by Robot Poppy
Red hair. He had always had a weakness for red hair. Right now Martha's hair was spread out on the pillow beside him. If he were to just reach out he would be able to feel its softness against his fingers, but Martha was asleep and he didn't want to wake her.
Would Martha's children have had red hair? That was one of the things they use to wonder about, before Clark, back when there was still hope. He would hold her tight against him in their big bed as they lay spooned together in the dark and planned their future. But then came the tears and the tests and more tests. He had agreed to be tested, even though he knew there was no point, but he couldn't tell that to Martha.
Would that other child have had red hair? There was no way to know. Still, it had had six more weeks of existence then any of the little girls and boys that Martha would dream up, lying in their bed. If only he had know that at the time. But then Clark had come and what was the point of admitting that he already knew what the tests would say?
They met at a concert. He, spilling her drink when he jiggled her elbow at the bar during intermission. He didn't go to the symphony often, but the tickets had been purchased when he was still seeing Kate and it would have been a shame to waste them. And so they sat, not moving, not wanting to touch throughout the first movements until the house lights had come up and he rushed to the bar to escape her. He wasn't use to such breakups. In high school you grew apart, stayed friends. But maybe that was just Smallville. In Metropolis you had jealousy and awkwardness and platitudes of staying friends but it was obvious it wouldn't work. Not now. Maybe later.
And so he had rushed from his seat to buy a drink and instead had knocked a glass of wine onto the woman standing next to him. A glass of red wine onto her ivory woolen dress. He was mortified and started to pat ineffectually at her with a napkin but she just laughed. He hadn't expected that. Neither had her companion who frowned at him, at his clumsiness, at his Smallvilleness. But the woman merely said that she had been looking for an excuse to both get rid of the dress, which was dreadfully hot, and leave the concert, which was dreadfully bad, and he had been kind enough to solve both problems.
Stammering apologies which she shrugged off with grace, he escorted her to a cab. Holding the door open as she folded herself into the taxi, red curls tumbling down around the back of her neck, he could smell the scent of her perfume and fell in love.
Minutes later, standing on the curb as the rain started to come down, he had realized that he didn't even know her name.
He bought a subscription to the symphony. She seemed the type to patronize the arts and, as the student rate wasn't too dear, he bought one to the opera as well. Some of it he enjoyed, other times he fell asleep, but eventually he met her again and this time, instead of spilling her drink, he bought her one.
They became lovers. She seemed to relish his simpleness, his basic belief that the world was good and that she was a goddess to be worshiped. And if she seemed out of place in his tiny student apartment, all ivory skin and red hair, then that was okay for him because she was his out of place and it was better here, where he was comfortable, than in whatever glass tower she had come from. And whatever glass tower she would have to go back to. He began to accept that, from the small frowns that would cross her face when he talked about the summer.
And then summer came and so did her fiance, back from Europe. She told him that she cared deeply for him but the marriage had been arranged for years. And he sort of even understood what she didn't tell him, that their worlds were too different for this to last. That one day he would wither up inside if he stayed but that she could never leave Metropolis. And so they had made love one last time and in the morning she was gone, just a faint trace of her perfume left in the air.
He wondered if she would have ever told him herself if he hadn't run into her that day in the park. Even with the sunglasses on he could tell she had been crying. He sat her down and carefully took off her glasses and dried her eyes and, without him asking, she told him what was wrong. She was pregnant, she said, the words spilling out like the tears that were running down her cheeks again. Six weeks. Her husband knew, she added. But Lional forgave her. They had to move on, to get past this, to make their brand new marriage work. But she couldn't keep the baby. Not when Lional couldn't be sure it was his.
He eventually understood what she was telling him and that there was no way to change things. Six weeks. Had it been that long since he had last held her in his arms? Six weeks. Would it have had her red hair? Lex did. And even little Julian. But his child?
So he moved on. Eventually he smiled and laughed and even took a girl out on a date now and then. And then one day he fell even more in love; with a red-haired girl with a smile wider than the sky and a heart to match.
And when he and Martha needed help he found out that you could stay friends in Metropolis. She organized everything for them. All the paperwork, no one would ever question a thing. A child for a child she said wistfully when she handed over the papers, illness already apparent in her gaunt frame, the red hair dulled.
And then Clark was theirs.
Author's Note: I've been trying to figure out why Jonathan hates Lional so much. Pete's father I could understand with the whole creamed corn thing but it doesn't seem like Luthor took over the Kent family business.
I've also been wondering who managed to fake up Clark's adoption papers as I don't think either Jonathan or Martha would have the right connections to do it themselves. I think they would have had to ask someone else to do it and that it is somehow related to the whole Kent/Luthor feud. I also think it is interesting that both Lillian and Martha (and Pamela too) have red hair.
This was intended as one explanation. Or at least part of it.
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