Chapter Five: Revelations
"You're sure?" A heavy sigh, almost the same power as one of a certain farm boy, followed the question and there was a few groans sounding around the room as well. This was the third time the question had been asked in the last minute and the tenth time since the conversation had started.
"100%?" A few blonde hairs left the head of one Oliver Queen, frustration causing him to grip his hair in a valiant effort not to wrap them around the throat of a super-powered annoyance currently stepping on his last nerve.
"Bart Allen, I don't care if you are faster than Clark, if you ask me that one more time, I swear-"
"Okay, okay, just wanted to make sure... So the little blonde chica from the future shows up in Clark's house all of a sudden, he gets the brilliant idea to bring her over here so that you guys can figure out how she got here and he can continue his day job as a mild mannered reporter-"
"Did you just describe Clark Kent as 'mild mannered'?" Victor questioned incredulously, interrupting Bart's rundown of present events with a raised eyebrow and accompanied snickers from the other Justice members, "Where did you get that one, out of a comic book?"
"Well, he is the politest giant I know, despite that old saying about 'being raised on a farm' people always use," Bart defended, causing the rest of the group to join in the laughter as well, "Anyway, after he shows up with mini-Kent in tow and lets you two babysit, we came in and met the little Superbaby-"
"-which led to two hours of Oliver convincing you that the kid wasn't his, that Chloe was not the mother, and that she wasn't related to her in any way that he knew," Victor interrupted yet again, barely getting his words out due to his laughter, "The look on Chloe's face was priceless!"
"I have yet to see the humor in this," Oliver muttered, glaring at his Justice group-they really needed to give their organization a name-who were still laughing their super powered asses off at this whole thing. Trying to explain things to an impatient Bart was like telling Clark not to be indestructible, or telling a glacier to not be cold; there was a reason his code name was 'Impulse'. "Do you guys realize how embarrassing that was to the both of us?"
Not only had that led to mortifying questions about Chloe's stamina-which in turn had led to Victor elbowing AC in the gut, something Oliver was still grateful to the cyborg for-it also brought back to the forefront of Oliver's mind the fact that he did have a child, with Chloe, whenever Tara had been born. Needless to say, he still had a hard time wrapping his head around that thought...
Not that he had anything against Chloe, he was in a relationship-of sorts-with her, and he was almost certain that his feelings for the blonde genius were growing to something someone could call love... if they squinted... but he never really thought that it would lead to fatherhood! Not to mention he had no idea how Chloe felt about the whole thing... Hadn't she already told him she didn't want anything more permanent than what they already had...? How was he suppose to convince her that Clark Kent wasn't the only one that dreamed of a family that consisted of a bunch of blond ankle-biters running around the house...?
He never really thought about those kind of things until Chloe came into his life, anyway. He had more of the lone wolf, free spirit, love-them-and-leave them types of life, so how was he going to convince Chloe of something he himself only just decided an hour ago...?
"Now that everything has been cleared up and you guys are finally finished talking about me," Chloe interrupted, her face definitely a little red as well as she made her way back into the room, making the group of males jump guiltily, Oliver especially because he had just been thinking about her. "We have a much more pressing problem to deal with..."
Oliver's heart dropped into his stomach as he realized that Chloe was staring right at him, her lip being worried between her teeth and a familiar bunny clenched in her fist... no little blonde Kent in sight.
"Tara's missing..." Chloe's hands gripped the bunny in her hands as if her squeezing it hard enough would bring the little girl back, "...and I can't find her with any of Watchtower's computers... All they detected was a sonic pulse, like when Clark super speeds around..."
The rest of the gang immediately started mounting up as if they were on one of their missions, Bart running a quick scan of the apartment complex to make sure she didn't just wander into another room and the computer missed it, muttering something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like 'He's gonna kill us, he's gonna kill us...'
Five minutes of panic preparation later, Oliver's phone rang.
Three minutes later, Oliver answered it.
Six minutes later, a very pale, very shaky Oliver Queen hung up his phone, dropped down on his couch, put his face in his hands, and stayed that way for a while before speaking. "Tara's at the Daily Planet..."
There was a few more minutes of silence, then a hesitant Bart asked, "Isn't that a good thing, Boss? We know were she is now..."
"Clark's with her, and so is Lois..." Oliver's face left his hands and his gaze locked with Chloe's, letting her know that he figured out what she had put together as soon as Tara first opened her mouth and spoke. "I've just been informed that I am a very dead man as soon as he comes back to Watchtower."
Every occupant winced in sympathy and did not envy the man when Clark got a hold of him...
Lois was looking at Clark in stony silence as the little girl jumped up and moved from her lap to Smallville's, her eyes narrowing as she silently demanded an answer to the obvious question, the question that had been bothering her since she first clapped eyes on the ankle-biter; who was the little girl sitting in Kent's lap?
"Daddy," The little girl called Smallville that when he came in... right before the kid called her-"Why is Mommy looking at you like that?"
There was another great question to bother her with; Why the hell was this kid calling her 'Mommy'? Why the hell was she calling Smallville-Smallville!-'Daddy'? What the hell was going on here?
You know the answer to that one, Lois Lane. An inner voice answered, a voice that sounded suspiciously like the General's when he told her not to do something; it was the same tone he used when he was berating one of his troops. It's about time that you solider up and admit to it!
Mentally shaking her head, Lois focused on the pair in front of her and the way that Smallville seemed so at ease with the child currently sitting in his lap, completely unconcerned that she kept calling him 'Daddy'. It reminded her, almost painfully, of Maddie. She was so against that little girl, but Kent seemed to almost instinctively know what to do.
He would make a great father... The random thought made her made her smile, but the one that followed it made her cry out in surprise, soft enough not to disturb the pair that were now talking on the phone(Kent) and tickling the other(Tara).
For the next thought she had was of her standing beside the two in front of her, only she was the one holding Tara and Kent was looking down at them with this soft, happy smile. She saw the smile when she turned her head and reached up to caress his face, the light reflecting off a ring on her finger.
A wedding ring, on her left hand.
She was pulled out of her chaotic and revealing thoughts by little fingers attacking her legs, following by a high pitched voice somewhere in the region of her knees chirping, "Got you, Mommy. I'm tickwing yooou!"
Looking down, Lois saw that the girl had her little fingers digging into Lois' pant leg, trying valiantly to tickle her-supposed!-mother through a layer of denim and not making much of a difference despite being surprisingly strong for her age. It brought to the forefront of Lois' mind a memory, dim and faded, of Lois' own mother chasing her through the house, pale but happy, as Lois and Lucy laughingly eluded her.
"Mommy's gonna get you!"
The kid shrieked and ran behind Smallville, who was grinning slightly as Lois blinked at him, realizing belatedly that she must have said that last line aloud and the kid thought she was going to come after her...
Giving Smallville a wink, Lois sat down at her desk and began to pretend to type at her keyboard, all while conversing to no one in particular, in a voice that carried to the little blonde hiding behind Clark. "Gee, where did-?"
"Tara." was the almost immediate answer, causing Lois to give Clark a quick glare that said he had a lot of questions to answer later. He just shrugged, not phased in the least bit.
"-Tara go? I guess I'll just have to finish up my work since she disappeared..."
Unbeknown to Lois, she also got the attention of the other reporters in the bullpen, including one Tess Mercer, who had originally come downstairs to talk to Clark Kent and bother Lois with the knowledge that her boss was taking a personal interest in the ebony haired reporter...
Now, however, she watched with everyone else as the hardest hitting, single minded reporter in the whole building seemingly sat at her desk and worked while a little blonde kid crept from behind Kent and started to slowly inch toward said reporter, matching grins on both woman's faces.
Just as the little girl was reaching out to touch Lois' shoulder, she spun around and shouted, "Boo!", causing the girl to shriek and run circles around Lois' and Clark's desks, Lois catching her on the third run and totting her back to Smallville, who was laughing his country boy ass off.
"Well," Lois panted, a little winded as she came to stand beside Kent-who was looking far too smug about the whole thing-"What are we going to do with the little ankle-biter now?"
Clark's only response was to wiggle his fingers in Tara's face, making her shriek again as she squirmed madly in Lois' arms, almost causing the brunette to drop her as she twisted in a vain attempt to get away from Smallville's tickling hands.
"No fair!" Tara giggled, almost falling right onto the cement floor if it hadn't been for Clark's suddenly quick reflexes, "Mommy! Hewp me!"
"Okay," Lois replied and handed her off to Smallville, who looked at her in surprise at the sudden change in mood. Grinning widely, she took up where he left off, instinctively knowing where Tara's most ticklish spot were, causing the blonde to wriggle around like a worm caught on a hook.
"Mommy! That is not hewping!"
Lois could only laugh at her maybe daughter's face, Clark's deep baritone joining in a few seconds later when Tara turned her pout on him, fully expecting sympathy from at least one of her parents.
"Hey, don't look at me like that, I know better than to get in Lois' way when she wants something," The smile he sent her over Tara's head was tender and loving, making Lois' heart clench and something warm to spread throughout her entire body, causing a shiver she hoped he didn't see to escape.
Coughing to cover up her embarrassment and to give her time to find her equilibrium, Lois stuck her tongue out at her coworker, who just laughed at the slightly childish gesture. "'Bout time you realized that, Smallville. It'll be a lot easier on you once you realize I always get what I want!"
"Now kiss!" Tara yelped, bringing their attention back to the little girl between them, who had been looking back and forth between the two with a grin of her own spreading across her face at her parents' antics.
Glad of the distraction, Lois once more attacked her supposed daughter with what the little munchkin was calling 'tickle monsters', this time missing the soft, happy-and slightly wistful-look that Clark Kent sent her bent form.
She stood steadily on the rooftop of the building where everything changed, where her choice of defiance had severed her life from his forever by a single act of malice concocted by a madman they both had thought was their friend, once upon a time...
Her time had been spent trying to find that man, not totally convinced that the explosion had killed him; after all, he had created a clone of her, who was to say that he hadn't created one of himself...? Her trail had hit a dead end and she decided to visit Metropolis and see someone familiar...
Now, however, everything was different; changing into something almost completely unrecognizable from the last time she had stood on this very building's roof... Clark was now working almost twenty-four/seven at the Daily Planet, The Blur was getting recognition from as far away as Star City and seemed to be under the personal watch of Lois Lane, whose byline always had a mention of him, no matter what story she was working on.
A few years ago, she would have worried about the brunette reporter and the fact that she seemed to be so close to the man that was so important to the world, but he had denied any involvement on multiple occasions with a fire she never thought Clark capable of and multiple people had said that Clark Kent and Lois Lane went together like oil and water, mud and wine...
Seeing them interact herself and the very violent way they did so, she was a little surprised that they hadn't tried to kill each other beforehand... Clark had even remarked once that he would have liked to smother her with a pillow, something that seemed to surprise even Chloe and she knew Clark almost better than anyone...
Breathing in deep, she opened up all her senses, trying to pinpoint where he was now... He would be so happy when he found out that she had found a way to null the effects of the kryptonite powering her suit, that they could once again be together, this time for good... Saving the world and making it better, together...
He was right under her, working as an ordinary reporter, as if he was an ordinary person. She shook her head, a small smile on her lips as she thought of how everyone had no idea that there was a hero within their midst, seeing only the mask that Clark put on for them...
Soft, feminine laughter joined Clark's voice, a hidden intimacy causing the hairs on the back of Lana's neck to rise, a sinking feeling growing in the pit of her stomach as childlike giggles joined in, followed by Clark's deep laughter in growing volume.
No... This isn't happening... This can't be happening...! Lana Lang super-sped into the Daily Planet, stopping a floor above so no one saw her entering and confused her with The Blur... it also allowed her to get an uncompromising view of Clark and the females around him.
Clark was holding a little blonde girl in his arms, her head thrown back as she laughed with abandonment while she was being tickled unmercifully by Lois Lane, drawing even more attention from the other reporters in the bullpen, who were watching them interact with various forms of amusement, wistfulness and satisfaction. One pair of reporters were even settling a bet as Lois moved from the girl's sides to her feet.
"They look so cute," An ebony haired female sighed, her eyes gazing longingly at the trio currently completely oblivious to the rest of the world. "They look like a family... I wonder if Kent and Lane adopted her..."
Another sigh and the girl was gone, leaving an utterly horrified Lana Lang behind her, completely unable to focus on anything other than the group in front of her, a single word resonating through her brain.
Clark must have realized that someone was watching them, for he looked up and caught her gaze, the smile that seemed to stretch across his face slipping off as he recognized just who was standing there. It took Lois a few seconds to catch that Clark was no longer paying attention, causing her to pull the girl between them tighter to her chest... however, Clark must have had the same idea, for he pulled the girl tighter to his chest as well, inadvertently causing the three of them to move even closer together.
The whole thing made Lana feel like some kind of monster that was going to rip them all apart, causing her throat to close up and her chest to clench painfully as the little girl looked from the adults holding her to Lana in confusion, her features finally close enough for Lana to see the familiarity in them.
"Clark?" Her voice sounded so weak, so pathetic, but she couldn't find it in herself to care. She needed to talk to him, to find out what had happened; she hadn't expected him to pine around for her, but how had this happened?
Long ago, her soft cry would have brought him running, eager to tell her that it would be alright or that she would be fine because he would protect her, but now he just brought his arm around to include Lois in his protective embrace as he stiffly stated, "Lana."
"You've changed," Her shock made the statement sound like an accusation, but he neither flinched, nor backed down as he answered, showing her he had indeed changed and it was in more ways than she originally thought.
"Yes, I have." Lois, surprisingly, was silent throughout their little chat, making Lana wonder just what all the girl knew and how she managed to extract the information from Clark. It had taken Lana years to figure out his secret; it was one of the major problems with their relationship, the lack of trust.
"Daddy..." The soft plea brought Lana's attention back to fact that there was a fourth actor in this little play, the title she had given Clark shooting through her like an arrow to the heart, "Who is this?"
The look Clark and Lois shared dug the arrow even deeper as Lana recognized the way Clark's eyes seemed to apologize without saying anything. She remembered when he used to look at her like that... but what was he apologizing for?
"She's an old friend of Daddy's, sweetie," His tone when talking to the child was endearing and the way he looked at her made Lana feel envious of the woman in Clark's arms, the woman he had moving behind him as Lana moved forward.
"My name is Lana-" Her introduction was abruptly cut off as Clark suddenly bowed over, taking the little girl with him as he started gasping, the little girl releasing a cry of her own as well, both of their eyes locked on the ebony haired woman that had stepped toward them...
Lana was frozen, unable to move as she saw the green veins throbbing in both Clark's and the little girl's temples, unable to breathe as Clark tried to twist his body so that the blonde was shielded, but was too weakened to do more than pull her closer to his chest as she started crying softly.
"It hurts, Daddy! It hurts!"