At the table, Lex--never Uncle Lex, like Clark is--doesn't lower his paper, but he raises his eyes, which means more from him. "Oh?"
"Yeah, it's mom and dad's anniversary coming up," she explains. "Their wedding one, not their...every other one."
Lex raises one eyebrow. "Do they still celebrate every month?"
"Not celebrate, exactly," says Joyce carefully. "They're just...I guess with all the kids they needed a night for them. They always got Uncle Bart or Uncle Tim to babysit and went out. Stayed out all night, too. It's special for them."
"I'm surprised you want to be there, if they go out like that."
"Well, wedding's different. And I figure, I dunno if anybody else is coming."
"Any of your sisters, you mean?"
"Yeah. Sometimes they show up, sometimes they don't. Someone should."
"And you're someone," says Lex, smiling.
"Yeah," agrees Joyce, "I'm someone."
Her parents haven't seen her costume yet; she likes it. She skipped the spandex, stuck to cloth. She hopes her dad will approve, and worries he won't, even though she isn't sure there's any way her father wouldn't like her being Supergirl.
If she's honest with herself, she's worried he's going to feel replaced, even more than her mother. After all, she's gone to something like her father's parents, as if somehow she likes them better. She can see him thinking that.
It isn't really about her parents at all, although she didn't explain it well. She didn't really understand it until she'd gone--she's posing as Clark's niece, the only one. No one's ever judged Joyce all for herself, as if she was a blank slate. She's always had teachers who knew years of her sisters, and every thing she's done is inherited from some other family member.
No one in Smallville knows she's not as smart as Tana or as pretty as Wendy.
"Hey, Joyce," her mother says, surprised when she walks down the stairs. "Everything cool in Smallville?"
"Yeah, it's cool. But I figured I should come back for you guys' anniversary. Maybe stick around til Thanksgiving."
Her mother relaxes, her face changes imperceptibly. "What about school?"
"I'll go for school," she agrees.
"What about Supergirl?" her mom asks. "Supergirl's kind of a big deal."
"They'll get by. You guys are kind of a big deal."
"Make sure you tell dad that."
"Is he okay?"
"He's okay. But he misses you. I think he's empty nesting."
"Guess you guys haven't been empty for a long time, huh?"
"Very long time. But we'll get used to it."
"Don't apologize," says her mom. "You didn't do anything wrong. You did lots of right stuff. And Kon gets that. Just tell him anyway."
"Okay," Joyce smiles. "I'll tell him."