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Revelations- Chapter Twenty-One

April 8th, 2010 (10:24 pm)
bouncy

I'm feeling: bouncy

A/N: Sorry for the lateness (again), Two exams and a 1500 word essay had me distracted for longer than I intended. Also, second reason I was late- RIP my epic, curvy, ergonomic-or-something-like-that keyboard that I've typed all my fics on since way back when :(. I'm now working on a weird little straight one that takes me so much longer (and hurts my wrist like a bitch!). Hopefully when I get a new one it'll go faster.

But to make up for the wait here's the longest chapter yet:

Chapter Twenty-One: Seven Days

--

Ella wasn't moving as she lay on the hard ground, her clothes slowly turning red. Dean fell over as well, a dark pool of liquid forming around him.

Then it was just Chris and the man with the green knife. He yelled as loud as he could but no sound came out. The man was grinning as he slowly walked towards him but Chris' feet were stuck to the pavement, he couldn't move, he couldn't run-

"Chris!"

His Dad was here! Chris turned around, looking for him as the man drew close, raising the knife-

"Chris, wake up," his Mom's voice ordered him.

He opened his eyes on his bedroom and sat up with a gasp. His father was sitting on the end of the bed and Chris immediately jumped into his arms. He couldn't stop shaking and he still felt as scared as he had in the dream.

"It's okay," his Dad told him, holding him tightly, "we're here, it was just a dream."

His Mom was stroking his hair and his Dad just kept holding him. Chris felt safe in his Dad's arms, and his Dad was Superman so nothing could hurt Chris when he was with him.

Slowly he stopped shaking and he felt his heartbeat slow down. "I'm sorry," he muttered as soon as his breath returned.

He didn't like having bad dreams and he felt like a baby when he had to have his parents come in so he wouldn't be scared anymore. He hadn't had nightmares since he was a little kid and still thought monsters lived under the bed.

"It's okay," his Mom told him, "you don't need to be sorry for having a bad dream."

"Are you alright now?" his Dad asked, still hugging him.

Chris nodded shakily, wiping his face on his pyjama top. "I'm okay now."

"Do you want to come sleep with us?" his Dad asked, keeping his voice quiet so no one else heard.

Chris shook his head, "No," he lied. He really wanted to but only scaredy-cats crawled into their parents' beds when they had a bad dream. Even if it was the safest place to sleep.

"It's okay if you want to, we won't tell," his Mom promised. "We'll get up early and bring you back here so your sisters don't find out."

It was still really dark and it felt to Chris like there was still a lot of night left. He nodded slowly and grabbed his favourite teddy bear as his Dad picked him up and carried him back to their room, hoping his parents wouldn't tell anyone he still slept with a soft toy either.

"Now, don't worry, we're right here, okay?" his Mom said as they climbed into the big, soft bed. "Just try and get some sleep, school in the morning remember?"

Chris just nodded, clutching his bear tighter as his father settled down on the other side. He was glad he'd decided to sleep in the big bed, even if he was worried what his friends would say if they found out.

Lying between his parents he knew no one could hurt him there. Mom could beat anyone and Dad was Superman, they could look after him.

His parents kept their promise and Chris found himself waking up in his own bed after a dreamless sleep. There was sun peeking in from behind the curtains and he could hear people moving around in the apartment, getting ready for the day.

The familiar Monday feeling hit him as he got up and searched for clothes to wear to school. He had gotten an extra long weekend but he would probably rather have been in school than in the hospital with Ella.

"Chris, time to get up!" his mother called, knocking on his door.

"I am," he called back, picking out his favourite Metropolis Meteors T-shirt to go with his cargo pants. He was excited to see LaTanya and Tommy again and he hoped Jane's Mom let her come back too.

The people outside the apartment building had had to leave on Saturday because the police made them. His Mom had said they were getting in the way of all the cars on the road so the policemen said they had to leave before anyone got hurt. Maybe the police were going to tell the people who'd been outside his school to leave as well.

"Chris," his Dad called this time, "I'm making pancakes, hurry up if you want to help."

Chris grinned and grabbed his bag before hurrying out to the kitchen, almost bumping into his sister in the hall. "Watch it, squirt," Lucy grumbled at him, still sounding half-asleep.

"Sorry," Chris called, ducking out of her way. Lucy was always in a bad mood in the morning and Chris found it easier to just keep out of her way. "Pancakes," he called, bouncing into the kitchen where his Dad was busy mixing the batter.

"Morning, kiddo," Clark greeted him, giving him a hug and asking quietly, "Sleep alright?"

Chris nodded and returned the hug. "Can we make pancakes now?" he asked, before Lucy or Ella came in and found out he'd slept in the big bed last night.

Chris loved helping his Dad in the kitchen. He couldn't wait until he was big enough to cook stuff by himself but Mom and Dad kept saying he was too young now and he could hurt himself.

"Morning, Chris," Ella muttered as she walked in, "morning Dad."

"We're making pancakes," Chris told her, turning to his Dad he asked, "Do we have blueberries?" Ella loved blueberries on her pancakes like Dad, he remembered, Lucy liked bananas like him and Mom.

"Of course," Clark told him, taking them out of the fridge. "Jason got two lots because your Uncle Jimmy said he might come by before work as well."

"Cool," Chris said, getting the milk out of the fridge. He liked it when Uncle Jimmy stopped by because he always let him play with his camera but he hadn't seen him for a while. Dad said it was because Uncle Jimmy had taken the most pictures of him as Superman and as Clark.

"Does that have to be on?" Ella asked from the living room. Chris looked up from carefully measuring the milk into the cup his Dad was holding. His sister was looking angrily at the TV which was on the news but with the sound turned off. It was still showing pictures of his Dad and the rest of his family.

Chris didn't like it when they showed pictures of them or their schools. That was how the bad man in the alley had known who they were and why he had to use the special green knife to hurt Ella and Dean. He wouldn't have needed it to hurt Chris though. He was the only one without any super-powers now. Lucy and Ella always made fun of him when it was mentioned.

He'd enjoyed playing with Eric over the weekend because Eric didn't have any powers either. And he was teaching him to speak Japanese. Chris was trying to teach Eric Kryptonian as well but he didn't know it like Eric knew Japanese. Jason had been helping him practice though because his Dad had been busy trying to make sure Ella was okay and no one else would be attacking them with green knives again.

Dad usually taught Lucy, Ella and Chris about Krypton and how to speak Kryptonian every Thursday evening but they'd been at hospital last week and missed out. Jason had told him Dad used to have a whole big computer that knew all about Krypton and all the other galaxies as well but a bad man called Lex Luthor had stolen it ages ago when Jason was younger than Chris was now.

"Careful, Chris!" his father's voice bought him out of his distraction. Chris jumped and the now overflowing milk sloshed over the bench.

"Sorry," he said, hurrying to get the cloth to wipe it up.

"It's okay," his Dad laughed, "no need to cry over spilt milk. Morning dear," he greeted Lois as she entered the kitchen.

"Gross," Chris whispered loudly as they kissed. He giggled as Lois playfully swiped at his head, messing up his hair.

His Dad looked like he was going to say something but suddenly his head tilted to the side and he got a look that said he had to go be Superman.

Chris groaned, "Dad, we were making pancakes."

"I know, buddy," his Dad apologised, "I'm sorry. Why don't you show your Mom how we make them okay?"

"Okay," Chris sighed, turning back and pouring the milk into the bowl. He had liked having his Dad home all weekend to play with but last night at the family meeting, with all the family and Uncle Richard and Eric, his Dad had said he was going to go back to being Superman even though everyone knew who he was really.

"Bye," he called as his Dad spun into his red and blue suit and flew away. "C'mon, Mom, let's make pancakes."

--

Clark couldn't help smiling as he kissed his beautiful wife good morning. Despite everything happening, spending the morning with his family was something that he always enjoyed.

He smiled wider as he heard his youngest son mutter, "gross!" under his breath. It always amused him how embarrassed his children could get over simple displays of affection.

He chuckled as Lois ruffled the boy's hair but his amusement was short lived as a siren downtown caught his attention.

"You don't have to go if you're not ready," Lois reminded him quietly, catching the look. "The kids-"

"The kids have their own lives, Lois," he sighed, smiling softly. "They've been amazing in the past week but Superman has to return sometime. Even if he's going by a different name."

"Dad, we were making pancakes," Chris told him, sounding upset as he noticed his father's distraction and correctly guessed the reason for it.

"I know, buddy," he apologised, trying not to let Chris' wide-eyed, sorrowful look guilt him too much, "I'm sorry. Why don't you show your Mom how we make them okay?"

"Okay." Chris didn't look too happy but Clark knew him well enough to know he'd be okay.

"Bye," he heard his son call as he took off.

Ella grunted her farewell and Lois whispered, "Good luck… Clark," under her breath, reminding him just who he was going out as now.

It was a car crash that had caught his attention. From what he could gather, a van had ran a red light and been hit side-on by a car with a family in it. From the looks of the three children in the back they had been heading to school.

The car had been hit from behind by another vehicle as well, pinning the children in the back seat. He paused for a moment above the scene, rapidly assessing the situation.

There were eight cars in total involves in the crash but aside form the van and the car with the family, they were all relatively minor accidents. A few bruises and a nasty shock seemed to be the worst injuries.

He re-focused his attention on the family. The parents were unconscious in the front but the woman, who's legs were pinned under the dash and broken in several places, seemed to be coming around, the man's leg also looked to be badly broken but Clark moved on from them almost immediately. The children were his biggest concern and even as he shot downwards he could see that it was worse than he'd thought.

The girl sitting in the back passenger seat, who looked no older than Chris, had been holding a music case on her lap. When the car had crashed, the case had been caught behind the seat in front and slammed into her chest, cracking her ribs and puncturing a lung and she looked to be starting to bleed internally. She needed urgent attention.

The firemen had arrive and were working on pulling people out of their cars. Clark had already ripped the door off the car and was pulling the back seat back as fast as he could to release the children while not causing any further injury.

By the time the first emergency worker arrived he had scanned the girl's whole body, particularly her spine, to assess if he could move her and, finding it thankfully safe, managed to pull the young girl out of the car and paused only long enough to tell the EMT he would be back before shooting off into the sky as fast as he could.

He didn't miss the look in the EMT's eyes, nor did he fail to hear the whispers of the other emergency workers on the scene. He'd no doubt have questions to answer when the accident had been dealt with but for now there were more important things to worry about.

He knew the emergency workers wouldn't jeopardise anyone's safety and wouldn't bother him until everyone was safe but they were one group of people he wanted to talk to. He'd worked with most of them for several years now and knew quite a few as well as he knew the reporters in the bullpen.

He landed lightly in the emergency entrance of the hospital, trying not to jolt the girl. A gurney was already being wheeled towards him. "What do we have?" the doctor asked.

"Car crash," Clark told him, "She's got a few broken ribs, her left lung is punctured, she's bleeding internally and she's concussed." The words came out automatically, it was something he did almost everyday and for a moment it seemed just like any other day .

Except- "Nice to have you back, Mr. Kent," the doctor commented, and Clark realised it was the same one that had treated Ella, "your son was good but we really need to get him some proper training like we gave you. A hell of a lot easier if he could properly tell us what's going on."

"I'll mention it to him," Clark promised, speeding back to the crash site. Jason, and Sophie too, would probably be more than happy to do a few lessons with the EMTs at the hospital, Dean might be a bit reluctant to go back to school again but it would help immensely if they knew what they were actually looking for and talking about when they x-rayed victims.

The driver of the van had been pulled free when he got back and was actually standing and talking to the police, the car having slammed into the back end and missed hitting him directly. The mother of the girl he'd just delivered to hospital was awake and asking urgently about her children, seeming unaware her legs were crushed and her head was bleeding profusely. She was the next most urgent.

"The kids…" she asked the EMT who was attending to her as Clark landed beside him.

"Ma'am, I had to take your daughter to hospital," Clark told her, carefully ripping the mangled door away so the EMT had better access bandage her head.

"She's lost a lot of blood," the EMT told him, "you might want to take her next."

Clark nodded and used his heat vision to neatly slice away the front of the car and release the parents. In the back one of the other children was regaining consciousness and the EMT moved to tend to him.

Four trips later, the mother then the children and finally the father, he returned to help remove the van and cars that couldn't be pushed off the road to clear the intersection.

The driver of the van was in handcuffs after failing a breath test and Clark hoped he would be taken off the road. The accident had the potential to be so much worse and it was only the fact that the father driving the other car had been going a few miles under the speed limit that had saved his family's life.

It always seemed longer but it was only twenty minutes after he left the apartment that the scene was clear and all the injured had been seen to.

"Hey, Superman," a policeman called Jon, who he'd known for several years called, coming over. "Or Clark… can I call you Clark?"

"If you want," Clark replied, "do you need me for anything else?"

"Nothing formal," the cop replied, "but…" he jerked his head behind him to where the other firemen, cops and EMTs stood, looking intently at him.

"Yeah, I though some of you might have questions about…"

"About how you're a Pulitzer winning reporter?" Jon finished for him, turning around and yelling, "Oi, everyone, he says he'll talk now."

"Thank you," Clark said insincerely as all the emergency workers gathered in front of him.

"I know how much you love a crowd," Jon replied, grinning at him. "So anyone got any questions for the big guy?" he asked.

"Let's start with the obvious one," a fireman Clark knew only by sight started, "What are we supposed to call you now anyway?"

"It doesn't bother me," Clark told them in all honesty. "You can keep calling me Superman or you can call me Clark if you want."

"How about Mr. Kent?" one of the other EMTs asked.

"I guess," Clark said with a shrug. "It just seems a bit formal."

"How about Mr. Superman?" one of the older cops who he'd known for a while asked with a grin, getting a laugh from the others and a smile from Clark.

"Maybe not that," Clark replied, glad they seemed to be taking the revelation of his true identity in stride. Then again, most people in jobs like their had far more important things to worry about than the fact their city's resident hero had a real life.

"You going to dress in real clothes now?" an EMT, also one familiar with in asked.

"Something wrong with my cape?" Clark asked her, raising an eyebrow.

"Dad," Lucy's voice carried over the city and he frowned, panicking momentarily until she continued, "we're going to be late to school."

"Something wrong?" Jon asked, noticing his distraction.

Clark opened his mouth, a fabricated excuse on the tip of his tongue before he remember he didn't need to lie anymore. "I have to go take my kids to school," he told them.

"See you later, then," Jon said, nodding as the crowd dispersed, they did all have jobs to get back to.

"Dad- we're watching the news, we know you're done!" Lucy reminded him.

"I'm here", he called as he landed, "Now, don't forget your clarinet," he reminded her same as every other Monday as he spun out of the suit.

"Got it," Lucy replied, holding the case up and reminding him of the girl in the car earlier. He wondered how she was doing.

"El, are you ready?" Clark called, opening her bedroom door and stopping suddenly at what he saw.

Ella was dressed in her uniform and ready to go but she had stopped and pulled up her top just enough that she could see the stark, white scar sitting on her hip. It looked years old but it was hard to believe it was less than a week since she'd got it.

"It looks so small now," she said, looking at her Dad in the mirror. "But it wasn't really. It was deep rather than wide I guess."

Clark didn't know what to say, he didn't even want to remember how brutal the wound had been when he'd first seen it. Nor how pale and lifeless Ella had been when it was fresh. "I'm sorry, El," Clark started to apologise but Ella interrupted him.

"It's not your fault, Dad," she told him firmly, tucking in her shirt and grabbing her bag. "I'm sorry I reminded you, it's over now, right? And it's only the guy who stabbed me that should be blamed and no one else okay?"

"Yes, ma'am," Clark chuckled, smiling as Ella channelled her mother.

"So…" Ella frowned, glancing down at her hip. "Do you think the scar will eventually heal as well? I mean the rest of it vanished pretty quick."

"I'm not sure," Clark admitted, "but unfortunately I don't think so." He turned around and lifted his T-shirt up to reveal his lower back. "You see that?" he asked, twisting around and pointing to a small, jagged white line on his back.

"Yeah." Ella nodded, frowning at the mark. "Oh," she said suddenly, straightening up and staring at him, "is that where Lex Luthor stabbed you on New Krypton?"

"Yes," Clark confirmed, "I hardly feel it anymore but it's still there twenty-two years later. Sorry."

"It's okay," Ella replied, running her thumb over the place where her own scar was, her expression strange but unreadable. "It's not that big and I'm hardly the only person in the world with a scar. Let's go," she announced, changing the subject, "don't want to be late on our first day back."

It didn't take long for him to take the kids to school. Over the weekend Lois and him had taken every practical step to ensure the kids would be safe at school without disrupting the normality of their lives too drastically.

The main precaution, suggested by Richard, were several modified watches that emitted a high-pitched noise that only Kryptonians and some dogs could hear. Dean had helped test them and Clark was pleased to discover he could hear the signal from almost anywhere on the planet. Jason, Sophie and Dean had refused to take them, all insisting they could take care of themselves which Clark had to agree was true. Lois had only very reluctantly allowed her watch to have it added, only Clark's assurance it was for his peace of mind and not implying in anyway she couldn't handle herself, had cajoled her into taking one. At the family dinner on Sunday Jason had also managed to modify another one to emit a different tone and given it to Eric in case the boy ever needed to call his big brother.

There had also been several meetings with Commissioner Henderson regarding security around the school and the apartment that had helped ease his nerves about send the three youngest back to school today.

He spoke to the principal of each school until he was satisfied that they were taking all the steps they could to protect his children.

Lois noticed his agitation when he returned. "Clark, calm down." She kissed him lightly and made him look at he as she assured him, "They'll be fine, they have the watches and they know to call you the second anything happens."

"Yeah, well that didn't help Ella, did it?" Clark asked, fighting every fibre of his being not to race back to the schools and bring his children back the apartment where he could stay and keep them safe.

"Clark, you said yourself that man just got lucky," Lois reminded him. "New Kryptonite is very rare and it was a one in a million chance he had it."

"What about Chris?" he asked, pacing in the living room. The seven year old had been the subject of a lot of discussion over the weekend. Jason, Sophie and Dean had all his powers and could defend themselves as well as he could, Lucy and Ella were already invulnerable to everything but New Kryptonite but Chris- Chris was as vulnerable to attack as any seven year old kid. "It's not going to take much luck or any special rock to harm him."

"He'll be fine, Clark," Lois tried to assure him but Clark could hear the slight uncertain waver in her voice and the increase in her heartbeat that told him she was just as worried as he was.

"Lois…"

"Clark, listen to me," she commanded him, "we promised the day we got married that we would try as hard as we could to give our kids as normal a life as possible. I know that's been hard with our jobs- and both of yours-" she added "-and I know it's going to get harder now we don't have your secret to protect them but we can do it."

"How can you be so sure?" he asked, the certainty in her voice clear this time.

"Because not only are we Clark Kent and Lois Lane who together bought down Intergang and have won more awards than there are corrupt politicians, including three Pulitzers," she reminded him, "but you are still Superman, no matter what name people call you now. Okay?"

Clark sighed, still not convinced that sending the kids back to school so soon was the right thing to do. Even with the police protection and the signal watches it seemed too dangerous.

"Clark, what's Chris doing now?" Lois asked, changing her tactics.

"He's in class," Clark answered without hesitation, honing in on the sounds surrounding his son's heartbeat, "talking to Tommy and LaTanya about what he missed."

"And Lucy?"

"In the music department, putting away her clarinet. Ella's talking to Kim in the hallway and… I get your point," he conceded, allowing his children their privacy as he returned his focus to their heartbeats alone and tuned out conversations and other noises.

"See?" Lois said smugly, "And given you can be there in less than a second if something does happen," she continued, picking up her laptop form the table, "it really makes no difference you being there or at work- other than the fact if you don't come to work your job's in danger."

"Ah, c'mon, Perry's not going to fire me," Clark told her, checking the doors were all locked before taking off to the Planet, "not when I am the news."

"Did I tell you about Erin Jones?" Lois asked suddenly as they zoomed past the reporters on the roof and into the stairwell.

"The one who told you that Andy Summers might know who's talking to the press?" Clark nodded. "Yes, why?"

"I asked her to get his family tree for me," Lois told him, "but I need to go talk to the Chief first. Can you go get it from her and see if you recognize any of the names?"

"Alright." Clark nodded, bracing himself as they entered the bullpen. Once again a hushed silence feel but this time Lois completely ignored it, striding straight to Perry's office and leaving her husband behind.

Clark choose to just nod politely and drop his suitcase off at his desk before seeking out Erin. By the time he reached her most of the people had realized he wasn't going to do anything newsworthy returned to work, although Clark couldn't entirely block out their whispers.

"Erin, hi," he greeted the reporter. He didn't know her that well, but he knew and admired her work. He'd be surprised if she didn't get a Pulitzer within the next ten years or so. "Lois said she asked you-"

"To get Andy's family tree?" Erin interrupted, picking up a pile of papers on her desk. Clark scanned them with his x-ray vision quickly but no names he knew from the kids jumped out at him. "This is it."

"Th-thank you," he replied, automatically stuttering and pitching his voice higher. Erin frowned at him and Clark winced. "Sorry, force of habit," he apologised, returning his voice to natural.

Erin didn't comment, handing him the paper and returning to her computer. "Tell Lois that's all I've got," she said, "I told her about Andy because of what happened to your daughter but I'm not becoming her little spy or anything."

"I'll tell her," Clark agreed, "and thank you."

He started to make his way back to his desk but a sudden change in the tone of the constant muttering around the room made him look up. One of the televisions on the wall was showing pictures of Richard. Him with Lois, Jason as a baby and a continuing series of pictures right though to one taken during the weekend New York when Jason and Evelyn had taken Richard and Eric to the movies.

"Never really had a chance did he?" Gil's voice rose above the mutterings and Clark turned to find the other reporter staring straight at him. "Not when he was competing with Superman." The bullpen feel completely silent as every single person in it turned to face Clark to see how he would react.

"I wouldn't dignify that with an answer if I were you, CK," he heard Jimmy mutter under his breath across the room.

Clark ignored his friend, instead levelling his gaze at Gil and asking, "Are you implying I stole Lois from Richard?"

"Well they were going fine until you came back," Gil replied, the rest of the bullpen swivelling their heads back to Clark like an audience at a tennis match. "Especially Jason."

Clark decided to ignore the jab about his son, that had long ago been worked out in the family, with the only people who really mattered. Instead he asked another question, "So, you're saying Lois had no choice but to leave Richard when I came back?"

"Actually, Clark," Lois corrected him casually as she exited Perry's office, "I think he's saying I clearly had no mind of my own and was merely a prize to be fought over by two men."

A chuckle ran over the reporters as Gil looked stunned by Lois' statement. He didn't get the chance to defend himself though as Perry leaned out of his office and yelled at everyone to get back to work.

"If it helps, most people think Gil's being unreasonable," Lois assured him, kissing him quickly. "Even if a few still agree with his point."

"I know," Clark sighed. He'd been hearing snatches of conversation about him since he'd arrived and he knew they weren't all as against him as Gil. "Oh, here's Andy's family tree from Erin." He handed her the papers and Lois nodded as she flipped through them.

"Excellent," she muttered, "I'll see if any of the kid's friends are on here."

"Jimmy's waving at me," Clark told her, watching his friend beckoning him over.

"Go see what he wants, I'll be scanning these," Lois told him, walking back to her desk with her nose buried in Andy Summer's large family tree.

"What's going on, Jimmy?" Clark asked as he continued to pointedly ignore the continuous stares.

"So you've got teenagers, right?"

Clark blinked, the question being one of the last he was expecting. "Uh…Why?" he asked.

"Well," Jimmy sighed, running his fingers through his hair, "I was really intending to come for breakfast at your place this morning but Sarah got into an argument with Alice about what the appropriate length for her school skirt was and I had to try and defuse it."

"Let me guess." Clark nodded, "Alice tried to roll the skirt around the waistband to make it shorter?" Jimmy looked amazed and Clark laughed properly for the first time in a while. "I've got three girls," he reminded his friend, "two of them are still teenagers."

"So what do I do?" Jimmy asked, "I know you're kinda busy right now with this-" he waved his hand in the general direction of the rest of the bullpen "-but Alice has really been acting out these past few weeks and I don't know who else to ask-"

"Jimmy, calm down," Clark interrupted him, "I don't mind, and in fact it's kinda nice to have someone ask me something normal now."

"So what do I do?" Jimmy asked hopefully.

"Just what you're already doing," Clark told him simply, "teenagers don't come with a manual, the only thing you can really do as a father is set rules and enforce them."

"That's it?" Jimmy looked rather annoyed by his answer, "Just what I'm already doing? Alice isn't even twelve and she's already out trying to get miniskirts and short tops."

"Don't let her," Clark told him, "but do be reasonable."

"Reasonable?" Jimmy's eyebrows almost shot off his head, "CK, she rolled her skirt up so high you could almost see her underwear."

It only lasted about another ten minutes but the discussion with Jimmy surprisingly relaxed Clark a lot more than he thought he'd be able to today. Talking about something so normal with one of his best friends could almost make him forget what was going on elsewhere.

"Aw, man," Jimmy sighed as his computer dinged in the middle of talking about the appropriate tightness of T-shirts. "The Chief wants yet more pictures of you. I swear he's not going to be happy until he's run every single image of you from the past thirty years."

"I'll let you get back to it then." Clark smiled and clapped his friend on the shoulder as he headed to the kitchen. He needed a good, strong coffee right now. It was definitely only a placebo effect but coffee helped immensely in getting through days like this.

Dave Chapman, and veteran reporter for the Planet, seemed to have the same idea. "Kent- or whoever the hell you are," he greeted him cheerfully as Clark entered the room, "how's Ella?"

"She's doing better," Clark replied, the comforting sounds of his family's heartbeats scattered across the globe thumping comfortingly at the back of his mind, as they did everyday. Although he was listening closer to them now than he usually did. "Thank you."

"You know," Dave continued, filling up his cup, "I've got more than a few questions I'd like to ask and I'm more than a tad annoyed at myself for getting fooled by a pair of glasses. But I gotta say Kent-" he shook his head and looked straight at the other man- "there isn't' a father in the world who wouldn't understand why you did it. Especially after what happened to Ella."

Clark was rather stunned by the statement. "umm, thank you," he repeated, not sure what else to say. He'd been completely prepared for everyone at the Planet to hate him and with Gil and the others' attacks earlier he'd completely forgotten that there were level-headed and reasonable people working there.

"Don't mind them," Dave continued, nodding towards the bullpen, "they'll come around as soon as you or those kids of yours stop the next big disaster." He gave his colleague a friendly clap on the shoulder and returned to his desk, ignoring the confused glances shot his way by his other workmates.

"What was that about?" Lois asked, startling him as she slid up behind him. He'd been so distracted by Dave's words he hadn't heard her approach. "You shouldn't worry, Clark," she told him, misinterpreting his silence, "they can't have forgotten everything you've done for them that easily. They're just a little… hurt right now."

"I know," Clark told her, offering her the coffee which she gladly accepted, "and actually, Dave wanted me to know he understood why I kept it a secret."

"Well of course he would," Lois said, not offering any further explanation until Clark raised his eyebrows at her. "Oh, that's right, you weren't here." She sighed and continued, "It happened while you were in Egypt two years ago, doing that story on the terrorist cell in Cairo. Dave ran a story that bought down several lucrative drug smugglers down in Hobb's Bay. Later that night someone broke into his apartment and threatened his wife and daughter."

"Were they okay?" Clark asked, remembering even as he did that he'd seen Dave's family all alive and well at the Christmas party last year.

"Yeah, they lived," Lois confirmed, "Dave's neighbour was a cop and the man that broke in wasn't very subtle. He was tasered and in handcuffs before he could do any damage aside from a good scare."

"So he would understand." Clark's hand automatically went to his face, reaching his nose before he remembered he wasn't wearing glasses anymore and there was nothing to push up.

Lois laughed when she noticed and shook her head. "That's going to take a bit more getting used to, I think."

"You're telling me," Clark sighed, glancing again towards Dave's desk. "I suppose he really does understand then. And maybe the reason people are so confused is that they just don't understand why I kept it from them yet."

"We tried to explain all that to Ralph," Lois reminded him, "people can read the Planet for information on you- just like they always have."

"I don't think that's enough," Clark told her, sipping his coffee and watching as CNN finished coverage of a fire in Australia that Dean had put out and returned to showing pictures of him. "Those are just words, that's good enough for most stories but I don't think it is for this one."

"So we're doing the press conference then?" Lois asked.

"Do you want to?" Clark replied. "It's all our lives that have been turned upside down by this. It's been a long time since it was just my secret."

His wife smiled and leaned up to kiss him, not appearing to care that many in the bullpen were still staring at them. "I'll tell Perry," she said as she pulled away. "You tell the kids. We'll do it tomorrow."

She turned and strode confidently back out into the bullpen, grinning at everyone and yelling, "Chief, you want the next Superman scoop? Cause I think my husband and I just came up with it."

--

Tracey Muldoon thought she'd left certain parts of her life behind when she'd come to Metropolis.

Fleeing from L.A. at seventeen, pregnant and alone, she had got off to a rough start in the strange city. But with the help of new friends and social workers she had carved out her own place in the City of Tomorrow, determined to give her daughter the life she never had, as far away as she could get from gangs and random street violence. Away from the organized crime, drugs and blood money her family had used to make its living.

She wasn't so naïve as to believe Metropolis didn't have things like that, but back in LA she was trapped in it. Her uncle running the biggest drug gang in the states, her brothers cold-blooded killers-for-hire and her father the mastermind behind most of the robberies in the city. At least in Metropolis she wasn't recognized and targeted. Here she had been able to make her own identity, attending college and securing a job at one of the best IT firms in the country she had been starting to believe it really was all over.

Of course, nothing in her life was ever so simple.

Ten years. A whole decade had passed since she'd been involved in the gangs. She had tried to forget it- but evidently it hadn't forgotten her.

On Friday she had gone to pick her daughter up from school think about nothing more complicated than what she was making for dinner. The minute her daughter had climbed into the car it had all changed though. "Mom, a lady at school told me to give you this," the ten year old said, handing her a piece of paper.

Tracey took it and felt her heart stop as she unfolded it. There were five words on the paper:

Kilmore Coffee Shop

2pm Monday

But it wasn't that that shocked her. It was the symbol in the corner, a stylised set of intertwining initials, D.M. Douglas Muldoon, her father, crime boss for half of L.A.

It wasn't from him directly of course, the way he'd been making enemies he was probably dead by now anyway, Tracey supposed. The thought bothered her less than it should.

No, the symbol was just to get her attention. Someone here knew who she used to be and they had used her daughter to deliver the note as a way of delivering their own message: Fail to show up and they'd simply pay another visit to her daughter. The type of visits her father was fond of paying to his enemies, the type that ended in a funeral.

Kilmore Coffee shop wasn't very full when she arrived, the unwashed dishes scattered around the café the only sign left of the lunch rush that had just finished.

She knew instantly who she was there to see. Two men sat in the middle of the coffee shop, looking like any other businessmen in Metropolis on their lunch break but Tracey spotted the embroidered D.M. on the lapel of the older man the second she looked at them.

"You must be Tracey," he said politely as she sat down. "My name is Smith," he told her simply, not introducing the other man. Smith nodded towards the counter, "I hope you don't mind but we've already order for you. We want to keep this short." He looked at his watch as if to illustrate his point. "We're sorry for scaring you," he lied, "we only require one very small, very simple favour."

"Simple hardly sounds like my father," Tracey commented, trying to stop her hands shaking under the table.

"Your father?" Smith sounded surprised. "Oh, this?" he laughed as he looked down at the initials on his jacket, "No, no, we're not with him at all, this was merely the simplest way of getting your attention, we chose someone we knew would," he smiled dangerously at her, "understand the consequences of telling anyone of us or what we want you to do. Although, your brother sends his regards," he added, almost as an afterthought.

Tracey flinched at the mention of her estranged family. "What do you want?"

"I believe this Friday you are attending a cocktail event?" Smith asked smoothly, apparently not hearing her question.

"Mr. Taylor's party?" Tracey asked in surprise, wondering what on Earth her boss had that was of interest to these people.

"Yes," Smith answered simply.

The waitress appeared at the moment, delivering their drinks. Tracey tried to still her shaking hands, smiling politely as she received her latte. The TV in the corner caught her eye as she glanced up and she saw once again the face of Clark Kent, the super-man who'd fooled the whole world with a pair of glasses.

Something clicked into place. Last year, at another of the Taylor's evening parties, a memory forced its way into her head: "Tracey, have you meet our neighbour, Clark?" and an image of a slouching, stuttering man with thick glasses appeared in her mind.

"This has something to do with the Kents doesn't it?" she asked. Her realisation making her momentarily forgetting her fear.

"That's none of your concern," Smith replied smoothly. "We only need something very simple from you. This is Robert," he introduced the young man beside him, "he will be your date to the party." It wasn't a request.

"…That's all?" Tracey asked nervously when he didn't add anything else to the statement, "I just take him to the party and then you'll leave us alone?"

"Of course, Robert will pick you up at seven on Friday," the man said with a smile that didn't reach his eyes. "And after that you and little Amanda will be allowed to live in peace."

Tracey flinched again at the mention of her daughter. She knew what these people were capable of and she never wanted her daughter to experience that.

She didn't ask any more questions, she didn't want to know. Taking someone to a party wasn't against the law, even if said party was right next-door to Superman's apartment.

She wasn't doing anything except protecting her daughter and that wasn't wrong. She was looking after her family and, if these men were really after the Kents, Superman could look after his own family.

--

A/N: Just a note on the car crash- I'm not a doctor or a medic so if something's wildly wrong, I'm really sorry. I'm hoping the next chapter will come quicker, I'm hoping now that the main plot has started to properly take shape it'll be easier.

In other news, I went back and made a few minor edits to previous chapters, nothing big, just a few name changes you shouldn't even notice (very minor characters) but feel free to comment if you spot them and it really bothers you or something.

Reviews are love!

Comments

Posted by: love_is_my_goal (love_is_my_goal)
Posted at: April 8th, 2010 11:28 pm (UTC)

Loved this chapter!!! And I loved that it was super long!! =D The last bit with Tracey was very intriguing I can't wait to see waht happens!

Posted by: Grace (repmetsyrrah)
Posted at: April 16th, 2010 10:50 am (UTC)
Comic; Lois; Action shot

Thanks! I'm glad no one had a problem with the length, it just kept going :P

Hehe, I don't quite think the last bit is going to turn out how anyone expects... and that's all I'll say on that.

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: Grace (repmetsyrrah)
Posted at: April 16th, 2010 10:55 am (UTC)
SR; Clark; Wish I could fly

Thanks, you're l;ike the third person to specifically compliment my dialogue so I guess I'm doing something right with that? :P

Ella's slowly starting to maybe see that the world knowing isn't as terrible as she feared but there's a bit more for her to figure out.

Really? I've been mentioning Chris' powerlessness often? Interesting...

Lol, Gil's being an ass but the Planet reporters are getting a bit of a raw deal from the rest of the news community over how they're too blind to see through a pair of glasses so they're all a bit edgy.

Thanks, it's important so I was really hoping it turned out well.

Posted by: januaried (januaried)
Posted at: April 20th, 2010 07:46 pm (UTC)
emote + love

Yep, finally catching up on fic...

Awwww, Chris is so darn cute! :D And now I've got a great mental image of him thanks to the comics. :D

Loved the part in the bullpen, with more people's reactions, and the EMTs. Especially liked how the fathers understand Clark's actions, and Jimmy asking for his advice on teenage girls (lulz!). Great chapter! ♥

Posted by: Grace (repmetsyrrah)
Posted at: April 22nd, 2010 01:39 am (UTC)
Brandon; Evil Grin

Yay! Thanks!

Aww, thanks, I'm glad people like the kids so much. Glad you've got a better idea of what he looks like now as well.

Yay, I was kinda nervous about that part but I'm glad it worked. I always think Jimmy sees Clark as something of a big brother and someone he can go to for help- especially when it comes to kids, after all, Clark does have six :P I also liked showing a bit of a normal problem in the middle of the decidedly un-normal problems going on now.

Thanks for reviewing! *hugs*

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