What If…He Never Left…

"Mom, I have to go. I need to see for myself just what did happen, the evidence is just too compelling to ignore." He looked out over the cornfield not wanting to look into her hurt filled eyes.

Martha stood behind her son placing a consoling hand on his back. "Clark, it's a fool's quest. Don't you think someone would have contacted you if Krypton still existed?"

Clark turned back looking down at the floor unable to face her then finally he looked up his soulful eyes meeting hers. "Don't you think I've considered that, but maybe for some reason they can't contact me. According to the records my father sent with me he worked in secret to send me here after the council forbade his work. If part of the planet was destroyed maybe none of the survivors know about me." He couldn't help but think, am I trying to convince her or myself? The reasoning was so flimsy just who did he hope to fool?

"Oh dear, I can see how important this is to you but Clark, if you were ever as close to Lois as you said you were, then you have to tell her you're leaving. Promise me you will tell her before you leave and I won't say another word."

Clark walked over and slumped down into the sofa. His mother followed and took a seat next to him not taking her eyes off him for a second carefully watching his every response.

"Mom…I can't…I'm afraid if I so much as see her again…"

Cupping his chin with her hand she turned his face to hers so she could look deeply into his eyes. "It would be cowardly of you to just leave her wondering if you're dead or alive with no knowledge of what happened. Jonathon and I did not raise you to run away when things got unpleasant."

Clark stung with that acknowledgement and wanted to pull away barely able to withstand the scrutiny she was giving him. He lowered his head momentarily lowering his eyes to once again look at the floor before finally looking back into her eyes resigned. "I know mom. You're right. I promise I'll talk to Lois before I leave."


His mother's last words rang over and over in his head. Clark you have to at least be honest with yourself. Are you leaving to find yourself or are you running away to lose yourself? He had been flying aimlessly for hours trying to sort out his feelings.

Ever since that fateful day when he had taken Lois' memories he had been losing himself. He had taken Lois' memories but his own memories taunted him at every turn with what might have been. Each day was more difficult than the one before. He would see Lois sitting at her desk happily going about her business always trying to wrangle a meeting with Superman. At first he responded and had tried to go back in his mind and just be the unknown 'Superman' she thought she knew. He had quickly found it nearly impossible to maintain the act. Every time he was around her his mind wondered to those stolen hours when they were together without all the layers of deceit. In the end it became too painful for him to deny the longing and utter loneliness he felt. He began to avoid her, ignoring her calls from the roof as she attempted to entice him to a rendezvous.

Superman was able to avoid her but unfortunately Clark didn't have it so easy. The persona became more and more difficult to sustain in her close presence, the façade torturing him with emotional pain as he attempted to keep it in place.

After two and a half weeks he was ready if not anxious to believe the reports that scientists had found what they believed to be Krypton…possibly at least partially intact! He dove into the story and latched on to the hope that maybe he wasn't 'the last' of his kind after all. Perhaps his father had been wrong or too hasty in his conclusions. Without a second thought he made up his mind to go on a mission to find the truth once and for all. He gave a two week notice to Perry White and soon began preparing the starship.

A week after leaving the Planet as Clark he was almost ready for departure but first he had to say goodbye to the only mother he had ever really known. His mother had been heartbroken and he remembered the pain and hurt that he had seen so evident on her face. In the end though, she seemed to understand his deep need to see for himself what had really happened to Krypton. She hadn't pulled any punches thought, questioning his true motives since she knew his recent heartbreak. He sighed remembering she had made him promise to tell Lois he was leaving. Would he be able to keep his resolve if he saw Lois even one more time? Perhaps his mother knew this and was using it to her advantage to keep him earthbound.

He hovered over The Planet rooftop knowing he had to keep his promise no matter the strain it would cost him. She was right, Lois deserved to know. He didn't want to hurt her any more that he already had. She didn't remember that he had done something she might very well consider unforgivable but he couldn't push it out of his mind for even a second. He was well aware of Lois' long habit of appearing on the rooftop on almost a nightly basis before going home hoping to catch Superman. He had every reason to believe she would appear soon.

He had only a few minutes wait before Lois appeared in the doorway slowly moving out onto the open roof. He caught his breath having not seen her in over a week as either of his personas. He was taken totally off guard seeing her looking so un-Lois-like distraught and appearing truly lost at heart. Had he done this to her? She looked as lost and lonely as he felt. He had never meant for this to happen. How had things gone so wrong so fast? He gathered his courage and called to her as he floated down. "Lois are you alright?"

"Superman, Oh Superman, I've been so worried, did I do something? Why haven't you answered my calls? I was so afraid something happened to you." She ran towards him but he backed up a step as she approached so she stopped in her tracks a couple steps away from him confused by his recent aloof demeanor towards her.

"No Lois, I'm fine and it was nothing you did but I am going away."

"You're going away, I don't understand, where are you going?"

"Surely you have seen the reports that astronomers have found what appears to be Krypton possibly intact. The images appear completely authentic, there is no way I can ignore the possibility that there is still life there. The only way to really know is to go see for myself."

"So, you're leaving Earth to go see if Krypton is still there?" He nodded sadly. "How long will you be away?"

"The trip there will take approximately two and a half years but depending on what I find …" he turned his back to her unable to face her.

"Are you trying to say you may not …return?" tears sprang to her eyes. Lois Mad Dog Lane never let anyone see her cry but she was unable to stop these tears that came fast and unbidden. No longer able to stand his sudden indifference she reached up and grabbed his cape jerking one side near his shoulder to make him turn back and at least face her as he broke her heart. She had sensed something had changed in the last few weeks but this was too much, it was more than she was willing to accept without fighting.

Feeling the unmistakable tug on his cape he reluctantly turned back to face her. His own eyes were glistening but he was surprised to see the tears falling freely down Lois's cheeks. He had only seen her cry once before, that day he had stolen her memories. He had done this to her too. Why was he only able to bring pain to the ones he loved? He ached to pull her into his arms and kiss away all her tears. Somehow he maintained his resolve knowing she would be better with him completely out of her life so she could forget and heal from the wounds he had caused.

"I'm sorry Lois. I never meant to hurt you."

"Don't you know I'm in love with you? How can you just leave me like this?"

"Lois, you don't even know me. You're in love with a man that doesn't exist."

"How can you say that, you're right in front of me, you do exist!"

She moved to close the gap between them but he once again retreated keeping his distance afraid he would lose his resolve completely if he allowed her to get any closer or heaven forbid touch him.

Sensing he was not going to allow her close enough to actually touch him she knew the unspoken truth. "You really don't know if you'll ever come back, do you?"

He moved his head only slightly in answer continuing his retreat. As he retreated away from her the inches began to feel like light years and Lois felt like she was falling into that dark void suddenly separating them. Unable to breathe she slumped down leaning up against the retaining wall whimpering softly.

His own heart was bleeding at having to see her so pale and broken. How much could a human heart take anyway? As this thought crossed his mind his senses immediately sought out her heartbeat wanting to make sure she was indeed physically alright even while she was so emotionally distraught. He relaxed hearing her heart, fast but steady.

Wait, what was that, an echo? He zeroed in on what he was hearing and quickly realized it wasn't an echo but a distinct separate heartbeat, a fluttering really and it was coming from….Oh my God, Lois is pregnant! He froze momentarily then several thoughts went through his head in a blur. How could it be possible? Does she know or even suspect? Is that why she's so emotional? "Oh my God, Lois you're pregnant!"

Lois looked up suddenly quiet and stark white, tears streaking her face. "What did you say?"

Had he really said that aloud, he hadn't meant to. "Uh, Lois did you know that you're pregnant?" No use trying to deny what he had said. He knew from her reaction that she had heard him.

Lois wiped the tears from her face angry now. "So you think I ran to someone else after meeting you on the roof or after a romantic flight? Just leave, you don't have to have an excuse to dump me. After all, like you said, I don't even really know you do I?" She spoke a little too accusingly as she got up and turned her back to him, she had had enough and was about to leave.

Realizing it was her pain talking, he called after her. "Lois, don't go it's not like that at all. There's something you don't know that will explain everything but it may make you hate me." His voice was suddenly soft but still compelling. He painfully remembered that he had been about to leave her perhaps never to even know that what he was looking for was right here within his reach all along. He made a decision and this time he closed the distance between them placing his hand on Lois' shoulder forcing her to turn around and once again face him.

Lois turned back and looked up into his face as if for the first time seeing past the hero she thought she loved. A single tear fell down his cheek and she could tell he was in as much pain as she was. She had never seen him like this before. He seemed so…so human. She reached up and wiped his tear away forgetting her burst of anger from just a moment before. "What don't I know, what could you have done that would be so bad to make me hate you?"

"Lois you are indeed pregnant, I can hear the fluttering heartbeat of an embryo…"

Lois interrupted laughing looking away nervously. "You're delusional. No way am I pregnant, that is unless it was an immaculate conception. Heh, but then I'm sure God would have chosen someone more deserving than me!"

Superman shook his head once again putting his hand on her shoulder to pull her attention back to his face as he looked her in the eyes, "There is every reason to believe it's mine."

"Why are you playing with my mind like this?" A fresh set of tears dropped from her eyes. "What! Don't you think I would remember if you and I…"

Superman interrupted her this time. "Lois, that is what I did that you may find unforgivable, I stole your memory of our time together."

"Why, why would you do such a thing? What reason would you have?" She backed away slightly forgetting his other statements of her being pregnant for the time being trying to sort everything out making no sense of any of it.

"Lois I was lead to believe I needed to forsake my powers to be with you. I did gladly but at the same time unknown to us Zod and his cohorts were trying to take over the world. That is why Superman was missing in action when they first appeared."

She stopped in her tracks, "You gave up you powers for me?"

"Yes. I was able to restore my powers but the cost to you was almost more than you could bear. I know Jimmy and Perry told you how Zod took you as leverage against me but what you haven't been told, what I didn't allow you to remember is the emotional toll our involvement took on you. I didn't think it was possible for us to be together without endangering you and you were inconsolable so I took your memory to ease your pain."

"Why would it have been so unbearably hard for me? I can't imagine anything being so hard to bear concerning you that would warrant erasing my memory."

He turned quiet, "There was more to it, you found out something that complicated things…for both of us."

"You've just told me we have created a child together, I would think that a big complication in and of itself. What could be more important than that?"

"Nothing…" once again his eyes glistened as he fought to contain his emotions. All of his defenses suddenly shattered. "Lois you found out who I really am."

"What do you mean? Do you really have a secret identity? Do you really walk and live among us?"

"Yes, closer than you think, that was why it was impossible for you. I really am always around …you, at least up until a week ago."

"Cl...ark, Oh my God!" Suddenly she forgot to breath. Turning white once again she almost fainted. Superman was there instantly catching her. She looked into his eyes and realized the truth had always been in front of her eyes. Deciding instantly Superman wrapped Lois up in his cape and took off with her safely in his arms. Before she had fully regained her senses he unwrapped her in a world of white.

"Are you alright? I thought you needed to see and hear the whole truth so I brought you here."

A tear came to her eyes as she looked over at the starship gleaming nearby, "Why, if you're just going to take off. What does it really matter?"

Superman graced her with a tentative smile. "Everything is changed now. You need to understand that I have loved you since that first day we met. There is no way I can leave you now, not when you're carrying our very own little miracle. If you're willing, we need to try and make this work but not as Superman and Lois."

"But you said it was impossible."

"Yes, I did, but being an alien I also thought it was impossible for me to father a child with you. If I was wrong about that, then I could just as easily be wrong about us. We are being offered another chance at love together. That is if you're willing to forgive me and love the real man devoid of this suit."

"You're saying Clark is the real man?" She seemed dubious at best. Of course she had seen the similarities but had always dismissed it as ridiculous, Clark was, well Clark. But now she realized Clark was indeed Superman, or was Superman Clark. Her head spun trying to figure it all out.

"Lois, Clark is more real than Superman. The real me lies somewhere in between the two. Clark has a paying job, or at least he did a week ago. He has a mother and a past that he can talk about; he can make a commitment and keep it. Most importantly he has a life he can share. Superman is merely smoke and mirrors an image, a shadow that appears when needed and disappears when the need is resolved."

Suddenly standing before her was a man not quite Superman but not Clark either. He was wearing slacks and a white shirt open to the collar, his hair falling over his eyes. He raised his hand offering it to her.

Tears once again filled her eyes as she went to him without hesitation falling into his embrace as their lips met. Pulling away she smiled up at him. "Only for you would I brave the prospect of three kids, two cats and a mortgage. On second thought how about one dog instead of the cats?"

"Anything you want Lois, anything you want I will do my best to give you."


TBC???? Depending on the response and of course my muse