By Alicia U. <email@example.com>
Submitted: November 2003
Summary: What could possibly make Clark forget he is Superman? When his wife and baby are in trouble, he is paralyzed with fear and unable to save them and must rely on someone else. Will their relationship ever be the same?
*The amygdala is a small, almond-shaped neural structure responsible for emotions. It is responsible for the "freeze response" among many other things.*
6:30 AM. The alarm clock blared its incessantly annoying tune as it did every morning.
Clark reached out to get rid of the horribly head-splitting sound. Sometimes enhanced hearing just wasn't worth it!
Whoops. It looked like they were going to need a new alarm clock.
Looking back, that should have been the first sign that something wasn't right. Lois Lane and Clark Kent were normally creatures of habit with customs and mannerisms that had evolved into routine during their three years of marriage. Thus, they should have noticed that today was anything but ordinary.
When their normal routine had been interrupted, it should have been a sign that their lives were about to change. A change in routine like that happened for a reason.
No, looking back, their lives had begun to change a little more than eight months ago. Nothing had been normal since. But it had been a welcome intrusion into their normal lives.
8 months ago
Clark Kent sighed in frustration. It had been a rough day. Superman had been extremely busy, so Clark hadn't had a moment to himself. He hadn't even seen Lois since early that morning, and even then, it had been an incredibly rushed ten minutes.
Now he was finally home, and it was time to relax, reconnect, and reaffirm their love for each other.
Clark flew through the window and softly landed in the bedroom. He looked for his wife around the house and realized that she was downstairs in the kitchen. Lois? In the kitchen? Was that she doing down there? Cooking? Weird, she didn't know how to cook! He was slightly frightened by the thought. Good thing he had an iron stomach!
He quickly spun out of the suit and into a casual pair of pants and t-shirt before he made his way downstairs to meet Lois.
When she heard his soft footsteps on the kitchen floor, she turned around and her lips turned up into a smile. "Clark! You're home! I didn't hear you come in."
She silently closed the small distance separating them, and gently raised her hands to his shoulders, using them as a brace to gently raise her body up so her lips were able to meet his.
"I missed you," she whispered before her lips met his in a longing kiss.
When they finally pulled apart, Clark noticed the kitchen for the first time. Its only light came from two candles in the middle of the table. "Hey, what's the occasion?" Lois was dressed in his favorite dark burgundy, sleeveless dress with her hair falling down over her shoulders in the way he always told her it looked its best.
She looked beautiful.
And he looked horrible, like a man who had just returned from a hostage situation.
"I feel underdressed," he said, laughing, when he looked down at his jeans and t-shirt.
She took a step back, surveying his tight shirt and clingy pants. "No," she stammered. "Not at all."
"You look beautiful," he said softly, knowing that no words could ever describe just how gorgeous she looked. He pulled her close again and planted a row of kisses along her jaw and finally around to her mouth.
"Where did my parents go?" The elder Kents had been in Metropolis for the last week visiting their son and daughter in law.
Lois spoke for the first time, "Oh, I asked them if we could have dinner alone tonight. I wanted to be alone with my husband tonight."
She grinned at him and he felt his heart flutter like it did every time she smiled that special smile she saved only for him.
"Thank you, by the way," she added when she looked down at her dress, unconsciously smoothing unseen wrinkles.
She squeezed his shoulders lovingly saying, "Don't worry about being underdressed …"
" … Because we won't be wearing clothes much longer?" he finished her sentence hopefully and raised his eyebrows expectantly pulling her closer to him.
"Maybe … maybe not. We'll see," Lois said coyly and she batted her eyelashes at him flirtatiously. "First we have to finish dinner, though. I didn't slave over a hot stove for hours for nothing." She grinned at him knowing full well that he would see right through her obvious lie. When did she ever slave over a hot stove? Never in her life.
Clark raised his eyebrows again. "Oh you did?" he asked, quizzical expression on his face. "Hours, really? Didn't you have to cover the press conference at city hall tonight?" He fought the urge to laugh at her expression of indignation.
"Okay, then," she rolled her eyes. "To be absolutely technical, your mother slaved over a hot stove, and we don't want it to be for nothing; she's liable to kill us! So your raging libido will just have to wait until after dinner." Now it was Lois's turn to fight the urge to laugh at her husband's indignant look.
"Well then, we'd better eat quickly," Clark challenged good-naturedly. Superman had been busy today, but he'd practically forgotten about his rough, stressful day as soon as he laid eyes on Lois. He realized that he was feeling great … frisky, even.
Lois laughed at his reaction, but her expression quickly sobered when she thought of what she needed to tell him. She had tried to keep the happy facade as long as she could, but now she knew she would have to tell him. He might never want her this way again.
"Clark, honey …" Lois trailed off, afraid of his reaction. She knew she needed to come out and say it, but she didn't know how he would take her news. Actually, after knowing each other for more than seven years, she should have known exactly how he would react, but she couldn't be sure. This was just so unexpected, the opposite of all of their plans.
Clark could sense the mood change immediately. Her heart rate had risen and her breathing had picked up. She was having trouble voicing whatever she needed to tell him, but he didn't have any idea what it could be, not even a hint. He pulled her into a hug, slightly surprised she hadn't resisted, and rubbed her back hoping to reassure her, not sure if he was actually succeeding. "Hey, what is it?" he gently prodded.
When she didn't seem willing to answer, Clark traced a finger under along her throat and tipped her chin up towards him, kissing her softly on the lips. "Just tell me. You know you can tell me anything."
He was a little worried about how much trouble she was having. What could she possibly have to tell him? It had to be bad. She wouldn't have a hard time telling him something good. However, he wouldn't let his imagination run away with him. There were just so many things she could tell him. It could be almost anything.
Lois looked up into his eyes, and there she saw the same concerned look of love that she always saw whenever he was worried about her … and he definitely worried about her way too much.
Finally, she decided to come right out and tell him. It was better to get it off her chest than to keep him in suspense. This was Clark, her Clark, when had he ever not understood? Plus, this was a good thing. It was wonderful news. Amazing, even. He would be overjoyed. Right? Of course. She was the one who was having trouble with the concept.
She really did try to tell him calmly, but the words all spilled out jumbled and in one long string without a breath. "Oh, Clark, I don't know if this is good news or bad news. Personally, I think it might be good news, and I know you will, too, but I guess I'm not really sure how I feel." She continued, not noticing Clark's obvious worry and confusion. "I mean, I know we decided that we would wait, but it just happened. We did talk about wanting kids, but I never dreamed it would happen now …"
" … Wait, honey," Clark interrupted, having a good idea what she was talking about, but still not completely sure. A large grin broke out over his face when he asked, "Are you trying to tell me you're pregnant?"
Lois shyly looked up at him, but she wasn't sure what to say. Of course he had realized what she had been trying to tell him even though it sounded to her like she had been speaking gibberish. She laughed at the goofy grin that had come over her husband's face and she knew that her own grin was probably just as goofy. "I might be … Would you be happy if I was?" she asked, needing to be sure.
"Happy?" That was an understatement. Shocked, amazed, excited, overjoyed, even those words couldn't describe his emotions adequately. He felt like he could fly to the ends of the universe and back in celebration. "Oh, Lois, of course I'm happy! What else could I possibly be? Oh my god! We're having a baby?"
Lois nodded slowly realizing that now that she knew Clark's feelings, her own mind had been set. All along, she had been happy about the baby, but she'd been plagued by a tiny twinge of doubt the whole time. That small twinge had compounded into full-fledged fear. Now everything had been resolved and her last niggling worry had been put to rest. She was now able to enjoy her good news and to forget her fears.
Clark swept her into his arms and spun her around, the warming dinner forgotten.
It was unexpected, yet such a welcome surprise.
They were having a baby! How amazing!
Exactly, how amazing! That had been the night that had changed their lives forever. Now they weren't just Lois Lane and Clark Kent, happily married ace reporting team. They were Lois Lane and Clark Kent, parents to be.
It had been a night to remember, and the feelings they'd experienced that night would stick with them for the rest of their lives.
Today, however, more than eight months removed from that beautiful night, something else had changed, however subtle.
Although Clark had always been the one to wake first since the alarm clock aggravated his superhearing, since their first night together as man and wife, it had always been their cute little morning routine for Clark to pretend to sleep through it until Lois finally woke up and jumped on top of him to try to wake him. Secretly, Clark knew that Lois loved this little game. After the first few times, she had known that Clark was always awake, but every morning it was the same thing.
Today, however, Lois tried to ignore the alarm completely. She couldn't bring herself to flip over in bed, and definitely didn't have enough energy to move her arm towards the clock, let alone move her entire body to jump on top of Clark. She buried her head under her pillow and waited for the annoying sound to go away.
When Clark finally opened his eyes because Lois hadn't landed on top of him, and the alarm was hurting his sensitive ears, he was surprised that Lois wasn't yet awake. After he reached over to turn off, okay, smash, the stupid alarm clock, he looked over to the other side of the bed and saw Lois curled up in a ball with her head covered by a pillow.
"Lois?" He softly tapped her shoulder hoping to illicit a reaction. "Honey, are you okay?"
She groggily pulled the pillow away from her head and tried to force her eyes open, trying to ignore his hand shaking her shoulder. "I'm tired, Clark. Let me go back to sleep." Seeing the bright light shining in through the large window, she covered her head with the pillow. Argh! Couldn't she just shut off the sun for a while? Just a little longer?
Clark had a sinking feeling, a premonition, that something was horribly wrong, but he pushed it to the back of his mind. If he had brought it up, he would have faced the most horrible wrath imaginable — Pregnant Mad Dog Lane. "Lois, honey, it's time to get up." He pried the pillow away from her head and then he said, "Okay, you asked for it."
With the pillow out of her reach, he leaned down to within a few millimeters from her face and whispered, "Lois, get up," before he planted a soft kiss on her cheek. He shifted slightly and kissed her on the forehead and then on the mouth.
When he felt her shudder under his soft touch, his worries again came to the surface. He'd always worried about her more than she thought was necessary, but now that she was carrying his baby, he had become the doting husband and concerned father all rolled into one. It made her crazy, but he couldn't help it; he'd always made her crazy. Why change now? "Hey, Lois, are you okay?"
Lois wanted to push him off her. She didn't want anyone to touch her right now. She usually loved to feel Clark close to her, but today was the exception. She just felt … funny. She'd been so tired lately, and now it seemed to be catching up with her. It wasn't really anything special. They'd been busy and constantly on the move and she needed to catch up on some sleep. It was as simple as that.
Clark sounded worried, though, so she had to reassure him. He was so cute when he got all overprotective. She could never tell him that, though. Clark was cute, but incredibly annoying.
She smiled at him and reached out so she could run her hand along his face. "I'm fine, honey," she said with a false smile. "I just need to sleep. I think I'll stay home today to catch up on some of the sleep I've been missing."
Clark raised his eyebrows. Lois was never one to take a day off just to sleep. She never EVER stayed home voluntarily. He usually had a hard enough time convincing her to stay home if she was sick with the flu and throwing up every ten minutes! "Are you sure you're okay, Lois." He covered her small hand with his larger one and brought it to his lips. "Maybe I should take you to the doctor. You look a little pale. It might be the baby."
"That's quite alright, Dr. Kent," she said almost sarcastically, but he knew she was teasing. "I'm really just tired, Clark. And we have so much work to do here."
She rolled her eyes as she thought about the research she needed to get through for their story. "I can catch up on the Fergussen investigation. I hate staying home, though, because we have so much work to finish before I go on maternity leave."
When Lois mentioned her maternity leave, Clark unconsciously reached his hand under her shirt and began to rub her swollen belly, marveling at the feeling of the baby moving under his hand.
Lois giggled when she felt his cool hand against her warm skin. Even though her stomach hurt, Clark's soft ministrations were extremely soothing. It was weird. When he touched her shoulder or her face she felt worse, but when he touched her belly, she almost felt better. It was one of those weird, inexplicable medical phenomena.
Since the beginning of her pregnancy, she had always felt this way. His touch was so soothing, and it was almost like the baby knew he was there.
She remembered waking up one morning shortly after she had told everyone at work about the pregnancy.
Almost 5 months ago
Getting ready for work was horribly traumatic. She had nothing to wear. Maybe she should just go naked. Now that would get some attention.
She had tried on every outfit in her closet, but every outfit she had tried flat out didn't fit. Why did this have to happen to her right now? She wasn't ready for this yet!
She stood before Clark, shocked, wearing pants that wouldn't even close.
Her husband only sat on the bed laughing, obviously amused at her farcical situation. He didn't even have the decency to hide his horrible, mocking, proud expression.
"Clark," she whined, "It seems like once I started telling people, I just popped out! This isn't fair!"
His grin widened as he got out of bed and wrapped his arms around her expanding midsection, sneaking a hand under her open zipper to rub her stomach. "Well, I think you look beautiful."
"Like I trust your taste! You'd think I was beautiful even if I wore a paper bag!"
"Yeah, but in my defense, you look good in brown."
She tried to squirm away from him, but she stopped abruptly. "Oh my god," she breathed. "Did you feel that?" She grabbed his hand and halted its movement.
"Lois! Is that…"
She took a deep breath and whispered, "I think it's the baby."
"The baby? The baby's moving?"
Lois didn't answer, too in awe of the moment. This was the first time she had felt the baby and had actually realized it was the baby. She'd felt tiny flutters before, but she hadn't known if it was really the baby or just her imagination. Now she knew it was her baby.
There really was a baby inside her!
It was true. A little person, who moved, was living in her belly. And it responded to Clark's touch.
She couldn't believe it.
They felt another flutter as Clark moved his hand again. He sank to his knees in front of her and softly kissed the area just to the left of her belly button where they felt the tiny flutter.
It was a picture that would be imprinted in her mind for years to come. Seeing her husband, Clark Kent, Superman, so in awe of something so small was sobering. She realized then that it was insane to be worried about clothing when there was a life growing inside her. This baby was part her and part Clark. The concept was amazing. She carried a part of her husband with her wherever she went.
Who cared if her clothes fit? Now everywhere she went, people would know that she and Clark had conceived a new life. It was a symbol of their love for each other. This baby was the ultimate expression of their love.
As she thought about it, she realized that pregnancy really was an interesting part of life. No wonder Clark was so protective. She carried a piece of him wherever she went and now he had the responsibility to protect two people.
Maybe she should cut him some slack.
Drawn back to the present, she couldn't help but smile watching Clark plant soft kisses all over her belly, and whispering soft nothings to their baby. She remembered how she had felt that morning nearly five months ago.
Clark was going to make such an incredible daddy. Their baby would be the luckiest child in the world.
She could get used to this queen-like treatment. Even though she felt huge and immobile, Clark still made her feel cherished and beautiful, and he bent over backwards trying to make sure she was comfortable.
Sometimes a girl needed to be waited on hand and foot. She wished he could stay with her today to take care of her. However, she knew he couldn't. There was just too much to do at work. He would stay with her in a second if she asked him, but he had more important things to do if they wanted to break the Fergussen story before she went on maternity leave.
Their eyes met and they shared a grin, not saying anything, but each understood what the other was thinking. Then Clark moved up to capture her soft lips with his own, never moving his hand from her belly.
When their kiss broke, Lois found herself whispering, "Maybe it would be better if I just stayed home today." She felt slightly queasy and a little dizzy, but she knew that the feeling would pass. It wasn't anything to be worried about. With just a little more sleep, she would feel a lot better. It was nothing for Clark to worry about.
Who was she kidding?
Of course he was already worried. He'd been worried since the moment she had told him about the baby, and he would probably stay worried forever.
"Well then, why don't I stay home with you?" He leaned back onto his side of the bed and wrapped his arms around her swollen midsection. "I can use a day off, too." He stretched his legs out and moved to spoon her.
Lois knew he would respond in that way. Although she would have loved to spend the day in his arms, she knew that he couldn't stay with her. She awkwardly shifted in his arms so that they were face to face. "No, Clark. I would love to spend the day like this wrapped in your arms, but you can't stay."
When he was about to say something to the contrary, Lois put a finger over his lips. "I'm really okay, Clark. You don't have to stay. I have tons of work to do here, and you have a lot to do in the newsroom. One of us needs to keep the interview with the mayor, and one of us needs to find Bobby Bigmouth, and one of us needs to go to the staff meeting. It can't wait. I would just slow you down, honey."
"That's not important, Lois. Everyone will understand. You're the most important person in the world to me. They'll understand that I needed to be home with my very pregnant wife," he lied, knowing full well that they wouldn't understand in the slightest. However, his intuition told him that something about Lois wasn't right. Maybe he was just paranoid, but he had this sneaking feeling that Lois wasn't just tired. There had to be something else going on, and he wanted to be there to help her no matter what it was. His wife and his baby needed him, and that was more important than any scoop, even the scoop of the century.
Lois awkwardly sat up in bed and squeezed her husband's thigh. "You know you're a horrible liar, Clark."
They both knew he had to go to work today. There was no way he'd be able to justify missing the interviews, even to himself — no matter how guilty he felt for leaving his sick, pregnant wife at home alone all day.
Lois would have felt guiltier having him at home with her. She wanted this story even more than he did.
He knew she felt like it was her last hurrah, at least for the next few months, and he wanted to help make this the biggest story of the year.
"But, Lois, what they think doesn't matter. I would rather stay home with you," he pleaded, speaking the honest truth. "I love you, sweetheart. I couldn't leave you if I thought you were sick." His hand was still under her shirt resting on her belly, so he pulled her shirt up far enough to expose her rounded midsection housing their baby. They both laughed when the baby moved and her skin rippled. Clark leaned his head down onto her belly and whispered, "You want me to stay home too, don't you, little one?" He planted a soft kiss just below her belly button.
Lois couldn't believe how lucky she was; each day she realized it more. Clark was so attentive, so loving; he was going to make an incredible father. She found herself reaching out and running a hand through his short, silky hair. "Oh, Clark, I really do wish you could stay home with me … believe me, I wouldn't like anything more. But, you really don't have to. Please go to work, get the interviews." She stuck her tongue out, pouting, trying to illicit his deepest emotions. "For me?"
She shushed him before he could tell her that he would like to hold her in his arms all day. After as long as they had been together, she knew exactly what he would say even before he thought it. "Clark, really, I'm okay. I promise. You have your pager. If I feel even the slightest bit funny, I will page you. And I know Superman is always looking out for me. I promise I won't do anything stupid. Please go to work. Do it for me. I would feel horrible if one of us wasn't there and something big happened."
"Well, when you put it that way …" Clark squeezed his wife's hand, but then he said, "All teasing aside, Lois, if you're not feeling well, I want to stay home with you. The story isn't that important."
He couldn't shake the feeling that Lois was not as healthy as she was trying to portray. There was just something not right about her. He couldn't put his finger on it, but he knew that something was out of place. On the surface, she looked and sounded like the Lois he knew and loved, but there was something deeper that just didn't seem right.
"Clark!" Lois exclaimed, completely exasperated. "Please just go. I know you mean well, but now you're driving me insane. I 'm fine … really." Even though he made her crazy sometimes with his worry, Lois knew that she'd rather have her devoted worrywart than a husband that didn't care at all.
Clark knew he couldn't argue with her. He was just upsetting her, and the last thing she needed was for him to induce any unnecessary stress. Maybe he was imagining things. She was probably right. He really couldn't afford to miss today. However, he couldn't tear himself away from her. "I don't know, Lois …"
She looked at him and she hoped he would get the idea that she didn't want to argue about it any more. "Clark Kent! You are going! Now get out of this bed and into the shower."
Clark decided not to argue for the moment. If she was sick, she didn't need him getting her upset. He reluctantly got out of bed and made his way into the bathroom, still not sure if he was actually leaving or not.
Lois heard the water of his shower, so she knew that she had the leg up. He would probably end up going to work. Good. Even though she desperately wanted him to stay with her, this was the best thing for him, for both of them.
Thirty seconds later, Clark emerged from the shower and toweled himself off. He turned his gaze to his wife who watched him intently.
"You're amazing, Clark. I still can't believe you."
Clark shrugged, embarrassed that she was still in awe of his powers. They were just something he could do. No big deal. He was more concerned that Lois seemed almost asleep again. The twinge of guilt and worry again seeped to the surface. "Are you sure I should go?"
"Clark! What did I tell you? I'm fine! What do I have to do to convince you?"
He smiled sheepishly. "What can I say, honey? I worry about you."
"Clark! You're Superman. You can hear me calling from half way around the world."
"I know, but…"
"Clark! Please just go!"
At this point in their conversation, Clark had resigned himself to the fact that he had to leave, so he was now completely dressed in front of Lois. He stopped to look at her again and was struck by the same weird feeling. It had the potential to become even worse if he prodded her again. Lois had never been known for her cool temper.
"Okay," he consented softly. "But remember, I am going under duress. I wanted to stay." He moved in to kiss her softly and then more deeply as she reached up, threaded her hands through his hair and pulled his head closer.
When Clark finally pulled back, Lois whispered, "There, now do you feel better?"
Clark nodded quickly. "Honey, you know I'm just worried about you."
"And you have no reason to be," she argued, fighting back another yawn. "But I love you anyway."
"I love you, too," he answered, kissing her softly on the forehead before he finally obeyed her wishes and left the room.
When he finally got downstairs, he saw his parents sitting at the kitchen table. They had been staying with Lois and Clark for a few days now, helping prepare for the birth of their first grandchild.
Before either could speak to inquire about Lois, he said, "Can you guys keep an eye on Lois today? She doesn't seem right, but she is making me go to work."
Martha frowned at the thought. "What's wrong?" Whenever Clark had a strange premonition, more often than not, he was right.
"I don't know exactly. Something doesn't seem right today. I guess she seems off somehow. I am not even sure."
"Maybe she's just tired, son," Jonathan said sensibly. "You two have been awfully busy these last few days."
Martha added, "She has been pushing herself to finish that story."
Clark frowned, knowing that it was mostly his fault. He should have been doing more, but there had been several big disasters recently that Superman couldn't ignore. If he had been pulling his weight …
Jonathan put a hand on his wife's shoulder to quiet her, seeing the expression on his son's face. Martha was exacerbating the situation.
"Don't worry, Clark," Martha said, changing the subject. "We'll take care of her. If she wants you to go, you really should go."
Clark sighed deeply, knowing his parents were right. He trusted his parents, didn't he? They would take care of her, wouldn't they?
He was worrying too much and second guessing his every thought, wasn't he?
Yes, he was. That's why he was ending his every thought with a question.
Maybe he really should just go. The sooner he left, the sooner he would be home. Plus, nothing was stopping him from buzzing by their house as Superman a few times an hour. He reluctantly agreed. "You'll call me if anything … anything at all … happens?"
"Don't worry! We will!" Martha said, patting her son on the back. She looked at the clock and said, "Aren't you late?"
Clark frowned and groaned. "Oh no!" He spun into the Superman suit and rushed away, not forgetting to say, "Bye, Mom, Dad; I love you."
He knew what they had to be thinking. Maybe they were right. He was probably overreacting, but he knew that it was always better to be safe than sorry.
The day crawled by like molasses for Clark. His two interviews had gone quite well, netting him a lot of useful information. He felt like they were close to breaking the story wide open. It seemed like there was one more thing tying it all together that they hadn't yet found.
Clark couldn't devote himself fully to the investigation. He was too worried about Lois to do any serious investigating. In fact, he was a nervous wreck. Whenever he had a break, he would rush off as Superman and buzz by their house watching her. He called her a few times an hour to see if she was okay, but he knew that she had tried to make herself sound healthier than she really was to soothe his nerves, which she obviously knew were racing.
The day hadn't ended quickly enough. He had torn out of work as soon as he could and had raced home to his wife. They had survived the day. Maybe Lois really had only needed a good day's rest.
He flew home as fast as he could, and burst into the house, expecting to see the house bustling with activity as it had been every afternoon that his parents had been staying with them. He expected to see his mom in the kitchen cooking dinner and Lois sitting at the table sulking about not being allowed to taste anything early. His dad was usually watching television in the living room. However, today the house was empty. That was weird. Where was everyone? He'd had this strange feeling of doom all day, and now it was getting stronger.
"Lois?" he called as he pulled his glasses down his nose, trying to find her. She couldn't have left since her car was right outside. What if she had found something for the story this afternoon?
No, she wouldn't have left if she wasn't feeling well, right?
Normally, the answer was a definite 'yes, she probably had left', but now so close to their baby's arrival, he was sure she wouldn't put herself in any danger.
Regardless, he had decided that Superman was going to take the night off. He'd had a strange sense of foreboding all day and his mind wouldn't rest until he was sure that his wife was okay.
"I'm upstairs, Clark!" she exclaimed trying to make her voice more upbeat than she felt. "Would you mind getting me some ice cream? I'll be downstairs in a minute."
She successfully tried to stand up and then she decided to make a quick stop in the bathroom before she tried to come downstairs. The strange nagging pain that she had been feeling all day was getting worse. It was almost unbearable now that she was standing up and trying to walk. She was sure ice cream would help, though. It always helped. Ice cream, the cure for all ailments.
Clark was still overcome with the strange feeling of dread that had been plaguing him all day even though Lois had sounded fine, healthy, and happy. Although he was worried about her, he replied, "Okay, honey. At your service." He obediently headed downstairs to make her a bowl of double chocolate chip ice cream. "Where are my mom and dad?" he shouted upstairs conversationally.
She hadn't looked good when he'd left in the morning, so he'd vowed to come straight home as soon as he could. He'd been watching her all day, had called every fifteen minutes, but he knew that Lois would have killed him if she knew how many times he had flown past their house.
All day she had sounded okay. Not exactly fine, but it didn't really sound like anything was wrong. His premonition of doom had been just a scary dream. He was kidding himself. Lois was fine. The baby was fine.
Then why was he still sure that something was wrong?
When Lois made it to the bathroom, she realized that something wasn't right. It probably hadn't been right all day even though she had been in denial. Her legs were shaking uncontrollably, and she wasn't sure she could stand for much longer. Then she glanced down at the ground.
"Clark!" she exclaimed out of pure fear when she saw the slightly red-tinted fluid that was dripping on the ground below her.
Her water had broken! And something was wrong! It looked like blood!
She was almost in hysterics when she realized that she was in labor, and that her water had broken, and that there looked to be blood in the fluid!
That wasn't normal.
There had to be something wrong with the baby. Where was he? Did he not hear her? How could he not hear her? He was right downstairs! And he had Superhearing! Where was he? Did she really speak or was the voice just in her mind?
"Clark! Clark! Claaaaaaaaaaaaark!"
Her head felt like it was a mile away from her body. She'd lost all sensation. Her entire body felt weak and limp like it was all one big pot of spaghetti.
The last words she said before she collapsed were, "Please … help … me!" as she unceremoniously crashed to the ground.
"Lois!" Clark exclaimed. At first he wasn't sure if she had really said something or if it had been his imagination, her voice was barely a whisper. Then he heard it again, loudly, desperately screaming his name. She was in trouble!
She had fallen.
The bowl of ice cream Clark had been holding slipped from his hands. Something was wrong.
His heart almost stopped beating when he heard the crash of her fall. "Lois?" he called, desperately hoping she would respond telling him everything was fine.
When she said nothing in response, Clark zipped up the steps as fast as he'd ever flown. He yelled again, louder, voice filled with anxious desperation, "Lois?"
"Lois!" Clark moaned in agony at the sight of her pale form sprawled on the ground motionless.
He'd seen many people like this as Superman; however none had ever been his wife, the one person that was the most important thing in his world.
The sight of his beloved wife limply lying on the ground, skin as white as porcelain, sent all of his common sense out the window. He was frozen in place, unable to move, staring at her prone form.
When his eyes focused on the drops of blood by her feet, he underwent a metamorphosis from the confident superhero who faced disasters like this on a daily basis into the village idiot that didn't even know his own name.
He had saved Lois's life countless times. This was different. He had never seen her as an unconscious, bleeding, ghostly shadow of the woman he loved. She had never been carrying their baby.
His world was crashing down around him. This was his beloved Lois, the woman he loved more than life itself. Every survival technique he had learned as Superman had escaped him. He wanted to do so much, but couldn't think. He couldn't even move to pick her up because he was frozen in place.
He sank down to the ground next to her and gathered her head onto his lap and stroked her dark, silky hair. "Lois," he wailed again. Even though he knew what he was supposed to do in this situation, his mind was an absolute blank. This was not some nameless, faceless person he saw as Superman, this was Lois! And that made everything so painfully different. He couldn't distance himself from this situation in order to think objectively. If he didn't do the right thing, he would lose her and their baby, and he would die if that happened. She was his reason for living, sustaining him through every day.
Even though he was frozen with fear and grief, he had the presence of mind, or maybe it was an instinct, to grab Lois's wrist and feel for a pulse. It was racing, but it was there! At least he could cling to that fact. He didn't want to move her to check the baby because he wasn't absolutely sure what had happened.
Actually, he didn't want to check because he didn't want to find out that the baby was in trouble. It was stupid, but he felt that if he didn't see it, it couldn't have happened.
Again, the lapse in judgment from the man whose wife was unconscious in front of him had to be excused. He couldn't be both the hero and the husband at the same time. Right now, he was in too much shock to become the confident Superman he had always been. He was stuck being the frantic husband.
The one logical thing to do would be to gather her into his arms and fly her to the hospital. It was a thought that he never considered because he was frozen, unable to think clearly. His basic survival instincts had disappeared.
Martha and Jonathan, sitting on the back balcony, had no idea of the drama that had been unfolding inside the house. Then they heard Clark's primal scream.
"Was that Clark?" Martha asked, an edge of fear in her voice.
"I don't know. It sounded like him," Jonathan agreed, feeling the same sense of dread.
They both jumped out of their seats as fast as they could and rushed into the house to find the source of Clark's scream. Although neither wanted to put it into words, they both feared the worst. However, neither knew exactly what the worst could be.
"Clark!" Martha called, trying to locate her son. When he didn't respond, she told Jonathan, "Something isn't right. It's just not right."
Jonathan's heart pounded in fear. Somehow he had a premonition that something had happened to Lois. She hadn't looked right the whole day, and he couldn't think of anything else that would make Clark so frantic. He followed Martha towards the sound of Clark's voice, with his sense of dread growing with each step. Jonathan knew he didn't want to see whatever was awaiting them, for whatever it was couldn't be good.
Clark hadn't noticed when Martha and Jonathan entered the bathroom. They both froze when they saw Lois, the woman who had become like a daughter to them, there on the tile, seemingly unconscious and surrounded by drops of her own blood.
"Lois!" Martha exclaimed. She felt her heart skip a beat at the sight; she couldn't bear to look at the scene before her.
It couldn't be her Lois, could it? It had to be a horrific nightmare.
Lois was still in her room, with her laptop, trying to do research into the mayor's office, wasn't she? She had to be. This couldn't be happening in real life, not to Lois.
Then she looked at her poor son, who looked as white as a ghost and had tears streaming down his pale face. He was holding Lois's head in his lap and was positively shaking. The boy looked almost more helpless and lost than Lois did. He was a far cry from the hero she knew him to be. Clark had lost his cool under pressure, something Martha had never known him to do. Why hadn't he taken Lois to the hospital?
Martha knew her boy needed a wake-up call. "Clark!" she said as sternly as she could. "Do something! Take her to the hospital! Help her!" She felt bad for being so harsh on her only son, the poor boy whose wife and baby were in danger, but he was the one person there that could possibly help her right now.
Jonathan moved behind Clark and tried to tap him on the shoulder. He wanted to do something to bring his son back to reality. Even if he couldn't save Lois himself, he had to be able to do something.
Clark had somehow understood what Martha had told him, and sort of responded to Jonathan's stimulus, and managed to pull his cell phone out of his pocket and dial 9-1-1 with shaking hands. He knew he could have flown her to the hospital faster than any ambulance could get there, but again he wasn't thinking clearly. Right now, he wasn't sure if he even remembered how to fly.
He wasn't sure how he managed to dial the three numbers correctly because he couldn't hold his hand still and couldn't focus his eyes through his tears.
"9-1-1, what's your emergency?" the dispatcher answered.
"My wife," Clark said without thinking, amazed that he could speak at all. Then Clark completely lost it. He was practically in hysterics and could not form a coherent sentence. "Please help me!" Clark exclaimed. "Lois! Unconscious. Bleeding. The baby!"
When Martha realized Clark wasn't helping the dispatcher, she grabbed the phone from his ice cold hand. Even though she had always prided herself on her sense of calm, even Martha was having trouble keeping a cool head. This was her son's wife, the woman who had become like the daughter she never had.
Martha knew she wasn't really in any better shape mentally than Clark, but at least she knew she could give the person on the phone good directions. If Clark couldn't fly Lois himself, she would make sure the ambulance would be able to get there as fast as humanly possible.
After grabbing the phone from Clark's trembling hand, she resolved to try to give the 9-1-1 person any help she could. "Hello? Yes, my … daughter …" Martha realized that it was the first time she'd ever called Lois her daughter, even though it was always understood although it was unspoken. "She's nine months pregnant … We found her unconscious on the bathroom floor … yes, yes she's bleeding, but we can't tell where the blood is coming from … 348 Hyperion Avenue … Thank you. Please hurry," the older woman added frantically.
When Martha hung up the phone, she wasn't sure whom to help: Clark or Jonathan … or herself.
Clark stroked Lois's hair and whispered something inaudible, sobbing like a baby. Martha had never seen her son cry; he had to be in shock.
She was surprised that he wasn't using his powers and rudimentary medical training to do everything he physically could to help his wife, but, in a situation like this, she knew that he might not have remembered that he was blessed by so many wonderful powers. The poor boy was paralyzed with terror. No one could blame him, though. It was his wife and baby in this situation. He wouldn't be human if the situation didn't affect him so drastically. Even though he wasn't really human, his emotions were.
Martha knew that she seemed calm on the exterior, but she was a mess on the inside. Every time she looked at Lois and the drops of blood on the floor, she felt her heart sinking. She just wished that Clark would break out of it and become the confident man she had raised.
She desperately wished he would get it together and miraculously save the woman he loved. He had saved so many other people, why couldn't he save his wife?
Could Clark even subconsciously be blaming himself for everything that had happened? Was he worried that his alien physiology had done something to the baby that made it hurt Lois?
While all the drama was taking place at her daughter's house, Ellen Lane had been busy picking up a gift for her grandchild and preparing to bring it to Lois. She turned down their street just as an ambulance came up behind her. Without a fleeting thought, the instinctive gossip inside of her decided to follow the ambulance to see just where it was headed. Her heart nearly stopped when the ambulance stopped right in front of her daughter's house. That's what she got for chasing ambulances.
What could have happened? It had to have been Jonathan or Martha Kent. From what Lois had said, they were staying in Metropolis for a few weeks until the baby was born. Could Jonathan have had a heart attack? Could Martha have had a stroke? Ellen felt her heart sink as she realized that with Lois so close to giving birth, whoever it was would never get to see their first grandchild, but she would. It just wasn't fair.
Ellen pulled her car to a screeching halt behind the ambulance and hopped out. While they unloaded the gurney, Ellen found herself franticly asking one of the men, "What's wrong? My daughter lives here," she added, so they wouldn't think she was just some nosy person that followed ambulances.
The man turned towards her and said, "I'm not sure, ma'am. The call said that a pregnant woman is unconscious and bleeding."
Ellen felt her jaw drop and all of the blood leave her face. "Lois?" she wondered in a voice she didn't recognize as her own. Even though she had mentally prepared herself for the worst if it was either Jonathan or Martha, she had never even dreamed that it could be Lois.
"Lois!" she exclaimed. "My baby! Now come on! Hurry up!" she scolded the paramedics.
Ellen led the group with the gurney into the house and she realized that the commotion was all happening upstairs. She fleetingly noticed the ice cream that Clark had dropped when he had heard Lois calling for him. Martha came to the steps and shouted, "Up here!"
"Martha!" Ellen exclaimed when she saw the familiar face, and horrified expression. "What happened to Lois?" She and the paramedics started to ascend the stairs.
Ellen was in a state of shock. Lois was fine. This was all a big joke. She had talked to her daughter this afternoon.
Martha shook her head when she said, "I have no idea, Ellen. And Clark's no help," she added when it looked like Ellen was going to comment. "He's in there just holding her head."
Ellen shook her head. What good was that? When they got to the top of the stairs, Ellen got her first look at the scene in the bathroom. Martha and Jonathan were waiting outside and they both looked horrible.
When she finally gathered the courage to look into the bathroom, Ellen saw the worst possible sight imaginable. Clark was sitting on the floor, his face having lost all of its color, crying and muttering something, obviously so distraught that he couldn't do anything to help his wife whose head he cradled on his lap. And Lois … poor Lois … her little girl was as white as a ghost and obviously unconscious sprawled out on the bathroom floor. Ellen gasped when she saw the blood on the floor. "What happened?" Ellen whispered, shocked she could find any voice.
No one answered her because the paramedics had started to work on Lois taking her blood pressure and other vital signs. Martha and Jonathan peered in to the bathroom trying to see what the paramedics thought was wrong, and praying that the vital signs were normal for Lois and the baby. Clark was still holding her head in his lap, but his tears had stopped. Now he looked almost like a shadow of the man she knew. He stared blankly as the medics worked on his wife. It was almost like he was paralyzed with fear.
Ellen couldn't stay in the bathroom any longer. She couldn't look at Lois like this. It just wasn't right. Images of Lois as a little girl floated through her mind. Lois was so young, so full of life. This couldn't be happening. Even though she'd had extensive medical training and had worked as a nurse for so many years, Ellen couldn't bear to see her daughter in this condition.
One of the medics came out of the bathroom and grabbed Ellen's arm. She knew she probably looked like the one person that would be able to give him coherent answers. God knew Clark, Jonathan, and Martha couldn't.
"Ma'am, I was wondering if you could give me some information."
Ellen took a deep breath. "Oh, yes, dear," she said with a definitive nod, happy she was able to do something, however minor, to help her daughter. For once, being an overbearing mother definitely paid off. She knew the answer to every one of the medic's questions.
Soon, the paramedics had lifted Lois's small body onto the stretcher and were beginning to wheel her out of the bathroom. Clark still didn't seem like he knew what was going on, but he had somehow stood up and grabbed onto Lois's limp hand. He jogged next to the stretcher as they made their way out to the ambulance. Martha, Jonathan, and Ellen followed a short distance behind.
"Do they know what's wrong?" Ellen said to Martha, almost frightened to know the answer.
"I don't know," Martha responded quickly. It was at times like this that she wished that she knew more medical jargon. "They said something … she's in labor, but other than that I don't know. It didn't sound good."
Martha couldn't help but wonder if something to do with Clark's alien origins had done something to the baby that had hurt Lois. The pregnancy hadn't seemed abnormal thus far, but maybe this was the end result. How could they know what Clark's genes were really like? They had all assumed, maybe incorrectly, that the fact that Clark had been able to conceive a child in the first place meant that he was compatible with Lois. What if they had been wrong? Martha couldn't help but want to smack herself for not suggesting that they explore the pregnancy further with Superman's Doctor Klein.
"Oh, my little girl," Ellen whispered. She wasn't sure what was going on, but she knew Lois was in trouble. At this point, she realized that she and Lois hadn't exactly made peace. There was still a rift between them lasting from her childhood for which she may never get a chance to atone.
Twenty minutes later, the disheveled group had finally made it to the hospital behind the ambulance.
Clark was almost still in shock. What had happened? He'd known that something had been terribly wrong before he left this morning, but he hadn't done anything. He had gone completely limp.
He had lost his mind.
He had known exactly what he needed to do. He should have scooped Lois into his arms and flown her to the hospital at superspeed. Knowing he had to do it and actually forcing his body to do it were vastly different things.
Hindsight was perfect. In the heat of the moment, the mind could do horrible things.
At the sight of Lois's pale body sprawled out unconscious on the floor, he had lost all physical control. Even though he knew exactly what he needed to do, he hadn't been able to do it.
His mind had been working too hard. He couldn't have moved her safely because she might have hit her head when she fell. After he determined that it wasn't the problem, he still wasn't able to move.
What an idiot.
The thought that he might have caused this overcame him and sent him into a paralyzed state. He couldn't move, couldn't think.
What kind of hero was he if he couldn't even save the one person that meant the most to him in the world!
In the sterile emergency waiting room, he unconsciously focused his x-ray vision on the room where they were working on Lois. Of course *now* his powers worked on command.
Why hadn't they worked a few minutes ago?
His enhanced hearing locked on the voices from her room, and he heard a masked man exclaim, "I'm not sure what's happening!"
Damned superhearing and x-ray vision. He wasn't sure which was better: complete sensory deprivation where he wasn't even conscious of what was happening or watching the worst unfold. He had never experienced the feeling of absolute powerlessness.
With all the hustle in the emergency room, and the internal torment of his mind, Clark was only able to pick up snippets of the doctors' conversation. Part of him wished he could be in the room with the doctors helping them do what he hadn't been able to do before. Lois needed him. She needed help.
He hadn't been able to help her before after she collapsed. He had ignored the warning signs.
Then when he saw her limp form, his body had gone limp and his mind blank. Couldn't think. Couldn't move. Couldn't help the woman that meant the most to him in the world.
What had happened to him?
He had never been paralyzed by fear before in his life.
A doctor's voice invaded his thoughts. "The baby's breech."
Was that bad? Could that have caused Lois to pass out? The frantic voices began to jumble together because they were coming so fast.
"But what's happening with the mom?"
"Doesn't look like it. Mother's in distress. Heart rate's falling."
Clark's breath caught in his chest. He slowly stood up, eyes fixed on Lois, and began to walk towards her trauma room.
"We need to get the baby out."
"In the ER?"
Beep. Beep. Beep.
"We need to get it out as soon as possible."
"Heart rate's dropping."
Ring. Ring. Beep.
"Sir, you can't go in there!"
"She's losing a lot of blood."
"Where's it coming from?"
Beep. Beep. Beep.
"Prep for an emergency C-section!"
"Sir, you can't go in there!"
"Ninety seconds skin to baby."
Clark closed his eyes, unable to watch the doctors cut into his wife's skin.
"Is that the husband?"
"I think so."
"Someone needs to talk to him."
Clark felt a hand on his arm. As if he was moving in slow motion, Clark turned his head to look at the person interrupting his vision and hearing.
The masked woman began, "Sir, the baby seems fine. It's a girl."
Clark smiled slightly at the sight of his baby, but he couldn't be joyful. Of course he was ecstatic that his baby was healthy and that he even had a baby at all, but he couldn't react properly when his world was still crashing down around him.
"And Lois?" he asked frantically. He almost didn't want to hear the answer.
The doctors were still working on her. She was still bleeding. The baby was crying.
There was one bright spot in his haze. Their baby, their beautiful little girl, seemed … okay. She had even cried a little weak whimper initially, and now she was crying full-force.
"We don't know yet. She's lost a lot of blood…"
"What happened?" Clark knew what happened when someone lost large quantities of blood. If they didn't stop the bleeding soon … he didn't want to imagine the consequences.
"We aren't sure yet."
"You aren't sure yet?" How couldn't they know for sure? Why couldn't they stop the bleeding?
"We're trying everything we can, sir. Do you want to see your daughter?"
Clark nodded immediately.
He had a hard time prying his eyes from Lois, but he needed to see the baby. Lois would have wanted him to check on her.
It was a girl! They had a daughter. It seemed almost surreal. Even this morning, they had been so excited about their new baby. Now he couldn't believe everything that had happened.
They had a baby girl.
But he wasn't sure if Lois would ever get to see her.
As Clark watched the doctors and nurses work on Lois and their baby, all of the emergency experience that had escaped him previously flooded his brain at once. He instantly remembered a book he had read about possible complications associated emergency cesarean sections to both mother and baby.
Lois had lost a lot blood, and that was never good. Even worse, it seemed like she was still bleeding.
The baby seemed fine, perfect, wonderful, amazing.
They needed to stop the bleeding. Could he cauterize wherever she was bleeding from with his heat vision? Would that work?
It was at times like this that he wished he'd had formal medical training. There was only so much he could learn from textbooks.
Their baby seemed like she was doing well, the best that could be expected under the circumstances. She was so small, so beautiful. Clark had to fight back tears when he looked at her. Their baby. She was theirs. He and Lois had made her.
This was not how he'd imagined the birth of their baby. He'd never imagined not sharing this beautiful moment with Lois. She deserved to be the first person to hold her baby.
It was looking good for their little girl. She was crying now. Plus, she started to pink up with the oxygen they were giving her. Even though Clark didn't have much experience with newborn babies, he knew that their daughter looked healthy. His sense of optimism assured him that she was going to make it.
She had to make it!
Clark kept switching his attention from the baby to Lois. While their daughter seemed to be doing well, the same could not be said for Lois. The team of doctors was trying everything they could to stop the bleeding and to get the uterus to contract back. They had tried a uterine massage and had administered as much pitocin as they could. However, they were not meeting any success. She was losing the blood as quickly as they could transfuse it in.
He was absolutely frantic. As happy as he was that their baby was doing well, that happiness was all but destroyed when he realized what a thin line Lois was treading between life and death. She had lost way too much blood. They weren't stopping the bleeding.
Why couldn't they stop it?
He wanted to do something to help her, but there wasn't anything he could do. These doctors were professionals. They knew what they were doing. He needed to trust them implicitly.
The neonatologist turned to Clark and smiled when she gave him the good news about the baby, "She's going to be fine. Her postpartum Apgar was 8, but her ten minute Apgar is 10. She's really responded well to the oxygen."
"Thank God," Clark breathed. He didn't take his eyes off Lois, but he felt part of the massive burden on his heart lift away. At least their baby was going to be fine. Now he only had to worry about his wife.
This had to be a horrible dream. When he opened his eyes, Lois would be lying next to him. She would reassure him that she was fine and he'd just had a horrific nightmare.
He closed his eyes, scrunched them tightly shut. When he opened them again, nothing had disappeared. His daughter was crying on the other side of the room and the doctors were still working on Lois.
She wouldn't stop bleeding. They transfused new blood in as quickly as they could, but she was losing it just as fast as they could get it in.
"Sir, we've tried everything we can to stop the bleeding. We can't stop it. The only thing we can do now is a hysterectomy."
"I don't care!" Clark exclaimed in agony, eyes fixed on Lois's pale form. "She's still bleeding. She's lost too much blood. Do whatever you have to do! Just save my wife!"
It seemed almost like a slow motion video as he watched the doctors remove his wife's uterus through the small window in the trauma room door. This was her only chance to survive, and he was powerless to change anything.
He had the power to do so many things, yet he was utterly powerless to do anything to save his wife.
It couldn't have really happened.
It had to be a nightmare.
Lois's seemingly lifeless form, connected to tubes and wires, wasn't real. They were really in bed sleeping waiting for the alarm clock to ring.
No, they weren't.
As he had realized so many times today, this was real. Lois really had given birth to their beautiful little girl, but she had lost a lot of blood, and eventually her uterus in the process.
What had they done to deserve this?
Would she ever wake up?
His only comfort came from the beeping monitors recording her steady heartbeat.
Lois didn't deserve this. No one deserved this.
Especially not Lois. She had done everything right.
He didn't need to dwell on what they deserved. The important thing was that Lois was alive and their baby was healthy.
As soon as they had removed her uterus, they had been able to stop the bleeding. Something had caused the placenta to lodge in her uterine wall, and they hadn't been able to remove it correctly. The harder they tried to get it out, the more she bled.
How had it happened to her? What had they done to deserve this?
Why hadn't he been able to do something to help her? If he had flown her to the hospital, would it have made any difference?
Why had he been paralyzed by fear?
He had saved her so many times before, but why hadn't he been able to help her this time?
This time, there had been so much more at stake than ever before. He'd never been so close to losing her. Maybe that was why he had lost it so completely.
Clark moved so his head was resting next to hers on her bed.
"I love you," Clark whispered as he pushed a stray lock of hair behind her ear.
Lois didn't deserve this. Their baby didn't deserve this. He didn't deserve this.
Yes, he did deserve it. He had frozen. He hadn't been able to help her.
No, Lois didn't deserve him. What would she say when she found out what he had let happen to her?
If she woke up.
No, she had to wake up.
She was going to wake up.
He needed her.
Their baby needed her.
Lois was going to wake up.
She HAD to wake up.
Suddenly, there was a loud knock on the door, interrupting Clark's wallowing. During his woeful vigil he had forgotten that his parents and Lois's mother were waiting in the ER.
Did they know what had happened? If they didn't, they must be frantic.
His mother slowly opened the door and tentatively peaked in. "Clark? Are you okay?"
"Mom," Clark answered, voice shaking uncontrollably. He tried to control the tears that were threatening to fall, so he couldn't say anything more even if he would have wanted to. He hadn't cried so much in his whole life compared to the tears he had shed today.
"Clark?" his mother asked quickly, fearing the worst. He looked worse now than when she had first seen him in the bathroom cradling Lois's head. Ellen had talked to a doctor, before she had gone to get Lucy from the airport, so they knew what had happened, but the impact hadn't exactly sunk in until they saw Lois's pale form so small on the large hospital bed.
"Son?" Jonathan asked, barely finding his voice. He followed Martha into the room and pulled the door closed behind him.
He tried to take a deep breath to collect his thoughts before he tried to talk again. It was hard enough to keep a straight face when he was dying inside. Lois was his life. Without her, nothing in the world mattered.
Even though they were anxious to hear what had happened, they had to let Clark deal with this situation at a comfortable speed. As anxious as they were, they couldn't rush him, especially if something had gone catastrophically wrong after the surgery.
Clark began in a voice so quiet they had to strain to hear him, "I lost it. I really lost it. I couldn't even remember my name, much less how to help her. I couldn't help her. I knew exactly what I needed to do, but I froze." He blurted it out without even thinking. Now that his parents were here, all of his guilt came to the surface and overflowed.
"Honey, don't think about that. It was a horrible shock to your system."
"We were all shocked," Jonathan added.
"She was in labor, and something had happened to make her blood pressure drop to the point where she fainted. I couldn't help her." By the time he finished the sentence, his words became inaudible sobs. He stood up and began pacing around the room aimlessly.
"Oh, Clark!" his mother exclaimed, wrapping a comforting arm around his shuddering shoulders, halting his pacing. "You should sit down. Take deep breaths."
Her own heart was pounding with dread, but she needed to help Clark settle down. Even though Ellen had talked to the doctors, she wanted Clark's version of the story. Talking about it might make it more real to him. "Now tell me what the doctors said," she asked calmly.
His words came out in a spurt of energy, "The baby was in a dangerous position. Lois's body was already ill, so it couldn't take the stress when she went into labor. She was overwhelmed. I knew something was wrong all day, but I didn't do anything to help her. Then seeing her in the bathroom like that, I froze. It was like I was paralyzed with fear. It's all my fault! I couldn't help her. I am Superman, but I was frozen in place."
"Clark!" Jonathan exclaimed, hoping to remind him that they were still in public. The last thing he needed to do was reveal his secret.
Unconcerned, Clark continued, "They rushed her into an emergency C-section and they got the baby out." He gasped for a quick breath before he continued, "She's a healthy little girl, and she's so beautiful. She looks just like Lois." He couldn't be entirely happy about that, though. Not when Lois still was not out of the woods. He couldn't let himself play the proud father yet … although he was definitely that. As long as Lois was unconscious, he couldn't think about anything else.
His mother didn't say anything to congratulate him because she knew he wasn't done with the story. He hadn't allowed himself to talk about what had happened to Lois during the surgery yet. In order to prod him along, she whispered, afraid of agitating him, "And what about Lois? How is she?"
"Mom," he sobbed, "I know Ellen must have heard about this already, but Lois lost a lot of blood after they got the baby out. It's all my fault. Apparently, the placenta had lodged very deeply into her uterine wall. It took them forever to get it out. She was bleeding so much. And then when they were trying to get her uterus to contract back to harden up, it wouldn't stop bleeding. Before she lost any more blood, they had to do a hysterectomy. And I couldn't stop them! It was all my fault! I didn't want them to do it, but they had to or else she was going to die. Why couldn't I save her, Mom? I can save everyone else in the world, but I can't save the one person that means the most to me in the world. I could have let them take another chance to save it, but I didn't want to take the chance she might have lost too much blood." He stopped to take a breath, but continued immediately, "I can't believe this is happening. I should have been able to do something."
"Clark, it's not your fault," Martha said forcefully, hoping to make her son see reason.
Ignoring her, Clark continued, "They should have seen this coming at her last appointment. They could have known something like this was going to happen. I should have stayed home today. I shouldn't have listened to her. I knew something was wrong. Why couldn't I do anything, Mom, Dad?"
"Clark, you did everything you could. No one could have ever expected you to do anything more," Martha said. This all seemed like a horrible nightmare. How had this happened to their family?
Jonathan stood by, shell-shocked by Clark's soliloquy.
Clark still found himself blubbering almost inaudibly, "Lois and I will never be able to have any more children, and I don't know if Lois will ever wake up. She lost so much blood. It's been almost an hour and she still hasn't woken up. It's all my fault. If I wasn't so different …"
"Clark!" Jonathan interrupted. He knew almost nothing about pregnancy or about Clark's physiology, but there was one thing he was sure of. "You didn't cause this. It's NOT your fault. This was a freak event that could have happened to anyone."
Martha nodded, knowing Jonathan was right. However, she knew her son well enough to realize that he wouldn't accept that statement. She knew that they couldn't do anything but be there for their son, but just being there was much better for both Clark and Lois and their baby than leaving them alone.
Clark looked at Lois and ran a finger down her cheek. He acted like he hadn't heard a word his father had said. "I have …" he choked over his words, but forced himself to continue, "… been in love with her since the moment I set eyes on her," he said with a wry smile on his face as he squeezed his wife's limp hand.
He couldn't help but grin when he remembered what they both had been like oh so long ago. Even now, so many years later, the day they met played vividly in his mind. It was a day that had changed his life forever. He could remember every word they said to each other that fateful day, the exact position of her every hair and the exact suit she had been wearing. She was so full of life; her temper was so fiery; she was so beautiful. Even then, he'd known that he was in love with her, that she was the woman he was going to spend the rest of his life with. It had just taken her a little longer to realize that she was in love with him. Ever since the day she had finally come to her senses, they had been together with only a few minor disturbances.
"When I first laid eyes on her," he repeated for his own benefit.
He had known so long ago that Lois was the woman he was meant to love. They were soulmates.
"She's my whole world. I would not be able to live without her. This is all my fault. If it hadn't been for me, she would be awake and her old, vivacious self right now." Then he sobbed woefully, "I can't live without her."
"Clark, sweetheart, you won't have to live without her. She's going to wake up," his mother said confidently. Even though Lois looked horrible, Martha knew she would pull through. Lois was a fighter. She wouldn't let something like this lick her so easily without a well-fought battle.
Without any response, Clark put his head next to Lois's again and listened to her steady heartbeat.
It was his only solace. She was alive. Unconscious, but alive. She was going to wake up. She had to wake up. He grabbed her hand and stroked it, willing her to open her eyes.
"Jonathan, let's leave them alone," Martha whispered to her husband, taking his hand and silently tiptoeing out the door.
When Clark realized his parents had left, he noticed the painful silence that permeated the room. He looked around the dark, gloomy room with these bare, white walls and drab, beige curtains. Still clutching onto her hand for dear life, he stood up and opened the curtains, bathing the room in light from the streetlights below. Even this was better than nothing. He sat back down in the same position he had been in for the last hour, his head next to Lois's, breathing in the sweet sent of her shampoo on her lovely dark brown locks. Then he found himself praying for the hundredth time that day that she would wake up.
Martha and Jonathan had been down at the nursery looking at the baby and Martha had convinced the nurses to allow her to bring the baby in her little bassinette on wheels to her mother. It had taken a lot of convincing, but Martha had been very persistent. They thought that if Lois could feel her daughter's presence, maybe it would give her the impetus to open her eyes.
When they got to Lois's room wheeling their little granddaughter with them, they saw their little boy's wife, still peacefully asleep, looking so tiny and so pale on the large, white bed. Then they saw their son, her devoted husband, with his head on the bed next to hers looking absolutely heartbroken.
Clark looked like a lost little boy. He was muttering inaudibly and planting little kisses on his wife's cheek in between whatever words he was saying.
"Do you want to hold your daughter, Clark?" Martha asked as she came up behind him and put a hand on his shoulder. She knew that Clark hadn't even tried to look at his daughter since she had been born. He'd been far too busy keeping his vigil by Lois's bedside.
Clark raised his head and then turned and looked at the tiny infant in Martha's arms. He felt tears spring to his eyes again. "I don't know," he whispered. "I don't know anything any more." He shook his head in disbelief of how his world had so suddenly and completely turned upside down. "I know I want Lois to be able to hold her daughter. I don't feel like I should have the right to if she can't." He shook his head resolutely. "I don't know what I'd do without her. She's the only girl I've ever loved …" even that seemed a trivial thing to say, but, to him, it was so important. "Everything I do, I do for her."
Martha squeezed his shoulder reassuringly, knowing that she couldn't even imagine the pain her boy was feeling. He had so much going through his troubled mind. "I know how much you love Lois, but now there's someone else that needs your attention, too."
"Does she have a name, son?" Jonathan asked gruffly, obviously trying to hold back his emotions, as he pulled the bassinette closer.
"I … I … I can't name her without Lois."
"That's okay, Clark. She doesn't need a name yet." Jonathan patted his son's back reassuringly.
"If you don't want to hold her, let me at least put her bassinette next to you," Martha said.
Clark nodded and his mother wheeled his tiny daughter towards him.
Martha was sure she had done a good thing. Bringing the baby into the room had been a turning point. Clark had directed some of his attention to his daughter, and his face had brightened considerably. Even if Lois didn't respond to the baby, at least Clark had something else to think about.
The night dragged on endlessly. Clark had lost all sense of time and space. Had it been five minutes, or five hours?
He only knew that Lois still wasn't awake.
His gaze drifted away from his wife's limp body and to his sleeping baby. He hadn't let himself think of his daughter, the helpless life he had helped create. Why couldn't he look at her?
This little life was a miracle. She was so perfect. Ten fingers, ten toes, a little button nose, two tiny ears, two big, brown eyes.
She was perfect.
For the first time, he reached in to her bassinette and gently touched his daughter's soft skin. She was real. He was responsible for the tiny life before him.
What had he done to deserve something so perfect?
When the baby's tiny hand grasped his large finger, Clark knew that this baby was really alive. He felt a strong connection with his daughter, the one person in the world that shared any of his genes. She was the perfect combination of Lois and himself.
His heart felt like it would burst with happiness. He'd never experienced this feeling before.
Did he have the right to be so happy when Lois wasn't yet awake? Could this joy outweigh his guilt?
"Clark?" Lois whispered in a hoarse, barely audible voice.
Was it a dream? Could that really be Lois, or was his mind playing tricks on him again? He'd learned today that his mind could be cruel. Could he be hallucinating?
"Lois?" Clark hoped he wasn't dreaming when he heard that beautiful sound. "Lois?" When he noticed that her eyes were open, he breathed a sigh of relief and took the first normal breath since this whole ordeal had begun. "Oh my god, you're awake! I can't believe it." He leaned down and planted desperate kisses all over her face. "I love you so much, Lois. I thought I was going to lose you. I love you so much." His words jumbled together as his face was buried against hers.
"I love you too, Clark," Lois whispered. She had no idea what was going on. Why did she feel so horrible? Why was Clark crying? She had never seen him cry. "Where… am… I?" she asked, terrified, not sure if she wanted to know the answer.
This room seemed so bleak and dreary … and unfamiliar. The last thing she remembered was telling Clark to get her something… ice cream, maybe? It seemed like that was only a second ago. How had she ended up here? Why did she hurt so much? Every muscle in her body ached. It felt like every nerve ending was on fire.
Clark took a deep breath and not sure where to start. He decided began with the easiest and most obvious fact. "You're in the hospital, honey."
Lois gasped. The hospital. Now that made a little more sense. She had been right. It didn't look like their bedroom!
Clark continued, words flowing almost too fast for her to discern. "You went into labor. We have a healthy baby girl! Oh, honey, she's beautiful!" Then he abruptly changed the subject, saying, "Lois, I found you collapsed in the bathroom and there was blood … and … and I froze. I'm so sorry, Lois. I couldn't move, couldn't help you. If you hate me, I don't blame you at all." He paused to take a deep breath before he continued.
Lois only caught snippets of what he had said. Her heart beat wildly as she tried to understand what had happened. "The hospital? Blood? Collapsed? Hate you?" She was more frightened than she had been before. What had happened to her? How had she ended up here? Her mind still felt like mush. She couldn't form a coherent thought if she tried.
He immediately tried to reassure her. "It's all okay now, though, Lois. You're awake. You're going to be fine."
By the look in her eyes, he realized that she was frightened and he wasn't helping. She probably had no idea what he was talking about. She didn't remember anything that had happened. How could she? She had been unconscious the whole time.
In a way, she was lucky. Since she couldn't remember anything, she didn't have the horrific images of today constantly running through her mind.
He needed to stop the self-pity. Lois was the one who had been through hell. She'd been unconscious; she had been the one who had gone through a terrible surgery. He couldn't compare his emotional pain to her emotional and physical pain.
She had no idea what had happened, and he wasn't being any help. He needed to get his head together.
He tried to explain as much as he could without scaring her too much, but he couldn't tell her everything. Not yet. She wasn't strong enough to handle it. He wasn't strong enough to tell her.
He decided to start with the amazingly positive consequence of the day. "We have a baby, Lois. A girl!" The words flowed out, uncontrolled, his emotion taking over, "You were in labor, all day I think. I guess we didn't realize what was happening." He took a shuddering deep breath. This was the painful part. "You already had some kind of viral infection, so your body couldn't cope with the stress … so when you started to have contractions, apparently you started bleeding. And the placenta was lodged in your uterus. I don't know how or why…" His voice trailed off, unable to continue. The pain was still too fresh. He didn't want to go through it again.
Lois was almost too afraid to voice the thought on her mind. She had been in labor? That was why she felt all this pain. Oh the pain. But she didn't remember …
If she had been in labor, then they should have a baby.
Why wasn't Clark telling her about the baby?
Had something horrible happened?
Was that why he looked so horrible?
Something horrible had happened. She'd never seen Clark so downtrodden.
"Our baby?" she whispered, not sure if she really wanted to know the truth.
Hadn't Lois heard him tell her about the baby? He'd told her twice. Or maybe he hadn't told her twice. His mind was racing so fast, he might have forgotten about the most important thing of all. It was the one good thing that had happened today. Their daughter was amazing, a living miracle.
He brought her hand up to his lips and kissed it gently. "Oh, honey, we have a little girl! And she's so healthy and so beautiful. She looks just like you." He put her hand back down on the bed and stood up. "Do you want to see her?" When she nodded, he pulled their daughter's bassinette closer to the bed and gently picked up their sleeping daughter and kissed her tiny head.
"Can I see her?" Lois asked softly. She was still having trouble comprehending everything that had gone on. It seemed like she was still in some sort of dream world.
If their daughter was perfect and wonderful, then why was Clark so upset? Something must have happened. Was he upset that their baby was born? No. That couldn't be right. He was happy. Yes, she could tell he was overjoyed. The way he looked at the little baby was something she had never seen before.
But there was still an undertone of something deeper.
She focused her attention on the tiny baby in Clark's arms. Their baby. She temporarily forgot that there had to be something wrong somewhere.
Their daughter was the most important thing in the world.
It seemed almost surreal; in her mind, the baby had been in her belly just a second ago, and now she was in Clark's arms. Lois had no memory of their baby's birth. She had no time to ponder that thought, though, because Clark had brought their baby to the bed.
For the first time, Lois was brought face to face with her brand new daughter. Her baby girl. She'd waited nine months to meet this beautiful baby. She didn't want to wait a second longer.
Those wide eyes surveying everything going on in the room. Those perfect ears, tiny hands and feet, ten fingers, ten toes. She was real.
"Oh my god," Lois breathed. "Our daughter."
Clark perched on the bed next to her and marveled at Lois's interaction with their baby. It was a moment he had imagined so many times, but now that it was finally here, Clark couldn't describe his feelings.
"She needs a name," Clark whispered as he stroked their baby's head.
"Joy," Lois said instantly as she looked into her daughter's big brown eyes.
"Joy?" Clark repeated.
Lois stroked the baby's head and said, "Joy. She's a tiny miracle and we're so blessed to have her."
Clark smiled slightly. "And we're so happy."
"Joyful." Lois softly kissed the top of her new baby's head. She had no idea why she had no recollection of her baby's birth, but she was overjoyed to be holding her healthy little girl.
"Joy Lane Kent," Clark said. "It's beautiful."
"She's so incredible."
"Every time I look at her, I realize how blessed I am to have someone this perfect in my life, and I've only known her for ten minutes. I can't believe I didn't think I wanted one of these for so long. Just looking at her almost … makes me want more. Almost."
Clark bit his lip so the tears that were threatening to fall wouldn't escape. He had to tell Lois what had happened during the surgery, but he was such a coward. He almost couldn't believe that he'd let it drag on this long. "Lois," his voice cracked a little. "Sweetheart …"
"Clark? What's wrong?"
"Honey, I am so sorry, but during your c-section …"
"What? What happened?"
"Lois," he whispered, "Oh, God, I don't know how to tell you this."
"What? Clark? Now you're scaring me! Please just tell me. I can take it, whatever it is."
"During your c-section … you wouldn't stop bleeding. They tried everything they could, Lois, really they did. But you were going to bleed to death …"
"W-w-what does that mean, Clark?" She felt cold and she stated to shake. Something had gone horribly wrong. She wasn't sure how she knew what Clark was going to say, but she had an idea. She didn't want to hear it. Maybe if he never said it, she would never have to acknowledge it.
How could he tell her what happened? This was the hardest thing he'd ever had to do. Not only was he telling Lois the worst news imaginable, but he was also reliving his worst nightmare.
Lois deserved to know. He couldn't let her go any longer without knowing the truth.
Reaching out to take her hand and putting his other hand around his daughter, Clark took a deep breath and began, "Honey, the placenta lodged in your uterus. They couldn't stop the bleeding."
Lois inhaled sharply. "Oh my god."
"You were losing blood as fast as they could transfuse it in." Clark squeezed her hand, realizing how close he had been to losing her.
She already knew what had happened. They couldn't have any more children. She'd lost more blood than they could transfuse in. They had given her a hysterectomy.
"They had to take your uterus to stop the bleeding," Clark said, on the verge of tears.
"Oh my god," Lois breathed again. Deep down, she had known what he was trying to tell her, but it didn't feel real until she had heard him say it.
She wasn't sure what to make of it all. God, poor Clark. He must have been through hell watching everything unfold. She'd been the lucky one. Being unconscious, she'd had no idea what was happening. To her it seemed like just a second ago when Clark had come home from work and she had gone to the bathroom.
But she was also the one that had lost her uterus. She would never be able to have another baby.
"I am so sorry, Lois," Clark breathed.
For the first time, Lois felt tears spring to her eyes. This couldn't have happened, not to her. Just this morning, she had been fine. Now, she felt like her world had crashed down around her.
This should have been the best day of her life. She had given birth to a perfect little baby girl, but she had lost something so essential to her identity as a woman.
"I can't believe it," she whispered. "It doesn't seem like it could have really happened, not to me."
"I'm so sorry," Clark repeated. He had no idea what to tell her. It was his fault, plain and simple.
He had done this to her.
How could she ever look at him again?
Lois sobbed, "I can't believe that just yesterday we were arguing about whether our baby would have your powers."
Clark let Lois cry on his shoulder as he whispered, "Now I'm just thankful the two of you are alive."
Their lives had changed forever in so many ways. It had been the best day of their lives and also possibly one of the worst at the same time. They had been given the best gift imaginable, but at the same time they had been brutally robbed.
6 Weeks Later
"Martha, I need help," Lois sobbed into the phone.
It had been a horrible six weeks. She had been in intense pain for whole the first week and a half post op, completely unable to even get out of bed — and the pain hadn't completely let up in six weeks. It was especially hard because she hadn't been able to enjoy her first days of motherhood, a time she would never get back.
Clark had been, well, Clark. He had been incredible.
She had been a wreck, suffering through bouts of depression, anger, and fear.
Why hadn't the doctor noticed anything wrong at any point in her pregnancy? Shouldn't her doctor have seen a risk for potential complications? Too many questions, and not enough answers.
Now that she was finally on her feet again, she noticed a change in her husband. Clark was avoiding her. It seemed like he didn't even know she was alive any more. Lois wasn't sure what had caused his abrupt mood change.
The only thing they seemed to have in common any more was their little, precious, wonderful, beautiful baby girl. She was the only thing they talked about.
What a change. They used to be able to talk about anything and everything. Now he didn't just ignore her, he couldn't stand the sight of her. He flinched whenever their eyes met.
She wouldn't blame him if he saw her as a shadow of the woman he had married because she didn't even see herself as a woman.
"Lois, what's wrong?" Martha asked when Lois didn't elaborate.
"I don't know. Nothing. Everything." Lois paced around the room. She wasn't even exactly sure what her problem was. "It feels like my life is spiraling out of control." She didn't even know herself any more. Things she used to love meant nothing to her, like work. She hadn't even wanted to bring Joy for her first visit to the newsroom.
"Have you talked to Clark about this?"
Lois sighed deeply. This was the root of the problem. "We don't even talk any more. It's more a life of uncomfortable silence. It never used to be like this. We never used to be uncomfortable around each other."
"Do you talk at all?"
"Yeah, we talk. About Joy, but she's the only thing we ever talk about. It's not even like we're fighting."
"Well that's a good thing, isn't it?"
"No." The tears that had been threatening to fall overcame her. She had never been a crier, but now she felt like her emotions were on overdrive and constantly found herself sobbing. "Fighting would be so much better. At least it's passionate. I can't take this detached, unemotional silence. Whenever we used to fight, it would be an intense, horrible, emotionally draining battle. But it didn't last long, and then when we made up …"
Martha laughed. "It would be better than ever?"
"Exactly. Now we don't even know how to be around each other." Lois sobbed, "I miss my best friend."
"Lois, you haven't talked to Clark at all?"
"No." Lois shook her head resolutely. She couldn't talk to Clark about this, not when he didn't even know she was alive.
"Honey, you need to talk to him. I'm sure he has no idea you feel this way. Don't let these feelings fester inside of you."
"I … can't."
"Lois, honey, if you don't talk to him, how can you ever even begin to resolve anything?"
Lois shook her head again. "I don't think he wants to talk to me."
"He's just as scared as you are. I guarantee it."
"I'm not just scared, Martha. I'm angry. At myself. At the world. And I'm scared. So scared that Clark doesn't love me any more."
"Of course he loves you. That boy would move the earth and the moon for you. He worships the ground you walk on."
"Then why won't he look at me?"
"Talk to him, Lois. Tell him how you feel, and let him talk to you."
As soon as Lois hung up the phone and turned around, she saw Clark in the doorway.
"How long have you been there?" she accused as she tried to wipe the tears from her eyes so he wouldn't be able to tell that she had been crying.
"I can't believe you could ever think I don't love you." He took a shuddering breath.
"What? You heard?" Lois's fear had changed to anger in a mere second. She'd known her husband could hear anything he wanted, but she also knew that that he had the power to shut out what he didn't want to hear.
"I was putting Joy down for her nap." It was a feeble excuse, actually a complete non sequitur. He couldn't say anything to defend his actions. It had been so wrong to eavesdrop, but he couldn't stop himself.
"I can't believe you eavesdropped!"
"I'm glad I did. Honey, I had no idea you felt this way."
"Well if we ever talked I guess you would know!"
"I guess I would."
"And if you ever looked at me, you'd see how much this hurts me! We never talk any more, Clark! And this hurts me almost more than my scars."
"If that's what you want, I'll never hurt you again."
Before he could stop himself, he spun into his Superman suit and flew out the window. He had never run out on an argument before. But this was different. He had no idea how to act around her any more. She obviously no longer loved him. How could he blame her? He had hurt her profoundly, and he knew she would never be able to forgive him.
"That's right, Clark. Run away. That solves everything. Come back here, coward!"
He ignored her incessant plea and flew due west until the familiar farms passed below him. Smallville. He needed to talk to someone who could help him.
When he landed in his parents' back field, he spotted his father working on the pasture fence.
"Hi, Dad. You look like you could use some help."
Jonathan looked up at his son and shook his head. "How'd you know your mother thinks I'm too old for this?"
Clark shrugged noncommittally.
"What's wrong, son? Lois?"
How had his dad known? Was he wearing a big sign on his face that said 'My wife hates me'?
Clark grabbed a hammer and started removing loose nails. "Yeah, it's Lois," he said after a few minutes of silence.
Jonathan nodded and waited for Clark to elaborate.
"I don't know what to do, Dad. We haven't really talked in weeks. It's killing me to see her like this and to know that I'm responsible."
Jonathan stopped hammering and stared at his son. "How is it your fault?"
"I was the one that got her pregnant. I am the alien freak." Clark sighed deeply, finally admitting his true fears for the first time. It felt almost good to get them out in the open.
"I am, Dad. If I were normal, this wouldn't have happened. Lois would still be fine. We'd be able to give Joy a brother or sister."
"How do we know that, son?"
"How do we not know it?"
"Joy is a normal baby, isn't she?"
"Yeah, but what does that have to do with anything?"
"She isn't showing anything abnormal?"
"No, but …"
"And she hasn't started flying or burning her bottles?"
"No, but …"
"Clark, this isn't your fault. And who's to say that you will never give Joy a brother or sister? A child doesn't have to be your biological child to be your child. Maybe you and Lois are meant to save someone. Like you saved your mother and me."
Clark heard his father, but he didn't want to acknowledge that the older man had a good point. He changed the subject slightly so he could wallow in further self-pity, "I hear her. She doesn't know it, but I do. She cries. All the time. I know it's because she hates me for doing this to her."
"Do you ever talk to her?"
"She can't even look at me, so how can I talk to her?"
"So how do you know she hates you?"
Clark changed the subject, "I miss my best friend, Dad."
"And if you miss her so much, don't you think she misses you, too?"
"How can she miss me when I am such a blight on her life? I hurt her, Dad. How can I expect her to look at the man that almost killed her?"
"Talk to her, Clark. You owe her that much."
A few minutes later, Clark found himself flying back to the brownstone, not exactly knowing what he was going to say, but aware that he needed to talk to her, to apologize for everything that he had done. It seemed like every time he turned around, he was doing something to hurt her.
There she was. In Joy's room, feeding her. Sobbing. Again.
Should he interrupt her?
He had to, or else their relationship might be lost forever.
"I'm so sorry, Lois," he breathed.
She stood up to meet him, not sure of what he was going to do, but knowing that she couldn't keep this up any longer.
They said, simultaneously, "We need to talk."
She put the sleeping baby back in the bassinette and led Clark into their bedroom.
"Why did you leave me?"
Clark shrugged stupidly. "I have no idea," he admitted.
"That hurt, Clark. The first time we've said more than two words to each other about anything other than Joy in the last six weeks, and you left me! I need to know! Do you hate me? Am I so repulsive?"
"What?" Clark almost physically jumped back in surprise. "Why on Earth would I hate you or … find you repulsive? Is that what you think?"
"Because … because I'm not the woman you married any more."
"Oh, Lois, what do you mean?"
"Am I not desirable any more? Am I not really a woman?"
"Lois, how can you say that? You are still the most beautiful, most wonderful woman I know. I love you so much it hurts. I don't blame you for hating me."
"We never talk any more. The only thing we can talk about is Joy. It's like … like you can't even look at me any more. We sleep in the same bed, but can't even look at each other."
"Can't even touch," Clark finished.
Lois focused on something Clark had said before, "Wait, you think I hate you? Why would I hate you?"
Clark looked down to the ground, unable to meet Lois's eyes. "Because everything was my fault. I was the one who got you pregnant. I am the strange alien that caused you so much pain."
"You heard me. If I had been a normal human, you would have had a normal pregnancy and a normal birth."
Lois reached out and tried to tilt Clark's head up to look into her eyes. "You think this has to do with being Kryptonian?"
Clark nodded slowly. "What else could it be?"
"A freak accident? I don't know. I've done some research about this. I needed to know if I did something wrong. It turns out it is a more common problem than you would think. It has nothing to do with the fact you're an alien, honey. I didn't do anything wrong either. It happens to all kinds of women in all kinds of situations. It's no one's fault."
"It's not my fault?"
"Oh, god, no! It's not your fault, Clark. Stop blaming yourself."
Clark sighed deeply. "But it is my fault. I couldn't fly you to the hospital. When I saw you on the ground, I froze. I forgot how to do anything to help you."
"We've been through this, Clark. I don't blame you at all. You had the presence of mind to call 9-1-1!"
"I've helped so many people, but I couldn't help the person that means the most to me."
Lois took a tentative step closer to her husband. "Clark, that's exactly why you froze. No one, even Superman, is prepared to see the person they love in that kind of situation."
"But I should have …"
"You should have what, Clark? If you had done anything else, I would have thought you were callous to the situation. You were emotionally affected. You're human. I don't blame you, Clark. I could never blame you."
Clark took a tentative step closer to Lois. "You don't?"
"Clark, please don't beat yourself up over this. It's not your fault. It's not anyone's fault. It's a work of nature." As the words came out of her mouth, she heard them for the first time. She was right. It was no one's fault. "I don't know why this happened to me, to us, but I know it's no one's fault."
"I don't know either," he said honestly. Now he knew she didn't blame him. It was true. This could have happened to anyone. It had nothing to do with his alien origins.
"It's not fair, Clark. It's no one's fault, but I still don't understand why we can't have any more babies? It's not fair to Joy. I don't want her to be an only child. I want her to have the relationship Lucy and I did growing up."
"I don't want her to be lonely like I was."
"Our babies would have been loved and so wanted. There are so many unloved and unwanted babies born to horrible parents."
"We would love our children unconditionally. You know, maybe this happened for a reason. Maybe we're meant to save unwanted children. Just like my mom and dad saved me."
"Did your mom tell you that?"
"No, my dad."
"You have a very smart father."
"This feels good."
"I love you, Clark, please don't ever shut me out again."
"Oh, god, Lois, I love you so much. I promise never to let anything come between us again. We should be able to talk about everything."
Lois took a final step towards him and wrapped her arms around his back, really touching him for the first time in weeks. His body was writhed in a tension that seemed to ease at her touch.
Clark moved his hands to her shoulders and tentatively rested his chin on her head. This was a feeling he had so sorely missed. They had been so close, yet so far away.
Now that they had broken the first barrier, they couldn't shut each other out any more. They both knew that the other had been sufferring, too.
Clark moved down to capture his wife's lips with his own in the first real kiss they had shared in weeks.
It was the first major step back to reality. They were together again.
They both knew they had a long road to travel to regain a sense of normalcy, but this was the first milestone in their journey to recovery. Depression wasn't so easily solved by a discussion and a kiss. Their road to happiness was daunting and there were sure to be setbacks along the way.
They were there for each other now. Being together made them so much stronger than being apart.