Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Send Me an Angel
Futurefic (spoilers for "Doomsday)
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
The wise man said just walk this way
To the dawn of the light
The wind will blow into your face
As the years pass you by
Hear this voice from deep inside
It's the call of your heart
Close your eyes and you will find
The passage out of the dark
Here I am
Will you send me an angel
Here I am
In the land of the morning star
-Scorpions, "Send Me an Angel"
He hung in the sky, looking over Metropolis.
His crimson cape rippled in the dawn breeze, and the sun rose on the horizon, casting a golden light over the city. The sprawl of enormous buildings beneath him looked picture-perfect, like the photograph on a postcard, but he knew as well as anyone that Metropolis wasn't perfect. He'd spent five years working to make it better, but it still wasn't a utopia by any means.
He intended to keep working to improve his city. For the rest of his life, if necessary.
He sighed at the thought. His job as Superman was fulfilling, and yet... lonely. He was all alone up here, he thought, looking around at the vast, empty sky. He was always all alone.
And that was exactly what he'd chosen, six years before. He remembered his own voice, cold and distant: Human emotion is what's stopping me from becoming the hero I could be.
He'd looked right into her eyes, and said the words: Clark Kent is dead.
He'd made his decision, to walk this road on his own, without anyone beside him. Not even his best friend, who'd been there for him since middle school. He'd decided to isolate himself from humanity.
Since that moment, he'd done this all alone, without friendship or support or love.
He'd tried to tell himself it was the right way to live his life, but as the sun rose over the city, lighting the lives of millions of people, he ached inside, filled with a terrible longing.
"I was wrong," he whispered.
He didn't know who he was speaking to. Up here, no one could hear him. But something inside him couldn't keep quiet any longer.
Maybe, he thought, it was an ancestral impulse. He knew his ancestors on Krypton had worshipped Rao, the sun god. Maybe the rising of the sun illuminated the dark corners of his soul and impelled him to honesty somehow. Or maybe it was just the culmination of six years' worth of growing loneliness.
Regardless, he couldn't hold the words inside any longer.
"I was wrong," he whispered again, gazing into the brilliance of the sunrise. "I can't do this alone any more. I need someone. Send me... send me an angel."
At 9:03 a.m. Clark Kent stumbled through the etched glass doors of the bullpen, wearing his usual rumpled dark suit and crookedly knotted red tie. His mind was still on earlier days, happier days, and he couldn't quite help remembering how many times he'd come into the old Art Deco building to see her, all those years ago.
She'd gone back into journalism not long after their conversation, but she'd left Metropolis without even a goodbye, and headed for Gotham. He'd done his best to forget about her, but he couldn't stop himself from surfing the net every now and again, looking for her bylines.
She'd written a lot of good stories. Then again, there were a lot of good stories to be found in Gotham. The criminals were all psychopaths, and the resident superhero wasn't exactly a posterboy for normality, either.
He sighed, aware of the ache of loneliness in his chest as he thought of her. Maybe he'd look for her byline today. Reading articles she'd written wasn't as good as talking to her, but it was all he had left of her. He'd driven her away on purpose, after all.
Clark Kent is dead.
Clark Kent still existed, of course, but now he was mostly a disguise. He wore glasses, and fumbled his way through life, bearing little resemblance to the confident, competent Clark Kent who'd first started working for the Planet seven years before. He'd thought that was safer, but now he realized he wanted the old Clark Kent back. He wanted himself back.
He wanted to go back to letting people into his life, into his heart. He wanted friends. Maybe he even wanted a lover.
But he couldn't have any of that. He'd chosen another path six years ago. He'd pushed everyone away, and now it was too late.
"Kent!" The raised voice shouted across the bullpen, pitched a little louder than it needed to be. Clark sighed at the aggravation in Perry White's voice, and wondered exactly what he'd done wrong this time.
He stumbled his way into Perry's office-- and came to a dead halt.
"Kent." Perry was seated behind his huge oaken desk, glaring as if he'd been hours late for work, rather than three minutes. "I want you to meet your new partner."
He stared, because it was her. Older, with slight creases at the corners of her eyes and lines bracketing her mouth, but as beautiful as ever. Her long, honey-gold hair fell loose around her shoulders, and-- he looked despite himself-- she wore no rings on her fingers.
She looked back at him, and her mouth curved up in the slightest of smiles.
"Clark," she said.
That was all, just his name. But at the sound of her voice, emotions flooded him, joy and affection and a love he'd thought he'd pushed away six years ago, but that was apparently just as strong as ever.
Human emotion is what's stopping me from becoming the hero I could be.
Despite his best efforts, he realized, human emotion hadn't been eradicated from his heart. He still loved her as much as he ever had.
Six years had passed, but nothing inside him had changed.
Perry's words registered on his consciousness slowly. His partner. Chloe was going to be his partner.
He thought with remorse that Chloe had always been his partner, until the day he'd pushed her away.
He wanted to drop to his knees in front of her, bury his face in her lap, and tell her he'd been wrong. He wanted to tell her how sorry he was. He wanted to tell her that human emotion hadn't ever stopped him from being a hero, that his feelings for her hadn't weakened him or made him less of a man. He wanted to admit that he'd just been young and stupid and scared.
But Perry was seated behind his desk, watching, so he only nodded.
"Hi, Chloe," he said. "Are you back for good?"
"Yes," she answered. "I decided to come back home."
He thought he heard suppressed emotion in her voice, too, but he couldn't ask about it. Not now. But it didn't matter. All that mattered was that Chloe had come back to him.
Only this morning, he'd realized how much he needed companionship, support, love... and through some miracle, she was here.
His angel had come back to him.
Somehow, he'd have to convince her he'd learned his lesson, that he wouldn't push her away again. He hoped like hell she wasn't in love with someone else. After six years, maybe that was too much to ask for, but something in her eyes gave him hope, hope that it wasn't too late.
Perry and Chloe stood up and walked out of the office. Clark made as to follow them, but hesitated. His gaze slid to the window, where the morning sun shone down over the city, and he smiled, grateful that he'd finally realized he didn't have to hold himself apart from humanity to be a hero, that he'd finally let himself admit that emotion didn't weaken him, that he'd finally let himself acknowledge the strength of his own emotions.
Grateful to have been given a second chance to let her know how he truly felt.
Thank Rao, he thought, and followed his partner into the bullpen.