Life - A Fragile Thread

By Anonymous

Summary: Clark learns a painful lesson about the fragility of human life.

(Serious stuff here including a WHAM - not much WAFFy stuff. Usual disclaimer - characters property of Warner Bros and December 3rd Productions but story is mine.)


Lois and Clark were laughing at one of Perry's jokes and suddenly Clark got *that* look. Lois covered for him, "Clark, you almost forgot your dentist appointment," she prompted him.

"Oh yeah, I 'd better get going. Thanks, honey," he said before departing.

Lois and Perry watched him dash off.

"You know, Lois, you two are an even better team than Norcross and Judd ever were - married or otherwise," Perry said with a proud smile.

"Thanks, Perry," she replied distracted. Perry noticed of course. He tilted his head. "Lois, everything OK?"

"Sure, Perry, it's just that Clark had a worried look on his face before he left," she said quietly with a reflective tone.

"Of course he's worried, Lois - he's going to the dentist! Great Caesar's ghost - who wouldn't be?" Perry patted her reassuringly on the back and went off to his office.

Lois couldn't shake the feeling that this time was different. Then she shrugged and went back to work. Clark will tell me later - one of us has to finish this story for deadline!

Meanwhile at the Kent's farm, Martha looked tearfully up at Clark. Clark was very worried - he had found his Mom weeping when he came in and had yet to get any information out of her. He held her close and comforted her.

"Mom, please, tell me what is wrong? is it Dad?" he asked and that brought on a fresh bout of tears. Now Clark was really worried, but didn't want to leave his Mom to search for his Dad when she was in this condition.

Finally Martha spoke, "Clark ... Clark," she covered her mouth, then uncovered it to whisper, "Jonathan is gggone" and she dropped her head against his strong shoulder.

"Mom, what do you mean? Dad would never leave you!" Clark was distressed now and confused.

"Mom, please, what has happened?" Clark pleaded.

She looked up at him with deep sadness in her eyes, "No, Clark, not that type of gone - I mean gone.... forever." Clark was stunned and struck speechless momentarily. Reaction set in, "No, NO, NO - It can't be...he...he was healthy... " he protested still fighting reality.

Martha rubbed his back, "Honey... it was his heart - it just gave out on him."

"But how? Why didn't you call me? I could have done something! "

"Clark, listen to me," she held his chin firmly looking into his eyes, "You can't be everywhere, this is not your fault because you weren't here, it happened suddenly when he was doing his chores. I found him. When he didn't come in for coffee and pie, I went looking for him."

"But, maybe I could have done something..." he continued to protest.

"Clark, it was too late. I called the ambulance, just in case, and they took him to the hospital but he was no longer with us."

"Oh, Mom," Clark cried out in anguish.

"Honey, I know, I know..." she said as she rubbed his back in a comforting gesture.


Meanwhile back in Metropolis...

Lois was pacing around the living room. No message from Clark anywhere in the house, on the answering machine, e-mail - nothing, zippo. Now she really was worried , he had been gone six hours. Well, she thought, when all else fails call Superman. "Superman!"

He arrived very shortly after her call, and Lois knew by looking at him that something was wrong, very wrong. He walked over to the window and gazed up at the stars. Lois walked over to him touching his arm softly, "Clark, what is it? What's wrong? You look like you lost your best friend," she asked with concern.

"Well, I guess you could say I have lost a good friend," he said in a quiet sad voice.

"Clark - please tell me," she pleaded looking at him.

"Dad had a heart attack this morning and died." Clark bit his lip trying to remain in control of his emotions.

Lois gasped, "NO, not Jonathan! Oh, I am *so* sorry Clark..." and she put her arms around him. She ran her hands up and down his back in a soothing motion. "Your Mom must be devastated. Oh, Clark, is she alone?" she asked in concern.

"No, one of her friends is coming there for the night. I told her I would be back tomorrow morning with you," Clark replied. Closing his eyes he gave a heavy sigh. Just being in her arms was comforting. He didn't have to explain or talk, she understood how much his father had meant to him.

"Clark ... we could go tonight. Now. I know you want to be with your Mom ..." Lois said softly against his chest.

"I would like to be there for case she needs me.. I know she can call me but I think we all need to be together. Do you mind calling Perry while I pack? I just can't talk to anyone else right now. We'll need to be out there at least a week." Clark replied in a strained voice.

"Of course Clark... go and pack the essentials.. we can always come back if we have to." She watched as he plodded slowly up the stairs. She turned to find the cordless phone. Where did I leave that phone she wondered. Aha ! She spotted it on the sofa. She called Perry, gave him the facts and explained they would need a week off. He gave his condolences and was understanding of the circumstances.

Clark paused at the bottom of the stairs with the bags. "Ready Lois?"

Lois disconnected the phone, tossed it on the sofa and turned around. "Ready - Let's go."

When they arrived at the farmhouse Martha met them at the door. Lois moved to hug her. Martha hugged her then Clark. "Martha - I am so sorry about Jonathan. He was more like my father than my father. He made me feel like his daughter," Lois said tearfully.

"Lois... he felt like you were our daughter and I still feel that way," Martha said in her kind voice.

"Oh, Martha."

" Lois, Clark ... let's sit down," and they moved into the kitchen. Clark changed from the suit. Martha got out the pie and the milk and cut pieces for everyone.

The room was silent except for scrapes of forks against the plates but no one was really eating, just picking at the pie. Finally Martha couldn't take it any longer.

"Oh, this is ridiculous...I can just hear Jonathan... shame to waste good pie. Come on, this is your favorite, Clark, apple. There was a time I used to have to hide a piece for Jonathan, or Clark would have eaten it all!" she chuckled.

"MOM," Clark protested then smiled weakly, "It just seems funny to be sitting here eating pie without him," he reflected. Martha reached out to hold his hand. Clark looked up at her.

"I know, honey. I don't know what I am going to do. I still think he is going to walk through that door," she said softly. Clark squeezed her hand. She smiled tenderly at him. "At least I still have you and Lois."

"And we have you," Clark and Lois said together. The evening was spent sharing memories and tears until a knock at the door. Martha went to answer it.

"Oh, Sara.. I forgot. Clark and Lois managed to get back here so I'm OK. You don't need to spend the night. Thanks for coming out and I'm sorry I didn't call. We just got talking..."

"No problem, Martha. We just didn't want you to be alone right now but you're with family. I'll go now. If you need anything you just call... anything OK?" Sara said firmly and kindly.

"Thanks, Sara you're a good friend," Martha replied.

"Goodnight then," Sara said as she left.

"Goodnight Sara," Martha watched as the car disappeared into the dark night. Coming back into the living room she looked at Lois and Clark wearily, "I think I will go and try to get some rest. Clark, will you put out the fire?"

"Sure, Mom - I'll make sure everything is battened down before we go to bed." Clark assured her.

"Thanks, honey. I'll see you in the morning. OK?"

"OK, Mom. I love you." Clark walked over to hug her. She hugged him right back "I love you both," she replied. She released him and went upstairs. Lois and Clark followed shortly thereafter. Lois and Clark fell asleep some time later in each other's arms.

Lois woke up around 2:30a.m. and Clark was not there. Worried, she grabbed her jeans and top and threw them on. She didn't find him in the house and somehow never expected to. She found him leaning against the fence where he and Jonathan used to have those heart to heart guy talks. He was just staring at the ground with his head bent in a defeated gesture. Lois walked up to him and touched him softly on his arm, "Clark...honey?" she looked at him.

He turned his head to look at her and the look in his eyes broke her heart. Those soft chocolate eyes were filled with tears and sadness. He turned back looking at the ground again then looked up at the stars and said softly, "He was such a *good* man. I can't believe he is gone. In one instant I lost my father and my friend. Oh, Lois,... it hurts... it hurts *so* much..." he started to shake with emotion as tears fell down his face. He turned to her, reached out his arms and she flew into them. Lois held onto him tight as he sobbed against her. Tears rolled down her face and they found some comfort in being together.

The next morning breakfast was very subdued and the empty place at the table was even more noticeable. Martha made her famous waffles and Clark ate only two (instead of his usual six). Lois managed to finish one. Lois volunteered to help Martha with some chores in the house. The routine was comforting. Clark went out to do some farm chores. Everywhere he went it brought memories of his father, but the physical work helped him get rid of some of the anger he felt at his loss. With all the scumbag criminals in the world that would never be missed why do good people have to be taken at their prime .

Later, anger spent, he went up to the hayloft and lay down. One of his favorite spots to just think. He still could not believe it. Lois found him some time later.

"Hi," she said softly coming over to sit next to him. He was so quiet she was very concerned, "How are you... really?"

He sighed, sat up, looked over at her "Frankly, I've been better. You know there weren't many people that I could count on in my life, because I'm *different* and so my dad and I used to spend a lot of time together. He always made time for me, even when he had chores to do. " Clark recalled wistfully as memories flooded his mind.

Lois reached out and grasped his hands. "Clark, that is a generous legacy. Cherished memories of time spent with someone who made time for you." She smiled tenderly at him. "Of course, who could look in that face and say no? It would be like kicking a puppy."

"Lois... " he said with quiet intensity, "I just don't know how to deal with this. I haven't ever *had* to deal with this. I wish with *all* my heart that I *didn't * have to deal with this." He looked down at their hands and a tear rolled down his cheek. Lois reached up, wiped it away and wished she could do the same with the pain and hurt.

"Clark..." she caressed his cheek, "we'll deal with this together." Then she put her arms around him and gave him a hug.

Then he heard his mother calling. He rushed them to the farmhouse and Martha said, "The Reverend Hooper is here, to help us plan the service."

"Oh," Clark said looking down at his clothes, "I think we'd better change.. down in a flash."

Minutes later they came down the stairs and joined Martha and the Reverend in the living room. It was a difficult discussion but they settled on a simple ceremony with a few of Jonathan's favorite hymns and a gathering at the house afterwards.


The next few days were stressful and emotional, dealing with the wake,funeral, and burial. The entire community turned out to pay their respects to Jonathan and his family. It was clear from all the people at the wake and their comments that Jonathan had been a good friend to all and would be sadly missed. It was both difficult, yet moving, to hear how Jonathan had touched so many lives.

The Reverend was the last to leave and he repeated one of the verses he had used in the service, " 'Those we hold most dear, never truly leave us, they live on in the kindnesses they showed, the comfort they shared and the love they brought into our lives.' Jonathan will always be with us in spirit and in our memories. All of us will miss him. Let his love and memories comfort us in this difficult time. If I can do anything to help any of you, you have but to call." Then he left.

The house seemed so eerily quiet and they all headed upstairs to change out of their good clothes. In Lois and Clark's room Lois told Clark she was going to have a rest.

"I must be getting a cold or something," she said as she lay down on the bed looking up at him. He sat down on the bed in just his jeans and reached for her hand.

"Honey, would you like me to stay here with you?" he asked softly .

"Oh, Clark I would love that, but , you are too distracting," she said running her other hand down his bare chest.

"Lois.. you're right (she gave him a small smile), I *know* you love hearing that. You need to rest and I should do some of the chores . But I could be back real quick," he smiled at her.

"Go!" she said softly. He grabbed a t-shirt, put it on, kissed her softly on the lips and was out the door. He went to his mother's room and knocked.

"Mom?" he called out in a quiet voice.

"Come in, Clark..." she replied. Clark entered and found her sitting on the bed with a book in her hand and a box by her side. He sat down beside her.

"These were the last gifts we gave each other. You know most years he gave me very practical gifts, but then he surprises me with a gift certificate, a book in Italian, and a trip to Italy! And I gave him this memory box I made. We wrote down all our memories and put them in it. He was a *good* man and I miss seeing him, touching him, laughing with him, everything is different now..." she said in a soft low voice.

"I know, Mom. I miss him too. Without him I would not be the man I am today. He gave me so much..." he said in a broken voice looking down at the carpet.

"Oh, honey... you gave him so much joy. You were the most precious gift *we* ever received. You may have no idea, but he was so proud of you, *I* am proud of you, and the man you have become," she put her hand on his cheek softly turning his head to her. They looked into each other's eyes for a moment before embracing each other.

"Mom... I love you."

"I love you too," she released him and walked over to the window looking out onto the farm. "Life is so fragile, someone can be living, breathing one minute and gone the next. I don't know what I am going to do without him; he was my other half."

"Mom, anything you need done you just have to call, OK?" he told her sincerely.

"Oh, thanks, honey, but I don't think I can keep the farm running without your father. Everyone has offered to help but they have their own obligations too." she said shaking her head. "This place has so many memories for me..."

"Mom, don't rush into anything. Take your time. Come stay with us for awhile."

She paused for a moment then replied "If you don't mind, Clark, I think I will come back with you and Lois and stay with you for a while. I really don't want to be alone right now."

Clark walked over and hugged Martha. "I'm going to take care of the chores now, Mom. Lois is resting in our room. She's not feeling well. Can you keep an eye on her for me?"

"Of course, Clark. We'll see you in a bit then."

"If you need me, call, OK?" he said as he stood in the doorway looking at her.

"OK." She turned back to the bed and the memories and he left. She fell asleep clutching the book Jonathan had given her.

Clark returned a half hour later and found both his wife and mother asleep in their respective rooms. He pulled a blanket over his Mom.. As he looked down at the woman who, with Dad, had taught him about love, responsibility, kindness and life, memories came to him. She had *always* been there for him, now it was his turn to *be* there for her, whatever she needed from him, if only support.

But he was thankful that he had spent a lot of time with his Dad and friend. Realizing that all of the people he loved in the world were human and death was a part of life was hard to deal with. Nothing prepared you for the loss. Moments matter and since you never knew what would happen, he vowed to live every moment to the best of his ability and treasure the time he shared with those he loved. On that note he turned around and went back and joined Lois for a nap, holding her close to his heart.

A couple hours later, Martha awoke and realized what time it was. "Goodness, and I haven't even started dinner! Oh, I had better check on Lois too!" She found both Lois and Clark cuddled together on the bed sleeping. She smiled tenderly, then went down to the kitchen.

As soon as the smell of the delicious pot roast wafted up the stairs it woke the napping couple.

Lois opened her eyes and found Clark looking at her. "Hi, honey," she said with a smile.

"Hi, how are you feeling?" he asked softly as he touched the side of her face with his fingers.

She thought about it for a moment, "Better, I think," and moved to get up. "Whoa!" she put her hand to her head.

"Lois, what's wrong?" he asked in concern, now at her side.

"I am sure it's nothing, Clark, I just got up too quickly that's all," she stood up carefully. "There, I'm fine, really," she assured him with a smile. "Now, honey, let's go down and see your Mom. Something smells delicious,"

He stood up and they headed to the door then he stopped. "Oh, Lois, just one thing before we go down there. When I was talking to Mom earlier, I invited her to stay with us for awhile and she said yes. It is OK with you, isn't it?"

Lois looked up at him and touched his cheek, "Of course, Clark. Now let's see what is cooking." Clark swept her into his arms and she gave a squeal of delight and he whisked them down to the kitchen.

Martha smiled as she heard the two come down. She turned to them as they entered the room and Clark lowered Lois to the floor. "Well, sleepyheads, do you feel like pot roast, mashed potatoes, broccoli and pie?"

They looked at each other then back at her, "Yes!" they said in unison. Martha laughed and told them to sit down at the table.


Martha came to stay with Lois and Clark for a month. She decided to lease the farmland to their neighbour, Wayne Irig. She made one trip back, alone by choice to take care of some final things. When she was going through some things in the attic, she found one of the scrapbooks that they had kept of their son's work. She was re-reading one of her favorites and the ending always moved her. He had written "She came to say goodbye as we all must to the past, and to a life and a place that soon would exist only in a bittersweet memory." Tears that had filled her eyes rolled down her face. Words her son had written in a different context spoke to her heart.


When Martha returned to Metropolis Lois and Clark had news for her. They were all sitting in the living room and by the glances between the two Martha knew it was good.

"Martha..." Lois started then looked at Clark with a grin. They both looked back at her, "We're pregnant!" Martha jumped up in joy and tears filled her eyes. She gave both of them hugs.

"Oh, what wonderful news! When is the baby due?" Martha's eyes glowed with happiness for them.

"Late December," Lois said shyly then grasped Martha's hands. "Martha, you just have to stay in Metropolis until the baby is born, please?" she asked.

"Well, actually that is *my* news. I am going to move to Metropolis permanently." Clark opened his mouth to speak. She raised her hand. "No, Clark, I am not selling the farm, just leasing it - but not the house. I am going to go back to University!" Martha said with pleasure.

It was Lois and Clark's turn to be stunned. Clark was the first to speak, "That's great, Mom! What is going to be your major?"

"Oh, Martha, that is great news! We love having you here," Lois said sincerely. Martha looked uncomfortable for a moment.

"I hope you don't mind but I am going to look for an apartment. But in *this* neighborhood," Martha rushed to explain. "I love staying here, but really with *Superman* activities, comings and goings and your schedule... well, it will be better to have someplace of my own, so I can study. I will be an art major, Clark. I am going to register tomorrow for fall classes."

"Well, we think that is great, don't we, Clark? We will miss having you around the house though. And we certainly won't eat as well," Lois smiled, Clark wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her against him.

"We will miss having you here and yes, we won't eat as well. Back to Cajun cooking," Clark replied with a smile.

"Hey ..I'm getting better, but if you want to do *all* the cooking," Lois said turning her head to give him a pointed look, "that is just fine with me."

"Well, you have to admit I am *super* at it," he said with a grin.

"Clark!" both women exclaimed rolling their eyes. Clark laughed and the women joined him.


Later that year...

A healthy baby boy was born to two ecstatic parents and three delighted grandparents. Jonathan Clark Kent came into the world at 7 lbs, 10 oz.

Late at night in the hospital, Lois was feeding her little boy, she kissed his brow and she spoke quietly to him,

"Darling, I'm just as scared as you But I promise you somehow I will take care of you The very best that I can With all of the love in my heart And all of the strength in my hands Your every joy I'll share For every tear I'll be there My whole life through I will take care of you."

The future looked bright on that December night. A new life had begun.


[Lois' words to her son are from "I will take care of you" by Amy Sky on Cool Rain)