Martha used to say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and when his Ma said something enough times, Clark believed it.
Clark was living in Metropolis for five years before he spent a week without his Ma's famous buttermilk pancakes. There were a lot of things in Smallville that Metropolis lacked, but the dust and nosy farmer's wives he could live without. The homemade buttermilk pancakes, on the other hand – Clark didn't know how he could ever live without them. Because even when he spent the dead of Saturday night saving the world from some lunatic or another, he still slobbered expectantly every Sunday morning over his mother's breakfast table while she stood over the stove.
"What would your Justice Club friends say, dear?" she'd ask every once in a while.
"It's League, Ma," Clark would say, barely hiding his grin under exasperation. "Justice League.And they'd say that it's perfectly natural to eat some good pancakes every once in a while."
Martha smirked. "A thousand miles away? At your mother's house?"
Clark grinned, showing his famous teeth. "I think your pancakes would melt even Bruce's heart."
Martha raised her eyebrows as she served Clark's plate, heaping with pancakes, bacon, and sausage. "That good?"
Clark tucked a plaid napkin into his shirt with a laugh. "Yeah, Ma. That good."
When Martha passed and Clark was forced to sell the old Kent Farm to Jimmy's uncle in Topeka, he never expected to miss the pancakes the most. And he never expected to confide this in Wally one ashen Metropolis morning, only a month of Sundays after the funeral.
"Pancakes? Really?" Clark could feel Wally's eyes scanning him, trying to envision a spit curl and a cape on his crumpled, disheveled body. "Jeez, Big Guy, and here I thought it was kryptonite that did that to you."
Clark closed his eyes, trying to hear the sizzle of his mother's skillet. "They were really good, Wally. Really good. If you had had them, you'd understand." He was quiet for a moment, feeling himself fall deeper into his stupor of depression. "Now you'll never have the chance."
At that, Wally stood and grabbed his jacket off the doorknob. "Listen here, Mopey. We have our own Ma's Ye Olde Country Kitchen around here, and it's called Denny's."
It was drizzling outside, so Superman and the Flash took a cab the fifteen blocks across town. Wally made a point of showing Clark the pancakes value meal ("Six pancakes, bacon, and eggs, all served in a tower of breathtaking breakfasty goodness"), but Clark ordered a Grand Slam. When the waitress came with their coffee, Wally reached for his requisite six packets of Sweet & Low; Clark just drank it black.
Clark decided that opening up to Wally was preferable to eating his runny scrambled eggs, so he started talking. He told Wally about his and Martha's Sunday morning rituals, where she would make him breakfast while he did some field work that she couldn't afford otherwise. He would tell her about the Planet, about Lois, and about his rescues for the week.
"In a way, I think she really helped me through those first few months of being Superman. That was all the hard stuff – my first failed rescue, my first death, my first big villain – and, of course, the big interview. It seems weird, that she saved me, but there you go."
"No, I get that," Wally said through a mouthful of French toast. "I don't know what I would've done during all that stuff if it weren't for my uncle Barry and Jay letting me know how it all worked. Your mom must have been some lady to handle all that without even the experience to back her up."
Clark smiled wistfully. "Well, she had a lot of grace about it. She did have the twenty-year experience of raising me, after all." He hesitantly tried a strip of bacon as he gained momentum. "Her breakfasts and our talks – and my Pa, of course – got me through my teenage years."
Wally pointedly sucked in some of his milkshake through a bendy straw. "Dude, the 'teenage years' are hard for everyone. You're no Last Son of Zits and Boners or whatever."
"Well, yeah, there were girl problems and football games and all that," Clark rescinded, "but then there was the feeling alienated – literally. There were mornings when I woke up and just didn't want to get out of bed. I was just so exhausted with all of it, with the not being normal. Ma knew that the smell of her breakfast would do the trick. Get me up and ready, you know?"
"Damn." Wally grinned, wide, and Clark smiled at the sight. "Those must have been some pancakes."
"Those they were, my friend," Clark said as the two clinked their mugs together in tribute. "Those they were."
After Clark and Lois got married, he did most of the cooking. Martha had taught him well, and besides, they were trying save on the gas and electric bill, so the heat vision came in handy. The first Sunday after their honeymoon, Clark cooked Lois breakfast in bed as a surprise for their one week anniversary. It was the first time since Martha's funeral that he made pancakes.
Lois took a big bite of his blueberry pancakes without hesitation – Clark loved that about her. "These are amazing!" she squealed, eyes still wide at the sight of the huge plate of food. "Where'd you learn to cook like this?"
Clark smiled sheepishly, and Lois marveled that that smile wasn't ever part of the disguise. "My Ma taught me," he said, blushing. "Hers were better."
Lois scoffed and kept eating. "All due respect to your mother, sweetheart, but I find that hard to believe. These are fluffy and rich and tasty and succulent and…well, I'm not a food critic, but you get the idea."
"Well, thanks, but hers were…" Clark paused, taking a rare moment to search for the right word. "Hers were comfortable."
Lois smiled and wondered how she could still be falling in love, even now. "I can imagine," she said softly.
Clark sat back in the bed and put his arm around his wife's shoulders. He closed his eyes, remembering his mother's warmth, her strength. "You can't possibly."
They laid together like that for a few minutes, silent while Lois ate her breakfast.
As she scraped up the last morsels of blueberry with her fork, Lois sat up and looked into Clark's eyes. "So," she said with her sideways grin, "you want to tell me about that lunatic you stopped last night?"
Clark felt a little bit of the tension slip from his shoulders for the first time he could remember. "I do," he said, taking the empty plate from Lois and putting it aside. "I really do."
Martha used to say that love was the best medicine, and Clark thought that was probably true. But the pancakes didn't hurt.