Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Metropolis spread out beneath him, its lights glimmering like thickly strewn stars. He turned away from the business district and flew slowly over the dark harbor. The cool night breeze brushed over him, blowing back his hair and making his cape ripple.
He circled in midair and took one last look at his city, then banked again and fell into a steep dive.
Seconds later, he stood in an unlit alleyway. The bright red cape he'd worn while flying over the city had disappeared, exchanged for an unremarkable dark gray suit, and a pair of round, dark-rimmed glasses obscured the brilliant green of his eyes. He walked through the darkness, toward an old brick apartment building.
He could have flown up and gone through the window in an instant, but he didn't want people to notice him coming and going, so he took the elevator, which sounded like it needed maintenance. It rattled and whirred and strained, but at last it jerked to a halt, and the doors creaked open. He strode through them rapidly, eager to be home.
His wife lifted her blonde head and smiled as he pushed open the door to their apartment. "Hi there," she said.
"Hey." He couldn't stop himself from smiling in return. Chloe always had that effect on him. "I thought I told you not to wait up."
"I couldn't help it." She sighed, and clicked CNN off. "Maybe I'll get used to it, but right now..."
"It'll take some getting used to," he acknowledged. He was invulnerable to bullets and knives, but even so, they both knew it wasn't impossible for him to be hurt or killed. He wasn't surprised she'd been too worried to sleep.
He shrugged off his jacket, tossed it casually over a leather chair, and practically fell onto the couch next to her. He hadn't realized till this moment how tired he was. He put his arm around her, and she snuggled up against his chest. It felt good to hold her.
It was a feeling he never got tired of.
"So how was it?"
"Awesome," he said softly. "I stopped a burglary. I rescued an old lady and her cat from an apartment fire. And I saved a carful of people. One of their tires blew, and they went right through a guardrail on the bridge. They were in midair and headed for the river when I caught them."
"Sounds like you did a lot of good tonight, Clark. Not bad for your first night on the job."
He was silent for a long moment. He wished he could tell her everything else he'd seen tonight, everything he'd felt as he flew over Metropolis, but he just didn't have the words to describe it all.
Seen from above, the enormous city seemed beautiful and frozen in time, like a postcard. From a distance, it shone like a vast, perfect diamond. But up close, it had an awful lot of flaws.
He wanted to fix those flaws. He wanted to save the people of his city, more than he wanted anything.
"Yeah," he answered. A little smile tugged at the corners of his mouth, a smile of pride and pleasure, a smile of contentment in a job well done. "I guess I did."
"So you think this is something you'll want to keep doing, then?"
He thought about the eight people he'd saved tonight. He thought of how many more people there were in Metropolis who needed him. His smile broadened.
"Yeah," he answered. "This is definitely something I want to keep doing."
She leaned her head against his chest and patted his hand affectionately.
"I'm glad," she said softly.
He was relieved she was still willing to support him in this venture, even after an evening she'd obviously spent nervously chewing her nails. "So you're saying you're okay with this? Really?"
"Of course. We've talked about this before, a bunch of times, and I told you I could deal with it. I encouraged you, remember?"
"Yeah, I remember. I just... I know it's a lot of stress for you. I want to be sure..."
"Clark." Her quiet voice cut off his words. "Of course I'm okay with it. I love you for what you are, Clark. I always have. And ever since the day I met you, I knew why you were here, and that you'd never belong just to me. And I accept that. Because..."
She lifted her head and smiled at him. In her eyes he saw pride and love and admiration, all mingled together. She spoke very quietly, but with great conviction.
"Saving people is what you were born to do, Clark."