The Good Aunt

by SarahRosie

Written for Hope's Seven Less One challenge.
Special thanks to aelora and aelita, my fabulous betas.
Feedback gives me joygasms.

I should have married Jonathan Kent.

I would have given him beautiful children -- proud, strong sons to pass his legacy on to; beautiful daughters who would have had this 'cow town' wrapped around their little fingers at birth.

None of my life has turned out the way that I had planned it. I used to dream about getting out of Smallville, moving to Metropolis or some place glamorous like Gotham.

All of my dreams changed because of Jonathan Kent.

From the moment I first became aware of boys, there was Jonathan. We dated throughout high school, and while he wasn't the star of the football team, he was close enough for me. I fully expected us to get married right after high school, to settle down and make a family of our own. I built my life around those plans.

I still remember the night he told me about going to Metropolis for college, the bitterness and anger that flowed through me -- I had passed up opportunity after opportunity to stay in Smallville for him, but he didn't think twice about leaving me behind. I told him they would eat him alive, a nave country boy pretending to be a big city man. But if anyone was nave in our relationship, it was me. My heart told me he would come back.

What a fool I was.

Letting Jonathan go nearly killed me, but I always carried the hope he would become tired of Metropolis, of the mad rush of city life and of all the nameless faces, and come back to me. I never once believed he would meet someone else; that another woman would touch his soul in a way I never had.

I despised Martha from the instant I first saw her. How could I not? She had ruined my carefully laid plans with her polished manners, powerful name, polite smile and beautiful red hair. Jonathan must have taken one look at her and fallen head over heels. She was everything he never had growing up. There is rarely a time I see her now when I don't wish I could claw her smiling eyes out. What gives her the right to smile like a cat in cream? That redheaded bitch took everything from me.

I hate that I've become the old maid of Smallville. The whole damn town whispers and laughs around corners about how Nell Potter let that nice Kent boy get away. How it's such a shame she couldn't settle down like her sister Laura did with Lewis. I let them all believe that I can't hear what's being said, that I'm perfectly happy being single and running my own business. None of them have any idea what kind of cold comfort tax forms and stock lists can really be. And now, with the new addition of Lana, my life has almost become a caricature: The maiden aunt, husbandless and without children, takes in her orphaned niece after the tragic death of her parents.

Sometimes I think it would be so easy to fix my life -- a fall down the stairs, an unfortunate accident in the bathtub -- there are so many hazards in a young child's life.

I would mourn the loss of Lana, a young life, so full of potential. I'd mourn her just like I mourned her parents when they were buried in the cold ground not three weeks ago. Laura and Lewis Lang: God, how I loathed them. They were Smallville's very own first couple, always the talk of the town with their perfect marriage and their perfect daughter -- all things I could never have. Lovers never separated, even by death. I wept hot tears when the priest said those words over their grave.

No one but me knew they were tears of joy.

I should feel guilty for rejoicing at the death of my sister and her husband -- instead I feel only anger at the burden that's been foisted upon me. Every time Lana looks up at me with her soulful eyes I just want to scream and slap at her. She's stealing my future just as surely as Martha Clark did the day she became Mrs. Jonathan Kent.

I pretend that after they put Lana in her tiny grave, Jonathan would finally come to me, a comfort in my time of grieving. I'd cry at first, from the loss of my beautiful little girl, who already seemed like she was my own. He'd wipe the dampness from my cheeks, his farmer's hands callused and rough against my face. Realizing his terrible mistake in marrying an outsider, Jon would tell me there was plenty of time for us to be together and we could start building a real family. Martha would go crawling back to Metropolis, alone and miserable, where she belonged.

I know these thoughts are wrong; I'm not crazy. It's terrible of me to wish for the death of my niece with the hope my high school sweetheart will leave his wife for me. But I also know they wouldn't be so bad if they weren't so tempting.

My conscience is why I let Jonathan leave for Metropolis all those years ago -- I wanted him to love me for me, not because I'd backed him into a corner. It seems I've always let my conscience get in the way of what I wanted. I wish I were more like Laura in that way. She never took 'no' for an answer, and always went after what she wanted like a dog after a bone.

I remember once, a few years back, when she and Lewis were having problems. He said he wanted a break, so Laura gave him one -- at least that's what he thought. Nothing makes a wayward husband come crawling back like an extramarital affair. If half the local old biddies knew what went on behind closed doors in the Lang household, they'd insist the town council rename Smallville 'Peyton Place.'

My conscience is what prevents me from acting on my thoughts now. I can almost taste freedom, but I couldn't live with the consequences if everyone were to find out about my machinations. So I'm left here, alone, to go quietly insane from all my desires.

An insistent tugging at my shirttail pulls me out of my reverie.

"Aunt Nell?"

"What is it, dear?" I glance down into Lana's red, tear-filled eyes.

"I had an accident."

I hate you, Martha Kent.

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