I CAN SEE THE WHOLE ROOM
Notes/Disclaimer: This is a futurefic. All characters and settings are property of WB/DC/Millar-Gough, etc.
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I can see it all. The sun is up and I look around me and it's the same as it was yesterday, last month, two years ago.
I can see the cows on the far pasture, the chickens milling about around the coop. I can see the basketball court and the barn and farther off, I see the sun.
I don't really have time to do this...to wait, to watch, to glance...but I need to.
The baskets are beside me and they are ready to go. I have baked twelve pies, twelve dozen cranberry muffins and six cakes.
It's not about making any money, nor seeing the smiles. I need to do this.
I load all the baked goods into my small sedan. I don't like trucks anymore. The drive is blessedly quick and uneventful. I notice the Ross' are building a pool in the backyard. Part of me wants to stop in, say hello to her, as I did so many times, so many mornings.
Part of me looks for him there, playing on that cracked court, his short little body strong and vibrant, his eyes ever locked with those of another boy I knew. No, I can't stop. She can't see me and I can't face her.
The sunflowers are late this year, more drought victims. What blooms there are rise shrunken and weak. I want to stop the car and get out and water them one by one. But they are not mine and their struggle is no part of my own.
I turn on the radio, try to focus, stay on the road. I never wear my seatbelt these days. Not that it matters. I reach over and fumble around in the glove compartment with my free hand. Making sure the box is there. It's enough, I hope, in case that day ever comes. Larger than the ones I keep around the house and in my purse.
Even after all these years of living in this town I am still amazed at how 'small' it really is. I'm pulling into town and seeing faces I want so desperately to see but never see again.
She's hugging me and helping me unpack the trunk and I want to hug her back but my stomach pulls at me and I chastely kiss her on the forehead.
"How's school? Bet you're looking forward to senior year?"
"Of course. I mean, you know...with everything that's happened, it's kinda hard." She's shrugging and I look away. This isn't my struggle.
"It'll be alright, honey. You're strong."
It sounds forced and cliched and that's exactly as it has to sound. I can't be anyone else's damned therapist.
Don't ask that.
"Have you thought anymore about, you know...trying to find-"
"Oh. I get that though. Seriously, that was screwed of me to ask...I mean, I promise I will never bother you about that stuff again."
I smile warily. Her eyes are too big but I appreciate her retreat. She's still a girl. Almost a woman, but still a girl. She doesn't understand. Can't understand. Luckily her attention shifts towards a figure coming up behind me.
He reeks of power and control; and that newer scent...legitimate sadness. I lean into his arm.
"Lionel. Didn't know you would be here today."
I forget there's still a bubbly blonde teenager to my right. Discretion.
"Chloe, honey...there's your father. You should go help him set up the booths."
I thought I could pull this off.
"Of course. I'll see you later Mr. Luthor! And thanks again for the recommendation letter!"
She's gone. I turn and look him hard in the eyes.
"A little illegal, Lionel, don't you think?"
He pulls me closer. I don't like this, not here. Not today.
"She's just a bright young girl...you don't even have to worry about anything else. She's not experienced...she's not yet a woman."
"And I am?"
"We both know that you, more than most, know a woman's courage, her pain, her perseverance."
"Don't flatter me, please."
He is staring at me. That wild mane growing ever so grayer by the day. What scares me is I realize he could offer me the security and leisure part of me craves so badly these days.
I can see some kind of intriguing future with him. But not today.
"I have to go set up my booth."
He nods. Why is he here?
I nod back.
"I don't know why you insist on coming to this sort of thing....it can't bring back any good memories."
"It doesn't. But I still need a few links to the old way."
"Does it make you think of him?"
"Which him, Lionel?"
No, I don't know Lionel. Does it make me feel closer to my husband or my son; the betrayed or the betrayer?
"Do you think about Lex?"
He gives me that broken look. The one. Like I have just spat acid on his thousand dollar shoes.
I feel horrible and I should because I remember Lionel after the crash, after the publicity and after that so-called Doctor was arrested, then mysteriously drowned in jail. I saw him break down, watched him claw the carpet, grasp the drapes. I watched him break. And how could I forget the tapes, those horrifying tapes. The note.
Fuck me for being so insensitive. I don't know how else to be these days.
"I don't want to talk about this here. Maybe tomorrow."
He's getting his balls back and that's good. Men like him should stand proud.
"At the office?"
I play with my freshly dyed hair and smirk.
"Yes. I will be in early. We have to go over our tender offer for Wayne Industries."
"Ahh, yes. Bruce won't know what hit him. My you have a head for business."
"Just like my father."
My father. At least, now, here, I am glad we are close again. He even bought a ranch outside Midvale to be closer. I see him every week, sometimes more. He helped me with all the finances after...he had me sell most of the acreage to LuthorCorp, pay off all the old debts and encouraged me to stay on with Lionel. He and I sit around and talk life and choices and sometimes he holds me when I cry. Just like all those years ago in Metropolis after my Mother passed away.
"I have to be going, Lionel. Tomorrow?"
"But of course, dear."
He sweeps away, the crowd making way for him. I fucking hate his grandiosity and pomp but he has smoothed out some things lately. I never thought I could feel useful again, nor sexy. I haven't given him any yet, mind you, but just the teasing and banter makes me feel like I'm sixteen again. It's not betrayal because my husband is dead. I know betrayal and I've got other ways to deal with that issue.
"Hello. How are you doing?"
Another face. More.
"Your pies are marvelous. They always have been."
Yes, I know. Funny, I don't even cook for myself anymore. Always take out or dinner at the castle.
I set up and sell what I sell and keep my sunglasses fixed in place, dark glass protecting me from curiosity seekers and ghosts.
"There you are. It's so good to see you."
Not her. Not today. Should've begged off. Should have written a check, told Gabe to stuff his silly Smallville Sweets Festival.
"I've been wanting to call you."
"What are you doing here, dear? Henry told me you were in Keystone City at art school."
I can't describe what she is wearing as a full outfit and she's wearing enough eyeliner to attract a male raccoon.
"Oh, I am. I am. And it's great. I was down visiting Henry and wanted to stop by and see Chloe and her Dad and-"
Indecisive little tramp. You drove him crazy. No. Stop.
"Well...it was nice seeing you, honey. Oh, look! I'm sold out...and I have so much to do at the farm."
Don't blame her, Martha. She's just a girl. Maybe. Stop.
Please not another insipid teen girl inquiry. At least Chloe is bright. This one...she's gonna turn out just like Nell.
"Have you tried to find Clark?"
I just start yelling. Don't know where it comes from. One second my hand is picking up an empty basket and I notice the slight grease stain at the bottom and then I am running and yelling and they are all watching but how many of them came to the funeral anyway? Fuck them.
"You little bitch! He loved you, you know. Loved you since you were five, six, ten...damn you! You don't have the right! You couldn't ever decide what you wanted, could you?"
She's crying her crocodile tears and unbelievably chasing me towards my car. Is she insane? Didn't she read about what happened at Jon's service? She was too 'busy' to attend, or so said Henry Small. And he's one to talk.
"I'm so sorry, ohmigod! I'm so sorry. I forgot...you've been through so much, Mrs. Kent! I'm so, so, so sorry."
"You should be." I don't mean it, I don't. It's not her fault but I have to vent, have to lash out at someone for something and everything and she needs to put some clothes on and at least pretend she's not a spoiled little tramp.
"Just leave me, Lana. Go back and talk to Chloe and laugh and smile and be happy your father is alive and loves you. Be happy with the blessings you've been given. Just go."
She nods, her tears stained purple from all that damn junk. I almost want to laugh, she looks so ridiculous.
I watch as the crowd moves in around her and she begins to play victim for them. Chloe's smarter though and she looks in my direction, smiling very softly, raising her hand to say goodbye. At least she was raised with some tact. Although I will have to keep an eye on she and Lionel. I'm not up for competition. I'll tear her apart.
I'm back in the car and I see that the day is almost gone. Where it went, I'll never know. It'll be Monday morning in a flash and I need a Sonata and cup of green tea.
I'm speeding down Hickory and I see the Ross house again. Is that Charlie outside? I slow down...my, he's gotten big. He waves at me, I speed up. I can't face them. I'm going faster and I peel out onto Honey Creek Road and there's the big setting August sun and it's mocking me and it's scary. Faster.
The backseat smells like sugar and fruit and I remember years ago, in another car, a truck, on this same road, two little boys laughing and joking and it hits me and I hit the brakes and nearly go off the road.
I'm by the bridge, that one. Lucky I didn't go off. Maybe Lex would have been luckier if he had. Lionel told me, showed me. Showed me the tapes of my precious son driving Lex's cars. Using his credit cards. Planning. Making love to him. Lying to him about forevers and eternities that he knew full well wouldn't happen.
Lex in the shower, Clark snorting red dust.
Perhaps the tape that I can't get out of my head is the one from that May. That May. The May of unopened presents and false hopes. The May Lionel taped Clark and Helen plotting Lex's death.
He showed me everything. Tears in his eyes.
"I didn't stop their relationship Martha because Clark seemed a very special being."
"Lionel-he was special. You've seen the tapes. You know what kinds of things he could do. Why didn't you exploit it?"
"To what end? He was under Lex's protection and, I hate to say, my son seemed to truly love Clark. For all our fighting I did truly want Lex to be happy."
"Yes..." playback of Lex and Clark in the pool, kissing...whispering...
"Why do you think Clark and Helen did this to him?"
"Money. The tapes show Helen giving Clark access to LexCorp. Funds. The irony is, of course, Lex would have given your son anything he asked. Lex was investigating Clark, as you know, but only for his own ends. For his own reasons, which I believe were innocent and scientific--"
"He had the blood?"
"Yes. I believe he was planning to destroy the sample after conferring with a certain Dr. Swann. At least that's what the notes imply."
"Lionel...I'm so sorry..."
"Sorry for what? We both lost sons, Martha. Plus you lost Jonathan, who while certainly not my favorite person, was a man of tremendous integrity."
"How did Clark fool us all?"
"I believe Lex himself almost had that figured out. On the plane he scribbled this message..."
Lionel handed me a torn, burnt scrap of paper. LexCorp logo. 'Red means go, green means stop. Clark...why?'
"Somehow he figured things out. Too late, though."
"Martha...I want you to have something."
Lionel pulled a tiny jewelry box out of his pocket. She knew what it was even before he handed it to her.
"I c-can't. I just can't."
"Martha...the boy is dangerous. I understand you raised him for years as your own but he is not yours. He's a killer. He's crazed. From Lex's notes I gather he's got an entire store of this 'red' kryptonite stashed somewhere. We can't take chances."
"I won't take chances with your life, Martha. I won't. Take it."
I resisted for a time but did eventually take the glowing green ring. In time, I would collect many more specimens. Lionel was right, I never knew Clark. I had no children. My husband was dead.
...Still staring at the bridge. Beginnings, endings.
Lex thought my little bundle of joy was capable of love. Poor him. At least he went out quick. That is some comfort when I imagine the things a certain other son might have done to him.
"Get it together." I say it aloud so I will listen.
I drive away from the bridge and the sun is nearly gone and then I am home. Everything's tidy and secure. The workers my father advised me to hire have worked out quite well...though...I might just sell this place after all. My father thinks I should spend half the year in the City, half with him at Midvale.
It's not like I have much left around here. And Lionel...well...Metropolis is his kingdom.
I drive up the freshly paved driveway and pull into the garage. I will clean the car up tomorrow, after work.
I unpin my hair and stare in the mirror and try not to think about Jonathan or Clark or Lex or Pete...all these wonderful characters from my own personal soap opera.
I try not to think about Jonny out there in those hot fields, killing himself with work. Trying to forget a beloved child. Two beloved children.
I try not to think about Pete's cute little jokes or the night the police found him hanging from a cross, throat slashed, bloody 'S' scrawled across his little chest. I try not to think about that night because it's the last time I saw Clark. There were police and lights and the Ross' crying and moaning and I was trying to hold her, tell her it was alright. I was trying to comfort, trying not to scream out myself. Pete had been found outside some dive in Metropolis. I drove the family there to identify him. As I turned away from Linda Ross to get a coffee, I saw the glint of red in the night. Sparkling like fresh blood, he was there, in the alley, only feet away from me.
He was watching. For a second I swore he was floating, ever so slightly.
He was grinning. Admiring his work.
I was repulsed and thrilled and-
And he motioned for me to come into the alley.
And I did.
Part of me wanted to die. After running into the fields to find Jonathan dead, I really wasn't into living.
So I went into the alley.
He was alone and he had not only a red ring, but a red rock necklace and matching earrings. He was well-prepared.
So was I.
I stayed about ten feet back. He just glared at me. He was sweating and dressed in leather pants I would have never bought him.
His hair was long and he reeked of cheap beer and sex. He was taller.
This was not my son.
Inside my pocket I fingered the ring...I slipped it onto my concealed hand and spoke...
"How are you, Clark?"
"The best I have ever been. Ride of my life."
He giggled and pointed towards the scene, Pete's body.
"Poor old Pete. Couldn't let it go. Had to try to come take me back."
So smug. I honestly can say I hated him at that moment.
"He was your friend. He loved you like a brother."
"I have no brothers. Anyone I had blew up in a galaxy far, far, away."
I nod. Krypton's last son, I suppose.
"Lex was....he was a rich, bald loser desperate for love."
"I see. Hmm."
"How are things in Smallville? Lana still hot for me?"
"She moved away, Clark. Lucky her."
"Fuck that bitch. I've got hundreds of others."
Prick. This isn't my son.
"Jonathan Kent is dead, Clark."
Like a fool, I wanted a response. A tear, a howl. Anger, anything but-
"Ha, ha, ha...whoa! Ha...guess the good ol' boy couldn't take of things by himself, could he!"
The ring, my hand. The ring, my hand. At his cheek before I could stop myself. I flew at him in a blind rage.
"You ungrateful alien bastard. That man loved you. We should have turned you in the day we found you. Damn you, Clark. You are not my son! Damn you!"
"I never was your son." His cheek is ripped open and weeping blood. But he's smirking still and his fist is clenched. I can't survive a blow from him, that I know.
"You were and we loved you."
I hate myself for crying.
"Go now, Martha. Go."
"It's your choice, Clark. You can give up this lifestyle, your addiction, your folly. You can still have a family. I'm still here, Clark."
"But I am not, Mom. I'm dead. Just like them. Leave me. Please. Now."
I can see the red k's still talking...
"Realize this, Clark. You can always opt for a new view."
His cheek is leaking and I am trembling and I don't want to leave. But I leave quickly, escaping back out onto the street. I wasn't raised to beg and you can't make a grown man, nor alien, do anything he doesn't want to do.
I left and tried to forget and exiled myself from former friends and that old life and found new connections. My father, Lionel, work.
I still pray for Clark every night. His dead baby sister as well. I still talk to Jonathan about important decisions. I hope he's not mad at me for some of the things I have done.
I don't often cook. I like to eat at work or sometimes I will drive to the store and pick up one of those convenient take-out meals. They make some decent things.
My favorites are the meatloaf and corn, side of bread.
I bring my food with me outside to the porch and I sit there.
I leave the door open with the screen closed. I can see the whole room, the whole kitchen, dining area.
I am never far away from a piece of green kryptonite. A homecoming might happen. An attempted murder might happen.
I remember other times and meals and views. I can see them all every night. They stay with me and that's not such a bad thing. I can see the past and it's alive and Clark's healthy and happy and Jonathan loves me and I'm not a bitter childless widow.
Lionel thinks Clark is slowly poisoning himself. That sooner or later, he will 'overdose.' I try not to think about that. I've done whatever intervention I can do.
Instead...I just open my eyes and take in whatever scene life affords me.
I can see what happiness looks like and it comforts me.
I can see what pain and poor choices can do to good people.
I can see that, for a time, in a space, I did have a family. A real one.
And in my view, that's more than most people get.
'I Can See The Whole Room'
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