Monday, April 17, 2006

Saving Me, Chapter 6

Season 5, after "Void"
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the WB and DC comics, not to me

After a couple of minutes Chlo let go of me, stood up, and went over to the bars. I instinctively cringed as she stuck her hand through the green glow, but of course the kryptonite didn’t hurt her. She thrust her arm out of the cell, as far as it would go, and strained for the switch that controlled the “force field,” but it was out of her reach. She rattled the bars in an exploratory way, but the door was locked tightly.

At last she turned back around and came back to me, sitting beside me. “You look terrible,” she said. “Why don’t you lie down for a while?”

“I’m fine.”

The truth was I felt like I was about to hurl, and I was so weak that I was shaking all over. Judging from the wry look she gave me, it must have been obvious. “Suuuuure you are,” she answered. “Come on, Clark, quit trying to be a man of steel. Lie down and relax.”

I sighed, then did as she suggested, resting my head on her lap. She stroked my hair gently, which helped stave off the nausea a bit. I stared at the green glow and thought about what our next move needed to be.

I’d felt mildly ill in the hallway because of the kryptonite in the paint, but not so ill that my abilities had been affected, at least as long as I stayed away from the walls. The only reason I was sick now was because I was too near the radiation of the force field. If I could get out of this cell, my abilities would return. So somehow I had to get past the force field.

And the only way past it was through it.

The thought of going right through that much green K radiation made my skin crawl and my stomach heave. Getting near a single rock of kryptonite makes me feel like I’m on fire. Going through that much radiation would be unimaginably, hellishly painful. But I had to try, because otherwise Chloe would suffer. And I couldn't just lie here and let them hurt her.

The problem was, I couldn’t hope to open the door myself. Ordinarily I could rip it off its hinges easily, but right now my abilities were depleted because of exposure to the radiation. But once someone opened the door…

If I ran toward the open doorway, I hoped maybe momentum would help me get through before the pain forced me to the floor. I didn’t have to get very far past it before my abilities would return. They wouldn’t be expecting me to try it, so they probably wouldn’t be braced for me, and I might just be able to get past them.

Of course, the problem I wasn’t sure if I was capable of running. Even standing up didn’t seem like a likely possibility.

And the honest truth was, I wasn’t sure I possessed the strength to go right through that field. Or the guts.

There was also the gun to worry about. Assuming that the rat-faced guy was telling the truth (and I couldn’t see why he would be lying, since they’d obviously thought this whole capture through pretty carefully), he was armed with kryptonite bullets. I’d been shot once before by a green K bullet, and I can tell you, it wasn’t pleasant. In fact, it was excruciatingly painful and felt like my shoulder was on fire. I’d stopped breathing, and I’d believed the only reason I lived through it was because my dad had dug the bullet out with a kitchen knife.

I’d recently discovered that when I died, my body neutralized any green K in my system and resurrected itself, so it was possible a kryptonite bullet wouldn’t actually kill me, just put me into a kind of suspended animation until it was removed. Regardless of whether it would actually kill me or not, though, the agony of having a meteor rock bullet burning inside my body was something I didn’t want to face again.

But I reminded myself that if I didn’t get us out of here, they were going to hurt Chloe. Badly. And I’d rather be shot by a hundred green K bullets than see her suffer.

I didn’t want to talk about my thoughts, for fear of tipping off the nameless boss. But the longer I was silent, the more I was haunted by the memory of Chloe kneeling, her head against the bars, writhing while they tortured her with electric shocks. It wasn’t an image I liked thinking about.

At last I spoke to fill the silence. “I’m sorry you’re missing journalism class.”

She gave a soft chuckle that sounded more like a sob. “Believe me, Clark, that’s not at the top of my list of regrets today. It’s not even in the top ten.”

“Yeah,” I whispered. “I know.”

“You know what my biggest regret is?”

I opened my eyes and looked up at her, expecting some big, emotional revelation. “What?”

She breathed a long, soulful sigh. “I didn’t get to finish my coffee this morning.”

I stared at her incredulously for a long moment, then started to laugh. It hurt my stomach, and I immediately doubled up in pain.

“I’m sorry,” she said, stroking my hair again. “I wasn’t trying to make you laugh. I was serious.”

"Yeah. Of course you were.” I closed my eyes again, enjoying the feel of her hand against my hair more than I should. Chloe and I haven’t ever really dated, although we’ve had a few close calls, but last week we’d shared a really nice kiss in my loft, the same night I’d broken things off with Lana. Chlo didn’t want to get stuck in the middle of the disaster that was my breakup with Lana, though, so she’d sensibly left before anything more serious could develop.

It was probably a good thing that one of us had been mature enough to back away. But right now, I was terribly sorry she’d left.

“My biggest regret,” I said softly, “is that you left last week… before I got to kiss you again.”

Her hand stilled in my hair. I opened my eyes to see her looking down at me with an expression of shock. She blinked at me, then gave a wry half smile.“That’s up there on my list, too, Clark. Almost as big a regret as not having finished my coffee.”

Being just behind a lack of caffeine on Chloe’s list of regrets isn’t a bad thing, considering how important her morning coffee is to her. I smiled back at her as best I could, but a feeling of grim resolve was coalescing inside me, pushing the nausea and the pain back a bit.

I didn’t want to have any regrets, and I was more determined than ever to get us out of this damn cell.


Half an hour later, I heard footsteps approaching. My superhearing wasn’t working, thanks to the kryptonite, but it didn’t take superhearing to hear the footsteps of the enormous, rat-faced guy as he thudded his way down the stairs.

I lay still, trying to give the impression of being unconscious even as I tensed all my muscles. It was now or never, I thought. Prolonged exposure to the green K only made me weaker. If I couldn’t get through the force field now, I wasn’t going to be able to get us out of here, and Chloe would get hurt.

Once again I remembered Chloe handcuffed to the bars, her heart pounding heavily as they hurt her. The memory angered me, and I welcomed the anger, because it helped me draw on what little strength I still possessed. The thought of Chloe being tortured helped me focus on what I had to do. I gritted my teeth and waited.

The iron bars swung open, and I lurched to my feet and charged for the open doorway.

Read Chapter 7 here.

1 comment:

blackheart_me said...

darn the force field and they were rlly smart to put kryptonite in the paint. wow elly i never thought of that, that's amazing. xD ahh how Chloe loves her coffee. Funny i actually don't like coffee much myself, but I love that's her number one regret :D. (to your last line) PLEASE WORK!!!