All Heaven With Its Power
by HYPERFocused

Sometimes Clark thinks his X-ray vision is more of a curse than a blessing. It's a perfect way for him to see just how imperfect he is. How many times he's failed the people he loves, and has sworn to protect .The evidence is there, as easy for him to spot as fossils on a limestone wall.

Clark was in Israel when it happened, absorbing the impact of a bomb that would have killed hundreds of innocent people, including a group of school-children. And as much as he's glad to have saved them, the guilt from knowing he couldn't stop his own child's pain makes that victory seem like a loss.

They've just come home from the hospital. Lex carries Ella in his arms, and Clark asks her to explain what happened. Lex had told him she'd jumped from the old oak tree near her bedroom window, wearing her purple leotard, and one of the lavender silk scarves Lex keeps for hostess gifts as a cape. She's in her purple phase now, which makes Lex inordinately pleased.

He's less pleased with her behavior, Clark can tell. She's supposed to know better than to try something so reckless. She isn't invulnerable, like Clark, or a fast healer, like he is. "Yes, Ella, that's a very good question. What were you thinking? Were you thinking?"

"I wanted to fly like you do, Daddy. Like Superman," Ella tells them. She's still sleepy from the light sedative the doctor gave her when he set her leg, and stitched up the gash in her forehead. It's only ten stitches, but as far as Clark is concerned, ten too many. He would give anything to be able to pass on his imperviousness to his children. Clark looks at Lex, stricken. Ella's six years old. She isn't supposed to know.

Lex shakes his head at Clark, and says "Sweetheart, don't you know how much we worry about you? It's okay to pretend to be a superhero, but it's not okay to endanger yourself while doing so. You're a little girl. A strong and smart and beautiful girl, but not a superhero. You could be hurt, or even worse if you don't protect yourself by acting safely and using some common sense" Lex uses his gentle voice, but it's clear to both Clark and Ella that he's very upset.

Ella cries a little, but not too much, because she's trying to be brave. "I'm sorry, Daddy. I really didn't think I'd be hurt. I didn't mean to make you mad."

Clark leans down and kisses her on a tear-stained cheek. "We know that, honey. That would be pretty silly, wouldn't it? We just want you to be careful, and come to us if you get an idea to try something like that." She nods and gives him a tremulous smile. It reminds Clark of Chloe, as does her adventurous nature.

Ella falls asleep quickly, only a few pages into the chapter book she insisted both Clark and Lex read to her. "Daddy Lex should do the voices, because he's good at them, and Daddy Clark can tell the story part." Lex is doing the monkey impression he insists Clark never let on he can do when they notice her light snores.

Clark is exhausted, emotionally if not physically, and he knows Lex must be too. "Let's go to bed ourselves. I need to touch you. I need to know you're all right." I need to know you don't blame me, he doesn't say.

But Lex hears him anyway. Knows him heart and soul, the way he's always done. 'It wasn't your fault, Clark. You can't be everywhere at once. We both knew things were going to happen to her. That's only normal. Even kids without ties to superpowered aliens think they can't be hurt." He kisses Clark, and pulls him closer.

Clark wants to believe him. He just sighs, and undresses Lex slowly, tracing the faint patterns of Lex's scars over his skin. There's heat and softness, hardness and silk. It's perfect in its imperfection.

He wakes up the next morning with Lex spooned in his arms. Bare feet cool against his thighs. Clark can feel the small scars he still has from his attempted escape from Belle Reve, all those years ago. He feels guilty for that, too.

He flies to the Fortress for a little while, later that day. Martha and Jonathan have come to stay with Ella, to cheer her up while she recuperates. They say they're here to see Clark and Lex as well, but they all know a grandparent's true role.

When the AI comes online, Clark asks Jor El, "How do you do it? How can you live, knowing all the times you can't help your children? Knowing they'll hurt themselves, or be afraid, or worse?"

"Sometimes you can't," came the reply. "Sometimes you have to trust that the tiny life pod will protect him when he travels from the stars, that he'll find a home with people who will love him, and help him make the right choices in life. Sometmes it hurts more that you'll never really know for sure."

Clark doesn't really need to hear more. He comes home to find Lex and Ella each with a spoon in his mother's homemade chocolate pudding. Martha is smiling as he walks in, and he kisses her, then Lex, and Ella in turn .It's all right, he thinks. I may not be there for every moment, but I know I'll be there for most. I won't have to send her off on her own, until she's ready to go. Even then, I'll always look out for her, and so will everyone else who loves her.

"I hope you guys saved me a little," he says, reaching for the bowl.


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