A STEP AT A TIME

Disclaimer: Sigh nothing changes, still don't own anything to do with Smallville or Superman™ or anything to do with the CW. And yep I am still just a poor writer and student ... no money to be made here.

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CHAPTER ONE - The attack

The creature launched another attack against Clark, knocking him backwards at a breakneck speed. Desperately Clark fended off the snapping jaws and sharp fangs. Looking like a cross between a wolf and a gargoyle with large leathery wings the escapee from the Phantom Zone seemed to have no pain sensors. No matter what Clark did, it showed no signs of weakening.

The fangs found their mark and ripped into Clark's shoulder and neck eliciting a scream of unadulterated agony from the young Kryptonian. Feeling his strength waning Clark felt around him for anything that he could use as a weapon when his fingers touched Raya's crystal, summoning the last of his energy he pushed and rolled against the creature, managing to pull it off and then he made a grasp for the crystal. Pushing it into the chest of the creature, it finally showed signs of pain and let Clark go flying backwards it screeched into the night air before exploding into a cloud of dust.

Exhausted and bleeding heavily Clark tried to lift his injured arm but it was numb from the shoulder down. His stomach roiled when he saw the damage done of the corner of his eye, it had literally tore his right shoulder and upper arm to shreds with its fangs. Lurching to his feet Clark stumbled to the top of the stairs leading down from his loft but with his energy levels spent and his powers gone for now, he swayed dizzily and couldn't focus on anything. Misjudging the step, he tumbled down the steps landing in an unconscious heap on the barn floor. his blood seeping into a pool around him.

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Martha dropped her overnight bag on the floor just by the stairs too excited to see Clark before she unpacked. Her first three months in Washington had been hectic, exciting and very intimidating but truth be told Martha relished every moment of it.

Her apartment in Washington was stylish and very nice but it wasn't home, the farmhouse was still home no matter where else she lived.

Frowning she saw the remnants of Clark's breakfast still on the counter, a half cup of coffee congealing in the late morning sun filtering through the window. 'That's not like Clark.' She muttered. 'Clark? Sweetheart where are you?' Martha called out dropping her coat on the back of a chair she went out to the back of the house and stared around the yard, Clark's truck was still there so he had to be somewhere.

'Clark?' She called again a little louder, knowing that he should have heard her no matter where he was on the farm. 'Sweetheart I'm home.' She called standing in the doorway of their barn as she waited for her eyes to get used to the slightly duller interior, 'Clark where are you?' she called turning to go look in the fields she saw his crumpled form lying at the bottom of the stairs. 'Oh my God Clark!'

Running to his side she knelt in the pool of his blood and shuddered when the fluid made contact with her skin, as gently as she could she rolled him over onto his back keeping his head as still as possible.

'Oh my ... Clark sweetheart?' Martha sobbed when she took in the damage done to his shoulder, neck and upper arm. 'Clark?' Her son lay there unmoving, his breathing almost imperceptible with the shallowness of each gasp for life.

Martha lifted her head quickly when she heard a car pulling up out the front and started screaming for help. She didn't care who it was, Clark was dying in her arms.

'Mrs Kent?' Chloe called out running towards the hysterical screams, 'what is ...?'

'Oh Chloe please I – I need your help.' Martha sobbed relieved when she saw one person could trust more than anyone else.

'Clark?' Chloe whispered dropping to her knees on his other side, 'oh God Clark what happened to you?'

'Chloe we have to get him into the house.' Martha said thickly trying to keep her fresh tears at bay.

'His – his shoulder and arm how can we?' Chloe stared in horror at the blood and torn flesh, he wasn't supposed to be cut up like this, and his skin was impenetrable. 'Is there any signs of?'

'Kryptonite? No, none Chloe what could have done this to him?'

'A zoner.'

'A what?'

'One of the escapees from the Phantom Zone, we call them zoners.' Chloe explained quickly, 'they can...'

'Hurt him like he was human.' Martha finished for the younger woman. 'Okay Chloe I need you to sit with him and watch his breathing, I'll be right back.' Martha said running off before Chloe could say anything else. Ignoring her own discomfort with her suit skirt wet with Clark's blood Martha ran into the house and grabbed as many towels as she could carry, then two sheets were added to the pile and a blanket rushing back downstairs she barely caught herself from tripping over her bundle as she ran back to the barn. 'We need to immobilise his shoulder and to stop the bleeding.' She said without preamble, 'here wrap this towel around his shoulder as tightly as you can.'

'His shoulder?' Chloe whispered and then she swallowed down on her rebellious stomach and as Martha held Clark as still as she could Chloe wrapped the towel around the wound, the cloth soaking the blood up in seconds, ripping it off she started with another one and then wrapped two more padding the area.

'Okay now take the sheet and tie it around him like a sling make sure that he can't move his arm.' Martha instructed watching Chloe's actions carefully. A soft moan slipped from Clark and the two women froze to see if he was about to gain consciousness after a few held-breath moments they exhaled in unison and Chloe returned to her ministrations. Quickly she had his arm immobilised against his chest and then wrapped the last sheet around his entire upper body cocooning him.

'Okay now we have to get him on this blanket.' Martha said regretfully letting go of her son to spread the blanket out on the ground next to Clark doing her best to ignore the pool of blood.

'Now this is where we're going to have trouble.' Martha said staring around at the farming equipment and tools littering the barn. Hurrying over she pushed the load of hay off a small flatbed trolley and wheeled it back to where Chloe and Clark were.

After a few aborted attempts, they finally managed to get Clark onto it and was between the two of them able to manoeuvre the trolley out of the barn and towards the house.

Breathing heavily Martha straightened and stared at the steps leading up to the backdoor, 'okay now we have a problem.'

'Umm if we jam the trolley hard against the steps we should be able to drag the blanket the rest of the way.' Chloe said thoughtfully, 'that way we don't have to lift him.'

Martha looked sceptical but after they jammed the trolley and blocked the wheels they were able to drag Clark across and into the house, both virtually collapsing from the effort when they finally shut the door.

'Chloe can you get the cushions off the couch for his head and some more blankets please?' Martha said her initial shock still hovered but she let her well-honed mothering skills take over.

Filling a basin with warm water, she placed it next to Clark and then went to get the special first aid kit they had put together for Clark's occasional injuries.

Taking the scissors out she cut the last few pieces of Clark's shirt, tossed it aside, and then with a wet cloth started to wash the blood and dirt away from the wound.

The large gashes spread across his shoulder from upper arm to the side of his neck, some were shallow but a few went right through the muscle to the bone.

'Oh Clark what did it do to you?' she whispered forgetting Chloe for a moment she ran her fingers over Clark's face and let the fresh tears fall.

'Mrs Kent did you want me to finish dressing his shoulder?' Chloe asked gently touching the older woman's arm.

Martha nodded silently unable to take her eyes from his face, he lay so still, it terrified her that this could be the last time she held him, his blood loss alone would have killed a human being.

When Chloe finished cleaning and applying antiseptic to the more shallow wounds Martha helped her to close the deeper ones with extra long steri-strips sealing the ripped skin once again.

As they finished bandaging his shoulder and cleaned the rest of his wounds, both Chloe and Martha stared down at Clark, bruises and small cuts littered his face and chest, 'Mrs Kent what's Clark holding onto?' Chloe asked pointing to his tightly clutched fist. Easing the fingers of his good hand open Martha found Raya's crystal pressed into the palm of his hand.

'What now?' Chloe asked sitting back in shock.

'We wait.' Martha said resolutely, 'would you mind making a pot of tea Chloe?' Martha asked suddenly changing the subject.

'Yeah sure, what is it Mrs Kent?'

'I – I'm not sure, can you watch Clark for me.' Martha stood up and glanced down at her soiled suit, grabbing her coat she pulled it on and did it up before rushing to the front door just as someone knocked.

'Lionel?' Martha stared in disbelief at the man standing on her front porch. 'What are you doing here?'

'I ah heard that you were coming home for a short break and thought I would ... see how you are.'

'Oh this is a bad time Lionel, I have just gotten in and I am exhausted, I just want to have a shower and some rest before Clark comes home.'

'Clark's not here? But I saw his truck and if I'm not mistaken Miss Sullivan's car in the yard.'

'Yes, they all went off in Lois' car, I think they went to Metropolis for a while, they should be back soon.'

'Ah I see, very good Martha I will leave you ... are you sure that you are alright you are very pale.'

'Fine, just tired, I'll speak to you soon Lionel.' Martha smiled at him and then shut the door solidly not moving until she heard his limousine pulling away, ripping her coat off she ran upstairs and changed into a pair of pants and jumper before running back to Clark and Chloe.

'Wow that was close.' Chloe grinned, 'I think Clark's starting to come around.' She added with a small smile.

'Clark?' Martha whispered brushing her hand over his face again, she watched as her son struggled back to consciousness. He moaned and grimaced with the flooding of pain back into his psyche as well as his battered body.

'Mommy?' Clark muttered screwing his eyes shut he moved closer into the warmth from his mother's hand, 'mommy?'

'Clark? Honey can you open your eyes for me?' Martha asked, her voice registering another key of worry as she heard him mutter mommy instead of mom, he hadn't called her mommy since he was little.

'Mommy? Hurts!' Clark moaned as he tried to sit up and move, tenderly Martha held her son closer to herself. 'Hurts mommy, make it stop.'

'Clark honey I need you to open your eyes for me.' Martha kept repeating softly raking her fingers through his sweat matted hair.

Gradually he slitted his eyes open and squinted up at the familiar face floating above him, 'mommy.' He managed a grin but then, he dropped his gaze and grimaced as pain surged again.

'Clark can you sit up? I need to get you off the floor.' Martha prompted him, opening his eyes again, Clark stared at his mother with a confused look, and then he glanced over at Chloe and his confusion gave way to panic.

'Why on floor mommy?' He asked his lower lip quivered as he stared at Martha, 'where's daddy? I want my daddy.'

'Clark sweety we need you to sit up please, you got hurt very badly.'

'My arm won't move ... I'm broken mommy.' Clark wailed as large crystalline tears fell down his cheeks as he stared up at his mother his green eyes darkening to almost black.

Wrapping her arm around his waist Martha managed to get Clark to stand and together they staggered over to the couch where she eased him down and pulled his feet up so he could stretch out a little more.

'Mommy?' Clark whispered through his silent sobs.

'What sweety?'

'Who's that lady?' he asked glancing over at Chloe and then back to his mother.

'Clark, that's Chloe.' Martha said frowning slightly with renewed worry.

'No, Chloe not a lady mommy.' Clark chided her softly as he stifled a yawn and felt sleep tug at his eyes.

'Clark how old are you now?' Martha asked trying to gauge her son's confusion.

'Oh mommy, you know how old I is, I is a big six year old now.' Clark said, 'where's daddy?'

'Oh sweetheart,' Martha choked on the words, 'why don't you have a nap it will help make you feel better.'

'Owkay mommy.' Clark blinked and started to drift off, 'mommy?'

'Yes sweety?'

'Loves you.'

'Oh baby I love you too.'

'I's got an owie?'

'Yes baby you have.'

'Why?'

'You got bitten by a ... big animal and had a bad fall.'

'It hurts mommy.' Clark mumbled as sleep finally reclaimed him; choking back her sobs Martha hurried into the kitchen the enormity of the situation still hadn't completely sunk in. All she knew for now was that Clark was hurt bad and reverted back to a six year old, in the body of a grown man with 'super' powers.

'Mrs Kent?' Chloe wrapped her arms around the older woman's shoulders and they clung to each other, giving comfort the only way they knew how.

The sounds of Clark moving restlessly on the couch and his moans of pain brought both of them back to the present, Chloe busied herself making tea and sandwiches while Martha went to comfort her traumatised son.

'Hey thought you might like something to eat and drink.' She announced brightly carrying a tray laden with the pot of tea, cups and a glass of milk for Clark just in case, and a large platter of sandwiches cut into little triangles.'

'Thanks Chloe.' Martha smiled warmly up at the younger woman, 'Clark honey do you want something to eat?'

'No thanks mommy.' Clark whispered staring up at Chloe a mix of confusion and curiosity passed over his face.

'Honey please have something to drink because I want you to take some medicine for me.'

'Eww mommy, no med-medicine.' Clark screwed his nose up and tried to shake his head but that proved to hurt to much to continue.

'It's going to make you feel better Clark.' Martha said holding the two small tablets in one hand the glass of milk in the other, 'please Clark for mommy.'

'Oh owkay.' Clark relented and opened his mouth slightly for his mom to pop the tablets in and then he grabbed the milk and unsteadily held it while he drank, dismayed when he splashed himself with the creamy white drink.

'It's okay Clark, I can change that.' Martha said going to undo his jeans button.

'No mommy!' Clark cried out mortified staring at Chloe, 'no mommy, I can.'

Clark struggled to sit up, already the bruises and cuts on his face were fading but the damage done to his shoulder area would take a lot longer to completely heal. 'Why's I so big?' Clark wondered his eyes wide and round as he stared down at himself. 'Mommy what's wrong with me?'

'Honey sit down please, you got hurt.' Martha tried to placate her son but his confusion soon took control over his emotions and he pushed her away roughly, sending his mother sprawling against the table corner. 'Mommy!' Clark wailed when he saw Martha slump down, blood trickling from a cut on her temple.

'I'm okay Clark.' Martha uttered as she sat up dizzily, holding a shaking hand to her temple.

'No I gave mommy an owie.' Clark cried out distressed. 'I hurt my mommy.'

'Sweetheart you didn't hurt mommy, I just lost my balance.'

'No!' Clark yelled unable to comprehend what was happening he tried to push past Chloe and his mother sending them both flying backwards. Awkwardly with his good hand, Clark pulled himself upstairs to the safety of his own room.

Making sure she cleaned up the cut on her face before going to find her son, Martha checked the still unconscious Chloe and made sure that she was alright and covered her before heading upstairs. 'Clark?' she called softly tapping on his door before going in. she stood in the deserted room and stared around, she could hear his muffled sniffling.

Smiling at his return to habit of hiding in his wardrobe when upset Martha opened the cupboard door and stared down, there amidst, shoes, toys and discarded clothes Clark huddled in the corner, his knees brought up tight against his chest. His immobile arm still in the makeshift sling still seemed secure. Large tears fell down his face and he looked up at her with mournful and wet eyes. 'what's wrong with me?' he whispered hoarsely. 'I want daddy.'

'Oh Clark honey, your daddy's not here.' Martha crouched down to meet his eye level and tenderly stroked his hair and cheeks, 'your daddy is in heaven with the angels.'

'Why?'

'Because God wanted him to live up there.'

'I want him to live here with us not with God.'

'Baby so do I but we can't do anything about it now, you can still talk to your daddy I'm sure that he can hear you though.'

'Mommy?'

'Yes baby?'

'What's wrong with me?'

'You got hurt very badly Clark, you're just a little confused.'

'What's c-con-fu-fused?'

'Means that you are not sure exactly what is happening or why.'

'My head hurts mommy and my arm won't work.'

'Clark can you get up and hop in bed for me please?' Martha asked holding her hand out to Clark. Helping him up she undressed him and slipped a pair of tracksuit pants on him before tucking him in bed. 'That better sweety?'

'Yep thanks mommy.' Clark gave her a tremulous smile and Martha felt as though her heart was going to break all over again. 'Why you sad mommy?'

'Because you got hurt Clark, I don't like it when you get hurt.'

'I don't like it too mommy.' Clark pouted and started to pick at his bandages with his good hand, 'it itchy mommy.'

'Can you try to get some sleep for me Clark? You will feel better in the morning.'

'Loves you mommy, this much.' Clark went to hold his hands out when he realised that he couldn't setting off a fresh round of sobs and tears wracking his abused body.

'Scared mommy.'

'Mommy's scared too Clark, mommy's scared too.' Martha murmured as she sat on the side of the bed and rolled Clark onto his good side so she could rub gentle circles on his back, lulling him into a fitful sleep.

'Oh Jonathon how I wish you were here now.' Martha cried, her own tears falling over each other as they tumbled down her face unbidden and ignored. Her shoulders shook as she finally let the shock set in.

TBC