Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
I'd play "Sally Goodin" all day if I could
But the Lord and my wife wouldn't take it very good
So I fiddle when I can and work when I should
Thank God I'm a country boy
-John Denver, "Thank God I'm a Country Boy"
The sun was just lifting over the horizon as Clark Kent emerged from the old yellow farmhouse. He stood on the porch, barefoot and barechested, looking across the flat land with a familiar sense of wonder.
He had the place all to himself for a while. The kids were still sleeping, and Chloe wouldn't be up for hours yet. In Metropolis, she was up at the crack of dawn every day so she could get to the Planet early. Her competitive nature wouldn't let her sleep in and let other reporters get a jump on her. But in the country, she reverted to her old habits, staying up till midnight or later, and sleeping in every morning.
He'd stayed up till midnight with her last night, of course. But as he got older, he needed less and less sleep. Four or five hours a night was plenty for him. And there was no way he was going to lie in bed and snooze through the beauty of a country Kansas sunrise.
The day brightened around him, and he stood there, reveling in the peace and quiet. He loved Metropolis, loved the work he did there, both at the Planet and elsewhere. But keeping the racket of the city filtered to a bearable level, while simultaneously trying to keep an ear out for trouble, was hard. He did it almost by instinct now, but it was nevertheless a constant effort, and after a while, he found himself exhausted by it.
All he could hear now were the sounds of birds singing, and the rustle of wind through the corn. No cattle lowed, and no horses snorted and stomped and whinnied. The farm was empty of animals now, because there was no one to care for the animals on a daily basis. His mom lived in Washington, and he and his family lived in Metropolis, and all of them used the place as a vacation home. The acreage was still being rented out and farmed, but the barns stood empty and quiet.
The crimson light of sunrise began to brighten into the golden light of day, and he drew the warm summer air into his lungs. The air was different here, too, sweet and clean and perfumed with the scent of fertile soil and growing plants. He'd gotten used to the smell of exhaust and the scent of millions of people crowded together over the years, but he still didn't really care for it.
He loved Metropolis. He really did. But he'd grown up on this farm from the time he was a very small child, and at heart he was a country boy.
He smiled to himself, thinking of a time when he was younger, when he'd wanted nothing more than to live quietly on this farm for the rest of his life. He was glad he hadn't given into the impulse. Because as much as he loved the country, he could do so much more good in the city. And besides... Chloe was a city girl. And now he couldn't imagine his life without Chloe.
But every now and then, it was good to escape for a weekend, to come to the country and recharge his batteries, figuratively speaking.
The sun rose higher, its rays warming him and recharging his batteries more literally. He sighed, enjoying the feel of sunlight pouring over him, giving him strength to do what needed to be done, day in and day out.
Metropolis' problems never stopped, of course, and at first he'd felt guilty for coming to the country every so often. When his mom had started talking about selling the farm five years ago, Chloe had suggested using the place as a vacation home instead. As much as he didn't want to see the Kent farm pass into the hands of strangers, he'd balked.
"I can't take vacations, Chlo. Metropolis needs me."
"So do your kids," she said tartly. "And so do I. We need some occasional family time, Clark, and we almost never get it in the city. And besides... you need to visit Smallville every so often. You know you do. You're much happier if you get out of the city now and then."
"But if there's an emergency..."
"Just give it a chance, Clark. You'll know if something major happens. You'll hear it, and you can always get to Metropolis in under three seconds if you have to. But unless it's a serious emergency, I want us all to stay in the country for a few days. You're stressed, and you need a break."
She'd been right, of course. She always was. He had been stressed, and he did need a break. Five years later, he still enjoyed the occasional weekend in the country with his family. Even Superman could focus on his work far better when he let himself relax every now and then.
And there was no place on earth more relaxing than Smallville.
This was his Eden, a place of beauty, unsullied by tall buildings and noisy cars and throngs of people. A place where there was no strife. A place where peace reigned.
The sun rose higher into the sky, and he heard the sound of kids' voices from inside the house, and grinned wryly. So much for peace reigning, he thought, hearing the familiar sound of arguments breaking out already as the two boys began their customary battle for control of the television.
Apparently he no longer had the place to himself. But that was okay, because he enjoyed running around with his kids, too. They hiked the hundred acres together, or threw an old football around, or went swimming in the pond. Sometimes they just watched Saturday morning cartoons together.
It didn't matter so much what they did. What mattered was that they were all doing it together.
This weekend he'd have fun with his kids and wife. And on Sunday night, they'd all go back to Metropolis, happy and recharged and relaxed. Well... as relaxed as anyone could be with three kids under ten in the car.
And then he'd go back to work.
He was glad he'd chosen the life he had. He was happiest when he was helping the people of Metropolis and the world, rather than living quietly on a farm and raising cattle. He was happiest doing work that truly mattered.
And yet every now and then, he needed to come back to this simpler, quieter life and let the peace and quiet of the country soak into him.
The sun rose still higher, and he turned and went into the house to spend the day with his family.