You've reached Clark Kent. I'm not answering my phone right now, so leave a message after the beep. If you're calling about work you can reach me at 1-555-555-6452, extension 2394. If you're from Paradisa, you won't be able to reach my work number due to dimensional problems. Thanks.
Clark drifts over the countryside at six thousand feet, wind whipping his hair out of order and his t-shirt struggling to escape him in the breeze.
Up here, the countryside looks like one of his mom’s older patchwork quilts –– wheat browns and tans, dark forests and rich kelly greens, all sewn up with dusty threads of roads. Little moving flecks of vehicles and livestock, rugged little farmhouses and barns.
There’s a greyish haze over it all, the thin morning clouds holding back some sun. Clark doesn’t mind; his brilliant blues can see right though it, effortlessly.
Up here, the City’s rural outskirts aren’t a far cry from Smallville’s earlier days.
And, he thinks, it couldn’t be more beautiful.
“Miss Lane,” he says, delight evident in his voice.
In a short glide and five long strides he’s at her side and she’s looking up at him, both surprised and happy to see him. One arm slips around her waist, the other moves to cradle her shoulders, and before she can manage even a syllable, he dips her back and kisses her.
For a split second she’s startled, but she relaxes in his arms and enthusiastically returns the greeting, one leg bent up, body against his. For a moment they stay like this, long and passionate, and only when someone gives a loud whistle and a whoop of “get a room!” do the two break it off with a grin.
“Come on,” that someone says, teasingly. “There are children watching.”
Superman looks a touch sheepish, with that smile, though Lois is unabashed. She lingers in his arms, eyes bright, mischievous grin lingering.
“Not often I get a reception like THAT,” she says. “You must have missed me, huh?”
“I always do,” Superman replies, returning her to her upright position. His attention moves to the bystanders, pleasantly. “Sorry, folks.”
There’s a bit of laughter from the crowd, and a couple more catcalls, and one woman remarks, “I think you’re entitled to a bit of PDA, every once in a while, for all you do for us.”
“I know you missed me, boy scout, but I’ve got to get back to the Planet, and the next train goes by in two minutes,” Lois announces, cutting off the conversation. “Catch up with me later?”
“If you don’t catch up with me first,” Superman replies. “But until then, need a lift? I can spare a few minutes.”
“Thanks for the offer, but I’ll pass. You’ve got other things to do,” Lois says. “See you, superhero.”
“Hey,” Clark said, crouching down to Damian’s level. Damian’s surly expression didn’t change for even a moment. “I hear you’re our current Robin.”
“Don’t patronize me, Superman,” Damian replied, his blue eyes steeled. “Batman could take you in a fight.”
Clark was momentarily taken off-guard, but he pushed past it.
“Could he?” Clark said, lifting his eyebrows in a politely surprised way. “Probably. Good thing we’re good friends.”
Damian didn’t seem impressed with that answer, and seemed determined to get a rise out of Clark. On the other hand, Clark was blessed with an almost endless patience for children –– Damian could probably try for days just to get an eyeroll out of him.
“My father beat you stupid –– I heard the stories. Even Superman can’t beat my father!” Damian boasted.
Clark didn’t rise to that, either. Instead, he smiled, looking down at his feet for a second before lifting his eyes to Damian’s again. Damian folded his arms.
“Bruce Wayne is an incredibly remarkable man. He’s probably one of the smartest I’ve ever met. I’m guessing you’ll be following in his footsteps?” Clark asked.
Damian seemed to puff up at this.
“Well, then, as the future Batman, you would know that Batman and Superman make up the World’s Finest.”
There was a momentary pause on Damian’s end, and then he scowled.
“Of course I know that.”
“Then it looks like we’ll be partners some day,” Clark said, giving the boy a clap on the shoulder as he stood up. Damian’s eyes followed him up, with the most skeptical expression imaginable. Clark grinned down at him. “Stay out of trouble.”
Clark sits down on his bed and lays back, closing his eyes. For the first time in ten days, he goes more than five minutes without listening in on something, or looking in on something. For more than five minutes, it’s all about him, private, without eavesdropping or spying or invading others’ privacy.
Clark relaxes, and stretches. The muscles that control his eyeballs feel stressed and sore –– a rarity for him, but utterly reasonable, given how much strain he’d been putting on himself for the past week.
It's over. It's finally over.
“Oops,” Lana said, with a bit of a giggle. A dollop of melting ice cream had slid from her cone, over her fingers, and landed on her stomach. Clark, flat on his back next to her, looked up, and she pointed at it and grinned.
(The two had spent most of their Saturday thus far in bed, in Lana’s room in the Talon. The AC was broken and the windows were open in the vain hope of coaxing in a breeze, and the only time they had crawled out of bed since getting breakfast had been to run down the street to get ice cream.
Which was where, if Clark’s parents asked, they were, of course. No bedroom shenanigans going on here, no sir.)
“You’re a messy eater,” Clark teased, propping himself up on his elbows.
Lana looked amused. “It’s a hundred degrees, Clark.”
“Slow eater,” Clark corrected himself, still with a grin, as Lana reached for a tissue. “Wait.”
Lana paused, hand on the tissues, and looked at him. Clark watched her for a moment, clearly entertained, and then rolled closer to her. She watched him, too, curious, and he put his mouth to her stomach and licked the ice cream off her bare skin with one long, slow stroke. It tickled enough for her to curl her toes.
When he lifted his head, grinning like a fool, Lana laughed, and reached over to cup his face with her non-ice creamy hand, and pulled him closer. Clark followed, like a magnet, grinning against her lips until they slipped into a long kiss.
Ted Kord is forty, and always seems to be smiling. He’s squarely built, someone clearly used to fighting and working for what he wants, but he’s soft around the edges. It makes him seem warmer, if he wasn’t already warm enough. He’s clever, and a real gentleman. I don’t know him well, but I know he’s a good man.
There’s a type of person that doesn’t really have a name, but you can probably think of someone in your life who fits into it. He’s a friend of your dad’s who lets you call him Uncle, and he gets along with almost everyone, but knows business when he sees it. He gets into all sorts of trouble for fun and still gets his work done. He’s respectable, witty, smart, and best of all, he doesn’t lecture like any other adult would.
Ted Kord is the embodiment of this man.
When I make eye-contact and smile to be friendly, he smiles back, and flushes a bit red in the face. He acts like he’s nervous, which always takes me off guard, even if it’s more from respect than fear. I’m not asking to be treated like Superman when I haven’t earned that cape yet.
He calls me Superman.
I ask him to call me Clark.
He agrees, and then says my name as if he doesn’t know how it’ll sound.
I ask if it’s really that weird.
He laughs it off, sheepishly, fumbles over words, and finally gets them out. He rationalizes that I’m respected by everyone; it’s different to call me by any other name.
I smile to my journal, pretend I know less than I do, and he lets the subject go. We go back to talking about mice.