Copyright: November 7, 2006
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended
Superman was patrolling the city only few days after leaving the hospital where he'd ended up after an uncontrolled fall from high orbit to Earth. New Krypton, the abomination of a landmass Lex Luthor had created, was in a stable orbit beyond Mars.
Metropolis was quiet, too exhausted from the past few days to muster a crime wave. The fact that the National Guard had been called out to patrol the streets also helped.
He'd only been back to Earth for a month, and only a week back as Superman, after having been gone for six years, searching for something, some meaning. Looking for his home in the depths of space. That was when all hell had broken loose, thanks to Lex Luther.
There was no sign of Luthor and his cronies. Luthor had managed to escape the landmass he'd created using stolen Kryptonian technology before Superman flung it into the asteroid belt. Luthor was somewhere, planning something that boded ill for both him and humanity. It was only a matter of time.
He heard Lois Lane calling him from the rooftop of the Daily Planet, "We have to talk, Superman!"
He came down beside her. "Yes, Lois?"
"I need to talk to you about Jason, my son," she said.
"What about Jason?"
"Do you remember what I said to you in the hospital?"
"Yes, I think so," Superman said. "I remember you telling me that Jason was very strong, and that he was my son."
"So what do we do?"
"Lois, I promise I'll be there for him when, if, his powers manifest. But that's all I can promise."
"And what about us?"
"You have Richard, Lois. You don't need me," he said, referring to Lois's fiance of five years. Richard White was the nephew of Perry White, and assistant editor of the Daily Planet newspaper. He was a good man and Superman actually liked him as a person; rather, Clark Kent liked him. Richard was a very likable guy.
Lois had moved on in the six years he'd been gone, trying to find his roots, trying to find Krypton. She'd had a son, gotten engaged, won a Pulitzer. He loved her still, but he knew without any doubt that they had no possibility of a future together. It was too dangerous for her. Besides, she only loved the man in the 'suit', Superman, not the man he was raised to be: Clark Joseph Kent from Smallville, Kansas, adopted son of Jonathan and Martha Kent. She didn't see Kent even though he worked beside her every day. Kent was a bumbling fool, not worth a second glance.
"Why don't I remember being with you? Why don't I remember the night Jason was conceived? Was I so disappointing that you shut me out, denied me those memories of us?"
"It wasn't you, Lois," he said sadly. "It was me. I thought we had a chance together. I was wrong and I hurt you. I'm sorry. I should never have done what I did."
"Sorry? You're sorry?"
He took a step backwards, away from the venom of her voice. She had every right to be angry with him, but it didn't make it hurt any less. "Lois, I don't know how to return your memories of that time. I don't know if it's possible. But if you're game, we can try."
"Come with me to the Fortress of Solitude, my 'ice palace'," he said. "I need to do some work there anyway. It might jog your memory."
"Now's as good a time as any," he said. "You might want to let your boss know you're going to be out for at least the rest of the day."
He watched as she pulled her cell phone from her purse and pulled up Perry White's personal number.
"Perry? Lois. I'm going to be out for the rest of the day, maybe longer," she said. "Could you have Richard pick Jason up at school?" She listened for a moment as Perry replied. "No, I don't want to say anything about what I'm working on yet, in case it doesn't pan out."
"Tell him Clark's going with you," Superman said softly, almost mouthing the sentence.
She raised one eyebrow at him but said into the phone, "Oh, and Clark's coming with me, so I hope you haven't given him anything that can't wait a day or so."
"Kent lit out of here like the devil was after him about ten minutes ago," Perry said over the phone. Superman's acute hearing picked up the conversation from Perry's office as well. "You two'd better have something good for me when you get back," Perry warned before hanging up his phone.
Lois put her phone back in her purse. "So Clark's coming with us?"
Superman shrugged. "I'd rather he didn't get into more trouble than he's already going to be, if this works."
"Why would Clark get into trouble? Where is he?"
Superman smiled. "Just trust me on this one, Lois. Please?"
In his office on the 60th floor of the Daily Planet building, Perry White looked over at his nephew, Richard. He was Lois Lane's fiance, as well as the newsroom's assistant editor, a job the young man had earned by being one of the best in the business. It hadn't hurt him, though, to be the boss's nephew.
"Richard, what is Clark working on?" Perry asked.
"Something Norm Parker was working on before he died. The trouble Americans with foreign dependants have getting through all the bull Homeland Security throws at them," Richard told him. "From what Clark's told me, he's got enough material for a whole series on it."
"Isn't he supposed to be working on the building collapses?"
"Yeah, and he's already turned in the first two articles."
"Good. So what's up with Lois?"
Richard looked uncomfortable. "She hasn't been herself since Superman came back. She told me she was over him, but…" He shook his head. "She said she was over Superman, but I didn't think to ask her how she felt about Jason's father showing up again. People have been asking why I haven't left her now that Clark's back. Although," he added, "with the way she's been treating the poor bastard, I'll be surprised if he doesn't ask for a transfer to Tokyo soon. Why did you even hire him back?"
"Because he's one of the best writers in the business," Perry said. "And I owe him a second chance after what I did to the two of them."
"And what was that?" Richard asked, knowing what the answer was.
"I let Cat Grant talk me into sending Mad Dog and the Boy Scout on an undercover assignment as newlyweds, knowing full well what the gossip mongers would do to them. Knowing what Lois would do to him afterwards when she caught wind she was being set up. I'm surprised he bothered to come back at all, considering how he left. He came in one morning and told me he was leaving. I tried to talk him out of it. Even offered him a raise and the assistant editor's post that was open, but he wouldn't budge. He just finished that day's assignments and walked out."
"The next time, you're the one carrying the baby to term," Lois Lane-Kent complained as she sat on the side of the bed, rubbing the small of her aching back.
"That's what you said when you were carrying CJ, and Lara, and Jordan," Clark Jerome Kent, her husband of ten years, reminded her with a smile, taking over massaging her back.
"I look like a blimp! I feel like a blimp. How can you love a blimp?"
He nuzzled her neck. "You do not look like a blimp. You never look like a blimp. You look like a well-loved woman who's having a baby any day now."
"I'm a week overdue!"
"Lois, they've all been a week overdue," Clark said with an even broader smile. She turned in his arms to gaze into his warm, dark chocolate eyes. She kissed him, hard.
"Uh, honey, you keep this up and we're going to be late for work. Again." He said it lightly, pulling away from her only far enough so he could talk. "Besides, I have to get CJ and Lara to school, and I have a meeting at nine with the board of directors."
"We are going to continue this discussion later, you know," Lois warned him with a grin as he headed to the master bathroom to get dressed for work.
"I'm looking forward to it," he called back as he shut the door.Earth I
Lois Lane inspected her surroundings, the white crystals that made up the Kryptonian-designed structure, the control console with shafts of sunlight glistening across its crystal clear surface.
"I remember this was burnt up, destroyed," she murmured, touching the console with one tentative finger.
"The father crystal wasn't in the console," he told her. "I'm not sure how it happened, but it wasn't with the others. It wasn't destroyed. I was able to regenerate the console and the other crystals with it. Those were the ones Luthor stole from me."
"So what are you doing?"
"I'm regenerating the rest of the crystals and making a copy of the father crystal for safekeeping."
"I thought Luthor stole the father crystal," Lois said.
There was amusement in his unearthly blue eyes. "I got it back," he said. "I found the father crystal in the wreck of Luthor's helicopter. I don't know why Luthor didn't find it."
"What about the others?"
"I don't know where they are," he admitted. "I just hope Luthor doesn't have them. Even without the father crystal, he could do a lot more damage than he's already done."
He placed the father crystal into its place in the console, twisting it just so. "This is going to take a while," he said. "What would you like for lunch?"
"We had dinner here before, didn't we?"
"You gave up your powers so we could be together."
"Yes. I was told that if I wanted a human woman, I had to be human. I couldn't just live like one, I had to be one."
"We spent the night together."
He nodded. Was she remembering, or just logically linking the facts together? He was afraid to ask. He was the most powerful being on the planet and he was afraid to ask her if she remembered his other name.
"I remember watching your face while we watched TV, watched the disasters across the world. I watched you suffer because you couldn't do a damn thing for them," she said softly. "I told you to come back here, see if there was a way to undo the damage."
"There was a way," he said. "But the price was the ability to be with you. To share your life. I watched you suffer at work, trying to deal with the fact that we'd lost any chance to be together. I thought I was doing you a favor."
"You watched me at work?" she wondered aloud. He just looked at her. How could she not see it? She was a top investigative reporter. How could she miss all the clues he'd given her over time? How could she not see him?
"What would you like for lunch?" he repeated.
"Chinese?" she said. "Clark knows a little place somewhere with funny fortune cookies in Chinese. They have the best mu gu gai pan. "
"I know the place," he said with a smile. He gave her a tiny bow and flew off faster than she could see.
"Richard, Penny!" Clark yelled from his office door. "When can I see something on the Goldman murders?"
"Waiting for one more confirmation, Chief," Richard White answered, glancing over to his partner, Penny 'Lane'. She nodded her head.
Clark stepped back into his office, the editor-in-chief's office. From his desk Clark could watch the entire newsroom. He loved the energy of the bullpen. From his office, he could watch it all happen, see the paper come together as he directed, just as Perry had done before him.
It was the best job in the world, next to being an investigative reporter. And one of the beauties of being the boss was that no one asked questions when he disappeared in the middle of the day to handle a job as Superman. At least, no one asked them very loudly.
Richard White, Perry White's nephew, had joined the Daily Planet five years before. He had been an award winning reporter at the Planet's London bureau and had covered the Middle East. So when an opening appeared in Metropolis for someone with his skills, Perry offered it to his nephew. Richard had jumped on it and hadn't looked back.
Perry assigned the young man to work with Penelope Landris, an up-and-coming city beat reporter who had taken the pen name of 'Penny Lane'. The Landrises were old money in Metropolis, and hadn't taken kindly to one of their own becoming an investigative reporter. But it was a match made in heaven, much as Perry's match up of Lane and Kent, nine years earlier. Fourteen years ago – how time flies. White and Landris would be celebrating their second wedding anniversary next month.
Clark checked his watch. Lois was meeting him for lunch over at a new bistro she'd found not too far from Centennial Park.
"That was fantastic," Lois commented, finishing the last egg roll. "So where is this place with this great food and funny fortune cookies?"
"Shanghai," Superman answered with a crooked grin.
She gave him a puzzled look as if she couldn't get her mind around the obvious. He watched her and realized, with a sinking feeling, that there was something seriously wrong if she couldn't put the facts together even when they'd been practically thrown in her face.
"Do you remember any more?" he asked gently.
"I remember making love to you, here. I remember seeing a beautiful blonde woman dressed in white. She was very sad when she talked to you."
"That was a hologram of my mother, Lara," he explained. "It, she, is part of the Artificial Intelligence that is part of this place, part of the crystals." A musical chime rang out from the crystal console. He got up from his seat beside Lois and stepped over to the console.
"The backup father crystal is complete," he said. "We can head back to Metropolis now, unless you want to stay and talk some more."
She shook her head. "I remember most of it, I think. Like waking up from a dream. But there's still something I'm not catching. Something that's just out of reach. I remember being at Niagara Falls with Clark and you coming to save a little boy who'd fallen. Then we were here." She looked up at him. "We didn't just abandon Clark there, did we?"
"No, we didn't abandon him there," he said with a smile. At least she was concerned for his alter ego. Maybe things were starting to come together, finally.
"You're not eating," Clark observed. The bistro was as good as promised, but Lois was picking at her food.
"I've been thinking," she said. "Have you heard from Zara and Ching recently?"
"The last I heard from them was that they were planning on visiting soon after the baby's born. They still want to foster one of their kids on Earth and would really like to foster one of ours."
"Not going to happen, Clark," she warned. "I am not sending one of my babies off to that hell-hole. I nearly lost you when you went there and I know you still have nightmares about what happened to you the year you were gone. I am not going through that again."
"I've already told them that," Clark assured her. "I suggested that maybe when CJ's old enough for high school... He'll be old enough to make his own choice, and he is an heir to the ruling house..."
He expected an explosion from her, but she simply sighed and rubbed her belly. "Well, at least I have five years to get used to the idea," she said finally. "Let's go take a walk."
They were flying back to Metropolis and were fast approaching the city.
"Superman, what's that?" Lois asked, looking back over his shoulder. He paused in midair to turn and look behind. A quarter of a mile back, the blue sky was gone, replaced by a curtain of roiling black clouds lit up by phosphorescent green lightning. Wind began to whisper around them. The afternoon sun had vanished behind the black clouds.
"I don't know," Superman admitted. Lois was surprised to see worry in his face. The wind grew louder and stronger and Superman dropped to the ground, hunkering down to protect Lois from the brunt of the wind.
The storm was on them. Gale force winds shoved at them and even Superman's strength wasn't quite enough to stand against them, which surprised him. There was a piercing wail as if the universe itself was crying out in agony. The sound drove through their skulls. They covered their ears, but the keening wail was too knife‑sharp, driving itself into their brains. It was louder even than the thunder that rolled all around them. Lois screamed.
Then, the world fell up.
The knife sharp scream stopped. The thunder stopped. The lightning stopped. The slashing rain stopped.
They stood and looked around. The afternoon sun was shining through a cloudless blue sky.
"What was that?" Lois asked. Superman's face was pale and his eyes were dark with worry.
"I don't know. I've never seen or felt anything like it."
"Maybe we'd better get back to Metropolis," she suggested. He nodded agreement, picked her up in his arms and took off again, toward the city.