Author's Notes: I do not own the characters. This is a response to a thread over on KSiteTV's Smallville forum, where posters were asked which characters they would have liked to have seen interacting. I always thought this would have been an interesting choice, and there was one scene from the above episode that provided a perfect window.
A MOTHER'S LOVE NEVER DIES.
Clark stood in his kitchen, his mind still reeling from the fact that he had not one but two members of his Kryptonian family right there with him. Kara had arrived in Smallville just a few months ago, and he had soon got used to her being around. They'd taken tentative steps and had had a few teething troubles in forming a family relationship, but having a fellow Kryptonian around had lightened Clark's burden somewhat. Kara had told him many stories about growing up on the planet that no longer was. It was a little insight into what life could have been like had it not been for the events that forced his parents to send him light years away to a new home.
Clark's only tangible clues as to what his parents were like consisted of a grainy photograph of 'Joe', the wanderer Jor-El who'd travelled to Smallville many years ago and met Clark's adoptive grandfather Hiram Kent, plus the photograph of Clark's mother Lara. She looked so young and yet her face told the story of a life having been lived, years of experiences adding lines, and eyes displaying warmth gleaned through those experiences. The serenity in her expression told him that Jor-El could not be the emotionless, vague and unbending persona of his AI creation at the Fortress. Now, in a roundabout way thanks to his uncle, his mother was stood here beside him engaging in conversation as though she'd never been away.
The sound of a key turning in the front door caught their attention. Based on what the three of them had just been discussing, it was understandable that Lara in particular was somewhat on edge. Kara's father Zor-El - Jor-El's brother - would be on Lara's tail after the crystal had been activated by Clark in the Fortress.
Clark hadn't been expecting anybody so he was more than a little bit startled to see who had entered.
Martha glanced up and beamed. "Hi Clark!"
Both closed the gap between them as Clark enveloped Martha in a huge hug. Just seeing her again had brought home how much he'd missed her, and how the farm felt so very different without her reassuring presence there. After all, it was all he had known for the last twenty years.
"Mom, I wasn't expecting you back so soon!"
"Oh honey, it's so good to see you! I know I should have called ahead but something's come up and I have to attend some meetings over in Topeka. I stopped by to pick something up. I'm glad to see the house is still standing!"
"If I'd known, I could have brought it for you," he answered.
"I know, but the truth is, I needed an excuse to get away. I wanted to come back here while I had the chance."
"You can't stay?"
"Clark, I wish I could but after this meeting I have to get the red eye back to Washington tonight."
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw movement coming from the kitchen. Standing there watching were a blonde woman and a young blonde girl, neither of whom she recognised. Both were strikingly beautiful.
"I'm sorry, I didn't realise you had company."
Clark cleared his throat, suddenly very aware that he was about to utter the words he could never have countenanced. A wish from years gone by was coming true. Sort of. Almost shyly, he introduced his guests.
"Mom, I'd like you to meet...Mom!"
Martha gaped at the beautiful blonde woman, stunned beyond speech. This was Clark's mother from Krypton? In fairness, the woman seemed almost as surprised to see her too.
Clark turned back to Lara, now buoyed and with a sense of pride. "This is my mom, Martha Kent."
"Oh!" smiled Lara. "It is an honour to meet you!"
She rushed forward and gave Martha a warm embrace of her own which Martha couldn't quite reciprocate. She was too busy staring at Clark. He looked so at peace, happy and proud, a world away from the guilt-burdened barely-out-of-his-teens young man she had left behind.
Upon being released, Martha shook off her stupor and addressed Lara.
"I'm sorry. This all just a little overwhelming."
"Mom, I'd also like you to meet my cousin, Kara," Clark further announced with a faint nod to Kara that everything was OK.
"Hi Kara. It's so nice to meet you too. I didn't know Clark had a cousin."
Kara smiled politely and answered shyly, not quite confident enough to offer a hug of her own. "Hello...Aunt Martha. I hope it's alright me staying here?"
"Of course! You're welcome to stay as long as you like. Would you excuse me for just a moment? I'll let my driver know to come back again in a little while."
"I don't mean to impose," said Lara.
"Not at all. It gives us some time to chat."
Martha had invited Lara to walk around the farm, noting how Lara seemed fascinated by the place. Having learned back at the house that sadly this was a facsimile of Lara created using her DNA rather than the real thing, it quickly dawned on Martha that Lara still retained all her memories up until the moment Krypton was no more. Being able to talk would hopefully provide her with some unique insight into how things came to pass.
As they walked the path between the fields, Lara would occasionally stop and smell the air and the flowers. She would gently glide her hand across the tall grass marking the field boundary, revelling in the sensation. She did all this with a regal grace that suggested to Martha that Clark's family were very important people on Krypton. Lara's ethereal beauty made Martha think of the actress Grace Kelly when she became Monegasque royalty. She had a manner that put Martha at ease.
"It truly is a beautiful place here. The light of the yellow sun gives me a sense of hope and tranquillity."
"I've always felt that way about the farm. It brings a feeling of home that I've never found anywhere else."
"It's what Krypton should have been like," lamented Lara.
"Forgive me for asking, but what was it like on Krypton? Before you had to send Cla-," Martha checked herself before correcting, "Kal-El...away?"
"Before the war, it was the most peaceful planet in our galaxy. It was a safe haven not just for us Kryptonians but also life forms from other planets. We valued learning in order to understand everything around us, and we shared that knowledge. We could explore the galaxies but never lose the sense of what grounds us all."
"Sounds like paradise."
Lara continued. "Unfortunately, some of our people were corrupted by power, just like what we'd learned had happened on other planets. It created divides amongst our people, and the House of El came under attack. When the high council turned against us, that was when Jor-El knew all hope for Krypton's salvation was lost."
Her eyes met Martha's, who was clearly intrigued by this story but also equally saddened that things had become so grave that the only option to save their son was to let him go. That was the agonisingly tough decision having to be made by many people the world over, but humans had never had to deal with a situation as grave as Krypton's.
"I can see that you care for my son deeply," said Lara. "I'm glad you found him. I feared that nobody would."
"Actually, we didn't find him. He found us."
The slightest tilt of Lara's head showed she was very interested in this story.
"There was a meteor shower, and it caused a lot of devastation here in Smallville. A lot of people died. My husband and I were on our way home when it happened. A meteor crashed right in front of us and flipped our truck over. The next thing we know, this little boy is standing in the scorched earth looking right at us. He had no clothes on but it was like he didn't feel a thing. We managed to crawl out of the truck and he just came up to me and held on. I don't know how to describe it, but it was like he trusted us completely and that somehow everything would be OK. I felt protective of him right from the start."
Martha could feel her eyes slowly welling up as she recalled that day. It was the innocence and trust on this toddler's face that was etched into her mind. He had chosen her to take care of him, without so much as uttering a sound.
"He led us to where the meteor had crashed, and it was clear that he had come from the heavens with the meteor shower. We learned later on that these meteors were pieces of Krypton, but at the time we were just getting our heads around the fact that extra-terrestrial activity was something real."
"Tell me about Kal-El."
"Wow, there's so much to say. He was the sweetest baby boy, always smiling. He was so happy to be with me and Jonathan, and it wasn't hard to form a bond with him. We just instinctively knew we needed to give him a home where he could feel safe and loved. We weren't able to have children of our own and we'd prayed for a miracle. The day Clark came into our lives, we knew our prayers had been answered."
Lara smiled. Her son had found strangers in a strange land who didn't fear him, but who wanted to love him. It was as much as she could have asked for when being asked to make the heart-wrenching decision no mother should ever have to make.
"There was always a warmth and kindness about Clark that set him apart," added Martha. "Something in his eyes would draw you in and make you believe that there really was good in this world. We live in a cynical world where there is an uneasy peace. Just like how you described Krypton, people create division because it's easier than trying to create unity. Dive and conquer. Clark would rise above all that by always looking to find the good in people."
"We found the perfect place for him."
"Between you and me can I ask how you came to make your decision? I know it must have been so difficult."
Lana reminisced about that awful few days.
"I didn't want to lose him, I thought that no matter what happened, we should all be together as a family. But when Jor-El told me the best thing for our son was to send him far away from Krypton, I knew it was the right thing to do. We were giving him a chance to survive, and we wouldn't have been able to do that by keeping him on Krypton. I always worried that he would not be loved. He was different and that would make everyone wary. I feared he might be rejected by you humans."
"Clark shared the same fears with me once."
"That you would not love him?"
"No, there was never any chance that he would not be the most important thing in our lives. We made sure that Clark grew up in a loving family."
"Then he should not have feared."
"They weren't his fears he was talking about. They were yours."
"It was a few years ago now. Clark's friend Lex was undergoing treatment to help unlock his suppressed childhood memories. He'd been through some terrible ordeals when he was younger, and he'd blocked them out in order to cope. Clark said he went there to talk Lex out of it, but it had been a trap by Lex's father to try and learn about where Clark came from."
Lara frowned. That sounded like something one of the more devious Kryptonians would try to do. It didn't sit well in the idyllic surroundings she was currently standing in. "I don't understand. Why would this man do such a thing?"
"Where Lionel is concerned, the ends justify the means. He was the one who helped us with the adoption papers for Clark. Clark had no history and if the authorities got wind of it, they'd want to take him away and place him into the care system. We knew we didn't want to let him go. Lionel can be a good man, but there's always this side of him that will expect something in return."
"You mentioned they were my fears Kal-El told you about. How would he know this?"
Martha was uncomfortable with the question. Having been told about how things went so very wrong on Krypton, it didn't feel right to fill Lara in on events that would fill her with unease. It was better to put her mind at rest. The woman had died in unimaginable circumstances while fearing the worst for her only child. Fortunately, in her governmental capacity, Martha had learned a little story framing device called spin. Putting a positive slant on things.
"When Lionel held Clark at Summerholt, it triggered his earliest memories, and the first one was of being placed in his ship by his real parents. He told me he could hear his mother's voice - it must have been your voice - worrying that nobody would love him. When he was a little boy, the first word he ever spoke was 'Lara'. We thought it was just something he had heard, but it turns out it was his mother's name all along."
Lara looked at Martha, clearly surprised. Those words were among the last memories of her life, and the moment she let Kal-El go was still crystal clear.
"I choose to believe that you were always right there in his heart, even if he never knew it," Martha reassured. "I said to him that a mother's love never dies."
"That is exactly how I feel. I see not a little baby but a young man, and I feel all the love for him I did back then," confessed Lara. A weight had been lifted off her shoulders.
"It was the truth then, and it's the truth now. That will never change."
"Dad's book? That's what you came for?"
"I used to read it all the time. It's just a story but there are some things in there that'll help me when I'm trying to gather votes. I didn't want to buy a copy or borrow it from the library. This one still has your dad's little notes scrawled in the margin."
Clark smiled. He knew his mom had come back because she missed the farm and Smallville. The copy of 'To Kill A Mockingbird' was just an excuse.
Martha spotted her limo pulling up by the gate. Her driver must have gone into town to while away the time while Martha and Lara spent time getting to know one another. It was now time to leave for her meeting in Topeka. She embraced Clark before turning to Lara once more, who offered a warm embrace of her own.
"Once again, Martha Kent, it was a real honour and a pleasure to meet you."
"Well, I want you to know you are welcome back here any time. Hopefully I can stay for longer so we can catch up properly."
"I'd like that. I'd also like you to know that for everything you have done for Kal-El, you have my deepest gratitude. I could not have wished for a brighter light to guide my son."
Those words resonated deeply with Martha, and not only because the words were practically identical to what Jor-El had said to her at the Fortress a year ago. Back then, Martha had been trying to cope with extremely difficult circumstances of her own, desperate to get herself and a badly-injured Lois to safety, learning that she was being asked by Jor-El to kill the vessel being held hostage by Zod, and not knowing Clark's whereabouts or whether or not she would see him again. Jor-El's thank you was a cold comfort. Lara represented warmth and light with the same words, and they gave her the sense that she had done the right thing. All that she had strove for had been worthwhile.
"Thank you, but the honour is all mine. Lara, your sacrifices have brought us the greatest gift we've ever received, and we've been thankful for Clark every single day since then."
On the drive over to Topeka, she would have a chance to think about all the things she had discussed with Clark's birth mother, and she'd gain a deeper understanding of just how much his parents had given up. She would get a warming sense of having fulfilled their dying wish along with her husband, after having had her own wish come true on that fateful day in 1989.
A tall figure clad in black was observing the scene from behind a tree in the distance. Zor-El was here for one purpose.