Lex downed the large shot of whiskey before he sat down and rubbed his forehead. He was no closer to learning who the mysterious new party who was after the stones as well was and it was beginning to get on his nerves. He was also annoyed by his failure to separate Clark and Lana. He dismissed the darker impulse within him which suggested to kidnap Lana, because he knew that should she ever find out it was him, he would never be able to possess her and his friendship with Clark would be utterly destroyed and that was something he was not prepared to do just yet.
He logged onto his laptop and began to go through his reports from Luthorcorp and the 33.1 labs. He was making slow headway in his business dealings, but he had to be careful so no one learned of the questionable things he was doing. He leaned back in his chair as he brought up the map he had found hidden in the manuscript he had brought and wondered if it was worth pursuing, now that Jason had told him China had already been hit and the stone removed.
Lana, Chloe, Martha and Jonathan were eating supper and were discussing anything but what they were involved in, as they all wanted a bit of normality for a few hours. They all looked up as Clark and Raya finally returned and both looked tired. Lana quickly abandoned her chair and embraced Clark in a strong hug, before she kissed him as hard as she could, which Clark gladly returned.
"Hey," Lana said, as they slowly broke apart. "I missed you," said with a smile.
"Me too, but we had a lot to do and to discuss," Clark responded, as they all sat down at the table. "I feel a lot better now," he admitted, as Martha went into the kitchen and prepared two new dishes and placed them in front of Clark and Raya who quickly dug in.
"So, what did you get up to Clark?" Chloe asked, wondering what plans her friend had put in motion.
"We went and recruited three of the future Justice League members and arranged to meet at the end of the week here with anyone else we can recruit," Clark said between mouthfuls. "We also managed to get Dax-Ur to agree to help. He will arrive tomorrow," he added. "Don't be surprised if the JL members turn up in costume to protect their real identities and before you ask, we will not reveal who they really are, unless they decide to trust you with that information and I am sorry Lana, but this includes you as well," Clark explained, before looking at Lana, fearing she would get mad at him for this, but she just smiled at him.
"It's okay Clark. In this case it's not your secret to tell and you are trying to protect your friends or future friends. I can understand that," Lana responded. "Considering what these people do, I can understand them wanting to protect their real identities, especially if they have any family who may be targets, should someone learn who they really are," she added with a smile.
"How many are you planning to recruit Clark?" Jonathan asked, as he finished his supper.
"As many as I can dad, but sadly some of them are not even active just yet," Clark replied, as he finished his own meal. "Bart will be hard to track down, but I can look for him tomorrow and see if he wants to join us," he added.
"Hold on, Bart has a special ability?" Chloe asked as she remembered the young man who had befriended Clark and herself two months back.
"Yeah, he can run faster than anyone else and that includes Kryptonians," Clark said, hoping Bart had changed enough to want to help out as he was a good guy and the man he became in the future was a great hero with many saves to his name.
"How is it that this Bart can run faster than us?" Raya inquired as she finished her meal and thanked Mrs. Kent for it.
"According to what he told me, there was some kind of accident which involved lightning, but he would never tell the whole story, not even in the future and we never bothered to push it, especially once the war started," Clark answered. "The point stands though that Bart turned out to be a good friend and a defender of this world," he stated to which the others nodded in acceptance.
"I think you and Raya could do with some sleep Clark. You both look tired," Martha interjected.
Clark nodded and led Raya to his room, where he said she could sleep, whilst he took the guest room. As he settled down on the bed he hoped this was only the beginning of their good fortune and that things would continue to go well for them. He tried to ignore any thoughts of Raya in the next room and Lana downstairs, as he closed his eyes and tried to relax. He quickly opened his eyes again, when someone entered the room and joined him on the bed and he quickly deduced it was Lana.
"Goodnight Clark," Lana said, as she snuggled into his side. She pulled the covers over her, wanting more sleep herself and promising to tell Clark about her meetings with Isobel tomorrow.
"Goodnight Lana," Clark responded, basking in the feeling of falling asleep with Lana in his arms.
Outside the guest room Jonathan was about to enter and tell Lana to sleep in her own room, when Martha intercepted him and shook her head with an almost annoyed look on her face.
"But," he tried to protest, before his wife cut him off.
"They need this right now Jonathan. They need to connect fully," Martha told him, having noted how much Lana had missed Clark all day. "They aren't going to do anything like what you suspect. They just want to feel the other close by and considering what's to come it's going to be rare when they can feel like any normal couple and you know it," she added, leading him to their own bedroom, as Chloe settled on the couch for the night.
"Well as long as they remember the rules," Jonathan said, knowing he would not be able to do anything, now that Martha had made up her mind to trust Clark and Lana would be responsible.
"They will, you have to remember they've been separated for a while and are only now coming back together. Only this time without the barriers that have always kept them at arm's length," Martha reminded him. "In the days to come they will begin to fully build their relationship and I do not expect it to fail again with the way they have been talking and looking at one another. I expect her to become my daughter in law soon enough," she continued as she changed into her night clothes. "They also have to factor in where Raya comes into the relationship and how that will work. So I am content not to make things any more difficult for them and just allow them to find their way on their own," she finished as she got into bed.
Jonathan could only smile at knowing that his wife was correct. With Lana now knowing the full truth about Clark and accepting it, he fully expected the young woman to marry their son down the line, as had been evident when she asked Clark to pick up the blue kryptonite, which would allow them to have a family of their own.
It was clear to him that Lana was planning a long term relationship with Clark this time around and if he was honest with himself, he couldn't think of a girl he rather have as a daughter in law. His wife was also correct that with the danger they faced they all deserved some time to feel normal and to do normal things, especially with the one you loved. He also had to agree that Clark, Lana and Raya had some serious discussions to get through, so he decided to do as his wife had and trust they would find their own way without rushing things.
Raya settled down for the night pleased to feel the soft mattress underneath her, this was the first time she had slept in a bed since she had entered the Phantom Zone and she felt the bliss of being able to sleep without the fear of being caught unaware by one of the zoners. It had been a very long day and she was still processing a lot of what happened and what she had learned. Kal-El had opened up to her with things it seemed he had not yet confessed to Lana and that surprised her.
The meetings with the people who would become allies in the future had gone well and she had been impressed that they had all listened to what they had to tell them and had enough trust to believe them. She had to admit Jor-El had been right, the humans had a great potential within them, if they could avoid the pitfalls any civilization faced. She closed her eyes and began to dream of the future they would create and the family she was sure she and Kal-El would raise alongside his family with Lana.
(Star City, Queen Tower)
Oliver Queen watched through the files again Clark had given him. The more he watched them the more he prayed he was strong enough to help them avert what he had been assured would come. He had run the files through filters to see if they had been faked, but he could find no signs of tampering. He had played the taped conversation with Clark and Raya through his system and the computers could detect no sighs of falsehood in their speech patterns, which had convinced him all the more that what he had been told was the truth and that chilled him to the bone and made him shiver.
He stood and walked to the window. He looked out into the night wondering who else Clark was recruiting. He had some ideas based on what he had seen on the files, but still he was wondering exactly which people he would choose to bring into this. He was also looking forward to meeting people like himself who were dedicated to helping others something he was now convinced Clark was one of. They had a lot to work to do, but if they made it he decided he would join this Justice League if it was decided to keep it alive.
(Ghul Mansion, Middle East)
Batman looked at the mansion which was to where he had tracked Ra and Talia down to. He was across the dune which hid his plane. He didn't know exactly why he had come, just that since learning that he and Talia could be a couple and raise a family he had felt compelled to try and start the relationship as fast as possible.
The icy cold fear he felt at the thought of losing her and any child they had still gripped him. He guessed that was why he had come. He wanted to put Talia on her guard. The problem was Ra himself, according to his future self's secret message he and Ra had made peace with each other for the sake of Talia's happiness. The idea he would do such a thing for a woman was hard for him to understand, but he decided that since his future self had married Talia she meant everything to him. He was willing to take a chance, but he was not going in there blindly, he needed a little help and so he turned and went back to the plane and pulled out his cell phone and rang the number Clark had give him.
Clark groaned as his cell went off. He rolled over and reluctantly released Lana, who mumbled a little in protest before going back to sleep. He got up and went over to where his jeans where and fished out his phone.
"Hello?" he said, while quietly leaving the room and going downstairs. "Bruce, I'm surprised what's up?" he asked before sitting down as Bruce explained why he was calling. "Yeah I'll be there shortly," he said after Bruce finished speaking.
He sighed and shook his head, knowing Bruce could be stubborn once he got an idea in his head, thanks to his future memories, but this time he could not fault his reasoning. It would seem by telling Bruce about being married to Talia he had opened up Bruce to the realm of hope of building a family. Something Bruce had told him in the future he had never believed he could do.
"Son, what's wrong?" Jonathan asked, as he came downstairs after hearing someone wandering around and wanting to check it out.
"I have to go out to help one of the friends I mentioned," Clark said in reply. "If Lana or the others wake up and ask, tell them I will be back soon," he said as he quickly super sped upstairs and changed before coming back down and heading for the door.
"Do you think you should take Raya with you for back up?" Jonathan asked a little concerned by this.
"No, let her rest dad," Clark replied, before exiting the house and super speeding off to where Bruce said he was.
Jonathan sighed before he relocked the door and turned to find Lana and Martha standing at the bottom of the stairs.
"Where did he go?" Lana asked disappointed Clark had left her when she had felt so warm and safe in his arms.
"He got a call from one of the people he visited today. They needed his help and so he went," Jonathan answered while rubbing his eyes. "He didn't want to wake anyone, even Raya," he added.
"I'm sure he'll be back soon Lana," Martha said, rubbing the girls back noting she seemed worried.
"I know he will. He always comes back to me," Lana said absently, before returning to her room, leaving Martha and Jonathan to hope that their son did not get himself into any serious trouble or they knew he would face Lana's wrath once she had assured his health.
(Ghul Mansion, Middle East)
Bruce looked surprised as Clark appeared beside him only ten minutes after placing his call. The kid certainly had his skills. He pulled his mask off and watched as the kid looked over the mansion.
"This is not going to be easy Bruce. Are you sure you want to do this?" Clark asked. "Ra may have become an ally in the future, due in no small part because of your marriage to Talia, but he had also seen his ways were not what was best for the world, especially for his daughter and grandchild," he added. "This Ra is a very different man," he stated.
"I know that Clark," Bruce responded. "However according to my future self's message Ra can be convinced to help us to protect his daughter and any future children she has," he explained. "Also once he learns what we know I think it will change how he views the world and make him change his beliefs, plus he and his organization would be a valuable ally against Luthor and his army," he added. "For the chance of having a family I am willing to take any risk, even placing my trust in an enemy," he stated with conviction.
"I can understand that Bruce. I guess I shouldn't be surprised your future self put his own message in the energy wave we sent back to give me the memories I now have, it's just your style," Clark said, staring at the mansion as Bruce put his mask back on. "Hold on," he said as he grabbed Bruce and flew them up to one of the balconies.
He knew Bruce had a point, if the war came again having Ra and his organization on their side would be a big help, especially in countering Lex's business ties. Still this was a big risk and one that could backfire on them, but he was willing to trust Bruce's instincts and his heart, which he was sure, was set on Talia.
He quickly x-rayed the rooms they were close to, before pausing on the last one which contained a young woman and an older man. He smiled as he realized he had located their targets.
"Got them, hold on," Clark said, before grabbing Bruce and flying them to the balcony of the last window. "How do you want to do this?" he asked, as he opened the window with his super strength as quietly as he could.
"Let me do the talking at the beginning," Bruce said, as he entered, followed by Clark to find themselves in large room which seemed to be a relaxation room considering what was in it.
Clark noted Ra and his daughter were seated at a table and were talking. They had not yet noticed his and Bruce's presence as they were keeping to the shadows. He prayed one last time that they were not about to risk everything before he followed Bruce into the room.
"I hope I am not disturbing you," Bruce said, as he finally spoke, alerting the two to their presence.
"Detective... I was not expecting you," Ra Al Ghul said, as he stood and watched the dark knight walk out of the shadows, joined a second later by Talia who looked pleased to see him. "I did not know I had done anything recently to attract your attention," he added with a smirk.
"You haven't," Bruce responded, as he pulled his mask back off. Surprising both Ghul's as he usually did not do such a thing, even to people who knew his real identity. "I am here to talk to you both. There is a very big situation coming and I find our paths tied by it," he explained, as Clark took up a position to his side and kept an eye out for any guards or other surprises.
"Intriguing," Ra said thoughtfully at the idea. "So you wish my help?" he asked.
"It's more complicated than that Ra. First you need to watch this," Bruce responded, handing him the data crystal and telling him how to activate it.
Ra gave him a hard look before looking at his unknown friend before his curiosity got the better of him. He did as he was instructed and watched in surprise as his computer and monitor activated as the crystal lit up. He and Talia watched as the files contained within the crystal played.
When the files finished Bruce produced a disk which was much more modern and slipped it into the computer drive.
"As I verified that the files were not faked I discovered a secondary message within the original. It was recorded by my future self for me, watch," Bruce said he pressed the play button.
Clark himself was interested in seeing this message from the future Bruce and stepped closer. A much older Bruce Wayne appeared on the screen and like he saw in his future memories his eyes were cold and distant.
"I am sure you are surprised to find this, but I decided more had to be done to ensure the war is stopped before it starts," the future Bruce started. "This plan is our last hope, if it fails the world falls to Luthor and his army. You have to help Clark and his friends stop it," he continued, "I am sure by now you've been told we married and were going to have a child only for them both to be murdered by the Joker, well he had help in luring her into the trap and away from safety," the message went on. "First as you know, we married Talia Al Ghul, strange as it may sound to you Bruce we finally found the happiness we always believed we would never have. We came to an understanding with Ra who had changed a lot by that point, however his past would come back to haunt us as his second daughter Nyssa was the one who helped Joker kill Talia," here the future Bruce paused as if fighting the memories of these events. "If I know you like I do, you will head out to find the Ghul's as soon as Clark has contacted you. Tell them everything and remind Ghul that once, before his wife's death, he was just like any other man," here the message stopped and then a list of names appeared.
"Those are the names of the people who will join Luthor's armies," Bruce said. "It gives us a huge advantage," he added. "But it does not assure us of victory," he said.
"What game are you playing, detective?" Ra asked with a frown, finding it hard to focus at the mention of his wife Sora.
"No games, this is serious," Bruce stated. "At first I was convinced it was all a joke, but I can find no evidence of it, as I have said I have analyzed the files and they are not faked. I ran the recording of Clark's explanation through a lie detector, but there is no spike he was telling the truth and finally the crystal which contains the files is unlike any technology I have ever seen before," he explained.
"We married?" Talia asked as she stared at the frozen image of the future Bruce Wayne. "We were going to have a child?" she asked turning to face Bruce.
"You did marry Bruce, I was there Talia or at least my future self was," Clark said, stepping forward knowing if they won Talia over that they have won half the battle. "It was a year before the war broke out completely. You and Bruce had been seeing each other for a while, although he would never discuss his private life with us we knew you were helping him see hope," he went on. "Your death and that of your unborn child destroyed him. It turned him back into what he was like when he first became Batman, vengeful and filled with hate. He had tracked both Joker and Nyssa for two years, whilst the war waged, before he finally managed to track them down and kill them both. He did it with Ra's help. Sadly Ra himself would be killed a month later by Bane and Luthor in retaliation," he added. "My head is full of memories of a future that terrifies me. I am doing everything I can to prevent it coming to be. I have come here because Bruce believes you can help us, as you helped us in the future Ra," he stated.
Ra stood and faced the newcomer, staring him in the eye as hard as he could. He could see no trace of falsehood in him. In fact he could see the horror and terror the young man had spoken of in them. He looked to his daughter who seemed to believe them. This was something he had never encountered in his long life. The risks they spoke of were ones he would have to take seriously, especially where it concerned Talia.
"You are Clark?" he asked and when the young man nodded he spoke again. "Tell me everything," he ordered, needing all the information if he was to make such a huge decision.
They all sat back down and Clark began his tale once again, wishing Lana and Raya were with him as the memories were coming back much stronger than before.
(Fortress of Solitude)
Jor-El was monitoring his vessel Lionel Luthor as he slept and was pleased to see his conditioning had worked. He was no longer a threat to his son and his allies, so he would not have to control him all the time which would allow him to work on the more serious problems of helping to retrieve Kara and stop Brainiac, should he ever reach Earth.
He was impressed by his son's actions so far and he had to admit he had been wrong to try and strong arm his son into accepting his destiny before. He was ready. He was not pleased by some of the things he had seen himself do in the memories he had downloaded from Kal-El and it was easy to see why Kal-El had such a hard time accepting him as his father. He promised himself he would do much better this time. His son was already on the path to becoming one of the defenders this world needed if it was to avoid the same fate as Krypton and he now had Lana and Raya there to help him shoulder the burden and give him a reason to fight. Something his actions had tried to prevent to his own stupidity.
He had forgotten or ignored the lessons he himself had learned from his time on Earth with Louise. He had been a fool and acted just like the people who had doomed Krypton with their arrogance. He would not make the same mistakes again. Finally turning to the problems at hand he began to monitor the time stream as well, just in case.
(Ghul Mansion, Middle East)
Ra sat back in his chair as Clark finished speaking looking tired and worn out from reliving the memories of his future self. Ra had encountered a lot of strange things in his long life and he himself was one of them. Having survived for five hundred years he did not dismiss what he was been told, as he still could detect no falsehood from the young man and he had been staring him dead in the eye all the way through his explanation. He had blinked not once blinked or looked away.
"If everything you say is true, how do you plan to stop it?" Ra finally asked, looking again at his daughter and noting all she was doing was staring at Bruce, who returned the look and strangely Ra could see that the barriers between them were down.
"I am assembling the people who would become the League as well as some other allies as we speak. Then we will hopefully strike before Luthor has time to begin raising his army and before Brainiac can arrive," Clark answered. "If you decide to help, it will go a long way in giving us a chance against Luthor's business ties, as well as some of the other people who are a threat," he added.
"I need time to think," Ra said. "You are welcomed to stay as guests," he added, as he stood and began to leave the room, noticing Bruce nodded his head in acceptance as Talia went and sat next to him.
"One thing to consider Ra," Bruce said, facing him once more. "If you agree to help us you will have the heir you have always wanted. I will not interfere in your business ventures as long as they do not threaten the world and if needs be I will help you if you are attacked," he stated, as Talia hesitantly took his hand in hers.
Ra noticed this and knew his daughter had once again made her choice and that was Bruce Wayne. Only this time Bruce was willing to return her affections. He had a lot to think about, especially after what Bruce had just offered in return. Clark, he noted had vanished and he was impressed that he had done so without being noticed. He turned and left the room, leaving Bruce and his daughter to talk about the future.
Jonathan jerked awake as something knocked on the door and he quickly made his way over to the door after getting up from the couch. He sighed as he noted Clark was standing outside and quickly let him in before locking the door again.
"Is everything alright now, son?" he asked, noting Clark really looked tired now.
"Yeah, we may have found another ally," Clark responded, as they both headed upstairs. "I will go back tomorrow to make sure, but for now I just want to sleep," he added, before quietly going into the guest room after his father had nodded and moved to his own bedroom.
Clark quickly stripped to his boxers without really thinking about it and getting back into bed with Lana and pulling her gently against himself. He hoped Ra would decide to help if only to ensure his daughter's survival. He felt Lana turn and snuggle up against him and he sighed as he felt the memories of the future retreat to be replaced by his hopes and dreams.