with this?" A reporter asked, singled out among the many who'd clamored for his attention immediately after he'd finished his sentence.
"Of course." the President nodded and flashed a winning smile. "I know I've been criticized for keeping silent in the past week," he started, his tone unfaltering in front of the ones who had been doing the criticizing, "but I, and my government have not been idle, we have been listening to people's concerns. I hope, as soon as possible, to put laws in place that make it clear exactly what rules any of the Kents who wish to follow in their father's footsteps will have to follow and what protocols they will be required to work within."
"So in effect, you're creating a new- what, branch of the emergency services specifically to cater to the Kent family?"
The President shrugged. "Like I said before, that pretty much already existed with Superman. There are laws pertaining specifically to him and what he can and can't do and how to handle the legal side of criminals he apprehends. We're just going to clarify them and update a few for the public's peace of mind.
"One thing we've heard a lot of is that people still trust Superman not to harm anyone but are concerned that there aren't proper laws to control these children though, really they are American citizens and therefore subject to the same laws as everyone else. Now, personally, they don't seem the type to me to just go and use their abilities to destroy or hurt anyone but for clarity and peace of mind we will be putting new laws in place regarding this."
"And how will you be enforcing these laws?" A journalist Jason didn't recognize asked. "How do you arrest or imprison someone who can bend and tear thick metal bars like paper?"
The President nodded as if this was an expected response. "That has been discussed," he told the crowd. "And I understand your concerns. After almost thirty years we know and trust Superman and in time I believe his children will all prove themselves just as trustworthy as their father but when Superman first appeared we were just as wary of him as some people are about his children today. We'd just met him and certain procedures and plans were created should he have proved untrustworthy. Thankfully they've never been implemented but they are still there just in case. For security's sake I can't give details of course but holding detaining them won't be a concern for us."
"Really?" Ella asked, drawing Jason's attention back to the living room. Her face was a mixture of surprise and concern at this news.
"I'll explain later," Jason told her quickly, before returning his attention to the screen.
"You think they'll agree to that?" Same journalist again.
"I think they'll accept it," the President replied, "They'll have to. It's really no different at all to the way you would have to accept that if you committed a crime you'd be arrested and detained."
"Oh, well, fair enough," Ella muttered, her siblings nodding in agreement. "I still-"
"Later," Jason repeated, not wanting to miss anything.
"Of course, this goes both ways," the man on screen continued, "these new laws and regulations will protect the Kents too and anyone else in the future we might come across who falls under the same criteria. They may not be fully human but they are still people and as I speak we are amending several laws to let them continue to have the full rights of American citizens."
Jason couldn't deny he was pleased to hear that, he hadn't told any of his siblings, even Lucy whom he was sure knew as well, but there had been more than one person on the internet claiming they shouldn't even be considered people because they were only part-human. He reminded himself to tell Dean to keep Ella away from the computer for a while too, though unless it was on her Facebook page he doubted she would see it.
"Will the information that Superman's legal name is really Clark Kent, or any other newly learned information about him, impact on the rulings and sentences of any criminals he's help apprehend?"A reporter with a Swedish flag pinned to his lapel was asking when Jason turned back into the TV.
The President gave a slight laugh and shook his head. "Simply put: No, definitely not," he said. "We were already well aware Superman wasn't human and we were aware the name 'Superman' was a pseudonym, no one's ever denied that. None of the criminals he'd put behind bars were released when he told us his birth name was Kal-El and none will be released now we find out his adoptive name is Clark Kent."
Jason was a bit surprised the President knew his father's Kryptonian name, it was public knowledge and easily found on his Wikipedia page but not really common knowledge, but when he started to say so he was shushed by Nina, Sophie, Tristan and Evelyn so simply shrugged and kept watching. Then again the President had probably been briefed or something anyway.
"There have been laws and procedures in place for decades to ensure criminals apprehended by Superman can't escape out loopholes and as him testifying under a sobriquet is already established not to invalidate any legal ruling I see no reason why knowledge he is married and has children should either. He was never asked about that on the stand so we can still trust that he never lied under oath while testifying against anyone."
Sophie started to say something then but Jason didn't hear anything more than, "Well-" before he she was shushed too.
"Everyone just shut up 'till it's over, okay?" Lucy sighed in exasperation, speaking quickly before anyone could tell her to be quiet.
"I think it is," Dani said, sounding slightly surprised.
"He wasn't there long," Nina commented, as it became clear the President was indeed done taking questions.
"He'll have more to say soon," Sophie said with certainty, "probably through his PR people but I bet he came to support Dad personally so any other county knows Superman may help everyone but he's still American."
"Thank you for your time ladies and gentlemen," the man in question was saying on screen in his well-practiced modest all-American voice, ignoring the hands and yelled questions. "Now, without further ado, I'll leave you to the man you came here to talk to."
And just like that, it was Clark's turn.
A/N: Next up: Clark vs. his fellow journalists. If you want any particular question covered, leave it in a review and I'll consider putting it in the chapter (I say consider because I might not be able to work it in though I will try).
Reviews are love!