Monday, April 03, 2006
This Ordinary World, Chapter 1
General AU fic (based on an idea from the episode "Unsafe")
No particular season
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the WB and DC comics, not to me
...I'm much too strange for this ordinary world.
-Greg Jones, "Ordinary"
Clark Kent was in big trouble.
He might be only six, but he knew what it meant to be sent to the principal’s office. Daddy was going to be really mad at him.
In fact, Daddy looked pretty mad already.
Clark hunched down in his chair, trying to ignore the grownups’ raised voices. He was a small boy, his dark brown hair unruly and rumpled, his green eyes huge and round, softening the lines of his somewhat angular face. Ordinarily he had a sweet smile, but today his small face was arranged into deep lines of anxiety, and his big eyes were wider than ever.
“I’m sure Clark didn’t mean any harm,” his mother was saying now. Clark had always liked his mommy’s voice. It was his very first memory, the first thing he could remember after coming out of the dark place. She always spoke quietly, never stridently, and he could hear smiles in her voice most of the time. Right now, his mommy was sticking up for him, just like she always did.
“Perhaps he didn’t,” the principal said. She was a stern, tall woman, her hair pulled back tightly in a way that made her face look like it had been stretched around the edges. “But he seriously hurt that other little boy, Mrs. Kent. The child’s parents are extremely upset.”
His father shot him an angry look, and Clark sank down further in his chair. He knew he wasn’t supposed to let anyone know how strong he was. His daddy had told him that many, many times before he’d gone off to school.
But it wasn’t really his fault. He’d gotten upset, so upset he forgot himself and lost control. A bunch of kids had surrounded his friend Pete, hitting him until he bled, and Clark had waded into the melee in his friend’s defense.
He had been distressed for Pete, who’d been so scared that tears streamed down his face along with the blood. But he’d also been scared for himself. The boys had been teasing Pete because his skin was brown, and a small, philosophical part of Clark thought: If they hate him just because of his skin color, they’d hate me even more if they knew how different I was.
He’d been scared and upset, and acted without thinking. One of the boys had taken a swing at him, and Clark had shoved him. He hadn’t meant to shove hard, but the boy had flown right into a wall and crumpled to the ground, unmoving.
All the other boys had run away then. Even Pete had shot him a look of fear… and fled.
The idea that Pete, his best friend, might be afraid of him was worse than the angry distress in his dad’s eyes. Clark rubbed at his eyes, feeling tears sting them.
“I must insist,” the principal was saying, and Clark refocused his attention on the grownups.
“No!” his mom answered. Her voice was louder than usual, and Clark recognized that she was scared, too. He was distressed to realize he’d done something that could even scare grownups.
What he’d done must be really, really bad.
He knew Mommy and Daddy weren’t his first parents. They’d taken him in when he’d come out of the dark place. For the first time it occurred to him to wonder if perhaps his first parents had sent him away because he’d been bad. Now that he’d done something so bad again, Mommy and Daddy might put him back into the dark place and send him away again. He didn’t remember much about the dark place, but he knew it was small and cramped, and he didn’t want to go back. Terror curled in his belly, making him feel sick.
“Belle Reve Sanitarium has doctors that specialize in dealing with troubled youth,” the principal said. Her nasal voice scraped across Clark’s eardrums like nails on a chalkboard. He didn’t understand exactly what she was saying, but he knew he didn’t like the sharp tone of her voice, and he shivered. “They’ve done wonders with a few of our more antisocial students.”
“Our son is not troubled!” Clark’s dad exploded. He was a big man, tall and rangy. Standing up suddenly, he towered over the principal. Clark had seen him do that before, and he understood vaguely that Dad was trying to use his size to intimidate the principal. But she didn’t look scared, and he recognized that right now Daddy was more afraid than the principal was.
“He broke that little boy’s arm!”
“I’m sure it was an accident,” Clark’s mom said, in a placating tone.
“Accident or no accident, Mrs. Kent—“
“We will not take our son to a sanitarium!” Daddy snapped, his eyes narrowing dangerously.
The principal stood up and glared at them, her eyes narrowing too. “You will take your son in for testing and evaluation, Mr. Kent. Or I will see that Child Protective Services gets involved.”
“It took us a long time to determine the best way to help your son.”
Clark had been in Belle Reve for several weeks. He’d lost track of time, but he was certain that at least four Saturdays had passed. His mommy had cried when they’d left him, and he’d cried too, but Daddy had stood by, silent, his mouth working slightly. Clark understood from this that Daddy was upset, too, because that was how his dad looked when he wanted to cry.
Mommy had told him over and over again that he’d be able to go home soon, but as the days turned to weeks, Clark had begun to fear it wasn’t true. He lived in a little cell with iron bars that made him feel like an animal in the zoo, and he’d begun to suspect he’d never go home to the farm again.
And then, miraculously, one day his mommy and daddy arrived.
He’d rushed to his mommy, flinging his arms around her legs. She’d picked him up, and he’d pressed his nose into her shoulder, smelling her familiar fragrance of soap and pies and cookies. Dad had hugged them both, wrapping his big arms around them, but Mommy didn’t put him down. He clung to her, afraid to let her go for fear they’d go away and leave him again.
“The answer to the problem was surprisingly simple,” the man in the lab coat said. His voice was deep and pompous—a voice that Clark had grown to loathe over the past weeks. “Note the bracelet on his wrist. It deposits minute traces of meteor rocks into his bloodstream.”
Daddy looked up, and his forehead wrinkled. “Meteor rocks? Why?”
“We aren’t certain exactly why it works,” the man admitted. “We’ve used similar bracelets on children with, er, unusual abilities before, but your son was a difficult case. We tried numerous substances, and this was the only one that works. It seems to counteract his unusual strength. With that bracelet on, he’s precisely like everyone else.”
Clark’s dad stared at the dark gray-green bracelet. “Clark, son,” he said at last. “Does it hurt?”
Clark shook his head. He’d felt a little funny when they’d put the bracelet on, like some of his strength had drained away, but it didn’t really bother him. And if it meant going home with Mommy and Daddy and never being put in a cell again, he’d wear ten bracelets on either arm and a necklace too. All he wanted was to go home.
“So, he’s… cured,” Clark’s mom said.
“Yes. He’ll need to come in every six months for a new bracelet. But I don’t think you’ll have any problems otherwise, ever again.”
“Thank you.” His mom sounded funny, like she might cry, and her arms tightened around him. “Come on, Clark. Let’s go home.”
Clark looked up into her beloved face, the face he’d been so afraid he’d never see again, and for the first time in weeks a huge grin curved his mouth.
“Home,” he echoed happily.
Read chapter 2 here.
Posted by Meg at 8:19 AM