By Ikuko <email@example.com>
Submitted: November 2002
Summary: When dealing with alien species, some of the most obvious assumptions might be dead wrong.
For the record: I was not sane when I wrote this. This is an attempt of the most ridiculous assumption I can come up with at the moment. No offence intended to the true-blue fans. Please, do not kill me. I wrote it in 40 minutes. Read at your own risk.
Clark woke up with a vague feel of well-being. Something good had happened just before he went to sleep, he was sure. Lois stirred by his side. Yes, everything was right with the the world. But there was something extra. What was it? A baby! Clark's eyes shot open.
They'd found the baby yesterday, on the steps of the brownstone, and there was a letter with it that said that the baby belonged to them! And a blanket with the El shield.
He swung his legs off the bed and moved to the old crib he'd fetched from Kansas last night.
He stopped dead when he realized that there was no rapid heartbeat coming from the crib. No breathing sounds, either. Near panic, he rushed to the crib. It was empty! No baby, no blue blanket. It was impossible! Who would take the baby? His parents were still asleep in the guest room; he could hear the even breathing of two people through the wall. But no baby!
"Lois!" he cried out.
"Clark? What is it?" she mumbled, opening her eyes groggily.
"The baby… Lois! It's gone!"
"What? Where? Did somebody break in?" She was up on her knees and ready for action in one second flat.
"I don't know. I didn't hear anything, and there are no unusual smells. Lois, there isn't even a smell of a baby." He bent over the crib and took another sniff. "Nothing. Like it was never here. Am I going crazy? There was a baby yesterday, right?"
"Wrong." The sound came from the window.
Clark whipped around to face the last people he'd expected to see this morning.
"Zara? Lord Trey? What are you doing here? Is there trouble on New Krypton?"
"Everything is as well as be expected. We came because you called for help."
"What? I never…"
"We Kryptonians are telepathic. Your anguish reached us through space, and we came to help."
"Is it about the baby?" Lois interjected.
"But I just found out that it is missing. It might still be in in the house somewhere. I haven't felt true anguish yet. When did you…?" Clark was almost stuttering in his amazement.
"It is nowhere in the house. It never existed."
"But we saw it, yesterday…"
"I saw it too." Lois was standing next to Clark now, full of indignation. "Will you cut the crap and explain what you mean by all this nonsense?"
"Of course, Lois. We did not mean to upset you. Kal El may look like one of you, but Kryptonian physiology and mental states are very different. In our brief previous encounter, the situation was too desperate to elaborate on the fineer points of our development and biology. Kal El is very young by our standards. A time period of twenty-nine Earth revolutions around its star is barely the age of sexual maturity for us. Kal El had just reached the age when the parental urge becomes insuppressible in young Kryptonians. The frustration of not being able to produce a child reached its peak and forced hallucinations on Kal El's mind. There was no baby."
"But I saw it," Lois said incredulously.
"As I said, we Kryptonians are telepathic. Earth people are not, generally, but an extremely powerful signal can reach your minds. Kal El's desperation for a baby was so great that it projected his own illusion to the minds of those who surrounded Kal El."
"You mean, I wanted the baby so much I imagined it and forced Lois and my parents see it too?"
"Yes. In fact, the mental signal was so strong it reached us on New Krypton. We knew that the time had come. You were not ready a year ago. But now it is time. You have to get married and have children, as your nature commands you to."
"Look, we had this talk last time. I am already married to Lois, and she is the only one I want to have children with. If it is impossible, we'll find a way to adopt. But no more talk about finding a wife for me! Who is it this time?"
"Why, Zara, of course. That's why she came with me now." Trey's voice was gentle, he knew enough of earth traditions to anticipate a burst of indignation from Lois and Kal El. He was right — at least on Lois' account.
Clark was speechless. But Lois was in the full swing.
"What? Didn't she marry Ching last year? What happened? Where is Ching? Did you dump him? Is he alive? You… you… black widow!"
Trey was a little stunned to be under such an attack, but Zara put a comforting hand on Lois' shoulder.
"Ching is all right. Ching is very happy in with our marriage, but at present could not come due to health concerns, you see."
"Then what is it all about? And what is wrong with him?"
"Nothing is wrong. The marriage was successfully consummated with Zara's assistance, and her role in it is done. That's the reason for our friend's's delicate state of health at present. You see, Ching is expecting.
"Did I understand you correctly?" Lois was so amazed she could barely talk. "You mean Ching is pregnant? But he is a man!"
"It is not so, my dear. You see, we a are quite different from Earth people. You only have two sexes. We have three. Two are what you could call male and female. The third one has no name in earth languages, and could be called "it". It plays crucial role in every marriage, but only at the first stage of consummation. In a way, it is like an earth midwife, only it is physiologically necessary for both birth and conception. It makes fertilization possible and donates enough genetic material to be stored in the female body and last a lifetime, a lot like in earth bees. However, after these functions are performed, it is no longer needed and can assist the next couple in line"
"You mean Ching was an "it"?"
"No, Lois. You misunderstood me completely. Ching is a "she". Zara is an "it". Now that Ching's marriage is fulfilled, Zara is free to assist Kal El in the same way."
"I don't believe it! Ching was a girl! He looked like a man to me."
"That's the point. We Kryptonians look like humans — in female and in "it" form. But our females look like earth males. And the midwife's gender looks a lot like earth females, at least when fully dressed. There are some anatomical differences, but they are covered by clothes."
"And you, Trey? Are you a female too?"
"Of course. I've already given birth to three children, and they are grown now. My own marriage was also assisted by Zara. There are very few fertile midwives born, about one per thousand births, but without them our race would die. Zara is the only one in our city. The development of an it is a delicate process, and all too often is aborted, producing a useless drone, sterile and with limited mental ability. They serve as concubines and servants. The fully developed midwife is a rare treasure of the clan. That's why Zara is the only one you have seen in the palace that looked like a female, other than concubines."
"Wait a sec. If all the men we saw in the palace are in fact females, then where are your males?"
"Our society is matriarchal. Our males are not human in form they are eternal space wanderers, coming to the planet surface only on rare occasions. You did not see one during your stay in the palace. Due to the difficulties of translation into English, and the desperation of the moment, we did not see fit to explain the irrelevant details to you at the time. We called ourselves in terms understandable for you, and did not realize then that what we call "she" is a "he" for you. We also were not able to explain the difference between female and midwife in the marriage. We called Zara a wife, when it would be more correct to call her a mid-wife, an assistant in conceiving and birth."
"We realize that language is a complex entity and some confusion is unavoidable. Even on the Earth, there are languages with a possibility of such misunderstanding. For example, in Hebrew the world that sounds "he" actually means "she".
"Oh, who cares about Hebrew!" Patience had never been Lois' strong point. "What about the message that Jor and Lara left for Clark?"
"Kal El's mother, Jor, was of a high status on Krypton. The midwife, Lara, was very attached to little Kal El because he was the first child she assisted with. In the face of Krypton destruction, she stayed with Jor and helped him to save Kal El from imminent death. They appointed Zara as Kal El's future mid-wife to ensure that the clan would not die out with the explosion of Krypton."
"You mean… Clark and I…" The thought was too terrible to comprehend, even in her own mind. "Clark is… But he has all parts of a man."
"It is quite a different process on Krypton." Trey was clearly embarrassed.
"Kal El is a very beautiful Kryptonian maiden, both in soul and appearance. She will be a very desirable bride." But Trey's words were falling on deaf ears. Lois slowly slid down on the floor in the dead faint.
"I thought she'd put two and together sooner." Zara was looking down at the unconscious Lois with mild disapproval. "I am glad you are taking it more maturely, Kal El."
But Zara was wrong. Clark opened his mouth once, trying to say something, and then again, but no sound came. Finally, with a superhuman effort Clark uttered, "You mean… I am what?" and the shock was too much for the superman — or was it the supergirl? The anguished brown eyes rolled up blankly, and Clark crumbled on the floor next to Lois.
The two New-Kryptonians sighed simultaneously and prepared for a long wait.