Season 5, after "Void"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the WB and DC comics, not to me
I’m not sure exactly when I realized Chloe might be in trouble. I was in the barn, mucking out a horse stall, when I suddenly became consciously aware of her heartbeat.
See, the weird thing is that at some level, I’m always aware of Chloe’s heartbeat. No one else... just Chloe. I first tuned into her heartbeat right after my superhearing developed, when the two of us went to Metropolis together. I thought I’d go crazy from the noise of the city before I managed to focus in on her heartbeat.
Since then, it’s sort of like I got the frequency in my head and I can’t lose it again, so I can hear her heart beating even when I’m in Smallville and she’s in Metropolis. That doesn’t mean I’m aware of everything she does, or that I’m spying on her. I can’t hear her talking unless I listen for her, and I’d have to be a lot closer than that to hear her voice. I think.
But hearing her heartbeat, even at a great distance, is an unconscious kind of thing. Most of the time I don’t notice the sound of her heart beating, but it’s always there.
Anyway, I was doing my morning farm chores when I noticed that her heartbeat had suddenly accelerated, which made me conscious of it. It's sort of like having a radio playing background music-- you tend not to notice the music till you hear a particular song. In the same way, I suddenly noticed the rhythm of Chloe's heartbeat had changed. People’s hearts don’t usually speed up like that unless they’re scared or in trouble. I dropped the pitchfork I was using, supersped toward the house, and dialed Chloe’s cell number.
That didn’t prove anything, necessarily. She could have turned off the ringer because she was in class. But now her heartbeat had slowed down drastically, as if she was unconscious. She could be sleeping in class, but I was pretty sure she’d never snooze in journalism class, since Chloe’s been crazy about journalism since the eighth grade. Anyway, it was weird that her heartbeat had sped up so fast, only to slow so dramatically.
Something was definitely going on, and I needed to know what it was, or I’d worry the rest of the morning.
There was only one source to go to for information. Lana Lang.
Lana was Chloe’s roommate, and she’d been my girlfriend till a couple of weeks ago, when I’d broken up with her because our relationship had descended into a long, painful, drawn-out disaster. She'd been really angry with me, and she’d started taking these drugs that virtually killed her but that enabled her to see her dead parents, presumably because she was lonely.
When I’d tried to save her, I’d almost gotten killed myself. Well, in point of fact, I had gotten killed, although I’d come back to life again. (That happens to me more often than you’d probably expect.) Lana hadn’t apologized for getting me quasi-killed, or even acted like she was sorry for her behavior, which kind of pissed me off.
In short, I was annoyed with her, she was annoyed with me, and our whole longstanding friendship was pretty much on the rocks right now. Suffice it to say that a conversation with Lana wasn’t the way I’d really wanted to start off the day. But I was seriously worried about Chloe, so I gritted my teeth together and dialed Lana’s cell.
Lana answered after two rings, sounding a lot more alert than she had last week, in the middle of the whole drug thing. She’d looked and sounded like a junkie then, which had been pretty alarming, considering how perky she usually sounds. “Hello?”
“Hi,” I said.
Her voice immediately went wary. “Clark. What do you want?”
Good morning to you too, I thought, but didn’t say it. Things were bad enough between us without my sarcasm making it worse. “I was trying to get hold of Chloe. Have you seen her around?”
Yeah, I know it’s not nice to call your ex-girlfriend looking for another girl, but things aren’t like that between me and Chloe. At least I think they’re not. Honestly, I don’t know what things are like with any girl in my life right now. Girls confuse the hell out of me.
I’m thinking of becoming a monk.
“She left about fifteen minutes ago,” Lana said, still sounding wary. “She had class.”
“You haven’t seen her since?”
“Since she left the dorm, and I’m not in any of her classes, no.”
I sighed. “Okay. If you see her, will you tell her I’m looking for her?”
“Sure,” Lana said dryly. “I’m simply thrilled to be your voice mail service, Clark.”
Lana obviously didn’t have a problem with indulging in sarcasm. I hit the disconnect button before I could say something I might regret later, and put the phone onto the kitchen table very gently. At least I thought it was very gently, but a big crack immediately appeared in the table's surface.
I looked up and saw my mom coming down the stairs, a dangerous glint in her eye. She didn’t look at all happy with me. “Sorry,” I said meekly. “I just kind of misjudged my strength.”
She paused on the stairs and looked straight into my eyes. “Talking to Lana again, Clark?”
“Yeah,” I admitted, “but that’s not really the problem, Mom. I’m worried about Chloe.”
“Any particular reason?”
I frowned. I hadn’t ever told Mom about being able to hear Chlo’s heartbeat, for fear she might get the wrong impression. For that matter, I hadn’t ever told Chloe, either. It's kind of a hard thing to explain to humans.
“I just have a bad feeling,” I said at last.
Mom looked at me for a long moment, and I had the impression she understood that I knew more than I was telling her.
“Then maybe you’d better run to Metropolis and check up on her,” she said.
“But the chores—“
“They’ll wait till you get back, Clark. Go ahead.”
Since it takes me about two seconds to get to Metropolis nowadays, I figured she was right. I supersped over to the stairs and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek.
“Thanks, Mom. See you later.”
I ran out the door and headed for Metropolis at top speed.
Read Chapter 3 here.