I was swimming in the Caribbean
Animals were hiding behind the rocks
Except a little fish, but they told me
He swears he was trying to talk to me, to me
Where is my mind?
Where is my mind?
Where is my mind?
Way out in the water
See it swimming
Where is my mind?
Way out in the water
See it swimming
Where is my mind?
Where is my mind?
Where is my mind?
~Yoav feat. Emily Browning
Lois fumed, staring bitterly at the door. The flare of anger burning through her was the only thing that was making her current situation seem real. She had spent the last month in constant state of keyed-up terror, waiting at any moment for the Consulars to discover their plan and arrest everyone. It had gotten so bad that she was pretty much nauseous all the time, barely keeping food down. The only times she felt safe were the nights spent in Kal-El’s arms, when for a little while they could both focus only on each other. As the departure date approached, however, even that paled, as she couldn’t stop thinking about how she might not ever see him again.
All of those feelings had come to a head the night before she left, when neither of them had slept at all, not wanting to miss a single moment. Lois had felt as if Kal-El would disappear if she closed her eyes for more than a second, and she hadn’t been able to stop touching him, trying to memorize every square inch of skin. The planes of his shoulders and chest, the muscles of his arms, the long bones of his legs, and every little expression that crossed his face, all of it, she had caressed and kissed and committed to memory against the coming day.
And then the day had dawned, and she had gone covertly with Kal-El to the port where the containers of salt were ferried down from the enormous transport ships in orbit. Lois and the other humans going on this trip—the oldest and the most emotionally fragile, with Lois being the only key member of the Resistance—had snuck into empty shipping containers that had conveniently been fitted out with all the necessities of travel.
She hadn’t even been able to kiss Kal-El goodbye, not in front of the other humans and their Kryptonians. The best Lois had been able to do was surreptitiously take his hand as he took off her tracking crystal and put it around his own neck, where his robes would hide it. They’d shared a long look, full of so many things unsaid, and he had murmured, “I will find you again.”
That one sentence had her on the verge of tears and they couldn’t linger. She could only hope that he could tell in her expression what she didn’t dare say aloud. She’d had to leave—and then she’d had to spend the next two days of the trip trying to keep the others’ spirits up, despite how disconnected she felt herself getting. From the moment the decision had been made that she would be leaving, everything had been going so fast, as if she were watching a film play out all around her. All she could do was push her own shell-shocked feelings aside and press on for the others. The quarters were cramped, but thanks to Kryptonian technology were more comfortable than Lois had expected. Still, the two days had gone by in something like numb desperation.
And then, Earth. Home. Only it felt like a foreign country. Hustled out of the shipping containers and into the back of a camouflaged jeep, driven along rutted roads at high speed, Lois and the others were stunned silent by the transition. She’d forgotten the noise and dust and smells of Earth—it had been nearly a year since she’d last breathed air that tasted of exhaust, and it set her stomach off again. Luckily she’d been too nervous to eat and could only dry-heave.
On a base somewhere, and she and the other escapees were quickly hustled off to separate rooms. No welcoming party, only serious soldiers, except Lois saw a single familiar face: her father. General Sam Lane, in battle fatigues just like any of his men, and when their eyes met she couldn’t miss the expression on his face. Joy, pride, relief, a mix of things she’d never expected to see, and right then she could’ve wept for the realization that some part of her had never expected to see her family again in any circumstances.
The next instant, he was the General again, barking orders to get the freed hostages settled in and comfortable before debriefing. Lois was whisked out of his sight, checked over by a medic who drew blood for tests, fed a warm meal, and allowed to sleep on an Army-issue cot.
Later she woke from a muddled dream, thinking the escape was the next day and that everything that had happened was the dream, just a dream and she had a few more precious minutes with Kal-El, and she stumbled to her feet and tried to leave.
Only then did she realize her room was locked from the outside.
Chomping an unlit cigar, editor-in-chief Perry White glared out over the newsroom of the Daily Planet, his infamous Monday Morning Massacre staff-meeting in full-swing. Much like the swing that could come from a suddenly-released Sword of Damocles. Especially with the topic that currently occupied their boss’ mind. His reporters all stared back, trying not to blink. “All right, what’ve ya got for me?” he snapped out in a voice of barely-restrained wrath.
A beat of silence, and then Galloway filled it. “We have reports of troop movements all around the mining site, and a massive influx of infantry to the zone.”
“And?” Perry growled.
“And not much else,” Galloway replied irritably. “The military officially denies any extra troops have been posted, and our unofficial sources say it’s additional security due to the ships having arrived.”
“Which is bullshit,” Perry retorted. “Does anybody have any idea what’s really going on?”
His only answer was embarrassed silence, and Perry nearly bit through his cigar. “What is wrong with you people? This is investigative journalism—that means you have to actually investigate! This is the biggest damn story of our generation, bigger than the moon landing, bigger than the Cuban missile crisis, bigger than Watergate! And here you’re telling me you believe the military when they say an extra thousand soldiers is just insurance?!”
None of them looked him in the eye, and he scoffed. “Great Caesar’s Ghost! I’ll tell you, boys and girls, whoever brings me the real story of what’s going on with these Kryptonians will get a corner office and a raise!”
Lois had thought she was furious before, but in the hours that followed her anger was hammered and tempered to a level of compressed wrath she’d never felt before. The surreal numbness of the last few days was wearing off, finally. She was debriefed by a series of officers and agents from what felt like every military and civilian intelligence agency she’d ever heard of, her meals were brought to her by an aide who barely spoke two words to her, and her requests to see her mother, her sister, and even her father were met with promises that they would be here soon, but as time passed she knew she was being stonewalled.
This would not stand. She hadn’t left the planet and spent almost a year as a captive and a spy to be treated like this. And unfortunately for everyone who interacted with her, at the end of the day Lois was her father’s daughter.
Someone else from one of the alphabet-soup agencies came in to speak with her, and Lois was lying down with her eyes closed when the door opened. “Miss Lane?” the man said. “I have a few questions for you, if you wouldn’t mind getting up.” He sounded so polite and calm that she almost felt bad for what she was about to do, but the military and government were both very, very good at letting a person hover in bureaucratic limbo as long as they needed to.
“I would,” she replied.
“Pardon?” he asked, confused.
Lois took a deep breath, forcing her voice level. She wanted to scream, she wanted to throw the chair across the room, but they had ways of dealing with that. Ways she wouldn’t like, ways that would only put more time and space between herself and her goal. So instead she spoke calmly and a trifle more quietly than usual. “I mind getting up. I mind answering the same questions a dozen times for different people. I mind being locked in here for my own safety. But what I mind the most is being kept from my family. So I won’t be doing any of that until I speak with my father.”
She actually wanted Lucy and Momma, wanted them both so much it was a physical ache that brought her to the edge of tears, but none of these people could or would arrange that meeting. Her father had the influence to do it, and he was already here, so he was the one she asked for.
“I’ll get General Lane in here to see you as soon as possible, Miss,” the agent said, and left.
Lois knew what was coming next: a long wait, longer than anything else, to make her rethink her position. So she closed her eyes and went to sleep. In spite of her jangling nerves and the furious anger broiling in her chest, she lay still and pretended to sleep until pretense became reality.
The door opening again woke her several hours later, but she didn’t look over at it just yet. This wouldn’t be her father, not so quickly, and she wanted them to know they couldn’t break her. Her certainty was proved right when a woman’s voice said, “Dinner, Miss Lane?”
“No, thank you,” Lois replied politely, though her stomach growled at the scent of pot roast and mashed potatoes that drifted on the air.
“You’re not hungry?” the woman asked sympathetically.
“Oh, I’m hungry. But I refuse to cooperate with anything until I see my father. I won’t speak to any of your advisors, either. Just my father.” She turned her head then, seeing a woman in fatigues who looked decidedly uneasy about this.
Lois smiled. “And if anyone gets any bright ideas about sticking an IV in me or running a tube up my nose and down into my stomach, you tell them to think twice. This is passive resistance; you don’t want to see active resistance. Ask my dad.” With that she closed her eyes again and rolled to face the wall.
The woman left the food behind, on the little table at which Lois and her interviewers—though they’d felt more like interrogators—had sat. She resisted it with every ounce of determination, making sure they all knew she meant business. Another long silence followed, and Lois waited it out.
At last, the door opened, and in walked the General. She knew him by his footsteps, and got to her feet immediately, fighting down a shaken feeling in her gut. There was her father, finally seeing her in person and closer than thirty feet for the first time in almost a year. No more look of pride on his face though, now his expression was stormy. Lois told herself she’d expected that. She was refusing to follow orders, after all, and he served his country first. Family had always come second.
It should’ve been no surprise that his first words weren’t ‘good work’ or ‘welcome home’ or even ‘I missed you’. The very first thing he said when he walked in was, “Why aren’t you cooperating?”
Lois stood up before answering him, moving in no particular hurry. “I want to see Momma, and I want to see Lucy. I’m done cooperating until I see them.”
“You’re being a child,” he said, a harsh note in his voice.
“Maybe this escaped you, sir, but legally I am a child,” Lois shot back. “Not that it stopped you from trying to make me a soldier, or stopped me from becoming a spy and one of the leaders of the Resistance on New Krypton.”
“You’ve served well, but if you want to be acknowledged like an adult, you’ll have to act like one,” he said sternly.
“Believe me, I am. But if you want me to act like an ally in this war, then you’d damn well better stop treating me like a prisoner.”
“No one is treating you like—” he started to say.
She cut him off, which Lois knew he hated. “Locked in a windowless room with no clock, interrogated repeatedly, denied the simple request to see my family again after eleven months in enemy territory? Sounds a lot like prison. I had more freedom on New Krypton.”
His flinty blue eyes narrowed. “You can’t see your mother and your sister, anyway. They’re both in Witness Protection. Not even I know where they are.”
That struck Lois, and she wavered. “You have the connections to find out,” she insisted.
“I wouldn’t want to. They’re both safer out of this,” he replied.
It was the truth, no matter how much she missed them—but she resented her father for hiding them away nonetheless. Lois rallied, meeting his eyes determinedly. “Then get me the hell out of here. I’ll talk to anyone you want me to talk to, but on my own terms. I don’t appreciate being locked down like I’m the enemy.”
“I can’t do that, either,” General Lane insisted. “Not only is the intelligence you brought back vital, you’re at risk if any of them realize you made it back here. You’re not in prison, Lois. You’re under military protection.”
“Same difference,” she growled. “I hope the intelligence officers got everything they wanted, then, because no one’s getting another shred of information from me until I’m out of this room.”
“You don’t want to play this game,” the General warned.
“I’m not playing,” Lois promised him.
With that his jaw set, his fists clenched, and he turned on his heel to walk out. A tiny part of Lois, the part that was truly still a child, had hoped he would listen to her, hoped he would do this for her because she was his daughter and she needed him to. In that moment, as he left her, that part of her finally broke. “How dare you!” she shouted, her voice shaking. “How dare you walk out on me and leave me locked up like some kind of animal in a cage! After everything I did for you: sixteen years old getting on a ship to another goddamn solar system, living in enemy territory for months all by myself, getting in on the Resistance, gathering information and passing it off, single-handedly creating the alliance with the Kryptonians, after all of that you can’t even thank me? I spent every moment of every day wondering when the Consulars were going to sweep down and arrest us all, worried I was going to die there before I saw home again, and all you can do is leave me in this hole to rot? No wonder I always hated you! You never gave a damn about me, or anything except your spotless record!”
Sam turned back to her, his features sharply etched and bitterly cold. “You’re exaggerating,” he snapped.
“You weren’t there, you arrogant ass,” Lois raged. “If anything I’m understating it.”
His lips tightened. At that moment they both had the same expression of unbridled wrath burning in their eyes. And then the General ground out, “For someone who spent every moment of every day fighting for the Resistance, you still somehow managed to find enough time to get yourself knocked up by one of your fellow captives.”
Those words rocked Lois back on her heels, her eyes gone wide. The nausea throughout the last month, which she’d thought was stress—and stress was why her period was late, too, or so she’d thought. Her cycle had always been susceptible to stress, and even a bad cold could make her late by a week.
But no. It wasn’t stress, and she hadn’t even known, hadn’t guessed it was remotely possible. Kal-El came from another galaxy, he was a completely different species, there was no reason to suspect. She was pregnant with his child, the scion of the House of El grew in her belly. All of a sudden the weight of duty she’d borne for the last year seemed light compared to this new responsibility. And Kal-El didn’t even know.
Still reeling, she saw her father’s lip curl up in a sneer. “So don’t give me any lip about how hard you’ve worked, Lo.”
That was it, and her bewilderment flashed over into rage. “You know what? Fuck you. This isn’t from one of the other hostages; this is Kal-El’s child. This baby is half Kryptonian. How the hell did you think I got half my information and brokered that alliance and got onto the first ship home? He trusts me. Absolutely. Kal-El loves me—”
She saw the look in his eyes, the stunned horror giving way to calculation, and snarled, “—and I love him, too, so don’t you dare think of using this baby as leverage. Kal-El and his group are our allies, and I won’t let you try to manipulate him.”
“There won’t be a baby,” Sam growled back, his eyes stormy. She could almost read his mind then, her spine turning to ice as the meaning became clear. No daughter of mine is having some alien’s child—some alien with whom we are at war. In that, the father and the general were in perfect agreement.
Understanding the motivation didn’t take the chill out of his next words. “You’ll see the medic in the morning.” On that note, Sam turned and left, slamming the door behind him and making no attempt to hide the noise of the lock.
Breathing heavily, she stood staring at the door, a small panicked part of her brain still running in circles yapping, Pregnant? No, no, I can’t be pregnant, I can’t be, I’m not ready for this, not ready for any of this!
And then Lois stilled, the deep steel in her nature—which came from both sides of her family tree, the determination to fight and the will to hang on—at last brought to the surface by the pressure she was under. “We’ll see about that,” she promised softly.