Summary: An injured Clark returns from New Krypton to find that Lois has also suffered some changes.
Clark watched impatiently as Earth grew bigger in the view screen. He kept trying to reach Lois telepathically, to tell her of his arrival, but it wasn't working.
Zara and Ching exchanged glances and Zara stepped forward to talk to Clark. "We'll arrive in less than two hours, Clark."
Clark interrupted -"Two hours and one year, Zara. How can I explain, make it up to Lois. For all she knows, I'm dead or unable to come back. She may have given up, there could be someone else in her life now …" His stomach rolled, unable to continue that train of thought. His leg injured in the escape from Lord Nor, throbbed and he stumbled a bit.
Zara gently led him to a seat urging, "Rest here, Clark, you've just barely begun to heal. We should have waited a little longer before starting this journey."
"No more waiting, Zara, that's all Lois and I have done. I'm going to find her and try to make up for this misery somehow." He rested his head back against the headrest and tried to calm his emotions.
His mind drifted back over the past year. He had been so sure that going with Ching and Zara was the right thing to do. He just couldn't turn his back on his people. His father's image had spoken to him and he hadn't been able to get it out of his mind. He owed his existence to his father's dream and daring experiment. And now what was left of Krypton was being destroyed by this Nor. Lois and he had decided together that he should go.
Lois had said, "I don't want to look in your eyes for the rest of our life together, and see regret. You'd never know if you could have made a difference and it will eat you up inside. It would poison the best thing I've ever had in my life. Go, and come back to me."
Well, he had gone, but ironically until he was captured in battle and imprisoned by Nor, he had been unable to help. There were too many factions, and too little time to solidify alliances, before Nor attacked. Six months into his stay there, Ching's forces had barely managed to hold their own. Then with his imprisonment, suddenly the tide had started to change. Ching was able to use his situation as a rallying point between the Houses, and they had finally triumphed. But Nor had tried to break Clark during his imprisonment. Finally, when defeat was imminent, he had tried to set off a bomb to kill the forces advancing upon his stronghold. They had managed to almost get clear when the bomb had exploded, wounding Clark severely. Between his injuries from the bomb, and his injuries at the hands of Nor, they had not known if he would survive.
But Clark, even in his pain had clung to the promise he had made Lois. That was the reason Nor had been unable to break him, why he had survived; to return to her. But so much time had passed. He had finally demanded to be taken home. Zara and Ching had wanted him to remain in the hospital, to heal more, but he had been adamant. He had done everything that they had asked. Now it was time to return to his life, his Lois.
Zara and Ching brought him into Metropolis, to the same warehouse, where one year ago, they had their fateful first meeting. "Good-by, Kal-El, New Krypton will not forget you," Ching clasped his hand. They were gone. Clark rested his weight on his cane, and walked out onto the street.
Clark stood outside of Lois' apartment building and wished he could stop shaking. Finally, he and Lois would be together, forever. He was never going to leave her again. He knocked on her apartment door, then blinked in surprise when a stranger answered. "I'm sorry," he stammered. "I'm looking for Lois Lane, she used to live in this apartment …"
"I don't know about the previous tenant," the woman replied. "I've lived here for over six months, now." "Lois Lane … didn't she used to be a reporter for the Daily Planet?"
Clark, his heart in his throat, echoed "Used to be? …" At the strange look the woman gave him, he explained, "I've been out of the country for a time. Lois and I used to be good friends, I need to find her."
"Like I said, I don't know where she is, but I think I heard she was sick. I know I haven't seen any stories in the Planet by her for almost a year."
"Thank you," Clark turned and left the building. He sat on the stairs outside her apartment, trying to hold back the tears that threatened to overwhelm him. "Oh, my love, what happened. Please be all right. You've got to be all right."
"CK? … "CK, is that you?"
Clark raised his head from his hands. Looking around, he saw Jimmy across the street. He raised his hand and motioned him to come over.
"Man, CK, everyone has been worried sick, ever since you disappeared covering the riots -" Jimmy took a good look at Clark — "You look terrible! — I — I mean …"
"It's OK, Jimmy, I know what you mean," said Clark. "I've had better days." Thinking quickly, he added. "these thugs, Intergang I think, grabbed me in the street right after I phoned in my Superman story. I finally convinced one of them to help me escape. Jimmy, where's Lois, what happened?"
"Well, she was pretty shook up, CK. With Superman leaving, the city in chaos, you missing. But she turned in a great story on Superman's leaving and the aftermath. She won the Pulitzer. You've got to read it sometime — it touched people. She seemed to get it back together though until …" He paused.
"What, Jimmy, will you just tell me WHAT'S GOING ON?" Clark was at the end of his rope, emotionally and physically.
Jimmy, placed his arm around Clark's shoulder, "Lois is at your mom and dad's place. She's on a leave of absence from the Planet. She's all right physically, C.K. But she's been depressed and your mom's been taking care of her while she's seeing someone, … you know … I think anything else you need to talk to Lois about." Jimmy grinned, "Now that you're back everything will be back to normal again. I can see the headlines now — Lane & Kent — They're Back!"
"Uh, Jimmy, I need a favor — "
"Anything, C.K, you know that."
"I need to get home, can you help me?
"You, bet — follow me."
Clark thanked the farmer that had given him a ride from the bus station. He was more exhausted that he could ever remember being. He just concentrated on walking up the road to his parents' home. Home — Lois — Home — Lois … His footsteps kept in time with his only thoughts — Home — Lois — Home — Lois.
Finally he was there — and so was she. She was sleeping in the wooden porch swing, and his heart leaped in his chest. So thin, so fragile looking. They would heal together … together in all things now.
He could hear his mother's voice coming closer. "I know, Jonathan, but she'd want to wake up to feed -" As she came through the front door, she saw him. For a moment in time, they just looked at each other. Then, they both moved forward, crying, clutching each other. Jonathan came outside, carrying a small blanket. "What's going on, Martha …" then he too stopped and a single tear ran down his cheek. "Son …" he whispered. Father and son embraced, when the blanket began moving.
"Dad, What? …"
Martha took the baby from Jonathan, "Clark, I'd like you to meet Lara Martha Kent — your daughter."
Silently, Clark held out his arms. As he took the baby and cradled her in a soft embrace, he was overwhelmed with emotion. "My daughter? Oh, mom," he murmured. "I wish I could have been here; she shouldn't have had to go through this alone."
"Mom, what's wrong with Lois? Did carrying my child hurt her? . . I went to Metropolis, Jimmy said she'd been sick, I need to know what's wrong." Still holding his daughter, he crouched down, gently brushing her hair off her forehead, his eyes dark and concerned. "She's the only thing that helped me survive, Mom. I can't lose her now."
"Now that you're back, I'm sure she'll be all right, Clark. After you left, she threw herself into her work, and wasn't taking care of herself. Then she found out she was pregnant and that seemed to strengthen her. She was happier, first the baby and then the Pulitzer. She found a house and was hanging wallpaper in the nursery when she fell." Martha paused, "She almost lost the baby, Clark. She blamed herself. You see, your father and I were coming to help hang the wallpaper, but she started without us. We found her on the floor and took her to the hospital. She had to spend the rest of the pregnancy in the hospital, in bed. Even so, Lara was born a month early, and had to spend some time in the hospital before she came home. Lois was so worried that they'd find something out about the baby, but if anyone saw anything unusual, it was never mentioned. She's been depressed since the accident, but even more so since the birth. Lara was so small and fragile at first, and Lois has never been confident about her parenting skills. Now that you're a family again I know everything will be all right."
"We'll go back inside now — we'll all talk later." Jonathan and Martha went into the house.
"Lois," Clark gently called, "Wake up, honey … I'm so sorry … I'll never leave again … Lois … "
Lois' eyelashes fluttered against her cheeks. She blinked, focusing on Clark. "Is it really you?" she whispered shakily. "I'm probably dreaming again."
"Yes, love," Clark replied. "It's me and I will never leave your side again." They met in a tight embrace, unable to speak. Drawing back a little, Clark softly kissed Lois, then scattered kisses all over her face. Breathing in her scent, he murmured words of love.
The baby began to cry, and Clark looked down with a smile. "Demanding, I see — just like her mother. Just as beautiful as her mother. Oh, Lois, I'm sorry. I never dreamed …" his voice trailed off.
"She's a miracle, Clark." Lois took the baby from him, gently rocking her. "I almost lost you both. It would have killed me, Clark. At least with the baby, I had part of you with me." The baby began to cry again and Lois unbuttoned her blouse, placing the baby at her breast to nurse.
Clark watched Lois and his daughter together, and was stunned by the completeness he felt. He finally understood that this was not his journey's end, but the beginning. The beginning of a bright future for them all.