By Allison K. Forbes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted July 31, 1999.
Summary: Clark comes home from New Krypton eager to be reunited with Lois, only to find that she is not the same Lois he left behind him some months earlier.
Happy Belated Birthday, Dean!!!
This story more or less took over my mind<bg>, so I had to write it. The dialogue in the last scene is not entirely mine;), and that scene is for Chris H., because <wink wink>, two can play at this game! Thanks to Wendy Richards for editing this piece, I'm honored!
He was tired and haggard from his journey. It had been a long and tiring time on New Krypton, but he was finally heading home. The factions had been unified, Lord Norr had been defeated, and Zara and Ching were elected to rule as regents. Now all he wanted was to be home with Lois. He could still remember how she looked the last time he saw her. She had never looked so beautiful, or so lost, especially when she pulled her wedding ring out from the top of his Suit and whispered, "Don't forget me…", and when he turned to take one last glimpse of her, her eyes were begging him not to go. What he didn't see was Lois nearly collapse with grief into his parents' arms as soon as he flew off.
Now they would be reunited. He could hardly wait to see her again; her beautiful brown eyes, her smile, her lips… he couldn't wait to feel her soft lips against his once again, to feel her soft warm body in his arms. He smiled to himself.
'Lois, honey, I'm coming home.'
The first rays of sunlight shone on the old farmhouse as dawn came to Smallville. A rooster crowd in the distance, signaling the beginning to another day. Jonathan Kent had already been at work for half an hour as the sun rose over the cornfields when he decided to go back to the house for a cup of coffee.
"Martha?" he called. Martha Kent came into the kitchen and kissed her husband.
"Want some coffee?" She walked over to the kettle and poured them both a steaming cup.
"Is she up?" he asked quietly. Martha nodded.
"I don't think she really ever went to sleep. She just sits in that old rocker, holding that teddy bear he won her, and stares out the window and talks to herself." Jonathan shook his head as Martha suppressed a sob, or tried to. "It just breaks my heart to see her like this, Jonathan!"
"I know, Martha, I know." He crossed the room and wrapped his arms around his wife. "The doctors said there's nothing wrong with her physically; all we can do is be strong for her, and care for her," Martha looked into his eyes as he finished, "and love her, until Clark comes back to love her."
She pondered his words for a moment.
"I want my boy back, Jonathan! I want my son back home where he belongs," she glanced upstairs, "with the woman he belongs with!"
Jonathan hugged his wife. "He will, Martha. Clark will come back."
"That's what I keep trying to tell her," she sighed as she sat down. "I keep going into his room, and I see her sitting there, staring out the window at the sky, and I try to tell her he's coming home, but she doesn't seem to hear me anymore!" There was a pause, then finally she stood up. "I'm going to check on her, you wanna come?"
Jonathan smiled. "I'll be up there later. Right now I have to get that fence post repaired before Dolly escapes again. You go on up."
"Ok. See you for lunch honey." Martha kissed her husband warmly, set down her coffee, and went upstairs to Clark's room.
The room was tidy, since no one had lived in it regularly for several years. There was a small twin bed in a corner, and a bookshelf next to it, on which sat trophies, pictures, books, and old Mid U football, and other assorted nick knacks. The pictures were scattered all over the bookshelf; pictures of Clark as a boy, playing sports, him in cap and gown, and several of him and his parents. But the ones that seemed to stand out were the pictures of Clark, and her. Working, playing, at a picnic, their first date, and a picture Martha had taken the day after they were officially engaged. They looked so happy, so relaxed, so in love. It was apparent in every one just how much Clark loved her. They way his eyes sparkled when he looked at her, and when she looked at him. Each one was a moment in two lives about to become one, until something no one could have predicted happened and tore these two lives apart, sending him to a distant planet to fight a battle even he wasn't sure he could win, and sending her into a grief so deep her only avenue of retreat was her mind.
He was about to return from that distant place, only to find the woman he loved locked within herself, and bringing her back would be the toughest battle he would ever face.
Earth was now visible from the ship, and Clark smiled as he watched it grow closer. She shone like a bright blue jewel against the stark blackness of space. Clark watched as the sun began to rise over the North American continent, spreading her light over the Rockies, his beloved Kansas, and within seconds, the eastern seaboard. He didn't have all of his powers back yet, so he couldn't actually see Metropolis, but he could feel the pull the great city had on him, that she had on him.
"We will be within transporting range of Earth in less than twenty hours, my Lord Kal-El," Ching announced. " I know how anxious you are to return to your adopted home, and to Lois."
Clark turned from the window to look at him. "It's not my adopted home, Ching. It's my home. It's where Jor-El sent me as a baby," he paused, "and my name isn't Kal-El. It's Clark Kent." His expression softened. "But yes, I am anxious to get home. I've been gone far too long." He turned to peer out the window again.
"Before you came to us, we had no understanding of love nor did we see the relevance of it. To us it was merely an unusual, highly complex, and very illogical concept best left out of our culture." Clark looked at him sharply and Ching smiled lightly. " But after seeing you and Lois together, and now that Lady Zara and I have been bonded, I cannot see how any culture could survive without such an unusual, highly complex, and ultimately very complimentary concept."
"'Complimentary'? Ching," Clark said evenly, "Lois is my life. She's the only reason I ever felt I belonged on earth. Without her in my life, I may as well have died on New Krypton."
"Well, rest assured you will be with her again soon, Lord Kal…I mean Clark." Ching then turned back to the controls. Clark again turned to look out the porthole as Earth grew closer, welcoming him home.
"Less than twenty hours, my love…"
Martha entered the dimly lit room and closed the door behind her. She looked at the younger woman sitting in the rocking chair in the corner, and sighed. She was still rocking back and forth, one leg tucked under the other, clutching the black and white teddy bear Clark had won for her four years ago securely at her breast. She was still staring, unseeing, out the window. Martha walked over to her and knelt in front of the chair.
"Lois?" No reply. "Lois, honey, it's Martha," she tried more cheerfully.
"Martha?" came the quiet reply.
"Yes dear, it's me. Would you like to come downstairs for some breakfast?"
For a moment the younger woman just stared out the window, then, "Hhmm-mmm…" was all she replied, and shook her head.
"Lois, you need to eat something." The poor girl hadn't eaten a decent meal for so long, and she was becoming dangerously frail.
"I can't…have to wait. He promised…" Her voice trailed off and she continued to mumble about waiting, watching, and broken promises. "I have to wait…said he'd come back…loved me from the beginning…I was his wife…" She rambled on aimlessly, her eyes glazed and unfocused. Martha could only watch her in helpless concern.
"Oh, honey, he is coming home! Clark is coming home!" she urged adamantly, her eyes brimming with tears for her absent son and his devotedly drained fiancee. Martha then leaned forward, and held Lois in the same embrace that had comforted her cherished child so long ago when he was discovering his uniqueness. Lois kept murmuring to herself, seemingly not hearing Martha, but her next words sent a chill through Martha's body.
"Nooo," she murmured quietly, sadly, "he's not coming back. He promised me, his parents promised…said he'd return… 'A love that risks nothing…is worth nothing'. I believed them…believed he'd come back to me. No, it's too late…been gone too long…not coming back…"
Martha just stood there in stunned silence. 'Dear God, she's given up hope!' Just then the front door slammed shut as Jonathan entered the house.
"Martha?" She quickly got up and went downstairs, being careful not to slam the door to Clark's room on her way out. She hurried downstairs and found her husband in the kitchen.
"Do we have any sourdough? I thought it was behind the pickles," he asked, his body hunched behind the refrigerator door.
"No, I don't think so," she replied absently. "Jonathan?" she began urgently.
"Martha? What is it, what's wrong?" he asked, straightening.
"Oh, Jonathan!" Her eyes began welling up again. "She's getting worse! When this began, she was talking to us, now it's like she's talking to no one in particular." At this news, Jonathan held his wife close, and closed his own eyes in pain.
"She's not hearing us at all anymore, Jonathan. I heard her say he's not coming back." She shook her head in disbelief. "She's given up hope."
He pulled away and held her at arms' length. "Which means we can't! For her sake, Martha, we can't give up. We have to believe he's coming home. And we have to keep telling her that!"
"I know," she replied wearily. Then looking him in the eyes she declared, "He will."
The floating palace of the House of El and Ra hovered covertly over the city of Metropolis. A passenger transport waited to take Clark back to where it had all begun. He was in his room, gathering his few belongings, which were a small-framed photo of Lois, and the chain on which hung her wedding ring. He clutched it to his chest and closed his eyes, much like he had done the day he left, and tried to send her a message to let her know he was on his way home. He was puzzled when he couldn't reach her.
"Why can't I send her a message, Zara? Why can't I feel her?"
"You've been gone quite a while, Clark. Your powers probably will not return for a few days. Judging from the rate at which you described the acquisition of your super-powers, I would estimate that your flying ability should return as soon as you are exposed to the Earth's yellow sun. Your strength should follow just as quickly, followed by your auditory and visual abilities. You should be back to normal within a week." Zara was standing next to the door of Clark's palace chamber, preparing to escort him to the transport ship. "I just wanted to thank you again for bringing peace to New Krypton, and for bringing Ching and me together. I know it has been difficult, Clark, leaving the ones you love behind, leaving Lois behind. But you may live with the knowledge that you united a people on the brink of war, and helped end a reign of tyranny that surely would have spelled the end of our culture. And we will forever be grateful for that."
Clark was nearly overwhelmed with the grandioseness of Zara's thank you. He really didn't think he'd done that much! So touched was he by her gratitude, but never a man of many words, he responded in the same manner he had when he rescued Lois from an oxygen deprived vault, "Glad to be of service."
"Lady Zara, the transport ship is ready," a voice announced over the loudspeaker.
"Acknowledged. Ready, Clark?" Clark breathed a sigh of relief. "I am more than ready, Zara."
The passenger transport touched down in an alley behind Clark's apartment with a soft whir. The door to the craft opened and Clark, Ching, and Zara stepped out.
"The sun will soon be coming up, Clark." Ching commented, "Your powers should be returning soon, so you can resume your normal life."
Zara took Clark's hand in hers. "Thank you again, Clark, for all you've done," she reached up and gently kissed him on the cheek. "We're grateful beyond words, and for the first time in my life, I have tears."
Ching spoke then. "Goodbye Clark. And," he looked discreetly at Zara, "thank you."
Clark regarded them both for a moment.
"Thank you, for bringing me home."
With that said, the New Kryptonian leaders boarded the ship which hummed to life, lifted into the pre-dawn sky, and were gone. Clark immediately made a bee-line for Lois's apartment. He entered the building at 1058 Carter Ave and quickly made his way to the elevator. The lift reached the fifth floor with a soft ping, deposited its passenger, and closed to wait its next call. Clark hurried down the empty hallway straight to Apt. 501. He knocked, but got no answer.
"Lois?" he called, and tried to look through the door. His vision wasn't back so he tried his key. He made his way in, only to find the place deserted. He tried the kitchen, the bath, the bedroom, nothing. He locked the door on his way out and hurried to his apartment. She wasn't there either.
"Where could she be?" he wondered aloud. No sooner had he voiced the thought did the answer come to him. He went to the balcony to test his powers. The sun was now much higher and he could feel the power of her rays giving him strength. With one incredible burst of energy, he launched himself into the air towards Smallville.
He landed in Shuster's Field just as he had so many years before and hurried across the meadow towards the farm. A few minutes later he saw the old house with it warn shutters, and the red barn where he first discovered some of his more unusual abilities. He looked around and finally saw his father hunched over a fence post, working at it with a hammer. Clark couldn't help but smile. 'He'll probably die happily working on this farm.' He slowly approached the elder Kent, who was hunched over, head bent, trying to hammer the wood back into place.
"Need some help with that?" Clark inquired casually. Still engrossed in his work, Jonathan didn't look up.
"No, son, I think I've got…" The elder Kent's head snapped up, and he looked at his son in shock. "Clark!" he exclaimed hoarsely, and in seconds was on his feet, holding his boy in a fierce hug.
"Dad, I've missed you so much!" Clark was near tears himself, hugging the father who had loved and raised him, though he never even knew of his son's origins. "I love you, Dad."
"Oh my boy, my boy…" was all the older man could say. The two men stood there for a moment, just glad to be father and son again.
"Where's mom?" Clark asked after they finally parted.
"She's, uh, up at the house," Jonathan replied, his voice trembling slightly. Clark noticed this and frowned.
"Dad? What's wrong? Did something happen while I was gone? Is mom OK?" The questions practically poured from him.
"No, your mother's fine, son. It's just…it's just really good to have to home again." Jonathan couldn't tell his son that everything was not all right, that his mother was worried sick, and that Lois…he just didn't have the heart. "Come on, Clark. Let's go up to the house. I know your mother will be thrilled that you're back." He draped his arm over Clark's shoulder and walked with him to the house.
They walked in silence for a moment. When they reached the porch, Clark just stood there.
"What's wrong, son?"
"Nothin'. I just didn't realize till now how much I really missed this place." Clark was quiet for a moment, then asked his father the question that was forefront in his mind. "Dad, where's Lois? Is she here?"
"Clark, I…uh," Jonathan hesitated, not sure what he should tell him.
"Dad?" Clark pressed anxiously. Jonathan took Clark's arm and gently led him into the house.
"Come on, son. Your mother will be so, so happy to see you."
Clark let himself be led into the house, but his father's behavior was starting to scare him. Where was Lois? Was something wrong? Had something befallen his beloved while he was away?
"Dad, what's going on?"
"Martha!" Jonathan shouted, ignoring Clark. Seconds later, Martha came quietly down the stairs, looking more tired than Clark could remember. She also had what looked like dry tear marks on her face.
"Clark!!" She gasped in disbelief. She ran to her son and threw her arms around him. "Clark, you're home! You're really home! Oh!" Tears began to slide down her cheeks and she hugged him even harder.
"Yeah, mom, I'm home." He hugged her tightly. "It's so good to see you and Dad again!" He pulled out of her embrace and looked at her. She looked like she hadn't gotten much sleep for a long time. He knew she and his father had been saddened to see him leave, but there was something else. "Mom, where's Lois? I couldn't find her at her place or my place. Is she here?"
"Yes, Clark, she's here," she answered.
"How is she? Is she all right? Dad wouldn't tell me."
Martha let out a deep breath and shook her head. "Oh Clark," she whispered through fresh tears, "honey, Lois isn't at all well!"
Clark felt like someone had just kicked him in the head. His mother's words didn't quite register in his mind.
"What do you mean?" he asked rigidly.
"Lois is very sick, Clark," his father began.
"Where is she?" he pleaded.
"Upstairs, in your room," his mother finished. In a WHOOSH, Clark was upstairs with his parents following close behind. Martha opened the door and Clark stepped in. His heart leaped at seeing her again, but his happiness quickly faded as he approached her. She was sitting in a rocking chair, rocking back and forth, with one leg tucked beneath her. Her hair was much longer, down to her shoulders, but it had lost its sheen, and was no longer bouncy. It just hung limply around her face, now pale from not having been in the sun for a long time. Her beautiful brown eyes were now lifelessly dull, glazed, and unfocused. Her head was turned towards the window, and she was murmuring to herself. Held in her arms was a teddy bear. He slowly walked to her and knelt in front of her, taking one hand away from the bear and holding it in his.
"Lois, honey?" No answer. "Lois, sweetheart, it's me, Clark. I'm home, honey. I came back!" He reached out and gently cupped her jaw like he had so many times before, a gesture in which she always found comfort. "Lois, it's me! Talk to me, my love. I've come back to you…" His voice trailed off when Lois slowly turned her head and looked at him.
"No…Clark's not coming home," she mumbled. "He's not coming back…he promised me he'd come back…nooo, it's too late…" Clark was stunned. She didn't see him. He was right there, and she didn't see him!
"Lois, honey, I'm right here," he said adamantly, increasing his hold on her jaw, "It's me, Clark. Look at me!" She merely blinked unseeing eyes at him. Wide eyed, Clark shook his head and whispered, horrified,
"What have I done?"
"What have I done to her?! Mom, Dad, when did this start? How long has she been like this? Should she be in a hospital?" The questions poured from him like water from a fountain. His parents only stood behind him while he was speaking to Lois. Now they watched him pace the room, wringing his hands, and tried to explain Lois's condition.
His mother began first. "It started pretty soon after you left. She became very withdrawn, very quiet. We kept telling her it wouldn't be very long before you came back and everything would be back to normal. At first she believed us, and she kept vigil at that window every night, just watching your star. Your father and I didn't really think anything of it at first. But then she started sitting in there for hours at a time, just watching the sky, and telling herself over and over that she had to be patient, and wait for you to come home. Then one day she didn't come out. I went up there to check on her and that's how I found her. Sitting cross-legged, rocking, and holding that little bear. And she was talking quietly to herself. Saying the same thing over and over." She paused for a moment to let Clark absorb everything.
"We called the doctor," his father chimed in, "but he found nothing wrong with her physically. He said her condition was the result of a traumatic event, and the only thing to do was keep her safe and comfortable, and love her. He said there was nothing he could do."
Clark knelt at Lois's side again, taking her hand. "My sweet, precious Lois," he whispered, kissing her palm, "please, come back to me."
Days went by without any change in Lois's condition. Clark was by her side every minute, talking to her, holding her, touching her, cradling her in his arms, willing her to see him. She had stopped mumbling incoherently; now she was silent. And to Clark, that was almost worse. He didn't know how to reach her, to make her see him. His parents were so relieved to have their boy home, for several reasons. Having him home, period, was a great comfort to them; they were terrified that they would never see him again, that he'd die on New Krypton and they'd never know.
And now that Clark was home, he could take his rightful place at Lois's side. As much as they adored her, and they did, they were getting old themselves, and knew they couldn't be her caretakers forever. Clark would take care of her now.
He tried everything he knew to bring her back. Holding her in his arms, touching her, caressing her face, kissing her. He even tried taking her flying, one of her favorite pastimes. But when he took off across the farm, she didn't wrap her arms around him like she used to. He was running out of ideas. Finally he spoke to his parents about it.
"Mom, Dad, I think we should call the doctor again. Nothing I've done has made a dent in whatever's happened to her. We need a professional."
They called the doctor, who once again said there was nothing he could do, but that he'd make some calls to specialists. The next day he called.
"I have made some inquiries and I think I've found someone who may be able to help. Her name is Dr. Elizabeth Milagro. I'm sending her to Smallville tomorrow. Is that alright?"
Clark breathed a sigh of relief, and hope. "Tomorrow would be super!"
Dr. Elizabeth Milagro was one of the top psychotherapists in the Midwest and came highly recommended by her colleagues. She arrived in Smallville from the University of Kansas at Wichita.
She knocked on the door of the farmhouse, and a slightly heavy-set man with white hair and glasses answered.
"Jonathan Kent? I'm Dr. Elizabeth Milagro. The university sent me to do a psychological examination."
"Yes, yes, doctor, please come in!" He held the door open for her and stepped aside. "Martha? The university specialist is here!"
Martha quickly came into the room and shook the doctor's hand. "Thank you, so much for coming," she smiled.
"Well, I just hope I can help. Where's the patient?"
"This way…" Both Kents led the young woman up to Clark's room. There was more light in the room now, and Clark was kneeling in front of the chair, holding his beloved's hand, stroking the back of it with his thumb. He was talking to her quietly, making jokes, laughing softly, and telling her how much he loved her.
"Clark, this is Dr. Milagro from the University. Doctor, this is our son, Clark."
Clark stood up and extended his hand. "Nice to meet you. Thank you for coming," he said warmly.
"Nice to meet you, Clark. I've read your work; it's very good."
"Thank you," he replied sincerely.
"Well since I have to get back to the university by tomorrow afternoon, I'd like to get started." She went over and knelt in front of Lois and studied her for a moment. She began checking Lois's vital signs, and as she did, asked the Kents a few questions. "Has she ever had a breakdown before?"
"No," Clark answered.
"Any history of psychological trauma? Childhood abuse? Trouble with a boyfriend, maybe?"
Immediately, Clark thought of Lex Luthor. Clark knew she'd been emotionally scarred by the experience. But that was three years ago, and she had recovered from that! "She almost got married once," he stated hesitantly, "and he turned out to be a career criminal. But that was years ago, and she fully recovered."
"Uhmm-hmmm," was all she said. She then took out a pen flashlight and shined it in Lois's eyes, and asked, "When did this start?"
Jonathan and Martha looked at each other. "About two-and-a-half months ago," Martha volunteered. Dr. Milagro put her flashlight back and stood up.
"Well, then, that brings me to my next question." She paused. "What happened two-and-a-half months ago?"
All three Kents looked at each other. They couldn't very well say that Clark, an alien, had been called to New Krypton to fight the evil Lord Norr! Always a quick thinker, Clark answered.
"My paper sent me on an assignment to the Middle East," he lied. "While I was there, there was minor border skirmish, and I was taken prisoner." His story wasn't a total lie; while on New Krypton, he had been taken prisoner. "One of the other prisoners was killed during the uprising, and it got back to Metropolis that the prisoner was me. It wasn't of course, but they, and she," he nodded at Lois, "had no way of knowing that." Again, not all a lie. He had witnessed the death of a fellow prisoner at Norr's hands.
"I see," she said sympathetically. "It must have been horrible for you, to have to go through all that."
"Yes it was," he acknowledged. "But it was even worse for her." He knelt in front of Lois again, and placed his hand on her cheek. "Please help me. Help her."
"I'll do whatever I can. But most of her recovery will depend on you, Clark."
Never taking his eyes from Lois's, he vowed, "I'll do whatever it takes."
"I'd like a few minutes alone with Lois, if I may?"
Clark hesitated, but decided to do as she asked. He kissed Lois on the cheek and turned to follow his parents out the door. Once in the hall, he looked at his mother. "Mom, do you think she'll be able to help Lois?" heasked with a touch of fear.
"I don't know honey. But we have to let her try, for Lois's sake."
"If she, if I can't bring Lois back, if I've done irreparable harm…" he choked on his words. Dread filled his heart when he pondered never getting her back.
"Honey, you couldn't have known this was going to happen!"
"Clark Kent," Martha gently admonished, "I will not let you beat yourself up over this. Now come on downstairs and I'll make some coffee, and let the good doctor do her job."
"Yes, ma'am," he sighed and went with his parents.
"Lois? Can you hear me? My name is Dr. Milagro. I'm here to help you."
"Dr. Milagro?" Lois airily responded.
"That's right. You know, there are some very concerned people out there who really want to see you get better. Jonathan, Martha, and Clark. He came home, Lois. He's right out there." She gestured to the door.
"No. He's not coming back. It's too late. He promised me…said he'd always come back…loved me from the beginning. I was his wife…"
Lois continued to drone on about Clark's promises, his seeming betrayal, but what got the doctor's attention was the part about how he'd loved her from the beginning, and how she was his wife. No one had referred to her as his wife, not even him. But she kept repeating it over and over. "He promised me…would always come back. Loved me from the beginning…I was his wife…loved me.."
The doctor listened for a minute, then leaned forward and lightly grasped Lois by the shoulders. "Lois, Clark is here! He came home to you. He's here and he wants you back! He wants to put his arms around you, feel your arms around him…" she trailed off as an idea struck. Lois was murmuring about his great love for her, his promise to return. 'She was his wife', but they weren't married. She stood up and leaned back to watch Lois.
"What's goin' on up there? It's been twenty minutes!" Clark nervously paced the length of the kitchen, one hand shoved into his pockets, the other he ran through his hair.
"Clark, honey, try to relax. I'm sure she's doing whatever she can," Martha said gently.
"Mom, the whole time I was on New Krypton, the only thing that kept me going, the only thing that mattered to me, was coming home to Lois. I dreamt about her every night. Holding her, making love…" he stopped and lowered his eyes, blushing. His bold admission didn't faze his parents though. They knew how deeply he loved her and wanted to be with her. "When the war ended, all I could think of was being with her…" his voice trailed off.
"Son, that future is not gone." His father told him. "Lois will get better; if not because of the doctor, then because of you!" Just then the doctor appeared in the door.
"Well?" Clark prompted. Dr. Milagro regarded him for a moment.
"She will recover," she declared simply. Clark closed his eyes in relief as she continued. "I believe her condition is psychologically induced; I think she's protecting herself. You described to me the previous traumas she experienced and I think that deep down, she tied the event with Lex Luthor to your absence, Clark. Now, I am not comparing you to Luthor, only the experience. She was hurt once, so when you disappeared, her heart believed you'd come back, but her mind believed she'd been betrayed. She's in a psychological tug-of-war right now. But I believe the damage can be reversed."
"How?" Clark was desperate to know.
The doctor thought out loud to herself for a moment. "You said you two aren't married, but she said she'd your wife," she tapped her chin thoughtfully, "she believed you'd come back, said you promised…now thinks you won't, feels betrayed…" She stopped. "I think I may have a solution." A beat. "Clark, I think you should become intimate with Lois," she stated matter-of-factly.
Clark was aghast. "What?! I can't do that! I won't do that!" He stood up angrily.
"Clark…" Dr. Milagro began.
"Doctor, I'm sorry, but as much as I want to," he paused as images of intimacy with Lois flooded his mind, "I won't take advantage of her in her condition."
"Clark, your becoming intimate with Lois may be the only thing to bring her out of her condition!" She explained. "Clark, she feels betrayed. She doesn't know that consciously, because she's holding on so fiercely to the belief that you'll come back! But sub-consciously she feels that yet again, another man has abandoned her. Now you know that's not true, now it's up to you to make her see that." She spoke reasonably, but he still wasn't quite convinced.
"But still, to make love to her while she's like this…"
"I'm not saying you actually have to make love to her, Clark."
"But, you just said…" he began confused.
"What I meant was, be in more physical contact with her. Do more than hold her hand or kiss her cheek. The contact has to be more substantial, more tangible."
Suddenly, Clark understood. He had to do what he'd been doing all along. He just had to love her. He and Lois hadn't actually made love yet, though they had come pretty damn close a few times; the virtual world, the new-age Nazis. Yes, he had been intimate with Lois, and without taking that last step. That's what he had to do. He looked at Dr. Milagro and smiled. "I think I know what you mean. I know what I have to do." He turned to go upstairs.
"Where are you going, son?" his father asked.
"I'm going to bring Lois back, Dad. I'm going to love her," he announced simply, and headed to his room.
He closed the door, locked it, and went over to Lois, who was still murmuring to herself. He knelt in front of her, taking both her hands in his.
"Honey, can you hear me?" No response. "Lois, sweetheart, it's me, Clark. I'm right here, my love, and I'm not going anywhere until you look at me and know I'm really here. I love you Lois, and I'm going to bring you back to me." With that, he lifted her out of the chair and into his arms. He carried her over to the bed and gently placed her on it. He settled next to her, gathering her closely in his arms. Suddenly, her quiet ranting stopped. He looked at her, but her eyes were still glazed and unseeing.
Wrapping his arms around her, he began to kiss her. He brushed his lips against her cheeks, loving the feel of her soft skin on his lips.
He could feel her relax in his embrace, so he slowly lowered her to the bed, letting his body cover hers slightly. His hands gently explored her body, touching her familiar curves. He remembered every hidden spot that made her shiver, gasp and moan. His lips moved over her cheeks to her lips. He kissed her slowly, longingly, letting his love for her be his guide.
Clark's departure from the kitchen was so abrupt even the doctor was slightly in awe. "I…didn't expect him to go so suddenly," she remarked rather mildly.
"Clark has always been thoughtful, patient and kind, but he never was one to waste any time," his mother replied.
"Well, I told him he didn't necessarily have to make love with her. I hope whatever he does to bring her back works."
Jonathan and Martha Kent exchanged a knowing look.
"Clark's a smart boy," his father began.
"And he loves Lois with all his heart," his mother chimed in. "Whatever he does will work."
Dr. Milagro nodded, then checked her watch. "My goodness, I need to be getting back to the hotel. I'll stop by first thing tomorrow if you want me to."
"Thank you, Doctor, yes," Martha answered.
"Let me see you to the door," Jonathan offered, and she accepted, following him out. After he saw her out he went upstairs. He found his wife in their room, sitting up in bed reading a book. He got into bed next to her and draped his arms around her shoulders.
"I'm so glad Clark is home, Martha."
She set her book on the side table and rested her head on his shoulder. "Me too. I missed him so much. My little boy, and I was so afraid we'd never see him again. But more than that." She sighed. "That girl needs him, and he needs her."
He kissed his way from her mouth to her jaw, then over to her ear, which he began to nibble. Involuntarily, she gasped. His heart lifted so he continued to nibble her earlobe, taking the delicate lobe of flesh between his teeth. Sliding his tongue along the outer ridges of her ear, he whispered her name.
"Lois…Lois, honey, I love you. Please come back to me…" His breath was warm on her flesh and she gasped again. His motivation, and desire, increasing with her each shuddering breath, he kissed his way to the spot between her ear and jaw, which he knew to be ultra-sensitive. He shifted his weight to cover her more, pressing her into the bed. He nuzzled her jaw as his hands kept exploring, all the while whispering words of his undying love to her. This went on for hours. As his parents slept soundly down the hall, Clark continued to love Lois, holding her, kissing her, caressing her, his rampant desire not for her to respond to his love (that could wait till later), but for her to respond to his presence. If she would look him in the eyes and say his name, knowing he was there, that he had come home, and would never betray her, he could wait for the physical confirmation of their love. After all, what was true love, if not patient?
His loving ministrations continued through the night, with Clark holding his beloved in his powerful, gentle arms. He never left her side, and his lips gave voice to what was in his heart.
"I will always love you. And I always come back."
Dawn came to Smallville once again, shining her light on the Kent farmhouse. Only this time no one was already hard at work repairing fences or milking cows. It wasn't quite morning, the sky just beginning to trade the stars for the yellow and pink hues of light.
Clark, who usually had the patience of Job, was starting to feel disheartened. Lois had lain in his arms all night, eyes blinking tiredly, showing no signs of recognition in their brown depths. He cupped her cheek in his palm, lacing his fingers through her long brown hair. He bent to place a tender kiss on her forehead, and as he did, a single tear slid down his cheek, moistening her skin.
"Oh Lois," he breathed, "please come back. I can't do this myself. I need you." He raised his head to gaze into her eyes.
Then it happened. From the corner of his eye he saw it. He turned his head to see her arm some up and felt her hand on the back of his head. Then he looked at her, her eyes had cleared and she was gazing at him, as if trying to remember something. Then she spoke in a quiet, but clear voice.
He watched her intently as her brown eyes searched his face, studying him.
"Lois?" he asked, trying to keep his excitement in check. "Honey?"
Suddenly her arms came between them, and she raised her hands to his face, touching his lips, cheeks, nose, eyes, forehead, repeating the process several times. He could hear her heartbeat growing steadily faster, and her breathing quickening beneath him. Finally her eyes locked with his.
"Clark?!" she asked in a slightly louder, trembling voice. "Is it…really you?"
Tears began to fill his eyes as he responded. "Yes, my love, it's me!"
Her eyes were now welling up as she ran anxious hands through his hair and over his face. "You came back! You came back!"
"Yes," he kissed her forehead. "I came back to you," he kissed her cheeks, "I promised you I would," he dipped his head and captured her lips in a gentle, but demanding kiss. "And I always will," he murmured against her lips.
She gasped sharply, and eagerly wrapped her arms around the man she loved, secure in the knowledge that he'd always come back. "Oh Clark," she breathed between heated kisses, "Clark…don't ever leave me again…please, don't ever leave…" Her words were lost as their mouths fused, tongues danced, and hands explored.
The bright light of day found the two young lovers asleep, wrapped tightly in each other's arms. Clark awoke first, and just watched his Lois sleep. He lightly traced her features with his fingers, still in awe of her beauty after all these years. She took a deep breath and her eyes fluttered open and looked right into his.
"It wasn't a dream," she whispered.
"Nope, I'm right here." He bent his head and kissed her deeply. He came up for air when he heard voices downstairs. "You wanna go get some breakfast?"
She touched the side of his face. "Only if you come with me."
He carefully got up and gently helped her to her feet. She wobbled slightly, but he was there with his strong arms around her waist. She smiled up at him, rested her head on his shoulder, and together they walked downstairs.
His parents were sipping coffee with Dr. Milagro when Lois and Clark appeared in the door.
"Morning everyone!" Clark said cheerfully, grinning from ear to ear.
"Morning everyone." Lois said quietly, but confidently.
"Oh honey!" Martha ran to Lois and hugged her. "It's so good to see you…I'm so glad you're," she stopped and said simply, "I'm so happy you're feeling better."
"Thank you, Martha," she smiled. Jonathan patted Clark on the shoulder and kissed Lois lightly on the cheek.
"Whatever you did to help her son, it must've worked." That was all he said, though everyone in the room had a pretty good idea what Clark had done. Clark glanced at Dr. Milagro, who'd been watching the entire scene.
"Thank you, Doctor, for all your help." The doctor merely shrugged.
"All I did was tell you what you already knew. You did the rest, Clark; you brought her back." She stood up and gathered her briefcase. "If you'll all excuse me, my work here is done." She turned to the door, but Lois stopped her.
"Doctor, wait…" The doctor turned around.
"Milagro. Doesn't that mean 'miracle'?"
The doctor smiled. "Yes it does. Strange, isn't it?" With that she nodded to everyone, bid them good-bye, and left.
"Well, I've gotta get this day started!" Jonathan exclaimed. "I'll see you for lunch Lois," he said, winking.
"Why don't you two kids have a seat. I'll be right back," Martha said and left the room. Lois and Clark sat at the kitchen table, and were silent for a moment.
"Clark, I'm so sorry," she blurted out.
"What?" he asked, startled.
"I'm so sorry. You told me you would come back to me. And when you didn't right away, I assumed you'd abandoned me, like all the other men in my life." She began to cry. "I'm so ashamed for doubting you." He got up from his chair and knelt before her, taking her hands in his one, and wiping away her tears with the other.
"Lois, I want to you hear me, really hear me." He looked deep into her eyes. "When I left for New Krypton, it was the hardest thing I ever had to do. And then I came home and saw you…" he stopped. "When I found you had become…sick, believing I had deserted you, I wanted to die." He paused. "Now, I can't promise that I won't have to leave you to do something as Superman, but as God as my witness Lois, I promise you, I will always come back to you."
Her eyes filled with tears, because she knew in the depths of her heart that he meant what he said.
"You must do me this honor. You must promise me that you won't give up. No matter what happens, no matter how hopeless." He gripped her hand. "Promise me now, Lois, and never let go of that promise."
"I promise," she choked through her tears.
"Never let go…" he repeated.
"I won't let go, Clark, I'll never let go."