Just a Little Green
Born with the moon in Cancer
Clark landed back home to an armful of wrinkled cotton, stale coffee and Lois. "Mmmpff!" he murmured appreciatively as his wife pressed a hot, wet kiss on his mouth. Her legs tightened around his waist, her elbows around his shoulders and Clark tried to remember if there were any heavy furniture between the balcony doors and the bedroom and whether or not he cared.
"I love you," said Lois. She said the actual words so rarely, butterflies fluttered in Clark's stomach.
"What's wrong? Ow! My frickin' hand!" She glared at him, legs still locked around his waist, shaking her left hand.
"You know you shouldn't try to hit me."
"I greet you with a toe-scorching kiss and a declaration of my deepest feelings and you ask me what's wrong? And you say I don't have any romance."
He rubbed circles on her back. "I didn't meant it that way--"
"How else do you mean it?"
"--I was just still in the other mode."
She narrowed her eyes at him. Clark rubbed a little lower, letting his grin slowly curl up the way he knew would make Lois melt.
"You are so lucky I'm happy and horny right now. And that Junior's hearing hasn't kicked in."
Clark winced. "That may come soon. We should insulate the walls better. Maybe add more rooms."
"Another room would help with this." Lois brought her hand around from behind his head. In it, she held an opened envelope. "It's from Greenville Adoptions."
The butterflies in Clark's stomach whirled. "We applied more than a year ago and got nothing but a form letter."
"There was something about a system glitch-- Ha! I just found my new investigative piece-- and they have a baby lined up so someone's going to come over for a home visit as long as we're still interested." She paused, tilted her head to one side. "Are we still interested?"
Clark's attention strayed back to the closed door of the former-study. Heavy metal music thumped the concrete. He didn't need to concentrate to hear Conner's off-pitch yelping. "If Conner keeps playing his music that loudly, he'll get cochlear damage before his hearing kicks in." Conner Kent. He had a son. The thought gave him chills. "My biggest worry is that he might feel replaced considering the ink's barely dried on his adoption papers."
"I guess that's something we should bring up in a family meeting," said Lois. Then she grinned. "Huh. A family meeting."
He matched her expression. "A family meeting."
Lois' grin grew wider. She walked her fingers around the seams of his shirt pocket.
"Let me guess," said Clark. "Pants. Off. Now?"
Conner pounded on his room door. "I know you two are being gross out there! And you wonder why I play my music so loud! Yeeesh."
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, Superman found Superboy working as a superintendent in Suicide Slums which puzzled him greatly since Superboy was chronologically three years old, physically sixteen years old, and didn't have a GED. In the round-about way that they always seemed to communicate, Superboy confessed needing to make ends meet since super-heroing didn't pay when one didn't have an agent even if said agent had been crooked to begin with and really, who knew pizzas and soda cost that much? And Superman, being Superman, invited Superboy home for all the pizza he could inhale which was a lot of pizza indeed. Fortunately, Lois Lane liked pizza, too.
Out-of-state adoptions were as much of a pain the second time around. The social worker in Harrisburg, Jessie, was a lot smilier than the one who handled Conner's case in Metropolis. Didn't mean Conner liked her more. He picked at a loose thread on his jeans as he waited for her to finish reading through his file. Their files. He didn't quite have x-ray or microscopic vision but he was still fast enough to read his last name upside-down.
She put the file down, smiled with all her teeth but no eyes, and said, "So, Conner, you have an interesting history."
"Thanks. Think I could sell it to Steven Spielberg?"
"It says here that you ran away from your foster parents in California when you were fifteen and made your way to Metropolis where, coincidentally, you and your half-brother, Clark, ran into each other."
Conner nodded. That was the legal story behind his adoption. "Eerie, huh? Cue the screeching violins."
"Tell me about that."
"Your meeting with Clark. What are the chances that you'd meet the child your biological mother gave up when she was a teenager?"
"Slim to none," said Conner. "Also, a little bit gross. That means my birth mom was, like, almost forty when she had me. Old people sex. Ew."
"Why did Clark and Lois adopt you? Why not Clark's parents, to avoid confusion?"
Conner blew half a raspberry. "Clark's parents are awesome but they're, like, a hundred years old! And they live in Kansas. A face like this doesn't do Midwest farming village."
"You still call your adoptive parents by their first name?"
"I'll call them Dad and Mom as soon as the baby comes," he countered.
Then she pounced. "Is Clark your brother? Or father?"
" is that a trick question?"
Jessie leaned back. "I just find the coincidence hard to believe."
"Heck, so do I! Look, I know it's weird--" she had no idea how weird-- "but I think Clark was supposed to find me. Like you said, what are the chances? And before you ask, we don't get along all the time because school sucks but parents and kids aren't supposed to. Get along. Not suck. Lois and give me curfews and lunch money but they also help me with homework and we watch movies and fail to make edible pie. My old foster place used me as a cash cow. My folks now picked me out of a tenement and let me sleep in their couch for nothing for, like, weeks!"
"Because he thought you might be related."
"I know people who wouldn't lend their brother a piece of chewed gum. And if you don't give them the baby, you just totally gypped a kid out of a great home."
Jessie's smile became smaller and more sincere. "How would you feel if Clark and Lois brought a baby home?"
"It's great. I'm not going to be jealous and run away again, if that's what you're afraid of. I'm not four."
But, of course, he kind of was.
One night of dinner and couch-surfing turned into a few weeks of at least one meal a day, sometimes two if Kon slept over. Clark was a stickler for breakfast. Kon was a discovery, Clark realized, and he enjoyed ever minute of it. Every Wednesday night, Lois and the boy bonded over episodes of "Wendy the Werewolf Stalker." While Kon primarily watched for Wendy, he soaked in Lois' rants on feminism in modern media, heteronormativity and racial stereotyping. He helped Clark with the community garden several blocks away, marveling over tomatoes that actually came off a vine and squash that grew exponentially each visit. He couldn't stop talking if his life depended on it but he was so darned friendly, it was hard to tell him to quiet down.
He loved heavy metal music and designer shades. He had a way with babies and toddlers. He hated cooked vegetables because they weren't crunchy or "sunshiny." He could drink a quart of soda in five seconds. He liked to brush his teeth even though he had no need because he liked blowing bubbles with peppermint toothpaste. He visibly shook with rage when children were deliberately hurt or endangered. He burrowed his face in his pillow when someone tucked a blanket around him at night. Clark combed the spiky black curls from the boy's forehead and thought about turning the study into a spare bedroom.
"Can you balance two children, a day job and this?" Batman gestured to the Watchtower council desk. The moon, countless stars and a blue wedge of Earth could be seen from the windows. Four monitors hung opposite, in hibernation mode with the acronym JLA bounding off the edges.
"You seem to get along fine with two boys, a multinational corporation and this," said Superman.
"No one expects Batman to be everywhere at once," Wonder Woman pointed out.
Superman nodded and rested his chin on his hands. "I know. I may not be able to assist as much as I do now but I supposed that's why we have the League. And Kon-el is doing well in Young Justice. Maybe we just need to coordinate a lot better with the splinter groups."
"I suppose we lose nothing in trying."
"Hmph," was all Batman said.
Superman zipped across the table to put a hand on his shoulder. "Don't worry. Just because there's a new baby, it doesn't mean our friendship will end."
Wonder Woman coughed and covered her mouth but it did little to hide her snickers.
"Sure, it's a big change but change isn't all bad. We'll be friends forever, Batman."
"Take your hand off me or I cut it off."
"Aw, Batman, don't be like that."
"Tell you what: you can babysit."
"He wanted the baby named after him," Superman told Wonder Woman, his lips twitching ever so slightly. "But I told him Batty Kal-el sounds like an epithet in Kryptonian. He's been sulking ever since."
Suddenly, Batman rose out of his chair. With a snap of his cape, he left, back stiff, dignity somewhat intact.
"Why do you needle him so?" asked Wonder Woman when she finally stopped laughing.
Superman shrugged. "It's good for him to have at least one person who doesn't soil themselves when he says boo."
"Your children may inherit your sense of humour. Remind me to warn the world."
A few weeks turned into a few months and the next thing the Super-couple knew, life without Superboy was unimaginable. With a little help from friends who golfed with state officials, Clark Kent and Lois Lane-Kent became foster parents to Conner Krummel, aged sixteen and four months, formerly a ward of the State of California.
On his first day as a junior at John Moore High, Clark insisted Conner wear a "smart" sweater vest over his rock band long-sleeve. Lois took pictures. Conner swore revenge. He signed up for Honours Math because numbers were easy, World History and Culture because Tim and Cassie could help him, Basic Programming because ninja hacking would be so cool and Composition because it required very little reading. Clark helped him with the not-so-easy math, Lois griped at the inaccuracies of his World History and Culture textbook and they both proofread his Composition homework. He failed Basic Programming, wanting to sink through the centre of the Earth when Lois and Clark checked his online report card.
Clark stopped LexCorp from nearly decimating a small, third world country. Lois was kidnapped, escaped and wrote a Kerth-winning article about her discoveries while held captive. Conner helped divert a mudslide. The Lane-Kent team exposed a government conspiracy to deliberately blow the cover of a CIA agent. Conner confronted a school clique bullying a fellow classmate. They ate a lot of take-out dinners. They fought about chores. They forgot about applying for infant and toddler adoptions.
Baby Girl Doe squirmed in Lois' arms, tiny and bald, eyes crossing with the effort to focus on her prospective mother's face. Clark chuckled and bopped her nose. Conner stuck his finger in her hand and proudly announced that she had a half-decent grip.
"They don't have anything at all about her birth parents?" asked Lois.
"It's completely closed except for some medical history," Clark said. "A great-uncle had cystic fibrosis. A few other relatives had cancer. She's small because her mom's womb was small, not because of any congenital diseases."
"Which means her mom's either petite or a teenager. Drug use?"
"Not recorded. None observed."
Lois kissed the baby on her forehead. "You smell like sour milk. You have that much in common with Conner, at least."
"Hey!" Conner protested. "I took a bath today." He sniffed at his armpits, just in case.
"Will wonders never cease." She winked to take the sting out of her words. "What do you think, Junior? Is she worth re-arranging the loft for?"
"Only if you promise to move to a bedroom on the opposite side of the place. I don't think you should expose a baby to your perverted, over-sexed shenanigans."
Clark went red. "Someone could hear you and take it wrong."
"It is wrong! No one over thirty should do it. That's gross."
Lois rolled her eyes. "Man, you really don't want to use your veto for tonight's take-out, do you?"
Conner pouted like a little, lost mastiff puppy. Clark laughed. "I know when I'm being ordered," he said. "And since tonight is my night, I vote Indian."
"Butter chicken and naan," Lois said.
"Veggie samosas, onion kulcha and lamb vindaloo over basmati rice," was Conner's contribution.
"Like, a metric tonne of naan."
"That veggie platter with the chickpeas, lentils and eggplants."
"Forget everything and just bring naan. I love that stuff. I'd sleep in it."
"I think you did once," said Clark. Then, more seriously, he told Conner, "I want-- both Lois and I want you to know that even if the baby adoption had come through first, we still would've taken you into the family."
"You wash dishes like a fiend," Lois said.
"And we love you. Very much."
Conner rolled his eyes. "The door's wide open, guys. Everyone can totally hear you. It's like you live to embarrass me." He swiped at his eyes.
Lois threw her head back and laughed. She reached over to brush Conner's shaggy curls away from his forehead. "Dolt. You love us, too. Admit it."
"And listen to you two rub it in my face every day? Never. Hey, did we pick a name yet? Or are you going to wait a year until you remember another cousin?" This time, it was Conner's turn to take the edge off his question by winking at Clark.
"I like Chloe," said Lois. "I had a cousin named Chloe. When we were little, we grew up together on the base. She was killed. Drunk driver."
Clark kissed her temple. Conner looked down at his feet. "Chloe's a nice name," he said.
The newly minted Chloe Lane-Kent yawned and fell asleep, bundled tightly in hospital linens.
Nine months after once upon a time, Conner Krummel officially became Conner Lane-Kent. Lois took the teasing at the office well enough, meaning no one had to be rushed to the Emergency Department of MetGen but First Aid had to be called. No one ever did figure out how that pink gingham apron caught on fire. The office also tried to tease Clark but he was far too earnest in accepting cigars and big blue balloons. His desktop wallpaper was a picture of the three of them sitting on the Kent Farm porch, arms around each others shoulders, faces squashed together, mouths open in mid-guffaw. Lois' desktop had a target but her two boys grinned up at her from her cellphone.
Seventeen days after they signed Conner's adoption papers in City Hall, the letter from Greenville Adoption Agency arrived.
Superboy told Robin about the baby; they were best friends and it made sense. "What's it like having a younger sister?" Robin wanted to know.
"It's good, I guess. True story: whoever invented the phrase 'sleeping like a baby' never had a baby. They sleep, like, three hours max. Then they stay awake only long enough to eat and poop, and go back to sleep for another three hours."
"So... you don't like it?"
"Of course, I like it! She's awesomely cute. I think she's starting to look like me."
Robin wisely didn't point out the poor likelihood of that statement.
"Her hair's growing in light brown and she's kind of spherical everywhere. We went to the Fortress the other day for her Kryptonian naming. She's Cir Kal-el of the House of El. Is that bad ass or is it bad ass?"
"Can I choose cake?"
"One good part about the baby? Mom and Dad are-- huh." Superboy paused, a smile quirking on his face. "Weird. But kind of-- yeah. Mom and Dad. Anyway, one good part about the baby is how much more time I have to do this job. Dad's cutting back on a lot of his work time so he can help."
"Yes. I read the Justice League minutes."
"But the ultimate best part? They're both too damn exhausted to make-out everywhere. No more old people sex on furniture that is not their own bed."
Robin's brain reared to the back of his skull at that mental image. "I'm glad you're having a great time with the baby," he said to steer the subject back to harmlessness. "It makes me kind of wonder about... about Spoiler's."
Superboy placed a hand on his best friend's shoulder. "I'm sure her kid's fine, too. If I've learned anything, it's that babies get adopted really quickly. Hey, I bet her new family's spoiling her stupid already."
"Yeah. It happened so quickly, especially after months of build up with the prenatal classes and all that. She just... went into labour and they took the baby away. I keep thinking maybe I should track her down but--" Robin shook the thoughts off. "We need to focus."
Superboy struggled to keep his expression light. "I rock at focussing. And Rob, wherever she is, I know Spoiler's baby's happy."
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, a social worker named Jessie locked up her office for the night. As she passed through the waiting area, a shadow flicked at the corner of her eye. She whirled around, mace in hand.
There was nothing.
Exhaling loudly, she continued to the waiting area. A folder sat unfiled on the receptionist desk. Jessie made a mental note to talk to her assistant about confidentiality. She put down her bags, flipping through the notes on the way to the filing cabinet.
Apparently, a baby from Gotham needed a family, unsurprising considering the earthquake and its aftermath. Teen pregnancy, little support at home, a distant cousin with cystic fibrosis-- she should suggest genetic testing for the prospective family-- and some cancer history. Two major hiccups in this case: no paternity waiver and the mom's father had a criminal record with two counts of murder, several kidnappings and multiple counts each of assault, battery and theft with signs of obsession with his daughter. That would explain the need to adopt across state lines. This was going to be a tough one.
She thought of the file on top of her desk that morning, Clark and Lois Lane-Kent from Metropolis. She knew them by reputation; they seemed to be the type who could handle this type of a complex case. She should send them a long, overdue letter. Lost in her planning, she never saw a figure of a man, caped and cowled, watching her from the roof.