"Is Aunt Chloe going to pop?" Lewis wanted to know, clearly worried as he gazed up from his plate. "She's so huge."
Clark choked on his glass of juice and couldn't quite the laugh on his lips as he turned to his younger brother.
Jonathan and Lana both shared looks before Lana cleared her throat and answered. "Honey, we've already explained that there's a little boy growing inside of her, and when it's time for him to be born he'll just… slide out."
"Exactly," Jon declared with a bit of a superior attitude. "Aunt Chloe has a slide inside of her and he'll use it to get out."
Lewis blinked and turned to Lana. "Do all girls have slides?"
Clark was evilly amused at the terribly uncomfortable expression on both his father's and Lana's faces. They obviously hadn't had the sex talk with the twins, and yet the questions the boys kept asking made it obvious that the talk would have to happen, soon. Otherwise all of their "explanations" really would confuse the boys even more.
Lana not so subtly kicked Jonathan's shin under the table.
Jonathan gave a jump and took a moment to clean his glasses, probably giving himself time to stall and think his answer through. "It's, uh, not a slide per se… boys." He cleared his throat. "It's just something that girls can do that boys can't. It's-it's a question for when you are older."
Which, of course, was the wrong thing to say because both boys vehemently protested that they were old enough to know these things.
Clark leaned back and snickered at his father and Lana, who both caught him and gave him: 'Don't be evil' looks.
It was surprising how things were calming down and becoming normal in the Kent household. Things weren't a hundred per cent okay or comfortable, but they were getting there.
Chloe's heartbeat jumped.
Clark frowned as he sat up straighter and fully concentrated on her. She was supposed to be over at Oliver and Lois' for the night, so really, anything Lois said or did could be the cause for the change, and yet…
Chloe's breath hitched in fear two seconds before Clark's phone began to ring. It was Lois.
"Smallville, it's time!" Was all Lois said before she hung up.
That was all needed, really.
Things had gone into a panic. Clark had barely managed to go outside and away from his brothers' eyes before superspeeding to Oliver and Lois' house as they loaded Chloe into their car. He'd taken the drive with them (complaining on how they should go faster) and had been there during the whole labor.
He'd been the first to see AJ, the first to hold him as Chloe slept.
He'd gazed down at that child while holding him in his arms, and he'd wondered how he could've ever fooled himself into believing that he could live life watching everyone else having children and not having any himself.
Holding AJ in his arms, and watching Chloe sleep, the truth hit Clark extremely hard.
He wanted a family.
"Whatcha thinking?" Chloe's voice broke into Clark's thoughts as she appeared, eight month old AJ in her arms.
Clark looked up from the research he was supposed to be doing about LuthorCorp dumping toxic material into a lake in New England which had turned all the marine life sterile. "I was actually thinking about the night AJ was born."
Chloe smiled, beamed actually, and pressed a kiss to her son's rosy cheeks. He was blonde, like his parents, and had his father's eyes. The kid was spoiled rotten, and Clark had done most of the spoiling. "That night was all a blur of pain for me – and then it was happiness unlike anything I'd ever felt before." For a moment her expression went sad, and Clark knew what she was thinking.
She was sad that AC wasn't here, that he hadn't lived to see his son's birth.
Clark was sad too. AC had died not even knowing that his wife was pregnant, that his firstborn on the way. That was tragic.
While at first the thought of Chloe marrying AC had been a complete mystery to him, Clark had come to understand how they could've gotten together. Plus, he hadn't been extremely close to AC, but he'd gone on missions with him and knew that he'd been a good man. And from all accounts, and from the pictures, and from the way Chloe had grown because of it – Clark knew that AC had truly loved Chloe and had made her extremely happy. In the end, that was all he could've ever asked for when it came to his best friend.
And yet a part of him selfishly wondered if he would've been able to accept it so easily now if AC was still alive. It sounded horrible, but it was a question he was asking himself time and time again, especially after AJ's birth. Had AC been alive things would've been drastically different. For one, Clark wouldn't have been able to spend the time he was spending with Chloe. She'd be busy working, as well as being a wife and mother. He'd probably be able to see her as much as he saw Ollie, and the thought of that happening was stifling. Something inside of him cringed at the thought of not being able to spend every single day with her – not being able to see her whenever he wanted – call her whenever he wanted – come over whenever he wanted – sleep over in the guest room whenever he wanted.
"Are you okay?" Chloe's smile dropped. "You look in pain."
Clark took in a deep breath and forced a smile on his face. "I just have a bit of a headache."
"AJ and I will get you some pain meds, won't we AJ?" Chloe walked away, pressing kisses to her son's rosy cheeks.
Clark watched them go, and smiled.
"I don't think so," Chloe declared as she hugged AJ closer, as if to protect herself.
"Why not?" Clark wanted to know, eyeing the dress. "I think it suits you."
She snorted. "Have you seen me since I gave birth?"
"Yeah." He didn't see the issue. She'd gotten curvier. He thought girls liked curves. Guys sure as hell did.
She merely glared at him. "That sort of dress wouldn't look good on me."
Clark eyed her. "You promised Lois we'd go with her and Oliver. I went and bought a suit. You forced me to buy a suit. Now I'm forcing you to buy a dress." He reached over and freed AJ from her hold. "Wouldn't mommy look good in the dress?"
AJ laughed and patted Clark's cheek.
Clark grinned and turned to Chloe. "See? Even he agrees!"
Chloe glared at the both of them (the corner of her lips twitching in betrayal of a smile), and then she was off to find someone to help her get the dress in her size to try on.
"Women," a voice declared behind Clark, and he turned to see an elderly gentleman staying there. "They look pretty as a picture but never seem to see it."
He had to agree. "Are you waiting on someone?"
"My wife," the man declared. "We're having our golden anniversary and the kids are throwing us this fancy party." He grinned, visibly pleased. "She swears she's old and passed her prime, but she's still as beautiful as the day I first met her."
Clark wanted what this old man had. He wanted that love and contentment. He wanted a family of his own. He wanted… he wanted…
Clark looked in the direction Chloe had disappeared to.
"She's not like your missus, mine's tall and a redhead, what a fiery woman; hardheaded and a devil. Boy do I love her."
Clark returned his attention back to the man, eyes wide. "She's not my wife."
The old man nodded. "My youngest son never married his girl either, but they're every bit the family, even without the paper." He leaned in closer. "I come from older times, where you find a girl and marry her so no one else has the chance to take her away from you, but I understand that things change with generations." He paused. "And paper or not, there's no hiding the love you feel for her and for your boy – or the love they feel for you."
Clark opened his mouth to correct the old man.
"Paper or not, where there's love, there's family."
His words caught in his throat.
The old man's cell rung. "Excuse me, it's one of my kids." He answered it and slipped out of the shop.
Clark watched him go.
AJ leaned with his head against Clark's heart and let out a contented sigh.
Clark pressed a kiss to the top of that golden head and let out a sigh of his own.
"I thought I'd gotten a breakthrough, but I hit a wall instead." Chloe wasn't looking away from the screens. "I mean, I have been able to determine that you are physically compatible with human females. Your sperm can definitely fertilize the egg. But I'm drawing a blank when it comes to how exactly the fetus will develop, and how much of you will show up in it while it's in gestation." She sighed. "The one thing though that I believe shows a lot of hope is that you didn't start showing your powers until you hit puberty. That means that your child could be the same way – he or she could be like any normal child until they reach puberty. And if that's so, that means you could safely have children with someone."
"But there's also the chance that he'll kick so hard he'll break ribs or just break through his mother's stomach," Clark insisted.
"Well, yes…" Chloe cleared her throat. "But it seems more and more probable that that won't happen. I just can't test anything positively. Not with the samples… not with the simulations… Not yet, at least." She turned around and slapped his chest. "So you'll have to entrust your hardy swimmers to me for at least a little bit longer."
Clark nodded wordlessly, unable, as always, to vocalize anything whenever she referred so nonchalantly to his… uh… swimmers.
She must've taken his silence for something else, because she sighed and hugged him around his waist. "Clark, if anyone deserves to be a father, it's you." She rested her cheek against his heart. "When I look at you with AJ I know that you're meant to be a father and have children of your own."
He cleared his throat and slowly brought his arms around her.
Chloe tilted her head up to gaze at him. "We'll figure this out together, okay?"
Staring down at her, Clark felt like he couldn't breathe… but he liked the feeling.
Maera had been eyeing him oddly for the past couple of days, and while Clark had gotten to know her well enough to know that the woman got into moods, he was beginning to get somewhat uneasy with how much she looked at him. He didn't want to be that guy who was full of himself and thought everyone was attracted to him, but he begged the stars that that wasn't what was going on here. The woman was gorgeous, and he liked how she bullied Chloe into taking care of herself, but he was so not into her.
"I'm off!" Chloe breezed passed them, wearing something completely different than she'd been wearing twenty minutes ago. It was airy and yellow and seriously cute.
The sight of the dress left Clark speechless for a second before he rapidly got to his feet and moved to peek through the doorway of his translucent office, eyes on Chloe as she headed towards the door. "Where's the fire?"
She stopped and turned to him with a laugh. "No fire. I've just got this thing I have to get to."
Maera cleared her throat. "Remind Mr Wayne about that fifty he owes me."
Clark's smile faded.
Chloe winked at Maera. "Will do. You won that fair and square." With that, and one last wave, she was gone.
Clark leaned against the doorway and watched the front door despite the fact that she wasn't there anymore. "They do that a lot, huh? Have coffee."
"Whenever Mr Wayne is in town, yeah." Maera continued typing before she paused and looked up. "They suit each other."
Clark gave a half shrug. He'd heard so many different people saying the same thing, but he just didn't see it. "I don't know. I don't think he's her type."
"They dated," Maera pointed out helpfully, which should've clued him in on the fact that something had to be wrong.
"And they broke up," which Clark found himself using more and more lately as a good example as to why Bruce Wayne wasn't suitable for Chloe. "Obviously they aren't compatible romantically."
Maera snorted loudly and highly unladylikely. "They're compatible sexually. Who the hell cares about romantically?"
Clark finally shifted his narrowed gaze from the floor to Maera. "Are you saying they're sleeping together?"
Maera's expression was utter innocence. "I'm not saying anything." When he looked away, she added: "I don't gossip."
Clark looked back at her quickly. "Is there something to gossip about?"
In lieu of answering, Maera began to file her nails.
Clark narrowed his eyes on her, wishing he had telepathy instead of x-ray vision, because she obviously knew something but wouldn't tell him. "They're not sleeping together." They couldn't be. Chloe wouldn't mentioned something to him, wouldn't she?
Then again, he wasn't too sure that she would've.
He frowned and gazed back at the door once more. Damn it, he should've gotten some information out of her before she left! What if she was sleeping with Bruce? She was emotionally vulnerable still, and Clark didn't know Bruce enough to guess with any accuracy whether the billionaire would take advantage of that fact.
Bruce Wayne wasn't good for Chloe, or AJ. Not in a romantic/fatherly way. They needed someone else in their lives.
Firstly, they needed someone local, someone who could be there at the first sign of trouble. Someone who was close by.
Now that he was on the subject, Clark thought about what else they needed in their lives, and he knew right away that Chloe and AJ needed someone who would not only love her, but love AJ as much as if he was his own kid. They needed someone who'd never change his feelings for AJ, would never love him less even if he and Chloe had kids of their own.
Also, someone with a super power would be best. Bruce Wayne might be a "super hero" but his "super" came from gadgets. He'd never be able to understand, or give AJ the support and guidance that he'd need when he came into his powers.
Bruce Wayne was not the guy for Chloe. He just wasn't.
Annoyed that no one else seemed to be able to see that, Clark returned to his office.