This fits into any general Superman-verse. It doesn't particularly follow any film, and I did take a few liberties with some characters, a slight A/U if you will. But give it read, see if it works.
Hardly a Charmed Life
It was four hours ago, yet the image seared in my brain were my feet, both firmly planted and my toes curled on the roofline of the barn that had seen better days. My head tilted up, to the brilliant blue sky, then down, across the amber wheat fields that rippled as an ocean, seemingly to stretch beyond the horizon. Only the sounds of the rustling stalks and a cow bellow carried along the breeze accompanied the pounding of a solitary heartbeat that drummed in my ears.
I closed my eyes and could hear the slender strands of wheat rubbing against each other, the muffled hooves of the animals in the straw below my feet in the barn. The two fists of mine were clenched, with my fingernails digging into my palms like sharp knives. I drew the longest breath I could recall. What I was about to attempt was utter insanity and of course, that being said, I had to be completely nuts.
My toes protruded off the overhang of the barn's roofline as I took a step to the absolute edge. As an updraft and gust of wind met my face, unease rose from the pit of my stomach. At that point, my legs felt unstable, threatening to buckle but a deep voice behind me was reassuring.
"You can do it, will it to happen..."
Without bothering to turn, I nodded and spread my arms as a bird spanned its wings, stretching in the sun, ready for flight. This was ridiculous, because with all my willpower to combat what seemed to be any remaining shred of sanity, and against any natural human instinct, I flexed my hip, extending my leg forward into nothing.
My breath hitched as I shifted my weight forward, I felt my body arc forward and in seemingly slow motion, sink. I began to plummet with the wind roaring in my ears. With all my concentration, will and determination, I refused to let my body crash to the ground. I'm not going to eat dirt. I'm not. I can do this.
Then suddenly, everything stopped. And then, nothing.
As I hesitantly opened my eyes, the ground beneath my feet seemingly fell away and then I felt my body begin to float. My head tilted up, blinking, into the sun I gasped in amazement with the surreal dream of the moment and the basic physics that were defied as I began to rise. What began as a cruel experiment with my father and I, was now an amazing feat, the things of dreams. I was flying. I couldn't believe it.
Now look, I know what you're thinking. You've got it figured that I'm lucky, that I'm the one with an amazing life and would be certifiably fit for a mental institution if I had thought otherwise. And let me guess, you'd think that you or anyone else would love to have it. See…I'm right, aren't I? But far as I'm concerned, I'd trade it. Go ahead, take it. Your eyes don't deceive you. I wrote that, in black and white. I'll take a trade, except, it's my life, not yours and trading lives isn't exactly something feasible, now is it? Here's the deal, I'm not insane, I'm not. I promise, if you stick around, I'll explain. Well, after I sort it out myself. I'm trying. Really, it's just not that easy.
But at this moment, I'm just not exactly sure how to make the best of it all. Since I'm being so honest and forthright, I may as well share another thing; I'm scared that I'll never live up to the accomplishments of my father and will end up an enormous disappointment. Fear of failure is something that lands people on the couches of shrinks all over the world, I'm fairly certain I'll be joining them one day. Just wait and see. I know I'm right.
No one can exactly understand how challenging, strange and down right terrifying things have become. I had a normal life, everything was fine. Now, nothing is fine. I don't have a clue what to do next. I've been staring up at the ceiling for the past three hours and believe me, this is a vast improvement from having my toes hang over the roof of a barn and suddenly plummeting face first to the ground. Oh, and about that, I've got to get more practice. It wasn't exactly graceful.
In the dwindling light of the day, the phosphorescent green glow-in-the-dark stars smattered across my bedroom ceiling began to glow as my eyes traced invisible patterns between them. I find it ironic, they might actually mean something, that the placement of them wasn't so sporadic, and was actually a message; a link to my ancestry.
I'll admit, I had always had a jealousy problem and to this day, not much has changed about that. I still carry quite a nasty green streak, have a chip on my shoulder or insert any other type of metaphor you'd prefer to use, that any type of sports weren't a part of my childhood. Now maybe it doesn't seem like such a big deal to you, but I'm about ninety percent sure you had a chance to at least try some type of athletic pursuit, even if it wasn't all that successful.
But as I've heard ad nauseum since I've remembered much of anything, the reminders that I had hemophilia always ended any sort of argument for enrolling in little league, track, volleyball or soccer, and for good reason. It's a rare disorder in which blood doesn't have platelets and if I was to get bruised, a cut, or even a scrape, it would continue to bleed, therefore my engagement in any type of athleticism was ludicrous.
I began to laugh quietly, as my gaze was blank amongst the green stars above my head. What a load of garbage, my parents lied to me. How about that? Is it possible to feel any more betrayed and completely shattered when you discover that the very two people, who are supposed to be honest with you, have made your complete existence a lie?
Let me just start with this preamble; I love my parents. That's never going to change. But right now, I definitely find it challenging to want to even be in the same house as them. Now selfishly, I must admit, four hours ago I did feel quite a large surge of satisfaction when my mother's jaw hung open along with her wide-eyed expression of disbelief when I had walked in the door unexpected.
It was a surprise, considering college was a five hour drive, maybe four at best with my lead foot, visits were planned and came at the time of school breaks. Today was Thursday, I hadn't called and fall break was two weeks ago.
But there I was, home, in the kitchen and staring my mother down.
The kitchen was quiet, the drip of the sink echoed in the stillness along with the rhythmic ticking of the clock. My heart betrayed the silence; it pounded in my ears, louder than I had ever thought it could sound. Except I wasn't quite sure if it was mine that I heard, it almost sounded as if it weren't coming from me.
The chair creaked as my mom shifted her weight.
"Kara, what are you doing home? I thought you were at school," she observed as she broke the silence. "What's wrong?"
"Wrong? Why would something be wrong?"
"You didn't tell us you were coming home."
"I'm your daughter, I've got a key; is it really necessary for me to give you a call to let you know I'm coming home? Wait, maybe coming home to the two of you going at it on the kitchen floor isn't such a good homecoming," I shuddered at the thought.
"Kara!" My father rumbled in disapproval.
I shoved my hands into the deep pockets of my hooded sweater and shifted my weight, took a deep breath and decided that I needed to tell them what happened. I was scared shitless and didn't have a clue what was happening to my body.
Maybe they had the answers and maybe they didn't. But if anyone had the slightest idea as what was happening to me, they would. And if not, they'd love me anyway.
"Last night, something…" I paused, and chose my words carefully "happened."
Mom and Dad were the masters of reading between the lines and considering both of them had written more than their fair share of them at the Daily Planet, I knew it was a loosing battle.
Mom looked up at Dad and the look of "oh shit," was as plain as day. Reading mom was came with as much ease as letters on the written page.
Dad, however, was another story. I can remember the countless occasions after he came home from a late night in the office that the longing deep in his eyes and the softness of his voice, were clear that he didn't want to be away from his family. I know he loves me, but it's just that he's never been there much. He didn't want to miss the orchestra concerts, the dance recitals or school plays but the job requirements of an assistant editor for the city department of a large newspaper sometimes meant family didn't come first.
Regrettably, I'll confess that I was bitten by the journalist bug in high school, and with the late nights at times with the school paper; well, I just understand where he's coming from. That's all. I may not always be able to interpret what brewed beneath his often stoic veneer, but I always felt the two of us had an understanding of each other, some strong connection. I can't explain exactly what it is, but I know it's there. I digress, anyway, back to the story. I promise my rambling thoughts won't interfere again.
"Kara," Dad's low voice was full of worry, "What happened?"
Both sets of eyes looked at me, expectantly and curious.
"I was on a ladder, getting a book off the top shelf at the library." Images of my arm, reaching for the book merely centimeters beyond my fingertips and leaning against the frame of the tall ladder flashed across my memory. "I fell."
My body lurched and the book that was just short of reach suddenly became much closer as my sneakers that had been on the ladder rung slipped. My arms flailed, attempting to latch onto any surface that would prevent me from plummeting to the floor below.
But I missed.
My breath hitched, as I clamped my eyes shut; bracing for impact as I fell face first, in a moment that seemed suspended in time. In anticipation of my body jolting when it connected with the hard floor, I gasped for air.
But there was nothing, there wasn't any impact at all.
As my eyes opened, I found my nose inches from the grain of the wood floor.
Mom's face fell as her breathing became quickened. "How far did you fall?" Her voice was fraught with worry.
"About twenty feet," I replied with insincere nonchalance, then added for extra measure, I added an "I'm fine."
"Why didn't you call us? You know with your disorder that not calling us was the worst thing you could have done."
"Thanks, Mom. It's nice to know how much confidence you have in your daughter. Besides, I'm not dead, now am I?"
"Imagine if you'd gotten massive internal injuries, who's to say right now you're not bleeding in your spleen someplace?"
"Mom, I'm fine. That's the problem."
"I don't understand how being alright is a problem," Mom clutched her chest. "You're damn lucky you're fine."
Dad continued to look at me, remaining silent with a brooding expression as he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose.
I laughed nervously; I wasn't quite sure what to believe, if they were as illusioned as me, or if they've just become masters at deception. I always knew they were brilliant at finding the truth; it just never occurred to me that they were just as talented at hiding it.
"Well, I guess it helps that I didn't hit the floor." I swallowed. "I floated above it."
The floor had remained inches below me, my body floated…suspended above it. I looked down, my arms extended. I looked down at my feet and I watched them as I wiggled my pink sneakers back and forth, just to check that they were actually mine. I wasn't touching anything, and my hands began to shake, uncontrollably.
Suddenly, the moment that seemed suspended along with my body, was over; with a thud, I landed on the floor. Make no mistake about it, my entire body levitated above the floor and didn't come to a crashing halt. What the hell was the matter with me?
I looked at both my parents, searching both of them for an answer, but their stunned faces were more frightening than what had happened to me. Perhaps they really didn't have a clue and maybe I shouldn't have told them. No. Wait. Scratch that, this was a huge mistake. I should have stayed at school and kept my big fat mouth shut.
"I don't even have a bruise." After swallowing, I looked at the floor; it became far more appealing to look at than the expressions of surprise both of my parents wore. I couldn't bear looking at them.
"Kara, it's okay," my father's voice seemed deeper than I had remembered, yet it seemed familiar. He sighed as his shoulders sagged. It was disheartening to suddenly get a feeling that maybe; just maybe, your parents don't have all the answers and at times, are just as clueless. "We've got a lot to talk about."
"Wait…what's the matter with me?" My eyes darted between my mom and dad. If there was ever a moment to be described as 'what the fuck,' this would be it. "What the hell happened?"
"There's nothing wrong with you," my mother admitted hurriedly. "Actually, just the opposite, Kara. You're quite extraordinary," Mom muttered to my father, "Clark, a little help. You know I'm not good at this sort of thing."
Dad continued as Mom seemed at a momentary loss of words. "What your mother and I are trying to tell you, is that from the moment you were born, we knew you were special."
My parents weren't helping with jack squat.
"Special," I echoed. "I'm a freak of nature, I, I defied gravity." My voice rose in panic. "What the hell do you call that?"
"My daughter," Dad murmured. And then he smiled. His reaction was completely out of place, and a strange sensation began to creep along my skin. He knew.
"We wanted you to have a normal childhood, it was safer that way."
"A normal childhood… right," I argued bitterly. "But then again, you weren't the one getting picked on because you had to sit out the kickball game or watched all your friends go to play soccer without you...
"At some point, we knew we had to talk about this. Kara, your father and I thought it was for the best not to tell when you were young, so we kept a lot of things about you secret." Mom rubbed the bridge of her nose and continued. "When you were small, you wouldn't have been able to understand, but the older you became the more difficult it was to tell you. And before we knew it, you grew up. I'm so sorry. We should have told you sooner."
"There are a lot of people out there who would have wanted to kill you." Dad's brilliant blue eyes pierced me as he spoke with a frightening sense of gravity.
"Kill me? I don't get it. I haven't done anything."
"It's not what you've done; it's who you are; because of who's your father," Mom said.
"My father…" my face contorted in confusion and tears began to blur my vision as I tried to look at my dad.
None of this made a bit of sense.
Dad's hand rose to his thick glasses and removed them from his face and looked at me. At that moment, it occurred to me; I had never seen him without his glasses. It was utterly bizarre to suddenly realize that my dad, whom I had lived with for all of my twenty years, looked completely odd without something as simple as a pair of glasses.
My stomach lurched as he looked at me, because at that moment, I realized something. I'd seen that face before; on television screens, on the front pages of newspapers and covers of magazines.
It was Superman's face.
"Kara, your father's Superman."
Each syllable my mother uttered rang as if a hammer had struck me. And to be perfectly honest, if I hadn't floated inches above the floor last night, I wouldn't have believed what my mom just told me. But it all made perfect sense.
Through middle school and high school, I had always heard the giggles, the rumors that swirled about my parents amongst peers and teachers alike; that mom had a heated romance on the side with the man of steel and poor Dad was oblivious to it all. After all, my mom's Lois Lane, the woman who had introduced Superman to the world and was responsible for the majority of interviews ever conducted with him.
Lois Lane never had any affairs with Superman, she married him.
"I don't have hemophilia, do I?" I spoke flatly, I was completely stunned.
Her head shook. "No. You don't."
"So all those years I never got to play soccer, that I never played softball, I was never allowed to try out for volleyball, track, field, swimming, any sport…" I trailed as my voice choked. "I thought it was because I would bleed to death; but it was all a load of bullshit!"
"Kara, we're sorry it had to be this way, but it we thought it was the best choice. Believe me, I've got my enemies," my father warned.
"Right, I get it. Loud and clear," I laughed as I peeled the glasses from my face, looked down at them. "Guess I probably don't need these either." I rapped the fames of the glasses against my palm before waving them in the air dramatically. I never said I was without drama. In fact, I seemed to have inherited my mother's flare for it.
"No, you needed them," my mother commented.
"Well, I guess I did, after all, you always say how much I look like Dad." I began to laugh angrily "A pair of glasses had me fooled for my entire life…" I glared at my father. His eyes turned fierce.
"This isn't something to make light of. Lex Luthor isn't just someone who's after us for printing negative press about him. He nearly killed me as Superman a few times; don't think he wouldn't have salivated over the concept at killing you, my own child. We had to keep you hidden, to keep you alive."
Suddenly a searing headache flashed across my temples and I screamed, dropping the glasses as I clutched the sides of my head. My mother and father's frames seemed to melt away, as did the kitchen walls and beyond. I clamped my eyes shut and groaned.
"As you can see, the glasses kept you from seeing through objects," my father added. "Or at least, that's what we had hoped. Your glasses lenses aren't just ordinary lenses, they're made with a layer of lead crystal."
Rubbing my temples, I hesitantly blinked my eyes, squinting at my father; I picked up the glasses and slipped them back on. "And you can't see through lead."
"Right. You'll learn to control it, Kara. I did."
Boiling with anger, I walked over to the kitchen counter, curiosity had gotten the better of me at that point and as any furious child would do, I chose wanted to scare the crap out of my parents. My fingers traced along the tops of the kitchen knives in the butcher block display until they landed upon the largest handle. It gleamed in the light as my eyes followed it.
"Let's see if I bleed," I stated as I wielded the knife and brought it down upon my forearm as my mother screamed.
Dad's hand seemed to appear from nowhere, and suspended the knife, inches from my flesh. His eyes flashed in anger.
"You're not a lab rat, you're my child. And don't forget, you're half human. We don't know what abilities you have and which ones you don't."
I glared at him, took the knife from his hand, held it with the point up and stared back. A lot of people were intimidated by Superman, but I was about to test the man of steel.
My palm laid flat upon the granite countertop as I took the point of the knife to it, looked at my father and through my clenched teeth, replied "Like I said, let's see if I bleed," as I pressed the sharp tip of the knife to the ravine in my palm. Nothing happened. As I pushed harder, the knife blade snapped. I looked up with satisfaction at my parents. "Dad, I've got one a question for you."
The corner of my mouth twitched as an amazing rush of possibilities surged.
"I can float, but can I fly?"
"I don't know," he said as he loosened the tie at his neck, the moved on to unfastening the top buttons of his still crisp shirt. "Maybe we should find out." My father's hands parted the shirt as my eyes fell upon the blue suit Superman wore.
"You've got to be joking," I said.
"No, I'm not," he continued to peel the shirt from his torso, revealing the impressive physique I never knew my father had.
Holy crap, my father really is Superman. And I was about to fly with him.
So there you have it, the story of how I found out that I'm Superman's daughter. It's not exactly something I've digested, or really have a grip on, but that was four hours ago. So cut me some slack, okay?
The creak of the door to my bedroom groaned as it opened and yanked me from the constant replay of the extremely revealing events that had transpired this afternoon. My father's head appeared through the space in the door as I turned my head. I smiled weakly and noticed for the first time, his glasses were folded and hung in the shirt pocket of his short sleeved T-shirt.
"Hey," he smiled and quietly entered the room.
The amazing sense of awe hasn't quite disappeared yet and I'm not exactly sure which concept is more of a challenge for my brain to wrap itself around; that my father really is the man of steel, or that I'm Superman's daughter. Either one, you've got to admit, is difficult to swallow and a hell of a life changing concept.
"Hi," I managed, then rolled over and did a face-plant into the pillow on my bed. I didn't even want to look at him. I wasn't sure what to think or feel. He seemed a stranger to me. There were so many things to ask, I didn't have a clue where to begin.
The man who could snap I-beams of steel as if they were toothpicks gently combed his fingers through my wavy blonde hair. He knew it was a calming reflex, one he had always done when he came home late and found me half asleep as a small child. He was still my dad.
"Do you want to talk about it?" He asked.
"Understatement of the century, Dad. Where do I even start?" My muffled voice came from the pillow.
"Wherever you want to, Kara." His soft expression was one of worry. "You can ask me anything, you know."
I rolled over, looked at him who sat at my bedside and I pulled myself up to a sitting position, picked at my cuticles and sighed.
"I don't know. I'm scared." As I looked up at my father, he digested the apprehension in my furrowed brow. "I don't know what to do with, with…it."
"Your abilities," he nodded.
"I didn't ask for any of this. I was perfectly happy with my life. I don't think I want it to change."
He looked at me, his shoulders sagged with what I know understood, as the weight of the world. "I didn't ask for it either. But with the abilities I have, I've got a responsibility, and so will you."
"What if I don't want it," I whispered. I knew it was selfish, but since we were having an honest conversation, I chose to be candid. "What if I just want a normal life and I don't want to be a hero?"
"Well, when I was your age and all of my abilities started to manifest themselves, I felt the same way. I was scared too. But when someone needed my help for the first time, I'll never forget it. I couldn't watch someone die when I knew that I could save them."
I exhaled and began to stare at the ceiling again as the back of my head landed with a thud against the headboard of my bed. "I see your point. I can't just sit here, with these amazing abilities and do nothing."
Crows feet formed at the corners of his eyes as he smiled.
"But what if I make a mistake?"
"You will make a mistake, more than one. No one's perfect. I'm not," he confessed.
"You seem to be."
"Kara, I'm not infallible, I'm not God. You have a choice, just like I did. But I promise you, Kara, there is a lot of darkness in the world, and at some point, you'll know." He smiled.
"I'll know," I echoed in confusion and doubt.
Dad's smile faded as a moment of something dark long ago flitted past his memory.
"You'll know that there times when you've got to rise to the occasion, because sometimes, there are things and situations far more important than yourself."
"Right. When will I know?"
"Trust me," an odd chill rippled through my spine as his deep voice carried a solemn foreshadowing. "You'll know."
"Okay," I exhaled, "until then, you can be Superman, and I'll just be me, okay? I smiled and leaned against his shoulder. "But I've got to admit, that flying thing, that's pretty fun."
I looked up and noticed the grin that I had inherited formed on my father's face. "It never gets old, Kara. It's pretty amazing."
As I sat with my father, I came to a realization. Call it an 'ah-ha' moment, if you will. But I get it. Really, I do. I always knew my dad and I shared some type of bond I couldn't put my finger on, but now I know. I'm so much more like him than I ever understood before.
Parents never have all the answers; Superman wasn't perfect and a lot of times, was just like the rest of us. Being a hero as the likes of Superman, seems exciting and I'll admit, does come with a pretty neat package. But I'm not an idiot I'm well aware that it also carried a weight that proved sobering; it wasn't to be taken lightly and was damn scary.
So you think I've got a charmed life, do you? I don't think so. But the life I've got is mine, and I'd better figure it out, because my father's right. At some point in the future, I won't be living in Superman's shadow; I'll be standing next to him.
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