By Catherine Bruce <email@example.com>
Submitted February 2006
Summary: A possible future based on the aging issue in "Brutal Youth."
The city slept safely beneath him, unaware that their hero stood in silent vigil. Lights from apartments and businesses sparkled, glittering jewels in a bed of darkness.
Superman lowered himself to sit on the highest ledge of the city's tallest building. Aside from the usual sounds of traffic that moved even at this hour and people going about their lives, everything was quiet. No one was robbing a bank; no one was mugging an unsuspecting pedestrian. There weren't even any cats stuck in any trees. Everything was silent. Peaceful.
In recent years, the crime rate had dropped to an all time low. He supposed he should be thankful for that, knowing he had done his job to protect the people of his city, but low crime meant plenty of free time. And free time meant his mind was able to wander. That was the last thing he needed tonight.
He pulled out a chain from beneath his suit. The thin strand of metal, along with the two simple rings it carried, was older than the people below him. For fifty years the smaller band had been wrapped around his aging wife's finger. For sixty years the larger had never left his seemingly immortal one.
Of course, those extra ten years he hadn't been the man she married. The day she was buried, after he had slipped her wedding ring from her withered finger and onto the same necklace he had worn it on half a century before, he had asked that his name be added to the tombstone. He instructed 'In Memory Of' to be carved below her epitaph. There had been no questions asked about this, after a couple decades of looking the same as he had years before, people figured out the truth that Mrs. Kent was indeed Mrs. Superman.
The day she died, so did Clark Kent.
For a hundred years, to the day, he had been only Superman.
He marveled then, as he always did, how her ring seemed to fit perfectly in the center of his. As though they were made for each other, as they had been.
Holding them gently in the fist of his hand, he glanced once more over the city. He had tried to move on from Metropolis, to find another place to call home after the Kents had died, but the large city always lured him back in the end. Home is where the heart is. He supposed this was true; his was six feet beneath the Metropolis Cemetery.
He pulled the necklace from around his neck, held it up to watch it sway in the slight breeze. He was surprised that the delicate chain hadn't crumbled yet, though he supposed that being close to him all these years had protected it from being destroyed. It was possible it had even done something for her as well, although he couldn't be sure if sleeping with him every night slowed her aging slightly or if it was just her luck of the draw in genetics.
Not for the first time, he wondered how long his wife would have lived had she not been shot by an errant bullet.
Reaching his arm out over the city he paused for a moment before unclenching his fist. The chain seemed to fall slowly as he watched it begin to disappear in the blackness. As it got smaller, he felt the panic rise in his throat. The loneliness seemed to close in more tightly than it had before. He tried to let it go, to forget about it, and it was only after it had disappeared completely that he flew after it, desperately trying to reach it before it hit the pavement below. Only when it was secure in his hand once again did his heart start to slow down.
He floated back up to his perch, not sure if he should be proud of himself. This year it had fallen farther than the year before. And the year before that. Maybe one day he would be able to let it go completely.
Superman stood above the sleeping city, constant vigil, alone.
Clark shook himself as he heard his wife enter the brownstone house and call his name. She left him breathless for a moment as she walked towards him, and then into the light as he had asked her.
When she sat down next to him, it was all he could do not to crush her to him. He had had the same disturbing waking dream ever since Lois had told him that Dr. Klein had said, about his body slowing down his aging, even with the news that a few years may have been shaved off of his life. When Clark told her that they didn't know how long any of them had, he wasn't sure if he was trying to convince her or himself. When she marveled at what he had lost, he made claims that he had done it for a friend. Even though that was true, the bigger truth was that he hadn't given up anything, except maybe a few years without her.