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  1. #76
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    Chapter Twenty-Seven

    Lois woke with the alarm clock and was tempted to roll over and go back to sleep again, until she realised what day it was. Her father’s wedding day. She quickly got out of bed and looked over at the crib. Kally was sleeping on her side, her thumb in her mouth. She decided it was best to let her daughter sleep for a little while longer. It would at least help keep her out of the way while they worked to prepare the inn for the event.

    Bubsy was already in the kitchen cooking up a storm. She was in sweats, clearly wanting to make sure she didn’t get her good clothes dirty. Lois put the baby monitor down on the counter.

    “Anything I can do to help, Mom?” she asked.

    Bubsy looked at her. “No, sweetie. It’s all under control in here. Why don’t you go help your dad decorate the parlour?”

    She glanced out into the main room. Clark was already there, helping her father, while Lucy was directing proceedings.

    “No, it’s crooked,” her sister was saying as the two men worked together to pin up fairy lights.

    Lois went out as her boyfriend and her father both shot Lucy exasperated looks.

    “I don’t think it’s meant to be perfect, Luce,” she said, wrapping an arm around the younger girl. Clark looked at her.

    “Kally still asleep?” he asked.

    She nodded. “And I’m hoping she stays that way for the time being. Last thing we need is a two-year-old underfoot.”

    The General grinned. “Yeah, Lord knows, I know what that’s like. Especially when there were two of you.” He chuckled. “Your mom was working part-time at the commissary and I decided to arrange a surprise party for her birthday. You were almost four and Lucy was about two. Both of you wanted to get in on the act.” He grinned at Clark. “There I was, trying to hang up … crepe paper or something, and Little Lo was tugging on it saying she wanted to help. Lucy was crying because I wouldn’t let her play with the paper and suddenly it all comes down. Ella walked in the door just as all the crepe paper fell off. There was just about enough of it to cover Lucy and Lois began yelling at the top of her lungs, ‘S’prise, Mommy!’”

    Clark was already laughing. Lois sent him a glare, telling him silently that he better not be thinking of holding it over her.

    “Well, Ella was surprised all right,” the General said. “We all ended up in a heap on the floor, we were laughing so hard.”

    Lucy was giggling. Lois even had to fight the urge to laugh. Bubsy came out of the kitchen and asked what was so funny. It was obvious the General had already told her this story as he gave her the short version. She smiled, kissing her fiancé on the cheek.

    Lois wasn’t surprised at the story. Her father had told her a few stories from her childhood, especially funny incidents. She’d always known the older man had been far less gruff before her mother died. He’d once told her he had regretted the fact that he had been more concerned with his career than his family and if he’d been able to do it all again, he would have done things differently. As much as she knew that wasn’t possible, she appreciated the thought all the same.

    Not long after her father and Bubsy had got engaged, she had broached the subject of her mother. Bubsy had looked thoughtful.

    “Well, look at it this way, sweetie. If it hadn’t been for your mother, you would never have existed, we wouldn’t have met, and I wouldn’t have met your father in turn. I know he still loves your mom, but I also know there is room in his heart for me.”

    Lois smiled and hugged her future stepmother. “You know, that’s a really beautiful way of looking at it.”

    “Your mother was a wonderful woman and it would be wrong of me to not acknowledge that. Your father feels the same way about Will’s father.”

    Lois watched as her father and Bubsy talked and laughed together as they continued decorating the room. Clark wrapped his arms around her waist. She smiled and looked up at him.

    “Think we’ll be like that someday?” she asked.

    “Sure we will,” he said. “But I know what you’re thinking. And it’s okay to think about your mom today. I think she’d be happy your dad found someone he could let into his life. From all he’s told me about her, she would have wanted him to move on. Not spend the rest of his days alone.”

    She let him take her hand and they wandered out to the back of the Inn, sitting on the bench in the garden. The men had erected an arbour along the side of the building and it had been decorated with flowers, so it would act as an entrance for the bride as she walked down the path to her groom.

    “I think about us sometimes. About how I used to worry about being alone. I never thought I’d find someone who could really accept me, warts and all. It’s not just about being … what I am,” he said. “It’s having someone believe in me.”

    “I do, you know,” she said softly. “I believe in you using your abilities to help people. It’s kind of like Bubsy is always telling me. Things happen for a reason. You were sent here for a reason – to guide us to a better future, so what happened on Krypton doesn’t happen here.” She turned to gaze at him. “But you know what else? I believe that the reason we met is so that you could find someone who could remind you to take a rest, to make it easier for you to do what you have to do.”

    Clark nodded. “Your dad told me something a while ago. People would look up to him as a hero, and you know, that was great, but in some ways, being a hero is actually a lot harder than being, well, normal. You know? I mean, people put heroes on pedestals and it’s hard for them when the heroes let them down.”

    “You wouldn’t though. You wouldn’t let us down. I mean, I know you’re not perfect. And yeah, you’ll probably make some mistakes along the way, but that’s part of being human.” She looked at him. “And don’t try to tell me you’re not human. Humanity has nothing to do with what planet we’re born on, Smallville. It’s who we are as people.”

    He squeezed her hand. “That’s why we’re perfect for each other, Lois. I mean, I think one day you’re going to be a great reporter, and you know what they say … behind every great woman …” He grinned.

    “I think that’s the other way around,” she said.

    “You know what I mean, though. We’re partners. Equals. Just because I have powers, it doesn’t change that.”

    His expression changed and she could tell he was listening. “Sounds like the munchkin’s awake,” he said. He got up. “I’ll go get her.”

    She watched as he rose from the bench and walked down the path to her cabin, opening the door. A few minutes later, he came back out again with a sleepy-eyed toddler in his arms. Despite the fact she was clearly not fully awake, she was chattering away to her father and he was nodding as if he understood every word.

    God, she loved him. She couldn’t wait for the day they would be together as a family. All three of them.

    Lois was too busy over the next few hours to think about anything else, helping to sort out all the final arrangements for the wedding. Half an hour before the ceremony, she went upstairs to the room her father was using and knocked on the door.

    “Daddy?”

    “Come in, sweetheart.”

    She entered the room, staring in wonder at her father in his dress uniform. He was just smoothing out any creases in the jacket. Lois stepped up to him and helped him with the remainder.

    “You look so handsome, Daddy,” she said.

    “Thank you, sweetheart.” He took in a deep breath. “I’m a little nervous.”

    She understood, but couldn’t help teasing him a little anyway. “You, Daddy? The one who has faced down practically every boyfriend I’ve ever had and sent them packing.”

    He chuckled. “I did, didn’t I? I’ll say one thing about Clark. He doesn’t intimidate easily, does he?”

    “No, he doesn’t. I guess he thinks I’m worth sticking around for.”

    “You are,” the General replied. “Don’t ever doubt that. I see you two and how special your relationship is. It kind of reminds me of when I first met your mother. Your grandfather, God rest his soul, was a hard man. I got put through an interrogation that would make grown men cry, but through it all, I was firm.”

    “You really loved Mom, didn’t you?” she said, without a trace of grief.

    He nodded. “I did. I still do. After all, she gave me two of the most precious gifts a man could ever need. You and your sister. But you know, I do love Annie.”

    “I know. She once told me that she understood you will always love Mom, but it didn’t mean you didn’t have room in your heart for her. She makes you happy, and that’s all that’s ever mattered to me.”

    “I am happy, Lo. Happier than I have been since I lost your mom. I know things were rough with us for a while …”

    She shook her head. “No, Daddy, don’t.” As crazy as it sounded, the pain she’d gone through all those years was worth it so she could appreciate what she had now. “We made it through and we’re both better for it. I have Clark and Kally and you have Bubsy.”

    He grinned and glanced at the clock. “Speaking of whom, it’s almost time to meet her at the altar.” He held his arm out for her. “Shall we?” he asked.

    She grinned back. “We shall.”

    The ceremony was going to be a little different. Lois was going to walk her father down the aisle and William was going to walk his mother down the aisle where they would meet at the altar. They would then ‘hand over’ their parents. Lois had never been one for tradition and had always thought the ceremonial handing over of the bride to the groom was rather sexist, since they didn’t do the same for the groom. Bubsy had been tickled with the idea.

    Kally was doing her best as flower girl, although she didn’t quite understand what she was supposed to do. One of Bubsy’s friends had brought her three-year-old grandson to be ring bearer and he looked solemn as he walked down the aisle with a satin pillow held very carefully in both hands. Kally stopped in front of him, staring in wonder at her grandpa. The little boy bumped into her and looked very confused. Clark quickly got up and guided the children the rest of the way, amid snickers and ‘awws’ from the guests.

    As she left her father at the altar, Lois exchanged a look with her sister, who was looking very pretty in a floral print dress with a soft, flowing style that suited her slender frame without appearing too tight. Lucy grinned back at her, glancing shyly at the young man who had accompanied her. Ron Troupe was a cub reporter at the Metropolis Journal. The couple had met when Lucy had gone with Lois to a press conference. Like Lois and Clark, he was in college, although he was a couple of years ahead of them.

    The celebrant did the reading and had the couple exchange vows. Lois took her boyfriend’s hand and squeezed it. He turned to smile at her. One day, she thought, that was going to be them. Nothing was official yet, but they were always talking about the day they would get married. Clark didn’t go to church, but he knew his parents wanted him to get married in the same chapel they had married in more than twenty years ago. Lois’ father had also asked for the same thing and given that they’d moved around so much while she was growing up, Smallville was as close to a permanent home as she would ever know.

    Then again, she remembered something her mother had told her long ago. She’d been maybe five, and complaining about them having to move to another base. She didn’t remember all the previous moves, but it had happened at least twice since she was born, from what she understood. Ella had taken her aside.

    “I know it’s hard moving to a new place, sweetheart, but it’s not the house that makes the home. It’s the people we love.”

    At that age, Lois hadn’t quite understood what she meant, but she now knew what her mother had been trying to tell her. It was rather like the saying ‘home is where the heart is’. Her heart was in Smallville, with Kally and Clark, with her father and Bubsy.

    Once the ceremony was over, the photographer from the base began taking candid shots. Both Bubsy and the General had agreed that candid shots were better than posed shots, although the couple had already had a sitting that was just for them.

    She stood watching as Bruce Wayne chatted quietly with Clark’s parents and Bubsy. Her father came to stand beside her. He was holding Kally in his arms. The toddler was eating one of the pigs in blankets and had ketchup all over her face.

    “All right, sweetheart?” he asked.

    “I’ve kind of been thinking a lot about Mom today,” she said.

    “I know. So have I.”

    “She’d love Bubsy.”

    “Yes, she would. And I know she’d be happy that I’m not going to be spending the rest of my days alone. I have you and Lucy, but …”

    “I know, Daddy. It’s different. It’s like me and Clark.”

    Kally squirmed in her grandfather’s arms, wanting to be let down and he put her down. She immediately toddled off to explore the garden.

    He turned to look at Clark, who was chatting with Chloe and Lucy. He occasionally glanced at her, sending her a reassuring smile. “He’s a good man, Lo. You can say I’m being a little sexist, or whatever, but I’m happy knowing that you have someone who will protect you and your children.” He turned back to her with a cheesy grin. “Don’t think I’m not aware just how much trouble you can get into. Between you and Lucy, you were always the one who tended to get into mischief more. Not bad stuff, honey. You were just curious. Always asking questions. I suppose that’s what will make you a good journalist.”

    Lois hadn’t been so sure of her career decision at first, but now that she had written a couple of stories, she could safely say that she loved the thought of going after people like Lex and exposing the truth about them.

    Speak of the devil, she thought, as the very man walked over to Clark. Lois had personally sent the invitations and Lex hadn’t been on the list. Chloe shot the man a glare that was almost glacial before wandering away to get some food. As her father went over to join his new wife, Lois joined her boyfriend, managing to catch what the bald man was saying.

    “You didn’t think I’d miss the biggest social occasion in Smallville.”

    “I guess not, Lex,” Clark said. His tone was cool as he spoke, but he smiled as if trying to maintain the pretence of civility.

    “Actually, my parents wanted it just to be an intimate occasion,” Lois told him. “Close friends and family.”

    “Of course,” the man said with a slight smirk. “Since I was working with the General summer before last to protect your cousin, I imagined that would have made me an exception to the rule.”

    She dearly wanted to kick him for his audacity. The fact that he had helped protect Chloe, who had been a witness in the trial to put his own father in prison was clearly irrelevant to him.

    The two toddlers distracted her for a second, chasing each other around the garden. Kally had already got her pretty dress dirty. Shaking her head, Lois turned to look back at Lex, who was staring after the toddler with a strange kind of expression. Immediately her hackles went up. The bald billionaire appeared to notice her watching him and smiled.

    “She gets prettier every time I see her. Must be her father’s good genes.”

    Clark smiled, but Lois knew him well enough to know he was about to go into Papa Bear mode. He might have teased her about the way she had done the same with Bruce, but he was twice as bad. She decided the best thing to do would be to pull him away.

    “Um, honey,” she said, grasping his arm. “I’m hungry. Why don’t we go get something to eat?”

    He looked at her and nodded. “Okay. See you later, Lex,” Clark responded.

    “Later, Clark.”

    They grabbed some plates and helped themselves to the food. Clark leaned in to speak quietly to her.

    “Thanks,” he said. “I was about to say something stupid.”

    “Not stupid,” she told him. “Understandable. I thought you were about to deck him, actually.”

    “Thought about it,” he replied.

    He looked up as they heard the sound of a squeal, then laughed. Lois saw Jonathan had Kally in his arms, or rather, was hanging her almost upside down. The toddler was giggling, clearly enjoying the game.

    “I know you worry Lex might try something,” she said. If she was honest, that was on her mind a lot, but they couldn’t wrap their daughter in bubble paper either. They had to trust her grandparents and her aunt, who had become even more protective of her niece, and Chloe, to take care of her when they couldn’t.

    When she had first considered going to college, she had thought maybe she was being selfish, leaving her daughter with her grandparents, but all four parents had assured her that the best thing she could do for Kally was get her degree so she could create a good life for her little girl. Otherwise she could spend the next eighteen years working in a job that, as much as she loved her new stepmother, wasn’t fulfilling. If she wanted to be a good example to her child, she had to follow her own dreams. Not leave them behind.

    “It’s not that,” Clark told her. “I mean, yeah, I worry he’s going to try to take her again like he did last year, but … I don’t know. I mean, I thought he was my best friend. For four years. How could I have trusted him?”

    “People change, Smallville.” She remembered something Clark had told her months ago. That Lex had told him that their friendship had helped him fight the darkness inside him. While that might have sounded great on the surface, she often wondered if it was more that he refused to take responsibility for all the bad decisions he’d made in his life and pushed the blame onto Clark. As if her boyfriend was the bald man’s moral compass. As far as she was concerned, a person should be strong enough not to give in to their darkness.

    They ate, continuing to watch the guests. Their daughter seemed happy enough playing with her grandparents, but they noticed she always gave Lex a wide berth.

    About an hour or so later, Lois stepped out into the garden. She had been helping one of the maids clean up and had come out for more dishes to find Lex and Bruce talking. Both appeared to be trying to act cool for the benefit of those around them, but she could read the anger coming from the two men. They were clearly arguing about something.

    Clark came over with a tub full of dishes.

    “What are they arguing about?” Lois asked, nodding her head toward the two billionaires.

    “Lex apparently found out that Bruce was working with my dad on something. I think he had his eye on the project and lost the bid to Bruce.”

    “Given the state of his company’s finances, I shouldn’t wonder he’s upset,” she said, having just a little bit of sympathy for the man. She still felt that he had done it to himself, however. With the senate campaign and the various projects he was involved in, it was little wonder the balance sheet had taken a severe beating.

    Clark went on to explain that the project Bruce was working on was something to do with a charitable foundation helping children who were unable to access a proper education. It had been a big part of Jonathan’s campaign. It sounded to Lois like Lex was trying to drum up some good PR by wanting to get involved in the project. That and he was probably hoping that if he appeared to be altruistic then he could hide his less-than-savoury dealings.

    Lionel might have been ruthless and unethical, but that fact had never really been hidden. His criminal past might have only come to light in the past few years, Lois thought, but everyone she knew had always known Lionel was not the ‘gentleman’ he claimed to be. He could dress it up in a business suit, but he could never rid himself of the stain of having been raised in Suicide Slums.

    Lex, on the other hand, was becoming adept at hiding his own unethical activities behind a veneer of respectability.

    She started to step aside to let Clark take the tub into the kitchen when her father came out with Bubsy.

    “You need to come with me,” he said, indicating both her and Clark. She frowned. He didn’t seem upset.

    “Is anything wrong, Dad?” she asked.

    “Just come with me,” he replied.

    They followed him inside and up the stairs to his room. Or his and Bubsy’s now, Lois thought. There on the floor beside the bed were Kally and the little boy who had been the ring bearer, curled up on the sheepskin rug, fast asleep, their faces so close if it wasn’t for the thumbs in their mouths, they could have been kissing.

    “Aww, I need to get a picture of this,” she said.

    Clark laughed at her. “Why? So you can hold it over her when she turns twenty-one?”

    Her father grinned and handed over his phone. “Already thought of that,” he said. She looked at the screen. He’d taken a snap of the two children.

    Kally chose that moment to wake up and she stared at the adults in confusion.

    “Mommy?” she said sleepily, rubbing her eyes. Lois bent and picked her up.

    “It’s all right, sweetie.” She held her close and turned to Clark, who stroked their daughter’s hair.

    “Getting started early, huh, Munchkin?”

  2. #77
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    Now we are waiting for the Lois and Clark wedding!
    Thanks for the update!

  3. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by whynot1993 View Post
    Now we are waiting for the Lois and Clark wedding!
    Thanks for the update!
    The wedding will be a long way off. More chapters to come.

  4. #79
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    Chapter Twenty-Eight

    With school over for the summer, they could now focus on other things, like finding out Green Arrow’s identity. Clark made sure he finished his chores quickly so he could go over to the Inn. Lois was working days over the summer. They had both tried for internships with both the ledger and the Metropolis Journal but the positions had gone to second year students.

    Kally came running out to greet him, almost as if she had a sixth sense that he was coming. He scooped her up in his arms.

    “Hi baby,” he said. “Where’s Mommy?”

    “In da kitchen,” she said in her babble.

    He carried her inside and went to the kitchen where his girlfriend was talking with her father and Bubsy. She frowned, realising Kally had gone running out.

    “How did you get outside, munchkin?”

    The toddler babbled something about being able to open the door all by herself. Clark shot his girlfriend a quizzical look. If Kally was learning how to open doors by herself then it looked like they needed to think about barriers she couldn’t get around.

    Bubsy, having overheard everything, chopped up a piece of banana and sat down, holding her arms out for the toddler. Clark handed her over. Kally ate her fruit happily, listening to her grandmother.

    “Sweetheart, why did you go outside?”

    “I heard Daddy’s truck.”

    “Well, honey, I know you love your Daddy, but you shouldn’t go outside without Mommy or me or your Grandpa.”

    “Why?” Kally asked. Clark held his breath. Bubsy didn’t know about his abilities and he was sure Kally had not shown any herself but he was wondering what the older woman was going to tell his daughter. Lex had been almost too quiet lately, which worried Clark even more. When the other man was not obviously scheming something, it was a good indicator he was hiding his activities. Where Kally was concerned that was even more worrying.

    Now he understood his own parents’ fears even more.

    “Because we have people in cars coming in all the time and if you go out alone, another driver might not see you.”

    “I sorry, Grandma.”

    Bubsy hugged her. “I know you are, sweetheart. You’re getting to be such a big girl, but you need to listen to your mommy and daddy. They know what’s best for you.”

    Lois had already arranged for her parents to watch Kally for the day. The older couple were happy to. In many ways, Lois’ father was still trying to make up for the years he missed out on with his daughters and relished every minute he was able to spend watching his grand-daughter grow up.

    Clark watched as Lois bent down and blew a raspberry on Kally’s cheek.

    “Be good for Grandma and Grandpa munchkin.”

    “Where you going, Mommy?”

    “We’re going to see Aunt Chloe,” Clark told her.

    Chloe was spending the summer working part-time for the Daily Planet. Her father had moved back to Metropolis a few weeks earlier and she was back living with him instead of renting an apartment for the summer or commuting back and forth to Smallville. Gabe Sullivan hadn’t been able to get another job in Smallville and had ended up working at the local grocery store in Granville after he’d been fired from Luthorcorp. Lionel had basically blacklisted him, so he had been unable to secure employment doing the same kind of work he’d been doing for Lex.

    Lex, for his part, had promised Clark he would try to do something for Chloe’s father once Lionel had been sent to prison, but he’d gone back on his word.

    While Gabe had found a good job in Star City, it still hadn’t paid nearly as much as what he’d been getting at Luthorcorp before he’d been fired and he’d missed his daughter. Knowing her part-time salary wouldn’t be enough, Chloe had wondered how she was going to manage financially over the summer. Moving back in with her father had been exactly what she had needed.

    Bruce had somehow managed to find out about Gabe’s employment woes and had offered him a management position with Wayne Enterprises’ Metropolis branch. The salary was enough for him to be able to buy a decent-sized house in New Troy. At the same time, Chloe had been encouraged to apply, successfully, for a scholarship through Wayne Media, which owned the Gotham Tribune. The best part, she’d told Clark and Lois, was that she could still keep working part-time for the Daily Planet.

    Lois had been a little cynical over Bruce’s machinations, but since her cousin was over-the-moon about her father’s new status, and her scholarship, which eased the Sullivans’ financial woes considerably.

    Chloe was at home when they pulled up outside. The two-storey house was only a few years old, since New Troy was a reasonably new suburb in the city. Each property owner was part of a Homeowners’ Association and apparently had to follow strict policies on how the outside of their house should look. Clark could hear Chloe ranting about the association. It sounded like they’d sent some kind of letter dictating Chloe’s dad comply with some rule that was probably unreasonable.

    “I mean, who do they think they are?” Chloe was ranting as they walked in through the open door. Lois was knocking.

    “Hello? Chloe?”

    “In here,” she called out. Clark grinned as she waved a piece of paper at them. “Can you believe it? They think they can tell me where I can park my Yaris. According to them, it doesn’t fit with their ideal image.” She scoffed. “As if I’m going to let them tell me what kind of car I should drive!”

    “Honey, calm down,” her father said. I’ll talk to the president and get it sorted out.” He lifted his coffee cup and sipped it, offering them a smile. “Hello Clark. Lois. I really hope you’re here to take her out somewhere. She’s been driving me crazy since we got the letter from the HOA.”

    Chloe shot her dad an offended look. “I’m still going to write an editorial over this.”

    “They’ll never print it,” her father commented mildly over the rim of his coffee cup. “HOA dictatorships really don’t concern the Daily Planet.”

    “But …”

    Lois grinned and poured herself a coffee from the pot. “How’s the job, Uncle Gabe?”

    He smiled. “It’s great. Thanks for asking, sweetheart. How are your dad and Annie getting on?”

    “They’re doing really great,” she said. “I think my dad loves having someone fuss over him.”

    “He’s not bored with retirement?” the older man asked.

    “Nah, he loves pottering around the Inn, fixing this, painting that. I think he’s got a new lease on life.”

    “Well, I suppose it helps being close to his family, too.” Gabe looked at Clark. “You’re looking well, son. How are things in the Kent household?”

    “Always busy. Mom and Dad are always going back and forth to Topeka. You know, Dad and Bruce have been working together on this education project?”

    The other man nodded. “I heard. Mr Wayne is certainly a fast worker.”

    “Do you get to see him much?” Lois asked. “In your job, I mean?”

    “Not really, Lois. I think I’ve only seen him once since my interview.”

    Gabe had been surprised when the Gotham billionaire had turned up at his small apartment in Smallville saying he’d like to talk to him about a job with Wayne Enterprises.

    He went on to tell them a funny incident that had happened at work, which distracted Chloe from the letter. He left the house a short while later saying he had to run some errands. Clark figured he was going to try to talk to the HOA president without Chloe putting her two cents in.

    Chloe had set up her laptop at the kitchen table.

    “So, I’ve been doing some more digging into this Green Arrow guy. That time you ran into him is not the only time he’s been seen stealing from people. But here’s the curious thing. When I reached out to one of the victims, they told me I was mistaken. That nothing had been stolen.”

    Clark shook his head. “That’s impossible. I was there.” He looked at Lois. “Do you remember the guy’s name?”

    “Westcott?” she asked.

    Chloe nodded. “Yep. Simon Westcott. His company got into some strife about a year or so ago when one of his oil tankers overturned and caused a huge spill up north. The EPA did an investigation and had him indicted for negligence and causing an environmental disaster. Anyway, I found out that Westcott’s mansion was monitored by Safetex Securities.”

    “Which is?” Lois asked.

    “A Luthorcorp subsidiary.”

    “So, how does that help us track down Green Arrow? Or his identity?” Clark asked.

    “That’s something you’ll have to do. My contacts can only get me so much.”

    “Did your contact tell you anything about what was stolen from Westcott?” Lois enquired.

    Chloe shrugged. “Sorry. No. And your drawing wasn’t much help either, Clark.”

    All Clark could remember was that it was some kind of necklace on a bust of an Egyptian Queen. He’d been rather preoccupied with trying to stop Green Arrow from getting away. If it hadn’t been for the other man shooting an arrow at the security guard who had come in, he might have actually been able to stop the robbery.

    “All right. So, guess we’re going to Safetex Securities,” Lois said.

    “I doubt they’re going to talk to you, Lo,” her cousin replied.

    Clark shrugged. “Still worth a shot.”

    “And if they don’t, there’s still the alternate route,” Lois hinted.

    He sighed. “You’re determined to get us into trouble, Lane.”

    She chuckled. “Wouldn’t be the first time, Kent.”

    Chloe huffed and shook her head. “Don’t tell me. I don’t wanna know.”

    They left the house and drove to the address of Safetex Securities. Since it was a subsidiary company of Luthorcorp, head office was located in a small one-level building a few blocks from the Metropolis CBD. A heavy iron gate blocked entry to the parking lot and was secured with an electronic lock. They would require a passkey to get in through the gate.

    A reception area faced the street. Lois marched in through the door, pretending to ignore Clark, as if she were the senior partner in their journalism relationship.

    The receptionist, a woman in her late forties, looked up at them. She smiled in welcome.

    “Can I help you, ma’am?” she asked.

    “Yes. I’m Lois Lane. This is my partner Clark Kent. We’re student journalists with the CKU Gazette. We’d like to talk to Mr …” She turned to Clark and spoke tersely. “What was his name?”

    Clark made a show of looking at his notepad, although he knew the man’s name.

    “Blake,” he said. “Milo Blake.”

    The woman, whose professional demeanour had vanished from the moment they’d told her they were journalists, looked annoyed.

    “Mr Blake does not take interviews,” she said snottily “Especially from …” She paused as if the word was distasteful. “Student journalists.”

    Lois leaned on the desk so she was practically leaning over the woman. They were almost nose to nose.

    “Listen, lady, we know that several of his clients have been hit by a thief in the past few months. We just want to talk to him. We’re actually trying to find the thief.”

    The receptionist looked almost stunned. “How do you …” she began, before stopping herself. She stood up and moved away, grabbing a plastic card. “Wait here.”

    There was a beep as she ran the card over a sensor and opened a door before walking off down a corridor.

    Clark looked at Lois. “Well, that got her attention,” he said.

    Lois wasn’t listening. She’d moved around the reception desk and was looking around.

    “Do you think you could find anything, like a list of clients?” she whispered.

    He sighed, then gestured for her to move to the door to keep an eye on it. There was a security camera in the corner. He would have to move in the blink of an eye - not that that was an issue, but considering the company was under the umbrella of Luthorcorp, he had no doubt word would get back to Lex that they’d been here.

    He quickly x-rayed one of the cabinets. It shouldn’t have been this easy, but it was. There was a folder in the cabinet with a list of names, which included Simon Westcott. Moving at super speed, he grabbed the document and returned to his position, trying to preserve the illusion that he hadn’t moved from his spot.

    Lois moved away from the door and went to stand by the wall, pretending to look at a collection of photographs. The receptionist came out, giving them both an odd look. She was followed by a man who was slightly stocky, with dark hair and a sour look.

    “Miss Lane, Mr Kent, I am …”

    “Milo Blake,” Lois said. “I read your bio on the website.”

    “I don’t do interviews, Miss Lane. I don’t know where you got your information, Miss Lane, but these thefts are not public knowledge.”

    Clark shot him a put-upon look as Lois pretended to nudge him.

    “Why weren’t these thefts reported to the police?” he asked.

    “How do you know they weren’t reported?”

    Lois snorted. “Please. You think I can’t find out that little tidbit of information? I’m the daughter of a four-star general, Mr Blake. My dad taught me to be resourceful.”

    “Be that as it may, there is no story. My clients have no interest in having their misfortune splashed all over the front page. I understand your cousin works for the Daily Planet.”

    Clark bit his lip. It looked like Lois wasn’t the only one who did her homework.

    “I would think you’d want the public to know there is a thief out there,” he said.

    “And it wouldn’t do to have our clients’ vulnerabilities advertised, either.”

    “Spoken like a true Luthorcorp soldier. I mean, that is what this is all about, isn’t it? Luthorcorp owns this company and it’s all about the bottom line.”

    Milo bristled. “I think you’ve said quite enough, Miss Lane.” Clark peered at him.

    “You’re embarrassed,” he said. “Some guy steals from your clients, making you look as if you can’t protect them. I bet Lex would have had something to say about that.”

    “It’s time you both left,” Blake replied, practically shoving them out the door. “And if I see anything in any newspaper about this, I will file charges on you both for trespassing. Is that understood?”

    Clark took his girlfriend’s hand as they left the office. They walked a block away before stopping. Clark tuned in.

    “Mr Luthor, there were two reporters here asking about the break-ins.”

    “One of those wouldn’t happen to be named Lois Lane, would it?” Lex asked.

    “What do you want me to do?”

    “I’ll take care of it,” Lex replied. “Just find the archer.”

    “And then what?”

    “I have to do all the thinking for you?” Lex snapped before hanging up.

    They returned to Chloe’s house and told her what had happened. Clark handed her the list. It wasn’t just a list of names, it was a list of items that had already been stolen and the dates it had happened.

    “Whoa!” Chloe said as she read through it. “Do you guys realise what this is?”

    Lois frowned at her cousin. “No. What?”

    Chloe worked quickly on the computer, her fingers practically flying over the keyboard. She brought up a dozen different pictures. Clark quickly read through the information. Every artwork had been stolen from museums and art galleries all over the world.

    “So this means …”

    “From what I can figure, the items were originally sold on the black market. So either the thieves were stealing to order or stealing by chance and auctioning them off to the highest bidder. Which brings in people like Westcott.”

    “Why would they want stolen artifacts?” Lois asked.

    “They’re rich,” Chloe said with a shrug. “When you have money to burn, you can get away with practically anything.”

    Lois nodded. “Like that guy who kidnapped me from the Windgate. Remember that?”

    Clark nodded. He’d had a few bad moments when he realised what had happened. The man had not only murdered a young girl who had been trying to get away from him and expose his human trafficking ring, but he’d tried to do the same to Lois. Only he hadn’t reckoned on Lois getting in a few good punches of her own, or Clark coming after them. The trouble was, the man couldn’t be charged with murder on American soil because he was the son of a diplomat.

    Chloe continued on, telling them that the artifacts had mysteriously been returned to their rightful owner. Just a few days after the thefts, charities had received substantial donations.

    “So, Green Arrow must be stealing these things back and returning them to the museums, then blackmailing people like Westcott into giving the donations,” Clark mused.

    “I’ve got one question. How would Green Arrow know where these artifacts were?” Lois asked. “I mean, it’s not something you can buy in your local pawn shop.”

    Chloe shook her head. “You’re right about that. Not to mention that arrow that was left at Westcott’s mansion. Your average cat burglar wouldn’t have access to taser technology. Well, I mean, he would. Probably. But unless he’s some kind of techno-genius, he wouldn’t be able to reverse engineer the taser and create a taser arrow with it. That would take time and a lot of money.”

    “So, we’re looking for someone who is probably in their social circle,” Clark guessed.

    “I highly doubt it’s Lex,” Lois replied with a chuckle.

    “And we know it’s not Bruce. He couldn’t be Green Arrow and Batman at the same time.”

    “That only leaves Oliver Queen,” Chloe said.

    “What makes you think it’s Oliver?”

    “Well, first, he’s tall. As tall as Clark.” Chloe looked at him and he nodded in confirmation. When he’d met Green Arrow, he’d quickly sized him up and guessed they were about the same height.
    “Plus,” she continued, “Green Arrow appeared on the scene in Star City about three years ago.”

    “Well, sure, that’s Oliver’s hometown, but wasn’t he stuck on an island for a while?”

    “He turned up about a year or so before Green Arrow came on the scene. It could have taken time to plan out what he was going to do.”

    “So, if he’s the one that went after Dr Loman …” Lois looked thoughtful. “Didn’t Oliver go to Excelsior with Lex?” she said.

    Clark nodded. It had come up in their research into the Star City billionaire.

    “Which means he probably knows a lot about Lex’s sordid past,” Chloe chimed in. “We all know Lex got into some pretty bad stuff when he was a teenager, except his juvenile records were sealed.”

    It all seemed to make sense. The only way they could really confirm it was in talking to Oliver. The question was, how were they going to broach the subject?

  5. #80
    aka EB phoenixnz's Avatar
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    Chapter Twenty-Nine

    Since she had the whole weekend off, Lois spent Friday night with Clark at the farm. They talked back and forth about how to approach Oliver Queen. She figured they couldn’t really come straight out and ask him if he was Green Arrow, but she had no idea how to do it with subtlety. Her father had always told her that sometimes going in guns blazing, without assessing the situation, could be dangerous. When he’d been out on missions, he’d always had someone scout ahead to scope things out.

    They were at least armed with information from all of their research. Lois was fairly certain they had the right man.

    Clark had suggested that they go visit him and get him talking, long enough for him to do some investigating of his own, either through using x-ray vision or something else. Of course, his idea of getting the man talking was just trying some friendly conversation, but that wasn’t going to help them confirm their suspicions, Lois thought. She still didn’t know what to do, but was sure she would figure it out when the time came.

    Clark was out working in the barn on his chores and Lois was helping Martha clean up in the kitchen. There was a knock on the screen door. Lois looked at the older woman.

    “I wonder who that could be,” Martha said.

    “You weren’t expecting anyone?” Lois asked. Her father and stepmother were taking advantage of a quiet day at the Inn and taking Kally out to a local renaissance faire. She figured if there had been a problem with her daughter, they would have called.

    The knock came again, sounding a little harder this time. Lois went to the door, frowning when she saw who the visitor was. Lex.

    “What are you doing here?” she asked, keeping her tone even so as not to aggravate the man. He clearly did not look happy.

    “I wanted a word with you and Clark,” he said.

    “You know, there is this thing called the telephone,” she told him snarkily.

    “And I wasn’t going to take the chance that you or Clark would hang up on me. Where is he?”

    “The barn. Working.” She crossed her arms in front of her chest.

    Lex turned away, stepping off the porch, his whole demeanour suggesting that she better follow or else. Lois sighed and followed the man out to the barn.

    Clark was working on the tractor engine when they entered. Lois could immediately tell he knew Lex had turned up but was pretending not to be aware.

    “Smallville,” she said.

    He looked up with a smile. “What’s up?” he said.

    Lex stepped forward before she could answer. “What’s up is I got a call from the boss at one of my subsidiary companies yesterday telling me he had two reporters asking questions about some thefts. I know it was you two. I want to know what the hell you were playing at.”

    “We were just asking questions, Lex,” Clark told him.

    “About something no one should know anything about,” the bald man said, sounding miffed. “Those thefts have not been made public for a reason.”

    “Maybe that has something to do with the fact the items stolen were actually bought on the black market,” Lois told him.

    Lex’s eyes flashed for a moment. He was clearly angry.

    “I don’t know anything about that,” he said. “I only know that those Safetex clients are very private people and don’t want the story splashed all over the front page.”

    “As we told Milo yesterday, we’re only interested in tracking down the thief,” Clark said, sticking to the story they’d come up with.

    “What is your interest in him? And how did you find out about the thefts?”

    “Contacts, Lex,” Lois told him. “Question is, why are you so interested in why we’re so interested in the thief?”

    “I’m not,” Lex denied. “I’m concerned that someone in my employ is spilling company secrets.”

    Clark sent him a long look. “Thefts that should have been reported to the police aren’t company secrets. Of course, if it’s true that Safetex’s clients have been buying stolen goods off the black market, I’d hate to think what else the police could uncover.”

    “Is that some kind of a threat, Clark?” Lex said with a glare cold enough to freeze the polar ice caps.

    “Well, it seems rather obvious to us that your subsidiary company has got something to hide if they’re not reporting them to the police,” Lois pointed out. “Are you telling me you actually condone this?”

    Lex stared at her. It was obvious he had no comeback for that.

    “Who told you about the thefts?”

    “Why aren’t you reporting them to the police?” Clark countered.

    “Stop being evasive, Clark. Just tell me how you found out.”

    “Like Lois said. Contacts.”

    “You’re both students working for a campus newspaper. What contacts could you possibly have? Or maybe I should be directing my questions toward Chloe. Or even Bruce Wayne? Although why a Gotham billionaire would be so interested in the two of you is something I will never understand.”

    “Rather like our friendship, right, Lex?” Clark returned coolly.

    “Are you implying something untoward, Clark?” the bald man asked.

    “You tell me, Lex. Were we ever even friends or were you just in it for what you thought you could get out of it? Like whatever secrets you think I have.”

    Lois nudged her boyfriend, telling him to cool it down a little. Lex looked a little offended, which she could understand. In some ways, she thought that Lex really had been sincere about the friendship, even if his curiosity about Clark’s secrets got in the way of that. As intelligent a man as he was, his need to know the whys and wherefores of things blinded him to the underlying issues that stopped Clark from revealing everything about himself. Had he stopped to consider for even one second why Clark had to keep things to himself, especially with a man like Lionel Luthor around, he might not have tried to force the issue.

    “Of course we were friends, Clark. I don’t know what I’ve done to earn your enmity …”

    Clark opened his mouth to say something and Lois quickly shushed him before he could say something that would only make the other man more curious.

    “Honey, let’s not start a fight,” she said. “Lex, I’m sorry if you thought we were digging into company secrets, but the fact is, if Safetex hadn’t acted like it had something to hide, then we might not have needed to go talk to them. It’s like we told the man yesterday. We just want to know about this thief. We’ve heard of a few incidents, both here in Metropolis and in Star City. We’re not trying to invade your clients’ privacy. We just wanted to know if they could help identify him. That’s all.”

    Lex appeared to relax. Lois wasn’t fooled into thinking the man was placated but at least he seemed to want to drop the matter.

    “All right. I appreciate your discretion in this matter. I trust nothing will appear in print?”

    Lois shook her head. “I promise, Lex. We won’t print anything about your clients.”

    He turned to leave, then paused and turned around. “I would appreciate you passing on anything you learn about this thief. He needs to be called to account for what he’s done. As for Safetex’s clients, the matter will be investigated internally.”

    Lois watched as he left. Clark canted his head, listening for the car as Lex drove away.

    “Phew!” she said. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say we just got off easy.”

    “Trouble is, we do know better,” Clark said.

    “I think we should go warn Oliver,” she told him. “I mean, as much as I think it would be better if he came to us, if Lex’s goons find him first …”

    “He could be in trouble.” Clark nodded. “You’re right. Let me finish up here and take a shower and then we’ll go into town.”

    Lois smiled at him, giving him a quick kiss, running her finger down the middle of his t-shirt. “So, are we gonna take the truck or the, uh, Kent Express,” she added at a whisper.

    He grinned, kissing her back. “Admit it, you just love me for my super speed.”

    “Well, gotta admit, it sure comes in handy for, you know, going places and … other stuff.”

    Clark chuckled. “Ms Lane, you wouldn’t be suggesting something … uh, suggestive?”

    She giggled softly. “What would you say if I were?”

    “I’d say you better get a move on and fix the tractor, son.”

    Lois blushed furiously at the interruption from Clark’s dad. The blond farmer was grinning at them.

    “Um, I should go finish up in the house,” she said. She walked hurriedly past the older man, her cheeks flaming. It was one thing for the older couple to know that she and Clark sometimes slept together, it was another thing for them to actually witness anything intimate between them.

    Martha put her to work scrubbing the tiles in the half-bath. She was almost done when Clark came in.

    “Oops,” he said. “Guess I should use the upstairs.”

    “Yeah, you better,” she told him. “Otherwise you’ll get my nice clean tiles all dirty again. And your mom hasn’t done inspection yet.”

    He grinned. “Gotta say it. My mom’s tougher than your dad sometimes.”

    “Yeah. Why do you think he nicknamed her General Kent?”

    “I heard that, young lady,” Martha said, coming in. She looked up at Clark. “Look at your clothes,” she scolded. “There’s grease and oil all over them. Go upstairs and don’t come back down until you’ve showered and changed and then bring those clothes back down. Honestly, you’re as bad as your father when he decides to work on his motorcycle.”

    Clark mock-saluted her. “Ma’am, yes ma’am.”

    Lois stood watching as her boyfriend turned and went out. Martha turned back to her with a wink.

    “You missed a spot, sweetie,” was all she said, pointing to a tile that had a stubborn mark on it. Lois resumed scrubbing, trying to get the mark off.

    Half an hour later, Clark was ready to go and Lois had finished her own chores.

    “Mom, we’re going into Metropolis,” Clark told his mother. “That’s if Lois is allowed to be released on her own recognizance.”

    “That’s enough out of you, young man,” she said. “Lois has been working hard all morning.”

    “So have I,” he told her.

    “Don’t sass your mother, Smallville,” Lois told him. He turned a wounded look on her.

    “Well, I have,” he said.

    They decided to drive into the city, stopping in at the Daily Planet, as Chloe was working the afternoon shift. Just as they entered the bullpen, Lois heard someone exclaim in surprise.

    “Well, if that don’t beat all. Clark Kent.”

    Clark turned and stared at the stocky man with sandy blond hair. “Perry White?”

    The older man put out his hand. “How’s it hangin’ kid? Your old man’s doing pretty well for himself.”

    Lois listened as her boyfriend and the older man chatted. They hadn’t seen Perry since the party to introduce Jonathan as the new Kansas senator. Clark turned to her.

    “Mr White, you remember my girlfriend, Lois Lane.”

    She nodded. “Mr White.”

    “I’ve been hearing good things about you two,” the veteran journalist told them. “I have a couple of contacts at Central Kansas. Been reading some of your articles. You got potential.”

    “What brings you here, Mr White?” Clark asked politely.

    “Well, I’ve kind of been freelancing for the Planet for a couple of years. Boss wanted to talk to me about covering the foreign desk for a few months.”

    “That’s great.”

    “I bet you’ve got a few stories from the trenches,” Lois told him, remembering what Clark had told her about Perry’s expose on Lionel.

    “Maybe. Maybe,” he said. “Anyway, gotta run. Good seeing ya, kid.”

    “You too, Mr White.”

    He winked at them. “Keep up the good work, you two. I’d like to see you at this paper one day. The Planet could use some decent new blood.”

    Chloe came over just as Perry left.

    “Was that Perry White?” she asked.

    “Yeah,” Clark said.

    “Oh. Okay. I heard he was doing some freelance stuff for the Planet.”

    “He just said he was talking to someone about going to work the foreign desk,” Lois replied.

    Chloe nodded. “He better have all his ducks in a row, especially if Lex takes over as publisher.” She walked out with them so they could get coffees at a nearby café. Clark ordered for them and they sat down at a table.

    “Is that a possibility?” Clark asked. Lois bit her lip. If Lex was going to buy the Daily Planet, she wasn’t sure she wanted to work there.

    “The rumours have been flying thick and fast for the last month. Last I heard, there was some kind of bidding war brewing between Luthorcorp and Wayne Media.”

    Lois frowned. Bruce had mentioned something about Lex and the Daily Planet but she couldn’t quite remember what he’d said. She was confused about something else.

    “Why would Lex buying the Daily Planet affect Mr White getting a job on the foreign desk?”

    “Because of the way Lionel railroaded his career a few years back,” Chloe said.

    Lois nodded. She’d forgotten about that.

    “Plus he wrote the front page story when Lionel was convicted of murder two years ago,” Clark reminded her. “I think he wouldn’t be happy working for a Luthor.”

    “Yeah, I’d be with him there,” Lois said. “I don’t think I could ever work for Lex.”

    “I guess it’s just a matter of who dares wins, or who has the best bid,” Chloe replied, sipping her coffee. “Anyway, what’s going on?”

    “We’re going to go see you-know-who,” Lois told her.

    “Voldemort?” her cousin asked, smirking.

    “Very funny. You know who we’re talking about.”

    They’d talked about it on the way into the city. Clark had come around to her way of thinking of coming straight out and asking Oliver about Green Arrow, although he thought they should at least be subtle about it. He was still planning on x-raying the man’s apartment to see if he could confirm their suspicions.

    “Yeah, I’m not sure about this plan. You really think confronting him is the way to go?”

    “It worked for Bruce,” Clark said. “Besides, we have a new problem.” He quickly told her about Lex’s visit that morning.

    “I don’t know. I mean, if he is who we think he is, don’t you think he’d have that covered?”

    “If his motives are more altruistic than suspect, I think he at least deserves to know,” Lois told her cousin.

    “I guess that’s true. Well, good luck.” She picked up her phone. “I gotta get back to work.” She sighed. “I always get the worst shifts.”

    “What time do you finish tonight?” Clark said.

    “Not until midnight,” she responded. “I’m kind of pulling double duty.” She got up. “Anyway, I’ll see you guys tomorrow at the Inn.”

    The parents had decided to throw a barbecue at the Inn. It was partly a summer celebration for the newly married couple as well as a good chance for the senator to network.

    Lois was feeling a little dubious about their plan as they headed to the clocktower where Oliver Queen was apparently living. In their research about the Star City billionaire, they had learned that he was staying in Metropolis for a few months as he had a couple of business projects he was working on.

    She stood on the pavement, looking up at the building opposite them. She hated being wishy-washy. Her father had always told her to make a decision and stick to it, but she didn’t know how the other man would react to a direct accusation.

    “I don’t know,” she said, chewing on her lip. “Do you think maybe …”

    “I don’t think there’s really any other way to do this,” Clark said. “Unless we wait around for Green Arrow to show himself.”

    “I guess so.”

    “He needs to know, Lois. I mean, if he really is what we think he is, he needs to know that Lex is gunning for him.”

    She nodded. Clark was right. She heaved a sigh. “Okay. Let’s do this.”

    They crossed the street and entered through the main door of the building. There was no lobby as such. Just an entry hall and an elevator with what appeared to be a rusted door. Lois wondered if the look was deliberate in order to try to fool anyone else into thinking the building was largely unoccupied.

    Clark looked around and pressed the button. Lois heard the whine and clank of machinery and the thud of something coming to a stop behind the metal door. Clark lifted the door and pulled open a cage.

    They entered the elevator and Lois pushed the button for what she assumed was used to operate the lift. Instead, a screen flickered to life.

    “Can I help you?” a woman asked.

    “We’re here to see Mr Queen,” Clark said, leaning forward. Lois saw what looked like a microphone just below the screen.

    “Do you have an appointment?” the woman, clearly an assistant of some kind, asked tersely.

    “No. But could you please tell him it’s Clark Kent and Lois Lane. We need to speak with him on an urgent matter.”

    There was a long pause, then the woman came back on the line. “Very well.”

    The elevator began moving slowly upwards. After what felt like a long ascent, the exterior door opened and a dark-haired woman greeted them.

    “This way, please,” she said.

    They were led into a large living area. Lois could see the reverse of the clock face on one wall. A glass desk was on a raised platform on the opposite wall. On her right was a huge bookcase.

    Oliver Queen stepped down from behind the desk and smiled at them.

    “Could you leave us, please?” he said to his assistant.

    “Of course, Mr Queen. Mr Kent. Miss Lane.”

    The blond man gazed at them. “So, what’s this urgent matter you needed to talk to me about?”

    Lois took a deep breath. It was now or never.

    “How about the fact that you’re Green Arrow?” she said.

  6. #81
    aka EB phoenixnz's Avatar
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    Chapter Thirty

    Clark sighed softly as Oliver Queen stared at them. His expression was neutral, but Clark had already caught the look of surprise that washed over the man’s face for a split second.

    Lois Lane was never really known for subtlety. He understood and had agreed they needed to catch the man off-guard, but he hadn’t been sure about doing it this way. Just a few minutes ago, she hadn’t been sure either.

    “Excuse me?” Oliver said, looking at Lois. Clark took the opportunity of the momentary distraction to x-ray around the room. Behind the clock was a secret room with a collection of arrows and a couple of bows. They weren’t ordinary bows either. They both had electronics installed. Oliver might be able to cover himself by saying he did archery for sport, but the equipment was too sophisticated for that.

    “We know you’re Green Arrow,” Lois told him. “We’ve done the research and there is just no way it could be anyone else.”

    “I see. And why would you think this is important for me to know?”

    Clark spoke up. “We’ve been following reports of several thefts among Metropolis’, uh, wealthier citizens and we’re pretty sure Green Arrow is the one behind it. The company responsible for their security is also looking for Green Arrow.”

    “Again, why do you think I need to know about it?”

    “The company is a subsidiary of Luthorcorp,” Lois told him. “And you and Lex are, um, old friends.”

    The man cocked an eyebrow. “Friends? Hardly.” He ran a hand over his spiky blond hair. “Look, I’m sure you think …”

    “We’ve done our homework, Mr Queen,” Clark said.

    “Oliver.”

    “Fine. Oliver. We’ve been researching Green Arrow. We know he started off in Star City about a year after you returned from that island. We also know that most of the people Green Arrow has hit has been a select group.”

    “Mostly rich, apparently corrupt,” Lois interjected.

    Clark continued, explaining what they’d uncovered about the thefts.

    “Only someone with powerful connections would have the inside scoop on them, as it were.”

    “Well, that’s great. Congratulations on your research. It still doesn’t provide proof.” Oliver’s smirk was a challenge.

    “Well, how about this for proof?” Clark asked. He nodded toward the secret room. “There is a room behind that clock where you keep your equipment. How about we stop playing games, Oliver, and start telling the truth.”

    Oliver stared at him. He appeared to think about it for a minute or so, before picking up what looked to Clark like a remote, opening the doors. They slid smoothly open, revealing the secret room. Lois whistled as she saw the equipment.

    The blond billionaire looked at Clark.

    “Why don’t we start with how you knew about this?”

    “I asked you first. Why Green Arrow?”

    “Why not?” Oliver said with a shrug. “Before I was marooned on that island, I was like every other spoiled rich kid. I didn’t care about anything or anyone. Three years away and I got a good look at myself. I didn’t like what I saw. When I came home, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Then I found something. My dad had kept detailed notes. On all the corruption going on in my city. All the rich a$sholes who basically got away with murder. So yeah, I became Green Arrow. To show them that I wasn’t going to let them push people around anymore. That I wasn’t going to let them get away with what they’d done. They could buy off the local police, buy their silence, but they weren’t going to buy me off.”

    “So you blackmailed them?” Lois asked.

    “I forced them to sign over money to various charitable organisations. The ones I knew weren’t in it just to line their pockets.”

    “So, you really are a Robin Hood.”

    “I guess you could say I borrowed the concept. There is a world of hurt out there. Someone needs to step up.”

    Clark studied him. The way Oliver was looking at him, he wondered if the man thought he was sitting back and doing nothing.

    “I’m doing what I can,” he said.

    “A guy with your abilities? Not enough.”

    “Well, you know what?” Lois said. “We’ve got bigger problems.”

    “Yeah, I know. What exactly are you doing about Lex? You know he’s already tried taking your kid once.”

    “Her name is Kally!” Lois said firmly. “And we’re doing everything we can to protect her.”

    “Not enough. I got rid of the Dr Loman problem. You’re welcome, by the way. But there will be others.”

    “What do you know about it?” Clark asked, thinking there was much more to Oliver Queen’s activities than he was telling.

    “More than you, obviously.”

    “Then tell us what you think he had planned for Kally,” Lois demanded. “Or do you just not trust us?”

    “It’s not a matter of trust, Lois. The less you know, the less Lex can get out of you.”

    “You really think we’re going to blab to him?”

    “No. But from what I’ve heard about you, you are more likely to blurt out something stupid when you’re riled up.”

    “Hey!” Clark said, not liking the way the man was basically attacking Lois. “You don’t talk to her that way!”

    Lois waved a hand at him as if to say she could handle this herself.

    “You know what, Mr Queen? I don’t like you. I think you’re rude and obnoxious.”

    “Well, that’s your opinion,” he replied.

    Lois glared at him. “When it comes to my daughter,” she said firmly, “I will do whatever it takes to protect her. Even if that means letting someone like Lex get away with … whatever. I’m not stupid. I know when he’s trying to get something out of us. At least I know which side he’s on. You? Not so much. Just because you think you’re some kind of Robin Hood doesn’t mean I’m going to trust you. We came here because we thought you needed a heads up on Lex. Don’t make me regret that.”

    She turned and walked out. Clark started to follow her, then paused to glare at Oliver. The blond man looked almost chastened by Lois’ tirade.

    “Wow! She’s feisty.”

    “She gets that way when it comes to our daughter,” Clark told him. “Don’t mess with Mama Bear.”

    “Good thing she doesn’t have any of your powers then.”

    Clark nodded. Obviously, Oliver had done his own research about him. The question was, why had he involved Bruce Wayne?

    “Did you tell Bruce Wayne about me?” he asked.

    The other man looked at him. “Maybe I did.”

    “How do you know so much about me? About my abilities?”

    He could hear Lois pacing the tiled floor, muttering angrily. He wanted to go placate her, but this was something he needed to know.

    “Well, you have to admit, it’s not every day you see somebody fast enough to catch an arrow, now is it?”

    “That doesn’t answer the question. How did you know?” Clark studied him. The man had to have learned about him through someone who had worked with Clark before.

    “Does it matter?”

    “It does if you’re going to be telling all and sundry about me.”

    “I only talked to Bruce Wayne.”

    Clark snorted. “Isn’t it funny that you told him all about me, yet he wouldn’t tell me who you were?”

    “What exactly are you implying?”

    “Why should we trust you when you told him?”

    “It’s not as if he didn’t already know about you. Or at least, enough to have some concerns about you. Look, Bruce and I work in the same circles, and I’m not just talking about me being Green Arrow. He came to me and asked me what I knew about you. That’s it.”

    “That still doesn’t tell me how you knew about my abilities. Who did you talk to? Pete?”

    The other man stared at him, his expression suggesting he might know the name but that was it.

    “I have no idea who that is.”

    Clark chewed his lip. “Then it has to be … Bart?”

    Oliver blinked. It wasn’t much of a reaction but it was enough.

    “So it was Bart,” Clark said. “What’s Bart got to do with you?”

    “He’s working for me.”

    “Doing what, exactly?”

    Oliver shook his head. It was obvious he wasn’t keen on spilling all his secrets just yet.

    “Smallville!” Lois called. “You coming?”

    “I’ll be right there, Lois.” He glared at the blond man. Having had time to think about it, he realised that there was more to Oliver’s story than tracking down artifacts bought on the black market. Why would the man have only chosen clients of Safetex Security unless he had some kind of vendetta against Lex. “The thing about trust is, it’s a two-way street. You want us to trust you, then you’re going to have to start by telling us what exactly you’re doing here. And what your interest is in Lex.” He paused to let that sink in. Oliver looked at him coolly. “No need to call your assistant, or whatever. We’ll let ourselves out.”

    Lois was quietly fuming as they returned home. Clark did his best to try to talk her out of her mood.

    “He is unbelievable,” she said.

    “Lo …”

    “No, don’t try to placate me, Smallville. Don’t tell me you know where he’s coming from.”

    “I kind of do,” he said. “I mean, it’s like Bruce said. How does he really know he can trust us? Or me, anyway.”

    If he had to look at things from their perspective, he realised that, like most people, they would be inherently suspicious of someone with his abilities. If he hadn’t been brought up to respect others and if he was anyone else, he was sure that their views would be justified.

    “That’s not the point. I mean, it’s like my dad’s always saying. You want someone to trust you, you have to show that you can be trusted.”

    He nodded. While she did make a good point, he thought in some ways Oliver had already shown that. He could have continued to deny he was Green Arrow, even after Clark had told him that he’d seen the room. Not that he had explained exactly how he had known that.

    “Honey, I know you don’t like him, or Bruce either, for that matter, but try to see things from their perspective. I mean, imagine if Lex had my abilities. Can you imagine what kinds of things he would do with them?”

    “The world would be in trouble,” she said, nodding. “Then again, he doesn’t need your abilities to do that. Imagine if he had won the senate seat.”

    Clark shuddered at the thought. He remembered an argument in one of his classes before the election. One of his classmates had argued that Clark’s dad wasn’t qualified to be a senator, because of his farming background, whereas Lex at least had a higher profile. While Clark had chosen to stay neutral, another classmate had taken the other side of the argument and suggested that Lex’s high profile was precisely the reason why he shouldn’t be elected. There had always been rumours about Lex’s teen years when he’d been more interested in drinking and partying than actually being responsible. Since he’d only been 25 at the time of the election, and had basically been running Luthorcorp for a year, they felt he hadn’t proved he could be trusted with the responsibilities that went with being a senator.

    Having experienced it first-hand, Clark had felt his classmate was right. It took a lot more than being raised to be ruthless in business. A senator’s job was to do what was best for everyone, not just a select few. Maybe Clark’s dad wasn’t a businessman, but he had the support of the people, and that was what had given him the votes.

    The problem with Lex was that the only thing he was interested in was power. Clark remembered all the times Lex had mentioned Alexander the Great, as if the Macedonian king was someone the other man looked up to. He’d spoken often about the man’s rise to power - all before he reached the age of 30.

    He kept thinking about it as they sat down at the kitchen table for coffee.

    “What is it, Smallville?” Lois asked. “You’ve got that look about you.”

    “What look?” he asked.

    “That ‘I’ve got the world on my shoulders’ look. Either that or you’re constipated,” she added with a smirk.

    He mock-glared at her. “Cute,” he returned. “Not funny, but cute.”

    “No, come on, tell me.”

    “Just thinking about Lex. Why do you think he wanted to be senator?”

    She picked up a spoon and began stirring her coffee as she thought about it.

    “Remember when that girl attacked your dad and he was in the hospital?”

    Clark nodded. The girl had been a fanatic. She led a group of students supporting Lex’s campaign for senate, but had taken things too far when she’d had some of her members threaten his father and try to convince him to drop out of the race. Clark and Lois had come to the farm to study that night when they’d discovered his father unconscious. The students had beaten him before tying a rope around his ankles and hoisting him in the air, using the hoist often used for taking the engine out of the truck, or the tractor.

    Lex had heard about it and had come to the hospital to find out how Clark’s father was. They’d told him that he wasn’t exactly popular, even though he assured them he had nothing to do with what had happened and was just as angry as they were.

    “He said it was a stepping stone,” Lois reminded him.

    He’d also said something about Icarus. Clark remembered the Greek tragedy about the man who wanted to escape imprisonment, so he’d created wings to fly. He’d used wax on the wings and had flown too close to the sun. While it was technically impossible, Clark understood the moral of the story was not to over-reach or get too arrogant. He had realised at the time that Lex wanted to do something which took him out from under his father’s shadow.

    That was the whole problem with Lex. He’d been raised by a man who didn’t like weakness. All his life, the younger Luthor had been criticised: for his asthma, his hair loss, his apparent inability to stand up for himself. Lionel had bullied him and undermined his self-esteem to a point where there were only two ways of dealing with it. Withdraw and become so repressed that he never emerged from his shell, or become the bully himself.

    That was why he relentlessly pursued the idea of power. Even though Lionel was dead, the ghost of him still haunted Lex. As ruthless as the older man had been in business, Lex often acted as if his father’s example was the yardstick he held himself against, and he always found himself wanting.

    Clark explained this to Lois.

    “Well, yeah, but that’s because his schemes have a habit of going kerplooey.”

    “I think a lot of this started long before I met him,” Clark said. “But a few years ago, Lionel decided to close down the fertiliser plant and lay every worker off. Lex decided to invest in the plant and he created his own company: LexCorp.”

    “So, what happened?”

    “He lost a bid on an important contract. Then Lionel blackmailed people into selling their shares, threatening to close their mortgages at the bank if they didn’t do what he wanted.”

    Lois huffed angrily. “It’s a good thing Lionel’s dead. I mean, I don’t like the guy, but I can imagine how it must have felt for him.”

    “Yeah, I know. The thing is, he’s like … you know, he is like Icarus. He’s over-reaching and it’s just making things worse. I guess he thinks if he can become like the President or something, nothing can touch him.”

    “I guess. But the trouble with that is, he could still fall and take the rest of the world with him.”

    They discussed the problem after dinner that night with the parents.

    “Well, as concerned as I am about this whole business, I do think you need to give Oliver the benefit of the doubt,” Clark’s dad said. “He did help with that doctor. And don’t forget, he endorsed my campaign.”

    Lois’ eyes widened. “Oh, yeah, I forgot about that. I wonder why he did that?”

    “That’s something we’ll have to ask him,” Clark said.

    The phone rang and his mother got up to answer it. “Kent Farm. Oh, Sam, hello. Yes, she’s right here.” She handed the phone to Lois, who got up and took the phone with her.

    Clark decided it was a good time to make his own call. He grabbed his cellphone and went outside, dialling a number.

    “Hello?”

    “Hey, Bart.” The other man’s tone was hesitant but he tried to sound as breezy as he normally did.

    “Hey, Stretch. How’s it going?”

    “Oliver Queen,” Clark said, not wanting to delay the moment.

    “Uh, who?”

    “Don’t play games, Bart. What are you …”

    His hair was blown back by a breeze and the younger man was suddenly there in front of him. He had changed a little in the two years since Clark had seen him last. His hair was slightly longer and was now brown instead of blond.

    Bart shrugged at Clark’s look of surprise.

    “Figured you’d wanna have this conversation in person,” he said.

    “How did you get involved with Oliver Queen?” Clark asked.

    “Why? I mean, what’s it got to do with you?”

    “Other than the fact you’ve been talking to him about me.”

    “He knew that I knew you and he asked me about you. I didn’t tell him everything, I swear.”

    “Tell me.”

    Before Bart could start explaining, Clark’s parents came out.

    “Bart,” his mother said, smiling at the younger man. “It’s nice to see you. Are you hungry?”

    Bart submitted to a hug and grinned as Clark’s dad clapped him on the back. He started to walk inside with them but stopped and stared at Lois.

    “Whoa,” he said. “Who’s the chica?”

    Clark looked at him. “I told you about Lois, right?”

    “Wow, man. You’re one lucky dude. She’s hot!”

    Lois grinned. “I’ll take that as a compliment.” She wrapped her arms around Clark. “I have to get going, honey. It’s Kally’s bedtime and she’s refusing to go to bed. She’s driving Mom and Dad crazy.”

    He nodded and kissed her. “Okay. We’ll see you at the barbecue tomorrow.”

    Bart looked up from the table. He’d already started eating what had been left over from dinner. At least this time he was showing some manners and not inhaling everything in sight like he normally did when he visited.

    “Barbecue?” he asked with a hopeful expression.

    “Yes, you can come. As long as you behave yourself and don’t try to Hoover everything in sight,” Lois told him with a smirk.

    Bart just grinned unrepentantly. “Sounds like my reputation precedes me,” he said.

    “That and my dad is a four-star general,” Lois replied. “Retired. So he doesn’t know about all this super powers stuff.”

    “Oh, I’m sure Bart will be on his best behaviour, won’t you, sweetie?” Clark’s mom said fondly.

    “Anything for you, Mrs K.”

    Clark followed Lois out to her car. He hugged her and gave her a brief kiss.

    “I’ll see you tomorrow,” she said.

    “Give Kally a big kiss from me. If you need me …”

    “I know. You’ll be there in a flash.” She looked toward the house. “Don’t be too hard on him, okay? He’s probably just trying to figure out where he fits. Whatever he’s doing with Oliver, it’s probably for a good cause.”

    “I thought you didn’t like Oliver?” he asked.

    “I don’t. But it doesn’t mean his heart’s not in the right place,” she returned. She kissed him again. “Goodnight, Smallville.”

    Clark watched her drive off, then returned to the house. Bart was standing at the counter, having cleaned up.

    “Your mom and dad invited me to stay the night,” Bart said.

    Clark nodded. “That’s cool. So … Oliver?”

    The younger man sighed. “Okay, so here’s how it went down. I was in Star City and, you know, kind of down on my luck and I was stealing food from people’s plates.” Clark was about to admonish him, but Bart continued. “Relax, Stretch, they had already finished. I just took what was left.”

    “If things were that bad, why didn’t you come back here?”

    “You were kind of busy what with school and your dad’s campaign. I didn’t want to be in the way. Anyway, Oliver must have seen me do my thing and he tracked me down. Kind of like you did when I stole your dad’s wallet.”

    “I see.” Clark nodded again, recalling how Chloe had helped him track Bart down by tracking the purchases made on his father’s credit card. The runaway teen had turned up at the farm where Clark had basically taken his new friend under his wing and learned that Bart had run away from home after some kind of accident had given him super speed and a very high metabolism. He’d survived on the streets by stealing. It was only when he’d stolen something from Lex that Clark had had to go to his rescue.

    “Anyway, he offered me a job working for him.”

    “What did you tell him about me?”

    “Nothing that he didn’t already know,” Bart assured him. “I told him you were a good guy and that you’re my friend. Other than that …” he shrugged. “I figured if you wanted him to know, you’d tell him.”

    “Thanks, Bart. I appreciate that.” He wanted to know what kind of job Oliver had hired him to do, but he guessed that was one of the things his friend was prickly about.

    “I know you wanna ask. I mean, I get it. It’s just … I’m not sure it’s my thing to tell.”

    “I understand,” he said. He knew Bart was fiercely protective of his friends and wouldn’t just spill secrets. “You don’t have to say any more.”

    “I did tell Oliver that he should talk to you. Especially now because he knows that you know.”

    Which meant Bart had talked to him in the past few hours.

    “It’s okay, Bart. I’m sure Oliver will tell us when he feels the time is right.”

  7. #82
    Forum Regular Sykobee's Avatar
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    Giving the reply thing a other shot, even though it hasn't worked the last couple times😒 Great chapters; thanks for the new updates. More and more His Bad Baldness reminds me of and seems like the inspiration for the current sleezeball in the Oval Office.That whole power and corruption thing is nightmare worthy.

    Again, greatly appreciate your talent and willingness to share especially in these tense, uncertain times.
    ~Stay safe.

  8. #83
    aka EB phoenixnz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sykobee View Post
    Giving the reply thing a other shot, even though it hasn't worked the last couple times Great chapters; thanks for the new updates. More and more His Bad Baldness reminds me of and seems like the inspiration for the current sleezeball in the Oval Office.That whole power and corruption thing is nightmare worthy.

    Again, greatly appreciate your talent and willingness to share especially in these tense, uncertain times.
    ~Stay safe.
    The funny thing is that when somebody was voted in office, I couldn't help but compare it to Smallville's vision of the future. Except it seems to be getting worse in real life. I worry about all my friends living in such turbulent times in the US. We might not be perfect here in little NZ, but we're doing better than some.

    Anyway, while RL has had me really busy, it was nice to get a little bit of an escape with this story. I'm glad you enjoyed the chapters. New one coming right up.

  9. #84
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    Chapter Thirty-One

    Lois had been busy outside helping Bubsy set out some chairs when she heard her daughter crying. This wasn’t the normal ‘I want my own way’ sort of cry. This was full-on sobbing as if she’d had a bad fright. Alarmed, Lois headed for the door when Lucy came out holding the toddler in her arms very gingerly. Kally was just about screaming. She was also covered in something very sticky.


    “What happened?” Lois asked her sister.

    “She got into the pantry.” Lucy had been watching her niece in the parlour and explained she had been distracted for just a second. That was when Kally had wandered into the kitchen. “You know that bottle of maple syrup Jenny keeps on the shelf? She somehow managed to get hold of it and dropped it. The crash gave her a pretty good fright and she slipped and fell in the syrup and got it all over her.”


    “Oh my goodness!” Bubsy had come over to see what the fuss was all about.


    “Jenny’s going to be so mad when she finds out Kally broke the bottle,” Lucy said, sounding almost gleeful. For once, she wasn’t the one in trouble.


    Lois looked at her daughter, who was looking rather disgruntled at not being given the comfort she wanted. Lois shook her head. She’d been fighting the urge to laugh at the little girl’s sticky predicament.


    “We told you not to go into the kitchen by yourself.”


    “Hungwy, Mommy.” It looked like she’d gone to find something to eat.


    She sighed. “Well, now look at you. I’m going to have to give you a bath, young lady.”


    “I can do it,” Lucy offered. “It was my fault.”


    “No, it’s not your fault, sweetie. She’s just too much like her dad. Into mischief.”


    “I resemble that remark,” Clark responded, clearly having heard what she’d said. Lois grinned at her boyfriend. She noticed Bart was beside him. They’d obviously come over in the truck.


    “Deny it all you want, Smallville, but your mom’s told me a few family secrets. Especially about the time you decided you weren’t going to take a bath and gave your dad the slip. Then ran around the house without a stitch of clothing on.”


    “Must be thinking about some other kid named Clark Kent,” he said with a cheesy grin. He looked at Kally. “Look at you, squirt. Looks like you landed head-first in a jar of molasses.” The toddler reached for her father but he took a step back. “Nope. Sorry, munchkin, but you need a bath.”


    Lucy grinned and turned to take the toddler back inside. Lois’ father came out. He smirked at his by now pouting grand-daughter as he passed.


    “Hello, son. Come to give me a hand with the grill?”


    Clark grinned at him. “Yes sir.” He turned. “Ah, this is my friend Bart. Bart, this is Lois’ dad. General Sam Lane.”


    “Just Mr Lane, Bart. I’m just good ol’ Joe Public now.”


    Lois chuckled, watching her father clap a hand on Clark’s shoulder as the two of them walked over to the grill. Bart cocked an eyebrow at her but followed the other two. She looked at her stepmother.


    “Anything else you want me to do, Mom?” she asked.


    “No, sweetie. I think we’re all done here. I’m going to go help Jenny with the salads.” She glanced over toward the front of the Inn and frowned. “Oh, looks like we have guests arriving already.”


    Lois frowned. “The party doesn’t start until …” She looked around. Oliver. What was he doing here? “I don’t think he’s here for lunch. I’m just going to go see what he wants.”


    She watched as the older woman went back inside and went over to greet Oliver.


    “What are you doing here?”


    “I thought we should talk. Look, I realise now my timing isn’t so great, but since you and your boyfriend did me the courtesy of giving me a heads up, I thought I should return the favour.”


    “You’re right. This isn’t a good time. That’s my father with Clark and he doesn’t know anything about the … well, you know.”


    The blond man nodded. “Yeah, I get it. Look, I had a talk with Bruce after you left and he told me a few things.”


    “Like, what? Exactly?”


    “Just that I better not piss you off. He seemed to like you, and well, Bruce doesn’t really like anybody.”


    She nodded. That had been her assessment of the other man as well. Oliver went on to explain that the man known as Gotham’s protector had been impressed with her personally but he’d been even more impressed with her willingness to protect her family. If there was one thing Bruce understood, it was the desire to protect those he loved. Even if there was really only Alfred left.


    “Anyway, I’d like you and Clark to come to the clocktower tomorrow night. I’ll even cook dinner.”


    She stared at him. “You cook?”


    “Nothing fancy. I had to learn the hard way and to be honest, I kind of like it.”


    “The hard way?” she asked with a frown.


    “Being stranded on an island for three years, you have to learn or you die. Simple as that.”


    She winced. “Sorry. I forgot that for a moment.”


    He shrugged. “No big. So, let’s say six-thirty tomorrow? You can bring your kid if you want.”


    She chose not to correct him, figuring she at least owed him one since she had pretty much blurted things out.


    “I’ll see if my parents will babysit,” she told him, knowing they couldn’t really have a private conversation if they wanted to protect Kally. At least for now. She might not understand everything that was said, but she could innocently reveal something neither one of them wanted to get out.


    He smiled. “Great. So, I’ll see you both at six-thirty tomorrow then.”


    She waited until he’d left before going over to Clark. He frowned at her, obviously having seen some of the exchange. She wondered if he’d heard any of it, but figured since he’d been chatting with her father, he probably hadn’t.


    “What was that all about?” her father asked.


    “Mr Queen wanted to talk to us about a story we’re working on.”


    “Hmm,” he replied, his eyebrow raised in what she took to be a sceptical expression. “I’m surprised he came out here himself instead of sending someone.”


    “I think Oliver’s very ‘hands-on’ with his company,” Clark answered. “So, what were you talking about?”


    “Nothing. He just invited us to have dinner with him at his apartment tomorrow night.” She shot him a look and he nodded. She assumed he understood her meaning.


    “Anyway, General, you were talking about your tour in Afghanistan.”


    “I’ve told you before, call me Sam. Eventually I hope you’ll be comfortable enough to call me Dad. I mean, you two are still planning on getting married.”


    “We will,” Clark affirmed. “After college.”


    “Clark’s right, Daddy. We want to make sure we’re both settled in good jobs before we even consider moving in together.”


    “I think that’s very wise,” Bubsy replied. Lois smiled at her. “Too many young people are in such a hurry these days. I think you both have very good heads on your shoulders.”


    Lois wrapped an arm around her stepmother and squeezed gently in a loving gesture. She was glad to have the support of both her father and stepmother. Even knowing that things had got off to a very rough start with her having Kally so young, she knew her father was proud of her for having learned from her mistakes and was doing things right by both her daughter and her boyfriend.


    “I had a good teacher,” she said, giving both her parents a smile.


    Lucy came back out with a now clean toddler. Kally at least looked a little happier now she wasn’t covered in maple syrup. Lois guessed her daughter wouldn’t forget the incident in a hurry. Especially for the fact that she had barely any sympathy from either of her parents or her grandparents. A friend in one of her classes had mentioned she had a pet that once done something similar.


    “Kids and pets,” she’d said. “They’re always doing silly things like that.”


    A few more guests showed up, including Clark’s parents and the men stood around the grill, drinking and talking. Lois couldn’t help grinning at her boyfriend who had taken on the role of assistant chef, working alongside her father who was happily manning the grill, a chef’s hat Lucy had made for him perched on his head. Bubsy was sitting beside Jonathan, chatting and laughing at the other men’s antics.


    “I soo need to get a photo,” she commented to Martha, who was sitting at a table opposite her as they relaxed waiting for the food to be done.


    The redhead laughed. “I have a photo of Jonathan the first summer after we got married. He was doing the same thing as your dad, wearing these tight little shorts. He always had good legs. Nice buns, too.”


    Lois laughed, thinking her future mother-in-law’s adoring expression was rather cute. It seemed that even after twenty or more years of marriage, the couple were as much in love as they ever were. “Somehow I don’t think I’ll ever see Clark in shorts like that.” Her boyfriend practically lived in jeans and flannel. The few times she had seen him in something other than his regular everyday clothes, he had looked amazing. He had a body that was made for clothes that showed it off. “Honestly, I’d love to see him in anything other than jeans and plaid. I mean, you know, actual stylish stuff.”


    “I know. Jonathan’s the same these days. At least now that he’s a senator, he lets me buy him actual business-wear, although he still protests that ‘the people’ …” She gestured in air quotes to emphasise. “…voted for a farmer and that was who they wanted to see.”

    “God forbid Clark ever turn up to work at the Daily Planet or something in a flannel shirt and jeans. He’ll be called ‘brawny lumberjack’ or ‘flannel man’ or something.”


    “I’m sure you’ll both have worked that out by the time that happens, sweetheart.” The older woman studied her for a long moment. “I wanted to say … I know it hasn’t been easy, what with having Kally and Clark’s secret and everything, but I want you to know that I couldn’t wish for a better woman to support my son; now, or in the future. I never really thought Lana was right for him. They had too many dramas between them. I think the two of you have always had a different kind of connection.”


    “Thank you. That means a lot.”


    “Being a parent isn’t easy. Well, you’d know. If you think being a mother of a toddler is hard, imagine being the mother of a little boy who doesn’t know his own strength.”


    “It can’t have been easy for you,” she said.


    “It wasn’t. It wasn’t just the fact that he was stronger than other children. When he first came to us, he didn’t know English. There were a lot of things he didn’t know. Like how to use the potty. Everything was so … alien. I can’t really think of a word that describes it any better than that. But it wasn’t just that. I used to lie awake nights worrying that someone might find out who he really was and take him away. Those first few months, I just sat in a chair in his room, watching him sleep. It was so hard to believe that he was really mine and that it wasn’t all just a dream.”


    Lois nodded, listening. They’d already had a few talks but this was the first time Martha had really ever told her anything about those early days when Clark had first come to Earth. She couldn’t imagine how difficult it must have been, helping a little boy adjust to the strange new world he found himself in and fearing that something was going to happen to take all that away. It was little wonder that Clark’s parents had never really been comfortable with his friendship with Lex. As much as they clearly sympathised with the way the young billionaire had been brought up, there had always been the fear that Lionel would return asking for yet another ‘favour’ in return for his silence over Clark’s adoption.


    “I worry about Kally sometimes,” she said when Martha finished. “I know it’s a long way off, but I can’t help wondering what sort of powers she’ll have and what people will do once they find out about them.”


    “I know, but you’re doing a wonderful job with her.” Martha’s gaze shifted to the little girl, who was sitting on her grandpa’s lap playing some kind of game with him. Whatever it was, it had her giggling. “All I can tell you is keep doing what you’re doing. You and Clark. I have to admit, learning that Clark had had a child with a girl he barely knew, despite the circumstances - at first, I was very upset. Please don’t take that to mean that I …”


    Lois shook her head. “I don’t. It’s okay. From what Clark tells me, you were still a lot calmer than my dad when he found out.”


    “Now I can’t imagine life any other way. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that she is a mistake.”


    “She’s not,” Lois said, remembering the interview so many months ago when they’d had to defend their actions. “She’s a gift. Like Clark.”


    “As are you, sweetheart.” Martha turned away to pick up her bag from one of the picnic tables. “I’ve been trying to find the right time to give you this, and I think now is the time.” She took a small box from her bag and laid it on the table, sliding it over. Lois looked at it. It looked like a small jewellery box made of polished wood. It was clearly some years old. She opened the lid and saw a heart-shaped locket. It was probably gold-plated and a little tarnished as it was a darker colour.


    “When Jonathan and I first got engaged, I was worried his mother wasn’t going to like me. I’d heard she was kind of particular and I was afraid I wouldn’t measure up to everything she’d been to him. The day we got married, she gave me this locket and told me the thing she couldn’t measure was how happy Jonathan was since he met me. And now, I’m passing it onto you. I know that when you and Clark do eventually settle down together, you will be as happy as Jonathan and I are. Don’t get me wrong, sweetheart. Marriage is never perfect. There will be ups and downs and I know you have a hard road ahead, but I’m confident that as long as you believe in each other, you can do anything.”


    Lois smiled. She knew from some of the stories she’d heard that some couples weren’t so lucky, especially with their in-laws, but she knew just how lucky she was with both Martha and Jonathan, whom she loved as she did her own parents.


    The next evening, she dithered over what to wear to dinner at Oliver’s. Since he was cooking, she thought she should dress casually. It wasn’t as if she felt as if she had to impress the man. She finally decided on a simple shift that was cool but not too dressy.


    Kally sat on her bed, watching her as she picked up the locket.


    “Pretty, Mommy.”


    “It is, isn’t it, sweetie? Will you be a good girl for Grandma and Grandpa?”


    Kally nodded her head in an exaggerated way. “We gonna watch movie,” she said.


    “A movie, huh? Let me guess. Elmo?” The muppet was her favourite toy and they’d got her some DVDs with some animated short movies. Lois had no doubt her parents would be planning on watching something else later. Probably a silly comedy they both appeared to enjoy.


    “Yup.”


    The door to her cabin opened and Clark came in. “Are you ready?”


    Lois turned to look at him. “I can’t quite get this clasp,” she said.


    “Let me do that,” he said. She held her long hair up so he could fix the necklace. “Okay?” he asked.


    “I’m a little nervous. I mean, after what I said the other day, I guess I did come on a little strong.”


    “At least he’s willing to talk. That means something.”


    “I guess so.”


    Clark picked Kally up. “All right, munchkin. We gotta go. You have a good time with your movies, but no sweets.”


    “’K, Daddy. I love you.”


    “I love you too, squirt. Give Mommy a kiss goodnight.”


    Kally leaned over and pressed a kiss on Lois’ cheek. “G’night Mommy. I love you.”


    “Aww, I love you too, baby.”


    They left the Inn. Clark drove into the city, keeping to the speed limit. Lois often kidded him about driving like a grandmother but she figured he spent so much time super-speeding everywhere, driving at a slower speed was sort of relaxing for him. They arrived at the clocktower a few minutes before six-thirty. Clark found a park a block away from the building and helped her out of the truck.


    “By the way, you look pretty tonight. Then again, you could wear a sack and look gorgeous.”


    She deliberately fluttered her eyelashes at him. “My, my, Mr Kent. Such compliments could go to my head.”


    He rolled his eyes. “Geez, can’t a guy pay his girl a compliment?”


    She kissed him. “Don’t you know when I’m yanking your chain?” she said.


    “You wait, Lane.”


    “Oh, I’m waiting,” she said, glad for the momentary distraction from her nervousness.


    Oliver greeted them as the lift door opened. “Thanks for coming,” he said. “I’m glad you could make it.”


    “Well, I have to admit, I’m curious as to why you asked us to come,” Clark said.


    “Why don’t we sit and relax for a little. Let you refresh yourselves.”


    They settled on couches in what seemed to be a library, engaging in small talk which only served to make Lois’ nervousness return.


    “Uh, I think I owe you an apology for the way I spoke to you,” she said. “I shouldn’t …”


    The blond shook his head and waved his hand. “Don’t apologise for being forthright, Lois. May I call you Lois? I find it rather refreshing. And I was being obnoxious. You were very thorough in your research, I will say that, and I admit, you did catch me off-guard. It’s not many people who can do that.”


    He stood up. “I think dinner will be ready, so how about we go and enjoy the meal and then we can get down to why I really asked you here.”


    Dinner was an Italian dish with fettucine and chicken. Lois expressed delight at the tasty dish. She was surprised that he could cook something so well.


    “I’m not the best cook. If we didn’t have Jenny at the Inn, I think Bubsy would have to ban me from the kitchen,” Lois said.


    “Bubsy?”


    “She owns the Inn.” Lois explained how she had met the older woman and gave him the short version of how Bubsy had become her stepmother.


    “She sounds like an incredible woman,” Oliver said.


    “I’m surprised you didn’t know all about her already,” Clark said quietly.


    “Touche, Clark. To be honest, I didn’t do as much digging on Lois as I did on you. But I did do some.” He looked at her. “It seems you were quite the trouble-maker for a while there.”


    She shrugged. “I admit, I did rebel against my dad for a couple of years there. But having Kally changed that. A lot.”


    “No doubt. Having a child at your age is a huge responsibility. Then again, taking on someone like Clark, and everything that goes with it, is just as much of a responsibility.”


    “Maybe that’s true, but Clark and I love each other. We support each other. That’s what partners do.”


    Clark reached over the table and squeezed her hand. Oliver began to clear the table. She got up to help him, but he shook his head.


    “No, you’re my guests.”


    A few minutes later, they returned to the library. Oliver offered them coffee.


    “So,” Clark said.


    “Yeah. Look, the other day, the fact that you came here to warn me that Lex was gunning for me, or rather, Green Arrow, that was decent of you.”


    “We figured we owed you. For the doctor, I mean.”


    “That. The thing is, that whole business with your daughter, that didn’t stop just because I got rid of the good doctor for you. He’s fine, by the way. He has a research position at Queen Industries and is very happy with his lot.”


    “Not that we were worried.”


    “Of course. Have you ever heard of a project called 33.1?”


    Lois looked at Clark. He shook his head. “No.”


    “But you’ve heard of Belle Reve?”


    “Yeah. Lex was locked up there about three years ago.”


    “And ever since then, he’s been keeping a close eye on some of the residents there. Every time a so-called meteor freak, sorry, meteor-infected, has been admitted, he’s managed to get a copy of the file.”


    “What does this have to do with Kally?” Lois asked.


    “A source tells me that not only is Lex experimenting on these people, trying to figure out how to extract their abilities, but he thinks you, Clark, are the final piece of the puzzle.”


    “He thinks I’m meteor-infected?” Clark asked.


    “That I don’t know. But I do know that he hopes that if he can somehow get hold of your DNA, he might be able to use it.”


    “To do what?” Lois asked.


    “To build an army.”

  10. #85
    Forum Regular Sykobee's Avatar
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    The BBQ was a nice interlude between the tensions. I also like how Ollie has shown both his snark and heart. Wondering if he'll find a certain blonde interesting. Odd though, with all the conversations about the past, the foreshadowing of Lex's plan and the future, I've got the urge to do a re-read from the beginning. Yup, this fic has me prisoner and it's a happy situation as the warden is generous.

    Things are very tumultuous, and not in any good way, in this nation and sort of a reflection of global issues. Here's hoping all the loss, strife and pain lead to better things on every level, not limited to but especially ousting the Chump in the White House.
    ~Namaste

  11. #86
    Forum Regular Sykobee's Avatar
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    . . .Just went back to the beginning. What was the show that led you to this fic? Inquiring minds 😏

  12. #87
    aka EB phoenixnz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sykobee View Post
    . . .Just went back to the beginning. What was the show that led you to this fic? Inquiring minds 
    Gilmore Girls

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