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Grey cold Inferno

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Clark had a strange sensation when he woke up, his body was lighter than it has ever been, the air itself felt almost too light, the atmosphere there was strange.
He noticed that there was nothing there, besides air, not ground, not color, not light, no smells, no sound…except that he produced, he could see his hands, perfectly well, he could hear his own voice, it even made eco, but besides he there was nothing there.
Somehow, he wondered for a while, floating like a ghost around the strange place he was in…he had his watch in his hand but it never moved, it wasn’t broken or anything it was just frozen.
As if time couldn’t progress there, and maybe it wasn’t. he wandered for long but he never seemed to reach anywhere.
Since his watch wasn’t working he had to make the counting in his head, and it was odd to him, very odd.
Way too odd.
After what seemed like 12 hours of mental counting he was beginning to lose hope, until he heard another voice.
Someone was shouting in both English and Spanish from far, it was an unknown voice, but it was a human voice nevertheless and right now, he needed any sort of contact.


“Here!” He shouted, loud, loud enough to be heard two blocks away under regular circumstances.
“Hola! I’m sorry about that, I thought I was going mad Homes, like seriously batshit crazy—
said the man, this man was a short man, bald, covered from head to toes in tattoos, his face tattoos somewhat resembled a skull, the rest of his visible skin, say neck, arms and hands, also had all sort of crazy gang tattoos, Clark never seen one of those, but then again, he was a farm boy, and he never stayed anywhere too long, so maybe he did.
“Yeah, I know, I’m just glad there is another person here or I too would go absolutely insane”—
He could see a warm smile in the skeleton man’s face, so he decided to introduce himself to the stranger.
“I’m Clark”
“I’m Chato”
Clark slightly smiled at the mention of the name, he took Spanish in high school, he had something of a photographic memory and Chato wasn’t a name, it means “Flat face” like a bulldog or a pug.
“Chato?”
“Yeah homes, my old folks were big baseball fans, there was this player, right? Ernesto ´Chato´ Sanchez and apparently he was like a Maverick or somethin, and like, my dad spoke Spanish but my mom did not, so like, she agreed and all that”
Clark laughed a little, under regular circumstances, no stranger on the street would have told him a personal story like that, but there seemed to be nobody else there but Chato and him.
“How bout you?” asked Chato
“It was my mother’s maiden name for what they tell me”
Somehow, they managed to sit, right there in the nothing, neither could feel anything but they weren’t supposed to, Clark was dead, he remembered that much, he remembered getting impaled by Doomsday, he remembered feeling weakened by the green rock, he remembered the spear slicing his left cheek, he remembered the void. So, he assumed, that he would end up in hell, but there was nothing there, not a single of the promises that his childhood pastor had made during the sermon was there, there was no fire, there was no torture, there was no punishment for his crime, there was no demon…unless Chato was a demon of sorts, but for a demon he was nice, he was nicer than Batman, nicer than the media, he was rather kind once you got past his looks.
He decided to talk some more, he felt like he hadn’t talked with anyone for a year and it was nice to finally be able to just sit down with somebody even if there was nothing to sit down on.
“So, what you’d…did for a living?” asked Clark,
“Man, like, honestly, nothing good, I should have ended up in hell, I was…I was sort of a banger, if you get my feeling, and like, at first I used to like it homie, but it took everything away from me I did some time not long after, I have done terrible things”
Clark thought about Zod, about his father, about everyone he let down, about the building.
“Yeah, I am no saint either, I…Have you ever killed anyone?” he asked.
Then there was a silence, this short man stared at him, inexpressive, unsure about what to answer.
“Yes” was his only answer.
“Well so have I”
The friendly social skeleton man quite suddenly looked grim, like struck by a lighting.


“You don’t look like the type”
“Is there a type?”
“Yes” said Chato, “And you are looking at it”.
“My first was in juvie, it was an accident, I was trying to defend myself and there were bigger and stronger than I was, I wanted to take them off me and then I bursted into flames, just like that, they became crisps and I wasn’t sure of what to do, they let me go not soon after, they thought it was an accident, a gas leak, and growing up I did the only thing a teenager with a record could do (or what I thought could do), I joined a gang, I was rather good at it, Anyone who defied me ended up as ashes I could just flame up anyone right there and because of it they called me “El Diablo”, and my usual activities usually ended up in dead people, almost never used my gun, but I left crisps often. And I grew and I became good at it and suddenly I was ‘El Jefe’. And sometime after I found a woman and I made kids, and in an attack of anger I turned them into crisps too, I surrendered to the cops but I got jumped in prison again, and bursted into flames…again, I killed the two thousand inmates that where at the yard, before I ended up in Belle Reeve”
He took a minute to be silent.
“What could you have done that was as terrible?”
“Well I killed a man once, the other last member of my people, he was going to kill so many more people, he was at it, and I did the only thing I could…I snapped his neck”
Chato immediately realized who he was talking to, he saw that event in the news, all over it, a guard showed it to him in the screen of his smartphone.
Oh shit! It was him…
“And I was too close to almost kill another man, because…because they had my mother”
“Oh shit! are you? … are you Superman?” asked Chato, a bit incredulous and a bit hoping that the answer was no.
“That’s what they called me, yes”
They both stared at each other in silence, with sharp looks of incredulity, almost agonizing and out of orbit.
Neither of them realized that the other had superpowers when they met, as a matter of fact neither knew that the other would have been someone like this.
But they quickly disposed of their disbelief, after all, both where in a place that defied logic almost completely, a strange has not of a place that had absolutely nothing but themselves.

 


“Do you think this is hell?” asked Superman.
“Do you believe in hell?” asked El Diablo
“Do you?”
“A man they called ´El Diablo´ is ought to believe in hell” said Chato.
“But I do not think this is it, this…this must be purgatory or something”
Superman thought about it, he was indeed dead, and apparently so was Chato.
“Maybe it’s another dimension”
“Maybe” agreed Chato.
“So, either we go to hell or we go to heaven or we search for a way out of this dimension”
“You ain’t going to hell man, I am almost sure of it…and who knows? It could be some weird matrix shit”
“Have you tried using your powers here?” asked Superman.
“No…you?”
“No”

 

So, they tried to do the one thing they didn’t tried to do from the beginning, and both had their powers, Chato could in fact, burst into flames...the curse he was sure, came with the devil himself, remained with him even in the afterlife. now, he didn't know if he should be thankful or not, but alas, it meant something, whatever this place was, it apparently didn't care to deal with their powers, as useless as they could be now that there was literally nothing there to be used on.

Since there was no floor in which Superman could fly above, or anything he could test his strength in, he decided to use the one power that he tried to avoid the most in life, his heat vision.
He then launched a powerful blast above his head, proving two things, there was no ceiling, and he did still have his powers. strange, since it was the sun that gave him said powers (which apparently didn’t exist in whatever place they were in) and since it was now evident that they were in limbo.

 

And they had to get out.

Chapter Text

They needed to get out, they both agreed on that.

 

Diablo was certain that he would end up in hell, but he preferred to get there before dinner.

They both knew they were dead, and somehow, they ended in a weird dimension of nothingness and madness…perhaps some sort of place before reaching whatever awaited for both of them.

He was also certain that his partner, the only other “human” company he had in that horrific place of nothingness, shouldn’t be trapped in whatever place they were in, he should go to some golden afterlife with puffy clouds, rivers of honey and milk, golden sidewalks and coconuts and shit.

Because between eternal torture and going completely insane, he preferred the first by leagues, Chato Santana never pretended to be a sane man, but he was somewhat saner than the mad world he had been thrown into, and he would like to remain the same in the afterlife.

 

 

“Ok, so we know we have our powers in here, which is weird, and we know that we have to break the fuck out of this pedazo de mierda of place, or else both of us will go mad before reaching our final rest and all that” explained Chato.

“So” he continued “You have Ojos de Fuego, or whatever your thing is called and I have my…curse, So I been thinking, maybe we should try to combine our powers to see if we get any reaction” said Chato.

“So” said Clark “You suggest that we both use our powers at the same time to see if we get any sort of reaction that could lead to get us away from this place” Said Clark, trying to understand what Diablo meant, it wasn’t too difficult to get but he wanted to be sure that he got it right before they tried anything.

Under regular circumstances, that would have sounded like a really stupid plan, but there was no house, building or farm near them likewise there was no children, elderly or disabled people nearby, just them two…still Clark wanted to be cautious.

Si, pretty much, but at a single point or whatever…maybe if we do that…” 

“We might generate enough energy to cause some sort of reaction or breach…it…it might work but it might not” Clark said, completing Chato's sentence.

 

 

Superman charged his eyebeams as hot as he has ever set his eyes before launching a heat beam, one of the advantages of this place was that heating his eyes didn’t hurt like it used to hurt on earth.

El Diablo bursted into flames but he charged and heated up his flames, holding them around himself, he holded the fire until it turned blue, a trick he had only tried once…it had ended in a complete disaster.

They counted a few minutes before finally releasing both of their powers onto a single spot, Clark’s heat vision crossed with Chato’s blue fire and somehow, even though there was literally nothing there but themselves, the single spot of that nothingness that had been the target of all their focused power, exploded.

The explosion hurled them both a long distance and they fell onto each other, they had no idea how but somehow, Clark had hit his head and Chato hit Clark’s belly with his head, which was harder than steel.

Chato used to play some football in high school and he used to crash a lot against hard objects, in juvie he had to fight some people and that sometimes meant he would be hit with the wall, or a pipe and after he had worked in a mechanic workshop and hit himself with several auto parts…but Clark was harder than any of that, it really hurtled to be slammed against him.

 

 

Both with several degrees of pain, managed to stand up.

“Did that work?” asked Clark.

“I don’t think so” said Chato.

Until they both saw a fading light way, way far from where they stood.

They walked towards it, and the more they did so, the more the light became shinier and began to have a more defined shape.

They continued walking, and continued and continued.

Until they reached what seemed to be a crack, it had the shape of a wall crack but it was shining.

A shining crack on the nothingness.

They stared at each other for a while.

It worked, the crazy, stupid idea they had conceived from a crazy, stupid situation that defied even the weirdest most fucked thing they had both been through, worked.

The idea to just throw a bunch of energy to the nothingness, worked and there was a crack in the same nothingness, a crack that glowed and resembled a wall crack, to prove such.

So they did it again, they aimed at the crack and again threw their heat vision and fire respectively. And the crack grew, in fact each time that they decided to do it again the crack grew and grew, until it quite simply collapsed, the now enormous light crack shined enough to blind their sight.

A sudden growth of light blinded them both entirely, they began to hear a noise as well, a loud pitch that made it impossible to hear anything else.

But suddenly the light was gone, and the noise was gone too.

 

 

 

No longer were they in the nothingness.

Chapter Text

They were both relieved that they had some sort of ground to walk in, just being into an eternal nothingness could have made them both insane, but this place wasn’t any sort of paradise either.
Don’t get it wrong, it was by miles an upgrade from their previous situation, but it wasn’t ideal in any sort of way.


It all followed a sort of broken sideway that resembled pretty much a neighborhood, but out of the huge cracks emanated a sort of red light, there were several chunks of land, islands if you will, just floating above them each had just outside them but close enough, a huge neon arrow that pointed at them, none of these arrows connected to anything, or even touching the ground.
On the ground, there was a small cottage that resembled a lot like Clark’s house when he was growing up in Smallville and another one, just in front of it, that looked exactly like Chato’s old house, the one he burned to the ground.
They both noticed a small fishing boat coming at them, floating just a few centimeters from the floor, very slowly but somewhat steady in the ship there was a young woman in a toga, that seemed strangely familiar to both but neither of them recognized her. This woman, was a tall strawberry-blonde with muscular arms and a skin of the color of barley. She reminded Clark a little of Diana.
Coming with her was also a woman of black hair in a long robe and a short muscular man with no hair but with flaming eyes.
As soon as the ship got but five feet in front of them, they released the anchor which split the ground surrounding it, the first woman got off that ship while the man and the other woman, stayed at the ship.

 

 


“Congratulations! You made it!” said the woman “We were beginning to believe that you wouldn’t but alas, here you are, proud and standing” she continued
“However your work is not yet done, as it turns out you both are needed elsewhere, in the world of the living, so you have a mission to return”
Added, yet, the woman.
Diablo got closer to the ship almost to the point of touching it, and close enough to be able to stare at the woman in the face, he preferred to look at people’s eyes when speaking to them.
“To return? How? Where exactly are we and how do we go home? Or hell for that matter? Why do the living need him? why do the living need ME?” he asked.
“All of those good questions” said the woman.
Superman decided to get close too, to stand next to Diablo.
“You were in limbo, neither of you were considered to be rotten or cruel enough to be sent to hell (any of them), and we requested you to be given a chance to be brought back to your world, this place is the place where all universes are connected, all worlds and all dimensions, it is fueled by the energy of every light of the spectrum, to go home…” she looked up and pointed at one of the floating islands “You must go there” she continued “which will lead you to the land of the living, but could land you in anywhere of the known universes or the unknown ones, normally we wouldn’t help you back to the world of the living, but a great evil is coming to your earth…” she then pointed at Clark “You are necessary to defeat him, in the great war to come” she said…before she could continue Clark interrupted.

 

“Necessary to defeat who?” the memory of Doomsday ripping apart his flesh with his bone claw remained burned in his head, it was unpleasant.
“The messenger of the void, of war and death, the messenger of Apokolips” she said.
“It is a matter of vital urgency for your world, and you are vital to stop it, because it will not be your only battle against him” she then pointed at Chato “You might even be necessary to stop the one who comes after, the god himself, because neither your friend here nor your friend’s friends will be enough to stop the following and you too may be needed”
Great evil? More so than a witch? More so than Succubus and Incubus? And Croc? And Waller? And Himself? They must have been desperate if they needed someone like him to fight this horrific monster.

 

“Today you will rest, and tomorrow we shall sail, both of you will stay at that house over there…” she pointed at a house that was between Clark’s childhood house and Chato’s old place, it was rather average looking, both familiar and strange to them, like every other suburban house they have ever been into.
A weird thought crossed Diablo’s mind however, why did they needed two dead guys to come back from the dead to defeat this terrible god of madness and death? Doesn’t earth has heroes of it’s own?

In Clark’s mind also raised the question as to why they needed two men that were recently deceased, maybe there was something else about it.

It didn’t matter much as both went to this place to rest, and continue their mission…hoping in part that it would give them both some answers, and their first night of good sleep after their death.

Chapter Text

****

The house seemed like it had been wrecked by a hurricane, there were several books but most of them on the floor and in disarray, there were holes in the walls and cracks of it and many shards of what seemed to be broken glass spread all across the floor. there was a table there, but it didn't look like it had been used in some time...neither had the old coffee mug with spider webs in it, that was casually rolling through the floor.

It was an illusion, they were, after all, trapped in what seems to be some cruel sort of punishment and afterlife, they knew it was created from their memories, they were in fact in limbo.

It made Chato miss prison; prison was dirty, gross, unhygienic and hostile, but somehow it was honest about it, prison didn't offer the cover of nostalgia, nor the feeling of dread and despair that ruins do. And it was indeed a ruin, not of some ancient pyramid, or temple or church, not of some palace or some kingdom, it wasn't a ruin of an ancient civilization...it was just the ruin of a common house,  maybe a bad neighborhood or maybe the American dream, it didn't matter though, because whatever it was struck closer to home.

 

 

Clark noted that the place was full of spider webs but had no spiders in it, it almost seemed unnatural, but then again it was.

He thought of himself with the spear on his chest, this time it wasn't Doomsday's it was someone else's, Batman's perhaps, or even that of the woman who was with them that fateful night. He shifted his thoughts than to his father, his old man, had he defied him, maybe he would have lived, had he done the right thing his father would be alive, maybe this was his punishment for doing nothing.

Chato grabbed the mug that had been rolling on the floor, he used his fire powers to burn the webs inside it. Fire could not clean the mug but it could very well cleanse it.

"You want some coffee or anything?"

Clark scratched the back of his head, he would kill for a glass of water, he could sell himself for some cheap gas station coffee, the sort of coffee he despised when he was a drifter, but the afterworld did not seem to have that.

"If you can find any, then yes"

 

 

Chato explored the house, it had indeed something that somewhat resembled a kitchen, everything there was rusty and dirty, except, oddly enough, for a coffee pot that was over a counter.

The coffee pot had a slim metallic body that shined almost like a new car. 

Chato felt trapped in a TV ad...somehow the place reminded him of his house before the incident. 

He plugged the coffee maker to the wall, and he managed to get some coffee out of it, he then split the coffee between two old and rusty pewter mugs that were casually left there on the counter, he began wondering why was the apparent second circle of hell, or limbo or whatever that place was going so out of its way to create something that resembled their lives on earth, something about it seemed wrong. almost by accident, he found a bag of instant ramen and a  pot of boiling water...it seemed almost as if they had been expected there, of course, the lady on the boat told them to get there, but ultimately, it seemed like someone had expected them, for a long time. Chato found himself wondering if this was supposed to be some sort of eternal torture designed to test their sanity by using its resemblance of their previous lives against them.

it was wrong.

 

 

Clark began to look for something they could sleep on, he knew there were a stair and rooms there, but they were blocked by debris...he could use his strength to remove said debris, but then the house would fall on them and Chato wasn't Kryptonian, so he had to at least try not to hurt the structure of the building. there was debris there too, too many of it. but he did manage to move some of it in such a way that they could sleep on it, he also found a couple of blankets and couch cushions that they could use. He began to think of his time as a fisherman, fondly, it lasted only a few months, he had at that time been homeless for over a year, and a small fishing boat would look like a welcomed change, it would have allowed him to reach north as he wanted to, and he wouldn't draw too much attention to himself. The house that they were in reminded him of his time as a homeless man, it managed to make him miss the fishing boat where he could have a roof over his head and some tuna.

He then punched a hole in the ground, large enough for two men, and removed the edges using his heat vision, the new perfect crater on the ground could serve as a place to sleep, more comfortable than just empty ground.

 

 

Chato then returned, he had two big pewter cups and two small ones; the big ones had instant ramen, and a spoon, it might not have been much but it was something, and the small ones had coffee, not road coffee like Clark expected, but some actually good coffee.

They sat beside each other, both slurping noodles, and drinking somewhat decent coffee. 

 

"Does...does this place look strange to you?" Clark asked.

 

"Yeah, a little bit" admitted Chato. "More than anything looks familiar, it sort of resembles my old house, the one I...y'know a house"

 

Clark knew then what he meant, the familiarity of this place brought Chato some sort of bad memory...he could understand.

 

"Alright then, when you finish your noodles, I made a place to sleep, I couldn't find anything soft so it is the best thing I've got"

"I've been in prison, homie"

"Yes, I know, and I've been homeless, regardless, It's not going to be comfortable"

"Aight, I get your point. anyways...good night homes, we have a hell to scape and a world to save, we will need our sleep"

"Yeah, we will...good night Diablo"

"Good night Clark"

 

After they finished their coffee and their noodles, they both accommodated themselves into the hole in the ground, ready to sleep, so they could gain back their strength...tomorrow they would need it. 

****

Chapter Text

Chato was always warm, his body was always warm enough for him, he would never need a blanket or a blazer or anything to keep himself warm.

his core temperature was enough to keep him warm even if he was buck naked swimming in the artic.

Most men would die from the cold, most men would not be able to stand it, some men would hold themselves but still freeze, some men would die of hypothermia and some other shiver and struggle to keep their body heat...

But Chato was always warm, his blood was warm, he didn't need a shirt, his own blood was warm enough for him.

 

Still, the blanket on top of him was welcomed regardless, it made him think of his childhood memories, somehow it made him sleep easier. It made him think of his wife and his children, he missed them...he needed them. He thought of them every day, and blankets were in some of his sweeter memories with him, reading to the children in their beds, speaking to his wife in his bed sheets...discussing the possibility of getting a third child, maybe he would retire from his gang, buy a white castle or a restaurant that he could leave his children, talk about college and maybe they could have gotten a dog, or move to a nicer neighborhood, maybe he could give his little girl a decent Quinceañera party, he could teach his son how to shave; all of those thoughts were with him every time he had a blanket, in Goldengate State the first thing he got (after his uniform) was a blanket for his cell, then he got a pillow and some shoes. 

In prison, it was the reminder that he had fucked up, the fucking blanket, and the stupid bedsheets. 

He associated those sheets to the life in prison, the gangs, the "one of them", the struggle of power and powerlessness. 

In Belle Reeve, he had none of that, no shirt, no uniform, no bedsheets and no blankets.

 

This blanket, however, brought him another memory...dying...

 

he remembers clearly blowing up, he remembered the feeling of not feeling his body anymore, feeling, for the first and last time...too much heat.

 

 

 

Clark could feel cold sometimes, he liked it, but part of being invulnerable was that his skin could not feel as much as he would like, he could never tell if something was too soft or too rough, for him nothing ever felt as cold as he'd like or as warm as he'd like, he was yet to find out how ice cream and coffee and tea and snow felt to other people... 

and blankets were no exception to that.

 

He had no way to know if it was too soft or not if it was too rough, it did, however, bring him some happy childhood memories...

 

he remembered when he was a kid, it was perhaps his sixth or seventh winter on earth, but it was definitely the first Christmas he remembered... he remembered how frozen the farm was, everything was white and covered in snow, none of the animals were out, they were all inside their barns to keep themselves warm, it was the first time his mother allowed the dog to sleep with Clark, she stated that he could sleep in his room not his bed, but the dog slept in his bed regardless, his father sang the whole day, for some reason he just sang and smiled...And Clark, just went out, perhaps to see rabbits and snowbirds.

 

He walked, for a while looking for birds and rabbits and maybe even Santa...instead he found a toad, froze up and motionless, he got scared and ran towards the barn, he wanted to save the toad, maybe if he gave it some heat it would survive...so he went to the barn, he didn't use his heat vision in fear of hurting the toad by accident, after all, it happened before...so he held it with strength in hope that the ice would melt and the toad would come back to life.

 

He ended crushing it.

 

it was the first time he had ever killed anything, and worse he had been trying to save it, he stayed in the barn crying for a while, until his mother came through the door, she had been looking for him to start the dinner and she found him there crying...

The blanket felt similar to the blanket his mother brought to comfort him that Christmas.

 

 

 

A weird noise interrupted their thoughts...Chato threw away his blanket and stood up, he touched his hand to see what lay ahead of him... Clark was about stand up, Chato instead put his hand in his mouth to tell him not to make a noise, Clark nodded his head.

 

 

The noise started again...both prepared to the worse.

 

 

Chapter Text

It jumped on them, they had to throw aside the sheets to stand up and fight.

 

It should be easy; Clark was until very recently the most powerful man on earth, he had been capable of leveling buildings, of lifting rockets and pulling ships the size of the RMS Titanic, in a clean fight he was almost invincible...almost, as his situation proved, but a tough fighter. And Chato wasn't a bad fighter himself, he had Barrio, he was tough even without his powers, and being able to burst into flames or to turn into a 10 ft tall demon wasn't too much of a disadvantage.

 

It should...but it wasn't.

 

 

 

The creature was impossibly fast, it was able to throw away anyone who somewhat tried to even react to it; Clarks's eyes were already glowing red when he found himself crashing against the wall of the crumbling memory-house. And when Chato was creating the fireballs in his hand he was also hitting the roof with enough strength that if he were alive, he would have broken his spine.

 

If that wasn't enough the thing was also impossibly strong, so much so that some point it threw away a boulder several times it's size at the unsuspecting heroes...it hurt, a lot.

 

 

 

For a brief moment, Chato considered turning into his more demonic form, but it was unclear to him if the building would stand it if he did, the laws of physics could work differently in that place, but it could also not, and dying while dead would be pretty ironic and humiliating.

 

 

 

Clark, on the other hand, went into beast mode, at least this time he could let loose since he was sure that both he and Chato would be able to survive, plus there was no civilian population this time. However, he was growing desperate...nothing seemed to work in the creature that wouldn't even let them see it.

 

Not his strength, not his speed, not his heat vision, not his freezing breath or his combination of the rest of his powers.

 

The thing didn't need heat vision or freezing breath, it moved faster and it was stronger than him and it could just shift through the walls whenever it needed.

 

 

 

Chato flamed up and quite suddenly, the whole room illuminated, and they could see, for the first time, this creature that attacked them so suddenly, it had a somewhat skeletal face and a body that seemed to be composed only of black sheets...

 

 

-Sort of looks like a dementor- Chato thought for himself.

 

one of the points of its robe caught a little bit of fire now was the perfect time to strike as the creature shifted from attacking them to solving its issue.

 

Clark speed dived at the thing as fast and strong as he could while simultaneously getting his eyes to burn red, he slammed a severely burned creature against the opposite side of the wall...

 

 

It began to scream, it was a high pitched scream that made their ears bleed.

 

 

 

Clark immediately used his heat vision to burn part of its head making a small incision on the forehead of the creature, only to realize it was hollow.

He gestured Chato with his left hand so he could also check for himself. So Chato got closer to the thing there, and in fact, it was completely hollow. It didn’t make a flinch of sense but then again almost nothing in that place did, regardless they had to question whether or not the creature was part of what they constructed or part of what was from their own psyches…or, the more sinister approach, if that thing was part of the terrible evil their host had warned them off earlier.

“Well, it seems like we can’t just nap,” said Clark.

“Agreed” added Chato.

“One of us will have to make watch in case this thing or others like it attack us again”

To which Chato only nodded to say yes.

 They stared at each other for a while, they both were tired but neither could come to sleep just like that, not since their deaths.

They weren’t sure if it was even possible to sleep in whatever world they found themselves in.

 

Finally, after quite some time of staring at each other, Clark simply said.

 

“You should go to sleep, I can take care of it from here”

“You sure man, because you haven’t slept in a long time and, honestly, I  ain't even tired, Ese, besides, you are the strong one, and tomorrow we sail”

“That’s precisely why, if this…thing comes after us again I know the trick, and you haven’t slept either, and we need you”

 

“Aight, you make shift tonight I do my thing tomorrow sounds good”

Superman nodded with a sheepish smile on his face that irradiated with his perfectly white teeth.

“Yeah, that’s good…good night Chato”

“Goodnight”

He said before heading again to the hole that was his bed, he felt a sudden pain, though.

It felt like a knife cut with vinegar.

He removed his sleep shirt to see what was causing the trouble…he realized he had a big wound that slashed across his belly, he could see a deep red and it hurt a lot.

 

He decided to ignore it regardless and sleep after all…he was already dead.

 

 

Chapter Text

The light never changed in that place, it remained static.

There was no way to know if it was day or night, of course, they could not know if such things even existed there, to begin with. However, Clark's wrist watch marked 7:30 AM. which either meant that the thing continued regardless or it was indeed 7:30 AM.

Clark served himself some extra noodles from the previous day, he heat them up using his heat vision so he could eat them, before putting them in a mug, he moved around the noodles with a spoon before finally swallowing all in a single try...they had no flavor, perhaps that was one of the things exclusive from the land of the living, perhaps hell and purgatory was just full of flavorless noodles.

Chato woke up. 

Clark could see the scars of the previous battle in a shirtless Chato, then again he had some of his own...

"Good Morning" said Clark

"Morning" said Chato.

 

Clark gave his comrade a faint sheepish smile 

"I'm afraid I just ate the last noodles and there is no coffee left, but there seems to be some water in the sink"
"It's aight man, I ain't even sure if we need to eat, we are dead...remember?"

 

to which Clark only noded

"So it seems"

 

Chato went upstairs, while Clark got himself ready, his shirt was ruined so he thought it would have been better to remove it, otherwise he would be walking around with the sort of shitty shirt he used to wear when he was drifting and homeless, he prefers to go shirtless as well, Chato didn't take too much time though, he came down the stairs rushing down with two oversized tee shirts, he threw one at Clark that Clark caught and he put the other one on.

 

"Fat Cavill?" Clark asked when he had already a shirt on.

"Yeah, it's a burger joint, like InNOut and Big Belly Burger, they are, they are good, if we come back to life I'm buying you some"

"Thanks" said Clark, he wasn't a big fan of the shirts but he had to admit it was better than nothing

"Yours say 'Training day'"

"Yeah, it's a good movie"

 

it did not take long before they heard knockings on their door, it was the woman who received them earlier when they broke out of the nothingness, she was carrying a heavy torch and next to her was the short man with flaming eyes, both Clark and Chato were rather happy to see them, but they did not want to tell them about the spectre that attacked them earlier.

 

"You are ready? Good, we shall sail soon enough...the trip to the Isle of portals will be long, but rest assure, you will be back on earth in almost no time"

 

"Thank you" said Chato.

"Follow me please" said the man with the burning eyes.

 

The pair of heroes left the house and followed this man, of whom they knew nothing of, to the boat that was anchored floating exactly where it had been left, the man went first, dropping a ladder so Clark and Chato could get aboard, or maybe just Chato, Clark could, after all, fly.

 

But regardless they got on the boat through the ladder, into the boat. Once the three men were on board, flaming eyes released the anchor and the boat began to float further away from the ground, towards one of the islands of light that were in the sky.

"Welcome aboard, this will not be an easy trip so first I'd like to establish some rules"

 

he directed his head and eyesight to Clark "I know that you can fly, Kryptonian, but I will ask you not to step out of the boat, there are several islands in the sky and this place is bigger than it appears, if you do get off the boat you will get lost and you will not be able to find your destination, trust me, this place is eternal..."

 

He then redirected his sight to both passengers "Second, unless the situation demands combat, you will remain below deck, there is enough food, water, space, and material to read for both of you, it might not be the Wayne Mannor...but it is enough space"

 

Then the flame in his eyes grew "Third, you will not use your powers below deck, you shall only use them above deck and if the need for fighting arrives, if it does not then, please, no abilities"

 

 

 

Chato and Clark shared a confused somewhat surprised look.

 

"Welcome to Blue Beetle, I'm the Spectre and I will be your guide".

 

Chapter Text

It was clear that Clark did remember how to handle the tides, Chato on the other hand, had never been on a boat on life.

 

He was then told to remain below deck, but space down there barely allowed him to move, worse yet, everything there seemed flammable; sure it was a ship in limbo, but he wasn't entirely sure that the laws of combustion would not apply there, at times the laws of physics did.

 

Apparently, the afterlife could hold a boat, a house, a decent coffee maker and noodles, but not a Nintendo or even a magazine.

 

He could not understand how any of that worked, he remembered, from his conversation in the nothing-land, that Clark used to be somewhat of a drifter before the Zod incident, before he worked on the daily planet and got a decent apartment in Metropolis, he also talked about the time he worked on a fishing boat, he had to disappear shortly after that but he remembered.

 

The house they had been in looked remarkably like the house in which Chato used to live before going to prison, he came to the conclusion that the limbo created the environment from their memories as living people, how or why exactly, Chato could not know.

 

 

 

Still, it was amusing, from his days in Sunday school he did not remember, ever, such description of hell, Father Gutierrez had told him often "Fire awaits for you in the pits of hell" when he was younger, before his powers manifested themselves, and it had been somewhat ironic, but there was only the fire that Chato himself made.

 

 

 

Spectre went down the stairs of the ship, he stared directly into Chato's eyes with his glowing own, he sat on the available chair, right in front of Chato, this, of course, made Chato feel rather uncomfortable.

 

 

 

"I ain't doin nothin"

Said Chato while Spectre was staring at him.

“I know” said Spectre. He only said that, and not a word less and not a word more, he didn’t need any of those.

It creeped the hell out of Chato, two words and nothing more, Chato himself was never that much of a talker, but in his experience people almost never were that untalkative and quiet unless they had something to hide or were following somebody.

Needless to say, it gave Chato a very bad spine, something about it wasn’t right, this stranger would just take them to the isles so they could go through a window that would allow them to come back from the dead, but nobody explained how exactly it would work, suddenly Chato became very nervous at the prospect.

 

Did they only had to cross the isles, or was there something else? Why were these people truly so interested in bringing them back from the dead.

 

Something wasn’t right and the worse part was that Chato couldn’t exactly point at what, what was wrong? Something was wrong, but why?

 

The Spectre went above deck again, Clark then came down, he had a dumb smile on his face, a sincere dumb smile.

 

“Well, there is no sea and therefore, no smell of sea, there are no lobsters and no fish…it’s not exactly what I’m used to, but I can’t say I didn’t miss this”

Clark sat down on the floor, he removed his jacket, he was wearing his tank top and a necklace with the big “S”

“I’m useless in here, Clark”

“No one is useless on a ship” he said without dropping the smile on his face.

“We will eventually need fire”

“Do we even need to keep warm?”

“I don’t know about you, Chato, but I will go insane if I don’t”

That also worried Chato, he had seen Pet Cemetery, he had read Frankenstein and seen the movie.

What if they came out?...wrong.

“Are you a natural bald?” Asked Clark, the question took Chato by surprise.

“Nah man… I shave, I can also grow a beard, I had like this weird mutton chops for a while, but the tattoos look weird with hair”

Weird question.

“Why do you ask?”.

“I also had a beard for a while, In my homeless years, some in my drifter days, while trying to travel north…you know, trying to get my heritage and all that…I shaved when I returned to Kansas, and after I…’Came Out’ I just kept my face shaven”

“Superman would look great with a beard” said Chato.

“I look great in everything” Clark said smiling, “but what I’m trying to get at…supposedly after you die, your hair and nails grow, I don’t know if the same applies to us because neither of us is…well…human, Pa said that when Grandpa died, he was perfectly shaven and by the time he buried him, he already had a shadow”

“Do you think we can, y’know actually return? And remain…ourselves?”

Clark dropped the smile on his face “I haven’t been able to think about anything else, maybe that’s hell, reliving the way you died over, and over again and allow it to remain in your head for eternity, because this time, there is no ‘Until I die’, because we are dead already”

 

The boat shook again.

 

Chato hated the fucking boat, with passion.

Chato liked to step into the ground, that was part of what made the first limbo so unbearable, there was no ground, no floor, no smells, no colors, nothing.

Boats, in Chato’s mind, weren’t that different either.

 

Chato was a city boy, through and through. he had been born and raised in L.A. when he was in Louisiana, he was in prison, he had never seen the fields or smelled grass that didn't smell like concrete, cigarettes or weed, and he had never seen the sea either, it was strange since L.A is a coast city, but he had just never been to the beach.

 

Being also a being of fire, he felt like there was a natural aversion, and thus, Chato had never been on a boat.

 

 

 

But Clark had.

 

And it had almost killed him.

No one knew if Kryptonians could drown, "Does he breathe air?" Chato caught himself thinking..."Did he breath air?" he corrected himself, after all, they were both dead.

 

"I think so" answered Clark almost as if he read Chato's thoughts..."I do think I almost died then, although...I would have preferred that to getting stabbed" he said.

 

"How did you know what I was thinking"

 

"You haven't left deck"

 

"He told me not to"

 

Clark stared at him for a while..."How did YOU die? by the way... if it's not too rude to ask" Chato knew how Clark died, even in Belle Reeve he had access to newspapers, it wasn't one of the topics they had discussed post-mortem so far, partly because Clark was famous and Chato...He doubted the squad would even remember to mourn him, and while the memory still sort of hurt, it made him happy to know that someone cared to ask.

Maybe not the spectre, maybe not society, maybe just another dead man trying to get back to the land of the living who enjoyed the goddamn boat a little bit too much.

 

Chato gave a big smile with his sheepish answer "It turns out, fire CAN kill a dragon, homes"