By CarolM <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: October 2007
Summary: A New Krypton story in which Lois and Clark are married when Zara tells them that she's already married to Kal-El. And there are dire consequences for everyone involved if Clark won't renounce Lois forever. Sequel to the author's "In Sickness and In Health."
This takes place instead of the NK arc, and in the same universe as my "In Sickness and In Health" and picks up where it leaves off.
Thanks to Bethy for Beta-ing this for me and to Anna [Bananna] for her invaluable help with Kryptonian naming practices!
The characters etc. don't belong to me [well, most of them don't — some of the NKers do…]. If they did, I would be rich and I could hire someone to clean my house so I could write fic all day…
Lois rested her head on the ceiling, then nestled into Clark's arms. "Wow."
Clark smiled — a slow, sexy smile. "I know."
"That was…" Lois was actually lost for words.
"I mean…" Clark was speechless as well.
"Exactly." Lois smiled back at him.
"The only thing I'd like more would be…" Clark smiled that smile again.
Lois smiled back. "…more."
And then he kissed her again.
Lois yawned and stretched in bed. One of those long, cat like stretches that one finds necessary after a particularly good night's sleep.
Then she shivered.
It took less than a split second for a number of thoughts to run through her mind.
She was wearing something soft, like flannel.
There were no covers and it was February.
She was wearing her wedding ring.
And Clark wasn't next to her.
Her eyes opened as she recalled the events of the day before.
Her amnesia was gone.
She'd punched Deter.
And Clark had come home and they had the most glorious night together. Being with him was better than she had ever imagined and she knew he felt the same. They had to have set some kind of record — even for newlyweds — but maybe a little 'superness' had something to do with that.
So where was he?
A snore startled her and she rolled onto her back.
He was floating.
He'd warned her about that.
So the question was whether to let him sleep or find a way to join him up there and pick up where they left off a few hours earlier.
She decided on the latter, but not until she'd taken care of a couple of morning things — like going to the bathroom and a little bit of mouthwash to get that morning breath feeling out of her mouth — because running the water to brush her teeth would wake Clark up and she wanted to be the one to do that.
It was the most wonderful sensation.
Clark hovered in that land between awake and asleep and wondered what he'd been dreaming about that would leave such wonderful sensations behind.
He felt the weight on his body and realized he wasn't alone.
He couldn't feel the bed below him, which meant he must be floating.
So who was with him and how did she get there?
He opened his eyes to see the sparkling brown ones of one Lois Lane and it all came back to him.
She was now his wife in every sense of the word.
And apparently she wanted more.
They'd wound up on the ceiling after the first time the night before and they'd agreed the only thing they'd like more was… more.
So they had.
But apparently it hadn't been enough for his little tornado and he would be happy to oblige.
"It's a wonderful morning," Lois mumbled between kisses on his chest.
"I could get used to waking up like this."
Clark wrapped his arms around her and pulled up to him so that he could kiss her the way she deserved to be kissed.
What seemed like days later, they were on the ceiling again.
"More was right." Lois sighed contentedly.
"But I think, Superman, that you've worn me out."
"Breakfast is definitely in order."
Something suddenly occurred to Lois and she tried to sit up. But she forgot they were on the ceiling and all she succeeded in doing was hitting her head.
"Are you okay?"
"Clark, we forgot something."
"No, Perry gave us the week off since we never went on our honeymoon."
"We have food and if we want something else, I can go get whatever we want."
"Protection? I'm Superman. What more protection do you need?"
"Not that kind of protection. The baby kind."
"Clark, I'm not on birth control. I was going to be but with the Deter fiasco…"
"I'll go talk to Bernie. See if it's even possible for me to have kids. And until we know for sure, you can go on birth control and until *that* kicks in, we'll use something else. And until then," he kissed her nose. "We won't worry about it. What happens, happens."
Lois nodded. "It's too late now anyway." Her stomach rumbled. "How about that breakfast?"
Lois put back on the flannel shirt of Clark's that she'd slept in. He'd commented earlier how much he liked it, especially when it was barely buttoned, so she saw no reason to change — besides it was comfortable and smelled like him — with just a touch of volcano, mudslide and earthquake from the day before mixed in.
She reclined on the couch trying to sear every minute of the night before into her memory when she was, she felt, rudely interrupted by a knock on the door.
"It's urgent. I must speak with Clark Kent immediately."
"Miss Lane, it is EXTREMELY important that I speak with Mr. Kent this moment."
"'Miss Lane' got married and GO AWAY!" She yawned. She hadn't decided for sure if she was going to change her name or not, but for today, 'Miss Lane' wasn't going to cut it.
"I will break down the door if I have to."
"You'll be quite embarrassed — we're on our honeymoon!"
"I must speak with Mr. Kent. It's a matter of life and death for Kal-El."
That made Lois sit up.
"You know who I'm talking about, Miss Lane."
Lois stood and walked up the stairs to Clark's door. She peeked through and was shocked to see one of the researchers from the Planet standing there.
She quickly buttoned a couple more buttons on the shirt and opened the door.
"What do you want, Sarah?"
"You do remember me this time."
"I told you I would. Now, what do you want?" Lois was beyond annoyed at this time.
"I have an urgent need to talk to Mr. Kent about Kal-El. It's a life or death matter."
"What makes you think Clark knows anything about Kal-El? Who *is* Kal-El anyway?"
"Miss Lane, you and I both know that a certain mild-mannered reporter is much more than he appears to be."
Lois eyed her warily. "Perhaps you'd best come in. But I assure you, it is in your best interest not to refer to me as 'Miss Lane' again. I'm married to Mr. Kent."
"No, Miss Lane, you're not. You see, Mr. Kent — Kal-El — is already married… to me."
Lois stormed around the room. She'd refused to go put on some more normal clothes, despite the pronouncement from this stranger that she wasn't married to Clark. This was her honeymoon, dammit, and she wasn't going to let this… this… hussy ruin it for her.
Sarah had done very little explaining, except to say that Kal-El was married before he left Krypton and that if he violated that marriage on earth — even if he was unaware of it — there would be dire consequences for him, his earth wife and her — his Kryptonian wife, but since he'd been unaware, he would have one — and only one — chance to set things right. If he refused… well, she didn't say what would happen, but Lois had the distinct impression it wouldn't be good.
She thought of hollering for Clark, but didn't want to give Sarah the satisfaction and so she roamed the room muttering to herself and mentally cursing any archaic system that would marry their children off before birth as Sarah claimed.
"You might want to sit down, Miss Lane. Mr. Kent won't be home for some time."
"And just how do you know that?"
"There was a train wreck in upstate New Troy. Toxic chemicals were involved and *Superman* is busy helping clean up."
"How do you know?"
"Oh, so you think you're super, too?"
"No, I'm Kryptonian. I've been on earth long enough for some powers to start manifesting."
Lois glared at her and continued her pacing. "If it's going to be that long, perhaps you should go and I'll pass your message along."
"No, Miss Lane, I believe I'll stay right here."
Clark heard his wife — what a wonderful word that was — muttering to herself long before he ever reached the apartment. Even superhearing had a hard time making out what she was saying though and he resigned himself to waiting until he arrived home to find out what it was.
He hated that he'd been away from her for so long, but knew that she'd understand.
He landed on the balcony and spun back into something much more comfortable and, he hoped, much more sexy than the suit — though he knew there were those who would claim the suit was quite sexy. Maybe he'd have to give Lois that show she'd asked for sometime.
As Lois paced around the wall that separated the bedroom from the living area, he could tell she was deep in thought about something — and they weren't the happy thoughts he'd left her with.
He waited until she was close to reentering the living quarters when he slid in behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist and nuzzling her ear.
"What's wrong, Mrs. Kent?"
She jumped, and before she could say anything, his lips were on hers and he lost himself in her kiss.
It left even him breathless and he started to pull her back towards the bed when she pushed away.
He could see she was having some trouble regaining her composure, though he couldn't for the life of him figure out why she'd need to.
"…we have company."
He stared at her, wide-eyed. How could he have been so careless? There was someone else here? A quick scan with his hearing verified another heartbeat nearby — one that sounded a touch… off. Did they hear or see him come in? Was the secret out? Was it someone they could trust?
"Miss Lane, I'll thank you to get your hands off my husband."
The voice startled him and Clark looked over to see a young woman he recognized as Sarah from the Daily Planet standing in their bedroom, hands on hips and looking at them quite disapprovingly.
"Excuse me?" Clark raised an eyebrow. "I think you're mistaken. I'm married to Lois, no one else." He put his arms back around Lois and pulled her to him. "Now, if you'll excuse us, we have a honeymoon to get back to."
He drew Lois even closer to him and made a point to turn his back on the intruder. He kissed her gently and could feel her reservation.
"Lois, honey, what do you say I go find Superman and get him to take us somewhere a little more… private?"
Lois pushed herself back from him again. "Clark, I think we need to listen to what Sarah has to say." There was pain and confusion in her eyes, he could see it. "She says she's married to Kal-El and has been since they were born."
They sat on the couch — Lois in a slightly more buttoned shirt of Clark's and a pair of comfy shorts, Clark out of his silk boxers and matching shirt and in a pair of sweat shorts and T-shirt — as they listened to Sarah's story. Clark pulled Lois close to him on the couch, wanting to embrace her as much as he could, comforting her during what was to come.
"Please, I'm Clark. I have been since my parents found me in Kansas decades ago."
Sarah stared at him and continued. "Kal-El…"
Lois muttered under her breath something about how some people never listen and never learn earning her a glare from their visitor.
"… is from the planet Krypton. It was destroyed a number of years ago and he was sent here by his parents, Jor-El and Lara. A number of other Kryptonians were also able to escape at the last minute and we have formed a new world on another planet — New Krypton.
"Before we left, Kal-El was sent to earth. Before that, we were married, legally, on the planet Krypton. In fact, we were married before we were even born."
Clark opened his mouth to interrupt but was stopped by the look on Sarah's face and a raised hand.
"In Kryptonian society, members of the ruling class are married before they're born, to insure that the line remains pure and that there will always be an heir."
"An heir?" Clark managed to get the question in.
"Yes, an heir to the throne of Krypton. It's not a society anything like you would find here on earth, but the leader of Krypton is very important. Kal-El, you are next in line to be maharajah and you are to take the throne and take on your duties as maharajah before your next birthday. Because you were not raised in Kryptonian society, you were not to be told until today — one year before you must take your rightful place on New Krypton."
"Uh, Sarah — listen — before you go any further, a maharajah is a ruling prince in India." It was Lois who had spoken.
"That is the closest earth translation to the Kryptonian word, Miss Lane, and I'll thank you to not interrupt again."
Lois glared at her, but Clark's gentle squeeze on her shoulder helped her to hold her tongue.
"Because your father, the last true maharajah, was killed when Krypton exploded, Lor-Van, your mother's father, took over the duties until you become of age to do so. He is in quite poor health and is not expected to live until you are to take over the throne yourself. The Council will rule collectively until you take the throne."
"You're assuming quite a lot, Sarah. What makes you think I will come to New Krypton with you?"
"You have no choice. It is your duty and you must abide by it."
"No, I mustn't. You can't make me do anything."
"First, you must let me finish my story and then you will understand."
Clark sighed and nodded.
"My name is not Sarah, it's Zara Tal-Ra of the house of Ra. It was decided before our birth that we would be the next rulers of Krypton. Unfortunately, Krypton was destroyed along with both of our parents. You were sent here, but the ship that was to carry me was destroyed in an accident and I was quite fortunate to make it on to the ship that took us to New Krypton.
"According to Kryptonian law, you are not allowed to marry or to… consummate a relationship with anyone but your birth wife, me, the next maharani of Krypton. The consequences are quite dire and will affect all three of us. Once married, concubines are permitted, but under very strict conditions including sterility on the part of the concubine. The main purpose of the maharani is to produce an heir, which is practically guaranteed on New Krypton. Consummation of the marriage is the preferred way, but all maharani undergo significant fertility testing so that any problems are known before hand and other measures can be undertaken if the need arises. Concubines are always sterile and there will be no other heirs to the throne of Krypton but those produced by the maharani." Zara gave Lois a forbidding look as though daring her to be pregnant.
"Should a concubine become pregnant and the maharajah is determined to be the father, both the concubine and the child, once delivered, are placed in the molecular disbander and their molecules scattered over countless distant galaxies. The reason for this is that the concubine must not have gone through the proper vetting procedures and it is the maharajah's duty to make certain that any woman he beds has been properly approved. The child is illegitimate and waiting until after the birth serves to remind the maharajah that all rules are to be followed strictly."
Lois and Clark sat stunned as they listened not only to the open acceptance of infidelity but the strict punishment for unknowingly impregnating a concubine.
"The molecular disbander is the fate that awaits the three of us if Kal-El does not renounce his marriage and come with me to New Krypton."
"Clark, what are we going to do?" Lois paced anxiously around the bedroom. "You're a married man and if you don't renounce me, then we all get molecularly disbanded. That doesn't sound like a good thing to me."
Clark sat wearily on the bed and held his head in his hands. Zara had left momentarily to contact the ship that was apparently orbiting the earth.
"I don't know, honey."
"Did you see how she dared me to be pregnant? Like I could be pregnant! I mean I *could* be pregnant but it'll be weeks before we know!"
"I know. Unless a Kryptonian-human baby develops faster, it'll be at least a week before I could even tell with x-ray and telescopic vision."
"You can do that?"
"Yeah, I did it for a lady once in a car accident. She'd been trying to get pregnant and thought they'd finally been successful and was worried about the baby. I was able to tell her that everything looked fine, though her positive pregnancy test didn't come back for another week. She even sent me a picture of the baby and thanked me for taking care of them."
"Okay. So how would it even help us if I was pregnant?"
"Well, you wouldn't be… disbanded until after the baby was born…"
Lois rolled her eyes at him. "And then both the baby and I would be, along with you and Zara — how does that help, Clark?" She paced some more. "And I fail to see why Zara would be disbanded anyway. Like it's her fault you *consummated* with someone else!"
"Is that really the part that you want to focus on?"
"No, it just occurred to me. You know women's lib and all."
"So how do we deal with this?"
"I guess we start with asking Zara for all the rules and by-laws and such of New Krypton and you can speed read them looking for a loop hole."
A light shimmered in the room and Zara appeared.
"Kal-El, Miss Lane, you are to return to the ship with me and we will head towards New Krypton where the trial will commence and you will have your chance to renounce your marriage."
Clark looked at her. "And what if I refuse to go? If I don't go, I can't stand trial and I can't be disbanded or whatever, right?"
Zara shook her head. "That's not the way it works. If you have to be taken forcibly, which we can do, then the disbanding will be preceded by years of hard forced labor."
"You can force me to go."
"Both of you. The transport beam will activate on my command and we all will be sent to the ship. If you go willingly, you and I will be expected to consummate our relationship immediately. We will then proceed towards New Krypton where the trial and your decision will be broadcast formally. Miss Lane will be returned to Earth. If you must be taken forcibly, then you will be kept in a locked cell. The same goes for Miss Lane. If we get to New Krypton and you still refuse to renounce your marriage to Miss Lane, you will spend twenty years in hard labor and then be disintegrated while Miss Lane and I both will be disintegrated immediately."
"And what if I am pregnant? Then don't we all have to wait till the baby's born to be disbanded?" Lois glared at the other woman.
"No. Because Kal-El and I have not consummated the relationship, any baby would not be that of a concubine and therefore both mother and baby will be disintegrated immediately."
Lois sighed. So much for that plan.
"If you go willingly, Miss Lane will have plush accommodations as a special friend of the future maharajah and will be treated accordingly."
Clark heard Zara's voice in his head.
Trust me, Kal-El. It is better for us all if you both go willingly. I have watched you with Miss Lane and I know how you feel for her. Feelings are not something we put much emphasis on, but I know they do on Earth.
How is this possible? Clark was surprised when he thought something back to her.
Kryptonians are telepathic and telepathic conversations between a birth husband and wife are protected and cannot be intercepted or recorded. Please you must trust me.
Why should I trust you?
You have no other choice.
And if I come willingly, I'm expected to… you know with you and I'm sorry Zara, but that won't happen.
We'll find a way around it, I promise.
I don't know yet, but we will. Most of how I have been acting towards Miss Lane is for the benefits of those watching us. They must not know that we are going to work together.
What if I go willingly but refuse to consummate until the trial? Would that buy us some time?
I'm afraid not. Miss Lane will be seen as the reason for your refusal and disintegrated immediately.
Clark sighed and ran his hands through his hair. I don't know what to do, Zara.
You have to trust me.
Is there any way I can have private conversation with Lois?
I'm afraid not. Is there some sort of code word that the two of you have to indicate that things will all work out or some sort of danger code that you could reverse or something?
No — usually she just yells, "Help, Superman!" and I come flying.
I'm sorry, Kal-El, but you must convince her to come. If you come willingly and she does not, it will not be good for her.
I'll try. Will you give us a minute?
Lois turned from the window where she'd been staring up at the sky, wondering where the Kryptonian ship was. "Yes, Clark?" She hadn't even noticed Zara disappear.
"We have to talk, but they're monitoring the conversation."
"How do you know?"
"Zara told me. Apparently, Kryptonians are telepathic."
"Really? So you've been standing here having a conversation with your *wife* in front of me without me hearing a thing?"
"Something like that." Clark walked to her side and turned her to face him. "I hate this as much as you do, but you have to trust me, we need to go voluntarily."
"Like hell I will!" Lois wrenched away from him. "I am not turning you over to *consummate* with that… that… hussy!"
"Lois, remember when I froze you?"
She looked at him in bewilderment. "Yes."
"It took a lot of trust on both of our parts to do that and you need to trust me now. It's for the best." Clark looked at her and implored her to trust him, to read in his eyes that everything would be find, that they'd work it all out.
"Are you sure?"
Lois sighed. Once they were on that bloody ship, Clark could find a loophole of some kind and the consummation would never take place — he wouldn't let it. She knew that.
Or she thought she did.
Lois closed her eyes and when she opened them again, she was in a room that rivaled the most luxurious hotel in Metropolis. The window showed a scene of what she thought was the Himalayas — Mt. Everest in particular. That didn't make any sense — Zara had said that the ship was orbiting the earth. Lois took a closer look and realized that she could change the picture. She punched the 'live' button and saw stars streaking by and a blue spot in the distance that she could only assume was Earth.
A soft pinging sound caught her attention. It seemed to be a doorbell of some kind. She looked around to find the door, but couldn't find it. "Come in? I don't know how to open the door."
A panel slid open in the wall and a woman entered. She appeared to be old enough to be Lois' mother and had a matronly air about her. She wore a flowing white garment with the familiar Superman logo on it in silver. "Miss Lane, I am Dara Mar-El. I am the wife of Jor-El's second cousin. Jor-El was the father of Kal-El, who you know as Clark Kent or Superman."
"I know who Jor-El is." Lois tried not to snap at the lady who she was sure had nothing to do with the predicament they were in.
"My apologies, Miss Lane. I have not been informed about how much you know about what is going on."
"I know that I'm going to be disbanded or something if Clark, Kal-El, doesn't renounce our marriage or if I happen to be pregnant."
Dara nodded. "Yes, Miss Lane. That is the law."
"So why are you here?"
"I'm to help you while you are on board."
"Help me with what?"
"Anything you need. How to get food. Where clothes are. How things on New Krypton work. Anything you need."
"How to get my husband back?"
"Miss Lane, I understand where you are coming from — not truly as things are very different on Earth than on New Krypton but I have been briefed — however, for your sake, I would recommend that you be cautious and not refer to Kal-El as your husband. There are those who would send you to the molecular disbander for consummating your relationship with Kal-El, though neither one of you knew it would be considered an offense. It is for your own safety that I recommend this."
Lois sighed. "And you?"
"It's not my place to pass any judgment but to instruct you on how protocols work and so on."
"So what now?"
"You will stay here for the next period of time. You will witness some official proceedings involving Kal-El and Zara Tal-Ra from an ante room. There will be an area of the ship that you will be allowed to roam freely, an area that will be restricted and you will only be allowed with an escort and an area off limits to you."
"I hate restrictions."
"I am aware, but our tracking systems are much more advanced than those of earth and there is simply no way for you to get into the restricted areas."
Lois muttered a 'we'll see' to herself but seemingly resigned herself to the rules Dara had outlined.
"First, you will need to dress for the welcoming ceremony." Dara walked to a floor length mirror. "This, like many other services you will need, is what you would call a touch screen. Come stand on the mark here." Lois stood at the mark indicated and watched as Dara touched the side of the mirror. There was a shimmering effect in the mirror and suddenly Lois saw herself dressed in clothes similar to those Dara was wearing. When she looked down, she was still in Clark's shirt and her favorite shorts. "It projects the clothing you choose so that you can decide on an outfit without having to change clothes a dozen times."
Lois was impressed. "Very handy."
"Yes, it is. Now, I will show you three different outfits and you will choose between them."
Lois nodded and watched as the mirror shimmered again. This time she appeared to be dressed in a shimmering red outfit and then with a silver one. She pondered the choices. "Will I see Clark?"
"No, Kal-El and Zara will be in another room. You will watch through a one way mirror."
Lois sighed. "Who else will be there?"
"I'll be with you along with several other observers, including members of the maharajah's staff. Participating in the ceremony will be Lord Kal-El, Lady Zara, members of the ruling council which Kal-El will become the head of on his next birthday, as well as other members of the ruling class."
Lois sighed again. "The silver one I guess." It did look best on her and she hoped that Clark might catch a glimpse of her at some point.
Dara showed her which button to push and started to push it.
"What will happen to these clothes?"
"They will be incinerated."
Tears welled up in Lois' eyes. "Please, I'm already losing my husband, can't I please keep my clothes?"
Dara paused for a moment and then nodded her assent. She punched another button. "They'll be tucked under the pillow on your bed."
Lois felt shimmery — something she didn't know was possible — and when the sensation faded, she was dressed in the silver outfit she'd chosen.
"Now, are you hungry?"
"I'll show you how the food service works." Dara walked to a picture of fruit bowl on the wall. "This is also what you would call a touch screen monitor. You simply touch it…" she demonstrated. "… and a menu comes up. You make your choices and a tray will come out of an opening below. Please, come try it."
Lois walked to her side and punched at the computer screen a few times. The wall below opened and a tray slid out — complete with seven different kinds of chocolate — and she muttered about how Jetson-like this was.
"Miss Lane, I'm afraid that's not the most healthy of meals."
Lois glared at her. "If I'm losing my husband, I'm having chocolate. Now, what happens if I get ice cream all over my clothes."
"You won't. They are self-cleaning."
Lois set the tray down on the little table near the fireplace — that had what appeared to be a real fire in it — and dug in.
No sooner than she had finished, Dara moved from her place near the mirror and informed her it was time for them to head to the ceremony.
Clark's experience was similar in many ways to that of Lois, but in many ways was quite different.
He also found himself in a well-appointed room but this one was part of a suite. One doorway led to a luxurious bedroom and another led to an office of sorts. Further back in the office was another door to a conference room of some kind that also appeared to have a door to a corridor so that those coming to the conference room wouldn't have to go through the suite. The main room, the one he was in, was living quarters of some kind.
He listened intently, trying to hear Lois' heartbeat but instead all he heard was Zara.
Don't, Kal-El. Your super powers are gone now that you are on board the ship and anything you do to try to connect with Lois will be seen as a rejection of the terms under which you are here.
I understand. But why is it that the trial isn't until we get to New Krypton, but we're still expected to consummate on board?
It is how the law is written. Perhaps it was so that it would be easier to renounce your relationship with Miss Lane or harder to renounce your relationship with me.
Clark sighed and told Zara he would talk to her later. A soft chime caught his attention and he instinctively said, "Come."
A door opened and a man walked in. He was dressed in a very similar fashion to the way Jor-El had been in the messages on his globe.
"Lord Kal-El, I am Mar-El, your father's second cousin. It will be my responsibility to help look after you until Zara is permitted to do so. After that, I will be what you might call a concierge for the remainder of our journey to New Krypton."
Mar-El showed Clark the same things his wife had shown Lois except Clark had no choice in what he was going to wear. For now, he was told, he was expected to wear a black suit similar to his supersuit but without the cape and briefs. The emblem on his chest was the same electric blue of the supersuit.
"Lord Kal-El, let me walk you through what is going to happen at the ceremony we are about to take part in." He started with the formalities of how they would be introduced and finished with Clark and Zara heading back here to consummate their marriage.
Clark sighed. He knew he couldn't show any outward sign of the frustration that he felt and how upset the whole thing was making him.
"And now, sir, it's time for us to go."
Clark nodded and followed Mar-El through the door. As he'd been told, he took a place slightly in front of his new companion and listened to the telepathic direction he was given to get him through the winding hallways until they reached a large room, obviously set up for a ceremony of some kind.
Clark and Zara returned to the room where Clark had been previously. The ceremony had been short and to the point, similar in some ways to a marriage ceremony on Earth but very different in other ways. There had been mention of the consequences should he refuse to consummate his marriage to Zara — though he didn't see the marriage was legal in the first place if he was already married to Lois.
Kal-El, Zara thought at him, I know this is difficult, but I think I have a way out. You'll have to trust me.
Clark sighed aloud. Do I have a choice?
Then I'll have to trust you.
Lois and Dara Mar-El will be here shortly. They will need to see us in a… compromising position. Dara, though a distant relative of yours, will report back what she sees regardless of the consequences to you, me or Lois.
Trust me, Kal-El, there is no other way. Perhaps you will be able to give Lois some subtle sign that Dara will not pick up on to let her know it is a charade.
Clark immediately thought of a way to — hopefully — let Lois know what was going on. Okay, I think I know how to do that, but what then?
Well, when you and Lois… were first together, did you feel a different connection to her than you had before?
The same is true of Kryptonians, but different. When a Kryptonian couple, especially a couple who are also members of nobility, consummate they experience something similar to the Vulcan mind meld of the Earth movies. There is a connection that is obvious to anyone with telepathic abilities.
There is a way around it, but there is potential risk
A young member of my security staff, Ching, has managed to obtain a sample of a Kryptonian disease to which you have no immunity. It is similar to both the chicken pox and mumps that you may have come in contact with on Earth. To most children it is a mild annoyance and to most adults it is relatively serious requiring hospitalization, but rarely has long term effects. Occasionally, with both children and adults, serious complications arise that can lead to lifetime disabilities or even death, but these instances are rare.
How will this help?
You will become relatively ill quickly. You may be required to go to sick bay for the duration of the illness. If not, you will be taken care of here. Either way, we will not be expected to consummate the relationship while you are so ill.
Good plan. How long will I be sick?
Probably a week or so, long enough for us to get close enough to New Krypton to transport back to the planet.
Clark nodded his assent.
Now, Lois will be here momentarily. Dara will accompany her. The way the door system works, a door will open to a chamber such as this for an invited guest — which Lois and Dara are — unless the door is locked, which it will not be. When they enter, they will find us in the bedroom in at least a partial state of undress. There will be no… visuals if you will, and it will be as much for show as possible. You will become ill not long afterwards and we will be unable to finish what they believe we've started. The whole point of Lois' visit is for her to see us together. You will have to reassure her, without reassuring her, does that make sense?
Zara tilted her head to one side. They're coming. We have about two minutes. Take this. She gave him a tablet, which he swallowed. You should begin feeling the effects in about 20 minutes.
She helped Clark with the back of his suit so that it hung from his waist, baring his chest. He turned while she did the same and then climbed under the opulent covers and called to Clark in a sultry voice.
Clark took a deep breath, turned and walked towards her, quickly covering the ground towards the bed. He lowered himself onto the bed, just to her side. He closed his eyes and tried desperately not to imagine Lois for fear that someone would somehow read his thoughts.
He reached out and brushed Zara's hair back from her face and leaned in as though to kiss her when there was a whooshing sound caused him to turn towards the door, careful to have a look of surprise and annoyance on his face. The door to the bedroom was open and gave a full view to anyone walking into the main living quarters.
"Lois!" He did his best to look guilty as he pulled an extra cover over the top of Zara, who propped herself up on her elbows and looked annoyed as well.
"Clark!" He could hear the tears in her voice.
"Lois, listen, I'm married to Zara now. It's the way it is. Now, I'm sorry you had to see this, but really it's no different than when that maid walked in on us when we were in the honeymoon suite at the Lexor." He silently prayed that she would remember what he was talking about — their first real undercover assignment when he'd thrown her on the bed and kissed her because he'd overheard a maid coming to their room.
He saw her eyes narrow and could see the wheels turning in her head. She nodded imperceptibly.
"How could you, Clark? How could you do this to me? To us?" He could see the tears welling up in her eyes and could only imagine that it wasn't much of a stretch for her even if she did understand what was really going on.
"Lois, listen…" He slowly pulled his suit top back on. "This is the way it has to be. Zara is… well…" He turned and gave Zara what he hoped was a loving look. "Zara and I are much more suited for each other than you and I ever were. She's Kryptonian for starters and if I'm going to rule New Krypton as the new maharajah, then I need a Kryptonian by my side. She and I will make a wonderful team." Zara, with sheets wrapped around her, had moved to his side and he put his arm around her and pulled her close, kissing the side of her head. "We'll make a wonderful team both as maharajah and maharani, and as…" He grinned at her and Zara had the grace to blush a bit as she stared into his eyes. He cleared his throat. "Anyway, that's the way it has to be, Lois."
You're doing great, Kal-El.
Thanks — I feel miserable.
Lois glared at him for another moment and then turned on her heel and stalked out.
Dara smiled to herself and turned to follow her charge when a crash caused her to stop.
"KAL!!!" Zara's scream reached even to Lois who came running back.
Clark was laying on the floor, having collapsed and crashed into the end table, sending a vase of flowers crashing to the floor.
"Lord Kal-El." Dara knelt by his side, startled by the pallor on his normally darker skin. "Lois, push that red button over by the door. Medics will be here momentarily."
Zara clung to the sheets and sat next to him cradling his head in her lap. "Kal-El, all will be fine. The medics here are top notch."
Lois flopped down on the bed that had been hers for the last couple of days. She thought she understood what Clark had been trying to tell her when she'd walked in on him and Zara. She remembered well their kiss at the Lexor. The maid had been coming, he'd heard her — thanks to superhearing, she was sure — and he'd thrown her on the bed for the most amazing kiss she'd ever experienced.
At least to that point.
Since then, there'd some even more wonderful moments between the two of them. His kisses…
She sat up straight and shook her head, forcing the thoughts from her mind. She didn't know if the Kryptonians could read her mind, but she wasn't taking any chances. She wouldn't do anything to jeopardize Clark in his vulnerable state.
Those weren't two words that went together often, even before she knew he was Superman.
This Kryptonian illness, whatever it was, had really taken a toll on him. And on her. There was nothing worse than the man she loved being practically on death's door and not being able to see him. At least when Superman had been sick and she'd had to rely on her dad to help him get better, she could be there with him. She'd tried to put on a strong face in front of her dad, but she was surprised that he hadn't figured out the secret. She hadn't done well at hiding her feelings about him from her dad.
She's met quietly with Zara on a couple of occasions. She had gotten Lois access to the Kryptonian library — full of the Kryptonian classics that Zara was convinced Lois would love.
Zara had been pointing out something else while going on and on about a number of works by Kryptonian authors — some recent who she had compared to Rowlings or King, some not so recent who were apparently better than Shakespeare, and some ancient like Josephus or Hammurabi. Not that Hammurabi could truly be considered an author but that wasn't the point.
She'd pointed to the law texts and books of code and other legal matters. She specified which ones might be relevant to their situation by tapping their spine.
Lois had been shocked to see that they were actual books. They weren't on an paper like she'd ever seen, but she'd expected some sort of hologram or computer screen or some way to download them directly into your brain like you would an Ipod.
Zara had also kept her up to date on Clark's condition. He was stable but in a medically induced coma of sorts to give his body time to heal.
Dara had been little help when it came to getting updates but had been most helpful with little things like finding her way around the part of the ship she was allowed to roam — including how to find the library — and how to work the other gadgets in her room.
Lois had spent virtually all of the last couple of days in the library — pouring over the texts Zara had pointed out.
And she thought she'd found a loophole.
It had take her countless hours, but there it was.
"If both parties in a birth marriage express a desire to dissolve the marriage prior to the official ceremonies and consummation, and a suitable replacement found, the Council can approve the dissolving of that birth marriage and the marriage of each partner to another."
There was only one problem.
Kal-El was the ruler in the marriage, the maharajah. Zara was to be the maharani by marriage, not by birth, though she was of the noble class. Further reading indicated that rule would stay with the original ruling member of the birth marriage and the other member would have elevated status in the Kryptonian society, but would not be, in this case, the maharani.
So that solved half their problem. The birth marriage could be disbanded, but two suitable replacements would have to be found and Clark would have to find a way to abdicate his responsibilities.
That was the next Lois focused her research on.
How could Clark get out of being the maharajah?
Where was he?
Clark tried to groan but couldn't.
He tried to open his eyes, but they wouldn't work.
He tried to move anything, but his body wouldn't respond to his mental commands.
So, that begged the question — where was he and what had they done to him?
He searched his memory. He remembered Zara, the bridal chamber, Lois walking in.
On him and Zara.
Did she catch what he said to her — about the Lexor?
He tried to groan again but couldn't.
It was all black. He had no idea what had happened next. He remembered the room spinning while he was talking to Lois but that was it. He had no idea how long it had been or where he was.
That was it.
He was Superman for crying out loud.
He had to be able to open his eyes!
Or was this it?
Was this the afterlife?
It couldn't be.
Clark refused to believe that he was dead and this was all there was.
No, he had to get back to Lois.
He had to fight.
And then there was nothing.
"Lois, it just might work."
They spoke in hushed tones.
Apparently, most Kryptonians had already exhausted the reading on the ship, leaving them alone in the library.
"First, Clark will have to abdicate. The problem there is that he doesn't have any siblings to take over. The next in line would be…" Zara thought a moment. "…his cousin. Jor-El had a brother, Tan-El. Tan-El had a son named Jon-El. He was on board the ship that left the planet shortly before it exploded. He was raised with the knowledge that if Kal-El was not found or something happened to him on Earth, that he would be the next in line, but he's only 12." Lois opened her mouth to ask how that was possible, but Zara raised her hand. "He was in a birthing matrix when he left the planet. Because of the uncertainty of the future at that point, the matrix was… frozen. He wasn't unfrozen for a number of years. He's also quite ill. He has been afflicted with something similar to your cancer — leukemia, I believe."
"How horrible. What does that mean for us?"
"The council was to rule if Lor-Van were to… pass on, but that was expected to be very temporary — just until Kal-El returned."
Lois looked thoughtful. "Well, it seems we have two problems. Getting the Council or whoever to agree to dissolve the marriage and find a 'suitable' partner for both of you and then figure out who would take over for Lor-Van at some point."
"Two minor problems." Zara sighed.
"Well, do you have another marriage partner in mind?"
Zara closed her eyes, then nodded slowly. "Ching. Ching has been my most trusted body guard and best friend for… as long as I can remember. We've talked — very quietly — about what would happen if Kal-El refused or if we found a way…"
"Would the Council approve it?"
"I don't know."
"It won't work, Lois."
The women spoke in very hushed tones in the library.
"There's no way that they'll approve another marriage for either one of us with Kal-El leaving. If he was staying, maybe, but only to another noble. And there's no truly clear line of succession."
"So what are we going to do?"
Zara sighed. "I don't know."
"I'm sorry, Lady Zara, but his condition is not improving."
"What do you mean, Beth-El?"
"It seems his body has been so accustomed to the yellow sun, that it has been weakened by the time away and by the force field that caused him to become a normal Kryptonian as soon as he was on board. He will be unable to fight the infection." He paused, then continued sadly. "It will kill him."
Zara felt like she'd been punched in the stomach. "How long?"
"Two days, maybe three."
"Is there anything that could help him?"
The doctor sighed. "Maybe taking him back to earth, but there are no guarantees."
Zara thought quickly. She'd known Beth-El for years. She trusted him. As a distant cousin, he had been wary of taking Kal-El away from the home and family he'd known his whole life, but hadn't voiced his reservations to the Council. To do so would have been disastrous. Could she trust him?
"Not just morally, ethically, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably dead? Not just merely dead? Not just really most sincerely dead?" Lois arched one eyebrow trying to comprehend what she was being told.
Zara looked at her oddly.
Lois sighed. "Wizard of Oz. I was in the play."
Zara shrugged. "Beth-El can make Kal-El appear dead. The Council will agree to send him home for burial. What we hope is that once he is back on Earth, back to the yellow sun, he will heal."
"How can we know if that's really going to happen?"
"We can't." Zara shook her head. "No one's ever studied a Kryptonian raised with a yellow sun and what the effects of removing one from it would be, much less what happens if he's practically dead before he's returned."
"But it's our only choice."
Lois sighed then nodded back. "Let's do it."
"He's dead?" Trey-En, head of the council, asked.
"No, not quite. He's almost dead." Beth-El shook his head sadly. "At this point, there is no hope for his recovery."
"And you're quite certain of this?"
"He was raised on a planet with a yellow sun. It's made his physiology different than ours. He can't handle the Kryptonian virus that he was infected with."
"Do we know how he got infected yet?"
The doctor shook his head. "No and it's unlikely we ever will."
"Then so be it. Miss Lane and Zara will return Kal-El to Earth for burial."
The rest of the Council nodded their assent.
"Upon her return, Zara will continue with us back to New Krypton, where she will be installed as the new maharani to rule as the widow of the late Kal-El, who will have passed, never having taken his rightful place as maharajah of New Krypton."
Lois watched from behind the one way mirror and prayed silently to whatever greater being might be watching over the universe that this would work.
He tried again.
This time his eyes responded.
The light hurt.
Where was he?
And would someone please shut the curtains?
There hadn't been any curtains on board the ship.
He squeezed his eyes tightly shut and then opened them just the slightest little bit.
The curtains were made out of gingham.
Were they trying to make him feel like he was at home?
He peeked just a bit more.
Outside was… a barn? Was that right?
It was the barn on his parents' farm.
Or something that appeared to be.
Finally, he made himself open his eyes wide.
It was real.
He was in the living room at his parents' house.
He seemed to be in a bed or cot of some kind that was shoved under the window.
He had no sheet, no covers of any kind, he realized, and was wearing precious little.
He moved slightly to see that he was dressed only in a pair of boxers.
A small cry jolted him and he heard footsteps running towards him.
He turned and before he could even get a good look at her, Lois' head was on his chest, her tears soaking his skin.
"Clark, you're awake. You're awake."
He managed to move one arm to stroke her hair and tried to quiet her.
He opened his mouth but nothing came out.
"Water. You need some water."
He watched as Lois reached for a glass and held the straw to his lips.
He swallowed and managed to squeak out a couple of words. "What happened?"
He watched the face of his wonderful wife as she explained how she and Zara, with the help of Ching and Beth-El, had made him appear dead and sent him back to earth for burial. His mother had wanted to put him in the barn where the big doors would allow for unobstructed sun access, but they had quickly decided that this would be better — next to the living room window, shades pulled back so that he could soak up the yellow sun that always seemed to make him feel better.
And now, after being home only three days, he was starting to get better. His fever was down, his color was improving and he had regained consciousness — always a good sign.
"Well, hells bells, kids." Lois could practically see Perry shaking his head over the phone. "I expect to hear the *whole* story when you get back. From your actual honeymoon that is. You have to be back at the first of the month and not a minute before, you understand me?"
The first of the month?
That was a good two weeks. It would take Clark several more days, at least, before he was back to normal, and then they'd be able to actually take that honeymoon they'd dreamed about.
"And if you talk to Superman," she heard Perry's voice crack a bit. "Tell him that I'm glad he's going to be okay."
Well, he hadn't become editor because he could yodel. It really shouldn't surprise Lois that he knew Clark's secret.
"I will, Perry. And I know he'll appreciate that." Lois spoke softly, trying not to let tears well up in her eyes again. She'd done enough crying in the last few days.
She quietly hung up the phone and turned to see Clark smiling at her. He was sitting in a recliner, soaking up the sun streaming in through the window.
"He knows." It was a statement, not a question.
"I thought he did. Ever since Superman had to leave Metropolis during the heat wave — I think if he didn't figure it out then, he certainly knew something was up."
Lois sat in the chair next to him and grasped his hand lightly. "You up for a little walk?"
"How little?" Clark grimaced at the thought of even walking all the way to the barn.
"Just out to the porch swing. It's sunny there right now." Lois didn't add that she wanted to be closer to him and that was the best place at the moment.
"I think I can handle that, but much farther…" Clark smiled. "I guess I'm not doing too bad since I've only been conscious for a few hours."
Lois helped him stand up and he leaned slightly on her as they headed towards the door.
"Clark, what are you doing?"
The voice made Clark turn. "Dr. Klein. What are you doing here?"
"Lois called and I had to come."
"He knows, Clark."
"I figured so, since he's here." Clark smiled. "It's good to see you, but we're headed to the porch. Can we continue this there? I'm feeling better, but I don't think I can stand here indefinitely."
The three made their way to the porch. Lois and Dr. Klein helped Clark settle onto the swing. Lois sat next to him and reveled in the comfort of Clark's arm around her. Dr. Klein took the rocker nearby.
Clark closed his eyes and soaked in the sun. There was something about getting the sun without anything in the way… It was much nicer than getting it through the window. He could practically feel his strength returning.
He didn't even turn as he heard the tires of a car crunch in the driveway.
"Clark!! You look wonderful!!!" Martha practically ran up the steps in her rush to hug her son. "We had to go to town to pick up a few things. We didn't want to leave, but… You weren't even awake when we left this morning!"
Clark reached up to hug her. "I'm a fast healer, Mom. I always have been."
"I know. Your fathers will be so happy!"
"Fathers?" Clark was confused.
"Yes, your fathers — yours and Lois'."
He turned to Lois. "Your dad's here?"
She nodded. "He treated Superman once before, remember?"
Clark nodded. "But he didn't know."
"He figured it out. He could see how strongly I obviously felt for you even though he knew I was in love with Clark and when he heard we were here and you were sick… he flew himself out. I'd already called Bernie, but it was good they were both here. Two heads are better and all that."
"Between what I already knew of your physiology and what Dr. Lane was able to bring to the table, I think we… well, actually, I don't think we really did anything. Your body started to heal itself almost immediately."
"Dr. Klein, don't sell yourself short." Lois turned to Clark. "They were able to give you some very strong antibiotics that… are experimental and not quite FDA approved. They helped. A lot."
The conversation was interrupted by Sam and Jonathan's arrival on the porch. The seven of them chatted amiably for a few minutes, all marveling at Clark's quick recovery.
But it wasn't long before Clark started to drop off. The men helped to lay Clark down on the swing where he could continue to soak in the sun while getting the rest he so desperately needed.
It was dark by the time Clark awoke. He stretched, grateful that this swing wasn't the old wood one that had hung there for years. It had finally fallen apart a couple of years ago and his dad had replaced it with one much more comfortable, including cushions and pillows.
He struggled to sit up, then yawned, and stretched some more. He was feeling much better than he had been — not super, but almost normal.
He rested his hand lightly on the wall as he made his way into the kitchen where he could hear sounds of muffled laughter. Even though he didn't really remember much, he knew the atmosphere was much lighter than it must have been 24 hours earlier.
"CLARK!" The exclamation seemed to come from everywhere at once. Martha and Lois were at his side in an instant. They helped him to a seat, despite his protests that he was strong enough to do that himself.
As soon as he was seated, Martha started to load his plate with fried chicken, ham, corn bread, mashed potatoes, and filled his glass with buttermilk.
He laughed as he watched the food pile up. "That's plenty, Mom. If I want more, I'll get more." He took a long drink from the glass. "Buttermilk, it's good for what ails you."
Jonathan laughed. "You got that right."
"I've got some hamburger, too, if you want a burger."
"I'm good, Mom, really."
The rest of the table chatted quietly while Clark ate like he'd been on a deserted island for over a month.
Several days later, Lois snuggled into the bare chest of her husband, one hand idly drawing patterns on his skin while he slept.
It amazed her how well he healed. His powers were back, though he still seemed to tire a bit more easily than normal and actually needed to eat at the moment. They'd stayed with Martha and Jonathan another three days. They felt a week was long enough — Clark had been unconscious for three of those, woke on the fourth and had spent three more days soaking in as much sun as he could.
Fortunately, there hadn't been any rain the whole time they were there. It was actually Martha who suggested they finally go on their belated honeymoon. Clark was able to fly again, albeit a bit more slowly than normal. They decided to forgo the Hawaiian trip they had originally planned — their reservations had been for weeks ago and the last minute rate was ridiculous — so Clark had flown them to a little island he'd bought several years earlier.
He'd promised it was the only time he'd used the gold mine — except when he needed to run HG Wells' time machine — to buy this island as a place he could go when he needed to be alone. He used it often as his 'safe house' before he moved to Metropolis. When someone would get a little too close for comfort, he'd take off and head here until he decided where to head for next. It was complete with a little hut, a shower, and even a hot tub — well, a tub that turned in to a hot tub with a little heat vision.
He'd told her that he'd fly their things out first, but she'd refused to let him go. Even though his powers were back, he still wasn't completely up to par.
She giggled as she remembered the conversation.
"Lois, I'm going to fly ahead with the luggage and I'll be back to get you in a few minutes."
"No way, Clark. There's absolutely no way you're leaving without me."
"No buts, Clark, I can carry a suitcase and in a couple days, you can come back for the rest of our things."
"Are you sure you're actually going to need 'your things'?"
"Well, you're newlyweds on your honeymoon, do you really need the suitcases?"
Lois and Clark turned eight shades of red.
"Seriously, Clark grab some swim trunks if you want or a T-shirt and shorts — it's not like you burn — and Lois would need a swimsuit — I'm sure she's got something… suitably skimpy," Martha grinned as her son and daughter-in-law glanced at each other. "And some sunscreen, of course, because she will burn and *that* would ruin the rest of your honeymoon. Maybe something sexy… You can easily fit all of that in a pocket or two."
Lois was grateful that their dads and Dr. Klein weren't anywhere to be found.
Clark mumbled something and hurried up to his room before his mom could say anything else.
Lois' face burned as she remembered her embarrassment in front of Martha, but Martha had been right. A bikini and some sun screen and she was set. Well, and the black teddy Clark had bought her. She'd been wearing Clark's flannel shirt and the shorts that she'd worn to the Kryptonian ship. That would do if she really needed something more to wear. She wore the teddy underneath so Clark wouldn't realize that she'd brought it with her until she was ready to show him. Clark hadn't brought much more with him and for that she was grateful.
He shifted in her arms and his eyes fluttered open.
"Good morning, Mrs. Kent."
"Good morning, Mr. Kent."
"So are you going to wear that little swimsuit again today or are we going to go skinny dipping?"
Lois laughed softly. "You'll just have to wait and see."
He kissed the tip of her nose. "You know what I'd like right now?"
Lois smiled at him seductively. "More?"