Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Clark/Bruce, Dick/Roy, Steve/Diana, Jonathan/Martha, Pete Ross, and way too many others to list! :)
Genres: Holiday, Slice-Of-Life
Warnings: Sap alert! ;)
General Summary: The Kents host the superhero families at the farm.
Summary: Pete is very proud of his old friend.
Date Of Completion: December 22, 2007
Date Of Posting: January 1, 2008
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 2345
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: This story is a sequel to Family I: Thanksgiving. All chapters can be found here.
My head spun at all the different canons and who was alive and who wasn’t, so even though this is probably the closest I’ll ever get to current canon, it’s really a mix of new and old, and people who should be in the afterlife are here. Also, the Pete Ross mentioned here is the Silver Age Pete, and his discovery of Clark's caped life is from that continuity. I wanted to acknowledge Clark as Superboy (now Kon has that name) as I thought it was a shame that DC retconned him out of existence. Consider this a pocket universe that I created to say 'thank you' to my f-list and DCU fandom! :)
Oh, and needless to say, gay marriage isn’t an oddity here! ;)
Pete sipped his cider as he watched Clark take off. Was there anything more majestic than Superman taking flight?
Many other people were watching the transformation and flight, too. It never got old, Pete thought with a smile. Looks of wonder could still appear on the faces of those who had seen Superman ‘do his thing’ many times before.
“Gotham all snug in their beds, Dad?” Barbara asked. She, Jim and Linda were sitting at the kitchen table.
“All with sugar plums dancing in their heads.”
Barbara giggled as Jim sipped his cider.
Lian was still staring out the window at the backyard.
“Hey, Princess,” Dick said, ruffling his daughter’s hair.
“Superman will help Santa tonight!”
Dick smiled, no doubt remembering his own starry-eyed look as a child when watching super-exploits up close.
Pete remembered his own awe on the night of the camping trip with Clark when he saw his friend change to Superboy and fly off on some super-mission.
Nope, it never got old.
Pete drifted around, always eager to observe superheroes up close. It was even more fascinating when they were in their civilian identities.
As he sipped his cider, he supposed his interest stemmed from knowing Clark for so many years before he knew that he was Earth’s greatest hero.
That still amazed him. Clark Kent, he of the shy smiles and rumpled clothes and unassuming glasses, was the man admired and worshipped by people the world over.
He watched as Bruce spoke to Cass, who smiled at him and squeezed his hand in reassurance. Clark had spoken of his husband’s concern for his daughter-in-law’s pregnancy. It amused Pete that the Big, Bad Bat was fretting over Cass’ condition.
Lian ran up to Bruce and hugged him, Bruce putting his arm around the little girl. Her fathers were standing by the tree, heads close together, obviously in love.
The whole house was filled with love. The family values crowd would have a fit at all the gay and lesbian couples, not to mention the threesomes that people accepted with little concern.
He smiled with glee at the thought of their outrage if they ever found out that Superman was sleeping with Batman, and not only that, was married to him.
“Want to go raid the buffet?”
“Sounds good to me.”
Pete was glad he had an appetite today. He knew Martha Kent’s cooking, and it wasn’t to be missed.
The buffet table was certainly impressive: several different kinds of cold cuts; finger rolls of egg salad, turkey, and tuna; jumbo shrimp; a big bowl of garden salad with big, fat, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion slices; tri-colored rotini pasta salad with black olives; Swedish meatballs simmering in a heated tureen; eggplant parmesan in another tureen; giant slices of briny dill pickles; fresh homemade bread; an assortment of wheat crackers, and a tureen of hot vegetable soup. Jonathan’s chili bubbled away in the last tureen.
Desserts ran the gamut from the fresh gingerbread to homemade Italian, molasses, and Christmas cookies and a chocolate cake. Alfred had contributed lemon and raspberry squares and cranberry bread, and the Christmas cookies were a combined project between him and Martha.
“I’m not sure what to choose first,” Jimmy said.
Pete laughed. “Hard decision, all right.” He picked up a plate and chose a tuna roll, two jumbo shrimp, salad, pasta salad, and a slice of pickle.
Jimmy picked up a bowl and filled it with chili, adding a slice of bread.
“I already had the meatballs and salad,” Jimmy said with a grin.
“Oh, ho, double-dipping.”
Jimmy nodded. “I want to top it off with some of that cake.”
“Mrs. Kent’s chocolate cake is pure heaven.”
They found chairs against the wall, putting their food on a TV tray.
“I’m glad all you Planet folk could get Christmas off.”
“Well, Lois kind of strong-armed Perry.” Jimmy winked.
Pete grinned. “I feel sorry for Perry! Lois is a lot like Lana: she’s a steamroller when she gets going!”
Jimmy nodded, sampling the chili. “Whew, they’re both as fiery as this chili!”
Pete savored the shrimp.
Connor and Mia were admiring the ornaments on the trees. There were shiny new baubles and old-fashioned heirloom ornaments. The delicate glass ornaments mixed with homemade trinkets, Pete recognizing a paper star made by Clark in the first grade. A smiling face combined with the bright yellow paper made a cheerful star.
Pete nearly laughed aloud. A cheerful star described Clark to a T.
He gazed out over the assembled crowd, love as much a part of this house as the tree or food or warmth of the fireplace, presided over by the two people who had found an alien child from the stars and taken him in to raise and love as their own. That child had grown into an amazing man, always wanting to help others.
A twist of pain went through him and his hand shook.
“Are you all right?”
Pete saw the concern on Jimmy’s face and forced a smile. “I’m fine. I think I’m getting a cold and my stomach’s a little off.”
“That’s too bad,” Jimmy said sympathetically.
Pete carefully nibbled on his shrimp.
Sorry, Clark, this is one thing you can’t help.
& & & & & &
A slightly-tipsy Lois started carol-singing around the piano with Martha playing. Selina and Kathy were delighted with their partner’s exuberance, and Selina murmured about ‘blackmail material’ as she took pictures with her cellphone.
Lian had turned on the TV and wandered over to the piano. Celebrations of Christmas all over the world were being shown. The volume was low and drowned out by the singing. Pete listened to the carols while watching pictures of giant, glittering Christmas trees in Norway, Germany, France, and Canada, ending up in Metropolis. Jimmy finished his food and went to join Lucy at the piano.
A high-rise was burning in Metropolis, flames leaping into the clear night sky. Fire trucks had arrived at the scene, the firefighters going to work with grim efficiency.
Suddenly a red-yellow-and-blue blur appeared, zipping into the building and emerging with a terrified elderly lady in his arms.
Pete glanced around. No one was paying attention to the TV.
He turned back and watched Metropolis’ hero at work. He felt almost protective of Clark, like in the old days when he had covered for his friend. He enjoyed the show for one, then felt a presence in the chair next to him.
Appropriate. Clark’s best friend from the past with his best friend and lover of the present.
They watched as Superman did his job, saving people who might not be otherwise saved. The tower blazed like a giant candle, reflecting off the nearby buildings’ windows in a macabre dance of light.
Once Superman had everyone safely out, he took a deep breath and blew, sucking all the oxygen out, the fire dying, reduced to flickers.
Pete turned and saw Dick standing behind Bruce’s chair, a hand on his mentor’s shoulder.
Fitting, because two-thirds of the World’s Finest was watching the other of the trio perform his magic and appreciating it as they always did.
Pete studied the two he’d known were Batman and Robin for so many years, and now still worked together often with Dick as Nightwing, the name he had taken from a Kryptonian legend.
Pride shone in their faces, watching their loved one ply his unique abilities. They had seen it up-close-and-personal for years, but it still never got old.
Pete could vouch for that.
The victims and firefighters cheered Superman as he flew away, a bright star in the clear night sky.
Pete could feel the relief and happiness from the man next to him.
“Well,” Bruce said. “Clark should be back soon.”
Dick leaned over the chair. “Have a cup of cider, Bruce.”
Smiling, Bruce accepted the cup and Pete felt tired but happy.
“He’s very special, Bruce. Consider yourself lucky.”
Dick squeezed Bruce’s shoulder. “Clark’s pretty lucky, too.”
Bruce’s smile was affectionate. “You’re biased.”
“Of course, but it’s still the truth.”
Dick’s love laced every word.
Looks like Clark and Bruce are both lucky.
Lian ran up and climbed into Bruce’s lap. He seemed perfectly comfortable, something that Pete wouldn’t expect the Bat to be, but apparently Bruce Wayne was.
“Grandpa Bruce, Santa will find us here, won’t he?”
“Sure thing, honey.”
“Good!” Lian snuggled and Bruce gently petted her hair.
Dick and Pete exchanged amused looks. A domestic Bat was always an amusing sight.
Pete stood and walked to the kitchen, rinsing his plate off and placing it in the rack to dry. Everyone was in the living room so the kitchen was empty.
Suddenly, he felt bone-tired. Time to go home and get to bed.
He went upstairs and retrieved his coat from Clark’s room, the pile of coats high on the bed.
The bed he now shared with Bruce.
Pete glanced around the room. It hadn’t changed much since the days when he and Clark had hung out here, trading baseball cards and eating Mrs. K.’s homemade peanut butter cookies.
Only now a handsome matched set of comb and brush were placed next to Clark’s old set on the dresser, and a dark-blue cashmere sweater was folded neatly on a chair. An expensive leather toiletry kit was on the nightstand.
All touches of Bruce Wayne among the model of the Enterprise hanging from the ceiling, the old posters on the walls, and the casually-tossed jeans on another chair.
Pete took his coat and left the room.
Downstairs Pete shrugged into his coat. Martha entered the kitchen as Selina took over the piano-playing.
“Yes, Mrs. K. I’m a little tired.”
“I can get Jonathan to give you a ride home.”
“No need. It’s not that far. Besides, the cold will perk me up.”
A glint of sadness in her eyes, Martha hugged him. “You take care of yourself, Pete,” she whispered.
“Thanks, Mrs. K.”
Martha escorted him to the back door, Pete emerging into the cold air. The door shut behind him, and all was silence.
He trudged around to the front of the house, boots crunching on hard-packed snow. Clouds had moved in. He could feel impending snow in his bones.
He glanced back at the bay window as he started down the long driveway.
The tree glittered, the carolers still around the piano. A flash of red (Lian in her velvet dress), gold (Diana’s earrings), and blue (Barry’s cableknit sweater) as light spilled out over the room.
Outside, dark-green holly contrasted with the stark white pillars, shaking slightly as wind gusted across the yard.
Out on the road Pete walked at a fairly brisk pace but before long, began to wind down like a toy losing its battery energy.
Snow began to fall, catching on lashes and melting on the tongue. Pete hunched against the wind, suddenly dizzy.
That’s when he saw him: flying through the snow like some Kryptonian Santa Claus, ‘S’ symbol bright in the sky.
Clark gently alighted. He looked directly into his old friend’s eyes and said his name softly.
Pete said nothing. He didn’t need to speak. Sadness filled Clark’s eyes and he pulled Pete into a hug. Pete slid his arms up Clark’s back.
“It’s all right, Clark,” he murmured into his hair. “The chemo is working fine. I’m doing better than expected.”
Clark’s hold tightened. “After Mom and Dad, you were the first person in my life to like me for me.” Tears and joy mingled in Clark’s voice. “From the day we met in kindergarten, you taught me a lot about friendship.”
Tears prickled Pete’s eyes. He could smell the scent of cinnamon through the lingering smoke on Clark.
They parted, Clark’s eyes sapphire-bright with tears. Snowflakes dusted his dark hair.
“I’ll fly you home?”
Pete nodded and Clark lifted him into his arms. It was beautiful, the earth below covered in white, splashes of color from holly bushes standing out as small animals darted across the snow. Neither man spoke, the natural beauty speaking for itself.
When they reached Pete’s house, Clark gently touched down, lowering his friend to his feet.
“Merry Christmas, Clark.”
“Merry Christmas, Pete.”
A last hug, then Pete watched his old friend fly away.
& & & & & &
Clark set down by the back door, changing into his regular clothes in a blur of motion and went inside.
The kitchen was empty but warmth and singing rolled over him like a pleasant wave. The smell of gingerbread spoke of ‘home’ to him.
Worry about Pete crept over him, but he believed his old friend when he said he was doing well. He would keep an eye on him.
Bruce entered the kitchen, eyes looking him over. Despite his invulnerability, Bruce still worried, just as his parents always did. The knowledge warmed him as much as standing before the fireplace.
“I saw you at the fire.”
“Yeah, that was on my way back from the Arctic. There was an avalanche threatening an Inuit village…”
Bruce kissed him. “Come on into the living room. It’s like White Christmas in there, for crying out loud.”
Clark laughed at the look of faint horror on Bruce’s face, but his lover melted into a smile as Clark hugged him.
“Let’s go in,” he murmured into Bruce’s ear.
Hand-in-hand they entered the living room.
White Christmas, indeed.
The strains of the classic song floated through Clark’s mind as the bay window framed a breathtaking scene of snow falling on the trees and ground, beautiful and magical as smiling faces watched the tableau, the fireplace crackling as Lian bounced in delight.
She saw Clark and hurried over.
“He’ll be here.” Clark ruffled her shining hair. “When you’re asleep.”
Lian giggled and hugged Clark, running back to her fathers.
Martha sat next to Selina on the piano bench. They began playing White Christmas, the lyrics running through everyone’s minds as the snow fell.