By Catherine Semerjian <email@example.com>
Submitted August 2000
Summary: An early years story in which Clark gains an adoptive brother … named Jimmy.
Eighteen year old Clark Kent was sitting on the couch in his family's living room, absently flipping through the channels. He didn't really like watching TV, but he had already done his homework. His father was out of town checking out some new equipment for the farm and his Mom was doing some errands. That meant that nobody could take him to the Library, so he decided to do what other kids his age were doing.
Of course, Clark was rapidly finding out that he wasn't like other kids his age. Sure, he was learning to use his new powers, but using them discreetly was another matter. In gym class especially, it was difficult for him not to pour on that extra bit of speed to beat that jerk Bobby Martin at his own game. But his dad had told him that he needed to use these powers responsibly. Unfortunately, his dad hadn't exactly filled him in on what fell into the 'responsible' category.
Clark was still mulling over that distinction when he heard his father approaching. Tilting his head slightly, the dark haired teen could hear his father, Jonathan Kent, talking to somebody very sternly. Clark could hear another heartbeat, going a little faster than normal, but the person was remaining silent.
He stood up to greet his father at the door and his eyes widened in shock as he got his first glimpse of the person accompanying his father.
Firstly, 'accompanying' was probably the wrong word. The boy, who couldn't have been more than ten, was literally being dragged up the driveway by an irate Jonathan. Clark couldn't remember seeing that look on his dad's face before.
The teenager opened the door for his dad and Jonathan entered swiftly, flashing a grateful smile to his son.
"Who's your friend, dad?" Clark asked. As soon as the door was closed, Jonathan released his grip on the boy. The kid smoothed out his clothes and rubbed at his arm before looking up at them.
He was small for his age, almost painfully thin and upon closer inspection, looked like he hadn't had a bath in quite some time. But the boy's most striking features were his big blue eyes which seemed to encompass his entire face.
"What's going on, Dad?" Clark asked as he watched his father grab a glass from the pantry and pour a glass of water. Jonathan handed it to the boy, who accepted it reluctantly.
"I caught this little one," Jonathan began, "trying to steal my wallet." A small, self deprecating chuckle bubbled out of the big man. "Imagine his disappointment when he found it empty."
"I said I was sorry, Mister," the child mumbled, putting down the glass without so much as a sip.
"Why didn't you take him to the police, Dad?" Clark demanded, eyeing the would-be thief with far more caution. The teen liked to consider himself a friendly person, but stealing was one thing he couldn't abide.
"Go ahead," the kid declared, sticking out his jaw defiantly. "They'll just stick me in another home and I'll run away again."
Clark had to admire the kid's guts.
"You're awfully young to be so jaded, young man," Jonathan remarked. "How old are you anyway? Ten?"
"I'm twelve and a half," the child said indignantly. "I'm just short for my age, that's all." He flashed a smile that seemed to ignite his entire face and make his eyes seem just a little more blue. Clark could tell that he'd used this look more than once. "Listen, Mister, I'm sorry I tried to steal your wallet, but I-I was just tryin' to get enough to buy some food."
Jonathan sighed deeply, staring down at the little kid. Martha wasn't home, but he knew that she wouldn't object to one more place at the table. "Listen to me, young man. I think that it's high time you learn how to earn your food. This afternoon, you're going to help my son Clark and me. Then, you will wash up and have a nice supper."
The boy's eyes narrowed in suspicion, making him look much older. "Why are you doing this?"
"Don't you think it's possible that somebody just wants to be nice to you?" Clark asked. He couldn't believe that somebody so young was so untrusting.
"No," the kid said bluntly.
"Well, you're going to start," Jonathan said with a bright smile. "I don't think I ever did catch your name, son."
The boy looked at him for a moment as though questioning his sincerity.
"My name's Jimmy."
Jimmy, Clark found, did his work honestly. He seemed to like having something to do and he learned very quickly. As expected, Martha was delighted to have a new guest over and announced that she was going to make an extra special meal. That prompted the men to finish their work even more quickly.
As soon as they were back in the house, Martha ordered the kid to go into the bathroom and clean up. While Jimmy was in the shower, she decided to wash his clothes. She still had a few of Clark's old things and decided that even though they'd be a little big, they were better than nothing.
When Jimmy returned, wearing his fresh clothes, he looked even younger and thinner. But the dazzling smile on his face made the Kents forget all about it.
Martha had made chicken with potatoes and vegetables. Jimmy ate voraciously, as if he hadn't done so in days. Clark was startled to realize that that may have well been the case. The boy was quiet as he ate, not contributing a word to the normal dinner time conversation that took place at the Kent family table.
At the end of the meal, Jimmy politely took his dish and glass and followed Martha to the kitchen. Clark moved to do the same when a sharp crash echoed through the room. He and Jonathan ran into the kitchen.
Martha looked a little startled and there was glass on the floor. Clark moved automatically to get the broom when he noticed the look on Jimmy's face. There was no colour in his cheeks and his eyes were horror-struck as he stared at the broken glass. His lips trembled for a moment before he could formulate words. "I-I'm sorry. It… it just fell."
"That's all right, Jimmy," Martha began kindly. Careful not to step on the glass, she moved towards the frightened boy, hand outstretched in what she hoped was a non-threatening manner.
Jimmy cringed expectantly, as though waiting for a strike. Stunning them, the kid whirled around and ran out the front door before they could even gather their wits.
Clark was the first one to react. He ran out the door.
Jimmy already had a good head start, but Clark decided that this was one of the times where he needed to use his powers. He ran past the kid so quickly that Jimmy ran into him a full tilt and wound up sprawled on his back.
"Going somewhere?" Clark asked casually.
The boy just stared at him. Even in the darkness of the evening, Clark could see tears in his eyes. Jimmy just lay there, not moving. The dark haired teen decided that he would have to make the first move. He knelt down beside Jimmy and waited. Sure enough, the blue eyed boy wrapped his arms around Clark's neck with a startling ferocity. He sat with the kid for a moment before asking.
"Why did you run away, Jimmy?"
"They were gonna hit me," the boy murmured against his shoulder. "That's what my mom and dad did, when they weren't passed out from drinkin'." An all too bitter disgust tainted Jimmy's voice as he straightened up and ran a hand over his eyes. "Nobody's going to hit me again. I'll run away before I let anyone hit me."
"Nobody's going to hit you." Clark promised. "I swear, my parents would never hurt a fly. Besides," the teen smiled quickly. "If anyone does, I'll be there to put a stop to it."
Jimmy looked at him for a long time. "Really?"
"Promise," Clark said, meaning it more than he'd ever meant anything in his life. He picked up the exhausted child and carried him back to the house.
The next morning ran much the same as the first. Jimmy remained very quiet, but worked as diligently as he could. Sometimes, his small stature got him into trouble, but Clark was always there to lend a hand.
Days turned into weeks and pretty soon, Jimmy was a regular member of the family. But the kid always made his presence known. The Kents were soon to discover that anything that wasn't nailed down would have to be. When he wanted to be, Jimmy could be as carefree as any child his age and it showed through in his seemingly boundless energy.
Yet most of the time, he acted far more maturely. Particularly around strangers, he was quiet and unobtrusive. He always seemed to find a way to fade into the shadows and draw as little attention to himself as possible.
Clark occasionally had his doubts about the boy. He knew that Jimmy sometimes sneaked out of the house at night, but he was always back in the morning, so he didn't make a big deal out of it. Besides, he had his own burgeoning powers to deal with and he couldn't be bothered by constantly thinking about Jimmy.
But once in a while, an angry neighbor would bring Jimmy home, complaining to the Kents that a boy his age shouldn't be wandering the streets at night alone. Jimmy had argued that he'd lived on the streets for a long time and he could take care of himself. He still didn't trust any of them. It was like he expected to wake up one morning and have them kick him out.
That would never happen and Clark couldn't fathom living his life like that. He'd always had his parents to love and support him, but obviously, Jimmy hadn't. Clark didn't know whether to feel sorry for the boy or not. On one hand, he was independent and wise beyond his years. On another, Jimmy could display a startling cynicism and didn't seem capable of trusting anyone. He was always waiting to be hurt or abandoned.
Martha had explained that this would take time to rectify, but they needed to be patient.
One day while Jonathan was talking to a neighbor, Clark noticed that Jimmy had wandered off again. Since the kid had a tendency to do this, he decided to go and make sure that Jimmy was okay. He didn't want the kid he'd come to think of as a little brother to get into any more trouble.
Clark used his senses to track the boy down. Sure enough, he was standing on the bottom rung of a fence, reaching his hand out to one of farmer Gray's horses. Clark rolled his eyes and broke into a run. Jimmy didn't know anything about horses and if he accidentally spooked one of them, Mr. Gray would be furious.
"Jimmy!" He shouted when he was close enough to be heard. "Get down from there right now!"
Frozen in spot, the boy didn't move until Clark grabbed him by the arm and pulled him down. Jimmy stared up at him with a wide eyed expression that made the teen feel like a cretin. Looking down, Clark saw that Jimmy was holding a carrot in his hand.
"I just wanted to see the horses, Clark," Jimmy said quietly, not meeting Clark's gaze.
"I'm sorry, Jimmy," the teen declared. He looked beyond the kid to stare at the horses who were grazing. One of the herd was still staring at the duo, obviously waiting for his treat. "Here, why don't I show you how to feed the horse the right way? After all, you don't want him to bite your finger off, do you?"
Moments later, the animal was munching happily on his carrot and the two were walking away. A sudden idea occurred to Clark and he looked down at Jimmy with a grin. "Maybe tomorrow we can ask Mr. Gray if he could show you how to ride. Would you like that?"
The look on Jimmy's face said everything for him.
Jimmy gradually undertook more responsibilities in the Kent household. Since it was so late in the school year, he wouldn't be able to get started until the next year. That would probably mean that he would be a year behind, but Clark decided to help him out with his studies and make sure that nobody picked on him.
Also, Jimmy began to take makeshift riding lessons with Farmer Gray. Mr. Gray was an older man whose kids were all going to college, so he liked having a young kid around again. And Jimmy was an eager learner. During dinner time, he would regale the Kents with stories about what he'd learned.
Now that he was being well fed every day, Jimmy began to improve physically as well. He grew a few inches and finally began to fill out. But the hard farm work kept him thin and strong.
Soon, everybody began to view Jimmy as part of the Kents. Including Jimmy himself. It was hard for him, at first, to believe that there were some genuinely good people in the world, but once he accepted it, he found that life was a lot more livable.
As the second month of Jimmy's time with them loomed closer, Clark began to figure things out for himself. He finally began to realize what his father meant by using his powers responsibly. Jonathan wanted Clark to use them around the house, to make things easier for himself and his family.
Not to mention Jimmy. Clark always had to watch the child when his parents were away. Not that Clark minded all that much. The kid was rapidly turning into the little brother he'd never had. And, up until this point, Clark hadn't realized that maybe a little brother was just what he needed. He liked having someone to watch out for and Jimmy didn't seem to mind.
It was nearing the end of the summer, so this was probably the last time that Jimmy would be able to ride outdoors. He wanted to savour it, so he groomed Mr. Gray's roan Margie and decided to go out on one last trail.
Clark was just finishing up his last few minutes' work in the field when he caught sight of his little brother riding down a trail. He raised his hand to wave, but then realized that Jimmy wouldn't be able to see it anyway.
Nearby, a tractor engine roared to life. Clark heard a sharp yell in the distance and realized with sickening dread that Margie had spooked and was galloping at full speed down the trail. Jimmy was going to fall and at the speed the mare was going, he was going to be badly hurt.
Clark was in motion before he'd even thought about moving. He was beside the horse just as Jimmy came down and was able to catch the kid in his arms and take hold of the roan's reins at the same time. Margie skidded to a halt. She looked startled, but soon calmed.
Panting, Jimmy didn't even bother to ask Clark about how he'd gotten there so quickly. He just buried his face into his big brother's shoulder and shuddered softly.
Clark felt an overwhelming feeling of relief as Jimmy fell asleep into his arms. Then it him: he had just saved a life. Not just any life, but the life of someone he cared about and he'd done it using his powers. Sudden clarity dawned as the true meaning of his father's words sank in.
Filled with determination, Clark vowed that from then on, he would help anybody he could whenever he could for as long as he lived.
At the start of the next school year, the Kents were pleasantly surprised to discover that Jimmy's aptitude test showed that would be able to go directly into grade nine. That meant that he would be attending the same high school as Clark, at least for one year.
Clark couldn't help but feel a swell of pride as Jimmy walked through the doors of Smallville High for the first time. A year ago, he'd been just Jimmy, an untrusting street punk. But now he was Jimmy Kent and he was beginning a whole new chapter of his life.
If you couldn't tell, I'm a sucker for Jimmy.
I sincerely hoped you liked this story.