Saturday, December 30, 2006
I Open My Eyes
Season 4, during "Recruit"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
I open my eyes
I try to see but I’m blinded by the white light...
- Simple Plan, "Untitled"
"I'm not going to Met U, Chloe."
Clark Kent had shocked me before. I'd recently seen him catch a car in midair, and that had freaked me out as much as it was possible to freak out a reporter who wrote about meteor mutants on a regular basis, and who collected clippings of the strange and bizarre. But this softly voiced statement stunned me just about as much as the car-catching incident.
"What? What happened?" I cut in front of him, forcing him to a stop in the middle of the crowded hallway. We were between classes in Smallville High, and I wondered if maybe I'd misheard him over all the noise, because he'd just gone to Met U this past weekend, and I could tell he'd adored the place from everything he'd told me about it. I lifted an eyebrow and looked up at him. "Did some other school swoop down and offer you the keys to the kingdom or something?"
"No." He shook his head, looking solemn. "I'm not playing football anymore. I turned down my scholarship."
Since he'd spent the past six months as Smallville High's star quarterback, taking the team all the way to the state championship, this was a truly shocking declaration. With rumpled, coffee-brown hair shadowing his green eyes, his big shoulders stretching the seams of an old flannel shirt, and a tattered red bookbag slung over his back, Clark looked like an ordinary guy-- a very good-looking guy, admittedly, but nonetheless just a normal Kansas farmboy. No one but me knew that he had superpowers that enabled him to run so fast he looked like a blur, and strength so great that he could catch an airborne car as casually as the rest of us might catch a baseball.
I was pretty sure he'd never used his powers to cheat out on the football field, because Clark wasn't that kind of guy. But even so, I knew that it wasn't really fair for him to play with normal humans.
Apparently he'd figured that out as well.
"Let me get this straight," I said, trying to make sure I wasn't misunderstanding him. "You were offered a free ride, with chrome wheels, to your dream college, to play the game you love... and you turned it down?"
"Well, you know..." He shrugged, like it was no big deal, and offered me a slight, wry smile. "I'm just not sure football is my calling."
That was the moment I fell totally, completely, and irrevocably in love with Clark Kent. I'd seen him do a lot of heroic things-- in fact, he'd appointed himself the unofficial hero of Smallville, and he'd saved an awful lot of people. Including me, more than once. But all his heroic acts hadn't impressed me as much as that one single sentence.
I felt like my eyes had just been opened, letting me see him for the very first time. I'd known him for years, but he'd never done anything that impressed me so much. He loved playing football, he enjoyed being a big man on campus, and he needed a scholarship if he was going to get into a decent college... and yet he was walking away from football, simply because he knew it was the right thing to do.
I knew as well as anyone that the Kents weren't rich, any more than my family was. In fact, their hundred-acre farm barely made enough money to let them scrape by. For Clark to pass up a free scholarship-- well, it was the right thing to do, but it was nevertheless a huge sacrifice.
"I'm proud of you, Clark," I said softly.
He blinked at me. "Proud of me? Why?"
I shook my head, unable to explain fully without letting on how much I knew about him. At last I said softly, "I just think you're destined to do a lot more in this world than score touchdowns."
And it was true. I didn't understand why some people in Smallville had gotten meteor powers when the meteors hit, while many more remained normal. I didn't understand why Clark had been gifted with more extensive powers than most people who'd been affected by the meteors. And I didn't understand why Clark was a good, decent, heroic guy, while so many meteor freaks had become deranged or outright psychotic. But I had a conviction that there was a reason for it all.
Clark, I thought, had been put on this earth for a reason.
And whatever that reason was, it didn't involve wearing a letter jacket. He was meant for something a lot bigger than that.
"Chloe," he said, narrowing his eyes. "You've said a lot of weird things to me lately. Is there something you're not telling me?"
You mean that I know you're a meteor freak and you have powers the rest of us can only dream of? Or the fact that I just realized I'm hopelessly in love with you?
It didn't matter, really. Because neither of those confessions was coming out of my mouth today. Some things are better not said in the midst of a swarming, noisy mass of teenagers, or when you know you're about to be late for your next class.
Heedless of the fact that the bell was about to ring, I looked up at the tall boy standing in front of me-- a boy who could use his powers to do just about anything he wanted. A boy who could rob banks, or cheat in Vegas, and become fabulously wealthy. A boy who could physically force anyone to do anything he wanted.
A boy who only used his incredible powers to help people.
I knew this choice hadn't been an easy one for him. He loved football, and he must have hated giving it up. Given what I knew about Clark, I knew that he could go on to the NFL and become the most famous quarterback of all time if he wanted to. And I was sure that part of him wanted to.
But I was glad he'd realized that wasn't the right thing to do. That playing football wasn't his destiny.
I realized he was still waiting for an answer to his question, so I gave him my most innocent smile. "No, I don't think so. Why?"
"I just don't understand why you think I'm destined to do anything."
I looked up into his honest, gentle eyes and knew he wasn't a boy any longer, but a man, willing to sacrifice what he wanted in order to do what he knew was right. He was the man I'd love till the day I died.
I smiled at him.
"Just a hunch," I said.
Posted by Meg at 6:11 PM