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  1. #31
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    great update, the first meeting of mr. clark and jonathan! love how you played it all out. can't wait to read more

  2. #32
    Forum Whiz NorthOfNever's Avatar
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    Ouch! Talk about judging a book by its cover. Great update, Smallvillian! I especially liked this line:

    The off-the-cuff joke fell flat and continued its decent through the pit in Martha's stomach.
    Very evocative. I love the depth of character you've developed, and, as it goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway), I anxiously await more!

  3. #33
    **

    Martha stared out of the window of her father's '80 Mercedes as it rode along the streets of Metropolis, stopping at the odd traffic light every now and then. She might have enjoyed the urban scenery of skyscrapers and city sidewalks if she weren't so furious she couldn't speak for fear of what might spill out.

    "Martha, don't sulk. It's not very ladylike," he father commented from the driver's seat while he fiddled with the stereo knob, turning it back and forth.

    Maybe it was the afternoon and the fact that he had shown how small-minded and crass he could really be outside the circle of his blue-blood business partners and snobbish associates. What he had done to Jonathan had been nothing short of malicious and it made her stomach turn. She could still see the look on Jonathan's face before he left, and closed her eyes briefly against it.

    Maybe it was knowing that the man she left behind would never have made her feel the way she did right then--sick with disappointment and cold with the knowledge that her father hadn't the time nor the inclination to ask about her feelings, only to correct her flaws.

    Or maybe she had finally had enough.

    Whatever the reason, Martha couldn't remain quiet any longer. "How could you, dad?" she grumbled angrily from beside him, scooting further to one side, positioning herself as far from him as possible.

    "How could I what? Change the station? I'll put it back if you like."

    Unbelievable. Either the man was incredibly obtuse, or he had even less humanity coursing through his veins she had ever realized. "How could you talk to Jonathan like that? You were dismissive and cruel," she shot back, looking directly at him this time.

    Her father kept his eyes on the road and tapped the brakes, causing a whine from the car as they approached another light. "Truth isn't cruel, Martha, it's simply a statement of fact. And the truth is, a boy like that is beneath you. Believe me, I did you a favor," he replied as casually as though he were giving her the day's weather forecast.

    "Beneath me?" She couldn't believe what she was hearing. "How would you know that? You don't know anything about him!"

    "That wasn't my doing, was it? If your Jonathan were much to speak of, you would have. Now let's drop the matter."

    Martha wanted to scream, to tell him that he had no right to say such things, but his last statement cut short the impending outburst and left her baffled as to what to say next. If she told him the truth about her reasons for secrecy, it would only make everything worse. So, she bit her lip and said nothing. But there was one person who needed to hear them.

    **

    Every road in this town looked the same. And apparently there were no such things as road signs. As Martha recalled, the direction given to her were: " Big yellow place. Twenty miles through the corn and five down past the Ross place," which, evidently could be identified by "the two big Shepherd mutts roaming the fence line." With directions like that, it was a good extra hour before she pulled under the large wooden sign that read "Kent Farm," and parked, then opened the door to step out.

    A cow mooing somewhere in the distance some time later called her attention to the fact that she was still sitting in the car.

    She had thought of calling, but had decided that if she didn't give Jonathan the courtesy of speaking to him face to face after what happened the day before, then she was no better than her father. Only, now that she was actually here, she had to wonder what she hoped to accomplish by any of this. He wouldn't want to see her.

    "Excuse me, dear, are you lost?" Martha jumped at the voice and jerked her head around to find a blond woman in a pair of overalls and a sunhat peering down at her through the car window.

    Martha hurriedly got out of the vehicle and closed the door, nearly tripping over her own two feet in the process. "No. No, actually, I was lost several times before I found the right place," she stammered and caught her breath. "Mrs. Kent?"

    "Why, yes," the woman agreed with a smile, adjusting her hat to a better look at her visitor. "And who might you be?"

    "I'm Martha Clark. I was just--"

    "Martha--oh honey, it's so nice to finally meet you!" Mrs. Kent exclaimed. "Jonathan talks about you all the time. I'm sorry you had such trouble finding the place. I do wish Jonathan had told us you were coming. Look at me. I'm a mess," she complained with a smile still in her voice as she swiped at her work clothes, then offered her hand. "I'm Jessica Kent, Jonathan's mother, but I'm sure you guessed that."

    "Yes, ma'am." Martha forced an answering smile despite her mounting self-reproach. "Jonathan always has such nice things to say about you and your husband. I'm glad to finally meet you, too."

    "Oh, well, thank you, sweetheart," Jessica said happily. She looked past the house toward the barn off in the distance and frowned. "That boy of mine, I swear sometimes I don't know what goes through his head. I thought I taught him better manners than that--having you drive out here all by yourself. He's out at the barn doing some cutting. I'll get him."

    "Uh--actually, Mrs. Kent, Jonathan didn't know I was coming here. I kind of needed to talk to him about something. Do you think it would be okay if I went myself?" Whether it was woman's intuition or a mother's sixth sense--or perhaps it was Martha's own guilt that gave her the impression--Mrs.. Kent seemed to experience about three emotions in just as many seconds--surprise, concern, then understanding.

    "So that's why the wood chopping took an extra hour last night," she said knowingly. "It's usually his least favorite chore. The barn's right around there, honey. I'll just leave you two alone."

    "Thank you, Mrs. Kent." And Martha was thankful. It would have been easy for a mother to ask a lot of questions, to make presumptions, but Mrs. Kent did neither.

    "Oh, and Martha, why don't you both come inside and have some lunch when you're done with your talk? I'll see you in a bit." The two exchanged one last smile before Martha headed off, glad that at least one of them was sure she would be able to make good on the offer.

    The sound of a buzz-saw led the rest of the way to the large red structure where she peeked around one of the doors to find Jonathan hunched over a workbench, cutting several planks of wood. Sawdust covered the floor at his feet and the burnt smell of freshly cut lumber lingered heavily about. She took a step forward, then back again, worrying her fingers over the grain of rough wood along the entrance. While she stood silently watching, he flipped a switch and the grating sound of the saw eventually died. He removed the work goggles he had been wearing and tiredly wiped his face with a towel that had been laying on the table beside him, then tilted his head back, apparently enjoying the cool December air.

    "Jonathan."

    He spun around at the sound of her voice and regarded her with a mixture of surprise, hope, and a small amount of trepidation. "Martha, what are you doing here?" Both hands fell to his front, still holding the towel between them, and she took a few tentative steps in his direction.

    "I was in the neighborhood? Well, after stopping four times for directions and passing the same goat six more times."

    The beginnings of a smile had started to show, but he seemed to catch himself and refocused his attention on his hands, methodically wiping them with the towel while he spoke. "Was there something you wanted?"

    She swallowed and crossed the rest of the space between them. "I wanted to talk about yesterday. My father was so awful to you, Jonathan, and I'm so sorry. I know what you must think, but I need you to know that my not telling my father about us has nothing to do with how I feel about you. Well, that's not exactly true, but it doesn't mean what you probably thought. It's not about that."

    Damn it, this wasn't the way she had rehearsed it in her head, and now she had started to sound about as articulate as a child who'd taken the microphone at a public function and wouldn't give it back to the grown-ups. His uncharacteristically straight-faced expression didn't help matters.

    "What I mean is," she tried again, "I didn't tell my dad about you because I knew what he would have to say, and I didn't want to listen. I knew he wouldn't approve. He would want me to stop seeing you...and I couldn't do that."

    Jonathan's eyes were steady on her now, but he said nothing.

    "I should have told him. I know. You're right," she went on, as though he had actually given an answer. "He should know how I feel about you. It's nothing to hide. I made a mistake." She took his hand and added shakily, "I love you, Jonathan, and I'm so sorry that I hurt you."

    He only continued to stare, and for a moment Martha worried that he either hadn't been listening or didn't care for what she had to say. In the next breath, though, he was holding her, his chin resting in its usual place atop her head. "That's all I wanted to hear," he said quietly, his own voice unsteady.

    A muffled laugh-sob soaked into his cotton shirt as she rested her head against his warm chest and stroked idly at the fabric there. "You could have jumped in any time, you know."

    "I thought I stood a much better chance letting you do all the talking," he teased, falling easily back into their usual banter. "But there is one thing you should probably know, though..." He paused, leaning back to get a clear view of her face, and studied it closely, then licked his lips. "...I love you, too."

    "You better," she informed him with a grin and pulled him into a long and heated kiss.

    "You think you can just walk in here and have your way with me? What kind of man do you take me for?" He smiled down at her, his arms still loosely circled around her.

    " My kind...no matter what my father says."

    TBC...

  4. #34
    Forum Whiz NorthOfNever's Avatar
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    "You think you can just walk in here and have your way with me? What kind of man do you take me for?" He smiled down at her, his arms still loosely circled around her.

    " My kind...no matter what my father says."
    Delicious! And nutritious - full of substance and loving goodness! Excellent, yet again, of course.

  5. #35
    Site Groupie Renee28's Avatar
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    Makes me feel all gooshy!

    (I leave it to North to come up with the erudite and intelligent critiques. Me, I just stick with the baby talk!)

  6. #36
    Forum Regular crazy4clarkie's Avatar
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    Great update. I can't wait for more.

  7. #37
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    great update, best chapter yet. can't wait to see how martha gets along with jonathan's parents

  8. #38
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    I'm thinking another scene between Jessica and Martha would be great, now that they've gotten the first meeting out of the way. Or maybe one between Jonathan and his mom, talking about Martha. I know a little about what's coming, but not enough to know whether either of those are planned!

  9. #39
    "Jess, whose car is out front?" Hiram Kent shuffled into the kitchen, letting the screen door slam behind him while he continued to the sink to wash his hands.

    "Hiram, honey, we have a guest." Mrs. Kent stood at the kitchen counter putting away the last of the dishes and inclined her head toward the kitchen table where Jonathan and Martha both sat finishing their sandwiches. "This is Martha."

    "You mean she's real?" Hiram looked over at Martha and squinted as if he suspected her to be only a trick of the eyes. "I thought he just needed a reason to sneak off on Saturday nights." The man wasn't serious, of course, and it was clear where Jonathan got his sense of humor from. "Hi, Martha. I'm Hiram Kent. It's good to meet you," he said amiably, drying his hands with a dish rag and tossing it in the sink. "Jon-boy tells us you're studying to be a lawyer, is that right?"

    Martha could see Jonathan cringe from the corner of her eye. She raised an eyebrow at the name and took a sip of milk from her glass in an attempt to hide her amusement.

    "Jonathan, Dad," he corrected, then turned to Martha. "My grade school teachers called me the Walton kid for years." Judging from his expression, he didn't find that fact nearly as funny as she did so she decided to give him a helping hand.

    "Yes, that's right, Mr. Kent, but I haven't really made up my mind yet."

    "Well, you're young. You don't have to have it made up yet, just as long as you have a good mind to do your decidin' with," Hiram reassured her. "Jonathan"-- the name was emphasized to make clear that it was said in lieu of another-- "also says you live in Metropolis. This all must seem pretty different to you, I would imagine."

    "Different, yes, but in a good way. It's truly beautiful here...and if someone mugs you in Smallville, you can just call his mother when you get home."

    A rather undignified but happy snort came from Jonathan's direction.

    "Brains and a sense of humor. You better hold on to this one, kiddo," Mr. Kent remarked cheerfully, strolling up behind his son's chair and gripping the back of it. "Oh, son, I hate to break up you and your lady friend here, but I need your help unloading the feed. It won't take too long. Do you mind if I steal him from you for bit, Martha? I promise I'll return him just the way I got him...If you consider that a good thing," he added with a wink and a slap on his son's shoulder.

    "Oh no, not at all. Go right ahead."

    Jonathan cast Martha one more questioning look to be sure she honestly didn't mind. Satisfied that she was comfortable being left there without him, he stood and picked up both their plates and took them to the sink. "As long as you're sure."

    "You boys go and do whatever you have to do. Martha and I will be fine, won't we dear?" said Mrs. Kent.

    "Yes, ma'am."

    "All right, well, you girls have fun. Time, tide, and the bill collector wait for no man," called Mr. Kent, stopping only to kiss his wife on the way out.

    Martha still sat sipping her milk when Jonathan walked back to where she sat and gave her an unexpected in-front-of-mother peck on the cheek. "I'll be right back," he told her, then grabbed a peanut butter cookie from a plate at the center of the table, took a bite, and trotted off after his father, leaving the slam of the screen door in his wake.

    "Jonathan and his father aren't as different as I thought they would be."

    Somehow the signals that sent words to one's brain versus one's mouth must have gotten crossed because what she had meant as a private thought had actually been spoken out loud. Her eyes darted to Mrs. Kent to gauge her reaction. Luckily, the woman just smiled wisely and replied, "Don't let either of them hear you say that."

    ---


    Jonathan's shoulders stooped slightly under the heavy sacks of grain he carried. He shrugged them off onto the ground inside the barn with a flop and headed back for more. Normally he took his time but that afternoon his steps were a little quicker, despite his load being a great deal heavier.

    "Hey, boy, I know you're young and invincible and all, but take it easy. You could do yourself an injury that way." Hiram carried a sack of his own but moved only half as fast while walking back to the barn.

    Jonathan spared a short glance in the man's direction before tossing the next load to the ground, dragging a hand across his forehead, and huffing a determined, "I'm fine."

    "Son, she's not going anywhere. You don't have to worry."

    Jonathan dropped the next two sacks to the ground. It was just a simple observation on his father's part, but it had gotten his attention. He straightened and put his hands on his hips.

    "What?"

    "Martha is fine spending some time with your mom. Slow down before you hurt yourself."

    Some of the tension eased from Jonathan's shoulders. His hands fell back at his sides as he walked back over to the flatbed of the Kent truck, then heaved another two sacks over his right shoulder. "I know that. I just want to get done, that's all," Jonathan panted, marching off toward the barn once again.

    "Was there something else on your mind?"

    "What could be on my mind?" The reply had been dismissively flippant, but old habits were hard to break. Frequently, Jonathan would still have to remind himself that things were expected to be different now. He and his father were both trying to piece together some semblance of a pleasant father-son relationship. They were getting along.

    "Well, I'm sure I don't know. That's generally why a man asks questions, to get answers."

    "I don't have a problem, dad," Jonathan answered wearily, still dutifully making the trek to and from the barn with sacks in tow.

    Hiram grabbed the last of the sacks of feed. "I never said you had a problem." He dropped the bag at the door of the barn and ran a hand through his gray-white hair. "I was just wondering what had you so... " His thought was finished by a vague but sweeping hand gesture that indicated Jonathan's generally subdued demeanor.

    Jonathan took a ragged breath and resigned himself to the fact that this conversation wasn't going to end without some kind of confession or another. "Look, dad," he sighed, ambling toward the older Kent and shoving his hands in his pockets. "I'm just a little stressed, all right. I have a lot to do--a lot on my mind." He paused and his tone gentled. "I appreciate your concern. I do, but...There's nothing you can do, okay?"

    Hiram said nothing, but the many lines that had appeared over the years, some of which Jonathan had probably put there himself, seemed deeper, his face more tired. His son's reluctance to say anything more had clearly disappointed him, possibly even hurt him, but Hiram had never been the person Jonathan confided in--not as a child, the one that waited for promised things that never came; and not as the young man who grew up quicker than either had expected and didn't ask for promises anymore.

    "If we're done here, I'm going inside."

    ----


    "He really did that?" Martha rested her chin on her folded hands and stared at Jonathan's mother in disbelief.

    "Oh, yes. His father had a fit, but Jonathan was determined. Once he sets his mind to something, it's not an easy thing to change." Mrs. Kent poured herself a glass of lemonade and sat across the table from Martha. "He said if football could pay twenty times what he made, then he was a fool to let the opportunity go by. Of course, he didn't use those exact words, but that was the gist of it. He was always a gifted player, though, ever since he was a child. I think he was throwing a football before he could walk." A fondness for the memories danced in the woman's eyes. Her finger circled lazily around the rim of glass in front of her.

    "So what happened?"

    She looked thoughtfully down at the drink she hadn't sipped yet. "He came back not a week later, said he didn't make the cut. He didn't say much else when he got back, but he did his chores without complaint. Hiram just pretended he never left, but I know he was happy to have him around the house again."

    Martha got the distinct feeling there was more to the story, but before she could press the matter, the screen door swung open and Jonathan's work-shoes tromped loudly across the hardwood kitchen floor.

    "So what have you ladies been up to?" he asked brightly, with the exuberant snap of a towel he grabbed off the counter to wipe his hands.

    "Your mom's been filling me in on what an interesting year you've had. How come you never told me you tried out for the Sharks?"

    He blinked a few times, eyes shifting to his mother and back to Martha then tried to cover his obvious surprise with a quick laugh and a cough. "I guess there wasn't much to tell. I went. I saw. I fell on my face," he joked. "Mom, have you been in here telling stories about me this whole time? This may be the last time I leave the two of you alone together." His mock sternness only sent them into giggles.

    Martha folded her arms on the table and smiled. "Well, I did enjoy the one about the first time you sat on Santa's knee."

    Jonathan's eyes widened in horror and the towel he was holding dropped to the floor. "Mom!"

    Mrs. Kent just waved dismissively at her son. "Oh, honey, it happens to plenty of boys and girls. Mr. McCann is still Santa every year, you know. In fact, I saw him just this last Wednesday. He said to say hi."

    "Jess, stop embarrassing the poor boy." Hiram came in and stood beside the table with the two women, taking in the sight of a very red-faced Jonathan , and shook his head. "It wouldn't have happened in the first place, if you hadn't let him drink your whole soda." He took a handkerchief from his back pocket and wiped the beads of sweat from his face.

    "Martha, would you like to see the farm?" Jonathan asked, louder than necessary and crossing his arms as if that might hold back the onslaught of embarrassing childhood antic dotes. "Please."

    She looked from one of his parents to the other, then at Jonathan's pleading expression, carefully considering her options: Time alone with her handsome young man or stories that could prove highly entertaining and possibly useful in the future. Deciding one was far less cruel, she got up from her seat. "I'd love to," she said, and politely excused herself.

    "Thank God," he muttered quietly, and picked up the towel he'd dropped, placing it back on the counter. He already had a guiding hand on her shoulder when Mr. Kent called out to him.

    "Jon-b...Jonathan. I would still like to talk to you later, when you have the time."

    By then, Jonathan's arm was around her. He looked quickly over his shoulder and replied, "Sure thing," then practically pulled her out the door.

    TBC...
    Last edited by Smallvillian; 12-05-2004 at 02:07 PM.

  10. #40
    Forum Whiz clarksmyman's Avatar
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    That was great!!

  11. #41
    Forum Whiz NorthOfNever's Avatar
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    antic dotes
    I love that!

    Fantastic update as always, but particularly in its familiarity. It so vividly foreshadows conversations and confrontations that take place in literally the same place and almost the same way years later. Like father, like son, and like son. How many of these discussions have we seen between Clark and Jonathan as they walk back and forth with sacks and hay bales? I just really love the symmetry of it. You've really brought the Kents out three-dimensionally.

  12. #42
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    great update, can't wait to read more. love the interaction between jonathan and hiram

  13. #43
    Thanks so much. It really means a lot to hear that things are coming across well and that you enjoy it! I'm getting to the main conflict soon, I promise!

  14. #44
    Forum Whiz NorthOfNever's Avatar
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    You know, every chapter of this has been so satisfying, the thought of plot progression had never even entered my mind. Maybe it's because we're not wondering how they end up, but all I ponder when I read this is the depth and accuracy of the character development. It's go good that the plot isn't even necessary, if that makes any sense. I haven't slept in about a week, so it's quite possible that it doesn't. But in any case, I really do love this, and I await more anxiously.

  15. #45
    Site Groupie Renee28's Avatar
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    Originally posted by NorthOfNever
    antic dotes

    I love that!
    When I first saw it, I thought it was a typo. You're quicker than I am, North! I love it too.

    And I've mentioned this elsewhere, but I'll say it again: Jonathan on Santa's lap deserves to be up there with some of the great classic Christmas movie moments of all time. (And his mom telling Martha about it is just EVIL! Not to mention Martha herself wanting more "useful" stories.)

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