A Bracelet of Bells

by Amanda

Thanks to Stacie, Kay Lynn, Eileen, and the rest of the MPL crew for a) paying me to do something I'd do for free and b) giving me the idea for this story.

Title: A Bracelet of Bells
Author: Amanda
Rating: G
Pairing: None. Maaaayyyyybe Clana, but that's a stretch. Improv: fatigue, fever, pressure, mute Disclaimer: the WB, DC Comics, and M/G Ink own everything interesting. I'm just playing with them a little. Author's Notes: Baby!Clark. Nasty!Nell. Much cuteness. Thanks to Eileen, Stacie, Kay Lynn, and the rest of the MPL crew for 1) paying me to do something I would actually do for free and 2) giving me the idea for this fic.

A Bracelet of Bells

Clark Kent was bored. His best friend Pete had the chicken pox and wasn't allowed out to play until his fever broke and his spots crusted over. He never played with any other kids, so he had nothing to do but just hang around the house.

Martha Kent was losing her mind. The pressure of keeping Clark under control when he was bored was nearly more than she could handle. She had prevented as many catastrophes as she could, but the house was still littered with splintered wood and broken glass. She had tried everything to entertain him, but his five-year-old attention span was no match for any task she could come up with. Every night she collapsed into bed, weary with physical and mental fatigue, wondering how she would get through the next day. She actually wished that he wasn't immune to the chicken pox that was sweeping through Smallville Elementary, figuring that at least if he were sick he wouldn't have the energy to destroy the house.

The next morning, Martha decided she had had enough. "Come on, Clark, we're going out." He looked quizzically up at her. "We're going to the library."

Clark had never been to the library before. He didn't even know what a library was. Once inside, he was shocked at how big it was. The ceiling seemed like it was miles away, and everywhere he looked were huge shelves full of colorful little square things with weird symbols. He reached for one, but his mom quickly pulled his hand away. She led him past the big shelves to a staircase.

Upstairs, the walls were painted a bright, sunny yellow, and the shelves were smaller. More colorful squares covered every shelf, only they had pictures of animals and people on them! He grabbed one that had a cow on the front. He liked cows.

"Martha!" Martha turned to see Nell Potter behind her and sighed. "What brings you here?" The smirk on Nell's face was unmistakable.

Martha had heard Nell's nasty comments. Not from Nell directly, of course, but from what her friends had told her, she could just imagine Nell with that condescending sneer on her face, telling everyone "what a shame it is that the Kents' child is," her voice drops to a hush, "retarded. Five years old and can't say a word. That poor boy."

She was right about one thing--Clark really was mute--but Martha knew it had nothing to do with his intelligence. In fact, he was far more aware than he should have been at that age.

Martha realized that she had lost sight of Clark, and she turned to see him sitting on a decrepit couch with a picture book in hand. She smiled as she watched him pat the illustrations of the cows.

Clark was busy watching the cows when he heard bells ringing in front of him. He looked up to see a little girl with long dark hair waving her hand at him. She wore a pink bracelet of bells fastened to her wrist with a long white ribbon. She smiled back at him. "We made tambourines today," she announced, shaking her wrist. She sat down on the couch. "Wanna see?"

She held out her hand, and Clark gently took her hand and shook it, making the bells ring. The joyful sound mixed with the girl's exuberant giggles. Clark laughed too, shaking the bells harder.

"Lana!" Nell gasped. She rushed over and pulled Lana's hand out of Clark's. "Are you all right?"

"I was just letting him play my tambourine," Lana replied. "He liked it."

"Lana, we have to go," Nell declared, pressing her lips together in a grim frown. She helped Lana off the couch and rushed her over to the staircase.

Clark gazed sadly after her. He liked her and her bracelet of bells. It was pretty and so was she. He missed her.

Martha came over and sat beside him. She was angry at Nell for overreacting, but at the same time she had to admit that she herself had nearly pulled Lana away from Clark for fear that he would unintentionally hurt her. They had taught him to be gentle with them and with the animals, but Martha just couldn't help worrying. She looked at his tear-filled eyes and her heart nearly broke. She decided to do the only thing she could. She picked up the cow book and started to read it out loud to Clark, stopping often to let him "pet" the cows.

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