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A Kiss Goodbye
By Laura Davies

Disclaimer: If you think they're mine, you're sadly mistaken.  I borrowed them, hugged them, squeezed them, and called them George and then gave them back like a good girl.  Seriously though, I don't own Lois, Clark, Perry, Jimmy, or any of the related DC Comics and WB characters. All other characters not seen in the series belong to me. ;) In other words, Rachel, Jamie, Sarah and Alex are mine! All mine!

Author's note: This isn't a happy story.  With the recent death of Lane Smith, IMHO, the Perry we all know and love died also.  Perry White would have been a different character if someone else had portrayed him.  This is current day, so it's 2005 and it fits somewhere in the Lost and Found universe.  By this time, Lois and Clark have two more children--twins, who were born three years (give or take a few months) after Jamie. Serious WHAM warning; nobody else was dealing with our favorite editor's death, and this wouldn't leave me alone.

~*~*~*~

"Thank you for letting us know, Alice.  Please, is there anything we can do for you?  I know that your sons aren't anywhere near here…"  Lois said softly, fighting back tears.

"Thank you, Lois, but everything's taken care of," Alice's hoarse voice said.  "Jerry's being released to come to the funeral, and Larry is bringing his family down."

 Lois said goodbye and hung up the phone with a shaky hand, then sat dropped down onto the couch.  Perry had been sick for over a year.  "It's not fair," she whispered.  She'd known for a long time that the world wasn't a fair place, but sometimes it hit her harder than others.  He'd retired from the Daily Planet soon after his diagnosis because his condition was terminal.  There was no coming back from a disease like the rare form of bone cancer he'd contracted.  Sure, it was possible in some cases to get another year, perhaps five.  But by the time he'd been diagnosed, it had been too widespread with virtually no chance for remission.

Alice, Perry's wife, for they had remarried five years ago, was devastated.  Before he'd gotten sick, he'd been thinking of retiring, anyway, just so they could spend more time together.  Lois sighed and angrily scrubbed at her eyes.  It wasn't fair.  It didn't seem real that her mentor and almost-father was gone.  He'd been there for her since she was a raw, inexperienced reporter straight out of school.

Lois bit her lip and tried to choke back sobs that wanted to escape.  It was the end of an era.  Not only had she lost her friend, but her children had lost a grandfather.  She drew in a shaky breath.  Clark didn't know yet; he was out helping with an accident on the freeway. At least the children were home--it was one less thing to deal with.  Rachel was currently entertaining Jamie and the twins upstairs.

"Momma?" Eleven-year-old Rachel Kent came downstairs, walked over and put her arms around Lois.  "What's wrong?  Why are you crying?"

Lois hugged her daughter.  "Grandpa Perry just died, Peanut," she said, using Rachel's old nickname.  "And I'm sad because I'm going to miss him."

"Don't be sad, Mom." Rachel said.  "Grandpa Perry told me last week that he'd be going to Heaven soon and that he wouldn't hurt anymore."  She pulled back and gave Lois a whimsical little smile. "I told him to tell my other mommy that I'm not mad anymore that she left."

Lois held open her arms and Rachel climbed into her lap.  At almost twelve, she really was too big to be held like that anymore, but she needed to hold her first baby for a little while.  She kissed Rachel's forehead.  Despite being the oldest, she was the most fragile, and they'd almost lost her more than once. "That's good, honey.  What did he say?"

"He said to tell you not to cry because love never ends and death is just another adventure," Rachel answered softly.  "He said not to be afraid of it because we all die someday--even Superman."

"Your grandpa was a very smart man, Rachel." Lois kissed her on the cheek.

"I know," was the simple answer. Rachel smiled again.  "Someday, we'll see him again, Momma.  He said so, and I believe it."

At five and three, respectively, Jamie and the twins weren't old enough to be left alone upstairs for long; Sarah and Alex were in to everything, and if they weren't supervised, there'd be a huge mess to clean up if they weren't careful. Lois kissed Rachel's cheek.  "Let's go check on your brothers and sister, Rach."  She waited until her daughter had gotten off her lap before standing.  A part of her was mourning the fact that Jamie, Sarah, and Alex were too young to ever remember their adopted grandfather.  Rachel would, but she had wanted all her children to know him.

She'd taken his presence for granted; she'd thought that he'd somehow always be there behind the editor's desk at the Daily Planet.  Even after he'd retired, seeing someone else there just felt wrong. Lois bit her lip and headed upstairs, Rachel in tow.  She wanted to cry, but she couldn't afford to break down at the moment.  The children needed her.

~*~*~*~

It was late.  There hadn't been time to tell Clark about Perry's death.  She had her hands full with the twins during dinner, and he'd been called away right afterwards.  In fact, she'd buried herself in the details of homework and bedtime in an attempt to put off thinking about it.  The children were all in bed, and the reality of Perry's death was starting to sink in.  She'd explained to the younger children what had happened to their surrogate-grandfather, but she wasn't sure they really understood.  The funeral was set for the day after tomorrow, but she didn't think even that would help much.

Funerals were meant to bring closure.  She didn't think that Perry's funeral would do that.  If she'd only made him go to the doctor when he started feeling sick!  She'd seen it once or twice before he was diagnosed.  He hadn't been feeling well and if only…  Logically, she knew that there wasn't really much that she could've done, but her heart was screaming at her that she should have done something!

Lois walked slowly upstairs and checked the children's rooms.  She stood in the doorway of the boys' room for a few minutes, watching them sleep.  There was something comforting about watching their soft breathing. She scrubbed at her face with her fists, then walked down the hallway to the girls' room.  Slowly, she tiptoed into the room and pulled up the covers that Rachel had kicked off, tucking her back in.

She brushed a stray sweat-dampened curl from Rachel's flushed face, then turned to the toddler bed to make sure that Sarah was still breathing.  Silently, she left the room, leaving the door cracked open a bit behind her.  She wandered down the hall to the master bedroom, and changed into a pair of pajamas.  Lois sat down on the bed and wrapped her arms around her knees. She wanted Clark there with her.  

With his arms wrapped around her, things never seemed as bad as she sometimes thought they were.  Still, there were some things that she didn't think even he could understand.  Perry had served as her surrogate father for almost twenty years.  Yes, she and her real father had repaired their relationship, but she wasn't sure they'd ever be as close as she and Perry had been.

Lois looked up as she heard a soft whoosh and a thump.  Clark was home.  She sat in silence, listening to the sounds he made in the shower.  It must have been a messy one.  "Clark?" she called quietly.

"What is it, honey?" Clark answered.  He walked into the room.  He was wearing a fresh pair of plaid sleep shorts and rubbing his head with a towel.  

Lois bit her lip.  "It's Perry," she said, her voice clogged with unshed tears.

Clark dropped the towel in the laundry hamper, sat down, scooted to the center of the bed and gently pulled her into his arms.  "We knew this was coming," he said softly.

Lois nodded and buried her head in his shoulder.  "Doesn't make it any easier," she said.

"No, it doesn't." Clark agreed.  He kissed her on the forehead and hugged her tightly.  "I'm going to miss him--at least he's not in constant pain anymore."

Lois felt like she could have stayed burrowed in his warm, comforting embrace forever, but it was not to be so.  She could tell that it was a struggle for him to keep his eyes open, but that he was trying for his sake.  She couldn't even blame him for falling asleep; his Superman duties had been heavy lately and he hadn't been sleeping much. He'd also been spending too many nights sitting with Perry, adding to his lack of sleep even more.  Carefully, she helped him lean back and covered him with the comforter.  It wasn't the first time he'd fallen asleep sitting up, and she doubted it would be the last.

Lois crawled into the other side of the bed and under the covers.  She couldn't dismiss Perry's death with a simple, 'Life goes on," but it was still true.  She still had her parents, Clark's parents, Clark, and their children.  She had her own family to take care of.  Silent tears ran down Lois's face.  She reached for a tissue and gave in.  Perry had been an integral part of her life for so long that it just seemed wrong that he wouldn't be there anymore.

~*~*~*~

Lois took a deep breath and tightened her grip on the twins' hands.  It wasn't as bad as when she had thought that Clark had died; there wasn't as much left undone.  There wasn’t as much left unsaid.  Her eyes strayed to the flower-covered polished wood casket.  They weren't really burying Perry; what had made him who he was wasn't in the box that would soon be lowered into the earth.

Over the past day or so, peace had begun to steal over her heart.   It had come slowly.  She knew from the experience with HG Wells that the people she loved never really died.  She was still skeptical about the whole reincarnation thing, but if it were to be believed, Perry was okay. She drew in a deep breath, trying to keep the lingering tears that she still had for her old friend to stop coming.

Dimly, she could hear the minister in the background, Clark's comforting hand on the small of her back, and the small, slightly sticky hands that she held.  But at the moment, she felt detached from it all.  She had talked to Alice and said the things that one was supposed to say at funerals.  She had gone through all the motions.  But part of her just felt like screaming.  She would give anything at that moment to hear another Elvis story that was somehow supposed to help solve her problems.

Alice was sitting in the front row of the graveside service, surrounded by her sons and grandchildren.  Lois could see tears running down her face as Jerry handed his mother a handkerchief.  Her thoughts were interrupted by a small hand tugging on her skirt.  "Mommy, I hafta go potty," Jamie said urgently.

"Didn't you go before we left?" she whispered.

Jamie shook his head.  "Didn't hafta then."

"I'll take him."  Clark said, as he took Jamie's hand.

Lois gave him a quick smile of thanks and watched as they left in search of a restroom.  Before she could turn her attention back to the service, Sarah started squirming, unable to pay attention any longer.  Alex followed suit.  Lois picked up Sarah and settled her on her lap.  Just as she was about to do the same with Alex, Rachel intervened.  "I can hold him, Momma," she whispered.

"All right, Sweetheart," she said, then helped Rachel get her brother into her lap.  Lois patted Sarah on the back until her thumb crept into her mouth and she settled down.  It was the twins' naptime, so hopefully, it wouldn't take long for both of them to fall asleep.

The minister said the final prayer just as Alex dropped off to sleep.  Lois stood up and shifted Sarah to one hip so as to balance the weight of the sleeping child.  "I'll wait for Daddy," Rachel said.  "That way he can take Alex."

Lois nodded, leaned over, and kissed the top of Rachel's head. "I'll be right back," she said softly.  She picked up the roses that she'd carefully placed beside her purse and walked slowly over to the coffin.  She put them on top and stepped away.  "I'll miss you, Perry," she said.  A lone tear escaped and rolled down her cheek.  "You were the father that I needed when I thought my own didn't want me."

Lois drew in a deep breath.  "I'll make sure that Alex, Sarah, and Jamie know who you are and that you loved them," she promised. She took another step back, clearing the way for someone else to say goodbye.

Lois watched as Alice walked up to the coffin, kissed her hand, and placed it on the lid.  "Wait for me, you old Hound Dog," she said through her tears.  "I'll find you again someday; I love you."

Lois, her eyes still on the coffin, reached out and put her hand on Alice's shoulder.  "I'm so sorry, Alice," she whispered hoarsely.  

"It's not anybody's fault," the older woman said thickly.  "I think I've accepted that."

Lois turned and offered her a tremulous smile.  "I know, but--"

"It doesn't make it any easier," Alice finished.  "Perry and I wasted so much time.  Now, I wish it had been different."

Awkwardly, Lois gave Alice a one-armed hug before turning back to her family.  Clark had come back with Jamie and was in the process of taking Alex from Rachel.  The four of them made their way to the coffin as Lois walked back to where they'd been sitting to collect her purse.  She took a couple of deep breaths, letting peace steal over her.

Perry's death had made it clear to her just how much she had and how short life could be.  And she didn't intend to waste a single moment of her own.

End.

RIP, Mr. Smith.  You will be missed.  
Lane Smith  April 29, 1936 - June 13, 2005