Disclaimer: DC Comics/Warner Bros. Entertainment owns these characters, except for Joanne Kent and Samuel Hamilton; they're mine. This is strictly for my own amusement.
Author's Notes: In this next chapter, J'onn gets the job done, but the photographs are still missing, Damian makes a heartfelt decision about Kara, and later the family prepares for the statue ceremony. Please read and review. Thanks, everyone! :D
Chapter 23: The Thing About Love
The Inquisitor offices, later that same night:
J'onn Jones had no problem with tying up the night security guard and turning himself into his double, J'onn made his rounds of the offices to make sure there would be no interruptions. He particularly noted all the staff on Mona's floor had left for the night.
After checking with his friends about the whereabouts of Ms. Miles, he entered her office unannounced. She wasn't afraid only curious why he was there. "Is there a problem, Andy?"
"No problem," he replied, but then he hesitated, appearing a bit anxious as if he wanted to say more.
"Was there something else?" Mona asked.
"Well, I … Umm … saw you on television the other day at Watchtower … and ...?"
Mona leaned back in her chair with a self-satisfied smile on her face. "Oh, I see. Did you want to ask me something?"
His eyes lit up with excitement then he sat down in a chair. "The superheroes are phenomenal, aren't they? I mean I can't believe you were this close to them?" He held his hands close together to stress his point. "It must have been incredible to be invited up there and to see Watchtower? Wow, to be this close to Kara Zor-El, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, to see them in person must have been remarkable." J'onn rambled on hoping her mind would think of Kara's debut, her threats to the Kent family, all of it, then removing her memories would be a lot easier.
She chuckled at his enthusiasm. "It was pretty incredible, well, except for one thing."
"What was that?" He quickly asked, excited to hear her answer.
"Well, as usual, Lois Lane-Kent got the exclusive about the battle the other night." She rubbed her chin deep in thought. "I've always had my suspicions about those two for as long as I can remember, especially after she wrote that article, you know the one how she 'spent the night with Superman.'" She paused again. "Now I know why, or should I say, the entire world will know and in a matter of just a few short hours … everyone will know."
J'onn frowned then slowly stood up. He walked around her desk, still staring at her with a strange expression on his face. Mona watched him come closer, a curious frown marring her brow. "Andy … what is it?"
Then he raised his arm and a beam of yellow light attached to her forehead. In a matter of few moments, all of her memories about the photographs, her suspicions about Superman and Lois Lane, all of it was gone.
After it was over, she slumped forward on her desk unconscious. J'onn moved her chair aside and searched her computer for any and everything about Clark Kent, Superman and Lois Lane-Kent and, to his surprise, even copies of the photographs. He then read a few of the unpublished articles, searched her emails to see if she had sent them to anyone and it appeared they had not been sent, then he downloaded the articles to a flash drive and then he deleted everything that he had found from her computer.
Minutes after J'onn had left her office, Mona awakened both dazed and confused. Blinking to clear her vision, she glanced at the clock on her desk then wondered why she was at the office so late at night. Her screen was blank, and she realized how tired she was and then she remembered that the paper was shutting down and how she still needed a new job. Shutting down her computer, and stifling a yawn, she gathered her things and headed home.
Clark was hovering in the sky, still searching and realized that the photographs were not inside Mona's office, nor in her building. He received a message from J'onn that his mission was a success, but he was pretty sure that the photos were at her vacation home, and his children were at that precise moment searching for them.
He thanked him truly grateful for what he had done, and headed home to wait for any news with his wife.
The Kent house, minutes later:
Lois was still awake and waited as her husband joined her. He removed the suit and climbed into bed. Sighing, he laid his head on her chest, closed his eyes, but didn't say anything. Lois could tell from his mood that things were not going well. She waited for him to say something.
"It's over," he murmured, still worried the photographs would not be found … ever.
She frowned. "Then J'onn succeeded? Mona's memories are gone?"
"Yes, they're gone."
She stroked his hair. "So, it's truly over?"
"The photographs were not in Mona's office."
"So, that means …?" She couldn't finish.
"Yes, they're still out there, and they could be anywhere. The kids are at Mona's estate right now searching for them, but …"
"Oh, Clark, they may not be there. Is that what you were thinking?"
He left her arms, sat up in bed, took her hand then told her the awful truth. "We may never find them."
"I don't believe that. She wouldn't destroy them. They mean too much to her and her career."
"We have to prepare ourselves that they may never be found. I'm sorry honey, they're out there somewhere waiting for the wrong person to find them, and then it truly will be over. Everything we worked so hard to protect for so long … will be over." His voice defeated, he murmured, "Talia won."
'What are you saying? No, she hasn't won, and you sound as if you've given up. You can't stop looking for them."
He pulled her to him. Lois continued. "Clark, we've been down this road before. Someone finds out your secret, and then we stop them. This is no different. We will get through this."
He pulled her closer and kissed her temple but didn't say anything. He sent up a silent prayer for help, that his children would find the photographs, and this nightmare would be over.
Meanwhile in upstate lake country, Mona's vacation home:
Messages had been received from several team members how their various searches had been unsuccessful. The photographs had not been found. Mona's lakeside home was the last place to be searched.
SkyGirl, Wonderboy, Superboy, and Supergirl had left their respective teams and were now at Mona's estate. After having received an urgent message from J'onn and what he had done by stopping the photographs from being published by removing Mona's memories, now it was crucial that they find the photographs as soon as possible.
"J'onn did a memory swipe? He actually did that?" Kara was stunned by the news. "That is a remarkable ability."
"It truly is. He rarely uses it because of the issues involved, but there was nothing else we could do. He made the right decision," Jo commented.
"I agree, Jo." Conner shook his head thinking about their Father. "I've never heard our Father talk that way before. He sounded truly worried about his secret coming out," Conner commented.
"I know, but thanks to J'onn, we won't have to worry about Mona anymore. Now on to the most crucial part … finding the photographs," Kara said. "They must be here. Everyone look inside. Do you see any lead boxes of any kind?" Kara asked her family.
"No lead," Jo responded.
"Good, now take a closer look," Kara instructed.
Everyone closed in on the house. Hovering high above a few trees, they managed to get a clear view of her house. It was now after midnight, and the neighborhood was quiet, no lights in the houses, and no cars were seen on any of the streets for a while since they had arrived a few minutes ago.
"I think I see something. She does have an office. So how do we get inside? I see a security system. That's going to take some time," Kon-El thoughtfully said.
"Before we do that, make sure the photographs are there," Jon-El said, not liking that they would have to break inside her house. Everyone took a closer look.
"I don't see them," Kara regretfully said.
"Now what do we do? They have to be here. All the other locations came up empty," Jo asked truly worried for her family. They were about to give up when Kon-El spotted something.
"Wait, what's that? Is that a storage shed?" Kon-El asked as he headed to the back of the house. "Look, there's a lead box inside buried in the ground."
"But that doesn't mean the photographs are inside." Kara was skeptical.
"There's only one way to find out," Kon-El said then he ripped off the lock and entered the shed. There were no security cameras or alarms to hinder their search. The box was buried but not too deep. Minutes later, he removed the box, opened it, and there they were.
Kon-El held them up for all to see. They glanced at each other. No words were said.
Extremely relieved, Kara murmured, "Let's go home."
The Kent house, minutes later:
Lois was awakened by her cellphone beeping constantly. She knew who it was and what it meant. "Kara, you found them?"
"Lois?" Clark murmured coming awake from a much needed sleep.
"Yes, yes, thank you Kara. Yes, I'll see you soon."
Clark sat up at the look on his wife's face. "They found them?"
Her eyes watered. "Yes, Clark… it's truly over. Talia didn't win."
Lois was in his arms holding him close. "Thank you, thank you!" Clark murmured over and over again, thanking whatever God he could for his blessings, for keeping his family safe, and for this incredible woman who never gave up hope, never wavered in spite of all the odds against them, and for believing in him, in their family, and for loving him.
Yes, most of all, for loving me.
The next morning, at the Mansion:
Damian came down to breakfast after being awake all night. He couldn't stop thinking about his Father's suggestion that he leave Kara behind finish his degree overseas, far away from his Father, his home, and yes from the woman he loved. After admitting that obvious truth to himself, he resolved not to leave everything he loved behind. All of his life had been spent moving from place to place, never having a home to call his own, a parent who truly loved him and wanted the best for him. He would never leave them. He couldn't do it.
"Morning, Father," he greeted his parent warmly.
"Morning, Son," Bruce said and watched him closely for a moment. "Son, I don't want you to think that I don't want you here. I've dreamed of us being together, being a family, and I don't want you to go."
Damian smiled to himself and thought we do think alike. "I don't want to go either."
So intensely relieved, Bruce's eyes lit up. "So you'll stay here, work things out with Kara, and finish your education?"
"Yes, we'll work it out, and I do have faith that Kara and I can do this. And I do want to finish school, continue working with you and with the League, of course."
"I'm glad Son, but remember, no relationship is perfect. You two got off to a rocky start, but I believe, and I too have faith everything will be Ok."
Damian almost spit out his coffee at that statement. "Do you truly believe that especially after what happened at the restaurant the other night?"
He grinned, thinking about Kara's impetuous behavior. "Kara may have been mistaken about Alex and a bit over-zealous, but her heart was in the right place. She truly wanted to help him and I can't fault for that."
"I'm happy you feel that way … Ummm … Dad." He ducked his head and took a bite of food.
Bruce smiled. "Dad?"
"Oh, do you mind if I call you that? Father is kind of formal and I like … Dad."
Bruce's smile was even wider. "Of course, you can. I like it too."
"Dad, did you mean it when you said we could talk about anything that nothing was off limits?"
Bruce swallowed then he took a sip of coffee. "Sure, anything at all."
"Kara and I, well, after the shooting at the restaurant, I brought her here to the mansion and things got a bit tense, and before I knew what was happening, we were in bed."
"And, did you two …?"
"No, no, she wasn't ready and to be honest, I wasn't ready either."
"Son, there truly is no rush to have sex."
"I know that now. She has to finish school and I do too. We have our other jobs to keep us busy, and if we see each other now and then, we'll keep it on friendly terms and …"
He interrupted him. "Friendly terms? Are you sure about that?"
He shook his head and sighed. "No, I'm not sure, not at all."
Bruce may have a solution for him. "We should talk some more about this … in the gym. Finish your breakfast."
Later that same day, at Watchtower:
Clark was in extremely good spirits and after making rounds and flying over the city that he loved, he thought about the past twenty-four hours. Just the thought of having to leave his home, maybe start a new life somewhere else, uproot his family, and leave all of it behind, sent him into a crushing depression. He knew Lois sensed it last night, but she was there holding him up, reassuring him that they would push through it just like they always have and always would no matter what happened.
"Good morning, everyone." Clark could not help his mood.
"Morning, Kal-El," Kara said and came over to him. It was the weekend, and she loved being at Watchtower, but she loved her home and her family even more.
"So is there any follow-up news about the assassins or anything that we should know about?" Kal-El asked.
"No news yet, Kal-El," J'onn responded.
Kal-El had to ask him. "And anything to report about Mona?"
"No, nothing yet, but I have checked out her story about the paper dissolving, laying off most of its staff, and everything she said was true. In a few short months, the Inquisitor will be no more," J'onn responded.
"I can't say I'm surprised. The Planet has adjusted, and I think we did the right thing years ago by evolving and opening up all avenues of revenue, and that includes the Internet."
"I'm just glad everything worked out," J'onn said.
Clark smiled. "I'm glad too."
Minutes, later, Damian and Bruce entered the Hall also in good spirits.
Kara immediately looked the other way. He looked so tall and handsome. How are we going to do this? She nearly jumped out of her skin when he felt a touch to her arm.
"Kara, can we talk?" It was Damian.
Bruce and Clark glanced at each other.
"Kal-El, do we have a minute?" Kara asked her cousin.
"Sure, we have a few minutes, but we do have assignments for you," Clark responded.
"We won't be long," Damian said and escorted her down to the observation deck.
"How are you?" Damian asked when they were seated opposite each other, not knowing what to say.
"I'm alright. How are you?" Kara asked, feeling a bit awkward.
Damian sighed. He hated this. "Do you truly want to know?"
"What kind of question is that? Of course, I do."
"Kara, you say that, but after the other night, everything has changed between us." He paused for a moment. "We have to come to an understanding." He paused again as he stared at her lovely face. "You should know that my Father suggested that I leave the country, finish school overseas, so we could adjust to … everything."
Kara shook her head not understanding. "Leave the country, but … what about us?" She blurted out, eyes tearing up, heart pounding with dread.
Sighing when he saw her tears, and he couldn't help himself, he took her hand. "I'm not going anywhere. I'd miss you too much. Would you miss me?"
"Of course I would silly," she responded as he wiped a stray team from her eye.
He squeezed her hand. "Kara, we can do this, and avoiding each other and not speaking as if we couldn't bear to be it the same room, which is the furthest thing from the truth, let's just be ourselves. And Kara, I see no reason why we can't see each other away from school and away from here. What do you say? Are you ready to do this? And in a few years …"
Kara gasped. "A few years, but …?"
He chuckled. "Kara, you're too young and after what almost happened the other night, we can't put ourselves in that type of situation. It's too tempting. You're too tempting," he said and again he could not help himself from touching her. He slid a stray curl behind her ear.
Kara couldn't help touching him either. She scooted a little closer, and she touched his chest. "Is this too tempting?" She asked and leaned up to kiss his cheek.
"What about this? Is this too tempting?" She kissed his ear.
Heart pounding, he closed his eyes. "You're killing me, you know that?"
She pulled back and tried to smile. "I know, but I know we can do this, Damian. I want us to work more than anything."
He smiled at her. "I do too."
She took his hand and returned his smile. "It's time to get to work."
Meanwhile, in the Hall of Justice:
"Since Kara and Damian are away, what can you tell us about Alex? Where is he now?" That was Bruce. He had pulled a gun on his Son. He needed to know what was going to happen to him.
"He's in custody, Bruce, but now there won't be a trial. His lawyer has pleaded guilty, and he will be sentenced in a few months," Diana responded.
Bruce came over to her. "I miss you," he whispered. "Damian …" he hesitated.
"It's alright, I understand. Your son comes first," Diana whispered.
Clark shook his head thinking about Alex. "And after everything Kara did to help him, I heard he was up for a job away from LexCorp, and his temporary insanity plea could have stood up in court if only …"
"If only he hadn't become obsessed with me," Kara finished for him.
"Kara," Clark began as he came over to her. "We don't fault you for trying to help him. You only did what you thought was best. That's all any of us can do."
Kara sighed as she glanced at Damian. He gave her an encouraging look.
"I know, but …"
"All of us were manipulated by Talia, but Alex had way too many strikes against him, but that didn't stop you from wanting to help him, and I'm proud of you, Kara."
"You are?" Kara was elated.
"Yes, I am."
Relieved, she said. "Thank you, Kal-El."
"Now about your mission," he began. "And Damian, you can go with her."
"Yes, Sir," Damian said.
"Keeping you both busy is what you need right now." He stared at them then couldn't help but give them some encouragement. They were brave and strong, and they just needed to remember that. "I have every faith in both of you, and in time you can put this all behind you."
They glanced at each other. "Thank you, Sir," Damian said.
"Good, now let's get to work."
That evening at the Kent house:
It was dinnertime, and Kara and Clark were running late, but they were on their way. Thanksgiving would be upon them in a week, and they had a hell of a lot to be thankful for this year.
Martha and Ben were there, as well as Kitty, Emil and Sam was there, as well. As far as Lois was concerned, tonight would be a celebration for them. The statue would be unveiled a few months early, meaning early spring, not early summer as first announced, and Lois could not be more pleased.
The good news just kept coming. Jo and Sam's decision delighted her to no end and of course she knew it was Jo's idea to delay living together for a year, but the best news was Conner and Megan being engaged. Lois was ecstatic with the news. She watched them for a moment as they stared into each other's eyes.
Everything seemed to be working out for her family. Smiling at everyone, she said, "Well, let's eat. I'm sure they won't mind if we start."
Just then, Clark and Kara walked in.
"Perfect timing!" Lois exclaimed as she came to greet her husband.
He kissed her cheek. "Something sure smells good," Clark said sniffing the air.
"It sure does," Kara agreed.
"It's your favorite, roast beef, honey," Lois said and smiled.
"What's the occasion?" Clark asked.
"No occasion, just a pre-holiday dinner. Hurry now, go wash up and then we can eat."
A few minutes later, everyone was at the dinner table. Martha felt a prayer was in order. "Everyone, let's join hands."
Our Father in Heaven,
We give thanks for the pleasure
Of gathering together for this occasion.
We give thanks for this food
Prepared by loving hands.
We give thanks for life,
The freedom to enjoy it all
And all other blessings.
As we partake of this food,
We pray for health and strength
To carry on and try to live as You would have us.
This we ask in the name of Christ,
Our Heavenly Father.
"Thank you, Martha for that beautiful prayer," Lois said. "I would like to say a few words."
"Go on, honey," Clark said.
Lois stood up and looked around at her dear family. "All of you know what's been happening these past few days, and Clark and I have been through a lot worst, but not that long ago, our family secret was almost exposed to the entire world, and now it almost happened again. But with our friends to help us and with our children standing by us, we made it through … again."
"And so, let's raise our glasses and make a toast. Everyone have a glass? Great, to us, for sticking together, no matter what, for believing in each other, no matter what, and most of all for loving and trusting in each other … because without that we have nothing."
"Hear, hear!" Everyone loudly agreed.
She sat back down. "Ok, I'm done. Let's eat."
Lois smiled at her husband. She raised her glass again in silent salute, and he did the same.
Meanwhile, in a Metropolis city jail, Alexander Luthor II lay on his cold, hard jail cell bunk bed with only one thought on his mind. His lawyer informed him that he would be probably be sentenced to the maximum of twenty-five years. He could be released, depending of course, on good behavior and a favorable outcome at his parole hearings.
Alex did not have to worry about his health, and he would look exactly the same once he faced the Kent family again, and he had no doubts at all about that.
They will see me again.
Six months later, a few hours before the statue ceremony:
Today was Clark's day so the rest of superheroes would not be wearing their costumes. They agreed that it would distract the crowd from the man of the hour. His children and Kara would be the exception. Clark insisted that they be on the stage with him. He had to convince them that they were just as valuable to the world as he was. They gave in after Lois had chimed in and agreed with her husband.
Back at the mansion, Diana and Bruce had a few minutes before they had to leave for the ceremony. Damian had already left to pick up Kara, but Bruce was worried they were going to be late. "Diana, it's time to go. Hurry up!"
"Hold your horses!" Diana exclaimed as she came down the stairs.
Bruce was in front of a mirror straightening his tie. "It's about time," he muttered. He turned to face her as she came down the stairs slowly showing off a lovely dress that emphasized her curves to distraction. The sleeveless crepe swing skirted dress was a lovely shade of red not too bright, with a gold belt at the waist. Her hair was long and loose about her shoulders and her jewelry was lovely.
Diana always had a brilliant sense of style, and he loved the dress.
"Now that was definitely worth the wait."
"You truly like it? It wasn't sure what to wear. I can change if you want."
"You look lovely, and we don't have time to change. Let's go!"
"Ok, I'm ready," she said and followed him outside.
Alfred insisted on driving them, so they sat in the limousine enjoying each other's company. "You know Bruce, when Clark asked us not to wear our costumes, I was surprised."
"I know, but I think it was a good idea. The media can concentrate on Clark and the kids. It's the right thing to do."
Diana sighed. "I guess I'll have to save my new costume for another time."
He chuckled. "Another costume, really Diana?"
"And why not? There's nothing wrong with a little change, something to keep up with the … Ummm …" She hesitated.
He frowned, but then he thought about it. "The younger crowd? Is that what you were thinking?"
She gave him a serious look. "Bruce, I'm not getting any younger."
He chuckled. "Diana, you're immortal or have you forgotten?"
She raised her eyebrows, but didn't answer him.
Bruce thought about it. "Does this have anything to do with all of those engagements flying around? It seems like everyone is getting engaged these days." He shook his head. "It must be something in the water."
"I'm surprised you even noticed," Diana said and turned back to the window.
"Diana, marriage is not for everyone, and we don't need rings on our fingers, or a piece of paper to solidify our relationship."
Diana didn't believe that for a second, but then she decided to call him on it, and said, "Whatever you say!"
He stared at her for a minute then he decided to change the subject to a safer topic. "You know, Diana, I can't help but remember how adamant you were about letting go of our secret, and it was the best decision we ever made."
She chuckled remembering then she turned to him. "Well, after twisting your arm a time or two, you finally came around."
He returned her smile, but only for a moment. Suddenly serious he murmured, "I like it when you twist my arm, Diana."
She didn't know what to make of that comment, but her mind seemed to have stopped working. "Bruce?" Her heart began to pound. He was staring at her so strangely.
"Well, here goes," he said then he pulled out a gold key from his pocket and held it out to her not saying a word.
Diana was happily confused. "Bruce, what is that? Is that what I think it is?"
Resigned to their future, he murmured, "I have to start somewhere, huh?"
Diana gave him a brilliant smile and took the key. "Wow, and I didn't even have to twist your arm."
"Come here," he said the pulled her to him and kissed her soundly.
Meanwhile, in Centennial Park:
It was nearly time to begin the ceremony. Not far from the grandstand, a tent had been set up for Clark, along with Kara and his children. The Governor would make the introductions then Clark would say a few words. The unveiling would be last on the program and then pictures would be taken with Clark standing beside the statue with his family on one side and him on the other. The entire ceremony shouldn't take more than an hour or so.
The crowd was full of families, children, the media from Metropolis as well as from around the world. Everyone was excited about seeing the statue and whether it truly resembled their hero. Banners of 'We love you Superman,' all held up above their heads waiting for their favorite superhero to arrive.
Lois Lane-Kent hurried over to the tent. She did not have much time left before the ceremony and she did want to see them for just a minute before the ceremony began. The security detail allowed her inside because they knew who she was and of course they checked her press badge and identification. Taking a deep breath to get control over her emotions, she entered the tent.
Jo, Jason and Conner wanted so much to run to her but Lois held up her arms. "Don't, we can't do that, just let me good at you," she whispered to her beautiful family.
"Lois, maybe this wasn't such a good idea …" Clark began.
"I'm alright," she assured him. "I just wanted to say how proud I am of all of you."
"We know that, Mom," Jason whispered.
"Can I take a few pictures?" Lois asked then she pulled out her camera.
"Sure," Clark replied, hoping this would distract her from what she must be feeling right now. "Line up, everyone."
Clark stood to one side, then Conner next to him, then Jason, Kara, and then Jo.
"Perfect!" Lois exclaimed, then she took several pictures. She slowly lowered the camera, and Clark could see her tears.
He honestly did not care who saw them. He hurriedly came over to her and pulled her close. "It'll be over soon."
She welcomed his comfort for a moment, then she stepped out of his arms and stiffened her back. "I'll see you all later."
"Goodbye, Mom," her family whispered to her so low that Lois barely heard them.
"I love you," Clark mouthed the words.
"I love you too," Lois also mouthed the words.
Then she was gone.
Clark came prepared. He handed all of them a few tissues.
Song Inspiration: The Thing About Love, Alicia Keys
A/N: Awww, man, that was tough but fun too. I hope you enjoyed this chapter. *heavy sigh* I'm in the mist of writing the epilogue, and I clearly have a lot of ground to cover. *very excited* Please come back in a week for the final chapter. I still can't believe it's almost over. *cries sad tears* Please leave a comment and thank you for reading. Reviews are love! :D