Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Monster in the Closet


Baby Clark/Martha
Rating: G
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.

"There's a monster in the closet, Mommy."

"Clark." Martha Kent smiled reassuringly at the small, anxious face peering up at her. "We talked about this before. Remember? There's no such thing as monsters."

"But there's one in the closet. There is."

Martha managed to avoid heaving a sigh. Clark was about five, although they had no way of knowing his exact age, and he had all the normal anxieties of any other child. The fact that he was in no way, shape, or form a normal child didn't seem to matter. Apparently children were the same the galaxy over. They all worried about what might be lurking in the dark recesses of their room at night.

She stood up and walked to the closet. The door was already ajar for some reason, but she pulled it all the way open to reveal a row of neatly hung clothing (placed there by herself) and a clutter of toys on the floor (placed there by Clark). "See?" she said brightly. "Nothing there."

Clark narrowed his pale green eyes, looking irritated by her failure to believe him. "I heard the monster," he insisted. "It tripped over the toys. The monster's there, Mommy."

"Clark..." Martha resisted the urge to bang her head against the wall. She got that urge about five times a day, but as far as she could tell it wasn't the result of raising an alien child. All mothers apparently felt the same urge, just about as often. "I don't see a monster, sweetie. But if there is a monster, I'm sure it's a nice friendly monster."

His eyes went wide, as if the idea had never occurred to him. "A friendly monster?"

Martha nodded. She saw an opportunity to expand his thinking, and grabbed it. "Why not? Don't you think monsters can be friendly? Why do they all have to be mean?"

"Uhhh..." He blinked at her. "Monsters aren't people, Mommy."

"They're not humans," she agreed. "But humans aren't the only people in the universe, Clark. Maybe monsters are people too. Maybe they're just misunderstood people. Maybe the monster's hiding in your closet because it's afraid of you."

He looked incredulous for a moment, then suddenly giggled. "Maybe the monster's afraid of me," he repeated, sounding delighted. "Maybe it's shy. Because it's a nice monster."

"I'm sure it's nice," she told him. "Because if it likes you enough to spend time in your room, it must want to be friends with you. And it must like you because you have things in common. And you're nice, so it must be nice too."

Clark's little face broke into a wide, dazzling smile. He had the most adorable smile, Martha thought. He looked toward the closet.

"Come out, monster," he said. "Come out and play."

"No,Clark," Martha said, stepping away from the closet without bothering to close it. "He can't play right now. It's bedtime. I want you to go to sleep, sweetheart."

He frowned. "But I want to play with the monster."

"Maybe he'll come out and play in the morning. But right now, he has to go to sleep, too."

Clark sighed, but apparently accepted that monsters needed to sleep too, because he reluctantly stretched out in bed. Martha pulled up the covers, kissed his cheek, and ran her hair through the rumpled brown waves of his hair. His long, dark eyelashes drifted down, and she began to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," just as she always did.

She thought she heard something shift in the closet, and she looked over her shoulder, half expecting to see the friendly monster she'd described smiling at her. But there was nothing there.

Of course there was nothing there. She'd stood there and looked into the closet, and she knew perfectly well there was nothing at all in the closet besides clothes and toys.

Silly, she thought to herself, smiling wryly at her own brief moment of foolishness. There's no such thing as monsters.

*****

The monster stood in the closet and watched the Earth woman sing to her adopted son. He didn't think of himself as a monster, of course, but from Martha Kent's viewpoint, he realized he would certainly appear to be a monster in his natural form, with green skin and glowing crimson eyes. That was why he'd turned himself invisible, so as not to frighten the Kents, and ducked hastily into the closet when he'd heard Martha coming up the stairs. And it was why he ordinarily walked among humans disguised as a human, with the very ordinary human name of John Jones.

John Jones was a police detective, and driven by curiosity, he'd investigated the strange meteor shower that occurred in Smallville two years ago and managed to turn up the curious fact that a miniature alien spacecraft had landed at the same time. Further investigation had turned up the fact that the Kents had adopted a small boy at the same time, and it hadn't been difficult to confirm that the boy in question was in fact the alien who'd been inside the spaceship.

At that point, the boy had been on the Kent farm for a mere month. The boy seemed happy, and the Kents seemed to be determined to provide a good home for the boy, so he'd curbed his first impulse, which was to take the boy and raise him himself. On his own planet of Ma'aleca'andra, which humans referred to as Mars, J'onn J'onzz had been a devoted family man, and he'd loved his two sons, and his beloved wife, more than anything. But everything he'd ever loved had been wiped out in a mental plague, and now he was entirely alone.

As an alien on this planet, he understood the boy better than anyone else could. But the boy was already growing attached to the Kents, and seemed very happy running around the farm, so J'onn had decided to content himself with watching over the boy.

His work as a police detective kept him busy, but every so often, he flew to Smallville to check on the child and see how he was doing. The boy was growing rapidly, developing talents no human child could dream of, and he flashed his bright, wide smile often. J'onn was confident he'd made the right choice in leaving the child to be raised by the Kents.

Even so, part of him wished he hadn't.

Ordinarily he tried to confine himself to watching the Kents' public moments, rather than spying on private ones. He didn't like using his power of invisibility to invade people's privacy. But this evening, he'd crept up the stairs, somehow unable to resist the idea of listening to Martha sing a lullaby to the boy. Standing here silently, watching Martha Kent sing as the boy's eyes grew heavier and heavier, he remembered watching his own wife croon softly to their children as they fell asleep. Despite all the years that had passed, he missed his family so much his chest hurt, and suddenly he felt very alone on this planet.

On this planet, he was a monster.

He watched as Martha Kent brushed another kiss over the boy's forehead, then rose to her feet and tiptoed from the room. The lights went off. J'onn stood in the moonlit darkness for a long while, watching the boy's chest rise and fall, remembering two other boys he'd watched sleep, a long, long time ago.

At last, when the boy was sound asleep, he stepped quietly from the closet, managing to avoid the clutter of toys he'd stumbled over when he'd dodged into the closet in the first place. He stood next to the bed for a long moment, staring at the child, feeling a peculiar kinship with this small boy. The boy looked human, not like his own children at all-- and yet he and Clark Kent shared much in common. They were both aliens, living among six billion humans, and Clark would have to learn to camouflage his abilities in order to survive, just as J'onn had.

J'onn ached for the boy, destined to be the only one of his kind in the world. He hated to think of a child having to grow up with the terrible loneliness he felt every day. And yet he knew the boy was destined to be lonely. No matter how well the Kents cared for him, he couldn't help but be lonely.

J'onn felt the sudden urge to bend and brush a kiss over the boy's forehead, just as Martha had, just as he'd kissed his own children goodnight all those years ago, but he resisted the urge. This wasn't his son, after all. His children were long dead, the victims of a planetwide plague, and he was alone on this planet. He'd decided that he'd watch after Clark Kent, but he wouldn't allow himself to get emotionally attached to the boy. Clark Kent wasn't his child, after all. They weren't even the same species. And if Clark saw him in his true form, he'd think of him as a monster.

On Mars, J'onn had been a very ordinary man. But here on Earth, he was a monster. And the same was true of Clark. On his own planet, doubtless he would have been quite average. But here, he was something unique, something special. And as he grew and developed new powers, some people might see him as a monster despite his human appearance. Even though the Kents were raising him, J'onn intended to watch over the boy, to make certain he grew to adulthood, so he could fulfill his potential.

As J'onn's own children never had.

Still invisible, he turned and silently opened the window, so that a light summer breeze blew in. The stars were scattered brightly across the ebony sky, and the moon shone brightly. Earth was a beautiful world, he thought.

But it wasn't his world. It wasn't Clark Kent's world, either. And yet they both had no choice-- they had to make a place for themselves in this world, because it was the only world either of them had left.

J'onn left the boy sleeping peacefully and flew out into the night, back to his solitary, lonely life.

-The End-

6 comments:

Opal said...

Oh that was so sweet and unique. Another alien knowing how Clark is going to feel.

I loved how Martha explained maybe the monster was just misunderstood.

sally said...

I loved this! This was so adorable and moving. You do adorable and moving so well. Adn you do the whole lonliness thing so well too. How do you do it. I think our stories about Clark thinking about how alone he is are your best stories. I loved Martha's little speech on how the monster could be s nice that was a great seigweigh in introducing Martian Manhunter.
I just love him he's one of my fav. justice league characters. I love your portrayal of him in this. I suspected that he would be a great mentor for him to have since their back rounds are so simular.
Execelent job! :)

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful idea for a story! It's so cute and sweet and sad, too. I loved it a lot.

--LastScorpion--

SelfAppointedCritic said...

What a wonderfully touching yet (sweetly) sad story. Martha and Baby!Clark pretty much guarantees "the adorable" as their interaction here supports. *I just want to kiss & squeeze baby!Clark* Martha's devotion to Clark is so endearing.

MM's background and loss is also very moving, and his determination to "look out" for Clark is just...*sniffle* I especially loved the way he drew the parallels between his existence and Clarks. So honorable... *sniffle again*

I can't recall when this story was written, but THIS makes much more sense as background for his role in Clark's life than the the nonsense they spouted in Phantom. Just WHEN will you begin writing for SV?

As always, thanks for sharing your work with us Elly.

blackheart_me said...

I can't believe I didn't comment this one. When I first read it I thought it was so adorable. I felt bad for Martha a bit and for Clark but I love how u added the MM into it. I enjoyed how Martha told Clark about 'friendly monsters' it's just so adorable to see a younger Clark.
Beautiful Piece Elly!

katdev117 said...

absoutly love it, so sweet and ponient.