Jor-El returned after a single orbit, and Lara was there waiting for him on the platform. He stepped from the capsule, his face a mask of delight. Silently, Lara embraced him, and led him within the tower. She was arrayed in a heavy robe which opened to reveal the finer material underneath and as soon as she was alone she gestured to it's folds. With a look of reverence, Jor-El grasped the edges of the heavy robe and parted it, his eyes falling with delight upon the light fabric which softened around the swell of her belly. Laying his hand gently upon it's warm curve, Jor-El marveled at the miracle they had begun. "You are well?" he whispered, and Lara nodded, laying her hand atop his and murmuring, "I can feel the babe move almost any hour of the day."
"The child will be healthy, and strong," Jor-El said, a shadow passing across his face. Lara noticed this, but did not press him, instead inquiring if he needed a nutritional tablet, or if it would tell her of the zone. They spent a quiet day together, and when night fell, slept nestled together in the dying light from the portal above them on their bed. Lara's even breathing could be heard, and her husband rose softly, pressing commands into the hoverbot which silently obeyed, passing over Lara's sleeping form, and then returning to it's station. Jor-El watched its surface for a long moment, and then smiled when it revealed the results he was looking for. Lara stirred, and Jor-El quickly erased his work.
"Not sleeping...?" Lara murmured, and he smiled in response.
"Too much on my mind."
She shifted, and lay on her back, putting her hand on the side of his face. "You may as well tell me."
He toyed with the end of one of her curls as she continued to stroke his beard, and spoke the thoughts that were thronging through his head.
"Lara – from the Phantom Zone I could look down upon Krypton. It suddenly struck me what the portents are – of what I have been studying. That is the danger and the fear of facing the facts... that the truth is inescapable." He shut his eyes for a moment, and then raised himself on his elbow beside her. "Krypton is doomed. We have weeks – months, at most, before the energy core completely collapses. I am going to continue to try and convince the council of this."
"They will not listen." Lara shook her head. "Their ears are too full of folly and the schemes of General Zod to hear reason. Our only hope lies in the stars."
"Our only hope is here," Jor-El said quietly, placing his hand on his wife's arched womb. Lara watched fondly as he traced his thumb in slow circles, not letting his eyes leave her belly for an instant. Lara felt it coming – a stirring, and a kick. Jor-El's mouth curved in a smile, but it was a sad one. Lara sat up, facing him.
"What is it?"
He shook his head. "I have not worked it out yet."
"Tell me. It does not have to be finished for us to speak of it."
Jor-El met her eyes briefly, but looked away. "Lara – "
She put her hand on his shoulder. "Tell me."
He sighed and ran his hands through his hair, standing it on end. Lara silently smoothed it back into place as his eyes clouded, and he said thickly, "It may be too late for Krypton."
Letting the thought sink in before she allowed herself to reply, Lara said slowly, "I know."
Jor-El's blue eyes met her own. "That's not what I meant. I meant for us too. For all of us."
"All?" Her lips were pale.
Lara did not understand at once, but the warm pressure of his hand on her stomach suddenly filled her with understanding. "Surely they will see in time –"
"They will not." His voice rose. "You are not a fool, and yet I have been working at this for cycles before you loved me. They will not see what is just under their noses – like the red sun, it blinds them to look truth in the face."
"But we must fight as though we are not yet beaten," Lara said firmly. "You do not know this to be the end."
"If I did, would it change anything?"
"It might. We are like actors in a play – we know the ending, and yet we must play for all we are worth, because it is our time, and it is our fate."
"Fate..." muttered her husband. "The untraceable variable."
"My father will do all he can to poison the council against your words, as will Jir-An and Zod," Lara said quietly, "But I will speak for you, and as soon as they know of the miracle they will be forced to give your ideas credence."
"The Phantom Zone came and went like a cast-off toy," grumbled Jor-El. "Their favor is more short-lived than a child's."
"Supposing we leave them to their folly?" Lara hazarded, her voice echoing around the large room. Jor-El turned to her and stared her in the face, his gaze penetrating, and strange.
"Supposing we do?" he said at last, his voice hollow.
"Then all will die?" she whispered, half-fearing her own voice, for once in her life not knowing if she wanted to hear the truth.
Jor-El sighed heavily. "Unless something changes. I have made preparations. Preparations that are secret, and dangerous."
Lara nodded, encouraging him on. "Krypton may be destroyed, but hope will live that it may yet be rebuilt."
He nodded, his eyes soft. "You understand then, what we must do. We will save it's life, and give our civilization hope of revival."
Lara shook her head, her dark hair tumbling over her shoulders. "Wait – what do you mean?"
Jor-El set his jaw. "Nothing. I thought you –"
"I don't understand."
"I thought you anticipated my thoughts."
But Lara heard enough to alarmed. "What is it?" she pleaded. "You must tell me."
Jor-El took her hands. "If Krypton is destroyed, then we die with it." Lara nodded soberly, but whispered, "There is hope that if we made it to the nearest star system –"
"Lara, listen to me. We are products of this society, tainted by it, and its injustices. We would not be fitting ones to rebuild our world, even should we survive."
"But the child..."
"That is our hope. If it is saved, then the future of Krypton is assured, even though we perish."
Lara felt cold all over. "What are you saying...?" she said, her voice sounding not at all like her own.
"He would be sent away, ideally with the codex which contains the data of those yet to be born. Making his life on another system, one day he would be able to begin Krypton anew, and make it better."
"Sent away..." Lara whispered. He could see it on her face: her mind working to sort out the implications. Playing across her features like a display of data, he watched her argue out the meaning of his words – yes, he is right, it is sthe only way. No, it is too dangerous, what if something were to go wrong... Yes, we must, and cross those bridges when we come to them. No, I could not do that, to send away the miracle, the child of the first natural birth Krypton had seen in many ages. Yes – yes, it is the right thing to do. It is selfless, and bold. No... I could not remain here and face death.
Lara looked him in the face. "You are right." Her voice was steady, her eyes unnaturally bright. "It is our only choice. But meanwhile –" She swallowed back tears, and her husband wrapped his arms around her, pressing her head into his shoulder. "-Meanwhile we must play as if we do not know the end. Tell the council about the child."
"It will be one thing they cannot ignore."
"They will be upset at our choice."
"But it is our choice. Perhaps the council will listen to us," Jor-El whispered, holding his wife and unborn child close. But both knew it was a folly – an impossibility – a lie.