: Then And NowAuthor
: Clark Kent returns to the Daily Planet, after a five-year absence, and discovers that his true love, Lois Lane, has a son. The question – is the boy his? My own take on Clark’s feelings, pre–Superman Returns.
Then And Now
Chapter 3: The Meeting
Clark woke slowly, feeling the sensation of a warm body snuggled against his. So it was real… he thought, a happy grin beginning on his face. He lifted his right hand, the one not trapped by Lois’ pleasant weight, and brought it over to gently stroke her soft brown hair. As he did so, he studied her face again, this time up close. Her eyes were closed in slumber, lips slightly turned up in happiness. The worry lines between her brows had softened, as if she were finally at peace.
Kissing the top of her head softly, he knew that he had found peace himself. These few years of being unable to show her how he truly felt were finally over. And now that he had more time to reflect, it was very strange that he didn’t really feel all that different. His powers were gone, sure, but he still felt strong, confident and ready to face the world. Maybe it was because of the love of the beautiful, strong-willed woman in his arms.
She began to stir beside him, wriggling in the silver sheets that made up the bed. “Mmmm. What a way to wake up…”
Clark bent his neck down to give her a soft kiss on the lips. “Good morning,” he murmured, before catching her bottom lip to draw her into a deeper kiss.
“Good morning, yourself,” she replied with a goofy smile when the kiss ended. “You know, I don’t usually move quite so fast…”
“You know me, Lois,” he kidded her. “Faster than a… except, not anymore, huh?”
“Yeah,” she said.
They left the subject hanging between them. He knew she was thinking about what he had given up, all for her. Correction. All for them. It was the right decision, he was sure of it.
She changed the subject. Lois was never one to leave a pause in conversation. “So… this place. Do you come here often?”
“Not often. I come here when I need to think, or use the library…” He nodded toward the ruined crystal console. “But it’s not home.”
“Yes, you said you had an apartment in the city?”
“I do. But what I meant was Smallville. Where I grew up.” Which reminded him of the farm, the waving stalks of corn, his mom’s homemade pies… “I can’t wait to take you there.”
“You mean…wait.” She blinked a few times. “You really grew up on a farm? Superman, the last son of Krypton, grew up in Nowheresville, Kansas?” She shook her head, amazed. “When you revealed that you were Superman, I thought all of that backstory was just a front, a cover to protect you.”
“It’s Smallville… but, no, I was raised as plain old Clark Joseph Kent. Well, not ‘plain,’ but you know what I mean…”
He could see the exclusives flashing in her eyes, and just as quickly, see her dampen the urge because of her devotion to him. He knew she would never betray him – he would stake his very life on it. His own very mortal life, now.
He continued, “My mother will be thrilled to meet you. She’s heard so much about you already.”
“Your mother? The woman in the crystal last night? Or…?” A brief surge of panic stiffened her. “Oh, no, Clark. The woman who raised Superman must be expecting someone just as ‘super.’”
He smoothed down her hair again. “You are perfect, Lois. The perfect partner. Fearless, brave, loyal, devoted, brilliant… she’ll see that in an instant.”
She relaxed. “If you say so. Throw me to the lions, I can take it.” Moving to the edge of the bed, she stretched and yawned. She then slapped her hands together and rubbed them for warmth. “I’m starving. What are we having for breakfast?”
“Oh,” he said sheepishly.
She turned to look at him. “What?”
“I, you know…” he made a swooping gesture with his hand, “went out and got dinner last night, but…”
“You don’t have anything now,” she surmised.
He shook his head, eyes downcast.
“I guess we have a walk ahead of us, then…” she said in a practical way, and headed off to change.
His grin widened. That’s my Lois…
All day, his memories of the relationship he had with Lois before leaving had warred with the reality of returning. The sky was darkening outside the windows; his first full day back to work was ending. He had spent hours only half-focused on the mountain of paperwork and research.
He smiled again, remembering that day. They had somehow found a car to rent, and driven that ugly green sedan back toward Metropolis. He had so many dreams about their new life together, and they had all come crashing down in that one sleazy diner…
But seeing that picture of Lois’ little boy, he felt stirrings of a fresh hope. Could it be true? Could their union have produced a… child? It seemed impossible… he had always assumed that his Kryptonian DNA would be incompatible with a human’s. In fact, he had been so terrified of hurting any woman in the heat of passion that the night with Lois was the only one he had ever spent. And he had been depowered at the time.
Maybe that was it, though… if he had truly been made human… maybe he had also been granted compatibility with humans? Could Kryptonian technology really do that? He found it difficult to grasp.
Yet that photo… the boy’s age… He had to admit that the possibility existed.
But what could he do about it? Go ask Lois about him? He could just see how that would go…
“Err, Lois… so… you have a son? How old is he? What is his birthday? Does he seem… um… strong for his age?”
No. That was not the way to go about it, for sure. She would think he was crazy, anyway, for prying into her personal affairs. After all, they were no more than colleagues, not really even friends anymore. He would have to bide his time, ask around without causing any suspicion…
And then a thought hit him. What if it is true? What does that make me? An absentee father? He groaned, and put his head in his hands. I ‘knocked up’ my girlfriend, erased her memory, and then left her alone for five years? What kind of schmuck does something like that?
At that moment, Jimmy passed by his desk. “CK? Are you all right?”
He lifted his head. “Oh, yeah, I’m fine, Jimmy. Just trying to get back into the swing of things.” He added for good effect, trying to appear a little nauseous, “And I don’t think those fish and chips I had at lunch really agreed with me…”
“Poor Clark,” Jimmy commiserated. “I shouldn’t have taken you there. I forget that not everybody has the same iron stomach that I do.”
“Oh, don’t blame yourself. I’ll be fine. I think I brought along some Alka Seltzer…”
“Well, I was about to invite you to get some dinner, as well, but… I guess not.”
Clark was ready to get out of there anyway. Maybe he could do some better thinking in his apartment. “Thanks for thinking of me. I’ll probably just have some soup and crackers at home.”
“Okay. See you tomorrow, Clark.”
“See you.” He rose from his chair and started packing up his things. At that moment, the elevator opened. The smell of take-out filled his sensitive nostrils. Mmm. I wish I hadn’t pretended to be sick. I really could go for some…Chinese?
He glanced upward. Walking across the floor were Richard and the little boy of the photo. Richard had left about an hour ago, just as Lois was going into a meeting. Clark hadn’t thought much of it at the time, but now he vaguely remembered that Richard was going to bring Jason with him when he got dinner.
When the two got to Lois’ office, Richard set down the containers of food, and then leaned down to Jason. Clark tuned in to listen. “Now, wait here for a moment, okay? I’m going to check to see how long Mommy is going to be in her meeting.”
The little boy nodded, and Richard ruffled his hair before leaving.
Now that Richard was gone, Clark could really concentrate on the boy, sitting quietly on the chair. His hair was straight, framing his face. A moment later, he blew on his overlong bangs to clear them from his eyes. In person, those eyes seemed bluer than ever. He tried to find something else that might suggest that Jason was his, some feature, some gesture…
The boy’s eyes locked with his. Clark smiled, and raised his hand in a small wave. Jason waved back, shyly, and then hopped out of the chair.
Oh, no… he’s headed this way… He pushed his glasses back up his nose nervously, and bent down. “Hello, there. I’m Clark. Who are you?”
“Jason. My mommy and daddy work here.” He looked around at the desk – with stacks of papers, and no personal items. “Are you new? I haven’t seen you before.”
The kid had certainly inherited his mother’s keen eye and sense of curiosity. “Well, kind of. I used to work here, a long time ago. I came back again.”
“Where did you go?”
“I was traveling.”
Jason’s eyes sparkled with interest. He must also share Lois’ love of adventure. “Where did you go?”
Back to Krypton, he wanted to say. Something about the boy made him want to be as honest as possible. But before he could come up with a convincing lie, they were interrupted.
“Jason!” Lois walked over to them with a concerned look on her face. “Your daddy told you to wait in my office.” The boy frowned a little at being caught.
“We were just talking, Lois. He’s a nice kid.”
She placed a hand on her son’s shoulder, concern softening. “Yes, he is. I see you’ve already met.” Clark nodded. “This is my son, Jason.”
Clark held out a hand to shake. “Nice to meet you, Jason.”
Jason took it, grinning, and shook it, the boy’s small hand engulfed in his own. “Nice to meet you, too, Mister Clark.”
Clark wanted to ask a few more questions, but she immediately turned her attention back on her son. “Jason, go on back to my office. We don’t want that food to get cold.” He nodded, and ran back, meeting Richard in the doorway.
“Well, Clark, talk to you later,” she said as she turned away. “I hope you had an interesting first day back at the Planet.”
“Sure,” he replied, but she was already out of earshot. More interesting than I ever expected, he added mentally. He watched the happy family talk together a little while longer as they started their meal.
As he stepped out of the building several minutes later, on the sidewalk in front of The Daily Planet, he realized that the world had gone on without him in more ways than one. Without Superman, somehow civilization had continued to flourish. Without Clark Kent, Lois Lane had also. And grown into a caring mother with a devoted family. Had he any right to upset the happiness she had clearly found? Absolutely not.
The loneliness that had always been a deep part of his being settled in even further. Suddenly, his super-hearing picked up a terrible screeching sound, like metal being ripped apart. He had hoped to avoid showing himself as Superman so soon after his return to the Planet, but if there were people in danger…
He sprinted forward, loosening his tie and shirt as he ran. Faster than the eye could process, he was in the air and speeding away. He zoomed past the windows of the newspaper building, the iconic globe, and out of sight.
If he had not been so focused on heading for the site of the accident, Superman might have seen Lois, Richard and Jason glance out of the windows of her office in astonishment. As the red and blue figure faded from sight, Richard looked at his fiancée. He saw something there in her eyes that he had never seen before…