By Emerald Shine (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: Lois waits, mourning the loss of Clark to New Krypton. A sequel to the fanfic "Dust in the Wind," and Part 2 of a two-part fanfic series called "Un Ete de Souffrance," or "A Summer of Pain."
Due to what was seen as some borderline profane language, this fanfic has been modified from its original form. Not much has been changed — only a few words, in fact, from each story — but if you would like the original version it is available at my fanfic web page.
NOTE: This story is the second in the series, "Un Ete de Souffrance," the first being "Dust in the Wind," which should have been sent along with this one. If you do not have "Dust in the Wind" (and it really should be read first), it is available at my fanfic page: http://www.geocities.com/Broadway/2636/fanfic.html. For the intro/dedication of this series, see the opening notes of "Dust in the Wind."
There is freedom within, there is freedom without Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup There's a battle ahead, many battles are lost But you'll never see the end of the road While you're travelling with me
Hey now, hey now Don't dream it's over Hey now, hey now When the world comes in They come, they come To build a wall between us We know they won't win…
I was in Smallville, and had been there for nearly six weeks. Alone except for the presence of Martha and Jonathan Kent. I'm not saying they aren't important — they have been my lifeline for these six weeks, and before that, I was still too much in shock to care. Yes, Clark Kent, my fiance (and oh! So much more than that one word could possibly say), was gone, maybe dead on a planet I'd never see. It was me, Lois Lane, against the rest of the world. Alone, and pregnant, with Clark's child.
It had taken the shock of becoming pregnant to snap me out of my initial daze. Six weeks ago, I had thought it an absolute catastrophe. Looking at it now, it was that which finally forced me to take care of myself. I could be dead right now, from simple self-neglect and deep depression, but I am surviving. I have my will to live back. I try not to think of the far future — I don't think I could handle that, for I'd have to contemplate a life without Clark, something I still can't fathom — but, I'm taking it one day at a time. My wounds are still raw, and there are days when even the sight of the moon, _our_ moon, will leave me sobbing. But I'm coping. Some days, I want to be sad, as if I'm grieving. I'll go up into Clark's childhood treehouse, "The Fortress of Solitude," bringing along a portable cassette deck and an assortment of tapes, just listening to sad songs, thinking of Clark, and flipping through my mental picture book of our time together. Not all of the memories are happy, but then, look at how complicated our lives were, and everything it took for us to finally get engaged! I feel lucky to even have these memories, all things considered. About half a year ago, I had serious amnesia. I'm almost glad my recollections of that period are hazy and pretty much non- existent. It's better not know how much I'd hurt Clark, then.
Sometimes while sitting up there, undisturbed by any forms of civilization, I am angry. This anger has been triggered by songs — notably, "Time Waits for No One" — and sometimes, the feeling just sneaks up inside. I feel cheated for the short time we had together, and sometimes blame myself for wasting a whole year-and-a-half when we first met, when I wouldn't give him the time of day. I had been different then, foolish. I was afraid to trust, scarred by my past. If I had thought those wounds hurt, they couldn't even begin to compare to what I felt now. Then, I had built up so many walls to surround me. I didn't want to let anyone in, never wanted to be hurt that badly again. But Clark, he had diligently chipped away until one day, he was inside. I remember now how panicked I had been, realizing I trusted him, cared for him, worried about him… loved him. I almost resorted back to the old walls. Clark, though, he never gave up on me. I think that if right now, hurting so badly it is physical pain, had been three years ago, I would have built up my defenses. I am not, however, the same person I used to be. He changed me. Would he ever be back, though, for me to tell him all this?
Six weeks ago, I was afraid of the life growing inside of me. Now, our baby was a comfort. It was all I could physically carry with me of Clark, and I actually took to thinking of what our child would be like. Would it be a he, or she? Would he or she look like Clark? Would it one day develop superpowers? What would it want to be when he or she grew up? The one question I never asked myself anymore was, would Clark be there at our child's birth? It was easier not to question that. *Denial isn't a river in Egypt, girl,* I told myself. I knew I was being unrealistic in not considering that he wouldn't be there, but there were still some things I had difficulty facing.
For my stay here in Smallville, I had found an obstetrician in Wichita. She assured me that everything was fine, the baby _and_ I were both healthy, and things were progressing normally. No one could possibly know the relief that brought me. Being pregnant with a might-be superchild does not bring peace of mind. At least the morning sickness wasn't as bad. It was something I would not miss.
I would be going back to Metropolis the next day, and returning to the Planet the day after. I was fairly sure I could manage at work now, and could take care of myself on my own. I knew I'd probably be dazed with sadness when I saw our window in my apartment again. I would not become the despondent mess I had been before, though. I was getting stronger.
Lying in the dark, I looked at my surroundings. I was in Clark's bedroom, lying in his bed. He had slept here once, and seen everything I was now seeing. I spotted a worn and obviously once-treasured teddy bear on the night stand beside me. I reached for it, and held it tightly against me. How many times had Clark laid here, holding onto this toy? How many times as he grew up, had he been scared, and felt alone in the world? And how was he feeling now?
I lay there for at least another hour, lost in my thoughts. Finally, sleep came. It was mercifully dreamless.
I woke up to the aroma of pancakes, and happily, it didn't churn my stomach. I was just sitting up in bed when there was a knock at the door.
"Come in," I answered.
Martha greeted me with a smile. "Good morning. Did you sleep well?" What she really meant was did I have the nightmare which had plagued me on and off for six weeks? The dream in which I envisioned Clark, reaching out toward me, only to stumble and fall in pain from an unseen force — the work of the supposedly evil Lord Norr? It sounded like something out of a bad episode of Star Trek. The scary part was, this could all be a reality.
"Yes, very well. No nightmares." As I stood up, the teddy bear which I'd held all night fell to the floor. Martha walked over and picked it up.
"Clark's favourite stuffed animal, Rusty…" She turned to me. "You know, he used to claim Rusty kept bad dreams away. I guess he was right."
"I guess so…" I trailed off.
"Well," she continued with somewhat forced brightness, "you'd better eat and get ready for your flight home. I'll finish packing your things in here."
"All right. Thank you, Martha."
An hour and a half later, I had eaten, showered, dressed, put on some makeup and done my hair, and was ready to go. I opened my suitcase to toss in my makeup case, when I noticed a scruffy toy bear peeking up at me from between my clothes.
"Martha…" I whispered.
"I wanted you to have him," Martha spoke from behind me, in the doorway. "To help keep the nightmares away. Clark would agree…"
I went to her and hugged her. "Are you sure you're going to be okay by yourself?" she asked. "Do you want Jon and me to come stay in Metropolis?"
"No, you have to run the farm. Besides, I have to start being independent again sometime. But thank you. For everything."
"Hey, never mind the thank you's." She stepped back to look at me. "Just come visit again soon! And take care of yourself and my grandchild. Now, come on. We have to get to the airport."
That was several hours ago. Now, a taxi had deposited me in front of my apartment. Was I ready to face it again? I took a deep breath, and entered the building.
Surprisingly, in some ways it was nice to be home. I collapsed onto the soft couch, and stretched out. I looked around. There were no fish in the aquarium — Martha had had the presence of mind to put them in a fishbowl and leave them with the neighbors: the Sitkowitz'. I guess that meant I'd have to get them, later.
The night was lonely, but it passed peacefully. I fixed myself supper, and watched some television. Now and again, my gaze would stray over to the window. Our window. The stars didn't seem as unfriendly, tonight. I did stand at the window for a few minutes, looking out into the light years beyond. In Smallville, I'd gone outside every night to stare at the sky, at one star in particular. Martha and Jonathan had let me go alone, knowing it was something I needed to do by myself. Over time, I had stopped crying whenever I saw the twinkling light. That scared me in a way, making me wonder if I'd stopped caring. I didn't fool myself, though. Sometimes, there were simply no tears left to cry.
I went to sleep early that night, knowing I'd need my rest to prepare for the next day. It was time for life to go back to normal, or as normal as possible. Somehow, though, I knew nothing could ever quite feel the same.
As I stepped off of the elevator and into the newsroom the next morning, I immediately felt strange. People were discretely staring at me, and it seemed that the usual din of the building hushed to whispers. Trying not to appear too self-conscious, I walked down the ramp and to my desk. It felt good to sit down in the familiar chair, and to turn on my computer. After six weeks of recovery, I felt up to tackling a good story.
Jimmy was the first to approach my desk. "Hey Lois, nice to see you back…" He looked a little hesitant. "How are you?"
I answered his question with one of my own. "Jimmy… how much do you and everyone else know?"
He looked at his shoes. "Ummm… well, we've all heard that Clark has… disappeared."
"Uh-huh. Did Perry tell everyone?"
I started to lose my patience. "What do you mean, 'not exactly'?"
"One of the staff overheard Perry on the phone, and kind of let it slip. Then with you having left, the news spread. Along with it, some other rumors — I don't think anyone believed them, though. They were off-the-wall!"
"What kind of rumors?!" This place might as well have been the National Whisper.
"Oh, just things about your health… uh, mental health. Perry dispelled those quickly, though!"
"What?!" I should have known. My leaving so abruptly, and Clark being gone so long, must have caused some curiosity.
Perry interrupted anything that Jimmy was about to say. "Lois!" he called from the inside of his office. "Is that you?"
Thankfully, I left Jimmy and the newsroom of gossips, and entered the safe haven of the Elvis-decor office. He'd added a new Elvis photo since I'd been gone. It was the last picture ever taken of him, when he was lying in a coffin, waiting to be buried. Suddenly, I didn't feel so good.
"Hey there, how are you?" Perry stood up to greet me. I gave him a quick hug.
"Better," I answered truthfully.
"Well, you look better," he remarked. He didn't ask if I had any news of Clark, nor did I ask him. Instead, he observed, "Your hair is different."
I touched it nervously. "Yeah… um, I'm letting it grow again." In actuality, it was a hope of Clark's return. I knew he'd loved my longer hair. I decided, though, that it was time to change the subject.
"So!" I said with forced cheer. "What do you have for me today, Chief? Anything good, challenging? Award winning? I'm ready to go!"
He took his time answering me. "Uh, Lois… You do realize that you've been gone for six weeks?"
"Yes?" What was he getting at?
"Well, I figured I'd start you off slow."
"How slow?" I asked, wary.
"I want you to cover the annual Metropolis Folklore Festival, down at the coliseum."
"Perry! This isn't funny! I've just returned from a long vacation! I need something hot. Something exciting. Something--"
"Dangerous?" he filled in. "Lois, absolutely not."
"Why not?" This was ridiculous. First the whispers and stares in the newsroom, and now my investigative reporting skills being degraded into hunting out the best recipe for perogies. Wonderful.
"Well, for one, you don't have a partner."
I winced, before I could stop myself. Damn. "I'm very well aware of that," I informed him. "But, if you remember, I used to investigate all by my little self…" I was getting sarcastic now, and really shouldn't have.
"Yes, but things were different, then."
"Different, how?" I challenged.
He ignored my comment, and went on. "And looking at it now, if you had continued that way, you'd surely be dead by now! You and Clark have gotten each other out of more jams thank I can count… and without Superman around now--"
"There are lots of crime organizations having a field day, that need to be brought down!" I exclaimed. "Perry, Superman," Clark, actually, "needs someone to keep this city in line," and I need to feel like I'm doing something in honor of Clark, "so why shouldn't I?"
"Not you, not this time, Lois. It would have been dangerous enough with just you and Clark, but with you alone and in your condition--"
"CONDITION? I'm pregnant, Perry, not an invalid!"
I heard something crash to the floor, behind me. Swiveling around, I saw Jimmy, hand posed to knock on the door frame, and what appeared to be a promotional package on the floor. I rolled my eyes, and crossed my arms.
Jimmy just stared at me, then remembered that time could not freeze, and a mouth could only hang open so long before it went dry. Recovering, he stooped over to pick up the package, then came into the office to place it on Perry's desk.
I didn't answer. Instead, I grabbed my assignment folder, left the office, and grabbed my purse on the way to the elevator.
Two weeks later, things were at about the same level. I got handed fluff assignments, Jimmy never knew what to say, and I was getting frustrated. I had called Martha several times to talk, and she did help to calm me down.
*"Even if Perry is a little misguided, he's only doing what he thinks is best,"* she'd consoled.
Well, maybe, but it was driving me up the wall. The one good thing that came from this, though, was I had my will to fight back. Maybe time was healing some things… but time also robbed. It had been three months now, to the day.
I came home after work that day, intending to simply have a long, hot bath, and fall into bed. Yet, something was pulling me toward the window where I'd stood three months ago — almost to the minute. Perhaps it was my conscious. I gazed out the window, at the moon and the stars. Something was missing. I couldn't see New Krypton. I wondered what had happened to the light which was once so bright, where had it gone? It took me nearly a half hour of staring, without really seeing anything, to realize that it was just cloudy. Well, maybe that was some relief. At least it gave a reason for the disappearing planet.
What was it like up there? It had been three months of wondering. No matter how much healing I had done in Smallville, night time still hurt. Especially on the anniversary of Clark's departure. I hadn't heard his voice in three months. Was our bond still there? In whatever way it worked, was the problem just that it could only reach me in my apartment, not when I was in Smallville? Or was it… some other reason? I tried not to think of what Clark would be doing right now, I really did. But the image of him, lying motionless, covered in blood on a piece of barren rock, kept pushing its way into my mind. I wanted to get it out.
I had been concentrating so hard, that I didn't hear the locks turn on the apartment door. I didn't hear it open, and I didn't hear footsteps behind me. I wasn't even aware someone was there until I had strong arms wrapped around me from behind, and a face buried in my now-longer hair. Normally, if taken by surprise, I'd try to fight the person, in self-defense. But these arms were familiar. They were warm, and loving. Slowly, as if in a trance, I turned around.
I couldn't speak, and really, there was no need to. I flung my arms around him, burying my face in his chest and letting the tears fall freely. For once, crying felt good. It was a release of the tension and uncertainty that had built up inside of me. I felt other teardrops in my hair, and the same hair being stroked with gentle hands.
"Lois…" This time, it was both spoken and felt, our bond. I finally looked up at him.
It had been three months of pure hell for both of us, I could see in his eyes. His expression told the story of a man who had seen more than ever meant to, and would continue to re-live the nightmares. Even so, I could see the longing in his soul, and the intense love in his heart. The kiss we shared was more than that one shallow word could ever define. There was love, hate, happiness, sadness, longing, confusion, joy, and torment all combined into one moment, in one breath. And just like the last time we kissed, we sank to the floor, but this time it was simply our knees giving out from the relief of being back together… of being alive.
I could not stop touching him. His hair, unruly as it was, and his cheek. I traced his lips with my finger, the lips I'd missed the feel of for three long, incessant months. He was also touching me — hands in my hair, touching my face — trying to believe all this was real.
Finally, after staring into each other's eyes for what seemed to be an eternity, he spoke. His voice was hoarse, strained. "My God, Lois… I've dreamed about this moment for three months, ached for it, and now I don't even know what to say."
I pressed a finger against his mouth. "Then don't say anything… this is more than words. Oh, Clark, I thought I may never see you again, but now you're here…"
"And I'm never leaving," he barely choked out. "Never again."
We held each other in the moonlight for a long time. Though we said nothing, the silence spoke more than we ever could. It wasn't about words — nothing ever is, really — but about feeling, agony, and love. I clung to him as if he were the only thing keeping me alive, and I had no intentions of letting go. We lay on the floor, him stroking my hair in a soothing manner, yet also seeming to reassure himself that I was there. Oh, this is what I'd longed for, wasn't it? Three months ago, I'd held a pillow tightly, willing it to be him. And now, it was. My head was positioned perfectly under his chin, like it was made to rest there. Made for each other.
I'd thought for sure on the night of Truth — whether the Truth had been elating or devastating — I wouldn't be capable of sleep. So, it surprised me that as we lay there, I felt myself relax for the first time in over ninety days, and sensed my eyelids drooping. Clark must've sensed it too, for the next thing I knew, he was carrying me in his arms, to my bed. He set me down and straightened up, then lightly touched my cheek. I forced my eyes open to look at him.
"Where are you going?" My voice came out panicked. "You're not leaving, are you? Not after you just came ba--"
He sat down next to me. "God, Lois, no! Never again will I leave you… never…"
"Then stay here tonight?" I pleaded with him. "Hold me, and I'll hold you." I never wanted to let him go again.
That is what we did. We ended up in the same position we had been in on the floor, and soon, I fell fast asleep in his arms. Finally.
I awoke the next morning to an empty bed. My mind whirled. It had been a dream? It couldn't have been… I couldn't have handled that. Quickly, I got up and headed out of my room.
"Clark!" I yelled, frantically. And suddenly he was there, at my side. Oh, Clark!" I wrapped my arms around him.
"Honey, what's wrong?" He tilted my chin up, to make my eyes meet his.
"I… I thought you weren't here. That'd you'd left, again. That last night was a dream."
"Oh, Lois, I'm so sorry, sweetie! Of course I'm here! I'll always be here, you got that? I just made us some breakfast. Are you hungry?"
I looked at the spread on the kitchen table. Waffles, bacon, eggs… The smells wafted towards me. My stomach suddenly felt a little queasy. Turning, I ran for the bathroom.
My morning sickness was better, yet it wasn't completely gone. Of course, Clark had no way of knowing what was going on. He was there in a flash, though, supporting me when it was over, rubbing my shoulders, and suggesting I lie down.
"You must have the flu," he noted. "You should go back to bed and--"
I stopped him in mid-sentence. "Uh, Clark? We need to talk." I led him over to the couch. "You may want to sit down for this."
"Lois, what is it? What's wrong?"
I took a deep breath. How would I put this? *Clark… surprise! You're going to be a father!* No.. .better tread into this one a little more delicately.
"Clark, some things have happened since you've been… away."
"Good things, or bad things?" He looked at me.
"Well, that all depends on how you look at it. Do you remember almost a year ago… um, when we were having some difficulties after my revelation? When we went to that island — you couldn't use your superpowers, and I couldn't work?"
"Yes…" he answered slowly, seeming to be perplexed.
"Do you remember what we talked about? A family, all my insecurities and your reassurances?"
"Lois, are you trying to tell me you've changed your mind? Well, wait, I knew you had back in January, but I mean, you're coming to realize you'd make a great mother? That we'd have a wonderful family?" He squeezed my shoulder, eyes shining. "Well, I mean, after we're married for a little bit, we can think about starting a family? Even if that means a maternity leave from the Planet?"
Time to reel him in. He was on the right track, but… I asked him, more softly, "Clark, do you remember the night before you left?"
"Of course," he whispered, putting an arm around me. Then, slowly, his eyes started to widen. "Wait a second, Lois, are you telling me--"
"You're going to be a Daddy, Clark. In six months…"
He was stunned; speechless. After what seemed like forever, he put his hand over my abdomen and spoke gently. "Hey there, how're you doing? I guess you don't really know me, huh?" He kept his hand there, while looking at me. "I also guess there's a lot of things your Mommy and I have to do soon, isn't there? First, maybe get married… build a nursery… pick out some names… What do you think, little one?"
And that's when I felt it, a kick. Not strong enough to be felt outside of my body, but a definite movement. I gasped a little. Clark looked at me, concerned.
"The baby just moved. That's the first time I've felt it… must've liked your ideas. I know I did." I stretched out across the couch, my head resting in Clark's lap. I smiled up at him. "So, when _do_ we get married? Before or after the baby is born?"
"Definitely before… it's just the way I was brought up. Though that does leave a question about the wedding night."
"Relax, hon. What you're thinking of can still be done," I giggled.
"Okay, so now we just have to figure out when — and I'm hoping, soon — so we can arrange the time off of work."
"Work? Oh no!" I sat up. "Uh, Clark, can you hand me the phone? I have to call Perry." Work had completely slipped my mind. Now, though, I would also have to come up with a story about Clark's reappearance.
Perry answered on the third ring. "Hi, Chief, it's Lois. Um, I have some news."
"Good or bad, Lois?"
I looked at Clark. "Well, maybe you should find out firsthand." I handed the phone over to him.
"Hi, Perry," Clark greeted. "It's been awhile, hasn't it?… Yeah, I'm… doing okay." He squeezed my hand. "Where did I disappear to? Well, I wish I could be of more help, but all I can remember is waking up in a hospital of some sort, not remembering anything from the time I left Metropolis. So what's been happening here while I was gone?… Still no sign of Superman?…"
That struck a chord in me. What about Superman? How would his and Clark's departure and arrival at pretty much the same time, be explained? And what with all the pain of memories I could see in Clark's eyes, was he ready to launch right back into being the Man of Steel, especially after spending three months as Lord Kal-El on New Krypton? What exactly had gone on there? What had happened to Lord Norr? What about Zara and Ching? So many unanswered questions, and so much I didn't want to bring up. Clark may have been back with me, beside me, but the hurt of this particular topic seemed all too real.
He spoke with Perry awhile longer, ending with, "I'll see you tomorrow, Chief! That's a promise…" He hung up the phone, and smiled at me.
The question which had burned inside of me in the short time Clark had been talking to Perry, came tumbling out. "Clark, how are we going to explain your reappearance occurring at the same time as Superman's? Won't that clue a few people in?"
He sighed, smile vanishing. Sinking back into the couch, he remarked, "Who says we have to?"
He closed his eyes, wearily. "Lois, in those three months I was exposed to a red sun, my powers gradually waned away. Right now, I could no more fly than you could. It will take a little while — a few days at the least — for them to return. I can't say I'm unhappy about that."
He sounded bitter, and at the same time, sad. Something had happened to him on New Krypton. Yet, for all my questions, I didn't have the heart to ask.
Suddenly restless, Clark stood up and began pacing the apartment. I got up and followed him. Looking over at the now-cold food on the table, I observed, "I guess breakfast is kind of… over."
He stopped his pacing "No, you have to eat. You're feeding two, now. Why don't we pick something up from the deli on the way to my apartment?"
"I do have to change my clothes, Lois," he pointed out.
"Oh, right," I said sheepishly. "Okay… well, if you can wait for me to shower and change, we'll drive over."
We spent the rest of the day not really doing much of anything, and the night was spent together at my apartment once more. This time, Clark brought some of his things over. We would return to work the next morning, having to face the questions and rumors once more.
The day turned out not to be as bad as I'd feared. It seemed Perry must have told everyone what had happened in advance, and warned that Clark could not 'remember' anything. *Smart move,* I thought.
Clark was greeted warmly, by many. I even saw Perry give him a hug, a rare sight. We didn't work much that morning — partly because of the greetings, and partly because I was finding it extremely difficult to leave his side. My computer didn't even get turned on until noon.
Perry had soon defaulted back to his role as managing editor, barking at the reporters to leave us alone and get back to work. That didn't stop a new question from coming about a few hours later, in full force.
The first one to ask it was Jimmy. During a lull in the day, he leaned over Clark's desk and posed, "So, CK! Now that you're back, have you decided when you and Lois are finally going to tie the knot?"
If I hadn't of known better, I would have sworn it was part of some elaborate chain reaction. The next two hours were spent being pestered with the same inquiry by curious city section reporters. Clark didn't have an answer, and of course, neither did I. Until…
Diane walked by. "So, Lois, Clark… have you two decided on a wedding date?"
I stared at Clark, hard. We had? Well, this was certainly news!
"So… when?" Diane prompted.
*Yeah, when?* I challenged him, in my mind.
"Right now." Standing up, he took my hand and led me to the conference room. Behind us, Diane stood, mouth hanging open.
He opened the door to the room, and walked inside, where Jimmy and Perry were going over some photos. "Chief?"
Perry looked up. "Yes, Clark?"
Clark moved closer to me. "Can I ask you a big favor?"
"Marry Lois and me."
"Here?" Jimmy blurted out, incredulous.
"Now?" Perry stared at us like we had lost our minds. At that moment, I thought Clark had.
"It's possible, isn't it? I mean, will a marriage license be a problem to get?"
"Well, it shouldn't be. You've been through this before…"
He was insane. Truly crazy. But I loved him for it.
A short while later, some favors having been called in, and about twenty 'have-you-lost-it-completely?' looks being tossed our way from Jimmy, the 'ordained Minister of the First Church of Blue Suede Deliverance' was ready to marry us. With Jimmy as the witness.
"Dearly beloved," he started, then changed his mind. "Jimmy. We are gathered here today to join this man and this woman in holy matrimony. Regardless of their sanity--"
The conference room door opened. In strolled a copy boy, a question on his lips.
"Uh, Brian, not now. We're a little busy." Brian did an about-face, and Perry turned back to Clark and me. "Do you, Clark, take thee Lois, to love, honour, and cherish, and whatever else it is you two do, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till--"
This time he was cut off by Karl from Travel. "Chief--"
"Not now!" Perry bellowed. The man meekly left the room.
"Er… back to what I was saying. Till death do you part?"
He looked deep into my eyes. "I do."
Perry looked at the door nervously, before running at hyper speed. "Do-you-Lois-take-thee-Clark-to-love-honour- and-cherish-and-anything-else-you-can-think-of-in-sickness- and-in-health-till-death-do-you-part?"
"Mr. White! There's something on the television you should--"
We all turned around, yelling in unison, "NOT NOW!" The young man almost ran out of there.
I tried it once again, trying to suppress the laughter threatening to come out. "I do."
"Uh, well then… do you have the ring?"
Ring? Uh oh.
As if by some miracle, Clark pulled a necklace out from under his shirt. Of course! He'd kept it there, all this time. *"As safe as I keep my love for you…"*
"Okay, Clark, repeat after me. With this ring, I thee wed…" Clark opened his mouth, but before a sound could escape…
"There's a plane down! Into the ocean, just off the coast!" A group of reporters proceeded to inform us, excitedly.
It was time for Jimmy to lose it. "Would you all just *SHUT UP*?! Can't you see there's a wedding going on in here?"
The building silenced. Many of the reporters who had been spellbound with the images on LNN now turned their heads our way, gaping.
I couldn't help myself. I started to giggle. I laughed harder and harder, until tears were streaming down my face. Clark gave me a strange look. "Is something funny, Lois?"
I had to gasp for air. I looked up at his serious expression, and dissolved into giggles once more. "I'm sorry… Clark! It's just… I was thinking… this could only… happen to us!… Eloping at the Daily Planet… everyone walking in…" The whole thing struck me as hilarious. It felt good to laugh like that, as I hadn't for months.
Perry took the stunned silence of the newsroom as an opportunity to finish the ceremony. "Clark?"
"Huh? Oh, right. With this ring, I thee wed…"
In between my fits of laughter, I heard the request for objections, and almost missed the words, "I now pronounce you husband and wife. May Elvis help you — lord knows you'll need it! You may kiss the bride!"
Clark took the laughter from my lips as we engaged in a long, deep kiss. The newsroom erupted into cheers and whistles.
"Have a good honeymoon," Perry wished us as we finally broke apart. "See you back here in a couple of weeks. As for the rest of you, the show's over! Get back to work!"
A thought struck me. Where would we go, now, with Clark being unable to fly us anywhere?
That was three weeks ago. As it'd turned out, we spent several nights at our 'former love nest' — the Honeymoon Suite of the Lexor Hotel, then arranged a flight to Hawaii. Complaints about the, uh… mattress, were yet to be heard.
We'd been home for a week now. 'Home' was Clark's apartment, at least until after the baby was born, and we found a house. The week had been busy so far, spending the hours after work moving my belongings to our apartment, and sending the news of our marriage to our family.
Martha and Jonathan had taken it very well. In fact, they had seemed quite pleased. They hadn't actually seen Clark since he'd come back, but had spent a great deal of time talking with him on the phone during his first day back. Eventually, they'd told him to go spend time with me. And now, what with us just returning from our honeymoon and settling into married life, they said it would be a little while before they visited Metropolis. As much as we wanted to see them, we were grateful for that.
My parents… well, their reactions were probably the best I could have hoped for. My father was not really phased by it at all, and wished us well, but I could tell that my mother was disappointed. There had gone her dreams of an elaborate wedding. Well, she'd gotten her wish once, months ago. I didn't feel too bad, however, because I knew she would get her wish once more in a few years, with Lucy.
My sister had been delighted, then teased us about when she'd become an aunt.
*"Sooner than you may think, Luce,"* I'd replied. She had squealed in delight, and I told her the news. It continued to amaze me just how many changes my life had gone through in almost four months. I had Clark back. I was married to him — I was still "Lois Lane" for work, but for the rest of my life, I was Lois Lane Kent.
Still, for all the comfort the most recent life changes gave me, I was still feeling a little lost. Having Clark there helped. Since he'd been back, I hadn't let him out of my sight. I didn't think anything of it, really, until one night, almost five months since his departure, and two months since his return.
We were making supper, when Clark realized we were out of lettuce. He put on his jacket and grabbed the car keys.
"Where are you going?" I asked, stirring the contents of a pot on the stove.
"To the store, to get some lettuce."
"Okay, wait a sec. I'll come with you." I grabbed my coat.
"Lois, you should stay here and make sure supper doesn't burn. I'll be right back…"
I put my coat back down, a panicky feeling rising within me. I kind of laughed, nervously. "Do we really need a salad, Clark? I mean--"
"Okay, out with it." He folded his arms and looked at me, seeming to seek the hidden truth within me.
"Out with what?" I asked, perplexed.
"Why are you being so clingy?"
I returned to the stove, and continued with stirring. "That's ridiculous, Clark! I am not being clingy."
"Oh, you aren't? Then what's with not wanting me to go to the store by myself?" He came to stand beside me.
I didn't look at him. "Nothing. I just didn't think we needed a salad, that's all."
"Oh, really? Okay then, how about yesterday, when I wanted to go digging through some records at city hall, and asked you to stay at the newsroom to interview our witness?"
I started to protest, "I just didn't--"
"And last week, on your day off, when you wanted to come to work? And when I wouldn't let you, calling me once an hour? Not to mention everything else from the last two months."
I'd started to cry.
Clark's voice took on a gentler tone. "Lois, can you tell me what's going on, and maybe we can work through it together?" He brushed one of my tears away.
"It's just… mood swings. You know, with all the hormonal and physical changes, with me showing--"
"Lois, don't lie to me. There's more to it than that."
All of a sudden, I was angry. It must have been a real mood swing because the next thing I knew, I was screaming at him. "Oh! Like you should talk! It's not like you haven't been hiding something from me, Mr. Honest-and-Holier-than-Thou! In these two months, have your superpowers come back? Have you used them? Have you even ONCE attempted to tell me what happened on New Krypton, the forsaken place you left me for?! You lecture me on being too clingy! But what about you? Sometimes I think maybe you don't want to be married to me at all, when you shut me out so much! All I want is to be let in! It's worse than the lies and secrecy you put me through over a year ago! I thought you were done with all that — I thought WE were done with that!" Then, for no reason at all, I veered off to another subject "And if your stupid lettuce means so god awful much to you, then you better just go and GET IT!" I went over to a couch, and collapsed on it, sobbing.
Clark sat down beside me, and tried to touch my shoulder. I shrugged him off. Next, he opened his arms. Exhausted, I sank into them, still sniffling.
"Hon, I understand how hard this has been on you. For three months, all alone, and pregnant… and then, suddenly, you're married."
"And still pregnant," I added. "Just more so."
"You've been through so much… and I just want to know what's going on inside your head." He held me tightly. "Lois, I think we have a problem."
I could smell the scent of food burning. "No kidding. I think the rice is fried…"
"I don't mean the food, Lois."
"I know, I know…" I sighed. "So what do we do?"
"Well, why don't we try getting some help from an old friend?"
"Clark, no offense, but how many old friends do we have that could help us with this?"
He chuckled, and stroked my hair. "I was thinking of Dr. Friskin."
She'd helped me before — actually, she'd helped both of us. I liked her, and I trusted her. "Okay," I whispered. The next morning, Clark made us an appointment.
As we entered the office of Dr. Friskin, I noted that nothing had changed since I'd last been there. The plant I liked to tear the leaves off of was still on its shelf, and the books were all in order. The couch was there, but I didn't much feel like lying down on it. Instead, Clark and I sat in the two chairs across from the one in which Dr. Friskin always sat.
She greeted us with a smile. "Hello, Lois. It's been a long time." She looked at Clark. "This must be Clark. It's about time I met you!" she laughed. Looking at my hand, at the ring upon my finger, and at my slightly protruding stomach, she observed, "A lot seems to have happened since we last spoke! Congratulations, on both events." I thanked her, and she continued. "So, what brings you two here today?"
Oh boy. How to explain this? "Clark thinks that I've become… clingy. More dependent that I have ever been."
"And have you been?"
"I guess so," I whispered, looking down.
Clark broke in. "Perhaps I should explain the circumstances?"
Dr. Friskin nodded. "Please do."
"I was… on assignment, in another country. I was only supposed to be gone for a month."
"He was gone for three."
Dr. Friskin raised her eyebrows. "Please continue."
"Basically, I disappeared almost off the face of this Earth," Clark said. Well, that part was true. Funny how such an honest man could lie like this, yet the lies were needed, and for a good cause… "I woke up in a hospital. It had been nearly three months since I'd left Metropolis, yet I couldn't remember anything that had happened since I'd left."
"I was alone," I put in, telling my side, "not knowing where Clark was. And… I was pregnant, with his child."
"So Clark came back." Dr. Friskin tried to piece everything together.
"Three months to the day, since he'd left."
"I came back to find Lois a little lost and overwhelmed, but amazingly strong."
*It wasn't always like that, Clark.* I didn't realize I had thought that out loud, until…
"What do you mean, Lois?" Dr. Friskin prodded.
The truth. Clark was going to hear every brutal word. "I could have died, if it had not been for Clark's parents." Oh, God, this was hard. "I couldn't take care of myself — I was too depressed. And then… I found out I was pregnant. His parents were there for me. I took six weeks off from work, and went out to Smallville. I started to become healthier, but I had nightmares."
I wanted to stop there, I really did, but Dr. Friskin seemed to want to hear more, and I supposed Clark needed to.
"They were about Clark, coming back to me, when suddenly… he was killed. Just beyond my reach, he lay there, in a pool of blood. I still have them, even though Clark is back." My last sentence was barely audible, even to me. Clark took my hand, and squeezed it, lightly. The moment passed all too soon.
"So, Lois… why do _you_ think you've been clingy?"
I knew the answer to this. I'd known all along. I spoke softly. "Because I'm afraid of losing him again. For three months, I didn't know if Clark was dead or alive. I couldn't touch him, see him, or hear him. And I was more scared then than I'd ever been."
Another moment of truth. It was like I was baring my soul for all the world to see. I took a deep breath. "After years of being alone and putting up walls — or, as you once said, 'distancing' — I had finally let someone in. Actually, he'd worked his way in, little by little. I gave to him my heart, and my trust. I gave myself. I wasn't afraid to love anymore, and in return, I was receiving unconditional love. All the years of struggle, all the setbacks," lord, there'd been more setbacks than anyone would ever think humanly possible, "all seemed worth it. But just as fast, he was ripped away. I was left, torn and bleeding, lost and alone. So when I had him back… I guess I thought if I didn't let him out of my sight and did the opposite of distancing, I would never be hurt that way again. I guess there's some healing I still have to do."
Clark looked at me, tears in his eyes threatening to spill. Dr. Friskin smiled victoriously. "You were afraid to share your pain, Lois. That is the biggest setback. But it looks as if you've overcome that. See? You don't really need me," she pointed out. "You just need to talk to each other."
We left soon after, driving in silence all the way home. It wasn't until much later, when we were in bed, all lights off, that I finally asked him about it.
"Clark," I started cautiously, "you never told me."
He put an arm around me. "Told you what?"
"What happened while you were gone. What happened to you, while you were on New Krypton?"
The arm left. I heard him suck in his breath.
"Clark, you can't do this."
"Distance. We both know from personal experience that it doesn't work." I took his hand, and spoke seriously to him. "Look, this isn't a game of insecurities, anymore. We're not in the 'maybe dating' stage anymore, and haven't been for a long time."
"I know that--"
"Well, if you know that, then, god, Clark, knock it off! We are married now, which means complete and total honesty with each other. Did you not hear one word Dr. Friskin said this afternoon? You're trying to keep me from sharing your pain, and I'll be damned if I let you, got that?" I softened my voice, a little. "I want to know what happened, Clark. Please, let me in."
He rolled over onto his side, so he was facing me. "All right." He closed his eyes for a moment, then started with his tale.
"I arrived there, in the middle of their night. The darkness didn't do much to hide its horrors, though. New Krypton is a highly advanced society — too advanced. It appeared as if they might be on the road to destruction… following in the footsteps of the original planet, Krypton.
"Things there are… different. As advanced as they are, there are no common place material possessions, such as televisions, VCRs, stereos, and definitely no McFood places on every corner. They claim to be above all these 'primitive shallow diversions.' You have to understand, Lois, each generation is raised to believe they are far superior to any other species in this universe… and Lord Norr wanted to, at first, use me as an example."
"Of what?" I asked, intrigued, yet fearful.
"He wanted to teach the children that Kryptonians were, in fact, so superior, that if they desired, they could take over Earth. He had holograms of me displaying my various superpowers — flying, heat vision, what have you. What he didn't tell them was my powers developed from living under the yellow sun at such length. Yes, they would have some power if spending some time here, but not close to what I had. As well, he didn't tell them my powers were used for good.
"As I spent more time there, my superpowers diminished. I had to fight as an ordinary man, without the benefits of the high tech weapons Norr had. He wanted a war, Lois. And he started it without warning.
"The first attack came to innocent New Krypton villagers. Some were injured, others killed… even small children." Tears filled his eyes. "I couldn't help them. God, I felt so worthless. I'd left you here to help a planet I'd never seen, and yet, I could do nothing.
"He wanted me to go after him. He taunted me by killing more, unconcerned about wiping out the race altogether. Each day, he controlled a little more of the rock, and I was powerless to stop it.
"He started brainwashing them, from young children to grown adults. He said that Earth was a horrible place, and needed to be taken over. He had a plan to send them all here, with orders to attack and destroy… and of course, over time, their powers would develop. If I ever came back, I wouldn't be able to stop them.
"It was then I entered war. Zara and Ching had found a Kryptonian scientist to build effective weapons — too effective. We fought for a month. I killed Norr."
Clark was shaking. He wanted to sob, I knew, but was trying to be strong, for me. "Well, isn't that a good thing? He couldn't impose his ideas upon the Kryptonian people anymore… and you could rule."
"Lois… I took a life. I always try and save people, but this time, I killed. I feel like… a murderer." A sob escaped his lips, as I took him in my arms and held him.
"Hey, it's okay, Clark. You did the right thing. You needed to save New Krypton."
"So many people died, Lois…"
"Yes, but think of all the lives you saved! And surely, things must have been resolved somewhat for you to come home."
He nodded. After minutes of drying his tears, and settling down, he answered. "Yes… the final days, if not clouded by all the bloodshed, would have been happy ones. I created new laws; taught them it was all right to love and have feelings. Do you know that the children there never smiled? They didn't know it was good to feel emotion… but now, they're learning. And as for the marrying of infants, that has changed. Zara and Ching… they're together now, and ruling over New Krypton. I'm sure the land will have better times now, but I will always remember the bad."
"I know, Clark. I know…" We had both been through so much.
It was almost an hour later when I asked him, "Clark, your powers are back to normal now, pretty much. So when do you go back to being Superman?" If he did at all.
He shook his head. "I don't know. I really don't know…"
We both became quiet then, lost in our own thoughts. We had tried to work through things together, yes… but some things would still take time.
The next morning, I had a plan. Clark was taking his own healing time before reappearing as the Man of Steel, but the more time he took, wouldn't that make it all the harder? I know I had gotten clingier as time wore on, not less, so was it possible Clark was hesitating more? I knew he still felt blame and regret for all that happened on New Krypton, but New Krypton wasn't Metropolis. I also knew, just from the way he flinched every now and again, that he was hearing cries for help, and it was killing him not to go to a person's rescue. An overgrown Boy Scout, maybe. An innately good person, definitely. Somehow, though, I needed him to see everything I was seeing.
It came to me as we ate breakfast that morning. "You know," I casually mentioned, "It would be so nice to go see your folks in Smallville sometime soon."
Clark swallowed a bite of his food, and thought it over. "Well, maybe this weekend, I could fly us--" He stopped.
*Gotcha,* I thought. *You're not into using your superpowers lately, not willing to leave the horrors of New Krypton there, so how are you going to do that?*
His voice took on a sad note. "Yeah, that would be nice."
I left it at that.
Work was amazingly busy that day, yet it was mid- afternoon before the big news broke. Chaos erupted by the television sets in the newsroom, so I hurriedly went over to see what the fuss was about. When I saw it, my heart leaped.
There he was, a blur of blue and red on the screen. Superman was saving a cruise ship on the Atlantic from capsizing. Silently, I thanked God. He was back, my Clark was back. But there was still the matter of--
"Superman!" several people chorused. "He's back!"
--the media attention. Suddenly, I felt the need to protect Clark. I went over to where Perry was standing. "Chief, could Clark and I cover this one? You know we could get you an exclusive…"
Perry turned around, a grin on his face. "Yes, Lois, get right on it! By the way, where is Kent?"
Uh oh. Let's see, it'd been awhile since I'd had to give excuses. I ran through a list of them in my mind. *Video return, optometrist appointment, cheese-of-the-month shipment…* "Uh… well, you see, I had this craving for--" no, not Choco Chocolate Monster Chip Ice Cream, "--chicken fried rice and cookie dough frozen yogurt! He went to get it for me." I smiled, sheepishly.
Perry raised his eyebrows. "Cravings, huh? Boy, I remember when Alice was having our first one…" He launched into a story about sushi and chocolate sauce, until I cut him off.
"Perry? The story?"
He blinked. "Uh, yeah, right. Like I said, get right on it!"
"Thanks, Chief." I went over to my desk, lost amid the room of celebraters.
"Hey, hey, hey!" I heard Perry yell. "Yes, it is terrific that Superman is back, but Lane & Kent are writing that story! Now, don't you all have work to do?"
I kept my eyes on the elevator doors for Clark. Finally, a few minutes later, they opened, and out he stepped in regular clothes, awful tie and all.
"Hey, hon," I whispered. "I love you."
Clark's gaze rested on me, and he smiled. When he got down to my desk, I greeted him. "Hi! Nice work… We get the Superman exclusive."
"Uh-huh… or would you rather have hoards of other reporters after Superman and questioning him mercilessly? I think now that he's back, he might want to keep a low profile until our exclusive is printed, and things settle down…"
"Ah… good idea. So should we go… investigate?"
Maybe things would turn out all right, after all.
After awhile, life did settle down. The world was thankful of Superman's return, but our story answered all their questions, and for the most part, Clark was left alone by the media. Life seemed… normal. Or as normal as it ever was, for us.
One day, when I was about seven months along into my pregnancy, and starting to feel like a whale, Clark pointed something out.
"You know," he said, as he rubbed my back, "we haven't discussed names."
"Names?" I repeated, absent-mindedly.
"Yeah. For the baby."
"Oh. Right. Well… I was thinking, if it's a girl, maybe Lara, or Kara I guess, and if it's a boy, Jordan or Karl…"
"Lois." He stopped rubbing my back, then shifted positions. "I realize what you're doing, and I appreciate it. But I don't want this child to in any way feel obligated to his or her Kryptonian heritage. This is our child, on Earth. I want the name to be something you want, not something you feel obligated to do."
He had a point, there. "Okay," I agreed, "then hand over that name book."
I flipped through it, and almost immediately found the middle name I'd been looking for. "How about Astra, for a middle name?"
Clark considered the suggestion, then smiled. "I think it's a pretty name."
"It's also symbolic," I admitted. "Astra means 'like the stars' — like the ones I watched every night while you were gone." I contentedly rested my head on his shoulder, and he put his arm around me. No matter how many times we sat in this position, it just felt… right.
"Well then, that takes care of the middle name. Now, what about a first name?"
"Kelly," I said immediately.
"Kelly? It's a nice name…" he looked at me questioningly, to see if I had a reason for this name, too. I did, but--
"I've always loved that name. Ever since I was a little girl."
"Okay, now how about for a boy?"
"Um…" I thought for a moment. "David."
He looked at the book. "It means 'beloved'."
"And the baby _will_ be loved."
"He or she is more already than they will ever know…"
I let his statement hang for a moment, then prodded, "Your choice for a middle name."
"It's a good name, any significance?"
"Well, I like it, and it means 'little fiery one,' just like someone I know who's going to be a mother." He looked at me, warmly. "So…" he mused, "David Aidan Kent, or Kelly Astra Kent… or is that Lane Kent?"
"No," I assured him, "Kent is just fine. I may be Lois Lane professionally, but that's because it is a name that took years to establish. The Kent side is more of a real family, anyway…"
"And we always will be a family… soon with a child to start another generation."
"If only he or she knew the craziness it was being born into!"
He laughed. "Yeah, but things have never been dull, have they?"
No, they certainly hadn't. Not even as I was on maternity leave, waiting for our child to be born, did things get boring.
About two months later, I woke to an alarm I needn't have gotten up for. I turned, slowly and carefully, to look at Clark. "Happy birthday, Mr. Kent."
"Why thank you, Mrs. Lane Kent… Good morning. How are you feeling?"
I was due anytime now, and felt incredibly big. "Like I'm about to pop." I attempted to get up, but it wasn't exactly easy going. Clark helped me to sit, then asked, "Shouldn't you stay in bed?"
"What? On my husband's birthday? I can't even have breakfast with you?" I smiled charmingly.
"Well, why don't we have breakfast in bed, then?"
"Cla-ark… I think I am capable of getting to a table." I struggled to stand up, then beamed triumphantly. "There, see? Easy as-- OW! Ohmigawd…"
"Lois?" he guided me back down, until I was sitting. "What is it?"
"I, uh… think I'm going to have our baby, Clark."
Within the next few hours, I was certain of that. The contractions started coming closer together. Clark called Perry to tell him what was going on, then drove me to the hospital. Flying, it seemed, was out of the question.
Ten hours later, I gave birth. Clark was there for me, the whole time, even when I was screaming in pain and cursing at him. Finally, I heard the cry, and the words.
"Congratulations. It's a girl." A wailing bundle swathed in a pink blanket was placed in my waiting arms. I stared down at her, wanting to both laugh and cry. "Hello, Kelly Astra Kent," I whispered to this miracle I held in my arms, our daughter. I looked up at Clark, who looked both exhausted and exuberant, but with love-filled eyes. "Would you like to hold our daughter?"
He sat down on the edge of the bed, beside me, and reached for her. As he held her, Kelly's eyes opened. She had a tiny smile on her tiny face. As she looked at her father, she suddenly yawned, then closed her eyes again, falling fast asleep. Clark was smiling, the proud Daddy, but there were tears running down his face.
"Are you having a happy birthday?" I asked softly.
He turned his head to gaze at me. "The happiest." Looking back down at our little girl, he posed, "Astra means 'like the stars' — the ones you watched while I was gone. But did you know that Kelly means 'warrior'," he paused. "Strong. Like her mother."
"Like her father," I echoed back.
February 28th, a new chapter of _our_ life began. It was the unknown, and before it had seemed scary. Together, though, we could face anything. Mother, father, daughter. Almost four years ago, I would have scoffed, but now… I couldn't imagine life without them. We belonged together, a real family. Forever.
Now I'm walking again, to the beat of a drum And I'm counting the steps to the door of your heart Only the shadows ahead barely clearing the roof Get to know the feeling of liberation and relief
Hey now, hey now Don't dream it's over Hey now, hey now When the world comes in They come, they come To build a wall between us Don't ever let them win
--Crowded House, "Don't Dream It's Over"
All characters in this story (except for Lois & Clark's now-born child)belong to DC Comics, Warner Bros., December 3rd Productions, yada yada yada. "Don't Dream It's Over" belongs to Crowded House. (the group, not L&C's apartment full of kids. <g>)