Category: Story, Gen

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: Not mine. Too bad.

Spoilers: The Pilot

Archive: Anywhere is fine.

Summary: The Kents bring Clark home. But can they keep him?

FINDER'S KEEPERS by mako

*~*~*~*~*

*We can't keep him.*

That's what the inner voice insisted but no matter how often Jonathan Kent repeated the words to himself, they refused to ring true.

Especially since his wife Martha's mind was clearly made up.

According to her, they were keeping the young foundling boy they found in the freshly burnt fields and that was that. Fate had brought them together she'd proclaimed, the child had found them and oh God, his little face was everything she'd dreamt of and more.

He was her angel. A gift from God. The kind of gift you don't examine too closely, lest you offend Heaven itself.

Jonathan wasn't so sure he agreed.

"Here," said Martha, handing the boy over to her husband. "Hold him a second while I get some soap and towels. He's all dusty, poor thing."

Jonathan winced against the weight in his arms and refused to look. The child wasn't his, he wasn't going to be his so there was no point in getting attached. He felt a small head rest against his shoulder and shifted uncomfortably.

"Martha!" he called out, wanting his wife to take the boy back. Now.

"Coming, coming," she said, and hurried into the kitchen, carrying a pile of fluffy white towels and various bottles. She plopped them down by the sink and held out her arms. "Here. Give him to me."

Jonathan gladly complied and watched nervously while Martha cooed over the boy as she gently bathed him. Huge blue eyes set in a tiny face caught his attention and Jonathan had to look away.

*We -cannot- keep him.*

"I'm going back out and check on our truck," he said. Martha nodded, her entire being focussed on the boy and his soapy smile.

Knees shaking, Jonathan stumbled back out onto his fields. The sound of faraway sirens filled the air, as did a thin ashy smoke, the meteors' trails of destruction still visible against what should have been a clear blue day.

What the hell had happened? Meteors weren't supposed to just shoot down from above, out of nowhere. They were supposed to be viewed from far away, whizzing through the nighttime sky, only to be chewed up by an atmosphere that wasn't allowed to fail the frail creatures living beneath it.

This wasn't supposed to have happened.

An ambulance screamed by and Jonathan swallowed past a huge lump in his throat. The annual football parade was today and if those things hit town ...

No. Don't think. Don't look. Just focus on the truck and your fields. Forget about the chaos surrounding you and take care of business. These things aren't in your hands, just take care of the things that are.

Like little boys who fell out of the sky and practically into your lap.

Jonathan shook the thought away, too shaken to deal with something quite that huge. The truck sat just ahead, looking like a child's toy flipped over in a fit of pique and his fields still smoldered, as whirling dust kicked up everywhere, refusing to settle.

He made his way toward the truck and winced when his foot hit something solid. Looked down, and backed away from the strange metal pod that sat half buried below the soil.

*He must have parents.*

*Well, if he does, they're definitely not from Kansas.*

Jonathan bit his lip hard, tasting blood. *The boy came in this thing* -- he knew it in his soul and the thought shook him to the core. Not that he was a stranger to weird happenings in farms throughout the state. The nighttime lights, the crop circles -- even a cattle mutilation or two. But this ...

This wasn't anything he'd expected to see, ever. Part of him was terrified, part of him was curious and Jonathan reached for a long stick, one of the many strewn around by the day's disaster.

Hesitantly, he poked at the pod, leaping back when he heard a loud *hissssssss.*

Gaped in wonder when a tiny door opened and silently, up rose a thin metal rectangle, which he grasped with a trembling hand.

It was still warm, its surface polished shiny smooth. It wasn't a metal he'd seen before, it was almost stone-like and Jonathan squinted to make out what appeared to be symbols carved onto its surface. Strange symbols, the like he'd never seen before. A message perhaps? For the boy?

Or maybe for the people who found him.

A shiver crawled through Jonathan Kent and he hurriedly shoved the plate in his pocket. Someone, or something, had taken a lot of trouble to send that boy on this journey and he couldn't imagine why. All he knew was that his wife was probably right. They hadn't found the boy ...

The boy had found them.

Jonathan heaved out a long breath and turned around. The tractor was what he needed ... the tractor and a good long hauling chain. He needed to turn over his truck, needed to clean up his fields ...

Needed to hide the evidence.

Fast.

*~*~*~*~*~

With one final shove, the pod was finally settled into the Kent's storm cellar and Jonathan wiped his brow as he rested for a minute against his workbench. The thing was heavy as hell, which surprised him but then again he was no expert on interstellar travel.

Nor did he really want to be.

"Jonathan!" Martha's voice came from up above. "Is everything okay?"

"Yes, sweetheart." He coughed a little at the dust still tickling his lungs. "What do you need?"

"Come up here. I want you to see something."

"Coming," he sighed. Everything ached as he climbed out of the cellar and Martha stood in the sunlight, holding the boy, smiling.

"Look. I finally got some use out of those old shirts you wouldn't throw out."

Jonathan was about to protest but he looked more closely, surprised at what he saw. The toddler was as clean as a whistle, raven hair combed neatly and he was wearing one of Jon's old red plaids, cleverly folded around him like a nightshirt.

A brilliant smile, a flap of flannel-covered hands and Jonathan's heart did a double take.

Dear God. He was adorable.

Too adorable to resist. "Give him here." Jonathan scooped the boy into his arms. Couldn't help but nuzzle the tiny cheeks and they were warm, smelling of soap and shampoo. "Hey, tiger. Feeling better now?"

No answer, except for that dazzling smile.

"He had lunch too," said Martha happily. "He likes bread and jelly. No peanut butter though. He seemed a little scared of it." She paused. "Jon ... have you ..."

He hugged the boy tighter. "I put away that ... thing ... we found," he said slowly, rubbing the child's back. "We'll still have to figure out some way to, you know, make all this legal." He sighed deeply. "I have no idea how we're going to do that, not without creating some sort of suspicion."

Martha's fingers trembled as she combed them through the boy's hair. "We'll figure something out, Jon. We have to."

"Yeah, we do." Jonathan handed him back over to his wife. "Right now we have to see what other damage there is. Have you heard anything from town?"

Martha's eyes began to water. "I heard that a lot of people were injured very badly. Some of them killed, but I don't know how many." Tears fell rapidly, and Jonathan drew her close. "Lana's parents ..."

Jonathan winced. "Oh God."

"They definitely didn't make it," she sobbed. She clung to the child, shaking. "That's ... that's why we have to save him, Jon. Because if we don't ... and they take him away from us ..."

A breath hitched in his chest. Yes, Jonathan knew what would happen to the boy if *they* took the boy away and figured out what he was. He'd end up in their labs, with their scalpels and their tests and heaven knew what else. This beautiful, perfect little boy, would be completely at their mercy.

*His* little boy.

Jonathan brushed a lock of hair out of the child's worried eyes. "Don't be scared," he whispered and smiled at the relief on the boy's face. He might not understand the words but he understands *me* nonetheless, Jonathan thought with a smile. "Everything's going to be all right."

And it was. Because he was going to make sure of it.

*~*~*~*~*

"Peter?"

"No."

"Thomas?"

"Nah."

"Jonathan, Jr.?"

"Absolutely not," insisted Jonathan. "What? You'd have the other kids at school calling him John-Boy?"

Martha sighed, then smiled at the child who lay sleeping between them in the bed, holding onto Jonathan's thumb with a surprisingly strong grip. She propped herself on one elbow and examined his face. "Well, what do you think we should name him?"

"Mookie." He ducked away from his wife's swat. "Hey, that's a great name."

"Seriously, Jon. The name we give him will be with him his whole life. It's only right that we pick a good one. Something that has meaning. That sounds nice. That fits."

"Okay," he said. "Let's take a real close look here. He's strong, looks like he's going to be tall ..."

"Is as handsome as his dad-to-be," said Martha slyly.

"But of course," he joked. "I'd have to say he looks like a ... a ... " Inspiration then, coming from somewhere and suddenly it was right there in front of him, as if it had been there all along. "Clark."

"Clark?" Puzzled, but only for a minute and Martha's eyes lit up. "Oh yes! That's it, Jon. Clark ... Clark Kent. It's perfect!"

And so it was. "Don't even think it needs a middle name, do you?" Jonathan brought the tiny hand to his lips and kissed it gently. "Just Clark."

"Just Clark," his wife agreed and snuggled close to both of them. "Jonathan and Clark. My two special guys."

"And our special lady," he said, leaning over and kissing his wife. "Three peas in a pod."

"Forever," she said. "And ever after that."

*~*~*~*~

The memorial service for the disaster victims was held a week after the storm hit. It seemed the entire town had turned out for it, all of them dressed in black and all of them with a sad story to tell. Even the town's most prominent citizen hadn't escaped unscathed.

Yes, even Lionel Luthor had a tale of woe to call his own.

His only son, Alexander, barely escaped getting killed in one of the cornfields while on a trip to Smallville with his father. The meteor had whizzed over him, burning him with radiation but Lionel had insisted to the press and anyone who'd listen that his son would be as "strong, fit and fine" as ever, in no time flat.

Jonathan wondered if that were true. Especially since Lionel wasn't exactly known for his honesty.

The service ended and Jonathan made his way toward the side exit where Lionel stood, greeting the grieving families with keen eyes, masked by a somewhat sad smile. Many of these people had land and now wanted to move out of Smallville or get quick money after their devastating loss and he was more than happy to "give them a neighborly hand."

It was a horrible thought, but Jonathan could almost see Luthor's nose twitching, like a shark smelling blood in the water, as handshake followed handshake and business card after business card was handed out.

It wasn't a pretty sight but Jonathan ignored the dollar signs that were practically cha-chinging in Lionel's dark grey eyes. If he were going to deal with the man, these were things he'd simply have to accept ...

If he was to get what he wanted. "Mr. Luthor," he said politely to the impeccably dressed man standing in front of him. "How are you? I'm very sorry to hear about your son."

Sharp eyes fixated on him. "Lex is fine." Automatic reply, same shark smile and Jonathan repressed a shudder at the sight. "How are you, Jonathan? I heard Martha was too injured to make it here today. I hope she's not too bad off."

A lie of their own, to cover Martha's absence as she took care of the boy and Jonathan winced. His honesty was rapidly fading away as well. "She'll be fine. Thanks for asking."

"Glad to hear it. Of course, that's not all I could ask." Lionel's eyes raked over him. "I could ask why someone who can't tolerate the sight of me is standing here making such pretty chitchat with me. I couldn't imagine that any occasion, even one as solemn as this would bring about such a miracle between you and I. Is there something I'm missing? Help me out here, Jon."

Jonathan swallowed hard. It was true. He hated Lionel Luthor, for many reasons and wouldn't have spoken to him ever again, except for Martha. And Clark. "I ... I'm wondering if you are still interested in doing some business. I know that a couple of years ago ..."

"A couple of years ago you told me to burn in Hell," replied Lionel crisply. "Along with a few other, shall we say, saltier phrases."

"My apologies," said Jonathan through clenched teeth. "That was wrong of me."

Something lit up in those panther-eyes and Lionel shrugged. "It was nothing I hadn't heard before ... although this apology is something new. Which begs me to ponder many things." He reached into his coat pocket and produced a crisp white business card. "Things which I don't think we should discuss here. Come to my office in Metropolis and we'll talk there. Call my secretary and she'll set it up." A brittle smile. "I look forward to unraveling this mystery, my dear Mr. Kent."

"I'll do that. Thank you." Jonathan pushed his way past Lionel, through the church doors and took deep gulps of cool fall air. He felt dizzy, wondering if he could possibly go through with what he and Martha had planned.

Such a sacrifice, but if it worked ...

The card bit into his palm and Jonathan Kent fought down his fear.

It was going to work. There was no other way.

~*~*~*

The drive to Metropolis was long and uneventful but the knot in Jonathan's stomach grew tighter with every passing mile as he headed toward LuthorCorp headquarters. He parked the car in a vast garage and took a moment to stare up at the huge building that loomed above him, terrifying in its scope and measure.

Such were the works of men who knew nothing but what they could touch. It became even more obvious as Jonathan was lead into the plushly appointed suites of LuthorCorp's chairman, where Lionel Luthor himself, stood smiling in the middle of his office, arms wide open as if greeting an old, dear friend.

Lord help them all.

"Drink?"

"No thanks."

Lionel chuckled and poured one for himself. "Now, what brings you to Luthor's Lair? I could only wish it was to talk about the good old days but I have a feeling that isn't the case."

"I need a favor," Jonathan replied stiffly. "I'm willing to pay for it."

Lionel's eyes widened over his brandy glass. He put it down and slowly crossed over to a rack where a row of pool cues sat neatly in a line. Took one down and chalked it deliberately, before bending over the green felt table, making his first break with a thwack!

"Continue," he said bluntly.

Jonathan began the story, telling of their accident and finding Clark in the fields, alone and afraid. Made no mention of the pod, made no mention of his and Martha's desperation and tried to state the facts as simply and concisely as he could.

Refrained from begging and let Luthor take the lead.

No matter what would follow.

Whack! went the nine ball into a corner pocket. "So, you want to adopt the boy. But you don't want the hassle of the inevitable red tape, thus the need for my help."

"Exactly," said Jonathan, a tremor crawling along his spine. Every man didhave his price. He knew that now. "And I'm willing to pay for this assistance."

"With what?" Another ball sunk, the eleven in the right side.

Jonathan swallowed. "Everything I own. The farm, the land, anything you want."

Crack! Eight ball in the middle and Lionel looked up. "Everything?"

"Everything." Jonathan trembled from head to his toe but kept his mind's eye firmly fixed on Martha's radiant smile, on Clark's bright eyes. It was the only thing that kept him from running out the door, never to return.

Lionel Luthor said nothing for a long moment then turned his eyes back to the pool table, idly taking aim at another ball. "Come back tomorrow. Three o'clock. Don't be a minute late or I'll have to rethink my decision." Three ball, bounced off the far bumper. "What's the child's name?"

"Clark," Jonathan said softly. "Clark Kent."

"Nice," said Luthor, standing and putting the pool cue back on the wall. "Very nice." He made a dismissive gesture with his hand. "Tomorrow. Three sharp."

"Thank you," said Jonathan, turning and striding out the door, beads of sweat trickling down the back of his neck. He practically ran to the elevator, pressing his forehead against the cool mirrored doors as they slid shut, his mind racing.

His great-grandfather's farm. Passed down to him through his father, hard-worked and won with blood, sweat and tears. Soon to be nothing but a memory, a footnote in the family's history. All for a little boy that fell into their arms from somewhere far away. Could he possibly be worth it?

Oh yes. He certainly was.

*~*~*~*~*

It was two fifty-nine the next afternoon when Jonathan was called into Lionel Luthor's office. Gone was the slightly affable man of the day before and Luthor the Tycoon was sitting his place, perfectly cool and unflappable behind his huge mahogany desk.

The deed to the farm felt heavy in Jonathan's pocket and he drew himself up stiffly, ready to face whatever was in store. He and Martha had made this decision together and whatever followed would be accepted, without complaint.

A large file was tossed in front of Jonathan and Lionel nodded toward it. "Look through it. Everything should be there, from birth certificate, to Social Security number to the entire adoption file. Immunization records are there too, although you might want to take him in anyway. No use in having a dead child in a couple of years."

With a shaking hand, Jonathan picked up the folder and flipped through it. A pile of lies rested in his hand, perfectly presented and indistinguishable from reality. He had no doubt everything was all in place ... Lionel was anything if not thorough.

"Thank you," Jonathan breathed. He pulled the deed out from his pocket. "And this is yours."

"Put that away," said Lionel quietly. He steepled his fingers across his chest. "I won't be taking any payment ... yet."

Jonathan blinked. "What? But ... but ..."

"In fact, I'm not sure if I'll ever take payment," said Lionel, his eyes glinting with an odd glee. "Of course, if there's a favor I'll need down the line, I'm sure you'll be more open to my ... presentations."

"No." Jonathan shook his head frantically. Dear God, the thought of *owing* this man -- that was unacceptable. "No, you have to take this."

"I can assure you, I don't." Lionel leaned back casually. "Now take your new child's life and go. Before I change my mind."

Part of Jonathan wanted to throw the papers back at Luthor, just to wipe the smug expression off his face but he wisely pushed those feelings aside. Clark's life and future was at stake and if this was a sacrifice he had to make for him, then so be it.

It would be the first of many, no doubt.

Jonathan backed away out of the room, not willing to turn his back on the man. He had little doubt about the multiple knives that probably littered those expensive drawers and he'd be damned if he'd come this far for nothing.

Of course, he'd left himself open to murder later on, in other, less physical ways but he'd deal with that when the time came. Until then, he'd just have to watch his and his family's back. Watch and wait, for that inevitable day ...

When Lionel Luthor would be demanding his payment.

How he hated the man.

*~*~*~*~*

The next weekend, after Clark was introduced to their friends and neighbors, Martha and Jonathan took a ride to Milestone Stream, just a few minutes down the road from their house. It was a warm, bright Sunday and they'd dressed Clark in a brand new red sweater and black corduroys, with a tiny pair of brown work boots to match.

Clark was sleeping better in recent days, as was Martha and Jonathan, although the occasional nightmare of Lionel snatching their boy away sometimes broke through an otherwise restful slumber. The pod in the storm cellar was almost forgotten and except for the fact that their boy hadn't uttered a word yet and shown a few strange signs of otherworldliness, everything seemed to be going very well.

Everything in its own good time, Jonathan's father used to say, and they decided to take that to heart. Suddenly, life was wonderful, full and joyous and Jonathan wanted to take this day to give thanks, for all the gifts he'd received, tangible and otherwise.

He wasn't a particularly religious man, but faith never did hurt Martha insisted and they could use all the help they could get in the coming days. And months. And hopefully, many years to come.

They left the truck, Clark held in Jonathan's arms and together, made their way to the stream. All three knelt at its edge and Jonathan closed his eyes, his arms wrapped around his wife and son.

"Dear God," he began. "We come here today to thank You for Your blessings and for giving us this child to hold as our own. We're honored that we've been chosen as his parents on this world and we pray for his birth parents, whom we know in our hearts to have given him up out of grave desperation and fear. Please watch over them and let their spirits find consolation in the fact that their son is well-loved and will be taken care of for as long as we are able."

He drew a deep breath. "Please protect him from those who would hurt him when we cannot. Please accept him as Your own and let us find ourselves together on that day when sadness is no more. Amen."

"Amen," whispered Martha. She put her hand in the stream and brought up a palmful of water, letting it wash over Clark's head. "With this, I baptize thee."

Clark blinked away the wet droplets that ran down his cheeks and smiled at his father. "Da-el." Tiny voice, and he shook his head to try again. "Dad-ee?"

A moment of shock, as Jonathan beamed at his son, laughing and scooping him up in his arms. "What was that, tiger? Daddy? Is that what you said?"

"Hey," said Martha, pouting and wiping off her slacks. "What happened to Mommy?"

Clark giggled as Jonathan swung him around. "Momm-eeee!"

Martha laughed along with them and they drove home, past the freshly cleared fields on toward the rest of life where what once was found, could never be lost.

For the time being.

*~*~*~*~*

the end