By E Kelly

Disclaimer: I do not own Superman and I don't make any money off of him.

This is all just my little way of pulling all the threads of the movies together to make a single story. Liberal dustings of comics lore, and even splashes of Elliot S! Maggin, Smallville and Lois & Clark showed up as it got longer and longer (originally this was supposed to be something along the lines of maybe 10 chapters). It is finally complete after 2 and half years, three states and grad school.

His first autumn on earth, Clark had run crying into Martha Kent's arms. She held the trembling little boy, who clung to her as she stroked his hair.

"Whatis it, honey? Clark, what's wrong? Are you hurt?" She was looking him over frantically. This first year had been hard, harder than she and Jonathon could ever have imagined. How could they have known? Back then, they still didn't understand what exactly Clark was.

He'd looked up at her with tear-stained eyes, "It hurts, Momma." He touched his chest and fear blazed through her. Not something internal – they couldn't do anything about that. "I can hear them," he said softly. "They're all dying."

"Who?" she said urgently. "Who do you hear?"

"The…" He was trying to talk around his hard breath, "the bees."

Martha stared at him, astonished. Then she pulled him close. "Oh, Clark. It will be all right."

"It's too cold and they're dying. I can keep them warm, Momma," he said, muffled in her neck. "But I'd need to stay by the hive. Can I? Please? I'd stay all night. I can stay for days. I can -"

She shushed him, holding him close and whispering to him while he cried himself out that he couldn't do it, that he couldn't save the bees, that it would be against nature if he did.

After his astounding display of strength that first day (a boy of three years lifting a truck with a smile, a terrifying, unbelievable sight), he had fallen asleep in her arms, sweet-faced and perfect.

What a fight she and Jonathon had had in the kitchen! After she'd lain him down on the quilt that covered their old bed and come downstairs, Jonathon, frightened, started talking quietly about who they could take him to. She listened. The practical mind of a woman born of generations of farmers even agreed with him. What was different was dangerous. What was unknown could upset the delicate, fragile balance of survival. And this, all of it, from the smoking crater to the boy's angelic smile, was beyond belief.

Yet, in spite of her common sense, she asked, "But what will they do to him, Jonathon?"

"I don't –" she bit her lip to see her proud husband's hand shake on the back of the chair that seemed to be supporting him, "know. But it – we have to, we –"

"He's just a child," she said softly.

"He's young, Martha," Jonathon snapped. "But he is not a child."

She closed her eyes, tried to keep her temper in check. Then she looked at him and told him simply, "Don't you ever say that again."

"Martha! Get a hold of –"

"I mean it, Jonathon. Those words had best not ever pass your lips a second time," she said. "I don't know where he's from or how he came here, but we found him. He came to us – so don't you ever deny what he is!"

"Deny what h-" Jonathon's breath went out of him for a second. "He picked up that truck! I'm not the one denying here! Martha," he came to her, took her by the shoulders, looked into her eyes, "think. How could we – what if whoever lost him comes looking for him? What if he goes wild? Even if none of that – what if people found out where we'd got him?"

Visions played in her mind, horrors to match the wonders they'd seen that day, her own neighbors come for them with shotguns and dogs. She clutched at Jonathon, staggering under the weight of mystery and alienness. He was right, she bowed her head against his chest, her hands straining on his thick arms, her heart pounding painfully in her chest. He was right. They had to take him to someone else. They had to give him up.

She raised her head, when she at last felt she could bear it, and saw Jonathon, white-faced, staring over her shoulder. She turned.

He stood there, naked, small, swaying slightly. He was sweating, his dark hair matted to his head, his skin flushed. His wide eyes gazed up at them, and then he fell.

"Oh my god, oh my god," Martha whispered as they bent over him. She felt his face, his small, hard shoulders. "He's burning up!" She scooped him into her arms and his eyes rolled. He whimpered softly. "Get some water in the tub!" And she moved for the stairs.

Jonathon caught her, "No, you go. Give him here."

She held the boy more tightly, "Jonathon-"

He spoke swiftly, "In case he kicks, Martha! Give him here! Go!"

She handed him over carefully, tears of fear rolling down her face even while she moved, running up the stairs. Jonathon came right behind her, holding the boy loosely, eyes close on him. The heat coming off his little body made sweat spring up on Jonathon's skin. They burst into the bathroom, Martha spinning the knob, sending a stream of cool water into the white basin. Jonathon stood behind her, looking down at the boy, who moaned again, and trembled.

"Get back, Martha."

Jonathon bent and gently laid the boy down in the half-inch of water. The child's muscles shook, and the floor quivered, pipes attached to the tub creaking. Jonathon stepped back quickly. He took Martha's hand, and they waited.

The boy's eyes fluttered and his breath became ragged. Water climbed up his sides. Martha's eyes widened as tiny bubbles formed under the water's surface. She reached to slow the water's flow as it lapped at his cheeks. She felt the hot vapor on her skin a moment before the water boiled.

"Ice," she barely recognized the whispering voice as her own. Looking at Jonathon, she said, "We need ice."

The afternoon and night were a hell of impossibility and waiting, sick with fear that he might die. Heat and cold, for hours and hours, Jonathon had to go to town twice when they ran out of ice. And the worst of it was that she could only watch, afraid to touch, as he shook and cried weakly. But he'd taken a chunk out of the tub's rim when a muscle spasm made his hand lash out. So she had to watch until she thought she would scream.

At last, at last, four o'clock in the morning, the water was only tepid, the boy feeling still warm, but he was quiet, no longer seeming feverish. His sleepy eyes watched them move as Jonathon lifted him out of the tub and Martha bent to dry him off. They laid him on a pallet of blankets on the floor and Martha told Jonathon to get some sleep while she propped her back against the wall a few feet from the boy. One look at his wife's face and he knew it was done; it'd be no good offering to stay up and let her sleep. She wasn't going to. One look at the boy's face, and he knew it was done for him too. He'd never seen anything so small fight so hard and so long.

He reached to stroke the dark hair. It was soft and fine. Sitting back against the wall beside her, he put an arm around Martha's shoulders. She leaned in against him as they watched the boy's eyes slowly close in exhaustion.

Jonathon said, "We'll call him Clark."

Martha smiled tiredly, "That to remind me if this all goes bad wrong, that it's my fault?"

"Uh huh," Jonathon said, leaning his head back. "That's just what I was thinking."

They stayed there until well after sun up, just watching him sleep.