Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The World Around You

Clark/Chloe futurefic
3300 words
Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.

Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Sequel to On Your Own

Take a look at the world around you
Can you see the desperation?
Take a look at the world around you
Can you see the life you're living?
-Papa Roach, "The World Around You"

Powered Down, Part 4

She was freaking out on him.

Clark Kent observed his wife with amusement. She'd always been the one to support him, to encourage him to do as much good as possible. It had been her idea for him to start training when he lost his superpowers. And yet now she was totally freaking out.

"Chloe," he said, very gently. "It's time for me to go out on the streets and get started on this superhero thing. Even Bruce agrees."

She stalked angrily across the carpet. They were finally permanently back in their own apartment in Metropolis, and Clark looked around with pleasure and satisfaction at the things that were familiar to him-- books he'd collected over the years, photos of friends and family, furniture from the Kent farm in Smallville. It was good to be home, he thought, sighing happily.

Chloe didn't look nearly as happy. "I happen to think you need more training," she said, her chin tilted at a pugnacious angle.

He could tell she was slipping into stubborn mode, and he had to suppress a sigh. Because Chloe in stubborn mode was impossible to argue with. She just talked right over him. It really annoyed the hell out of him.

"Bruce doesn't agree with you." He shrugged. "I mean, I'm going to keep up with my training, yeah. But Bruce thinks I'm ready to go out on the streets."

"Please. Bruce doesn't have a clue."

Now he knew she was firmly in stubborn mode, because that was a totally irrational thing for her to say. If anyone in the world had a clue about this sort of thing, it was Bruce.

"Chlo," he said, hanging onto his temper with an effort. "What is this really about?"

"I told you, I don't think that you--"

"No, Chloe. What is this really about?"

She stopped pacing and turned to look at him. He was shocked to see that her hazel eyes were brimming with tears, and her lower lip was quivering.

"You're going to get hurt," she whispered. "I don't want you to get hurt."

He stared at her. She'd encouraged him in this venture with such staunch enthusiasm that it had never occurred to him just how scary this might all be for her. She was used to him being invulnerable, more or less incapable of being hurt. Of course kryptonite had always been able to hurt him, and a couple of villains had come up with red sunlight generators that hadn't done him a lot of good, and he'd been in one or two explosions that had been big enough to leave him with some injuries... but on the whole, he'd always been invulnerable. The Man of Steel, as the papers had dubbed him.

But now he was just as vulnerable to injury as any human. He'd been so focused on his training, on his need to get back to Metropolis and protect it, that he really hadn't thought much about that aspect of things. Suddenly he realized this had to be terrifying for Chloe. He'd always been made of steel, and now he was merely flesh and blood... merely mortal.

"I'll be okay," he said gently.

"You could get hurt." She began stalking again. "You could get killed, Clark."

"Yeah. I could. That's part of the whole superhero gig, Chlo. You know that."

"But it was different before." She sounded plaintive.

"Everything was different before." He tried to keep the bitterness out of his voice, because, well, the past was past. He'd lost his powers in a battle with Darkseid, and he could never get them back. Whining about it wouldn't help. "I'm just a regular guy now, Chlo. OrdinaryMan. But I've still got to do the best I can to help people."

She stared at him, her eyes wide, and he went on, "It's not like you sit around on your ass and never expose yourself to danger. You've almost been killed yourself, quite a few times. You don't think that scares the hell out of me?"

"It's part of my job, Clark."

"I get that. Investigative reporting isn't the safest job in the world. I've had a few people come after me as a reporter, too."

"But this is different." Her eyes overflowed, a big crystalline tear rolling down each cheek. "You're going to be out on the streets every night, looking for criminals."

He sighed. "Someone has to do it, Chlo."

"I know." Her voice shook. "I just hate that it has to be you."

He walked over to the window and looked out over the city. The sun was setting behind red and pink clouds, and the tall glass buildings gleamed crimson and gold. Their apartment was on Sullivan Place, not a terribly busy corner of the city, and yet even here there were taxis clogging the streets and people striding rapidly along the sidewalks. He tilted his head, trying instinctively to listen to everything at once, the way he'd always listened to the city. But he could no longer hear the heartbeats of millions of people, or the noise of thousands of car engines, or the clamor of endless voices talking at once.

In a way, it was a relief not to have to work at filtering out all those sounds every moment of the day. But the problem was, he felt oddly removed from the people of Metropolis now. He could no longer hear every breath everyone in the city drew, or hear their footsteps as they walked along the sidewalks. He couldn't hear their cries for help anymore.

But just because he couldn't hear them crying out for help didn't mean they didn't need deliverance, every bit as much as they ever had.

He turned away from the window and looked at her, lifting his chin resolutely. "Chlo," he said, very gently but very firmly. "I'm going out on patrol tonight."

Her lower lip trembled. "Okay," she answered, her voice barely above a whisper.

He hated seeing her look so scared. Stepping toward her, he wrapped his arms around her, hauling her against his chest. "I'll be fine," he assured her.

"You don't know that. You could get h-h-hurt."

Her voice broke, and he squeezed her with affection, then pulled back just a bit and put a hand under her chin, tilting her face up.

"Get a grip, Chlo," he said, not unkindly.

She blinked at him in surprise. "W-what?"

"You heard me. Get a grip on yourself. You're the one who's been telling me I need to get back out there. And you're right. This is important. So don't wimp out on me now, okay?"

"I just... I just..."

"I get it," he said, his voice gentle. "Honestly, I do. I'm not invulnerable any more, and I can get hurt. And I know that's scary for you. But this is my city, Chloe. I can't leave it unprotected. You know I can't. Protecting Metropolis is my job, whether I'm Superman or OrdinaryMan or plain old Clark Kent. I have to do this, and you know it."

She swallowed and blinked hard, and he saw her expression begin to shift to a look of calm acceptance. It was the look she'd always worn when he flew out the window as Superman.

"You're right," she said, and her voice sounded much more steady. "Of course you have to do it."

"Attagirl," he said, squeezing her again. He wasn't surprised to realize she'd just been having a momentary anxiety attack. He knew her well enough to know she'd always support him. She'd always encouraged him to save people, to be as heroic as his abilities permitted, and a little thing like his mortality wasn't going to discourage her now.

He held her tightly against his chest, and slowly it began to dawn on him how warm she felt. He'd always loved the way she felt with her head tucked right under his chin and her body pressed into his. He pulled her against him a little more closely, and he knew she could feel his physical response, because she gave a shaky laugh.

"I thought you were heading out on patrol?"

"It's not dark yet," he answered. "We have some time."

She rubbed her face against his throat. He could feel the slight moisture of her tears, and he hugged her more tightly, wanting to dry her tears entirely before he left.

"So you're thinking we can kill a few minutes by having sex? Is that it?"

He laughed softly at her phrasing, and ran a hand up under her shirt, caressing the gentle curve of her spine. "Do you have a problem with that?"

"I don't suppose... oh, Clark."

His hand moved around to her front, brushing lightly over her bra, and she stirred against him. He felt an ache low in his body, the same ache he felt whenever he was near her. After all these years of marriage, he was always surprised by how much he wanted her. His need for her never went away, never faded, never dimmed. If anything, it just got stronger with time.

He was already hard, even though she'd hardly touched him yet. Her hands groped at his t-shirt, pushing it up, and then her lips trailed over his chest, exploring him like she didn't already know every ridge and valley of his body. He shivered at the light brush of her lips on his skin.

And then her lips moved across his nipple, and he jerked. Her tongue slid out and licked him there, something he'd always liked. He gave a soft, low groan of need, thrusting his hips against hers. And then she opened her mouth, and bit his nipple, very lightly.

He gave a startled yelp. She'd never done that before. For most of their marriage, biting down on his skin would have resulted in her breaking her teeth, and once he'd lost his powers, she'd never bitten him, probably simply because she wasn't in the habit of doing it. He guessed it had never occurred to her that he might like being bitten. But he liked it.

Oh, God, he liked it a lot.

It actually hurt a little, but oddly enough, he didn't mind. His hips thrust against hers fiercely, in a helpless, primitive response.

"Did I hurt you?" she whispered.

"Yeah," he said softly. "Do it again."

She glanced up at him, blinking in confusion, then comprehension dawned in her eyes, and she lowered her head and nipped at him again. He heard a sound very like a whimper come out of his mouth, and his cock started to ache so fiercely he could hardly stand it. He grabbed her hips and pulled her against him, grinding against her hard.

She bit him again-- not too hard, exactly hard enough to feel really good-- and his knees wobbled. He managed to stagger to the nearest chair, a big leather armchair in which he did a lot of his reading and writing, before he fell over. He collapsed into the chair, pulling her down on top of him, and fumbled frantically at her clothes.

She'd changed out of her work clothes when she came home from the office, and she was wearing hot pink sweatpants and a t-shirt. Thank God for loose, elasticized clothing, he thought, stripping her as fast as possible. He got her clothes off readily enough, and found himself with a lapful of naked wife. Her skin was warm, and she smelled like vanilla and flowers, and he wanted to be inside her so badly that he felt like he might burst.

Now that she'd realized he liked it, her teeth continued to lightly abrade his skin, his nipples and his throat and his chest, and he moaned and whimpered, writhing helplessly beneath her. His hands roamed over her body, reveling in her warmth, loving the sweet softness of her contours.

Her hands stroked down his chest and his abdomen, and then they were unbuttoning his jeans, and he felt her fingers pulling his briefs aside. He thrust eagerly upward, surging into her hand, and her palm and fingers closed around him. A frantic noise of lust spilled from him, and he felt his cock jerking violently against her palm.

"Easy," she whispered. "I'm not done with you yet."

He groaned, because she was a lot closer to being done with him than he wanted her to be. Her fingers stroked and squeezed and caressed, and her mouth continued to work his nipple, sucking and biting almost to the point of pain, and he felt moisture spilling from his cock, felt his muscles beginning to squeeze and convulse. His cock was twitching in her hand, on the verge of climax, and his balls ached with need.

"Ahh, yes." He thrust against her palm urgently. "Chlo."

"Not yet." Her hand released him, and he almost sobbed at the loss. But then she lifted up on her knees and lowered herself a bit, and the head of his cock pressed up against her soft moisture.

God, she felt good. He dropped his head back and closed his eyes, loving the sensation of her body against his. It was all he could do to restrain himself, to not just thrust right into her and make love to her.

"Clark," she whispered.

At the vulnerable note in her voice, he dragged his eyes open and looked at her.

"Please." She put a hand on either side of his face and stared into his eyes. "Be careful tonight."

He looked back at her, wishing he could totally erase the worry from her eyes. But he couldn't, because he knew well enough that life was always risky, and a superhero's life was riskier than most. "I will be," he told her, lifting a hand and stroking her hair lovingly. "But I can't swear I'll never take chances, Chlo. Sometimes you have to take chances."

"I know." She leaned forward and brushed her lips over his. "Just don't take any more than you have to."

"I never do." He reached out, caught her by the hips, and pulled her down onto him. Her wet, soft body slid onto his, and he gave a long sound of pleasure and satisfaction. "I want to be with you as long as possible, Chlo. I don't take crazy chances."

"Oh, you are such a liar."

He sank deeply into her, all the way in, and his eyes rolled back in his head. "I do my best, Chlo," he said softly. "Honest, I do."

"I know you do." She moved on him, very slowly, and pleasure rolled through him. "I'm sorry I freaked on you."

She felt so good he could barely talk. "It's... okay."

"I'm just not used to having a husband who can get shot." She moved steadily, and the pleasure built until he ached with it. "I've always worried about you, but now..."

"Now... you know... how I feel," he said between his teeth, thrusting up into her. "About you, I mean."

"It's not easy having a mortal spouse."

"Welcome... to my world."

Her mouth curved in a wry smile. Then she bent forward and let her teeth sink into his lower lip, and he couldn't stop his body's response. She'd never bitten him there, either, and God it felt good.

He was shocked by the strength of his own reaction. Pleasure quivered through him, and suddenly he found himself thrusting into her hard, crying out as ecstasy racked him in long, violent spasms.

Afterward she fell against his chest, and he wrapped his arms around her. He was so content and warm and happy that he thought he might just take a nap, right here in his big chair with her on top of him. But after a couple of minutes, she nudged him.

"Hey," she said. "Wake up. It's getting dark out."

He opened an eye and looked at the window. The sun had pretty much set. "Mmm-hmm," he mumbled, and closed his eye again.

"Hey." She poked him harder. "It's time to go on patrol."

He sighed and managed to drag his eyelids open. "I thought you were upset about this?"

She looked at him with that steady expression he knew so well. "I was just having a little freakout," she answered. "But I'm over it now. It's time for you to get back in the game, buddy."

And time for you to start worrying about me again, he thought. He knew her well enough to know she'd never bring it up again, but she'd be at home every night, wondering if something might happen to him, wondering if he might get shot or stabbed or killed. It wasn't going to be easy for her.

But she knew as well as he did that it was what he had to do. She understood. Chloe had always understood.

She slid off his lap, still stark naked. He shot her one last admiring look, then stood up, headed for their bedroom, and pulled out his costume. He'd originally designed it in a stark black, with charcoal gray accents, but he was a big guy, and dressed all in black he'd come across as somewhat terrifying. Not wanting to scare the people he was trying to help, he'd retooled it a bit, making it dark blue, with a red symbol on the front that was the Kryptonian equivalent of the letter O. He thought of himself as OrdinaryMan, although he expected the public would eventually come up with something a little more flattering. He hoped, anyway.

His costume was less scary than it had been, and a little more reminiscent of the colors he'd worn as Superman, although he still hoped no one would recognize him. If the criminal element realized who he was, and that he no longer had powers, he might as well wear a target on his back. He wore a domino mask, even though he didn't particularly want to, because his features were too well known. When he was fully dressed, he turned around and lifted his eyebrows, waiting for her approval.

"Better," she said, nodding. He noticed with some dismay that she'd pulled her clothes back on too. Just as well, he supposed. He didn't need any distractions right now. "Too bad about the mask, but I suppose you don't have any choice. But those really are your colors. You still look big and intimidating, but not nearly as scary as you did in black."

He grinned. "I only want to scare the criminals."

"Oh, I don't think you'll have any trouble with that." She smiled back at him. "Go kick some criminal butt, OrdinaryMan."

He looked at her carefully and saw that serene look in her eyes. She'd calmed down, and he was glad for it, because he didn't need to be worrying about her on his first night out on patrol. That was Chloe all over, he thought with love and gratitude. She was only human, and occasionally she had an over-the-top emotional reaction, the same as anyone else-- but when the chips were down, she supported him. Every single time.

He bent and kissed her, then headed out the window. He couldn't fly any longer, of course, so he went out the fire escape, going rapidly down the ladders and finally dropping lightly to the ground. He hesitated, getting his bearings in the darkness, and listened.

Even though he didn't have superhearing, he could hear the noise of sirens, the distant sound of gunfire, and the sound of people shouting for help. He turned in that direction, slightly dismayed. He hated not being able to step out of his apartment without hearing gunfire, hated what that meant for the people of his city. But he knew well enough that criminal activity hadn't disappeared while he'd been gone for his training. In fact, if the newspapers were to be believed, it had gotten worse than ever.

He'd changed, he thought as he listened to the distant chaos, but the world around him was the same as it had always been. Metropolis still needed someone to protect its people. Metropolis still needed a hero.

Metropolis still needed him.

He broke into a run and disappeared silently into the night.

-The End-


Anonymous said...

Hahaha Ordinary man.

Yet another awesome story from you Elly

SelfAppointedCritic said...

*sigh* THIS is SUPERMAN: But just because he couldn't hear them crying out for help didn't mean they didn't need deliverance, every bit as much as they ever had.

Well done Elly, as usual. I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and am sorry to see it end. Your Chlark is unmatched; as supported by the depth of honesty, understanding and familiarity you expressed between them in this story. Go OrdinaryMan! (Also loved the nibbling..)

Sarah said...

That was lovely. I just read all four parts, and I wish that this was the Clark Kent that we saw on Smallville. This man with heart, courage, and intelligence. And I love any fic that brings in other DC heroes, so this particular series has been a goldmine so far!

BloodSugar said...

Powerless Clark is awesome.
OrdinaryMan... lmao
You rock, Elly. <3