Consider this a little present in lieu of last week's chapter of Heirs. It's nearly finished and will be ready to go by press-time. Until then, see if this keeps you amused. I know writing it did for us. ;)


Cooking: The Casserole Catastrophe

Lois and Clark had divided up the various household chores fairly evenly; neither of them believed in such things as 'woman's work'. So they split cooking duties in half: three days for her, three days for him, and dinner out once a week.

Only Clark had begun to notice that Lois' three nights often turned out to be 'bring dinner home' instead of 'make dinner'. She could cook, she just didn't do so unless it was something like soup and sandwiches, or hot dogs done on the grill with a salad on the side. More often than not, he arrived home to find them eating some form of takeout – usually fairly healthy, but Clark had been raised with the idea that nothing could beat a home-cooked meal.

Lois knew how he felt, which was why she was unsurprised to find a casserole in the refrigerator on her night to cook. Scowling, she read the note written in Clark's perfect script: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake for 45 minutes. It's chicken and pumpkin casserole – you'll like it, I promise. "Chicken and pumpkin?" Lois said disbelievingly. That was a weird combination if ever she'd heard of one. But when she lifted the edge of the foil and sniffed, the spices smelled good. Whatever, the worst that could happen was she could prove Clark wrong and go out for dinner anyway.

The oven in the apartment was new, but Lois quickly figured out how to set it to preheat and popped the casserole in. The timer, however, was a mystery. She didn't use oven timers much anyway; Lois was a better baker than cook, and things like cookies and cakes needed to be baked a little differently. You pulled cookies just before they looked done, and cakes when a toothpick inserted in the center came out clean, not after some pre-determined length of time.

After fiddling with the timer button for a few minutes, Lois gave up and looked at the clock. She'd just have to make sure to pull it out in 45 minutes, that was all. With that in mind, she started setting the table. That was one thing Ella had managed to instill in her: the value of eating dinner around a table, as a family.

She had just set the forks in place when the phone rang. Sighing, Lois hurried to answer it. "Lane-Kent residence," she snapped.

The voice on the other end erased all traces of aggravation in two sentences. It was the night desk at the Daily Planet, calling her with a hot breaking story. Lois' first instinct was to rush over there herself, but Clark and Perry would both rip her a new one for that. Especially since the twins were in the living room right now, watching their daily allotted hour of television.

Instead she coached the wet-behind-the-ears night desk reporter on how to handle the story for now, and who else to call to follow up tomorrow. Lois hung up the phone feeling like an administrator – not a triumphant feeling for her, but at least she was halfway good at it. No matter how much she might hate a task, Lois couldn't stand to fail at it.

Something about that thought made her feel vaguely uneasy, and Lois turned around in the hallway. Kala came toddling out of the kitchen, frowning. "Mommy, something smells funny." That increased Lois' worry as she smelled the weird odor, too.

Her mind snapped to the conclusion just before the smoke alarm started blaring. Shit! I burned the damn casserole! Lois ran for the kitchen, already knowing it was a lost cause yet desperately hoping she could somehow salvage the situation.

An hour later, when Clark arrived home to find the twins happily devouring Thai and Lois scowling warningly at him, he didn't even mention the casserole – though it was hard not to laugh, especially at the expression on Lois' face.


Cleaning: The Desktop Disaster

Moving in together resulted in several challenges for Lois and Clark. One of which was the shared study in the apartment, which had once been simply storage space. Clark kept his half of the room tidy, even the edges of papers neatly aligned with the edge of his desk.

Lois' desk, on the other hand, made him twitch just to look at it. She claimed it was organized chaos; all he could see was the chaos. True, she could generally put her hands on whatever piece of paper she was looking for fairly quickly, but the rare occasions when she couldn't do so were legendary. Lois had once completely disassembled her desk at the office, leaving panels and drawers scattered around on the floor, in search of a page of notes that later turned out to have been filched by a competing reporter. That poor soul had gotten the riot act both for stealing notes and for presuming to touch anything on Lois' desk.

Clark tried not to look at her desk, and to remind himself that as long as her method worked for her, he had no cause for quibble. The rest of the house was kept clean, partly through his and Lois' efforts and partly through Lois making the twins' allowance dependent on their chores. Only her desk was allowed to get messy, and its towering stacks of papers and random scatters of pens, paperclips, and other debris were a monument to disarray.

Most of the time Clark managed to overlook that, but today he needed to find the electric bill. The amount entered in the joint checking account seemed unusually high, and he suspected a fault in the meter, but he needed to see the original invoice to make sure. He had tried to look it up online, but needed their account number to log in, and that was also on the invoice. So with a resigned sigh, Clark used his x-ray vision to look at the envelopes piled on Lois' desk, searching for the power company logo.

After several minutes of searching, scanning down a single layer of paper at a time, he found the most recent bill. One edge was sticking out of the pile slightly. That was convenient, as he wanted to have the invoice in his hands when he called the customer service line. Carefully, Clark pinched the edge of the envelope and slid it out of the stack without disturbing the rest.

He walked away feeling triumphant, already scanning the charges and wondering if it would be feasible to add solar panels to the roof. Behind him, he heard a strange slithering sound.

Clark turned around just in time to see the stack of papers he'd touched slide across the desktop, striking another pile, which splattered across the floor. Apparently he'd upset the delicate equilibrium of Lois' stacks, and now half her desktop was on the floor. At least she wasn't home to scream … but she would be, later. There was no way he'd be able to put the mess back the way it had been…

"This is ridiculous," Clark finally snapped at the empty room, and left.

When Lois came home from her evening out with the girls, she walked into her study and stopped dead in stark horror. Her much-loved desk had been completely denuded, her carefully organized stacks demolished. As Lois stared, bug-eyed, Clark came up behind her. "I was in the hallway when I heard it all hit the floor," he told her, conveniently omitting certain portions of the truth. "A dust mote must've landed on it and the whole thing hit critical mass. Instead of leaving it there for you, I organized it all. Did you know you have renewal notices from the Star from three years ago?"

"I keep meaning to burn them on Tobie's lawn, whenever she buys a house," Lois said, her voice flat with suppressed wrath. Somehow she knew he had something to do with this fiasco; her desk had always driven him crazy. Well, it served him right – he ought to know by now that she agreed with Perry that a clean desk was the sign of a warped mind.

Meanwhile Clark was explaining how he'd used expanding files and color-coded tabs to keep everything in order. Lois nodded, thanking him sweetly, even though she knew perfectly well that she'd be back to her old system by the end of the week. She kissed him on the cheek, thinking that at least the thing with the household bills was a good idea. It would keep Clark from pestering her when he wanted to see something.

As soon as he left, Lois snuck the pile of miscellaneous correspondence out of her desk drawer and plopped it on top of the desk, making sure to drop it askance so it would fall out of alignment. That little bit of disorder allowed her to sigh in relief, the unnatural tidiness disturbed once more by her characteristic chaos.


Decorating: The Wallpaper Fiasco

After living in the apartment for six months, Lois got sick of staring at blank white walls. The twins also found it difficult to resist drawing on that inviting canvas, and Lois had had enough of keeping all the crayons under lock and key. "Let's paint the place," she said one day, and Clark had cheerfully gone along with the idea.

Lois hadn't particularly cared what type of paint, or even what color, they wound up with. As long as it wasn't puce or pea soup green or something equally horrid, she was fine with it. But Clark refused to make such an important decision without her input, so she found herself stalking around a Home Depot on a Saturday. She got revenge on Clark by including the twins, letting them pick out the colors for their rooms. Jason fell in love with a deep forest green that was going to be an absolute bitch to cover if he ever changed his mind, and Kala chose a similarly intense violet. Sighing that at least they hadn't chosen pink and blue like stereotypical kids, Lois let Clark pick out a warm tawny shade for the living room and kitchen, and a vibrant burgundy for their bedroom. That surprised her a little; she'd expected something soothing in blue.

For the long hallway that tempted the twins' artistic transgressions, they decided to go with wallpaper. The pattern and texture would utterly defeat Kala and Jason's attempts to color on it. The store offered to install it for a fee that Lois found ridiculous; the directions seemed fairly straightforward, and she remarked acerbically that she could probably put the stuff on.

That was how she found herself hanging wallpaper that afternoon, while the twins were probably telling Nana how much fun they had in the hardware store. Clark was painting the living room while Lois cursed the wallpaper, which had turned out to be trickier than she thought. He was leaving her to it because she'd boasted about how easy it was, and she couldn't even claim her height prevented her from doing it, since they'd decided to have the wallpaper come up only halfway.

Growling under her breath, Lois tried to place the wet wallpaper against the line Clark had drawn for her, but the stuff flopped around and stuck to itself, to her arms, to the parts of the wall where she didn't want it, virtually everywhere but where it was supposed to go.

Twenty minutes later, Lois had gotten the first sheet hung and was trying to smooth out the bubbles. The directions said to pull it away from the wall and then rub out the spot, but that was proving more difficult than expected. No sooner had Lois eliminated one air bubble than two or three more cropped up. She quickly ran through her usual vocabulary of swear words, and started reaching for more creative terminology. Fortunately she could curse in five languages, and even more fortunately Clark was keeping his mouth shut about it.

Finally, finally Lois got the damn thing hung, and started trimming the edges neatly. The top wasn't as important, as they were going to cover that with a strip of molding, but the baseboard had to be perfectly even, and so did the join at the wall behind the door. Except…

Lois stared in disbelief at the edge of the wallpaper coming up a measly half inch short of where it was supposed to be. That was impossible – she'd measured it correctly and allowed for overhang! But in all the peeling back to remove air bubbles, she must have shifted it a lot more than she thought. Now she had to take the whole damn thing down and redo it.

Erupting in profanity, Lois grabbed the edge of the paper and gave a mighty yank. She pulled a bit too hard, and lost her balance, flailing to try and stay upright. The closest thing to catch hold of was the wallpaper itself, but the adhesive decided to give up right then, and the next thing Lois knew she was on the floor wrapped neck to knees in overlapping wallpaper.

And even better, the godforsaken stuff decided to finally stick like it meant it! Now wait just a minute. What the hell? Are you serious? Thrashing and cursing, Lois found herself effectively straight-jacketed.

Clark had finally come to investigate when she started using the two or three Tagalog curse words she knew, and he stopped in the doorway, unable to keep from laughing out loud at the sight. Lois writhed around to glare at him and snarled, "Knock it off and get me loose, jackass."

That stopped his laughter, but he was still smiling. "Now, Lois, there's no reason to get insulting."

"Would you please shut the hell up?" Lois fumed, blushing and furious. Once again her mouth had gotten her into an embarrassing situation.

That, unfortunately, made Clark laugh again, his blue eyes dancing at the spectacle. It was very rare for Lois to be at such a ridiculous disadvantage; this was almost as pitiful as the time Gazeera got his claws stuck in her sweater. "I wish the twins could see this – you look like a Lois burrito."

Lois swore, and kicked like a mule, trying to burst the wallpaper with sheer outrage, but she was well and truly trapped, the paste just dry enough that it wouldn't let go. They'd had to pick a fairly heavy textured pattern, too, one that didn't tear easily. Frustrated, she snapped at Clark, "When I get out of this, mister, I'm gonna find some kryptonite and kick your ass for just standing there and laughing! Thanks a lot. Remind me why I married you?"

"Well, there goes my motivation for helping you," Clark said conversationally, and Lois went silent, lying perfectly still with murder in her eyes as she stared off at the ceiling. After a moment in which her irate fury practically sizzled in the air, Clark knelt beside her. She was a captive audience and he damn well knew it. "Love, if you weren't so darn fantastic at everything you set your mind to, seeing you lose a battle with an inanimate object wouldn't be so funny."

Lois ground her teeth and imagined throttling him with a strip of wallpaper border. Or soaking his hair in paste while he slept. Something absolutely hilarious and utterly demeaning, so he'd know how aggravated she was.

And, as if he could hear her thoughts, he just stood there. Beaming that gorgeous grin while trying to hide the gleam in his amusement only the slightest bit. Damn him. "I love you."

"I'll kill you," Lois growled back petulantly.

"Close enough." He shrugged then, pulling himself up from against the wall to set about releasing her – hopefully without laughing.


Entertaining: The Catering Calamity

Something about a new address just drew people in flocks; Martha was visiting this week, Ella had stopped by every few days, and even Lois had succumbed to the madness and invited her family and the girls over for the evening. Why not let everyone come have a look at the place, admire the new wallpaper, and get over their curiosity?

Lois' standard of entertaining had been functionally the same since college: chips and dip, some mixed nuts in a nice candy dish, drinks, and maybe a veggie platter picked up from the store if she was feeling fancy. Her company came over for the quality of the conversation, not to get fed. If they were that hungry, they'd meet at a restaurant.

So when she found herself working late on the night of the unofficial housewarming, Lois wasn't particularly worried. She'd stop by the store on the way home, grab a veggie platter and a cheese plate, put out some nuts and olives, and that would be enough.

Except when Lois arrived home, she heard Martha and Ella in the kitchen. Hmm, Momma wasn't supposed to arrive just yet, but maybe she was early. And of course the two women would be chatting it up; they'd quickly become close friends, both exasperated by and adoring of their offspring.

Lois walked in with her grocery bags, and saw a smorgasbord of food. Sliced cheeses, deli meat rolled up with a toothpick through it, some kind of dip on crackers with an olive balanced atop each one … a kitchen full of canapés.

While Lois stared in disbelief, Martha turned around and beamed at her. "Don't worry, it was no trouble at all," her mother-in-law said. "When Clark told me you were going to be late, I decided to take care of the arrangements for you."

"Thank you, Martha," Lois said, forcing herself to smile, and put away the puny veggies and cheese she'd brought home. Even Ella was smirking, amused at her daughter's discomfort.

Clark was the next to arrive, and when he saw the feast laid on in the living room he grinned at Lois. "You really went all out for this housewarming thing, huh?"

Lois pointed toward the kitchen, where Ella and Martha were bringing out coffee. "Blame the moms. I had nothing to do with this."

"At least you're honest," Clark murmured, hugging Lois.

She just sighed. Entertaining had never been her thing; much of her socializing took place in bars like Dooley's or in restaurants. When she had friends over, Lois wasn't trying to impress anyone – the only people who got invited into her space were people who already knew her well enough that they were either already impressed, or never would be. They expected something to munch on, no more than that, and if they didn't like it they could swing through McDonald's on the way home, because she wasn't running a freaking diner. Hell, she rarely even offered booze if she was having company over, because she didn't need Grant and Raines trying to drink her out of house and home.

Lucy and Ron arrived next, bringing a bottle of wine for the hostess. Lois glowered at her baby sister, who dimpled at her and said, "A little bird told me we were going to go classy tonight."

"Uh-huh. Guess who had a hand in it, as if anyone's surprised. My mother, the former society princess," Lois drawled, glaring at her mother over Lucy's shoulder. Ella just smiled at her.

While Clark showed Ron and Lucy around the place, letting them admire the skillfully-applied wallpaper, Lois skulked in the foyer. She knew the last three would show up together, and if anyone was going to give her hell, it would be her friends.

Right on cue, the doorbell rang, and Lois unlocked all seven locks to let her friends in. "Hey Lo," Cat trilled, hugging her.

Tobe was next, smirking at the blonde as she skirted past her. "All right, Lane. You can start the party, the entertainment's here."

"The party's already started, God help me," Lois sighed as Maggie came in last. "I guess I have to let you three in, or someone in the building will complain about you lurking in the halls. Well, Cat and Raines, anyway."

"We'd find our way in," Maggie said, raising an eyebrow. She had put a few finer points on Lois' lock-picking skills, once upon a time.

"Oh, I'd let you in, Mags. It's just the other shiftless individual you have in tow," Lois said with a smirk. "Anyway, it's not like I don't have three deadbolts and two security chains. Not to mention, we all know the sign on the door says, 'This house protected by Smith and Wesson'. It'll present a challenge, even for you."

Cat couldn't resist a snicker. "Betcha Clark just loves that."

Lois snorted in conspiratorial amusement. "Like you don't know it's been there since I lived here the first time – the landlord thought it was a legit alarm company and left it up."

That had them all laughing, but Tobie came to an abrupt halt in the living room. "Well damn, Lois. When did you go all upscale on us? If I'd known I would've worn my white gloves."

Lois quickly looked around to make sure neither of the moms was around before she cursed, but Ella was looking directly at her with a warning expression. Instead, she just sighed. "Oh, I just thought I'd be able to get rid of you faster if things were classier than usual – you've always been uncomfortable anyplace the drinks don't come with coasters."

As the girls snickered, Martha finished pouring herself a fresh cup of coffee and brought Ella one. "Do I even want to know what the fuss is about?" she asked.

"Oh, nothing – Lois is just a bit put out that we forced her to be gracious. She'll never hear the end of it from that bunch. And maybe, just maybe, she'll learn a thing or two about appropriate parties. Though I truly doubt it." Ella didn't even try to hide her grin.


Laundry: The Dry-Cleaning Debacle

"Hey Lois, where's the detergent?" Clark called from downstairs.

Lois sighed in aggravation. "Under the kitchen sink." The editorial she was working on did not want to come together for her, and now Clark was asking her insane questions.

"That's the Woolite. I'm talking about regular detergent."

Oh, for God's sake, I'm trying to work here. "If that's not what you mean, I don't have any."

"We're out? I just finished using up what I brought, but I thought you had some…"

"No, I don't keep any on hand," she called over her shoulder.

The next thing she knew, Clark was in the doorway. "What? You don't keep detergent in the house? How do you wash clothes?"

"I don't." Lois shoved herself away from the desk; the stupid editorial wasn't keeping her attention, anyway. "Seriously, Clark, do you think I have time to wash clothes? Between the job, everything connected to it, and the twins? Ha! Not all of us have super-speed, you know."

He knew perfectly well that her testiness was a sign of a sore subject, but they'd only been living together in the apartment for a short time, and they were both still getting used to it. Better to just get it out in the open now. "Okay, so how do your clothes get clean?"

"Magical clothes-washing elves, Clark." Lois crossed her arms to stare at him.

He sighed. "Do we have a laundry service I don't know about? Because I've been washing clothes in the coin laundry down in the basement for the last month."

"No, but my dry cleaners will do regular laundry, too," Lois said, relenting. "So my stuff gets dry-cleaned, the kids' stuff gets washed at the same time, and my delicates get washed by hand in the sink with Woolite. There, happy? You now know every deep dark secret about me, including that I wash my bras in the sink."

That image made him smile slowly. "And now I remember why those panties you wore to the interview were pink. You washed them with that red bra you had back then, didn't you?"

Lois' eyebrow crept upward. "Busted, super-snoop. And just how often were you peeking under my clothes with your x-ray vision?"

"Only the once, at your invitation," Clark shot back. "But you had this one blouse that would show the edge of the lace whenever you leaned forward. The black one, with the silver buttons?"

"You memorized my wardrobe?" A little smile played around Lois' lips at that.

Clark grinned in embarrassment. "Anyway, we were talking about laundry. Have you really never used a washing machine?"

She rolled her eyes. "Of course I've used one, but there's no point in having one when we live in an apartment. I'd have to sort everything, go downstairs, load the washer, stuff it with quarters, and then come back forty-five minutes later to put it all in the dryer and feed quarters to that. And I don't even keep change anymore! No thanks, I have more important things to do than waste my time on freaking laundry."

That was faultless logic, at least as applied by Lois. Shaking his head, Clark sighed, "I'll go by the store and get some detergent."


Child-rearing: The Anti-Bullying Accomplishment

Lois stormed toward the principal's office, an unstoppable hurricane of maternal wrath, trailing a rather discomfited Clark in her wake. Jason and Kala were sitting on the bench in the hall, both looking woebegone. Jason's clothes were scuffed, the knees of his pants filthy, and Kala's cheeks were tear-tracked. Just that sight increased Lois' anger two-fold.

Clark stopped beside the twins, and Lois halted with her hand on the doorknob, nearly vibrating with fury. "What happened?" he said sternly.

Jason took a deep, hitching breath before looking up at his father. "Bobby was sayin' mean things about Kala, and she told him to get lost, and he pushed her down, and I jumped on him for pushing her."

"You know how we feel about fighting," Clark said, crossing his arms.

"Yes, sir," Jason said in a tiny voice.

"I'm glad you stood up for your sister," were the first words Lois had spoken. It was all she had to keep her temper in check, looking down at Kala and Jason. Ever since their experience aboard the yacht, the twins had been more protective of each other than usual. At a questioning glance from Clark, she added, "But you should always get a teacher – fighting doesn't solve anything. You both know better."

On that note, the four Lane-Kents walked into the principal's office. Sitting there were two very well-dressed parents, giving them snide looks, and one boy well over twice Jason's size. Lois was momentarily taken aback, her fury dislodged for a beat while she gawked at the bully; what the hell was a kid that big doing in grade school?

And then she remembered what Jason had said, and realized this young ogre had pushed Kala. Oh, now it was on. No wonder Jason had attacked him; Kala was easily half his size and weight. This is going to be absolutely worth it. They have no idea what they're up against. Clark pulled out a chair for her, and Lois sat down, giving the principal and the other parents a broad smile. Clark knew that smile, and looked worried. "All right, let's get down to business," she said brightly.

The principal quickly laid out the situation – two students had argued at recess, and a third had attacked one of them. As he spoke, the other parents continued to glare contemptuously at Lois and Clark. Lois kept her eyes firmly on their son; his face and the front of his shirt was filthy. It was all the motivation she needed for what she would do next.

On the heels of the principal's words, the boy's mother cut in, her voice shrill with accusation. "I don't even feel safe sending Bobby to school with this kind of violence going on. What are you going to do about it, Principal Schreyeck?"

Lois made a rude sound, part laughter, part derisive snort. "Are you kidding me? You don't feel safe?" Again, her gaze fell on her sad-eyed little boy and her eyes were sharp when they met Prissy McPrada-pants' again. "That's really funny, all things considered. I know my kid is the most intimidating kindergartener I've ever seen." Her expression made her stance crystal-clear.

"Your son attacked Bobby and almost suffocated him!" the other woman snapped.

Lois' tone was almost droll. "Oh, yeah. No argument here. I can totally see where you're coming from. My son's built like a junior prize-fighter."

"Ladies," the principal said, trying to calm them.

Lois wasn't listening; this quickly, she was over the jibes. This was completely ridiculous. "First of all, your kid started it by shoving my daughter around. He should have known better. Second of all, do you really expect me to believe he feels threatened by my son? Jason's six, he's got asthma and allergies and half a dozen other things, and your son is what, twelve? And a foot taller than Jason, too. He's threatened?"

"Mrs. Kent, Coach Atcheson had to pull your son off of Bobby," the principal interjected.

Kala spoke up then, her lower lip working. "He said somethin' mean about me an' then pushed me! Jason was only tryin' to stop him, Mommy!" Meanwhile Jason continued to look guilty and miserable.

"You hear this?" Lois inquired, her voice soft and dangerous. "Your son – who's let me repeat, twelve and weighs more than I do – started this by picking on my six-year-old daughter. My son only got involved to protect her. It sounds to me like you ought to be thanking Jason for teaching your boy not to pick on smaller children."

"And what exactly is that supposed to mean?" the other boy's father said icily.

Lois smiled, and Clark just sighed. "There's an anti-bullying law in this state. If I wanted to, I could press charges against you and the school. But since my son took matters into his own hands, and since there's been no real harm to any of the three kids, I'm willing to let that slide. If you wake up and smell the coffee right now."

She leaned toward him, ignoring the principal who was thoroughly flustered. "Your son has a problem. I've known a couple of guys who grew up thinking they could get their way because they were big and tough and scary. You know what happens to them? Prison, usually. If they're lucky, they push the wrong person and get a reality check that teaches them to change their ways." Lois left out the fact that she'd been that person, more than once. Steve Lombard wasn't the only man who'd learned to keep his hands to himself, just the only one who'd had to have his hand broken before the lesson took.

The principal finally got everyone's attention again. "As it so happens, I've reviewed the footage from the security cameras, and Bobby did start the fight. Now, we have a zero-tolerance policy for fighting, so all three kids are going to be on disciplinary suspension for five days…"

"Wait, you're suspending Kala too?" Lois said. "Because she got pushed? I don't think so, not unless you want to hear from my lawyer. Last I checked we were teaching our kids that it's not the victim's fault."

"I meant we'd be suspending both the boys," the principal hurriedly backtracked. "But they can get their schoolwork so they won't be academically penalized. And both of them will have to see the guidance counselor biweekly for the rest of the semester to discuss their behavior."

Lois crossed her arms and eyed the principal. She could've fought that, too, but it might mean bringing up that Jason was already in counseling. She preferred not to discuss that, as it might add ammunition to the other parents' complaints. "Fine. That's as fair as we can get, I suppose. But I'll tell you this, if there's any retaliation against either of my kids, you'll find out why no one in this town messes with Lois Lane and I'll pull them out of this school so fast your head will spin.." She directed an evil glare at the other boy's parents; she wouldn't brag that she had friends on the police force, but if someone didn't stop the violence right now, they'd find out as soon as she pressed charges and had their brat arrested.

There was some more complaining, but under Lois' frosty glare the principal wouldn't agree to punish Jason any further. Clark, meanwhile, had one hand on each of his children's shoulders, silently letting them know he was supporting them.

When it was all over and they headed home, Lois stopped the twins in the parking lot and dropped to one knee so she was on their level. "All right, you two. We've talked about this before. No matter what Mommy does to bullies, fighting isn't right. If there's another way around it, you find it. It's too easy to use your fists to make a point. However, in this case, I can understand it. Jason, I'm proud of you for sticking up for Kala, but you can't always do it that way, okay?" That said, she glanced around her before lowering her voice. "And it's a little too easy to do when you could maybe punch a hole in his gut. Kinda makes you realize that he can't really hurt you, huh?" Jason's blue eyes lit up then, nodding slowly as he realized this.

Lois turned to Kala now. "And you, baby, need to realize that the same is true for you. Don't let anyone push you around just because you're a girl. And you need to remember who your daddy is and just exactly what that means. I'm not telling you to use the things you can do, you're grounded if I find out you have in public, but I'm telling you that you're capable of a lot more than any bully can manage. And you're that much further ahead of the game. Got me?" It was Kala's turn to nod.

She grinned at them both, reaching out to shake one of her daughter's braided pigtails before rising to her feet and taking a small hand in each of her own. "Okay, then. We're all on the same page. And we'll see what we can do about giving you guys a little advantage over these little creeps. But for now, let's go home. We might even do Mexican."

Both twins nodded somberly, and got into the car with none of their usual fuss. Once they were belted and Lois was moving to the driver's seat, she noticed Clark staring at her with an odd expression. "What?" she asked warily.

"You're a really amazing mom, you know that?" he said quietly, and then smiled the smile that Lois always felt all the way down to the tips of her toes. For some reason seeing her display her parenting skills always made him amorous. Something she never would have guessed a couple years ago. Maybe there really were untold benefits to being half-way decent at this Mom gig.