Clark and Lana both accompanied Harrison on his belated trip to Gotham. Batman escorted them to Amy's location, and Lana smiled at Clark as Harrison and his sister embraced. Against the odds, they had survived.
"You know," said Clark, after the pair had calmed down. Harrison was blinking back tears. "If either one of you ever need to talk, Lana and I are always happy to listen."
The pair were going to be picked up by their grandparents, who were now their legal guardians. Pulling Harrison aside, Clark reached into his pocket and pulled out the necklace that held so many memories inside, including the boy's mothers.
"I was told to give this to you," said Clark. "Your mother… there are things she wants you to see."
Harrison nodded, taking the necklace without asking for further explanation.
"Thank you," he said simply.
"You think they'll be alright?" asked Lana as Harrison returned to his sister.
"I think they'll be just fine," said Clark with confidence. The next part he was less sure about. "Lana, when you said your answer would have been 'yes'… I won't exactly hold you to it. I mean, you thought you we were going to die, and…"
"Clark, I meant what I said. Except… Lenaria told me all about your father. She said you resented me, and I don't blame you for that, because…"
"I never blamed you," said Clark, sounding horrified. "My father died because of me. You saw me come back from the dead. It was Jor-El that brought me back. But someone else had to die in my place. Don't EVER blame yourself. This is my burden to carry, not yours."
"Clark…" whispered Lana, eyes shimmering.
"Lana, I need to talk to Clark. Alone," said Batman, appearing suddenly beside them. Lana stared at Clark, who nodded. She stood over to one side, looking at Clark anxiously.
"So, I guess we each know the other's secret," said Clark. "What happens now?"
"Lenaria's really gone?"
"Yeah. She's gone for good," said Clark.
"Good. And hopefully, we won't see the likes of her again. Or at least if we do, we'll have advanced warning. I'm going to authorize a network of satellites to more closely monitor anything that might be finding it's way to Earth. Two aliens have managed to hide here for years without anyone knowing. I don't' plan on allowing that number to grow."
"So what do you plan to do with me?" asked Clark. He had no intention of becoming a lab rat for Bruce Wayne to study.
"You're a tough one to figure out. As far as I can tell, you've done nothing but try to help people these past few years. That, and you do seem to be a legitimate farmer. Your parents… Jonathan and Martha… they must have been pretty… incredible, to raise a child from another world."
"They raised me as if I were from Earth," said Clark. "As much as possible, anyway."
"Still… I'm not sure how much I trust you. You've already taken control of a planet. I wonder how long it is before you decide Earth might be better if…"
"I would never do that," said Clark sharply. "That was what Lenaria wanted, and I know that was wrong. As for Warworld, I'm going to hand control of it over to Draaga. I'll need to talk with him, make sure I can trust his intentions, but I think he's better suited to the position than me."
"I'll tell you this much, Clark. I'll be watching you closely. If you need to be kept in check…"
"I'm glad," said Clark, nodding his understanding.
"Do you want to see Ethan, before I take him back to prison?"
Clark shook his head. He'd never forgive Ethan for betraying his father.
"Just give him a message from me. Tell him that Lionel Luthor will never get the chance to abuse his new-found power."
"Lionel?" asked Batman, but Clark wasn't about to say anymore. "Well, I don't know about him, but your old friend Lex? He was on the Space Station, Clark. Along with a group of super-powered individuals who followed his commands."
"It can't be…"
"It gets worse. He had full access to all of the technology on-board. Most of it was damaged beyond repair, but who knows what his scientists will make of it all. That tech is very advanced, very dangerous. If Luthor can repair some of it, or replicate it, then he's going to have a great deal of power at his disposal. You must have some idea of how tempting it can be to abuse that power. Maybe you can resist the temptation, Clark… but can Lex?"
"Hey, Clark man, glad you could make it. Bet you've seen enough of this place to last a lifetime, huh?"
Clark smiled at Pete, sitting upright in bed, showing off his impressive scar to Chloe. Chloe told him with just a look that it had lost it's novelty value for her.
"Well, I didn't come here for the scenery. I came to see my friend, who I haven't seen nearly enough of lately. I'm glad you're doing better."
"Hey, thanks. And you're timing couldn't be better. Chloe and I were just talking about you."
"No we weren't!" said Chloe, looking nervous. "You were the one who –"
"So, anyway, we were just saying how with your powers and all, things have been a little awkward between you and Lana…"
"Things are fine now, Pete. She knows the truth about me. It'll take her some time to come to terms with everything, but…"
"No, no, no. I always knew THAT would work out fine. I'm talking about… you know… But there's an easy way around it all. Chloe told me that things between you and Lana worked best when you didn't have your powers."
"Well, yeah, until I died and had to be brought back to life," said Clark.
"Right, but from what I hear, when you go to Kandor you don't have any powers, right? And you still have Chloe's anti-gravity whatsit, don't you?"
"Uh-huh," said Pete , looking at Chloe. "If you want someone to save the world, call Clark. If you want someone to have a clue, try someone else."
"Oh," said Clark, suddenly getting the point.
"And in less embarrassing news, I hear Batman totally held his own against a slightly less moral alien visitor to our perverse little planet," said Chloe. "And he actually blew up the school. If he'd done that a year ago I think I'd have a new number one hero, Clark."
"Yeah, he was great and all," said Clark. "But I'm not sure I'd call him a hero as such. I mean, he's basically a vigilante…"
"Riiiight. Because it's not like you've ever acted outside the law once in a while. But anyway, we're just dying to know."
"Well, who is he under the mask? We KNOW you must have taken a look."
Clark only smiled.
It was amazing the city of Kandor was still intact after Lenaria's attempt to destroy it. Seeing the city again through Lana's eyes was somehow even more amazing than the first time. She looked at everything with such wonder and excitement that Clark, for one of the few times in his life, felt comfortable with being an alien. Jor-El had agreed to transport her here only reluctantly, but Clark had pointed out that humans were surely welcome in a multi-cultural city. And with Preus 'missing' the inhabitants were no longer searching for him.
"Over there is The Hall of Justice," said Clark, pointing to a large building off in the distance. "The Phantom Zone Parole Board used to meet there to listen to the prisoner's appeals for release. The system they use doesn't work for anyone here, but I guess it might work for me."
"Great," said Lana with a smile. "I'm sure The Board will be happy to hear Lenaria's appeal."
"And I'm equally sure it will be rejected," said Clark. "I doubt The Kandorian's will think too fondly of someone who tried to wipe them out."
"Clark, this place is amazing. Doesn't it feel strange to be home? I mean… do you plan to stay here?"
"Jor-El says he can't restore the city to full-size. And we can't take anybody out of here for long or they'll die. That means it's up to me. I have to find a way to help them. They're my responsibility. But my home is on Earth. With you, if you still plan to marry me."
"You don't have to keep checking every five minutes, Clark. I'm not going to change my mind. I love you. But like you said, this place is your responsibility. And when I think about all the people on Earth who need your help… How can I possibly fit into that?"
Pressing his forehead against hers, he pulled her forwards in a lingering kiss, enjoying the moment.
"Lana, when we first got together I tried to run from my destiny, to try and be someone I wasn't. I ran to Metropolis and we were driven apart. To be able to fly, I had to embrace my Kryptonian heritage. I can't accept that now I've accepted my destiny, we still can't be together. I used to think that you and I were meant for each other, but the way things turned out it looks like we were a million to one shot. But I still think we're going to make it."
Lana smiled, looking up into his eyes and beyond him at the red son giving life to the planet.
"There's something else," he said shyly. "I told you about how I gave up my powers. Well, that was the only time I felt comfortable… with us being together. I knew you couldn't get hurt. Now, one day, once I've uh, become more comfortable with my abilities, it might not be a problem, but er…"
"Clark Kent," said Lana, putting a finger to his lips. "Did you have an ulterior motive for bringing me here?"
"It isn't like that, Lana, I really did want you to see my home, and…"
"Clark," she laughed. "I think it's the best idea I've heard in a long time."
Brainiac lamented the loss of Kandor. It left a gaping hole in his collection. He could not, even with his remarkable intellect, have predicted Kal-El and The Empireth's escape from the city, nor the events afterwards which even now he was not fully up-to-date with. But none of these things mattered. He knew The Empireth was gone, and although Zod's new body would not last long, his spirit would remain in The Phantom Zone. The General would not be pleased, but there would be another day.
He placed a new prize in the hole Kandor had left behind. More space would be needed before too long, he knew. He regarded it's replacement with some satisfaction.
The bottle city of Metropolis fitted in quite nicely.
Author's Note: And I'm happy to say that after much difficulty and hitting many brick walls along the way, this story is finally finished.
I should point out that several elements from this story are from the Superman 'Godfall' comic story - Preus and The Empireth for example, and that story was also my first time seeing Kandor. The actual stories are completely different though.
Warworld, Mongul and Draaga are also from the comics (as you may well know.)
Finally, thanks to everyone who left a review, it's appreciated.