Author's Note: This is it. The final chapter. I'm pretty sad to see this go, but it was a great ride. Plus, it'll be nice to get some sleep again. I want to thank everyone who has reviewed and read this story. The support was overwhelmingly awesome. This one is a bit shorter than the last few, but I think it's a good wrap-up. This is the ending I saw from day 1. Thanks so much guys. I'd like to especially thank my new friend Emma, who kept me sane while I was writing this. This one's for you. :)
PS: For the purpose of this chapter, Chloe has her memory back, like she did in Legion. And I really hope I didn't just spoil that for anyone who hasn't seen it.
"You have three new messages. Message one."
"Clark? It's Oliver. Come on man, pick up the phone. It's been two days. Are you going to pick up? Fine. Have you even left…? Of course you haven't. Look, there's some important… business I need to talk to you about. So whenever you decided to rejoin the world, call me."
"Clark sweetie, it's Mom. Honey, Oliver called me and told me everything. I realized I never had time to talk to you about what you've been doing lately. I'm very proud of you, Clark. I know your father would be, too. We always knew you'd do great. Clark, about Lois… If you need to talk, please call. I hate to think you're sitting there all alone… Well, I love you. Call me back soon."
"Hey Clark, it's me Chloe! Jimmy and I are waiting to catch our flight back. The honeymoon was great. Remind me to thank Oliver for these tickets to Hawaii – this place is beautiful! It almost makes up for the disaster that was the wedding. Anyway, I just thought I'd give you a call. It seems like forever since I talked to you or Lois. I haven't been able to get a hold of her lately. Tell her I love her and I'll be back soon when you see her next. Bye!"
Clark reached over and pressed a button wordlessly.
Tess Mercer tapped her pen along her desk impatiently, her eyes flicking back and forth in between her lap and the door of her study. Her stomach knotted nervously.
Nervous? No. She chased the very thought away quickly. She was Tess Mercer. She did not get nervous.
Still, she thought to herself. If the rumors were true…
She grabbed one of the many papers on her desk as a distraction. It was the article about the so-called Superman. Actually, the so-called part was uncalled for. The strange cape-donning alien had done well with the distraction she'd provided him with. Or maybe test would be the more appropriate word.
Either way, she had gotten what she was after. Everything Lane had written about him was true.
Lane. Tess sighed irritably. No one had saw the intrusive woman for three days, which was annoying, to say the least. As much as Tess couldn't stand her, she was good at what she did. And with her gone, there wasn't a great selection to choose from to write about Superman's latest escapades. Even Kent had been gone lately, calling in sick for the past few days. They weren't exactly proving their worth for their promotion. Her luck, the two of them were probably off somewhere 'celebrating'.
Tossing the paper unceremoniously away from her, Tess reclined behind her desk. She closed her eyes, pressing her fingers against them wearily.
"Ms Mercer?" her assistant's voice cut through her thoughts.
"What?" she snapped, not bothering to give the woman so much as a glance.
"Um," the woman's voice was slightly timid now, "someone is here to see you."
"I'm busy," she said sharply.
"I said I'm busy!" she hissed, her eyes flying open to glare at the woman. The blonde flushed and backed out of the room. Tess shook her head and leaned her head back again, closing her eyes once more. That woman was lucky she hadn't lost her job already…
"Ms Mercer?" The voice was slightly amused, in a detached sort of way.
Tess froze behind her hands.
"I see you've been enjoying keeping my desk warm while I was gone," the voice drawled.
Tess rose to her feet, her hands dropping away.
"Mr. Luthor," she greeted curtly. "You're back."
"Yes," Lex grinned. "I am."
There was a point, between sleep and wakefulness, where you lost track of everything. Your name, the date, where you were... Everything just… poof. Gone.
And the best part was you didn't care.
And that's where Lois found herself. Floating happily between states of consciousness, not even able to bring herself to try to wake up. And that was okay. For once in her life, she wasn't worried. She didn't have to care about work, or family that depended on her, or friends who needed her help. Or men.
Yeah, it was nice to forget about them for once.
A very small nagging voice at the back of her mind reminded her that she would have to wake up soon, but she smothered it quickly. She would deal with waking up when it was time; right now, it wasn't. So she floated, content for once to throw her thoughts away and relax.
Outside of her fuzzy state of mind, she noticed a sharp, subtle movement on her part.
You shivered, she thought calmly. You're cold.
Cold? Why did she have to be cold in this happy place?
"Are you cold?" The voice wasn't hers, but again she failed to rouse enough interest to open her eyes and see who it belonged to.
Instead she nodded very slightly, not sure if her head had actually moved or if she had only imagined it.
But she must have done something right, because she felt herself shift slightly, and then she was warm. She reveled in the feeling, sensing herself slipping back into the fuzzy, floating state.
Much, she wanted to reply, but she didn't. Instead she let herself go, at ease once again. Reality was waiting, she knew. But for now, she didn't have to face it.
She was safe.
Lois shuddered as a slight breeze caressed her bare arms. She was cold again. She reached out for her warmth, but clasped down on nothing but air. It registered that her mind was no longer a foggy haze as she felt herself slip back into control of her body. As feeling returned, so did awareness. She felt the cotton sheets of her bed underneath her, and her overstuffed pillow beneath her cheek. She noticed the cool breeze seeping into the room from her bedroom window, and the sound of passing cars outside.
Something was off, though. Lois struggled to remember coming home. Nothing. How had she gotten home? In fact, where had she been all day?
Someone shifted in the room, alerting her that she wasn't alone. On guard, her eyes popped open and passed over to the source of the sound. She nearly fell out of her bed in surprise. Smallville sat across the room, his face illuminated by a patch of moonlight streaming in the open window. She stared, uncomprehending as to why Clark Kent was sitting in her room staring out her window, looking broodier than she had ever seen him.
She swallowed loudly, which caught his attention. Clark turned his head, his gaze zeroing in on her. When he saw her staring back, his expression lightened slightly, turning from sad to concerned.
She had her mouth open, ready to poise the question of why the hell he was in her apartment, when it hit.
Her mouth snapped shut with a loud click.
Her body reacted before her mind did. She stumbled out of her bed and flung herself at him, which, she discovered, was not unlike running into a wall. He cushioned the blow for her by standing up and catching her as she neared him. To both her and Clark's surprise, she burst into tears, burying her face in his chest. This time, her tears weren't from anger, or pain, like it had been so often in recent months. This time, they were the result of happiness. Because she remembered. She could see it all, flashing through her mind. The past week was still there in her head, clearer than anything else. Everything from waking up in Clark's fortress, to her pleas with Jor-El to let her keep the memories of who Clark really was.
Lois gripped him tighter, as though holding him closer would make everything all the more real. She remembered. The thought reverberated through her head. She fought for control over her emotions, but it was too difficult. It was understandable, though; what she had almost lost was too important to just shrug everything off. Memories were too precious, despite the callous way Jor-El dealt with them. Because Lois knew the reality of it; even if she had forgotten and Clark had just retold her, it wouldn't have been the same. You couldn't recapture a moment, no matter how hard you tried. It didn't work that way. It would always be different. And the thought of losing the reality she had discovered with Clark was painful enough for her to be able to justify this sudden, uncharacteristic breakdown.
Clark was rubbing small circles against her back, murmuring soothing words in her ear, but she didn't hear any of it. She just relished in the feeling of safety she felt right there with him. It occurred to her faintly that this was probably what she had sensed in when she'd been unconscious. The warmth and safety she had credited to her extensive sleep had more than likely been Clark himself.
After a few minutes, she finally managed to regain her composure, wiping impatiently at her eyes to clear away the tears. She pulled back a bit, just far enough to be able to look him in the eyes. He smiled slightly.
"So," he said softly. "I take it you remember?"
She laughed in spite of herself. Instead of answering, she slipped her hands up to his face and pulled him down to her, capturing his lips in an urgent kiss. He complied all too willingly for a few minutes before pulling away and leaning his forehead against hers.
"I guess you made it in time," she whispered.
"I almost didn't," he replied, running a hand along her jaw line.
"What happened?" she asked. "What happened after I was knocked out?"
"I managed to convince Jor-El that you were too important to have your memory erased." Clark shrugged with a smile. "It wasn't as hard as I'd thought, actually." He made a face. "I think he may like you even more than he likes me."
"Not surprising, Smallville," she smiled.
Clark smiled widely at the use of his nickname and pulled her back to him, resting his cheek against the top of her head. He decided to forgo going into detail about the terror he'd felt when he had run into the Fortress and seen her lying there. Or the way he had argued with Jor-El, pleading him to let her remember. The only thing that bugged him was how easily Jor-El had given in. Usually he didn't change his opinion. He wondered what that meant.
Clark thought about that silently. He remembered speeding in to see Lois lying unconscious on the ice, a glowing light increasing around her.
"Lois, no!" he'd shouted, lurching towards her. "Jor-El, stop!"
"I am removing her memory, my son. This is what you wanted."
"Not anymore," he had said firmly, his hand wrapping itself around one of Lois' smaller ones. "I've changed my mind. I want her to remember."
"This would not be the first time you have chosen to interfere in the course of a human being's life."
"I know that." Clark swallowed. "But this is different."
There had been a thick silence before Jor-El spoke again.
"It is. The choice lies with you, Kal-El. Lois Lane does not have to lose her memory, but the choice is up to you."
"She remembers," he answered, tightening his grip on her hand. "That's all I want."
There hadn't been much conversation after that. Jor-El had seemed content to leave him with his thoughts, and Clark had taken Lois back to her apartment, staying there until she'd woken up again.
Jor-El must have known she was different, Clark guessed as they swayed slightly. And she was. All his life, Clark had wanted nothing more than to find someone who made him feel normal. Someone who made him feel like everyone else. Lana had managed to make him feel that for a while. It was one of the reasons he'd been so convinced that they were meant to be.
But Lois didn't make him feel that way. Instead, she made him feel like what he was, was much better than normal could ever be.
Besides, with Lois around, normal was kind of overrated anyway.
Her yawn pulled him out of his thoughts. He looked down at her in surprise.
"How can you be tired?" he asked incredulously." You slept for almost twenty four hours."
"I had a building dropped on me yesterday, Smallville," she pointed out. "Not to mention the fact that your invisible father abducted me so that he could hide the fact that you like to run around in tights."
He rolled his eyes at her and dipped down to press a kiss to her forehead. "I should go. You still need to rest."
Clark turned, ready to leave, but Lois' hand shot out and grabbed onto his. He turned to see her soft expression.
"Think you could stay a little longer?"
Clark smiled. He nodded and let her lead him over to her bed. She slipped back under her sheets and he climbed in after her. She didn't move far away from him like he half expected her to. Instead she stuck close, leaving no more than half a foot between them. His heart sped up a bit.
Because she loves me, Clark thought with a smile. He draped an arm around her waist, completely content. Through the dark, he saw her bite back a grin.
"'Night Smallville," she whispered.
Pancakes. If there was ever a great smell to wake up to, it was the smell of cooking pancakes. Well that, and the smell of freshly brewed coffee. And fortunately, Lois was waking up to both.
She woke up with a ridiculously large smile. Climbing out of bed, she messed with her tangled hair for a moment before giving up completely. She looked like hell. Again. She took a quick shower and dressed before making her way out to the kitchen. Clark had his back to her, flipping pancakes on her stove. She watched as he would speed around the kitchen, popping up in one place for a second, and then showing up across the room the next.
When he stopped at the stove again, she crossed the room with a grin and spun him around. Her lips caught his, and she felt his hand on her lower back while his lips moved with hers.
Best way to start the morning, hands down, she thought as she pulled lightly on his lower lip.
Clark moaned, not even noticing the pancake batter that was dripping off the spatula in his free hand and onto his shoe.
Lois pulled away with a satisfied smirk. She tugged on the collar of his dress shirt.
"You left," she accused.
"Just to shower and change," he shrugged. "We still have work, you know. Tess is going to reconsider promoting us."
"Work," she said, her eyes widening. "Right."
She moved out of his embrace and walked over to the apartment door.
"What are you doing?" Clark asked curiously.
"Getting the paper," she replied. "We should have some idea of what's been going on. Speaking of which, did you even leave the apartment?"
"Once," Clark admitted sheepishly, scraping the pancakes onto a plate. "There was a robbery. Superman stopped it."
He looked up at Lois' startled gasp.
"Oh…my God," she said, staring down at the paper. "I can't believe we missed this."
"What is it?" he frowned. "What happened?"
Lois silently flipped the paper around to show him the front page.
Missing Billionaire Returns!
Complete with a photo of Lex Luthor outside the Daily Planet.
Clark paled. "What?"
"You can say that again," she muttered. "God knows what he's been up to while he's been 'missing' these past few months, and now he just turns up out of the blue?"
"No, Lois," Clark shook his head. "This really isn't good. Look, before Lex disappeared, he found out my secret. And he wasn't exactly accepting."
Lois looked thoughtful. "You think he'll make the connection between you and Superman?"
"I don't know. But I also don't know what happened to him after he found out. It's possible he doesn't even remember."
"Clark the only way someone would forget something like this is if they got amnesia or they ran into Jor-El. It's an awful big risk to assume that he doesn't remember." Lois looked doubtful. "What if-?"
Clark cut her off. "You know what? We'll deal with it later. If Lex is going to do something, it won't be the second he shows up. Right now, I don't really care."
"What do you care about?"
Clark grinned and pushed a plate towards her. "Breakfast, and you."
Lois poured herself some coffee, ignoring the stupid grins and whispers of her co-workers that had been following her all day. Unfortunately, the reason for their ridiculous behavior was plastered all over the office.
Whoever was responsible for that was so getting their ass kicked.
Apparently, someone had seen her and Clark in the alley right after she had been pulled from the ruined building and snapped a picture. A picture that they had decided was good enough to submit to the Daily Planet. The offending picture showed her and Superman having what looked like a very intimate moment. So naturally, everyone in the office had jumped to the same conclusion.
"Oh my God!" Lois snapped when two women looked over at her and giggled. "For the last time, I am not sleeping with Superman!"
She turned to walk away and almost ran into a grinning Clark.
"I wouldn't say so," he smirked. "At least, not in more than the technical sense."
"Smallville," she said in surprise. She worked her face back into a controlled expression. "Oh. It's that stupid article that ran yesterday. Now everyone seems to think that I've got a thing going with Metropolis' newest hero."
"Don't you?" he asked quietly, raising an eyebrow.
"Maybe," she grinned. "But I didn't sleep with him. You should know, Smallville."
"Maybe I forgot," he said innocently.
"Trust me," she leaned in slightly, invading his personal space. "You'd remember."
"Highlight of my life?" he guessed, quoting her. He didn't back down from her gaze, smiling back serenely instead.
"Damn straight." She walked around him, grinning ear to ear.
"On that note," Clark started, clearing his throat slightly. "I was thinking that maybe you'd want to go get dinner later tonight."
"Clark Kent," she smiled. "Are you asking me out?"
"Lane." A man she vaguely recognized from the business section paused at her and Clark's desks. "You're wanted in the boss' office."
Lois exhaled dramatically. "Why is Tess only going to chew me out? You were gone too."
Clark grinned. "She has a thing for me."
"Can't imagine why," Lois scowled and made her way upstairs.
"Look Tess," Lois said as she pushed open the office doors, "if you're calling me in to yell at me I have a perfectly good explanation for –"
She stopped short. Lex Luthor grinned at her over the desk.
"Gee Tess," Lois said flatly. "You've changed a lot in two days."
"Lois Lane," Lex said. "It's been a while."
"Not long enough," she retorted. "Not that I'm complaining about her absence, but where's Tess?"
"She's taking the day off. I wanted to talk to you." He held up her Superman article. "I gotta say, not bad, for a college drop out."
Lois didn't answer, keeping her face indifferent.
"Where did you find this guy, anyway?"
"He found me." She tilted her head. "Why do you care, anyway?"
"Call it curiosity. It's what usually happens when a guy who dresses in tights and flies shows up." Lex leaned forward over the desk. "You wouldn't happen to know who this guy is, would you?"
A slow grin spread across his face. "But you wouldn't tell me anyway."
She smiled grimly. "No, I wouldn't. Would you tell me where you've been for the past few months?"
He stared at her in silence for a few minutes. "Lois, I look outside this office and you know what I see? I see that things are changing. My time away has given me some perspective, and I can guarantee that there are going to be a lot more changes taking place in Metropolis very soon now that I have control of Luthorcorp again."
Lois raised an eyebrow. So it was 'time away' now, rather than 'missing'? "So what? Are you taking back the Daily Planet?"
"I have better things to do than watch over a newspaper," he said dryly. He tossed the papers back down on the desk. "I'll be keeping an eye out for your Superman articles, though."
She shook her head. "Bye, Luthor."
Turning on her heels, Lois exited the office, in time to hear Lex call, "I'll see you soon, Lane."
"Well so much for dinner," Lois sighed as they made their way up to the loft of the barn.
"You're the one who wanted to stay at work and finish that story," Clark pointed out lightly. "At least Lex left. Are you sure that he didn't say anything suspicious?"
"If he still knows about you, he didn't let on," Lois shook her head, sitting down on the couch.
"I wonder why he wanted to talk to you then."
"Jealous?" She attempted to lighten the mood.
"Worried," he replied honestly.
"Don't be, Clark." She smiled up at him.
He smiled back, and leaned down to press his lips against hers. He reached out to steady himself, placing his hands on the back of the couch on either side of her, efficiently trapping her in place. Lois didn't seem to mind at all as her fingers knotted in his hair. When he deepened their kiss however, she pushed him away gently.
"You know, despite how frequently as we've been making out, I do still expect you to take me out at some point, Smallville," she teased, running her thumb over his lips. She wasn't sure how to enforce that particular request though; it wasn't like she minded kissing Clark Kent.
Clark grinned and opened his mouth to reply.
"Kal-El," a voice interrupted.
Clark straightened up, unabashed. A friendly smile appeared on his face. "Hi John."
John nodded towards Lois. "Lois Lane," he greeted. "It's good to see you completely healed."
He turned back to Clark. "I came by to congratulate you on what you've been doing lately. Superman. It's a nice title. Your parents would be proud."
Lois grinned appreciatively, and Clark said, "It's a lot to live up to."
"I doubt you'll have any problems with that. You should hear some of the talk down at the station. People are relieved to have you around the city. You've taken a big step Kal-El. Your destiny is finally being realized." John paused before saying, "But I feel I should warn you; because of recent events, life is about to get a lot more dangerous. For the both of you."
"In other words, things are about to get interesting," Lois smiled.
"Oh good," Clark said sarcastically. "'Cause life has been pretty boring up until now."
John raised his eyebrows at the young couple. "I'm sure that you'll be able to handle it. Now, I have to go. But I hope to see the two of you soon. Good luck to the two of you."
Both Clark and Lois said their goodbyes and watched John leave. Getting to her feet, Lois walked over to the barn's window and looked out at the growing dark. She turned back to Clark.
"Think he's right? About the danger, I mean?"
Clark shrugged, slipping his arms around her waist. "Now that we're a couple, I wouldn't doubt it."
She raised her eyebrows playfully. "Oh, we're a couple now?"
He smiled. "I won't tell anyone if you don't."
"Who are you kidding, Smallville?" she grinned, slipping a hand around the back of his neck. "You're going to want to tell everyone."
"Can't argue with that," he agreed as she tilted her head up to his.
Danger or not, this is worth it, he thought as he kissed her. Maybe this new part of his life wouldn't be so tough now that he had Lois with him. After all, it was because of her that he was Superman, Metropolis' new hero in the first place.
Lois made a small noise of protest when he pulled away. He smiled at that, despite his conflicted expression.
"What's wrong?" she asked breathlessly.
"Someone needs my help," he said apologetically.
She smiled and pulled away. "Come back soon, Smallville."
"I'll be ten minutes," he promised. He paused to look at her. "You sure you can live with the frequent disappearances?"
Before she could respond, he was dressed as Superman. He bent down and kissed her briefly before shooting off through the open window towards Metropolis.
Lois leaned against the window frame, staring after him. A slight smile played at her lips. "See you around, Superman."
Yeah. She could live with this.
Oliver paused on his way from his car as he saw Clark and Lois' embrace in the barn. He watched Clark fly out the window, leaving a small sonic boom in his wake. He shook his head, suppressing a smile. The Justice League business could wait, he supposed. He turned to leave.
Where he almost bumped into a stunned Chloe Sullivan, who stood by her car, her jaw hanging open. She had clearly seen the whole interaction that he had just witnessed.
"Chloe," he said pleasantly. "You're back!"
Chloe's jaw moved soundlessly, her eyes flicking from the barn to Oliver. "Were they–? Was–? And did he–?"
Oliver grinned. "Yeah. So much you've missed."
He placed an arm around her shoulder. "Let's take a walk Chloe. I'll explain what you missed. You see, a few days ago…"
Thanks for reading! I really wanted to end this story in a kind of 'moving towards the future' way. Please tell me what you think; whether it's about the chapter or the story in general. I can't wait to hear feedback. Thanks again to everyone. :)