By Lara Li <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: July, 2008
Summary: Shortly after accepting Lex Luthor's marriage proposal, Lois Lane is in her apartment when she receives an unexpected visitor with a message for her. Set in Season 1, overlapping and directly after the episode "Barbarians at the Planet." Also provides an original take on the "mystery baby" from the end of Season 4.
Author's Note: This is my first *published* piece of fanfic and understandably I have tried very hard to make it as good and true to character as possible, although there is a nod or two to 'Smallville' fans worked in here. I only recently began watching Lois and Clark on DVD sets. After watching the first season, I started wondering what had happened between the episodes "Barbarians at the Planet" and "House of Luthor". Out of that idle speculation and prompting from a friend comes this short story. It's kind of a strange little piece, but I think it turned out pretty well. I do not own any of the characters or elements (particularly one line that's basically entirely ripped off of 'Smallville'), they all belong to Warner Bros., DC Comics, etc. etc.
Clark couldn't believe his eyes. She couldn't have. She COULDN'T have! But she had. Lois had just accepted Luthor's proposal. And he had seen it, hovering outside Luthor's window.
All at once, a rage and sorrow unlike anything he had ever experienced welled up in him. He wanted to scream and break things. But not here. Here in Metropolis... all the people.... If he lost control here, the results would be catastrophic.
With a sudden burst of speed, Clark shot due north. He would have kept flying forever, if he could have. But somehow he just... couldn't. He felt numb, heavy and earthbound. As he reached the ice fields, far in the north, he dropped out of the air, weighed down by too much grief to continue. Dropping to his knees, he released the scream of horror that had been building inside him since the moment the ring slipped on Lois's finger. Mountains cracked. Avalanches came rolling down the slopes and glaciers crumbled.
Back in Metropolis, Lois Lane raised her head. Lex continued to kiss her neck, unaware, but she could SWEAR she had heard something... It sounded like someone screaming. The voice sounded familiar... Was it possible that Superman had somehow heard, or seen... But no- he had said himself that there was no future for them.
Meanwhile another, very different woman was hearing Clark's yells.
Outside the town of Smallville, Kansas, there was a deep lake. At the bottom of the lake lay a small craft. At first glance it appeared to be nothing more than a submerged rowboat, but closer inspection would reveal strange symbols etched into the eerily shining metal. Inside the craft, a teenage girl lay, seemingly asleep. All at once, the echoes of Superman's screams reverberated through the ship. The girl's electric blue eyes snapped open.
"Kal-El," she whispered.
The taxi dropped Lois off in front of her apartment. Lex had offered to take her home in the limo, but she had declined. Something about it just felt... wrong. She had immediately regretted it -- a can of sardines with eyes could drive better than a Metropolis cabbie -- and wondered why it felt so odd to accept a ride from her fiance. It should be the most natural thing in the world... shouldn't it?
Lois climbed the stairs up to her floor, unlocked her door, and slumped into the apartment. She dropped her purse on the table and slung her coat over the back of the sofa before sitting down. She was emotionally exhausted after the day she'd had. WHY had Clark picked today of all days to tell her his feelings? Didn't he know how hard it had been for her?
"Oh, who am I kidding?" she said aloud to herself. "That had to have been so much harder on Clark than on me. I mean, I rejected him completely and then to go mooning after Superman right in front of him..." She shook her head. *Am I doing the right thing?* she wondered.
There was a faint whooshing noise, and Lois caught a glimpse of red and blue streak past the window. "Superman?!" she cried, and, suddenly energized, ran to the window. No one was there. She shook her head and returned to the sofa. *Now I'm seeing things.*
She sighed inwardly, and switched on the television, flipping through the channels. A documentary on Watergate -- normally she would have been thrilled, but somehow it just couldn't seem to interest her. Some sappy movie on the Hallmark channel. The ten o'clock news. Commercials, commercials. Late-night cartoons. 'To Kill A Mockingbird'.
The familiar black-and-white of the film made her pause. What was it about this movie that struck such a chord in her the moment she saw Gregory Peck's face filling the screen? Curling up on the couch, she settled in to watch.
Somehow, the movie felt different from every other time she'd seen it. It had more meaning to her. The character of Atticus drew her in and she found herself watching him closely. His strength, his courage, his sheer morality exerted a strange hold on her mind. He was such a good person. That was the kind of man she could easily fall in love with. Did people like that even exist anymore? Clark seemed to think so...
And then, as she saw Atticus toying with his glasses, something clicked. "Clark..." she whispered, and turned off the TV. 'To Kill a Mockingbird' was Clark's favorite movie; he had mentioned that once. Atticus... Clark... so similar. The wise, kind lawyer, and the strong, gentle reporter. A character so classically profound, and the young man she knew so well, but not at all. The young man toward whom, she now saw, she felt much more than she had thought before.
A single tear rolled down her cheek as Clark's words from that morning -- and her own as well -- crashed over her. "Oh Clark..." Lois leapt to her feet, and, in fury at herself for being so blind that morning, hurled the remote out the still-open window. She dropped to her knees, pounding her hands on the carpeting. "God, what kind of idiot am I?" she hissed through angry tears. "What's wrong with me?"
There was a quiet sound at the window. Lois sat up and looked around. Suddenly, her remote control landed on the floor in front of her. She stared at it.
"I thought you might like that back," said a soft female voice.
Lois whipped around to stare out the window. She rose to her feet slowly, wary. A girl, maybe sixteen years old was floating there, wearing some kind of outfit remarkably similar to Superman's, right down to the shield on the chest. Her long, windswept hair was platinum blond, and her eyes were startlingly blue.
"Who are you?" Lois asked.
The girl smiled maddeningly, drifted casually through the window, and floated through the apartment. Lois trailed behind her. When the girl reached door opening onto the fire escape, she slipped through. Lois followed after, but when she got outside, there was no one in sight.
Suddenly, a pair of hands seized her in an iron grasp and she found herself hoisted into the air at alarming speed. Lois looked up and saw the blond girl holding her shoulders. "Let go of me, you crazy bi--!" she yelled.
"Well, I WOULD, but I don't think Kal-El would like it if I let you fall thirty stories," the girl said, clearly irritated.
"Kal-El..." Lois whispered. The name registered with her.
Moments later, Lois found herself sitting on top of the Daily Planet building next to the girl. "Okay kid, you have some SERIOUS explaining to do. Who are you? What do you want with me? Why are you dressed like Superman? And why-?"
"Easy Miss Lane. One question at a time."
"And that's another thing- how do you know who I am?"
The girl sighed. "It's kind of hard to explain. My name is Kara Zor-El. Kal-El, the man you call 'Superman', is my cousin."
"Cousin?" Lois whispered.
"As far as I know, we are the only two survivors of the planet Krypton. I was sent to earth to be his guardian, his protector; a guide. Kal-El was just an infant when Krypton was destroyed, but I was older- fifteen. I remember our world, and was supposed to teach him, show him who we were, what we'd lost..." Kara's voice broke, and she paused to wipe a tear away quickly.
"But something went wrong," she continued. "I was kept in a stasis field for the journey from Krypton to earth. My ship crash-landed in water and something went wrong with the field and I can't get out. For twenty-seven of your years, I have been trapped there."
"Until now," Lois commented.
"No, Lois. I think the field did something to my mind, because I've been following Kal-El through some kind of... psychic link, I guess. For most of his life I've been watching, waiting for a way to get out. Tonight, Kal-El was overwhelmed with greater pain than I've ever felt in him. I don't know how, but his pain was so great, it somehow it allowed my mind to free from my body. I think your people would call that 'astral travel'. I hadn't realized that an astral body would be this solid. Maybe it's another effect of the field, or maybe the Kryptonian mind doesn't work the same way as a human one."
Lois closed her eyes. Superman in pain... she HAD heard him screaming earlier. Why? Did it have something to do with her?
"Look, Lois. I need you to just come with me. I have a great truth and a great secret to show you. Kal-El needs my help, and to help him, I have to get your head straightened out."
Lois nodded. "I'd do anything to help him."
"Good," Kara said. "Just promise me one thing- you won't ever tell Kal-El that you saw me. I don't think I can stay outside my body like this for more than a few hours and it would be unfair to him to give him the hope of meeting for the first time another Kryptonian only to have me snatched away when I have to go back to my ship."
"Okay," Lois said. "And... Kara? What did you mean get MY head straightened out?"
"Okay, now you're going to have to explain to me what the hell we're doing at Clark Kent's apartment." Lois hissed. "This is the last place on earth I want to be. I've had some... uncomfortable revelations about Clark this evening and I'd rather be on Mars with no oxygen tank than run into him--"
"Will you SHUT UP?" Kara whispered back. "And if you'd REALLY rather be on Mars, I can arrange that. I hear J'onn J'onzz survived the destruction of that planet. Nice guy."
Lois shook her head in wonder. "You know, if Superman didn't have a habit of reading my writing, I'd have so much to put in a story..."
Kara glared at her. "You promised."
"I know. It's just wishful thinking," Lois replied.
"Well, I told you I had a great truth and a great secret to share with you- it's time for you to learn the great secret." Kara muttered.
Clark had just stumbled into his apartment, his hair rumpled and a haggard look on his face. He glanced at the window where Lois and Kara were hovering, a bare millisecond before Kara whipped them out of sight. Through a window on the other side of the house, they saw his eyebrows contract, and the stricken look on his face increased.
He sat down heavily on the windowsill, staring out the window. "Lois, what were you thinking?" he whispered, just loud enough for Lois to catch his voice. A tear ran down his face, and he reached up and slipped his glasses off. Lois had only an instant to see his face before Kara whipped her up to the roof, but it was enough.
Leaning against the exhaust vent on the roof, Lois stared out across the city. "All those times he disappeared... made up lame excuses to leave... all this time... It's just so ridiculous! Why didn't he tell me?" She trailed off.
Kara laid a hand on her shoulder. "I-" The emotional wear of the day became too much for her, and Lois snapped. "And you! Dammit Kara, you have GOT to stop throwing me around like that! I'm gonna get whiplash if you jerk me onto a roof or away from a window or whatever one more time! God!"
Kara jerked back, stunned, and suddenly she looked very young. "Lois, I'm sorry. I didn't realize--"
But Lois was shaking her head. "No, I'm sorry. I just can't... it's a lot to take in. But then," she mused, "I think I always knew it. That first day, when he came in begging for a job, I thought 'there's something different about that one'. But I've been so blind, I've let my own prejudices and fears get in the way. I wouldn't let myself admit that there was any man who might be good enough for me... that there might be more to him, more than meets the eye. Although what meets the eye is plenty good enough as it is."
Kara choked. "I think I'll reserve judgment on that one."
Lois shrugged. "Do whatever you want. But Kara..." she hesitated. "Is it too late? For me and Superman? Or is it me and Clark? Or whatever? I mean, I've screwed up so royally today, and now knowing this secret... I love him, or want to love him, but I'm so confused. I don't know what to think, don't know if my feelings are real or just some kind of infatuation with power."
"I don't know, Lois. I'm not some kind of angel. I don't know how it's all going to turn out, or what the future holds for any of us. I just know that Kal-El loves you more than he'll ever love anyone else, and I know that he deserves to be happy. And as far as infatuations with power go... why don't you take a look at your finger if you want an answer to that?"
Lois glanced at her hand. "Oh, dammit! What am I thinking? I'm engaged. There CAN'T be a future with me and... and Kal-El." She faltered at her own use of the Kryptonian name.
"But it's what you want, isn't it?" Kara whispered.
Lois nodded. "Yeah. It is."
Back at the fire escape at Lois's apartment, the two women sat on the steps and talked quietly. "Do you mind... telling me how it happened? How Krypton... you know..." Lois asked after some time.
Kara's face filled with a brief flash of pain before she forced her features blank." There was... well, sort of a war. Krypton is a peaceful society, but we'd been in a kind forced societal plateau for too long, and it started to show. There were spikes at both ends of the spectrums. The brilliant and the evil became more so."
Lois raised her eyebrows. "Forced societal plateau?"
Kara shrugged. "It's your language. I just learned it. Anyway, there was one man... General Zod, they called him. He was just- he was insane. He manipulated my father, and convinced him to help. He twisted Zor-El's mind until he truly believed that Zod was working for the good of Krypton." Kara's eyes flashed with sudden anger, then her face settled back into the blank, hollow mask. "My mother sent me away after that, sent me to stay with Uncle Jor-El and Lara. She said it was because they needed someone to watch Kal-El while Jor-El worked on a plan to save us... but I knew she didn't want me to see my... Zor-El... slipping away."
There was a moment of silence. "So that's it? This war just... damaged the planet beyond repair?"
Kara nodded. "Yeah, but there's more to it. Actually, Zod launched his Doomsday weapon at Borga City. That was where Jor-El and the other resistance leaders were hiding. Jor-El was brilliant- he figured out how to divert it. But he couldn't make the trajectory work and it... it broke out of Krypton's gravitational pull. It hit Rao- our star. Rao's core was in flux already, unstable I guess, and with an explosion that could vaporize even Kal-El instantly going off inside it... I guess it was just too much. The star exploded."
There was a moment of silence. "But how--?" Lois asked.
"How did Kal-El and I survive? My aunt Lara had been looking for a place to go if ever it was necessary to... evacuate; she had already decided on earth. When the missile went off-track, Jor-El saw where it was going and realized what would happen. He had just enough time to prepare two ships for launch..." Kara trailed off.
There was a brief silence. "Wow," Lois whispered.
"So he grew up here on earth... the Kents raised him."
Kara nodded again.
"So... do you know how long he's been Superman?"
Kara shrugged. "Not long. It was after he met you that he first had the idea. It drove him crazy, I think, not being able to tell you."
Lois sighed. "I still don't know how I feel about that. I mean... I think I understand why he didn't, but I don't like it. And I don't know how I feel about him. I mean, I'm crazy in love with Superman... and Clark is my best friend. I never had a best friend before. And now know that they're the same person- it's ridiculous is what it is!" She was silent for a moment, then a wave of horror crashed over her. "Oh god. That's what he meant. When I said that I would love him even if he was an ordinary man. I've screwed up. Kara, what am I going to do?"
"I don't know," Kara said. "But I know what I'm going to do. I can see that you're not ready to know this secret. Kal-El has been waiting for you... forever, I suppose... but you haven't been looking for anything, let alone expecting to find it. The other advantage to astral travel is that I not only have all the powers my body would normally posses, but I have the telepathic aspect of the mind in my full control as well. J'onn would be proud."
"Meaning?" Lois asked.
"Meaning that with your permission, I'll take away the memory of Kal-El's secret. You're not ready to know."
"What? No! I want to know! I mean... not knowing after I've known would be like losing some part of me... and him." Lois exclaimed.
"I know... I wouldn't want to give up any of my own memories. But if you want it to work between the two of you, I think your relationship has to grow some more." Kara said quietly. "Don't worry- you'll still remember tonight, still remember all the things I told you about Kal-El, about Krypton. You'll just forget all the parts involving Clark Kent. And the seed of the idea will still be in the back of your mind somewhere. Might make it easier for you to figure it out for yourself."
Lois stood up, and kicked at a bit of trash lying on the metal stair of the fire escape. "If you seriously think I'm going to let some... some *pip* from another planet mess with my head, you're..."
"Yes?" Kara said innocently.
"You're exactly right," Lois sighed. "I can't deal with this. Yet."
"Okay... hold still." Kara closed her eyes for a moment, then they snapped open to reveal again that startling shade of electric blue. "And Lois?"
"Stick to your wedding plans with Lex. Until the last possible second. I just have a... a feeling that it'll work better if you keep your foot in the door, so to speak."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Lois muttered.
"I agree with Kal-El. Lex Luthor is an evil man and right now he thinks he's won- he's got that ring on your finger. And if you let him feel secure in that until the wedding, it'll give... Clark... and your friends more of a chance to poke around his business and find the evidence..." Kara explained.
"How would you know?" Lois blurted, coming to the rescue of her fiance.
"I've been following Kal-El around mentally, remember? I've seen everything he's seen of Luthor and I agree with his assessment," Kara said patiently.
Lois frowned but said nothing. After a moment, she burst out in a huffy voice, "Well, are you going to zap my brain or not?"
Kara nodded and closed her eyes. A strange sensation flooded Lois's body, and every corner of her mind felt numb. A dark fog crept over the corner of her eyes, and she sank into a moment of unconsciousness.
Lois woke suddenly. Blue eyes were staring into her own.
"Are you okay? Do you remember... everything?" Kara said, carefully avoiding mention of what Lois SHOULDN'T remember.
"Um... I think so," Lois said, sitting up on the fire escape. "You're Superman's cousin, right? And you came to tell me... that it really messed him up that I accepted Lex's proposal. You talked about Krypton... and..." She paused, confused. I think there was something else, but I can't quite... remember. What happened?"
Kara smiled briefly. "It's okay. You just got overwhelmed by everything that's happened today- I mean, it's not every day a girl gets engaged to a criminal mastermind."
"Hey! I resent that!" Lois cried.
"Anyway, you just fainted. You were only out for a second," Kara assured her.
Suddenly, Kara's face blanched. "Oh god..." she whispered.
"What is it?" Lois asked.
"I've stayed away too long! My body... something's wrong. I can't be out of it any longer!"
Now that Lois looked at her, there was a kind of... translucency about her. Though her projected body was still as solid as ever, it was see-through.
"I have to go," Kara stood up, pulling Lois up with her. "Do the right thing by Kal-El, won't you?" she said.
Kara smiled warmly. "He's lucky to have you, you know. I just hope..." she trailed away. "Lois, there was so much more I wanted to tell you but... I just can't risk staying any longer. Goodb--"
Suddenly, as her super hearing picked up a faint sound, her face became even paler. "Lois... there's been an explosion! Down at the docks... people are trapped! And Kal-El... Superman won't be patrolling tonight! More than likely he's gone north again to break something, if he isn't asleep!" She leapt into the air. "I'll be back!" she called over her shoulder as she soared away.
Several tense minutes later, Kara soared back to the fire escape, looking more transparent than ever. "I managed to get everybody out without anyone seeing me," she gasped, "Kal-El will never know I even existed. But I've got to get back to my ship NOW."
"Goodbye Kara," Lois whispered.
Kara nodded. "Lois... will you just promise me something?"
"Just... don't forget about me. If you ever can, try to find a way to set me free. Please. I feel like I've failed Kal-El. I was supposed to be his guardian, someone to shine some light on all his questions about who he was, but instead..."
"I promise," Lois said, "Now GO! You've got to get back to your... body... or whatever."
Kara nodded, and soared away. "Goodbye Lois!" she called back.
Lois watched her go, then whispered "Goodbye... Supergirl."
After a few minutes, when Kara was completely out of sight, Lois went back into her apartment, picked up the telephone and dialed. She wasn't surprised when the machine picked up.
"Hi Clark, it's me" she began, "Look, we didn't leave things too well at the park this morning. I've had a visitor who's put my life in some perspective and I... um... wanted to clear the air. Just, call me when you get this."
She hung up the phone, went over to the cabinet where she kept her movies. Searching through the titles, she found the one she wanted and slipped it into the VCR. The opening credits came up: "To Kill a Mockingbird... Starring Gregory Peck..."
Lois smiled and settled in to watch the movie.
The Explanation for the Mystery Baby
*set immediately after the final episode of season four*
The baby opened her eyes, and Lois was stunned by their unnaturally blue color. "Those eyes..." she whispered.
"I know... they're unusual." Clark said.
"No. It's not that. I've seen those eyes somewhere..." Lois took the baby from Clark. "Could it be... somehow?" she mused. Searching through the folds of the blankets wrapped around the infant, she found a small envelope.
"To Lois Lane-Kent," she whispered, tracing the hasty script on the paper. She opened the envelope and unfolded the single sheet inside.
Congratulations to you and Kal-El on finally working everything out! I've been continuing to tail him psychically and let me just say it's been agonizing. Anyway, more to the point, I've finally figured out a way to escape this damn stasis field. I just did a fancy kind of hookup between the teleporting module and the interdimensional warp drive transistor... it's kind of complicated and technical. A mutual friend of ours, a Mr. Wells, popped in a few years back and gave me some tips. Unfortunately, his hypotheses were incomplete. When I did the final check of the circuitry, I realized that I'd have to link it in with... well, it's not a true time machine like that of Mr. Wells, but the closest thing we had on Krypton. Anyway, there could be side effects, which is why I'm writing this letter. It's possible I could actually get significantly younger. But I figured out a way to make sure I'd wind up where you'd be sure to find me, just in case. See you when I get out of here! Your cousin-in-law from another planet, Kara Zor-El."
"Clark, it's Supergirl! Your cousin, Kara!"
Clark looked at her curiously.
"Oh, I never did tell you, did I? Well, in my defense, she did make me promise never to tell Kal-El he had a secret cousin," Lois said by way of explanation.
"Secret cousin? Is that like a secret identity?" Clark asked teasingly, before leaning down to kiss her.
"Mmm... I like where this is going," Lois whispered when he finally released her. Suddenly, the baby in her arms spit up. "Hah, that is so like her! Last time I saw Kara, she wouldn't even admit that you were the most handsome man alive."
"Okay, you're going to have to explain this to me," Clark said, smiling though he obviously didn't get the joke.
"The night I... accepted Lex's marriage proposal," Lois said, wincing at the unpleasant memories, "I had... a visitor. A teenage girl who claimed to be your cousin. She told me about Krypton, and about her cousin, Kal-El, better known as Superman. She showed me how much I truly meant to you. And she... she..." Lois trailed off, sudden revelation flooding through her. She told me that Clark and Superman were the same person! I remember now! She made me forget, but the first thing she did was take me to your apartment. You took off your glasses."
Clark stared at her.
"Then we talked some more, and then there was--"
"An explosion down on the docks," Clark finished. "People were trapped in the warehouses, and Superman never showed up. But somehow they all got out. I had always wondered how that happened."
"It was Kara. She risked her life going in there to save them. See, there was this whole astral travel thing that I didn't really understand, but she was dying or something, and she went down there anyway. She almost missed her opportunity to get back to her body."
Clark stared at the infant in his wife's arms with sudden appreciation. "And THIS is--?"
"Yeah. You'll have to read the letter," Lois said.
"Wow," Clark said, "She risked her life to save all those people..."
The couple looked at each other, then at the baby. "She really is a Supergirl," Lois said with a smile.