The pains began that night. At first Lara was tempted to ignore them, especially as Jor-El had been so distraught by the happenings in the law council that they had retired to bed almost wordlessly. "There is nothing more to say," Jor had whispered, laying a hand briefly on Lara's dark hair, before turning over and locking his arms over his chest as if a great pain resided there.
Lara lay awake in the darkness, her eyes wide, waiting, and trying to decide if she should wake him. As the pain increased, she secluded the part of her senses that did not register feeling in its own tiny corner and focused on that. It was as if someone were playing with the gravity field of her mind: increasing it so that her thoughts soared, and she could hardly believe that she were yet within her body, and then suddenly reducing it – not just to its original state, but far lower – so that she first sank like a rock through dark oblivion, and then was slammed into consciousness by yet another stab of pain. By shutting her her eyes and concentrating on these repetitive cycles, Lara was able to last for some hours, until the glimmer of light in the sky began to filter through the portal above them. Jor-El slept on.
At last, like the red sun dawning, realization came over her; that her son was going to be born, and Jor-El needed to help her. She had studied as much as she could, but he was a far greater scientist than she would ever be, and she was suddenly afraid as the pains became so regular that there was no escaping them.
"Jor-" She took in a shaking breath, and felt the tears begin to stroll down her cheeks. "Jor-" Lifting a weak hand, Lara shook his shoulder gently. "Wake up. I need you."
He gave a sigh in his sleep and stirred slightly, but did not arouse. "Jor-El." Lara spoke louder, her voice gaining strength just as another pain hit. "Jor-El, he is coming."
Finally, her husband took in his breath, and rolled over, his eyes cloudy with sleep, the line between his brows returning in wakefulness; his dreams must have been a pleasant escape from his waking worries. Seeing her pale face, he instantly snapped to the alert.
"Lara – what is it?" he asked, grabbing her by the arm. "Is the child –?"
She gave a mute nod as another pain swept over her, and she clenched her teeth in effort not to cry out.
"Oh, dear Rao," Jor-El breathed. "He is coming..."
Lara gave him a brave smile, and he pressed his lips ardently to her hers. She covered the back of his neck with her hand even while he could feel the sharp intake of her breath through the kiss. He launched to his feet.
"Kelex," he ordered. "Give me a constant monitor of the child. I hear that it sometimes does not go as it should."
Lara gave a gasp that turned into a cry as she was overcome with another contraction. "What... is happening?" she panted. "Is it supposed to go like this?"
"Yes, yes, I believe so," Jor-El said, pressing buttons feverishly on the control collar of the hoverbot. "How long has this been going on?"
"Nearly all night," Lara breathed, falling back upon the bed with a hiss.
"Why didn't you wake me?" Jor demanded, his eyes bright.
Lara shook her head, and finally gave way to the agony that spread through her trembling form. Jor-El's heart clenched at her cries, but he focused on the form that appeared in Kelex's shapeshifting core; his son, his infant son. Ready to come into the world.
"Oh, little one..." he breathed, hurrying to Lara's side, and taking her hand. "I am here, and everything will be alright. All you have to do is try to relax, and let what is naturally happening come over you."
Lara forced out between her teeth, "I am beginning to see... the disadvantages to natural births..."
Jor-El nodded, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. "But soon you will hold your son in your arms."
All through the early hours Lara labored, Jor-El never leaving her side. He held her hand, and stroked her hair back from her brow, and just as the red sun burst fully upon them, shining forth upon the last morning Krypton would ever see, he was ready to receive into his hands, the gift of life: living, breathing, and letting out a wavering cry. The future of an entire race would be fused into the very body of this tiny one, and he would survive a journey of millions of miles until he reached his destination; those who gave him life were doomed to death upon the day of his birth, their entire planet passing into nothingness. His tiny lungs would struggle to breathe the air of a different planet, his brilliant mind fighting to adapt to seeing things the way others did. And yet, he would never fully forget; he would never fully adapt. Within his mind pulsed the noble thoughts of a man who knew his purpose; within his veins flowed the blood of a mighty throng, and within his heart throbbed the hope that had been instilled in him since before birth. He was their life. And he would always continue to be the son of El.
When he one day would meet his mate, his other self – the possessor of the mind he admired, of the heart he trusted, and of the soul he loved, he knew that it was not unfaithfulness to his heritage that led them to unite themselves as one. You could say that they were intended for each other. And as the sun rises upon each new day, he stood, ready to take flight, eager to defend honor, and longing to fulfill the destiny that was man's. He was Krypton. He was hope. And he bore the pain and fearful responsibility of rebuilding his civilization, not upon the bones and corpses of another, but upon the hearts and minds of all who heard his story.
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