Final Forgiveness 2: Perry's Story (3/5)
by Alicia U.

Later that day, Perry got out of his car in the parking lot of the New Troy State Penitentiary. He inhaled deeply before he dared enter the rather uninviting place. The bright white walls surrounded by fences topped with barbed wire did nothing to quell Perry’s anxiety about entering the prison where his son was.

Perry approached the gate slowly, almost regretting his decision to come. But he had driven all the way upstate, and it would be wrong if he did not do what he came to do. The guard at the front gate let him in and called inside for them to have Jerry meet his visitor. A guard led Perry to the visitors’ area, and told him to sit down. Perry shifted in his chair uncomfortably until a guard let Jerry into the room.

Jerry’s eyes brightened when he saw his father and he exclaimed, “Dad, it’s so good to see you! How long has it been?” Before Perry could even react, Jerry had wrapped his arms tightly around his father.

Perry’s breath caught in his throat as soon as Jerry’s arms wrapped around him. Had Jerry forgiven him? No, that would be too good to be true! Perry choked out, “Son, it’s been too long. It’s good to see you.”

Jerry smiled at his father, the man he had disappointed so much. He couldn’t believe his father had willingly come to visit him. Jerry knew that the reason they had not kept in touch over the years was because he was a horrible disappointment to his father. Everything he had ever done in his life had been wrong, and his father did not even want to acknowledge that Jerry was his son.

All Perry could do was stare at his son. He couldn’t believe that Jerry still cared for him. It had been Perry’s neglect of his parental responsibilities that had led Jerry to commit his crime, and they had lost contact over the years because Jerry resented him for all of the years Perry had neglected his family.

Perry and Jerry sat together at a table in the room, talking for hours about Jerry’s boyhood, and Perry apologized for leaving their family alone for so long. Jerry, in turn apologized for everything he had done to disgrace their family. By the time the guards came to get Jerry to take him back, Perry felt he had made real progress with his son, and that they might have forged the beginnings of a new relationship.

Perry sang along loudly to his Elvis cassettes the whole drive home unable to wipe the silly grin off his face. He had finally begun to make peace in his family; Jerry had accepted him with open arms, although they still had so much to get out in the open. At least Jerry was responsive to reopening the lines of communication. Now all he had to do was convince Alice and Larry that he had changed, but he knew it was easier said than done.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Ellen Lane waited impatiently for her daughters to arrive at her house. Ever since Lucy had called to tell her that Superman dropped her off at Lois’ house, Ellen had been anxiously waiting for them to arrive. She caught sight of Lois’ silver Jeep Cherokee when it turned the corner onto her street, and she stood on the front porch to meet them. As soon as Lois stopped the car, Ellen rushed towards it. Lucy was first to jump out, exclaiming, “Mother, it’s good to see you!”

Ellen hugged her younger daughter and squeezed her tightly, not really wanting to let her go. Ellen prided herself in the changes she had made since Sam’s death. She felt that she had become a better person, and also more approachable for her daughters. Both of them had been talking to her more and spending more time with her since they had found out about Sam’s cancer. She saw what her ex-husband had gone through and wondered if the same thing would happen to her. Would Lois and Lucy ignore her when she was on her death bed? Whether consciously or unconsciously, she had lost all of her anger directed towards Sam, and, in turn, her personality had brightened and her daughters found her a good companion and a friendly ear to talk to.

Ellen rubbed Lucy’s back. “It’s so good to finally have you home, dear. What do you say we head inside and eat some of that food that’s been sitting there? I hope it’s not cold.”

Lois, Clark and Lucy all ran into the house at the mention of food and Ellen muttered, “Are they my children or are they animals that escaped from the zoo?”

Ellen smiled and followed the group inside, finally happy to have them all together again for a happy occasion. The last few times the four of them had been together were times of intense pain and grief over Sam’s death. It felt wonderful to have everyone together under one roof to celebrate something positive at last.

They all practically inhaled their dinners, only stopping briefly to talk about Lucy’s finals, her new job, Lois and Clark’s latest story, and the latest article Ellen had read in a magazine about couples that have children later in life. When Ellen brought up the article, both Lois and Clark inwardly groaned. Was she trying to tell them they’d better start having children quickly while they were still young enough? They weren’t too old; Lois had just turned 29 while Clark was only 30. They both wanted to wait at least a year before they tried to have a baby, but for the last month or so, Ellen seemed to be trying to tell them that she wanted a grandchild. That’s what they got for mentioning that they *might* want to consider having children in the future. This might have been a toned down version of the old Ellen, but it was still Ellen. But it was something that both Lois and Clark had decided that they could live with.

After they had finished dinner, Clark volunteered to clean the table. Lois was surprised that he hadn’t been needed as Superman yet the whole night. Suddenly, just as Lois had been contemplating their good luck, Clark’s head cocked to the side and he froze. Lois cringed and her mother watched as Clark ran out of the room.

After Clark left, Ellen pulled Lois into the living room. Ellen hissed, “Where did Clark run of to so fast?”

Lois took a deep breath. Ellen was really going to lay it into her now.

Ellen put her arm around Lois’ shoulder. “Lois, dear, you know you can talk to me. Is there something the matter with him? Is your marriage in trouble, sweetheart? You can tell me. I know the signs, dear. I can see that he’s clearly cheating on you. You know I *do* have some experience in this area.”

Lois sighed. She and Clark had planned to tell Lucy and Ellen about Clark that evening, but so far it hadn’t gone as planned. Lucy had figured it out herself and had ruined the surprise, and now Lois was going to be forced to tell her mother the truth in order to explain Clark’s mysterious exit. It didn’t really bother her telling her mother, but it was always hard letting another person in on the secret, as much as they deserved to know. However, Lois kept feeling worse and worse lying to her family about Clark’s disappearances, especially because she knew her mother suspected that Clark was being unfaithful. In the last few months, her mother had proven herself a trustworthy confidant and a valuable ally. But Lois still wished she and Clark had told her father the truth about Superman before he died. She felt so bad thinking that she let him go to his grave without being entirely honest with him. He did have the right to know about Clark; he deserved to know! But now it was too late, and Lois focused her thoughts on telling the living members of her family the truth since there was no way she could change the past.

Lucy had followed her mother and sister into the living room and had sat on the couch. She stared at Lois with a cocky smile playing on her lips, almost taunting Lois to tell Ellen about Clark.

Lois took a deep breath. “Mother, I think you should sit down.”

Ellen saw the serious look in Lois’ eyes and immediately sat down. What had begun as a happy, exciting evening in Ellen’s opinion was rapidly declining to another evening of pain and hurt. She sank down into a nearby chair and nodded for Lois to begin her explanation. She was ready to comfort her baby girl when she finally acknowledged that her husband was having an affair.

Lois ran a hand through her hair nervously. She wasn’t sure how her mother would take this news. Hopefully, Lucy wouldn’t telegraph that she already knew.

Lois took a deep breath before she began, hoping for the best. “Okay, Mom, Lucy, there’s something Clark and I were planning to tell you tonight, but it looks like I am going to have to tell you without him.”

Ellen looked over towards Lucy to see if she had any idea what was going on. Lucy didn’t appear to know what Lois was going to say, and if she did she was sure hiding it well. Ellen indicated for Lois to continue. However, she now wondered if they had another secret other than the fact that Clark was having an affair. Maybe Lois was pregnant and they were staying together for the sake of the baby despite Clark’s affair. Yes, that had to be it, what else could it be?

Lois ran her hand through her hair, hoping to stall for time so Clark might have time to return. Ellen stared her patented stare of death at Lois, and Lois stood in the center of the room unsure what to do. When it became painfully obvious that Clark would not return, Lois continued. Clark just ran out before because… Mom, Clark is Superman.”

Ellen’s jaw dropped. “Lois, you’re kidding, right? You’re just in denial because he’s having an affair. You have to admit these things before I can help you. If you can’t admit he has a problem, there’s nothing I can do to help you.”

Lois took a deep breath trying to control her emotions before she spoke. How dare her mother think that about Clark! She closed her eyes tightly and counted silently to ten before she spoke. “No, Mother, I’m telling the truth. Clark really is Superman. He’d never cheat on me! How dare you think that!”

Ellen shook her head violently. She jumped out of her chair and exclaimed, “I refuse to believe that, Lois. If you and Clark are having problems, just come right out and tell me. Lois, I refuse to believe such a contrived story! Dear, your relationship has all the signs of marital infidelity. Believe me, I’m an expert.”

Lois flopped onto the couch next to Lucy and her head fell into Lucy’s lap. The one time she had actually told her mother the truth about her life, her mother didn’t believe her. It was almost funny. Maybe Lois would look back on this day and laugh, but at this moment she just wanted to break down and cry.

Lucy had not yet commented, so Ellen turned to her. “Lucy, what do you think about this story?”

Lucy patted her sister’s back and said, “I believe Lois, Mom. Why would she lie about this?”

Suddenly a gust of wind blew through the window, they heard a soft woosh, and then Clark emerged from the kitchen. He surveyed the scene, and took a step back when he saw that he was the object of Ellen’s death stare. “Hi?” he tried timidly.

Immediately Ellen rose from her seat. “Clark Kent, where did you go? Wait; don’t tell me. I know you’re seeing another woman. You don’t have to pretend any more. Lois told me. Okay, maybe she didn’t tell me, but I figured it out. And right in your mother-in-law’s house! I’m ashamed to even talk to you. Poor Lois tried to cover for you with the most improbable story. She must really love you if she makes up stories like that to lie to her family. Please. Like you’re really Superman!”

Clark looked at Lois blankly. Ellen had obviously caught him off guard. Her onslaught of outlandish allegations had startled him and he obviously didn’t even know how to respond. Lois whispered in a voice that only Clark could hear, “Honey, I told her the truth, but she didn’t believe me.”

Clark rolled his eyes in despair. Now they had let Ellen in on the secret too. Plus she didn’t even believe it! It was so hard for him to tell anyone about his secret, let alone two people in one day. He sighed, “Ellen, Lois wasn’t lying. I am Superman. I had to leave before because there was a bomb on an airplane just above Metropolis.”

Ellen put her hand on Clark’s shoulder and shook him, trying to make him tell her the truth. “Clark, I know you probably even believe that, and I see Lucy obviously does too, but I am the only sane one in this room! I know you’re not Superman. Now stop all of this lying and tell me the truth!”

Lois stood up to support Clark. He wrapped her in his arms and kissed the top of her head. In an exasperated voice, he said, “Ellen, I am Superman. Why else would I have left? I would *never* do *anything* to hurt Lois.” He pulled her closer. “*Ever*.” When Ellen still didn’t look like she believed him, he asked, “Do you need me to prove it to you?”

Ellen nodded, and Clark levitated a few inches off the floor holding Lois all the while. Lucy’s mouth hung open for effect. Ellen looked like she was almost ready to believe Clark. She opened and closed her mouth without letting any words escape. Clark floated back down and he decided she needed more proof because she still wore the doubtful look on her face. He aimed his heat vision toward the candelabra that was sitting on the mantle piece, and suddenly it lit.

Ellen’s breath stuck in her throat. Had Clark really just done those things? Maybe he really was Superman. Besides, why would Lois blatantly lie to her like that? She hadn’t really wanted to believe everything that she had thought about Clark anyway, and believing that he was Superman was a lot easier than believing he was cheating on her daughter or maybe doing something even worse. However, for a split second, she seriously considered hitting the liquor again. The thought passed as quickly as it had come, thankfully. She had to keep reminding herself that not all men were like Sam. Clark did seem to love Lois with his whole heart and soul, and appeared to want to do everything in his power to make her happy. Ellen stared at him again, wanting to speak, but the words wouldn’t come out.

Clark was Superman! She’d sure have to think about that for a while. Her daughter was married to an alien, an alien for God’s sake. Could they have children together? Maybe she should stop pressuring them for grandchildren. All of a sudden, Ellen spurted out, “But can you have children together? If you’re an alien, I mean, Clark.”

Clark wrapped his arms protectively around Lois’ front again. They had been talking about the possibilities of them ever having children since before Sam had died. They still didn’t know if it was possible for them to have children, but they had decided to put the discussion on hold for at least a year. Clark bent down and rested his chin on the top of Lois’ head.

Ellen watched the couple’s interplay. She felt sorry for challenging Clark’s love for her daughter. Obviously Clark loved Lois more than she could ever imagine someone loving another person. It was obvious in the way he looked at her, like she was the most precious being in the universe to him.

All three had not noticed Lucy slip out of the room and go up to her bedroom. She wanted to give them their privacy, and she felt like she was just a third wheel. If only she could find someone like Clark to spend the rest of her life with. Quietly, she set about the task of moving into her room.

Back downstairs, Clark was saying, “Well, Ellen, we’re not sure about that. I’m not sure how different we are genetically, and…”

Ellen interrupted, “But you still can… you know, right?

Both Lois and Clark turned red, and they looked at each other realizing just how compatible they were. Lois nodded, and Clark smiled nervously. Lois choked out, “Well, uh, Mom, he sure has all the right, um… parts.”

Clark turned even redder as Ellen nodded, patted her arm, and said, “Well, that’s good, dear. I didn’t want you to be missing out on anything.”

Clark looked uncomfortable, and Lois feared he would try to run away. However, Ellen changed the topic of conversation away from sex because it was making her just as uncomfortable as it was obviously making her daughter and son-in-law.

It took nearly half an hour before any of them realized Lucy was no longer in the room. Clark was the first to realize that Lucy was no longer there. “Hey, did anyone see where Lucy went?”

Lois and Ellen, who had been heatedly discussing some of the excuses Lois had used to cover for Clark’s absences, obviously had not noticed Lucy was no longer in the room. In fact, neither had even heard Clark’s inquiry. Clark waved his hand in front of Lois’ eyes as Ellen was saying, “Come on, Lois, he had to pick up your chocolates of the world shipment? Please, who would believe that?”

Lois noticed Clark’s hand waving in front of her face and grabbed it. “Clark, quit it! You’re making me dizzy.”

Clark stopped his hand and covered Lois’ mouth with it. “Do you like this better?”

Lois tried to bite it, but he moved his hand so she wouldn’t crack her teeth. He said, “Lois, Ellen, have you noticed that Lucy isn’t here any more? She must have left a while ago, but none of us noticed.”

Ellen looked down; it was like when Lucy was a child again. Everyone in the family had the tendency to ignore Lucy and go on with their lives as if she didn’t exist. Ellen knew that Lucy had always felt that her family wouldn’t even notice if she ran away. Ellen bit her lip and sighed. “I’d better go see what’s bothering her.”

Lois and Clark both nodded in response. “I think she might have just wanted to give us some privacy. Or maybe she was just tired and wanted to get some rest or maybe she wanted to unpack,” Lois said.

Lucy appeared at the top of the steps dressed in a pair of old flannel pajamas laughing at her family. “I wanted to get some unpacking done, so I slipped upstairs. I didn’t want to interrupt you, so I didn’t say anything.”

Ellen met Lucy at the steps. “We’re sorry we didn’t notice that you left, dear. I was just so shocked that Clark is, well, you know, my mind wasn’t working right.” Ellen was consciously practicing not telling anyone about Clark, since Lois had made her promise never to tell a soul about Clark’s identity.

Lucy smiled, her eyes moving to each member of her family. “Really, you don’t have to worry about it. I was happy to get some unpacking done. This is a big deal, so I wanted to let you deal with it without me there to get in the way.”

“Are you sure, Lucy? This is big news for you too,” Ellen pleaded. “I want you to be able to talk about it too.”

Lucy grinned and descended the stairs. Her eyes took on a teasing gleam as she snuck up behind Clark and slapped him on the rear end. And Clark grabbed her and twirled her around. She giggled hysterically as she choked out, “I think it’s cool, Mom. Superman’s my brother. How many girls can say that, even if I can’t tell anyone?”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The next morning, at the Daily Planet, Jimmy Olsen met the reporters as soon as they stepped out of the elevator. He grabbed Lois’ arm and almost jumped up and down in excitement. Lois glanced over and looked at Clark with a bemused expression on her face. Clark raised his eyebrows in response.

Jimmy asked excitedly, “So, Lois, Lucy’s back in town, right? You told me she was coming back last night, right? So, what do you think she’d think if I asked her out?”

Lois smiled at Jimmy, humoring him, as she made her way towards her desk. Jimmy still held onto her arm, and Clark diverged towards the coffee machine.

“Wow, Jimmy, you sure don’t waste any time!”

Jimmy smiled and flashed her his sweet, sad, puppy eyes. Lois rolled her eyes and Jimmy said, “Please, Lois, next time you talk to her, could you mention my name. Maybe throw in a couple of compliments. You know, make me sound good.”

Lois sat down at her desk and turned her computer on all the while looking at Jimmy’s expectant face. “If I do it today, will you quit bugging me and get to work? I need you to pull up everything you can find on Meteor Airways. Someone planted a bomb on it last night. Superman stopped it before it blew up, but he thinks it might be linked to the bomb in Centennial Park last month and to the bomb at that warehouse a few weeks ago. The bombs were all made the same way, and Superman thinks they were all made by the same person.”

Clark handed Lois a cup of steaming coffee and perched on the side of her desk. “Yeah, we need a passenger list of everyone that was on the plane. Loparo Consultants owned that old warehouse, but it’s been vacant for a few years. And then the Loparo children were at the park the day the bomb went off.”

Jimmy grinned and wiggled his eyebrows. “If I get to work, you’ll call Lucy and put in a good word, right?”

Lois sighed audibly and eventually nodded. “Okay, fine. Now will you get to work?”

Jimmy’s grin widened almost to his eyes, and his eyes took on a new twinkle as he walked away. He turned around and said, “Aren’t you going to call? What are you waiting for?”

Lois rolled her eyes and Clark laughed. Lois said, “Jimmy, it’s only 8am. Lucy doesn’t even wake up ‘til at least noon. We’re having lunch with her this afternoon. I’ll talk to her then.” And when Jimmy looked at her suspiciously, she added, “I promise.”

“I’ll make sure she does, Jimmy,” Clark added with a grin. His eyes twinkled because he realized that Jimmy might be the “perfect guy” the Lucy had thought was elusive. Jimmy was a good friend, and he knew Jimmy would treat her well.

Jimmy smiled again. “Thanks, CK, I knew I could count on *you*.”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

That afternoon, Lois and Clark met Lucy at a deli close to the Planet. The three grabbed a booth that was rather secluded from the rest of the noisy customers. Lucy and Lois had both ordered pastrami sandwiches on rye with fries and cream soda. Clark ordered a double cheeseburger with an extra order of fries and a double-thick chocolate milkshake.

Lucy saw Clark’s food and made a face. “I bet he can eat all that and not gain an ounce.”

Lois mirrored Lucy’s expression and said, “I know; doesn’t it just make you sick.”

The sisters nodded, and Clark looked hurt. “You know I can’t help my metabolism.”

Lois wiped some catsup from the corner of his lip with a kiss. Then she patted his shoulder lovingly. “Honey, we know you can’t help it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t hate you for it anyway.”

Lucy gave him a wry grin. He buried his head in his hands, muffling his voice as he said, “I should have known I’d be double teamed. I should have brought Jimmy for protection.” Clark knew full well that Lucy would hear him mention Jimmy and hoped she would broach the subject of Jimmy with Lois.

As Clark had hoped, Lucy had picked up on the Jimmy reference. She smiled wistfully when she said, “So how *is* Jimmy? That was him at the funeral, wasn’t it? He is kinda cute in that little lost puppy dog sort of way. He looks like he’s sure grown up since the last time I saw him.” A far away look passed over her face as she remembered the last time she had seen Jimmy. It had been a good date, but not a memorable one. They were both immature and they weren’t looking for the same things in a relationship. But now they were older, and Lucy wondered they might be more in sync now. Actually, now Lucy was looking for a man to have fun with, someone that she got along with well, but also someone that could possibly have marriage potential. If she remembered correctly, she and Jimmy had had a lot in common when they had dated before, but they never followed up on their relationship.

Lois winked at Clark as they both noticed the look that crossed Lucy’s face at the mention of Jimmy’s name. Maybe their matchmaking would be easier than either had thought. Lucy was obviously thinking about Jimmy, and they both thought Jimmy would be a perfect match for the younger Lane.

Lois giggled, drawing her sister out of her reverie. Lucy smiled self-consciously. “Lois, is Jimmy seeing anyone right now?”

Lois glanced at Clark and smiled. Clark nodded, taking this as his cue to step into the conversation. “Well, Luce, I happen to know that he was talking about you before. He’s been asking me about when you were supposed to be home ever since a couple of days after the funeral.”

“Really?” A curious expression formed on her face as she considered the possibility that Jimmy might be thinking about her in the same way she was thinking about him.

“Yes really, Luce. You know Jimmy’s had a thing for you for a while.”

Lucy’s cheeks turned a bright red now that she realized that Jimmy might have been harboring the same feelings for her as she’d hidden her feelings for him since the last time she’d seen him.

A wide grin broke across her face as she said, “Tell him to call me.”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

When Lois walked through the elevator, Jimmy pounced. He had probably been waiting by the elevators just watching for her to return the whole time she was gone. Clark had left to be Superman just as they were walking through the main doors to the lobby. He had flown away so quickly she hadn’t had the opportunity to tell her where he was going.

Jimmy looked up at her, pleading with his eyes for her to give him good news. Lois was in control of the situation now. Jimmy asked, “So, Lois, how was lunch?”

Lois returned his smile and started at walk away. Jimmy followed her like a dog following his master. She shot over her shoulder, “I don’t know. Did you find anything for me?”

“Come on, Lois, you’re killing me!” Jimmy produced a large manila folder overflowing with papers and other files. Lois hadn’t even realized he’d been carrying it. “Here it is. Everything you could ever want about the Loparo family, Christopher Loparo, Loparo Consultants, and Meteor Airways. I even highlighted everything that relates the three even if it is insignificant.”

Lois flipped through the pages, obviously impressed. She smiled as she slipped him a small piece of paper with Lucy’s number written on it. “She wants you to call her.”

Jimmy’s eyes lit up and his face broke out into a wide grin. He nearly jumped out of his skin because he was so excited. “Oh my gosh! She wants me to call her!” Jimmy was now almost hyperventilating.

Lois smiled and put a hand on his back saying, “Breathe, Jimmy, breathe.”

When Jimmy regained his composure, he impulsively grabbed Lois and hugged her. “Thank you so much, Lois. I knew you and CK’d come through for me!”

Before Lois could respond or even catch her breath, Jimmy had darted away to find the nearest phone. Lois laughed to herself realizing, not for the first time, what a good couple Lucy and Jimmy would make. She hoped it worked out for her sister and her friend. They both deserved someone they could be happy with because both had suffered through countless bad relationships.