Submitted: September 2003
Summary: Clark's been on New Krypton too long, but in his mind he's "almost home."
This is set during the New Krypton 'phase'. I say phase because you need to imagine that Clark has been gone for a while. I'm not exactly sure how long, but long enough for him to really, really miss being home. (Of course, that could easily have been just hours.) So, let's say, for argument's sake, that he's been gone for several months. This piece is also based entirely on a song. I know some readers don't like fics based on songs, but I find some of the best inspiration in them. I have to say thank you to Craig Morgan and Kerry Kurt Phillips for writing such wonderful words, then again to Craig Morgan for singing those words. It's not my intention to infringe on anyone's copywrites, but this just screamed to be written. And I have included the lyrics so that proper credit can be given to the writers because a great many of the actual lines from the song are used in the story.
All other disclaimers apply. None of the characters belong to me. I borrowed them for my own selfish pleasure… and I hope that of a couple of readers.
Almost Home (Craig Morgan/Kerry Curt Phillips)
He had plastic bags wrapped round his shoes He was covered with the evening news Had a pair of old wool socks on his hands The bank sign was flashing 5 below It was freezing rain an spittin' snow He was curled up behind some garbage cans I was afraid that he was dead I gave him a gentle shake When he opened up his eyes I said,"Old man are you ok?"
Chorus: He said,"I just climbed out of a cottonwood tree" I was runin' from some honey bees Drip dryin' in the summer breeze After jumpin' into Calico creek I was walkin' down an old dirt road Past a field of hay that had just been mowed Man I wish you'd just left me alone 'Cause I was almost home
Then he said,"I was comin' round the barn" Bout the time he grabbed my arm When I heard Momma holler son hurry up I was close enough for my own nose To smell fresh cobbler on the stove When I saw daddy loadin' up the truck Cane poles on the tailgate, Bobbers blowin in the wind, Since July of '55 That's as close as I've been
*I said,"old man you're gonna freeze to death" Let me drive you to a mission He said,"Boy if you'd left me alone Right now I'd be fishin'*
*Man I wish you'd just left me alone Cause I was almost home (Almost Home)*
*Man I wish you'd just left me alone I was almost home*
It's strange the things you take for granted. Even something as simple as a sunset can become plain and boring, a normal everyday event. But it shouldn't be thought of that way. It should be cherished, treasured… especially when it wasn't quite the same color as it once was.
New Krypton was circled by a red sun, unlike the yellow sphere that warmed Earth. It cast a strange hue, making everything appear darker. Sitting in front of the large window inside the council chambers, the First Lord had only his memories to take him back to much brighter place; a happier place filled with laughter and those he loved.
Trey, the chief of the elders, sighed heavily again as he looked over at his leader. Kal-El had spent most all of the meeting looking out the window. The few questions directed at the young man had been answered with an unsatisfactory grunt. The gray-haired man began to think that maybe it was time to admit that the man his people had sought out on Earth was not the leader they'd envisioned.
"Kal-El," Lt. Ching called softly to his leader. "Kal-El," he tried again when he didn't receive a response and reaching out to shake his arm slightly. The officer had begun to think that maybe Kal's mind had transported him far from this place when Kal blinked and finally registered another's presence. "My Lord, are you okay?"
It took a moment before Kal smiled and said, "I just climbed out of a cottonwood tree."
Clearly confused by the answer he got, Ching said, "Excuse me?"
"I was running from some honeybees," Kal answered with laughter in his voice. "Drip drying in the summer breeze."
"My Lord?" Obviously Kal-El had gone off the deep end. What in Zor's name was he talking about?!
Kal glanced back out of the window, then chuckled softly. "After jumping into Calico Creek. I was walking down an old dirt road, past a field of hay that had just been mowed. Man, I wish you'd just left me alone because I was almost home." With his final words, Kal's expression grew wistful and he turned back fully to gaze out the window again.
By now, Lt. Ching was certain that the physician would have to be summoned. Kal was suffering from delusions.
"Ching, have you ever wanted something so badly, you could almost feel it? Touch it? Taste it?" That's what Kal felt day in and day out. He'd been on the rock called New Krypton for months and with each passing day, his misery increased. He wanted to be home… home with his folks, home with his Lois. And the only way to get there was in his mind.
Even though he really had no idea what his leader was talking about, Ching could answer that question without a shadow of a doubt. "Yes, Kal," he answered softly. Maybe Kal wasn't delusional after all. If his guess was right, the young leader had simply allowed his mind to transport him back to Earth, to where… Clark really wanted to be.
There was a long silence as Kal continued to stare through the large glass panes. In his mind, the strange colors were bright, holding all the promise a beautiful spring day has to offer. There was no odd discolorment to the things around him; there was no barren wasteland stretched out before him. To Kal, there was only sunshine and green grass and…
"I was just coming around the barn, about the time you grabbed my arm," he continued softly, clearly seeing in his mind's eye what he was narrating for the guard beside him. "When I heard Momma holler, 'Son, hurry up'." Another short chuckle escaped Kal's lips before he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "I was close enough for my old nose to smell fresh cobbler on the stove and I saw Daddy loading up the truck." He opened his eyes again, as if to 'see' the events taking place. "Cane poles on the tailgate, bobbers blowing in the wind… I tell you, Ching, since I've been here, that's as close as I've been." He'd discovered some weeks ago that if he allowed himself, his imagination could take him almost as close to home as he could get. He'd utilized such fantasies many nights… thinking of Lois. But today, with the sight of the sun shining outside, his thoughts had brought back memories of his childhood.
Ching smiled sympathetically at Kal. His Kryptonian up- bringing demanded he be logical and duty driven, but he, too, had long ago discovered imagination. Though such images had to be closely guarded because of the telepathic ability possessed by his race, the officer had indulged on more than one occasion.
"My Lord," the Lt. began. "You're going to drive yourself crazy."
"Ching, if you'd left me alone, right now I'd be fishing." Kal stared out the window for several more long moments before he rose to his feet. "The mind is a wonderful thing, Lt." He clapped Ching's shoulder and disappeared through the doors and into the corridor.
"With that, I agree," sighed Ching. For it was only with his mind that he had what his heart so deeply desired.
The following week once again found Kal-El entranced by his thoughts as he sat through another council meeting. The day on New Krypton had turned out dull and gray, the pouring rain soaking everything in sight. No one milled about on the outside because of the weather and most everyone inside seemed to be in a terrible mood. It wasn't often rain found the small planet and when it did, the population wasn't very appreciative. All but one. One chose to see the rain as an excuse to stay inside… even in his mind.
Trey drudged through all the daily business before he stopped to look at Kal-El. Once again the leader of the world chose to stare out the window rather than listen to what was going on. "My Lord, I must insist you tell me what you find so interesting outside," the council chief spoke up.
It was a long moment before Kal spoke, unable and unwilling to let anyone intrude on the intimate moments he stole away inside his mind. But if they really wanted to know…
"That bank sign always flashed when it rained." A short pause. "Five below… Cold for this time of year. It's freezing rain and spitting snow."
Trey, along with everyone in the room, stared at Kal as if he had two heads.
"Too cold to jump in the creek today," he chuckled as he continued his narrative. "She's curled up next to me, her breath soft on my neck. I'm afraid to wake her, so I've been just watching her sleep."
"My Lord, do you feel well?" Trey asked, concerned that the pressures involved with his position had finally broken Kal's sanity.
Kal's eyes twinkled as he continued to stare at something only he could see. "I feel… very satisfied, Trey. Everything is perfect." And he sighed deeply as he let his mind take him further away from the barren rock he was on.
When Kal failed to elaborate further, Trey sighed and adjourned the council meeting. There was no use to try and accomplish anything with the First Lord in such a state. He'd need to speak to Ching. Arrangements should be made immediately to have Kal-El evaluated by a physician.
"Lt. Ching, I need a word," Trey said as he approached the other man. "I'm afraid the Lord is not himself."
Ching, who had heard what Kal said just as everyone else, could only smile.
"I've read of such events, but I've never actually met anyone that's lost himself in his own mind," Trey contiuned as he turned to look at Kal, who still sat staring out the window.
"Yes. It must be a wonderful thing to be able to transport yourself to another place," Ching observed.
Trey raised his brows at the young man. Had he, too, lost his mind?
"Where do you suppose he's gone?" Trey asked after the pair had observed Kal for a moment.
"I'd say he's almost home," Ching said with a smile.
And it was true. Just as that observation was made, *Clark* wrapped his arms around his wife and kissed her softly.
… or Beginning (however you choose to look at it)