Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
The titles are from the hymn "For the Beauty of the Earth"
Sequel to For the Joy of Human Love
A Joyful Hymn of Praise, Part 4
He could barely see her at her desk, buried as it was in flowers. For their first anniversary, he'd wanted to make sure she knew how much she meant to him. He might have overdone it a bit, though, he thought, noticing that she was typing with her computer in her lap, because every inch of the desk's surface was covered in vases full of flowers.
Oh, well. That's why they call it a laptop, right?
He leaned over the ridiculous quantity of flowers and grinned at her. "Hey."
Chloe Sullivan Kent glanced up, and the happy smile that always shone from her when he was around flashed like a beacon. "Hey yourself. About time you got here. I was thinking I'd been stood up."
"It's been a busy day," he said apologetically.
She chuckled. "It's always a busy day, Clark."
He couldn't deny that. Between his job as a reporter here at the Daily Planet, and his other job as Superman, he didn't get many chances to breathe during the course of an ordinary day-- if any of his days could properly be described as ordinary. A better adjective would probably be hectic. All his days were hectic. But as a reporter herself, and a more dedicated one, Chloe understood being busy, and didn't ever seem to resent the fact that he was a workaholic.
"Are you ready for a romantic dinner?"
She glanced dubiously back at her laptop. "I just have a paragraph or two more to write..."
"No." He frowned at her with mock sternness. "If I let you write another paragraph, you'll keep thinking of more and more things you want to add to that article, and I'll wind up standing here for the next two hours. Put down the computer, Chlo."
"Come on," he said, reflecting that she was even more of a workaholic than he was. No wonder they got along so well. They understood one another. "Don't you want a romantic dinner? Or would you rather celebrate our first anniversary with cupcakes from the vending machine and a couple of Cokes?"
She gave a wry, self-deprecating little smile and clicked "save." Then she stood up, placing the computer into her chair. "All right," she said. "I'm ready."
She walked around the flower-laden desk, and he put his arm around her and smiled down at her, thinking how lucky he was to have her. When he thought about it, he wasn't quite sure how he'd gotten so lucky. He'd made an awful lot of blunders in his relationship with her, had tried to keep her at arm's length, had even tried to run away from her once or twice.
And yet here they were, married for a year, and very happy. Busy, but happy. His life with Chloe was a perfect gift, one he wouldn't trade for anything. Things were so damn perfect he couldn't imagine his life ever being better than it was at this moment.
All he wanted tonight was to share a quiet dinner with her and enjoy the pleasure of her company, just talk with her for a while. He loved talking with her, and it seemed they never got a chance to talk as often as he liked. They headed for the door, arms wrapped around each other, but suddenly he froze and lifted his head.
"Oh, no," she said. "I know that look."
He winced at what he had to say, but said it anyway. "Chlo, there are a lot of sirens out there. It sounds like something I should check out."
She didn't hesitate. "Okay. Go."
"We'll lose our reservations."
"Big deal." She made a shooing gesture with her hands. "Go on, get out of here."
He appreciated her understanding, even though it was exactly what he expected from her. She gave him a hard time about working too hard, but she also knew that tonight of all nights, he wouldn't leave her for anything that wasn't major. But he was pretty sure this was a major problem.
He lowered his head and kissed her, hard and fast, and then headed for the door. "With any luck I'll be back early enough for dinner at home, anyway."
"In case you're not..." Her voice trailed off, and she tried again. "I wanted to tell you..."
It was unlike her to sound so uncertain. Usually when she had something to say, she just said it, without hesitating or stammering. He looked over his shoulder and lifted an eyebrow.
She offered him a tremulous smile. "I'm pregnant, Clark."
He stared at her for a long moment, his mouth hanging open, unable to formulate any sort of response. She stared back at him, the hopeful smile still curving her lips and lighting her eyes.
Finally he managed to force a couple of words past his frozen tongue. "But we... but we always..."
"I guess it didn't work." The smile wobbled. "Maybe Kryptonian biology can get around stuff like that."
"Yeah. Maybe." He stared at her a moment longer, and her smile faded. She looked crushed by his reaction, but she swallowed and spoke in an even voice.
"Go on," she said softly.
He knew he should say something else, try to smooth over the awkwardness he'd caused, but he just wasn't sure what to say, and besides, he could hear more sirens outside. He was needed elsewhere. Turning silently, he supersped away, leaving her behind.
He kicked himself, mentally speaking, for his reaction as he changed into his costume and headed out a window in the blink of an eye. He remembered the love and hope glowing in her eyes, dulling to disappointment as she waited for him to respond, and he wished he could take back his moment of wordless shock. But he'd been stunned into silence.
Since he was an alien, he'd pretty much resigned himself to the idea that two different species probably couldn't interbreed, and that they'd eventually have to adopt. And there was nothing wrong with that. He himself had been adopted, of course, and he'd loved his human parents desperately. So he'd been perfectly okay with the idea of adoption. Someday. Eventually.
But now, suddenly, everything had changed. Despite the differences in their DNA, despite the precautions they'd taken, they'd somehow managed to produce a baby the old-fashioned way. And just as suddenly, he was filled with anxieties. He was an extremely busy guy. Chloe was busy, too. Did they even have time for a baby?
And besides, was it right for someone who put his life in danger every day to have children? Did he have the right to go on risking his life if he was a father? Did he have the right not to, when he saved people's lives every day as Superman?
And what if the baby had superpowers? How the hell would they cope?
He scoffed at himself, thinking of something his mother used to say with a note of impatience in her voice: Goodness, Clark, you could find something to worry about in Heaven. He tried to push the worries aside, aware that every father-to-be probably had a long list of worries. His were just a little more worrisome than most.
But he and Chloe would cope. They'd overcome a lot of difficulties in their life together, and they'd overcome any problems a baby might present, too. He just hadn't quite expected a baby this soon. But he was mature enough to know that sex could produce babies. Hell, he'd known that since he was twelve. And he also knew that his body wasn't quite ordinary. So the fact that he'd managed to impregnate his wife, when they had sex on an almost daily basis, really shouldn't shock him.
The honest truth was that he wasn't so much shocked as he was scared out of his mind.
He envisioned a baby with a big smile and blonde, wispy hair, and despite his worry, an involuntary smile curved his mouth. His fear faded a bit as he realized he kind of liked the idea of a miniature version of Chloe. A baby would make their lives different... but scary though it was, he thought it might just make things even better.
He shook off the mental image of a chubby, giggling baby. Right now, he had work to do. He needed to get his head back in the game, and quit thinking about Chloe and their unborn baby. There were people out there who needed saving.
He arrowed toward the sirens.
"I can't feel it." He poked her belly, very gently, but very hopefully. "You feel just like you always do."
She shoved his hand away impatiently. By the time he'd finished helping the cops quell the riot that had broken out downtown, she'd already come back to their apartment. They were sitting next to each other on the couch, and he was wolfing down canned ravioli. So much for a romantic dinner.
"I'm two months pregnant, Clark. Right now it's the size of a peanut."
He frowned down at her stomach, wondering if it was really still that small, and she glared at him, putting a hand over her stomach protectively. "Don't you dare x-ray our child."
He was pretty sure his "x-ray vision" didn't actually have anything to do with x-rays, but like most of his powers, he really wasn't sure how it worked. Either way, he realized it was probably better not to use it on her right now. It might have some sort of adverse effect on a developing fetus, for all he knew. Even so, he couldn't stop himself from whining a little. "I want to see it now."
"Tough. You'll have to wait to see it, same as every other father on the planet." She looked up at him, almost shyly, and took the empty bowl from him, placing it on the coffee table. "Earlier you looked like maybe you didn't want a baby."
"I was surprised," he said wryly. "Taken aback. Startled." Scared shitless.
"But not unhappy?"
"No," he answered, his voice gentle. "Not unhappy, not at all." He reached down and placed a big hand over her abdomen, and an odd yearning settled into his chest. He thought of her belly expanding over the next months, growing round and full, and he sighed happily. "I really don't know how I'm going to wait seven more months."
"Oh, yeah, because these seven months are going to be so hard on you. I'm going to be the one inflating like a giant beach ball, you know."
He chuckled. "I can hardly wait to see that."
She growled dangerously. "I can."
He grinned and squeezed her affectionately, then got up and headed for the kitchen with his dirty bowl. She watched him go, and he heard a soft chuckle.
"Are you laughing at me?" he demanded.
"Not at all." She giggled harder.
Annoyed, he turned around... and suddenly realized why she was laughing. Apparently now that he'd gotten past his initial shock, he was pretty damn happy about the baby, because his feet were several inches off the floor. Without realizing it, he'd been literally walking on air.
He grinned sheepishly and forced himself back down to the carpet. He'd thought earlier that he couldn't imagine his life being any better, but all of a sudden it was better. He had a wife he loved, two important jobs... and a kid on the way. He looked at his wife giggling on the couch, her hand over the very small and perfect gift somewhere deep inside her body, and he smiled, then turned around and headed for the kitchen again.
His feet left the ground again, and this time he didn't bother to drop back to earth.