Author Note: A companion piece to "The True Krypton", this story contains a darker tone than the actual show. Many thanks to Tara621 for inspiring this, even if it was unintentional. :)
He's absolutely nothing like she expected. That makes Emma sad. And kinda mad. And really confused. Like last Christmas, when she'd asked Santa for an ipod and didn't get it, even though she had written him about five thousand million letters about it.
It's also kinda like the day when Mommy and Daddy told her she was getting a little sibling. Of course she had been all excited, thinking it would be like her friend Taylor who has a baby sister. But then they told her it wasn't like that. How instead of growing in Mommy's tummy like that baby had, this new sibling would be coming from somewhere else. How even though that was the case, they would still be siblings.
It's not like her friend Taylor's little sister at all. But it kinda is, because it takes awhile for Luke to come live with them. Mommy and Daddy explain that the people in charge of where Luke's from have to make sure they can take care of him. Emma doesn't get it. Of course they can take care of him. They have her, don't they? And they have a really big house, a nice one with lots of room.
But he does cry, just like a baby. Always at the strangest times, too. Like when she tricked him into going into the hall closet and shut the door. He'd screamed and pulled at the knob until Emma opened the door again.
She'd gotten into trouble for that. Big trouble.
Luke acts funny. And talks funny, too, calling Mommy "Mommy number four" and Daddy "Daddy number four." She tries her best to correct him, reminding him that they only have one mommy and daddy, but still he says it. And she caught him standing over Mommy when she was sleeping. He had looked scared, and worried, and had grabbed Mommy's arm to shake her awake, even after Emma told him she was just taking a nap.
He's weird, and Emma doesn't know what to make of him.
Luke jerks awake and sits up in bed. His eyes adjust quickly to the dark, yet his still-sleepy mind doesn't recognize his surroundings. It takes him a moment to remember where he is; the Ross home. His home, too, at least for now. Yet even with that realization, another causes his gut to drop. Something is wrong. He's wet as are his sheets.
Big boys don't wet the bed. That's something he learned a long time ago. A boy Luke's age doesn't do this sort of thing, especially when they know what happens when they do.
"You want to be a baby, huh?" It's his father's voice which fills his ears. "Well then, we'll treat you like one…"
A baby. The Rosses don't want a baby. Luke yanks off the sheets from the bed as quickly as he can. It's still dark outside. He can fix this before it's time for everyone to get up. Then no one has to know.
He carries his load down the stairs, searching out the laundry room. No one has shown him that room yet so he doesn't really know where he's going.
Luke shutters as he passes the bathroom. He swallows, remembering the last time he had wet the bed. It's been a long time and yet still the memory is fresh. His father jerking him to the bathroom. His shirt ripping. The bare skin of his bottom burning as he was forcefully smacked onto the toilet seat. His father's threatening growl.
"Want to treat your bed like a toilet? Fine. Don't you move!"
And he hadn't, not even to turn on the light. He'd stayed perfectly quiet and perfectly frozen. He was still there when his mother came the next morning, stiff and numb and unable to stand. How mad she had been. Still, Luke had learned his lesson. Never had he wet the bed since.
Until tonight. Stupid baby!
Finally, he finds the laundry room. The washer is the machine on the left – Luke knows that much. Luke throws the bedding into the washer. He doesn't know what to do really; he's only watched mommy number two do this.
Luke looks over the boxes slowly, yet none are orange like what mommy number two used. His brow furrows; now what? Grabbing a bottle, he pours the blue liquid into the machine and turns the knob.
The machine rattles and shakes with the worst noise imaginable. Luke isn't expecting it, and instinctually covers his ears. Too loud! Within moments soap bubbles begin forming around the door. Uh oh. Rattled he begins grabbing at the knob, trying to turn it to a place where the machine will stop, with no luck.
Then he feels a hand on his shoulder, and knows it's over.
It's still dark outside when the noise comes from downstairs. A horrible loud noise, too. Emma jumps up in bed. That's not Bertram getting a second midnight snack noises; it's something else. Maybe a burglar!
Emma hears voices coming from her parents' room, then the sound of someone headed down the hall and stairs. One of them must be investigating. Everything will be fine then. The horrible noise stops. Emma relaxes.
Suddenly, another sound. This one of footsteps, quick-paced. Too light to be Mommy or Daddy. Emma sits up in bed again, until she realizes the footsteps are headed for her room. Oh no! The burglar is headed for her!
Emma falls back onto her bed, drawing the covers over her head. They won't see her that way. The person reaches the doorway. Something rattles on the wall, then hits the floor. What is it? She doesn't want to look, yet still dares to sneak a peak from behind the blanket's edge. Her eyes furrow as she sees her belt collection, once hung along the wall, now on the ground.
"Hey!" Emma sits up, throwing back the blanket. To her surprise it's Luke she finds giving a startled yelp and falling back into the wall. "What do you think-?"
But he's already gone.
It takes her more than a few minutes to find him again. Christina is trying to be quiet so not to wake Morgan and Emma. It is three in the morning, after all; much too early for anyone to be awake. She searches every room, attempting to find Luke who had fled after she discovered him in the laundry room. One look at the washer's contents and she could guess what had happened. Still, it didn't answer all the questions in her mind.
He's in his room, sitting on the stripped bed right next to the stain. Luke's not crying but rather just sitting in wait, head down, clutching something in his hands.
"Luke, honey, what-?" her question falls silent as Christina flips on the light, revealing what he's holding.
Christina takes a step forward. Luke stands, his face remaining expressionless. Without a word he hands over the belt and turns so he's facing the wall before grabbing hold of the bed frame. Bracing himself, she realizes.
And for what seems like the hundredth time since they've met, she feels as though her heart is breaking.
They'd always known they wanted to adopt, even before Emma was born. Her heart has always been set on it. She and Morgan knew it wouldn't be easy. Adoption is a process, not like how it goes in the movies Morgan is always making. It's not a light-switch moment with everything coming together perfectly, but a process, one which takes time, effort, and true commitment. Still it was something they were more than willing to do, especially for this little boy. Their little boy.
Even with all the preparation, nothing could have possibly readied her for moments like this.
Nothing prepared her for a five-year-old referring to her as "mommy number four". The realization of just why a five-year-old would say that. She wasn't readied for the sight of healed-over marks scaring his back. Nor were they prepared for many of his habits or behavior, such as this.
Christina moves around Luke, taking care so not to approach from behind. Silently she places the belt back on the bed where he can see. She then bends down so she's eye level with him.
"No, baby," she begins slowly. Christina makes sure he's looking her in the eyes, to show him her sincerity in that moment. Still she keeps her voice level and gentle. "We don't do that here. What you did was an accident. Everyone has accidents, and that's okay. You're not in trouble. Okay?"
He lets out a sniff. Those eyes, always so large, somehow larger in this moment as the corners fill with tears. Christina pulls him close, only to realize he's shaking. She rubs his back slowly. "It's okay. It's okay. Let's get some dry clothes for you to wear."
So they do. Christina helps Luke find some new pajamas then puts fresh sheets on the bed while he changes.
"There," she says when he's tucked in again. She kisses his forehead gently. "Goodnight, baby."
"Night." Luke's small, sleepy voices returns. And then, right as she's about to turn out the lights she hears it, coming in what can barely be called a whisper. "Mommy."
"Why did he have the belt?" Mommy jumps as Emma asks the question. She looks confused, almost, so Emma asks again. "Why did Luke have the belt?"
She had seen it all. Okay not all of it. And okay, she probably shouldn't have been in the doorway. But she had been curious to know why Luke had taken one of her belts. And why he acted like he did when Mommy had come into the room.
Mommy hesitates, which only confuses Emma more. Then she sits next to Emma on the bed. "Because…" she's slow in getting the words out. "Because Luke thought he was in trouble."
"And sometimes…" Mommy continued. "Some people, they use something like a paddle or a belt and smack their children on the bottom."
"But you don't do that. Not ever."
"I know. But where Luke is from, they did. He's not used to the rules here. That's why he may seem scared or do things that don't make sense to us." Mommy hugs her shoulders. "I know it's hard, but you'll see. It'll be okay. We'll talk about it more tomorrow. You need to get some sleep, little girl."
Emma nods and lays back down. Her mom pulls the blankets back around her before kissing her on the forehead. "Sweet dreams. Love you."
"Love you too."
She waits for her mom to leave before sitting up again. She can't sleep. All Emma can think of is of Luke and what Mommy said. She reaches across her bed and digs into her stuffed animal collection, pulling out a koala bear in a cowboy hat. He was a gift from her dad after his last movie, when he had to be in Australia. Then, being extra sure to be quiet, Emma makes her way to Luke's room.
"Luke?" she whispers. At first she thinks he must be asleep, but then the small boy turns and faces her. Emma tiptoes towards the bed. She drops the stuffed bear in front of his face. "Here. I want you to have him. His name is Kenny."
Luke only sits up, his eyes not leaving the little animal.
"I want you to have him," she says, holding it out to him. Luke takes it reluctantly. "He's yours now."
Luke's eyes don't leave the bear. He doesn't say anything, either. He really is weird. Emma decides to go. She's almost to the door when she's grabbed from behind. Luke is wrapped around her in a full-on hug.
"Fank you." He whispers, the familiar lisp coming across his words.
"You're welcome," she whispers back. "Good night."
As she watches Luke scramble back into bed Emma can't help but smile. Just a little. He may not have been what she'd expected, yet he's still her little brother.