Okay here it is, the final chapter and it's a whopper. Thanks for waiting! Really, if I had time I could just keep going and going with this, but I'm going to stop here lol. Only a few things I couldn't mash in. Oh well.
And for all of you who mentioned the idea of tying this into the first chapter/one shot, don't worry that's exactly how I roll and I was already planning to. You called it, high fives all around! :D
Alfred hadn't seen so many people in the lair ever, as far as he could remember. Bruce was standing with his arms crossed, deep in his own thoughts while he scrutinized Lois and Clark, who never got further than a few steps from each other.
Diana was leaning against a nearby console listening. Bruce had questions he wanted answered and no one was leaving until he got them. Clark was just finishing up his story. His memory loss and slow regaining of his powers made a lot of sense. The others were nodding as the pieces fell into place.
"I didn't remember everything until I caught you, Lois. That brought back a lot of memories." Clark was looking at her with a soft smile that Lois was returning,
Bruce was still frowning their way, concentrating. "So you were having flashbacks of me as a threat?"
Clark looked somewhat abashed. "Yeah. Sorry about that. It was hard to know what was real."
Alfred's eyebrows shot sky high. He spoke before Bruce could get a word in. "No hard feelings. After all, you couldn't remember him as a threat unless he'd actually been one." He gave Bruce a censuring parental look.
The air became thick with added tension, the others suddenly looking at the ground or another point of interest. Bruce wisely remained silent. He dropped his arms and approached Clark, giving Alfred a narrow look on his way past. He held out his hand to Clark and waited. Sure enough, Clark took it and the men shook hands.
"Welcome back, Clark Kent." Bruce's tone as always was a bit gruff, but he looked Clark in the eye as he said it.
Clark nodded in reply, not failing to note that Bruce's eye trailed down to take in the hole in his suit. "I never got to thank you for saving my mother—"
Bruce cut him off with a wave of his hand. "That was definitely my pleasure." Alfred hid a smile.
With a final nod of thanks, Clark turned to Diana. "I'm sorry, I don't think we were ever formally introduced."
Diana smiled and shook his hand too. "Diana Prince."
"Nice to officially meet you. Where are you from?"
As Diana and Clark chatted, Alfred was distracted by his phone and moved away to answer it. Diana presented Clark with the clothing he'd abandoned in the alley, complete with glasses. Clark accepted them with a smile.
"Thank you. Now if no one minds, there's someone I really need to go see." The others bid Lois and Clark farewell. Bruce sidled up to Lois.
"About that drive you were given..."
Lois gasped. "Oh right! I forgot about that! I'll email you everything tonight." Bruce gave her a nod and a smile. Lois led the way out as she and Clark departed
"Master Wayne?" Alfred beckoned Bruce over to the corner he was in. He had completed his call and was just pocketing his phone. His face was suddenly very serious. Bruce moved immediately to him and the two conferred in quiet voices. Diana wasn't trying to eavesdrop but still caught a few phrases, especially when Bruce spoke, tension clear in every line of his body.
"...never the purpose they were designed for..." Bruce was poker-straight, expelling a breath through bared teeth.
"—aware of that Master Wayne, but nevertheless..."
"...how many and who?"
Diana observed without appearing to as Alfred appeared to list several names. Bruce's jaw became more and more set with every one. Especially the last one. Bruce closed his eyes for a moment, as if a pronouncement of doom had been made.
"...what his latest movements are?"
"I'd have to check..."
"—evermind, we know what he'll do." Bruce abruptly realized Diana was still in the room and made his way to her. Alfred immediately went to the computer console and began pulling up data.
"Trouble?" Diana was definitely concerned. Bruce looked much more disturbed than usual.
"I have to go handle a problem." The muscle in his jaw ticked.
"Need any help?"
Bruce shook his head. "No. I should deal with this alone. We can't afford to take any more time away from our mission. You stay here and keep trying to locate the metahumans. Lois promised she'd email the information she received. I have a contact in the military who's been digging for me, I gave him your number. I think he'll call soon."
"Are you sure?" Diana wasn't about to let him go off on some kind of suicide mission by himself.
"Yes. I'm taking the car." He turned Alfred's way. "Where am I going, Alfred?'
Alfred had just pulled up a map on the screen. "Midway, sir."
"Right." He turned to Diana and gave her a nod, which she assumed meant goodbye. Diana was no stranger to keeping secrets, and she knew what it was like to have a past and not be eager to share details about it. She respected Bruce and his abilities, so she respected his choice to deal with whatever had risen from his past alone. Still, she knew as well as anyone that humans could be killed, and unlike Clark Kent they wouldn't rise from the dead.
And he looked almost frigid, his jaw was so tight. His face like glass. Diana knew he'd been working to improve his methods since Superman died, but this was looking like a situation that could bring back some bad habits. Diana looked him full in the face.
"Don't forget. Men are still good."
He gave her a half smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. "Find the meta humans. We're going to need them. And keep an eye on Clark and Lois, too." He headed out toward the stairs, presumably to get his suit and whatever weapons from his arsenal he thought he might need.
Diana looked quickly at Alfred's computer screen. Mug shots or surveillance photos were lined up to display what could only be described as a motley assortment of various people. Another screen showed satellite pictures of what looked to be a virtually empty city.
She sat down at her own computer and, after a moment of thought, started looking up myths and legends. Her mother had once entertained her with tales of water people. She'd thought they were just stories. It was a long shot, but maybe it would get her somewhere.
Martha brushed some stray dirt off Johnathan's gravestone and considered the disturbed earth under Clark's. Pete had taken down the tape after the forensics expert completed his work and released the grave from its crime scene status. Now there was nothing left but a gaping hole where her son had once been.
She knew Clark wasn't here anymore, but she didn't know where else to go. Her husband was still here, and she needed whatever comfort she could get at the moment. Lois hadn't called since she left the day before. Martha had spent a restless night waiting for any word of Clark's whereabouts, but dawn had arrived and still nothing. Martha ran a hand over her face and crossed her arms, holding herself together. She was tired. She wished Johnathan were here to hold her. She missed him too.
She whirled to stare down the road.
And there he was, striding past fields in jeans and a flannel shirt, no glasses, looking as if he'd just returned home after a wandering journey like he'd done so many times before.
Tears pricked her eyes. "Clark..." Even from yards away she could see his brilliant smile as he picked up his pace, rushing to meet her. She only made it several steps before he closed the distance between them and engulfed her in a hug. His strong arms were reassuring and gentle as ever, his broad shoulder the perfect resting place. She dampened his shirt with her tears as he held her, her broken voice mumbling into his chest.
"My baby boy...my baby boy..."
"I'm okay, Mom. Sorry. I'm so sorry." He laid his cheek on her hair. Lois was behind him, having approached more slowly, and Martha caught a glimpse of her smiling but teary face. She extended a hand to include her, and Lois gladly moved into their hug. The three stood in the graveyard and cherished their second chance.
Martha insisted they stay a while, and neither could refuse her. Clark helped her in the kitchen as Lois sat at the table and gave all the details of the past day. Clark was filled in on the events of the last months and the three enjoyed a meal together. Clark looked up every so often, and if Martha wasn't looking at him with a look that said she still couldn't believe her eyes, then Lois was. It couldn't be more clear how much he had been mourned, not that he ever doubted it.
Eventually Lois, who had been up all night and into the next day, began to sag. Clark was doing marginally better but didn't refuse a chance to lay down. They retired up to Clark's room for a rest while Martha ran into town for dinner supplies.
They barely fit on Clark's bed together, but they made do and neither complained about having to cuddle close. Lois lay with Clark's arm around her, secure between him and the wall and lulled by his heartbeat, her head resting on his chest opposite the scar. Clark was looking at the ceiling, taking in the planets that had been there since his childhood. One of Lois' hands was tucked between their bodies and his own reached across to hold it, tracing her fingers absently. Lois was almost asleep when his voice rumbled in his chest.
"You're still my world, Lo." His thumb was rubbing up and down a finger. Even half asleep, Lois could recognize the worried quality in his tone. She tried to surface long enough to reply.
"I know. You're mine too." She couldn't hold off sleep anymore and let it roll over her, unaware that Clark was still staring at the ceiling and deep in thought.
After dinner Martha looked at Clark across her empty plate. "So, how are you going to resurrect Clark Kent without raising suspicion?"
Clark frowned at his plate. "I'm not really sure."
Lois reached across the table to put her hand on his. "We'll figure it out," she reassured with a smile. Clark nodded but Lois didn't miss how quickly he looked away from her. It was disconcerting, especially since that wasn't how he had ever looked at her.
Martha was smiling fondly at them both, looking far lighter than she had in the last eight months. "I'm sure you will."
Clark said nothing, just smiled at them.
They went home that night, and before bed they discussed what should be done regarding bringing Clark Kent back from his current dead status. They didn't have any clear answers yet, so they agreed Clark should keep a low profile until they figured it out. Clark asked her to locate Paul for him, so he could pay the man back for his kindness, and Lois readily agreed. She eventually remembered to send Bruce the information from the drive as well, though it was Diana who texted to remind her about it.
The next three days passed quickly. Lois located Paul and aside from a quick trip out to unload his trailer for him (quickly and anonymously, of course) as a thank you, Clark stayed close to home. He spent some time soaking up extra sun, and gradually the scar on his chest began to lighten. But it was the other things Lois noticed that concerned her more.
Clark didn't put Superman's suit on again. It lay neatly folded away in their closet, under the loose floorboard Clark had pulled up when they moved in. As far as Lois could tell, he wasn't watching the news to stay abreast of possible calamities so he could help. He rarely left the apartment. He was loving as ever, but he never once mentioned the ring she was still wearing, or the proposal that had been planned before he died. In fact he seemed to be avoiding holding the hand that wore it altogether. He tended to change the subject or shy away from discussions about Clark Kent and how to bring him back. His glasses stayed folded on the bedside table, unworn. He seemed to be spinning his wheels.
It wasn't until the third day at work that Lois suddenly realized what was going on. She was sitting at her desk, fingering the ring, when the memory of that half asleep moment at the farm came back.
"You're still my world."
His thumb had found her ring finger, and he had been running it over the ring. His worried voice came back to her. Worried and sad. Still my world...still... Everything clicked.
Lois quit earlier than usual and headed out, brushing past Perry on her way.
"Whoa, Lois! Where's the fire!" He stared after her but she ignored him and headed to the elevators. He shook his head. Lois had never been the same since Clark Kent died. But none of them had been, really.
He turned to go find Jenny.
Lois unlocked the door of their apartment and entered, confident on what she would find. Sure enough Clark was in the kitchen, trying to decide what to start for dinner. He looked at her with surprise.
"You're home early. Everything all right?"
Lois put her bag down and kissed him first. His arms went around her immediately. Lois pulled back after and gave him a serious look. "Clark I need to talk to you."
He returned her gaze, and she could see the reservation in his eyes, but he nodded. "Okay."
They moved to the couch and sat down on opposite ends. Clark waited while Lois collected herself. This felt more like an interview than a talk with her boyfriend, mostly because she knew Clark didn't really want to tell her what he was thinking. But she was never one to hide from the truth.
"Clark, why haven't you worn the suit? Why don't you want to be Clark Kent again?"
His eyes lowered, his closed mouth working for a moment before he said it. "Maybe it's just better if Superman stays dead."
He looked up at her face quickly as if expecting her to argue with him. But she'd known what he was going to say and stayed quiet, waiting for more. He shrugged. "The world wasn't ready. My father knew it. He was right. I thought I could change things but I couldn't. I just made things worse. I think I should stay in the shadows and help where I can, like I did before."
Lois looked at him, silent. If Clark went back to his earlier ways, he'd be traveling the country and probably the world as an anonymous stranger. Clark Kent wouldn't be revived, making it even more difficult to track him down this time. He'd be a ghost again, a shadow. It was a lonely position without any real place for a partner and companion. She knew Clark, how he operated, so she also new he would never ask her to leave the life and job she loved. That was why he hadn't proposed. He loved her, but he was going to leave. The last days had been borrowed time, trying to get as much as he could before he left for good. And he would never ask her to wait for him, or to live from visit to visit. That was no kind of life. He was going to let her go.
She held back the fury inside that he would even think about coming back from the grave and then abandon her all over again. She understood what he was trying to say and do, however wrong he might be. He was trying to do the right thing, as always. Knowing him, he felt it would protect her and Martha as well. But it would be the wrong move.
She managed to keep her emotions in check and stood up, extending her hand.
"Come with me."
His look was baffled and somewhat wary, his brows pulled down. But he took her hand and left the apartment with her. She had him put on his glasses and he had a basic Henley on so she hoped the neighbors wouldn't take notice and suspect anything odd. They had never been overly friendly with the other occupants, but surely they had noticed she had been living alone for eight months. She hurried him through the apartment building just in case. Once they were on the street she walked him down the block to the nearest bus stop. Clark stood in confusion.
"You never liked taking the bus. You always preferred a taxi."
Lois was checking the bus schedule, looking for the best route. It was almost five in the evening and people were just getting out of work, the city streets filling with citizens. She hoped this worked. She gave him a coy look. "I've learned to appreciate it."
When the first bus came, Lois shook her head and laid a hand on Clark's arm to indicate he should hold back. When the second one came she checked the sign on the front to make sure it was the right route and they both got on. Lois guided Clark towards the back, deeper into the cluster of people and they both sat down. Lois smiled at his befuddlement and slid her fingers into his. "Make sure you're looking out the windows."
Clark gave her the classic look he always had when he was trying to solve a mystery but complied. The bus jerked into motion and rolled down the street.
It was a good five minutes before the bus got to the area Lois was looking for. She had discovered months ago that this particular bus route went past the absolute most locations that lent her comfort on bad days. She pointed to draw Clark's attention. "Look."
Clark peered out the window. A soup kitchen already had a line of people waiting outside, even though it wouldn't open for another twenty minutes. The writing on the window read "Superman's Pantry", complete with the shield sporting the easily recognized 'S'. Clark watched it disappear as the bus rumbled past, but Lois was already directing his gaze to a clothing donation center that also sported the shield. A sign read Lift Someone Up Friends Center with the shield below.
The bus had filled up even more. They both gave up their spots to an older couple and stood in the aisle, swaying back and forth with one hand holding the bar. Lois could see the next item of interest but Clark had to bend his knees to truly see it once she pointed it out.
The mural took up one whole side of a building, done in colorful bright paint. A faceless group of people were all wearing t-shirts with the symbol of the House of El, and they were all helping others in various ways. One scene depicted a group of people clustered together to lift another above their heads. One was assisting someone who had fallen, another handing out food, and yet another group clearly intervening in what was an artistically rendered crime. One had their arms stretched around a group of huddled children, protecting them from some unknown threat. The large words occupied the bottom of the building, placed where anyone walking past could see and absorb them.
Be a Hero. Help one. Help all.
And so it continued, example after example of people helping each other, and every one with a shield displayed somewhere. Clark was crouched so low that he felt permanently bent that way, but he didn't want to miss anything. An observing elderly lady smiled indulgently and addressed Lois.
"First time in the city?"
"Um, more or less," Lois hedged. Clark was craning to see the shelter that advertised help seeking jobs as well. The shield and its 'S' were cleverly arranged within the mission statement. "Bringing Hope to Metropolis Citizens" with the shield in place of the word "Hope".
"He's lucky he came nowadays, and not before. Remember before? It was dog eat dog." Clark glanced at her, struck by the words.
Lois smiled. "Yes it was."
When the bus pulled in front of Heroes Park, Clark balked. "We don't need to go here."
Lois met his eyes, understanding but determined. "Yes, we do." Clark reluctantly exited the bus with her and stood on the sidewalk, his eyes scanning the large area.
He was surprised that the large statue of Superman had not been rebuilt, but it was a relief in a way. He had never liked it and would have been content with just the granite walls bearing names of the victims. But he didn't even see that anymore.
Lois squeezed his hand as they walked into the park. They walked past large groups and visiting people, Clark glanced at the reflecting pools that ran up to the center. His wavering image danced on the water. When they reached the center Clark took in the shield and words added below it. His jaw worked and he blinked several times. Lois touched his arm. He met her eyes, unable to express what he was feeling, but she could read it easily.
She smiled again, softly. "Maybe the world wasn't ready before. But now, it just might be."
Clark looked around the park, overcome. Lois led him to a bench. He had just sat down when a voice hailed Lois from a distance away. Two men approached, one still dusty from construction work and the other fidgeting nervously.
"Ms. Lane! Fancy meeting you here!"
Lois approached them with a smile, leaving Clark on the bench. "Roger, it's good to see you again."
Roger moved to shake hands and then remembered he was missing one. "Whoops, sorry, you'll have to shake this one!" He offered his left, which Lois shook. "Hey, I want you to meet someone. This is Lee, the man I helped before, and now the best construction area cleanup crew member in Metropolis! You could say he was my right hand now," he chuckled as he turned to his friend.
Lois breathed a delighted sigh of happiness as her eyes flickered to Clark. She couldn't have asked for better. "So nice to meet you, Lee." She shook Lee's hand and settled into conversation with both of them, asking about Roger's son, how he was adapting to one-handed life, Lee's new job and circumstances. Lee was quiet but responsive, and it was clear he was nervous about his reception. Roger patted his shoulder reassuringly. Lois wondered if Lee had found help and gotten some medication to help stabilize him. Probably. And she was pretty sure Roger had been spearheading the process.
Clark listened and watched how the sunlight played in her hair as she talked, taking it all in. The sun was moving lower in the sky, painting the park in warm golden tones. He surveyed the park again, eavesdropping on conversations going on in Heroes Park. Almost all were about doing something. Helping people. Living up to the standard set by a hero in blue. It was uplifting, but also nerve wracking. He'd felt this way before. He'd thought he might be accepted. Then it had all gone wrong.
He was so involved in listening to other discussions it took him a moment to realize that someone else had sat on his same bench. He looked down and found a serious-looking child of maybe eight quietly studying him. He returned serious look for serious look. Eventually the child broke their staring contest and looked down at the notebook he was clutching. It was a small pocket-sized calendar. The shield with its 'S' had been painstakingly applied to the front, worked into the thin cardboard with colored pens. Clark bent an inquisitive eye at it.
The child studied him a moment before deciding it was safe to show him, though Clark was gratified to see him glance at what must be his mother standing nearby before he did.
"It's my 'Do A Good Deed' book." He shifted the pen so he could open it and show Clark a random calendar week, each day carefully filled in with a good deed done for someone. "See? One for each day, more if I get the chance." Clark surreptitiously scanned the earlier dates and was impressed to note that each day since January first had been filled in.
"That's neat. Good job." Clark smiled at the child, who returned it with a grin that was missing a tooth and launched into more conversation.
"Mom helped me do it, because I told her when I get older I want to be a hero like Superman. And she said 'Why not start now?'"
Clark smiled again, but it had a sad tinge to it this time. "Sometimes the world doesn't thank you for helping, though."
The child considered this carefully. He looked at the shield plaque, looking a bit sad, and then turned a solemn face up to Clark. "It's still the right thing to do."
Clark stared at him, struck. "You're right. It is."
Having now won the discussion, the child smiled and jumped off the bench. "Mom! Let's go help someone!" His mother gave him a look Clark recognized immediately and followed.
Lois had finished up her conversation with Roger and Lee and bid them both goodbye, then moved over to Clark, who was now waiting next to the bench. She gave him a tiny smile and took his hand.
They walked in silence to the bus stop.
Clark was quiet all the way home. Once they made it up to the apartment, they were barely in the door when Clark discarded his glasses and cupped Lois' face, lowering his lips to hers in a passionate kiss. Lois eagerly returned it. He slowly walked her backwards toward the bedroom, stopping only once as they passed through a beam of late evening sunlight streaming through the living room window. Lois gave him a questioning look, but he was too busy softly running his hands through her hair, watching the light play on it as it fell. He gently brushed it back from her face, his eyes clear and full of tenderness. He looked like a man with a new lease on life. Seeing that look she hadn't seen in so long, Lois was overcome and pulled him down for another kiss. They slowly made their way to the bedroom, leaving a trail of clothing on the floor.
Dinner could wait.
The sun was streaming through the window onto the bed, bathing the room in a golden glow. When Clark's shirt came off Lois brushed a wondering finger over his chest. The scar was almost entirely gone, his chest hair starting to regrow over it. Another day of sun and no one would ever know it had been there. Clark looked down as well, and when he smiled at her it was brighter than the sunlight pouring in. He gathered Lois in his arms, and she was all too willing to let him.
Clark gently laid her on the bed and joined her there, savoring every moment.
For the first time since they had found each other again, it felt like Clark had truly come home.
A soft noise woke Lois later that night. She checked her clock and found it was after two in the morning, then abruptly realized she was alone in bed.
"Clark?" She sat up slightly.
Clark's form emerged from the darkened closet, barely visible in the shadows. "Sorry. I was trying not to wake you."
The dim light filtering through the curtains let her see he had something in one hand but not what it was. His face was too dark to see his expression.
"What are you doing?"
"I need to go do something. I'll be back."
There was a momentary pause as she processed that information. "Do you want me to come?"
"No, it's better if I go alone. I'm not leaving, I promise." He approached the bed and leaned down to kiss her. That seemed to reassure her somewhat, but her hands clung to him slightly longer than they normally would have. He understood. "You're off tomorrow, right?"
"Yes." She was trying to adjust her eyes to the darkness so she could read his expression.
"Can we go see Mom again?"
That did it. Her fingers relaxed their hold on him, and she kissed his cheek which in the darkness actually ended up on his jawline. Neither minded. "Of course."
"Thank you." He kissed her again for good measure and left the room. After a quick stop in the living room he stealthily made his way out of the apartment and up to the roof. The cool air slid through the tear in his suit but he didn't mind the cold. The red cape drifted in the breeze behind him as he got his bearings and propelled himself into the sky.
Down in their bedroom, Lois heard the barely discernible sound, but her practiced ears recognized it for what it was. She rolled over, her brain working, and eventually smiled into her pillow. It was just as well. Her bed was too comfy right now. She'd keep it warm for him.
The scout ship was still where it had been. It looked almost the same, though now there was evidence that a large hole in the top of the structure over it had been patched. Clark hovered above it momentarily, scanning for the best unobtrusive entrance. He located a weak point in the metal framework on one side and waited for the security guards to move past before he landed lightly next to it. After a quick look around to ensure no one was near he bent the metal outward enough to allow him access and slipped in.
He hadn't been back to the scout ship since the day he crash landed it during the battle of Metropolis until that night. He had punched through and landed to confront Lex, only to find he had created Doomsday. After Zod, Clark had thought it would be better to allow the government access to it, since they couldn't really get into the inner chambers, and let him know he was fully cooperating.
But politicians could be bought, and someone who hated him could and had done a lot of damage because he had been able to get all the way in. Clark took in the mess of the main control room and kept going, heading for one of the outer corridors that connected to it. He slowed down once he found the right one, remembering how he had once walked with Jor-El down this very chamber, and wondered if perhaps it was better this time to remove the scout ship altogether and make it impossible to get to. If he put it back near the north pole it would be a solitary fortress, almost impenetrable by humankind. It was a thought.
He unconsciously held his breath as he activated one door after another in what was essentially a long corridor of closets. He knew it was a long shot, but he was really hoping there would have been spares of some kind brought along for such a long excursion, especially if the original goal was colonization.
He found similar suits, both colored and dark but all with the wrong crest, behind door after door. One door revealed some random items that looked to be sewing and Krypton clothing repair supplies. He plucked a spool of red crimson thread out of a container of varied colors. He tugged at it to test its strength and noted that it felt like a more delicate but incredibly stronger fishing line. Halfway there. He took that with him.
He couldn't remember which one had ultimately held what his father had bequeathed to him, but the second to last one must have been it because the holding device the suit had once rested on was now empty. Clark felt a leaping sensation as he quickly searched the equivalent of Kryptonian drawers and cupboards until he found the right one. He held his new find up to the light, appraising it.
The crest for the House of El gleamed back at him. Clark's eyes were bright as he stared at it. It felt like Jor-El was close again. He savored the feeling. He checked to make sure it fit the same area the ripped one on his chest did, and once he was satisfied it did he closed everything up and left.
On his way out he carefully bent back the metal to cover his tracks and flew away, making a mental note to scout for locations in the north pole the next chance he got.
When he got back home, Lois was warm and waiting.
Martha was delighted when they turned up on her porch again. She hugged them both and asked how long they could stay.
"Probably not too long," Clark admitted. "Mom," he put his duffle bag on the table and opened it to show her what was inside. "I need some help. Do you think this is something you can work with?"
Martha peered inside and realized she was looking at his suit. She reached in and pulled it out, along with a new crest and some odd Kryptonian looking thread. She held the suit by the shoulders and forced herself to look at the gaping hole that still showed traces of blood on the edges. She glanced up at her son, who was anxiously awaiting her reaction, and felt her throat go dry.
"You're going back out there."
There was a bare hesitation before he nodded. Martha could see his worry that she might take it badly or refuse. Lois was paused in the doorway to the kitchen, silent but watchful, her eyes full of understanding.
The kitchen was silent as Martha fingered the torn crest. She reached inside to check the inner seams and connecting points, though each of them knew she was stalling for time. Finally she looked up.
"If this thread is anything like the fabric I'm going to need something strong enough to cut through it. I don't think even my best Ginghers can do the job." She looked him in the eye, letting him know exactly what she was consenting to.
Clark's worry melted into a grateful smile. "I love you, Mom." He wrapped her in a hug that she returned.
"I love you too, son." She put both hands on either side of his face, like she had when he was younger, and smiled at him in the midst of her worry. It was the classic look of a mother who loved and worried about her child but would never think of asking him to change. "Do you think your laser eye trick would cut it?"
Clark blushed. "I call it heat vision, and sure I can give it a try." His mother patted his cheek with a fondly exasperated look and moved to talk with Lois.
After Martha figured out how to work with fabric and thread from another planet, then had Clark cut the pieces that needed it, she got to work. Lois and Clark found themselves with little to do while they waited. Clark coaxed her outside for a walk.
They strolled up the road to the graveyard and passed it, wandering along fields of wheat that were now golden and tall, their heads bowed toward the earth. It was ready. Clark held her hand and put his other out to softly brush the waving stalks. Lois closed her eyes a moment, enjoying the warm sunshine on her face.
"Lo," Clark came to an abrupt halt, startling her eyes open again. He moved to stand in front of her and lifted both of her hands in his. She followed his gaze down to her fingers. The engagement ring was glittering in the sun, prominently displayed.
Clark gave her a rueful look. "I wanted to surprise you. But there didn't seem to be a good time, and then..." his voice drifted off.
Lois smiled. She slipped the ring off her finger and placed it in his palm, folding his fingers over it. "So ask me now."
His face cleared, his eyes full of earnest intent. He looked down to prepare before he met her eyes.
"Lois Lane, will you—"
"—Yes." She cut him off before he could even finish. He gave her a broad grin as he slipped the ring back to its natural place.
"I love you." They kissed, surrounded by golden wheat. The moment was perfect—until Lois' phone rang in her pocket. She pulled back with an annoyed sound once she saw who was calling. She gave Clark an apologetic smile as she put it to her ear.
"Bruce? I sent you the information I got days ago. I swear I didn't hold anything back."
"I know." He sounded more serious than usual, and that was saying something. "We have a problem. I need you both here as soon as possible."
Lois felt a chill move through her despite the warm day. Clark caught her expression immediately and moved closer, his face full of concern. Lois met his eyes, sure that Bruce wouldn't be asking for them if he didn't have a real good reason.
They headed back to the house to share the good and bad news. Hopefully Martha was done with the suit.
Bruce leaned with both hands braced on the console, studying the satellite image drawn up. Diana was already dressed for war behind him and had just arrived. She studied the image and fired off questions.
"Resolved. A few surprises along the way."
"Allen?" Bruce had gotten the information from her and headed to Central City on a private plane before he returned.
Bruce stood and turned to face her, wearing a vaguely baffled expression. "Eager. It was more difficult getting him to admit he was the Flash."
Diana's eyebrows raised slightly. Bruce fired off his own questions.
"Took a bit of talking, but he's willing." Her smile was a bit reminiscent. "I like him."
Bruce nodded. "Curry?"
Diana mouth pursed. "Not very excited to see me. It seems Atlanteans have an eons old feud with Themyscira. Apparently my mother's stories were history lessons. She never mentioned that."
"Or you weren't listening?" Bruce's seriousness momentarily lifted so he could give her a sardonic look. She shrugged.
"He may never agree to work with us."
Bruce turned back to the satellite image and frowned at it. "He may not have a choice."
"Master Wayne," Alfred entered with Lois and Clark, "more guests have arrived."
"Good." Bruce noted Clark's restored symbol on his suit but didn't dwell on it. He turned to the console and began typing. The satellite image popped up even larger, along with a few other smaller ones and a readout running down the side. Bruce's words were slow and measured. "Something is approaching. I fear attack is imminent."
The others studied the indistinct shapes, clearly on a course for earth but not here yet. Lois spoke first. "When did this first appear?"
"Last night. NASA found it. The government is trying to keep a lid on it until they know more."
"How long do we have?" Diana's voice was grim.
Bruce's tone matched hers exactly. "Twenty four hours, maybe. NASA should have found this long before now, I don't think they traveled a long distance the traditional way. One day they're nowhere, the next they're almost here."
"And you're sure they're a threat?" Clark was standing with his arms crossed, his brows drawn together, very serious.
Bruce took a breath before he spoke, aware of his past feelings about aliens. "Yes."
Clark wasn't ignorant of the real possibility of potential threat, but he still wasn't convinced. "What makes you so sure?"
Bruce met his eyes. "Lex Luthor told me."
Clark's face changed instantly, his mouth dropping open a little and his complexion going slightly paler. Lois put a hand on his elbow, unable to hide the worry on her face now.
The entire room was suddenly full of dread, the weight of the situation lowering over them all. Bruce looked at each of them, then continued on. "We need to get the others here immediately and we need a plan." He turned to look at the screen again. "It's hard to know what we're up against before we see it, but there is one bright spot in this entire problem that gives me some hope."
Clark frowned at him across the room, unable to see a bright spot. "What would that be?"
Bruce turned at the waist to look at him, his mouth turned up in what Diana recognized as his classic half smile that was more of a smirk.
"Whoever they are, they think you're still dead."
Aaand the tradition still holds, an ending that leaves you hanging! I admit I worked in the details we have heard over the last few weeks for, but I'm sure the film will play out much differently and BE AWESOME. This was just a fun exercise while we wait.
One thing I couldn't fit in was resurrecting reporter Clark Kent. It just doesn't fit the narrative here, Clark wouldn't spend time worrying about that when the world was threatened and he wasn't quite ready before. That might be a one shot later. :)
Thanks for all the support and feedback! You guys are awesome! :)