By Snave <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Rated: PG13 (Extended WHAM)
Submitted: 1 April 2006
Summary: This little cherub's fall from grace is only the beginning of her descent…
This piece consists of the 'missing' scene from one of the author's earlier stories, 'Cherub'. It will most likely help you to have read that story first; it may be found in this Archive.
[WHAM Warning: This story contains an extended WHAM. Although not a death-fic in the strict sense, be warned that the piece ends with the word 'dead'.]
Again, thanks go to Lynn M. for the use of the younger characters in this story, and to December 3rd Productions, for letting me borrow the others for a little non-profit fun. Thanks also to Erin Klingler for her kind efforts in GE-ing this story.
For Ann, who calls 'em like she sees 'em.
Fallen Angel, by Snave
[PROLOGUE (from 'Cherub')]
Lois laid down the first page of the letter, and picked up the second. Just then, there was a *whoosh* from the direction of the kitchen, and Clark came striding in, adjusting his tie. He cleared a space beside her on the sofa and sat down, placing an arm around her shoulders.
"Whatcha doin'?" he asked, waggling his eyebrows at her.
She responded by leaning up to his down-turned face and giving his lips a quick peck.
"Oh. Work, huh?" He flashed her a faux-disappointed expression.
"Clark, take a look at this." She passed him the envelope, sans return address, and the first page of the letter, while she proceeded to finish the second page.
"… When I asked her what her name was," the writer continued, "she looked really wary, as if I were somehow asking something forbidden. But I took a chance and asked again. As she rose into the air and departed, she turned and spoke a single word — the only word she uttered during her entire 'visit.'
"It was a name — a simple name, yet hauntingly beautiful — a name which I had never heard before. And when I say 'haunting' I mean more than just in the aesthetic sense. The name stayed in my thoughts, and I had to find out more about it. I checked around, but after several weeks of searching, I found only a single reference to such a name — interestingly enough, in the on-line archives of your own newspaper, The Daily Planet.
"No, Ms. Lane; I'm not including the name in this letter. But know this: As I said at the beginning, angels exist. They really do. And sometimes, they are even closer than we think."
Lois handed the second sheet to Clark, who skimmed it at super-speed. She heaved out a quick breath. "Well! What do you make of that?"
Clark picked up the accompanying photo and studied it. "This come with it?"
"Yeah, and it's just as goofy as the letter."
"Wait a minute. I remember this guy. Remember the day of our picnic with Emma last month? I was coming back from the LexOil fire when I saw this same guy down in the water, sitting on his capsized boat. I went down and righted the boat for him, and warmed him up with a little heat vision. Then I asked if I could give him a tow somewhere. He just looked funny, and said, 'No, Superman, my guardian angel has already done more for me today than I deserve.' When I left him, he was determinedly trying to get his engine started. Hmm," he added, "it looks like he's re-painted the boat. I don't blame him; the hull was so slick he was nearly sliding off it when I first saw him." Clark continued to stare absently at the picture.
This gave Lois a clear view of the rear of the photo, and she suddenly snatched it out of Clark's hand. He raised an eyebrow at her, but she was intently studying three small characters typed on the back of the print. She remembered having noticed them when she had first opened the envelope. They were typed in a group, but not at the center of the print, nor particularly near any one side of it.
She studied them more closely. At first she thought she was looking at a Smiley from an e-mail. But this one was slightly different; it had a semicolon instead of the usual colon for the eyes.
A semi-colon, a hyphen, and a close-parenthesis. A wink and a grin.
A thoughtful expression on her face, she placed her thumb over the little triplet of letters, and her forefinger in the corresponding spot on the other side of the photo. Turning the print over, she removed her finger, and found that it had been covering the name on the little boat.
Clark was intently watching her progress.
She squinted, and carefully studied the scrollwork and curlicues of the boat's monogram. And it suddenly popped out at her.
Two pairs of wide eyes met, and then narrowed, turning in unison toward the stairs. Two strident voices called out in perfect synchrony, "Emma Lara Kent, you get down here RIGHT NOW!"
[END OF PROLOGUE]
Six-year-old Emma Kent jerked her head up at the sound of her parents' shout. They sounded *mad*! What had she done? Her mind whirled through the events of the day; but for the life of her she couldn't think of anything that would elicit *that* kind of mutual ire from them.
She cautiously opened her bedroom door. "NOW, young lady!" her mother's voice echoed up the stairs and along the upstairs hallway. Uh-oh. There was no time for evaluation or analysis; she needed to get down there *now*!
Throwing the bedroom door wide open, she broke into a run. Pounding along the hallway, she reached out for the newel-post at the top of the banister, and swung around it full-tilt onto the stairs…
And plunged headlong, eyes filled with horror, toward the hardwood of the living room floor twelve feet below.
Lois felt a scream rising in her throat as she pushed off the sofa in a frantic, reflexive effort. The scene before her burned itself into her brain: her daughter's look of pure terror, hands thrust out in front of her, fingers splayed out reflexively as she plunged downward. Lois's peripheral vision revealed Clark coming up off the sofa with her, and launching himself in a flat dive, hands outstretched, toward the spot where Emma would strike the floor — where the life of their daughter might be instantly snuffed out.
Time seemed to freeze, and Lois perceived all of this in a single wrenching, heart-stopping, agonizing moment — a moment which seemed to extend on and on, her daughter frozen in the air a foot from the floor, Clark frozen in his flight across the room…
What… Waitaminute… Time *had* frozen. As Lois's mouth and eyes opened wider in shock, Clark slowly turned his head toward her, an expression of — she could only call it amazement — on his face as he rotated his body to a standing position. At the same time, Emma tilted her head upward, fixing her gaze on Clark, and her expression changed to one of… was that trepidation? Her lip began to quiver, and then she was launching herself *through the air* toward her father, throwing her arms around his neck, and wailing, "I'm sorry, Daddy! I'm sorry, I'm sorry…"
What was going on? Emma could *fly*? And she was *sorry* about it? And why was she apologizing to *Clark*? Lois unaccountably felt a twinge of jealousy at the attention Clark was getting. What was *she*, chopped liver? She had been just as terrified as Clark had been…
Then it all snapped back into perspective as Clark began to caress Emma's hair and speak soothing words to her. "What're you sorry for, Pumpkin? Daddy's just glad that you didn't get hurt!"
"Sweetie, why didn't you tell us you could fly?" Lois was beginning to get her bearings, and the wonder of the situation was beginning to make itself felt. She hurried over and put her arms around Emma and Clark, and forced a tremulous smile onto her face.
Emma turned a doubtful gaze on her. "Please don't be mad, Mama!" She reached out one arm, placing it around her mother's neck.
Clark was saying, "But we're not mad, Pumpkin! It's wonderful that you can fly." They all untangled themselves from the communal hug, and returned to the sofa, Clark settling Emma between them.
"Yes, you were too mad," corrected Emma, a slight, wavery grin appearing on her face in spite of the situation.
Now that the crisis was over, Lois's and Clark's thoughts were mutually returning to their activities just before Emma's spectacular and hearting-stopping entrance. "Oh, yes. I guess we were," Lois responded with a slight answering grin. She looked around and located the photo where she had dropped it. Holding it up for her daughter, she said, "Sweetie, do you recognize the man in this picture?"
Puzzled, Emma glanced from her mother's face down to the picture. And gulped. Looking back up at Lois, she began hesitantly, "Um…yeah. He's the man I saved…"
Her daddy was looking at her in wonder. "But that would mean that you've known how to fly for a whole month…" He stopped, seeing Emma slowly shaking her head at him.
Then she smiled, a mischievous grin. "Not for a whole month, Daddy. For a whole *year*!" Her smug gaze shifted from Clark to Lois, who was looking completely pole-axed.
Lois took a deep breath. "Okay, Sweetie…*when* did you first find out you could fly?"
Emma was truly enjoying her 'fifteen minutes of fame.' "It was way last fall — before Christmas, even." She quickly rehearsed to them how she had discovered her ability, and how she had practiced each day in her bedroom with the door closed when Gracie wasn't there.
Lois glanced at Clark, who shrugged as he stared back at her. "I never had a clue, honey." He turned back to Emma. "So why did you keep it a secret for so long?" Lois was dying to know the answer to that one too.
But at that question, Emma's face fell, and with a slightly quivering lip, she repeated her previous plea: "Please don't be mad at me." She took a deep breath, and then it all began to tumble out. "When you told me you was Superman, you said that when I grew up and got your powers, that I'd hafta be Superman too." A tear began to trickle down one cheek. "An' nen, when I learned to fly, I was scared I'd hafta be Superman right then." She took a deep, quavering breath, and stared at her father with an earnest expression. "Daddy, I didn't know *how* to be Superman!" She looked down, ashamed, and her shoulders shook as she began sobbing quietly.
Immediately, Clark gathered her into his arms, gave her a comforting squeeze, and then tipped her face up to where he could look into her eyes. "Emma, listen to me; this is important. You don't *ever* have to be Superman if you don't want to be."
"Honey, being Superman is just a thing I do to help people who are in trouble, or in danger. I do it because I want to, and because I can, not because I have to. Having these powers makes it easy for me to help people that way, so I do." He reached out and retrieved the photo from Lois. He held it up so his daughter could see it. "Emma, why did you save this man?"
She looked doubtfully up at him. "Uh…'cause he would 'a drownded if I didn't!"
"Exactly!" He bestowed one of his megawatt smiles on her. "You did it because he needed saving! And because you thought you could save him!" He hugged her close. "Sweetheart, we're so incredibly proud of you! Do you know that?"
"My turn," said Lois, pulling her out of Clark's arms and giving her an equally fervent hug. Emma beamed up at her mother through her tears. "Now, how about if you tell us all about your first big rescue?"
"An' nen he asked me what my name was," Emma concluded as her tale wound down. "But you said we shouldn't tell our names to people we don't know, so I only told him my middle name. Then I flew back to the hill."
"Well, your middle name was enough for him to figure out who we are," her mother responded worriedly. "Clark, what are we going to do? I'm sure he's worked out that Emma is our daughter; him choosing me to send that letter to is just too big a coincidence. But we don't even know who *he* is!" Lois waved the unsigned second page of the letter at Clark.
The phone chose that moment to begin ringing. Lois waved her hands in the air. "That's all we need!"
"Honey, why not just ignore it? I think this conversation's more important right now. Let the machine get it for once."
But then the party at the other end began to speak. "Lois? I know you're home; now pick up the phone. Lois? You know it's rude to ignore your own mother; now please talk to me."
She looked pleadingly at Clark, who just shrugged. Resignedly, she set Emma down by her side, got up and headed for the phone. "Lois, I'm not hanging up until you…"
Lois grabbed the receiver and placed it to her ear. "Sorry, Mother, we were just discussing something…"
"Probably about me, I shouldn't wonder."
She sighed. "No, Mother, it wasn't about you." She turned and shrugged apologetically at Clark and Emma. "Um, well, we were just saying that it was really sweet of you to tend Gracie for us this afternoon. We should probably come over right away to pick her up…"
"Actually, Lois, that's why I'm calling. Your father just dropped in, and he's asking if he can take me out to dinner. I told him I was tending Gracie, and he wants to take her along too."
Lois held out the phone and stared at it. She returned it to her ear. "Okay, who are you people, and what have you done with my parents?"
There was a startled gasp at the other end of the line. "Lois, what… Are you trying to be funny at my expense?"
Lois sighed again. "Sorry, Mom, just my feeble attempt at humor." She added thoughtfully, "You know, it might actually be a good experience for Gracie to get out with you and Daddy. And Clark and I would appreciate it; we're kind of in the middle of something here…"
"Well, I just didn't want you to show up at my door and us not be home." Lois could hear fumbling at the other end. "Now what have I done with my house keys?" She heard Gracie saying something to Ellen, who then came back on the line. "Hmph. Your impertinent daughter seems to think they're in a pocket in the corner of my purse… Well, for goodness' sake. Here they are, right where she… Isn't that odd?"
Lois blinked; yes, that was definitely odd. What if Gracie were developing x-ray… Lois shook her head; nah, that was ridiculous. Gracie was only four, for heaven's sake! She returned to the conversation. "Mom, you guys go and have a good time. We may have to go out for a bit; but just call us when you get back, and Clark'll come over for Gracie. Okay? Bye." She hung up the phone and returned to her seat on the sofa.
Clark was saying, "What I don't understand, Pumpkin, is why you want to use the name 'Superman'? That's *my* name."
Lois immediately picked up on the problem, and dived into the conversation. "Sweetie, 'Superman' isn't the name of a job, like 'Fireman' or 'Policeman.' It's the name of a person — it's the name your daddy uses when he's out showing off." She winked at Clark, who let a faux-hurt expression cross his face.
He then said, "I'm 'fraid your mom's right, Sweetheart. If you want to be a superhero, you're just going to have to find your own super-name." He grinned at her.
"In the meantime, Emma," interjected Lois, "Did the man ever tell you his name?"
She giggled. "Nope, he thought I already knew it." She stared at her mother. "Mama, he thought I was a angel, an' that I came to take him to heaven!" She giggled some more.
"*An* angel," Lois corrected. "And by the way, it's 'drowned,' not 'drownded'."
"You're *always* making me say things right!" Emma glanced at her dad, and then back to Lois. "First you want me to be Superman, an' now you want me to be a reporter too?"
Lois laughed in spite of herself. "Don't get cheeky with me, kid! I may just have to tickle you!" She did, and the next couple of minutes were filled with laughter — until Emma was able to flit up out of her mother's reach.
Emma looked out of the car window as they drove over to Mr. Middleton's house. Daddy had found some numbers on the boat in the picture, and they had called Uncle Jimmy, who had told them who the boat belonged to.
She thought that it would be nice to see the man again. He really *was* a nice man, even if he was a stranger. Besides, after they visited him tonight, he wouldn't be a stranger anymore. Maybe they could visit him again.
Her mind wandered, and she thought about the conversation earlier at home. She was glad that she didn't have to be Superman unless she wanted to be — but she had had a month to decide that she really *did* want to do it — maybe after she was grown up. She was happy that her parents were partial to that idea. Her daddy had said that he didn't want her being a superhero until she had his invul… invernable… until she couldn't get hurt any more. Mama had said that she didn't want Daddy to have to save Emma while Emma was saving somebody else. She decided that that made sense.
She was glad that Daddy had offered to help her practice her powers every day. They would have to be careful that Gracie didn't find out. Now that Daddy had explained about how her ability to see Mr. Middleton when he fell out of his boat was called telescopic vision, and how she might soon be getting some of his other powers, she was looking forward to the practice sessions.
It was too bad that she couldn't be Superman, and use the same name as her daddy did. But she could see the logic in getting her own superhero name, so that everybody would know who she was. As she thought this, she was suddenly struck with an idea. She had the perfect name for herself — a name that would make everybody know that she was there, that she would rescue them, that they didn't have to worry about getting saved!
A quiet smile appeared on her face, and her eyes sparkled with silent glee.
It would knock 'em dead.
Happy All Fool's Day, everyone!