I've got some things to say to this story.
First: I like to thank my beta readers Knight2286 and Miles333. Thank you very much, you have been such a great help^^
Second: I absolutly love reviews, and I haven't got one on my german stories. That made me sad... So PLEASE review, even if you have to say, that it's bad... ok?
Third: It is my first story ever, that is written in english. I'm from germany and still learning^^
Fourth: This story is for my daddy, who died last year... This story has helped me a great deal.... And thanks to my friends, who were there when I needed them...
Thanks for reading^^
A friend in need
There are some things, that I have to know as soon as they have happened. This is one of them, because of several reasons.
Jonathan Kent died.
Thankfully it was a natural death. Not inflicted on him through some villain. I wouldn't want to know, what that would have done to Clark. I can't imagine that he could control his emotions and his powers in hunting that person down. And I don't think that anything could have stopped him. Short of maybe me -- with the Kryptonite ring. I don't even want to think, that it would ever come to that, but it is one of the reasons, I had to know, if anything happened to his parents. It happened, but he has nobody to blame for it, yet knowing him, he would blame himself, as usually.
I suspect that he is with his mother. She would have called him as soon as she had known. He will help her through her grief. Much later he will begin to think upon himself. I honestly hope, that it will not destroy him, that he will pull through like he has always done before.
Tomorrow is the funeral. I'm thinking about how to attend. I cannot go as Batman, going as Bruce Wayne would raise too many questions and there is a glaring disrespect in an alias and a disguise. This is something I have to do as myself – as Bruce. Clark helped me through much, even if I won't admit to it. But I owe it to him, to be there. It doesn't matter, if I'm recognized, it isn't about me this time. I'm doing this for him.
The next day I'm on my way to Kansas. I rented an old car from the airport's auto agency in order to get as little attention as possible. I've thought much about what to say and what to do, but there isn't anything that will make it easier. I know, believe me.
I'm there. It's raining. I don't know, why it is always raining on funerals. As if the sky is crying, too. Briefly I look up, before stepping into the graveyard of Smallville Cemetery. The graveyard isn't very big, but in the middle there is gathering a great group. It looks as though the whole town has come. The Kents are loved here. And Jonathan Kent was more than just a farmer, he had to have been an extraordinary man. After all, he raised Clark and the code that Clark and - more important - Superman abide is owed to him and his wife. But none of the people here and on the world would ever know, to thank this man, for the Superman we know.
Alone the name of his mother brings out memories of my own parents' funeral. And I have to restrain myself from envying Clark having both of his parents' for this long a time. But if I take a closer look at things, then I can see that he lost his real parents way before I lost mine. One would say, we are as different as two beings can become, but basically there are so many similarities in our life… My thoughts wander back in time. It had been raining that day, too.
I hate funerals, hate the empty words that are spoken and I envy the people that can take comfort in these. My eyes are wandering to the front of the crowd, where Clark stands, holding a comforting arm around his mother. She is crying, and he wants to appear strong. Nevertheless I know him, I see the slight shaking of his shoulders, that nobody else is seeing, and the damp eyes, that he is hiding behind the false glasses. He is so vulnerable in this moment.
Luckily we have our secret identities, so none of our foes can know of this and use this moment against him. He isn't up for a fight. Our partners in the Justice League don't know of this, yet. It is better this way. They only know him strong and happy. This could shatter their idealized vision of his image. Such is something the League couldn't afford. I know that he is in many ways the most human, out of all of us. It is his heart that is the vulnerable part of him.
As I'm listening to the - for me - empty words, I'm watching the people that have gathered here. The most of them I don't know, and have never seen before. Lois is there, as are Jimmy and some of the people I've seen working with him in the Daily Planet. Some I know because of the investigations I made, as we first met, and I saw him as a threat to me and Gotham.
The funeral is ending. The people -- one after another -- are shaking Clark's and his mother's hands while saying how sorry they are. Even I can't hear the word anymore. I was standing apart from the others, not wanting to say something to him in front of his mother. She doesn't even know me, at least she doesn't know me as Bruce. I'm waiting patiently for the people to go. The rain had long ago soaked all my clothes.
As all the people have gone, he hugs his mother hard and leads her to the exit. Then he looks up the first time, and sees me standing in the distance. Our eyes locking, I see the recognition in his eyes and he hesitates a moment. Maybe he is even shocked, that I am here.
A silent message is traveling between us. "Later, Clark." He nods, I think he has understood me. Then he and his mother are gone.
I'm the only one on this graveyard now. And now it's time to show my respect. I step near the open grave. And I take out the single yellow rose, which I've kept hidden in my jacket. A symbol for me, it's the same kind of flower I've taken to my parents' grave just yesterday and many days before. I don't have any words to say. I didn't even know this man, yet I have the greatest respect for him, for being such a great father, which isn't an easy job. My voice is only a whisper. "Thank you for making Clark the man that he is."
The rain stopped.
And then I left.
I waited till the evening to come back to the graveyard, knowing that I would find Clark here. Even from a distance I could see how disturbed he was. He was just sitting there, before the headstone, his legs near his body and his arms around himself, looking at the stone, but his eyes unfocused and damp. He doesn't acknowledge my presence, but he doesn't have to. I sit down beside him. Not saying anything, just being there.
It's disturbing to see him this vulnerable. He is crying, that's something I haven't got any experience with. Our coworkers on the Watchtower would expect something out of me like, "Get over it, Kent." They don't know me. Nobody knows me, not even myself. I'm thinking about my parents, how their deaths changed my life and I'm wondering, how this will change Clark, hopefully not much. He has other people that care about him.
After about an hour without words, I stand up, and hold out my hand to him. At first he doesn't acknowledge it, but then he looks up. His alien blue eyes still damp, but focused upon me. He takes my hand and I pull him up. I lay my hand on his shoulder and give it a squeeze. A gesture not used often by me.
All I've ever done is to push the people away, which are important to me, afraid of getting them hurt. Even now my mind tries to reason, that I'm doing this only to make sure, that Clark doesn't become a danger for the world. It's a lie. I'm not very good at this. In contrast, Clark is an open person, used to showing all his emotions, never pretending. He leans into the contact, so that his head is now lying on my shoulder.
At first I'm shocked. Not sure what he is expecting of me. I'm unsure of myself. He notices my uncertainty, and begins to withdraw and to apologize. "So..." But in this moment I can get myself to move and awkwardly I lay my arms around him.
It's been years since I hugged anybody. "It's okay", I murmur in his ear. He sags against me and begins softly to cry. I feel humbled that his trust in me is that great -- so absolute. He turns to me in his weakest moment, never thinking, that I could use this against him. So trusting.
The whole day he had to be strong for his mother and now the tension leaves his body and he lets go. Knowing that he doesn't need to pretend for me, that I know anyway. Awkwardly I'm rubbing circles on his back, and wait patiently, offering strength.
After long minutes his tears dried and he withdraws from the embrace. I'm searching his eyes, for what, I don't know. He looks back. "Thanks." His voice is quiet and rough, because of his crying. I nod. I have no words to offer, I was never a man of many words, he knows that, and understands. Together we turn and leave the graveyard. It's time, to go home, so I look at him. "You okay?"
He just swallows and his eyes lock to mine. "I will be..."
I nod, and turn around.
That is all that matters...