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Longing

By Laura Davies

Rated: PG

Author's note/disclaimer: These characters don't belong to me, I'm just playing with them for a while. Well, y'all, another week, another homework assignment. My sincerest thanks to the best beta readers ever, Jenni Debbage, WandaD and Avia. I suppose you can say that this is yet another prequel vignette--one day this and F&AE: Family may be extended into a full story... then again, maybe not. Avia says that this story needs a tissue warning.

Lois stood by the French doors in the living room and stared out discontentedly into the side yard. She and Clark had been married for a little over a year, and for the most part, it had been happy. However, the darkest cloud on the horizon was likely to remain forever. She sighed softly and brought her hand to rest on her abdomen. Wistfully, Lois tried to imagine what it would feel like to have Clark's baby growing within her womb.

The doctor's pronouncement last year of their inability to conceive had hurt, but combined with the rejection of their applications to adopt, the pain was nearly unbearable. Though she and Clark had managed to move on with their lives out of necessity, the hurt was always there, lingering just beneath the surface. She managed to ignore it most of the time, but this afternoon her mother had started in about it over lunch... Lois had never quite managed to tell her mother about their inability to conceive.

Lois had always considered her husband's doctor to be a friend, but on that day she had hated him. He had shattered her half-formed dreams of holding a baby who had Clark's big brown eyes, rocking *their* child to sleep, kissing bumps and bruises to make them better, and the simple joy of watching her baby sleep.

Lois pressed her hand tighter against her stomach, wishing for some sign of life and a single tear escaped from her eye and rolled down her cheek. It was all she needed for the floodgates to open up. She bit her lip, refusing to let the sobs that welled up in her throat escape. Clark was dozing in front of the television and she didn't want to wake him--she didn't want him to know the extent of her distress.

When they had first gotten the news, Clark had sworn to her that he needed only her in his life--that her love alone completed him. But she had seen the fleeting glances of suppressed longing that passed over his face whenever they saw a person holding a baby, and she knew he longed for a child as much as she did. She dashed the tears from her eyes and leaned her flushed face against the glass. They had discontinued using any form of birth control over eight months ago, praying fervently that Dr. Klein had been mistaken, but the fact that she hadn't conceived left little doubt as to the accuracy of his test results.

Restless and frustrated, she pushed away from the glass and started pacing back and forth. She had always scoffed when her girlfriends had told her how much they had wanted a baby--biological imperative, bah! Not now. Her arms ached for a child. Silently, she cursed whatever faceless, higher power that had decreed her unable to conceive a child with the only man she'd ever really loved.

Lois turned and climbed the stairs, unable to stay in the living room any longer. She made a choking sound as she passed the door of the room they'd planned on turning into the nursery. She hurried into their bedroom and closed the door behind her. She threw herself on the bed before again giving free rein to the tears and longing that she'd kept bottled up inside.

Clark sat up and rubbed his eyes. He had fallen asleep in front of the game... again. It had been a busy few weeks and both of them had been burning the candle at both ends. It really wasn't all that surprising that on their first day off in such a long time he would end up asleep in front of the television. He stood up and stretched to work the kinks out of his muscles before heading to their bedroom and paused, listening to what sounded like soft sobbing. Far too often, he had caught Lois crying by herself and it pained him terribly to know that her unhappiness stemmed from his inability to give her the baby they both so desperately wanted. He headed up the stairs for find her.

Clark paused for a moment outside the nursery. He couldn't bear to look again at the bassinet his mother had sent them along with all the other items that Lois had lovingly unwrapped and arranged in the bright little room. He had begged her to let him pack all the stuff up and at least put it in storage, but Lois had dug in her heels, refusing to admit defeat.

But, despite their best efforts, the bassinet in the Kent household remained empty. As much as he hated the thought, he was beginning to believe that Dr. Klein was right--for them, children were an impossibility. There were still options that they had yet to explore... perhaps it was time he talked to Lois about them. Clark ran his hand through his hair as he approached the door to their bedroom.

He opened the door and entered cautiously, hoping not to disturb her in case she had managed to fall asleep. He was shocked to find her lying on the bed, wracked with sobs. He sat on the edge of the bed and pulled her unresisting form into his arms. "Sweetheart, are you okay?" he asked softly. "What's the matter?" He already knew the answer.

Lois put her arms around him and buried her face in his chest. "Nothing," she said stuffily.

"Honey, there must be something wrong," he asserted quietly. "Otherwise, you wouldn't be crying. Did your mother start needling you about grandchildren again?"

"Yes," she admitted, her breath catching in a sob. Lois looked up at him, tears still shining in her eyes. "I want a baby, Clark," she said quietly.

Clark reached up and caressed her cheek gently. "I know, sweetheart," he said quietly. "Perhaps we should explore other options? I mean, adoption didn't work out, but there's still artificial insemination with sperm from a donor." His insides rebelled at the thought of his wife carrying another man's child. He knew he could love it, and legally, it would be his. But the thought still didn't appeal to him.

"No!" Lois shook her head emphatically. "Clark, I don't want another man's baby--I want *yours*."

"Lois, even if the child wasn't biologically mine, I would still love it--it would still be *my* baby--mine and yours. You didn't object to the idea of adoption. How is this any different?" Clark cupped her cheek in his large hand and caressed it gently.

Lois looked at him, pain in her large brown eyes. "Clark," she began softly, "I couldn't--the only man's baby I *ever* want to carry is yours... I never even wanted kids until I fell in love with you."

"Honey, you know that the chances aren't good. You know what Dr. Klein said. It's all my fault--because I'm so... different. An alien." Clark rested his forehead against hers, relieved that she had rejected the idea, despite his argument to the contrary. "I can't give you a baby; Doctor Klein says it's not possible." He ran his fingers through her hair in a soothing gesture. "If I... le--"

"No!" she exclaimed forcefully, interrupting what she *knew* he was about to say before pulling his head down to capture his lips in a desperate kiss. She devoured his lips hungrily, trying to impart without words how much she needed him there with her. She broke off the kiss slowly and hugged him tightly to her. "No," she repeated again, softer this time. "I need you," she whispered.

Clark tightened his grip on his wife. "It's true that I want kids..." he continued, heedless of her words, "...and I know you do, too. But if it never happens, then we'll just have to remain a family of two. I never, ever want to leave you. I love you, Lois-- I'll always love you."

Lois rested her head on his chest and listened to the steady thrum of his heartbeat. "I love you, too," she said softly. She looked at him, some of the sadness gone from her face. "Don't *ever* start to offer to leave me again," she ordered softly. "I love you too much to lose you, kids or not."

"I promise," he affirmed as she reached up and pulled his head down for another kiss.

At that moment, Lois was comforted... until the next time she saw a mother with a new baby, or fielded her mother's inquiries about grandchildren. Other bad days would follow, but she still had Clark to turn to when the emptiness welled inside her and the pain became too much to bear.

Nine months of tears, arguments, and heartbreak later, Lois stood in front of the mirror, her fingers gently massaging her stomach, and tried to decide how she was going to tell Clark what would be extremely welcome news.

finis.