Season 5, following my story "What the World Could Be," which followed "Void"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the WB and DC Comics, not to me
At Lois' sharp words, Clark felt himself reel. He and Lois might not be the best of friends, but he’d known her long enough to know when she was telling the truth, and he was horribly certain that she absolutely believed what she was saying. Just like his mother, she didn’t know the Chloe Sullivan he remembered. And even worse, she truly believed that she was Chloe.
All at once, the truth he’d been trying so hard to avoid slammed into him like a ton of meteor rocks. He had no idea how it had happened, but the world he’d gone to sleep in last night was not the same world he’d awakened in this morning. Certain things had been... altered somehow, and for some reason he was the only one who remembered the way things had been. He guessed it was because he was Kryptonian, and possessed a slightly different sense of how the universe was put together than humans did.
Somehow he’d fallen into the Twilight Zone, and he didn’t have the slightest idea how to get back to the world he remembered, or to the girl he loved.
“Are you okay?” Lois—he couldn’t think of her as Chloe-- said. “You look like you’re about to be sick.”
He glanced up and saw concern on her face. Whether she was genuinely concerned for his wellbeing, or whether she just thought he was going to puke on her front stoop, he wasn’t sure. It was tough to tell with Lois, but he doubted she was all that worried about his personal health. She might call herself Chloe in this this—this reality, or parallel universe, or whatever the hell it was, but she still reacted like the Lois he knew.
Which gave him an idea. If Lois was calling herself Chloe Sullivan, then maybe, just maybe…
“I’m okay, thanks,” he answered, struggling to keep his voice steady. “But I think I’m a little confused here. Maybe I’m looking for the wrong person. Do you have a cousin named Lois Lane?”
She stared at him, her blue eyes filled with suspicion. “I’ve got a cousin named Lucy Lane.”
“But no Lois?”
She looked like she was considering slamming the door in his face. Not surprising. She didn’t know him from Adam, and a crazy, wild-eyed stranger on the front steps asking lots of personal questions was never a good thing, in any reality.
“I had a cousin named Lois,” she said at last, slowly. “But she died when she was a baby.”
Agony slammed into his chest, and his throat went so tight he could barely breathe.
Chloe. God, no.
Now he had a pretty good idea why he couldn't hear her heartbeat. He swallowed hard, fighting to keep himself under control, when what he really wanted was to let out his confused rage and pain by ripping a door off its hinges or something. But that would only terrify this poor girl further, and this insanity he'd found himself mired in wasn't her fault.
“I see,” he managed at last. “Okay, then. Thanks a lot for the help. I… I really appreciate it.”
He wanted to beg her to help him, to work with him in figuring this thing out, but he could tell from the suspicious glint in her eyes that she was about two seconds from calling the cops on him. He couldn’t blame her. No matter how much this girl looked like Lois, she wasn’t the Lois he knew, and she obviously didn’t remember him at all.
His shoulders slumping despondently, he turned and went down the steps, very slowly. The door slammed shut behind him.
Pain and confusion whirled in his brain, and he didn’t bother with superspeed. There was no point in it, because he wasn’t sure where to go next, or what to do. He couldn’t think of any way to fix this situation. In whatever reality he was now trapped in, the Chloe Sullivan he’d known and loved was gone.
And quite possibly dead.
He walked on blindly for a block or two, then sank down on the curb, heedless of the fact that he was on a public road in the middle of a subdivision.
He dropped his head into his hands and let the tears come.
Once Clark had let out his grief and regained control of himself, he zipped back to the Kent farm and spent the afternoon in his loft digging for facts. He gave brief consideration to talking to his mom about his life, about what might have changed, but the memory of the way she’d stared at him gave him pause. After the whole silver K incident, his mom had reason to worry about him, and he didn't want to totally freak her out.
But he knew he had to find some more information. Because if Chloe was gone, and Lois so greatly changed, maybe other aspects of his life were different as well.
Or maybe not. Because as he read the emails on his computer, nothing seemed to have changed much. His friend Pete was still in Wichita, he and Lex were still enemies, and he still seemed to have dropped out of Central Kansas A&M to take care of the farm after his dad died. In short, nothing much had changed… except Chloe wasn’t here.
After he read through all the emails in his inbox, he returned to prowling the Internet again, still looking hopelessly for some clue that the Chloe Sullivan he remembered had ever existed. But the digital Wall of Weird she’d posted on the ‘Net was gone, and he couldn’t find any reference to her existence on the Daily Planet’s site, either.
Somehow the world had changed... but what could possibly have changed it?
“Damn it,” he said at last, softly. “What the hell happened?”
He heard his mom’s voice calling him and suddenly realized it was suppertime. He’d completely forgotten about eating breakfast or lunch. He wasn’t really hungry, but he reluctantly closed the laptop and headed for the house to spend the evening with his mother.
In the morning Clark woke up feeling miserable. He’d barely been able to sleep, his dreams haunted by thoughts of Chloe, his fear for her swirling in his head like a storm. The world seemed far too silent without her heartbeat in it. He’d only managed to swallow a few bites of dinner last night, and he didn’t feel much like eating breakfast, either.
He recognized the symptoms. He’d experienced them before he’d admitted Chloe was the woman who fit his soul and made love to her, and he suffered them whenever they were apart for more than a couple of days.
He’d seen her only thirty-six hours ago, but he had a feeling the conspicuous lack of her heartbeat was what was bothering him so much. His body knew his soulmate was gone, and it wasn’t happy about it. And his condition was only going to get worse.
He remembered something Chloe had said to him a few weeks ago: What if we did decide to break up for some reason? What would happen then? Would you stop eating and sleeping and just… pine away?
He’d brushed her question aside then, but now he was beginning to wonder. What happened to a Kryptonian who found his soulmate and lost her before they could be life-bonded? He wasn't sure, but he had a feeling it could spell serious trouble. He might be more or less invulnerable, but he was pretty sure he couldn’t survive for too long without eating and sleeping.
It was entirely possible that he might actually just pine away, and the truth was that if he couldn't get Chloe back, he didn't much care.
He had a vague hope that the world might have gone back to normal once again overnight, but a quick check of his desktop computer showed that wasn’t the case. His Chloe was still gone. He sat on the edge of his bed and stared down at his hands, wondering what to do now.
His next step was obvious, although he didn't like it much. He didn't know the answer to his question last night: What the hell happened? But he was pretty sure one person on the planet did know, or at least could figure the problem out.
The problem was, it was the very last person in the world he wanted to turn to for help.
He wrestled with himself for long moments, but in the end, he decided he didn't have any choice. He threw on his clothes and supersped to the cave that served as a portal to his arctic Fortress of Solitude.
It was time to talk to Jor-El.
Read Chapter 4 here.