Chapter Thirty-Three

"The Road Ahead"

The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope.

- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin –

Earth – Two Years Later

Hovering in the stillness of space, Superman gazed down on his home, Earth. It had been two years of joys and heartaches, breathtaking highs and unimaginable lows. Battles had been both won and lost. Through it all his love and bond with Karen had only grown.

It had been six months since Martha Kent had passed away. Clark knew he would have lost his mind with grief if it hadn't been for Kara and Karen. They had seen him through the worst part. He would never be able to thank them enough for that. They were his constant reminder that no matter what the storms of life might bring, he wasn't alone.

The grief was still there, it probably always would be, but slowly he was accepting it. He'd been thinking a lot about Jonathan and Martha Kent, since her passing. The world would never know how much these two extraordinarily decent people had guided and nurtured him into the man he was today. Both of them might be gone, but they had left their mark on his heart. They were the real heroes in his mind.

There were so many changes in his life recently, that it was almost hard to fathom them all. Ma's dying had triggered some of them, but others were overdue. Clark had given up his job at the Daily Planet and moved back to the farm. The original reasons he'd been in Metropolis now longer had the same pull they once did. There was also the fact that he was tired, tired of pretending to be that Clark Kent.

It had been necessary, the fake glasses, the oversized, ill-fitting suits, the forced clumsiness and the meek, mild mannered façade to protect those close to him. He realized that to be Superman, he no longer had to be tied to Metropolis. He could be connected from anywhere in the world now. Kara had also been more than happy to take his place, both figuratively and literally. The lease on his apartment was still in his name, but she had already redecorated it to make it her own. She was a city girl, after all, she reminded him.

Clark had done some remodeling at the farm too. He had talked to Karen and explained his plans. He told her how at the farm, isolated from just about everyone, he could be himself, his real self. She had listened to everything he'd said and nodded in understanding. A week later he had returned from a mission to find her standing on the porch, a U-Haul parked in the driveway.

Clark had been flabbergasted and asked what was going on? Karen told him she'd been thinking about what he'd said and liked the sound of it. She too was tired of pretending to be something she wasn't. She been sitting in her office, feeling miserable, when she suddenly realized everything she wanted was right here. She went home and packed that night.

They'd been living together for the last three months and it got better and better every day. Oh, they'd had their share of fights. It was now a standing rule, the name Lashina was never ever mentioned at the farm. Karen was still angry about that whole situation. Like most new couples living together for the first time, it was an adjustment for both of them. The thing that made it all worthwhile was they were together. They were the first people the other saw in the morning and the last the other saw at night.

The people in Smallville welcomed both of them into the community. Clark received more than his share of slaps on the back from the men of the town when they got their first look at Karen. The questions had already started about when was he going to marry that pretty gal. Clark knew eventually they would talk about it, but for now they were just enjoying being together. The future would get here soon enough.

The fear of them was still out there, although it had died out a bit. Since his press conference, they had both went about lives as Superman and Power Girl, but refused all questions. The simply did their job and left. At first this only seemed to add to the problem, but slowly other stories and scandals took the media's attention away from them. New groups and people were found by the radio hosts to make their listeners afraid of. Clark and Karen weathered the storm and continued on. There would always be those that would fear them, but with nothing new about them most people moved on with their lives.

Some of Superman's enemies' thought they would try and get at him by attacking Karen and Kara. They learned rather quickly how big a mistake this was. One pissed Kryptonian woman was more than a handful. Two of them was a nightmare. Toyman had found this out recently. Clark actually felt a bit sorry for the little guy. The two had not only stopped his latest scheme, but afterwards Kara and Karen broke into his lair and took all of his collectibles out of the original packages. Apparently, Kryptonian women have a cruel streak, Clark realized.

A smile crossed Clark's lips as he thought about them. They still professed to not liking the other, but Clark could see that Karen and Kara were warming towards each other. They were like sisters, always arguing, but when the time came, they had each other's back. Kara had ever recently started spending more time back at the farm. Maybe one day they would admit they were friends, but until then Clark could live with how things were.

He still hadn't rejoined the League, but continued to support it. New voices had taken more of a leadership role. Mr. Terrific, Dinah and Shayera were now in charge. Jonn had taken over Diana's role as the League's liaison to the UN. Slowly, most of the members came back and new members joined. Nightwing, like his mentor, was only a part-time member, but a natural leader. Governments on Earth and around the galaxy were still weary of Superman, but had once again come to rely on the League.

The two that Clark still had his concerns about were Diana and Bruce. They were his closest friends in many ways. They both had such a hard road ahead of them. Few realized that Superman had been to the future many times. During those journeys he got glimpses of the possibilities for what might lay ahead for them.

For someone as warm and loving as Diana was, it seemed several of the possible futures for her were filled with heartache. There was a real possibility that one day her own people would turn their back on her. She had so much love to give; it tore at Clark's heart when he thought of the possibility that she may never find the right someone to share it with. There would always be a struggle for her between the past, her Amazon heritage and the future, the Man's world. She had a foot in both, but would never feel truly a part of either. He knew she would carry on always, but hoped with all his heart she found some happiness.

In many ways, Bruce worried Clark most of all. The pattern of his life seemed set on a course that ended badly. Clark had seen a future where one by one, Bruce pushed away everyone that cared for him until only Alfred remained. When Alfred passed, Bruce would be alone. The mission had consumed him and in the end even that was taken away.

There were so many possibilities for love in Bruce's life from Selina to Diana if only he would let them in. That fear of losing those close to him that defined Bruce's life would ultimately cost him losing everyone. Clark prayed Bruce would see this and take a chance on life and love. The image of Bruce sitting alone in that big old mansion would haunt Clark.

Every instinct Clark possessed want to fix things, but again he knew there were limits on even his powers. Bruce and Diana would have to find their own way. Clark would try and be there for them as much as he could but in the end change only really comes from within.

The future would get here fast enough. Clark was learning to live in the moment.

As he gazed down on that beautiful blue orb, he felt connected with it more than ever. That better world was out there. It may take a long time to get here, but eventually it would. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. As he descended towards home, Clark knew he would take the next step today.


Smallville

The tall grass gently swayed under the warm sun. This was now a familiar place and she found it quite soothing. Relaxing and leaning back in her chair, Karen wasn't wearing her usual power business suit or even her costume. She had on a plain white blouse and khaki shorts. She was barefoot; a pair of worn sandals lay haphazardly on the porch in front of her. Three glasses of lemonade sat on the table next to her. Lazily, Karen picked up the closest glass and took a sip. The tart flavor mixed with just a hint of sweetness and the cool liquid felt wonderful as she swallowed.

The sound of the front door opening made her turn to see Kara step out onto the porch.

"Country life seems to agree with you," Kara observed.

'Yeah, it's kind of a surprise, really," Karen replied. "Have some lemonade? I just made it."

"God, talk about going overboard with the whole Martha Stewart thing," Kara joked as she picked up a glass.

"It's frozen, out of a can, I'm not crazy."

"Not bad," Kara admitted. "So where's Clark?"

"Out getting dinner. I think he said something about Thai."

"You don't cook either, huh," Kara laughed. "So much for finding a girl like dear old Ma."

"You're still kind of a snot, you know that don't you," Karen said.

"Why change? It's not like we like each other or anything. I know Clark thinks we do."

"Yeah, he always looks on the bright side," Karen admitted. "At least we can tolerate each other for his sake."

"Don't have much choice, really," Kara observed.

"I guess it could be worse," Karen said.

"What like having Lashina stop by," Kara teased.

"We don't say that name in this house," Karen fired back. "Just the thought of that slut makes my blood boil!"

"I know," Kara laughed.

"Is that why you keep coming out here, to piss me off," Karen grumbled.

"It's just a joke, relax," Kara replied. "Look, I know it doesn't make any sense, I mean I've been trying to get away from this place most of the time I was here, but since Ma Kent died, I find myself thinking about it. She was really like my second mother, I miss her."

"I get it, really. I didn't know her as well as you did, but I could see she was special. This is your home, you're always welcome here," Karen said.

"Well, thanks," Kara sarcastically replied. "So you haven't turned my room into a home office yet?"

"I wanted to, but Clark insisted it stay the way it was," Karen offered. There was a hint of snarkiness in her voice as well.

'Bitch," Kara whispered under her breath.

"Snot," Karen replied.

"Isn't it kind of creepy sleeping in the same bed as Clark's parents," Kara asked.

"Yes, that's why we remodeled all of that part of the house. It also puts us further away from your room when you stay."

"Thank God! You two aren't exactly quiet, you know," Kara complained.

"I know," Karen smiled.

"Ewww, yuck," Kara moaned. "I didn't need the visual, thank you! Look, I know we don't like each other, but I can admit that Clark is happier when he's with you. I'm willing to tolerate you for that reason but don't push it, okay?"

"Fair enough," Karen replied. "The same goes for you, Kara. I know you and Clark are family. I never want to come between you two. I guess we'll just have to get along, okay?"

"Okay," Kara reluctantly agreed. "Just for the record, I'm not calling you Aunt Karen or anything."

"I certainly hope not," Karen replied. They looked at each other and smiled. Kara sat back in the other chair and sipped her lemonade. They both looked out over the beauty in front of them.

"So what now," Kara asked. "I'm not sure Ma would appreciate you two living in sin out here. Is there wedding bells in the future?"

"That's a little fast, isn't it," Karen uncomfortably said. "I-I mean we just moved in together."

"But you're in love," Kara teased.

"Oh, shut up," Karen groaned. Kara just laughed and sat back in her chair.

"You know even if you getting married to Clark, that doesn't mean you get to be Superwoman," Kara informed her. "I've already called it."

"What would I be? Mrs. Superman? I think I'll just stay with Power Girl for now."

"Well, when you change your mind later, just remember the name's already spoken for."

"You can't do that," Karen argued. "It's not like calling shotgun in the car, Kara."

"Sure it is and I called it first," Kara replied.

"Well, that's not fair at all," Karen protested.

"That's the breaks, honey. Oh, hey, here comes Clark."

"We're not done with this discussion," Karen whispered. "Not be a long shot."

"You're such a poor sport, you know," Kara teased."

Clark landed in front of the house, carrying take out. He smiled as he saw the two sitting together on the porch.

'Nice to see you two getting along," He said.

"Well, don't get too used to it," Karen grumbled.

"So are you staying for dinner, Kara?"

Kara looked at Clark and then glanced over at Karen.

"Sure, I guess I can stay."

As the two women got up to go inside with Clark, Kara looked back at Karen and then said to Clark," so what do you think of me changing my name to Superwoman, Clark?"

"Kara, that's hasn't been decided yet," Karen protested.

"Ah, another peaceful dinner with the two ladies in my life," Clark said with a shake of his head. "How did I get so lucky?"

The arguing continued as they went inside. They sat around the table, teasing each other, laughing, arguing and just enjoying their time together. They were a family.


A/N: I decided to end it there. Where it goes, you can decided for yourself.

Thank you to everyone that read it. To those that read it and reviewed it, a special thank you. I read and appreciated every one.

Until next time.