Manip by chlarkkent. Used with permission of the artist.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
As I look into my angel's eyes
A song plays on while the moon is high
Something comes over me
I guess we're big and I guess we're small
If you think about it man you know we got it all
'Cause we're all we got on this bouncing ball
And I love you free
I love you freely
-"The Riddle," Five for Fighting
"Whassat, Daddy? Ball?"
Seated on the rickety wooden steps of the old farmhouse he'd grown up in, Clark Kent looked into the sky, following his two-year-old daughter's pointing finger. "That's the moon, Jonni."
"No. It's not a ball. It's the moon."
"It's kind of like a planet."
"Like the Earth. We live on the Earth. It's a planet."
Jonni sat quietly in his lap for a while, processing that. Finally she said, "Live on moon?"
"No. No one can live on the moon." And there wasn't much there to look at, either. Years ago, he'd visited it a couple of times, once he'd learned how to hold his breath long enough. He hadn't been quite sure he'd survive the trip through vacuum, but he'd risked it anyway.
It had made him oddly happy, and yet a bit melancholy, to go into space. The moon wasn't Krypton, the planet of his birth. In fact it was only a dead rock. And yet leaving the safety of Earth's atmosphere and flying there had somehow made him feel closer to his own people... the people he'd never see. The people who were lost to him forever.
Jonni's lower lip started to quiver. "Live on moon."
"No," he said, hugging her small form against his chest. "We can't. No one can live there, honey. There isn't any air to breathe."
She was too little to understand, but she seemed to grasp his tone, because the lip stopped quivering. She pointed into the night sky. "Go there. Live there."
He followed her finger and realized that she was pointing to a bright star. "People might live there," he agreed. "But it's very, very far away. We just don't know how to get there yet."
"Go there," she repeated firmly.
"Maybe one of these days," he said. "When you're older, maybe. When you're a grownup."
"Okay." She nodded, sounding like she'd come to a decision, and turned and looked directly into his eyes. "Go there."
He met her gaze and nodded. "Okay," he agreed. "Someday you'll go there."
"Jonni." His wife's voice called from inside the old yellow farmhouse. "Time to go to bed, sweetheart."
Jonni kissed his cheek, then jumped off his lap and skittered into the house. He could hear her high-pitched voice as she spoke to her mother. "Gammy put me to bed!" she demanded.
Chloe Sullivan Kent laughed. "Okay, Gammy can put you to bed."
Clark sat alone on the porch, listening to the song of rural summer-- frogs croaking, owls hooting, insects humming, and the soft sound of the breeze rustling the corn in the field nearby. A few moments later, his superhearing heard Jonni's feet thundering up the stairs-- and it was amazing how much thunder those tiny feet could create-- and Chloe's footsteps coming in his direction. The door opened, and she stuck her head out.
"Are you coming in any time soon?"
He turned his head back toward her and smiled. "I can't see the night sky like this in Metropolis."
She stepped out, closing the screen door behind her, and sat down next to him on the wooden steps. Her golden hair glinted in the moonlight. "It's nice," she agreed, tilting her head up and gazing into the sky. "I'm glad we get to visit here so often. I don't want Jonni to grow up thinking milk comes from the supermarket, the way I did. There's a lot to be said for the country."
"You didn't think so when you first moved to Smallville."
"I'd like to think I've learned a little since then."
He grinned evilly. "Maybe a little."
She aimed a punch at him, and he ducked. "Seriously," she said, "I know you like to come here every so often. It helps keep you grounded. So to speak."
He laughed at her choice of words, then sobered. "Jonni was asking me about going to live on another planet."
"You're kidding." All the humor fled from her expression, and she stared at him. "Do you think she has some sort of... racial memory, or something?"
"I think she's just like any other two-year-old," he said, smiling a little. "She's curious and her little brain is always thinking. That's all."
She looked at him for a long moment, then turned her head and stared up at the stars. "Clark," she said, slowly, "do you ever wish you could go back to Krypton?"
He lifted a shoulder noncommittally. "Krypton's gone, Chlo. You know that."
"But suppose it wasn't," she persisted. "Would you want to live among your own people?"
The question struck uncomfortably close to the heart of his earlier thoughts. It was something he'd asked himself over and over through the years, yet he'd never really entirely figured out the answer until tonight. "I used to think so. There was a time when I would have given anything to be with people like me. I always felt... different. Alien."
There had been a time when he'd risk his life flying to the moon, just because he somehow thought it might make him feel closer to everything he'd lost. And yet eventually he'd come to realize that even though he'd lost a great deal when his home planet had been destroyed, he'd gained just as much when he'd been sent to Earth.
He had a family, and a people, and a world... exactly as he would have had on Krypton. He had a life here, a family. He had a purpose to his existence, and a planet to protect.
Her voice was very small, almost lost in the chorus of frogs and insects and owls. "What about now?"
He reached over and took her little hand, amused as always by the way it seemed to disappear in his. "It took me a long time," he answered, "but I've come to realize I'm not all that different after all. Even if I discovered there was a colony of Kryptonians somewhere... I wouldn't leave. I couldn't ever leave you and Jonni. Besides..." He looked up at the bright silver moon, a sight he'd loved since he first set foot on the planet, and his voice dropped almost to a whisper. "I belong here."
"Of course you do." She squeezed his fingers. "I knew that. I wondered if you knew."
There was a part of him that would always wonder what it would be like to live among his own people, but he wouldn't trade the life he had now for anything. He cocked his head for a moment, listening to the piping sound of his daughter's voice singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," along with Martha Kent's smooth alto. Then he turned his head and looked into Chloe's eyes.
"Believe me," he said. "I know."