Clark/Chloe futurefic, angst
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
He got up at six-fifteen, the same as he always did. The apartment on Sullivan Place still seemed empty without her there. It was too quiet without the reassuring sound of her heartbeat and the steady rhythm of her breathing, without the sound of her cheerful chatter as she got up and showered and started to put on makeup.
Trying to ignore the silence, he went through his morning routine, because doing things by the numbers was the best way to get things accomplished. Maybe the only way to get things accomplished. He took a shower, dried off, got dressed in a dark suit, and headed toward the front of the apartment.
He opened the door and retrieved the Daily Planet from the hallway, then went to the kitchen, dropped the paper on the table, and poured himself a cup of coffee in a mug she'd bought him years ago.
The mug in his hand, he sat down at the table and unfolded the newspaper.
The headline on the front page read, Where is Superman?
He sighed. He knew the answer to that question.
He'd managed to get himself to his job at the Daily Planet every day since the funeral, managed to turn in the usual amount of articles. He could do that much, because it was pretty much the minimum requirement of his existence.
Perry had offered him some time off, of course, but he knew if he sat and moped in the apartment he might never get up off the couch again. So every day, he went to the Planet and sat at his desk and struggled to ignore the fact that a new reporter was sitting next to him, where she'd always sat.
But he hadn't managed to bring himself to put on the suit since she'd died.
He'd thought about it, almost daily, but then pushed the thought away, every time. It was just too much for him to deal with right now.
He knew in a vague way that his grief and sorrow didn't take precedence over other people, that just because he was grieving didn't mean other people's problems disappeared. But he just didn't want to cope with the outside world. His mind was still filled with thoughts of her, and not much else.
Six weeks, he thought. Six weeks today.
He knew full well Chloe would tell him to put the suit back on if she were still here. He could almost hear her voice: Come on, Clark, get a grip. Get your ass in gear and go save some people.
But he couldn't. Losing her had hurt more than he ever could have imagined. And as a result, he was just too weighted down with grief and pain to take on anyone else's pain.
The world was just going to have to muddle on without him for a while.
He sipped his coffee, thinking he should probably have a donut or something. But it seemed like too much trouble. The only donuts in the house had been there a while, anyway. God, when was the last time he'd really stopped by the store, anyway? He realized the donuts were probably covered in mold by now.
He really needed to buy himself some food. He might be invulnerable, but he needed to eat decent food as much as anyone else did. Coffee wasn't enough.
Although Chloe had pretty much lived on coffee. It had always been a struggle to get her to eat, especially toward the end. She'd gotten so painfully thin...
He chopped the memories off before they got out of hand and looked at the mug in his hand. She'd given it to him a long time ago. It was a Superman mug, the kind you could find in any number of kiosks on the street corners of Metropolis, the sort of cheap, tacky thing that tourists in the city bought by the dozen.
One side was emblazoned with the famous S symbol he'd worn on his chest for years now.
And the other side was lettered with the simple phrase: Metropolis loves Superman.
He stared at the words, and tears rose to his eyes. He bowed his head, and saw the front page of the Daily Planet again.
Beneath the headline, there was a photo-- Jimmy Olsen's work, he knew, without even bothering to look for Jimmy's name. He'd worked with Jimmy long enough to recognize the man's work. The photo showed a bunch of little kids, holding up signs.
We miss you, Superman. We love you, Superman. Come back!
He stared at the picture for a long moment, and a tear escaped his control and dropped right onto the photograph.
Metropolis loved Superman. Metropolis counted on Superman. And Metropolis had no way of knowing why Superman had suddenly and mysteriously disappeared, leaving them without a protector. Metropolis had no idea what he was going through. As far as the city knew... he'd just abandoned them.
He lowered his head, shame mingling with his grief. He wasn't just Clark Kent. He was Superman. And he couldn't afford to indulge in his sorrow to this extent. He couldn't afford to leave the cape off any longer.
Without Chloe to remind him, he'd let himself forget his responsibilities, let himself push them away, but he couldn't do that. Not any more. He couldn't be self-indulgent and let himself wallow in his grief any more. Six weeks was enough. More than enough, maybe.
He looked down at the headline that asked Where is Superman? again, and then at the photo.
We miss you, Superman.
It was time for him to put the cape on. He knew it, as clearly as if Chloe were standing here in the kitchen with him, telling him to get his ass in gear. He wasn't through grieving, not by a long shot. But it was time for him to go back to work. He owed his city that much.
Because in his grief and sorrow, he'd forgotten Metropolis.
But Metropolis hadn't forgotten him.