By Azriel Roman Brock <Azriel_Roman@Yahoo.com>
PG-13 (for some mild swearing and sexual references)
Submitted: October 2004
Summary: Clark discovers that his birth father Jor-El is alive. What effect will this have on his and Lois's life?
A Note From the Author
I always thought that it would be a wonderful opportunity for Clark to meet some people from his home planet, Krypton. I thought that maybe it would help him to understand his heritage, and put the last few pieces of the puzzle together. So when I saw the previews for the episode "Through a Glass, Darkly" I was very excited. That excitement soon died however, and I was left very disappointed. Instead of being a blessing, the people of New Krypton were little more then a curse for Lois and Clark. It didn't solve anything!! In fact, it just made things worse! It's bad enough that poor Clark felt like an outsider on Earth, now he was left feeling like an outsider to his own native people. That's just sad. No wonder many people choose to ignore those few episodes when they write fanfic. It's depressing.
So this story goes out to all of us who were left scratching our heads, and wishing things had happened differently.
In my story, Clark has never met another Kryptonian.
Before I get Emails about the inconsistencies in my story, let me say this. This story is a glimpse into my own little demented Lois and Clark world. Yes, I know I've overlooked certain things, or changed the facts, but isn't that what fanfic is all about?
I don't own the characters, plot line or anything from Lois and Clark. And I certainly haven't made any money from this story, so please don't sue me. I'm in debt as it is.
Feedback is more then welcome. If you want to chat I'm AzrielRoman on AIM.
Oh, and before I forget, a big thank you goes out to all those wonderful folks at fanfiction.net for beta reading this story!
The room was small and hidden deep into the crust of the earth. Guaranteeing that 99.2% of Metropolis would never know of its existence. On one side of the room was a massive computer screen, an even bigger control module and a few standard type office chairs. On the counters that lined the other three walls sat beakers and test tubes, which hosted fluids of all colors.
Suddenly, the wall on the left of the computer module lifted up to reveal a stair case, then lowered again when three men entered the room. They were dressed in standard lab wear. White coats and slacks, pocket protectors and such. The man in the middle was carrying a clipboard and all three of them were studying its contents critically.
"Oh my word…" The man on the left gasped. His eyes fixated on the giant monitor before them. Two heads snapped up quickly, and six eyes dilated to the size of dinner plates. The man in the middle dropped his clipboard, and they all headed for the wall they just entered from. It opened and the three hurried bodies bolted up the stairs.
"I am soooo looking forward to this vacation." Lois Lane let her declaration out in the form of a breathy sigh, the words lingering in the air.
"Mmmmm," was all her husband could mutter at first. Then after a few seconds he added, "me too."
It had been a ridiculously slow news day, and the fact that it was the last day before Lois and Clark's vacation wasn't helping. They'd done everything they could think of to pass the time. They played Monopoly, Checkers, every card game known to man, and when that failed Jimmy found a beat up version of the board game "Candy Land" in one of the many closets of the newsroom. How it ended up in a supply closet of one the world's greatest newspapers, nobody seemed to know. But they played it. Oh did they play it.
It was almost four o' clock, and the newly married Lois and Clark had decided very early on that they were going to call it a day at five. An hour. One more hour and they were free to spend the week with their loving family in Kansas.
A soft smile tugged at the corner of Lois's lips. It really was funny when she thought about it. Her, Lois "Mad Dog" Lane was excitedly anticipating spending a week with a "farmboy" in "nowheresville" Kansas. If someone would have told her this would be the case three years ago, she would have laughed until she cried, told them where to shove it, and then laughed at that. Who would have ever guessed that she would find someone she felt safe with? Someone she could have faith in, someone she readily leaned on.
She walked the short distance to her husband's desk and wrapped her arms around his neck. Softly she nipped at his left earlobe with her teeth. In Clark's dreamy state he hadn't heard her coming (quite a rarity), but instantly relaxed at the sensation.
"Mmmmm…" he groaned softly. A noise that could only be heard by his wife. "You know, sweetness, if you keep this up we're never going to make it to my folks."
"Would that be so bad?" Lois asked. Her voice was soft and sexy, taking on the intimate tone that Clark associated with moments of passion. The very sound of it was like a drug to him. If only they were home…
"Considering that my mother is, no doubt, cooking a meal the size of Texas, and my dad expects me to help with the harvest tomorrow, yes. Unfortunately, that would be bad." Just as Lois was preparing to playfully protest, Perry White lumbered out of his office. He eyed his best reporting team and noted their apparent lack of motivation. Clark sat at his desk, his chair pushed back and his feet up. His eyes were fixated on the clock, and his expression, Perry noted, was rather goofy. His wife on the other hand, was hard at work. The problem? She wasn't writing a story. Instead, she was latched onto her husband's neck and her mouth was holding his ear hostage.
Perry had to fight hard to keep from smiling. Secretly, he loved seeing his star reporting team like this. He considered it a hefty reward for three years worth of arguments, secrets, and near death experiences. But he had a reputation to keep up with. He was a man who was known to expect the best of his employees. Every single one of them. From the man who washed the floors all the way up to Lane and Kent, they all had to put in 110%, or else.
"LOIS! CLARK! What the HELL are you two still doing here?" He bellowed. Lois straightened quickly, releasing Clark's ear. For the second time in only a few moments Clark had been startled. This time he nearly fell out of his chair as a result. They stole a glance at each other. Each of them wore a confused expression.
"Did we forget an assignment?" Lois barely whispered. Of course Clark heard her. He shook his head slightly. Of course they hadn't. They wouldn't have been playing "Candy Land" with Jimmy had they had anything better to do.
"Are we supposed to be somewhere else, Chief?" Clark finally asked. Perry's eyes grew wide, his hands moving in exaggerated gestures.
"I'd say you damn well should be somewhere else, son." For a moment Clark tensed but just as soon as he had he relaxed again. Perry's voice was all business, but his eyes were all play, and Clark could swear he saw a smile brewing in the corners of the Chief's mouth. "Aren't you supposed to be taking this pretty little girl right here on vacation?" Perry finished, gesturing towards Lois who was now smiling happily.
"Yes sir, I suppose you're right." Clark let a wide grin spread over his face.
"Well then what in the name of Graceland are you waiting for, Kent? Take your wife and get the hell out of my newsroom!" Perry's resolve broke and soon his grin was as big as Clark's. Lois gave him a quick thank you kiss on the cheek, and soon the couple was gathering their things.
When he finally returned to his office a few hours later Perry propped his feet up on his desk in the same manner that Clark had done earlier. He wore a satisfied grin on his face as he traced the few pictures that were privileged enough to grace his desk. He immediately stopped on one in particular. It was of the most beautiful bride he'd ever seen (besides Alice, of course) and what appeared to be the happiest man on the planet. Both had tears in their eyes.
To Perry the hardest thing about getting Lois Lane and Clark Kent together was finding a way for Lois to let go of the demons from her past. That proved to be much harder then he imagined. It seemed like every time she finally started to open up, that damn boy would up and run off on her. This, in effect, reinforced all of Lois's old fears and insecurities, and she put her emotional walls right back up again. That's the way it went for the first year and a half, one step forward, two steps back.
Granted the boy did have a good excuse, Perry conceded. He was in fact saving the world on a daily basis. But couldn't he take a day off once in a while? Surely even Superman deserves a social life.
Of course Perry knew that Clark was Superman, he'd known ever since the Nightfall asteroid incident. Jesus, he didn't get to be editor and chief by yodeling Elvis's greatest hits, now did he? Come on, Clark got amnesia, Superman disappeared at the same time, it was too obvious. And don't even get him started on the glasses. One day he was going to have a serious talk with Kent about those glasses.
But that day, in all reality would probably never come. It was safer that way. Anybody knew Superman was a target for his enemies. But beyond that, the more people who were known to be friends with both Clark and Superman, the closer the secret came to exposure. Clark, his parents, Lois, Dr. Klein, and now Perry, they were all known Superman cohorts. Pretty soon somebody would notice a trend there.
Perry was determined not to let that happen. Not on his watch. Not to somebody who did more good for this world then anyone in history. Not to a bright young man from Kansas who seemed to blossom before his very eyes. No sir.
"That was awfully nice of Perry to let us leave that early," Lois said as her jeep was succumbed to a massive traffic jam. That was the one thing she liked about leaving work late, the traffic wasn't half as bad as it was now.
"What other choice did he have, Lois?" Clark chuckled softly, "it was either that or watch you attack me."
"ATTACK YOU?! I was ATTACKING you, was I, Kent? You sure as hell weren't saying that at the time! In fact, I believe your exact words were, 'mmmmm, if you keep that up Lois we aren't going to make it to Kansas.'" Clark chuckled harder this time and rested his hand on her knee.
"Relax, baby, I was kidding, you know that." Lois blushed slightly, and much to her dismay she could feel Clark's gaze on her.
"I… uhh… I, I knew that… SHUT UP!" She giggled desperately, her cheeks growing redder by the second. Clark said nothing in response. He was content with staring out the window and giggling softly.
'This is what marriage is all about,' he thought, 'moments like this.'
Dr. Klein paced back and forth briskly. Every three seconds he checked his watch and shook his head.
"Where the hell are you Nul?" he muttered to himself softly. He checked his watch again. 4:52 PM. Nul said he'd be there at 4:45. He was late. Nul was never late. At the hurried sound of footsteps, Dr. Klein was immediately opening the door to his laboratory. Three men walked in swiftly. Their faces were stoic, but their eyes held an odd mixture of excitement and fear.
"NUL! I'm so glad you came! I got your message," Dr. Klein's face grew curious, "is it true? Have you really found him?" Nul-Zay eyed his friend tenderly. It was a glorious discovery and he was anxious to share the information with all those who had worked so hard to get this far. Unfortunately, he lacked much of the necessary information.
"Ree, my friend," he began tenderly, resting an unsteady hand on Dr. Klein's shoulder, "you must not get too eager. You and I both know that even if his body is found, he is probably dead. Nobody can survive in space that long."
"Of course. This is just so exciting," came the reply. Nul took a deep breath and calculated his words carefully; a soft smile brushed his lips.
"As you know, the tracking chip was sewn into his clothing." Dr. Klein nodded. "He was last seen wearing the clothing adorned with the chip, so in theory, where ever the chip is, so is he."
"Yes, and up until now, when ever you have tried to get a reading from the chip, he was too far out, the signal faded and no connection was made," Klein stated.
"Yes. That is, until a few hours ago." Nul-Zay's usually dark gray eyes began to twinkle softly.
"Honestly, I am not sure exactly. All I know for sure is that my assistants and I," Nul paused to acknowledge the two men who stood on either side of him, "descended to "the room" to check a few statistics, and there it was."
Dr. Klein's eyes grew wide. "You received a return signal? From his tracking chip?"
"Yes, and a strong one at that. He is not very far from here."
"Where, and how long, Nul?" Dr. Klein could not hide the excitement in his voice, nor did he try to.
"Somewhere off the coast of Martha's Vineyard. Less then two hours from now." Nul stated matter-of-factly.
"Does Kal know? He should really be made aware of this."
Nul nodded. "I was hoping that the two of us might intercept him together."
"In two hours, once everything is taken care of. You and I will find Kal-El and tell him."
"It's going to be quite a shock, you know, Ree."
"I know, but this is too big, Nul. It's time."
"Lois! Clark! Sweeties, you're right on time!" Martha Kent embraced her son and daughter-in-law and ushered them off the porch. Soon Jonathan Kent appeared from the kitchen and the room was alive with excited chatter. Clark, with some help from his father brought in the luggage and set it upstairs in his old bedroom.
Martha was grateful for the few moments alone with the woman she considered a daughter. She pulled the younger Kent out onto the porch, where they could steal a few minutes alone together.
"Did you tell him?" She asked Lois excitedly. Lois's face fell.
"No. There just never seemed to be any time. Superman was on overdrive all week, and I really didn't want to tell him at work. I mean, seriously, how romantic would that be?" Martha crinkled her nose in disgust.
"No. Definitely not. But," she continued pointing her finger at Lois in a teasing manner, "you have no excuse not to do it while you're here. There has to be at least ONE night when Superman isn't in such high demand and the two of you can sneak away for a few moments. You know, a walk in the corn field at sun set, you take his hand…"
"But I wanted to do it in the house, in front of you and Jonathan," Lois interrupted.
"Sweetie I already know."
"Yeah, but Jonathan —" Lois stopped when she saw the guilty plea on Martha's face. "You told him."
"I'm so sorry, Lois. I just couldn't help it; it's such big news. Such wonderfully big news, and I just couldn't keep it to myself. I mean every time I looked at the man I practically ached… What?" Lois's big brown eyes twinkled and she was smiling from ear to ear.
"And farmboy says I babble. No wonder he has an ear for it." Martha's cheeks grew bright red.
"Tonight, Lois. You have to." Lois let out a breathy laugh.
"Yes mom. I'll tell him tonight." Martha squealed with delight and embraced her daughter. "Do you have any idea how important tonight is going to be?"
A lone ship was out on the water off the east coast of Martha's Vineyard. Onboard, three very nervous and very happy men were gazing longingly at the water. Each of them lost in their own thoughts.
It wasn't long before Dr. Klein, or as the two other men would call him, Ree-Jai began to pace again. In his mind he was putting the pieces to a very complicated puzzle together. Or to be more exact, he was figuring out how to explain the pieces of a very complicated puzzle.
The secret identity thing was easy to explain, especially to Clark. Who if not him would understand why he kept his origins a secret? The pretending not to understand the many aspects of Superman came with playing the part of Dr. Klein. With a few pieces of information, Ree was certain that Clark would understand.
What he was having trouble with, was the more delicate matters. Pretty soon they would be knocking on a farm door in Kansas and Clark's world would forever change. What were they going to do? What would they say? What would Clark say? The selfish part of him begged the expected arrival to be alive, and to recover so that he may explain to his child all that has been left unsaid. The more rational side of him remembered Nul's warning. It was almost foolish to think that a man could orbit space for thirty years and still be alive. It was a foolish hope, and yet he clung to it for dear life.
Ree-Jai's head spun around when he heard a sob. He watched a single tear glide down Nul-Zay's face. He approached his friend and embraced him tightly. The third, younger man watched the exchange with a sad smile on his face. Nul pulled away and a lock of his curly brown hair fell over his stormy gray eyes.
"I'm so frightened Ree. I don't remember feeling this much anxiety in quite some time." Ree nodded his head slowly.
"I know what you mean. I'm nauseous… for the first time in decades I'm sick to my stomach." Nul laughed nervously, and then his stomach reminded him that he too was feeling odd. "But you know, that no matter what happens here, tonight, we kept our promise. Kal is safe and happy. Lara's gone to a better place, and soon Jor will join her. It will feel good to finally put him to rest."
"So why are we this nervous? If we're doing what we've dreamed of doing for so long, why are we THIS nervous?" Ree shifted his weight uncomfortably.
"Perhaps it is the fear of the unknown. He may descend and all we find is brain tissue and the tracker. You never know."
"Jesus Christ, I hope not."
A few moments passed in silence before a sonic boom snapped all three men into attention. Six eyes fallowed an object streaking through the sky. It appeared to be a coffin sized asteroid. In a cosmic sense it was almost amusing, but nobody was laughing. As soon as the chunk of rock was safely within reach, the men flew up towards the sky, stopped it in its path and carried it to the deck of the ship.
Nul and Ree did a quick examination of the outside and Ree had to choke back a sudden gasp. To their right, sticking out of the rock was a hand. Both Nul and Ree immediately recognized the ring, which still graced the pinky finger. They had found Jor- El's remains, whatever they may be.
Ree gave a nod to the third man, Nul's son, Lom. Lom took his time removing the layers of rock that surrounded Jor's body. After all, what was the hurry? It wasn't long before Lom perked up his ears. He concentrated for a moment and then turned to the other two.
"Do you hear that?" he asked. The two older men exchanged a glance. Soon all three were frantically digging at the rock. Fast enough to free the trapped man but careful enough not to injure him further.
"He's breathing!!" Ree squealed in delight.
"More like wheezing, it's definitely labored." Nul chimed.
"Air… is going… into his… lungs," Ree puffed while breaking up pieces of rock. It was compacted very tightly, and by all accounts their excitement was distracting. In other words, the task was taking a lot longer than it needed to.
"True, my friend… very true."
They all stopped. Lom took a sharp intake of breath. The figure that lay before them was terribly pale. He was tall, and his nose and lips were unmistakable. His hair was gray at the temples and a scraggly beard and mustache that now graced his face was completely white. Most of his body was covered in debris of some sort or the other. The skin they could see was dotted with deep bruises in all-different shapes and colors. But the only thing that mattered was that his chest was rising and falling in a fluid pattern. He was breathing. He was alive.
"My god he's beautiful," Ree murmured.
"And he's breathing. He's comatose but he's beautiful and he's breathing."
Three men loaded an injured and bloodied fourth man into the bed in the captain's quarters in the hull of the ship. Lom quickly set course back to shore while his father and the man who had been like an uncle to him examined Jor-El meticulously.
The thought brought a tear to Lom's eye. For years he'd heard stories, adventures really in which his father, Ree-Jai and Jor- El had traveled all over the many galaxies of the known universe. The three of them were, in his father's words "mischief brothers."
And now, the three of them were back together again, at least in one sense of the word. Maybe miracles did happen after all.
"Need some help, mom?"
"No, I don't need any help, and I'd thank you to keep your paws out of my potatoes." Martha playfully swatted her son's hand away from the bowl as he snuck a finger full of garlic-mashed potatoes. One thing he loved about being at his parents' house was that he didn't have to do all the cooking. And the ingredients were straight off the farm fresh.
"Come on mom. There must be something I can do." Martha laughed softly.
"When I need to clean under the couch I'll give you a call, until then, relax. Isn't this supposed to be your vacation?"
"Okay, okay, I get the picture. I guess it's gonna take me a few days to really relax and enjoy my time off."
"I know what you mean," Clark and Martha both turned at sound of Lois's voice. The air caught in Clark's throat at the sight of her. Her shoulder length dark hair was pulled back into a ponytail. She was sporting one of Clark's "Smallville High school" T-shirts and a beat up pair of gray sweatpants that Clark recognized instantly. He loved seeing her this way. Relaxed and happy. "I'm still in work mode, myself. I'm afraid it'll take me a while to unwind." Clark took her in his arms and planted a few soft kisses on her forehead.
"I'm sure and I can find some way to aid in that process." Neither noticed the huge smile on Martha's face, or the few stray tears that slid down her cheeks. She couldn't help it, they were just too beautiful.
"Well, well, Mr. Kent aren't you the helpful one this evening?" Lois cooed.
"That's what you get for marrying a boy scout, Mrs. Kent." Their lips met in a deep, romantic kiss that threatened to turn into something much more, but soon they could feel eyes on them, and they pulled away. Clark smiled sheepishly at his mother. "So, umm when is dinner going to be finished?" Martha laughed and returned to her cooking.
"As soon as your father is finished with the steaks we'll be done. You have a few minutes if you want to, you know, take a nap or something."
"MOM!!" This time Martha's laughter was loud and hearty, and to Clark's surprise, so was Lois's.
"That's right, man, just keep breathing. Everything's going to be okay." Ree-Jai checked Jor-El's vital statistics one more time. His breathing was labored, by the sound of it he had some fluid trapped in his lungs. His pulse was unstable, teeter-tottering from strong to weak, and his pupil reactions were delayed. But he was breathing on his own. Slowly in, and even slower out. At that time it was the most comforting sound in the world.
"How is he?" Ree met Nul's eyes carefully, and the latter man released a heavy sigh. "Is he going to live? Do you honestly think there's a chance?"
"Knowing Jor-El we should prepare for anything. If he fights to stay alive then honestly, I think he could make a nice recovery, if he doesn't, then…"
"I can't believe he's breathing on his own."
"It's amazing, isn't it?"
"Indeed." Silence fell. The boat ride had been quick and the ride to the helicopter's launching pad was even quicker. On the way Ree and Nul, then later, Lom had managed to clean their injured friend, and dress his obvious wounds. This included a particularly nasty gash above his left eye. Most of the wounds, the men knew would heal themselves with a good dose of sunlight. Until then they just needed to be kept clean. They had dressed him in a typical hospital gown. Now the roof of Star Labs was in sight and Lom signaled that the passengers should prepare for landing.
"Jor, we're almost there. Hang on. Please hang on." Nul pleaded as he ran a few fingers through Jor-El's soft black hair. A deep groan rang through the cab of the helicopter. Nul and Ree exchanged glances.
"Did he just make a noise?" Lom called from the cockpit in disbelief. As if to answer the question, Jor groaned again, louder this time. His brow furrowed and his face winced slightly.
"Look at his eyes!! HIS EYES NUL!! They're fluttering!"
"I can see that! He's… he's trying to open them!" Suddenly Jor- El's eyes snapped open. If there was any doubt before of his identity it immediately evaporated. Those eyes were unmistakable. On a planet where 95% of men had gray or brown eyes Jor was gem. Staring up at Ree-Jai and Nul-Zay were the most perfect pair of crystal blue eyes that either of them had ever seen.
"Jor?" Nul asked softly. "Jor, it's me, Nul. Jor, if you can hear me say something."
"Kal…" Jor's voice was soft and without superhearing would probably be undetectable.
"Kal is fine. Don't worry we're going to retrieve him as soon as we get you situated. Jor? Jor, no! NO!" And just like that his eyes snapped shut again, and he lay motionless.
"Damn," muttered Ree, who until then was silent. Just then the doors to the cab flew open and a team of experts pulled Jor-El's stretcher out of the helicopter. Lom, Nul, and Ree watched the men rush their friend into an elevator and down into a previously prepared room.
"To Kal?" Ree questioned.
"To Kal," Nul replied.
"I'm stuffed," Jonathan declared. He sat back in his chair and sighed happily. In a quick motion he unbuckled his pants to make room for his expanding stomach. His wife was no doubt multitalented. She could sew; she was an excellent farm hand, and a fabulous artist. But Jonathan's favorite skill of hers was her cooking. No matter how bad the crops were from one time to the other, she could always turn them into a fresh, filling meal. Sure, he made the steak but she whipped up the seasoning mix to grill it with. That coupled with a hearty helping of her delicious garlic mashed potatoes, some fresh garden salad, string beans, fresh out of the oven rolls, and a tall glass of milk had made for a wonderful meal.
"Jonathan, we have company!" Martha hissed under her breath when she noticed her husbands undone pants. It was futile effort, though, she realized. Clark's soft chuckles floated to her ears and she flushed slightly. Yet another reminder not to try to outsmart superhearing.
"What company? It's just the kids!" Jonathan exclaimed out loud. Martha ate another spoonful of her potatoes slowly. She was tense, and she hated it. Of course Lois and Clark wouldn't care whether or not her husband's pants were buttoned, and on a normal night neither would she. But this wouldn't be a normal night. At least she hoped it wouldn't be. She glanced up at her daughter- in-law and their eyes connected. Martha could feel the nerves of the younger woman jumping, and suddenly a sharp stab of guilt washed over her for being so impatient. She just couldn't help herself. Her son was about to be the happiest man alive, and she was dying to see the look on his face when he realized how truly blessed he was.
Lois cleared her thought. Martha and Jonathan exchanged a knowing glance.
"Honey," Lois began, taking Clark's hand, "there's something I wanted to tell you." Clark scanned her eyes for a second. No doubt searching for any signs of distress. When he found none he smiled softly.
"What is it, baby. You know you can tell me anything, right?"
Lois nodded. She opened her mouth to tell him the wonderful news. The news they once thought of as impossible, but she was interrupted. A loud knock on the door snapped the anxious family out of their reverie.
"Who the hell could that be?" Martha said frowning and annoyed.
"Let me get it, Martha," Jonathan redid his pants and stood up, "you never know. It could be trouble."
"Then shouldn't I get it?" Clark questioned. Jonathan made his way to the front of the house and opened the door slowly. Standing out on the porch were two men. The one on the left Jonathan was sure he'd never seen before. He was about Clark's height but more lanky. Older than Clark too, it appeared. His eyes were gray, and his hair was brown and very curly. The man standing to the right, Jonathan was sure he'd seen before.
"Doctor Klein?" Jonathan wasn't surprised to hear his son behind him. With a quick glance he realized that the entire family was gathered around the door.
"Clark, I'm so glad I found you!" Dr. Klein threw his hands to the sky in a dramatic gesture. "I must talk to you! It's very important. Might we come in?" Dr. Klein acknowledged his companion and Jonathan waved them inside.
"Grab a seat." Jonathan invited waving at the sofa.
"No, no." Dr. Klein replied, "I'm much too nervous."
"What's wrong Doctor?" Lois asked, her face wary.
"I have some news, Clark. Important news. It's about your father." He glanced at Jonathan long enough to catch the confused look on his brow. "It's about your birth father."
"Boy, I sure do envy Lois and Clark."
"Why's that, Chief?" Jimmy Olsen finished saving the last of his assignment onto a computer disk and began to shut his machine down. Usually at 7:30 PM the City Room of the Daily Planet had a few stray reporters putting the finishing touches on their respective projects. That usually included the couple in question. But today had to have been the most boring day anyone could remember. That included the Chief. Eventually they'd found something to do and Mullins and Jimmy had been sent off to cover the renovation project at the community theater. Now the story was finished. The lights were out. And two lonely men were preparing to call it a day.
"Because Jimmy, right now those two are together, in love, and far enough away from a major crisis that they can brag about it."
"Apparently so are we." Perry chuckled softly but was struck by the disappointment in the young man's voice. It was no secret that the more Jimmy worked on the streets, finding events and filming them, the more he blossomed. Soon, Perry mused, he'd be just as bad as the other two, which delighted him to no end. Jimmy sighed softly. "I guess if any couple in the world deserves a vacation it would be CK and Lois." Jimmy finished shutting down his computer and he and Perry gathered their things.
"Damn right Jimmy. I don't even remember the last time I gave those two a vacation. Hell, they were only on their honeymoon for two days before the city council story broke wide open. Then BAM!! Lane and Kent, back in action. Never complained, never faltered. Pulitzer worthy story, like always."
"I remember the last time they had a vacation."
"Yep. It was that whole Spencer Spencer fiasco." The two men stepped into the waiting elevator and the doors promptly closed behind them.
"Great shades of Elvis, that's right. Well let's hope that this vacation is uneventful and boring. That's just what those two need, a long boring stay in the country. No kidnappings, no bombs, no psycho's with guns. Just grain and barley, the American dream." Jimmy laughed as they exited the elevator and made their way through the front lobby. It was raining heavily outside. A very fitting ending to a very long and pointless day.
"Well, Chief, they certainly got a jump on the boring part. Can you believe that me, Lois and CK ACTUALLY played three rounds of "Candy Land" today?"
"Well don't that beat all." Perry chuckled softly and when it became apparent that he and Jimmy were headed in different directions he waved his hand in the air at his faithful companion. "Have a good night, son," he called.
"You too, Chief." Jimmy continued walking, but Perry stood at the curb anxiously trying to flag down a cab. A pointless exercise, but he had time. After all there was nobody to go home to. After a while he gave up and began walking down the street towards home, his mind once again returning to Lois and Clark. He was hoping against hope that the world would learn to behave itself for the next week so his two other kids, especially Clark, could relax and recharge their batteries.
Suddenly a wide smile spread across Perry White's face. And to his shock he was laughing out loud. Imagine, Superman playing "Candy Land". Now there's something you don't see every day.
For a moment Clark was sure he was going to faint. He'd never fainted before, never even came close (well, not without the assistance of Kryptonite of course), but he was sure he was going to faint. It wasn't so much what had been said, more like what hadn't been said yet. What did Dr. Klein know about his birth father? And how? And who the hell was this other guy. Clark could feel his face scrunch up in confusion and to his surprise, the second man, the one he did not recognize looked sadly away.
"Don't you think we should start from the beginning?" The second man asked giving Dr. Klein a bump on the shoulder with his elbow.
"Of course," he replied as he began to pace, "you know I'm no good at this." The second man just rolled his eyes and Lois found herself compressing a giggle. It was nice to know that she wasn't the only one who found that compulsive pacing irritating.
"Please allow me to make proper introductions." The second man held his hand out to Clark who looked warily at it for a second then shook it slowly. "I am Nul-Zay." Clark's eyes grew wide and he heard his mother gasp. Nul waved his hand at the younger man and continued, "Please, allow me to explain. I was one of the few people privileged enough to be a Guardsman of your father, Jor- El. But beyond that, I was much more pleased to be able to call him friend. As his Guardsman, I protected him and the ones he cared about, including you. I was obliged to serve and protect, which I did until that fateful day." Nul's voice grew sad and his eyes noticeably moistened. "As a final act of respect and loyalty I wanted nothing more then to give my dear friend a proper burial. But for thirty years I was denied that."
"Why?" Clark croaked. He felt Lois lace her fingers with his and then squeeze his hand reassuringly.
"Because his body was never found. Your mother has been laid to rest a long time ago, but your father seemed to have disappeared."
"Now this is where things get tricky." Dr. Klein cut in still pacing aimlessly. Nul sighed gratefully. "You see your father had a computer chip sewn into the lining of his pants. The purpose of this chip was to locate him no matter where he was in the universe. That way had he been kidnapped, or injured, or whatever, he could be found and rescued. Knowing this, we tried to use the chip to locate his body, but were unsuccessful. Whenever we attempted to contact the chip and gain coordinates, the reply signal was simply too weak and no useful information was retrieved."
"That is, until today." Nul continued. "This afternoon two of my assistants and myself entered a secret room buried deep in the ground and what we saw astounded us."
"What did you see?" Lois asked softly.
"On the computer monitor was a return signal from the chip that was sewn into Jor-El's clothing."
"It seems he was headed for Earth. The Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha's Vineyard to be precise." Dr. Klein continued, picking up where his friend left off. "He was encased in an asteroid, which we intercepted of course, and that's when things got really interesting."
"You mean there's more?" Clark gasped in disbelief.
"Yes, I'm afraid so." Dr. Klein stopped pacing and approached Clark. When they were face to face he continued, his voice soft and slow. "When we were able to free your father, Kal, we realized something. Your father was still breathing. Your father is alive."
Fainting, definitely fainting. About to faint, feeling dizzy. The loud thud on the floor interrupted Clark's panic attack. He spun around and realized his mother was sprawled out on the floor. His father was desperately trying to wake her up with light taps to her cheek and soft words. Clark's head was spinning, he had a million and one thoughts he wanted to express and yet his tongue seemed immobile and there was a hard lump in his throat.
"Wait, Wait, Wait! Hold on a second!" Leave it to Lois to find her voice first. "How in the world do you know all of this, Dr. Klein?" His eyes fell to the floor, and Clark could swear he heard the Doctor trying to put his next words in the right order.
"Forgive me, Mrs. Kent, I have lied. To you both, repeatedly. My name is Ree-Jai. Jor-El was…err…is one of my best friends."
Martha Kent was joined on the floor by another younger Kent. Superman was down and out, leaving the remaining four people left to stare in wonder.
"I can't believe this, I just can't believe this! You how it is when you just can't wrap your mind around something?" Clark paced back and forth across the waiting room of Star Labs briskly. How long had it been? An hour? One hour and his whole world, his whole existence had been flipped upside down.
After a few minutes on the floor Clark had awoken to five sets of eyes analyzing him. He let out a little girly shriek and everyone jumped back a few feet. The next half an hour was a blur. Somehow he'd flown Lois and both his parents to Star Labs, though he vaguely remembered doing it.
Once they had arrived they were ushered into a small waiting room in a secluded part of the building. Nul and Ree had disappeared down a corridor directly ahead of them. Before leaving they said something about checking to make sure Jor was up for company.
"Son, sit down. You're going to ware a hole in the floor." Jonathan chuckled nervously but the gesture was lost on Clark. His mind was on overdrive and his emotions ran unchecked.
"SIT DOWN? HOW THE HELL CAN YOU TELL ME THAT!" He saw his father wince and released a long sigh. "I'm sorry," he began, this time much more calm. "I, I don't know what got into me."
"You're scared, sweetie." Martha said softly.
"You're right, I'm scared. I'm TERRIFIED! JOR-EL IS ALIVE! My BIRTH FATHER IS ALIVE! How the hell am I supposed to feel?"
"Clark, no one is asking you to decide that." Lois's voice was small and distant. She had been silent since they left Smallville but she wasn't sure why. She kept telling herself that she was hurting because Clark was hurting, which he was. She'd never seen him so utterly confused, so pained. But deep down Lois knew that there was more to it then that. A part of her, a big part of her, the selfish part of her was very disappointed.
All week she'd waited and searched and schemed for a quiet moment alone with her husband, and all week she was denied. She was sure that their vacation would provide ample time to sit him down and tell him that they were expecting a baby. But now, she was starting to wonder it that would ever happen. How could she add more stress to his increasingly stressful life? How could she put the weight of being a father on his shoulders now?
Lois blinked back into reality when she felt Clark plop down in the chair beside her. She took his hand and squeezed it.
"What are we going to do?" he asked softly. "I mean seriously, if he lives what are we going to do? If he dies…" everyone winced slightly as a few tears rolled down Clark's cheek and settled on his lips. It was a natural reaction for Lois to wipe them away with her thumb.
"If he lives then we'll welcome him into our family." Martha said simply. Clark opened his mouth to respond but snapped it shut again when Ree and Nul entered the room. Ree seemed to survey the present company before speaking.
"Jor-El is resting peacefully. His vital signs are stable, and I think he would enjoy some company." Nobody spoke as Ree and Nul lead the Kent family through a series of hallways and finally stopped at a large door. "I want you to know, that I really appreciate this. It warms my heart to know that he won't have to go through this alone."
Having said that Ree opened the door and instantly the family could hear the continuous beep of various hospital machines. As curious as everyone was, all eyes were on Clark. He froze in the doorway momentarily, and then took a hesitant step into the room. Lois and the older Kents spilled into the room behind him. The room was bright and filled with machines that were continuingly spitting out numbers and percentages. Lying on the bed in the center of the room was a tall man dressed in a white hospital gown. His features were strong and sophisticated, yet he was very pale.
"My God." Clark finally breathed. Nul went to the right side of Jor's bed and checked the output on a few of the machines. When he was finished, he rested his hand on his friend's forehead. Even in his daze Clark heard Nul begin to whisper. It was in a language he'd never heard before, though deep down it seemed familiar. He heard Nul use his Kryptonian name and that got his attention. Nul looked up and scanned the crowd. Clark was pale. Too pale for his liking. Lois seemed lost in thought and both the elder Kents were crying.
"I told him that his son is here to see him and that he has a very pretty daughter-in-law." Lois smiled shyly.
"Does he speak English?" she asked. Clark smiled. That was his Lois, always the reporter, get to the bottom of the story no matter what.
"Yes. He does, but only when he has to. He always preferred to speak in Kryptonian." Nul whispered a few more words and then stopped. He looked to the elder Kents. "I am sorry, what are your names again?"
"Martha." He continued to talk in fluid foreign phrases.
"I told him that the wonderful people who raised Kal are here too."
"Could you rely a message for me?" Martha asked.
"Tell him that I hope he wakes up because I'd love to talk to him." Nul smiled and relayed the message quickly. An uneasy silence fell upon the room and Nul and Ree exchanged nervous glances. Even though Jor was comatose Nul felt like he was in charge of introducing Son to Father. He looked up and noticed Lois standing on the opposite side of the bed. He smiled slightly. He knew that she couldn't suppress the characteristic Lane curiosity for very long. Martha joined her after a few moments. Both woman studied Jor-El and soon a round of tears followed.
"Look at that nose," Martha whispered softly, "if that isn't Clark's nose then…then…God, he's so pale."
"We're hoping that a few days worth of fresh sunlight will help him heal, of course we won't know that for a while now." Nul stated.
"Is he going to live?" The three people standing at the bed snapped up their heads to view Clark. He was still near the doorway, eyes fixed on the floor tiles. His voice was so small that it was almost lost in the beeping of the machines. If Martha's heart weren't breaking at his obvious pain she may have found it cute. Lois didn't like the way he was shifting his weight for one foot the other, it was making her nervous and edgy.
"I will not lie to you. We honestly don't know. I will say this however, statistics show that people who have a supportive family unit in times of sickness recover quicker and more completely." Clark only nodded, his eyes never rising off the floor.
Everyone was startled when the door opened. Clark reluctantly stepped farther into the room allowing a short Asian woman to enter. She surveyed the room and her expression grew almost remorseful. "I'm sorry. I really hate to interrupt but it's time to give Mr. El his medications. I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask everyone to leave for a short while." To everyone's surprise, Clark groaned loudly. "I promise I'll come and get you as soon as I'm finished," she added quickly.
Clark watched his wife and parents exit the room followed by Dr. Klein and Nul. For a few long seconds he stood in the doorway studying the man before him. The man who had given him life. The man who had sent him into the great unknown. The man who allowed Jonathan and Martha Kent to love and raise him. Made it possible for him to meet Lois and find his purpose in life. The Asian woman shot him a glance that instantly told him that he had to leave but that she didn't want to be pushy. "I'll be back…" Clark whispered and then as he turned to walk away he added, "Father…"
"I want you to know, that I truly appreciate your cooperation and understanding. I know this can't possibly be easy for you." Nul, Jonathan and Martha sat in a small lounge area not far from Jor's room. Jonathan and Martha sat close on the plush love seat while Nul rested in a deep reclining chair on the opposite end of the room. Lois and Clark had gone into a separate room so that they could be alone for a little while and talk.
Martha knew that her son loved his wife and that she loved him desperately in return but she couldn't help but be nervous. With Lois being pregnant her nerves were on edge already, and based on Clark's demeanor in his father's room earlier, he wasn't in any better shape. The motherly side of her brain (which was nearly all of it) worried that the stress of the situation might be too intense and perhaps they were fighting. But beyond that, another side of her brain was ticking out distress signals.
She stole a quick glance at her husband, who to an outsider seemed calm but to her seasoned eyes was in a state of upheaval. Logically, they both knew that Jor-El being alive was a wonderful thing. Not only for Clark but for them as well. It gave the whole family a chance to place all the pieces together. A chance for Clark to find out all the secret questions that had haunted him since childhood. Emotionally, on the other hand she was rather upset. As far as she was concerned Clark's whole damned Kryptonian family could come back and she would still be his mother. But now Jonathan was facing the fact that Clark's biological father was alive, and Martha knew that he was afraid of being replaced. How could he not? How could he not worry that Clark may look at him differently, that somehow he wouldn't matter anymore?
She gave her husband's hand a reassuring squeeze and then addressed the man before her. She had plenty of questions and now seemed as good of a time as any to ask. "I just want my son to be happy." She replied before switching gears. "Can I ask you a few things, please?" Nul smiled softly. He'd been expecting this. That was the whole purpose of suggesting they come here, so that the family could ask the questions that were no doubt, multiplying by the second.
"Of course you may," he answered simply.
"What was he like? Clark's father? I've often wondered over the years what kind of person could be responsible for giving life to such a beautiful boy…" Martha blinked back tears and Nul found himself shifting positions in his chair uncomfortably.
"I understand. Actually, Jor-El was much like Clark's wife."
"Really?" This was asked by Jonathan. He had been quiet since the incident in the waiting room but apparently his curiosity had gotten the better of him.
"Oh yes. He was confident and poised. Sometimes he was stubborn to the point of idiocy. But once you made your way passed that I'm-in-charge attitude he's the most loving person I've ever met. The first person to help you out when you're in trouble, always ready with a kind word, just a good guy. Everyone who worked with him was fiercely loyal and trusted him completely."
"If you don't mind my asking, if they all loved and trusted him so much, why did they not believe him when he told them that Krypton was going to explode?" Nul nodded slightly. It was yet another question he had anticipated, and yet it was the one he dreaded the most.
"I said the people who worked WITH him trusted him. But for every man who worked for him, there were hundreds who worked against him. You see, Jor understood that the planet was dying, not only cosmically, but emotionally as well. As in most places, the government controlled everything, and the common man hardly had any representation. Jor-El saw that his people were suffering and was actively working towards social change. The people loved him for it, but the government wasn't the least bit amused. So when Jor tried to warn the people that Krypton was dying the government chose not to believe him. And well, you saw what happened."
"That's terrible." Jonathan sighed. "The poor man."
"I watched him anguish for weeks as to what to do. No matter how much we reworked the numbers the loss was going to be catastrophic. He sent away the people who would listen to reason, and the others…" Nul's voice trailed off and he shifted once again in his chair.
"But if he sent away the people who would listen, then where is Clark's mother?" Jonathan asked softly.
"Lara refused to go," Nul stated.
"But why?" This came from Martha. Nul sighed deeply and paused to collect his thoughts.
"Jor felt that it was his duty to stay with his people no matter the cost. He wanted Lara to take baby Kal and find a safe place but Lara refused to leave him for dead. I wish I could explain farther but I'm afraid I was never privy to the details of that conversation. All I know is that Lara stayed with her husband and Ree and I were recruited to build Kal's space ship."
A soft tap sent the rooms attention towards the door. Nul invited the visitor to enter and a moment later Lois's small body entered the room. Her pink cheeks and bloodshot eyes made it obvious that she had been crying.
"Sweetie, what's wrong?" Martha asked. Her voice etched in concern. All her previous worries were charging back to the front of her thoughts. She'd hoped that the stress of the situation would not cause the kids to start fighting. Now it looked like her wish hadn't come true.
"I'm fine." Lois breathed uneasily. "I'm just, I'm so worried about Clark. After we left Jor-El's room he lost all color and got dizzy. He actually threw up in the bathroom. I've never seen him like this."
"Where is Clark?" Jonathan asked.
"After he was done being sick we bumped into that nurse who interrupted us earlier. She said she was done with administering the medications and we were free to go back and sit with him if we wanted. Clark went in there. I think he has a lot of things on his mind, and it'll do him some good." Everybody nodded but nobody replied. In that room a silent pact was formed. Clark needed all their strength love and loyalty, and they promised to give it to him.
"I told you I'd be back." Clark let the door to his father's hospital room click shut slowly. At first he hovered near the doorway, afraid for some reason to step in any farther. If he got closer? If he sat down next to his natural father and studied him close, touched his face or hand then this whole crazy situation was real. Then his father really was alive, all the chaos and confusion mulling around in his brain was for good reason. If he was near the doorway, on the other hand he could always make a break for it, turn around and run away. Go back to Kansas with Lois and his folks and pretend this day never happened.
But did he really want to? His whole childhood he'd had so many questions, and although his mom and dad had done their best to answer them, they were just as clueless as he was. How could he turn his back on this opportunity to learn so much? And how could he deny this man who sacrificed so much to insure his happiness the right to have his only son next to his bedside when was dying.
Dying. The word hit Clark like a Kryptonite bullet to the chest. His father was dying and he knew it and that reality was too much to bear. He refused to let him die. Not now, not with so much left unsaid. With a soft sigh and a shrug of the shoulders Clark swallowed hard and crossed the room. He pulled an uncomfortable folding chair next to his father's beside and began to speak. He hadn't planned it, but somehow all his hopes and fears spilled out of his head and flew out of his mouth.
"You know, yesterday I thought my life was perfect, I thought there was nothing else in the world I needed. I was wrong. I needed this; I needed you more then anything. I think I always have, but as I grew older I suppressed that longing." Clark paused to collect his thoughts. He swallowed hard, desperately trying to get passed the cold lump in his throat. "I, I'm so scared right now. I'm scared of you living, as crazy as that sounds. I'm afraid of facing you, of learning whether or not I've lived up to your expectations. I'm afraid that you're going to try to take my dad's place, and I don't want to lose him." Clark stopped fighting and left the tears flow freely. "I, I'm scared that you're going to be so different from everyone I've ever met that I'm going to hate you somehow. But worst of all, I'm afraid that you're going to die. I'm so afraid that you're heart is going to stop dead and that I just spent the last 15 minutes in the bathroom being sick for no reason. Please, please don't die. I decided it would be better to face you and figure out where we stand then lose that opportunity." Clark rested his head on his father's chest and wept openly for what seemed like hours but was probably more like minutes.
Then he felt it. A soft sensation but a sensation no doubt. He recognized that sensation; he'd felt it every night for the last six months as he drifted to sleep while holding his wife. His hair was moving. Fingers. Someone was running their fingers through his hair. He snapped his head up quick enough to catch the movement of one of his father's hands. Slowly his eyes traced a path to his father's face and gasped sharply when he realized that his eyes were open. How much had he heard? Clark cried even harder and allowed himself to get lost in the deep blue pools that were his father's eyes.
"Kal?" Jor-El whispered.
"It's okay, it's me," Clark whispered in return.
"Kal?" Clark watched his horror as his father's eyes began to flutter and finally closed. At that same moment the machine that monitored his heart beat began screaming in an urgent alarm. Flat line. His heart had stopped. Clark sprinted to the door and screamed into the hallway for help. Five nurses rushed to the sick man and worked on him while Clark continued to scream. The loud, desperate cries attracted the attention of Lois, Nul and his parents who came running to his side, pulling him into a tight embrace and trying to no avail to calm him down.
"WAKE HIM UP!! WAKE HIM UP!!" Clark screamed to the rushing nurses.
"Clark, you need to calm down, this isn't helping." Lois cooed as lovingly as she could.
"He was just awake! He was awake and he said my name! You have to believe me!"
"We do believe you, Clark, but right now we need to leave and let the doctors do there job." With a little coaxing they managed to pull Clark into the hallway right as Dr. Klein came running down the hall.
"Dr. Klein! Save him! Save my father!" And with that Clark collapsed on the floor in a heap of hysterical shrieks and sobbing. "No, oh god no! NO! PLEASE! PLEASE DON'T DO THIS TO ME!!" Was all the family could decipher as they tried in vain to comfort the Man of Steel.
"Shush, shush, everything's going to be fine, just you wait and see. He'll be fine he's strong like you." In the corner of the waiting area Lois was cradling Clark and slowly rocking him back and forth. She held his upper body close and dutifully wiped away the tears that still trickled from him eyes and down his cheeks.
"He can't die." Clark muttered bitterly, "he just can't. It's not fair." The last word was hardly born before Clark lost his voice in a mournful sob.
"He's not going to die, he wouldn't leave you, not like this." Clark was silent. Lois glanced up at her mother and father-in- law, they were both crying softly. She knew that their hearts were breaking, as was her own. At this point in time whether or not Jor-El's presence was a welcome surprise or not was irrelevant. Jor-El had to live. It was as simple as that. If he died, Clark would never forgive himself, and then they'd have a real mess on their hands. It was Jonathan who broke the silence.
"Son, you said he woke up and spoke to you?" Martha shot her husband a stern look that warned him that this wasn't the appropriate time to conjure those memories. Not after all the work it took to pull Clark out of the hallway and get him to stop screaming. Imagine a two year old trying to push a bulldozer up a steep cliff when it's out of control. It was pretty much the same situation.
"It's true! It's true!" Clark's voice was high and frightened and when it appeared that he was going to lose control again Lois rocked him a little faster and whispered soothing words in his ears. "I was talking to him, telling him how scared I was, but that I wanted him to wake up and I rested my head on his chest and then I felt fingers in my hair and I looked up and he was looking at me and he said my name and I told him everything was gonna be okay and then the machine started screaming and I started screaming! It's true! I swear!" Clark spoke so fast that half his explanation was lost.
"You see, baby, that's proof. It's proof that he's trying to heal, and he's coming back to you, he just needs a little more time." Lois cooed.
"Lois is right, Clark. He needs time to get well." Jonathan agreed, nodding his head and plastering an exaggerated smile on his face.
"He's Kryptonian! The sun should have healed him by now!" Clark muttered.
"But Clark he's been in space for thirty years without the benefit of the yellow sun. You can't just expect him to heal right away, honey, he needs time." Martha chimed in.
"It's not gonna take time. His heart stopped, he's dead." The lack of emotion in Clark's words was startling. He was beyond hysteria now. He was numb.
"Actually, we've got it started again. It was a close call, but Jor's a stubborn old goat and again he's resting peacefully." Dr. Klein stated as he entered the room.
"Lois, I think I'd like to get some fresh air." Clark whispered.
"Want some company?"
"Please." And with that Lois and Clark got off the floor and exited the room, leaving the elder Kent's and a very upset Nul- Zay alone to contemplate the future.
"Chief, can we have a word with you?"
"Clark! Lois! What in God's name are you two doing here? You're supposed to be on vacation."
"Yes, Chief, we're aware of this." Lois and Clark walked into Perry's office in the middle of the afternoon. As soon as he saw the look on their faces Perry knew something was up.
"Why do I get the feeling I'm not going to like this?" Perry asked as Clark sat down in the armchair across from his desk. Lois stood behind him and rested her hands on his shoulders.
"Well that depends, Chief. How do you feel about giving us some more time off?" Perry studied Clark and then Lois carefully. He didn't like what he saw. Clark appeared to be uncharacteristically tired. His usual sturdy posture was abandoned for a more laid back slump. Perry had hoped against hope that Lois and Clark would get the chance to relax and spend some good quality time together, but apparently they were cursed in that respect. So what was it? Was the government chasing Superman again? Death treats? A kidnapping? As much as he wanted to know he was sure he'd never find out. Too risky.
"Might I ask why?" He replied simply.
"Umm…" Clark began uneasily. Superman, it definitely had something to do with Superman. And then as if Clark could read his thoughts (did he have that Super power?) he answered Perry's question, "It actually is rather on the personal side of the spectrum. You know that I'm adopted, right? I've told you that before haven't I?"
"I remember you mentioning it a while back."
"Well, Chief…the thing is…I, I just found out my birth father is alive and I was kinda hoping…" Lois could sense her husbands fumbling and picked up where he left off.
"He's very sick, Perry. He's in the hospital and nobody knows how much longer he has left. So Clark and I were hoping to spend some time with him before…I mean if…well you know. That's not to say he's going to die. I mean I don't think he's going to die. He seems strong enough to fight it, and the doctors did say that people with family around recover better…" The soft sound of chuckling drifted up to Lois's ears and her checks immediately reddened. "I'm babbling, aren't I?"
Clark just laughed in response. He was glad for the release. His body had been tense all day and it felt good to vent some of that pressure. "Chief," he started addressing Perry again, "If he dies, it would kill me to know that I wasn't there. And if he lives then well, I want to able to get to know him. Start a relationship with him." Surprisingly, the words were a lot easier to voice then Clark had anticipated. The conviction in his voice was striking; even to Perry who released a soft sigh and let an understanding smile spread across his face.
"Clark, you and Lois are the best damn reporters I've ever had the privilege of working with. When I think of all the scandals you've exposed, the enemies you've faced, the puzzles you've unraveled, I'm awestruck. Now Jimmy had the frame of mind the other day to remind me that that last time you kids have had a vacation was the whole Spencer Spencer mess. So, having said that, I command you two to take the next month off and spend it with your family." Lois and Clark brightened instantly.
"Thank you so much, Chief, you have no idea how much this means to us." Lois said, her eyes growing glossy.
"Hell it's my pleasure. Now go on now! Get the hell out of my office!" Perry commanded in his best I'm-in-charge voice. The gruffness was countered however by his wide grin and merry eyes.
He watched Lane and Kent exit his office and couldn't help but mull over the hidden secrets of their brief exchange. Superman's father was alive and if he was half as strong and stubborn as his son then he no doubt would on his feet in no time. For a brief moment Perry saw the headlines on the front page of the Daily Planet at a distant date: SUPERDAD MEANS BUSINESS! But he immediately scolded himself for thinking such things. This wasn't about headlines, or vacation pay. It was about a kid who's been through more crap then anyone could wave a stick at who was just handed the chance of a lifetime. The chance to put the pieces to the puzzle together. A chance to connect and communicate with a person who was like him.
'However,' Perry thought with a sly grin, 'if he does decide to put on a pair of tights, I'd be grateful to get the exclusive.'
Lois and Clark stepped off the elevator at the ground floor of the Daily Planet and just avoided running head first into Jimmy Olsen. His arms were full of various bags from restaurants in the vicinity.
"CK! Lois! What are you guys doin' here? Aren't you supposed to be on vacation?" he asked the pair making no attempt to cover up his surprise.
"Why does everyone feel the need to remind us of that? Why doesn't the city just erect a billboard: LANE AND KENT, YOU'RE ON VACATION! And get it over with already!" Lois snapped a bit more forcefully then she'd intended. Jimmy winced, to her dismay and she made her best effort to calm down.
"It's been a rough couple of days, Jim," Clark said while releasing a soft sigh.
"Oh man, I'm sorry. Listen, I'd love to chat but you know how the chief gets when his food is cold. I gotta run! Later!" The last few words were shouted as Jimmy boarded the elevator and the doors shut.
"You okay?" Clark asked his wife, concern spilling from his voice. Lois rubbed at her neck and winced slightly.
"I'm fine." Clark hiked his eyebrow in question. "Really Clark, I'm just, it's just, watching you go through this is taking a lot of me." Before Clark could speak the floodgates opened and in a matter of moments Lois was in full-blown babble mode. "I mean seriously, Clark, in the last day and a half EVERYTHING has changed, well maybe not everything but A LOT! Well really, only one thing has but it's a major thing! And I know it's a happy thing, and it's a good opportunity not only for you, but for us cause now we can learn so much about you and what makes you who you are. I mean we know who you are, but you know. But it's stressful Clark! Your parents and I are worried about you, we love you and we want to help but we're worried, and scared, and tired, and, and, we're all praying for your sake he doesn't die because that would just be cruel." Lois took a haggard breath and slouched her shoulders in exhaustion. When she raised her eyes to meet her husbands she was surprised by what she saw. Instead of his usual rosy cheeks and soft chuckles that immediately followed her babble sessions, his eyes were sad and glossy. Lois knew she'd struck a nerve somewhere. Pinpointed a fear that lay deep within him. She took a few steps over to him and wrapped her husband in a loving embrace.
Clark buried his nose deep in the conjunction of her neck and shoulder and Lois thought her heart would break when quiet sobs drifted to her ears. His sharp intakes of breath made his whole body shake as well as Lois's. "It's gonna be okay baby," she whispered reassuringly into his ears, "everything's going to be okay. You've got me and your mom and your dad, and we all love you. We'll get through this, I promise." After a few moments Clark seemed to have gathered his composure and stepped back far enough to look down at his wife. His cheeks were red and a few tears were still making their way from his eyes, but he was smiling.
"I'm getting really sick of doing that you know." Lois giggled and gave Clark a soft kiss on the lips.
"Feel better, Sweetheart?" Lois asked. Clark simply nodded and took Lois's hand. Together they walked out of the Daily Planet and headed home.
"Hey Chief, why were Lois and CK here?"
"Judas Priest! Does ANYONE EVER knock anymore?"
"I was just bringing you your lunch." Jimmy informed him while motioning to the greasy bag of fast food he held in his hand. "What's with everyone yelling at me today, anyway?"
"I'm sorry, son, I'm just -"
"Stressed. Right, that's exactly what CK said." Jimmy put down the bag of food on Perry's desk and sat in the armchair across from the chief. The same chair Clark had been sitting in only moments ago.
"Clark yelled at you?" Perry asked, his eyes wide with surprise. "That's not like him."
"Actually it was Lois. And that IS like her." Both the men chuckled softly.
"Where did you see them?"
"They were coming off the elevator as I was getting back from the lunch run. They seemed tense. I wonder what's up." It was a good thing Jimmy's attention was focused on his soggy hamburger because had his eyes been shifted upward even a few centimeters he would have seen Perry White in way few people had. Nervous. He shifted in his seat slightly and pretended to find his chicken nuggets fascinating. When it became obvious that the younger man wanted an answer Perry did the only thing he could think of.
"How the hell should I know?" he responded gruffly.
"Okay, this is seriously gonna piss me off. I just asked a damn question, you don't have to blow my head off!" Jimmy snapped and when it appeared that he was going to collect his food and leave the office Perry knew that this wasn't going to be as easy as he first thought.
"It's complicated, that's all Jimmy," he said and motioned Jimmy to sit back down. "It's not my place to say what's going on, because it's really none of my business."
"So you know what's going on?" Jimmy took a bite of his hamburger and sat back down in the chair. He knew he was pushing the Chief for information, and that it might not be a bright idea, but he had to do it. He wasn't stupid. Of all the years he'd spent being a gopher at the Planet he'd developed some keen observation skills. He knew his coworkers and knew them well. Especially the Chief, Lois and CK and he knew something was wrong and that it wasn't story related. If a hot scoop was the thing that had everyone on edge, Lois would have surly snagged him as a recruit in the investigation. But she didn't. She snapped at him instead, which by itself wasn't unusual. But that coupled with CK's disheveled appearance and the Chief's odd behavior made him suspicious. Not to mention the fact that CK and Lois should have been in Smallville by now. No, something was wrong, and the chief knew what it was, and as God as his witness he was going to find out.
"Of course I know Jimmy, I just can't tell you."
"Why?" Perry shot Jimmy a look that would have set him on fire had he had super powers. Jimmy swallowed and then cleared his throat. He decided that it was time to change tactics. "What I mean is that I'm worried about them. Lois is a great lady, and CK, well; he's my best bud. If there fighting or something-"
"No Jimmy! It's nothing like that!" Perry said before he realized he had fallen into a well-placed trap. "What I mean is, there's no reason to worry. They're fine."
"Good, cause from the way CK was looking downstairs, I was afraid they were heading for divorce court." Perry just waved his hand in dismissal. "Well Chief, I should head back to work now. You want me to put those reports on CK's desk for when he gets back next week."
"No Jimmy, he's not coming back till next month." Jimmy walked out of the Editor's office and let a huge grin spread across his smooth boyish face. He'd hung out with CK and Lois enough to have a little of their tactics rub off on him. Everything he had learned only reaffirmed his belief that something was seriously wrong. They weren't fighting, and they weren't sick. And yet they'd be out of work for a month. A MONTH?? Lois didn't even take a month off work when she broke her ankle on the company ski trip! Something big was happening, and Jimmy was determined to uncover it.
Inside the office Perry was also smiling. Jimmy was good, no doubt about it. He went after the information he wanted, and he got it. Perry was sure that had Jimmy not been afraid of losing his job for overstepping his bounds he would have pursued the matter farther. He was glad to be out of the hot seat, however. Sometimes he seriously wondered how Lois managed to keep the secret, and remain at least halfway sane.
In a particular brownstone on a shady street tucked in the corner of New Troy were four restless beings. Their minds were ablaze with hot emotions, deep questions, and hidden fears. Each of them tried to stay distracted by some tedious household chore or another.
Clark Kent sat on the comfy couch in his living room. In front of him was a pile of laundry. Mostly work clothes that his mother had washed earlier that morning. As he sat there, matching up socks and folding underwear he let his mind wonder over the events of the last few days.
Actually the excitement had begun late last Sunday. He and Lois had spent the day in the park walking aimlessly through the trees. Just holding hands, talking and thanking whatever higher power controlled the universe they were happy and together. Their story about the prison break in Florida had been ground breaking and they were eager to have the time off to prepare for another workweek.
It wasn't until they got home and started to cook supper that they realized they only had one week left until vacation. Clark had casually reminded his wife that she had a physical the next day and might want to double check the time of the appointment so she wouldn't be late. Agreeing with the logic, Lois made her way to the calendar that the couple religiously wrote down their scheduled events. She stated that her appointment was for 10:30 AM on Monday, and then her eyes grew wide and she spun around to face her husband.
It was funny to think they had forgotten to make plans for vacation, but not all that absurd. In a business when you ride one story to the finish then immediately jump on top of an equally complicated and dangerous situation it's surprisingly easy to lose track of time. And apparently they had. It took one phone call and all their plans were set. They were bound for Kansas and not a moment too soon. Although they both put on a happy face when their honeymoon was interrupted and the City Counsel story won them kudos from all their colleagues, if they could go back in time they probably would have never answered the phone when Perry called.
It was on a rare occasion that the newly weds got to spend uninterrupted time together. So it was no wonder the couple spent the whole week trying to focus on anything but the clock and silently willing the date to change. Clark had known from the moment he woke up that that Friday would be the longest one ever. But as it turned out it wasn't all that boring.
If anyone other then Dr. Klein had told him his father was alive Clark would have played it off as a hoax. But the Dr. seemed so serious and concerned that he couldn't refuse to at least go to Star Labs to check out the situation. Even in the waiting room as he paced back and forth, his patience diminishing with every step Clark was searching for ways to discredit the facts. Perhaps he was too much of a reporter for his own good.
But it all changed, everything, when he stepped into that hospital room and saw the man laying in the all white room surrounded by machinery. Something in him shifted and he immediately knew it was true. It went beyond recognizing him visually. Besides he didn't really look the same from the images of the globe anyway. After all, it had been thirty years. No, it went deeper then that. Much deeper. Something deep in his heart, his soul even, clicked on and he was bombarded with forgotten feelings. He could swear that in that instant he remembered the lyrics to a song his mother would sing to him at night. He could swear he could hear her laughing at some cute gurgling noise he used to make.
That feeling was only heightened when he heard Nul speaking Kryptonian to his father. But rather then being comforting he felt empty. For the first time he truly felt like an alien. Not only was he different from earthlings, but now he realized he didn't even speak his own damn native language. It was crazy, this mixed up jumbled mess of emotions. So when that nurse came in and he was forced to leave he joined Lois in the hallway. They were headed to the drinking fountain when the room started spinning and soon he had his face in the toilet.
He couldn't imagine a worse feeling then that. Well, he didn't have to imagine it because soon he was at the forefront of misery. His father's heart had stopped right before his eyes. Clark never knew the meaning of panic until that moment. The screams of that heart monitor sent him hurtling into the hallway. His own screams echoing through the building. The rest was a blur that he barely remembered.
The next clear memory was getting dressed late that morning and driving to the Daily Planet. Of course Perry had been very understanding but it didn't curb his tension. How embarrassing it had been to cry in the middle of the lobby, but Lois was no less than perfect. As always.
Clark heard the buzzer sound on the dryer upstairs and immediately recognized his wife's soft footsteps gliding down the hallway and into the laundry room. He felt his heart begin to race and suddenly he needed to be with her. It was like a craving stemming from a long-standing addiction.
Laundry abandoned, Clark Kent took the stairs two by two and headed to the direction of his beautiful wife.
Martha tossed her quilting aside. She let her frustration filter out in the form of a long exasperated sigh. This was crazy, she thought, absolutely crazy. She should be engorged in her work. She was, in fact, quilting a baby blanket for her first grandchild, but she was too distracted to quilt or doing anything else, for that matter.
When they finally entered the brownstone in the wee morning hours, everyone was exhausted and went to bed. Considering the gravity of the situation Jonathan and Martha insisted on staying in Metropolis. But no less then four hours later she had been awake. She made breakfast and then began to pluck away at the huge stack of laundry in the hamper. She had done five loads worth of work clothes and a load of Superman Suits. After that she'd set her sights on washing the windows, then dusting then cleaning the bathroom. Anything to keep her mind off of the horrible wails Clark had issued the night before in that hallway of Star Labs.
It worked for a while and then when she least expected it one of his screams would stream through her mind like a bolt of lightning. She would shutter and gasp, sometimes a tear would roll down her cheek. Each time it happened it took longer and longer to recover.
Finally with all the chores done she resigned herself to think of happier matters. A baby was growing and soon it would be born. It needed a blanket. Every baby has to have a blankie from its granma. So Martha sat in a blue plush armchair that sat by the window in the guest bedroom. She didn't hear her husband enter the room and walk behind her. But when she felt his work worn but incredibly gentle hands rest carefully on her shoulders she felt a tear come to her eye. If there were ever a time in the world that she needed him, it would be right then and there. The bond they had formed over the years was one of the only things keeping her sane, and without it, she was doomed.
"How you holdin' up, Martha?" he asked while rubbing his wife's shoulders in soft circles.
"Oh Jonathan, I'm so worried."
"The kids will be fine, you know. Clark got the shock of his life last night, but I know my son, he'll bounce back, he's good like that. And Lois, she's nothing if not strong."
"I wasn't talking about the children, Jonathan. I was talking about you."
"Me?" Jonathan quirked his brow in question. Martha removed his hands off her shoulders and guided him around the chair so she could look at his face.
"I know it's scaring you. That fact that Clark's biological father is alive is scaring you Jonathan I can see it in your eyes." Jonathan felt his eyes mist up. He'd been avoiding that topic and part of him wished that he still could. But eventually he'd have to face it, and he'd rather do it alone with his wife than risk adding more pressure to his son's already stressful life.
"I don't want to lose my boy, Martha."
"And he doesn't want to you lose you, I know he doesn't."
"What are we going to do, seriously, Clark was right in that waiting room, what the hell are we going to do?" Martha thought for a moment before answering.
"Well, right now, all we can do is wait. See how Jor-El heals and then when we know something definitive we'll sit down as a family and figure out where to go from there."
"And what if this Jor-El character wants to take our boy away?"
"It could happen."
"I think we need to give him the chance to explain himself. I mean there is so much we could learn from him, and he's going to need some lessons of his own." Jonathan furrowed his brow in confusion. "Think about it Jonathan, he's never been to earth before, everything's going to seem different and odd to him. He's going to need us just as much as we need him."
"He has to live Martha, there's just no way in getting around it."
"Mmmmmm…Where did that come from?" Lois's voice was low and husky with spent passion. With her head on Clark's chest the young couple lay naked in a heap on the laundry room floor. It never occurred to them that Jonathan and Martha were a few doors down and they should probably cover up with a blanket.
No, in that moment nothing else mattered. Not Jor-El's failing health or their parents' presence, or the Daily Planet or Superman. Nothing. They could both stay sprawled on the floor forever and think nothing of it.
The gentle cycle of Clark's raising and falling chest was soothing and threatened to put Lois to sleep. But the smell of his body conjured up more intense memories of fluid motions. Motions that were much more intimate, much desired and well received.
Clark had initiated their love making when he came sailing into the laundry room, but Lois was happy to assist in the process. He said nothing as he grabbed the full laundry basket and flung it in the far corner of the room. He sat her on top of the dryer and peppered her skin with hungry kisses, which she gleefully returned.
Soon the clothes came off and the couple enjoyed the vibration of dryer in a new and all around more pleasing way. Lois immediately recognized this sex. It was Clark's I'm-stressed-out-and-need-a- release sex. They'd had this kind of sex many times when Clark had come home in the Suit from a particularly brutal rescue.
She was happy to help to relieve his tension and although that form of sex was more needy and frenzied and lacked a little of the passion that usually dripped from their encounters, Lois understood completely and never complained.
And today she was happy that Clark was after this particular kind of attention. She was glad for many reasons, the most practical reason was that in her emotional state she doubted if was capable of a soft slow encounter. Her thoughts were simply too chaotic and choppy for that.
She knew early on, when it was still in the making out stage that this would be the perfect way for the both of them to get some of the pent up aggression out while channeling the power it caused into an activity they both enjoyed.
When the encounter on the dryer was done and Clark lifted her and set her on the floor for round number two, Lois was ready and waiting. By the time round number four was over, however, both Lois and Clark were out of energy. And so they collapsed on the floor in each other's arms. Both of them basking in afterglow and feeling much more relaxed. In his euphoria induced delirium Clark hardly heard Lois speaking and even after he realized that she had it took him a moment to get his mind and tongue to work in unison.
"I don't know, but I needed that," he answered finally.
"Me too." Lois breathed sexily. "You're an animal, you know that?" she teased.
"Damn straight." In the distance Clark heard the phone ring and the soft voice of his mother pick it up. Only moments later Martha Kent was headed into the laundry room and right, as she was about turn the corner, the door slammed in her face. Confused, she knocked a few times.
"Be out in a minute." Clark informed her and she found herself laughing out loud when she heard Lois giggling from behind the door. At least her and Jonathan didn't need to feel guilty about borrowing the guest bed for some stress relief anymore.
"You wanted to see us, Mom?" Clark asked as he and Lois entered the kitchen hand in hand. If he didn't know better he'd swear that his parents were just as doofy and hung over as he and Lois were. He brushed the thought aside and tried to focus of what his mother was saying.
"That was Dr. Klein from Star Labs, if seems there's been a change regarding Jor-El."
"Is something wrong?" Lois asked before Clark could speak.
"Actually it sounded like good news."
"Then what are we waiting for, let's go!" And with that, the family filed out the door and went to meet with Dr. Klein.
"You called, you said there was a change, is he all right?" Clark asked as the Kent family filtered into Jor-El's room. Lois and the others let Clark take charge of the situation right away because; it was in fact his father that was sick. Dr. Klein had a clipboard in his hand and appeared to be updating his patient's chart. He turned to face the new guests.
"Well there have been a few changes actually," he said.
"Such as?" Clark urged.
"Well cosmetology wise he's improved greatly. Almost all his bruises are gone and that gash above his eye is no more then a scratch now." Clark studied his father and was pleased with the results; he nodded his head in agreement. "His heart rate is much more stable, and his lungs are completely clear, no more fluid."
"That's wonderful!" Martha exclaimed. Her joy was echoed by murmurs from the others.
"There's more. He's been making a lot of noises."
"Groaning, mumbling incoherently. It's not unusual for people to dream while comatose. Those dreams are usually very vivid and in some cases can actually pull someone out of it," Dr. Klein stated. Just then Lois happened to look down and saw Jor tighten his left hand into a hard fist and then release it. She gasped audibly which attracted the attention of the others including Dr. Klein. Jor did it again and another wave of excited murmurs flooded the room. "Oh and there's that," Dr. Klein added, while motioning to the hand. "He's been doing that for a while now."
"What does all this mean?" Clark asked his voice a little more spunky then it had originally been.
"Well, it appears the sunlight is doing him wonders." Dr. Klein motioned to the two large windows on the right side of the room where sunlight was pouring in. "It appears your father is trying to wake up, Clark." Jor tightened his fist again and when he relaxed it Clark slipped his hand into his father's.
"You're doing great, old man, keep up the good work," he said with a merry smile playing on his lips. That smile grew to a full-blown grin when Jor squeezed Clark's hand in response.
"Did you see that?" Clark practically squealed.
"I sure did, " Dr. Klein responded. But he hadn't been watching Jor-El's hand. Instead his attention had been focused on the heart monitor before him. "Clark, remove your hand." With a frown Clark did as he was told. "Okay now, put it back." Clark did, and again his father squeezed in response. "Well I'll be," Dr. Klein muttered, creasing his brow in curiosity. "Do it again Clark." Clark repeated the process of removing his hand and then reinserting it. Just like clockwork Jor squeezed in response.
"What's going on doctor?" Martha finally asked.
"He recognizes Clark," Dr. Klein informed them. "Here watch this. Do it again Clark." Everyone watched Jor-El's heart rate spike when Clark touched his hand. They all gasped; including Clark whose attention had shifted from his father's face to the monitor.
"Are you having fun?" a strange voice asked. After a moment of shock everyone's attention shifted back to man on the bed whose eyes were now wide open. In the excitement of the moment Clark had hadn't even felt him shift position. He was now leaning away from Clark and studying the crowd huddled next to the monitor intently.
"Jor?" Ree-Jai asked, his voice high and giddy.
"No, it's Joan or Arc, I let my appearance slip while I was on vacation. Of course it's me! Who else would it be?" Jor replied sarcastically.
"Jor-El you old bastard, go back to sleep would you?" Ree's face was pink and he was shaking with laughter.
"I'd love to! Turn on TV and put on the golf station and I'll be back under in no time!" The rest of the room watched the exchange in a mixture of shock and glee. It appeared Jor-El was not only alive, but in good spirits at that. Suddenly Jor realized that somebody was holding his hand and he turned to face his son.
"Hey you," he whispered, his eyes locking with Clarks.
"You remember me," Clark whispered in return.
"Of course I do. Your mother nearly broke my hand while she was in labor with you, trust me I know what you look like." A round of soft chuckles went around the room. "How did you get here?" Jor's expression grew serious and Clark was instantly in tears.
"You know I hardly remember. It's such a mess in my head. But I'm here and I want to stay if you'll let me."
"Let you? You're talking nonsense boy."
"I love you." Father and son embraced for the first time in front of the watchful eyes of their loved ones. When they released each other there wasn't a dry eye in the house, including Jor.
"We're all a bunch of softies you know that?" Jor muttered while wiping away a few tears. Everybody laughed. By all accounts, this was a miracle. All the pain and suffering over the last 36 hours had been well worth it. Jor-El was definitely a welcome edition.
"When's the last time you've eaten, baby?" Lois looked up from her magazine to her husband's giddy face. It was so good to see the sparkle and mischief return to his eyes. The sight was enough to bring her to tears, but she settled for a bright smile. The family had been once again ushered out of Jor's room so that a full examination could be done. The minutes following had been spent exchanging embraces and uttering soft comforting words. Clark had gone to speak with Dr. Klein and Lois was feeling tired and bit dizzy so she had settled into a comfortable chair and spent some time flipping through various reading materials.
"Why do you ask, honey?"
"Maybe I could get some burgers from down the street, you like Antonio's burgers, right? No, you need real food; maybe I could fly to Italy and pick up some lasagna. Does lasagna sound good to you?" Lois's smile faded into a confused frown.
"Clark, what's going on?" Clark shrugged softly and his expression turned troubled. Lois scolded herself for snuffing his apparent enthusiasm.
"I guess I'm just feeling guilty, that's all," he answered with a shrug of the shoulders.
"Guilty? Why guilty?"
"Cause you've been so great to me the last few days. I mean, greater then usual of course. You've let me carry on and be crazy, and you were right there beside me the whole time. And I feel like I haven't returned the favor is all." Lois's mouth dropped wide open. She rose from the chair and wrapped her arms around her husband's neck pulling him close to her in a sheltering embrace.
"You are crazy, first off. Clark, you spend most of your time helping people, whether as Superman or as Clark Kent ace reporter. And you never complain, you never refuse, you do everything you can do whether the odds are against you or not. I've always thought that if I could give you even a little bit of that back, a fraction of that unwavering strength and courage then I'd consider it a great honor. And I did. Yes I've been stressed, it's hard not to be in a situation like this, but baby it wasn't because of you. I was hurting because you were hurting, that's not your fault." She kissed him softly on the lips and then pulled back enough so that they could lock eyes again. "And besides, everyone is allowed to go crazy once in a while, even Superman." Clark chuckled and then kissed his wife.
"What would I ever do without you?" he asked, his voice hoarse with emotion.
"Luckily for you, lunkhead, you'll never have to find out." Long moments were spent kissing and inhaling each other's fragrance before Lois stiffened and pulled out of the embrace. "Did I hear you say lasagna?"
"Mr. El?" Martha called as she opened the heavy door to the room.
"Oh please, call me Jor. There is no need for formalities."
"Actually, that's why we came back. We realized we hadn't properly introduced ourselves. I'm Jonathan Kent, and this is my wife, Martha."
"Am I to understand that you're the people who found Kal's spaceship?" Martha nodded in confirmation. "I thought so. I assume you have many questions."
"Yes, we do. But those can wait until later. Actually we wanted to thank you." Jor watched, as Martha's eyes grew glossy with unshed tears.
"Thank me?" Again she nodded.
"Without knowing it, you made our dreams a reality. You see, I'm infertile, and I've always dreamed of being a mother. Clark was such a blessing to us. A miracle really. Oh look at me; I'm getting emotional. I'm sorry, it's just that I never thought I'd be able to say any of this to you."
"Don't apologize. If you don't mind me saying so, I always knew that he would be well received by whomever should stumble upon him."
"You were right. He certainly was, " Jonathan chimed in.
"Clark? You named him Clark?" Jor-El asked out of the blue.
"Yes," Martha said brushing away more tears and nodding at the same time, "Clark Jerome."
"Clark Jerome." Jor pondered the name a few minutes and then nodded approvingly. "I like it. It suits him well."
"Jor-El, you most certainly are a sight for sore eyes."
"I should be, I look like a degenerate." Jor retorted before he realized whom he was speaking to. In the reflection of the mirror Jor could see Nul standing in the doorway of the bathroom. He turned and let the trademark grin of the El family take over his expression. "Nul-Zay, get over here and give me a hug." The two friends embraced in a deep masculine hug.
"I came as soon as I found out you had awoken. How are you feeling?" Nul asked when the embrace ended.
"Fine. I do have one question, however."
"And what would that be?"
"When the hell did I get so old?" Nul's snort of laughter sent Jor off in a fit of laughter. Both men were holding their sides and in tears when they were done.
"Well, you were floating in space for thirty years, old man," Nul chuckled. He brushed the tears off his red cheek and straightened. Jor said nothing and returned to his task of shaving in the mirror. "Have you seen Kal?" Nul asked after a long while.
"Yes, he was there when I awoke. As well as his wife and his parents."
"They're lovely people, Jor."
"I know, I just spoke with them a few moments ago. I hate to say this, but you were right, Nul. Things did work out. Clark is happy, and therefore so am I."
"Clark huh?" Jor turned away from the mirror and gave his friend a good look up and down.
"I just don't want to put more stress on his shoulders then I already have. This can't be easy for him, and there's a lot of conversations to be had, a lot of things to be done. I just want to make him as comfortable as possible."
"And who's going to make sure you're comfortable."
"I can handle the situation, Nul, I did create it, after all." Jor again turned so he was facing the mirror. "This conversation is closed." Nul simply nodded and left the doorway. Once in the hallway, he shook his head sadly. He knew having Jor wake up was only half the battle. Now came the monumental task of trying to merge two different families, two entirely different worlds together. It was an uphill battle but he'd be there to see it through.
"May I go home now?" It was an absurd question on many levels but Jor-El felt compelled to ask anyway. The small Asian woman who'd so dutifully given him his medication over the last week simply shook her head and continued to study his chart. "Please?" he asked again.
"Afraid not, " she replied, her eyes never moving off the chart. Jor grunted in disappointment.
"Are you sure?"
"Yep. But I'll tell you what, I'll tell Dr. Klein that you're getting antsy and I'll have him look at your chart. If he thinks you're ready then you'll be released soon." Jor nodded slightly as the woman left the room. He hated being alone in this place. It gave him too much time to sit back and think. Too much time for long buried and painful memories to resurface.
It was really stupid to ask to go home. What he should have said was 'May I leave now'. His home had long since been reduced to a few scattered asteroids and some twisted metal. Bitterly he wondered if anyone even remembered what happened, or had Krypton been reduce to the status of folk legend?
Lois and Clark came to visit him every day for hours on end. Sometimes Clark's parents came too. But even with all that time occupied and all that distraction there was too many hours in the day left to fill and they were usually spent rehashing old troubles and remembering forgotten dreams.
He couldn't blame anyone else. It was him who unassumingly opened the floodgate. It was started when he tried to figure out how he ended up encased in a chunk of his planet. All he could recall was telling Lara to duck as a section of the roof of their home collapsed and nearly crushed them both. Lara. Amazing how a name so small could unleash such intense emotions. And of course once that can of worms came open his mind instantly went back to that argument in their bedroom.
Why hadn't he tried harder to convince her to go? Why did he give in and tell her to stay with him as all hell broke loose and their entire species was sent to meet their maker? He should have forced her on that launch headed for Artemis. But no, once again he had let those big brown eyes get under his skin and override his judgment. He'd caved plain and simple. And now he was sitting all alone wishing he could go back in time and beat the crap out of his past self.
He tried to hide his pain from Clark and concentrate on learning all the facts he could about his son and his life on earth. Kal. There's another thing to obsess over. He was so beautiful, so strong and so confidant, and kind. Everything a man could ever hope his boy to be. Jor found himself wondering if he was a nuisance to his boy. After all, he was all grown up now. He had a job and a wife who obviously loved him dearly, but more then that, he had parents already. Parents he loved and respected and made him the center of their world. Which was good because that gave him the foundation he needed to survive in a world where everyone was different.
During the times Jonathan and Martha Kent had come to visit him, he had decided that they were wonderful people and he was proud to say they had raised his son. And yet he felt like he was in competition with them. How could he compete with the perfect all American couple? He couldn't, plain and simple. He was just a mourning widower who loved his only son and wanted to be in his life.
Jor-El closed his eyes and tried to clear away the panic his train of thought had created. There was no competition he knew that. Clark wanted to be with him, he knew that too. Everything boiled down to the fact that everyone was uncomfortable and nobody had a game plan. Jor decided to change all that. As soon he was out in the open he'd get accustomed to this planet and he'd initiate all those hard conversations that needed to be birthed. He'd do everything in his power to make everyone happy and glad he had returned. And if that failed, and he was eventually exiled then he'd know it wasn't for a lack of trying.
He popped his eyes open when a soft tap sounded on his door. He called for the visitors to come in and his face instantly brightened when his son and daughter-in-law came in followed closely behind by the Kents.
"Guess who's going home today?" Lois teased. In the week he'd spent recovering he'd grown more and more fond of Lois Lane. She was intelligent not only book wise but street wise as well, and she loved Clark very much.
"Me?" Jor asked. Lois giggled when his face took on the expression of an excited little boy.
"Yep!" she replied.
"Jor, Jonathan and I were wondering if you might want to have dinner with us in Kansas tonight. I think it would be nice to spend time together as a family." Jor's smile brightened further. But then his face grew troubled.
"I don't want to be a burden," he said.
"Burden? You're family!" Jor shifted his attention to Jonathan Kent who had remained silent.
"Is that okay with you?" he asked, locking eyes with the elder Kent.
"Of course, I think a lot of good would come of it." Jor turned back to Martha.
"I'd love to."
When the paperwork was filed and Jor was dressed the family walked out of Star Labs free to begin life anew. All eyes were on Jor as he studied the streets of Metropolis. He took a few deep gulps of air and stopped to give the grass a good look over. In all the excitement and the rush to get acquainted it was easy to forget that Jor was new to the planet. And for the first time that seemed to be the pressing issue.
After apparently getting bored with the grass Jor studied himself. His face was clean-shaven and his hair had been cut in a style similar to Clark's. He wore a baggy pair of dark denim pants and a maroon colored shirt that would have been too hot for the season had he been able to feel the temperature. He seemed satisfied and eagerly followed the family down the streets leading to the brownstone.
Once at the house, he studied the layout meticulously. Scanning each room and picking up a few objects from time to time. The whole time he remained silent.
Martha and Jonathan packed their bags and Clark flew them home without Jor noticing. He came back moments later to grab Lois. It was then that he realized that he wasn't sure what to do with his father. Did he know how to fly? Of course he was capable, but did he know how to tap into that power?
"Dad, we're ready to go," Clark called up the stairs. Jor came down quickly.
"Lead the way," he instructed.
"Umm, well, I'm holding on to Lois, because well, she can't fly. Do you-" Before Clark could finish his thought Jor was hovering off the ground. Clark gazed at him in amazement.
"Do you honestly think that earth is the only planet with a yellow sun?" the older man asked.
"No, I mean, I never really thought about it."
"Well, now you know. Can we get going? I'm hungry."
The sky over Metropolis had two flying men that evening and both of them sincerely hoped it would stay that way.
The farmhouse in Kansas was submitted to the same in depth study that the brownstone had been subjected too. As soon as Superman and Jor-El planted their feet on the front walk of the Kent residence Jor-El began to wonder. He took great care in his inspections, making sure not to disturb anything. He paid particular attention to the mantel over the fireplace in the living room, which was adorned with pictures of the family in various stages of their lives.
Clark watched his father pick up each picture one at a time, study it and then place it back down gently. As if they were pieces of porcelain instead of wooden frames. The first picture was of a newly married Martha and Jonathan Kent. There was a familiar giddiness that the picture captured. It was a feeling that Jor himself had felt long ago when his marriage to Lara was made official.
The second picture was of a little boy who had fallen asleep on the living room floor while listening to the radio with his father. His haircut was like Mo from the three stooges and the same color. His eyes were puffy with sleep and his lower lip pouted out slightly. Jor turned his attention to the spot where the picture was taken so many years ago. He tried to imagine Clark as a boy of two sprawled out in front of the roaring fire with two people who loved him dearly watching him sleep. He wondered who took the picture. Was it Martha who'd gotten up to get the camera or Jonathan? So many questions to ask, so many answers to hear. It was all so overwhelming and yet incredibly exciting all at the same time.
The final picture was of another newly married couple. Each with dark hair and eyes. They both appeared to have tears in their eyes. Jor studied the three pictures collectively for a moment and determined that this was the perfect arc of life. Couple gets married, couple has a son, and couple watches the son get married. He couldn't think of a more perfect way to spend ones life.
That was the first time Jor truly realized how much he had missed out on. The selfish part of his brain immediately went into self- pity mode. The more logical part of his brain reminded him of something Lara used to say. "Nobody can start over and make a new beginning, but anybody can start from now and make a new ending." How true was that? He missed out on his son's childhood and upbringing but he was here now and that's all that mattered. He should feel blessed for being able to spend any time with his son at all.
He felt the side door of the house open and a cool breeze came wafting in from the outside. Deciding it would be a good idea to pull himself together before supper he moved in the direction of the door. As he turned he noticed movement out of the corner of his eye. He realized that Clark had been watching him. A soft smile played on his lips as he opened the door and a gush of fresh country breeze met his face.
It was a good couple of moments before he realized that he wasn't alone on the porch. Sitting in a big rocking chair in the corner husking corn was Jonathan Kent. The two men locked eyes and acknowledged each other with a quick nod.
"I didn't mean to disturb you." Jor-El apologized, "I just was in need of some fresh air."
"Don't apologize. Actually, I'm glad you're here."
"Yeah, I was kinda hoping you and me could sit down and talk man to man." Jor nodded and sat on the porch swing to Jonathan's right. "I'm not good at this sort of thing, so I'm going to apologize in advance for sounding overly gruff. I have a few concerns."
"You're concerned that since I'm alive you'll somehow disappear from Clark's life. You're concerned that you might stop mattering so much to Clark and that I may encourage that separation." Jonathan stopped husking the corn and studied Jor critically.
"Exactly, how did you know?"
"Well, if the roles were reversed and I were in your shoes, then I'd worry about the same things."
"Of course. I mean you've spent thirty years loving and raising him. He may not be your blood but he's your heart and soul. It would be terrifying to think that a stranger would swoop in and destroy that bond."
"I just don't want to lose my boy."
"And I don't want to take him from you."
"No." Jor released a deep sigh and rested a hand on Jonathan's shoulder. "I want to make one thing very clear to you, and I intend to make it clear to Clark as well, I do not want to change Clark's life. I simply want to be part of it. You and Martha have just as much right to claim Clark as your son as Lara and I do. I would never take him away from you."
"You really mean that don't you?" Jonathan asked. His eyes were moist and fresh tears threatened to fall. He blinked them back stubbornly.
"Yes I do."
"Good," he began, and to his dismay the tears defied him and were soon trickling down his cheeks. He shifted his eyes away, and as soon as he dared to look back he was shocked to realize that Jor was crying softly as well. "I, was so worried that you'd try to take my baby from me."
"I could never do that. If I did, Clark would be miserable and I just want our son to be happy."
"So do I." The two men rose from their seats and embraced. When they pulled back they wiped the tears away and it was Jor who broke the silence.
"So everything's okay, right. I mean there's no jealousy or competition going on between us, is there?"
"No. Just two very proud poppas."
"Hey mom, need some help?" Lois stood next to Martha and began grating cheese for supper. Martha immediately took the hunk of cheese and grater away from her and ushered her over to the kitchen table.
"No I'm fine and you need your rest."
"I mean it Lois. In all this excitement everyone's been making sure Clark is okay, when we should have paid just as much attention to you." Lois sat down and took the glass of water Martha offered her.
"I'm fine, honestly. I just keep telling myself that our baby is safe and happy inside of me and that his daddy needs my attention right now."
"HIS daddy?" A broad smile crept across Lois's face. "Lois Lane, do you know something that I don't know?"
"Nothing official, I just know I'm carrying a son."
"That's well and good, but don't you think his daddy should know." Lois slumped her shoulders in defeat.
"I know. I just want to make sure that I do it properly. When we're both relaxed and can really focus on each other."
"Fine. Do it however you want. But do us all a favor and make it snappy, the anticipation is gonna give me a stroke." Lois slipped into a soft fit of laughter and then went upstairs to take a nap before dinner.
Martha was right, the sooner Clark found out about their son the better off everyone would be. The timing of her confession she knew would greatly depend on the outcome of the family's first dinner together. If everyone got along then it would take a great strain off everyone's shoulders and would provide the gateway for Lois to spill the beans.
Unfortunately Lois had a few nagging doubts about this evenings meal. Although both parties denied it, Lois could feel a bit of tension between Jor-El and Jonathan. From what she knew of both men they both were very loving and kind, but it was only human nature for a competition to develop.
On one hand, there was Jonathan raising Clark as his own and putting every ounce of love and affection into him. And on the other hand there was Jor, the one who was actually responsible for Clark's creation. The one who'd sacrificed so much so that his son could have a better life. And now both men were trying to figure out how to be fathers without ruffling the other's feathers. It was bound to take some time to make the adjustment.
She was just hoping they'd get their act together before she went into labor.
As it turned out, Lois had absolutely no reason to worry. Everything was perfect. The menu consisted of Lemon Herb grilled chicken, home made macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob and fresh raspberry iced tea. Jor, Jon and Clark had a couple rounds of Budweiser and much to Lois's surprise Jor and Jon did a joint toast to the family. During which she and Martha exchanged a confused glance. There had never been any open hostility between the two men but suddenly they appeared to be the best of friends.
The conversation flowed like a river from one subject to another without those awkward gaps of silence that everyone dreads. Martha and Jonathan told story after story about Clark's childhood which turned him twelve different shades of red, but Clark managed to turn things around by revealing a few embarrassing facts about his parents as well.
Then they moved into Clark's pre-Metropolis travels and Jor was impressed by his son's extensive knowledge of foreign cultures and customs. Jor told a few travel stories of his own that had everyone clutching their sides in laughter. Including one where their friend Ree-Jai and himself were visiting a strange planet and Ree, who apparently had chronic motion sickness, threw up all over the front door of the embassy.
Somehow they managed to get on the topic of Lois and Clark's courtship. Of course Clark told his version about the poor lovesick boy and the evil witch who called him a hack from nowheresville. And then he moved on to tell the story of Lois's first visit to Smallville and how she called Jonathan a cross dresser. Of course Lois vehemently denied those allegations and soon Jor was treated to Lois and Clark in full banter mode.
And then it happened, they shouldn't have been so surprised, they knew eventually the topic would come up. It was right around the time when Jonathan was telling his famous beaver story when Clark popped his head up and got "the look". Seeing the troubled expression Jor crunched his face in concern.
"What's wrong, son?" he asked.
"Uh, I don't know how to say this… but…" Clark stumbled and then realized that for the first time he wasn't dealing with an average human. This time he could change gears. "Did you just happen to hear that siren?" he asked.
"Well, yeah. There's a structure fire in Montana, why?"
"Well, when that happens, that's sorta my cue."
"You're cue to do what?" Clark rose from his chair and walked over to the clear part of the kitchen floor.
"This." Clark began to spin and in a matter of a few seconds Superman stood before the family. Jor's eyes grew wide and his jaw dropped. He immediately recognized the symbol adorning his son's chest.
"Impressive. But why are you wearing that?"
"Because I'm Superman."
"Superman. I rescue people who are in trouble. You see most of the time I have to pretend to be human, plain average Clark Kent and can't use my powers but when I put on the Suit I'm Superman. I can stop plane crashes, put out fires, just about anything."
"It sounds like something your mother would have done." Just then a second wave of sirens caught Clark's attention. Jor smiled brightly. "Go."
"Clark, your father said go!" Jonathan bellowed. The two older men exchanged a bright smile and a wink as their son flew away. He was back quickly and was eager to rejoin the conversation but everyone insisted he take a shower first since he smelled like smoke and chemicals.
After dinner the family retired to the living room with a round of coffee. They continued to tell story after story, some of them were jolly, some of them were scary, some of them left the family in tears, and some of them left them rolling in the aisles. Before they knew it, it was 11PM.
"Look at the time!" Jor exclaimed when he finally caught sight of the clock.
"Oh my! We should all head to bed," Martha declared. "Lois, Clark, you still have clothes in Clark's old bedroom don't you?" They nodded.
"And Jor, you can camp out on the couch," Jonathan added. Martha and Lois both eyed him suspiciously.
"That's a kind offer, but I don't want to intrude."
"Your not," Jonathan answered. "Please say that you'll stay, I was hoping the boys could go fishing tomorrow." Jor shrugged his shoulders. He knew he was welcome to stay with Nul and Ree, but this offer was so much more inviting.
"If you're sure you don't mind, then I consider it a privilege to camp out on the couch."
"You and Jor seem to be getting along." Martha finished putting on her pajamas and slid into the bed next to her husband.
"He a good guy. Smart, funny, easy to get along with."
"I heard you two talking on the porch. I couldn't hear what was said, but I saw you hug him. Are you going to tell me what you talked about?"
"It's simple really. We both love Clark and want what's best for him. He's not trying to take my place, it's as simple as that." Two lamps on either side of the bed clicked off and for a while there was silence.
"Have I ever told you that you're a damn good father?"
"A few times."
"Well, you are."
"You're one hell of a mother, Martha."
"I love you, Jonathan."
"And I love you."
For Clark it was as if he was five again and was waiting for Christmas morning to peek around the all too distant corner. He lay flat on his back in his old bedroom. One arm wrapped around his wife and the other arms tucked under this head. Lois was sound asleep. She had been almost as soon as they had collapsed in heap after an extremely soft and romantic round of lovemaking. Usually the sound of her steadying heartbeat and even breathing would have lulled him to sleep as well. Like a lullaby. But tonight his mind was sabotaging him. It was as if he were sitting in front of the TV trying to watch the big game and some unseen force was constantly clicking between the channels. Soap Operas, Talk shows, infomercials, cartoons and back again. Flipping so fast and random that before he could even register the picture in his mind or hear even a blip of dialogue the scene had been switched four more times. Such was the chaos of his thoughts. Sporadic, tedious, and distracting.
Dinner had been the thing that dreams are made of. Not only because his mother had prepared an amazing meal, but the atmosphere in the kitchen had been incredible. Even from the moment Clark sat down he was amazed to find how natural and easy it was to be there, with his natural father on one side, his wife on the other and the people who had raised him sitting directly across the way. Conversation had moved effortlessly, and he didn't remember a time were he had laughed so hard. Well maybe except the office Christmas party when Jimmy and Perry had one too many Screwdrivers and sang "Rockin around the Christmas tree". But the thing that made it all worthwhile, the icing on the cake, was watching his two fathers move in unison. As evidence by their joint toast and the happy looks they threw in each other's direction every once in a while.
All throughout dinner Clark had been struck with a case of deja vu, and for the life of him he didn't know why. Every once in a while shards of past events would click on in his memory. It wasn't until he had to take his leave as Superman that it hit him. He was upstairs taking a shower after a simple fire extinguishing when he remembered the dream. It was a long time ago but suddenly it seemed like just yesterday.
He started having the dream a couple months after his parents told him that he was adopted. He was eight years old and doing well as a second grade student. But he began to dread the night time because the same thing happened night after night. He'd lie down and his mother would tuck the covers tenderly under his chin. Then as soon as he had relaxed and fallen asleep he'd have the dream. In the dream he'd wake up to the smell of fresh bacon and the sounds of brewing coffee. The sounds of laughter would filter up to his ears as well as a voice he didn't recognize. He was anxious to find out who had come over for breakfast so he dressed quickly and went running downstairs. There was a man at the table. A man he had never seen before and yet when Clark saw him he'd run straight up to him and give him a big hug, sometimes even a kiss. Then the whole family would sit down to breakfast and talk as they ate the delicious food.
It was a simple dream but it always churned up such complicated emotions, most of them were negative. He remembered that when he would wake up and realize that the strange man wasn't there he'd feel empty inside. Hollow. Like a chunk of himself was missing. Sometimes he'd even cry while he was getting dressed for school. A lot of times he felt anger as well. How dare a stranger disturb him like that? Intrude on his life with him family. And then there was shame. Any kid would be happy to have been adopted by such loving and warm people, how could he be so spoiled that he could wish for more then that?
At the time Clark had nothing to compare the dream to and he was much too young to even begin to think about the possible meanings of it. But now the almost premonitory nature of the dream was astounding, and was the very thing that kept him from joining his wife in blissful sleep. In the dream, Clark did not recognize the man and yet he immediately hugged him, it was the same feeling of completeness that he felt the first he saw his father at Star Labs. An instant love and affection. And that feeling of unity and family he felt as everyone sat down and ate breakfast together was the same feeling Clark had that night. As he listened to his parents swap dating stories.
But the thing that really bothered Clark, and he seemed to be stuck on was the fact his father was the only one that appeared in his dreams. Lara never made an appearance. Nul had said that they'd buried her body long ago, but how could Clark have known that she was dead and wasn't coming back? Was there some kind of psychic connection between he and his father? Something deep rooted and unbreakable that allowed him to learn certain things without realizing it? And if so, could he send messages to his father the same way? Had he?
Once Clark opened up the floodgate the evidence was overwhelming. He knew his mother was dead, Nul had told him that, but for some reason instead of being sad or angry, he was relieved. Somehow he knew that her death came as a mercy that it stopped her suffering. Wouldn't most people grieve? Especially after seeing you're very much alive father? And then in the hospital room when he heard Nul speak in Kryptonian it seemed to click somehow. Even if he didn't understand the words, he could have sworn he recognized them. Nul said that his father always preferred speaking Kryptonian, so were these psychic messages sent in his native language? Was this a superpower that he never realized he had, or was this something that happens between all parents and their children?
Suddenly Clark felt like crying. So many questions. Too many questions. He'd never get to sleep now. He felt Lois stir in her asleep, and her brow crunched in confusion. Clark turned onto his side, a task which would have been complicated if they were still in his twin bed. Thankfully his mother had picked up a full sized one from the thrift shop a few months ago. He leaned his head down and kissed his wife lovingly on the lips.
"I love you so much Lois. I don't know how I would have survived all of this if I didn't have your love and support. I'm gonna go downstairs and grab something to eat, but I'll be back." He slipped out of the bed and pulled the covers up to her chin. He quietly made his way down the hall and towards the stairs. Perhaps a tall glass of milk and a sandwich would help clear his mind.
In some realm of remote consciousness Lois felt the bed move as her husband lifted off of it. The motion however did not so much as cause a ripple in the intricate scene unfolding before her.
First there was only blackness. Hollow, empty cold space. She realized that she could feel no surface beneath her feet, but she felt no sensation of falling either. Then gradually light began to filter through and the sounds of exotic birds peered through the darkness. Then almost instantly she looked up and realized that she was in a garden. Startled, she peered around and noticed that none of the plants looked familiar. The leaves were shaped different and the flowers were paler in color. Where was she?
"Come and sit, I've been expecting you." Lois whipped her head around and she noticed a little gazebo and a woman sitting inside it. She instantly felt a sense of recognition. Without hesitation Lois marched up the steps and sat in the chair the woman had motioned to. That was when she actually got the chance to really examine her company. The first thing she noticed was the peculiar color of the woman's hair. It appeared to be brown, but as the sun darted in and out of the clouds and the lighting changed her hair changed too. When the sun beat directly onto it, it shone a marvelous color of ruby red. As the light changed it fluctuated from brown, to blonde, to sometimes almost black.
Before she realized it, Lois reached out and gently took a lock of the woman's hair to examine it farther. She tilted the sample in every which direction and seemed mesmerized by the results. She glanced up and across the sky to study the light source itself and her heart jumped into her throat. Red. It was the sun, but it was definitely red.
Laughter that was warm and sweet like honey shifted Lois's attention from the sky to the woman's face. She appeared to be younger then Lois was. 20 maybe 21 and there was something very familiar in the way her eyes squinted when she laughed. The eyes themselves were big and deep brown, like a puppy dog. Lois flushed when she realized she had been staring.
"I'm so sorry," Lois apologized, "It's just, your eyes look so familiar."
"They should," the woman stated matter-of-factly. "They are your husband's." Lois's mouth dropped open.
"Yes. I am Lara, and you are my son's wife." The woman picked up a cup of what Lois presumed to be tea and sipped in carefully. "I feel I should apologize for not coming sooner. But until recently my time has been occupied with keeping my husband alive so that he may descend to earth."
"So you know Jor is back?" Lara nodded.
"Yes and not a moment too soon, if you ask me." Lara set the tea down and to Lois's shock set her hand on Lois's abdomen. "Forgive me for sounding rushed, but there is much to say before your body stirs and the dream is lost."
"So I'm dreaming?" Lara nodded again.
"It is the easiest medium for me to manipulate. Lois, I am going to tell you something I want you to really take the time to hear everything I say." The two woman locked eyes and before her mother-in-law spoke further Lois already felt a sense of relief wash over her. "There is a purpose to everything in life. There is meaning in every word and every action. It may not make sense now, or tomorrow, or eighty years from now, but one day, it will all come together. I know now is a time of turmoil. Jor's reentrance into Kal's life is causing a bit of chaos, but there is a reason he is alive. And there is a reason I am not."
"So you really are dead," Lois half questioned, half stated. Her expression grew sad, and Lara's bright eyes darkened slightly as she broke her gaze.
"Indeed. But that is not the point," she said firmly as if snapping out of a trance. "The point is everyone has made sacrifices in the name of Utopia." Before Lois could question further Lara pushed ahead. "Jor and I took the first step by sending our only son, our miracle to earth. Martha and Jonathan took the next step in finding Kal and raising him as their own. Kal himself took step number three when Superman was created and now, with the help of your love and devotion, you both have taken yet another step in the direction of paradise. Your baby is strong, Lois, and he is healthy, but he needs help in order to be born."
"There're complications?" Lois's voice was shrill and panicky.
"No, no, relax. I meant that he is the first of his kind, and there are many questions in regards to the normalcy of his gestation. That is why Jor survived and I did not. Jor's a brilliant man who understands his species to the fullest, and what he does not know, he will readily find out."
"I am on the other side. Watching, planning and protecting. I told you there is a reason for all of it."
"I'm so scared Lara." Lois felt her lower lip tremble and she tried to blink back the prick of oncoming tears. Lara's face grew solemn.
"You are not your parents, Lois, the same way that Kal is neither I nor Jor, nor Jonathan nor Martha."
"How did you?"
"As I told you, I am here, watching always." A bright smile crept across Lara's face. "Although I admit there are times I wish I was not." Both women laughed and Lois let herself go, tears falling, modesty abandoned. "Lois, you will do wonders by my grandchild, do you know why?"
"Because you of all people know what children crave. You were denied certain things while you were growing up, and you saw the effect it had on you. You are determined not to repeat that cycle." Lois nodded, suddenly it all was so clear.
"Everything happens for a reason, " she said softly and shifted her focus to the beautiful garden that surrounded them.
"You are beginning to understand. Then Lara's eyes squinted as if she was listening to a voice nobody else could hear. It was a look Lois had seen on her husband's face millions of time; the resemblance was almost comical. "You must go now," Lara stated.
"Wait, one more thing, is this what Krypton really looked like?" Lois probed.
"It is hard to recreate a miracle."
The picture faded rapidly into darkness once again, and Lois resettled into a deep, dreamless sleep.
On some level of consciousness Lois felt the child growing inside her stir. It was more of a bubbling sensation then anything else, but it was comforting even in the realm of sleep. A soft smile played at the corner of Lois's lips and anyone who saw it would have been sure to smile too. She was feeling ridiculously good, and somehow she knew it would stay that way.
Clark froze at the bottom of the stairs and tried to form a game plan. The ground floor of the Kent house was dark, save for the dying ambers of the evenings fire in the fireplace. However the scenery was a direct contrast to the picture playing out before him.
Jor-El lay on his back as he stirred in apparent restlessness on the couch. His eyes were closed and his expression was troubled. Every once in a while he'd swat at an invisible object and groan. Clark couldn't even begin to speculate as to what was causing this troubling dream; but it made him uneasy nonetheless and he plotted an escape quickly.
He rose a good foot in the air and hovered down the last few stairs. From there he made his way across the living room and began to round the couch. He was almost there, destination in sight, but suddenly, violently, he was caught off guard and fell to the floor. Jor-El sat up straight, his eyes wide and wild, a cry for help still lingering on his lips. Immediately he found himself soaking in a cold sweat. He heard Clark groan from the floor and he mumbled something that sounded like an apology in response.
"Are you okay?" Clark asked as he rose to his feet.
"I'm fine. You?"
"Fine. You were doing an awful lot of groaning in your sleep. Must have been one hell of a dream." Jor rubbed his forehead in exasperation and squeezed his eyes tight as if he were trying to remove some image from his minds eye.
"Yes. I seem to have developed that habit." He took a few deep breaths and stood to stretch his tight muscles. "I don't remember having that problem before coming here, you know? I was always such a sound sleeper, and now look at me. Mumbling incoherently and thrashing around like some sort of drugged out teenager." Clark couldn't help but laugh. "It must be your planet's atmosphere. Some excess gas that doesn't agree with me." Clark mulled the conclusion around in his head for a moment, his expression growing distant.
"I doubt that," he finally said. Jor quirked an eyebrow in his direction and Clark obediently continued. "I think a lot has happened in the last few days, everyone has been under a lot of pressure and it's normal for the stress to manifest itself into vivid and unpleasant dreams."
"And I thought your mother was annoyingly rational."
"What?" Jor giggled softly.
"Nothing, I'm just teasing you. You see your mother used to tease me about being the only scientist who blissfully lacked common sense. She used to… she would say… she… Lara." Clark froze in place as his father broke down. For a few minutes Jor stood there, his knees on the verge of buckling as streams of hot tears and pain filled sobs threatened to consume him. All at once he'd sunk into the all-consuming swamp of grief. Once out of shock Clark realized that he really ought to try a comfort him. So slowly he approached his father and wrapped his arms around him. Jor responded by resting his forehead on his son's shoulder and wept softly. After a moment he pulled away and wiped his eyes bitterly. His posture told Clark that he was trying to regain composure. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to do that, honestly."
"Don't apologize. God knows I've done my fair share in the last few days."
"You've cried?" Clark's cheeks turned pink and he nodded. "Oh… I'm so sorry, for everything. I… the last thing I ever wanted to do was to make you cry."
"You didn't- err… Well, not directly anyway." Clark sat down on the couch and his father sat beside him. "Father, what's the first clear memory you have of being on this planet?" Jor thought for a moment.
"There are a lot of scattered voices. Blurry images. But I suppose the first clear memory I have is of waking up in the hospital surrounded by your family."
"I thought so."
"Why do you ask?"
"You woke up before that. Twice actually. The second time I was in the room, only me nobody else. You said my name and then your heart stopped. I thought sure you'd died right there in my arms. I, I freaked out and went screaming into the hall. You pulled through obviously, but I was a basket case until you woke up the next day. I even burst out crying in my workplace." Jor was stunned silent.
"I don't remember," he said after a while. His voice was small and shaken. "How could I not remember something like that? Clark, I'm so sorry. I, I don't know what to say."
"You were in really rough shape. It wasn't your fault."
"No, no, you don't understand. I, I never wanted to hurt you or cause you pain. I never wanted to make you worry about me. Clark, I love you. You're a part of me. The BEST part of me. I don't want to change your life, I don't want to be a burden."
"First off, you ARE NOT a burden so don't be ridiculous. Second, I WANT you to change my life. You already have! I wouldn't go back to way things were if you paid me a billion dollars. Having you here, alive in the flesh is one of the best things that has ever happened to me."
"YES! For the first time I have someone I can go to with my questions. Someone who understands, who has the answers. God, there's so much, so many questions, concerns, theories that I have and only you can help me with that. I love you so much it hurts. I don't want that to go away."
"You know Clark, when I sent you here I hoped that you would find people who would love and welcome you. I hoped you'd feel like you're a part of this planet, this culture, and you've done that so effortlessly. I was frightened that perhaps you would see me as a painful reminder that you are an outsider." Jor sighed, partly from stress, partly for exhaustion. "Clark, Krypton is where you are from, Earth is your home. I know that and I'm glad for it. If I was against you loving, and feeling connected to another world I wouldn't have sent you away."
"Why can't I have both? Why can't I love Earth and Krypton? Why can't I be part of both cultures, know both ways of thinking?" Clark asked sadly.
"You can. I just don't want to force you into anything."
"Then you'll teach me?"
"Of course." From upstairs Clark could hear Lois stirring.
"We both should probably get some rest. We'll talk more in the morning." Clark turned in his seat and hugged his father and then rose to exit the room. When he reached the stairs however he turned back around and cleared his throat. Jor stopped straightening the blankets and pillows on the couch and faced his son. "Do you need anything?" he asked.
"I just have a quick question," Clark stated. "What's the Kryptonian word for Dad?"
"I don't believe we have a direct translation for "Dad" but Beaio means Father."
Everyone at the Kent house spent the rest of the night in blissful slumber and awoke to the sound of the Thompson's Rooster crowing and the smell of fresh coffee.
Lois had awoken bright and early. She felt better then she had in months. Rested, zesty, full of hope and a baby to boot. She brewed a pot of coffee and then made a cup of decaffeinated for herself. She made her way to the porch and sat down to watch the sun rise over the treetops. The fresh country air was exactly the confidence builder she needed to cement her decision. Today was the day. Today Clark was going to learn that he was going to be a father.
At some point she heard Jonathan and Martha make their way into the kitchen and help themselves to coffee. Items were whisked out of the refrigerator and before Lois knew it a good old-fashioned country breakfast was in the works. Eventually Jor joined them and soon the conversation turned lively and animated. Lois did not stir. Instead she contented herself with the crisp dewy haze of morning and a happy memory.
Clark on the other hand awoke to find his bed cold and empty. He tuned into the conversation downstairs and was puzzled to find that his wife was somehow absent of it. Where was she? Clark quickly got dressed and then he realized that something about the room was different.
On the nightstand sat a very old book. Well worn, it's pages yellow it appeared to be some sort of instructional guide. Clark flipped through the pages and found it out to be a Kryptonian to English language book. It had a section about the Kryptonian alphabet, a writing guide, and a reading guide, even a pronunciation chart. Clark laughed to himself as he tried to figure out how in the world his old man had managed to sneak it into his room without him knowing.
"You are a crafty little devil," he muttered to himself while succumbing to a round of giggles. Then he fallowed the fabulous smell of fresh bacon and joined his family for breakfast.
That morning was spent the same as any other morning on a busy farm. After a hearty breakfast there were plenty of chores to be done and everyone did their fair share of the work. After the chickens were fed, eggs collected, stalls cleaned, cows milked the three men gathered their equipment and went fishing. Lois and Martha spent their time thinking up baby names and picking out cute outfits out of catalogues. Lois assured the older woman that she was going to tell Clark about the baby. Martha could barely hold in her excitement.
It would be late in the afternoon before Lois would get her chance. As Jor, Jonathan and Clark appeared at the forest's edge Lois came running out to meet them.
"Hey boys, any luck?" she asked not really caring about the answer. Her interest built however when Clark and Jonathan's cheeks pinked at the question.
"I caught a couple of sticks and Clark hooked an old boot," Jonathan replied.
"And I caught THIS!" Jor bragged as he picked up a huge Trout. "I showed these earth boys a thing or two." Lois giggled and soon Jonathan and Clark joined her.
"Would love to stay and chat but I really need to borrow my husband for a while if that's okay." A round of nods and murmurs met her question and soon Clark was handing his equipment to the other two men and Lois was dragging him in the opposite direction.
They were deep into the apple orchard before Clark broke the rushed silence.
"Lois, honey, what's wrong? You seem nervous." Lois's laugh was more of a croaked titter. She stopped and sat underneath one of the many trees in the orchard and beckoned Clark to sit down next to her. He did as he was told.
"I am Clark. I'm very nervous."
"But why? Sweetie, listen, I know that this was supposed to be our vacation and that we haven't had that much time alone, but whatever it is we can fix it." Lois's laugh was stronger this time and Clark felt himself relax at the sound.
"I don't want to fix this, Clark."
"What are you talking about?" Lois smiled as bright as the sun. Her eyes twinkled as she took one of her husband's hands and rested it gently against her abdomen. "Lois…" Clark began, but was quickly interrupted.
"Clark… I've been waiting for two weeks to tell you this and we finally have a quiet moment to relax and be together. All three of us. We're having a baby Clark." Clark felt himself melt. First came tears, and then laughter and then a breathless make out session that quickly escalated into a beautiful lovemaking.
"My god…" Clark murmured when his senses finally cleared.
"What is it, papa?" Lois cooed. A proud smile slid across Clark's face before disappearing behind a grimace of confusion.
"Lois, promise you won't be mad at me."
"Why would I be mad at you?"
"Because I'm absolutely terrified," Clark stated.
"Oh thank god!" Lois let out a long stagnant breath of air and buried her faced in Clark's chest.
"I thought you'd be mad!"
"Are you kidding I'm thrilled!" She lifted her head so that she could gaze into her husband's eyes. "Clark I was so worried that you'd be Mr. Rational-everything's-fine and I'd be the proud mama biting her nails off and crying for no reason. I mean think about it, rapists, murders, bank robbers, crooked politicians, and evil geniuses those people I can handle! That's my comfort zone! This is a baby! A baby, Clark! Our child! Innocent, delicate and sweet! I am WAY out of my league here!" Clark's chest shook violently with erupting laughter and Lois was swept away by the break in tension.
"I'm glad we're on the same page, Princess," Clark sighed. Just as Lois was preparing to initiate another round of lovemaking she heard her cell phone ring from deep within the recesses of the couples piled up clothing. With a groan Lois rolled off of her husband and went searching through the unmentionables strewn about the orchard floor.
Finally she found her phone and put an end to the insistent ringing. She rolled her eyes and groaned loudly and Clark knew instantly who it was. Just as he suspected Ellen Lane's voice soon flooded the air and so the game began.
"Yes mother… I realize that mother… I know but… mother… moth. WILL YOU JUST LET ME TALK!" She flashed her husband a look that said "Sorry" plain and clear and he shook his hand in dismissal. Slowly Clark got dressed and when he was finished he waited patiently for a moment to cut into the repetitive conversation. "Mother hold on a minute," Lois instructed and then put her hand over the mouthpiece. "Clark I'm sorry, I guess I have to take this call."
"It's okay, honey, I think I'm gonna take a walk and track down my dad and tell him the wonderful news."
"Okay sweetheart, I love you."
"And I love you." As he walked away he could hear his wife continue to argue with her mother. Truth be told he had a lot of thinking to do and could use the time alone.
Clark found his father at the end of a long wheat field on the right side of the house. Spread wide in front of the older man was a beautiful Kansas sunset, which he seemed to be studying intently. Clark approached slowly, trying not to make any noise as not to disturb the serene picture. He should have known it was a lost cause. For once there was someone else with hearing as crisp as his.
"Beautiful," Jor stated without turning his head. His voice was no louder than a whisper. Clark stood beside him for a moment and allowed himself to gaze at the marvelous canvas of color before him.
"Yes. Beautiful," he echoed after a moment.
"I particularly find the splashes of purple to be quite enchanting. You know, that's the only problem with a red sun, the colors of sunset are quite limited." Clark, lost in his own thoughts could think of no response to the observation so he remained silent. After all, he had no way of knowing what sunset was like on Krypton, or anything else about his home planet for that matter. He shifted his attention to his father and was amazed to feel a single tear slide down his cheek and cling to the outskirts of his lips. He licked the salty droplet away quickly and wondered where it had come from.
He had done a lot of thinking in the last few hours and he'd come to the conclusion that he was hopelessly overwhelmed. Even more startling then this conclusion were the reasons behind it. Lois was pregnant, and by all accounts it was a miracle. For a while, he didn't even think he could have children considering they'd forgotten to use protection on several occasions and nothing ever came of it. But now fatherhood was a close reality. He was ecstatic, honestly, but there was so much left to wonder about. He and Lois both knew that they could read every pregnancy and birth book ever written and still be clueless because this baby was not an average child. This baby was the first of it's kind. Half Human, half Kryptonian. Who knew what kinds of things could be expected from this gestation?
Clark was all too aware of who knew, and that's what was bothering him. Although truth be told, he wasn't sure why. If anybody knew anything about a Kryptonian birth then it was the man standing next to him. How could Clark, after just meeting this man, and just starting to form a bond with him, hand the care of his wife and child over to him? How could he just step back and admit that he really didn't know what he was doing and that this was a job for someone else. That someone else was more qualified? He's Superman for Christ sake!
A nagging little voice in the back of his head told him that he was being way too stubborn and way too harsh for his own good. The fact remained that Jor had done everything in his power to insure that his son had a happy, productive life. Why would he treat his grandchild any different? But that didn't change the way he felt. His mind drew up the memories of the last time he'd felt this way. It was back when his powers had been transferred to Lois and he'd been forced to watch Ultra Woman save the world while Superman hung up his boots and took an unwanted vacation.
So what was he going to do? No doubt Jor-El was a wealth of knowledge that could greatly benefit his entire family. But he was still ashamed. Ashamed to admit he needed help, even if it was from a man who he'd known such a short time but already loved so desperately.
"You know I was thinking." Clark snapped back into reality at the sudden break in silence. Jor's eyes remained fixed on the dying sun and his lips only moved enough to form the words. "As I was standing here, in this place, watching a strange sun set in the sky, I was thinking and I came to a conclusion."
"And what would that be?" Clark questioned.
"That I made the right decision." Clark was about the question his meaning when Jor answered it for him. "I asked myself a good million times a second whether or not I was doing the right thing. In those last final hours my chest was so tight and my mouth was so dry, I just, I couldn't stand it. And then, the worst part was when your mother lowered you into that ship. I though sure I was going to vomit right then and there, all over the launch controls. And now I know I did the right thing."
"What brought you to that conclusion, Beaio?" Clark watched the grin spread across his father's lips, and his eyes Clark thought, were a little glossy.
"I've been watching you. Studying you. Trying to memorize every little mannerism, every trait. You have so much of your mother in you." A few tears trickled from Jor's eyes and he made no effort to hide them. Clark swallowed hard against the lump in his throat but in the end he found himself crying softly. "As I watched you I started to imagine you growing up here, in this beautiful place with these wonderful people and I knew that I had done my duty. I'd made the right decision." He paused and swiped the tears from his eyes, "Clark, I'm ashamed to admit that I couldn't take care of you. That I needed somebody else to teach you all those things that I should have taught you. But I hope you understand that it needed to be done. That I never wanted to leave you, but I had to."
"I know." Clark thought for a moment. The sincerity of his father's words seemed to echo the grief in his earlier thoughts. They gave him the courage to vent his own fears about his own child. "Lois is pregnant, Dad." Clark heard his father's sharp intake of breath but was unprepared for the deep bear hug he was given.
"Congratulations!! That's wonderful ne-" he stopped when he caught wind of his son's confused expression, "it is wonderful news, isn't it, Clark?"
"Then why do you look so uneasy?"
"I'm scared. Actually, I'm terrified." A knowing smile spread across Jor-El's face.
"Of course you are! Every father is terrified of his first-born! It's practically a law of nature."
"Yeah." Clark felt his mood lighten. "It's amazing, Lois and I can track down criminals, but an infant has us shakin' in our shoes. You should have seen us when she told me!" Both men dissolved into laughter.
"Don't worry, my boy. I will answer any questions you have regarding this gestation. Although, I must admit, this will be a first for me as well."
"How do you do that?" Clark asked softly.
"How do I do what?"
"How do you always manage to say the exact right thing, at the exact right time?"
"When you spend the better part of a year watching your wife gain weight and cry for no reason. Then when you lay down in bed you rest your head on her abdomen and feel your baby kick in response. Then one day you hold her hand and whisper kind words as she struggles to give birth you'll understand. When you have a child your life is no longer yours, everything is now centered on your baby. It becomes instinct. Do not worry, from what I've seen you're a natural at it. You seem to know actually what your wife needs, when she needs it. And I have no doubt it will be the same with your child." Silence fell upon the scene. Clark was silently kicking himself for his earlier thinking. His father wanted to help him, was offering it willingly. He had nothing to worry about. If they all worked together they would be fine.
"Beaio? Why have you been calling me Clark?" Clark didn't realize he was wondering until the question flowed from his lips. Jor smiled.
"I figure if that name is good enough for you, then it is good enough for me."
"Do you mind calling me Kal instead?" Jor was noticeably taken aback with the request. His brow tightened as if he was pondering a deep question.
"Of course not, but do you mind if I ask why?"
"If it's good enough for you and Baunga, then it's good enough for me." Jor smiled wide. He knew what Baunga meant; it was the Kryptonian word for mom.
"You've been practicing." Clark nodded excitedly.
Father and son watched the last ambers of daylight die and then turned to head back to the farm. The trip was made in silence. After all, what was left to say?
At supper that night Lois and Clark made their big announcement and the elder Kents did their best to look thoroughly shocked. At first it really bothered Clark that his parents knew about Lois's pregnancy before he did. That very fact played into all his fears and insecurities. He had told Lois long ago that he thought all the time he spent away from his family would keep his children from even recognizing him. And now his whole family knew about his child when he was still completely in the dark? It was happening already.
He did his best to hide his hurt and troubled thoughts from the rest of the bunch. Every once in a while he'd catch his mother studying him and he knew that she could see the pain in his face.
It wasn't until he was high in the sky; Lois tucked snuggly in his grip that he remembered that Lois had indeed tried to tell him about the baby once before. Right before Dr. Klein and Nul- Zay knocked on the door. So once again his life was put on hold because of some crisis. As soon as that snide thought entered his mind the form of his father came into his line of thinking. It had been decided that Jor would stay in the guest bedroom of the brownstone until he was comfortable enough to find a place of his own. And there he was: weaving and bobbing in and out of clouds, relaxing in the cool summer air. Clark smiled to himself. His life hadn't been put on hold; it just changed for the better. His biological father was back and now he was going to be a father himself. That was more then he had the right to ask for.
In the next two days Jor proved himself to be a quick study. He dove head first into the American culture. He read book after book about customs and food and geography. And three times a day he'd go out for a long walk and do some "specimen watching". Apparently he understood things better if they were demonstrated to him rather then just explained. And sure enough every time he'd come home he had a new mannerism or greeting or tradition that he wanted to be taught. Clark and sometimes Lois would explain to him what the different between Hello and Hi was and when it was appropriate to hug someone in greeting rather then shake their hand. And each time Jor would practice it for hours. He was determined to blend in and not embarrass his new family.
On the third day Nul-Zay stopped by briefly during lunch. Clark was upstairs on the phone and Jor was much too much of a gentleman to answer his host's door. He paused for a moment and wondered what he should do. Then it hit him,
'I wonder if Kal is aware of his telepathic capabilities' Jor wondered out loud. He shrugged his shoulders and decided the best way to find out was to do a test. 'Kal if you can hear me, there's someone at the door.' He said in his mind. He waited for a minute and got no response. Then slowly a shaky voice in his head replied.
'I have no idea how you did that, but who is it?' was the answer. Jor used his special vision and saw Nul-Zay standing patiently on the stoop.
'It's Nul. I'll answer it,' he said silently to Clark.
'Fine, but you and I are gonna talk when I get downstairs.' Jor laughed to himself and threw the door open wide for Nul who was quick to offer a hug. Jor readily accepted it. Nul could not stay long however. He had just come over to drop off a package and then he had to go.
A few moments later Clark descended the stairs and found his father surrounded on all sides by piles of papers.
"What are those?" he asked and then sat across from his father.
"They're my papers," Jor stated flatly.
"No, I mean it Kal, they're MY papers. My birth certificate, my Social Security Number, education records."
"Wait a minute, how'd you get a Social Security Number?"
"Nul pulled a few strings for me in Washington." Clark quirked an eyebrow. "What? Do you honestly think you and your wife are the only ones with connections?"
"No. I suppose not."
"Good, then memorize this information with me. From now on my name is Michael. Michael Crowe. I was born December 3, 1943 in Alaska."
"Yes sir, Alaska." Just then Clark's eyes squinted and Jor immediately knew what was going on.
"Go," Jor stated simply.
"Sorry, bank robbery."
"No problem, don't dawdle now, you wouldn't want to be late." Jor watched his son leave in a burst of red and blue. He did his best to look happy but inside it still hurt a little to watch him leave. That was the eighth time Kal had stepped out on him and who knew how many times he'd left that Jor wasn't even aware of? It troubled Jor in a sense. His son seemed to miss out on special moments in his life and for what? So he could try to keep the public safe from criminals who were multiplying daily? It just seemed so… unrewarding.
"It's really hard to get used to at first." Jor broke out of his trance in time to see a very tired Lois approaching him.
"What's that? I was lost in my thoughts."
"Clark's leaving. It's hard to get used to at first." Jor let out an exasperated sigh.
"I don't know, Lois. I guess I just don't understand the whole Superman thing yet." Lois thought for a moment.
"Well the only real way to find out what Superman does and why he does it, is to watch him in action. Why don't you go find him and look on?"
"I'm not too sure that would be a good idea. Wouldn't that make him feel awkward?"
"Oh, heavens no, people watch him all the time, I bet you'd blend right in." Lois watched the emotions play out on his face. She took his hand and squeezed it softly. "I bet you any amount of money that Clark would be thrilled to know that you're there and have taken an interest in what his life is all about."
"Are you sure, Lois?"
"If I'm wrong, which of course I'm not, I'LL take the blame."
"Okay." Jor stood up quickly and paused just long enough to plant a kiss on his daughter-in-laws forehead. "I'll be back," he called just before the front door closed.
"I know," Lois said smiling. "Like son, like father."
"Excuse me, excuse me, press coming through. OUT OF THE WAY PEOPLE!!" Jimmy Olsen was never very good at being assertive and that was the very hurdle that barred him from a career in investigative journalism. The Town Square was packed; as it always was when Superman intended to speak and he was having a difficult time in trying to find a good position. After a few minutes of wrangling, mild cursing and a few sore toes Superman was set to take his place at the podium and Jimmy had the perfect angle for the perfect picture.
The press conference was nothing special; just another response to another botched bank robbery. Superman spoke of the same things he always spoke of. How sad it was to see citizens turn to the opposite side of the law and he vowed to put a stop to it no matter what. But he also stressed that he had seen great improvements in the community and was encouraged by the growing awareness. Somewhere along the lines Jimmy got bored and began scanning the crowd for a familiar face. Someone he could chat with until it was over and he could get Superman alone.
His eyes fell upon a particular man who was watching from the edge of the crowd. He was a tan colored man with black hair and bright eyes that appeared to be twinkling. Every so often a soft smile would play on the man's lips and Jimmy found himself staring without remorse. It was the man's expression that he found most interesting. It was a look of admiration, a look of pride.
Suddenly he was reminded of days long ago when his father first took the training wheels off his bike. When Jimmy rode down the street for the first time unassisted and narrowly missed hitting Mrs. Mitchell's mailbox; the same expression graced his father's face. Weird.
Jimmy would have mulled it over further but the conference was ending and man seemed eager to leave without anybody noticing him. And of course, he had a story to write and even he knew that a quote from Superman was a selling high point.
In some hidden pocket of Jimmy's brain he stored the man's face for further reference. For some reason he knew it would come in handy.
"Psst, Lois, where's Clark?" Jor asked stepping slightly into the couple's bedroom.
"He's in the shower, why?" Lois replied setting her novel down on the bedside table.
"Good. That means we can chat." Jor came fully into the room and sat at the edge of the bed. "Lois, you were right! I understand totally, now!" Jor's voice was an excited little squeal and Lois couldn't help but giggle.
"I'm so glad."
"You see I was so worried that he spent all this time away from his family for nothing. That the people he was trying to help thought of him as just another convenience, that they didn't care about him. But I was wrong, Lois! Those people love him! You should have seen their faces!"
"I know, there's a certain energy that people get when they see Superman up close." Lois agreed.
"There is! Seriously! I have to admit that I wondered why you were able to put up with him leaving. What reward did you get from the whole experience? But Lois, when I was out there in that crowd, nobody knew who I was but I knew. I couldn't help but feel like I was a part of something larger then life."
"See, I told you."
"I know. Thank you so much for always being right." Lois laughed deeply.
"Can I quote you on that?" she asked.
"Anytime, sweetie, anytime."
That morning at breakfast it was decided, rather excitedly, that Jor should be introduced to Perry. After all, Perry had been kind enough to let them spend all this family time alone.
And so, they were off. As soon as the dishes were done and everyone got dressed they were in the Jeep, speeding towards the Daily Planet.
"Well, the lobby looks the same, " Lois said as the trio entered the building.
"Lois, we've only been gone two weeks," Clark reminded his wife with a slight smile.
"Clark, you of all people should know what could happen in two weeks."
"She's right you know." Jor was at the far end of the lobby looking at a huge bulletin board that was full of pictures from various award ceremonies and such. There was one picture that he liked in particular. It was one of his son when he was a few years younger. He was holding an award. His first Kerth and he was smiling brightly.
"Thanks for the support, dad," Clark said sarcastically.
"I call them as I see them," he replied.
A soft tap shifted Perry's attention from his paperwork to the door.
"It's open." Was his gruff reply. He was in a foul mood, and of course he wasn't afraid of spreading it. His demeanor softened however when a timid Lois and Clark entered his office followed by a nervous looking gentleman.
"Hi Chief, I hope we're not interrupting anything," Lois said uneasily. "We just wanted to introduce you to the newest member of our family." Lois motioned to a restless Jor. Perry stood and offered his hand. Jor took it a shook it slowly, remembering that it was polite to take a hand when offered.
"I'm Perry White, the kids here call me Chief."
"My name's Michael. Michael Crowe, the kids call me dad." A round of timid laughter filled the room.
"You must be Clark's father. Birth father, I mean."
"I am. I must say Mr. White that it's a real pleasure to meet you. My son and his wife have spoken highly of you." Jor took the seat he was offered and Lois and Clark sat nearby on the couch.
"Oh yeah? Did they tell you that they're a pain in my ass?" Perry chuckled.
"Somehow, I don't doubt that," Jor agreed.
"HEY!" Lois and Clark spouted in unison.
"I'm kidding! I'm kidding! Honestly Michael your boy worked his butt off to become one of best damn reporters this city has ever seen. Even though Ms. Lane here did her best to send him screaming head first into the night."
"I did not!" Lois shrieked.
"Liar." Clark tried to cover up the one word statement with a sneeze. Even though Lois and Jor both knew that Clark was incapable of sneezing. The remark earned him a stiff elbow in the rib followed by a hearty round of laughter.
"Clark don't be so hard on her. I seem to recall you doing your best to get under her skin." Clark's cheeks turned pink.
"But seriously Michael, if you ever want the full story of how these two managed to tie the knot, come to me. I'll give you the real version on what actually happened. Not the fake pie-in-the sky version these two concocted." Jor laughed hard.
"I just might do that."
"Hey Chief, I got those papers you wanted." Jimmy trotted into the editor's office without realizing that Perry was occupied. His dear-in-headlights expression made it clear that he understood his mistake. If anyone other then Lois and Clark had been in the office then Jimmy would have been in some serious trouble. "Uhh, I… I'm really sorry that I… uh, I'll just come back later."
"No, no, Jim. I'm really glad you're here. I want you to meet my birth father, Michael Crowe." Jor stood and stretched out his hand. Jimmy took it uneasily. A segment of Jimmy Olsen's brain was working overtime. Clark's father seemed so familiar.
"Have we met before?" Jimmy asked.
"No, I don't believe so."
"Hmm, you look so familiar. Wait a second! Weren't you at Superman's latest press conference?"
"I was there. Why?"
"I just got this odd feeling of deja vu. Listen, guys, love to stay and chat but I got a story to write." Jimmy dismissed himself and headed back to his desk.
From the security of his desk Jimmy watched Lois, Clark and Michael walk out of Perry's office smiling and laughing. Somewhere in his brain Jimmy was putting two and two together. He just shook hands with one of the proudest looking fathers alive. And yet he could still vividly remember the look on Michael's face at Superman's press conference. So proud and happy. It was obvious to anyone watching that Superman was very important to him. Only now, here he was introducing himself as CK's long lost father. But at the press conference he was acting like he was watching… his…
"Cheese-of-the-month club?" Jimmy demanded slamming his fists down on Perry's desk.
"Jimmy, what in-" Perry began but was quickly interrupted.
"This whole time Chief! This whole time CK was ducking out on us with these lame excuses about returning movies, or watering flowers, or WHATEVER when in reality he was putting on a colorful suit and saving truckloads of nuns from burning buildings! It's insane! I just, I can't even believe this! The whole time Superman's been right here, in this very building!" Jimmy stopped his tirade of jumbled thoughts and wild gestures long enough to catch the deer-in-headlights look on Perry's face. Perry felt himself freeze. He never thought this day would come, although he should have assumed that one day Jimmy would catch on. What was he supposed to do now? Was it appropriate to talk about it once someone else had already figured it out? And surely Jimmy would know better then to run around yapping about it.
"You KNOW?" Perry asked the distraught Jimmy.
"Well, yeah, I just…wait a damn minute, you know Chief? Since when? How? Do you think Lois knows?"
"Yes I know that Clark is Superman, and I've known since the whole amnesia bit. And are you kidding me, of course Lois knows! He's her husband for god's sake!"
"Wow. This whole time I've been hanging out with Superman. That's so cool!" Jimmy wore the expression of a three-year-old boy who'd just met Mickey Mouse at Disney World. It was all so overwhelming and Jimmy wasn't sure if he'd ever be able to look at Clark the same way again.
"Now Jimmy, let's go easy here. Hold on a minute." Jimmy nodded to his mentor. "There are a few things you need to understand about all this. Now I want you to answer me something."
"Why do you think Clark has kept this a secret?" Jimmy thought hard for a moment.
"Because psychos and stuff would try to kill him and the people he hangs with?"
"That's part of it Jimmy, but it's simpler then that." After a long pause Jimmy shrugged his shoulders in defeat.
"I dunno, chief."
"Okay, then try answering this question. Why would Superman get a job, make friends, get married, buy a house, and all of that." This perked Jimmy's interest.
"Cause it makes him feel like a regular guy?"
"BINGO!!" Perry blurted, pointing his finger dramatically in Jimmy's direction. "So if Clark wants to be treated like a normal guy, then you can't go around acting like a star struck teenager every time he comes to work. Remember, he's still regular old Clark. Your buddy, my employee. The best thing we can do is act like we don't know."
"Okay. I think I can handle that, but do you think we should tell him we know?"
"I don't think that would be very smart Jimmy. I mean obviously he doesn't want us to know."
"Yeah and honestly I think it would be dangerous for all of us."
"SEE!! SEE!! I knew you'd get it."
"It's pretty cool isn't it chief?"
"I mean everyone in Metropolis has their own theories on Superman. Like what he does in his free time, if he has a family or whatever. And you and me and Lois are the only ones who know for sure."
"It is a powerful feeling." Perry agreed.
"Yeah, but who knew Superman was such a goober in his down time?" The laughter billowing out of the Editor and Chief's office grabbed the attention of everyone in the City Room. Although everyone was curious they'd never catch on to the private joke. Superman's allies, the people he loved and trusted understood that they held his life, his safety in their hands, and they would never betray him.
"This is fabulous, Dad." Lois and Jor exchanged a glance that was not lost on Clark.
"I'm glad you like it, Lois. I was in the mood for something spicy so I went down to the library and took out a book on Indian cuisine."
"Well, it came out great," Clark agreed. That day was one of the best ones the family could remember. Clark loved introducing his father to his friends and Lois relished in her husband's happiness. It had done wonders for Jor as well. His son had not one, but two careers that he loved and thrived in. It made him so happy to know that his son felt fulfilled.
Throughout the day Jor found himself recalling that feeling of pride and accomplishment he got while watching "Superman" speak at the press conference. He felt good, like he'd helped save the world simply by being the Man of Steel's father. Somewhere during his rambling thoughts, he decided he liked that feeling and wanted to hold onto it. He wanted to help save earth from the same fate that befell Krypton.
So, while he was cooking dinner he made a few phone calls, put his idea in motion, and now he was ready to share his news.
"Lois, Clark, I've made a decision." Both Lois and Clark looked up from their plate and caught the serious expression on Jor's face.
"A decision, Beaio?" Clark asked.
"Yes Kal, a decision." Jor paused and struggled to put his words in the right order. "You see Kal, when you left for that bank robbery I followed you. I watched you stop the robbers and I watched you speak at the press conference and I was so proud of you. The way the people looked at you, the way you looked at them, the passion, it was magic. It reminded me of something your mother used to say. She'd say Jor, you can't complain about a problem unless you're part of the solution."
"There's a lot of wisdom in those words," Lois stated.
"Yes, there is. And so having said that I decided that I want to do my part. I want to help keep the Earth and its people safe."
"Is this going to involve my mother making another Suit?" Clark questioned with a smile.
"No, no! Nothing like that. Actually I've decided to join the police force. I have class Monday morning." Jor sat back and waited for his family's response. A wide grin spread across Lois's face and to everyone's surprise Clark was holding back tears. "It's nothing to cry about, son." Jor said feeling a bit uncomfortable.
"I had no idea that you were there, watching me, or that I inspired you so," Clark said softly.
"I was and you did."
"Have I told you how happy you've made me? Just having you near makes me feel so damned special." Everyone dissolved into tears and the rest of the night was spent tenderly making plans for their growing family's future.
The next day started out rather boring. After breakfast Jor left for Star Labs. Apparently, Ree and Nul had developed some new technology and they wanted their friend's input. Lois and Clark took the time alone as a blessing and enjoyed every minute of it. They loved Jor and all, but it was rather odd making love with your father down the hall. Especially a father with super hearing.
They spent some time walking in the park, and some time watching the ships sail in and out of the harbor. The whole time they laughed and joked and enjoyed each other's company. By the time afternoon came they had settled onto the couch and were reading through the monstrous pile of baby books. Determined to be experts on everything for morning sickness to childbirth.
"How about Ashley? Ashley Kent has a nice ring to it."
"It's lovely, Clark, but you're forgetting one thing."
"We're having a boy!" Lois stated firmly.
"Lois, honey, while I love and appreciate your maternal instinct, don't you think we should at least think of a good girl's name. You know, just in case you're wrong?" Lois flashed her husband a stern glance that told Clark to back off. He took the "Big Book of Baby Names" out of Lois's hand and placed it gently on the coffee table. He wrapped his arms lightly around his wife and she instantly melted into his embrace. "I'm sure you're right, honey," he whispered softly into her ear.
"Clark, I know it sounds strange but I KNOW we're having a boy. I mean every time I get sick or feel tired, I tell myself it's worth it because I'm keeping my SON healthy. I wish I could explain it."
"I'm sorry I doubted you."
"It's not your fault," Lois giggled. "You're just the papa." Clark chuckled and was about to retort but the jangling of the telephone cut him short. Lois let out a loud groan that was immediately followed by one from Clark. Remorsefully, Lois pushed herself away from her husband's warm chest and walked to the other side of the room to pick up the phone.
"Hello," she answered. "Jimmy! Hi! What a nice surprise, it's so nice to hear from- WHAT?! When? How? MULLINS! Jim, I gotta go." Lois hung up the phone and spun around to meet her husband's gaze.
"Lois, what was that all about?" Clark asked, his voice wary.
"Three UN representatives were caught carrying biological weapons into a meeting in New York!"
"ARE YOU SERIOUS?" Clark felt his eyebrows rise to his hairline in an instant.
"Yeah, and you'll never guess who's going to the press conference. Mullins."
"Mullins? That creep is going to the press conference?"
"Lois, grab your coat."
"I thought we were spending the afternoon thinking up baby names."
"And let Mullins scoop us? Like hell!" Both Kents made their way to the door in a hurry.
"I love it when you're bad, Farmboy," Lois said as Clark opened the front door.
"I'm not bad, I just can't stand Mullins." And with that they were gone.
Once they arrived in the City Room of the Daily Planet the two star reporters teamed up. They had their method down to a science. Clark immediately migrated to Jimmy's desk for the details and to formulate a plan. Lois on the other hand went straight for her desk and in a performance worthy of an Oscar called everyone from everywhere to gain the inside track.
It was dumb luck pure and simple that Perry White happened to look out his office window and catch Lois in an obviously heated phone conversation. He smiled wide. Those two really were the best of the best and it was because they were passionate about their jobs. While Perry knew that Jimmy had probably been the one to tip off Lane and Kent, and he wasn't the least bit surprised that the two would cut their vacation short for a hot scoop like this, he did feel obligated to find out what was going on. With a chuckle he firmly extinguished the grin from his face, and put on his best what-in-the-name-of-Graceland face.
"Lois! What the hell are you doing in my newsroom? You still have two more weeks of vacation left! And where the hell's Clark?" Lois looked up from the notes she was speedily writing only long enough to catch a glimpse of Perry's face and then her nose was right back in her work.
"Hey chief, sorry, can't talk. Big scoop," she mumbled and then continued pressing her source for information. Just then Clark made his way to Lois's desk. He appeared to be just as distracted as his wife.
"Chief, glad I caught you. A few representatives of the UN and the Secretary of Defense are holding a press conference in an hour. I just scored three press passes." Lois hung up the phone in a hurry and cut into the conversation.
"I've got a source with some big information that's willing to meet us at six, that should give us plenty of time."
"So press conference, a little lunch, then your source?" Clark asked.
"Right behind you, partner." Lois agreed. Perry White watched two of the nicest kids he'd ever met walk away from him without any acknowledgement of his presence and couldn't wipe the smile off his face if you paid him. Right before they hit the elevator Clark turned around and scanned the newsroom. He saw Jimmy Olsen sitting idly at his desk and gave a little whistle. Jimmy's head snapped up instantly.
"Hey Jim, ya comin or what?" Clark said smiling, "I got THREE passes you know." Perry watched in amusement as a schoolboy's smile spread over Jimmy's face and he quickly made his way to the elevator. The doors opened and quickly shut again and in that instant the hottest team in town were back in action. Lane, Kent and now Olsen was added to the list. Perry chuckled to himself and then began a tirade of dictation to his other employees. Once everyone was settled and doing their jobs Perry made his way to the coffee and donut counter. He hoped that there were still a few Boston Creams.
Like what you see? Hate it? Give me an email at Azriel_Roman@Yahoo.com