By Chris Mulder <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Rated G Submitted
Summary: We all know the story of the destruction of Krypton, and of the solitary journey of its last son. This fanfic examines that well-known tale through the senses and feelings of the baby, Kal-El … "the child who fell from the sky."
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me … I'm not making any money by using them in my story, etc., etc., etc.
Introduction: Infants "remember" more than we give them credit for. They also probably feel more and sense more than we'll ever realize because, as adults, we're unable to remember what it was like to be a baby. However, anyone who has ever had to look after very small children—and has any empathic ability—knows how they can pick up on another's bad moods or anxiety. Sometimes, the only thing being communicated is feelings … an imperfect, albeit potent, transmitter.
Even with his limited experience of life, the baby knew something was wrong. Things weren't as they had been, especially the voice. Her voice. The voice which had been imprinted upon his very cells almost from the moment of his conception. There was a tone in her voice now that he'd never heard before, and it evoked something inside him that disturbed him. He whimpered, not understanding what was happening, nor having the defenses to ward off these new, unpleasant emotions. The voice returned, more soothing this time, and her hands reached to pick him up and hold him close.
He knew the touch of those hands, for they'd been there at his birth, holding him and stroking him while the voice spoke to him. He'd turned his head, trying to follow the sound of that voice, and had seen her for the first time. A creature of light, that's what he'd seen her as. His birth-vision blurry, he couldn't distinguish each of her features, but light seemed to be all around her as he'd looked up at her. This was the being who belonged to the voice he'd heard all those months. She had begun singing softly to him, holding him close, her love for him evident in her sweet voice. That was how his soul would always remember her: with light, and song, and love.
That was in the past, however, and today his small world was growing dark with more troubling events. Sensing emotions from her that he'd never felt before, and not able to give names to them, let alone ward them off, he knew only that he wasn't content any longer. Something was wrong.
Eventually, though, he slept. Tired emotionally, he'd retreated to the solace of sleep, only to have those disturbing feelings follow him into his dreams. He awoke, crying, and soon the other voice was there—the deeper, more controlled voice—and the other hands were picking him up. The child knew the difference between the two pairs of hands, even if he couldn't have articulated it. There was strength in both, but not from the same source. Her hands were strong because of love, but his strength came from courage. That courage now came into play; making the voice comforting, and the child felt protected once again. This time, when nourishment was offered, he was able to accept it because his world had been righted.
Those noises were back again, jolting his bed and startling him. His arms and legs jerked in a primordial response to the sensations, and he began to cry, but only half-heartedly. He was almost used to the shaking and rattling now, just as he had become accustomed to the nearly constant bleeps, whirs and static from the machines in the room around him. Nevertheless, her hands came and touched him, lightly, on his stomach and on his head. Her face leaned towards his, smiling and talking to him. He grinned up at her, at the face he loved more than any other in his life. He wanted her to hold him, but she stayed only long enough to make sure he had stopped crying and then she disappeared.
Finding himself alone he looked around him, something he'd had to do a lot of recently. Not that he could see much from his current position: the ceiling, and some of the lights which blinked on the machines near him—but each time he looked at them, there were new things to discover, so he didn't really mind. He waved his arms and legs at the object suspended just above his bed, and the shiny, metallic tendrils which hung from it seemed to be waving back as they moved with each slight breeze in the room. This was exceedingly entertaining, so he and the object waved to each other until he fell asleep.
He awoke when he felt himself being lifted from the bed. Her hands and arms held him to her tightly. She brought his face close to hers and kissed him, over and over. She was murmuring that particular sound she always used around him, "Kal-El … Kal-El." Her voice broke as she uttered the sounds, and he felt something wet on his face. He moved his head restlessly, distressed by feelings he could not understand as well as by the fear, longing and sadness he could hear in her voice. Her voice should be singing to him, and he began to cry for the singing.
The other hands took him from her, and the deep voice made shushing noises in a tone that was both calming and authoritative. The child gradually stopped crying, and brought his fist to his mouth, seeking comfort from within since there seemed to be all too little of it from without at the moment. He felt the large hands lay him back in his bed, and he whimpered in protest. This wasn't right. For the first time in his life, the hands had failed to solace him completely. He had never felt so alone, and he whimpered more loudly.
One of her hands touched him briefly, gently caressing his head, then it was withdrawn. Something was put over the top of his bed. He could see her face still, but it was more blurry now, and her voice sounded odd. In amongst all the sounds she made, he heard the "Kal-El" sound again, and then … nothing, except some clicks and snaps as more things were put around his bed. It was darker now, and his bed began to vibrate slightly. This was something new and, along with everything else that had happened, it was too much for the child to handle. He began to cry in earnest now … wanting her touch, needing her voice, craving the security of her love. His cry was drowned out by the roar of an engine, as the vibrations grew more intense.
There were sounds all around him—sounds indicative of destruction on an enormous scale—but he was hardly aware of them. His heart was breaking. What did he care for explosions and cataclysms? His world wasn't made up of grand governments or gleaming metropolises or brilliant scientific discoveries, but of loving touches, tender smiles and sweet songs, and they were being denied him.
A change in the sounds the engine was making went almost unnoticed by him, except that, as they abated somewhat, another sound was able to make itself heard. A gentle warmth enfolded his bed, and a rocking motion began which helped to gradually calm him, and then he was able to hear more clearly. It was her voice—the same, and yet different—singing to him. It was the song she had sung when she rocked him to sleep; it was the song she had sung at his birth. The lights on the consoles around him began to waver before his eyes as he listened to the song. The rocking of his bed wasn't quite like being rocked in her arms, nor was the smell in the air as sweet as her scent had been, but at least he had the song he'd been crying for. At least her voice was there, singing him to sleep.
He was jolted awake by the shaking and jarring of his bed. It was almost as bad as it had been just before he'd fallen asleep. Stretching and twisting, he bumped his arms, legs, and feet against objects at the edge of his bed—something he couldn't have done before he fell asleep. He couldn't move much, though, because he was being restrained in some way, which was frustrating him and making him cry. He cried for what seemed like a long time, while the noises around him grew louder and the movements of his bed became more and more agitated. No one came in answer to his cries.
Finally, suddenly, with a last bump or two, his bed came to halt. The abruptness of the total and complete lack of sound and motion surprised him, and he stopped crying, waiting expectantly for her hands and voice to claim him once again. But still, no one came.
She was his universe, and he wanted her. Keening softly, he mourned.
A series of noises outside his bed distracted him. Rustlings, followed by some sharp clickings made him turn his head back and forth as he followed the progress of the sounds. Eventually, they were down near his feet. He heard another click, felt a cool breeze blow across his bare legs at the same time as the body restraints magically disappeared. There was a voice, then two voices: a "her" voice and a "him" voice, but not the ones he'd always known. Faces came into view, smiled at him and made sympathetic sounds. A hand reached out to touch his. He grasped at a finger, clutching it tightly, and got an encouraging response from the faces. This was all well and good, but he wanted more. He wanted holding, and caressing, and he wanted the song.
He also wanted out! His face crumpled in frustrated despair, and the "her" voice became concerned. Hands reached to pick him up and arms cuddled him close, wrapping the blanket more securely around him. He stared at the "her" face above him, pondering it. Not like the "she" he remembered, but the eyes were glowing with love and the smile was tender with sympathy. She was murmuring to him in a tone of voice he recognized, even if there were no recognizable sounds. He reached up a hand to her face and she gently took it into her own, and kissed it. He smiled at the sensation of her lips against his tiny fingers. Here was a feeling he knew.
Her face stayed turned towards him as he felt himself being moved. There was the sound of another engine, and more bumping and jolting, but this time he wasn't alone. *She* was with him, smiling at him and talking to him, caressing his head in the way he knew and liked. Another, deeper, voice spoke, too, but the baby's attention was mostly for her. There were a couple of stops and starts along this journey, but he didn't mind because she stayed with him.
Eventually, the bumpy, noisy ride came to an end. There was light, and warmth, and comforting smells. He was given something warm to drink which he enjoyed very much, even though the method of delivery was one that was foreign to him. As soon as he'd thoroughly explored the surface of the container with his hands, he began to look about while he drank. New colors and shapes were all around him, as well as the new smells, but he frequently returned his attention to her, needing a constant in this sea of new experiences.
His hunger sated, he was picked up by other hands and carried away from her. At first the child cried, feeling bereft, but the deep voice was soothing and the large hands were confident, yet gentle, as they patted his back. Also, there were more new things to look at because he was being carried all around. To a child who'd been confined in a small space for an extended period of time, this was a delight. But even fun excursions can be tiring, and soon the baby's eyelids were drooping, his head finding a perfect pillow on the man's shoulder.
The process of being put into clean clothes woke him slightly, but when she picked him up again and cradled him, his protests lost all their conviction and he snuggled close to her chest. Feeling more secure than he had for a long time, he was just about to slip over the edge into a deeper sleep when he felt himself being lowered. He opened his eyes to see walls around him and something over his head. It didn't matter that these walls were lacy and white instead of metallic and blinking, he screamed in memory of fear, loss and loneliness. Her hand patted his chest, and her face hovered over his, murmuring consoling sounds, but nothing could stop his cries. Within his being were memories of another, much-loved hand, which had reached to touch him and was never felt again.
The new "she" picked him back up, holding him and rocking him gently back and forth. The man, too, was there, stroking his head and talking softly to him. Gradually, the baby quieted down, but that nameless fear was still there, just beyond the horizon of his knowing. She shifted him to her shoulder and he put his arm around her neck as far as he could reach, holding on to her … not wanting her to leave him. He heard a sad, sympathetic sound from her, and felt the man's arms reach around both of them. With his face buried in her shoulder the baby couldn't see their expressions, but their hands and voices were there, reassuring and loving him.
Eventually there was movement again, as she carried him somewhere. Then he felt himself being lowered once more, and began to whimper. But, instead of the bed with the walls, he found himself lying next to the man on a big, soft surface. The man made funny faces at him while his voice created funny, new sounds. Delighted with this unprecedented turn of events, the baby grinned and chortled, which seemed to encourage the man to make even more noises. Soon, she joined them, pulling a covering up over them all. The baby smiled to see her return, and reached his hand towards her. Just as before, she held it and kissed his fingers. Then, drawing him close to her, she sheltered him in the curve of her own body, talking softly to him. From this new position, he could see the man's face and he watched as his large hand moved forward. The man gently placed one of his fingers into the baby's small hand, and kept it there. Holding on to one another, they fell asleep together—the beginning of a new bond.
Hunger woke him, just as the sun was coming up. He'd hardly begun to fret before she was there, smiling at him and picking him up. She talked to him happily the whole time she was cleaning him and feeding him. There was, besides the warm drink, some soft foods which were offered to him on a spoon. This tool was unfamiliar to him, but it didn't take long for him to catch on to its advantages. In the middle of his breakfast, the man appeared, with smiles and friendly sounds to share with him. Once again, after his meal was finished, the man took him for a walk, patting his back and showing him all the new things around him.
The walk concluded, she came to reclaim him. She removed his clothing and then lowered him into something warm and wet. He'd never experienced anything quite like it but, after the surprise had worn off, he found himself enjoying it very much. He laughed, waving his arms and kicking his feet, only to accidentally splash the liquid up onto his face. She laughed and kissed him, gently blotting the wetness from his face. This was so much fun that he had to do it all again, and again … and again.
The rest of the day was full of new experiences: feeling the sun on his face for the first time, hearing the sounds that the different farm animals made, tasting new foods. Through it all, she was there—smiling at him, holding him, and making affectionate sounds. Her face was as loving, her hands as gentle and her voice as soft and sweet as he could have wished for, and he grew more contented with each passing hour.
When he became sleepy mid-way through the afternoon, she held him and rocked him as she whispered to him. In amongst all the sounds he didn't know, was one he almost thought he recognized: "Kla-knt." He fell asleep hearing the "Kla" sound being repeated wonderingly as she held him close and stroked his small head.
The sun shone just as brightly the next day, but she didn't take him out into it. Instead, she carried him with her everywhere inside the house, including and especially to the windows which looked out over the front yard and drive.
Something was wrong, and he felt a familiar dread growing within him.
A strident ringing interrupted her pacing. She shifted him to her hip so she could reach for something which hung on the wall. As she talked into it, the child grasped at the curly cord which hung from it. Playing with it distracted him for a time. Eventually, though, she put the thing back on the wall, extricated his fingers from the cord and took him to the window again.
The man came in from outside, a worried expression on his face also. They began to talk, their voices conveying the fear, longing and sadness that was within them. She pointed to the thing on the wall, then held the baby even tighter, as the fear in her voice escalated. Kissing him, and saying the "Kla" sound over and over, she held him close to her, triggering a memory within him and making him whimper in dread. The man reached to take him from her, and his crying instantly intensified. As did hers. So, instead of taking the child, the man put his arms around them both. This was different than what had happened to him before, with the other "she," and the child was comforted. It didn't last, however.
He felt her arms tense around him, and he raised his head from the shelter of her shoulder. Both the man and the woman were looking out of the window again, staring at some men in the yard. The men came together and started walking towards the house. The child could hear fear in her voice again as she spoke. The man put his arms around the two of them once more and began to shepherd them away from the windows, and into the bedroom. He helped her to sit in the rocking chair and kissed her.
There was a knocking sound, loud and intrusive, which caused her to gasp in fright. The child made small sounds of distress in response to her obvious fear, and put a hand to her face, as he'd done before. She looked away from the man, and down at the child, taking his hand into her own, kissing it and then rubbing it lightly against her cheek. There was a smile on her face now, in spite of her tears, and the child relaxed a little. He felt a kiss touch the top of his head, and glanced from her to see the man walking away, then watched as he left the room, waving briefly to them before shutting the door behind him.
The room was quiet and still, but not peaceful. She began to rock the chair back and forth, but in a quick, choppy way, which conveyed her uneasiness to the child once again. He whimpered in protest and squirmed in her arms, wanting to remove himself from the turmoil he could feel, but not understand. Almost absentmindedly, she shifted him to her shoulder as she rose from the chair and walked over to stand near the door. She patted his back and moved her body back and forth, alternating whispering to him and humming under her breath. He heard the "Kla" sound several times, except it was starting to sound more like, "Klar."
After a little while, she moved away from the door and began to walk around the room, still patting his back and making soothing sounds. The child would have enjoyed the attention, if she had been more relaxed. Instead he kept changing his position within her arms—wanting comfort and wanting her, but both weren't available in one package at the moment. Occasionally, he could hear muffled noises from beyond the room, but they meant nothing to him.
She took him back to the rocking chair and sat down, still humming to him and patting his back. This time the rocking was more gentle, her hands less shaky, and he began to settle down. When she shifted him back onto her lap, he didn't protest, but snuggled close to her, reaching out a hand to finger the round, disk-like things on the front of her clothing. These had been entirely new to him the first time he'd noticed them, and he hadn't yet lost his fascination for them.
The room was finally peaceful.
A few moments later the voices from beyond the room ceased. There was the sound of a door closing, and steps upon the back porch. An engine could be heard starting up outside, and then the man came back into the bedroom. He walked over to the rocking chair and knelt beside it. Leaning forward he kissed her and the child, placing his arms around them both. The child watched as the man talked to her, and he saw her begin to smile again. Her face felt wet when she kissed him, but there was joy in her voice, so the baby didn't mind. She brought his hand to her lips and kissed it, then leaned towards the man, touching her forehead to his with a happy sigh.
She kept him close the rest of that day, but the edginess he'd felt earlier was nearly gone. Occasionally, she'd look out the windows, but mostly she was herself again.
The baby almost fell asleep during his supper; he was so worn out from the excitement of the day. He partially woke up when the man lifted him and began cleaning his face, submitting sleepily to this intrusion, but was then ready to make himself comfortable on the man's broad shoulder. Instead, she took him and held him while the man put on his hat again and opened the door. All three of them went out onto the porch; it was dark now, and a little cool. The combination of the change of scenery, and the evening air served to re-awaken the child.
The man walked down the porch steps and towards another building. He came back carrying some objects which he put into the back of the truck. Once he had everything arranged, he returned to the porch with a hug and kiss for both the woman and the child. He said something to her in a reassuring tone, ruffling the baby's hair with his large—but gentle—hand, then he got in the truck and drove away.
The baby laid his head down on her shoulder, watching the truck with her until it disappeared. The sound of the motor was carried back to them for a few more seconds, but eventually it, too, disappeared, leaving them alone in the quiet, and the dark.
She let him play in the funny, warm liquid again and, afterwards, put him in clean clothes and smoothed out his hair. Her gentle attentions were very welcomed after the disturbing emotions from earlier in the day. Finally, they settled into the rocking chair. She offered him nourishment from the new container, which he accepted thirstily, watching her face while he drank.
Whenever she looked down at him, she would smile for him and make loving sounds—he heard the "Klar" sound several times. But, when she wasn't looking directly at him, her face lost its smile and the child could hear the same, tuneless humming he'd heard before. He stopped drinking, whimpering a little, and instantly her attention was all for him again. She held him closer and the humming stopped, being replaced by other, more reassuring, sounds. Her voice floated around him, and her arms enveloped him, and his world was right again. The container reappeared, and he was able to return to the all-important task of taking nourishment.
She rocked him, and fed him, and cuddled him until he fell asleep. And, still, the man had not returned.
The man was there the next morning, however, playing with him and holding him high up above his head. Squealing with laughter, the baby delighted in this new game. The woman, too, was laughing, especially when the man pulled her close and began to dance both her and the baby around the room.
Later on she carried him outside again, taking him with her to various places around the yard. Sometimes she laid him on a blanket on the ground near her, and he would watch what she did, listening to her as she talked to him, content to be with her.
When he awoke from his nap, there were new things to explore. First was the seat with wheels. She put him in it and took him for a ride all through the house. The unfamiliar motion wasn't quite to his liking at first, mostly because he couldn't see her, but she kept talking to him and soon he forgot his misgivings in the joy of exploration.
The other new thing was the huge box with sticks and boards in it. She put his new seat near where the man was playing with the sticks—arranging them on the floor and putting them together. This was fascinating to watch, especially when he would hold out a piece for the child to see and touch. During the time that this was going on, she walked around fetching things, including the rocking chair, and putting them in various places around the room. Gradually, the new thing with sticks took shape, until the man could roll it into a corner and put a large, flat object inside. Now she took over, arranging the new object to her satisfaction, and then picked up the child.
Carrying him, she showed him the new stick-thing, letting him touch it and point to it. The next thing he knew, the child felt himself being lowered into it and he began to fuss about this unexpected change in his circumstances. Instead of picking him up once again, however, she dropped down beside him and he found that he could see her between the sticks. The man looked over the sticks and grinned down at him, reaching in to ruffle the child's hair and make his fingers dance on his tummy. Before he'd had time to get bored with his new surroundings, they were lifting him out again.
The rest of the day he was brought in and out of the room—to see what was there, to be rocked, or to be lowered into the stick-thing. Both the man and the woman were very happy about all these changes, and their excitement communicated itself to the child. By the time he'd had his fun time in the warm liquid and was ready for the last drink of the day, it seemed perfectly natural to be carried into the new room. The man came in with them, and stayed long enough to see them settled in the rocking chair, then he kissed the child's forehead and silently left.
The room was peaceful—just him and her. She rocked him gently, holding him close to her as she fed him. They'd done this before, but this time it was … different, somehow. Any tension he'd felt in her earlier had gone. There was just this sanctuarial peace, as if she knew they were safe now, and the child felt it, too. The fears he'd brought with him receded further into the past, and were walled out by the love and caring that were now his.
A lamp near the chair cast a soft light upon her features and made her hair look golden. He watched her—this creature of light—while he drank, studying every nuance of the face he now loved more than any other. Her voice was being imprinted upon his very cells, and her touch he would forever know … even in a dark room. His life was intertwined with hers now, just as hers was with his, and it felt so right.
She began humming softly to him—not like the earlier, rather tuneless, sounds she'd made when she was nervous—this was sweet and beguiling, and he paused in his feeding to smile at her. She smiled in response, saying that "Klar" sound again, then went back to humming. He lifted up a hand to her and, as she always did, she took it and kissed his fingers. Then she brought his small hand up a little further, and held it to her cheek for a moment—sharing her love, and showing him how to do the same.
Safe in her arms, he seemed to have everything he needed, everything he'd journeyed so far to find. Then, unexpectedly—because he'd forgotten that he'd given up hope of ever getting it—she gave him the one thing still missing from this new world of his …
She sang him a song.
This story would not have been possible without the wonderful work of the L&C writers, cast and crew who were involved in the making of "Strange Visitor," "The Foundling," "Tempus Fugitive," and "Never on Sunday." Their words, ideas and portrayal of Clark's early months were the inspiration for this piece.