Notes: For Mistressace, who requested Clark/Lex with the prompt of "Snow can either be a hindrance or a help."

Summary: And Death Shall Have No Dominion

 


Forever Autumn


My son's life ended on a dusty, rubble-strewn street. He died as he had lived, unafraid.
Clark gave his life to protect this world, me, and, most importantly, Lex. Thank Heavens he wasn't alone at the end, Lex was there with him. He held onto him so tightly. I knew he was trying to keep Clark alive through force of will alone.

Even in that moment, the world wouldn't be kept at bay. A camera's lens, a reporter's microphone, captured what should have been moments, words, meant only for the two of them.
Clark lay in his arms, so broken and bleeding. "Is he dead?" I heard Clark ask.

"Yes." Lex answered, his voice cracking. That was the only sign of his own devastation that Lex revealed, as I watched him, gently running his fingers through
Clark's sweaty, blood encrusted hair.

Clark's hand trembled so violently as he reached for Lex's face. I saw Lex capture it with his own, cradling it against his lips.

My heart ached as I shed the tears Lex wouldn't. I felt like a voyeur but I couldn't tear my eyes away from the television screen. I watched
Clark struggle for breath, straining so desperately to speak. "Lex…I love…you. I…love…" And then the words faded away, leaving only a terrible silence in their wake.

No Mother should have to bury a child. My God, I've had to do it twice now, and buried a husband too. It's been seven days since Doomsday killed
Clark, seven days since I lost my son, and Lex lost 'the better part of his soul' as he keeps saying. Even after all these years he still continues to attribute his basic goodness to Clark's influence. Lex has never seen the good man he's become.

He pulled every string he had to get possession of
Clark's body. God, it hurts just to think it, Clark's body. I can't even openly mourn him. He's simply 'among the missing', lost to the devastation that Superman and Doomsday left behind.

The country doesn't know about the switch, that the body in the glass coffin on display in the Capital isn't
Clark any more. Lex had told me, "I had to lose him to this fucking world but they don't get to keep him. One way or another, he's coming home to us."

And he had, we'd buried him three days ago, next to Jonathan. Only those of us who loved him best were there; Lex, myself, Chloe, Bruce, Pete and Lana. That area of the orchard is so beautiful,
Clark loved it there, even as a child.

We couldn't mark his grave, at least not yet. Lex is determined to protect me. He says that there can't be any connection between
Clark's death and Superman's. That even now, there are too many people who would hurt me for vengeance against Clark. So, instead, we covered them both in a blanket of flowers; orange blossoms, purple roses, yarrow and pussy willows. We let the blooms say all the things we couldn't.

These last few days have been so hard. For the first time in my life, I've felt old. Old in ways I never thought I could. If not for Lex, I think I would have joined Clark and Jonathan by now. But, I can't, I'm still needed here.

You see, Luthors don't cry. They're taught from childhood that tears are a sign of weakness. That such things are simply not allowed, a 'true man' doesn't believe in such nonsense.

No, instead, they bottle everything up inside, make all of the arrangements, take charge of every situation. All of their energy is spent being strong for everyone else so they don't have to think, they don't have to feel. They don't eat and they don't sleep, they simply drive themselves until they become numb.

Lex did just that. From the time of
Clark's death, through the fight to bring him home and the burial he never stopped. No detail was overlooked, no friend was neglected. The only one he didn't take care of was himself.

Everything finally caught up to him this morning, the first day we'd really been alone. Lex and I had been talking about the harvest, that we both knew we'd need to bring in some extra workers to help out. Lex had nodded, saying he'd check into it then, when he stood up, he'd started shaking so badly his knees buckled. That's how we'd ended up on the floor, with Lex lying in my arms and me praying that he wouldn't shatter. I'd just lost one son damn it, I was not going to lose the other. Finally, he relaxed against me, the tears he'd fought so hard to stop, broke free.

Lionel, I could cheerfully wring your neck for all the cruelty you've shown Lex over the years. He's your son damn it! You're supposed to protect him, love him. Not spend your time making every meeting a challenge, every touch another movement in your 'war'.

It's your fault that he tries so hard to hold everything inside. That he's tied up in such knots right now. You'd fought so hard to teach him that emotion, love in particular, is a sign of weakness.

But Lionel, you've failed. In spite of your best efforts, Lex remains a good man. Every day of their life together, he held
Clark's heart and soul safe. The love they shared unbreakable, even by death. I'm proud to call him son, in all but name…

The words she'd just written blurred together, a dull headache threatening. Martha closed her eyes, absently rubbing her temples. She knew she couldn't write any more tonight, the pain was just too raw and she was tired. She ran her hands over the cover of the book, feeling the grain of the soft leather binding. She'd have to thank Chloe again when she saw her; the journal was a wonderful idea.

Stretching as she stood to ease the tension in her neck, Martha placed the book in her desk and locked it. Turning off all of the downstairs lights, she checked the back door again to make sure it was locked. She smiled to herself, she could almost hear Jonathan saying, "Hell Martha, 'round here you never know what critter might take a notion to try to get in the house in the middle of the night. Better safe than sorry, I always say."

Martha sighed when she saw the light shining under
Clark's door as she passed. 'Looks like Lex isn't sleeping anymore than I am tonight.' He'd decided to stay in Smallville, with her at the farmhouse, rather than return to Metropolis.

She was glad for the company but had worried about how different farm life was from what he was used to. Lex had just smiled, telling her he felt closer to
Clark here. That it helped him cope knowing she needed him, that he could help out around the farm. Martha knew that they needed the comfort of each other's company right now.

There were still moments when
Clark's loss hit them both like a physical blow, the pain so intense it hurt to breathe. Lex's breakdown today showed that, as needed as it was. All she and Lex could do was take things slowly; just concentrate on getting through another day. At least together it was bearable, she knew in her heart she couldn't have made it without him there.

Martha sighed again, looking at the closed door, 'I just wish he could sleep, he's been looking so tired.' Silently, she turned away, continuing down the corridor to her room. Like she had every other night since this nightmare began, she prayed for her remaining son, hoping that he could find some measure of peace to help him survive this. That they both could find a way to lose the anger that they felt at the rest of the world for taking
Clark away. Maybe tomorrow would be better.

Three months later…

Martha pulled her sweater closer around her, shivering, as another cold gust of wind rattled against the windows. It was hard to believe it was December already; the last few weeks seemed a blur, somewhat surreal.

She sat in the kitchen drinking her coffee, waiting for Lex to return. Martha was worried about him. Lex had resigned his Senate seat and turned control of LexCorp over to Gabe. It was supposed to be temporary, but it scared her. He was slowly cutting all ties to his old life.

Hearing the creak of the kitchen door she stood up, watching as Lex hung up his coat. She noted the tiredness on his face as he smiled. "How was your walk?"

"Cold, I think it might snow."

Pulling him into a hug, Martha wondered how long it would be before she lost Lex too. She knew he still wasn't sleeping, she heard him up at all hours of the night. The circles under his eyes looked like bruises they had gotten so dark.

He wasn't eating enough either. He'd always been slim, as long as she'd known him. But now, it was as if the pain he was living through was scouring away his strength. Lex's face had become all hard angles. Martha felt the sharpness of his shoulder blades against her hands as she held him.

He was slipping away from her, more and more each day. All she could do was watch, and, be there when he needed her. Giving Lex another hug, she moved away, determined he wasn't going to see the tears that threatened to fall.

Taking a shaky breath, Martha walked back over to the table, remembering the package lying there. "Lex, I almost forgot, there was an extra letter in the stuff that Gabe couriered over today. I'm not sure who it's from, there's no return address on it. I put it on the table for you."

"Thanks Martha, I'll check it out right now. It may be some more of the files I requested from my lawyers." Lex smiled softly, "It's about time they earned their keep, I've been way too well-behaved the last few years."

Martha watched as Lex sorted through the mail, finally coming to the mysterious package. It looked innocuous enough, except for the lack of a return address. Martha hoped that the fact that the letter had gotten through LexCorp's fairly stringent security boded well for its being harmless.

As Lex tore open the letter, quickly scanning its contents, she became alarmed as his already pale face lost the rest of its remaining color. Martha reached out to Lex as he stumbled, his eyes narrowing in anger.

"That god-damned son of a bitch, I'll fucking kill him!" Throwing the letter down on the table Lex grabbed his coat, pulling it on as he ran out of the kitchen door.

"Lex, wait…" Martha grabbed up the single sheet of paper, quickly scanning it to see what had affected Lex so badly. "Oh no, god, no.", she gasped as she read the note:

'Son, this in no way changes things between us. Were it not for the kindness shown to me by Martha in my time of need during my blindness, you would not have received this missive. I do this for her, not you, and certainly not for the creature.

I came to Smallville recently to pay my respects, he had proven to be a worthy adversary and I felt I owed him no less. I also had a thirst for additional knowledge concerning the alien, alas, another time perhaps.

I observed an interesting phenomenon while there, one perhaps you might have seen for yourself were you not wallowing in self-pity. But, I digress. You'll find a gift I left at the gravesite for you and your lover. Let us see if you retain enough of a brain to grasp the significance of what I saw. Time will tell.'

The paper fell from her hands unnoticed as she ran to catch up with Lex, knowing where he had gone. She found him on his knees at the gravesite, the frozen ground around
Clark's grave disturbed, his casket completely exposed as large snowflakes slowly started to blanket it. The seal had been broken but, thankfully, the lid was closed.

Martha's heart was beating so quickly it felt as if it would tear out of her chest. She was horrified at the desecration of her child's resting place. The blank look on Lex's face terrified her as he didn't even look up at her approach.

Lex was holding something in his hands, rocking slowly back and forth. He seemed oblivious to his surroundings, softly repeating the same phrase, over and over. "Oh god, please, please, god, please…"

Leaning down, Martha placed a cautious hand on his shoulder, "Lex, honey…"

There was no response to her touch. Martha was scared, Lex's eyes looked lost, like he'd had as much as he could take and had just shut down. She hadn't seen that look in his eyes for a very long time. She was livid to think the same bastard was responsible for putting it there this time as well.

Fumbling in her pocket she pulled out the cell phone Lex insisted that she carry, for 'emergencies'. She listened to the rings as the call was connected, praying that they were home and not in the city.

She wanted to cry with relief as she heard the click of the phone being picked up.

"Hello…"

"Pete, oh thank god you're home!"

"Martha, what is it, what's wrong?"

"Something's wrong with Lex, I can't get him to respond to me. God, Pete, we need your help!"

"Okay, where are you, are you at the house?"

"No, we're at the orchard, in front of
Clark's grave. That bastard Lionel was here, he's ripped it apart. Oh god Pete, I think he meant to steal his body. I don't know what stopped him."

"Martha, you and Lex hang on, we'll be there as quickly as we can."

"Hurry Pete, please hurry!" Drawing a deep breath and trying to calm herself, for both of their sakes, Martha reached down, gently touching Lex's face, still no response. He just kept rocking and muttering to himself, the snow beginning to fall in earnest now, catching in his eyelashes and glistening like tears as they melted.

Martha was concerned as tremors started to shake his slim frame. Afraid Lex was going into shock, she knelt behind him and gently pulled him closer in an effort to share her body heat with him. She felt him stiffen then, slowly, begin to relax into her loose embrace. Relieved to have even that much of a response she began softly speaking to Lex as she waited.

"Shh, it's okay, I've got you sweetie, you're not alone. Just relax, please. Relax Lex, whatever it is, it will be okay, I promise. No one's going to hurt you, not again. I swear sweetie, they'd have to go through me…" Looking up, Martha was startled at the sound of a car door slamming, she'd been so focused on Lex.

Pete came running into view, closely followed by Lana. As he bent down next to them, Martha shook her head at his silent question of whether Lex had responded verbally to her.

"Lex, hey buddy, come on, you're scaring Martha and Lana. I need some help here. What the hell is Lionel up to this time?" Reaching over, Pete gently shook Lex's shoulder. "Come on Lex, come back, work with me."

Martha knew the instant Lex heard him. His body language changed as he became more aware. She felt, as much as heard, his quick, shaky, intake of air.

"P-Pete?" Lex jumped, surprised, as Martha shifted slightly behind him. Twisting around until he faced her, Martha saw a host of emotions chase through his eyes; confusion, pain, sadness and then guilt. "M-Martha, oh god, I'm so sorry. It's just, I couldn't, I was afraid to…" Lex stopped, visibly trying to calm himself, turning to face Pete again. "I'm scared, Pete, I just, I wanted this so badly. I don't know if it's real, what if it's not real? I don't, I can't, do that again." His voice dropped almost to a whisper as he spoke. "W-What if I can't find my way back this time?"

Martha was so proud of Pete as she watched him reaching out to touch Lex, even as she hugged him closer herself.

"Lex, man, you didn't 'lose it' last time. I don't think even
Clark could have withstood the amount of shit Lionel was pumping into you. And, you beat him Lex, you did. I mean yeah, we got you out but you fought him every step of the way. Hell, if it'd been me, my brain would have been toast." Lana joined them, kneeling on the ground, Pete flashed her a quick smile as she took Lex's unclenched hand into her own, gently rubbing the cold fingers. Turning back to Lex, Pete continued. "Now, what is this Lex? What stupid game is he playing this time?"

"I-I think he was going to steal
Clark's body. I'm not sure." Lex looked up at them, a look of almost wild hope in his eyes. "Please, look at this Pete, tell me it's real, that I'm not imagining what I saw." Slowly Lex opened his hand, a bright flare of green shone through his fingers as he leaned closer to Clark's casket.

Martha gasped as she saw what Lex was holding. "Lex, is that the Kryptonite ring your father has worn all these years?"

"He left it here for me, it was lying on top of the coffin. But, Martha, look at it, don't you see? Pete, tell me you see what I see."

"It's glowing Lex, whenever you bring it closer to
Clark the glow gets brighter. Just like it did when he was…Oh my god, you don't think, that there's any chance…?"

"I don't know Pete, I, god, what if, what if, and I've left him all alone, in the dark all this time..." Martha watched as Lex closed his eyes, trying to center himself. When he opened them a minute later she could see a measure of peace that had been missing before as he looked at her, took both her hands in his. "I have to do this Martha, I have to. It-it might be better for you and Lana to go back to the house. I don't know what we'll find when we look inside."

Martha gently rubbed the hands holding hers so carefully. She could see both the fear and the terrible hope that were fighting for dominance within Lex. "Sweetie, none of us are leaving you. Whatever we find we'll deal with it together, okay? We can be strong for each other."

Reaching over, Martha pulled Lex into a hug, Then, with Pete's assistance, they both stood up and turned to face the casket. Even though it was only early afternoon,
Clark's grave lay in shadow. What little sunshine there had been earlier was now obscured by the thickening clouds overhead as the threatening snow began to fall more heavily.

Both Pete and Lex moved to open the top of the coffin. Martha held her breath, afraid at what horror may be hiding, waiting for them inside. When she heard Lex gasp, his knees buckling again as he gazed inside the now open coffin, she had to force herself to look, to move forward and look. Her heart pounding so hard it was almost painful she looked down at her son. "Oh my god, Lex, I don't understand, what's happened?"

Lex answered her without looking away from
Clark, his hand trembling as he reached out to touch the side of his face. "His wounds, they've almost disappeared, if I didn't know better I'd think he's sleeping. And, look, look at what happens if I move that damned ring closer to him!" Once again the verdant glow from the ring increased, but now it was accompanied by a slight shimmer that could be seen in Clark's skin as well. As unbelievable as it seemed, he was reacting to the Kryptonite in the ring.

"Jesus, Lex, I know what
Clark looked like when we put him in there and this ain't it! It looks like he's been healing but, that would mean he's, oh my god, still alive!"

Lex looked up at Pete, unaware of the tears streaming down his face, a relieved smile transforming his thin, pale face. "I- I know Pete." Lex reached down again and gently traced
Clark's face with his fingers. "Cold, he's so cold. Martha, Pete we have got to get him out of there and start warming him up. We're gonna need help with this. I don't doubt that dear old Dad will shortly have a change of heart and be back demanding Clark 'for posterity'. We've got to get him someplace safe."

Lex pulled out his cell phone, flipping it open and hitting speed dial. "Bruce, are you home? Can you speak freely? Good, I need your help. No, I'm fine, so is Martha. It's
Clark, we think he might still be alive. Yes, I know it sounds impossible. No, I'm looking at him right now. His wounds are healing, Bruce. There's been no decomposition and he just looks like he's asleep. What? No, it was Lionel. Long story, I'll tell you later. We're at the gravesite. Yeah, right next to that huge field. Okay, we'll be waiting."

Martha looked down at her son, saw the changes, how it did appear that the wounds had faded. She knew she was crying but she couldn't stop herself. She didn't want to. These were healing tears. They were tears washing away the sorrow of the last few months and, perhaps, bringing the beginnings of new hope. God knows, she and Lex could both use it. Startled, she looked at Lex as he tentatively touched her arm.

"Bruce is sending a helicopter for us, we're moving
Clark to Gotham, to Wayne Manor. We both think it's probably the safest place for us right now. Dr. Thompkins, Bruce's personal physician, is going to meet us there so that she can examine Clark." Lex paused, running a hand over his scalp.

'God, he looks so tired', Martha thought as he continued to speak. "I know you want to come with us Martha, I-I really need you with us too. We need to make arrangements for the farm. Pete…"

"Already handled my man, don't either of you worry. We'll take care of everything won't we honey?"

Lana moved forward, hugging first Martha and then Lex. "Of course we will, you guys just go. Just keep us posted, okay?"

Martha hugged Lana again as they heard the first sounds of the helicopter moving towards them in the distance. "Of course honey. As soon as we know anything at all, we'll call you."

"Good. Pete and I will pack up stuff for you both and will send it on to Bruce. Lex, will you need your briefcase and laptop?"

"Just the laptop please, Lana." Martha watched as Lex tiredly rubbed a hand over his eyes. "I know that there are a million details I'm forgetting…"

Lana smiled, moving to stand next to Pete, her arm going around his waist. "Don't worry about it Lex, let us take care of you guys for a change, all right?"

The helicopter arriving stopped further discussion, Bruce himself was on board. After they got
Clark stowed in the ship on a stretcher, swaddled in thick blankets, they got underway. Lex was almost immediately asleep, resting with his head pillowed on his arms on Clark's stretcher. Martha saw the intensity of the look Bruce was giving both of them.

"Martha, god, Lex looks worse than Clark and Clark at least has the excuse of being dead for three months. When did this happen? He seemed all right whenever we spoke on the phone."

Martha sighed, giving him a sad smile. "I know, he was a master at being able to 'seem okay' whenever he had to. But, I've been there Bruce, I've had to watch him disappear, a little more each day. And, there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it." Martha pulled her sweater closer around herself, shuddering as she continued. "I didn't know if I could take losing another son Bruce, I really didn't."

Bruce put his arm around her shoulders as they quietly watched both Clark and Lex. "I swear Martha, if there is anything possible I can do, you won't lose either one of them. It'll take a miracle for Clark, but, Christmas is the season for miracles, isn't it? I'd almost forgotten that until now, until seeing the two of them together again."

From the time they arrived at the mansion there was a whirlwind of activity around them, swirling like the swiftly falling snow that blanketed the city. Martha was immediately impressed with Leslie Thompkins. She watched the older doctor gently boss around two of the most powerful men in the country as she desperately worked to save the third.

One of the wings of the huge house was converted to an instant infirmary. Martha heard Bruce explaining to Leslie that 'In some ways, Clark is a glorified solar battery'. Soon after that, UV lights were set up around the room to softly blanket Clark in their healing rays.

Warmed saline was started intravenously when they found out that they could pierce Clark's skin with a needle. After that Martha had helped Bruce, Lex and Leslie as they'd bathed him in tepid water that they'd slowly, carefully, raised the temperature of.

She'd wanted to cry when they'd been able to determine that Clark's heart was indeed beating. It had only been about three beats per minute at first, but that had been steadily increasing as they'd gotten his body temperature raised. The most precious gift of all had been when he'd drawn his first, shuddering breath. That had been a week ago and she still caught herself counting Clark's breath whenever she was with him.

That was a big part of the reason that she'd come to sit with Clark until Lex came back. Neither she nor Lex wanted him to be alone. They were both determined that someone would be with him when he woke up, they'd been robbed of enough time as it was.

The sound of the monitors had almost lulled her to sleep as she sat quietly with Clark. That was why Martha jumped at the soft touch to her shoulder. Looking up, she was surprised to see Bruce standing there. Especially when she glanced at her watch and saw it was two am in the morning.

"Martha, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you. We got the latest batch of readouts back and I wanted to tell you that we think we know what may have saved Clark's life."

Martha rubbed her eyes, trying to banish the last vestiges of sleep. "What is it, Bruce? What did you find?"

He gestured for her to follow him over to the desk they'd set up. Clearing a space she watched as he carefully laid out a series of graphs. "Look Martha, this is a gauge of UV spikes in the atmosphere. See this huge spike here, and all of these others here?"

"I do Bruce, what do they mean?"

"They're Solar flares, Martha. We're in an intense period of activity right now that started right before Clark's battle with Doomsday. As farfetched as it may seem, we think that that is what saved him. That, and his being on display in that damned glass coffin. We think the high concentration of unfiltered UV radiation was what started the healing process in Clark."

"Whatever caused it Bruce, I'm just so glad that it happened. Where's Lex?"

"He's still in the lab with Leslie."

"If he doesn't come willingly soon, I'm going to go down there and drag him out. He really needs to get some rest."

"Don't worry Martha; she was just about ready to kick him out when I left. If I was Lex, I'd ask how high if she said jump. Leslie scares even me when she's on a mission. And, believe me Martha, she's on one. She's decided that Lex needs saving just as much as Clark does."

Martha smiled at that. She'd watched Leslie bully Lex into eating, and, wonder of wonders he'd actually done it. Distractedly, as he poured over more readouts about Clark, but he had eaten.

The next thing she'd done was have Bruce set up a Day bed there in Clark's room. Leslie had threatened to ban Lex from the whole wing if he didn't start getting at least three hours of rest a day. Martha had walked into the room just in time to watch the gentle doctor face Lex down, without even raising her voice.

She'd won that argument too and Martha couldn't be happier. Granted, he hadn't actually laid down most nights but he'd at least pulled a chair over next to bed and had rested there next to Clark.

"Good, that means Lex doesn't stand a chance against all of us."

"Alas, even here, I'm surrounded by conspiracies." Martha turned to see Lex leaning against the doorframe. She laughed out loud at the put-upon look he was trying so hard to maintain.

Martha quickly crossed the room to envelop him in a hard hug. It still meant so much to her to feel Lex actually lean into, and return, her hugs.

"Oh, I know, it's so terrible to have to put up with having people love you, isn't it Lex?" Martha didn't even try to hide the laughter in her voice, it felt so good to have a reason to laugh again.

Still standing there in Martha's loose embrace, Lex looked over at Bruce. "You see how hard it is Bruce? I'll bet the Batman doesn't have to put up with all of these indignities?"

Martha loved seeing one of Bruce's all too rare smiles light his face before he replied.

"Oh, you think so Lex? You've gone up against Leslie, what you think?"

An answering smile graced Lex's face as he answered, "Good point! Speaking of which, Martha, I'll take over for now." Lex gave Martha another quick hug before moving over to his chair next to Clark's bed. Leaning over, she watched as he brushed a gentle kiss on Clark's forehead before he continued. "I've been told by the good doctor to make myself scarce and rest 'or else'. I'm not about to take a chance and find out what that means."

Bruce laughed as he left the room to return to the lab, "Smart man, maybe there's hope for you yet!"

Martha had gone to her room after that. Unfortunately, the short nap she'd taken while sitting with Clark had left her wide awake. She'd watched the patterns the swirling snow outside her window made for a few minutes before deciding to go make one last check on Lex and Clark before trying to sleep again tonight.

Quietly opening the door, it took her eyes a few minutes to adjust to the faint light being given off by the fireplace and the monitors keeping their silent watch on Clark.

Martha smiled as she saw Lex, asleep in his chair, his fingers entwined with Clark's. He had a gentle grip on the hand that didn't have an IV attached to it. Lex looked so young, so vulnerable sitting there. It meant so much to Martha that Lex had learned to trust them all enough to let them see this side of himself. That he'd learned it was safe to let them get this close.

Clark's face looked so peaceful now, too. The lines of pain that had been there before were almost gone. Leslie had said that Clark was only lightly sleeping, that he could wake at any time.

Martha stood, watching her sons, drawing strength from the peace, the love, she felt in this room. Finally, she turned to leave, to give them both some privacy. As she was almost to the door, she heard a soft sound from the bed. Glancing back, she saw that Clark's eyes were open, that he was trying to move his hand up to touch Lex.

Her heart jumped as she realized this was almost a mirror of Clark's actions that terrible day. Starting awake at the first, shaky touch to his face, she saw Lex look up, a huge grin splitting his face to see Clark watching him. As he had done before, he captured Clark's hand with his own and brought it to his lips, giving it a gentle kiss.

Where their actions before had had a sense of desperation, of sorrow, to them, all Martha saw now was happiness, love. She silently closed the door behind her, tears of joy running down her face. They deserved their time alone; they'd both worked so hard to find their way back to each other.

Tomorrow was Christmas morning and Martha couldn't think of a more wonderful present than having both of her sons back. Maybe not healthy yet, but they'd get there. She'd been given her Christmas miracle and she had more than enough faith that the other would come, with time. Something that, wonder of wonders, they had plenty of again.