Hello everyone. Welcome to this alternate universe. This fiction continues the story What Sacrifices for the Survival of the Species. This new fiction is The Last Great House of Krypton. I will try to update this story once per week.
Clark is now caring for his children independently, without his powers, as a single parent. He doubts his abilities but he still needs to fit into human society. Please read on and enjoy.
Disclaimer: I don't receive any remuneration from DC Comics. I just enjoy playing with their toys. Any similarity to any person living or deceased is purely coincidental. Please note that the Taco Palace is based on Taco Bell. I love their food but on to the story that picks up immediately from the last chapter of What Sacrifices …
Clark Kent's Home
Martha and Ben packed up their truck to return to Smallville after resting for a few hours. The responsibilities of two farms weighed heavily on their shoulders. They worried about Clark since he lost his powers but Clark knew that the time had come when he would be alone caring for his children. He bade them farewell and returned to his back porch, to watch the night sky, secure in the knowledge that Jason, Jordan and Karala slept peacefully in their beds. He couldn't help but review the events of the past year as he drifted off into a fitful sleep.
Nightmares plagued him as he slept in a lawn chair. His mind and body were exhausted from his last trial. The AI that inhabited the Fortress of Solitude was so corrupted by Lex Luthor that it had to be eliminated. Clark regretted this action because the spirits of his biological parents embodied in the AI had provided him with valuable information across the years. Its last few actions however had a profound impact on his life. While attempting to reset and reactivate the AI, he triggered the reproduction subroutine. The AI, using advanced Kryptonian technology, inserted an artificial birthing matrix into his body. Two separate sets of embryonic DNA were added to the matrix. He and his betrothed, Zara produced a male embryo and his cousin, Kara along with her betrothed's DNA produced a female embryo. The AI's intention was that Clark's children would eventually mate to produce genetically pure Kryptonian offspring. One solar year after conception, he gave birth by Caesarean Section to two healthy infants. However, Clark's body was severely taxed by the experience. He lost all of his gifts and must now breast feed the infants for at least one year since they cannot survive yet on nutrients produced on Earth.
He shivered in the cool morning air as the sun cleared the horizon. Wisps of fog hung close to the ground making the air colder than what one would expect in early September. The silence of the morning was pierced by the solitary wail of an infant, slightly louder than what one would expect from an eight week old baby. The wail was suddenly accompanied by a second baby's cry.
"The cacophony begins early this morning. I better get moving." He glanced at his watch. "Boy, it's 4:23 am. I missed their midnight feeding. They must be hungry." Carefully shifting his body to avoid irritating his back, he stood up stiffly and entered the playroom. The wounds from his flogging the previous night smarted worse than ever and adhered to his clothing. Every move pulled and reopened the wounds making him feel more miserable. He entered the nursery to find Jordan on his side pulling at the crib bumpers & Karala's diaper was so saturated that her crib's bedding was wet.
He dealt first with Karala whose cry had a sense of urgency. "Okay Little Miss. Daddy's here & will clean you up right now. She responded positively to his gentle ministrations by babbling as he used warm baby wipes to cleanse her skin, apply a clean diaper & fresh pajamas. By time he finished with her, Jason stood at the door, rubbing sleep from his eyes.
"Good morning Daddy Clark," he yawned. "What's for breakfast?" as he padded barefoot into the nursery while scratching his stomach. "Can we have pancakes today? Mommy always makes pancakes for Sunday breakfast."
Clark looked from Karala to Jason then to Jordan who continued to pull at the crib's bumper. He wondered how single parents balance three children's needs without going crazy. "Sure Sport. How about we go get you a glass of milk? It's still early and I need to feed the babies. After I feed them, we'll make some blueberry pancakes the same way Grandma Martha does.
"Okay Daddy Clark," said Jason sleepily as he climbed onto the futon in the nursery. He looked at Clark as he yawned again. "Did you sleep in your clothes last night? Your shirt is sticking to your back."
"It's okay Jason. I'll take a shower after the babies are fed." He looked to the futon to find that Jason had already drifted back to sleep. "Well, two down with one more to go," he thought as he unfolded a knit afghan and placed it over his seven-year-old son. Pausing for a moment, he smoothed back Jason's hair to kiss him lightly on his forehead. Karala continued babbling so Clark turned to Jordan. "Your turn now Young Master as he extricated the baby from the bumper. Quickly and confidently, he changed the baby's wet diaper. As he turned to wipe him with a warm baby wipe, Jordan gave his rendition of a fountain. "Ha, you missed me this time Buddy. I'm getting wise to your tricks." He tickled Jordan's belly causing the baby to laugh heartily.
Clark removed his own shirt, aware of the material adhering to his back. He went to the bathroom adjacent to the nursery. Carefully he washed his chest and breasts aware that he was going to nourish the last of his species. He dried himself thoroughly and walked over to the cribs lifting both babies out. Carrying both babies, he settled into his favorite rocking chair being aware of the wounds on his back. He allowed them to latch onto his breasts as he hummed a lullaby.
Twenty-five minutes later, the babies fell asleep at his breasts, completely satiated. Clark knew that he had about four hours to get his work done. The grandfather clock in the foyer struck 5:15am. Jason continued to nap and the twins slept so Clark decided it was time to take care of himself.
He stripped of the clothes he wore after leaving the Fortress and climbed into the warm shower. However, the water stung his back so he got in and out quickly. "At least the bleeding stopped. He applied antibiotic ointment to long strips of gauze and used the gauze to apply it to his back. When he repeated this process several times, he decided that there was enough antiseptic on his skin & he would wear a light shirt.
When he dressed, he went to the kitchen & prepared the pancakes that Jason requested. He sliced some fruit and placed two pancakes on a plate for his son. Clark then climbed the stairs to return to the nursery. "Wake up Sport. Breakfast is ready," he whispered above Jason's head. His son smiled faintly and opened his eyes. "Shush," said Clark quietly. "They're sleeping. You stop at the bathroom and I'll meet you downstairs for breakfast."
"Okay Daddy Clark." Jason bounded up from the futon and rushed to the bathroom, a little faster than a normal seven-year-old should run. Clark smiled with pride to see his gifts emerging in Jason and he knew this would be the perfect time to discuss the gifts with the boy.
Five minutes later, Jason sat at the kitchen table with his father. "Jason, you're doing so well with your powers. I'm so very proud of you. But always remember, you must be careful that no one should see you using them. Frequently, people fear that which they don't understand."
"But why would they be afraid? You've never hurt anyone and I want to be like you. I would never hurt anyone and the twins are just babies! I don't understand."
"People fear anything they cannot control Jason," Clark replied softly. He looked at Jason with love. "As Superman, people feared what I would do if I became angry. They feared that I could not be stopped or controlled. That's why it's so important for you to keep strong control over your powers. No one knows that Superman has three children. They think I have only one, a baby. Let's keep everything secret to protect your Mommy, Daddy and baby Joanne."
"Okay Daddy Clark, but one thing," said Jason with a sly smirk.
"What's that Sport?" replied Clark.
"When can I start calling you Daddy Clark all the time instead of Mr. Clark?"
"We need to talk to your Mommy and Daddy Richard about that," said Clark collecting the breakfast dishes. "I'm sure that we will cross that bridge soon. Now why don't you brush your teeth and take a shower. We're going to church this morning then we'll go to the park."
"Okay Daddy Clark. I'll be ready in a few minutes."
Clark watched his older son run happily up the stairs & he sighed at the innocence of the young of all species. Their innocence always quickly evaporated in the glare of life's realities. It didn't matter if the species was human or kryptonian. He returned to finish washing the breakfast dishes. Once completed, he glanced at the kitchen clock to see that it was 7:34 am. It was time to get the twins ready if they were to get to Mass by 10:00 am. He climbed the stairs to see billows of steam issuing from beneath the bathroom door. Jason sang the theme from a Saturday morning cartoon show & Clark couldn't help but smile.
The twins slept soundly as Clark turned, rolled and dressed them. Jason emerged from the bathroom wrapped in an oversized maroon towel. His wet hair and feet dripped leaving foot prints as he sprinted down the hallway to his room.
Clark took the time to pump enough milk to feed the babies just in case they awoke during the service. It would not look too good for him to put Karala to breast if she started squalling. Through trial & error Clark discovered that pacifiers did not satisfy his children's need to suckle. The consistency of pacifiers did not meet their needs. He thought that at some time, he would ask the Lara AI what was done on Krypton. For the moment, one of his fingers served as the rejected pacifier.
It was only one day since he wiped the Fortress' memory. He again regretted taking such drastic measures but it was the only way to guarantee that Jason's hybrid nature would not condemn him to eternal isolation in the Phantom Zone. He realized ruefully that Kryptonians were just as xenophobic as humans.
He changed into a pair of casual slacks, a button down shirt & a pull over sweater. The milk let down reflex still plagued him at times so he took to carrying a change of clothing with him everywhere. Embarrassing moments would be avoided at all costs. He put the twins into their buntings & strapped them into their carriers. Then he slung their baby bags over his shoulder.
Clark had a sharp intact of air as he realized that the bags hit his still tender back wounds. Jason walked into the room to see his father clearly in distress. He frowned deeply and asked quietly, "are you okay Daddy Clark? Maybe we should just stay home if you don't feel good."
"It's okay Jason. Usually, I heal very quickly but I forgot things have changed quite a bit," as he bit his lower lip against the pain. "We can still go to Church then we'll go to the park. Deal?"
"Okay, but I want you to be okay! I can wait for another day if you want."
"No son, our time together is so short. Tomorrow, I'll take you back to your Mommy & Daddy Richard. I don't know when they'll let you visit again. Let's make this a special time. It's almost 9:15 am. Mass will be over by 11:00 am then we'll have lunch anywhere you would like.
"Taco Palace, Daddy Clark?" said Jason with a tentative smile.
"Taco Palace it is. Now let's go so we won't be late." Jason took the baby bags as Clark picked up both carriers and brought them to the car. It took a few minutes to get the carriers into the car seat frames but they finally accomplished their goal. Jason's booster seat was positioned between the baby seats.
"Sorry Sport, you can't sit in the front seat until you turn thirteen years old, for your own safety."
"I know Daddy Clark," said Jason rolling his eyes. "Mommy tells me the same thing all the time. She says it's safer for me to sit in the back."
"Well let's just agree that she's the authority on child care right now. Okay Sport?"
"Alright Daddy Clark."
Clark pulled the SUV out of his driveway and navigated down several winding roads to the main highway leading to Metropolis. He leaned forward most of the trip to avoid putting pressure on his still smarting back.
Thirty minutes later in the parking lot at Sacred Heart Church
Clark helped Jason out of the SUV, smoothed out his hair and whispered directions to him. "Jason, the people here don't know about my having any children. Not only that but you might see some of the people from the Planet. We'll need to return to your calling me Mr. Clark again while we're in public. I'll introduce you as a friend's son, visiting for the weekend. I'll somehow get around the questions about the twins." He knew that he would need to address this question sooner or later.
"Okay Mr. Clark," said Jason with a knowing smile. They had ten minutes to settle into their seats.
They entered the rear of the church and proceeded toward the Cry Room. Fr. Daniel Leone was attired in his liturgical robes and greeted the congregants. He paused and waved as Clark entered the Cry Room carrying the twins in their carriers. Fortunately they still slept. Clark could only smile in response. Jason located two seats in the Cry Room's front row while Fr. Daniel mouthed that he would see them after the service.
The service proceeded free from any baby interruptions since the Cry Room was sound proof. Jordan awoke once so Clark gave him a bottle. To assure that Karala remained quiet, he gave her a bottle which she greedily accepted without opening her eyes. At the conclusion of the service, Clark heard a familiar voice behind him. It was Douglas Harper of the Metropolis Star.
"Clark Kent, you rascal. What are you doing here in the Cry Room? I knew you were returning to the Planet tomorrow but I never expected to see you here. Who are the kids?"
"Hi Doug. Ho… How are you? Fancy meeting you here of all places."
"Even we heathens at the Star have a need for forgiveness and redemption sometimes. But there must be a juicy story behind the mysterious Clark Kent who now appears with three children. I thought you were carrying a torch for Lois Lane."
"If you'd like to know, Lois Lane is now Lois Lane-White and this is her son, Jason White. I'm babysitting this weekend."
"That doesn't explain the babies Clarkie boy," as he tickled Jordan's chin. Jordan promptly drooled on him.
Clark took a deep breath preparing to respond when they were interrupted by another voice.
"Why good morning Mr. Harper. I had hoped to find you. Would you please help the senior ushers collect the leftover bulletins? Mr. Carpenter's arthritis is really keeping him from getting around very well today.
"Of course Fr. Leone, I'd be happy to help out," said Douglas. He turned to pick up two bulletins from the floor and he murmured to Clark sarcastically. "Saved by the priest Clark but I'll see you around and soon." Clark became aware that he was holding his breath and finally relaxed with his head bowed and eyes closed.
"Clark" said Fr. Daniel gently placing his hand on Clark's shoulder. "I applaud your desire to attend services but I never ever expected to see you and the children today. Especially after yesterday's events.
Clark looked at him with tired eyes. "Even more reason for me to reappear with the children Daniel. We need to blend in with other people. No one would think twice about a father bringing his children to church or sitting in the park. It's hiding in plain sight. Superman has to hide but Clark must be as ordinary as possible. I'm returning to work tomorrow so I needed to assure myself that I could manage the children on my own. Ben and my mother returned to Smallville early this morning."
Fr. Leone nodded knowingly then directed the small group through the church, into the sacristy and finally into the rectory. He gave Jason a glass of milk while he prepared tea for Clark and himself. "How are you feeling Clark? After last night, I thought you would take another week before even thinking about the Planet."
"No Daniel. I must go back and it must be now. If not now, then when? I'm becoming depressed and withdrawn by just remaining at home. It's all the symptoms of postpartum depression. I can't allow that to happen."
Daniel looked at Clark with understanding eyes. "Let me know how I can help you?"
"Just pray for and with me, Daniel."
"All the time son."
They conversed for another half hour about fear, pain, loss and change. Clark then said his farewells and left Sacred Heart to take Jason and the children for lunch.
Twenty-five minutes later at Taco Palace
Clark congratulated himself for getting through Mass without the children screaming and crying. He changed the babies on the floor of the SUV & placed the soiled diapers into plastic bags so that he could discard them at the next waste receptacle. He placed the carriers into the stroller frame and entered the restaurant.
Jason ran up to the counter and looked to father with pleading eyes. "Mr. Clark, now since I'm not allergic anymore, can I have anything I want."
Clark looked at his son with veiled eyes. "It depends on what you're asking for Sport. Why don't you put in your order?"
Jason walked to the order window and smiled at the attendant. "I would like two volcano tacos and a mango strawberry freeze, please."
The attendant looked at Clark. Clark quickly thought about Jason's past allergies to strawberries, milk, eggs and wheat. Goodness knew about the peppers in the cheese or mangos. He looked at Jason. "Sport you know that your food will be very spicy. Are you sure?"
"Yes sir," smiled Jason confidently. "I'm sure."
"Okay, I'll have two chicken burritos and a bottle of water." Clark paid the bill while Jason collected napkins, straws and ten packets of fire hot taco sauce. "Wow Sport. Can you really handle that hot sauce on your food?" said Clark incredulously while ruffling Jason's hair.
"Oh yes Mr. Clark but Mommy and Daddy won't let me have any. Everything tastes better when it's spicy."
"How did you find out that you like spicy food?" Clark asked curiously.
"When Grandma Martha cooked, she used hot sauce. She said she always put hot sauce in your food when you were young because she said you drank a bottle of hot sauce when you were little.
Clark laughed because that incident happened when he was only on Earth a few days. Mom and Dad always laughed about how their little tike consumed an entire bottle of red hot pepper sauce without batting an eyelash. "Don't worry Sport. I'll tell her to let you have as much hot sauce on your food as you like."
"Thanks Mr. Clark," responded Jason through a mouth full of tacos. They ate their food in quiet conversation with the twins awakening for a few minutes to babble. After lunch they boarded the SUV to go to Centennial Park.
Twenty minutes later at Centennial Park
The day was cool and crisp. Clark pulled his collar up realizing that he felt cold. His back began to throb but he had made a promise to Jason that he planned to keep. Centennial Park was a hub of activity on Sunday afternoons especially as fall painted the trees red, orange and yellow. Clark's back ached as he lifted the carriers in and out of the SUV for at least the fourth time that day.
Jason ran to the swings as Clark parked himself on a nearby bench. He lifted Karala out of her carrier and gave her the second bottle for the day. She consumed it hungrily and he burped her but did not put her back into her carrier before Jordan awoke. He became fussy then started crying. As the baby cried, Clark became aware that he was leaking breast milk. "O boy! Let down reflex," he thought. "I can't do anything about it now." He simply buttoned his jacket & shivered as he sat in wet clothing. A second bottle was produced and he fed Jordan.
After he settled Jordan back into his carrier, he heard screams coming from across the park. A woman stood screaming that a man had snatched her purse. Clark looked at his children but could see that the perpetrator would pass within thirty feet of his location. He stood up and ran to intercept the perpetrator as park police were in hot pursuit. Clark tackled the perpetrator to the ground while looking back at the stroller and Jason.
"Get out of my way you f***ing a**hole." Get off me." Clark wanted to scream in pain but he knew that he just needed to restrain the perpetrator until the pursuing police arrived. He knew he needed to get back to his children.
The police arrived within seconds and Clark turned the perp over to them. "That was a stupid thing to do mister," said the officer putting handcuffs on the purse snatcher. "You could have gotten yourself hurt or killed. After all, you're not Superman."
Clark thought to himself, "how right you are." He turned back to see Jason standing next to the stroller. "I'll try to keep that in mind officer." He returned the purse to the victim. She was a 70ish year old woman just enjoying the park like the rest of the city's residents.
"Thank you, sir. How can I ever repay you?" She looked at him as if she recognized him.
"You don't need to do that ma'am. I just saw where I could be of assistance. Now I need to get back to my family," as he hurried back to his park bench. His back hurt as did his chest, arms and knees.
"Sir, now I remember where I've seen you. You're Clark Kent, the Daily Planet reporter who writes stories with Lois Lane. I've seen your picture with her on the sides of the busses.
Clark turned slowly. "Yes, ma'am I am Clark Kent."
"Then could you please write a story about how dangerous the park is becoming? It's only 3:30 pm and it's still bright outside. Honest people can't even enjoy this area anymore without being mugged."
They arrived at his bench and he immediately checked his children. All was well with them. He sat down exhausted, hoping that this lady would just go away.
"Are these your children, Mr. Kent? They're beautiful and they have your eyes. Where's their mother?"
Clark caught his breath. What should he say? Jason looked at him intently wondering what he would say. "Sh... she's no longer with us," he said with downcast eyes.
"Oh my Mr. Kent, I'm so very sorry to intrude on you in your grief. Please accept my condolences and apologies. My name is Emily Flowers. My family owns Flowers Enterprises of Metropolis." She opened her purse and gave him her business card. "If you should ever need anything, anything at all, don't hesitate to call me, please."
Just then, a police officer approached the bench. "Ma'am, if you plan to press charges against the purse snatcher, would you please accompany me to the precinct?
"Don't forget Mr. Kent. Call me if you need anything," said Mrs. Flowers as she left the park bench accompanied by the officer.
"Thank you Mrs. Flowers, I won't forget" as he pocketed her card. "Come, Jason, let's go home. He rose stiffly from the bench and took Jason's hand while pushing the stroller. He thought to himself, what a day this has been. His natural instincts have always been to help anyone in need but the officer was right. He's not Superman, at least not at the moment so he had better take care of himself. Too many people depended on him right now without his powers, namely his three children. He couldn't be cavalier with his health and well being, not any more. Tomorrow, when he returned to the Planet, would tell how successful he is as an ordinary human.
To be continued. Please review…