By Mona <DrLu3@yahoo.com>
Submitted: November 2007
Summary: Tensions and tempers flare and a 22-year-old mystery is revealed after Wayne Irig witnesses Superman and Martha Kent acting very familiar with one another following the Man of Steel saving his mother from a car wreck.
A huge thank you to my GE, Caroline, for her editing work and perseverance to make sure I saw her changes and suggestions in spite of Microsoft Word's lack of cooperation!
"Darn Jonathan and his love of this ancient truck!" Martha Kent shouted as she struggled to navigate her suddenly brakeless Ford to the side of the road. Over the last few months, the truck's brakes had hinted a few times that soon they would give out altogether. Each time, Jonathan had responded with a quick fix followed by some bullheaded words of assurance to Martha that "Blue Betty" still had some life left in her. Well, at this moment, Martha could only hope that *she* still had some life yet to live, for Betty sure was being uncooperative in slowing down.
Martha had thought she was smart in convincing herself to take a quick detour on the way home to the supermarket to get a few extra groceries should the weather predictions hold out and a storm arrive the next day. The darkness that now surrounded her, however, revealed that her "quick trip" had not been so quick after all. Apparently, living nearly sixty years in Smallville had failed to teach her that it was impossible to simply run in and out of anywhere! First, there was her longtime friend Barbara, then an acquaintance from school, followed by Dan Smith, the market's longtime owner himself; and just like that time had slipped away, taking all but a few last vestiges of mid November light with it. But one of the many advantages of very rural living was that Smith's was less than fifteen minutes away from the farm and she would soon be safely home. That was her plan, anyway, until the truck had decided to change things.
After what felt like an eternity, Martha had succeeded in slowing the truck down enough so that in just another minute, when she would approach the small hill that normally would indicate the turnoff for the farm, she'd be able to use it as a brace. Her goal in sight, Martha breathed a quick sigh of relief. At that moment, however, the heavens opened up and Martha saw her life flash before her eyes.
Back in Metropolis, Clark was finishing up a piece on a boatyard scandal when his thoughts suddenly turned to his mother. He and Lois had seen his parents only a few days ago for dinner so he knew they were fine with the exception of needing to prepare for an upcoming storm. He glanced over at the picture of his parents he kept on his desk, smiled, and was about to get back to work when he heard it — or perhaps as her son, more correctly *felt* that his mother needed his help and NOW.
"Oh Clark," sobbed Martha, clutching onto her son as if her heart was about to break, "I thought I'd never see you again, let alone Lois or your father."
Clark had flown faster than he ever could remember flying before and it hadn't take very long for his telescopic vision to zoom onto a familiar blue pickup truck that was careening straight toward a large hill. Within seconds he had stopped the runaway truck, carried it over to the shoulder of the road, and then pulled out his frenzied mother who had wasted no time in collapsing in his strong arms.
It then took Superman a few long moments to calm down himself! After all, this was *his* mother whom he had just saved quite possibly from death. And now that she was safe, the reality of what had almost happened hit him like a ton of Kryptonite! Therefore it was now *his* turn to take refuge in the arms of his beloved mother. Mother and son held fast to one another, neither of them realizing that Wayne Irig, who also happened to be on his way home, was witnessing the rather unusual sight of Martha being held and apparently comforted by Superman himself.
"Come on, Mom," Superman laughed, as he started to pick Martha up. "Let's get you safely home before you get sick. I'll come back for Betty afterwards."
"I have a mind to have you build a dog house around that old truck! Then, if your father still adores it so, he can live in it!" Martha announced with nary a trace of joking in her voice.
Superman merely chuckled, made sure he had his mother tightly, and turned them around not more than inch for take off, when the sight of Wayne Irig before him nearly felled the Man of Steel. It took Martha a few seconds to realize they had yet to shoot up into the air, but when she saw why, her mother's heart, the very heart that her son lay at the core of, felt like it was breaking. Had the secret of the Kent family, which in its own way had *become* the Kent family — or much of its life source, that is — just died thanks to the eyes of their longtime neighbor?
Wayne Irig, to give him credit, had at first thought he was hallucinating. When a few minutes later, he clearly saw Martha Kent and Superman looking awfully comfortable and familiar with one another, he almost wished he were. But then again, perhaps nearly twenty-two years later, his own family's buried secret, which had unbeknownst to the Kents nearly caused the Irig family to consider moving all those many years ago, had at last come to the surface. Whether he liked it or not, judging by both Superman and Martha's sudden haste to distance themselves from one another when he was first noticed by the Man of Steel, that time had arrived.
Martha had always maintained a sense of awe and wonder at how instantly her son could metamorphosize from his public Clark persona — kind, laid back, slightly goofy as well as clumsy at times — into the larger-than-life yet stoic superhero that the universe daily saw him as. The millisecond she was faced by the reality of Wayne's probable discovery, she understood. It turned out both she and Jonathan, over the course of Clark's life, had in their own way been forced to take on the exact same challenge. Like parents, like son she supposed. Well, one thing was for sure, both she and Clark had better now put their collective "acting" skills into perfect practice.
"Wayne! What are you doing out in this storm?" Martha managed to ask quite steadily as she approached her longtime friend and neighbor. "And wasn't I beyond lucky that Superman here," Martha gestured toward the hero, who had wordlessly joined her, "came to my rescue?"
Wayne merely continued to stare speechlessly at the duo. It was as if his tongue was also doing its part to prolong the inevitable by feeling wooden and dumbstruck. Shaking himself, he covered Martha with his umbrella and slowly questioned, "Are you sure you are all right? I was heading home when out of nowhere, your old truck came barreling down the road, nearly throwing the gravel road right into my windshield, I might add, and just when I thought my dear friend Martha Kent was a goner, Superman flew in and saved the day."
An unspoken, "And then what did you see?" shouted into the storm like a stampede of elephants thundering down the plain.
"I am always happy to be of service, Mr. Irig, especially when it comes to such good people as Mrs. Kent here. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to fly her home now. I'd rather she, and you, too, for that matter, not get soaked any longer. I will come back for her old truck afterwards. Thank you for your concern in stopping, and drive safely home yourself." Superman finished as though all he was doing was directing a neighbor home and out of the storm!
Before anything else could happen that might further destroy his family, Superman gave the startled farmer a last wave and then in a blink had himself and his mother soaring above the stormy sky home. Or to the home they both had known until this very moment. Like their family, that, too, might now be lost forever.
For her part, Martha remained silent. She didn't dare to even look at Superman let alone acknowledge his plan at all. She had said good-bye to Wayne over her shoulder, and that was that. Or so she wished. This day was becoming eerily similar to a fateful day a couple years ago when her only son was killed to the world in a casino. Only a miraculous save by the Man of Steel had resurrected Clark that time. Was there anyone who would do so for his family on this occasion? As their respective feet touched the ground, a foot or so from the farmhouse door, Martha silently prayed that someone could.
Martha had taken no more than a couple of steps inside the house when Superman very quickly and quietly informed her that he would be back in less than a minute with the truck.
"Martha, you're soaked!" Jonathan exclaimed in utter disbelief and concern as he saw his wife standing frozen in the entryway of their house. "You also look as if you have seen a ghost."
Martha was absolutely struck speechless and apparently motionless as well, as before she knew it, she was being led into the warm house by her husband who immediately began drying her off.
"Superman…saving me…that damn truck of yours…Wayne Irig. Wayne Irig!" Martha suddenly snapped back to life, although judging by the whiteness of her face, both Jonathan and Superman, who had just arrived, would not have been blamed for thinking otherwise.
"Superman?" Jonathan took in the hero's sudden presence with a jolt of apprehension. He looked from Martha to Superman and back again before his brain woke up from its shock and said, "I mean Clark, Son, what in the world is going on here? First your mother comes home soaked to the bone and babbling incoherently about you saving her from possibly a truck and or Wayne Irig? And then, not minutes later, here you are having silently crept into the house, looking for lack of a better description like your life might be over. Will someone please fill me in, before anything else happens?" Jonathan demanded curiously as he watched Clark dry off his mother via his heat vision.
"Hi Dad," Superman began as he automatically began to spin into Clark. Halfway through, he stopped and cast a questioning glance at his mother.
"I just don't know, Clark. I just don't know." Martha replied, sinking down into a recliner.
"I guess we had better hurry it up and figure this out or pretend we are not home." Clark, half-dressed as the superhero, replied with a grimace. "Wayne is at the door."
"Couldn't you just fly us all out the back window to some deserted island?" Martha quivered, trying to maintain some humor.
"If the two of you are done, may I let our old friend Wayne in, or are we still having to hide from him?" Jonathan asked in a stage whisper. The older man had no clue as to what was going on.
Clark and Martha responded by exchanging quick looks, and Jonathan could have sworn his son had said something to her, for out of the corner of his eye he saw his wife nod almost imperceptibly. Before he knew what was happening, he found himself being flown up the stairs at super speed into the bedroom he and Martha shared. He could hear his wife answering the door down below.
"All right, Son. Before you and your mother manage to give me heart failure, what is going here? And why do both of you look as if you have seen a ghost or your life flash before your eyes?" Jonathan managed to ask, as he sat down on the bed. Clark meanwhile was pacing back and forth so quickly that Jonathan was worried that the carpet might go up in flames any second.
"Wayne knows. Or Mom and I think he knows anyway." Clark answered in voice that was barely audible.
"Knows what?" Jonathan humored his son by playing along and asking.
Suddenly, Clark fully spun into his alter ego and stood trembling before his father. However, he was not known as the Man of Steel for nothing, for seconds later, he had shaken off whatever had temporarily spooked him and looked once more like himself — his old self anyway. "Dad, any second now, Mom, with Mr. Irig most likely in tow, will be up here demanding answers, so I have to make this explanation quick. About half an hour ago I saved Mom from crashing head on into the hill that we turn off from the main road to come home. After I pulled her out and made sure she was safe, we both were, and still *are*, very emotional at her near brush with death. So much so that my super ears, or rather super eyes, failed to see Wayne Irig had witnessed the whole thing. Dad! Wayne saw *me* — no, Superman — holding onto Martha Kent like a life preserver! It didn't take my super eyes or elevated senses to realize that while our old neighbor may have been in shock from the unexpected sight, he clearly knew what he had seen and was not about to forget it. At least without having his questions answered."
Superman's speech seemed to drain the life right out of his father, for Jonathan suddenly slumped over onto his bed, and it took his super son to steady him. At last the older man understood. His worst fear apparently had become a reality. But even more than that, *he*, and he alone, due to his stubbornness and insistence that his old truck remain in his life, had come within a super breath of losing the person who made up his life — his wife of nearly thirty-five years. Tears flooded Jonathan's eyes, and his body shook with guilt. He did not even hear his son, quietly comforting him and begging him to get it together, at least enough to be able to go downstairs and face their neighbor. Clark could hear his mother trying her damnedest to engage Wayne in small talk and forestall the inevitable of his asking for the truth.
"Clark," Jonathan slowly got out, "Your mother and I have long suspected that Wayne and Jan, may she rest in peace, wondered about us and the possible mystery we might be hiding."
A not completely surprised Clark dumbly nodded before he, was struck by a sudden inspirational jolt of lightening and said, "Hold that thought, Dad. I swear I will be back in less than two minutes. I…we…need Lois."
"So Clark did learn from his mistake a couple years ago in the casino and has gone to get Lois?" Martha quietly questioned from the doorway.
Jonathan nearly knocked his wife to the ground with the force of his embrace. "Martha," he cried, "I almost killed you."
"Yes, and immediately afterwards, the thought of killing, or at least banishing you to your truck forever, crossed my mind! I still have not forgiven you by any means. But right now, I need you more than ever and so does our son," Martha responded, once again showing her enormous strength of character.
"I will always need you both!" a familiar voice answered, as the elder Kents broke their embrace to see their son gliding into their open bedroom window with his wife in tow.
A super second later, all three were locked in each other's embrace, and an instant later Lois was enveloped in the hug, completing the circle.
Poor Wayne Irig, meanwhile, who had been banished to the living room with Martha's promise that she would be right back, was starting to crack under the strain and wanted nothing more than to either blurt his questions right out or magically erase them from his mind. One or the other had to happen and soon or the poor farmer would go crazy. He didn't want to intrude, especially on the privacy of his dear lifelong friends, but, in his heart, he knew that was the only way any of them could reclaim their lives after what had happened that afternoon. With that noble thought in mind, Wayne gulped, and began to head up the stairs.
"He's coming," Superman hissed.
"Do you want me to go hide in the bathroom?" Lois whispered, half-seriously.
"No point in that now. Hi Wayne," Jonathan miraculously got out with ease as his neighbor stood in the bedroom's doorway.
Wayne took in the sight of Superman, Martha, Jonathan and Lois Lane or rather *Kent*, standing before him, frozen in horror. Judging by their stricken faces, he knew it was up to him to break the silence at long last. Wayne gazed heavenward momentarily and muttered a few incomprehensible words before looking toward Superman and asking the very question the Kent family most feared. "Is it true then?"
Lois was ready. "Mad Dog Lane" had not been seen in quite some time. "Mad Dog Kent," however, was about to make her first appearance and would prove to be even more formidable.
"Hi Mr. Irig," Lois crooned soothingly. "How nice to see you again." Lois then walked over to the lifelike statue of the farmer and attempted to guide him away from the bedroom by saying, "I apologize that the Kents abandoned you up here. After saving Martha and making sure she was safely home, Superman knew his next task was to find Clark and bring him here. It did not take being made of steel to know that Jonathan Kent was in big trouble and might need his son to bail him out!" Lois risked a smile at the elder Kents and then continued to spin her tale. "You're wondering where I come in aren't you? That's simple. When Superman arrived at the Planet, I told him Clark was in the middle of extracting testimony from a very important witness to our latest case, and couldn't be disturbed for a while. Thus, it was decided that Superman would fly me to Smallville so that I could try and charm Martha into calming down before he would then return for Clark. So you see, there's no mystery — just a very simple explanation," Lois finished, grinning with confident satisfaction that she had indeed saved the day; or so she thought.
"Then why did Martha call Superman 'Clark'?" Wayne questioned, in a voice laced with both wonder and apology.
Lois opened her mouth to respond, but as she saw the sorrow and kindness in Wayne Irig's face as well as the despondent hope in the eyes of her family, she was forced to admit defeat. "He knows," Lois managed to reply before collapsing into a chair.
Superman could not help but glare at Wayne Irig before rushing to Lois' side. Lois sat up a little shakily and slowly sipped some cool water Martha had given her. Feeling a little recharged, Mad Dog Kent then demanded some answers from one Wayne Irig.
"Why don't we move back downstairs? Jonathan questioned. "I think we would all be more comfortable and there's no use hiding up here anymore," Jonathan finished wiping away a sudden tear.
Martha hugged her husband fiercely and as she kissed him quietly whispered, "It's all right. It *has* to be." And then with the courage and grace of only a *super* mom, Martha Kent walked over to a very forlorn yet still stoic Superman and drew him into her embrace of maternal love. "I love you, Son," Martha proudly said to the shocked superhero. "And now, for the first time in nearly thirty years, I get to let our neighbor know fully why."
"Martha…" Jonathan stammered, automatically falling into his mode of protecting his son's secret.
"You are luckier and more privileged than you might ever realize, Mr. Irig," Lois Kent solemnly thundered. "Never forget it."
"As long as I stand here breathing, Mrs. Kent, you can count on that," Wayne Irig dared to reply, while simultaneously staring at the superhero lest he, *lest Clark*, decide to come charging after him for finding out.
"Then let's go downstairs and, for lack of a better term, make ourselves 'comfortable' in the living room," Clark's voice surprisingly replied. "Yes, Mr. Irig, it's me," Clark sighed as the eyes of his family's neighbor froze upon him.
Wayne's eyes flooded with sudden tears as his memory recalled witnessing the impossible image of an eight-year-old Clark helping his father work on their red truck by lifting up the back of it. Neither Kent had suspected anyone had seen this feat and thought nothing of it until a few days later, during their routine Saturday night card game. After the other guests had left, Wayne once again brought up a taboo subject in the Kent Family household — namely just who was the long lost relative who appeared out of thin air to contact Martha and Jonathan with news of her son that she prayed the older couple would adopt. Wayne would never forget how for a fraction of a second, if even that, his friend's face paled and Martha, who had come into the kitchen, stood stock still. Whether it was magic or some other force at work, the Kents quickly recovered and even showed their neighbor a picture of a woman they claimed was Martha's long lost cousin Esther from California.
Wayne did not fully believe what he was told, but being an honorable man, he did not question the Kents; instead he related the event to his wife Jan when he got home. From then on, nothing was ever the same between the Irigs and Kents. On the surface they were the best of friends and neighbors, but deep down, both families knew, the lie that had been told had forever severed their once carefree ties.
"Wayne?" Martha gently questioned, as she was about to head downstairs, "Are you okay?"
"I just remembered," was all Wayne would respond as he started down the stairs.
"Remembered what?" Martha demanded as she took a seat next to her husband on the couch. Clark and Lois were sitting together on an adjacent love seat, leaving one of two chairs for their neighbor.
"How it started," Wayne answered with awe and sorrow.
"Mr. Irig," Lois began in a warning tone of voice, "Suffice it to say all of us, the Kents *especially*, are quite unnerved and on edge. None of us has any patience…" Lois trailed off, getting angrier and angrier.
"No disrespect intended, Mr. Irig, but I have to agree with my wife," Clark replied, taking Lois' hand in his own.
"Then let me explain," Wayne answered with surprising calmness, just as Jonathan was about to throw in his two cents.
"First, let me once again assure all of you that your secret shall go to the grave with me; I will never betray you. I might have to kill myself, if Jan's ghost did not do so for me, if I did," Wayne finished with a light laugh.
"Jan was certainly a wonderful woman and beloved friend," Martha returned.
"She was indeed," agreed Jonathan.
"But why do I sense a mysterious reason behind your mention of Jan's name?" Clark's super brain quickly countered.
"As all of you already know, Jan and I had two children, Henry and Katie, both of whom were nearly grown by the time Clark here arrived," Wayne began, easing into his story.
"I only have vague memories of actually talking with them a few times during my childhood. Sure I saw them around and during a holiday gatherings, but our conversations were few and far between. How are they doing, anyway?" Clark asked, hoping to draw the attention away from his super secret if only for a moment.
"Both are now married and have children of their own. Henry and his family are actually considering moving back here, or as Henry likes to still refer to Smallville as, 'a tiny farm of a town nearly in the center of the United States universe!' His eldest daughter, Hannah, is a little older than you, Clark and is finishing up medical school, and Melissa is, like you, Martha, intrigued by photography and is in the process of trying to establish a small studio; both granddaughters are living in New York. As for Katie, well she and her husband Bob have taken to the open road as a symbol of their new found parental freedom," Wayne explained.
"We are glad to hear your family is doing well," Martha replied as if on automatic pilot.
"But, how does that update answer Clark's question?" Lois wasted no time in quickly asking, her eyes blazing.
Wayne sighed and then said, "It does and it doesn't. I chose to begin my explanation with my children simply to make the point that because they were not around much when Clark was growing up, Clark here quickly captured a little more of the hearts of both my late wife and me. Of course his sudden and miraculous appearance in the Kents lives, after they had dreamed for so long of becoming parents, did not hurt either," Wayne finished, smiling at his old friends.
"Clark sure was and always will be the greatest gift that either Martha or I will ever receive," Jonathan stated.
"Every day I say a silent thank you to my cousin Esther for him," Martha added, figuring that although Wayne had seen Superman transform into Clark, until he as much as said so, there might still be the tiniest shred of hope that their secret was still their own.
"We have all waited long enough," Wayne suddenly announced with sadness. "Almost twenty-two years ago, while coming over here to return one of Jonathan's tools, I heard and then saw something both unbelievable and yet, in a very strange way, understandable. Before 'Blue Betty,' there was 'Red…Rosie?' wasn't that her name, Jonathan?" At the other man's nod, Wayne continued, "Nary a morning went by when Martha did not share an earful about *that* truck with my wife," Wayne chuckled. "Although then it wasn't so much because the truck was old and falling apart as it was how much Jonathan loved to tinker with it and, in his spare time from farm chores, teach Clark all bout trucks through it."
"I never thought Dad, could love a truck more than Rosie," Clark admitted, "But I have to admit he sure did in Betty."
"All the good that did me this afternoon," Jonathan said in anguish, still horrified with himself for nearly causing his wife's death.
Martha gave her husband a quick hug and asked Wayne to please continue.
"Anyway, I was less than a quarter of a mile away from your house when my eyes saw the familiar sight of Jonathan under Rosie, with Clark happily chattering by his side. Both of them were so immersed in the moment that neither realized I was coming. As I got closer I saw Clark crouching down beside his dad and then begging once more to help him. I clearly heard Jonathan thank his son for the offer and then ask Clark to please bring him the wrench. When Clark returned, he asked his dad how he could see in the darkness that was under the truck. Jonathan chuckled and said that it wasn't easy, but that's what his flashlight was for. Nothing atypical or out of the ordinary in that exchange. But then, the hairs rose on the back of my neck, and I swear I at first thought a ghost was after me as I heard Clark's answer — or rather *saw* it. Rosie's rear was suddenly lifted off the ground, and as sure as I am sitting here breathing, there was no jack anywhere in sight; Clark was effortlessly holding it up! Whether he or Jonathan quickly realized they had company coming, I don't know, for an instant later, Rosie was once again on the ground, and Clark had mysteriously vanished, calling over his shoulder to his Dad that he was going to get another jack, as the one they had been using was not working properly."
If Superman could have passed out, he very well might have upon hearing Wayne's confession. As it was, Clark turned noticeably pale and could not prevent himself from whispering, "So it was all my fault."
Martha and Jonathan were by their son's side in a flash. "If *anyone* can be faulted, Clark, it is me," Jonathan pronounced gravely after both he and Martha had given Clark a fierce hug. "I never should have agreed to letting you hoist up Rosie…at least not without a jack nearby just in case! No, I take that back, as your father it was my job to not only protect you but to never take advantage of your abilities. It now appears that on that day I failed in both."
"Dad!" Clark protested, "I was the one who lifted up the truck. Furthermore, I was the one who should have heard Wayne coming!"
"If I recall, you *did*." Martha reminded her son.
"Not in time," Clark wearily replied. "Not in time."
"Clark, I am not sure any of that matters now," began Lois carefully, lest she further upset her husband.
"It doesn't. Look all of you, no one was or is to blame. We certainly don't need to waste our time and energy in a negative way for something that happened nearly twenty-two years ago!" Wayne reasoned. "I am the one who should apologize for coming over unannounced that afternoon and for how I chose to handle the consequences of doing so afterward."
"Sounds like I am not the only one who can babble mysteriously at times," Lois responded with a small smile.
"Old habit, where this incident is concerned anyway, "Wayne replied before once again hastily reassuring the Kents that the only person he had ever discussed that day with was his late wife.
"It's getting later, and I think it is safe to say that all of us, especially you," Wayne indicated the Kent family, "are tired and in more than just a physical sense. So let me finish what I need to say."
"Can't finish this soon enough for me," Clark muttered to himself, still feeling at least partly to blame for what was happening.
Lois slipped him a quick kiss and then said, "We are in this together, Clark, and *I* love you."
"You better know by now how much we do also, Son," Martha replied in mock sternness.
"While we are on the subject, let me say once again how much all of your friendship has meant and does mean to me." Wayne added.
"I'm ready, now, please finish your story, Mr. Irig," Clark requested bravely.
"After seeing what I saw, or *thought* I saw anyway, my initial reaction was of course that I was crazy and must have been imaging things. I practically had brushed the whole thing off! However, when I entered the yard and saw Clark racing toward his dad with a jack, and then both Jonathan and Clark agreeing that they hoped this one worked better, I *knew* I had seen something after all. Being an upright man, or at least that's what I always try to be, I said nothing at that time to any of the Kents. I simply returned Jonathan's tool, thanked him, and then as I was leaving reminded him that our card game was to take place a few nights later and at his house. Much later that evening, after much prodding by Jan to either snap out of it or tell her what was spooking me, I shared, for the first and only time, what I by then, knew I had seen: An eight-year-old boy lifting up the back of his father's truck, higher than and with more ease than any jack I ever saw. What was Jan's reaction? She looked at me as if I were insane. She kept insisting that there was no way in the universe that anyone, much less a young child, could have lifted up that truck; although she later confessed to harboring her own doubts as to Clark's true origins. We both had known Martha Kent all our lives. Heck, the four of us and our families grew up together! You know that even today, newer folks to Smallville claim that our families must have been two of the originals to settle here, we have lived here so long!"
"Can't argue with that," Jonathan stated mater-of-factly.
"Go on," Clark urged, needing to hear confirmation of what he already knew for himself.
"As I mentioned earlier, your parents' reaction to my question regarding Clark's birth mother only further confirmed in my mind that my good friends had to be hiding something. Neither Jan nor I, not to mention the rest of our Smallville community had ever heard Martha mention her cousin Esther, let alone that she was pregnant. In such a tiny town as this, folks know one another and their collective kin. It certainly was no secret to any of us in Smallville that shortly after marrying, Martha and Jonathan had earnestly begun trying to have a child. In fact, if I remember correctly, both of you wished to create a large and loving family," Wayne remembered.
"In the early days, I teased Jonathan about wanting to have six kids, and when the look of shock vanished slightly from his face, Jonathan managed to sputter that perhaps or one or two might be a better place to start," Martha offered.
"We were awfully young at the time!" Jonathan reminded his beloved wife, "and still creating a life of our own here."
"That's true, and even though some of those days were challenging, they were all filled with hope and love. Until the horrible day came when Doc Blake told us we'd probably never be able to have children. After that, let me tell you, I went a little crazy. In fact, I probably resembled my dear daughter-in-law in that I became so hell-bent on proving Doc Blake wrong that everything else took a back seat," Martha stopped, wiping away some tears.
Jonathan, squeezed his wife's hand and continued, "We definitely gave it the old college try for many a year and later decided that if a large family could not be born to us through biology, it sure as heck could be by adoption!"
"We must have visited and harassed agencies from here to, well, the moon, we tried so long and hard," Martha said, picking back up the story. "We just did not know we were seeking answers in the wrong place and that our son was destined to come to us."
"The explosion," Wayne's eyes grew as wide as saucers as the last shred of a nearly thirty-year-old mystery fell into place. "So *that's* why the two of you never adopted any more children! I tell you, no one in this town could ever figure *that* out. Sure, we knew how much you both adored Clark and how grateful you were for his presence in your lives, but, wouldn't another child or two only further that joy? That was the talk, anyway, and I have to admit both Jan and I agreed. After over ten years of trying one way or another to bring a little Kent into the world, our two friends, who also happened to be two of the kindest and best people that we knew, were suddenly granted their dream only to then stop it from growing? That sure did not seem to make any sense!" Wayne exclaimed.
"Oh both Jonathan and I briefly discussed trying to continue with a formal adoption after Clark came to us, but we quickly decided that doing so could possibly pose a life-endangering risk to our new son; once we realized that, our earlier thoughts of a large family ended, and we began reveling in the amazing joy of simply having a family at all," Martha concluded as she hugged her son.
Lois' eyes were wide and she suddenly began to cry, with the sudden knowledge that this was something *she* had never before thought of. It would indeed seem odd that a couple so intent on having a large brood would without warning banish all thoughts of doing so from their minds. For the millionth time since she had met the elder Kents, she thanked the stars above on both Clark's and now her own behalf, that they were the ones to whom Jor-El and Lara had entrusted their only child, Kal-El.
"Lois? Honey, what's wrong?" Clark worriedly asked his sobbing wife.
Lois was so overcome with awe and admiration for Clark's biological parents due to their sacrifice to save their son above all else, that she did not even care that Wayne Irig was in the room as she responded, "Jor-El and Lara somehow, probably through the amazing bonds of love, chose *you*," indicating Martha and Jonathan, "to give their son the life they could not. They instinctively knew that this was meant to be and probably in even the tiniest of ways foresaw the future and knew their decision was the true one."
"I am not sure that I am following what you just shared, Mrs. Kent, but it sure sounded heartfelt and like a tribute to both Martha and Jonathan here, so I'll simply second your thoughts," Wayne said, trying to not only understand more of the astounding truths that were being shared with him, but to somehow bond a little more closely with the Kents so they would no longer have to be concerned about his knowledge of their unique past.
"This unbelievable afternoon might as well end with the event that has caused it to start," Clark resolutely offered. "Wayne, a little less than thirty years ago, my parents, my birth parents, realized that their home planet of Krypton would very soon be exploding into oblivion, taking all its inhabitants to their graves as it did so. Like most loving parents, mine did not want their newborn son to die, especially without ever having first lived. So they must have scoured the universe for a suitable new home for their child before sttling on Earth and more specifically Smallville, Kansas. We will never know, as Lois said, if through magic or some other force, Jor-El and Lara were guided to choose the Kents as parents to their son. *I* would like to think if it were possible they did. *I* could not have been blessed with two finer parents had I grown up…well anywhere. My Mom and Dad were and are the greatest. Back to my, well my family's theory as to my past, after choosing a planet and parents, it was then time to make use of their scientific brilliance to construct a spacecraft. The rest is pretty much history! At the very onset of Krypton's explosion, it's infant son Kal-El was spared immediate death by being launched into another galaxy where he could claim and live his life. On an otherwise ordinary Sunday afternoon in May of 1966, on the way home from church, *my* parents here found me. Or…" Clark grinned and pulled Martha into a hug, "*I* found them."
"The rest is indeed a piece of *super* history," Lois concluded with a brilliant smile.
"That has to be the understatement of the year, young woman, " Wayne exclaimed, however, I couldn't agree more. I may not be a man who believes much in magic, but after being privileged to take part in this conversation as well as live next door to the Kents for all my life, I would not dare to think otherwise!"
"Aren't you glad you and Jan decided to stay?" Clark suddenly teased, as his earlier sense of doom was lifted from his super shoulders once and for all. "I seem to remember Wayne, you mentioning a couple hours or so ago now how at one point you and Jan spoke of moving?"
"Yes, what was that nonsense about?" Martha questioned with a smile.
"Were we suddenly, after thirty-plus years, not good enough neighbors for you two?" Jonathan quipped, his eyes twinkling.
"Yes, Mr. Irig — Wayne — tell us," Lois demanded playfully. "We've confessed our secrets, and now it is your turn to the same!"
"Well…" Wayne began with a sheepish grin, "First off, never think for a moment that either Jan or I considered moving because of either you or Jonathan, Martha! The two of you truly are two of the best people I have ever known, so no, that was not our reason. In fact, you could say our thoughts came because of our friendship with and regard for you. As our suspicions about Clark's origins grew and then were all but confirmed before my very eyes, Jan and I were not sure *we* had the courage to stay; what I hinted at earlier about wanting to kill myself if harm came to your family because of me was no joke. While we sure did not know the specifics in your mystery, or for all we knew, mysteries, we knew you both well enough to know that there was no Esther, at least a real long lost pregnant cousin by that name who gave her son to you anyway. I won't lie and say we were not curious or even baffled as to what was going on because we were; who wouldn't be? No, in the end Jan and I simply decided that we knew as well as you and Martha did that your tale, Jonathan, of the explosion being caused by those mischievous Schuster twins getting their hands on some early fireworks, was not the case. So, you see, any ideas we entertained about leaving Smallville were simply out of love and loyalty to you, our dear friends and neighbors, Martha and Jonathan, who by the grace of God and some Kryptonian magic were given the greatest gift any star in the universe could give them: their son, Clark, at times known as Superman to the world he constantly saves."
"Wow," was all any of the Kents could reply, as their old friend and neighbor gave them each a hug before showing himself out the door and heading for home.
Their lives had not been saved from nearly certain destruction by a super man, as they had a few years ago when Clark was shot in the casino, but by the bonds of love of their super family.