TITLE: Emblem of Eternity
SPOILERS: Entire series of Smallville canon.
DISTRIBUTION: Please do not archive anywhere. You are welcome to link to it.
DISCLAIMER: Do people even write these any more? OK, then. I do not own these characters (obviously) and no copyright infringement is intended. No profit is made from this fanfiction.
MERRY CHRISTMAS: This was written for the Clois Christmas Gift Exchange 2011 on the KSite forums — a gift for malft.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I tried writing a Christmas themed fic, I really did. I even had almost a page done of a different story, but it just wasn't flowing well. Then this story was born, inspired by a few things. I got an initial burst of inspiration after reading a fic from another fandom (PM me if you want to know — it's an amazing fic), I took quotes from other Clois mythology and bookended the story, plus some of the discussion in the Clois thread spurred me on with this idea.
IMPORTANT: This is unbeta'd, so all mistakes are owned by me. I feel like this story has potential to be better than it is as of right now, so I'm not completely satisfied with it, but I have to get it posted. Feel free to offer genuine suggestions for improvement in your feedback, or just let me know what you think.
SUMMARY: "Love is the emblem of eternity: it confounds all notion of time: effaces all memory of a beginning, all fear of an end." — Germaine De Stael
"The truth is, no one knows how long they've got. Anyway, it's not the years that count, it's the moments, right now... as they happen." — Clark to Lois, "Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" (Brutal Youth)
Clark is not immortal; he will not live forever. But he will outlive her.
Lois will age and die within the span of a hundred years, if she's lucky. Because she is human and he is not. He is Kryptonian and he ages, too, but not like anyone else on this planet.
They're not even certain how long he will live for, just that it seems like it could be hundreds, or possibly thousands, of years. It scares them both sometimes, how time separates them more year by year.
Lois isn't sure what year exactly it was that Clark's aging seemed to stop — or slow to a snail crawl, or whatever scientific term Emil had used when he'd explained it to them — but it was probably somewhere between his twenty-fifth and thirtieth birthday. They'd never tried to pinpoint it to a specific moment.
Most of the time she teases him with being, "Eternally thirty," but the truth is there are moments when he looks at her and she can still see traces of the young boy she'd first met when she was nineteen.
He'd only been eighteen, then, and if she squints and tilts her head just right, she can almost forget so much time has passed.
Sometimes, he still looks like the young boy she had been sure she would never kiss.
Clark doesn't really know what it's like to feel normal. His parents always made him feel special and loved, but normal isn't a feeling Clark is terribly familiar with. Yet somehow, lately he thinks he might be starting to recognise what that's like. And he's just starting to figure out that curiously, Lois Lane might have something to do with that feeling.
"You don't know how to play poker?" she asks him disbelievingly, one weekend while his parents are out. It's mid-afternoon and the sun is bright outside.
He shrugs. "No."
"Well, then I need to teach you," she declares, shuffling the deck of cards quickly.
"What? Why? I don't like card games, Lois."
"Firstly, poker is not a game, Clark. You need to think about strategy and—"
"Another military metaphor?" he sighs. "I don't want to learn how to play poker."
Lois ignores his protests. "There are a few card games everyone should know how to play — poker is one of them. And since you're eighteen and college bound next year, I guarantee you, you will thank me later." She starts dealing the cards out on the table. "Now, you need to decide what the stakes are."
"I'm not betting real money," he says, with a shake of his head.
She gives him a look. "What else you got?"
"Forget it, let's just make this easy. Strip poker."
"WHAT?" Clark shouts; stunned, eyes wide, hands twitching where they rest flat against the table.
She shrugs nonchalantly and places the remaining cards between them. "Is that going to be a problem?"
"No!" he squeaks, then adds hastily, "Yes!" He takes a deep breath. "I mean, I just can't believe you're seriously suggesting that we... that we..." He swallows in between the words, struggles to speak coherently.
Lois notices, greatly amused. She leans toward him expectantly. "Yesss?"
Clark tries again. "That we get... naked."
Lois laughs, not rattled in the slightest. "No. You will be naked. I will be fully clothed, since I will obviously win."
Clark scowls in frustration. "This is ridiculous. I don't even want to learn poker!" he repeats, for what feels like the tenth time. "And even if I did, I think you've just proven why you are the worst teacher ever. This is my first game, you have an unfair advantage. I don't even know the rules yet." He crosses his arms, huffing. "There is absolutely no way I am playing strip poker with you. Not now, not ever."
"I bet you wouldn't mind if you were playing with Lana..." she teases in a sing-song voice.
Clark forces himself not to retaliate verbally and continues to stare at her, unimpressed, but also unsure of how they even got to this point in the conversation in the first place.
He had been busy studying and Lois had waltzed into the room an hour ago and declared how utterly and completely bored she was. Clark had ignored her at first, but she wouldn't shut up, kept poking him, obviously wanting to drag his attention away from his books. So he'd finally relented and agreed to spend the afternoon with her.
There had been food (he made the sandwiches, Lois made the coffee) and their usual banter invading the flow of conversation. Things had been going well; they seemed to be getting along okay, until Lois had suggested playing a game to pass the time. Now somehow here he was contemplating strip poker... in his parents' house, of all places! How did she get him into these situations?
Lois smiles then, sugary sweet, and bats her eyes at him for a moment before bursting into a fit of giggles as he continues to look somewhat dumbfounded and lost. When she stops laughing, she explains, "Okay, lesson one: Bluffing. You gotta get good at it. It's called a 'poker face,' Smallville, and yours is terrible. Start working on it, or else you will never be any good at this."
"Wait," he waves a finger in her direction, "so... you weren't at all serious when you suggested strip poker?"
Lois laughs, amused. "Please. Like I want to see you naked voluntarily. Ew."
Clark shifts and looks away, not entirely sure why he feels a stab of hurt at her apparent revulsion at the idea of him naked. He isn't completely unattractive, after all, and no other girl he knows reacts to him the way Lois does. Why is she so very different?
Lois, oblivious, jumps up from her seat. "I'll go steal some paper money from the Monopoly set I saw upstairs. Since this is your first game and all, we'll start small..." she finishes with a wink.
She gives him a bright smile, clearly enjoying putting him off balance, and heads towards the stairs. Clark's eyes follow her, momentarily spellbound, as she bounds away and dashes up the stairs two at a time. His eyes widen as he is suddenly hit with the image in his mind of her running up the remaining stairs in nothing but her underwear.
He squeezes his eyes shut immediately; digging the heels of his palms against his eyelids in desperation as he forcibly banishes the vision from his head. How would he survive the rest of the afternoon with her sitting right across from him, leaning in his direction every time she picked up a card?
Taking a deep, calming breath, he opens his eyes and looks down at his pile of cards still laying face down. Like a mantra, he repeats softly to himself, "It's just a game," over and over.
Lois looks at her cell phone screen, feeling another wave of disappointment roll over her when it comes up blank. It has been several days since The Blur has called her and she finds herself missing him. She misses his voice — which is odd, since she doesn't even know what his real voice sounds like. But she definitely misses talking to him, listening to him share secrets with her. She just wishes he would call her.
She scrunches up her nose, shaking her head as she sets down her phone. She needed some perspective. Lois turns her attention back to the computer screen in front of her. The electronic glow sheds a small amount of light in the darkened Daily Planet basement. It seems like she is the only one left, even though it isn't quite nine o'clock yet.
She has been trying unsuccessfully to complete an article for almost four hours, but her thoughts keep drifting. Thoughts of The Blur, how much she enjoys talking to him; the ray of hope that he might call her dims with each passing minute. Lois sighs at herself in disgust. Perspective, she repeats to herself firmly.
Is she really this desperate? Waiting by the phone like a silly schoolgirl with a crush? She is twenty-five, way past her teenage years, too old to be getting so worked up. Okay, so she is about to be closer to thirty than twenty, but it isn't like she doesn't have time on her side. After all, isn't forty supposed to be the new thirty? Alright, so it bothers her sometimes... not the getting older part... the being alone part. She doesn't want to be alone anymore. That's what really eats away at her.
Lois flicks her eyes over her computer screen and decides to check her emails rather than stare blankly at her half-written article. She clicks over to her email account and scrolls through the last few messages. Most of them are from Clark.
And he... was a whole other issue. Clark. As if it isn't bad enough that she is swooning over mysterious superheroes, she also has pools of Clark-related feelings to wade through.
Thinking about Clark still brings up a lot of emotions — hurt, frustration... love. She is pretty much head-over-heels in love with the guy and Lois still can't quite figure out how that had happened.
There is a list saved somewhere on her computer; she'd actually written it one day in a fit of frustration, hoping that maybe if she looked at things logically and objectively, she could wake herself up and realise how wrong Clark was for her.
She'd listed everything she could think of. From: "Ridiculously handsome," to: "Still not over Lana." "Complete and utter dork," had ranked somewhere in the CONS column. Except that after a few moments of deep thought, she'd had the urge to switch it to the PROS side. "My best friend," was listed on the PROS column at first, but then she'd wondered if that was really a pro after all. The last thing Lois wanted was to jeopardise their friendship any further. "Doesn't love me," was a clear CON, which went well with the companion comment in the PRO column: "I think I love him."
In the end, Lois had felt like her list accomplished nothing except make her feel worse.
Once she's established that no emails of importance have to be acted on at such a late hour, Lois shuts down her computer, admitting defeat. There is just no way she'll get any more work done tonight. And it is getting a little late, so she packs up and heads towards the elevator.
As she steps out of the elevator and into the Daily Planet lobby, her cell phone rings. Lois digs it out of her handbag as she continues towards the exit, but freezes when she sees who the caller is.
Stopping in mid-stride, Lois hesitates to answer. As the phone continues to ring, Lois ponders for a moment the wisdom in answering. Hasn't she just spent the better part of her evening consumed with thoughts of why the men in her life were causing her more trouble than they may be worth?
And yet... she can't stop the rush of joy that races inside her at the sight of The Blur flashing on her cell phone screen. She can't contain the slight smile that lights her face, even as she wonders if she should answer the call.
Taking a breath and clearing her throat, Lois finally hits the answer button, holding the phone to hear ear.
"Hi," she says, her voice coming out in a rush of excitement.
"It's nice to hear your voice," comes the voice-modified reply, that somehow still manages to sound like it is straining with real, honest human emotion.
Lois feels her smile broaden, so big her face hurts, and her heartbeat speeds up to match the spurts of happiness that are shooting through her. "I'm glad you called," she says, exiting the building. The night air is cool with a soft breeze.
She shouldn't feel so thrilled, so joyful, as they continue their conversation. Not really, not when her thoughts kept going back to Clark. But for some reason... talking to The Blur just feels right.
Why is that?
Lois takes a deep breath as she closes her eyes briefly, savouring the moment, letting herself feel the happiness and joy spread through her entire body, from her fingers to her toes. She glances into the cafe, spotting him. Clark is inside paying at the counter for their meal. She smiles, somehow even the sight of his back sends a warm tingle up her spine.
With a chuckle, she turns away from the window, shaking her head at how ridiculously high she feels right now. It is their first date. Lois and Clark. Clark and Lois. As a couple.
The coffee had been good, the best she remembers tasting, actually. The conversation had, at first, been somewhat awkward. It isn't that she didn't know what to say; it is more the fact that Lois feels like everything they did say suddenly had so much more meaning. And she doesn't want to misinterpret something Clark says or get it wrong... not this time.
Did Clark's, "I had a good time," and her reply, "Me too," mean that they were dating? Were they officially official? Does he now consider her to be his girlfriend? Lois had given him a list of dates she expected him to indulge her in, but really, what did he want? He seemed pretty happy at the time, as he'd tilted his head in sort-of agreement.
They'd kissed twice recently (not that Lois ought to be keeping track), but those kisses had been spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment actions. Clark hadn't tried to kiss or touch her once during their date — not even a hint — she thinks, her mood lowering slightly.
Lois is startled from her thoughts as Clark suddenly appears next to her at the sidewalk of the cafe. "Hey," she greets, brightening automatically with a smile. "Should we go?"
He smiles back briefly. "In a minute, there's something I want to do first," he says, turning serious. "Something I've been wanting to do since the moment we left work..."
As he says these words, tone low and husky, he steps closer. Lois doesn't move, but feels a little nervous as he consciously invades her personal space. She tilts her head up to stare into his eyes. "What?" she asks, her voice coming out a breathless whisper.
Clark reaches for her, his arms resting on her waist, large hands pulling her towards him as he closes the final space between them. Their bodies collide softly and Lois moves her hands to clutch at his shoulders. She feels her heartbeat speed up as the thrill of anticipation seeps through her. She knows, gazing up at him, that he is going to kiss her.
When his lips touch hers, Lois swears sparks fly. Their eyes drift shut as the kiss deepens, arms wrapping around each other, forgetting that they stood in a public place and unaware of the stares that are pointing in their direction.
As Clark slowly pulls away, Lois feels a realisation creeping slowly into her consciousness.
For the rest of her life, she wants him to be the only man she will ever kiss.
She grins down at him, knowing that she will never forget this moment. His bright smile lights his face; he looks more alive — at peace — than she has ever seen him. She thinks she's seen Clark Kent happy (and hopes that she's been the reason for some of those spurts of happiness he has displayed throughout the years), but she can't remember ever seeing him quite like this. Like he was free.
"If you're ready to take that leap, there's no one else I wanna take that leap with."
It is as if a huge weight has been lifted from his shoulders; as if the burden he always carried has disappeared, at least for now. It makes her own feelings intensify, a rush of affection warming her heart.
She knows what happiness feels like. There was the elation at hearing him say the words, "I love you," to her for the first time. There was the feeling of relief, finally saying the worlds back to him, like they were both suddenly free to really express what had been clear in their hearts for a while now. Like a dream become reality, more powerful in motion than it ever had been in thought. At the time, she'd thought that was the happiest she could ever remember feeling.
But nothing, nothing she has ever felt before would have prepared her for this. Every moment of intense joy, complete happiness, unbridled excitement... every moment suddenly feels like a mere insignificant speck of emotion compared to what she feels now. In this moment, Lois thinks, this must be what heaven feels like.
Every fibre of her being feels like it is buzzing with nothing but pure, authentic joy. She hadn't even thought it was possible... to love someone this much... to be so happy... to feel as if love has swallowed her whole.
She doesn't even care if that is hokey or cliché, it just is. And she isn't afraid anymore, of getting lost. She has him, and whatever happens, if they do get lost, at least they'll be lost together.
She isn't alone any more and never will be, and neither will he. They are a team now, part of each other, forever.
"Lois Lane, will you marry me?"
"Yes," she answers, sure and certain.
His smile breaks easily and he feels elated beyond words. Clark slides the ring on her finger and stands, his eyes lock with hers for a moment. Everything he has ever felt for this woman seems to hit him, but most of all he feels happier than he can ever remember being.
She makes him happy.
For so many years he had feared the future, but now he feels only excitement and joy. He can't wait to live his life — to live his life with Lois Lane by his side.
He bends his head to capture her lips in a kiss; her arms go around his neck and he moves to clutch her tighter. The kiss deepens; the world seems to fade away until they forget they stand next to a phone booth, forget everything but each other.
Together they will live this way, in their own private universe.
Their first Christmas as an engaged couple, they stay up late, sleep for a couple of hours, and wake up early (well, Clark wakes up early; Lois protests at first, but finally caves when he starts kissing the back of her neck seductively).
Lois consumes enough wine in the evening to feel slightly tipsy, but it's a warm, fuzzy feeling she likes. Clark just smiles adoringly at her, even when she makes no sense. He cooks pancakes for breakfast while Lois sips her first cup of coffee for the day.
Later that day, Lois finds herself standing under a sprig of mistletoe unawares and Clark takes her by the shoulders and kisses her. He catches her off guard for a moment, then she dissolves into the kiss happily. It's the first time they have ever kissed under mistletoe, but it will not be the last time.
"I would do anything for you."
Lois kisses him in a way she never has before — not that he can recall, anyway.
There are other ways she's kissed him — full of passion, hope, dreams, love — but not like this. This is different — solid, unwavering faith, heat and fire. This is more than Clark knew was possible. He lets himself melt against her, bodies melding as if becoming one. As she pulls away, she says breathlessly, "Oh, you drive me crazy."
Lois gazes up at him with this look that nearly knocks him over. She looks at him with open, honest, courageous love.
Clark sucks in a small stream of air, exhales slowly, lets himself savour this moment. He can feel his heart beating and almost blushes. She makes him feel weak and powerful at the same time, all without notice or intent. It is intoxicating.
He loves her, he realises, as if waking from a deep sleep with new clarity. He loves her so much and he has been so dumb — why hasn't he told her how he feels yet? All of her love is radiating from her, right for him to see. She has to know he feels the same way, that he doesn't want to live in fear, that this exact future he is experiencing is the one he wants. He wants her, he wants a life together, he wants them.
Clark isn't entirely sure what he has done to deserve this woman, but he'll happily spend the rest of his life making sure he deserves her love, every single day.
Lois catches Clark's gaze from across the room. He smiles slightly, then mouths, "I love you."
Lois's heart swells. "I love you," she mouths back.
They are finally married. Seven years and several attempts after their intended wedding day, it has finally gone on without a hitch.
Martha approaches her with a broad smile, arms opening to grab her into a warm hug.
She clings to Lois tightly, feeling tears of happiness threaten to surface once again. She squeezes her eyes tight and takes in a shuddering breath of air — somewhere between a sob and a laugh. Lois loosens her arms first and they part. Martha gazes at her daughter-in-law for a long moment, wanting to commit this moment to memory. Lois looks beautiful, of course... radiant.
"I'm so happy for you, Lois... for both of you," Martha says, glancing past her to spot Clark being likewise congratulated by the General a few feet away.
"Thank you," Lois says. "It took us long enough," she adds with a light laugh, "but we finally got here."
Martha tilts her head in acknowledgement. "That's what matters."
"It kind of fits, in a weird way. We've always travelled the long road. I mean, it took us years to fall in love..."
"But it was worth the wait," Martha supplies, with a knowing look clear in her eyes.
"Yeah," Lois agrees, her eyes darting to find Clark again.
As if he feels her gaze on him, Clark pauses in mid-sentence and glances over to meet her eyes. Their smiles grow, matching perfectly, energy buzzing between them. Even after all these years, Lois still feels butterflies in her stomach, tingles in her toes and sparks up her spine. They speak so much without words, not needing to say anything out loud for the message to be clear.
The years of waiting suddenly feel like nothing, and if she had to wait a hundred years, she realises that she would have. Time held no meaning; somewhere in eternity, they had always been together and always would be.
Lois is thirty-four when they experience the biggest miracle of all — the birth of their baby boy.
Even once he's grown into a young man and is finished college, setting out on his path of independence, Lois will still think of him as her baby boy.
They name him Jonathan Clark Kent, and of course it's the easiest decision in the world. They don't even really need to discuss it (except they do ask Martha if she is okay with it, and she is).
And when they look into his eyes for the first time, they just know — he definitely looks like a Jonathan.
Lucy is almost five months pregnant when Lois discovers she is expecting again. It makes her joy even greater to think that she and Lucy will both be having children so close together — Lois's second, Lucy's first.
At Lucy's baby shower two months later, Ron and Clark spend half the night talking and drinking beer quietly in the corner, while Lucy, Lois and Chloe gush over the adorable baby clothes as they pile up.
Lois heads to the kitchen to grab herself another drink, and turns to face Lucy, who follows her in.
"Want one?" Lois asks, tipping her glass of water towards Lucy invitingly.
"I'm good, thanks," Lucy smiles.
Lois steps closer, her voice lowering, "I have some news. I didn't want to shout it out, because it's your night tonight, but I kinda can't hold it in."
"We're expecting a girl," she says, one arm instinctively going to cover her stomach as a smile grows on her face.
Lucy's eyes widen and she grabs Lois in a congratulatory hug. "Oh wow, that's wonderful. Have you thought about names for her yet?"
Lois laughs. "We only just found out it's a girl, don't rush us!"
Lucy holds her hands up in peace. "Sorry! It's just I've spent the last several months thinking about names..."
Lois is genuinely puzzled. "I thought you and Ron had settled on David Samuel ages ago?"
"We have," Lucy nods. "I just wanted to tell you, since you're having a girl, if you want to name her Ella, I'm okay with that."
Lois stills, feeling surprised and caught off guard. She gazes a little closer into Lucy's eyes, trying to see if there is any hesitation there, but there isn't. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah." She smiles reassuringly, then turns more serious. "It's something I thought about, you know, so I assumed you would have thought about it, too. And truth be told, if I was pregnant with a girl right now, maybe I would want to name her after Mom. But who knows if I'll have another one someday, or if it will be a girl. And here you are, with a little girl on the way and... I can't think of a more perfect name for her. That is, of course, if you and Clark... I mean... if you want."
Lois lets that sink in, then smiles softly at her little sister, feeling a wave of gratitude. "Thank you. I'll have to see what Clark thinks." They share a tight, lingering hug.
Hearing a round of laughter they break apart and glance over their shoulders to see Ron and Clark chuckling as they watch a very drunk Chloe and Oliver try to help each other stand from where they sit on the couch... and fail miserably.
Caught up in laughter themselves, they wander out into the lounge area that is now strewn with paper and gifts.
Lois heads straight for Clark, sidling up to him in the corner of the room, away from the main group.
"Hey stranger," she says smoothly, resting one hand on his chest, leaning in close and smiling up at him dopily. "I feel like I've hardly seen you all night." Even though she has only been drinking water all evening, she feels a rush of warmth and happiness spread through her, almost as if there is actually alcohol running through her veins. She holds in a ridiculous giggle and decides maybe she is drunk — on love, happiness and joy.
He returns her smile just as broadly, moving one arm around to clutch at her waist, brings her against his side. "Hey." He presses a kiss to her temple. "Having fun?"
"Hmm... yes. Though, not as much as Chloe and Oliver, apparently."
Clark laughs. "Well, I'm sure they're making the most of a night away from the kids. I only hope Mom's not regretting volunteering for babysitting duties."
"Are you kidding? We'll have to pry her away from them when we get to Smallville. You know she adores those kids."
"I hope Jon is behaving himself..." Clark trails off when he notices she is still smiling at him. "What?" he asks with a soft laugh, enjoying how she seems to glow.
She shrugs. "I'm just happy."
"About anything in particular, or just in general?"
"In general. And also because Lucy just gave us her blessing to use the name Ella, if we want to." She hesitates momentarily. "I think Ella Martha has quite a nice ring to it. What do you think?"
Clark blinks. They haven't really started talking about baby names yet, but somehow as he rolls the name over in his mind, Clark can only think of one response. "I think it's perfect."
Clark stops just outside the entry of the house and looks to his left to see Lois sitting on the porch swing, seemingly lost in thought. She doesn't notice his presence and Clark takes a moment to just watch her. She has on a loose white shirt, faded jeans and worn boots. Her shoes scrape against the wood lightly as she swings back and forth gently, looking out towards the street. The sun is setting and the soft haze of colours only makes him more aware of how beautiful she is.
He turns to look in the same direction she is and spots Ella running in circles in their front yard, squealing in delight as Jonathan chases after her. Clark holds in a quiet laugh, enjoying seeing his kids playing, before returning his attention to his wife.
When they'd moved from the apartment into their new house, Lois had been very specific that they had to buy a house with a veranda out the front. Clark had been a little puzzled at first, as to why she was so adamant.
"Why is having a veranda out the front so important to you?" he'd asked.
"Because," she'd replied matter-of-factly, "we need somewhere to put the porch swing I'm going to buy."
Clark looked as if he would have done a spit-take had he been drinking in that moment of reaction, and Lois couldn't help but laugh. "We have neighbours surrounding us now, Lois!" he'd protested, eyes still impossibly wide.
Lois shrugged, grinning like a fool. "So what? I'm sure we'll get a lot of use out of it. We can sit out there at nights and talk, take in the evening breeze, keep an eye on the kids playing in the yard."
Clark's face had shifted, as if a wave of relief overcame him. "That sounds great, actually."
"Well, of course." Lois narrowed her eyes at him. "What else are porch swings for?"
Clark had looked momentarily caught-off-guard, then pondered the subtle look of smug satisfaction on Lois's face, even as she tried to look appropriately clueless. It was then that he'd caught on — she was playing with him. Well, even if he didn't know the rules, Clark thought he might enjoy getting in on the game as well. He'd set a slow smile on his face, the kind he knew made her knees weak, and stepped towards her leisurely.
"Oh, I think you know very well," he drawled, never taking his eyes from hers, "that there are many other uses for a porch swing." He'd stopped right in front of her, watching her face, listening to her heartbeat accelerate. "Miss Lane."
Lois looked slightly nervous for a second and then composed herself, raising an eyebrow at him. "Well, I don't know. Nothing else is coming to mind right now, so you may need to enlighten me sometime..."
That had proven an interesting challenge.
After some thought, Lois, though adventurous, had agreed with Clark's assessment that they really shouldn't risk scarring their neighbours for life. (They were fairly certain that Mr. or Mrs. Hildorf across the street may have a heart attack were either to witness anything so scandalous.)
There had been one exception, but it had been close to midnight then and they did live on a fairly quiet street, or so Lois had reasoned. Of course, her slight drunken state at the time had probably affected her judgement.
Clark had tried his best to assure her that if they just managed to get inside the house and up the stairs to the bedroom, she could have her way with him without further protest. In response, she'd glued her mouth to his in a sloppy, passion-filled kiss, obviously not so convinced.
"I wanna have some fun," she'd said — voice slightly slurred — smiling brightly up at him in the moonlight. "It's not every day I turn thirty-seven, you know."
Clark had started to reply but she cut him off with another kiss, her hands already starting to unbutton his shirt. His willpower seemed to disappear as he returned the kiss, hands tangling in her hair, tongue sweeping against hers.
He'd pulled away just as she got his shirt open. "Wait," he breathed, studying her flushed face. His eyes darted to hers searchingly. "How drunk are you?"
Lois had smiled warily. "Drunk enough to think this is a great idea. Not so drunk you should feel guilty for taking advantage," she'd assured him, kissing his neck. She tugged on his earlobe. "I want you right now."
Thinking back, Clark is almost sure he must have been slightly drunk himself to acquiesce so easily after that, but he does recall the porch swing had barely survived the night.
It is a good thing it did though, because it really has turned out to be a sound investment.
Most nights, weather permitting, they would sit out here for at least an hour while the kids played in the garden. And some nights he would fly home to find her out here, watching the stars, waiting for him to return.
Lois turns her head, noticing him, greeting him silently with a smile. He approaches, moves to stand in between her legs, one hand gripping the chain to hold the swing steady. He looks down at her, the other hand gently cradling her face. She lets out a soft sigh of contentment, eyes closing for a moment as she leans into his touch. When she opens her eyes again, his smile is still there.
"You're late," she says, not as an accusation.
His thumb caresses her cheek. "I know." Clark manoeuvres to sit next to her on the swing, arm going around her shoulders.
Lois leans into him, resting her head in the crook of his shoulder. Somehow it is the most comfortable place in the world, right there beside him. He tilts his head to press a soft kiss against her temple, lips lingering for a moment.
Lois wraps an arm behind him, clutching at the small of his back, feeling the hard muscles through the fabric of his shirt. A part of her wants to close her eyes, snuggled right there, and fall asleep, listening to his heartbeat. But then Ella's laughter pieces the air, louder than before, and Lois is reminded why she sometimes wishes sleep wasn't necessary. She never wants to miss a thing, no matter how fleeing.
They let the swing rock slowly, watching the sunset. Everything is perfect.
They still fight, even after they've fallen in love and built a life together. They don't fight often, really, but when they do it always feels like life or death. Everything is potentially world-ending, literally, so over the years they'd more or less learned to let go of petty arguments and focus on what is important.
Although, sometimes they do manage to disagree on what constitutes as 'important,' which occasionally leads to them fighting over something neither really intended to fight about initially. Thankfully, those types of fights generally lead to great make-up sex, so in the grand scheme of things, they don't count them as real arguments.
When their fights are real, though, they are also big. Daunting and huge. Like the first time they fight about the "age thing." Emil had explained it to them once, using very specific scientific terms. Lois hardly remembers what those terms actually are, now.
"It seems like only yesterday you couldn't stand me," she muses, taking a sip of wine. She sets the glass down next to his on the bench.
They stand in the kitchen, doing the final bits of clean up for the evening. The kids are all sound asleep, so they are enjoying a moment to themselves.
"You couldn't stand me, either." Clark picks up a dirty plate, stacking it in the dishwasher.
"I wonder what our reactions would have been if someone had told us back then that one day we'd fall in love, get married, have three kids..."
They share an amused chuckle, remembering their younger selves.
"I'm glad no one told me," Clark says after a moment of introspection, "because falling in love with you was the best surprise life could have ever given me."
"How romantic," Lois acknowledges with a sidelong glance as she tips her head sideways to glance at him — half amused, half sincere.
Clark continues, "No life I could have dreamed up would have compared to this." He meets her gaze; sees her softening as his voice grows lower. "I have you," he says. "I have the kids."
"Three of them," she adds in thought, closing the dishwasher now that it's packed. "We're bound to have grandkids. No matter what, you'll always have family. You won't be alone."
Clark stares at her and his mood drops instantly. He almost can't believe how casual she sounds. "I also won't have you," he points out, face darkening.
"It will be okay," Lois says and feels the sadness in every word, even before they leave her mouth. "Somehow, some way, I'll always be with you."
Clark glances away, his face hardens, lets his anger and frustration creep up. He clenches his hands into tight fists unconsciously, jaw tightening with tension. The emotions are reflected in his tone, rising sharply. "You know what? This isn't really the best time to talk about this."
"So... when, exactly? I don't think there will ever be a good time to talk about this; we might as well talk now."
"It's easy for you to say that!" he snaps, voice rising, forgetting himself for a moment. "You're not going to be the one left behind."
Lois stills, startled at his burst of brutal honesty. They'd never really talked about this before. They'd broached the subject a few times through the years, but it has always been easier to avoid delving too deeply into a detailed discussion. They knew it would hurt too much.
Despite this, she feels her own anger bubbling inside. "Oh really? How do you know that for sure? Don't you think I worry — that I think about it all the time? Every single time you fly out that window," she flings her hand towards the open window, "a part of me is terrified. Of losing you, of being alone. You're not immortal, Clark! You may not age the way humans do, but you're not immortal. You can still die."
Clark swallows, her tone cuts him like a razor. "I'm sorry," he says thickly. "I had no idea that you thought about it this much."
Lois takes a few breaths to calm herself and sighs. She reminds herself that the kids are asleep and lowers her voice so as not to accidentally wake them. "I try not to, honestly."
"I don't want to live without you," he declares firmly, voice raw, almost broken.
She looks away, staring at the tiles on the wall as she speaks quietly. "If it were me, I don't think I'd want to live without you, either." Lois brings her gaze back and notes that Clark seems surprised at her admission. "But this isn't me we're talking about," she continues, resolutely. "It's you. And the world needs Superman." She shakes her head, tears welling in her eyes as she continues, "You have to go on..."
"And never give up?" he asks, tone bleak and without hope. She nods in affirmation. Clark's gaze wavers from hers. "I don't even know if I can be Superman without you."
"Yes, you can, Clark."
"Lois... you've been there from the moment the world knew Superman. I get so tired sometimes, and you're what keeps me going," he explains, even though he's pretty sure she already knows this. "When I forget why I do what I do, or why it's worth it, all I have to do is come home and look into your eyes... and I remember. You're my strength. I can't even..."
Lois takes a step forward, closing the distance between them. She puts her hand to his cheek, her words certain. "No matter what happens, Clark, a part of me will always be with you. Always."
Lois has never been one to obsess about her looks. She knows how to look good and she knows how to flirt and just which outfits to wear to get Clark in a certain mood. She knows how to seduce a man (how to seduce Superman, if she can take a moment to brag).
Lois knows these things about herself, about her body, and she likes what she sees in the mirror whenever she takes time to look — likes herself enough to not want to change. Clark loves her just the way she is, anyway.
But today isn't just any day. Today is her birthday. Her thirties seem so far away now, even though today she is only half way past them.
She shakes her head as she stares into the mirror, wondering how it is that time seems to pass by faster and faster the older she gets.
Leaning closer, Lois trails a finger lightly across her forehead, down her cheek, over her chin. She has wrinkles now — most notably near the corner of her lips and eyes. Signs of aging, of time marching on — signs of a life lived.
She'd made a comment to Clark a few days ago about them — the "new" wrinkles she was sure hadn't been there the day before — and he'd laughed at her.
He'd moved from the doorway of the bathroom to come up behind her, then wrapped his arms around her waist and told her, "You look beautiful."
She'd given him a small smile in the mirror, an automatic response, just because she could never resist when he said such lovely things to her. "Well, I'm pretty sure they're all because of you, anyway."
He'd cocked his head curiously, arms still around her, meeting her eyes in their reflection, his own smile still lingering on his lips. "How do you figure?"
"My mom always told me you get these lines around your eyes and mouth from laughing and smiling. And you make me smile and laugh — so clearly, these wrinkles are because of you." She brought her hands up to rest over his where they hugged her stomach loosely.
Clark had placed a kiss on her cheek, lips lingering against her skin. He dragged his mouth upwards, sighing near her ear, his warm breath making her shiver slightly. "You look beautiful, always, but especially when you smile."
Lois squints a little, brought back to reality as she notices Clark once again lingering in the doorway, arms folded as he leans against the frame of the bathroom entrance behind her.
She turns around to face him, a smile already forming, bracing her hands against the vanity. They are both still in their pyjamas, not exactly their sexiest attire, and yet somehow he still looks like he's stepped off the cover of a magazine or something. How does he always manage to look so good first thing in the morning?
"For the record," he says, untangling his arms as he steps into the bathroom, "you still look beautiful."
Lois tucks a few loose strands of hair behind her ear and leans back against the vanity, feeling self-conscious. She is not sure how to voice the thought that pounds in her head. He waits, sensing that she has something else to say. She sighs, finally, the words leaving her mouth quietly, like a secret. "I feel so old today."
Clark shakes his head, another smile forming, as if she's just told the funniest joke in the world. She scowls, honestly wanting to hit him. He just doesn't understand.
"You're most definitely not old," he murmurs, moving closer, hands going to her waist when he reaches her. He hoists her up to sit on the vanity next to the mirror, steps between her legs. She lets out a gasp of surprise as he does so, eyes wide, but grips his shoulders to steady herself when her butt hits the cold surface.
"Says you," she responds breathlessly, feeling her heart pound at a faster beat. He still makes her nervous, catches her off guard, keeps her on her toes. She loves that about him, about them.
He laughs again, seemingly amused by her insecurities. He reaches up a hand to cup her cheek, resting his thumb just below her eye, tracing her skin lightly. "You don't have to ever worry, you know. I'll never stop wanting you."
Lois opens her mouth to say something, then pauses. He somehow does that — just knows — knows what to say, knows what to do. He knows her so well, how did she ever think she can hide from him? She swallows, sighs quietly and meets his gaze. "You say that now, but how about in twenty years... thirty years? I'll be all wrinkly and I'll have saggy boobs, and oh yeah, you'll still look like you're thirty with perfect skin and hard muscles and—"
Clark catches her mouth suddenly in a kiss, lips hard against hers. Her eyes flew wide in surprise, then flutter close as she lets herself melt against him. They kiss for long minutes, like teenagers making out for the first time. Clark is the one to pull away.
"I think we have more fun now... I love you more now... more than I ever thought possible." His smile increases, as if something occurs to him. "I like growing old with you."
Lois just looks at him like he is crazy. He is so damn romantic, there's really no way to argue, not when his intense blue eyes are so sincere and he's looking at her like she's the most beautiful woman in the world, even now.
"Happy birthday," he whispers, lips grazing hers softly. Lois lets him sweep her away again. Whatever fantasy world he wants to take her to is bound to be better than reality.
Clark nearly dies. Too many times to count.
Ever since Clark debuted as Superman, he's faced death down almost daily. Lois sometimes wonders to herself, as she watches him dash off to save the day, "Will today be the day when he doesn't come back?" It is a constant fear, the reality was that it really only took one particularly determined or lucky bad guy, and Superman might not make it through. The knowledge that Kryptonite was Superman's weakness was too widely known for the danger to be insignificant. After all, Clark isn't immortal. He doesn't age the way humans did, but he does age. And he is still vulnerable; he can be killed.
The year Lois turns forty-seven, they face one particularly harrowing near-death experience. Clarks (or rather, Superman) is poisoned with Kryptonite. Emil isn't entirely certain Clark will make it.
"You'd better not die on me now, Clark Kent," Lois sobs, clutching his hand as he is wheeled into the medical wing at Star Labs, following right beside him.
Clark cracks open his eyes with some effort and stares up at her fuzzily. "Don't worry Lois, you can't get rid of me that easily," he wheezes, attempts a smile, but ends up wincing in pain instead. He is losing consciousness fast.
Lois doesn't laugh, just squares her shoulders, sets her face steady and gazes at him unblinkingly. She feels her eyes pooling with tears and is sure she looks like hell, but doesn't care. "Promise me you won't leave me."
Left with no energy to speak, he barely nods as he drifts into unconsciousness.
Lois stays by his bedside the entire whole time, watching as Emil and his team work overtime to save his life. No — not just Clark Kent — Superman. They were desperately trying to save Superman, a hero the world still needs more than any other. He has to live.
Lois hardly sleeps, jolting awake whenever she feels herself drifting. She watches the monitors beeping, rests her hand over his heart to feel it beating steadily. She doesn't leave unless she has to; to use the bathroom, or if Emil drags her to the cafeteria to eat. She knows it's not fair. It's not fair that he is the one dying, not fair that she can barely function let alone force herself to go home and be with their kids (thank god for Martha Kent, Lois thinks, and doesn't want know how much more of a wreck she might be without her). Her children need her, but right now Lois needs him.
It's almost three days before he wakes up, twitching as he draws in a sharp breath.
Lois jumps up from the chair, already smiling as she holds his hands, feels him squeeze back just so. Relief pools in her belly. "It's okay, baby, I'm here," she whispers, voice cracking, her own exhaustion clear.
Clark swallows, barely registers Emil and his team rushing into the room, and manages one single word, says her name like a prayer. "Lois."
"I'm starting to get those looks," she tells him after they've arrived home form work one day. Lois tugs her shirt, pulls it out of her pants, toes off her heels.
"Oh, you know. The: 'What on earth is a hot, young, sexy guy like that, doing with an old, past-her-prime woman like her?' looks."
"You're not past your prime." He frowns. "And I'm not a young guy."
"But you look about thirty. Or twenty-five. And a woman in her late forties holding hands with a guy who looks half her age attracts... looks."
"Since when do you care?"
"Since it won't be long until I'm in my fifties and then just imagine..."
"You don't think younger men are sexy?" he interrupts with a sly smile, half amused.
"Ugh, don't even go there," she grumbles, shooting him an admonishing look. "The day someone refers to you as my son, I will freak."
He grins good naturedly, but is smart enough not to comment.
"I think you're sexy," she says, shifting the direction of conversation to greener pastures. She smiles a little seductively, walks over to where he sits on the edge of their bed.
"Oh yeah?" he grins, stretching out his arms towards her and cradling her hips in his large hands as she stops in front of him.
She matches his teasing grin. "And Superman, he's sexy too."
He laughs, growling slightly and tugs her down with him onto the bed. He leans back against the mattress and she hovers over him. His hands slip under her blouse, softly rubbing the skin of her lower back. She starts unbuttoning his shirt, loosening his tie, flinging it away once she has it undone.
She sighs contentedly; glad that at least they still have this. If it is possible, she thinks the sex has only gotten better over the years, but she realises it won't last forever. She's forty-eight and she knows by now that time passes quickly; before she can count where the last ten years have gone, she'll be almost sixty.
Clark's lips dance near her ear, breath warm and soothing. She can feel his smile, his mood light and playful. "Does Superman think you're sexy?"
Lois hums lazily, hands smoothing over his chest. "I don't know, you'd have to ask him."
Clark suddenly flips her over on the bed so he is on top, eyes skimming over her slowly. She keeps silent and still as he looks back up and into her eyes. "He'd be crazy not to, because you are definitely one sexy woman."
"No," he says, smiling even as she leans up to kiss him.
"Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you!"
The song continues and Clark smiles, feeling a tinge of embarrassment as he surveys the sea of faces surrounding him. He is used to being the centre of attention as Superman, but somehow being the centre of attention as Clark makes him feel slightly uneasy.
He hadn't wanted a big birthday party this year, but Lois had been pretty insistent. She enjoyed keeping Clark on his toes, trying to think of the best ways to surprise a man equipped with super-hearing and x-ray vision ("It's just like a military operation," her father would have said). Then the kids had joined her cause, which had resulted in him surrendering to whatever surprise they hatched.
"Don't worry, Dad," Jonathan had smirked, "we're not planning on inviting the President."
"Just the Pope," joked Ella, sharing a giggle with her brother.
Clark had chosen to ignore their banter. He guessed it was much healthier for them to tease him about being Superman than it would have been if they got big heads about it. "As long as it's just family," Clark said, frowning slightly. "I don't want to make a big deal of it."
"You're turning fifty, how is that not a big deal?" Ashley had asked, already joining Lois to scribble down some notes.
It turns out that their idea of 'family' apparently isn't limited to the extended family, but also includes all the JLA members (past and present) and their families. It includes a few close friends and co-workers. Of course his mother is here; Oliver, Chloe, Perry, Jimmy, Lucy, Ron, all the children. He can't count an exact figure, but Clark is sure he is at least seeing the faces of a hundred people signing Happy Birthday to him.
"Now blow out the candles and make a wish!" his niece instructs cheerfully as she bounces up and down near the front of the crowd.
Lois smiles at him and Clark flicks her a grin before obliging. The candles go out and a round of applause starts, which is followed by chants of: "Speech! Speech!"
Clark inwardly groans (he hasn't prepared a speech, though he now wishes he had at least given it some thought) as everyone quietens in anticipation. Before he can really formulate a speech in his mind, Lois races up to stand beside him.
"I'd like to say something quickly," she begins, glancing at Clark quickly before continuing, "As some of you might be aware, Clark isn't an easy man to surprise." There were a few knowing chuckles of laughter from the crowd. "But the kids helped me out and we did our best." She turns to speak to Clark directly. "I hope we succeeded. Happy birthday, Clark."
Sharing a quick smile with him, Lois then steps back to allow him to speak. He starts quickly, spurred on by a burst of courage. "Well, firstly, thank you all for coming. I know some of you had to travel to get here, and I appreciate you all being here so much. I certainly wasn't expecting all of... this." He looks around the room, firstly at the crowd of people in front of him, then upward to take in the banners and decorations, the buffet table set perfectly with food, and finally the massive cake sitting on the table he stands behind. It is all so amazing. Clark turns his eyes to Lois. "You did surprise me, so thank you," he says, knowing it is not enough, but thinking it is all he can hope to say.
As a second round of applause starts, he hears Lois reply softly, "You're welcome."
Meeting her eyes, he forgets for a moment that he is still the centre of attention and bends down to give Lois a quick kiss on the lips. Jimmy seems to pop out of nowhere to snap a picture of the moment. Although it lasts only a second, it still results in whoops of cheers (from the adults) and moans of embarrassment (from the children).
Lois laughs as they part and Clark grins, uncaring of the eyes on them. He feels like the luckiest man alive. He has it all — a gorgeous, amazing wife and three beautiful children — and he never wants to imagine even for a second what his life might have been like otherwise.
Lois often finds herself falling; from buildings, helicopters or aeroplanes. It's ridiculous, how often she comes so close to dying. Sometimes she closes her eyes as she falls, the familiar call of, "Superman!" ripping from her lungs, possibly the last thing she will ever say. If she is going to die, it will be with his name on her lips. But Clark always catches her, without fail; he's always just in time. He's saved her more times than she could count, in more ways than one. Because of him, she goes on living.
Clark's arms circle her from behind and he settles behind her, one hand rubbing slowly across her silk-covered stomach. Lois sighs and relaxes, stopping what she was doing. She leans her weight comfortably against him, trapped now between his body and the kitchen sink.
"It was a good day, don't you think?" she asks, closing her eyes as she melts further into his embrace.
Clark smiles against her hair, placing a soft kiss on the top of her head before replying quietly, "It was."
Lois hums to herself in thought. "I can't believe Ashley's eighteen. Our babies are all grown up."
"I think you embarrassed her," he says softly, nuzzling her ear with the tip of his nose. "Maybe you went a little overboard with the speech? It was pretty sentimental."
Lois snorts, opening her eyes again. "At least I didn't tell the story of how she was conceived."
He chuckles. "On your birthday. There was a porch swing involved, as I recall."
Lois gives him a look that says, 'Don't go there.' "Anyway," she continues out loud, "I think she almost died when you threatened to pull out the photo collection."
"I was joking!"
"It seems everyone knew you were joking except her," she laughs. Of all their children, Ashley is the most serious. Maybe going off to college will be good for her, Lois thinks, maybe she'll come out of her shell a little. "But I think she forgave you five minutes later when she got her birthday present."
Lois turns in his arms, their eyes meeting. Clark bends down to kiss her slowly, deeply, passionately. She moans as she threads her fingers into his dark hair, tongue sweeping into his mouth. He presses her backwards and Lois stumbles against the sink, using her hands to brace herself. She feels Clark's hand on her thigh, slipping the hem of her dress upwards.
Then abruptly he stops and pulls away suddenly.
"Don't stop," Lois begs with ragged breath, grinding against him insistently. At the grimace of apology she sees flash across his face she stills, realising that he is hearing something she can't.
With a reluctant sigh of frustration, she rests her hands on his shoulders and blinks, focusing her attention completely on the present moment. He has to go — someone is calling for his help.
Clark takes a step backwards creating more space between their bodies and glances past her, out the window. "I'm sorry," he says, running his hands down her bare arms.
Lois plasters a smile of assurance on her face. "It's okay," she says, genuinely. "Go save the day."
He pauses for a second, then nods and sets his face into a determined look, his attention now starting to drift in the direction of distant sound he's listening to. She calls it his Superman look.
He hesitates for a second and says, "I won't be long. Will you wait up for me?"
"Always," she replies, sure he catches her answer even as he blurs away, before she can hear her own voice.
She finally retires at the age of sixty-four. It is one of the hardest decisions she's ever had to make, but it feels like it is time to step back and let some other young stars shine. A gala is held in her honour (a fact that still doesn't sit well with her, even as she gazes up at her name spread cross the welcome banners) and she is presented with an award acknowledging her significant contribution to the journalism profession.
She's worked as a reporter for ninety-five percent of her career and it is the job she loves the most. She'd stepped in as Editor-in-Chief at the Daily Planet the last few years, but found it wasn't where she belonged. As she reflects back on her career, she still thinks the best article she ever wrote was the one in which she introduced Superman to the world. Lois thinks it will be what she is most remembered for, long after she's gone. Her name is almost synonymous with Superman, but that is okay; she can live with that.
She smiles at Clark as she returns to their table near the front of the function hall, sets the statuette down. It doesn't quite feel real. The lingering worry of what lay ahead scurries away, as always he eliminates all her fears.
He takes her hand and squeezes it, slightly, reassuringly. She squeezes back briefly and meets his eyes. He bends his head to brush his lips against hers and she closes her eyes.
There are years behind them now and she struggles to remember what life was like before they fell in love. She knows such a time existed, but it seems strange and foreign and wrong.
Falling in love had been easy... so easy that she hadn't even realised she was falling, not until she was already in love and it was far too late to run away.
Not that she hadn't still tried, once or twice, to deny and deflect. Sometimes she panicked and fled, like she had when Lana had shown up suddenly at Chloe's (first) wedding. So she isn't perfect and their journey hasn't been without obstacles.
But the falling in love part, that was the part they did best.
When Lois Lane fell in love with Clark Kent, it was because he was her best friend. Because he was kind and caring and loyal. Because he was ridiculously handsome and his smile lit up his face, and seeing him smile was magical. She fell in love with his quiet confidence — confidence that hadn't always been there, or she hadn't always noticed — and his boyish charm. She somehow grew to love the plaid shirts he wore, even as he grew older, he never got rid of them completely.
It made her smile slightly, as she opened her eyes, to recall how utterly incompatible they had once seemed. Who knew that Lois Lane and Clark Kent were absolutely meant to be?
"I did," he had once told her, in answer to that very question.
He never leaves her, never thinks about leaving, not once.
Lois knew he never would, but that doesn't stop the occasional insecurity creeping upon her. The little voice in her head that sometimes gets her attention. He is Superman — the most powerful man in the world — and he will probably outlive her for possibly hundreds of years.
Would there come a day when he no longer felt attracted to her? Would another woman some day catch his eye; young, beautiful, glowing, an entire future still there in front of her, an illusion of time still imbedded in her skin, unknowing of how very precious her youth was and uncomprehending of how fleeting? Would Lois still be enough for him when she was too old to walk, to make love, to bring him a cup of coffee in the mornings? Would she be enough for him, always?
Clark still kisses her like she is eternally young, like he is. When they kiss it's electrifying and she forgets that she's not twenty-six any more. There is still a fire between them, continuing to burn, to keep them warm and living and wanting and needing.
She wonders, when she is gone, will he still be hers?
On the day of their 45th wedding anniversary, Lois wakes up alone. She rolls over to snuggle back into the pillow, deciding it's too cold to get up. It's early (she's still not a morning person; never was, never will be) and he's probably been gone for hours already. Off somewhere saving the day, no doubt.
As the sun rises higher into the sky, the warm light urges her further awake. Blinking her eyes open, she spies an envelope left on his pillow and picks it up. Underneath is a small, neatly wrapped box. Easing herself up slowly (even simple movements now take time and sometimes she can't help but curse her decaying body), she reaches for her glasses on the bedside table. Her eyesight has been giving her some trouble since her late twenties, but she is almost eighty now and can hardly see or read without them.
Lois picks up the small rectangular box and opens it carefully. Gone are the days when she would have ripped the paper off, too excited to wait. She finds she has more patience now, has learnt to appreciate that good things are worth waiting for.
She pulls the paper away and lifts the lid, revealing a beautiful silver bracelet, formed of small round links with a delicate clasp. An additional four links hung off the centre of the bracelet and a slightly larger solid silver ball was the only decorative charm. Immediately Lois understands the reference — she's joked often enough about the 'ball and chain' — and laughs out loud.
She catches her breath, grabs the envelope and opens the card. Before she can manage to read the message, she glances over the top of the card to see him casually leaning against the door jam of their bedroom, watching her. He looks completely relaxed, dressed back in jeans and a black t-shirt, barefoot, a small smile on his face.
"How long have you been there?" she asks, putting the card down.
He shrugs lightly. "Long enough." He walks into the room, sits down on the edge of the bed and twists his body towards her. "That's not even your real present, by the way."
"Really?" Lois arches an eyebrow. "Not sure you can top this, though."
Clark smiles at her humour and leans in closer, pressing his lips to her cheek. "I can try." He pulls away. "Did you read the card?"
Lois hands it to him. "Read it to me."
Clark takes the card, leaving it closed, sets it to the side. He holds her hand and whispers the words into her ear.
"I love you."
He says nothing else. He doesn't need to. That is enough.
She takes naps now in the afternoons. Not every day, but certainly most days. Getting older has been hard these last fifteen years. As her bones and joints weakened, her heart started to tire, her hearing started to fade and eyesight started to blur. Lois is eighty-eight now, no longer young and full of energy.
She tries to keep up with them — her husband, her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren (the list is long, but thankfully her memory hasn't failed her yet) — but it often leaves her tired. They are all still so full of life and energy and spark.
She wakes from one of her afternoon sleeps to find him lying beside her on the bed, under the covers, his body resting lightly next to hers, eyes closed. She reaches out and touches a hand lightly to his cheek, feeling how soft and smooth his skin still is. Looking at him, she is in awe... how very young he seems, how the mask of youth covers him whole.
Clark slowly blinks his eyes open to see her watching him. He smiles slightly, as he always does, when he wakes to find her gazing at him. "Hey," he says quietly, his hand rubbing softly over her arm. "Did you sleep okay?"
"Yes," she croaks, still not quite fully awake, her throat feeling scratchy. Even her voice isn't the same as it used to be.
"Do you still feel up to going to Lara's for dinner tonight?" he asks, concern etching his face. "I'm sure she'll understand if you're not."
She manages a light smile, trying not to feel conscious of how the wrinkles near her eyes and mouth bunch as she does so. "I'll be fine," she says. She wouldn't miss dinner for the world, because it's Kaleb's fifth birthday and all the family will be there. "I might just sleep for a bit longer though..." she trails off, her hand slipping from his face to rest between them on the bed.
Clark takes her hand in his, leaning forward to place kiss on her forehead softly. "Sleep as long as you want, I'll wake you up when it's time to go."
"You don't have to stay," she mumbles as she lets herself drift back into sleep slowly.
"I want to stay," he assures her, curling that little bit deeper into the bed, shifting a centimetre closer, settling in beside her.
The promise of forever is left unsaid, but she still hears it in her dreams.
She has always had a habit of writing lists. It's something she knows she picked up from her father. Her mind used to be so clear and bright and quick, that writing lists was more a habit than a necessity.
Now she writes lists because she has so much to remember. She keeps track of all the names of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren and the nieces and the nephews. She makes sure her calendar is always filled up with birthdays and anniversaries and every important date she needs to remember. Somehow, despite her meticulous record-keeping, she still manages to forget their anniversary (not their Wedding Anniversary, rather the anniversary of him telling her he was The Blur) every so often. Clark used to hold it over her, but now he lets her forgetfulness pass by without any comment.
She has an excuse, anyway. The time has finally come in her life when Lois has to admit that her mind isn't quite what it used to be. Her body had begun showing signs of wear and tear long before now, but Lois took some level of comfort in the fact that she still had all her mental capacities.
On nights when Clark is on Superman duty and Lois is left with nothing but her own thoughts, she worries that one day she'll forget something truly important. She's ninety-five now, she's made it this far, there's probably not much time left and she thinks she'd rather die before that happens.
She hopes she does, because she never wants to live without memories of their life together... of him. She never wants to forget a single moment.
He takes her flying one last time; holding her safely against him, never wanting to let go. She winds her arms around his neck, leans her head against his shoulder as he flies.
They take their time, the journey seems to last for hours. He flies all around the world, through night and day. She tells him to stop every so often so they can savour certain moments, places, feelings. They watch the sun rise, the sun set, gaze at the full moon, see vast deserts and oceans. When Clark finally heads back home, Lois lets her exhaustion catch up to her and yawns.
"I'll always remember this," she murmurs, closing her eyes.
"What?" he asks, curious.
She smiles slightly. "What it's like to be in your arms."
Clark swallows, fighting the sudden onslaught of emotions. He'll always remember, too, what it's like to hold her like this.
Clark comes bounding into the room excitedly, like a little kid at Christmas. "Guess what I discovered today, honey?" he asks, approaching her from across the lounge room.
Lois looks up from the book she is trying to read. She gives the question some serious thought, before answering, "I have no idea."
He grins, radiating enthusiasm from every pour. He kneels beside the chair and leans his head close to hers. "Look," he says, wide smile firmly in place.
Lois adjusts her glasses and squints, she wants desperately to see whatever it is he's trying to show her. After a long minute, she gives up. "I'm sorry, I don't know what I'm looking for."
He takes her frail hand in his strong one and laces her fingers through the hair above his ear. He holds her hand gently in his, keeping it there. "I have a grey hair!" he announces, as if it is the most exciting, joyful news he has ever shared. "A couple of them, actually. I spotted them this morning."
She absorbs the news as if she's drowning slowly, sinking inch by inch down into her being. After an initial beam of joy shoots through her, the reality of their situation brings only the feeling of sadness, which settles in her belly. She wants to smile, to be outrageously happy and cheerful, like him. Finally, after nearly seventy years of Clark not seeming to age a day, signs of age might finally be apparent. But from a single glance, he still looks the same to her. His skin is still smooth, perfect, young and elastic. His powerful muscles are as well-defined now as they were when he was twenty-five. And unless you looked incredibly closely (perhaps with micro-vision), Lois wonders if these few grey hairs he swears he has would be visible to the naked, human eye.
As she sees his excitement flicker in doubt, Lois reminds herself not to be selfish. He doesn't deserve anything less than her complete love and honour, so she gives it, despite the cost. She smiles, conscious suddenly of her wrinkled, dull, sagging skin, recalling that she'd stared at herself in the mirror just that morning, looking nearly all of her ninety-seven years.
Not knowing quite what to say, she leans forward with some effort, placing a chaste kiss against his forehead.
She hopes it is enough.
Lois grows old; wrinkles and creaky joints proof of her human fragility. She is ninety-nine when she draws her last breath.
Surrounded by her loved ones, she closes her eyes, feeling the warmth of the sun as it streamed through the windows. The sky is blue and clear, it's a perfect summer's day. The perfect day to die.
Clark holds her hand and she doesn't feel him let go. She dies with their fingers entwined, her soul permanently linked with his. He holds on for hours, even after she is gone.
"... it's not just for a minute, or just for now, it's forever."
"I am yours and will be forever..."
They promised to love each other forever and they do, the vow never broken or fractured, not even for a moment.
Lois takes her love for Clark with her into the wind, wanting to carry that love with her into whatever next life awaits, always strong and sure and true.
"I pledge the rest of my life to you..."
Clark never takes off his wedding ring. He still feels the love he has for her every minute of every day, treasures it dearly, keeps it safe. It is easier than breathing, constant and as steady as his heartbeat. Even as years turn into centuries, Lois is still the only one and nothing ever changes that; he will love her forever.
He breathes in and out, listens to the constant beat of life, whispers, "I love you, always."
He hopes somewhere Lois still hears him.
"Even if she is... gone... a thousand years and another world past... Lois is still the only one." — Superman, ACT #761