Sullivan Kent futurefic
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Sequel to The Path Unwinding.
There's been a change in me
A kind of moving on
Though what I used to be
I still depend on
For now I realize
That good can come from bad
That may not make me wise
But oh it makes me glad
And I never thought I'd leave behind
My childhood dreams
But I don't mind
For now I love the world I see
No change of heart
A change in me
-Beauty and the Beast (Musical), "A Change in Me"
When Sullivan Kent woke up, the sky had just begun to lighten from ebony to a charcoal gray. He rolled over on the hard wooden planks of the porch and threw an arm over his face, groaning.
God. He'd just gone to sleep, what, three hours ago?
Three hours of sleep ought to be enough for any self-respecting party animal. Problem was, Sully hadn't spent the night partying, but rather flying around Metropolis, helping people. He was as invulnerable as his father had been, but that didn't mean that physical exertion didn't take it out of him. He got tired, just like anyone else did.
Besides, he hadn't had a decent night's sleep in weeks, and it was beginning to tell on him.
He closed his eyes, blocking out the unwanted sight of the rapidly brightening sky. He wanted to go back to sleep, but the noises of the city crowded in on him. Even here, in what most people probably thought of as the quiet suburbs on the outskirts of Metropolis, he could hear the sounds of the city, and pick out the people who needed helping.
A woman being beaten by her husband, pleading quietly for him to stop. A small child, lost and alone and crying hopelessly for his mother. A man trapped in a building that had collapsed, calling for help.
He couldn't sleep, not when they needed him.
He managed to push himself up into a sitting position, noticing that sometime during his few hours of sleep, Mom had snuck out to the porch and put a blanket over him. He didn't really need a blanket, of course, because he could run around butt naked in Antarctica and not get cold. Even so, he appreciated the gesture. He knew it was a peace offering after their fight, Mom's way of saying, You may be an idiot, Sully, but you're my idiot.
He hugged the blanket to his chest, very briefly, and then stood up, staggering slightly. As he did, his gaze fell on the newspaper, which had been tossed to the foot of the porch. The sound of it landing on the concrete walk was probably what had awakened him. He made his way down the stairs, grabbed it, and opened it.
The first thing that jumped out at him was a headline: POLICE SUSPECT SUPERMAN 2 IN STRING OF BANK ROBBERIES.
He growled as he saw Mom's name under the headline. Mom was still on her insane one-woman crusade to bring down the man she thought was illicitly using her dead husband's name. She hated "Superman 2" the way most people hated lice and ticks and leeches. She thought he was a parasite, just using Superman's name to make himself famous, and she was using every weapon in her reporter's arsenal to get rid of him.
And the irony was that for once in his life, he hadn't done a single thing wrong. Not since he'd put on the suit, anyway. Before he'd put on the suit-- yeah, he'd been a bit of a rebel. He'd done all sorts of things he probably shouldn't have, including underage drinking, a tendency to shatter speed limits with his old sports car, and the occasional illicit use of his x-ray vision to scope out really nice-looking girls.
But since he'd put on the suit, he hadn't done a single thing that Dad would have frowned on. Somehow wearing the suit had that effect on him. It wasn't that he thought of himself as Superman, not really. But since he'd put on the suit, he couldn't help seeing the world a little differently. He couldn't shut it out the way he once had. He was tuned in, to an almost painful level, to everything going on around him.
Anyway, he wasn't going to tarnish Dad's image by doing anything wrong.
Don't need to do anything wrong, he thought, not without bitterness. Mom's doing a great job of making me look like a felon, all by her lonesome.
Chloe Sullivan Kent was persistent as hell, and she was driving him crazy with her repeated insinuations in the Planet that he was a bank robber or a kitten murderer or whatever else she could come up with to try to link to him. But there wasn't anything he could do about it, short of telling her the truth.
And that, he refused to do. The last thing Mom needed was to spend her life worrying that another member of her family was going to be taken from her.
He sighed, so deeply that the birch tree in the front yard waved its limbs in the sudden breeze. He tossed the paper back down on the porch, putting the headline out of his mind, and headed into the house to get his costume on.
It was too damn early to be up, but he didn't have much choice in the matter.
There were people to be saved.
By noon the sun was high in the sky, and Sully should have been at full strength. He was powered by the sun, just as his dad had been, but his cells didn't hold onto the solar charge quite as long as Dad's had. He could feel a subtle but noticeable difference in his strength between noon and midnight. At noon, he was ordinarily just about as strong as his father had been.
But right now, he didn't feel like he was at his strongest. He felt weak and drained, like he was running on empty. He felt like he was driving down the highway and struggling to hold his eyes open so he wouldn't fall asleep at the wheel.
He seriously needed a nap. He hadn't had a nap since he was six, but he sure as hell needed one now. He thought longingly about going back to Mom's house, stretching out in his warm, familiar bed, and passing out for a while. Mom would probably nag him about his Shakespeare term paper, but he was so tired he thought he could sleep right through her nagging right now.
Anyway, he didn't want to go back to his dorm room. He was so tired he felt like a little kid who just wanted to go home.
He spun in the air, heading toward the house where he'd grown up, but hesitated as he heard a voice crying out for deliverance. He sighed, forced his eyelids wider open, and dove toward the city.
An hour later, he heard yet another cry. By now, he was beyond exhausted and right into dead. He promised himself that this was the last one, that he'd head for bed right after he helped whoever needed him this time.
Of course, he'd made himself the exact same promise three times in the past hour. And yet he was still here, even though he was practically asleep in the air.
He headed toward the cry, moving so fast he was only a red and blue streak. As he approached the street where he'd heard the call for help, something blurred toward him, so fast that even he couldn't see it clearly.
Ordinarily he could have evaded it, but right now he was so tired that he couldn't have evaded a rabid snail. The mysterious something wrapped itself around his neck, and startled, he instinctively shot upward, toward the sky.
But within a fraction of a second, before he'd even reached the top of the buildings, he lost everything.
His powers, his ability to fly, all of it.
Suddenly he found himself plummeting toward the sidewalk, and fear gripped his chest so tightly he couldn't breathe. He clenched his eyes shut, seized by terror. Ordinarily, of course, he was invulnerable. But he'd felt his powers drain away, and he was pretty sure he wasn't invulnerable right now. And that meant when he hit the ground... there was going to be a really big splat.
Despite his terror, he managed to force his eyes open, and looked at the sidewalk rushing up toward him.
Shit, he thought grimly. I always knew flying was a bad idea.