Clark cracked open his eyes. The sun had just started to come out in all its glory. It took him some time to get his bearings as he stared at the ceiling. He tried to shake off the depression he felt creeping in, but it just kept coming. He sighed

Lois stirred beside him. He turned to her and smiled. It had been almost a decade, and she still looked as beautiful and feisty as ever. He was still as in love with her as he was the first time he saw her. Her almond shaped eyes, her strong nose and the hard line that was her mouth; even now she was frowning slightly in her sleep. Then slowly, as Clark watched, she opened her eyes. She saw him and smiled.

“Good morning Mr. Kent” she said drowsily. It was a beautiful thing to hear, the way she said it dripped seduction

“Good morning Mrs. Kent” he answered with a smile. He hadn’t even gotten used to saying it after all this time

“Do we really have to get up?” Clark just smiled in reply

“Yes dear, we really have to. The kids aren’t going to take themselves to school”

Lois sighed. She got out of bed lazily, swinging her long legs off the bed. She made her way to the bathroom and a minute later, Clark heard the shower running. Clark lay back in bed and just stayed there. A lot of things were going through his mind, he wasn’t very happy with the current establishment, his muscles ached from disuse. He sighed.

Lois got out of the shower and was drying her hair with a towel. She chucked the towel at the distant looking Clark, he caught it easily even without really seeing it.

“Get out of bed Mr. Kent! Just because you have super speed doesn’t mean you should rub in the face of us normal people. At least try not to look so conceited”

Clark had to smile. She was right, he could have a bath, brush his teeth, dress up, pick up the morning paper and save a villager in Uganda all before she finished yawning, but he had been trying to live as normally as possible, it was what everyone advised after that dark incident, if not for his wife, at the very least for the kids. God knows they needed some normalcy in their lives and Lois was very particular about her kids being as normal as possible. He got out of bed while Lois went to attend to the kids. He got into the shower and let the water run over his broad back. He loved the feel of the water as it beat him, it brought about a temporary release.

Clark placed his head against the shower stem and just stayed there for a while. He had to keep smiling for Lois and the kids. He was a lucky man, he kept reminding himself of that. But today was going to be just an ordinary day. Work, family, and friends…and a disaster or two, God please let there be a disaster or two he prayed silently. He immediately felt guilty.

He shook his head, Lois was also talking about having another child. Clark wasn’t so sure, he was perfectly content with the two he had at the moment, but Lois was an excellent mother and in truth, that kind of shocked Clark. Lois being Lois was the last person he’d thought would take to motherhood, but she thrived on it, though she still had stories to write, people to interview and deadlines to meet. She seemed to thrive on the challenge. Perry had said she wouldn’t be able to do it and had suggested she take a desk job, she had refused vehemently. In truth, having a super-powered husband helped as he could pick her up from South Korea and have her home in time for dinner. It was a stressful lifestyle, but she loved it and Clark loved Lois, so he let her do what she wanted.

He got out of the shower and dressed up. He wore his shirt and suspenders. He loved them, they made him look and feel like a reporter from the 40s, it was a style that suited him and he was happy with it.

He wore his glasses and stared at himself in the mirror. He still couldn’t believe that after all these years, people still couldn’t tell that it was him behind the glasses. He knew it was Matt Damon when Matt Damon wore glasses, he knew it was Johnny Depp when Johnny Depp wore glasses, but for the strangest reason, no one recognized him once he took off the glasses. Not that he was complaining, of course, it was just an observation. He pulled on his hat too. You could never be too careful. It was also part of the disguise, at least that way, not everyone would be looking at the hair. He really should have gotten a costume like the Flash’s. no one could tell it was Barry behind the mask, or maybe doctor Banner…now that was a disguise no one could suspect. Normal human being turns into a big green monster, he’d have called it genius if the Hulk wasn’t such a pain. He absently touched a spot on his cheek where the hulk had punched him, only one entity’s punch had hurt more—Doomsday’s

Clark shuddered instinctively. He hoped with all his might that he never faced anything like that again. He packed his costume in his suitcase. He really wished he could keep a separate one in every phone booth, but then it would just get stolen, and he wasn’t sure he wanted that.

He went downstairs.

On getting to the kitchen, he felt arms wrap around his legs in pincer like fashion,

“Daddy!” It was Connor. Connor was five and was very attached to his parents, especially Lois, she still had to sleep beside him till he slept off some nights, and there were the times he’d come into their room during a thunder storm and race into their bed in fear. He was nothing like the other Connor he knew, that one took after a much darker personality.

“Hey son” Clark said, picking up the boy effortlessly and ruffling his hair.

“Hi Dad” That was his 10 year old daughter, Martha. He had named her after his earthly mother. She barely looked up as her hand shot back and forth at impossible speeds over a sheet of paper, a second later, she looked up and smiled, apparently finished

“Good morning daddy.”

“How many times have I told you not to leave your homework until the last possible moment?”

It was a halfhearted rebuke and they both knew it. Martha was just as stubborn as her mother, and she also knew she was special to Clark. He couldn’t find it in his heart to get angry at her. He had a special bond with his daughter, it was mostly because she had inherited his powers. Connor, on the other hand, had exhibited nothing so far, apart from curiosity and tantrums. It was looking more and more like he was going to be a normal boy. Clark didn’t try to think about what the implications of this could be, he just went with it good naturedly. Lois came into the kitchen, phone in ear

“I hear you. I’ll be right there.” She cut the connection and looked at Clark apologetically

“Sorry hun, that was one of my contacts at the UN. He says he has a scoop for me and I have to be there right away. Please take the kids to school, I’ll call you to work out how we’ll pick them up.” All this time Calrk had been unable to get a word in. he tried to speak

“Err… Lois… Do you think I could…”

“No! Absolutely not!”

The request had died on his tongue. She knew him too well. He had wanted to suggest that he fly the kids to school. He sighed, that would have been exciting at least. He picked up the car keys, he really didn’t want to get into trouble with Lois today.

************

Clark started the minivan and went about getting the kids to school. He missed the noise of Metropolis proper or at least the quiet friendliness of Smallville. Because of the kids, they had had to move to the suburbs and while the lawns were well manicured and everyone seemed nice, there was a certain malevolence to it that he couldn’t quite place. But, they needed the privacy and the suburbs provided that.

The car phone rang, Clark picked it up and pressed the answer button.

“Hello? You’re on speakerphone”

“Good morning Clark.” He’d recognize that raspy, creepy voice anywhere

“Uncle Bruce!” squealed Martha excitedly. She had formed a close relationship that sometimes bothered Clark

“Hello Martha” Bruce’s voice was almost cheerful, and considering that it was Bruce they were dealing with, that was saying something

“Hi, Uncle Bruce” chimed Connor. Bruce answered just as ‘almost cheerily’, Clark knew that Bruce didn’t have the patience for kids, seeing as he never had a complete childhood himself.

“So, what’s going on?” asked Clark with a hint of expectancy in his voice

“Nothing of consequence” Came the gravelly reply “Everything seems quiet so far, John would tell us if there’s anything to worry about. Here or in space” Clark nodded curtly, he hadn’t expected to hear differently, it didn’t mean it didn’t hurt a bit.

“And that’s all you called to say, Bruce?”

“Yes” said the billionaire quickly. Clark smiled

“It can’t be that you were missing us and wanted to talk to the kids could it?”

“No” said Bruce a little too quickly, then “Goodbye Clark” and the phone went dead.

Clark grinned

They made for an unlikely couple, Clark with his high morals and Bruce with his deviousness. In another life, Bruce could have been a very formidable enemy–too formidable. Clark was grateful that was not the case. Clark returned to the present to hear Connor making fun of Martha over a boy she seemed to like, he kept singing

Kevin and Martha sitting in a tree k-i-s-s-i-n-g

“Make his stop dad” Martha pleaded

“Connor, stop making fun of your sister” Clark said into the rear view mirror.

The little boy started giggling, suddenly Clark heard a bump

“Ow!” then “Dad! Martha did that on purpose, she blew some air from the corner of her mouth”

Clark almost smiled

“Martha?” he said sternly

“Yes, dad. I will not use my powers on my little brother”

“Good”

Out of the corner of his eye, Clark saw Martha stick her tongue out at Connor

***************

The day passed without much incident. He sat at his desk at work, just typing away at his laptop. He had much work to do, but just like Martha, he liked to take it home and finish it with super speed. They were usually done by morning, no matter how large the workload was. Lois called to say that she’d be getting the kids and Clark needn’t bother about it. She also reminded him that Martha had a performance that evening. She played the violin and they were having some kid orchestra show at the musical hall in Metropolis. He’d said he’d be there, at least it was something to do. It was for 7 pm. He’d just leave around 6 and make his way there. By two in the afternoon, Clark was already drumming his fingers on the table. It was quiet, too quiet.

Suddenly, the volume of the TV in the office foyer went up. Reporters were coming out of their cubicles to see what was going on. Clark was curious, so he got up himself to see what this was all about. He stared at the TV and his eyes brightened. There had been a collapse at a mine in Mexico, the miners were still trapped inside, rescue crews were on site, but weren’t having much luck, due to the delicacy of the situation. Clark turned around, picking up his suitcase. He had a big smile on his face, this was it!

He’d just gotten to the door, when

“Look!” one of the reporters said. Clark turned around, knowing fully well what he was going to see. He groaned and almost slumped. There on the screen, he saw a red blur arriving at the scene, that was undoubtedly the Flash. Then a green beam started hefting rocks out of the way, that was the green lantern. Clark slowly made his way to his seat and watched with growing depression as they were joined by She Hawk, John, Aqua man, even Diana made an appearance! There was clearly nothing to do, Clark was hugely disappointed.

He was bored

He was depressed.

Closing time came and Clark made his way out of the office feeling blue. He hadn’t had anything to do for a while

It had been a year

A full year since that dark day. Darkseid had come to do battle. He’d gone out to meet him, he’d almost died. Darkseid had pummeled him and was going to kill him. But that wasn’t the worst part,

Martha had seen it all

The fighting had been so intense, that they had no idea when they had carried it to Martha and Conner’s school. The kids had run for their lives, teachers trying to herd them to safety, as a cataclysmic battle between Superman and Darkseid raged on. But Martha stayed, she watched as Darkseid almost killed Clark, and in the instant, the final blow was about to land, he caught her eye. She was in tears, but she kept looking, strength was in those eyes. Clark had closed his, disappointed with himself. He braced himself for the final blow.

Nothing happened

Because, at that moment, Kara (supergirl) had entered the fray, then came the teen titans. They fended off Darkseid with all of them forming some sort of barrier between Clark and Darkseid. He had gone then, promising to be back. Clark had lost consciousness.

That was a year ago

Martha still had nightmares about it, and Lois had said he shouldn’t fight anymore. Bruce had said that he had a family to think of now and that if he was going to fight, he had to keep that in mind.

He was sure Bruce was doing all this on purpose. He had never officially said Clark shouldn’t fight, but he was making it very difficult, with the way he was marshaling the Justice League and the teen titans.

Clark decided to fly about a bit. The performance wasn’t until 7 pm; he still had 15 minutes, that was plenty of time. He decided to fly low over Texas, seeing the simple country life, with the horses and farmland and cowboys might soothe him somehow. Suddenly, he heard

“Oooooooooooooooooh, that’s not someone I thought I’d see in a while.”

Clark felt a crack as a fist met his jaw. Clark spun in the air, disoriented; he tried to figure out what could have casually caught him in the air and punched him like that. He looked around and then he saw him.

Black leather boots, tattoos everywhere, the metal chains he loved to sling around himself, the torn up sleeveless jacket, the shaggy beard, that smiling mouth and those cold eyes

It was Lobo.

Clark descended slowly, blood dribbling down his chin. He wiped the blood with the back of his hand. He looked around, they were in a deserted cornfield. He smiled

This was wonderful!

He’d been hoping for something like this all year!

He chuckled, then sniggered, then laughed, then guffawed.

“I don’t know what’s going on Sups, but let’s end this” said Lobo. Clark was still laughing as Lobo charged at him and hit him square in the chest. Clark felt the wind leave him as he fell to the ground. He got up immediately, but Lobo had already pounced on him, Clark let Lobo hit him. With every punch, every jab, every slam, every head butt, Clark felt more and more alive. His muscles ached, it was a welcome feeling. This was what he did, this was who he was, a hero, and heroes fought villains, and that was that.

Clark let Lobo beat him, he had no idea how long. The blue muscled man reveled in it and was taunting Clark

“That all you got Sups? I’m gonna pulverize you” (Sups is short for Superman, Lobo enjoyed calling him that)

Crack!

Crack!

“I’ll bury you myself”

Crack!

“Then I’ll go get that sweet girlfriend of yours… Lois was i…?”

Wham!

The reverse blow sent Lobo to the very end of the cornfield. He was shaken, that was a strong blow.

He looked towards Superman and gasped. His eyes glowed red and there was something really sinister about his smile. He looked beat up, but happy, this unsettled Lobo–a lot!

“Seems you’ve had your fun, Lobo. How about I dish out some punishment of my own.”

One second, Lobo saw Superman at the edge of the cornfield, the next second

He was gone!

Lobo didn’t even see him until he appeared in his front, drawing his fist backward to deliver an uppercut. The grin on Sups’ face was maniacal; his eyes glinted with malevolence and madness. He hit Lobo with an uppercut so extreme, so powerful, so intense, so robust, that Lobo flew and landed in Kansas.

The force he used to land must have caused a small tremor felt around the entire state. He’d landed smack in the middle of another field, obliterating a scarecrow as he fell, his fall had dug a hole and had formed a small circle of destruction for the crops around him. He groggily got up, he judged as he clambered out of the hole that his fall had created, that it must have been roughly 6 feet. Clark was waiting for him at the top of the hole. He pounced on him. No one was coming to help Lobo. Clark beat him, venting the frustration of the entire year on him, he didn’t stop. Lobo was moving in and out of consciousness now, his eyes were swollen, his cheeks were puffed out, his tongue couldn’t move. Was this Sups? He’d always thought he was a bit of a pussy.

Lobo was on the floor now. Clark stood over him, he looked at him for a while, he was heaving. The hardness slowly left his eyes, for a second he looked horrified, like he was just seeing Lobo for the first time, the look quickly changed to steely determination.

Clark turned and saw Diana standing behind him, she looked too shocked for words. He walked past her and said

“Wonder woman, tell Batman I’m coming out of retirement.” And with that he flew off, leaving Diana, the Wonder woman, still speechless

***************

Clark flew towards home. He was feeling liberated, he hadn’t felt this good in a long while. He was humming a tune. The streets were deserted as most people had turned in, that was fine by him. He would get home and tell Lois all about it, and go in and kiss Martha and Connor goodn…

Martha

Clark paled

He had missed her performance!

He’d gotten to the house by now. All the lights were turned off. He quickly changed into civilian clothes. He was staggering towards the door now. His legs were like jelly, he had no idea how he was going to face Lois. He slowly opened the door, inch by inch, afraid that the door would creak–it didn’t

He sighed with relief. He closed the door as quietly as possible, and tiptoed towards the stairs leading to the bedroom. If he could make it into bed without Lois’ noticing, he could maybe explain all this away in the morning. Yes! He could do this. He could dimly see the TV from here, with the back of the couch facing him. He put one toe gingerly on the first step, when

Clark”

It was Lois, she said his name in a sing song voice, it would have been cute if the situation wasn’t desperate. She turned on the light on the table and turned to face him.

Clark paled.

He started to perspire

“Lois…i…i…I can…explain”

“Oh? No need, I saw it all over the news. Large mysterious hole in farmland in KANSAS! They don’t know who it is, but I do. Who were you fighting?”

“Lobo” said Clark miserably

“How do you feel?” Clark was a little surprised at the question. She must have noticed the cuts and bruises on his face, but she must have also noticed the change in demeanor, she saw that he was happier.

“I feel better” he said uncertainly. She nodded

“I’m really happy that you feel better. Maybe we shouldn’t have made you stop doing the thing you love. Just be careful okay?” this was great! She was supporting him! Clark had never loved this woman more in his entire life.

“Well, I’m off to bed” she said. With that, she headed up the stairs. Clark started to follow her

“Where are you going?” she asked

Clark stopped.

“Be…Bed?” Lois turned to face him slowly. Her face scared him. She didn’t even need to say anything, he just made his way to the couch. That was going to be his bed tonight. He was just thinking to himself, I’m literally the most powerful man in the world, how… Lois spoke then

“And if you’re thinking to yourself that you’re the most powerful man in the world, do keep in mind that I dated Lex and Bruce before marrying you.”  He heard their room door slam.

Clark lay on the couch with the lights off, thinking to himself,

How the hell does she do that?