A Beautiful Goodbye

by Medie

written pre-Relic

The soft, artificial light spilled into the darkened room as the door opened, drawing the instant attention of the previously sleeping toddler. He sat up, rubbing at sleepy blue eyes, and smiled brightly when he saw his mother.

"Mama!" Holding up chubby little hands, he chattered off in an odd mixture of Kryptonian and his own little language, no doubt telling her about some lovely dream he'd just had.

Lara, her eyes strangely subdued, forced a laugh and reached down to lift her child into her arms. "Slept well, did you?"

He nodded, tucking his head beneath her chin, one little hand tangling in her long black hair.

She stopped, resting her cheek against his soft hair, and drew in a shuddering breath. "I can't do this." She murmured to herself. "How can I?"

Sensing his mother's distress, the toddler looked up at her with a concerned gaze. "Mama?"

She swiftly regained control, smiling - albeit tearfully - at her son. "Shhh..Kal-El, Mama's fine." Cuddling him close again, she closed her eyes and forced back the maternal instinct to take him and flee. Find some place, somewhere, anywhere that was safe.

Soberly, her husband's words returned to her and Lara looked out at the early morning sky, realizing there was no safe place. Her beloved homeworld was dying... and, unless she let him go, so would her child. They had discussed it incessantly. She understood, she had agreed with him. They had to send him away from their world, they would save his life, there was no other option. But it had always seemed a vague dream...now, now it was really happening and she knew it would be a battle for them both.

The young beauty sucked in a steadying breath and left her son's room for the last time. She carried him through their home and into her husband's labratory. "Is it time?"

Jor-El turned to look at his wife, his expression one of sheer pain and identical to hers. "Yes. We must move quickly."

"I don't think I can do this, my love." She whispered, her body instinctively rocking little Kal-El to sleep. "I can't. He's my son...I can't send him..." Her eyes fell on the waiting ship. "I can't put him in there and send him so far away..." Her voice broke and she closed her eyes, fighting the urge to weep. "I just can't..."

Sensing his mother's distress, the toddler began to fuss, squirming in her embrace. Lara ducked her head, singing softly and increasing the rocking motion in an attempt to soothe him while trying to calm her own emotions.

Her husband left his preparations and embraced them both, kissing her temple then his son's soft hair. "We have no choice, beloved." He whispered, his own voice hoarse with emotion as he reminded them both of why they had to do it. If he let himself forget for an instant, he risked giving in to the instinctive desire of a parent to protect his son. "If we do not...he will die. He'll be safe...there is a world inhabited by a race that resembles ours...he'll be safe among them."

"Will he?" Lara pleaded, despite already knowing he would be. "How do we know? How do we know that whoever finds him will love him as we do? He is our child, Jor-El..."

"And we must do what is right for him." He finished. "If we keep him with us...he will die, Lara. There is no questioning that. If we send him to Earth...he has a chance..." Brushing a hand across their sleeping son's head, he added. "We must trust in these humans, beloved. I have programmed the ship, it will protect him..." He offered a wavering echo of his old smile. "I can hardly leave everything to chance."

A soft alarm drew his attention and he cast a suspicious glance at a nearby screen, watching the readout that scrolled across it. He drew into a shuddering breath and forced himself to speak the fateful words. Gritting them out took every trace of energy he possessed and the effort left him strangely drained. "We have no more time, Lara. It must be now."

No longer making any attempt to hide her tears, his wife kissed their child and carried him to the ship, settling him inside. Kal-El stirred from his sleep and looked up at her a drowsy smile. Murmuring, "Mama," he reached up to brush at her cheek before Lara soothed him back to sleep with a soft song, her tears lightly falling onto his dark hair as she kissed his forehead one last time, fixing the blankets she'd brought around him.

Her tears began in earnest as she whispered, "Good bye, my little one..." She fought back her grief to add. "Never forget, Kal-El...you are my heart...my hope..." She kissed his little cheek, leaving her tears behind on his soft skin. "I love you, my Kal-El...I will always love you."

"Lara..." Jor-El's voice sounded choked and she looked back at him, seeing tears unashamedly racing down his cheeks. "There is no time..."

"I know." She dashed at her tears and stepped back, her empty arms wrapping about her midsection. She stood silently as her husband bent over their son, whispering his own goodbyes before giving Kal-El a sedative to help ease him into stasis.

Jor-El's final preparations for their son's journey were a blur for her but it was all too soon that he was standing at her side and reaching for the control that would send the ship racing into space. Unable to watch, she pressed her face to her husband's chest, her arms now holding him tightly, and she wept hard, her body shaking with the effort.

'Good bye, my heart.' She could not say the words but they consumed her mind as she heard the ship's engines power up just before it lifted from its platform and rose up through the skylight, carrying her little boy away from only home he'd ever known.

Grief crashed down on her in one paralyzing wave and Lara felt her legs buckle. Were it not for Jor-El's grip on her, she would have surely slid to the floor in a boneless heap. A wordless cry of sheer agony worked its way free of her mouth and seemed as if it would never end.

Her husband held her to him as tightly as he dared, his own tears being caught by the dark silk of her hair, and tried his best to soothe her but Lara would not be consoled. Every second that passed took her child just a little farther from her and there was no consolation, her child was gone and he was not coming back.

Her hands gripped the material of Jor-El's clothing desperately as his did her and she knew, when the death of their world came...they would welcome it.

She prayed it would bring her peace - for life without her child could not.

Kal-El was gone.

He was safe, she reminded herself of that sternly. She knew, despite her grief, that was all that mattered.

Her child was safe. Her heart raced into the stars with him.

All Lara had left was her pain. For the time that was left to them. There was only their grief.

Their lips found each other, kissing fiercely one last time, and then, the world seemed to shatter around them...

And there was oblivion.

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