Friday, March 12, 2010

Empty

Clark/Chloe futurefic angst
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Written on the third anniversary of my soulmate's death.

She wanders around the empty rooms aimlessly. She finds herself doing that a lot lately, drifting silently through the house they shared, with no particular destination in mind, and no particular work to be done. She feels rudderless, lost, even in a home that she knows as well as her own name.

She enters the study, the book-lined room where he liked to work, and slowly crosses to the leather wing chair in which he sat in the evenings, typing articles on a netbook that looked far too small for his big fingers. Slowly, she reaches out and touches the yielding leather, worn smooth and soft from years of him sitting there.

There's a book still sitting on the table next to the chair, and she picks it up and looks at it. A History of Metropolis. Research for an article he was writing, maybe, or perhaps just a topic he was interested in. Although he'd been raised in Smallville, he'd adopted Metropolis as his own, and protected it with all his heart and soul. She'd sometimes thought he loved Metropolis even more than he loved her... but she hadn't been envious, because she'd understood. She loves Metropolis too.

She puts the book back down and walks on, into the bedroom they shared. The bed is neatly made, because every morning, spurred by habit, she gets up and makes it. Heaven knows he never made it, in all the years they were married. He always laughed at her and said he didn't see the point in straightening out the sheets when they were just going to get rumpled again that evening. And the two of them had rumpled the sheets on a regular basis, she thinks with a faint smile.

Her hand smooths gently over the quilt on the bed-- handstitched by his grandmother Kent, given to them by Martha as a wedding present. The intricate wedding ring design reminds her of the simplicity and beauty of Smallville, a town he'd 'd left behind physically, but not emotionally. She knows that part of him had always remained in Smallville.

Sometimes she'd caught him at his desk at the Daily Planet, gazing out the window at the huge buildings, and she'd seen a look in his green eyes that she knew was homesickness. When she saw that wistful expression, she'd always suggested they take a trip to the farm. He always demurred, saying they had too much work to do, but she insisted. And every time, he let her take him to his childhood home.

Even so, they spent most of their adult lives in Metropolis. She walks around the room, looking at the photos of them together, working at the Planet, at society balls, walking side by side on the streets of the city. Last of all, she picks up their wedding photograph and gazes at it. Clark had suggested getting married at the farm, but she hadn't wanted echoes of her first disastrous wedding to mar the happiest day of her life, so she'd suggested they get married in Metropolis. He'd liked the idea, she could tell. And so they'd been married in the park near the Hobson's Bay Bridge, with tulips blooming and spring sunshine streaming down on them.

She looks at the photograph more closely, seeing Clark's proud smile, her own bright grin. The sight of the two of them-- so young, so happy-- makes something twist inside her, and she puts it down quickly. Maybe one day that photo will help her recall happier times, but right now it just taunts her with the memory of what she's lost.

She walks on into their closet and flips the lights on, smiling a little at the sight of what he always referred to as his "half" of the space-- racks and racks of dark suits and red and blue ties taking up three quarters of the closet. Clark had never worn anything but flannel and Levis and t-shirts when they'd been kids growing up together in Smallville, but somewhat to her amusement, as an adult he'd become something of a clotheshorse. He religiously wore suits and ties even when most men at the Planet had switched over to more casual wear. He swore it was camouflage, to make him look stodgy, so no one could guess his secret identity, but she always suspected he just had a weakness for nice suits.

She runs her hand over the fine woolen fabric of a navy blue suit. And then she sighs, and presses a small hidden button behind the suits, and a concealed door slides open noiselessly.

The suit is hanging inside. Not one of his work suits, but The Suit.

She stares at it for a long time. She'd thought it was rather silly when he first started wearing it. It had been based on a drawing by a twelve-year-old boy, after all, and it looked very much like something that might have come out of the pages of a Warrior Angel comic. But somehow it had come to represent him, and all he'd done for Metropolis, and it no longer looks silly to her, or to anyone else. She knows most citizens of Metropolis would give anything to see it again.

But they won't. Because there's a huge rent in the fabric, right across the S he wore on his chest. Rusty dark red stains the edges of the tear, hinting at his fate. She stares for long moments, but doesn't touch it. She can't bear to touch it.

He died wearing the suit. Intellectually, she knows that he wouldn't have minded giving his life to save Metropolis. He would have been proud to sacrifice himself for the city he loved. He died doing what he most wanted to do, what he'd been born to do, and that shouldn't be a cause for tears.

But she wasn't ready for him to leave her, and the sight of the torn, bloodied suit makes her throat clog and ache.

She turns away, closing the panel and turning off the lights in the closet, and walks back out into the apartment. It looks familiar and comfortable, filled with the clutter accumulated over a long marriage. And yet it feels empty.

Everything the two of them shared together, every memento of their love and friendship, every anniversary and birthday gift, every photo of every important moment they ever shared together, is right here in this apartment. Everything that ever really mattered in her life is here.

Everything... except him.

-The End-

7 comments:

Tracey L said...

The last paragraph just tore me to pieces. I wish you hadn't had to learn to write like that.

DeeDee said...

All your Anniversary fics move me to tears, Elly, and this one's no exception. I hope writing helps you come to terms with your grief.

You're a strong, strong woman, and I admire you greatly.

Hugs,
Dee. Xxx

jlvsclrk said...

Oh my, that was so sad I'm in tears. Yet so, so beautiful too. I'm somehow reminded of the song from the Titanic - not exactly my favourite of all time but very fitting somehow in this context. Chloe's heart will go on.

chloista4ever said...

Sniff!... so heartbreaking I loved this part specialy: "Everything the two of them shared together, every memento of their love and friendship, every anniversary and birthday gift, every photo of every important moment they ever shared together, is right here in this apartment. Everything that ever really mattered in her life is here.

Everything... except him."

BEUTIFULY HEARTBREAKING!

Anonymous said...

Elly, I can't begin to tell you how much this story moved me. I'm deeply sorry for your loss and hope it helps a little bit knowing that others care and are thinking of you.

Sarah

BkWurm1 said...

The stories you write that touch on loss and the hole a loved one leaves behind are always very hard to for me to read but I can never ignore them. Commenting almost feels wrong because it feels like I am stepping into something private and personal but that you can share these snapshots about the long lingering pain you live with makes you very brave and leaves me touched and always moved to tears. My thoughts remain with you and your family and all those who have loved and been forced to say goodbye.

Anonymous said...

Elly, your fic moved me to tears. I, too, lost my soulmate... it will be two years in April. Sometimes I swear I hear his voice or his laugh as I walk through our house and sometimes the empty him-shaped hole in my heart aches for his touch one more time. This story truly brings to life the aching emotion we feel when we have to move on without the one we love the most...