I’ve read more books than I can count. I’m sick of books. I’m sick of reading. I’m sick of… ice. What I really want to see are fields and fields of farm land. And maybe a cow or two. God, never thought I’d want to see that again. Hell, right now I wouldn’t even mind mucking out a stall or two.
I’d also love to eat an enormous hot fudge sundae with extra fudge. And whipped cream. And a couple of cherries. And lots of nuts.
And I want to see –
No, I’m not going to think about that.
Almost four months now in isolation, and still I can’t stop thinking about him. What did I expect? I was away for three years and never forgot him. I could be away for a lifetime and he would never leave my heart.
So why don’t I go back? I ask myself that question every morning when I wake up. I want to see Lex so badly – I want to see if he’s all right. I want… I just want to touch him.
But I’m so afraid.
I’m afraid he’ll look at me again the way he did the day of graduation – like he didn’t know me, like I was a stranger, like I was an… alien. Okay, yeah, I know what I am. But there’s a difference between knowing it and having the person you love look at you like Lex looked at me in those moments. When I returned to Metropolis, that expression still lingered, but eventually seemed to fade away. I’m scared that it will be back, now. That after everything with his father, after failing him, that Lex will just look at me as ‘the alien’ again, and I can’t handle that. Not ever again.
I’m tired. And I’m sick of being Superwoman.
And yet, I miss it. At night, I sit out on the ice and stare out across the vast, barren landscape, and feel the urge to go back out again, to fly around the world and rescue a few kittens from trees.
I miss my mom. I miss my mom’s pot roast, I think as I stare at the Twinkie I’m about to bite into. Twinkies are like roaches. They can last through anything. This entire place is stocked with boxes of the things. I used to love them but now --
“Still hiding, I see.”
I spin around at Batman’s voice, blinking as his dark figure moves into my fortress, glancing around in disdain. “Bruce, what are you – “
“I’m here to knock some sense into you. Exactly how long are you planning on hiding out, Hudson?”
“Forever, if need be,” I snap, folding my arms over my chest. “And by the way, do you always just walk into peoples’ houses uninvited?”
“If you haven’t noticed, this place doesn’t exactly have a door or a door bell.” He stops in front of me, eyes glittering through his mask. “The world needs Superwoman. So why is she hiding out in the arctic?”
“Do you even have to ask?” I turn away to open the wrapper on my Twinkie.
“Because you’re blaming yourself for things over which you had no control.” Bruce yanks the Twinkie from my hands, causing me to glare at him. “Bad things happen, Hudson. You deal with it and move on.”
“Maybe you should be listening to your own advice,” I snap, grabbing another Twinkie and walking away from him. I can feel his eyes burrowing a whole into my back.
“It’s not the same thing and you damn well know it,” he grinds out, tossing my discarded Twinkie to the ground. The bastard. “Besides, we’re discussing you. The Martyr. Miss My-Love-Is-Too-Pure-To-Be-Tainted-By-An-A
“Fuck off, Bruce.”
He stalks over to me and I grasp my Twinkie a little tighter, frowning up at him. “This isn’t just about you anymore, Hudson. It’s about the world. It’s about Superwoman. You can’t just hand her over to humanity and then cruelly snatch her back.”
“Watch me.” Finishing the Twinkie, I walk away from him, over to the library of books I have stacked on ice shelves that tower above me. I try to concentrate on the titles in front of me, hoping that Bruce will catch a clue.
“You have a destiny, Hudson. You can’t hide from that.”
“Jesus, you sound like Lex.”
Bruce nods. “And what about Lex? You save him, only to abandon him. That doesn’t sound like you.”
“Maybe it’s the new me.”
“The world needs you – “
“Well, I’m sick of the world needing me!” I shout, spinning around to face him. “Maybe, just once in my life, I’m the one who needs to be saved. Maybe I’d like a hand held out to me or an understanding face or a smile telling me that everything’s going to be all right!”
“We’re not built like that, Hudson. You know that.”
I’m pouting and I know it and I don’t care. I flash a quick look at Bruce and turn to walk away. “I’m tired, Bruce.”
“I know,” he replies, voice calmer. “I understand. But, you don’t have to do it alone anymore.”
“What do you mean?” I stop and glance back at him curiously.
“There have been others coming forward, Hudson – some just humans with amazing abilities, others… well, at least one other is an alien – “
“Kryptonian?” I ask hopefully.
He shakes his head. “No. I’m sorry. But, they want to help. They want to follow Superwoman’s example and protect the world. The only problem is, they need a leader.”
As interesting as his tale sounds, I shrug. “So, lead them.”
Bruce flashes a rare grin. “You know I don’t play well with others, Hudson.” He moves forward, takes my hands. “They need you, Hudson. Someone to rally behind, someone to set the examples. This is what you were meant for. Not hiding out here on an icecap.”
Closing my eyes, I shake my head, smiling. “It all sounds good, Bruce. But the reality is somewhere along the way I’ve lost sight of what’s right, of why I’m doing this. Think about it. If I don’t know my reasons for doing it anymore, isn’t humanity better off without me?”
“That’s the coward’s way out. And I’m sure your parents would agree.”
Opening my eyes, I gaze up at him a moment. “My parents? Have you spoken with them? Are they all right?”
He smirks at my questions, then walks past me, back toward the entrance. “If you’re so eager to find out, why don’t you ask them yourself?”
“Dammit, Bruce -- !”
The last time I was gone without contacting my parents, they acted like nothing was amiss when I got home. Mom reprimanded me for tracking mud in the house, then set me down and filled me full of chicken and dumplings. This time though, my dad is watching me as I land, brow furrowed as he scratches at the back of his head. He approaches quietly, slipping his arm around my shoulders as he reaches me.
“You’re in a lot of trouble, Hudson Clark.”
“I’ve been gone longer, Dad.”
He shakes his head. “Your mother is madder than a disturbed hornet’s nest. Every day she stands on the porch, waiting for you to show up. Personally, I think she’s overdoing. You’re a big girl now. I’m sure you think through all of your decisions before making them.”
I nod a little in reply. Ever have the feeling you’re just being guided down a pre-destined path? I mean, I feel that way all of the time but it’s worse when your parents do that to you. There’s this undercurrent in my dad’s words and the way he is kind of glancing at me out of the corner of his eyes. You know when you break something as a kid and you hide it or glue it back together and you think you’re all so clever and you’re parents know the truth the entire time? And then they catch you lying about it? That’s how I feel right about now.
The back door to the kitchen slams open, drawing my attention to it, and there’s my mom in all her fiery-headed glory, brandishing a ladle in one hand and a dish towel in the other. No supervillain ever seemed quite so formidable.
“Hudson Clark Kent! You get inside this house right this moment, young lady!”
I cringe. Dad pats my shoulders and gives me a sympathetic look. “Go on,” he encourages. “Best not put it off.”
If I had a tail to tuck between my legs, I would probably do so as I trudge my way to the house, up the rickety old steps that creak beneath my feet and past my mother, who is focusing a frown on me that’s as least as powerful as any wheel barrow full of Kryptonite. I try to smile at her but her expression doesn’t change, and my smile fades away as I slink into the kitchen. It smells like stew – fresh beef, homegrown potatoes, carrots and celery. Made the way only my mom can. That thought relaxes me, until the kitchen door slams shut as hard as it opened, and I turn to find her focusing that gaze on me that used to send me scurrying for the chicken coop when I was little.
“Mom, I – “ Weak beginning.
“Sit down.” She points at the chair.
You’ve never seen a superhero jump so quickly to do as they’re told. Fidgeting in my seat, I try again. “Look, mom – “
“It’s bad enough that you don’t care that your mother and father are left worrying about you, wondering where you have disappeared to, if we’ll ever hear from you again – but to do that to the entire world, when they count on you, depend on you! What were you thinking, Hudson Clark? What kind of selfish, immature, foolish thoughts have been going through your head?”
“Well, I – “
She continues, “For years I have had to listen to you whine and bitch about how cruel Fate is and how it is the only thing standing between you and Lex being together. How you are star-crossed lovers and no one will ever understand that you were meant to be – and yet time and again, Hudson Clark Kent, you’ve done nothing to change that. In fact, it would seem to me that you would rather not share in any happiness with the man you love, just so you can have something to bitch about!”
“Mom – “ I try again.
“Do you know that Lex thought you were dead?” She demands, waving the ladle at me. “He woke up in that hospital room, all alone, expecting you to be there. And when you weren’t, he concluded that you were dead. He even apologized to me! Do you know how that made me feel? Having to make excuses for you – the superhero, the savior of humanity – only she can’t be there because she is too wrapped up in her own personal whatsits to give a damn!”
Two feet tall. That’s me. Or maybe two inches. The chair I’m in is suddenly enormous and I’m looking up at my mom, waiting to be grounded for the rest of eternity. I remember the last time she got this angry with me – she’d found out that Lex and I were sleeping together and I’d been sneaking out of the house and… Wait.
I blink up at her. “Lex was expecting me to be there?”
She throws her hands into the air. “You have a responsibility to the people of this world, Hudson. I know you didn’t ask for it, and I never would have wished such a burden to be put on your shoulders. But it’s there and there’s nothing you can do about it – “
“Wait. What else did Lex say?”
“And that poor man has been waiting for you to come back, waiting for you to prove to him that you’re all right, waiting for something to validate the pain he’s been through and you don’t have the decency – “
“Lex has been waiting for me?” I repeat. “You’re making this up, right? I mean, he wants to blame me for what happened. Losing his hand – that was my fault. I couldn’t get to him in time and – “
My mother looks at me as if I have another head growing out of my shoulders or something. “Hudson Clark Kent, that man loves you still! And if you’re too wrapped up in your superhero angst to realize – “
“Lex doesn’t… “ I stop myself.
Does he? Is it possible that Lex still loves me? Even after everything we’ve been through? All of the pain I’ve caused him? God, I owe him a thousand and one apologies and maybe I’ll be making up for every lie I’ve ever told him for the rest of my life. But if it’s possible – if there’s the slimmest chance that he still loves me – then I’ll give up everything I am and ever will be just to be with him.
“Hudson, where are you going?” Mom asks as I jump up and hurry for the door. “You haven’t had dinner yet!”
“I need to get to Metropolis and find something to wear and do something with my hair and – “ I cut myself off and run back to kiss her cheek. “I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks, mom!”
I practically mow my dad down as I hurry out the door. “Hey!” he calls out.
“Sorry, dad! I’ll talk to you later!”
He grumbles something about meddling mothers behind me and then I’m up in the air and headed for the city.
The question is, do I go to him as Superwoman or Hudson Kent? Do I force the issue of what I am? Or throw it all away to be with him, as the person he fell in love with? It’s funny, but I’m ready to do that. To hand in my uniform and just be Hudson.
If he asks it of me, I will. Anything to be with Lex again.
Feedback keeps the doctor away... and damn I need that right now! ;)