This started with a whim and an idea - Clark Kent is dead. Kind words over at the Superman-n-WonderWoman Yahoo Group have encouraged me to write more, and with 3 chapters completed I feel there is more to this story - and the story wants to be told.
For your benefit dear reader this story is occurs in the near future of (my approximation of) the current DC comics Universe, using DC's trademarked characters, and is not in the same Universe as my other ongoing fic.
Please feel free to contact me by any of the usual means, and let me know what you think. Thanks for reading.
Clark Kent is dead.
I didn't plan it that way, it was one of those things. Clark is human, that is the conceit, Kal-El however is Krypton's Last Son Plus - a Kryptonian with lifelong exposure to Sol's rays makes me more than my nature, as does my human upbringing, my nurture, these together make me Superman; and I chose to hide in plain sight, to play to peoples prejudices.
The problem came with the explosion.
I smelled the C5 when the elevator door opened, it was a simple choice, I grabbed Lois, and exited the building, as a fireball consumed the bomber and everything in the immediate vicinity. I've played the scenario back countless times, and I know I couldn't have done this differently. The bomb was timed perfectly to kill Clark Kent.
The explosion took out the entire Planet News Room, among the dead was Perry White, and the blast vaporised those nearest the lift doors, leaving nothing to identify.
I intended to come up with a story, it would be easy, Clark had stepped out, escaped the explosion, and here he is returning from the dead.
The video evidence was the problem. I move quickly, by the time the bomb detonated I had already moved from my desk and was in costume, taking hold of Lois. I could explain here how my powers really work, how I am able to negate mass but that's science beyond the ken of mortal man so I won't go there, I will say the surveillance tape frame by frame show Clark at his desk one moment, adjacent to the lift. The next frame shows that same work station being consumed in a fireball.
Information technology. The security feed delivered the images to another building on the other side of the continent.
"Maybe I could have been blown clear." I told Lois.
"That stretches credibility, and you are already on a number of watch lists as it is."
She said coolly. I took her anger to be indicative of her frustration and grief, we'd lost Perry, among other friends and colleagues, I was just glad Jimmy and so many others were on assignment. It could have been worse.
"Internet chatter." I said. "People have speculated about Superman living among them for years."
"Smallville, you are good at what you do, but give us some credit. You also work for a major metropolitan newspaper, if you think the surviving staff of the Daily Planet are not going to question Clark Kent escaping death once again – when so many didn't, you are wrong. Heck it's bad enough you saved me. They look at me as if to say why you – why you yet again?"
It was survivors guilt I thought. "Lois maybe you need to talk to someone."
"Spare me Clark, I don't need a shrink."
"Perhaps the Flash could have...?"
Lois laughed, she was really angry, I could smell it, her adrenaline levels were up.
Lois laid it out for me, she had done the research. "All the League are accounted for – there isn't a single hero capable of pulling a human like Clark Kent out of an explosion unseen that can't be placed definitively somewhere else."
"I'm sure I can figure.."
"Dammit Smallville." Lois exploded. "You probably could."
I looked at her sadly, she had lost it again.
"Don't you get it?" She shook her head at me, and those violet eyes burned. "I am tired, tired of your bull, your lies." Lois laid into me, hammering my chest, she might hurt herself, so I held her arms."
"Let me go." She said breathing slowly.
I did. She looked me – her eyes were cold. "Hell I am tired of putting up with all your crap. Clark Kent especially.
"It's incredibly frustrating to live with, if we're with anyone, anyone normal I mean, as a couple - you're falling over your oversized shoes, trying to appear mild mannered. But if it's one of the Justice League, one who knows who you are, well then I'm just the outsider."
"Now Lois that isn't true."
"Clark it is true. The only one of your regular League pals who is human is Bruce, and that is taking the definition of human to extremes, where do I start – I have to include a level of obsessive paranoia and what can only be genius-is-madness personified.
"And don't get me started on Diana – she's only my best friend – Wonder Woman."
"Now Lois that's unfair, Diana and Bruce understand..."
"Yes they understand you. Unlike Lois on the inside looking in, hell you give Kyrpto a longer leash than you give me, because unlike me, he's not going to fall off a building or get blown up by a bomb. He's invulnerable."
"Krypto! He could had grabbed Clark..."
"Smallville don't you get it?" Lois screamed at me. "Clark Kent is legally dead. Leave him dead."
"But Lois that would mean that legally we're no longer married."
"Now you finally understand Kal."
"You can't mean,.."
"That we're saving a fortune on Lawyers – yeah I mean it. Come on Kal, you know me - I wasn't a one woman man when you met me."
I frowned. I was angry, that is never good for me. No man likes to dwell on his girl's ex-boyfriends.
"Don't get me wrong, it's been fun at times - but I'm done with you." Lois said.
"You can't be serious?" I made fists with my hands, I should have seen this coming, the way she was with me, passive aggressive, always trying to dominate, putting herself in danger. Bruce had almost told me as much, trying to lead me to the place where I could see it for myself.
But I'd made promise, a wedding vow. Pa would hammered that into me, an honourable man keeps his word. It was a place I couldn't look, and Bruce knew that too, he never pushed me, but he knew.
"It's not you, it's me." She laughed. "Sorry that sounds trite, but this time it's the truth.
"A woman likes to know she's treasured, likes to know she's cared for, but you take this to the nth degree, in your hands I am literally like the worlds most fragile china, you can never cut loose with me, you have to be in control of your every thought – every twitch, always."
"Lois it's like that with everyone for me, I live in world made of cardboard and paper."
"Is it like that with Diana?" Lois asked.
I couldn't answer that, because I knew what the truth was. Diana knew what it was like to live in a world where the people you live among are made of glass.
"Smallville it was novel, even nice to begin with, but I need a man I know I can hurt, and that he can hurt me back, I have to know it's real, human, this marriage it's just an artificial contrivance, alien."
The word alien cut to the quick of me.
"I didn't realise you felt this way."
"It's not like you haven't your job to keep you busy, we both know every minute you spend with me, people are dying needlessly because you are playing house. Time to face facts I'm not what you need, and you are not what I want.
"I'm a widow Kal-El. I was already a widow to your real job long before Clark Kent died, now he's gone we both need to mourn his passing, and move on with the rest of our lives."
"You can't mean that."
"I need to find my equal, and so do you, maybe when you finally make love to some one who won't break in two if you lose focus for a millisecond you'll finally relax and be a real joined up person. Not three people occupying the same space, Clark, Kal, Superman.
"Maybe then you'll come and see me and maybe then we'll be friends, but you need to go Superman, go to your Fortress, and leave me be, let me live my life, take my own risks, just like any other natural born human being.
"And you need to work out who you are."
I flew clear, I had too. I was angry and I couldn't stay in the same room as Lois when I was angry.
There is was only place I could go and that was Gotham.