Dropping her keys on the little table in the front hall, Martha Kent kicked off her shoes and walked into the kitchen. After a marathon of committee meetings, the relief of her cool, quiet house was exactly what Martha needed before the Ross wedding this afternoon. A small white blur darted through her legs, nearly knocking her over, and Martha felt herself caught by a pair of strong, but delicate hands. She looked up, and found herself staring into the face of an angel, her blue eyes the exact shade of the Kansas spring sky. The girl smiled shyly, and Martha smiled back, neither of them saying anything. Martha regained her balance, reaching for the hall table. The girl let go when she was sure Martha was steady on her feet, and then smiled again, darting off to capture the white blur, a wriggling, enthusiastic puppy and returned, holding the young dog in her arms.
"Who are you?" Martha asked softly, and the girl's innocent smile widened. Something familiar about the child's ready smile, and her quietly inquisitive expression, but Martha could not put her finger on it.
"I'm Kara." The girl introduced herself simply, and then held out the puppy. "He's Krypto."
"Hi, Krypto." Martha smiled and took the puppy in her arms, amazed at his strength as he struggled to lick her face. Krypto. Martha gasped, and looked at Kara again. "You're Kryptonian?"
Kara nodded, her smile fading. "Krypton is gone, now." Tears welled in her eyes, and she sniffled a little, wiping her nose on her sleeve.
"I'm Martha." The older woman said quickly, putting out a hand. "Clark's Mom."
Kara stared at Martha's hand for a moment, and then took it in her own. "You must be so scared." Martha spoke softly, almost to herself, and Kara looked up, in alarm.
"How did you know that?" The girl asked, afraid. The tears had begun to spill over onto her peach-creamy cheeks. Martha smiled gently and squeezed Kara's hand.
"I guess because I'd be scared too, if I found myself in a strange place, surrounded by strange people." Martha offered, and Kara nodded. "But we're not strangers anymore, are we?" She smiled reassuringly, and the girl swallowed deeply, wiping her tears away.
"No." Kara smiled weakly, dropping Martha's hand to take Krypto back. "Clark told me you were nice."
"Clark said?" Martha looked around. "Where is he?"
"Mom?" Clark came down the stairs, and smiled when he saw his mother. "Boy, am I glad to see you. I have a lot to tell you about." He looked over at Kara. "I see you met my cousin."
"Your cousin?" Martha asked, taking her son by the sleeve and pulling him into the kitchen. "Krypton has been gone for a long time, Clark. How did this girl get here?"
"It's kind of hard to explain," Clark began but Kara spoke from the doorway, interrupting him.
"He went back in time, to Krypton and convinced my parents to let me escape." She tipped her head and frowned at Clark. "That wasn't hard, Clark, was it? That's the truth, isn't it?" She shook her head and glared at Clark, expressing pre-teen annoyance, and Martha stifled a chuckle.
"You're absolutely right, sweetheart." Martha smiled at her and turned back to Clark. "You went back in TIME. Clark?"
"I told you it was hard to explain." Clark said quickly, holding out his hands. "Jor-El and Lara pulled Chloe and I back to Krypton last night, while we were sleeping. Because we went back, my uncle Zor-El let Kara leave Krypton before the explosion. When I woke up this morning, Kara was here. Oh, and we're out of pie. Kara has eaten three of them so far. Chloe's on her way with clothes and food." He finished, and Martha nodded slowly, taking in what Clark had said. Her eyes flicked back to Kara, who had moved back into the living room, studying the framed family pictures that had been placed the mantle.
"Oh, that poor girl. To lose everything she's ever known…it's horrific." Martha looked up at Clark. "What are we going to do?"
"I was hoping she could stay with us, Mom. I know you're busy, but I'm here, and there's Chloe, and Lois…." Clark said, lowering his voice.
"Clark." Martha shook her head. "Of course she's going to stay with us. She's your family, our family. I just have to figure out where we're going to put her." She looked into the living room, Kara had fallen asleep on the couch, little Krypto curled in a ball beside her. "And where we're going to say she came from."
It was once again Clark's favorite time of day. The Ross' large white house glowed in the mellow light, and the backyard where Pete and Clark had spent many a boyhood hour playing had been transformed. Chloe held Clark's hand as they watched Pete's dad, Mr. Ross marry Miss Wilson, the new English teacher at the Smallville middle school. Martha, resplendent in a moss green suit, sat with Kara, who watched the proceedings with a curious and polite attention. Pete looked like he was attending a dental appointment instead of his father's wedding, and Clark suddenly found himself wondering how he would feel if his mother decided to re-marry someday. It was a little different, because his dad had died, but it wouldn't be that easy to accept someone new. He looked at Chloe, who once again, managed to take his breath away. There had to be something to that, that breathless feeling when he never felt that way otherwise. Sensing his eyes on her, Chloe turned to look up at him and smiled. Clark smiled back, feeling his breath catch in his chest.
Mr. Ross kissed his bride, and the gathered friends and family cheered. Chloe clapped, smiling, and Clark whistled, watching Pete. His friend wiped his eyes, heartbroken, and nodding, walked back toward the house alone. His brothers had joined the celebration, and Clark knew where he had to go.
"Chloe, I'll be…" Clark began, looking off again in the direction that Pete had disappeared in, and Chloe nodded.
"If you need me, I'll be keeping Kara from devouring the wedding cake," She smiled, standing on tiptoe to kiss his cheek. "And once again envying the Kryptonian digestive system and metabolism."
Clark grinned and loped off after Pete. He found his friend up in the tree-house they had built in the large trees on the side of house.
"I'm coming up." Clark called, and the rope ladder appeared from the top hatch.
"Might as well do it the old-fashioned way." Pete's voice floated down from the tree house. "For old times sake."
"Hey, Pete." Clark said, after making the short climb and lifting himself into the tree house. "You okay?"
"Nah, man." Pete shook his head. "I'm not okay. I'm not even close to okay."
"It was bound to happen. It stinks, but…" Clark looked off, out the window to where the wedding reception had begun. "I don't know how I'd deal if Mom decided to get married again. But the most important thing would be that she was happy."
"I know it." Pete agreed. He smiled. "What do you think of her?
"Your dad's wife?" Clark's eyebrows raised high "There's going to be a lot of broken hearts at Smallville Middle School after spring break."
Clark and Pete both laughed, and Pete sighed. "It's hard thinking about going back to California. I miss you guys."
"We miss you, Pete." Clark saw Kara wandering away from the party, looking around. "Hey, my cousin is looking for us. We should get back."
"I'll be down in a minute." Pete smiled. "I'll be okay."
"You're sure?" Clark asked.
"CK." Pete nodded. "I know you got my back, man. I'm gonna be fine."
"Okay." Clark smiled brightly. "See you down there."
"Yeah, man. Save me some cake." Pete called after Clark, watching his friend disappear down the rope ladder. Growing up sucked, Pete thought, watching Clark go to meet his cousin. But it had to be done. Pete smiled and made his way down the ladder. He had to go talk to his dad.
"Hey, Kara." Clark said, and Kara waved brightly. She looked just like any other human girl, except maybe a little taller. Her hair, slipping free from the ribbon Martha had used to tie it away from her face shone like early moonlight. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing. I just wondered where you were." Kara slid her hand into Clarks. "Everyone here is nice. Is everyone on Earth like this?" Her eyes were full of innocent wonder, and Clark smiled.
"Well, most are, I think." Clark swung Kara's arm and she laughed. "Some aren't, but you don't have to worry about them right now."
Kara nodded, and looked down at the grass. She had already taken off her shoes and was barefoot. "Martha says I'm going to live with you. Be like your sister."
"We're family. And we need to stick together." Clark replied, and Kara sighed. "There's a lot I can teach you about Earth, and you have to tell me all about Krypton. I have a lot to learn." Kara nodded, and looked up to the sky, with it's streaks of sunset color.
"I wish I could see where Krypton was. I'm homesick. I miss Mother and Father. I want to see them again," She began to cry, and Clark pulled her to him in a loose hug while she sobbed. They stood there together in the soft and growing dusk, two refugees, shipwrecked in a strange land. But now, it felt a little more like home for both of them. Chloe found them standing there, the young girl still quietly sniffling against her older cousin, and Clark just holding her and telling her in a barely audible croon about being thirteen here. She smiled, and went back to the party, blowing a gentle kiss in Clark's direction. He looked up, and smiled, raising a hand in reply.
After a few minutes, Clark and Kara reappeared, and Chloe was glad to see Kara smiling and chattering again, holding Clark's hand trustingly.
"Hey, Superman." Chloe said, as Clark approached, sliding his free arm around her shoulders. "Everyone safe and sound?"
Clark looked at Kara, who was smiling up at him. "I think so." Clark said, as Chloe moved a little closer. "Did I miss anything?"
"There's been four middle schoolers looking around for Kara." Chloe said, looking over at the group of girls that had gathered nearby. "A little bird told them that you were new in town and could use a friend or two."
Kara eyed them suspiciously. "I have to tell them lies."
Clark and Chloe looked at each other in alarm. In the past few hours, they had discovered that Kara's resistance to lying was a superpower all on it's own.
"Kara." Chloe began softly. "I wish Earth was more like Krypton, so tolerant and accepting of aliens. But there are a lot of people who don't even believe that other life exists in the universe. You and Clark are in the minority here."
The younger girl frowned deeply. "That's arrogant."
"It's the way it is." Clark rejoined. "I don't like lying about who I am either. But we have to. Promise me, Kara. It's too dangerous for us. Someday, maybe it will be different."
"I promise." Kara replied dully. "I'm Kara Kent, cousin to Clark Kent. I moved here from far away after my parents died." She sighed, "At least that's true." One of the girls in the little group waved, and Kara reluctantly smiled.
"Go ahead." Chloe urged. "We'll be right here."
Kara nodded, dropping Clark's hand. She took two steps, and then turned and abruptly hugged Clark and Chloe together. "I'm glad I have you both. I hate feeling alone." She broke the embrace and walked to the girls, her floral skirt swinging around her ankles. After a minute, they all ran to dance, and Clark nodded.
"I think she'll be okay." He said, and putting his hand in his pocket, he felt the blue velvet box he'd been carrying around. "Oh, Chloe. This is for you." He pulled it out, and Chloe eyed him dubiously.
"I hope you didn't let that Dedication business on Krypton go to your head, Kent." Chloe said, taking the offering. "Nineteen is a little young in 21st century America to tie the knot."
"It's not like that." Clark groaned. "Aren't you going to open it?"
Chloe grinned and lifted the lid of the box. She looked at the necklace and then back at Clark. "How could you….I mean….Clark? Where did this come from?"
"I had it made before the whole thing on Krypton. I couldn't believe it when I saw you wearing it there." Clark reached into the box and took the necklace out, looping it around Chloe's neck and closing the clasp. The fragment of Lara's crystal glowed softly, as if glad to be home. "I know we said that the Dedication was our business, and that we weren't going to tell anyone about it, but, I'm glad I have something to give you to honor it."
"Oh, Clark." Chloe gulped. "If I cry, I'll kill you." Her hand reached up to touch the pendant. "It's absolutely beautiful."
"So are you." Clark said, kissing Chloe's nose. "Angel heart."
"Cut it out." Chloe laughed, pushing him away gently. "You are such a goof."
"Come on. Kara's okay, Pete'll be back down in a minute, and this is as good a time as any to dance." Clark said, grabbing Chloe's hand.
"Mr. Kent, I thought you'd never ask." Chloe spun under his arm, and they went to dance, just as the first stars began to appear in the sky.
Five Years Later –
Kara Kent swung through the doors of the Daily Planet newsroom, her jean clad long legs gracefully carrying her to her cousin's desk. Heads turned to watch her progress, taking in her white blond hair, sun golden skin and perfect figure, but Kara had no idea she was being admired. She was a girl on a mission. Unceremoniously, she plopped herself on the desk, and picked up the apple he'd been saving for later, polishing it on her white blouse.
"Clark, you are going to love me." Kara said, biting deeply into the apple with a crunch.
"Going to?" Clark looked up at her over his glasses. "I suppose dealing with that crazy dog of yours while you were on spring break wasn't enough. Now what?"
"Aw, Krypto is so good." She smiled, devastating the new photography intern, Jimmy, who was watching her nearby. "No, this is big, big, big."
"Okay, I'll play." Clark grinned back at her. "How big?"
"Guess who has your whole evening planned." She leaned forward, her hair a veil over her face.
"Um, Diana Prince." Clark teased, and laughed at Kara's wrinkled nose and sour expression. The Amazon was Kara's least favorite person, next to Lana Luthor.
"That princess? No way. Me, me." She put her hand in her pocket and pulled out a faded, rose velvet box. "Aunt Martha gave it to me this morning. It was your Grandmother Clarks."
"You're kidding me." Clark took the box and opened it. Grandmother Clark's perfect rose cut diamond winked out at them from the rosy interior of the box, it's platinum setting polished and shining. "She gave it to you?"
"I told her that today was the day. It is, you know. Five years ago, today. The Dedication period is over. Time to take the next step." Kara's internal Kryptonian calendar was never wrong. Clark closed the box and put it in his jacket pocket.
"Wow. Chloe is not back yet…" Clark stood, looking at his watch. "Her flight gets in.."
"At three." Kara said around a mouthful of apple. "She'll be here at 4:30."
"Okay." Clark looked around. Kara groaned, throwing the apple in the garbage.
"What are you doing?" Kara asked, as Clark closed his computer and walked to the elevator. "This isn't part of my plan, Clark!"
Clark turned and took of f his glasses. "I'm taking it from here, cousin. See you later."
"Yeah, okay." Kara pouted a little, then perked up. "Can I come?"
"Not a chance." Clark waved, heading out the doors and down to the street. If he flew, he'd make New York in ten minutes and he could meet Chloe at her hotel.
"I can't believe you're here." Chloe said later, as they ate hot dogs in Central Park, in the beautiful spring evening. "I thought you were working on that big money laundering story."
"I was, but Kara reminded me that today was a big day." Clark said, wiping his mouth. "Do you remember?"
Chloe put out her bottom lip and shook her head. "I can't recall anything…did we have plans? Oh, Clark, I'm sorry…this was a huge story."
"No." He smiled. "It's an anniversary."
"An anniver…" Chloe's eyes widened. "That anniversary." She smiled. "I totally forgot."
"I didn't, Chloe Suli-Van." Clark pulled the box from his pocket. "I know they all call you "Lois" now, but I still can't get used to it. So, I'm asking you, Chloe Elizabeth Sullivan, to be my wife. I may be Superman, but I'm nothing without you." He opened the box and held it out to her. "It's my grandmothers."
"Oh, Clark." Chloe whispered. "If you make me cry, I'll…"
"Say yes, and kiss me, Lois." Clark smiled, taking the ring from the box and sliding it on her finger.
"Yes, I'll marry you." Her voice was an awed whisper. "I'm dreaming, I swear I am."
"If you're dreaming, Chloe, don't ever stop, because I'm really liking it here." Clark said, and Chloe stretched up to kiss him again. And, under the sparkling stars in the deep blue sky, they began to make their plans for the rest of their lives.