Tuesday, May 02, 2006

What the World Could Be, Chapter 6

Season 5, following my story "Saving Me," which followed "Void"
Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the WB and DC comics, not to me.

Life didn’t get any better than this, Chloe mused. The man of her dreams was sprawled in her bed, begging her to touch him. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

And yeah, she had a history essay due on Monday, but surely the professor would accept the “hot sex with the man of her dreams” excuse, wouldn’t she? Either way, it didn’t really matter, because an essay on the root causes of World War II simply wasn’t at the top of her to-do list today.

Clark definitely was.

At least, she was going to do him when he quit being obstinate and explained to her exactly what all this Kryptonian stuff was about. It was strange and inexplicable that he’d suddenly started speaking the language spontaneously, and Chloe had never been one to let strange, inexplicable phenomena go uninvestigated.

Clark’s big body stretched out across the sheets, taking up most of the available space on the bed, his feet actually hanging off the end a bit. He was naked but for his blue boxers, and there was a rather desperate look in his eyes. That look made her feel very warm inside, even though she was pretty sure something was going on here besides plain old lust. As much as she enjoyed touching him and seeing his responses, the way he was reacting to her touch wasn’t normal. She still wondered if he was having some sort of reaction to the red K he’d been injected with, and she decided she was going to find out. She was stubbornly determined to get to the bottom of this whole thing.

He’d been silent for several minutes. His harsh breathing had calmed a bit, and she thought maybe he was ready to talk. “Tell me what you’re saying in Kryptonian, and why you’re saying it,” she prompted him.

He swallowed. “I’m just saying that I trust you,” he said softly.

She tilted her head to one side and considered that. “I’m glad to hear it, Clark. But that’s an awful lot of words just to express trust.”

“It’s hard to translate,” he said, still sounding a little grumpy. Obviously he didn’t really want to discuss it. “It’s a formal, um, speech. Kind of like a poem.”

“And you said it to me… why?”

“How the hell should I know? It came into my head, and I said it. I can’t not say it. I don’t know why. It’s like, I don’t know, a compulsion.”

“A formal speech,” she repeated, trying to put the pieces together and failing. Most of the time Clark seemed like a perfectly normal guy, but there were times when he was as utterly alien as Mars. This seemed to be one of those times. “Why would a Kryptonian say this speech? Do you know?”

He turned red, and his eyes slid away from hers. “Uh. I’m not sure.”

Ah-ha. Instantly Chloe knew she’d hit on something. She’d known Clark a long time, and besides, you couldn’t be an investigative reporter (even a student one) for years without developing a sense for when people were trying to avoid telling you something. “Come on, Clark. Out with it.”

His cheeks flushed redder, and he looked terminally embarrassed. “It’s kind of the, uh, Kryptonian life-bonding ceremony.”

Chloe went very still. “The life-bonding ceremony?” she repeated at last. “Is that like…. marriage?”

“Sort of,” he said. His eyes went unfocused for a minute, like he was staring at something she couldn’t see, and she guessed he was sorting through the information the cave had downloaded him with. “In a way, it’s more binding than marriage,” he said at last. “Kryptonians don’t… I mean, didn’t… divorce. Once they said those words to someone, it was permanent. But in a way, it wasn’t like marriage, because they didn’t necessarily have to live together once they bonded. They just had to, um, mate.”

“Are you telling me,” Chloe said slowly, “that you’re… bonded to me?”

His eyes went unfocused again. “No, because you haven’t said the words back to me.”

“But…” She blinked. “You keep saying them to me, every time we're together. Clark, why on earth would you want to bond with me? It doesn’t make any sense.”

“Actually, it makes a lot of sense, Chlo. I can’t imagine anyone I’d rather be bonded with.”

She pushed away the warmth that bloomed in her at his softly uttered words and answered caustically. “Says the man who proposed to Lana Lang a couple of months back.”

He sighed. “I’m never going to hear the end of that, am I?”

“Probably not.” She shook her head, and her long bangs fell into her eyes. She impatiently shoved them back. “Look, Clark, the thing is… we’re not dating.”

“And yet I’m lying naked on your bed.”

“Okay. Maybe we’re sort of involved. But I really think two people should date for quite a while before they… bond.”

“Yeah. Me too, actually.” He did the unfocused thing again. “Kryptonians thought so, too. And they never bonded this young, anyway. I don’t get it, Chlo. According to the information I was downloaded with, I ought to be like, uh, maybe twenty-seven in Earth years before I get the biological desire even to start trying to life-bond.”

“It’s a biological thing?”

He nodded, still staring at nothing. “Yeah, it’s like a compulsion to find the one person your soul fits and bond with her.”

The way he’d reacted to her touch when she’d found him imprisoned by Moira Redburn suddenly came back to her. “The red K,” she said. “It must have done something to your body, Clark. Kickstarted your bonding biology somehow.”

His eyes suddenly came back into focus, and he gazed up at her, looking startled. “I think maybe you’re right.”

“Great,” she said, feeling stupid. She’d let herself believe Clark was attracted to her, when in fact she’d just been the nearest available female for him to bond with. “Nice to know it’s just a biological thing.”

“It’s more than that, Chlo. It has to do with sex, but it has to do with love, too. Like I said, it’s about finding the one person your soul fits. I think that’s what the Kryptonian word means, anyway. It definitely didn’t have to do with having sex with the first woman you encountered, anyway.”

“Maybe that’s true for most Kryptonians,” she answered bitterly, “but obviously the red K screwed up your biology a bit, Clark. You just went for the nearest available female. The only available female. Me.”

He sat up and stared at her, his sea-green eyes intense. “Why do you assume you couldn’t possibly be the one person who fits me, Chloe?”

“You’ve known me for years, Clark,” she said. Her voice broke a little, but she kept on, struggling to hold herself together. “You’ve never seen me as anything other than a friend."

"That's actually not entirely true."

"Yes, it is. You’ve been chasing Lana all this time."

"Yeah, because she made me feel normal, Chloe. I don't think I was really in love with her. I just liked the way I felt when I was around her. She made me feel like an ordinary guy. That's all."

Chloe sniffled. "If Lana had been with you when you were injected, you would have gone for her. That's obvious.”

“You're wrong,” he said firmly. He cupped his hand around her chin with exaggerated care, tilted her face up, and looked into her eyes. “Lana didn't fit me, Chlo, because she wouldn't have ever accepted me for what I am. Lana and I would never have fitted together. You and I both know that."

Chloe nodded slightly. She did know that. She knew Lana well enough to know she'd never be happy with someone as fundamentally different as Clark.

"But you've always accepted me," he said softly. "Ever since you've known about me. Even before. You always took the weirder things about me in stride."

He took a deep breath, still looking deeply into her eyes, and spoke very quietly, in an intense whisper.

"So I think... I think that no matter who else had been there when I was injected, I would have wanted you. Because you’re the one who fits me, Chlo. You're the one who fits my soul.”

Read Chapter 7 here.

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