Five Years Later


He took in a deep breath, his head jerking up as he abruptly roused himself from his slumber, "Yeah?"

Chloe let out a laugh and pushed him a bit harder, sitting down in the chair next to him, "Wake up. You fell asleep."

"I didn't," he blinked sleepy eyes at her, "I was just resting my eyes for a bit."

"Otherwise known as sleeping," she grinned knowingly at him and glanced at the bed across the room. "Well, I don't blame you. I hear you guys had a busy night. Or Lois did at any rate."

He narrowed his eyes at her, "I was in India, Chloe, rescuing people. It's not like I can carry a cell phone in that suit."

"Well you made it at least."

"With two hours to spare," Clark winced as he remembered the scene he had walked into-Lois-in the middle of a contraction, his mother at her side-had immediately demanded to know where he had been and then (even before he had been able to tell her) proceeded to verbally malign his manhood for getting her pregnant in the first place.

His mother, unable to contain her amusement at the scene in front of her, had wished Clark luck and then left the room to give them some privacy.

Chloe shot him a knowing look, "How badly did she hurt you for being late?"

He looked at her, "Physically or verbally?"

She raised an eyebrow, "Physically?"

He shrugged and flexed his hand, feeling the tug of newly healed muscles, "Side effect. The last month she's had almost as much strength as I have."

"Ouch. Where'd she get you?"

"Just my hand and that healed soon after she let go. The words however," a small smile quirked up the corner of his mouth, "Will stay with me forever. I had no idea she could swear like that."

"That's Lois," Chloe let out a small chuckle.

"Able to drink Russian Generals under the table while simultaneously out-swearing them in their native language," he shook his head, "Tell me if I'm wrong but I think I wear the skirt in our relationship."

"You certainly wear the tights."

Clark shot her a dirty look, "I can make you leave, you know."

"Before meeting my niece?" she teased gently, "And I thought your father was joking when he told me how overprotective you already were."

He stood up, a twinkle in his eye, "Dad exaggerates," he helped her up and walked quietly toward the bassinette sitting next to Lois' bed where she was currently sound asleep, "But not by much."

He looked down and smiled as Madeline-only six hours old how- opened her eyes and looked up.

"She's beautiful, Clark," Chloe breathed out.

"Just like her mother," he murmured and picked the baby up. "Do you want to hold her?"

Chloe looked at him, alarmed, "Are you sure?"

"I think Maddy would love to be held by the woman she's getting her middle name from," Clark smiled, catching the look of surprise that suddenly sprung into her face. He and Lois had debated long and hard over what to name their daughter and, while they had agreed that she needed a first name that hadn't belonged to someone either of them had lost at some point in their lives, they hadn't been able to come to a conclusion regarding her middle name until Chloe's name had come up.

Chloe looked at him, gauging how serious he was, "Really?"

He let the look go after a second, a grin climbing onto his face as he handed her the baby, "If you'll let us."

Chloe looked down at the newborn and smiled. She shook her head, "No, really?"

He was laughing now, "Yes, really. This was a big decision that Lois and I made. If you say no now then we're just going to have to go back to the drawing board and I don't know about you but I'd rather avoid that argument."

"Well, if it will help you out," she shrugged, her eyes still on her niece, "I'd be honored."

"Good," he reached down to push the blanket Madeline was wrapped in aside.

Chloe looked over her shoulder at him, "I just don't see how you decided on my name. You had such a long list."

"We thought it was appropriate that we chose yours," he murmured, not taking his eyes off of his daughter, "Since you were so important to both of us."

She furrowed her brow questioningly, "Were?"

"Were, are….. Chloe," he said, taking the baby back and setting her gently into the bassinette before continuing. Chloe always reacted badly when he got to this part and he didn't want the baby getting in the way. "You're dead. You have been for five years."

He pointed down to her sweater- the same sweater that had just begun to leak blood down her front.

She rolled her eyes and waved a hand over the area. The gunshot wound that always appeared when they started on this subject disappeared, taking the blood and the stain it would have left on her shirt with it, "I hate it when that happens. See? I'm not dead, Clark."

"Yeah, you are. We saw you get shot and then…." He ran a hand through his hair, "Chloe, you bled out on the operating table. You know this….."

"No, I don't know that because it didn't happen," she shook her head and smiled knowingly. She leaned in closer now, as if to tell him a secret. "I'm not really dead."

He breathed out a frustrated breath. She never believed him….."But you are. We buried you- YOU you, not just a bunch of rocks. No fakes this time, I checked."

She shook her head and began to back out of the room, done with Clark for the moment, "You know more than anyone that appearances can often be deceiving. There may have been a body but are you sure it was mine?"

"What's that supposed to mean? It was you," he went to follow her out of the room but stopped as Lois stirred in her bed and called his name. He looked back to Chloe, "Wait. Would you just……..you can't leave now! You need to tell me what that means."

"It means," she paused at the door, shooting a pointed look in his direction, "That maybe I'm not who you think I am anymore."

Lois called out to him again and he turned, "Just a second Lois. I'll be right there….." he turned back to the door, ready to question Chloe further for what she meant by her last words.

In all the previous dreams he had had of her, she had never told him what she had just told him. Sure, she had argued that she wasn't dead, couldn't be because why would she have been talking to him then, but she had never told him that she was still alive. He opened his mouth to speak and looked in the direction she had just walked but she was already gone.

Clark was startled awake by Lois' voice. He sat up in the chair he had fallen asleep in hours ago and shook out his stiff shoulders, marveling at how alike hospital chairs were in how they made a person's back feel. He would have thought that, of anywhere, the Swann Institute would have provided better chairs….

"Look who's awake," Lois said teasingly, her attention on the baby in her arms-quiet now that she was currently being fed breakfast. She furrowed her brow as she looked at the confused face her husband was making. "You alright, Clark?"

"Yeah," he nodded, and stood up, really looking around the room for the first time since he had arrived hours ago. He would give the Swann Institute credit where it was due, what they lacked in chairs, they more than made up for in beds and décor, "I'm fine. I just had a really weird dream."

"Funny weird or 'weird' weird?" she repositioned herself back against the pillows and adjusted the baby in her arms, patting the left hand side of the king size bed the nurses had moved her into after the birth.

"'Weird' weird," he stepped closer and sat down in the spot she had motioned him towards.

She froze. Weird dreams were never a good thing but even more so when they happened to Clark, "Prophecy weird or 'this-is-clearly-a-dream-because-it's-so-bizarre' weird?"

He rubbed a hand across his eyes, "I don't know. It was so real. Kind of bizarre too now that you mention it…" he paused, "Chloe was in it."

Lois pursed her lips thoughtfully and lowered her eyes. That wasn't as weird as he would think; she had dreams about Chloe all the time-and she knew for a fact that Clark did too, "What was she doing in your dream?"

"Congratulating us," he shrugged, "And truthfully, I was kind of expecting her to show up in one of my dreams again. I know she's a figment of my imagination but she always seems to know when big things happen to me," he cleared his throat, remembering the long conversation he had had with her the night before he married Lois-a year to he day that he had come back to Metropolis and been made her partner at the Daily Planet. With a sigh, he continued, "I told her how we were naming Maddy."

"And what'd she say to that?" she raised an eyebrow, remembering the debate that had followed their mutual suggestion that their daughter be named after her dead cousin. Both she and Clark had questioned whether it was wise to saddle their unborn offspring with such an important name-even if it was just her middle name. As soon as she had been born though, they had looked at her and the name had just seemed to fit.

Clark let out a short chuckle, "She thought we were making a mistake actually."

Lois scowled, "Of course she would say that; it's Chloe. She hated things like that."

"Is THAT why we named our daughter after her then?" he relaxed back into the bed, looking over his wife's shoulders at his daughter.

Lois shrugged and turned her head to look at him, "She sacrificed her life to save us. It seems a fitting tribute."

"That she wouldn't have wanted."

"If she were alive, she'd get used to it. She's not though so it really doesn't matter, now does it? Besides, her full name is Madeline Chloe Lane-Kent, Not Chloe Madeline Lane-Kent like your mother suggested," she paused and suddenly frowned, taking in the look still on Clark's face, "That dream really messed with your head, didn't it?"

He looked down at his hands and nodded, thinking about whether to tell Lois what he Chloe had told him. In the end, he chose not to, instead settling with a neutral response, "It was more than a little unsettling if that's what you're asking."

"It wasn't, but I'll take what I can get," she sighed. "Clark, you were tired and you haven't been getting much sleep lately. It's no wonder that you're having weird dreams, especially considering what you came back from India to."

He snorted lightly, a teasing tone in his voice, "Yeah, you want to page me the next time you go into labor? A little warning would have been nice."

She shot him a pointed look and moved the baby to her other breast, remembering her Lamaze coach's recommendations concerning breast-feeding. "How was I supposed to know that the back ache I had was labor? It didn't even hurt that badly; at least not as badly as all the doctors told me it should have. Honestly, I had no clue what was happening until I stood up and my water broke."

He shook his head, remembering the near interrogation she had given the Lamaze instructor concerning the signs of labor and what she should expect. In the end it seemed that the adjustments Lara had made to her body years ago had made labor and delivery something much different than what Lois had been expecting, "I'm just glad my parents plane came in when it did otherwise you would have been alone."

She rolled her eyes again, "Clark, I would have been fine; there were doctor's a block away 24/7 remember? And I could have paged them just as well as your Mom could have."

"Still, I'm sorry I didn't get there as soon as I should have," he said, knowing that Lois had a point. For the past two weeks they had been living in an apartment near the Swann Institute while they waited for the baby to be born and Lois-as per the younger Dr. Swann's instructions-had been looked at by one of the aforementioned doctor's at least once a day.

It was funny how he still felt guilty though….

Lois placed a hand gently over Clark's and squeezed, knowing without him saying more than he had that he still felt badly that he couldn't have been in two places at one time, "It's okay. The point is you got here. And next time I'll make sure to page you or something although where you're going to keep it in that suit of yours I have no idea. Maybe we could get Martha to sew a pocket into it. Oh! We could get you a utility belt."

He shot her an almost insulted look, "Do I look like Batman to you?"

She raised an eyebrow, "Hey, don't complain unless you're willing to find a solution to the problem, Mister. It's okay now but when it happens again, I want you here for the whole thing, not just the last two hours and if a utility belt is what makes it happen then I'm all for it."

"I'll keep that in mind," he wrapped an arm gently around Lois and stared down at his daughter, watching as she looked at him out of the corner of her eye. He raised an eyebrow as parts of what she had just said drifted back to him. "Next time?"

"Caught that, did you? Took you a moment….."

"Yeah, I'm slow that way. Next time?"

She let her head fall back onto his shoulder and sighed, "Well, I'm not saying we're doing this again immediately; I have a career to worry about too, you know. I'm just saying that Maddy might like a sister or brother someday and two or three years is a good age gap."

Clark smiled into Lois' hair and dropped a light kiss on her forehead, "I'll keep that in mind too, then."

"Do so," she let out a soft sigh and let him support her on the bed, leaning back until she couldn't tell where his body ended and hers began. She felt Madeline snuggle into her arms a little deeper as she fell asleep, her lips falling from Lois' breast as sleep became a bigger priority than food. With one hand, she reached down and adjusted her nightgown to cover herself.

Clark began to slide out from behind her, ready to put the baby into her bassinette so Lois could get some more sleep. She stopped him with a hand though and he stopped, instead moving so that he was lying down on the bed, his head supported by the pillows and Lois' head on his shoulder.

From her chest, Madeline breathed deeply, and spread out a bit on top of her mother.

"It's like she knows we're both here," Lois murmured, not wanting to wake her daughter up from such a deep slumber.

"Yeah," he drew his arm tighter around the two of them and smiled, listening to Lois breath as she too fell asleep.

He only stopped listening when he followed her.

From across the country, a woman shot up in bed, eyes wide and breathing quickly.

"Are you okay?" her companion murmured huskily from beside her.

"Yeah Bruce," she rubbed a hand across her forehead, "Just a dream."

Bruce Wayne sat up in his bed and pulled her close to him, "Are you going to be okay or do you need me to go get you some hot milk?"

"Oh yuck. No thanks, I'll pass."

"You don't like warm milk?"

She paused, trying to think of whether she did or didn't, "I don't know. I think I don't like it."

"Then you probably don't," he dropped a kiss on her shoulder.

She turned her head to look at him, "Just hold me, okay? I think that'll be enough to get me to sleep."

He kissed her again, this time on the forehead, "Okay."

She let herself be pulled back down into the bed and felt him settle in behind her, quickly dropping off to sleep. It wasn't until a half an hour later that she followed, still wondering why she kept having dreams where everyone called her 'Chloe.'

The End