Season 5, after "Void"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the WB and DC comics, not to me
Clark stiffened, looking like he’d charge the guy the minute he stepped away from the kryptonite field. The guy was huge, built like a water buffalo, but his size wouldn’t matter much against Clark’s strength.
But the guy shook his head in warning. “Take it easy, Kal,” he said, hefting the rifle slightly. “You don’t want to take me on. There are meteor rock bullets in this thing.”
I felt my eyebrows shoot up. I wasn’t sure, but I figured kryptonite bullets would go right through Clark the way lead goes through the rest of us. Clark must have thought the same, because he let the water buffalo herd us back down the stairs, into the little cell in the basement.
The cell was only about six feet by six feet, and when we stepped into it, the guy flipped a switch, activating one of the kryptonite “force fields” at the entrance to the cell.
Clark immediately fell to his hands and knees and crawled to the back of the cell, away from the force field. He sat up with an effort, his head lolling heavily against the back wall. Six feet of distance from the green K was enough that he wasn’t in extreme pain, but it would definitely prevent him from using his powers. And he obviously didn’t feel very good.
Water Buffalo left the basement, and I walked across the cell and sat down next to Clark. Guilt was churning inside me, which was silly. I hadn’t asked to be kidnapped, after all. “I’m so sorry,” I said, putting my hand on his.
He swallowed noisily, looking miserable. “Not your fault, Chlo. I told you that already.”
“I didn’t tell them anything about you, Clark. You have to believe me.”
“I believe you. But how do they…” He gulped again, looking distinctly green. Maybe it was just the light from the kryptonite, but he looked like his stomach was churning. “How do they know all this stuff about me?”
“I haven’t met the boss of this operation yet, but he talked to me through a speaker. He’s probably listening to us, too, so watch what you say. I got the impression he’d met you in Metropolis when you were living there that summer.”
“God.” Clark shut his eyes tiredly. “Sometimes I think I’m never going to put everything that happened that summer behind me.”
“Do you know who it could be? Did you make any enemies that summer?”
“Could be anyone. I met a lot of people that summer. Most of them weren’t exactly country club types, either, and I’m sure a lot of them didn’t like me much.”
Since he’d been spending most of his time hanging out at raves and nightclubs that summer, and he’d acted like a total ass, I figured he was probably right. I wanted to ask him about the red K, why he’d never tried to explain that he’d been on a mind-altering substance, but I couldn’t bring it up, in case The Voice didn’t know about it. I asked something else I’d been wondering instead. “How did you find me, anyway? How did you know to come look for me? Did someone see me get snatched at the campus?”
“No. I…” He lifted his lashes for a second and shot a sideways look at me, then dropped them again. “It’s kind of hard to explain, actually. I sort of heard you.”
I frowned. That was what I’d been concerned about, which was why I’d struggled so hard not to scream in pain, but I didn’t remember even letting out a yelp when the guys had nabbed me. “Just how good is your hearing, anyway?”
“Um. I can kind of hear your heartbeat. All the time.”
I thought about that for a minute. “I guess you can hear your mom and Lana, too? Anyone who’s important to you?”
“No,” he said softly. “Just you.”
Something about the way he said it made my stomach melt. I tried to squelch the feeling. It obviously didn’t mean anything. He’d been in love with Lana forever, after all. Not me. “Why me?”
“Don’t know,” he answered. “It started right after I got my superhearing. I…” He swallowed again, apparently fighting back nausea. “We went to Metropolis together. To see the art museum. Remember?”
I nodded. “Yeah. And you got sick.”
“Not sick, not really. I’d just gotten my superhearing, and the city was too loud. It hurt.”
All of a sudden the way he’d reacted on that trip made a lot more sense. I’d thought it was a migraine, but since Clark never got sick, his sudden illness had puzzled me. “I didn’t realize.”
“I know. Anyway. I had to focus on something, and when that chameleon guy took you, I listened for you. And I found your heartbeat. You were miles away, but I found it, and I followed you. I did the same thing today. I could tell you were scared, because your heart was pounding, so I came to find you.”
He was quiet for a moment, then spoke again. “I’ve never stopped listening to your heartbeat, Chlo. On some level, I hear it every minute of the day. Even in my dreams.”
I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t seem to force any words out through the tightness in my throat.
He lifted his eyelashes again, as if it were a monumental effort, and glanced at me again. Evidently he took my silence as a sort of accusation, because he added, “I don’t want you to think I’m spying on you or anything. I wouldn’t intrude on you like that. I don’t hear you speaking unless I really try. This is kind of an unconscious thing, Chlo. I can’t help it.”
I let my hand tighten on his. “It’s okay, Clark. I don’t mind.” I frowned a little. “Do you suppose these guys knew about this?”
“They couldn’t have. I never told anyone. No one knew but me.”
“But we did know you have exceptional hearing,” The Voice said suddenly, startling me. “And we know how protective you are of your friends. We guessed that if we made Miss Sullivan unhappy enough, you’d show up quickly.”
Clark lifted his head wearily, opened his eyes, and spoke to the ceiling. “Have we met?”
“Yes, Kal, we’ve met, although only in passing. I once worked for Morgan Edge.”
I knew that name. Edge had been a crime boss in Metropolis, who’d conspired to kill Lionel Luthor’s parents, along with Lionel. He’d eventually been killed by a bullet fired by Lex Luthor, who’d been drugged into psychosis by Lionel… his own father.
The moral of this complicated story is, if you want to live a long life, it’s best to steer clear of the Luthors.
“Edge has been dead for a couple of years now,” Clark said.
“Yes, and I took over his operation. I talked with the men who met you, and they were very impressed by your abilities. Since then I’ve been gathering information on you. My men have watched you, and I obtained some very useful information from Lionel Luthor’s files. He’s onto you, by the way.”
“Yeah. I know.”
“Well, then. It’s obvious that abilities such as yours would be a very useful addition to my operation. Morgan thought so, too. But he thought on a regrettably small scale. I think bigger, and I have big plans for you, Kal. Big plans.”
“If you’ve really been studying up on me,” Clark said, “you must know I’m not going to cooperate with you.”
“Oh, I think you will,” The Voice said. “After all, we have Miss Sullivan to help make you feel more cooperative.”
Clark shot a glance at me, his eyes wide and worried. I shook my head, trying to sound confident. “If you think Clark is going to do anything you want just because you threaten me, you don’t know him very well.”
“Indeed.” The Voice sounded tolerantly amused. “You may be right, Miss Sullivan. Or not. We’ll see.”
The Voice fell silent, and Clark dropped his head back against the wall, uttering a word that was more in character for Kal than Clark. He looked over at me and added, “I’m really sorry, Chlo. This whole thing is my fault. If only I hadn’t gone to Metropolis that summer…”
“It was the ring,” I said, patting his hand. “Not your fault.”
He balled his hand into a fist. “It is my fault, Chlo. I chose to put on the ring.”
“Huh?” I blinked at him. “Why on earth did you do that?”
Clark pulled his hand away from mine. He drew his knees up, wrapping his arms around his legs, and dropped his head against his knees. “I was a stupid kid,” he said, his voice muffled. “My mom lost the baby because of me.”
“Hard to explain. Trust me. It was my fault. And then my dad was so mad at me. It was the first time in my life he ever looked at me like I was... a freak. I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand my life anymore. I stole the ring from the Torch office… and ran away.”
“Your dad didn’t think of you as a freak, Clark. He loved you.”
“But I am a freak,” he said softly, his face still hidden, his voice filled with misery. “And no matter how hard I try, the people I love always get hurt, sooner or later. I never wanted you to get hurt because of me, Chlo.”
“It’s not your fault.”
“Stop saying that!” He lifted his head suddenly and glared at me, his eyes narrowed. His voice went harsh with anger. “It—is—my—fault! If I had any guts, I would have left that summer and never come back. Because when people get close to me, they always—get—hurt!”
He tried to get to his feet, staggered, and fell back to his knees. I put an arm around him to steady him, and he wrapped his arms around my waist tightly and buried his face in my shoulder. I could feel him shaking.
“I don’t want you to get hurt,” he whispered, his voice trembling. “I can’t watch them hurt you, Chlo. I’m not strong enough.”
I understood that well enough. I didn’t like seeing him suffering this way, either. And I knew it could get a lot worse if our captors wanted to really hurt him. I wasn't sure I could stand to see them hurt him that badly.
“Shhh,” I murmured, stroking his hair. “We’ll get out of here somehow, Clark. I promise.”
Read Chapter 6 here.