Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Sequel to Abstract, requested by Tobywolf13.
Clark Kent closed his eyes and let the sounds in. What he referred to as his "superhearing" was still a new ability, and it was a lot easier to sort the noises out in his head if he closed his eyes. Trying to deal with visual and auditory impressions all at once could get confusing, even overwhelming.
The sounds of a rural morning in Kansas washed over him in a gentle, liquid flow, and he sorted through the impressions in his head. The musical call of songbirds, the harsh cries of crows, the strident buzzing of insects... he listened to it, and identified it all. If he listened just a little harder, he could hear the sound of worms burrowing in the earth, caterpillars walking on leaves, and the horses swishing their tails in the barn.
When he'd gone to Metropolis, and found himself dealing with the horrible din of the big city, he'd thought of the sounds of the world as an abstract painting, a giant canvas that didn't make much sense even if you looked at it bit by bit, paint splotch by paint splotch. But he was beginning to think of it more as an Impressionist painting.
His art history teacher had shown the class posters of Monet paintings this week, and Clark liked them. They were just blotches of paint, but they were blotches of paint that were placed in an order that made visual sense.
He liked things to make sense. He liked patterns. Maybe it was his Kryptonian brain, but for whatever reason, he tended to gravitate to order and logic. And Monet made a lot more sense to him than Pollock and Kandinsky did.
His superhearing was beginning to make more sense to him now, too. Now that he'd dealt with it for a few weeks, learned to cope with it, he no longer had to think of each sound as an individual "dot," but as part of the greater canvas of the world. He was learning to focus in on any sound, but he was always vaguely aware of the greater picture, too.
The sounds of the world were beginning to take on a pattern to him. They no longer seemed chaotic and disordered. They created an auditory picture of sorts, a picture that he was beginning to grasp much more clearly. Even with his eyes closed, he knew exactly what was going on around him, with a vivid clarity that no human could ever hope for.
At last, having listened to every nearby sound, he opened his eyes and let everything fade out, listening for a familiar, comfortable sound. Chloe Sullivan's heartbeat.
It wasn't there.
He wasn't surprised. He'd learned to cope with his superhearing in Metropolis by focusing on his best friend's voice. Then, after she'd been abducted, he'd found her by listening for her heartbeat-- and, to his own surprise, finding it, despite the incredible noise level of the city. Even after they'd left Metropolis and driven home, he'd found that he could always hear her heartbeat, whenever he listened for it.
Well, he could find it, assuming that she was in earshot. But Chloe wasn't in town right now. She lived in a suburb of Smallville, but she'd gone to visit family in Metropolis today. He knew for a fact she was in the big city, because she'd called to check in when she arrived.
He was glad she'd called. He and Chloe had been on the outs for a while, but their trip to the art museum had helped fix things between them, and now they called each other just as much as they ever had. He was glad that most of the strain that had marred their relationship had faded.
He found himself listening to her heartbeat often, although he wasn't quite sure why. He just found it... reassuring, somehow. But in Metropolis, she had to be out of his range of hearing. At least, he was pretty sure she was.
He hadn't been able to hear the roar of Metropolis until they'd driven to within ten miles or so of the city, so he figured it was out of his hearing range. Still, he was getting better at this all the time, picking up on sounds he'd never heard before. And focusing on Chloe's heartbeat was easy for him, anyway. He'd gotten used to hearing it whenever he wanted to.
He was surprised to find that he missed it.
He closed his eyes again, and let himself relax. He'd discovered a while back that straining to hear things didn't work. His superhearing worked best if he just relaxed and let sounds flow into his ears. It was kind of like looking at a Monet-- if you relaxed your eyes a little, you saw it a lot more clearly.
At first, he didn't hear anything. But in a moment, he heard the faint, thudding sound of her heartbeat.
Ah-ha, he thought, and focused on it. Within a few seconds it was every bit as loud in his ears as if she were in the room with him.
So he could hear all the way to Metropolis now. Cool.
He tried to focus on something else, but somewhat to his dismay, he couldn't hear the sounds of the city. He didn't hear the dull roar of countless car engines, or the noise of millions of feet on the pavement, or the thunder of all those voices talking at once.
He had no problem hearing Chloe's heartbeat from this distance... but he couldn't hear anything else.
Weird, he thought, opening his eyes and gazing contemplatively into the dimness of his loft. If he could hear Chloe's heartbeat, then logically he ought to be able to hear everything around her, too. But he couldn't.
Apparently there was something special about her heartbeat. He'd focused deliberately on Chloe's heartbeat in order to save her all those weeks ago, and now it seemed to be the one thing he could hear, anywhere.
He wondered how far away he could hear her heartbeat. If she went to New York or California, would he still be able to hear it? What if she went to China?
He had no way of knowing for sure, of course, but he had the sudden strange conviction that wherever she went in the world, he'd be able to hear her.
Of course, that ought not to be possible. His superhearing really ought to be limited by physics-- by the speed of sound, certainly. And yet he was pretty sure it wasn't, at least as far as Chloe's heartbeat went.
He'd made the deliberate, conscious decision to focus on her heartbeat-- and now he could hear it, no matter where she went.
The world, he thought, was like a giant Monet painting. It all made sense, if you looked at it the right way... or if you listened to it the right way. And every dribble of paint on it was important. Together, the dots and dabs and dribbles of paint made up a whole picture.
But he wasn't able to stand back and look at the world as a whole, without emotional involvement. He couldn't detach himself that way. As much as he realized that every human life was important, he still couldn't deny that some dots mattered to him more than others.
And Chloe was one of the ones that mattered most.
He and Chloe had been friends for a long time, and they were really close, so close that a lot of kids at school thought they were dating. They walked the hallways together, ate lunch together, hung out after school together. So maybe it wasn't surprising he could hear her heartbeat so clearly.
It occurred to him, very vaguely, that maybe there was a little bit more to it than that. But he shook off that uncomfortable thought and rose to his feet.
He couldn't sit here thinking about his friendship with Chloe Sullivan all day. He couldn't sit here playing around with his superhearing all day. Work on a farm was never done, and he still had a bunch of chores to do, so he headed down the stairs into the barn to start mucking out stalls.
But as he worked, her heartbeat echoed in his ears, soft but steady.
And he listened.