Season 5, following my story "Never Let Me Go"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
She was lying on the floor of her dorm room, a gaping hole in her chest, a dark pool of blood spreading out beneath her. Clark felt fury and fear flame to life inside him. Damn it, this was his fault. He'd left her. He'd known he shouldn't leave her alone, not even for a microsecond, but he'd let her talk him into going back to Smallville, and now...
A fraction of a second later he was kneeling next to her, his fingers checking her pulse, even though he already knew what he'd find. His superhearing had already told him her heartbeat was fading.
A second later, her pulse was gone.
He wanted to scoop her up in his arms and take her to the nearest hospital, but the hole in her chest told him it was fruitless. She was quite dead, her heart and lungs mangled beyond repair, and nothing on Earth could bring her back.
He knelt next to her and stared at her in shock, unable to grasp how this could have happened. Last night they'd made love, celebrating their escape from Milton Fine's clutches, rejoicing in the unbreakable bond between them. This morning he'd gone home to Smallville to take care of the farm chores, leaving her to work on a paper she was writing. While he was feeding the cattle, he'd heard her heartbeat speed up, and suddenly he'd known through the bond that bound them that something was very wrong.
He'd supersped back to Metropolis and found her dead on the industrial tile floor in her dorm room.
"Chloe," he whispered, grief strangling him. "Chlo."
It hurt to know he'd failed her. He remembered the words of the Kryptonian life-bonding ceremony to her, the words he'd uttered the night they'd bonded:
I will always come to you
Protect you from danger
Guard you from enemies
Be there for you.
But despite the promise he'd made that night, he hadn't been there to protect her from danger, or guard her from enemies. He'd come for her... but too late. Pain swelled in his chest, and tears choked him.
She'd trusted him, and he'd failed her.
"If you want her back," a voice said behind him, "you'll release Zod."
Clark twisted his head around and looked back over his shoulder. The AI that called itself Milton Fine was standing there, smirking at him. Clark had seen the AI die yesterday, but he'd learned the hard way that killing a self-replicating robot was harder than one might imagine.
"She's already dead," he said hoarsely. "You killed her."
"Appearances can be deceiving," Fine said. "There is a way to get her back. But you must release Zod first."
Bitter anger swelled within him. Chloe had died because a goddamned soulless robot couldn't give up the battle to free its master and take over Earth. She'd died, a pawn in a power struggle she had nothing to do with, just so Fine could pressure him.
In that moment he hated Fine like he'd never hated anyone in his lifetime. He came to his feet, instinctively going into superspeed, and lunged for the robot in a burst of angry hatred. His momentum carried them straight through the foot-thick cinderblock wall as if it were paper, and they plummeted to earth, falling on the grass outside.
The last time they'd fought, Fine had pretty much kicked Clark's ass. But this time Clark had anger and hatred driving him, fueling his already substantial Kryptonian strength. He grasped the robot's head in his hands and twisted hard, and the robot simply came apart in his hands, its head snapping off as if it were a Barbie and he were a destructive preschooler. He flung the head away and glared down at the body, which was still spasmodically twitching.
He could feel his lips curled back from his teeth in a primitive snarl of rage. Intellectually, he knew that "killing" Fine didn't really mean he was dead, but he'd gotten a certain measure of satisfaction from destroying the machine.
But he couldn't bring Chloe back. She was still dead.
His snarl faded, and he sighed heavily and started to get to his feet. As he did so, he noticed there was a purple crystal clutched in the AI's hand.
A slight hope lit in his mind as he remembered the words the AI had taunted him with: There is a way to get her back.
Kryptonian technology was based heavily on crystals called sunstones. Clark had changed time once before with a purple crystal Fine had given him. Admittedly, he'd almost destroyed the space-time continuum in the process, and he'd been very, very lucky to manage to restore things back to their original state. And for all he knew, this was a totally different crystal with an entirely different function. Kryptonian crystals all looked alike to him.
But it couldn't hurt to see what this particular crystal could accomplish.
He reached for the crystal, but hesitated, suddenly aware of a high-pitched noise of electronic feedback. The robot's body was emitting a horrible squealing noise that hurt his sensitive ears. Clark was pretty sure it was about to self-destruct. He'd seen it happen before.
He grabbed for the crystal, trying to get it before it blew up, along with Fine. His hand touched it, and then there was a burst of light, and a deafening explosion that sounded like a thunderclap.
He flew backward, slamming hard into the ground, and that was the last thing he knew.
Read Chapter 3 here.