So, this is it, my friends. The last chapter of the story, which is now officially finished. When I started this story nearly four years ago, as a freshman in high school, I never would've thought it would give me so much. Along the way, my English has gotten good enough for me to get accepted into college to study the language itself. Along the way, I've met so many people I now consider friends. I know it hasn't been the easiest road, not for me - the amount of writer's blocks, the pain and heartbreak and joy and love I've gone through in those past four years was something truly amazing. Thank you all who have been on this journey with me. It is my only hope that you find this finale to be a good enough conclusion to this story.
Chapter 46 - United
Trying his best to let his thoughts stray from the inevitable battle, Clark decided to visit the Metropolis Children's Hospital. There was just something about seeing those little faces; so sick and physically weak, and yet the strongest of them all. He needed to gather his strength, for if he failed, the rest of the world would soon follow in his death.
Sitting on the floor in a loose circle with the children, one of them, Jonah, asked, "Have you ever been sucked into a plane?"
"Into a plane?" Superman asked, his eyes crinkling.
Jonah nodded. "The engine thingy. On the wings."
Superman chuckled, taking a second before answering the boy. He looked down in slight embarrassment when he said, "Yeah… a few times, actually."
The children broke into giggles, making Superman's small smile turn into a grin. It quickly fell once his thoughts returned to his most pressing concerns.
"Superman? Are you okay?" a little girl, no more than six years old, asked.
Clark shook his head a tiny bit to clear his thoughts before smiling once again. "I'm fine, don't worry about me. Now, I'm pretty sure you're excited about the little gifts I brought you, aren't you?"
The children nodded enthusiastically, and Clark quickly made a mental reminder to thank Bruce for donating the toys.
"Okay, let's see 'em!"
Lightyears away, on the distant planet of Apokalips, the most powerful of the New Gods, or so he thought, was seated on his throne.
"DeSaad. Are the troops ready?" Darkseid inquired, his booming voice echoing throughout the entire room.
DeSaad, his chief torturer, bowed and smiled. Nodding in acquiescence, he whispered, "All is ready, my lord. Terra shall not stand a chance. The planet shall be yours."
"And what of the Kryptonian?"
"He shall be yours, as well, my lord. My room is ready for him."
Darkseid's scarlet eyes brightened with power. "Let the invasion begin."
Clark and Sarah decided to take a quick little trip to Metropolis, not only to visit Lois and the rest of Clark's friends at the Planet, but to also spend at least one day in relative peace, hoping against hope that they would feel like a normal, average couple.
Clark should've known that the day would go to shit.
Walking with Sarah hand in hand, enjoying the softness of her skin and the warmth of her smile, he lost himself in her, just like always.
Barely eighteen, not even legally allowed to drink, Sarah often forgot how much responsibility this young man – not boy, but a man – took on his shoulders whenever he put the cape around his shoulders. When he put on that cape, he became something more, something larger than himself. Instead of Clark Kent, the young man that she loved with her whole heart, the young man whose smile and the bluest of eyes made her fall in love with him more and more, whose empathy and kindness broke the walls she built around herself without even trying… there was Superman. The paragon of hope. Earth's greatest hero. The most powerful being in the world, if not the entire universe. He became not a person, but an idea – that all beings, no matter their origins, can be good.
She was so lost in her thoughts she didn't notice the skies darkening, nor did she notice Clark stiffening beside her. Once she did, however, she couldn't help but gasp. All around her, portals were beginning to open, echoing screams everywhere. She gripped Clark's hand on instinct, would've crushed it if he were human. Taking a deep breath, she looked at Clark, seeing the tiniest flicker of fear in his eyes.
Letting go of his hand, she brought both of hers to his face, her thumb caressing his cheekbones and forcing him to look into her eyes.
"He's here," he whispered. "The fight of our lives… it's happening. I-I thought we'd have more time."
Sarah smiled sadly, "I know, Clark. But you can do this. You can defeat him. Not because you're Superman, or a Kryptonian. You know why?"
He nodded, his eyes never straying from hers.
"You'll defeat him because you have friends. You have allies, you have the Justice League. And most importantly, you will defeat him because you're a Kent. And the Kents never give up."
"The Kents never give up," he whispered. Clark brought his hand up to his ear, clicking on the Justice League comm. "Guys, it's time. Bring in everyone you can. This is going to be the hardest battle in the history of the world."
Sarah leaned up on her toes and kissed Clark's forehead, forcing him to bend down a tiny bit. "It's time for the cavalry to arrive."
Clark smiled at her and covered her hand with his own. "I am the cavalry."
Not caring who would see him, Clark leaned down and kissed her with all he had, pouring his love for her into the most passionate kiss he'd ever shared with her. Once they parted, both of them breathing heavily from the emotions, he whispered, "Just in case.. tell my parents I love them."
With that, Clark straightened to his full height, took off his glasses, ripped open his shirt, and touched the emblem in the middle of his chest. The supersuit enveloped him in less than a second, his cape billowing behind him. In front of her stood Superman, the Last Son of Krypton.
"And no matter what," he said, gently lifting himself off the ground, "I love you, too."
"I love you, Clark," she whispered, the smallest of tears cascading down her cheek.
Clark floated fifty feet above the ground, in front of the largest portal. What he saw beyond it was something akin to biblical Hell – nothing but fire and darkness.
"What is this, goddamn Mustafar?" he muttered to himself.
Suddenly, a deep voice proclaimed, "Kryptonian."
Before Clark had the chance to register the source, a huge being came through the portal, nearly twice the size of him. His skin was stony and dark grey, his face completely passive. The armor he wore seemed to be something akin to his suit – definitely not Kryptonian, however.
"What do you want with this world, Uxas?" Clark asked. From the corner of his eye, he saw multiple pedestrians on the street, watching with bated breath. Why weren't they running? They should've run away.
Darkseid's eyes flashed with sizzling red energy. "That is not my name, Kryptonian."
Not addressing him, this time, Darkseid let his voice carry, it seemed, across the entire city. "I am Entropy. I am Death. I am… Darkseid. Your world belongs to me, now, puny beings. Those who do not submit shall perish in fate worse than death."
"Like hell we will!" someone yelled, and Clark turned around to see the entire Justice League standing behind him and on the ground – not just the entire Justice League. It seemed as though every hero, every vigilante, found themselves here, willing to battle for the fate of Earth.
That particular voice belonged to none other than Diana of Themyscira, the Wonder Woman herself.
"The Amazon. You shall become the greatest of my Furies," Darkseid proclaimed.
"I will never become your slave, false god!" Diana yelled, brandishing her sword.
Darkseid, impossibly, smiled. The grin was menacing and cold – completely sadistic. "Then I shall enjoy crushing your skull beneath my heel."
Suddenly, dozens upon dozens of Parademons came flying through the portals, forcing everyone but the heaviest hitters to follow them.
"You've got this," Batman said, looking at Clark. He, too, left to deal with the Parademons.
The only ones who remained were Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Martian Manhunter, only recently recovered from his injuries. Barely.
"You won't conquer this world, Uxas," Clark said. "Not while I still draw breath."
"You will come to see the falsity of your statement, Kryptonian."
Before Darkseid could react, however, both Diana and Clark flew towards him at incredible speeds, the former going for the face while the latter for the ribs. When Clark flew into his torso, he felt pain for the third time in his life.
Not even Doomsday was this durable, Clark thought. Nevertheless, he continued in his assaults, throwing lightning fast punches all across Darkseid's front. Darkseid yelled in pain, both from Clark's punches and Diana's sword slashing his cheek.
Darkseid caught Diana by the arm and squeezed, making her grunt in pain. Clark heard the crack of her wrist.
The battle was on, and whoever won would decide whether the human race were to live or die.
The ground was not fairing much better, both sides of the conflict losing numbers. It was not just the heroes that perished in battle, but also the civilians who joined the fight, refusing to back down even in the face of certain doom. One such person kept kicking, using all the tricks in her book to take down Parademons one by one. It was an exhausting process, a very dangerous one, but it was something she had to do.
If her boyfriend was fighting a god, the least she could do was make it easier for him and the League. Sarah kept jumping from one Parademon to the next, slicing their throats as if they were butter. She made a mental check to thank Diana for teaching her a thing or two about blades.
She saved lives wherever she could and mourned the ones she could not, never staying in one place for a long time. She was exhausted, but the world was facing an army of those things, and they could not afford to lose.
The army was marching down the streets a few minutes after Clark went to fight Darkseid, or Uxas, as the League called him. A power move, if one were to ask her.
Dozens of tanks marched down the city, with hundreds of soldiers pouring through, all of them taking down Parademons one by one. The Parademons proved themselves to be more capable than she thought, for they were able to cut through the soldiers almost as easy as her blade through their throats.
"They're bulletproof," Sarah muttered to herself, "Of course they're bulletproof. Their only weakness is the exposed throat… I have to find someone. I have to tell everyone. Lois… Lois, where's Lois? Where the fuck is Lois?"
Sarah looked up. She was about two blocks away from the Daily Planet. She smiled slightly and took off running.
"Jimmy, move!" Lois yelled as she dove for him, both of them barely avoiding getting hit by one of the alien weapons.
"Thanks, Lois," Jimmy groaned, slowly lifting himself up and offering Lois his hand. She took it and got up, noticing the broken camera around Jimmy's neck.
Jimmy looked down and smiled sadly. "We're alive, aren't we?"
"What are those things, Lois?"
Looking up at the sky, seeing hundreds of monsters flying around, with Superman, Wonder Woman, and another green alien at the center fighting someone and losing…
"I don't know, Jimmy. I.. I don't know."
The weather was overcast, not allowing Clark to recharge as fast as he'd like. Still, though, he fought with everything he had, not holding back in the least. Uxas' eyes glowed red, the color reminding him of his own heat vision. Thick red beams came out, forcing Clark to counter with his own. Clark's energy was depleting fast, his heat vision barely a match for Darkseid's Omega Beams. He screamed, putting everything he had into his heat vision.
Darkseid's omega beams cut through his heat vision faster than a speeding bullet, hitting Clark in the face and chest, making him scream from the pain even louder. His body was on fire, he'd never experienced pain such as this – not even with Doomsday, not with the asteroid, not with Lobo, not with anything he'd ever come across. It was as if every cell in his body was resisting from being torn apart… or as if every cell in his body was being actually torn apart. He couldn't tell.
Darkseid's stony lips morphed into a sadistic smile, enjoying the pain inflicted upon the last Kryptonian. The Amazon tried one last attack, but Darkseid grew tired of her. He caught her in his hands and squeezed, feeling her ribs pop one by one. Once she started coughing up blood, he threw her aside like a ragdoll. Not, however, before she plunged her sword into his side. Darkseid screamed in pain, feeling as if though the already-healed cut on his cheek was opened once more, along with the gaping hole in his side.
He stopped torturing the Kryptonian, who took only a few seconds to recover before he was flying at him once again, this time with the Martian in tow. The Kryptonian was powerful, that was for sure, and he was still very young. In time, he would become a match for him, perhaps even more powerful than that. He could not have that – especially not if he was not on a leash under his heel.
Superman put everything he had into punching the wound Diana had inflicted, not letting his friend's sacrifice be in vain. If he was able to focus on anything else but Darkseid, he would be able to hear Diana's pulse – weak, but steady; still alive.
Darkseid screamed, and J'onn used this opportunity to enter his mind, hoping to destroy him from the inside. Unfortunately for him, Darkseid, while not immune to telepathy like Kryptonians, was no stranger to getting his mind invaded. Even while in pain, he immediately noticed another's presence within his mind.
He was quick to put it out of its misery.
"Your tricks will not work on me, Martian," Darkseid said, before his eyes glowed once again. J'onn screamed for what felt like eons, but was only a few seconds, before he collapsed on the ground, his eyes unseeing.
"You cannot defeat me, Kryptonian. No one can. Not the Amazon, not the Martian, not you. Not even the rest of the New Gods. I am Pain, Kal-El. I am Tyrany," Darkseid said as he punched Clark in the chest, creating a sonic boom and breaking his clavicle in the process.
Clark was not the most powerful being in the universe. This guy was.
"Well, Uxas," Clark groaned, "You're definitely a pain. A pain in my ass."
"Lois! LOIS!" someone yelled. Lois quickly turned around and came face-to-face with Clark's – or rather, Superman's – girlfriend.
"Sarah? What are you doing here?! You know it's dangerous! With Clark fighting that thing—I don't know if he'll win…"
Sarah sighed and ran her hands through her sweaty hair. "I-I'm not sure, either."
"He has to. He's Superman! He's the most powerful being in the world!"
"What he's fighting… what he's fighting is the most powerful being in the universe."
They all stood in silence for a moment before Lois broke it. "Come on. We have to find him. We have to help him."
Clark was fighting Darkseid one-on-one, and he was losing spectacularly. He was aching all over, his nose and lip were bleeding, and his suit was torn in multiple places. He had specifically design the suit to be nearly as durable as him.
Multiple burns and bruises marred his skin, a few broken bones protruding from his skin as well. He was in incredible pain, but the only thing he could do was categorize it to deal with later – should he survive.
"You are mine."
Clark was nearing the end of his spiel, and in one last, desperate attempt, he decided to throw everything he had left at him. Taking a deep breath, which was fairly painful, Clark flew into the belly of the beast, throwing the strongest punch he could.
The Kents never gave up.
It was not enough. He felt the bones in Darkseid's face break, felt them shift and move around, felt his hand being broken, as well. Darkseid crashed away, flying nearly a mile, before he once again stood in front of Superman, not so Super anymore.
"If only you fought like this the entire time, you might have stood a chance."
Darkseid caught Clark by the throat and started punching him in the face as hard as he could, breaking more and more bones with every strike, the Kryptonian's limp body trembling with every hit.
On the ground, Sarah felt a fresh wave of tears every time Darkseid hit Clark. She was in no pain compared to him, yet it felt as if she was the one getting hit, as well. It was obvious Clark was nearing death, even if they were but twenty feet above the ground. With every strike, Sarah felt her heart break more and more, refusing to even think about mourning the man she loved. Clutching the necklace he had given her so long ago, she nevertheless kept losing hope.
Darkseid, seemingly growing tired of beating the unresponsive superhero, slowly floated to the ground.
"This is the best your world has to offer?" he spat, throwing Clark's limp body on the ground. The bystanders, even the heroes, stood in shocked silence. Sarah immediately ran towards him, not caring about the danger she was putting herself in. She threw herself on the ground once she was near him, touching him everywhere – his chest, his shoulders, his face. She felt a faint pulse once she checked, sighing in relief only for Darkseid's next words to send a chill down her spine.
"I expected a Kryptonian to be better than this. I shall make use of him yet."
He turned around, then, and called for his Parademons. They arrived immediately and took Clark's broken body towards the portal, seemingly not noticing Sarah punching them desperately.
"He is mine. And so is your world."
DeSaad smiled to himself, seeing the beaten Kryptonian on his table. Oh, he would have so much fun with this fine specimen!
"Now, now, Kryptonian… you may belong to my lord, but right now, you are mine to play with."
Using a mix of red sun radiation and a needle made of Nth, DeSaad pierced his skin in one swift movement, pouring the green liquid into his veins. The Kryptonian began to scream even while unconscious, and DeSaad's smile grew wider.
"Your genes are magnificent, my beautiful Kryptonian. And yet, you still have a weakness. A weakness we shall soon eliminate, so that you may become the perfect soldier for Darkseid. The first Kryptonian-Parademon."
"We have to keep fighting," Batman said, cradling his broken arm. "It's what Clark would've wanted."
It had only been a few hours since Superman's defeat, yet Darkseid was still going strong. Conquering countries left and right all too easily, everyone surrendering after the League's fail.
"He's not dead, Bruce!" Sarah yelled in frustration, not caring about his secret identity in the moment. Neither did he, it seemed.
"He might as well be," he whispered.
"We have to get him back."
"How do you propose we do that?" asked Cyborg, who was missing an arm.
Sarah looked at each and every one of them – at an armless Victor, a barely breathing Diana, a comatose J'onn, a Batman with barely any hope. She looked at the Flash, bruised and bleeding, but still standing. She looked at Lois, dirty but standing tall.
"The portals are still open."
"You're not suggesting—" Victor began, only to be interrupted by
"Oh, she is. We're going to Apokalips." the Flash said.
"Getting in there won't be the problem. The problem will be locating Clark. You do realize that it's an entire planet, right? About the size of Jupiter?" Barry asked incredulously.
"Yes, I am aware, thank you very much. Clark's suit has a tracker in it, he put it in there just in case. We've just gotta go to the Fortress. Flash, you can take me there, right?" Sarah asked.
"Depends on where it is, but yeah, in a few minutes, tops," he answered.
Sarah grinned, some of the hope returning to her eyes. "The Arctic."
"Oh, for God's sake."
One short trip to the Arctic later, Sarah now had a Kryptonian supercomputer on her wrist, allowing her to track Clark's suit anywhere in the universe.
"Let's say you get him back," Bruce started, "what then? Darkseid beat him to a pulp, and he had Diana and J'onn with him."
"We'll have hope again," Sarah said. She nodded to Barry, who picked her up and sped her to one of the portals, making a grumpy Batman follow. The girl would get herself killed trying to save Clark, and he had to make sure it would not happen. He owed it to his friend. And he owed him so much more.
If Sarah had one word to describe the planet, it would certainly be its name. The world was the definition of apocalypse – fire pits, screams, darkness, ash, Parademons. Everywhere. Sarah and the two heroes trekked forward, deciding to go slowly and carefully instead of using Barry's speed – he was fast, yes, faster than Clark. But the streak of electricity he generated behind him was not something they wanted to get caught because of. Still, though, Clark – or his suit – was only half a mile away. Looking up, Sarah saw a large palace in the distance, knowing without a doubt that Clark was there.
"Duck!" Batman whispered, effortlessly blending in the shadows. Sarah and Barry, however, were not as stealthy as he was. They barely managed to hide in time for them to see a squadron of Parademons carrying multiple chained slaves. Observing them carefully, Sarah was able to notice a few humans among multiple obviously alien races.
"We are free beings, Demon! You cannot do this to us! Lord Darkseid promised he would not conquer our world!" one of them spoke.
The Parademons stopped, and Sarah waited with baited breath to see would what happen next, her heart hammering in her ribcage. The Parademon, who seemed to be more than simply a mindless drone like the rest, slowly walked towards the brave slave. Without hesitation, he raised his arm and crushed the slave's skull. No one but the human slaves reacted. Sarah wanted to scream, but Bruce seemed to anticipate this and quickly covered her mouth with his hand.
"If there's any hope of surviving this, you have to keep your emotions in check, no matter what. You also have to be prepared for the possibility of Clark not… not being Clark anymore. If he's even still alive."
Sarah looked at him with furious grey eyes, seething at even the insinuation that Clark might be dead. Still, she nodded, not willing to risk their lives more than she should. They would free these people – not just humans, but everyone – no matter what. With or without Clark. He would want her to do this.
They quietly made their way to the palace, stealthily avoiding the few Parademons they came across. The palace was largely empty, most likely due to the fact that Darkseid was still on Earth. The trinity kept walking through the palace, now less than a hundred feet from Clark. Before they could go any further, however, they were stopped by what appeared to be an old grandmother.
"Now, now, children… You shouldn't be here," she said in a sickly-sweet voice, enough to make Sarah nearly gag. Combined with the cold emptiness in her eyes, Sarah was sure that the woman was as much of a psychopath as Darkseid was. For some reason, she seemed even more terrifying than the New God himself.
"Try and stop me," Sarah hissed, not willing to fail – not when she was so close to Clark.
"Oh, I won't have to," she smiled. "They will."
Three women appeared behind her, each one more muscular than the next. Sarah felt a gust of wind behind her, and when she turned around, she was astonished to see Wonder Woman standing there, fully healed, if looking slightly tired.
Diana smiled at Sarah's – and most likely Bruce and Barry's – gobsmacked expression. "You couldn't possibly think you'd be able to save Kal without me, could you?"
Sarah grinned, as did Bruce and Barry. "We can take 'em, Sarah. Go to Clark, get him out. We'll be right behind you, okay?" said Barry. Batman and Diana nodded in agreement.
Sarah smiled, "Gotcha."
Granny Goodness, seemingly impatient, ordered, "Attack!"
Not needing to be told more, Sarah dashed across the hall, the hundred feet sprint done in a matter of but a few seconds. Trying her best to ignore the sounds of fighting behind her, she quickly figured out how to open the door and quietly slipped inside, not knowing if she was there alone.
What she saw made her blood boil. There, leaning in front of a table, wearing a weird-ass cloak, was a small alien man, most likely an Apokaliptian. He was cutting into Clark with a green-bladed scalpel, all the while Clark was writhing from the pain in restrains.
"Oh, not on my watch, you little fucker," she muttered while grabbing the nearest object in her hand. The man seemed to have heard her, for he turned around, only for his face to be met with some sort of box. He crumpled on the ground in an instant, unconscious. Sarah immediately ran to Clark, unbuckling the restrains.
"S-Sarah?" asked Clark, his voice hoarse and incredibly weak.
Sarah smiled through the tears and touched his face. He leaned into her hand immediately – the first gentle touch he had felt in hours. "Yeah, baby, it's me. It's okay, we're gonna get you out of here, alright? You'll be fine."
"H-he injected me with something. I'm so weak," he whispered, "I can barely move."
Sarah wiped her tears and cradled his face, "You can lean on me. Always."
Clark smiled weakly, and ever so slowly, she helped him get up. His wounds from the battle and the experiments were still bleeding – he was healing, but very, very slowly.
"They really did a number on you, didn't they?" Sarah whispered.
Clark laughed a little and then winced, "Yeah. They did."
"One more thing," Sarah said, noticing something on the table next to her. When Clark looked at her in confusion, she only pointed at the object – his insignia. The symbol of the House of El containing his supersuit. Quickly grabbing it, they made their way from the door, only to be met with a bruised and battered Diana, Bruce, and Barry.
"You took them down?" Sarah asked in amazement.
The three nodded. "One of them hesitated."
All eyes immediately went to the source of the voice, the tallest of the Furies. "My name is Barda. I will help you get the Kryptonian out, but only if you promise me one thing."
"What is it?" Sarah asked.
She only looked at Clark when she said, "You defeat Darkseid. You are the only being in the universe who stands a chance against him."
Everyone's protest died on their lips when they saw Clark nod.
"With my dying breath, if I have to."
Barda nodded and motioned for them to follow her.
"Clark, you need to heal. You've never been hurt like this before, not even with Doomsday. You can't fight him right now," Sarah argued.
"The longer we wait, the more power he will have over Earth. The more people will die, Sarah. I-I can't… I won't allow that."
"If you fight him now, you'll die. And the rest of the world will soon follow! Clark, can't you see that?!"
"What other choice do I have, Sarah?!" Clark groaned in frustration. Or from the pain, he didn't even know anymore.
"Would you two lovers keep your squabbling for another time? For example, once we get out of Apokalips?!" Barda snapped, glaring at them with fury. Well, at least now Clark knew where they got their name from.
"There's a way," Bruce said.
Clark looked at Bruce in surprise, "What?"
"What?" followed by Sarah right after.
"How? What do I need to do?" asked Clark.
"You need to go into the Sun. Or as close to it as possible. You did that when you stopped the asteroid, didn't you?"
"I-I mean, yeah. I did. It supercharged my cells, it gave me a—"
"Boost," Bruce finished. Clark nodded.
"How much stronger did it make you?"
"I only did it for a few seconds and from a distance, so not by much. But, if I went inside the Sun for at least a few minutes—"
"You could give Darkseid a run for his money," Sarah finished. Clark nodded.
"Whatever you're about to do, Kryptonian, I hope you do it fast. Lord Darkseid shall be returning soon to Apokalips. Right now, he is still slightly weakened from your fight with him," Barda said, looking at Clark and Diana. "Your sword is magic, Amazon, yes? It will take him longer to heal. His skin may look unhurt from the outside, but on the inside, he is still healing."
Diana gasped, "Kal! The stab wound on his side!"
"His temporary weakness."
Barda nodded, "Yes. Here we are. Good luck, Kryptonian. I pray that you beat him."
Clark looked at her in confusion, "Wait, you're not coming with?"
Barda smiled slightly, touched. "I cannot. We shall see each other soon, Kal-El. Hopefully."
Taking a deep breath, the five stepped through one of the last portals, now standing on Earth. Clark felt sunlight hit his face like a bomb. He felt his skin tingling, his bones beginning to knit together, his aches disappearing. He opened his eyes and looked at the people who saved him.
"I know what I need to do. I need you to give me half an hour, at least. We can't let him go to Apokalips," Clark said.
"Our final stand," Batman said.
"Our final stand," Clark agreed. He looked at Sarah, only for her to touched his cheek and kiss him on the forehead.
With one last look at his friends, and his love, Clark took off into the sky, gaining speed until he broke out of the Earth's atmosphere, and then continued onwards, letting the unfiltered rays of sunlight hit him full on.
The closer he got to the Sun, the more powerful he felt. He knew what needed to be done. With a massive burst of speed, Clark dove deep into the heart of the star, allowing its energy to flow through him, to give him the power he needed.
He just hoped it would be enough.
The last remaining forces of the Justice League capable of fighting stood their ground against Darkseid, desperate to buy Superman time to recharge and beat the shit out of that son of a bitch. Batman, the Flash, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Black Canary, and Zatanna were trying their best to hold him down. They nearly had him more than once, especially with Diana learning about Darkseid's longer healing from her magic.
Relaying the message to Zatanna, the magician grinned and attacked Darkseid with a barrage of spells, only to be quickly defeated by his hand. She would live, but only barely. The same went for Black Canary and Aquaman, both of whom were dealing with serious injuries.
"I have the most powerful beings on this planet at my feet. None of you would be a match for the Kryptonian. He was not a match for me," Darkseid said, his voice echoing loudly across the city of Metropolis, where they managed to lure him.
"Perhaps not, Uxas," Diana gasped out, clutching at her bleeding arm, "but he will defeat you."
"Perhaps. But you shall not be here to see it, Amazon," he said, raising his arm, ready to strike her down.
"She's right, you know," someone said, making Darkseid stop in his tracks. Who dared?! He looked to the source, only to find a young woman, battered and bruised, looking at him with steely grey eyes without a hint of fear in them.
"He will defeat you."
"He is mine to command," Darkseid said, raising his arms once more, ready to strike Diana and the rest of the League down.
A sonic boom could be heard from the sky. And another. And another. Everyone looked up, including Darkseid, only to see a red-blue blur streak across the sky, faster than anyone had ever seen him go.
"DARKSEID!" Superman yelled. The only thing anyone could do was to cover their eyes, for in the next moment, Superman's fist connected with Darkseid's face, successfully breaking every single bone in it.
The punch created a shockwave so large it threw cars into buildings and broke every single window in a 10-mile radius. A strike so strong Darkseid flew for miles, and Sarah was sure her face would split into a giant grin if she weren't so sure her eardrums had been damaged. Clark only stopped for a second to look at them, nod, and then fly towards Darkseid, only to come before him and punch him once more, sending him back towards the rest of the League and Sarah.
Darkseid's fall created a large crater in the middle of the street, his body smoking. Slowly, he stood up, only for the Man of Steel to break the sound barrier once more with his landing, cracking the pavement below him so powerfully it made Sarah nearly topple over.
"Rematch," said Superman, his eyes blazing red.
"If you so desire to be defeated once more," Darkseid replied, now fully standing up.
Sarah got a good look at Clark for the first time, and he amazed her. His skin seemed to be glowing a warm shade of gold. He had never looked so beautiful. So powerful.
"Kick his ass, Clark!" she yelled.
At once, the two titans ran towards each other, meeting in a clash nearly as powerful as Superman's first punch. There was no room for technique, only raw power. Sarah heard a helicopter above, and when she looked up in the sky, she saw Lois Lane reporting the battle LIVE.
Jonathan and Martha Kent held each other tightly as they sat in front of the screen, hoping against hope that their son would come out victorious.
"He's a Kent, Martha. He's got this."
The last time Darkseid hit Clark with such strength, he broke his clavicle. This time, he barely even felt it. And Darkseid seemed to realize this. Darkseid seemed, perhaps for the first time in his life, afraid.
Afraid of losing.
"You do not stand a chance, Kryptonian," Darkseid said, knowing it was a lie.
Remembering Barda's advice, Clark fist dove into Darkseid's side, making him scream in pain. Clark then caught him by the jaw and tugged down, disconnecting it from his head. Darkseid roared from the pain, and Clark just kept coming at him, not holding back. Not now, not with him.
They were equals, now. Clark felt his body bruise and hurt with every onslaught of Darkseid's strength, just as Clark knew he was hurting him. The jaw proved it.
In a lucky move, Darkseid managed to catch Clark by the throat, and slowly started to squeeze. Clark felt his spine ache in protest, felt his throat closing – good thing he didn't need air at all. And suddenly, he smiled, making Darkseid stop in his tracks.
"What is it that you find funny, Kryptonian?" he sneered.
"T-that you think you can actually beat me this time," Clark grinned. And to prove a point, Clark put his hands on Darkseid's fingers and pulled, breaking them both. When Darkseid instinctively pulled him free, Clark did not hesitate to grab his hands and pull with all his strength. Both of them started to scream – Darkseid from the pain, Clark from the strain.
Clark felt Darkseid's shoulders dislocate, and he knew he had to continue. With a magnificent burst of raw strength, Clark screamed and ripped Darkseid's arms off, gently catching himself a few inches off the ground before throwing the arms aside.
Darkseid was kneeling on the ground, armless.
"You've lost, Uxas."
"You cannot kill me, Kryptonian. I will just come back again. Gods cannot die."
"Oh, I'm not gonna kill you. I'm sending you back to Apokalips. If you ever return to this solar system again, if you ever try to conquer my home again, I will rip you apart piece by piece. I will not kill you. There are fates worse than death."
Hearing his words repeated back to him was nearly as bad as having his arms torn off. Clark took the arms from the ground and threw them to the last open portal. Then, he lifted Darkseid by the throat and with one last look at the New God, he threw him into it, too.
The portal closed behind him.
"Clark!" he turned around, only for a Sarah-shaped missile to barrel into him, enveloping him in a hug that would probably break his ribs only a few hours ago.
"Sarah," he whispered, hugging her back, his heartbeat evening out and syncing with hers.
"You did it, Clark. You defeated him. You saved the world," she whispered against his chest.
"I wouldn't be able to do it without you," he said, then raised his voice, "without any of you. The Justice League saved the world. United."
"United," Wonder Woman said.
"United," Batman repeated.
"United," the Flash continued.
"United," from Aquaman. Zatanna. Black Canary. Cyborg.
"United," from Sarah.
5 YEARS LATER
"So, I wanted to give you this later, but.. I couldn't resist," Sarah said, biting her lip.
"Happy early birthday, baby," she grinned, passing Clark a small plastic bag. Clark smiled and reached inside, only to pull out a… t-shirt?
"A t-shirt! Thank you, honey," Clark said, kissing her cheek.
Sarah giggled, "Read what's on it."
Clark unfolded the t-shirt and read the inscription.
Clark shook his head and bit his lip to keep from smiling, but Sarah could see his shoulders shaking in silent laughter.
He leaned towards her and gave her a chaste kiss. "Thank you," Clark whispered against her lips.
"You're welcome… Now, how about we… christen it?"
"By it, you mean the t-shirt, or the new apartment?" Clark raised an eyebrow.
Clark grinned, and just as he was about to kiss her again, his comm beeped. Sighing, he tapped it twice. "Go for Superman."
"Sorry to bother you, Clark, but there's a magnitude 8 earthquake in Zambesi," said Batman.
Clark sighed, "Be there in a few seconds."
Clark nodded, "The flying kind."
Clark stood up and took off his clothes, a sight much appreciated by his fiancée. Touching the emblem on his chest, his new supersuit enveloped him in half a second, his cape fluttering behind him despite there being no wind in the apartment. Clark quickly kissed Sarah's forehead before flying out of the window, off to do his duty once again.
"Don't forget to buy milk on your way back," Sarah said, knowing he would hear her.
The world could love Superman, but she was the one who got Clark Kent's love in return. And it was everything she wanted and more.
I originally wanted to kill Clark off, you know.