Sorry, it took so long. I really wanted the end to be satisfying. I hope it is…
EPILOGUE … the end of the beginning.
Some things were just meant to be.
Her heart swelled with hope.
That's when the ground started rumbling …
Watchtower, thirty minutes later
Lois stood at the large, round stained glass window and look out at the lights of the city. She ran a hand through the hair that she kept short and dark, more out of habit than necessity now, wishing that this was over. The longer everything took - the longer she was here - the more she could mess up.
Would this ever be over? She thought that she'd succeeded when she'd returned to her younger body almost three years ago. Then she'd discovered that as a result of her actions, a monster would escape and undo everything she'd worked so hard for.
She couldn't allow that to happen.
So, here she was again, trying to prevent the complete destruction of the Earth and its greatest protector.
At least she wasn't alone this time.
Her Clark was doing his best to protect the city from Doomsday, keeping the beast contained and injuries and damage to a minimum. For now he'd been able to keep the thing inside Shark's stadium.
She could see him now, if she wanted to, on the screens that made up the heart of Watchtower. J'onn had tapped into the stadium's security cameras and was monitoring every angle of the fight, but Lois couldn't look. She felt helpless every time that monster pounded on her Clark.
It was frustrating, just standing there waiting. She was still a woman of action, used to being in the middle of combat, not that she could do much this time.
Doomsday could kill her with one blow.
She shook her head violently as the crazy idea popped into her head.
Clark would never go for it.
Still, if Chloe was right, it wasn't Clark's decision before…
Lois turned to J'onn in an effort to distract herself from her foolish thoughts, her mind still on her cousin. "We haven't heard from Chloe for at least two minutes," she noted with sarcasm.
"I'm believe she is on her way here," J'onn said quietly, glancing at Lois out of the corner of his eye. "None of them will be able to stay away."
Lois sighed. "I know," she told him ruefully.
He typed something into the keyboard. "Should you be here?"
"I don't think it's going to make a difference now," Lois shrugged. "They've probably already seen my Clark, and Lois - your Lois - knows I'm here. If this doesn't end soon, they'll all need to understand…"
Lois let her voice drift away, worse case scenarios playing in her head. She and Garth had run enough simulations for her to know exactly what and how much could go wrong. With that in mind Lois gasped when she saw Doomsday deliver a particularly powerful blow that sent Clark flying down the length of the football field.
Once she started watching, Lois couldn't tear her eyes away. She stayed where she was, seemingly glued to the floor as Doomsday and her Clark traded blows. Even from a distance, she could see that the fight was brutal. Her heart was already pounding when the doors to Watchtower blew open, and she jumped in surprise.
When Lois tore her eyes away from the monitors, she saw the groom, still dressed in his tuxedo vest, shirt and pants, breeze in with Chloe in his arms. The bridesmaid was no longer wearing her dress, and was all business before Clark even lowered her feet to the floor.
"J'onn, what's going on? You haven't been answering the com or your phone." In pants and a jacket, Chloe made a beeline for the computer equipment just as Clark sped back out. "What are you doing?"
Not waiting for an answer, muttering to herself while her fingers danced furiously along the keys, Lois caught a few words like "team" and "disappear for a few months" before Chloe managed to zoom in on one of the screens to a fallen Clark. Dressed in his all-black Legion suit, he was blocking additional blows from the red-eyed beast.
"By the way, who is that?" Chloe asked, waving a hand in the direction of the screen as she turned to J'onn. "Last time I checked there was only one Clark running around…"
Chloe's words trailed off as she followed the slight movement of the Martian's head toward the window. Her eyes widened when she saw who was standing in front of the stained glass.
Her head swiveled around the room. "Wait a min-"
Before she could say anything else, the groom blurred in, carrying a red-faced Oliver in his arms. He'd barely stopped before his passenger jumped to the floor.
"Man, don't ever do that again," he told Clark. "I am not one of the ladies."
Clark smirked. "Do you want me to throw you over my shoulder next time-"
"Now that you mention it …" Oliver replied, trailing off when he saw Clark's eyes widening. He turned to follow his friend's gaze …
And Lois found herself looking into three sets of wide eyes.
Out of the blue, green and brown, it was the look in the blue of the groom's that held her attention. He took a step forward and stopped, his gaze taking in the shorter hair and the bits of scar visible above the turtle-neck. His shocked expression returned to hers. "It's you," he whispered.
A soft smile was the only response Lois could manage as she watched the myriad of expressions cross his face. Even though there wasn't an age difference between him and her Clark, he seemed so much younger, still so much a boy to her, untarnished by the Darkness and its fallout.
Her protective instincts kicked in and she remembered why she was here. "Clark, you need to-"
"Who the hell is that?" Oliver interrupted, his wide eyes taking in the screens and the efforts of the man in black.
Clark turned and, at the vision on the screens, his eyes widened. "Is that …?" He turned back to Lois, his voice trailing off at the look on her face.
Before she could answer, he turned back to the screens and studied the man fighting the beast. Straightening, he took in a deep breath, and Lois couldn't hold back her smile. Standing like that, he looked so much like the hero he was destined to be.
"I need to help him."
"No," Lois almost shouted, running down the stairs to grab his arm. "You can't."
Clark looked down at her hand and his face turned stony. "This is my problem," he told her. "I put Doomsday underground in the first place." His head turned as if he couldn't face her any longer. "I need to fix this."
Mentally, Lois felt her eyes roll. Damn Kryptonian guilt …
She searched for the right words, vaguely aware of Chloe coordinating with the team, trying to get them to set up a perimeter and stay behind it. "Stay back for now, the creature's skin is impenetrable," she was telling them.
Clark's gaze seemed to go from Chloe to the monitors and back. Lois could practically see his anxiety. It was killing him not to help.
"Clark you could get him killed." Lois' soft words were filled with anguish, for both men.
"What do you mean?" He asked her, brows furrowing as he turned back to watch the man on the monitors.
"You know what you felt when you came into contact with your future self?" Lois asked. At Clark's nod, she continued. "If you get too close, you could make him dizzy and nauseous as well." When Clark opened his mouth to argue, Lois interrupted. "We can't take that chance. One little distraction and that could be the end …"
Clark's lips pressed together, but he said nothing.
"Let him handle Doomsday," she pleaded, seeing that Clark was at least considering her arguments.
"I could be part of the perimeter," Clark pointed out, clearly not ready to give up the fight. "Then, if Doomsday breaks free …"
Shaking her head, Lois sighed. He would never stop trying to help without a reason, or a distraction. "Uhm, there's something you need to do somewhere else," she told him as her crazy idea started to take shape. Maybe it would work. "I… I could use your help." She hesitated for just a second, thinking about the pros and cons. Even if it didn't work, there wasn't a downside that she could see.
Making up her mind, she didn't wait for Clark's response. "I need you to take me to the Fortress."
"The Fortress?" Clark exclaimed, lowering his voice at Lois' expression. "What does Jor-El have to do with any of this?"
Lois pressed her lips together, wanting to keep her plans to herself. If Clark knew what she was thinking, he would never go along…
Clark's look grew frustrated. "I've already talked to Jor-El about Doomsday-"
"Look, we haven't explored every option there …" Lois stopped, trying to consider her words carefully. She rolled her eyes at the difficulty she had keeping things from Clark, even when it wasn't her Clark. "I have some questions of my own," she said pointedly, holding Clark's gaze while trying not to give anything more away.
Finally, Clark nodded his understanding.
Lois released the breath she didn't realize she was holding and waited while Clark informed the team. To her surprise no one objected, especially when Clark explained the problem with doubles from different times trying to work side by side.
"If nothing else, Jor-El knows what this creature is made of," Chloe remarked. "Maybe, for once, he can give us some useful advice." Chloe didn't wait before she turned back to the monitors. "In the meantime, your doppelganger seems to be managing here."
Oliver caught Clark's wince and slapped his friend on the back. "We need you, Clark, just not right here, right now," he said sympathetically. "Keep in touch by the com and we'll let you know if anything happens."
Clark nodded while Oliver looked curiously at the shorter-haired Lois before turning to the lockers with a shrug. Lois kept her smile to herself. He was telling her that while he trusted Clark, he wasn't sure about her. Lois could live with that.
She looked around one last time and breathed a sigh of relief. Right now, everyone that should be here was here.
Except for one.
She turned to Clark. "Where is your bride?"
Daily Planet, same time
"Okay, people," Lois Lane-Kent clapped her hands to get the attention of the few reporters who'd been called back to the newsroom.
"We have some sort of monster loose in the city - or at least loose in Shark's stadium." She paused to let those words sink in. "Where'd it come from? Who's fighting it? Is it related to the tremors we've been experiencing?" Lois paused and looked around at the chaos with a frown. "I want some answers, people."
She sighed at the confusion she saw in their faces.
Where was Tess when they needed her? A little direction from the top would be helpful right now.
Still, Lois had been promoted, in part, because she knew how to get things going in an emergency. This monster or whatever it was running around the city was definitely an emergency. That's why, as soon as Lois found out that Clark was helping Oliver and the team, she asked him to super speed her to work.
Even as a new bride, Lois wasn't made to sit around and wait so, while Clark was doing his job, she would be doing hers. Getting the news - reporting what was happening - that was her work, her purpose. Besides, she needed to be busy if she was going to be her husband's number one supporter.
Lois felt her eyes drift to her ring. A ghost of a smile played around her lips. She was married… to Clark Kent. Her body shivered a little at the thought.
"Ms. Lane," one of the new reporters called out. "I've heard the city's being evacuated. Uhm, should we be here?"
Lois snapped out of her reverie. "It's Lane-Kent," she told the kid. "And, yes, this is exactly where we need to be." Her hand waved toward the screens littered around the room, showing blurred images of the creature. "Do you want radio and television to get all the details?" she asked. "There's more to this that meets the eye and we're going to find it." Facing the reporters with confidence, she nodded with satisfaction when the confusion evaporated and her people reached for their phones. "You're all reporters. Talk to your sources … investigate … chop, chop."
Walking briskly through the news room, she glanced around one last time to make sure that everyone was following her directions, and then headed toward her office.
When she reached it, she closed the door and grabbed her phone, hoping to find out what was going on at Watchtower.
Before she could enter her super-secret number, the door to her office burst open and Jimmy bounced in, camera in one hand, paper in another. He'd discarded his jacket but was still wearing the dress pants, shirt and bowtie he'd worn to the wedding. "Lois, you've got to see this." He ran to the television that was mounted in the corner and turned it on. The volume was off.
"Someone got this thing on their cell phone," he exclaimed. "Watch."
Grainy images appeared on the screen. Lois could see what looked like the outline of a large beast but not much else. The sun had set and the sky was darkening. As a result the images were gray and dim. Then it stormed toward a car in the street, raising massive arms, and Lois got her first good look.
That's when she realized she knew this monster …
Oh, God. Doomsday.
Her heart constricted with fear. Of all of Clark's enemies, of all the challenges he'd faced, this creature was the one that still gave her nightmares. Part of it was her own guilt for helping Chloe to hide Davis, but most of it came from the memories she had of Clark's first battle with the beast. It had been brutal and, for a while, Lois had been truly afraid that Clark would be killed.
After all, Doomsday was created for killing.
Her stomach tightened as the footage wavered. The creature was facing the camera now and she could see the red eyes. Her stomach fell as she watched the beast stomp toward the nearest car. People were running and screaming. The entire scene was chaos. The doors to the closest car opened and the people inside scattered.
As Lois watched, the back seat passenger tripped and went down. The beast changed direction and headed toward the fallen man, who seemed frozen. Before Doomsday could strike, a figure swooped in from above and grabbed the beast under its massive arms.
To Lois' amazement, the flying man all dressed in black was able to lift Doomsday into the air. They struggled and Lois felt herself holding her breath. It was obvious that the man was using incredible strength just to hang on. Eventually, the man in black was able to fly away holding Doomsday beneath him. They headed in the direction of Shark's stadium.
As the footage ended and the announcers came back on the news, Lois turned to Jimmy and released the breath she was holding. "Who was that?"
Jimmy's response was both surprised and excited. "Didn't you see the symbol on his chest?"
Her brow wrinkled as she reviewed the scene in her mind. She shook her head. "No, I couldn't see any markings … or his face," Lois grew irritated as Jimmy's grin widened. "His clothes were dark," she reminded him.
"Yes, but if you look closely you can see it… a white symbol on his chest." Jimmy leaned across the desk and showed her the paper in his hand. It was a grainy photo that he'd taken from the television footage and blown up. "Look there," he pointed.
Lois squinted and spotted it. Her eyes met Jimmy's.
"It's him," Jimmy told her excitedly. "It's the Blur … and he's flying."
Lois tried to keep her features contained but, inside her thoughts were churning. The Blur? Had Clark changed his outfit in the last two days? What about flying? Was it possible that he got a new ability and didn't tell her? Sure, the past few days had been a whirlwind but she was pretty sure Clark would have told her if he'd learned to fly.
Jimmy was practically dancing in front of her desk, clearly excited by this latest development. As her silence continued, his face fell a little. Lois sighed. These were the times that she hated the fact that Jimmy wasn't in on the secret. When it came to the Blur, Jimmy was still a little too enthusiastic about the story.
Lois, on the other hand, was trying to protect her husband. Every day, it got harder and harder. As Lois kept telling Clark, he needed a better disguise.
"Lois?" Jimmy asked tentatively.
Her phone went off before she could answer. Grateful for the interruption Lois answered without checking the caller ID.
"Lane, here," she said, holding up a finger to stall Jimmy.
It was Tess, the missing boss. Lois wasn't surprised when she got right to the point, giving orders in a strained voice. "Lois, I need you upstairs now." She paused for a minute and Lois could swear that she heard her gasp as if in pain. "It's important."
"I'll be right there," Lois told her, not wanting to feed the rumor mill that the boss had returned just yet. The tone of Tess' voice told her something was wrong. She closed the phone and answered Jimmy's confused expression. "One of the 'mucky-muck's' upstairs wants an update," she told him. "See if you can clear up that photo and we'll talk about it when I get back."
"Okay," Jimmy told her, nodding his head. As he took off, Lois sighed and headed for the elevator, her thoughts returning to the man in black.
Was that really Clark? Was he flying now? If so, why hadn't he told her?
Metropolis, fifteen minutes later
Beneath his black Legion suit, Clark hurt. His body ached. Doomsday was strong, really strong, and Clark hadn't felt pain like this since wrestling with the Darkness. He landed another blow that sent the beast soaring into the stands. Staggering a little with the effort, he tried to think of a way he could secure the creature, but nothing came to mind.
At least he had the damn thing contained in the stadium, limiting its ability to kill.
Ready to follow up, Clark felt a giant fist hit him under the jaw. The blow knocked him into the seats and he barely had time to shake it off before Doomsday was on him again. For its incredible size, the beast was fast. That was part of the problem; it didn't leave him with a lot of time to think. He cursed his own inattention.
Getting to his feet, Clark managed to land a punch to the creature's middle and felt the rewarding impact. While he still wasn't using all of his strength, it was more than he'd used in a long time. There was something satisfying about being able to let go.
Pushing himself this way was cathartic but, mixed in with the release of his guilt, anger, and self-loathing, were the few memories he still had of his time with the Darkness, memories he'd worked hard to suppress.
With a painful blow to the back Clark returned his thoughts to the fight. His mind was wandering and that wasn't good. Rolling over quickly, he spun away with the realization that he was wrestling with his demons tonight as much as he was with this creature.
Spinning, he managed to kick its massive legs out from under it. Using all his strength, Clark pinned Doomsday to the ground and held it there. His eyes met the red ones of the beast and he shuddered.
Red eyes …
They reminded him of his first encounter with the Darkness, when he'd confronted Godfrey about his anti-hero rhetoric. Arrogant, overly confident in his abilities, Clark had been certain that he could take down Godfrey and his group. He didn't understand then that his strength was useless against the Darkness. It preyed upon weakness...
"Ah, the Blur; to what do I owe this-" Godfrey started.
"Just stop," Clark interrupted bitterly. "I know you're trying to turn the people against me. I'm here to stop you."
"I haven't turned the people against you; you've done that yourself," Godfrey replied, lowering his eyes to study his fingernails nonchalantly. When Clark didn't respond, he raised his unnaturally black orbs with an earnest expression. "It doesn't have to be this way," he cajoled. "They could worship you … love you." Godfrey took a small step forward. "We can give you that."
"Who's 'we'?" Clark asked, resisting the urge to step back. There was something unwholesome about this guy and, for the first time in a long time, Clark was starting to feel afraid. "I don't want anything you have to offer."
"Are you sure?" Godfrey's smile was sinister. "For a hero, you have your own dark side, don't you?"
Without warning, a shadow slithered from Godfrey's body. Clark stepped back in surprise as it began to turn itself into a smoke screen of sorts. When scenes from Clark's past began to play out on the screen Clark stopped and stared in horror. Images of himself acting under the influence of red Kryptonite flowed across the screen. He watched himself leave his loved ones and hurt his friends and family. He watched as those closest to him died or left… Ryan, Alicia, his father, Pete, Lana and even Lex. Finally, as the images faded, he was surrounded by Cassandra's vision, standing all alone in the midst of his loved ones' tombstones.
Clark struggled against the pain, anger and fear that the images brought forth. He tried valiantly to push the visions away, but how do you fight yourself and your fears? Assaulted by waves of shame and uncertainty, he started backing away, hoping to run. He had to get out of there.
It was then that the shadow changed and began to take shape. Again, Clark could only stop and stare as the smoke screen took form in the figure of Lois Lane. Somehow Clark knew that the image was taken from his memory - one that had burned itself deep into his subconscious. She was completely naked, her hair still wet from the shower, as she approached him. This time, instead of coming at him with a scrub brush, her body moved forward seductively. He swallowed hard as her form solidified with each step and she became real. By the time she was close enough to touch, his heart was beating almost painfully in his chest.
When he finally managed to look at her face, her expression - one of intense desire and longing – set his heart to racing. Like a siren everything about her called to him, whispering that she was made for him… just for him. Deep down, his rational side was telling him not to listen, but seeing her sent his emotions into overdrive. He wanted her, so desperately. Just looking at her eased the lonely ache in his chest. She was the only one who could ever do that.
With that one almost simple admission, Clark unleashed years of pent-up desire. He took a step forward… and then another. His emotions were screaming to him that if looking could ease the pain, then touching could do so much more. In two steps his chest was almost touching hers. With one deep breath he could feel the heat of her skin through his black t-shirt. Slowly, he reached out his hand to touch her face. The rational side of his brain screamed a warning - too good to be true - but he shoved it aside. He wanted her. No, he needed her. He'd been alone for too long.
It was when he touched the curve of her jaw that as sliver of the Darkness separated itself from her form and made its way into his body.
The last thing Clark remembered was seeing her eyes turn red …
Still lost in the memory, Clark felt his grip weaken. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Doomsday exploded under his grasp. Using its muscles, the beast managed to throw him off and rise to its feet. Clark cursed his continued inattention, struggling to keep his own feet underneath him. With a crack, Clark's back hit the only goal post still standing and, without looking, he reached behind and ripped it from the ground. With one motion he sent in spiraling toward the creature. In response, Doomsday waved one massive arm and sent it flying off in another direction.
Clark didn't care. Using his speed, he snatched the posts from mid-air before tackling Doomsday and pinning the creature to the seats. Using the goal posts, Clark wrapped them around the beast before jumping back and spraying the entire area with his freeze breath. A thick sheet of ice formed around the creature and the posts.
He knew the ice wouldn't hold but at least he could get a few seconds to clear his mind … and think. He couldn't afford to let his thoughts ramble anymore. Desperately, he looked around, searching for any way of dispatching Doomsday without killing it.
That's when it hit him.
He wasn't interested in killing Doomsday. Having been down that road once, he didn't want to go there again. Under the influence of the Darkness he'd killed more than he ever thought possible … and learned that taking a life left its mark. Even now he felt the effects… and he couldn't recall the specifics of most of the kills.
His scars ran deep.
Ironically, it was Davis who left the first one. Already blinded by loneliness and grief - Clark had lost Lois, Lana, and was losing Chloe to that monster - he'd listened when Oliver suggested they get rid of the human murderer first.
Davis was Clark's first execution, and it was all downhill from there.
Now, the thought of killing even this creature made him physically ill.
A voice whispered in his head that maybe he wasn't the man for the job but he shoved the thought aside. That was his uncertainty talking, a residue of the Darkness. There was no one else. He'd been honest when he told J'onn that the world needed Clark of the present. He was destined to be Superman.
A reformed Nightdidn't have the same destiny.
Still, he owed something to humanity for all he'd taken. Now was as good a time as any to give back. That's why he agreed to this suicide mission, not that Lois would acknowledge that's what it was. Sometimes she was as optimistic as the budding Superman.
Without warning her voice sounded in his head. Snap out of it, Kent … and think.
He reviewed the simulations they'd run in the future. None of them ended satisfactorily. Every single attempt to hold or remove the creature ended in death.
The problem was that Doomsday was designed to adapt as well as to destroy. Its adaptive qualities meant Clark couldn't bury it underground again. He also knew that he couldn't use Kryptonite on it because Doomsday had been exposed to pieces of his radioactive home world in the past. He didn't want to send it to the Phantom Zone when he knew that some of the Kandorians were there. Not even Zod deserved to face Doomsday.
Briefly, he considered taking the beast to the future but rejected the idea. While the Legion had the ability to contain it, Davis lived in the future as well, working with the Legion. In every simulation, reuniting the two of them ended up making things worse.
Clark sighed. There had to be something else. He just wasn't thinking clearly. He bent over to take in a couple of deep breaths while keeping his eyes on the monster … and his mind wandered again… this time to the chapel.
The look on Lois' face when he proposed had been priceless. It wasn't often that he took her by surprise.
Feeling a smirk at the thought, Clark straightened with confidence. He needed to do whatever it took to get back to her.
He really wanted to hear her answer.
A cracking noise interrupted his thoughts just as metal exploded in all directions. Pieces flew toward Clark and he was caught in the barrage. Using the opportunity it created, Doomsday lunged forward and with one powerful leap blasted through the exit doors.
Cursing under his breath Clark sped out behind it, feeling real fear for the people of the city. His heart tightened in his chest as he watched his options narrow. He wouldn't let this creature hurt anyone else.
He may have to kill it after all.
The Fortress, ten minutes later
As the groom lowered Lois' feet to the crystal floor, she took a deep breath and tried to steady herself. Traveling by super speed was a little more disorienting than flying.
"Are you all right?" Clark asked her.
Lois nodded, not trusting her voice just yet, and looked around. Clark's crystal Fortress never failed to impress.
"Kal-El, my son, why are you here?"
The booming voice of Jor-El made Lois jump and she grimaced. After two years in the future, she should be used to artificial intelligence - and disembodied voices - by now.
Waiting for Clark to answer, she looked at him and caught his questioning glance. He motioned for her to speak, and she frowned. He mocked her expression, reminding her without words that this was her idea. Clearing her throat, she answered. "Uhm, Doomsday's escaped, and we're looking for ways to defeat it."
"As I have told Kal-El before, Doomsday cannot be defeated by anything on Earth." Jor-El's voice sounded almost impatient.
At the tone of the computer voice, Lois felt her nerves snap. "Look, we don't have a choice here. It will destroy everything and everyone on this planet unless it's stopped," Lois paused, leading up to her idea. "Clark's not from Earth. Can he defeat Doomsday?"
"Yes," Jor-El's voice sounded almost hesitant. "But it will take more strength than he's ever used before."
"Would it be easier if there were two with Clark's powers?" Lois asked, noticing Clark's body jerk at her question. His eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"That's not possible."
"What if I told you that a Clark from the future was here fighting Doomsday as we speak," Lois said.
There was a pause and Clark impatiently spoke up. "I thought you said-"
Lois held up her hand and he stopped, his pursed lips showing his frustration.
"An unusual circumstance," Jor-El remarked. "But not a great help. I do not believe that two Kal-Els from different times would be able to combine resources to defeat Doomsday. My studies in the area of time travel tell me that each would be weakened by their own proximity to the other-"
"Exactly," Lois interrupted, growing excited now. "But what if Clark's powers were given to someone else temporarily-"
"What… what are you talking about?" Clark interjected. Something in her face must have shown what she had in mind. "No," he exclaimed, just as Jor-El answered.
"What exactly are you suggesting, Lois Lane?"
"A few days ago you gave Clark's powers to the Lois of this time… as a lesson in understanding." Lois fought the urge to roll her eyes at Jor-El's machinations. "Can you do it again?"
She ignored Clark's hands on her shoulders as he turned her to face him. "No, you can't-"
"If you give Clark's powers to me, then I can help future Clark and we can put an end to Doomsday once and for all." She looked at the groom's stricken face. "It would only be temporary," she said in a quieter voice. "Please, Clark …"
His expression was anguished. "What if something happened?" At Lois' eye roll, his hands squeezed her shoulders. "I couldn't forgive myself … he wouldn't be able to forgive-"
"Lois Lane," Jor-El interrupted. "Those powers were for Kal-El's life mate-"
"I am Kal-El's life mate … in the future," Lois countered. "…or I will be," she muttered under her breath. "Shouldn't I receive the same consideration as his wife in this time?"
"Your past experiences already give you a greater understanding."
"I don't really want the powers for increased understanding. I want to use them to help my Clark… my future husband," To her chagrin, Lois felt the tears in her eyes. Impatiently, she blinked them away. Jor-El would not respond to an emotional plea. "It may be the only way to save Earth." As Lois spoke to Jor-El she kept her eyes glued to Clark's.
"Maybe if you supported this…" she hissed, searching each of his blue eyes in turn.
Clark whispered furiously back at her, "Maybe if you'd let me in on this from the beginning-"
"Your plan has merit, Lois Lane, but it is not without risk," Jor-El's voice interrupted. "You will be fighting a creature that knows no boundaries and you will be fighting with powers never used by you before."
Lois nodded. "I understand, but this monster is too dangerous. It's worth the risk."
Jor-El hesitated for a brief moment. "Of course, Kal-El must agree to this transfer. These are his powers and you are not his life mate."
The stubborn tilt of Clark's jaw, combined with the thin line of his mouth, told Lois what his answer would be before he even opened his mouth.
"Please, Clark," she whispered, watching his face soften a little. "Clark is only evenly matched with Doomsday. He is not more powerful," Lois paused to let that sink in, watching the groom's eyes widen slightly. "That means he could be killed… you could be killed… your wife could die, your mom, the team… everyone."
He winced and Lois pushed her advantage. "With two of us having powers, we could defeat Doomsday once and for all." She walked forward and grabbed Clark's arms. "The transfer would only be temporary," she pleaded with her eyes. "And if we don't succeed you're still no worse off than you were before."
When Clark turned his eyes away from hers, Lois knew he was trying to think it through. She didn't push, trying to be patient. She dropped her arms but kept her eyes on his face.
"Why are you doing this?"
Lois looked down, feeling the irony of cursing Clark's guilt when she had plenty of her own. "Because … this isn't your fault, Clark." With a deep breath, Lois raised her eyes back to his. "It's mine." At his brows ascended, she continued. "Three years ago, the Legion sent me back to help you… to save the world from a… darkness. It worked, but something else was changed." Her eyes wandered around the Fortress again. "Doomsday wasn't supposed to escape…"
"Why won't you let me help?" Clark's anguished question tore at Lois' heart.
"You can't," she answered with a cry of her own.
"Why not?" Clark's shouted, clearly frustrated with her non-answers.
Annoyed and afraid, Lois shouted back the truth, "Because you'll die!"
There was only silence in response. Lois watched as expressions of doubt, fear, concern and determination crossed Clark's face.
"If that's what it takes-" he began softly.
"No, Clark," Lois interrupted. "You don't understand…" Lois paced as she tried to think a way to explain. "You've seen some of the future, right?" She sighed when his expression turned wary. "I know Brainiac Five stole a ring and showed you the future," she told him with a grimace. "It was my damn ring."
Clark's expression changed to one of shock and she continued. "Didn't you see - even just a few years from now - how important you are?" When he remained silent, Lois raised her hands in the air in exasperation. "Unbelievable," she muttered. "You still don't know your own value, do you?"
Before he could respond, she tilted her head stubbornly and continued. "Trust me on this… if you die, even worse things will happen in the future than Doomsday." She reached out and touched his arm pleadingly. "Let me do this… please."
Clark considered her hand for a moment, returning his gaze to her eyes. Hazel never wavered as Lois continued to regard him steadily.
"Jor-El, can there be a time limit?" Clark didn't take his eyes from Lois'. "I don't want to lose my powers for an entire day."
"Yes, my son, I can limit the time to a span of hours, if you wish."
Clark's frown told her that he wasn't happy with his decision. "You have two hours," he told Lois.
Impulsively she hugged him. "Thank you, thank you," she repeated, holding him tighter.
When he tried to pull away, she let go. "Ouch," he said, rubbing his arms.
"It is done," Jor-El announced.
Chagrined, Lois studied her hands. "Sorry," she told Clark.
"Are you all right?" He asked, looking closely at her smiling face.
With a sudden rush, Lois realized she was feeling extraordinary… light and solid at the same time. The feeling of power was incredible. Her smile widened as she began to believe in her plan. "I feel… super," she said, laughing at her own pun.
The future Superman just looked at her in astonishment and shook his head. "It's amazing to me how you can make light of a serious moment… in any time, evidently."
Even though she knew Clark didn't intend it as a criticism, Lois immediately sobered. She needed to focus if she was going to help her Clark and the people of the city. Feeling all-powerful wasn't enough. She needed to be able to use her new abilities.
Clark caught her gaze and nodded. "Try your speed," he advised.
"Easy enough," Lois remarked, her body responding almost before she could form the thought. When she ended up outside, yards from her intended mark, up to her knees in the snow, she cursed. "Okay, so it's not so easy," she muttered when her super hearing suddenly picked up the sound of Clark's concerned voice.
"Lois… get back here!"
Feeling a little less confident, Lois sped back to the Fortress with her hands over her ears, Clark's words pounding against her skull, as her super hearing kicked in.
Two hours may not be enough.
Daily Planet, same time
Once the elevator arrived on the upstairs floor, Lois barged into Tess' office without knocking and froze when she caught a glimpse of her boss. One look at her injuries and all of Lois' questions but one flew right out the window.
"What the hell happened to you?"
Tess winced and put a hand to her black eye. She didn't touch the other numerous cuts on her face or the scratches that Lois could see on her hands and arms. "Tess?" Lois lowered her voice and softened her tone. "Are you all right?"
At the sympathy she heard, Tess straightened. "I'm fine," she responded quickly, turning to look out her office window. She took a slow drink of the amber liquid in the glass she was holding.
"Where have you been?" Lois asked, moving a little closer to the desk, still recovering from the shock of seeing Tess in such condition.
"It doesn't matter," she replied, keeping her eyes on the window. "I've seen the news footage. It's Doomsday, isn't it?"
Catching her boss' bruised eyes in the reflection of the glass, Lois nodded. There was nothing more that needed to be said. Tess understood the threat.
"He won't be able to destroy it," Tess studied her drink contemplatively.
Lois' thoughts returned to the man in black who could fly and, for the first time, she remembered her doppelganger from the future. Maybe there was a connection. "He may not be alone in this."
Tess released her breath. "Good," she remarked, turning to face Lois. "I think I have a solution," she told her, nodding in the direction of her desk. "A more … permanent solution."
"What is this?" Lois asked, picking up what looked like a mirror box. She examined the jagged edges at one end and the markings, similar yet different from the one Clark had shown her.
Tess took another drink, drew in a sharp breath, and touched her split lip. "It's exactly what you think it is."
"But the mirror boxes were destroyed …" Lois' comment was as much a question as an observation.
"That's what we thought," Tess told her, studying the device with unease. "It appears that Lionel found another one… it connects this reality to completely different one that we've seen before. The new reality… well, it had what he was looking for."
"Which was… ?"
"Lex," Tess answered, and in her voice were equal amounts of respect and disgust.
Lois was flabbergasted. "Lionel found Lex … with this?"
Turning to meet Lois' gaze, Tess nodded. "And he used it to bring him here." She drew in a shuddering breath. "There's a Lex Luthor running around in our world right now." Her gaze turned to the broken box in Lois' hands. "Unfortunately, Lionel didn't get the son he was hoping for."
"What do you mean?" Lois asked.
Tess' answer was evasive. "Lionel studied the mirror boxes - took some time at Clark Luthor's Fortress to learn about them - just hoping to find another Lex after his first born in that reality died." Absentmindedly, Tess rubbed at her black eye. "He was obsessed," she added, wincing and taking another drink.
"Tess, let me call Emil-"
"No," Tess said sharply. "No," she repeated calming herself. "I'm all right." Taking a deep breath, Tess walked over to the couch and sat down. "Anyway, somewhat understandably, Lex wasn't happy to be 'retrieved' by Lionel," She took another sip of her drink and stared down at it. "They fought and Lionel did something - I don't know what it was - but it broke the mirror box. Then he tried to send Lex through it, ranting about 'this one' being useless." She looked at Lois. "According to Lionel, using a broken mirror box will send you between dimensions."
"You believe him?" Lois said, skeptical of anything Lionel may have discovered.
"I do," Tess replied calmly. "This Lex knows how to fight. Lionel lost control. I heard him scream … tried to follow," her eyes glazed over. "There was nothing there… where he went. I saw it … it was black. There was nothing."
"How did you get back here?"
Tess cleared her throat and glanced up to the box. Her eyes didn't quite meet Lois'. "Lex pulled me back. Evidently we work together in his world and, right now, I'm useful to him …"
"What do you expect me to do?" Lois turned the box in her hands. There was a part of her that was frightened by its powers… ever since she and Emil had to fight to get Clark back from the alternate reality, just the thought of the device made her nervous. On top of that, she didn't trust the Luthors - Lionel or Lex - and something about Tess' voice when she mentioned her brother made Lois squeamish.
Green eyes met hazel. "Use it, or get it to someone who can," Tess told her, looking back down at her drink. "I don't know about you, but I'd like to keep this world in one piece."
Lois considered her boss' lowered head and carefully chosen words. Something was going on. During their discussion Tess hadn't mentioned Watchtower, the team, the Blur or Clark. She was being careful for some reason and Lois was pretty sure that this new Lex was behind whatever it was.
Her boss' next words confirmed it. "I need to return to my brother," she told Lois, getting up off the couch and sitting down her drink. "I think you can manage with that."
Lois barely avoided rolling her eyes, resisting the urge to tell Tess that warming up to any member of her family was a bad idea. "I'll see what I can do," she responded, backing to the door. She paused for a moment, remembering that Tess was still the boss. "Oh, and I've got reporters on the story, as well."
"Good," Tess answered, turning her back to Lois. "I may not be around here for a while… Randall will be in charge while I'm gone."
"Okay," Lois answered softly, something in Tess' stance telling her that her boss was well aware of her family's shortcomings, and was protecting the team. Quietly she closed the door and hesitated, choking back a sudden rush of emotions.
Her gut was telling her that she may have just seen her boss, at least as a friend and ally, for the last time.
Metro Park, over one hour later
Lois cursed her own lack of planning. Whatever strategy she had went out the window the minute she saw the creature. Strength, power, and speed weren't going to be enough. Doomsday had all those things… and something else. The monster wasn't afraid.
After learning the basics, Lois super sped to the city, carrying a very unhappy Clark. She deposited him at Watchtower before heading closer to the creature and her Clark. She heard the fighting first… and then felt the blows. It wasn't until she spotted them in the middle of the street that she felt uncertain. The monster was massive, its deadly spines and red eyes sending terror through her. This thing was created for killing. It had no other thought, no other desire, and no other concern.
Unfortunately Lois knew she had plenty of other thoughts, desires and concerns. She wanted to stay alive, protect the city, and say "yes" to the man that she loved. And she was afraid… afraid that she'd never get to do those things.
Would that keep her from doing what needed to be done? She hoped not.
Too late for second thoughts now, Lane.
As she watched from the empty sidewalk, Doomsday punched her Clark under the jaw and sent him flying. Without hesitation, shoving aside her fear, she went low and hit the beast in the back of the legs. It dropped to the street with her on top and slid along the pavement, leaving a three foot trench. Working to keep it on the ground, Lois looked around for Clark and found him standing in front of her, seemingly frozen in place.
"Little help here," she panted out, feeling the creature's muscles bunch beneath her. It was going to try to buck her off.
Clark seemed to snap out of it at the sound of her voice. He put one foot on Doomsday's shoulder and applied pressure. When he spoke, his tone was furious. "What the hell are you doing?"
The creature's muscles tightened further. "Helping you," Lois shouted, applying more pressure to hold the beast in place.
While they stared at each other, Doomsday continued to test each of its muscles in turn. Before Clark could respond, Doomsday erupted from the ground, shaking them both off and making a dash for the park.
Clark immediately followed at super speed, Lois right behind him.
When they got ahead of the beast, Clark stopped it with a blow to the chest. "I don't want your help," he told her furiously.
"Too bad," Lois shouted back. Reaching for one of the nearby trees, she pulled it out of the ground and swung it at the creature. Unfortunately, she hit it a little too hard and the beast went flying fifty yards into the park.
Clark watched for a brief second before following. "Great," he muttered under his breath.
Following behind, Lois picked up Clark's remark with her super hearing. Irritated with his attitude, she put on a burst of speed and passed him, reaching the beast first. Again she tried to tackle it from behind but this time the monster side-stepped the attack.
"It adapts," Clark shouted, coming at it from the side.
"I remember," Lois muttered under her own breath. "We need a strategy," she told Clark in a louder voice.
He shrugged and, before Lois could lose her temper, she saw something in his expression. Clark didn't want to kill it.
He didn't have to say the words. They were reflected in the darkness of his gaze, in the combination of patience and dread she saw in the blue depths.
Her heart seemed to stop and, for the first time since she'd asked him to return with her, doubt consumed her. Even when she'd been afraid, she'd never really doubted certain that her Clark could take care of anything. His reaction to the fight wasn't something she'd considered and she should have. After all, she was intimately familiar with his fears, his doubts, and the scars he carried.
She should never have asked him to come back with her. The scenarios she'd run with Garth hadn't prepared her for this. She'd been so worried about protecting the future Superman that she hadn't considered her own Clark's reactions.
Maybe taking on her own powers was the best decision she'd made as part of this mess. At least she had the ability to handle things herself, if it came to that.
Could she kill the beast? She wasn't sure but, if she couldn't, she wouldn't force Clark to do it.
She owed him too much. Her Clark had come back to her, saved her from a life of loneliness, and supported her when no one else would.
Her stomach churned as she remembered how this whole journey started so many years ago. She'd been all alone then. Was that how this was supposed to end?
Looked like it was still her turn.
Metro Park, ten minutes later
Lois Lane-Kent was frustrated. She had to get closer to the action and Oliver was trying to hold her back. She didn't have time for this.
"Look, Oliver," she said, shouting over the sounds of fighting in the distance. "I think I've got something that could get rid of that thing forever."
"I hear you, Legs, but you're not getting anywhere near the fighting," he told her firmly. "That… thing could kill you with a look. The blows that have been going back and forth…" There was the sound of awe in his voice before his gaze returned to his friend. "You have to stay back."
With a frustrated growl, Lois studied Oliver before she opened the bag and let him look inside. "Is that what I think it is?"
"I know Clark Luthor is an ass but I'm not sure he deserves Dooms-"
Lois shook her head. "It's broken, see?"
Oliver pushed Lois back as another crash caused the ground to shake. "So what?" He asked.
Before she could answer Oliver held up one finger and turned to talk to someone on the com. That's when Lois saw her opportunity. Moving quietly, she took off into the night and the cover of the trees.
"Damnit, Lois," she heard Oliver following behind just seconds later. "Get back here before Clark kills me."
Lois stopped on the other side of a large elm tree and changed directions. Eventually she found a cluster of bushes and took cover. When she didn't hear the sound of anyone following, she took a moment to catch her breath and think.
She needed to get the mirror box to the Blur… or whoever it was that was fighting Doomsday. On her way out of Tess' office she'd thought about the footage Jimmy had shown her. The guy in the photo was wearing black. He looked like Clark but the uniform was nothing like Clark's. Then of course he was flying. As she ran into her office to grab a bag for the device, she remembered her visit earlier in the day from future Lois…
A doppelganger from the future… could Clark have one, too? It would make a lot of sense. Well, as much sense as having doubles from the future could make.
When the ground trembled again, Lois forced her mind back to why she was there. It didn't matter who was fighting the beast. She needed to get to him.
At the sounds of combat just off to her left, Lois crawled out of the bushes and moved closer.
Watchtower, five minutes later
The groom was pacing nervously, stopping only occasionally to look at one of the monitors round him. He'd changed into his Blur red and blue just in case but, so far, no one wanted his help. It was maddening.
Watching the fight was just as frustrating. It had been over an hour since Lois had dropped him off and she was no closer to helping her Clark defeat Doomsday. The two of them were keeping the destructive creature contained but, beyond slowing it down, not much had been accomplished.
A frustrated growl escaped Clark as he watched Lois wrestle with the beast. He wasn't used to standing on the sideline while someone else used his powers. It was galling.
Chloe seemed to read his thoughts. "Ugh," she commented to no one in particular. "That is just so weird… 'Blur' Lois." She shook her head. "Never thought I'd see the day…"
Clark stopped and moved behind her. "Maybe I should head over to the park. She has less than twenty minutes-"
Chloe turned around with a sympathetic smile. "Look, I know you're itching to get into the fight but, as you explained it, two Clark's together from different times is bad." She grabbed his arm and leaned forward as if to make her point. "You may just have to sit this one out." Her eyes moved back to the screens. "Besides, my cousin… from the future… or whatever," she waved her hand in the air and smiled proudly. "She's holding her own."
Clark glanced at the monitors and winced. Every time Doomsday landed a punch, Clark expected Lois to fall to the ground in a bloody heap. The fact that other members of the team were on perimeter in case things went wrong was not comforting.
He needed to protect Lois.
With an irritated jerk, he pulled out his phone and dialed his wife's number. Maybe if he talked to her, it would ease his mind. Watching Lois of the future using his abilities plagued him with memories of his Lois struggling with them just a few days ago. Jor-El's little experiment hadn't ended well. Not only had Lois tried to kill him but she'd broken off their engagement.
He went back to pacing while he waited for his wife to answer.
It was a gasp from Chloe that made him stop. "Arrow, zoom in on that…" Chloe was ordering. "Is that who I think it is?"
Without his super hearing, Clark was forced to move closer to catch the answer. "Who?" He asked trying to identify the figure he could only vaguely see on the monitors moving through the darkness.
J'onn spoke over the com. "Victor, I think you can get closer." All three watched as the camera angle narrowed, zooming in the on the person that Clark could now identify as a woman. Before her face came into focus, Clark felt his stomach drop. He would know that woman anywhere.
Chloe turned to him in shock. "Why are there two Lois' at the park?"
Even without his special hearing Clark could hear Oliver's shout. "She said she had something that would take care of Doomsday permanently."
Chloe swallowed. "What is it?"
Clark couldn't take his eyes off the monitor, feeling his heart threaten to beat out of his chest as he watched his wife heading toward danger. "I have to go," he muttered and, without waiting, Clark ran out the door and down to the street.
The streets were empty as he jogged through the city at a frustratingly human pace. When he was closer to the park, he picked up speed.
With or without powers, he would protect both women.
Metro Park, ten minutes later
Stealthily making her way through the trees, Lois stopped and considered her position. She was in a good location. A few minutes ago she'd been forced to cross and open area and, for a time, she thought she'd been spotted, but then things quieted down when she got back into the tress.
Now, from the other side of a large oak, she could see the grassy area in the center of the park where the fight was happening. So far, just the movement of the combatants was visible but she could hear the booming sound of blows coming from the area as well.
The ground shook with one particularly powerful blow and Lois caught her first glimpse of Doomsday. His red eyes looked eerie in the light of the moon.
Her stomach fell.
Could she do this?
It was like facing her worst nightmare. She remained behind the tree for a second and took deep breaths. Right now, there was no one else.
She had to get closer. Before she could engage in any more self-doubt, she threw her body down on the ground and began to move forward on her elbows. The military crawl was one that she was familiar with and she moved quickly away from the shelter of the trees and into the grass.
Once she was in the grass, Lois slowed her pace, crawling more slowly toward the fight. She glanced up to get her bearings and watched as the man in black wrestled with the beast, trying to get the creature in a head lock. Before he could manage, it broke free.
Lois ducked down but when she raised her head again, someone else was fighting Doomsday. The slender figure of the other person looked familiar and, when the moonlight picked up her features, Lois was forced to stifle a gasp. She watched, in amazement, as her double got the monster in a chokehold and held it from behind.
Fascinated now, Lois could only stare as her doppleganger directed beams of heat vision at the back of the monster's skull. Did her double have Clark's powers?
Lois mentally shook her head and tried to block the howling of the beast.
Stupid question… Jor-El.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the cry from Clark's double.
"Lois, what are you doing?"
Her double seemed to have some difficulty responding. Her answer was given through clenched teeth, but it carried in the night. "Getting rid of this thing!"
"Lois, no," Clark's double cried out and reached his hand toward her shoulder. At the last minute he stopped, clearly torn.
The creature's cries escalated as the heat continued and, for a moment, Lois thought it was working. Then, without any warning, the beams from her double's eyes faded and stopped. Her head seemed to drop and her grip loosened.
With a roar, Doomsday blasted away and future Lois went flying. With a weak cry, she landed hard on the ground. In an instant the man in black was by her side, completely ignoring the monster that seemed to have disappeared.
From her position on the ground, Lois searched for it. Heart pounding, she moved to her knees and froze. There, just a few feet away, stood the creature, breathing rapidly like a beast in pain.
When its red eyes met her own, Lois jumped to her feet and did the only thing she could think of. She ran.
Metro Park, same time
Clark was at the edge of the trees when his powers returned. The rush was always the same, like taking a deep drink of water or a breath of fresh air. He felt refreshed and renewed. Usually, he felt stronger, and this time was no different.
Still feeling his panic from earlier, he focused his x-ray vision at the same time he put on a burst of speed. Ahead of him, in the center of the park, he could see the figure of a man holding a woman. Given the return of his powers, he could only assume that it was his double and Lois from the future. He hoped that she was okay but Clark didn't stop to check. He needed to find Doomsday.
Scanning a little to left, he put on a burst of speed when he spotted the creature on the other side of the field. It was moving toward a woman who was running. Quickly, he listened for the heartbeat and knew…
"Lois!" His strangled cry drew the creature's attention and, taking advantage of the opportunity, Clark increased his speed even more, hoping to reach Doomsday before it could get closer to Lois. He knew it was going to be close.
As the wind whipped past him, Clark could barely see. Still, when the running figure tripped and fell, his heart constricted. Everything slowed as he put on another burst of speed. For a moment he watched in slow motion as her body went down, her bag went flying in the air, and Doomsday jumped at her feet first.
At the sight of his wife in mortal danger, Clark lost all sense of reason. He had to save her.
With only one thought, he willed himself faster, pushing until he felt himself become airborne. When he reached his wife, he didn't stop. Instead he grabbed for both bag and beast. Managing somehow to get a hand on both, his focus shifted to keeping his grip. Naturally, as if he'd been doing it his entire life, he let his body continue its upward momentum. In the blink of an eye he was soaring toward the clouds.
Pushing himself even more, feeling every muscle clench with the effort, he kept his focus on holding the creature as his body continued away from the earth and the people below. At least everyone was safe as long as he could keep the creature in the air.
By concentrating on all the strength in his arms, Clark managed to contain the beast's struggles while reaching into Lois' bag with one hand. He was surprised by the broken mirror box inside.
Still struggling to keep his grip on the monster, he dropped the bag and, with his hearing, filtered through the voices below. Easily, he tuned into the sound of his wife's voice. His body seemed to sag with relief as he struggled to hold the beast and keep his upward momentum.
"He's got the mirror box, Oliver. If he can activate it, he can send the creature between dimensions. According to Tess there's nothing there…"
So that's how she planned to permanently remove Doomsday.
Letting his body shoot higher, Clark again concentrated his strength and slowly positioned himself behind Doomsday. Staying to one side of the spines, he wrapped both arms around the beast and squeezed. The monster roared, and resisted his grip. It felt like Clark was using every ounce of strength he had just to hold on.
It wasn't long before Clark began to feel the strain and he realized that the combined effects of flight and fight were taking a toll on his body.
He needed to act now.
Forced to make a choice, Clark halted his upward momentum. With the beast in his arms, he dropped like a stone. Holding tightly to the box, he fought against the air currents to force the broken device against one of the creature's massive claws. Covering the other with his hand, he used Doomsday's strength against him and twisted the metal until a strange, gray light appeared.
Clark felt the pull of the device and sensed a dark nothingness just beyond. With what was left of his strength he let go and forced himself away. Completely spent, feeling suddenly drained, Clark kept his eyes on the creature until, with a roar, Doomsday disappeared into the dark gray emptiness beyond.
Releasing the breath he hadn't realized he was holding, Clark fought for control, but all of his energy was drained. He closed his eyes and dropped rapidly to the earth below.
Metro Park, same time
Lois Lane-Kent waited and watched, trying to spot her husband against the night sky. It was impossible. Surrounded now by the team, she was trying to listen to Oliver, but her eyes were continually drawn to the couple on the grass nearby.
"Watchtower, we're going to need an ambulance… and Emil," Oliver spoke into the com. Without waiting for an answer, he turned to Victor. "Eyes in the sky, man."
"I'm on it," Victor told him quietly, the whir that signaled the process barely audible. "He's too high right now."
Impatient now, knowing that there was nothing she could do, Lois found her feet moving to the couple just a few feet away. In the dim light she studied the man who looked so much like her husband. "Is she all right?" Lois asked the man in black.
When he looked up at her, Lois started in surprise. She suspected the man looked like Clark but… seeing him like this was a shocker. Physically, they were identical but she could see differences, significant differences.
This Clark had been through hell. The effects were clear in his eyes. Something in the blue depths reminded Lois of guys who'd returned from the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. She found herself praying that her Clark would never look like that.
"She'll be fine," he said sharply and Lois was again surprised by the differences… this Clark's voice was rougher, raspy and deep.
"We should get her to the hospital," she replied.
Clark shook his head. "I need to get her home. The Legion… they'll know what to do." Just then the woman in his arms moaned and Lois watched as the man's attention immediately turned to her.
"Lois… Lois, are you okay?"
Another moan and she spoke. "Is that thing… gone?"
"Yes," her Clark responded without hesitation and Lois looked at him in surprise. Did he really know?
"Clark?" Somehow Lois knew that her double was talking about her husband and not the man holding her.
"He'll be fine. I need to get you out of here-"
Her hand reached up and her eyes fluttered. "No… need to make sure," she breathed.
When her arm fell back down, Clark's double lost it. "Damn it, Lois! He'll be fine," he told her in a tightly controlled voice. "Now, I'm going to get you home. Garth… he'll know what to do."
Lois was shocked by the fear and raw need she saw in this Clark's eyes. Did her Clark feel the same?
He needs you.
The future Lois seemed to think so. Before the wedding, she thought she understood what her future self meant. But now, looking at this Clark's face, she realized she'd had only a limited understanding. Seeing it was almost too much…
"There he is!" Lois turned to Victor at the words and watched the figure that seemed to be falling at an alarming speed.
"Someone help him!" The words were ripped from her as she quit worrying about how much Clark needed her and realized just how much she needed him. She turned to face Clark's doppelganger to beg him for help but he was gone.
Suddenly, the day caught up with her. As the team headed westerly, Lois was left standing in the middle of the field wondering what she would do if her Clark didn't survive the fall.
As her surroundings faded, she thought he heard Oliver's voice. "Look, he's come back. He's going for the Boy Scout…"
Lois Lane-Kent didn't hear anymore as the events of the day finally caught up to her and she collapsed on the ground.
Metropolis, four weeks later
The sun was setting low in the sky when Clark Kent walked out onto the roof of the Daily Planet and leaned against the low stone wall. He released a sigh and tried to clear his mind.
Since the night that Doomsday was sent between realities - between dimensions - everything had changed.
The newspaper where he worked was now solely a Queen Industries publication. In a few short weeks Lex Luthor had separated Luthorcorp from Oliver's company and created Lexcorp. As CEO, this new Lex had already increased the price of stock and created a new up-and-coming Fortune five hundred corporation.
Clark wasn't sure how he'd done it in such a short time but Lex had become a rising star in Metropolis - eligible bachelor, wealthy businessman, and rising philanthropist. More outgoing than the Lex that Clark knew, Lex from another dimension was confident, brilliant and charming.
Unfortunately, Clark's wife was convinced that he was the devil incarnate. At first, Clark was almost amused by her suspicions but, when Tess disappeared two weeks ago, he'd become concerned about her developing an obsession.
"No one gets away with messing with my boss," Lois told Clark one night as she paced the floor of her office.
Clark kept his sigh to himself. He'd heard all this before. "Unless it's you," he muttered under his breath, turning the pages of that day's edition.
"What?" Lois asked, clearly distracted. She waved a hand in the air toward the new editor's office. "Oh, right. Well, Perry doesn't seem to mind," she commented, resuming her pacing.
Calmly, Clark sat down the paper and stood up and put his body directly in his wife's path. "Lois," he said when she stopped with a start, looking up into his eyes. "What's this about?"
"What do you mean?" At Clark's raised brows, Lois' gaze slid away, something he noticed that seemed to be happening a lot lately. "Fine," she responded after a few seconds of silence from him. "Tess was my friend, okay? One of the few," When her hazel eyes returned to his they were filled with indignation. "She deserves to have someone find out what happened to her, and I'm going to do it."
Clark pulled his wife close, and felt her stiffen a little. When he released her he couldn't hold back a sigh any longer. "Lois-"
"It's all right, Clark," she told him. "I'm going to get to the bottom of this. It's what I do."
Clark felt his heart tighten at the memory. For some reason he felt that Lois' obsession wasn't just about hunting Tess. It seemed to be an excuse to distance herself from him. She was pulling away from him and he couldn't understand why.
What had happened?
He wasn't sure because she refused to talk about the night Doomsday attacked. She hadn't mentioned his alter ego, even though the Blur was the hot topic of conversation lately. After Doomsday was defeated, Jimmy's photo had convinced people that the Blur was responsible for the city's salvation. Since then, media attention had focused on the hero to the point that Clark couldn't patrol during the day, only at night.
Part of him wondered if the additional attention was the problem, but Lois wouldn't talk about that either. "It will settle down eventually, Clark," was all she would say.
It hadn't died down, though. Now, Clark felt like he was living up to only part of his potential as a hero. Something needed to change, but he wasn't sure what. Without his wife's input, Clark felt a little lost.
He sighed again as he looked out at the beauty of the sun setting over the city.
Where was she?
Opening his hearing, Clark listened for her heartbeat, one of the only things that kept his calm right now. When he found it, hearing a fast and almost erratic beat, he straightened and listened more closely. Her heart only beat like that when she was afraid.
Lois was in trouble.
Shifting his hearing, he listened for her voice.
"Boy, you thugs have no imagination," he heard her say against the background of wind and a steady "thud, thud, thud" sound. "Tie a girl up, take her somewhere quiet, and try to get rid of her."
She was outside, but where?
He heard her grunt lightly before she continued. "Well, at least you have a helicopter… impressive." Behind the sarcasm, her heart was racing. For all her bravado, Clark could tell she was scared.
His own heart started beating in time with the blades as he tried to pinpoint his wife's location. Silently he berated himself for not paying closer attention. Maybe she was drifting away because he was letting her.
The sound of the helicopter grew louder and Clark turned his head to look for it. As he watched, the helicopter rose from a building several blocks away. When it turned and headed west, Clark breathed a sigh of relief. Soon, it would fly past the roof of the Daily Planet.
Quickly, Clark removed his glasses and changed into his Blur uniform, getting ready to follow. He was still watching the helicopter, waiting for it to get closer, when his super hearing picked the sound of a sudden rush of wind.
"Hey … what do you think…?"
Before Clark could react, he heard Lois scream. The sound seemed to fill the air around him until it was all he heard. For a moment, he stood frozen in shock. Then he saw a speck falling in the distance and knew that his wife had been thrown out somewhere above the two highest skyscrapers in Metropolis.
He could not let her fall.
Unexpectedly, Clark was reminded of the night a few weeks ago when he'd seen Doomsday preparing to crush her. His emotions exploded in response to the fear. Like that night, he didn't think; he took off and let his body do the rest.
As if he done it a million times, he willed his body to go faster and faster until time itself seemed to slow. Once he was in the air, the effect was exhilarating and overwhelming, but he didn't stop to think about it.
He was too scared.
Instead he pushed himself to reach the woman who was currently dropping at an alarming rate. Holding out his arms, he didn't slow but swooped down and literally scooped her out of the sky. Heading up the side of one building until he was level with the top, he willed his body to stop. A small part of him was surprised when it did.
For a minute all he could do was hold her, while he tried to calm his racing heart. In the distance, he could hear the honking of horns and the bystander's questions. Even at this height he was clearly visible.
"What is that?"
"I thought it was a falling body…"
"Is it the Blur again?"
"Is he flying?"
Clark ignored them. He was interested in only one woman's reaction. Blue eyes locked with hazel and he could see the relief, fear and the amazement in hers.
"Don't worry," he told her, his heart still hammering in his chest. "I've got you."
Her return smile was a little shaky. "Uhm… thanks." As was so common lately her eyes drifted away. She looked down at the crowd below. "Looks like you've increased your following."
Clark refused to tear his gaze from her face. "I don't give a…" He took a deep breath and tried to calm his heart when her shocked gaze returned to his. "I don't care about the crowd, Lois. Are you okay?"
She nodded slowly. "I'm fine, Clark."
Her speculative gaze stayed on his face as he flew to the roof of the Daily Planet with Lois in his arms, slowing his descent until his feet touched the roof. Quietly he breathed out a sigh of relief, keeping his arms around his wife.
When he spoke to her, his voice was barely controlled. "What were you doing?" He felt his arms tighten instinctively. "Do you know what could have happened?" At the surprised look in her face, his voice got louder. "You could have died. I could have lost you. What would I…?"
Resisting the urge to shake her, his voice trailed off when she smiled her slow smile, the one that he had absolutely no defense against.
"Lois," he groaned right before he crushed her in his arms and covered her mouth with his own, letting her feet dangle as he crushed her body against his chest. His lips were almost as forceful and, by the time he pulled away, she was breathless.
Clark's own heart was pounding wildly by the time he lowered her to her feet. "What happened?"
Her eyes were still closed when she answered. "I was thrown out of a helicopter."
For a second, Clark seriously considered strangling her. "Right," he drawled. "I mean before that… who were those men?"
She opened her eyes but kept them fixed on his chest. "I'm not sure-"
Exasperated he repeated the question.
"You know," she remarked, rubbing her fingers along his chest while looking up with a dimpled grin. "The flying thing is pretty sexy."
Clark captured her hand and tried to ignore the chills going up his spine from his wife's touch. "Lois, I could have lost you today… do you know how that makes me feel-"
"I could have lost you weeks ago," Lois practically shouted, and Clark felt his head snap back. Her voice lowered. "I think I know how you feel…"
As Lois' anger left her, her voice trailed away. When her hand returned to his chest, rubbing small circles there, he waited. Whatever was on her mind, he wanted to hear it. Anything was better than this distance.
"I was so afraid," she confessed, looking at him through her lashes. "That night with Doomsday… I realized what it would do to me if I lost you. I saw your doppelganger and his reaction to almost losing my double."
Clark waited while she paused for a breath. Her eyes finally lifted to search each of his. "It scares me, Clark, how much I love you."
"Lois," he began, trying to find the right words to comfort her, and sighing when he knew there weren't any. He pressed his forehead to hers instead and gave her the truth. "It scares me, too."
Her eyes closed. "So, what do we do?"
When he shrugged she shifted closer and moved her lips against his neck. "We learn to live with it, I guess," he breathed out when she started to nip at his skin. She was scattering his concentration.
"Hmmm," was her only response.
Clark felt the heat from her lips spread, warming him to his toes. "Lois-" he moaned.
"You know," she said between kisses. "Maybe it's time for a new identity."
Clark tried to follow her train of thought, but her kisses were turning him to mush. "I don't think-"
She interrupted, kissing a path along his jaw. "How – about - Flyboy?" Before he could form a respond, she kissed along the side of his mouth. "Skyman?"
Clark's legs were turning to jelly. "Lois-"
"Lois?" Clark interrupted, pushing her away so he could search her eyes.
There was no longer a distance there… just desire.
Clark smiled a slow smile. "Shut up," he said lowering his mouth to hers before she could say another word. The minute their lips touched he felt the fire and gloried in it, no longer afraid but reveling in their need for each other.
After all, as long as he had Lois by his side, he could do anything… even fly.
An almost identical couple stood on a rooftop two buildings over and watched, one with a sense of satisfaction, the other with a growing sense of irritation.
"Wife," the man growled out in a rougher voice than his counterpart. "We shouldn't be here," he complained. "You shouldn't be time-traveling at all after your injuries." His arms tightened possessively around her from behind as his voice softened. "Also, it might hurt the baby."
Completely unaffected by his gruff tone, Lois squeezed her husband's hand with a contented sigh and leaned back against his chest.
What a worry-wart.
"Imra said one little trip wouldn't do any harm… to either of us," she reminded him in low tones, watching as the couple two roofs over continued to enjoy themselves. After a minute she turned in her own husband's arms and leaned up to plant a soft kiss on his lips.
"Besides you shouldn't complain about time travel. It's probably what gave us our little bundle of joy in the first place," she said smugly.
His return smile was tinged with exasperation. "We don't know that. You only had Clark's powers for a short time. Imra doesn't know if that's what made us… uhm, more compatible or not."
Lois smiled at the blush on her husband's cheeks, as she marveled at his ability to be embarassed given all he'd been through. "Well, since we've been told that humans and Kryptonians aren't normally compatible…"
Clark held up his hands in surrender. "Okay, okay, so our last trip was… rewarding. That doesn't mean we have to keep coming back here," Clark paused for a minute, eyebrows rising at the look on her face. "Does it?"
Lois chuckled. "Maybe."
"Lois," he mumbled as he lightly nuzzled the skin of her neck. "Mission accomplished. He's flying and on his way to being Superman. Let's go home."
"You know," she told him, trying to clear her passion-filled brain with a slight shake of the head. "It's not just the baby. If it weren't for time travel you probably wouldn't be working with the Legion, you wouldn't be with me… you might not even be here right now."
She regretted the words when Clark raised his head and some of Night's grimness returned to his expression. "The Legion didn't save me Lois," he told her. "You did."
Cursing her hormones, she managed to blink back the tears that threatened. "It wasn't me," she told him, clearing her throat. "It was destiny." She tilted her head toward the couple on the roof two buildings away. "Lois and Clark are meant to be together."
The look in her husband's eyes stole her breath as his lips came down on hers. The kiss was needy and urgent and she surrendered to it without hesitation.
When he pulled away, his eyes were dark and stormy and Lois felt her body respond to what she knew he wanted. "Are we done here?"
She turned slightly to look at the couple on the other roof with a sense of satisfaction and closure. They were well on their way … time for her to get on with her life. She nodded to her husband. "Let's go home."
As one odyssey was ending, another had just begun.