Season 3, sometime after "Phoenix"
Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Note: Written for tariel22 for the Support Stacie auction, based on an idea she provided. Many, many thanks to tariel for generously allowing me to post this here!
Title image created by leothelion for this story. Used with permission of the artist.
When the lights go down in the city
And the sun shines on the bay
I want to be there in my city...
So you think you're lonely
Well my friend I'm lonely too
I want to get back to my city by the bay
The farm felt smaller.
Clark Kent sighed as he tossed bags of feed out of his old truck. It wasn't surprising the farm felt small, really. He'd spent the summer in Metropolis, one of the largest cities in the world. But it had been a bad summer. A terrible summer, really, in which he'd put on a red kryptonite ring and terrorized the city, doing all sorts of immoral and illegal crap he would never have done under normal circumstances.
He couldn't look back on those days without a shudder. A shudder of disgust for the way he'd behaved. A shudder of fear at how close he'd come to letting the world know his secrets. A shudder of pain at the memory of how much he'd hurt everyone who loved him.
And yet... and yet...
He lifted his head and looked across the flat fields he'd known since he was a very small child. This was home, the only home he'd ever truly known. His world had been bounded by corn fields and pastures full of cattle and a hundred-year-old farmhouse for as long as he could remember.
But this past summer, his world had expanded.
He sighed, remembering the apartment he'd lived in, all by himself, with a little stab of longing. Of course he'd stolen the money to pay for it, as well as all its furniture, and if he ever went back to Metropolis he sure as hell couldn't afford to live someplace like that.
He laughed grimly at himself. If he ever went back to Metropolis, the only place he could afford to live would be a cardboard box.
But he wasn't going back to Metropolis. Hell, no. After all the bad crap that he'd done there, he had terrible memories of the place. He never wanted to see the big city again as long as he lived. He was going to stay on the Kent Farm for the rest of his life, and be grateful for it.
But... it was so quiet.
Against his will, he remembered the sounds of the city, the dull roar of cars and the noise of millions of people talking, the sounds of jets flying overhead and the hum of machinery. He remembered the smells, the thick, heavy scent of exhaust and the mouthwatering smell of bratwurst stands and the acrid odor of human bodies in the heat. He remembered the sights, the tall steel and glass buildings gleaming in the sunlight, the bright lights and the neon at night.
Metropolis was anything but quiet. It was chaos.
And God help him, in some ways he really missed it.
Bewildered by his strangely conflicted emotions, he shook his head, trying to dispel his moodiness. He had chores to do. This was his life, just as it always had been, and he needed to get over these thoughts of Metropolis that pressed their way into his mind so frequently. He was a farm boy, and the flat, fertile plains of Kansas were where he belonged. He took a deep breath, drawing in the clean fresh air of the country, the familiar smells of cow manure and falling autumn leaves and grass and dirt.
He looked into the bed of the truck and realized he'd unloaded all the feed-- a lot slower than necessary, thanks to his daydreaming-- so he headed for the barn to muck out some horse stalls.
The excitement never stops, he thought wryly.
And damn it, there he went again. He was supposed to be happy to be home, so where was all this mopiness coming from? He slapped himself, mentally speaking, and told himself to get over it.
As he approached the barn, a shining silver Porsche turned into the dirt drive and made its way up the pitted road. Clark turned with a happy smile of welcome. Over the summer he'd thought his best friend Lex Luthor had died in a plane crash, had seen the headline that read R.I.P. LEX, had even attended his funeral. The day Lex had shown up, battered but alive, at the farm and hugged him had been one of the best days of his life.
The gleaming silver car drew to a stop next to him, and Lex got out, wearing dark glasses and dressed in his usual uniform of expensive dark trousers and even more expensive dark shirt. The trousers were black, the shirt charcoal gray. Lex's bald head shone in the sun, gleaming almost as much as his car did.
Lex drew off his sunglasses and smiled at Clark, and Clark grinned back. He still hadn't gotten over the amazed surprise that Lex was alive, and he couldn't look at his friend without a little squeeze of joy in his chest.
"Hey," he said.
"Hey yourself," Lex answered. "Looks like you're working hard."
"Well..." Clark smiled, a little wryly. "Since you were nice enough to save the farm for us, I want to make sure we hang onto it this time."
His parents had been on the verge of losing the farm while he'd been in Metropolis. They didn't blame him for running away, but still, he was working hard in an effort to atone for his sins. He hated the fact that on red K, he'd just abandoned them, left them alone to cope with everything. On red K, he was a jerk. And he worried that meant that deep down, he really was a jerk.
"I admire your work ethic," Lex answered. "But I wonder if you might be able to clear your schedule for the rest of the day and this weekend."
Clark cocked his head. "Clear my schedule? For what?"
"I'm spending the weekend in Metropolis, Clark. I thought you might like to come along."
Read Chapter 2 here.