Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine. They are the property of DC/Time Warner, Millar-Gough, etc.
"Nell and Lana sent flowers."
"What kind, Clark?"
"Roses. Red roses."
He laughed briefly.
"At least they are colorful, Clark! It's so gray and lifeless outside! Now go rescue your mother from my evil laboratory, err, library!"
He kisses me.
"Right away, mad scientist!"
Martha has thrown herself into work after Jonathan's massive coronary and subsequent coma. I offered her a very lucrative position with the reformed LexCorp. She spends ten hours a day here. She needs sleep. She cries when she thinks I'm not watching. It's killing him.
She's taken to wearing glasses all the time. She never goes outside.
"It's just too cold, Lex."
Her life revolves between Smallville General, here, and her car.
Clark can't get her to go home.
"I'm fine, honey. Really. I mean, I've still got you."
She won't eat much anymore and has taken to sipping a neat scotch in the evenings. Sometimes more than sipping.
I, of course, understand what pressure can lead people to.
"I need to stay busy, Lex."
I've forgotten how much time has passed.
I hired top specialists from all over to examine Jonathan Kent. None of them could do what was needed.
"His prognosis is negative, Mr. Luthor. I've never seen anything like it. It's as if the heart was shocked by some sort of laser--"
"He won't make it to the New Year, Mr. Luthor. I am sorry."
(Don't make me leave, Lex)
Clark does his best for her. He virtually runs the farm these days. Not that there was much left to run; Martha has sold off most of the herd and a bulk of the acreage. Before anyone gets any ideas, she sold the land to the Nature Conservancy.
"You really are a good man, Lex."
"Why thank you, Mrs. Kent."
"Martha, Lex. Call me Martha."
"And Lex-- Jonathan thinks you're a good man too."
Most days Clark attends his single course at SCC then appears in my bed, teary and repentant. I still can't figure what for. Maybe someday.
(What would Jonathan Kent have to do with a laser?)
If Martha knows we're together she hasn't mentioned it. I doubt she cares with her husband so ill.
Please. Stop. Dad. Father. Don't. Do. NOOOO!!!!
I wake up sweating and fall off Lex's sofa. My mother comes running in from the copy room.
"Honey, have you ever heard your father's voice again?"
"Don't call him that! He's not my father! Jonathan Kent is my father!"
"I'm sorry, Clark. I'm so sorry. I just thought--"
"I haven't heard him since Metropolis."
"Oh. I see."
(I hear it everyday and I don't want to because I hate him and I hate myself and it sounds different)
"I never want to hear him again."
"I'm sorry, honey."
She shouldn't be and I hate snapping at her. She has new wrinkles. It wasn't at all her fault. She's drinking. It is my fault. My wild summer, my addiction, my mistakes had cost Jonathan Kent his vitality. Possibly his life. She's hurt.
"Why? Why, Jor-El? Why him?"
The voice was not cold. It was measured and logical. It knew what I knew.
"You caused this, my son."
I had hurt my Dad.
"I did not wish to cause you pain, Kal-El. Your earth father's body could not handle the strain it undertook. I have told you many times that there are consequences for our actions. Do you now understand?"
"Yes, father. Yes."
"You must go on, Kal-El. You must continue. Life is struggle and renewal. Struggle on, my son. Renew."
When Dad had been imbued with the Kryptonian super-strength necessary to save me from myself, it had put far too much strain on his heart.
"I've never seen such damage, Mrs. Kent. Is there something you're not telling us?"
"Of course not, Doctor."
I had caused my mother to lie well and suffer much in her time. Often, I wondered how far she could go.
"I'm strong, Clark."
So, in a way, was Dad.
After a long coma, he woke up. Sat straight up and asked what day it was. And for some scrambled eggs.
He wasn't the same though. Thinner. Older. Calmer.
His heart was shot. A transplant procedure would kill him. The doctors said he didn't have much time.
"There's nothing we can do."
We went to church for the first time I could remember.
Mom sang songs to him.
(I can't lose you)
Dad was great, as always. He spoke slowly yet animatedly. Telling stories and inviting everyone in town around for a visit. Even Lionel came by. For the first time, he seemed sad. Dad told him that the past was gone and for Lionel to try to be happy and stop manipulating everyone. Then he shook his hand and thanked him for helping to bring me into their lives.
"Well, um. Well. I see. Well, you're welcome, Jon. You're welcome."
At that point I ran outside and vomited for half and hour.
"I think my father meant it, Clark."
"Maybe he did, Lex. His sentiment won't save my Dad."
He wrote little notes to everybody he loved.
He whispered in my ear--
"Don't forget your Mother's February gift!"
"February gift? What's that, Dad?"
"Look in the cellar. Beneath the new toolbox, in a paper bag. She hates the winter, Clark. Find the bag. You'll know what to do."
Mr. & Mrs. Ross came by to play bridge. They brought me homemade cheese straws and Mom some purple hyacinths in one of those neat plastic jars.
"Forced bulbs, Clark. Color anytime you want! We sent some to Pete but he always breaks them!"
Judge Ross reminded Dad how he won the State Championship for the Crows. Dad grinned.
"It was so hard to hold on to that ball!"
(You were a hero, Dad, a true hero)
They laughed for a good long while.
He pulled me close--
He told me his hands were cold.
He didn't have much time.
"I love you so much, Clark."
The end came in November. It was gray and bleak in the fields. Dry with no hint of snow or color. Chloe came down to show me her acceptance letter to Hudson University. Early acceptance with a scholarship. Gabe was so proud.
My Mom was asleep in the corner and the lilies Lex brought were bursting yellow on the shelf.
He opened his eyes wide and smiled widely at me. I smiled back.
I heard footsteps down the hall and looked away.
It was a new face this year that brought the light to me. I was waiting and waiting and waiting and there was this new face.
It was still friendly, but I'd gotten used to the old one.
Still, I live for one thing and one thing only.
This new face took me to my favorite spot in the warm, sunny part by the big old oak and settled me into a fine little cave next to two or three pals.
Sometime later, I started going up. My time was here.
I broke out on a chilly day but I dig the cold and I saw an old friendly crow hanging out on the fence.
I watched the sun for two days, just waiting. Waiting. I hate waiting. There's not enough time for that.
Getting late. I hope I still look great. I come from a line of bold purples and yellows, with just a hint of pink. Good stock.
The sun is going down and I am about to give up when I see her. There are two other faces behind her- one is the new planter. One has a shiny head. They stay back.
She's smiling and I smile back because that's what he always told me to do. Make her feel better.
She's saying something to herself and I've never been all that good at English but she's giggling so I know she's happy.
She sits in the grass in front of me and just watches.
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