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Clark Superman

Family Reunion - Chapter 50 - Awake

Title: Family Reunion
Author: mr_beeto 
Fandom: Richard Donner and Bryan Singer's Superman MovieVerse (i.e., without Salkind corruption)
Rating: PG
Word Count: Chapter 50 - 4,559; Total - 217,961
Beta: dandello and htbthomas
Summary: AU Twist on Donner/Singer Movieverse: Tie the three films together into a cohesive whole, and provide a more credible and interesting reason for Superman to have returned to Krypton. The story starts here.

Chapter 49 ]     [  Table of Contents  ]     [  Chapter 51  ]

Author’s Notes:
Thanks again to the beta team of htbthomas and Shado Librarian, a.k.a. dandello.

Chapter 50 – Awake

Sunday, October 8, 2006 6:15PM EDT
The shroud of silence slowly lifted from Superman’s senses.  Quiet murmurs coalesced into incomprehensible whispers and he began to again perceive the tingle of solar energy throughout his body.  The brilliance of the sun lamps slipped past his eyelids and pushed against the darkness while comprehension assaulted his slumber and gave meaning to the sounds around him from his caretakers and guardians voicing their hopes and worries for him.  He opened his eyes and blinked a few times, cautiously taking in his surroundings.

His scan of the room revealed his uniform neatly folded on the chair beside the bed, and he looked down in surprise at the hospital gown that covered him.  After a momentary pause, he resumed his survey, pushing his vision through the walls where he observed the hospital staff busily attending to their duties along with a handful of soldiers and Metropolis police officers dutifully stationed outside his room.  He pushed his vision out even further and the hospital walls faded away to reveal the city beyond.  Philadelphia? he wondered in surprise.  How did I end up here?

His visual exploration was interrupted by Jor-El’s voice, transmitted in the hypersonic spectrum outside the range of human hearing.  “Kal-El, my son.  Please report to the Fortress as soon as you are able.  You must be briefed on everything that has transpired since you lost consciousness seventy-three hours ago and on the work that lies ahead of us…  Kal-El, my son.  Please report to the Fortress as soon as you are able.  You must be briefed on everything that has transpired since you lost consciousness seventy-three hours ago and on the work that lies ahead of us…”

The solar tingle in his cells combined with Jor-El’s repeating message and his own discomfort with the unfamiliar surroundings was more than enough motivation for Superman to push away the last lingering vestiges of sleep and rise into a seated position.  The sun lamps immediately shut off as he did so and he finally noticed them, looking up as they were briefly enveloped in a blue aura before dematerializing.  Those didn’t come from around here, Superman noted.  Was that Jor-El’s doing?

Superman was desperate to learn what had transpired over the past three days, and thus quickly changed back into his uniform, taking care to switch off the monitoring equipment prior to peeling the leads from his skin to avoid any alarms.  Once dressed, he looked around the windowless room, frowning at the realization that he’d have to face his minders in the hall before returning to the sky.  Though it was tempting to rush past them at superspeed, he doubted it would escape their notice and concluded it would seem inexcusably rude.  He needed to at least express his gratitude before taking his leave.  He took a moment to steel himself for the gauntlet before he opened the door and marched out to meet his supporters.

-o-o-o-


Superman arrived at the Fortress to find the table in the middle of the main chamber cluttered with Lois’ laptop, empty coffee mugs and plastic containers with the remnants of a meal, along with a stack of the past few days’ newspapers.  In addition to The Daily Planet, which was printed under a joint banner with The Gotham Gazette, the stack also included editions of the San Francisco Chronicle and the Alexandria Times.  At Jor-El’s suggestion, he read through the papers at superspeed, and was dismayed at the horrific aftereffects of Luthor’s attack that was documented in dozens of stories, some of which appeared under his byline.  He had also been surprised to learn how far the disaster zone extended.  He’d been so focused on the devastating damage in Metropolis at the time that it had never occurred to him to check for damage beyond the city.

“So much devastation,” Kal-El murmured.

“It would have been much worse had you not acted as you did,” Jor-El pointed out.  “You should also recognize that this world’s international community has responded admirably to the crisis.  Though there have been some minor territorial squabbles, they are mostly united in their efforts to assist the survivors and rebuild the cities.”

“I need to help them.”

“You must prepare yourself first,” Jor-El insisted.   Suddenly, several floating displays materialized behind the console, and Jor-El presented a briefing on the minute details of the damage, far beyond anything appearing in the newspapers, though reinforcing the accuracy of those stories.  Superman listened and studied the screens attentively until his review of events was interrupted by a pair of young voices erupting from the back of the room, calling for him.  He turned in time to see Jason and Kara zoom across the room towards him at superspeed.  He just barely crouched down in time to catch the kids as they rushed into his arms.

As the children began chattering, he looked across to room to see Lois and his mother stroll through the door.  “Clark,” Lois muttered emotionally.  She hesitated for just a moment before running across the room towards him.

Superman stood up, lifting the children with him as Lois reached them and wrapped her arms around him in a fierce embrace.

“Don’t ever scare me like that again,” Lois told him dramatically.

“I’ll try not to,” he assured her.

“Are you feeling better now, Dad?” Kara asked worriedly.  “The people on TV said you might die.”

“I’m getting really good at powers now,” Jason informed him excitedly, speaking at the same time as Kara.  “Can we go flying?  Mommy said we had to wait until you got better.”

“Whoa, there.  One at a time, and give me a chance to answer,” Superman replied warmly.  Once they quieted down, he told them, “Yes, I’m all better now.  No, I’m not going to die.  And I think we’re going to need to wait a little while before we can go flying.  I could be busy for a while.”

“Can we help?” Kara asked hopefully.

“Kara, we talked about that.  Remember?” Lois reminded her firmly as Martha finally approached the family group.

Kara pouted and grumbled, “It’s not fair.”

“I know it doesn’t seem that way now, sweetheart, but it’s really for the best,” Martha told her gently.  She joined the group hug, pulling her son close as she sadly told him, “We were so worried about you.”

Superman nodded and somberly said, “I’m sorry to scare you like that…  Mom, I can’t stay long.  There’s so much work to do…”

“And that includes reassuring your children that their daddy’s okay,” Martha pointed out.  She withdrew from the hug and added seriously, “Kara has had a particularly rough time the past few days.”

“Nightmares?”

Martha nodded and said, “They were bad enough for emergency sessions with Doctor Gupta.  Jason’s been shaken by all this, too, and we sent him with Kara to talk to the doctor.”

Lois added, “You guys really found a really good psychologist there.  Not only was she great with the kids, she had already cleared her calendar before we even called.  I guess she was expecting the call once she heard the news.  Anyway, she even invited us into her home yesterday and today for the kids’ private sessions.”

“How bad was the damage?” Superman wondered seriously.

“She refused to let us pay this time.  Said it was her contribution to reconstruction.”

“We can’t take advantage of her kindness like that, but that’s not what I meant…  Kara’s nightmares can be kind of rough on the house.”

“I’m sorry,” Kara said contritely.

“It’s okay, honey,” Lois replied.  She turned to Superman and explained, “Thursday night was a tough one which meant that Kara was helping Ben with some repairs Friday morning.  That’s mostly done, though.  All that’s left is fixing her headboard and some painting.  That should be the last we need to worry about that kind of thing, though.  Jor-El’s protecting the bed and walls with a force field now – at night at least.”

“Wish I had thought of that,” Superman muttered.  “What else did I miss during my ‘nap’?”

Before Lois had a chance to respond, Martha interjected, “While Lois explains things, I’ll warm up dinner.”

“Oh, you don’t need to do that, Mom,” Superman protested.  He finally noticed the picnic basket she’d been carrying, and peeked inside with his x-ray vision to find generous portions from a lasagna dinner and an apple pie dessert.

“Clark, you just got out of the hospital and probably haven’t had a thing to eat since lunch Thursday, three days ago,” Martha pointed out sternly.  “I’m going to warm this up, and then you’re going to eat.”

“But there’s so much to do after the devastation left by Luthor’s mad plan, which is partially my fault.”

“Clark, don’t you dare blame yourself for this,” Lois told him insistently.

“But I am to blame,” Clark counted sadly.  “If I hadn’t been so careless with the security here, Luthor never could have threatened the world with Kryptonian technology.”

“Instead, he would have found another way to threaten the world, and we might not have been as well prepared to deal with it as we were with this,” Lois declared authoritatively.  “Remember what he did that landed him in jail after your first encounter with him?  He fired a couple of hijacked nukes at California and tried to destroy the West Coast.  Clark, you’re no more to blame for that sociopath’s evil this time.”

“But he should never have been able to access the Kryptonian database so easily.”

“Well, no, he shouldn’t have.  But that doesn’t mean you should shoulder the blame for everything he did,” Lois argued.  “The better response would be to use that same Krypto-tech that Luthor misused to help undo the damage.”

“I think Jor-El would be quick to point out that there are strict Kryptonian laws restricting the use of our technology with less advanced civilizations,” Superman stated seriously.

“That is correct,” Jor-El declared.  “Although, the law does allow for exceptions under certain narrowly defined circumstances.”

“We found a loophole,” Lois clarified with a laugh.  “Oh, we got the speech when we first broached the subject with Jor-El, and it took quite a bit of discussion before he conceded the legal loophole.  Apparently, Krypto-tech is allowed to undo the results of misused Krypto-tech, which is certainly the case here.  Jor-El’s still not entirely pleased with our solution, but he’s not fighting us on it either, other than to insist that we couldn’t begin while so much energy was dedicated to powering those sun lamps over your bed.”

“I thought those might have come from Jor-El,” Superman commented.  “So… care to share this reconstruction plan of yours?”

“How about I tell you all about it while you eat your dinner,” Lois declared.  “Deal?”

Clark was silent for a moment before nodding his head in acquiescence.  “Deal.”

“I’ll be right back,” Martha said cordially.  “Children, would you please clear that mess off the table so there’s room for your dad to eat?  Bring it into the kitchen.”

“Leave my laptop there,” Lois instructed them.

Superman relaxed his grip around the children and set them on their feet, allowing them to walk over to the table and do as their grandmother had asked while the old woman left the room through a side door.  “Okay, so what’s the plan?” Clark prodded.

“Ah!  I said over dinner, and you haven’t started eating yet,” Lois said firmly.  She walked over and sat at the table before looking back over at him.  When she spotted his frown, she told him, “You know, you’ve really got to stop torturing yourself over this.  Yes, it’s a mess.  Yes, it’s a lot of work to do.  But you’re not in this alone…”  Lois paused as the children cleared off the table in front of her and rushed after their grandmother with the papers and dishes.  She nodded her head towards them and added quietly, “And it’s not your only responsibility.  Richard, Ron and I can cover for you at the Planet, but nobody can cover for you with the munchkins.  This hasn’t been easy for them either, you know.  It hasn’t been easy for any of us.”

“I know, but I still have to clean up the mess Luthor left,” he replied sadly as he walked over and joined Lois at the table.

“And you will, but you’ll be smart about it, which means letting the others out there do their part and sticking with the plan.”

“I can’t wait to hear this plan…  Wait, Ron’s been covering for me?”

“Yep, and that local perspective piece from Saturday’s lifestyle section that was printed under your byline was his work,” Lois informed him.  “You’ll owe him some Superman exclusives to keep Perry off his back once this is over. By the way, he and Lucy know the family secret now.”

“What?” Clark asked numbly.

“Ron saw the munchkins fly off to rescue me Thursday, and he’s never been able to keep anything from Lucy for very long.”

“Did anyone else see them?” Superman asked worriedly.

“We don’t think so,” Lois assured him.  “They ran into the alley behind Restaurant Row before flying up into the sky, and Ron’s certain that he’s the only one who saw them.  Anyway, I had a talk with him and Lucy about it Thursday night… and again on Friday.  We’re all set there, but you should still plan on talking to them about it when you get a chance.”

Superman nodded his head, and said unenthusiastically, “I’ll make a point of it.  Any other surprises?”

“Well, while we’re speaking of the family secret… my dad was able to put together most of the pieces of the puzzle before I got a chance to talk to him,” Lois revealed.  “They brought Daniels into the Pentagon Friday morning for debriefing, and my dad was able to pull him aside for a private meeting before it began.  Daniels kept the kids out of the report, just like he promised, but he told my dad everything that happened out there.”

Superman sighed and said, “Well, we were planning on telling him anyway, and you did lead Daniels to believe that your dad already knew, along with nameless other Pentagon brass.”

“I was trying to insure his silence,” Lois protested irritably.   “We didn’t know him from Adam, and we couldn’t risk the secret getting out.  Anyway, Dad thinks it’s contained, though I really got an earful when I showed up to talk to him yesterday morning.”

“You were in Alexandria?  I read in those newspapers that commercial air traffic on the Eastern Seaboard was practically shut down.”

“Actually, I was in Arlington,” Lois corrected.  “And yes, air travel’s at a standstill, which is why we added a portal stop there.  It comes up under the Sheraton National Hotel’s parking garage, a little less than a mile west of the Pentagon.  Anyway, back to Daniels… Dad pulled his file and spoke with his C.O., and it looks like he’s a highly principled young officer who’s not going to cause any problems for us.

“As for Dad… Well, he knows the full truth now, including the part about the Kryptonian farm boy and his adopted daughter…  He already had nearly enough to figure most of that out, and probably would have put it all together the first time Lucy’s kids mentioned Kara’s dad.  At least this way, I could swear him to secrecy first.”

“Makes sense and we were going to tell him,” Superman acknowledged.  “Given the circumstances, there really wasn’t any alternative, though I’m not looking forward to my next encounter with him.”

“Expect to get raked over the coals,” Lois replied mirthfully.  “I think that about covers the family secret, and just in time.   Here comes your mother and the kids with your dinner.  Once you get started on it, I’ll explain our reconstruction plan.”

-o-o-o-


Perry peeked over Nancy Garrett’s shoulder at the mock-up of the combined edition that the Planet and Gazette would be putting out the following morning.  The Planet was still running in disaster mode three days after the EMP, though the Gazette was running close to business as usual.  It was taking them longer to file their stories with the traffic tie-ups and phone problems, but they were getting the local stories in.

Perry reflected that the Planet staff faced far greater obstacles and yet were producing superior results.  That was due not only to the cache of satellite phones that Wayne had shipped them after the first EMP, but to the extraordinary efforts put in by staff.  The editors still had some coordination to do with those still in the city, but the best stories were getting filed without explicit assignments.  There were some setbacks, but on the whole the Planet’s output had been extraordinary.  That accomplishment was especially valuable in the current news environment, with people desperate to learn as much as they could about the disaster.  Perry hoped that the sales driven by that high public anxiety could lead to new subscriptions.

“Well, I think it looks pretty good,” Nancy commented, interrupting Perry’s thoughts.  “I believe we’ll have another sell-out.”

“That’s not really a challenge with this national disaster and all the local cable outages,” Perry opined.  “This is the only show in town if they want to find out what’s happening.  Enjoy it while it lasts.”

“Spoilsport.”

“Nancy, you know I’m right,” Perry countered.  “Cable news, the Internet and public apathy have been eating away at our print circulation for years.  Under normal circumstances, you need a really meaty story on tragedy, sex or Superman to move the product off the newsstand.”  Perry’s speech was interrupted by a ringing phone.  Perry checked his suit jacket pockets as he added, “Was that yours or mine?”

“Yours.  I changed my ring tone.”

Perry fished the phone out of his pocket and checked the caller ID, which identified Ron Troupe as the caller.  He switched the phone on and answered gruffly, “I hope you’ve got something good for me, Troupe.”

“Yes, sir.  One of our sources came through for us, and I thought you’d want to hear the news right away,” Ron replied excitedly.

“Well, don’t keep me in suspense.  What is it?” Perry pressed.

“Our sources tell us that the Man of Steel is back in the sky,” Ron announced cheerfully.

“Troupe, you just got the front page,” Perry declared enthusiastically.  “How soon can you get the story in?”

“I’ll write it up as soon as we’re done here,” Ron promised him.  “Perry, I’m also told Superman’s adopting the reconstruction plan that we speculated about earlier.  The details will be released in a White House press conference at nine.  I don’t believe that Superman’s expected to be there, though.”

“Understood.  Now, stop wasting your time talking to me and get that story in,” Perry replied seriously, and he recalled their recent conversations on the matter.  Lois had made Troupe one of her proxies to keep the negotiations discussing Superman’s role in reconstruction from getting tracked back to her.  He had shared the details of Lois’ plan with Perry, and he had passed the proposal on to Bruce Wayne and Lucius Fox, citing an anonymous source.  The executives had in turn exerted their influence to get government and other businesses to sign on for the tentative plan.  Ron’s message meant that Superman was on-board with the proposal as well.

“Yes, sir.  Good-bye, sir,” Ron replied differentially, and he ended the call.

“What’s he got?” Nancy asked eagerly.

“Something that just changed our front page,” Perry declared.  “Above the fold, ‘Superman Wakes from Coma’.  And below the fold, ‘Washington Approves Kryptonian Reconstruction Plan’.  By the way, the second headline isn’t official yet.  There’s a White House press conference at nine.  Figures that they’d try to take credit for it.”

“We’re not going to have much time to get the story in after that press conference,” Nancy muttered.  “Damn, I hate it when they schedule things like this so late.”

“We’ll have to get as much of it prepped beforehand as we can,” Perry declared.  “I think I know someone with access to the details on the reconstruction plan.”

“Think we can get an advance copy?”

“I’m counting on it,” Perry said confidently.  “I suggest we use the Planet’s Washington Bureau to cover it from that end, and use your local Gazette staff to cover it for Business, City and Features.  My people in Metropolis may have a hard time finding a TV or webcast.”

“That works for me,” Nancy agreed.  “I’ll round up my guys for the briefing.  Looks like we’ll be working late again.”

Perry nodded his acknowledgement and dialed one of the numbers from his contact list.  Once the call went through, he said into the phone, “It’s Perry.  We need to get our hands on a copy of that reconstruction plan…”

-o-o-o-


Ron Troupe was drumming him fingers on the kitchen table as he intently studied the open document in front of him, displayed on the loaner laptop Lois had provided for him.  She had also provided all the pertinent details on Superman’s recovery to flesh out a good story, but he remained nervous over what would be his first front page, and probably above the fold at that, if he knew Perry.  Ron reread the story again, before he finally attached a cable from his cell phone to the laptop and established an Internet connection.  He submitted the story to the Planet’s web portal and hoped Perry wouldn’t find too many problems with it.

As the document uploaded, Ron silently thanked his sister-in-law for her efforts.  The laptop had been just one of several items Lois had provided in a care package, beamed into their garage when nobody was looking.  She’d also provided an emergency generator, space heaters, and a collection of books and games to keep the kids occupied.  They had everything they needed to ride out the crisis in comfort.

Ron noticed that the document upload was completed, and he triumphantly declared, “All done.  That should do it until the president’s news conference.”

He reached for the cable to disconnect the cell phone from his laptop but was interrupted by Jimmy’s hand on his arm.  “Before you shut down, do you mind if I check my email?” he asked politely.  “I want to see if Perry said anything about the pictures I uploaded earlier.”

“Go right ahead,” Ron consented, turning the laptop to face his friend.  Ron reflected that it hadn’t taken much convincing to talk the young photographer into staying with them until the crisis was over.  Of course, Jimmy’s apartment didn’t have the advantage of alternate power or covert grocery deliveries, beamed over from Superman’s Fortress.

Ron turned his attention to his family in the living room and called out, “Is anyone up for a game of Uno?”

Ron’s son, Sam, walked into the kitchen flanked by his sisters, Susie and Michelle.  He looked up anxiously at his father, and quietly asked, “Dad?  Is Superman going to fix everything now that he’s awake?”

“I’m sure he’ll do everything he can,” Ron assured him.  “He’s even going to use Kryptonian technology to speed things up this time, though it might still take a little while.”

“He’s doing what?” Jimmy interjected incredulously.  “I don’t think we’ve ever seen him use his technology before.”

“And it will probably never happen again,” Ron declared.  “Superman’s still bound by Kryptonian law, which prohibits it under normal circumstances.  I guess it’s kind of like their version of Star Trek’s ‘Prime Directive’.  He’s not supposed to use their technology on a less advanced society.”

“But he’s using it this time,” Lucy added.

“Yes, because there’s an exception that allows its use to mitigate damage from an abuse of that technology,” Ron continued, directing his explanation mostly to his kids.  “Oh, he’ll be doing the same heavy lifting and personal rescues that you’d expect, but while he’s doing that, his space ship will be flying overhead beaming down replacement parts for the fried electronics.”  He turned to Jimmy and added, “There are also some big companies like Wayne Enterprises offering Superman unrestrictive free license agreements to accommodate that.”

“What’s he need a license for?” Sam asked in confusion.

“Because Superman always obeys the law, and our laws say that when someone invents something, nobody else is allowed to make that thing without permission,” Ron told him.  “The licenses give Superman permission to replicate their products and beam them down to fix the broken stuff.”

“It sure didn’t take long for Superman to get that worked out,” Jimmy commented.

“I think some bigwigs at Wayne Enterprises have been trying to put something together ever since the dust settled after the EMP,” Ron explained.  “Actually, it’s a clever business strategy.  One, they get great free publicity for their philanthropy.  Two, since Superman’s only replicating products he’s been licensed for, Wayne grows their market share without spending a dime, and three, given the nature of most of that hardware, I don’t imagine they’ll have much trouble selling support contracts to those new customers.  Oh, there’s some overlap with the other companies that have signed up for the program, but it still looks to me like Wayne’s got a win-win scenario there.”

“So in other words, Superman should have everything back to normal in no time!” Jimmy concluded cheerfully.

“It’s not going to happen overnight,” Ron corrected.

His nine-year-old daughter Susie looked up at him anxiously and asked, “How long’s it going to take?”

“A couple weeks.  Maybe longer,” Ron guessed.  “You see, it takes a lot of juice to beam things in and out, and Superman’s ship will run low on power after just a few hours.  But it can make new fuel from the Sun’s energy, so when it gets low, it flies back out into space and does laps around the sun until it has enough power to start over.  That means that he can’t fix everything at once.  He’ll get the most important things first, and save the little things for later.”

“I hope he gets the roads first,” Jimmy commented.  “It’s still a parking lot out there and murder to get across town, especially with the Roosevelt Tunnel flooded and the Hobbs Bridge collapse.”

“Emergency services come first:  Police, Fire, Ambulance.  Hospitals,” Ron informed him.  “Once their equipment is all working again, then I think maybe the communications infrastructure is next.”

“No, the water’s more important,” Lucy said insistently.  “We may have enough bottled water for drinking and cooking, but it doesn’t help with baths or showers.”

“I’m sure that water’s got to be up near the top of the list, but I don’t know the exact order,” Ron admitted.  “Hopefully, we’ll get some of those details during the press conference later.”

“Hopefully, but we can worry about that later,” Lucy replied.  She turned to her kids and asked them seriously, “You guys aren’t worried about this, are you?  You know we’re all going to be just fine for as however long this lasts, right?”

“Uh-huh,” the kids echoed neutrally.

“Good,” Lucy said happily.  “Now, I seem to recall that someone was challenging us to a game of Uno…”

Chapter 49 ]     [  Table of Contents  ]     [  Chapter 51  ]

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