Life is Just Peachy
Super powers meant never having to deal with the travails of conventional travel. Clark stopped in the alley behind Martha Kent's office building and put Lois down. Conner skidded just behind him, his arms laden with bags.
"I thought spring break was about going to someplace interesting like a tropical island," said Conner.
Clark said, "This is going to interesting places. Washington DC has history, symbolism and democracy in action."
"Not to mention cronyism, moral ineptitude and a visual example of haves versus have-nots. But hey, Martha's pies are worth ten billion babes in thongs," said Lois.
Conner's eyes crossed. "They... they wear thongs?"
Clark gave his fiancee an aggrieved look.
"Buddies. Yeah." Conner hefted the suitcases. "Can I put these down now?"
Lois caught Clark's eye then tilted her head. Talk to him!
Clark's eyebrows angled downward as he sighed. I've been trying but he brushes it off.
She rolled her eyes. God, the deep teen angst must be genetic. "I didn't much like Cow Tipping High either. It's not exactly excitement central. Here, gimme my bag and let's get going to Martha's.
"Not exciting?" Clark repeated. He, too, dragged his bag from Conner's arms. "You weekly concussions must have damaged your memory because I always felt it was a little too exciting."
"Yeah, so there was the occasional insane person, not to mention Pervy McBaldydome making googly eyes at you or Lana or Chloe or anything with an orifice. I think he even tried to put the moves on me once which, now that I think about it, is the grossest thing I've ever experienced so, yay!, you're off the hook, Junior." She jabbed her elbow into Conner's side as they entered the building and headed for the elevators.
"Thanks." Conner rubbed his arm and started to grin. "I guess my winning personality overcame the creepiness."
"I didn't have to see my disgusted reflection shine back at me off your non-bald pate. And you're adorable." Lois grabbed his entire cheek and waggled it back and forth. "Isn't him an adorable itty-bitty angsty ET, him is? Oh yes!"
Gently, Clark peeled Lois' fingers from Conner's face. At her questioning glance, he said, "I'm protesting in solidarity. Cheek pinches at fifteen is never acceptable to the street cred even in an empty elevator. Everyone in; we're headed for the third floor."
"Depends on which cheek is pinched," said Lois.
Conner's eyes crossed again.
"Sweetheart, as pleased as I am that you can now joke about what happened, I don't think Conner's system appreciates the wildly oscillating hormones especially now that we're at Mom's workplace."
"No, no, it really doesn't," Conner said under his breath.
Martha's office door was cracked open. At the reception desk, her assistant tapped away at the keyboard. Clark nudged the door open and the assistant looked up. "Clark! You're here! You should have called; we have a car available to pick you up from the airport."
"It's all right, Ava, we managed. Is Mom--?"
"She's just at a conference call; it should finish up in a few minutes." Ava came around the table to give Clark a hug. "My goodness, every time you show up, you look more and more grown up. And Lois! I haven't seen you in such a long time!"
"Hey, Ava," Lois returned her embrace. "You're holding the fort okay?"
"I'm doing all right although I've got my hands full training the new CoS."
"What happened to Jackson?"
"Triplets." Ava then spotted Conner, lurking by the door behind all the luggage. "Who is this?"
"This is Conner," said Clark.
"Hi. I'm Clark's, uh... " His hand and introduction trailed off awkwardly.
Ava raised a tattooed eyebrow. "Clark's?"
"Brother," Clark said at the same time Conner blurted out, "Ward."
Ava's other eyebrow went up.
"He's my brother," said Clark definitively, one hand at Conner's shoulder. "We just found each other."
"Oh, you have the same birth mother? How exciting; I can definitely see the resemblance now. He's a little you, Clark! Martha hadn't said anything about it."
"We kind of wanted to keep it in the family for the adjustment period," Lois said. "But we are now well-adjusted and ready to tackle the world. Yay us."
Conner fell victim to a fit of hysterical coughing which Lois cured by kicking his shin. Fortunately for Lois' toes, Martha emerged from her office.
"Clark! I thought I heard your voice." She tip-toed, Clark folded himself in half, and they embraced tightly as they did on Clark's first day of school. "And Lois!" She treated Lois to the same, although Lois hadn't hugged her mom at all on the first day of school, so eager was she to hit the playground. She figured it would've been like this though: smelling of pastry and lemon oil with fly-away hair in her eyes drawing out tears. She only let go when Martha asked, "Can I see your ring, honey?"
Lois flashed her left hand. "Simple yet snazzy."
"That's the setting to my mom's engagement ring but the diamond is new."
"Smallville! You didn't tell me that." She punched Clark's arm.
"I thought I did," said Clark. Turning to Martha, he said, "You're too thin, Mom. Are you getting enough to eat?"
"Now who's the parent? Ava, I'm going out for lunch. Why don't you kids leave your luggage in my office until we get back."
Ava shooed them away. "Extend it. You don't have any appointments until three and even then, it's nothing too special. You family doesn't come to visit that often. Besides, you have an engagement and a reunion to get to!"
Martha hooked her arm around Conner's and, ignoring his surprise, led them towards the best food truck in DC.
"It's joy in my belly," Conner said.
"Mrrrpmff," was Clark's contribution.
Lois appended her comment. "Still nothing next to your cooking, of course, Martha, but oh my God, five different types of cheese in my mouth!"
"Mmmmfff," said Clark. His grilled ricotta, avocado and tomato on artisan black bread had been rendered into crumbs around his mouth and fingers. Lois handed him their shared sweet tea then immediately grabbed it back when he sucked down half in one go.
"Can we drive the truck home?" asked Conner. "I promise I'll feed it, and brush its hair, and walk it every day."
Martha laughed. "I do love having you kids over. It makes everything so much brighter."
Clark smiled. "We miss you, too, Mom. The house hasn't been the same without you."
"Oh, I'm sure you've made it your own."
"It's fine," said Lois. "It's just not the same. And, to be honest, a little taste of sameness would be much appreciated. It's been a crazy year and it's only March!"
"So I guessed from the engagement." Martha held her hand out and Lois was only too happy to show off her ring again. "Have you set a date?"
"ASAP," said Clark. "Before Lois changes her mind."
"Ha, ha, more like before the world ends again," said Lois. "I wanted a Vegas zip'n'zoom, exactly our style. But Mr. American Gothic here wants to do it up right. Did I mention doing it up right means my reception could very quickly turn into World War III with exceptional special effects?"
Martha tilted her head in disbelief so Clark elaborated. "Ollie's my best man. And Lois doesn't want General Lane to walk her down the aisle. She wants to both of us to walk down."
"I got myself into this relationship; no one's going to 'give me away' and take all the credit." Lois leaned against Clark for emphasis.
Grinning, Martha turned to Conner. "I hope they aren't bothering you too much with wedding details."
"All I know is that I'm gonna be sitting in the groom's side with the rest of the outlaws, weirdos and and geeks," said Conner. "I heard the catering was going to be awesome."
"Just wait until you eat the wedding pie," said Lois.
"You're not going to have a cake?" Martha asked.
"Oh! I totally forgot to ask. Please, pretty, pretty please, Martha, please will you bake us a wedding pie instead of buying a present? A cake just won't taste as good."
Martha laughed. "I'd be more than happy to, dear. What kind do you want?"
"Apple," Clark said at the same time that Lois said, "Strawberry-rhubarb" and Conner said, "Chocolate-peach."
"Good thing wedding cakes are usually tiered."
Conner's eyes bugged out. "You can make a triple-decker pie? Can... can you show me how?"
"I'd be happy to. But I'm afraid I've never made a chocolate-peach pie."
"I made that up. It would be more like a tart: Choco-cookie crust with chocolate mousse at the bottom and peach slices on top. Then whipped cream. Lots and lots of whipped cream. Then chocolate sprinkles and the syrup from canned peaches."
At that moment, Martha fell in love with the newest addition to her family.
"Yeah, so, it's not that Smallville sucks, really. I just can't talk to anyone there. I don't even know how to start a conversation with them. They're all--" Conner gesticulated with his free hand-- "football practice, Lady Antebellum, church choir, prom, blah blah blah and I just... I don't know, I just have more things to talk about than that, y'know? I can't even talk about farm stuff 'cause Mr Hubbard's working half the property and the other half, Clark rents out for grazing. Is this done yet?"
"Yes. Now this is how you fold something into whipped egg whites. Are there any extracurricular activities you'd like to join?"
"I was going to join Home Ec but apparently that's social status suicide."
"You have the makings of a fine chef, don't you think, Lois?"
Lois folded her paper down. "I had no idea you could cook, Junior."
"You guys come home pretty late," said Conner with a shrug.
"Ouch. I'm a latch-key parent."
"Oh. No,no, no, I'm not complaining about anything you guys are doing!" Conner hurried to explain. "I'm fine, really. Besides, Tess said I should stay out of the radar. Being Smallville's Top Chef could ruin that, right? Whoops, I think I over-mixed the mousse."
"It's fine, dear." Martha slid the pie crust closer. "Now let's start filling this in. We should wait until it sets a bit before adding the peach slices or else they'll sink to the bottom."
"It'd be kind of neat to have a bed of peach slices under the mousse, too."
"That's a wonderful idea, Conner! There's still time; let's slice some of the peaches thinner. Lois, I know you're working overtime for a promotion and goodness knows, Clark has three jobs with the farm, the paper and his... volunteer efforts. What if Conner stays here for all of spring break? If you don't mind, dear."
"Really? You want me to stay?" Conner's big wide eyes were puppy-dog perfect. He'd give Shelby a run for his money and Lois wasn't allergic to Conner's hair. So far.
"I'd love to have you."
Conner lunged to hug Martha. "That would be so awesome! I'll be a good roommate. I know how to do laundry and vacuum and... and I'll cook on alternate days and--"
"I'm glad to hear you're putting all that farm training to good use." Clark re-appeared beside Lois, smelling faintly of smoke. "I'd be jealous of your enthusiasm but I know the prospect of having Mom's pies on a regular basis can make anyone turn."
Worried, Conner said, "I don't have to stay if you don't want me to."
"Conner, I was joking. If you like it here and Mom doesn't mind, you can stay."
"Toldja the pies beat babes in thongs," said Lois.
"I wasn't really looking for babes in thongs," Conner told Martha.
Martha nodded as if she believed him. "Let's finish making your chocolate-peach pie, dear."
Clark stretched out on the couch, his head on Lois' lap as she continued
to criticize the Gazette's writing. Conner and Martha bent their heads
over the kitchen counter, arranging peach slices just so. The fireplace
crackled, dinner scents wafted from the oven, precluding the undoubtedly
fantastic dessert. With his eyes closed, the tiny DC apartment felt like