Learning Curve

by SarahRosie

For Aelora, because she makes me smile.

Feedback gives me joygasms.

There are a few things Jonathan knows with complete certainty: one, that they'll have to pry the deed to the Kent Farm out of his cold, dead hands, and two, Martha only scrubs the kitchen counters when she's particularly pissed off.

He warily watched her clean the surface with a wet dishcloth before asking, "All right, what's he done now?"

"Clark swallowed my wedding ring."

Jonathan just started laughing.

"It's not funny!" She glared at him. "What are we going to do?"

"When I was five, I swallowed my mother's favorite thimble-"

"Do you have sage advice for everything?"

Wrapping his arms around her waist, he pulled her tense body against his. "This too shall pass?"

Sighing in disgust, Martha hit him in the face with the soggy dishtowel. He pulled the dripping cloth off his face and tossed it on to the kitchen table, coughing to cover his laughter.

"Come on."

Jonathan placed his hands on her shoulders and led her into the living room, where he sat down on their faded, lumpy couch. He watched as Martha collapsed beside him, a heap of exhaustion and aching feet. It had been another long, tiring day in a seemingly endless stream of them since Clark came into their lives.

"Did you get him down?"

"For now."

Jonathan folded his hands in prayer and glanced toward the ceiling. "Thank you, God."

"Do you think it's too late to send him back?"


"I'm kidding. Mostly." Sighing, she smiled at her husband. "He's just turning out to be a lot more work than I ever expected. I think if you could harness Clark's energy, you could light all of Lowell County for the next few millennia."

"No one ever said being a parent was easy."

"They never said parenting was a full-contact sport, either." Kicking her shoes off, she added, "And my feet are killing me."

Grunting amicably, Jonathan reached down and pulled his wife's tired feet into his lap. He began massaging the soles, gently digging his thumbs into her sore arches.

Martha whimpered. "Keep that up, Farmer Jon, and you might get lucky tonight."

"Will you dress up like a French maid?"

"Jonathan Kent!" She poked at his stomach with one of her feet.

"Just kidding." He leered at her. "Mostly."

Smiling, she laid her head on the armrest, allowing Jonathan to continue rubbing her feet. After a few minutes of companionable silence, she asked, "He's got to grow out of it eventually, right?"

"Who knows, Martha? We have no idea what's normal for Clark."

"I'm scared, Jon."

He didn't have to ask why. He lightly squeezed her ankle by way of comfort. "We have the adoption papers from Luthor, so that's something. We just have to be careful - make sure no one has a reason to ever suspect anything out of the ordinary."

Jonathan bounced Clark on his knee as he drove the tractor though the fields. Martha had been in desperate need of sleep, so he took the child off her hands for the day. He figured there wasn't much trouble, save cow shit, that Clark could get into as long as he was toddling around in an empty field.

As he repaired a broken area of fence, Jonathan was careful to keep an eye on Clark's enthusiastic rolling through the grass. Sometime after he picked a bouquet of ragweed for Martha and started digging a hole with his bare hands, his giggles died down and things got extremely quiet. Dropping his hammer to the ground, Jonathan left the fence.


Worried when there was no answer, Jonathan walked to the other side of the tractor. He found Clark there, leaning against the back wheel. His face was scrunched up in extreme concentration. And he was holding his breath.

"Clark!" Jonathan knelt beside the small boy.

Clark's eyes opened, but he continued holding his breath.

Jonathan took him by the shoulders, giving him a small shake. "Clark, quit holding your breath."

The boy just smiled and clapped a hand over his mouth and nose.

"I'm serious, son. You need to breathe." Jonathan pried Clark's hand away from his face.

He continued to smile like a loon while his face turned gradually darkening shades of purple. After the longest fifteen minutes of Jonathan's life, Clark went completely limp and finally started breathing again, his color instantly returning to normal. Scared witless, Jonathan picked up the boy's slack body and climbed on to the tractor. Holding the unconscious boy on his lap, he started back to the house.

Barely five minutes later, Clark's eyes popped open and he sat up. Jonathan stopped the tractor as Clark let out a triumphant whoop, grabbing on to the steering wheel and making loud revving noises.

"Clark, you mother is going to be some kind of angry."

"Look, maybe this is all just a phase."

"He lifted our bed into the air with one hand a few days ago. Does that sound like `just a phase' to you?"

"God." Jonathan paused to rub a hand over his face. "What's puberty going to be like?"

Martha looked slightly shell-shocked. "Please, Jonathan. Only one issue at a time. I don't think my heart can take it."

"Well, Martha, we can't exactly give him back. Especially not after we've come this far."

"I can't belie-" her voice cracked. She just breathed for a few seconds before starting again. "We've been through this before, Jon. And I can't believe you think I'd even consider, for one second, abandoning him now?"

"I didn't mean-"

She cut him off. "I think you should sleep down here tonight."

"Maybe I should."

"Fine." With that pronouncement, Martha went upstairs, leaving Jonathan alone in the living room.

"Damn it."

Jonathan sat on the couch, turning off the lamp standing beside it. Lying down, he pulled the hand-made afghan off its back and tried to settle down for the night. He listened as Martha got ready for bed, the floorboards quietly creaking above him. Rolling over, he decided that pride and their ancient sofa were very poor substitutes for his wife's welcoming arms and their bed.

After a few hours of tossing and turning, he wished death to the broken spring digging into his kidneys, and resolved himself to a sleepless night. He tossed aside the afghan and went outside, gently letting the screen door close behind him. He did not wish to wake up his wife and Clark, in the off chance they were actually asleep for a change.

Mulling over the argument, he thought about the spaceship he'd hidden in the storm cellar, and what it meant to their family. It wasn't easy for him to accept such an unknown quantity into his family, and change his carefully laid-out plans.

But he had a choice: he could let this divide them, or he could help Martha do their best to raise Clark despite his origins. To give the child as stable of a family life as he possibly could.

Jonathan abruptly sat on the top step of the porch, and pulled on his work boots. Rising, he walked toward the storm cellar, not having been inside since he dragged the spaceship down there months ago. The moon was out and nearly full, casting pale light across the land and the doors to the cellar. Opening them, he carefully descended the stairs.

He'd neglected to pick up a flashlight before coming outside, but the moonlight flooded the space with an eerie glow. The ship was just as he'd left it; safely covered in the tarp from the back of the dead man's pickup. He shoved back the tarp, unveiling the dull, metal surface of the ark that carried Clark across space to the cornfields of Smallville, and into their life.

"I don't know why you sent him here, but I guess I should thank you." He paused, feeling a little self-conscious about speaking to an inanimate object. "Because I know I prayed for him just as much as Martha did."

He stared at the spaceship for a long time before adding, "He's our son now."

When Jonathan walked out on the front porch the next morning, he found Martha gently rocking their son in the porch swing, silently watching the sunrise. He could tell it had been just as long of a night for them as it had been for him; the dark circles under her eyes attested to that fact. Clark was sprawled in her lap, his dark head snuggled up against her neck, body slack with the sleep of innocence, and drooling lightly on the collar of her pajamas.

He walked toward them, carefully lifting the sleeping child from her arms.

"I can't give him up, Jon. He's as much my son as if I'd carried him inside of me." Shrugging, she blinked back tears. "Maybe more."

"I know." He turned and started inside when she spoke again.

"You feel the same way about him."

Jonathan smiled down at their son. "You're right."

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