Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note: This AU story continues with the romantic and familial adventures of Diana Prince and Clark Kent. In this alternate universe, our heroes have no alter egos – no Superman, no Wonder Woman. But, in their own human way, they are both super and wonderful. While "Corporate Leaguers" was broad in scope in terms of Justice League, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman characters, this story's focus is much smaller, taking one plot point from the first story and developing and exploring it further. Hope you enjoy "Home Is Where The Heart Is."
HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS
Chapter 1: Losing Kal EL
Thirty Years Ago
Kansas City, Kansas, Ramada Inn
Jor stood by the single window in the hotel room, surreptitiously pulling back the blackout curtain and scanning the darkened hotel parking lot. He saw nothing, which was either very good or very bad. The people who were after them were excellent at their job, hunters of the finest caliber. The best the Krypton Secret Police could probably spare.
Letting the curtain drop like a silent boulder, fully shielding the room from prying eyes, Jor prayed he was wrong. Perhaps the KSP wasn't after him and Laura, maybe the visitor to their apartment two weeks ago had indeed been someone from Immigration and Naturalization Services. The INS was a threat to Jor and his family, not just as big a threat as the KSP.
Yet Jor hadn't been convinced that the INS had discovered the Els. No, no matter how hard he tried to convince himself, he'd been unable to shake the heart gripping foreboding that his worst nightmare was slowly closing in on him.
With protective eyes, Jor turned his back on the window and to the two people asleep on the queen-sized bed. Lara and Kal. My family. My heart. His son and wife were all that was good in Jor El's life. He no longer had Krypton, his scientific work, his brother, even his name. He had nothing but a faithful, loving wife and the best son Rao could ever grant a man. And when I leave this state, I'll leave half of my heart behind and damn the other half to guilt and shame.
They slumbered peacefully, Kal and Lara. Dark hair falling over their eyes, Clark snuggled securely in the crook of his mother's shoulder. Jor smiled, bittersweet and with an undeniable tide of regret. For so long Jor and Lara had wanted a child. But Krypton strictly regulated reproduction, instituting population control policies by limiting the number of children per family. By right, Jor and Lara should have been permitted at least one child, but they were needed in the Krypton Investigative Sciences Division, their work deemed too valuable, the government proclaiming a child "an unnecessary distraction." Instead, the government had approved reproduction privileges to his brother Zor and his wife Alura, a beautiful baby girl the result.
And Lara had been crushed, her own dreams of motherhood doused by an unjust flame of government control and inhumanity.
Jor spun away from his family, his jaw set, eyes burning with defeat. He slid the curtain aside, once again looking for men he would never see until they wanted to be seen. But it was all he could do, for come tomorrow he would be no better than the Kryptonian government. At least when they denied their request to have a child, the rejection stung but neither he nor Lara really knew what they were being asked to give up. Now we do. Now we know what it means to be a parent. Now we have Kal.
His son's name reverberated through his head. It was a strong, respectable Kryptonian name. A name they only dared call him during the safe space of their home. On his birth certificate, he was Clark El. Jor knew it was dangerous to give his son the family name, but what else of Krypton and his heritage did Lara and Jor have to give their only child? Now, on this fateful night, even that would eventually be lost to his son, the thought a painful one.
Jor released the curtain once more; the weight of what he must do drowning him where he stood. Once arriving at the decision, he'd tried to pray but no words came. What could he possibly say to Rao? Should he ask for forgiveness, a way to keep his tiny family intact, or for Rao to watch over and protect his little Kal El when Jor and Lara were no longer around to do so? Jor hadn't known, so the prayer had yet to come. He feared, now, that it never would.
He sank into the chair next to the window, unable to bring himself to join his wife and son. But nothing could stop blue eyes from staring at them. Tomorrow they would drive to the Kansas City Orphanage. Tomorrow they would arrive there as three but leave as two. They hadn't told Kal yet. Again, Jor hadn't been able to find the words. There are none. No, there weren't, at least none a boy of five would understand.
Lara stirred. Her eyes opened and found his immediately. The orbs were dull, their lifelessness mirroring his own. And they had been thus ever since they'd made the unforgivable decision. But their current life was not one meant for an innocent child. Jor and Lara wished only happiness for their Kal, even if that happy life came at the expense of their own beating hearts.
Gently, Lara rolled Kal onto his side and got out of bed. She walked towards Jor, bare feet soundless on the carpeted floor. Knowing what she needed, Jor opened his arms to her. She came, sat in his lap and wrapped her arms around his neck, her forehead going to a broad but beleaguered shoulder.
Neither spoke, simply held each other, unable to grapple with the unbearable loss tomorrow would bring. Jor, for all his years of scientific training and research, his mind kept coming back to the same mathematical equations. Jor plus Lara plus Kal equals joy. Jor plus Lara minus Kal equals sorrow.
His math had always been flawless. But there was another equation that relentlessly dogged his conscience. Kal minus Jor minus Lara equals . . .? Jor couldn't bring himself to finish that one, afraid of the endless possibilities, none good.
Warm tears, one, two, a stream fell, coating his neck, gouging at his heart, his resolve. And Jor still had no words of comfort, for himself or his heartbroken Lara. Words wouldn't fix this, only a changed mind could. And that was out of the question, not with the KSP nipping at their heels, eager to drag them back to Krypton, handing them over to the vile General Zod . No, Jor and Lara had lived under Krypton's oppressive boot for most of their lives; they refused to allow Kal to suffer the same fate.
Therefore, whatever inconsequential words Jor may have stumbled over stuck in his dry throat. But when they drove away from the orphanage, the backseat empty, an inconsolable Kal fighting to get away from the social worker, his pleading screams of "Don't leave me, Daddy," the words finally came, three and never enough: "I'm sorry, son."
TO BE CONTINUED