Thank You everyone for your kinds words about this story :)
I was at home in my flat after a hard day at the Planet. I'm not really sure cooking was my forte, but I'd promised to attempt dinner that night because I knew Clark would probably be out saving the world as usual. I remember chopping onions and cursing every villain on the planet for forcing me to use my few culinary skills to bring tears to my eyes.
"Where's a super hero when you need one?" I groaned.
I guess Clark must have heard me with his super-hearing, because two seconds after my cussing I noted a soft thud on the balcony outside my window. It was a familiar noise, and I let the knife drop from my hand as I whirled to greet him.
"So, Smallville, what brings you out on a night like this?" I padded over to him and was relieved to see he was not wearing his 'Superman' garb. I'm ashamed to say it, but I dislike that costume on my man even more than I do plaid!
Clark smiled and took my arm, whirling me around until I bumped into his chest. Then he looked down at me with 'that look'. I could read the alien farmboy like a book. His little aerial arrival was not for dinner. I should have known that. I mean come on, Kent early for anything? No way!
"Lois…" The puppy expression melted me- almost.
I pulled away slightly. "You have something to tell me, and I'm not going to like it." I stared at him intuitively.
Clark nodded reluctantly and turned to look out on the city. His hands rested on the metal balcony railing reminding me of times he would rest on a fence back home and stare aimlessly at the countryside. He sighed, and then began his confession. "I have something I'd like us to see together. I think it might be important…"
"Something?" The big dumb alien knew just how to snare me. I joined him, leaning on the railing. "Is this a good something?"
"I don't know, but I need to see it." He answered honestly, and glanced behind me then to my jacket thrown on a nearby chair. "Come with me, Lois…" I followed those haunting blue-green eyes and he smiled again impishly this time. "You'll need your jacket." He smirked.
"Oh…there…" I gulped. Clark only usually told me I needed my jacket if we were going flying- and not to anywhere close by.
After our tumble in the cave, Clark had eventually discovered that he couldn't outrun every part of his Kryptonian heritage, and the 'Crusade' Jor-El had spoken of had still happened. Lex had been after the crystals, as well as some other nefarious parties. (No, I don't just mean the witches us girls got possessed by.) It had been in the teen's own best interests to retrieve the mysterious stones before someone with a very bad agenda had.
The crystals in turn had led Clark to a wondrous place with untold Kryptonian knowledge that he could utilize. After a barn fire took out his original 'Fortress of Solitude' it seemed apt his new Antarctic retreat should take on the name. (I warned him to watch what he was doing with the old heat vision in the loft that day, but heh, this was Clark!)
Anyway, Clark took hold of me and looked deep into my eyes when he saw my reaction to his suggestion. Heck, it was cold up there, and the place gave me the creeps if I'm honest. So desolate, so lonely- the very thought made me shiver.
"Lois, remember the day we fell in the Kawatche antechamber?"
"How could I forget?" I said sharply. "Please tell me you haven't been back there?"
"I uncovered the thing in the wall. With the knowledge I have now, I thought I might be able to decipher its original program." He crossed his arms in that typical 'I'm a hero and I'm not gonna yield' stance he had.
"Oh? And what if it had zapped you again? Or what if its original program was exactly what you got from it already?" We were dangerously close to a Clark/Lois fight- not a pretty sight I can tell you.
Clark exhaled and let his eyes look upon the city vista instead of me. "No, I know the truth now. That thing may have killed, tortured and maimed in the name of Jor-El, but it was not my biological father's fault. None of it was." His voice lowered to a barely inaudible whisper, "It was my fault…"
I rolled my eyes. If there was one thing Clark was great at besides saving butt, it was self-derogation. It was my turn to cross my arms. "And just how could it be your fault?"
"When we fell in the cave, the floor was littered with Kryptonite. Do you remember?"
I scowled. "How could I forget? You were dumb enough to torture yourself with a piece for an hour after just so you could get stitches!"
He was getting cross with me. I could tell. "Lois, you're missing the point." He took my arms in those huge hands of his and made me listen. "When I fell to earth in the meteor shower, some of the Kryptonite meteorites hit the cave. The thing wasn't acting on my father's wishes. It was acting on a corrupted program caused by a massive meteor impact!"
"Okay…" I was starting to see his theory- to a point. "But how does that make it your fault? Don't start that Kent guilt complex on me again! I saw enough of that from you in Smallville to last me a lifetime." I sighed, "And anyway, if you're theory is right, I want to hear the rest before morning! So get on with it!"
Clark smiled then, and the awkward moment was broken. "I am right. I've removed a section of the A.I.'s memory module…"
I gaped. It was just so easy to dismiss Clark Kent as a simple reporter. I never could get my head around him being some extra strong, smart alien. "And from our previous discussion I'm presuming it's now at the 'Fortress of Weird'?"
"Lois!" He hated it when I called his little hideaway that, but I he nodded, knowing I could never resist.
I grabbed my jacket from the chair and jogged back to Clark then, wrapping my arm around his neck. "So? What are we waiting for, Smallville? Or are you postponing take off?"
Clark grinned and I felt his knees bend slightly as we launched from my balcony.
It was the strangest sensation, but one I had already grown used too. Clark made me feel so at ease in his arms that I sometimes forgot how high we really were. Until I looked down, that is.
"Are you sure you were ever afraid of heights?" I asked as we zoomed out of the city and into the clouds.
Clark smiled sheepishly. "Even heroes have phobias…" He accelerated a touch, but kept his speed well below normal. Kent might be impervious to g-force and wind chill, but my body was not and he always kept that in mind.
"Yeah, well I'm sure glad it's one you grew out of." I glanced at a tiny speck below us that was actually a ship in the now icy waters of the ocean. "You did grow out of it, right?" I faked a gulp and we both laughed as the frozen tundra on the horizon rapidly turned into a birds-eye view of the Antarctic.
The Fortress of Solitude was just as I recalled it from my previous visit- barren and cold. What Clark saw in the place I'll never know, but it was his domain and I respected that. The place was like some giant ice sculpture, except it had many hidden depths known only to Clark.
I watched as he walked over to a crystalline wall in just a t-shirt and it made me shudder. Then, as he waved a hand over yet more concealed controls the wall changed.
"Oh boy, our own drive in!" I was being sarcastic, but the screen, or whatever it was looked big enough, if not bigger. "So, what exactly did you find in this undamaged memory module?"
Clark rejoined me and took my hand. "We're about to find out…"
The screen Clark had activated abruptly seemed to glimmer and its edges faded away until there was apparently nothing. From where its center had been a small dot appeared and grew larger until we could both see something forming.
I squeezed Clark's hand, scared that we were unwittingly falling into some trap of Jor-El's, but Clark held fast and stared as the phantom imagery became clearer.
It was a hologram I'm guessing, or Krypton's answer to one. And in a few short seconds' two strangely clad people in long, colorful flowing robes stood before us. I recognized neither, but Clark obviously did.
"Lara…mother…" He was mesmerized by the vision the moment it had materialized. He even stretched out his free hand towards the woman who looked at him so affectionately.
I almost freaked when the male figure spoke. The voice was eerily familiar. It was the voice from the cave. I stared, rather rudely at the likeness. Underneath the graying hair and age lines I could see Clark. Well, not Clark, his father, but the similarity was uncanny.
Clark stepped forward before I could stop him- okay, so I couldn't have, but I'd have tried if I hadn't been so stunned at what was going on. "Father?"
I'm not sure whether the thing had been meant to respond to questions, but it appeared to.
"I am Jor-El, your father. The day has come for you to understand you lineage, your birthright, and your destiny…"
Clark balked at the word destiny, and I wasn't surprised. To his credit, he didn't attempt to switch off the unearthly message, though. "What is my destiny?"
I could see the trepidation as he waited for a reply. Now he would see his biological dad's true wishes-good or bad.
The image flickered, as if it was attempting some unknown subroutine. Perhaps being disconnected from the rest of its 'being', made it unable to answer, I'm not sure. I half expected it to say something like 'Insufficient data to respond', like on some Sci Fi movie, but then it shimmered again.
This time, Jor-El took the hand of the woman at his side and they walked towards us. I was thinking I'd feel a whole lot better with an Uzi in my free hand, buy hey, holograms aren't easy to drop unless you know where the CPU controlling them is located.
"Your destiny is to govern these people, my son. For in my experience they are a flawed race…"
I was getting a bad gut feeling. Heck, I'll be honest, I felt sick to my stomach. From Clark's expression I didn't know what he was thinking, but if alien's have acid heart burn, well then he had a double dose- and it wasn't from eating my cooking the previous day!
"Your agenda really was to have me rule?" Clark's head drooped to the crystal floor in disappointment. He had hoped for something more, something more like his earthly parents, the Kents. I could tell.
Jor-El didn't seem to take note of all his son's words, and continued with his own oratory. "They are primitive, heathen almost in some of their ways, my Son. I have seen their wickedness, and how they inflict pain on another for their own gain- sometimes death even." Now it was the phantom Jor-El's turn to lower his gaze. Was that a spark of sorrow I saw in the hologram's eyes? "I journeyed here long ago, Kal-El, I witnessed their wanton greed and malevolence…"
Clark's head snapped back up. "Louise…1961…"
At the time he hadn't yet informed me of that little adventure, so I kept my mouth shut and watched the proceedings unfold.
"Yes…" Jor-El appeared shocked Clark knew about his earth visit, which wasn't surprising seeing as half 'his' circuits had been fried by the meteor hit. He looked to the beautiful but silent apparition at his side, and Lara nodded and smiled back. "When I discovered Krypton's fate, I almost chose another planet to send you to, Kal-El. But then I remembered the one who had helped me. The one who above all else had had faith in a being he did not even know…"
Clark gulped. "Hiram Kent!"
Jor-El let a thin smile cross his features, but still appeared stoic compared to an earthly father- even my stubborn, cigar chewing version of a dad.
"When the hour came to send you away, Hiram Kent's time on this planet had already passed, but I knew there was another who would protect you and deliver you from the evils of this world- Hiram's then unborn child in the past, who is now your earthly mentor. That alone gave Lara and I hope. Hope for our son's future, and hope for a world that sorely needed guidance…"
Another flash of recognition showed on Clark's face, and boy was I feeling out of the loop just standing gawking.
"Hope…" Clark mouthed the word like it was some divine revelation. "Now I finally understand the symbol burned on the barn!" His brow furrowed, "I know you probably don't have the capability to answer, and I know the AI you left your wishes in malfunctioned, but WHY?" He emphasized the last word, "Why send me to rule?"
The image of Jor-El flickered, and for a second I thought he would vanish. Instead, he appeared to glide right up to us with Lara. I'm not going to lie either, at that point I was scared stiff!
"Once your crusade is complete and you have discovered your heritage, you will begin your future as fate decreed it. Here, on this planet, you can be a God among men, and if you utilize your powers wisely you will be able to rule without great force…"
"But I'm not a tyrant! I want to use my gifts to help, not hurt! Guide, not rule!"
Jor-El seemed puzzled. He glanced to Lara and she help out a pale hand, softly caressing Clark's cheek and then letting her immaterial palm slide through his features.
"Your father was a scientist," she gently smiled, "he never was very good with words if they didn't involve mathematical theories." Her head cocked slightly as she attempted to convey her husband's meaning, "Rule, govern, oversee…they all mean the same thing, my Kal-El. You must lead these people, not as a God, or a King, but as a force of good in their universe." Abruptly, Lara appeared sad, "We sent you here to save your life, my son, so that one day you may save many lives. There were risks of your true origins being discovered, risks that you would be taken away as an infant and destroyed due to archaic fears and beliefs about visitors from other worlds…"
I was beginning to see the bigger picture. "No wonder the program malfunctioned the way it did," I whispered, "It was getting your parents hopes and fears confused with their last wishes. It was trying to protect you from evils that weren't there one minute, and trying to give you instructions about this place and the crystals the next!" I poked Clark when he didn't respond, "Say, but didn't you tell me about some Kara girl? Did that thing really kill her?"
Clark cleared his throat. "Do you know what happened to the girl called Kara? The one who's real name was Lindsey? Some part of you, or your presence kidnapped her to trick me. I thought, I thought you killed her…" I could see it pained him that anyone had died for his sake yet again, but it was no ones fault.
"I do not have any information beyond your arrival here. There appears to be an error in those files."
I shuddered, and it wasn't the cold. For the first time that night Jor-El sounded just like what he was- a computer generated image.
"So you don't know any Kara?" Clark prompted.
"Kara Zor-El is your cousin…" Lara retook her husband's hand, "You will meet her again…"
"But the girl Lindsey?" Clark was getting confused.
Lara simply nodded, "Yes, Lindsey…Kara…your destinies are entwined…"
Jor-El took the lead from there and in no uncertain terms hinted that the meeting was over. "Our time has passed, my Son, but remember; we will be with you all the days of your life. Lead wisely, and with strength, Kal-El…"
For once in his life, Clark didn't denounce his birth name. He simply watched as the ghostly apparition appeared to fade away before him, and then at the last instant Lara's voice filled the ice cave.
"A mother's love never dies…Clark…"
The last remnants of the echo faded away, leaving a small tear trickling down my guy's face.
"She called me Clark," Was the only sentence he could muster.
I looked up at my plaid boy hero then and wiped the moisture from his cheek. Meeting his biological parents had given him more questions than answers, but it had also finally put to rest the hidden demons that still haunted his soul about being evil like his father.
"Come on, let's go home now. I think you got what you were looking for," I whacked him with a mock punch, "Now its time you put your strength to use like your dad said and rebuild that barn fortress. It's freezing here!"
My teeth chattered together for real, and he noticed and scooped me up in his arms with that grin of his. "Oh, I think I can come up with something to keep you warm…"
Now, Clark had inner peace. He had the love of his earthly family the Kents, and he really knew his Kryptonian parents were not monsters.
The Kent/El family was complete. Well, maybe not complete, but believe me, Clark and I are working on that little problem ;)