Chapter One: Phase Change
Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction. None of the versions of the various characters presented here belong to me, but rather to their respective copyright holders. No infringement or use for profit is intended.
The small craft (but not so tiny as the first - the occupant has grown) enters the gravitational field of a small yellow sun, slowing to sublight speeds as it passes the orbits of the outer gas giants. A prodigal son has returned.
As the ship approaches the blue-green planet, its crystalline configuration is strangely appropriate. Just as a single ice crystal's formation can trigger the freezing of an entire body of water, so too does the proximity of ship and passenger to world below cause a phase change in the very structure of reality. History and geography unravel, alter, start to find a new equilibrium. By the time the ship has blazed down into a fallow field in Kansas (strange that a technology advanced enough for interstellar, even intergalactic travel has such problems with minutiae such as atmospheric reentry), many things have changed - or returned to the way the man inside remembers them.
Metropolis gleams beneath the sun, light reflecting also from the waters of its Atlantic harbor. The Daily Planet buzzes with activity beneath its rotating globe. It suddenly occurs to rookie reporter Chloe Sullivan that Clark had better curtail his frequent trips to the big city if he wants to keep his big secret. After all, it wouldn't take much to notice that he never buys airline tickets for the trip between the heartland and the East Coast, or even that he's actually been seen in both places within the same hour, impossible even if he was the jet setter type. Somehow her friends back in Smallville seem much further away than they did a little bit ago; maybe it's just sinking in how far has to go to catch up with her idol, her cousin's namesake, Lois Lane. The woman's about to be awarded a Pulitzer, and they hardly trust Chloe to work on the obituaries. That reminds her, she'd better get this one for Norm Palmer just right... the Planet should take care of its own, after all.
The prodigal son visits only briefly with his adoptive mother. He is eager to get back into the world, calling up his old editor and getting his job back with remarkable ease. There is some news; Smallville suffered another meteor shower; his cousin Jonathan died this last spring, and his wife Martha is taking over as state senator, of all things. She's away in Topeka at the moment, so once he's laid fresh flowers at the grave, it's off to Metropolis again.