Pairings/Characters: Bruce/Clark, Dick/Roy, Lois, Jonathan/Martha, Lex, Steve/Diana
Categories: Drama, Angst
Fandom: Mostly comicsverse but with some Smallville thrown in.
Warnings: Major character death.
Summary: How does a near-immortal face the loneliness as the years pass?
Date Of Completion: May 5, 2007
Date Of Posting: May 5, 2007
Disclaimer: I don’t own 'em, DC does, more's the pity.
Word Count: 1735
Author’s Notes: I was inspired for this story about a discussion generated by jen_in_japan 's "Even The Stars End", suggested by supercaptain182 for Jen’s LJ versaraficathon. :)
He could feel his energy slipping away, the green glow of his inherent weakness doing its work. Despite the pain, he felt at peace.
He was tired, something that had been bone-deep in him for years now. He had fought the good fight, the endless battles, the never-ending quest for truth and justice…while all the ones he loved slipped away, either in battle or through illness or age. Through it all he never aged, always healed and flourished, and yet his heart was as scarred as Bruce’s flesh.
Heart of his heart.
Bruce had not been the first to go. There had been other heroes, other friends, and each one had hurt. As the years passed, Bruce had been mildly astonished that he was still amongst the living. He had long ago thought that he would never reach old age, and many would have agreed with him. Yet he had somehow survived all the battles, all the madness, and had been happy with his Kryptonian lover.
When Dick had been killed, it had nearly broken him. Both of them. Teetering on the edge of madness, Bruce had nearly slipped into the dark abyss, but love had finally pulled him out, though the happiness was dimmed and they tried to savor every day, but he wondered if Bruce had been merely waiting to rejoin Dick, his parents, Alfred, everyone who had gone before him, knowing that his lover could not follow, not for a long time, not for an eternity, not ‘til the stars died and turned to dust.
And himself? He had been living that waiting game for a very long time now.
Clark closed his eyes, his breathing labored. He still called himself Clark. He supposed he could have simply thought of himself as Kal-El, as Clark had been forced to ‘die’ as Kal-El hadn’t aged a day in a century…or two…or three...
Yet Clark was who he was, had been since his Earth parents had given him the name. He missed them so. Clark had been the name of the man who had grown up on Earth, a son of Krypton but also of Earth. He could never be completely Kal-El, nor Superman. Clark gathered those threads together and combined them into the man he knew as himself. The man whom Bruce had fallen in love with.
His thoughts coalesced, then fragmented, swirling in his fevered brain. He knew that the Kryptonite was doing its work, but he had no fear.
I will always love you, Clark.
He remembered their first meeting, the moment they realized they were in love, their first time as lovers.
Forever and always.
They were together through all the good times and all the bad.
Standing as Dick’s best men when he married Roy.
When you find real love, it’s precious. You make Bruce so happy, Clark. I love you for so much, but always for that.
Celebrating Clark’s Pulitzer Prize shared with Lois.
Hurting through the funerals of Clark’s parents.
How’s my baby boy? Look, Jonathan, he’s taking his first steps! My sunny child! Let Momma give you a hug.
Going to Lian’s recitals.
Fighting side-by-side with the Justice League of America during titanic battles to save the world.
Beaming as godparents during the christening of Dick and Roy’s second daughter Chloe.
Bruce with him as he cried over Lois’ death while serving as a war correspondent.
See, Smallville, that’s the way to go out. Doing what you love.
Hanging out among the gargoyles of Gotham with her protector Bat.
Feeling a great, tearing grief when Lex died, so much promise between them gone, paths not taken and paths that were.
You and I, Clark, are bound together in ways that even Bruce can’t understand. Sardonic smile. We’ll always have Smallville. But the mockery didn't reach his eyes.
He welcomed the pain seeping into his bones. So tired, so very tired.
We of the Earth honor Superman, the World’s Greatest Hero.
So many crying out for him, and he tried so hard to save them all. He gave up living among them when Clark ‘died’, because another identity would have hurt too much. The Fortress of Solitude was there, and so, too, Wayne Manor dark and empty, a museum piece without any patrons, and the Kent farm was still alive and growing, a new family keeping it going as he observed from the shadows, smelling the freshly-mowed grass and the corn in their husks, the earth rich and fragrant after spring’s rains.
Jonathan! Clark! Lunch!
C’mon, son, your mother has your favorite today.
As the years slowly turned into centuries he had gone more often on deep space missions with the Justice League, no longer their chairman but willing to help out, or with the Green Lantern Corps, and wondered if he would eventually see his younger self as the Legion of Super Heroes would come into being, a thousand years from his past becoming his present, and the pain of his heart nearly broke him as he feared creeping closer to that century and such a milestone. New friends that he made grew old and left him, too, as their children did and their children’s children, and he eventually he stayed on Earth, politely declining new missions and taking care of the people here at home, names he never knew and faces he never recognized.
Clark, I’m so sorry. Aphrodite gave me a choice long ago: live forever or forsake it and go to Man’s World. I chose Steve. I chose Love.
Love, of course, was why he hurt so much. He moaned softly as the pain of his body and his heart mingled, so tired, so tired…
You brought me love, Clark. How can I ever repay such a gift as that? I can say, ‘I love you’ without it hurting.
I will love you, forever and always, Clark.
Metropolis changed, her brightness dimming a little but she would always be the city of the future.
Gotham? She would always be the city of the past, but she still had a protector. He had seen to that.
There were days now that he never left the Fortress, never even getting out of bed, (the world had learned to leave him alone on those days, letting him brood like some King of the Icy North, whispering of the smiles that no longer reached his eyes), the only happiness he ever had fleeting and wrapped up in his past in the memories. Other days those memories hurt too much to remember.
Some days he was confused, fragments of memories mixing in with daydreams and he thought he heard whispers, but nothing was ever there.
He ate and drank very little, food and drink no longer having any taste, and some nights he dreaded sleep and the dreams, and other nights he welcomed them.
When all the Kryptonite had been destroyed and no more was found, he had despaired quietly while his colleagues had congratulated him.
He was tired, so bone-deep that he no longer read his beloved books or tinkered with his inventions or listened to music. He shouldn’t be so tired, as the sun still came up every morning and he could always absorb its golden rays, but he knew it was a weariness of soul.
Broken hearts knew little joy.
He haunted the graves of his loved ones, always staying in the shadows, a small smile on his face as he adopted the ways of his dark lover, but even now he was the protector of privacy and safety that were long turned to dust. There were always fresh flowers on their graves, and he knew where every one of them was located, his hands able to ward off the march of time as he re-carved worn names and dates with his fingers, desperate tracings to keep memories alive in stone, his face reflected in smooth marble amongst the angels…
And when the rains came, his tears mingled with the raindrops as he stood and let the winds and water lash against him until his vision blurred and he fell to his knees, tracing those names and dates with trembling fingers as the mud stained his costume and he rested his head against cool stone.
He had a golden scroll in the Fortress with the names of all who had gone before him, a chronological litany of loss: his parents, Kryptonian and human, Ollie, Lois, Hal, J’onn, Perry, Barry, Alfred, Dinah, Dick (I can’t do this anymore, Clark, I can’t), Roy, Jimmy, Lana, Pete, Zatanna, Steve, Diana, Lex, Chloe (Sullivan, not Harper-Grayson), Lian, Bruce (I can’t do this anymore, Bruce, I can’t, damn you!) Kara (Green K, before it was all destroyed), Barbara, Chloe, every hero he had ever known or served with, every person in Smallville, every person at The Daily Planet, all their children and their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren and…
A great cry was torn from him, pain that seared through him, the well of loneliness burning like fire along his veins, cool green fire that melted him and all he wanted was to stop hurting, stop being so alone…
It’s time, love.
Yeah, Smallville, we’ve got you fitted for your harp and wings.
Bruce wanted to wear the Batwings, so I broke out the Robin costume. Roy always liked that one best, calling me Short Pants, but I think it was the pixie boots that really got him. Oh, and we can still go flying because you’re even better than angels’ wings.
Your mom and I have always been proud of you, son.
Somehow I wound up here and not in the other direction, Clark. You must have been an insufferably good influence on me.
Time to meet your birth parents, Cousin, and to re-join your Earth parents.
Olympus awaits, the Elysian Fields, Valhalla, Heaven, my friend. The Gods are finally kind to thee.
There should be no more Kryptonite, but somehow this piece had survived and his latest adversary had found it. He could feel his sun-borne life-force slipping away, the pain not so sharp now. He coughed, blood trickling from his mouth, staining the venerable costume that hadn’t changed in a million months of Sundays.
It’s time, love.
As the Kryptonite glowed, bathing him in its emerald light and a coldness crept along his bones, a small smile curved his lips.
Forever and always.
But no longer alone.