The ship is small and cramped. It was hard to build, even with the fortresses resources at his disposal. It's dead technology, old and nearly forgotten (and decades, centuries ahead of anything Earth has to offer). It looks like the ship that has been resting underneath the Kent farm for over twenty years, but bigger, able to carry a full grown man (Kryptonian).
The crystals of his ship glow at odd moments, absorbing the light of the stars as they move past. Sometimes, he likes to watch the ways the crystals catch and refract the light, the patterns they create on the inside of the ship.
Most of the time, he sleeps. Sometimes, he dreams.
He dreams of his father, not Jonathan Kent, but Jor-El, sitting on a pail at the edge of the farm. His white hair glows softly in the morning light. He is wearing a flannel shirt and overalls.
His father's eyes squint at the sky, and his voice seems to talk of rain, the way Jonathan Kent did, but in Jor-El's voice. His hands gesture toward the sun, to the pasture, where the cows used to graze.
The cows are dead, though, all laid out on the grass, and the sky around them dims and grays. His father is speaking of Zandronian philosophy now.
"They do not view death as an end," he is saying. "And you should not, either, my son."
It is quiet in space. The vacuum carries no sound. When his back begins to cramp, and his body begins to weaken, he'll leave the confines of the ship to absorb the light of a passing yellow sun, to stare out into the vastness of space and feel very small.
He remembers reading a in a textbook in high school that you can go crazy from too much quiet. He remembered that before leaving, and brought along a crystal full of old Kryptonian stories. There are a lot of them.
He also remembers reading that there are only 7 plots in the entire world, that they're told over and over again, with different details each time. He thinks the same thing applies to Kryptonian stories, too.
But that does not mean he doesn't like to fall asleep to the sound of his mother's voice as she tells him for the tenth time, the story of how Zon-Gur defeated the Winged Beast of Dandahu.
He dreams that he is Kar of the House of Em, who defeated the House of Van in a glorious battle in order to restore his House to its rightful place amongst the Council. In his dream, Lex Luthor is Bertron-Van, his bald head looking out of place on top of his Kryptonian finery. They are standing on a battlefield (which is Krypton and America both), dead soldiers at their feet.
It is beautiful and terrible at the same time. Around them, the skies split open, and it beings to rain, larges heavy dropplets that splatter across his face and hand and blade.
"Now we battle to the death, Kar-Em son of Ran-Em," Luthor/Van says. His teeth are white, and his smile is cold and vicious. "Now we shall see who shall be victorious."
Around them, jagged white crystals, ice formations leap out of the ground, reaching for the sky.
There are many things he misses about Earth. His mom's cooking (because there's nothing like it anywhere else, he knows), noise (because he had lived on a planet's worth of noise for most of his life), talking (because he has nothing to say to the emptiness, and the emptiness returns the favor), Lois (because the lack of her is almost a physical ache).
He misses Jimmy and the Planet and the planet and the oceans and the plains and his old high school jacket and the picture of him and Lana in front of the Kent farm and the pen he stole off of Lois' desk and the sight of a smiling child and the collection of articles he kept that he really liked and the feeling of lifting something bigger than his body and the cheesy children's sci-fi/fantasy movies he'd loved as a kid and the sun in the morning and the moon at night and the buzz of the newsroom and the laughter of people entirely too drunk.
He misses everything.
But then he remembers that Krypton is still out there, waiting.
He dreams that he is standing on the edge of an icy cliff, and that Lois stands next to him, and that they are dressed in fine, Kryptonian robes. In Lois' arms, there is a child wrapped in a red blanket (cape).
Her hair is pulled up into an elaborate bun, and her lips and fingernails are painted a red, sci-fi villainess red, and her eyes are dark against the pale white of her face. She calls him Kal-El in a voice he doesn't recognize.
He thinks the ice beneath his feet is crumbling, but the world around him is silent, in a way that reminds of the vastness of space. Lois grabs his arm, and her fingernails dig into his skin, leaving behind pale marks. The baby in her arms is gone now, disappeared, but he does not think of it. Lois holds his face in her hands as she kisses him. She feels like water, slipping through his fingers, over his skin.
Overhead, the red sun explodes without a sound.
When he reaches the spot where Krypton used to be (where he thinks it should be), there's nothing left, just debris, the forgotten remains of a dead world.
Floating amongst the remains (in a lead suit, of course), he thinks of a grand civilization, ancient and powerful. He thinks of towering cities, libraries full of learning, advanced technology. He thinks of old wisdom; the remnants left behind in living crystals. He thinks of single legacies sent off to distant planets.
He thinks that, at the moment, he may be the only living thing for light years.
On the way back, when he sleeps, he doesn't dream.