"Isn't there some other way?" I said, immediately regretting the whiny tone in my voice.
"We're just going to check this out. We're not committed to anything Clark." Mom said with pain.
"I'm sorry mom. I know I can't go back home..." I said, thinking for the thousandth time about the accidental slip that set this course of events into motion.
[I nearly burnt down the school. The beams just shot out of my eyes and caught the building on fire... If anyone had been hurt it would've been all my fault. What kind of a monster am I if I can hurt people so easily?]
"Things will calm down in time. We need to give people time to get past this. You'll be able to come home... eventually. You just can't come back there *now*." Mom said, trying to be comforting.
"I know mom... but how is dad going to take care of the farm without me there?" I said, seeing yet another person I had hurt without meaning to.
"We'll manage, don't worry about that. Just focus on this new school. From what Mr. Romanov said, it may be just what we're looking for." Mom said bravely.
"I'll give it a try mom. I really will... wait, I think we need to turn here.." I said, when I noticed the number on the heavy gate.
"Remember, it's your decision Clark. I won't make you stay here if you don't want to." Mom said as she pulled the car onto the private road.
"Thanks mom... I'm scared." I said in a whisper.
"Change is always scary. Just remember that your father and I are a phone call away if you need us for anything." Mom said seriously.
"I know." I said as I thought about how much pain I was causing my mother. And how much she had gone through the past two days to find a place where I could go and not be looked at like a freak or a monster.
"Would you look at that? And all this time I thought the Luthor mansion was the biggest house I would ever see." Mom said in wonder.
I looked at the mansion and was surprised by the size and beauty of the building.
"It's beautiful." I said and pressed my face against the window to completely see the building.
Mom stopped the car and said in a cautious voice, "Remember not to judge a book by it's cover dear."
"I'll remember mom." I said and felt a smile come across my face. That was just such a 'mom' thing to say.
"Let's go inside and find out what this is about." Mom said after a deep breath to brace herself.
* * * * *
"May I help you?" A beautiful woman with white hair asked when she opened the door.
"I'm Martha Kent and this is my son Clark. We were told to come here to meet with Mr. Worthington." Mom said to the woman unsurely. I was hoping that I wrote down the directions right and we weren't at the wrong address.
"Oh yes, he called and told me to expect you. Come in and I'll let him know that you're here." The woman said politely.
We followed the woman into the house and we exchanged a look when we saw the style and elegance of the entry hall.
"I'm Orroro Munroe, I'm a teacher at the Xavier Institute." The woman said as she led us into an office.
"It's nice to meet you." Mom said politely. I was so fascinated with everything around me that I couldn't do anything but nod in agreement with mom.
Ms. Munroe nodded as she picked up the phone and pressed three buttons.
"Hello Andrew, may I speak to Warren please?" Ms. Munroe asked kindly.
Ms. Munroe looked at us and gave us a gentle smile. I felt a blush start to rise up from her attention directed at me.
After a moment of silence, Ms. Munroe said, "Warren, Martha and Clark Kent are here to meet with you."
A serious look came across her face and she said, "I don't know, I'll ask them."
Ms. Munroe put her hand over the mouthpiece of the phone and asked, "Have you had lunch yet?"
"No, we drove straight here." Mom said quietly. I still wasn't able to find my voice in the presence of this gorgeous woman.
Ms. Munroe nodded and said into the phone, "No, they haven't."
After another moment of silence she said, "I'll send them right over. Enjoy your lunch."
She hung up the phone and walked from behind the desk.
"Mr. Worthington is at the boathouse on the other side of the property. They'll be sitting down to lunch soon and have invited you to join them." Ms. Munroe said and led the way out of the office, back the way we came.
"If you continue down the road you came in on, it leads around the property to the boathouse by the lake. They'll be expecting you." Ms. Munroe said as she led us to the door.
"Thank you Ms. Munroe." I was finally able to say in nearly a whisper.
"You're welcome Clark, I hope to see you again soon." Ms. Munroe said with a warm smile at me that turned my knees to rubber.
* * * * *
"Wasn't that an amazing place?" Mom asked as we got back into the car.
"Yes, and wasn't Ms. Munroe beautiful?" I asked, wondering if Mom had even noticed.
"Yes, very pretty." Mom said with a smile and I could tell that she was getting a kick out of this.
* * * * *
There were three other cars parked outside in the slushy remains of last night's snow.
We walked cautiously to the door of the small house by the lake.
I looked at mom, then gently knocked on the door. It was immediately answered by a small boy. The little boy had a metallic piece that seemed to be connected to his face, framing his left eye.
"Hello, you must be Clark. I'm Jimmy. Come in." The boy said with enthusiasm.
"Thanks." I said quietly and followed him into the house with my Mom close at my side.
"Hello Clark and Martha. I'm Andrew Summers, welcome to my home, please come in and make yourselves comfortable." A young man said with a pleasant smile.
"Thank you." Mom said as we walked into the living room, staying near each other.
"The bathroom is right over there if you need to freshen up after your long drive. We'll be sitting down to lunch in a few minutes." Andrew said in a casual voice.
"Thank you." Mom said shyly and went immediately to the bathroom.
"Clark, I'd like for you to meet my sons Icheb and Trey." Andrew said and indicated two boys close to my age. One looked normal and the other had a metal piece framing his eye and a strange rippled crease in his forehead.
"It is a pleasure to meet you Clark. If you are in need of anything, let me know so I may help you." Icheb said honestly.
"You're his sons? He looks the same age as you." I said in confusion. I didn't know what else to say, it just seemed so unlikely.
"Grandfather, would you come and meet Clark?" Trey said with a smile.
A boy, who was close to my age, walked over to us and said, "My name is Lee. I'm pleased to meet you Clark."
"What?" Was all I could think to say to this boy who was supposed to be the grandfather to the other boys.
"Father and Grandfather do not age." Trey said simply.
I looked at Lee and Andrew and noticed the features that they shared. Slowly, I nodded in comprehension, if not acceptance.
Mom finally walked to my side and asked, "What did I miss?"
"I was just introducing Clark to my sons, they're about his age." Andrew said as he led us past a living room filled with chattering people and into a dining room.
"You have children? You're just a child yourself." Mom said in surprise.
"He doesn't age mom." I told her quietly, not wanting her to be as confused about it as I was.
"Yes, and I have eight children... and one more on the way." Andrew said with a glow of pride.
"Eight?!" Mom and I both exclaimed simultaneously.
"Yes... we still have a few minutes before lunch, I'll introduce them to you." Andrew said and led us back to the living room.
"Okay, this is Icheb and Trey." Andrew said and looked around the room.
"Robert is with Bobby." A boy only slightly younger than me said quietly.
"This is William, Robert is his twin brother, you'll meet him later." Andrew said, indicating the boy who had spoken.
"You met Jimmy at the door." Andrew said as we passed Jimmy on the way to a closed door.
Once inside the room, I saw that it was a bedroom. There were two men and a little girl watching two small babies in one crib and one absolutely tiny baby in a second crib.
"This is my daughter Janine. And these are my sons Chakotay and Thomas." Andrew said with pride.
"And here are my friends Xander and Remy, and this young lady is their daughter Marguerite." Andrew said and motioned to the tiny infant.
"She's so small." Mom said in a voice of both wonder and worry.
"Marguerite be born premature, but she be a strong lil girl." Remy said firmly.
"A pleasure to meet you all." Mom said in a voice that sounded overwhelmed.
"Lunch will be ready soon. I'm not exactly sure what Alex and Spike are making, but it smells good." Andrew said as he led the way out of the bedroom.
I noticed that Mom cast one last look at the little girl before we followed Andrew back out into the living room.
* * * * *
"Martha and Clark, I'd like for you to meet Warren Worthington the third." Andrew said as we walked back into the living room.
"A pleasure." Mr. Worthington said with a friendly smile.
The man had wings... I mean big white fluffy feathered freakin wings! I couldn't help myself, I stood staring and probably let my mouth fall open I was so surprised.
"Since Clark has special abilities I thought you wouldn't mind if I was myself at this meeting." Mr. Worthington said with a warm smile that made me feel a lot more comfortable.
"Oh, I'm sorry for staring Mr. Worthington. I don't get out much." Mom said shyly.
"That's fine Mrs. Kent." Mr. Worthington said with a gentle smile.
"Who wants to help me move the table?" A man called from the kitchen.
I felt like I needed to be doing something and needed to be away from Mr. Worthington for a minute... just to process what I'd just seen. So I went to the man and offered to help him move the table.
* * * * *
After moving the table and some chairs from the kitchen, I went back to Mom who was talking with Mr. Worthington.
"It does sound like just what we're looking for... but Mr. Romanov didn't say anything about how much this was going to cost." Mom said carefully as I was walking up.
"Please don't worry about that. The cost isn't as high as you might think. Let me talk to Scott for a minute, I have an idea of how we might be able to ease your mind about the cost and about the school." Mr. Worthington said in thought.
"Scott?" Mom said with a curious look.
"Yes. I'll be right back." Mr. Worthington said and went to a man with red sunglasses.
"What's wrong mom?" I asked with concern at her worried expression.
"Nothing dear. Just thinking about the practical matters." Mom said in a dark tone.
I thought about the words and realized what she meant. "You're going to have to pay for this, aren't you?"
"Yes. But don't worry, we'll manage somehow." Mom said, obviously trying to force cheer into her voice.
I started feeling that dark feeling... the one that said I was more trouble than I'm worth, that they'd all be better off without me. Then I snapped out of it when Mr. Worthington and another man approached.
"Martha, Clark, I'd like for you to meet Scott Summers. He's currently in charge of the Xavier Institute while Professor Xavier is on vacation." Mr. Worthington said with a warm smile.
"It's nice to meet you Clark, Mrs. Kent." Mr. Summers said as he shook our hands.
"Yes, nice to meet you." Mom said quietly.
"Warren was telling me that you're concerned about Clark attending the school and about the cost. I understand your basic situation and the need for Clark to be away from his old school. So how about this? This is a short week. Clark can stay here... now. He's welcomed to monitor classes for the next three days to see how we conduct our classes and get to know some of the other students. And that will give me some time to investigate the financial possibilities to get you the best deal on tuition. Thursday is Thanksgiving. You and your husband are welcomed to come and share Thanksgiving dinner with us at the mansion and we can discuss things then." Mr. Summers said in thought.
Mom was quiet for a minute before she turned to me and asked, "Clark, what do you think?"
"I don't know Mom." I said honestly.
"I've got an idea Clark. Why don't I get one of the other students to buddy with you? He can show you around and you won't be completely on your own." Mr. Summers said with a smile.
I was about to tell mom to take me home, I'd put up with the angry people... but then I saw the hopeful look in her eyes. She wanted this for me. She thought it might be something good for me.
I looked her in the eyes and quietly said, "Okay."
"Clark, try it out for three days and let us know what you think on Thanksgiving. If you don't like it here, we'll find something else. I promise." Mom said with assurance.
"I'll do it mom." I said, trying to keep my emotional control in front of all these people.
"If you're done talking business, lunch is ready." The man from the kitchen, Alex, said from the kitchen door.
"Okay Alex." Scott said with a smile, then said, "Let's save the rest of our business till after lunch."
"Good idea, business is bad for digestion." Mr. Worthington said with a teasing voice.
* * * * *
Just as everyone was sitting down, a group of people came into the boathouse. One of them was a huge blue furry monster, but the boys with him didn't seem at all afraid of him.
I looked curiously at the boys. One of them had to be Robert; he was identical to William who we had been introduced to earlier.
"Where is Uncle Kurt?" Robert asked as he walked into the dining room.
"He and Julia had some business to discuss. They said they'd try to be back in time for lunch." Andrew said with a smile.
Mr. Summers stood and said, "Bobby, could you come here for a second?"
"Sure." A boy said quickly and walked to Mr. Summers.
"Bobby, this is Clark Kent. He'll be monitoring classes for a few days and I was wondering if you would introduce him around." Mr. Summers said hopefully.
"Sure Scott. It's nice to meet you Clark, I'm Bobby Drake." Bobby said with a genuine smile.
"Nice to meet you." I said, trying to sound confident.
"This is Robert Summers, John Allerdyce and my brother Ronny Drake." Bobby said quickly.
"Nice to meet you." I said to the boys.
"Clark, why don't you sit down at the other table with Bobby so Hank can sit over here with us?" Mr. Summers asked politely.
I immediately got up and followed Bobby to the other table which was surrounded by people my own age.
I looked back to Mom and heard Mr. Summers say, "Mrs. Kent, this is Dr. Hank McCoy."
"N... Nice to meet you." Mom said nervously.
"Do not worry good lady, my appearance may be that of a beast, but I assure you that beneath all this fur is a normal man." Dr. McCoy said softly.
"Okay." Mom said and tried to conceal her nervousness.
[Remember Mom, you can't judge a book by its cover.] I thought with an internal chuckle.
"Kids, who wants to help me serve the food?" A young man asked from the kitchen.
Immediately, several children went to the kitchen. I began to get up when Bobby put a hand on my arm and said, "Let them do it. Robert and his brothers don't eat so they don't mind serving the food."
"They don't eat?" I asked in amazement. This place seemed to be getting weirder by the minute.
"No. It's a really long story, but basically, they are part machine, so they hook up to a machine at night that feeds them." Bobby said quietly.
"How did that happen?" I asked, I was so interested that I'd forgotten my nervousness.
The little girl... Janine, walked up and asked, "May I tell Clark?"
"Go ahead." Bobby said with a gentle smile.
"In a time before we can remember we were living on our own planets, with our own families, when the Borg came and captured all of us. They put machines in us and made us not remember who we are or the time before. They thought for us and used us to serve the collective. When Icheb was taken, he made the Borg sick and we were released from their control. Our fathers helped us to become people again and adopted us." Janine said with a smile.
"Other planets?" I asked reflexively. I couldn't help but focus on that one point.
"Yes, Robert and the others are from other planets. But they don't remember anything about their homes." Bobby said with a sad smile directed at Robert who was carrying plates of food from the kitchen.
"This looks good." I heard myself say in surprise. Some part of me seemed to be running on autopilot and saying things like that.
"Hold on a second for the blessing." Bobby said quietly.
"Aunt Vada, would you like to say grace?" Andrew asked tenderly.
An elderly woman at the other table said, "I think Lacie should get that honor, I promise that I'll do it next time."
"Thank you dear." Another elderly woman said, then in a louder voice said, "Dear Lord, bless this food and all those who are here to share it with us. Thank you for providing a home for Marguerite and a family for Vada. Please grant your blessings and mercies upon all those here and travel mercies to those who are far from home. Amen." The woman said in a strong voice.
"Amen." A man said from almost beside me. He must have walked in during the blessing. I couldn't help it, I had to stare. He had pointy ears, a tail, scars of symbols carved into his skin, yellow eyes, pointy teeth, he was talking to me...
"I'm sorry, what?" I heard myself say.
"I said zat I am Kurt Wagner, it is a pleasure to meet you Clark." He said as he extended a two-fingered hand for me to shake.
I hesitantly took his hand and shook it. He was so gentle, and the expression on his face was so hopeful that I felt my fear of him melt away.
"It's nice to meet you Mr. Wagner, have you met my mother?" I asked and felt a smile sneak onto my face.
"No, I have not." Mr. Wagner said and seemed relieved at my question.
"Mom, this is Kurt Wagner, Kurt, this is my mom, Martha Kent." I said as I walked with Mr. Wagner to her side.
"A pleasure." Mom said in a nearly catatonic state.
I smiled at Mom and went back to my seat.