By Trevise <JTRugga@aol.com>
Submitted July 1999
Summary: On the anniversary of Superman's death, Jim Olsen reminisces about his friends with the only people who would understand. Chapter 4 in the series Jon Kent: The Adventures of a New Superman. Serious tearjerker warning!
Hello, FoLCs everywhere! Welcome back to my Metropolis. As always, some of the characters and locations are the property of DC comics, as presented in the ABC show Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Some of the characters and all of the plot lines are mine, but I make no profit from these stories. You may reprint them with my permission only. So There.
NOTE: This story is a part of my arc titled Jon Kent: The Adventures of a New Superman, and will further some character development, but it is not a necessary read, and is a real tearjerker. Consider yourself warned.
SERIES HISTORY: Jon Kent is the only child of Lois and Clark, who were killed saving the city when he was less than a year old. Jon is now 19, and has recently assumed his father's mantle as Superman. The only people who know his secret are James Olsen, his boss and Editor of The Daily Planet, and Lynn Kingsley, a young research assistant that Jon has been working with, who happened to overhear Jon talking at his parent's gravesite about his secret. Everyone else in the city thinks that their new hero is the son of the original Superman, raised off world by Ultrawoman. For more details, read Awakenings, Here We Go Again, and Right On Time, the first three parts of this series.
The End of the Beginning Chapter 4 in the Jon Kent: The Adventures of a New Superman series
October 20 is a very special day for the people of Metropolis. For the whole world, actually, since declaring it a global holiday was the first unanimous vote in the United Nations in over 15 years. But the people of Metropolis take their celebration of this particular holiday a little further than the rest of the world. Their parades last a little longer, their fireworks burn a little brighter, and anyone who does not absolutely have to work takes the time to properly celebrate this most important day. Superman day. The day he died.
This year's celebration was anticipated a bit more than it has been in recent years, because, this year, Superman's son Kar-El had agreed to give a eulogy for his father. As a result, Superman Park was filled to capacity when the annual memorial service started at 3:00. Priests, ministers, and officiants from every major religion in the city offered their prayers to Jesus, Allah, Buddha, or God. The mayor gave a mercifully brief speech about the importance of keeping what he called "Superman's Spirit" alive by helping our fellow man. And then, a young Superman stood up to talk about his father.
"Today I have heard every superlative ever invented used to describe my father. And while he deserves all that and more, I want to now share a different side of him. He knew that as powerful as he was, his death was still a great possibility, and took steps so that even should he die as he did, I would still have a way to know him. He felt that if I was to try and fill his shoes, I should know as much about my family history as I could, and that is what he left me. He left me a series of messages in which he poured as much of himself as possible. Thanks to these messages, I know a little more about who I am, about what I am meant to do, and, most importantly, that he loved me. For all of his powers and Kryptonian heritage, he was, at his core, as human as anyone here. He knew anger and fear but never let them dominate him. He knew sadness and pain but never let them overwhelm him. And he cared so much for everyone that he went into a situation he knew would kill him to prevent harm from coming to others. As much as I would like to be able to sit down and talk to my father, I know that not being able to is a small price to pay for what he gave to this city. I am honored to wear his uniform and bear his name."
The silence that followed that heartfelt speech was so profound that the sound of Superman's cape rustling was clearly audible as he slowly rose into the air. He hovered for a second in front of the giant S-shield emblazoned on the monument, unintentionally providing a photo-op that would be in every paper in the country the next day, and then flew off into the city. The crowd took this as the signal to disperse and began to trickle out of the park.
After a brief tour of the city assured him that, for the moment, all was well, Superman landed in an abandoned alley and emerged 5 seconds later in the T-shirt and jeans of Jon Kent, his dark hair mercifully uncombed and his brown eyes covered with the latest style of sunglasses. He felt the wave of relief that always came when he allowed himself to relax from the uptight "paragon of truth and justice" pose that he had adopted as Superman. In fact, as Jon Kent, his posture was horrible. His shoulders slumped, he walked with his head down, and made it seem as if he were 2 inches shorter than he really was. It was Lynn's idea.
After being appeased with a real Italian dinner (from Sicily, no less) and as many details about his life as she could pry out of him, Lynn had come to be a godsend. Both Jon and Chief Olsen were becoming aware that their tactic of calling Jon into the office whenever Superman was needed was starting to wear thin and wasted valuable time besides. Lynn had come up with a simpler solution. Chief Olsen had simply made a big deal out of demanding to be able to contact his favorite errand boy at all times, and ordered Jon to carry around an electronic personal messenger. While it was occasionally used for that purpose, Jon could also make it go off whenever he wanted, giving him a graceful way out of just about any situation when Superman was needed. It worked wonderfully.
As if triggered by his thoughts, the pager went off, and the words "Dinner with Jim in 45 minutes" appeared on the screen. Jon allowed himself a smile at that. The Jim was, of course, Jim Olsen, but you would never call him that in the office. Conversely, however, use of the title Chief was forbidden outside the office. Perhaps that was one of the reasons that he had seen through Jon's deception so easily: James Olsen had been living a double life as well. Jim Olsen was an easy-going, relaxed, fun-loving guy. Chief Olsen was a tough as nails, fire and brimstone taskmaster. Jon had once asked him about that, but his only response was "If you want to run a newsroom well, that's simply how it's done." Apparently, someone had hammered that lesson in a while back.
Exactly 44 minutes later, Jon was ringing the doorbell of the townhouse of Jim Olsen. As Jim opened the door, Jon was surprised to see Lynn sitting in the leather couch in the living room just beyond. The room was neat and organized but still had that masculine feel that screamed out "bachelor." The furniture was well cared for, but well used, and what little decoration there was was all in black and silver. Jon had to admit, though, that the sight of Lynn's startling green eyes in the almost colorless room made a wonderful contrast.
As Jon carefully took his seat, Jim began to pace back and forth across the room, a habit that Jon knew meant that a speech was about to be made that didn't really want to be made. "I've asked you two here for a … well … kind of therapy session," Jim started. He turned to Jon and continued. "Ever since I figured out who you are, Jon, I've been thinking about Lois and CK's last days and putting two and two together about a lot of things that happened. And seeing as how today is what it is, I thought you might like to hear how your parents were able to do what they did."
He stopped, and the silence in the room was almost deafening, until Lynn said in a small voice, "Then why do you need me here?"
Before Jim could answer, Jon chimed in. "Lynn, if I'm going to hear this, I, um, would like you to be here with me." The last few words came out so fast that they almost blurred together.
Jim smiled inwardly at this sign of the continuing friendship and started. "I suppose the whole thing started about two days before the blast …"
October 18, 2001, 9:00 a.m.
The Daily Planet Newsroom was humming along with its usual efficiency when Clark Kent came walking through the elevator doors, whistling. It had been his turn to drop Jon off at the new day-care center on the second floor, and while that job was considered difficult by many parents, Clark loved it. Jon was a wonderful baby and only put up a fuss the first couple of times. He seemed to have picked up very early that Mommy and Daddy would always come back, even though he was less than a year old. Watching Jon crawl off to play with whatever caught his attention was always one of the highlights of Clark's day.
It didn't take Clark long to find another highlight of his day, his beautiful wife Lois. She was busily scribbling down something that was being told to her on the phone, and Clark quietly came up behind her and waited until she was finished. As soon as the phone was in the cradle, he leaned over and kissed her neck. "Hi."
Her back arched with pleasure at his touch, and she let out a groan. "Whoever you are, you have about 10 years to stop doing that."
"Well, then, I hope I can keep up the pace."
"I should warn you, though, that my husband will be coming through those elevator doors any minute."
"A beautiful lady like you has a husband? Some guys have all the luck."
Lois broke free and spun around in her chair, slowly letting her eyes roam up and down her husband's hard-lined body. "Some girls have all the luck, too."
Before Clark could respond to that particular comment, Jim Olsen broke in.
Clark and Lois shared a smile, their facial expressions saying louder than words, 'He got us again,' and turned to acknowledge their friend. Jim's interruption had been very deliberate: a few years back, Jim had begun to realize the uncanny knack he had for interrupting his two friends, and after the three of them had laughed about it, Jim had mentioned that he was going to start keeping score. They had been playing the "game" ever since, with Lois and Clark going out of their way to give Jim opportunities.
"Hey, yourself," Lois replied. "A great piece of work in today's edition, Jimmy, er, Jim," she said with a smile. She and Clark had agreed that now that Jim was a full reporter, calling him Jimmy was a little out of place. He even had a Kerth of his own by now, and not even Lois had won one so soon after becoming a reporter.
"Yeah, Jim," Clark agreed. "Fantastic piece. How on Earth did you manage to get a comment from General Wilson? I've been trying all week."
Jim just smiled. "Please. If there's anything I've learned from you two, it's 'Never reveal a source.'"
Clark shot Lois an amused grin. "Looks like you've trained him well, honey."
Just then, a familiar bellow boomed out from the Chief's office. "Kent! Lane! Olsen! In here, now!"
The three of them were in the office in less than 5 seconds.
Looking as angry as any of them had ever seen him, the Chief just sat behind his desk and glared at the stack of papers on his desk. It was Jim who had the courage to break the silence. "What's up, Chief?"
"Jimmy, I called in a few favors to see what Gen. Wilson meant when he told you that America's dominance on the planet was secured," he began, using his special prerogative in continuing to call his newest award-winning reporter Jimmy. "It turns out that the boys over at the new Pentagon Special Weapons Division are working on a new weapon."
At this point, Lois broke in. "Well, nothing new there, Chief. That happens there all the time, and 99% of them never work. Why worry about this one?"
"Because this one uses a kryptonite power source."
The fact that both Lois and Clark turned a little white at that announcement was not lost on Jim, and he filed it away as yet another clue about his closest friends.
Clark regained his voice first. "But, Chief, kryptonite is a very unstable energy source! If they do anything to try and increase its yield …"
"I know, I know, Elvis has left the building. That's why I called you two in on this, even though it's Jimmy's story. I think Superman ought to be told. Can you two get a hold of him?"
Lois and Clark both nodded.
"All right. Now, I couldn't get any details beyond what I just told you, but if it's true, well …" Perry shrugged and spread his arms. "It's been a slow week, so unless you three have anything else in the fire, I want this to have your full attention. Find out anything you can, and, Lois," Perry continued with a sigh, "try to remember that you have a little boy in the nursery downstairs, and you are not expendable, got it?"
Clark and Jim exchanged an amused look at the expression of indignation on Lois' face. "Chief, I've been very good lately. Trust me, I know what's at stake."
"Good. Now, get goin', you three. There's a Pulitzer in this, I can feel it in my bones."
The three reporters left the office, and all signs of humor vanished as the best investigative journalists in the city went to work, each claiming the area they worked best in. Clark simply said "Paper trail." Lois followed with "Interviews." And Jim finished with "Computer files." And they went to their respective tasks.
It was Jim who, after hours of searching the net, finally came up with even a trace of information: the project's name. Green Piece. No one was amused. Especially not Clark, who was a supporter of the environmental group with the same name.
"That's gotta be the most twisted play on words I've ever seen," commented Jim. "I mean, green piece? What sick guy came up with that for a kryptonite-based weapon?"
"Whoever he is, we can't let this one go," replied Clark. "Now that we know that we're not chasing green shadows, we have got to stop these people. I just don't know how they got enough kryptonite to experiment with in the first place. I thought Superman had tracked down every last piece."
"Clark, meteors and asteroids fall to Earth all of the time. Not even Superman could keep track of them all," Lois said in a comforting tone. "But that's not what worries me. They must be close to completing whatever it is that they're doing: Gen. Wilson wouldn't have made that boast to Jim otherwise."
Clark glanced at his watch. "Sounds like some interviews are in order, but it's too late to try tonight; we're due to get Jon from daycare. Why don't we pull whatever strings we have left between the three of us first thing in the morning and see what we can get?"
Lois seemed torn about leaving such an important investigation unfinished, but Jim agreed with Clark and then volunteered to keep going by himself. "Look, you guys go ahead, take care of your family. There are a few paths I still have to try here, and I'll let you know the minute I find something. Now, get going, and tell Jon that his Uncle Jim says hi."
Forced to admit that the investigation was in the best possible hands, Lois agreed that she and Clark could call in favors just as easily from their suburban home as they could in the office, and, after making Jim repeatedly promise to call if anything came up, she went with her husband to pick up their son. As the elevator doors closed behind them, Jim sat down at his desk and began to call in favors.
October 19, 2001, 10:30 a.m. T-28 hours
"Gotcha!" Jim yelled, causing Clark and Lois to appear at his desk in less time than it took to blink.
"What did you find, Jim?" Clark demanded as Jim began to type furiously into his specially made internet computer.
"A friend of mine helped design the security system that the Special Weapons Division uses in their mainframes and told me something interesting."
Lois looked astonished. "Are you saying that your friend told you how to access one of the most secure networks in the world from your desktop?"
Jim smiled. "No way! I'm a hacker, not a deity. But what I can do is monitor the low-security systems, like, oh, say, e-mail. It's been my experience that even the most paranoid person in the world will forget that, for the most part, every e-mail message they send is open to the world. It's amazing the trouble people will go to to protect a file on a hard drive, only to broadcast its contents the instant they e-mail in a report. So, all I had to do is …"
Lois broke in. "Scan the e-mail lists for anything that might give a us a solid lead! Jim, you're amazing!"
"I take it you've found something?" asked Clark.
Jim shrugged. "A note stating that small-scale testing of project Green Piece will commence at the Special Weapons laboratory outside of Metropolis at 1500 hours tomorrow."
Lois and Clark looked at their friend in disbelief.
"Isn't that dangerous?" Lois wondered aloud.
Jim shrugged again. "They don't seem to think so. Maybe it's a ray gun, or something with a limited range."
Clark's face took on a determined set. "Or they don't have the vaguest clue of what they're about to unleash." He turned back to Jim. "Are there going to be observers at the test?"
Jim looked through the note again. "Doesn't say. I take it you two think we should attend?"
Lois looked at him with a determined look in her eye. "Jim, you read our minds."
The three of them spent the rest of the day playing every card they had, up to and including threatening to print what they already knew, to be included in the group of observers. They finally got in, but only after promising not to print anything without government approval. Lois in particular was none too happy about that, but she had matured enough by this point to know to quit while they were ahead. So it was that Lois, Clark, and Jim went home that night, having done all they could to prepare themselves for the next day.
October 20, 2001, 12:30 p.m.
The sky was overcast as only a day in late October can be when the three of them arrived at the testing site for the briefing. It was well known to everyone at the research center that they had bullied their way in, so several of the glances that were thrown in their direction did a fair imitation of Superman's heat vision. However, that was as far as the harassment went, and things quieted down. The crowd was led into a large elevator, which went deep into the earth, and opened up into a large chamber. If security was tight outside, it was even more so here: Lois was still complaining about how they had even managed to find her miniature pen-cam when Gen. Wilson stepped up to the podium. "Ladies and Gentlemen … and reporters." he started, which garnered some snickers form the crowd, "Most of you have been working very hard on what has been termed Project Green Piece, and you're to be commended. It is a remarkable feat of engineering and design. For those of you who have been working on only a small section of the project without knowing the big picture, it is time to learn what it is you have accomplished."
With a grand flourish, Gen. Wilson pressed a remote, which caused a section of floor on the other side of the cavern, about 500 yards away, to open up. From the newly created hole, a podium rose, on top of which was an odd looking device, shaped something like an old miner's lantern. It gave off a faintly green glow. Clear protective shielding fell from the ceiling, encasing the weapon in a transparent cage that would have given Superman a moment's pause. Clark gave an almost inaudible sigh of relief as the shielding cut off what little kryptonite radiation was reaching him from the weapon.
A proud Gen. Wilson continued his speech. "This is the KRASEMP, which stands for Kryptonite Radiation Amplified by Systematic Electro Magnetic Pulses. A piece of kryptonite is placed in a magnetically sealed chamber and bombarded with electromagnetic pulses of a specific and secret frequency." This last line was delivered with a glare to the three reporters. "The magnetic pulses serve as an amplifier, causing the kryptonite to emit ever-increasing amounts of its unique radiation. Once optimum emission has been achieved, the casing is opened for a microsecond, releasing a high level burst of the radiation. The resulting blast is harmless to non-living structures but completely scrambles the DNA of any living creature within the blast radius, resulting in death in less than 24 hours. The residual radiation dissipates almost instantly, thereby allowing clean-up crews to enter the area without risk. The KRASEMP is reusable an almost infinite amount of times, since the unique properties of kryptonite cause it not to decay as other radioactive elements do. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the ultimate weapon in mass destruction warfare and the long sought-after 'clean' nuclear weapon: the KRASEMP!"
The entire crowd burst into enthusiastic applause. Well, all but three of them did. Those three, the reporters from the Daily Planet, were staring at the seemingly perfect device in absolute horror. It was the first time Jim had seen his best friend Clark actually go white.
As soon as Clark found his voice, he raised his hand for a question. "According to STAR labs, the kind of amplification you're proposing would cause the kryptonite to become unstable. Is there any danger of explosion?"
Gen. Wilson flashed a condescending smile at the poor, misguided civilian. "Please, Mr. Kent, calm yourself. You won't get blown up today." That elicited a chuckle from the gathering. "None of the simulations we've gone through predict that kind of explosion."
Now it was Lois' turn. "SIMULATIONS? You mean you haven't actually tested this theory yet?"
"What do you think we're here for today? Now, please, everyone take your seats; it's time for the demonstration. The reinforced lead-crystal shielding will protect us from any stray radiation, so we are in no danger." Gen. Wilson stepped down before any more questions could be asked, as a test rabbit was wheeled into the chamber and sealed in. The room went dark, and the weapon began to pulsate with an ever-increasing green glow. Then, in a blinding burst, the test room lit up green for a fraction of a second and went dark again. When the lights came up, the rabbit was no longer moving, barely alive from the blast of radiation to its system. The applause was thunderous, until the lab tech monitoring the experiment broke in.
"Uh, Gen. Wilson, sir? I think we have a problem."
The words slowly sunk into the crowd, who then noticed that the pulsating weapon had not dimmed as expected but was continuing to glow with an ever-brighter light. It was then the siren sounded, and a female voice too calm to be anything but a computer came on over the loudspeakers.
"Warning. Warning. Radiation at critical levels. Containment failure in 3 minutes. Evacuate area now. This is not a drill."
The message had to repeat twice before the panic began. As the mad scramble to every possible exit began, Jim found himself separated from his friends. He was about to come look for them when a familiar figure dressed in blue and red pushed him into a nearby elevator. "Don't worry, Jim. I'll find them," Jim heard as the elevator doors closed.
October 20, 2001
T + 4 hours
A very scared and very alone Jim Olsen stood at the outer edge of a crater that was wider than 5 football fields. That in itself was a miracle: from Jim's description, the boys from STAR labs had calculated that the area of destruction should have been much bigger, reaching well into the city limits. The bomb, they said, must have been shielded by some remarkably dense material to have been contained as much as it was. Jim had a sinking feeling that he knew what that "material" was.
The radiation from the explosion had already dissipated, just like Gen. Wilson had said it would, so there was no danger. Teams of rescue workers and army personnel were digging through the rubble, looking for anything that might have survived. Occasionally, someone would hold up a personal item of some kind that had survived the explosion and ask if anyone recognized it. Jim already held in his hand one such discovery: a pair of wedding rings, fused together by the blast. He had recognized them immediately and now held on to them as though his life depended on it. Through his grief, he barely heard the familiar voice of Perry White come from behind him. "Jimmy? Jimmy? Oh, thank the King you're all right!" And the normally stern and tough Editor of the Daily Planet enveloped him in a bear hug. "When I heard the explosion, I feared the worst. It actually made the windows of the Planet rattle! Where's Lois and Clark?" It was then that he finally looked at Jim's face and saw the despair in his eyes. As the realization dawned on Perry, Jim held out his hand, and opened it to reveal the rings.
Perry stood there for a long moment, staring at what was in Jim's hand, neither of them saying a word. They then embraced each other again, trying to express with the simple action what neither one of them could with words. It was then that they noticed that a hush had fallen over the work site, where before there had been the shouts of discovery and the din of machinery. They broke their embrace and turned around to see a single soldier emerge from the rubble near the center of the blast crater, carrying something in his hands as if it were the most fragile thing in the word. The S-shield. Apparently, Jim's hunch was right: Superman had stopped the explosion from spreading by smothering it with his own body. And this small piece of alien fabric was the only thing to survive the attempt.
The word spread throughout the world like a lightning bolt. In London, someone erected a makeshift memorial in Trafalgar Square, and Britons were flocking to it in droves. In Paris, every radio and television set, right down to the call boxes in the thousands of taxicabs, were surrounded by people gathered to hear the news. In Moscow, a memorial service was held in Red Square, and the ever-proud Russian people wept openly. In New York, skyscrapers lit up their windows to form the S-shield. In Jerusalem, there was a four hour wait at the Wailing Wall to say a prayer for Earth's Champion. They gathered in Chicago, Hong Kong, and Beijing; in Tokyo, Mexico City, and Buenos Aries; in Los Angeles, Havana, and Baghdad. In every city, town, and village in the world, churches, temples, mosques, shrines, and every other possible place of worship were filled to capacity as the world mourned as never before.
October 20, 2020
"And I had to cover it all." Jim Olsen finished. "The impromptu memorial services, the funeral parade, the ceremony, the trial and imprisonment of Gen. Wilson, all of it, when all I wanted to do was mourn my friends. It nearly killed me. But, I felt that the best way to honor Clark and Lois was to do my job, just like they always did. I even got that Pulitzer that Lois had always wanted. I just wish to God I knew what happened in that bunker in those last minutes."
The three of them came together to grieve: one for her idols, one for his friends, and one for his parents, before Jon's head jerked up suddenly, and a far-away look came to his eyes. He stayed there for almost a minute, while a confused Jim and Lynn watched and tried to snap him out of it. Then without a word, Jon vanished with a gust of wind and a sonic boom that rattled the house. But before they had a chance to express their confusion, he returned, holding a round object wrapped in red silk. Jon unwrapped the silk to reveal a metal orb that glowed with a gentle white light.
"This orb belonged to my father." he began. "It's the last surviving artifact of Krypton that I know of. It telepathically records messages and events that are important to those with Kryptonian heritage. Including deaths. It … told me a few minutes ago that, even though it wasn't present, my father's death was traumatic enough that it was able to record it, even over a distance. If you want to see it, I can show it to you."
Lynn was staring at the globe in awe, as Jim found his voice. "Are you sure you want to do that, Jon? I mean, don't you want to preview it first yourself?"
"Yeah, Jon." Lynn added. "They were your parents, after all."
"No," Jon stated. "After hearing what you said, I think we should all see this."
And he placed his hand on the globe.
Superman stood outside the shielding as the kryptonite bomb inside glowed so brightly that a normal human would have been forced to look away. With a determined move, he went to the door the rabbit test subject had been pushed through and forced his way inside. He collapsed almost instantly as kryptonite radiation ten times stronger than anything he had ever seen bombarded his body. He continued to crawl towards the device, continuing forward by sheer willpower, when he saw Lois banging on the clear shielding. He motioned for her to leave, and she pointed to the now sealed off exits, and shook her head. Then, before he could protest, she opened the door to the test chamber, and came towards him. She fared better under the barrage of radiation than he did, but the levels were so high that they were beginning to take their toll even on non-Kryptonian anatomy. As the few remaining people trapped in the underground bunker continued to bang at the unyielding exit doors, desperate to get out, Lois helped Superman crawl towards the lethal weapon. They knocked it over onto the floor, and Superman covered it with his once indestructible body, in a last-ditch effort to minimize the blast. In those last few seconds, Lois dug under his uniform to find the wedding ring he always kept on a chain while he was in costume, slid it off of his neck, and placed it on his hand, which she then entwined with hers, their two rings touching.
"I love you," she said with tears in her eyes.
"I love you, too." he whispered.
And their lips met in the same instant that the bomb exploded.
Three pairs of eyes gradually re-focused on the room they were in, each face streaming with tears. Ultimately, it was Jim who moved first, going to a small wooden box on his mantle. He picked it up and gave it to Jon, who was still clutching the globe in a way that would have smashed to pieces any terrestrial object. Jim silently handed the box to Jon, who slowly took it, knowing what must be inside. He opened the box to find two gold bands, one much larger than the other, fused together forever in the same position they were in when their owners had died. Jim quietly said, "I think you should have them."
At this, Jon stared at the rings and said, "No. I have a better idea. Come with me."
Anyone looking up that day would have seen Superman flying toward the Superman memorial with a middle-aged man under one arm and a beautiful young woman under the other. If they were paying close attention, they would have seen them land not at the Superman memorial but at the much smaller one to Lois Lane and Clark Kent. And, if they were very observant, they would notice that, after the three people left, the monument had been slightly changed, for fused into the brass plaque on the monument were two gold rings, a lasting reminder of the love that two people had shared so long ago.