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A Sad Return

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Original note:
First of all I have to thank the so patient people who helped me with the translation and the editing of this story: Elena, Ray, Helene, Sarah and Labby, Ann, and Jeanne. This story is set three years after Clark left for New Krypton. I hope you'll like it; I know I enjoyed myself writing it.

A Sad Return


Without even thinking about it, as soon as Clark got out of the spaceship, he rushed to the one place where he really longed to be, all the time ignoring the growing pain in his body. He knocked but received no answer. After knocking again, he decided to wait for her inside. In seconds he was in front of her window. Finding it unlocked, he entered. The sight that greeted him surprised him.

There were children's toys strewn about.

Nevertheless it WAS Lois' home. He recognized Lois' furniture, her photos hanging on the walls. One drawing on the wall struck him as odd; it showed the imprint of four hands, two very little, and two others quite a bit bigger. Slightly above the hands, written in crayon, were the words: J.C. Lane and Mom Lois. Clark gazed at it for a long while.

In that moment he was the happiest man in the universe. That one night before he left...

He looked around, searching for photos of the baby. In all of the
photos he found the child couldn't be more than seven or eight months old.

'That's strange,' he thought; then a sudden wrenching doubt flashed into his mind. Doing the math, he figured his baby would have to be two and a half years old, even more considering that he'd learned that Kryptonian pregnancies lasted less than human ones. He had been away three years. Specifically, three years, two months, twenty-one days, ten hours and forty-five minutes.

He looked around again: the stroller, the cradle, the box for the pacifier and the feeding bottles, the package of diapers...

Oh God! This baby was not his child! Lois' son wasn't HIS. He wasn't a part of THEM.

A blind rage overcame him. He had gone through hell and back; he had suffered great trials and torture with only one thought - the thought of their love - despite the time, despite the distance, despite all he had been through.

He wasn't sure that he'd have been able to survive that war if the constant thought of Lois hadn't kept him alive. He'd had to stay alive for her, for their love. His life seemed meaningless now. He had been sure that Lois' love would stay intact forever. It was the only certainty in his life, and now it was gone! Why did he come back?

He felt disgusted. He had to get out, so he flew away, expending what little strength he still possessed.

There was only one place in the world where he might go. Two people who he was sure hadn't forgotten him. At least he still had them!

-OOO-


The lights were on in the house, and there was the sound of loud voices and laughter. He slowly approached, the sound of thunder from a distant storm getting closer and closer. The voices became clearer, all of them very well known to him.

"I don't know what I'd pay if he could see him... I've always said I'd never be able to bring up a child... he should be our child... he would have been..."

Clark was only able to pick up snatches of conversation because he was so weak. He looked through one of the windows. The first thing he saw was a brunette woman, drying a plate, talking, with her shoulder facing him. LOIS!

Lois felt a strange presence that caused her to turn toward the window. She saw shadows in the farmyard. A flash of lightening lit the outside of the house. The smile disappeared from her face. Her hands slowly lowered without her even realizing it, the plate at last sliding to the floor and shattering.

"Clark..." she whispered.

Little J.C. started to cry, scared by the sudden noise. Martha and Jonathan turned toward her, seeing her face, pale like never before.

"Honey, are you OK?"

"Clark..." she whispered again.

Both of them turned to the window where she still gazed out. "Honey, no one is outside."

She didn't stop to care for the crying child; she started to walk, almost run, across the room. "Clark!" she kept calling in a louder and louder voice. She ran onto the dark porch, then into the yard, turning in all directions. Nothing! The shadow she had seen had disappeared. Her knees became weak and she found herself down on the ground sobbing. The sound of her sobs was covered by the noise of the rain that had just started. She heard a step in front of her. She raised her eyes. Two eyes full of anger gazed back at her. She ran to him, all the time saying his name over and over. She held him and started kissing him. Beyond the tears, she finally felt joy. Her happiness was so great that she didn't notice that he kept totally still. He didn't stroke or touch he, he just stood there silently.

"You're back... you've come back... you're here, you are... Oh Clark!" But she felt his body sway slightly; he looked at her without speaking.

She pushed herself back an inch, feeling a strange sticky substance on her shirt. She lowered her gaze, seeing it was stained with blood.

She stretched her hand out to Clark, seeing that, at the place she had touched, he also had a bloody spot, bigger than the one on her shirt. The spot was growing larger.

Instinctively, she pushed on his chest at that point trying to stop the bleeding. Clark swayed again, this time more drastically. Lois slid to his side, sneaking under his arm to support him.

"Sweetheart...!" Then she yelled, "Jonathan... Help me!"

Jonathan ran out, followed by Martha, who had the baby in her arms.

"Lois, what...?" He stopped suddenly when he saw his son.

"He's hurt... "

At that moment, Clark collapsed and Lois staggered under the terrific effort to stop his fall. "Clark... please!"

The older man immediately ran to the other side of his son to help support him. They took Clark into the house and helped him to his old room. Lois couldn't stop looking at him.

They laid him on the bed while Lois kept whispering to him and caressing his face. "Clark, you must hold on... you can't leave me now... not now!"

They carefully pulled open his shirt, as it was stuck to his wound, then cleaned and bandaged it as best they could. Lois also held cold compresses on his forehead to help try to lower his fever. The combination of his wound and his overall condition had resulted in a very high temperature. She didn't move from his bedside all night.

Martha decided to put the baby to sleep in her room. In vain she also tried to persuade Lois to rest for a while, that she would call her if she was needed. Lois was immovable. It was sunrise before sleep overwhelmed her. Holding the hand of the man she loved, sitting on the floor next to his bed, she fell asleep for a while. It was to the sound of a beloved and long wished for voice that she awoke.

"Lois..."

"I'm right here... honey."

"Lois..." he mumbled, but he was not awake.

Looking at Clark then to the ceiling, she started to talk to God.

"You can't do this to me... You can't bring him back to me just to take him away again forever! First Lucy and now him... You can't!"

Lois heard him moaning and raving. She was able to recognize only a few words, a few languages... in his delirium Clark was speaking in all the languages he knew, in Kryptonian too, but from what she was able to understand he kept repeating the same thing "Why did you do that to me, Lois? Why did you do that to us? Perchè mi hai fatto questo, Lois? Perchè hai fatto questo a noi... Varfsr gjorde du s' mot mig? Varfsr gjorde du s' mot oss? Miksi teit niin minulle? Miksi teit niin meille?". Over and over, in a litany that seemed timeless.

"It's not like that, Clark... I've always loved you and I always will!"

She felt Clark holding her hand, at first lightly, then with more strength. "Clark... you're hurting me, " she said without trying to move her hand.

"Lois..." This time he had his eyes open.

"I'm right here."

"I missed you."

"I missed you too... more than anything in the world!"

"I love you, Lois Lane..."

"I love you, Clark Jerome Kent"

Clark collapsed again into sleep. The fever slowly dropped, his wound having stopped bleeding some hours before.

 

-OOO-

 

"Hey... there's someone here who wants to see his mom..."

"J.C.!" After a second the baby came crawling on all fours into the room, followed by his grandmother.

"How is he?"

"Better." But she paused for a second. "I'm sorry... I was so selfish... I didn't let you stay with your son..."

"Lois, you are the person he loves and who he would want to take care of him, more than anyone else in the world. I want him to be happy."

"Oh, Martha..."

"Sweetie, you are going to realize this soon enough... when J.C. is grown, it doesn't matter if you're near them... what matters is that you know they are happy, and with you my son could be in no better hands."

Lois embraced Martha and her child. "You see J.C., we were right to wait for him here," she said, putting the baby on the floor again.

Slowly, Clark opened his eyes.

"Lois, Mom..."

The two women turned to him and immediately Martha sat on the bed. Lois kept back a bit and let the older woman be next to her son, like she was meant to be.

Clark turned from his mother to look at Lois and the baby with a chilly glance. "Why are they here?... I never want to see her again! Her and THAT child!"

"Clark, you don't know what you're saying!"

"I know only too well, Mom!"

Lois stared at him flabbergasted. She couldn't believe it.

J.C. approached him, crawling quickly. There was a stranger in Mom's bed... Who was he? And why had Mom been so worried for him last night...? He wanted to check. The man refused to look at him, despite his attempts to make himself seen. He turned toward his mother and then again toward the bed, trying to pull the blanket in an attempt to call to that so serious man.

Clark looked at him for a second and then pulled the blanket away from the baby. The little one stared at him and the tears came welling up in J.C.'s eyes.

"Jerome, don't bother Clark." Lois said sweetly to the baby. After a little pause she added, "We'll go downstairs..." and she gathered the baby up.

'Yeah! Go bother your own father, Jerome!' thought Clark bitterly, wondering if the child's father was in Smallville; he hadn't seen him the night before, but probably the hurt, both physical and spiritual that he was experiencing, had numbed his mind.

"No, Lois, wait! Clark doesn't know!"

"There's no problem, Martha... when he feels better we'll talk... now he needs his rest."

"Don't talk like I'm not in the room!" Clark had so much anger within him; seeing Lois holding this baby was unbearable for him. He was her baby! The son of someone else!

Lois felt her heart breaking but she forced herself to smile and said, "See you later."

"I told you I never want to see you again!" Clark cried. The effort of this caused him to start to cough.

Lois shut her eyes tightly to hold back her tears with a deep sigh and left the room.

"Clark, Lois hasn't..."

"I don't want to hear anything about her."

"But, honey... you don't know..."

"Please... Mom."

"I guess you need your rest," she said, getting up. "If you need something... well, you can call."

Clark lay on his bed, wondering, while his anger grew. How could his mother be supporting the woman who was breaking his heart?! He felt so remorseful... He, who had always loved children, was experiencing feelings suspiciously similar to hatred towards the son of the woman he loved most. He couldn't bear the responsibility of having left her alone all this time. He knew that he was the only one to blame for their love's demise, maybe. Could he blame her? Even his mother sided with Lois...and the baby was so cute...

 

-OOO-

 

Martha looked for Lois all through the house. She found her in the kitchen, a hand under the cold running water. There were tears in her eyes as she watched the child playing on the floor.

"Have you some ointment? I seem to have hurt myself..." Lois tried to speak as normal as possible, but her voice trembled.

"He'll understand."

"Martha, Clark is the sweetest, most sympathetic man in the universe... I don't have one doubt that he will... but it's so hard... I wanted so much for him to return, and I surely didn't want it this way... all hurt and angry... But it doesn't matter, all I want is for him to be well,... the rest... well... it'll come soon!"

Quickly she dried one tear that had escaped her control; she didn't want to show how much what Clark said had bothered her. Then she turned off the water and crouched down to get the baby.

"Oh my God! Your hand... it's awful... I mean... it's very swollen."

The younger woman smiled. "It doesn't hurt that much... but it does look awful!" she agreed.

"J.C. come to Grandma... Mom needs to rest her arm..."

"Mom...?"

"Jerome Clark Lane... did you really speak?"

"Why is the baby named after me?"

Lois suddenly turned, unable to speak.

"I asked a question!"

"It was a present... Lucy's present... she chose the baby's name...
Jerome Clark Lane." Her voice trembled.

He didn't comment. "Your hand looks really awful," he looked at it with his x-ray vision, "but it's not broken..." Lois smiled again; he was still so angry, but he checked to see if she was okay.

Martha and the baby walked toward the door. She looked at J.C and said, "Why don't we go see Jonathan and let these two talk, okay?" Then she spoke to them. "You two need to talk to each other... you have so much you need to say!"

"You have to change your bandage .." Lois said cautiously.

"Not now, before I do that I want to take care of your hand... I did that, didn't I?"

Clark pulled her into the bathroom where he silently bandaged her with care. He moved slowly, but Lois didn't know if it was because he was hurt or to avoid hurting her.

"You shouldn't be up... you know that, don't you?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "On Earth I recover quickly."
Silence.

Lois looked at him as the tears rolled down her cheeks, but she didn't care about them.

"Why Jerome Clark and not the reverse?"

"Lucy," her voice trembled again when she spoke of her sister, "said that our mother would never forgive her if the child was named after you..."

"Oh."

Silence again.

"Why did she choose the name? I mean..."

"He was... he is her baby... she had to choose it!" Clark looked at her, speechless.

"Why do you have him? I read 'Mom Lois'?"

The tears came unbidden. "There was a... crash... Oh, Clark... I miss her so much!"

Clark held her tightly in his arms, kissing and caressing her. "I'm sorry... please... forgive me... I didn't want..."

" I've waited so long for this moment, Clark." Their lips closed in a deep, sweet kiss. He slid his hand around her and picked her up.

"You're injured..."

"It doesn't hurt, not anymore." He brought her to his bedroom and they lay on the bed.

-OOO-

He gazed at her for a long time. "Why do I have the feeling that you're scared?" he asked her at last. She smiled, her face hidden in his neck. "Why are you scared?"

"Because I am. I'm scared you'll tell me that when you're better you have to go away again and this time..."

"I won't go away again. Never again... I fought very hard to be able to come back home forever. I'm not going to leave you... we have a child to bring up and a marriage to celebrate... and our children..."

"Clark... you don't know how much I prayed because... that evening... how much I wanted to have your child..."

"We will have... soon, honey..."

"During the first months... I think I was going crazy... telling all those lies... and pretending to be fine. I stopped eating and sleeping... Your parents and Lucy really saved my life. Lucy forced me to come here, after I told her the truth... and to stay away from people until I felt better. Your parents almost adopted us... my mother was so jealous! Then as I got stronger... I started to work again, it was better that way... I also won two Kerths."

"Lucy began to play the role of big sister to me... she was great... Then she met David, almost two years ago... she seemed to be born again... then she discovered she was pregnant... David was the ideal man for her... he agreed with her that the baby should be named after you..." She sobbed.

"One evening they came to meet me at the Planet... we were going to celebrate their year and a half together... their car was ahead of mine... a driver lost control on a curve... his car hit them head on. I guess it was a miracle that Jerome was saved.... David died on impact... Lucy... I talked with her... I told her to hold on, that the ambulance was coming. She smiled and said to me, 'Take care of Jerome, like he was your son... like he was Clark's... I have to go... David is waiting for me...' and she was gone." The sobs hindered her from going on. Clark had been holding her since she'd started.

"I... I didn't ask what happened to you... I mean you came here bleeding... what happened?"

"The war, dirty like always... I saw horrible things and met a lot of fine people... we worked hard, because Norr was heavily armed... but the people were with us... and at last we won... three days ago Norr died... and the war ended."

"Who hurt you?"

"Norr... he was going to kill me, but Ching saved me... they fought... I'm so happy to be able to hold you in my arms again... there was a moment... only one... Norr was standing next to me, and he was taunting me... neither human, nor Kryptonian... I had a spear pointed at my throat... I thought I'd never see you again... I realized that I didn't want to die... he said that he'd like to keep me alive so he could come here, bring you and kill you in front of my eyes. Lois, I was so scared... scared for you... scared that you might regret knowing me... loving me..."

She interrupted, kissing him. "Nothing can stop me from loving you!" She quieted for a second. "I guess we can stop talking..." She got up off the bed.

"Lois..."

"Clark, the last evening you were here we started something..." Lois closed the door.

"I missed you!"

"Don't say it, show me!"

 

The End