Friday, November 17, 2006

Let Me In, Chapter 1

Chapter 2
Chapter 3

Season 6, end of "Static"
7000 words
Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.

"So, what? Your cell phone doesn't get reception in Seattle?"

At the sharp words, Clark Kent turned from his morose contemplation of the fields of Kent Farm. His friend Chloe Sullivan was stalking toward him across his loft, her eyes narrowed in annoyance.

"Sorry," he answered. "I was... preoccupied."

"That's fine," she said, stopping a bare foot away from him and looking up, straight into his eyes. She'd apparently come from work, because she was dressed in a suit, her dark gold hair pulled back in a professional style. "But it wasn't a social visit, Clark. You were up against a scary visitor from another planet. I was worried."

At the real concern in her wide eyes, guilt filled him. He hadn't meant to worry her. "Sorry," he said sincerely. "I didn't mean to scare you."

At his apology, she smiled slightly, letting him off the hook. "So was the crystal a success?"

He thought about the way the huge alien had grabbed him and slung him around like a rag doll, remembered how helpless he'd been, and pain and anger rose up inside his chest, so sharp it hurt. "No," he said shortly, turning away from her and walking restlessly across the loft. "It wasn't."

"Did the Zoner just decide to pack up and leave the Solar System?"

She was trying to keep it light, but beneath the words he could hear the worry in her tone. He was obviously freaking her out with his terse, clipped answers. He didn't mean to, but he just couldn't seem to form coherent sentences right now. He shook his head, struggling to find words.

"Someone else killed him," he answered. "Someone with some pretty scary powers. Someone who can do things I can only... dream of."

"Whoa." She walked toward him and looked up at him again, her eyes alight with interest. "So this someone-- he's on our side, right?"

"Uh..." He thought about the glimpse of the entity he'd seen, its eerie, inhuman glowing eyes, and the way it had sailed up into the air and flown away. It had saved him, but that wasn't proof it was one of the good guys. And if it wasn't, well... the world could be in serious trouble. "To be honest, I'm not sure."

She scowled, apparently realizing he was keeping some thoughts to himself. "Clark," she said, "it's me. Your most trusted friend and secret keeper. How about a few details?"

He looked down into her eyes, seeing the affection and understanding there. She'd seen plenty of violence in her short life, but he knew she'd never seen anything as awful as what that Zoner had done to twenty-three humans. God knew he hadn't.

Just the thought of talking about everything he'd seen in the past day made his stomach roil. And he knew she couldn't really understand the sense of guilt that oppressed him, or the pain he felt at knowing that he'd almost failed in his mission.

The fact that he'd come within an inch of being killed wasn't what was bothering him. He didn't welcome the thought of death any more than anyone else did, but far worse than his near brush with death was his failure to stop the Zoner. If it weren't for the mysterious entity who'd saved him, the Zoner would have killed him and gone on his way, continuing to rip innocent people to pieces, continuing to reduce humans to lifeless globs of flesh. He'd been totally unable to stop the Zoner, and that knowledge weighed on him like a stone.

But he couldn't lay all that onto Chloe. He just couldn't.

He was pretty sure he'd have nightmares about what he'd experienced for months. Chloe didn't need to share his nightmares.

He turned away from her open, honest eyes. "Believe it or not," he said, his voice terse and clipped, "there are things you don't need to know about."

"Clark." She was beginning to sound impatient. "I understand that you feel like these psychopathic space invaders are all your fault, but you can't keep all this inside."

Part of him wanted to talk about all the horrors he'd seen, so badly he could barely choke the words back. But he figured keeping it inside was better than loading it onto her. This wasn't her problem, or her nightmare. It was his.

"Look," she said, and he could hear her footsteps approaching, her work shoes clicking lightly against the rough wooden planks of the floor. "I get it, really. You feel the need to carry the world on your shoulders, and that's noble. But there are other people out there who want to help you fight the good fight... and you need to let them in. Because sometimes even heroes need to be saved."

The gentle, understanding words made his eyes sting, and he blinked hard. She hesitated, obviously waiting for him to say something, but he couldn't force out any words past the tightness in his throat. At last he heard a little exhalation, an impatient sigh, and she turned and stalked toward the staircase. She had obviously decided to leave him alone with his thoughts for now.

All of a sudden he didn't want her to leave. In fact, the idea of being alone, with graphic and horrifying images playing over and over again in his head, scared the hell out of him. He felt like a little kid, afraid of the dark, afraid of the monsters under the bed. He had the irrational conviction that if she left him alone, the monsters would jump out and grab him.

"Chloe," he whispered.

His voice was very soft, but she apparently heard it, because she paused. Then her footsteps came toward him, and her small hand closed around his upper arm in a familiar, comforting gesture.

"Tell me what happened," she said gently. "Let me in, Clark."

"I just..." He wanted to turn around and look at her, but he thought her sympathetic eyes might make him cry, and he didn't want to collapse into tears in front of her. He might be one seriously freaked out Kryptonian, but he still had his masculine pride, and he was damned if he was going to break down and sob like a baby.

He sifted through everything that had happened, trying to find a reasonable starting place. Something that would make sense to her. It wasn't easy, because the horrible images were at the forefront of his brain, and he really couldn't think about much else.

"I went to Seattle to try to track down the Zoner," he said at last, remembering the advice on writing Chloe had offered when he'd worked at the Torch: When in doubt, begin at the beginning. "I found the coroner examining the bodies."

"Was she willing to talk to you about them?"

He shrugged. "I may have given her the impression I was the med student she was waiting for."

He heard the slightest suggestion of a laugh. "Good work. You're learning."

"Anyway. The bodies." He swallowed, trying to keep his stomach under control. He hadn't seen the remains, but his hyperacute sense of smell had been overwhelmed by the horrible stench of death and blood and carnage. "They were in... bags."

"I think it's pretty standard to put corpses into body bags, Clark."

"No. Not body bags." A surge of nausea threatened him, and he swallowed hard, trying to push it back. He turned around and faced her. "Bags this size."

He held out his hands, about ten inches apart, and she frowned, puzzled.

"I don't understand."

"That was all that was left." His voice was a hoarse whisper. "When the Zoner was done with them, I mean. That was all he left behind. He was... feeding off their bones, Chlo."

Her eyes went wide. "Oh, my God."

"I saw one of the bodies... on the docks." He spoke slowly and painfully. "And it looked like..." He discovered he didn't have words to describe the pitiful mass of misshapen flesh that had once been a human, but he tried again anyway. "It was just..."

His voice trailed off, and she lifted her hand, stroking his hair. He closed his eyes, taking a small measure of comfort from her touch. "I'm sorry," she said softly. "But it's not your fault, Clark."

"It is my fault. I released them. And I couldn't even begin to stop this one, Chlo. I tried, but he was stronger than I am, and a whole lot meaner. He would have killed me if I hadn't been... rescued. And then..."

And then the Zoner would have gone on, taking innocent life after innocent life, with absolutely no one to stop him. The thought gave him a cold chill.

"He sounds like a really scary one," she said softly. "But he's dead, Clark. Even if you weren't the one to stop him, he's not a threat any more."

He closed his eyes and tried to find reassurance in her words, but he couldn't. He couldn't even really explain the rest of what was bothering him. He'd unleashed an evil worse than he'd ever imagined existed, an evil that didn't hesitate to kill sentient beings horribly, without remorse or apology. He'd released the evil right here on the planet he wanted so badly to protect.

And then he'd utterly failed to protect his adopted world.

And now there was something else running around loose on the planet, something he'd very likely released from the Phantom Zone as well. It was clearly more powerful than he was, and he had no way of knowing if it was malicious or benevolent. It had saved him, but that didn't prove its intentions were pure.

And if it turned out to be evil, like most of the other Zoners, how the hell was he going to stop it?

Fear for the people he loved, the planet he loved, rose up inside him, strangling him. She looked into his eyes, apparently reading the anguish there, and reached up to wrap her arms around his shoulders. His arms went around her waist, and he bowed his head, pressing his face against her hair, a little moan of misery escaping his throat.

"Easy, Clark," she said softly. "It'll be all right. Everything will be okay."

He tightened his arms around her and clung to her, breathing harshly, as some of the fear drained from him. He knew that was irrational, because a tiny human female couldn't protect him from the evils of the world. But her touch reassured him somehow, a reminder that everything in the world wasn't horrific and frightening and evil.

He stood there a long time, his arms around her waist and his face in her hair, drawing strength and comfort and reassurance from her. Letting her in.

Read Chapter 2 here.


sally said...

Awe. So nice. I like how you dealt with all of his fear. And letting Chloe in. Good job.

Anonymous said...

that was perfect! a much better ending than what we had to watch last night
*sigh* why can't you write for smallville?
can't wait to read what comes next ;)


SelfAppointedCritic said...

Your amazing Elly; please never stop writing! I swear, if it wasn't for your skillful story telling; by either describing events as they could (should) have been or creating a backstory to supplement the gaping lack the SV writers most often leave us to deal with, I'd find it much more difficult to deal with the frequent disappointments I've been experiencing with season 6. Take a bow Elly! Looking forward to the next update to this story.

blackheart_me said...

WONDERFUL START! I love how she's stubborn but at the same time gives him his space. She wants to b let in but also leaves it to him to say something...okay so that's normal but yeah :P LOL. love how she also brings him comfort. Exactly how u put it in the last lines. Lovely.