Monday, January 29, 2007

What's Left of Me


Clark/Chloe futurefic
2800 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.

Sequel to Exiled.

Now I'm broken
And I'm faded
I'm half the man I thought I would be
But you can have what's left of me...
Take what's left of this man
Make me whole once again
-Nick Lachey, "What's Left of Me"
Powered Down, Part 2

"Goddamn it!"

Clark Kent threw the toast he'd just pulled out of the toaster against the wall. A small hand dropped gently onto his shoulderblade in a reassuring gesture. He wore nothing besides a pair of sweatpants, and ordinarily the feel of his wife's hand against his bare skin might have turned him on, but right now he was too pissed to feel aroused.

"What did the bread do to you, Clark?"

"I can't get the toaster to work right. I keep burning the bread." He spoke in an angry snarl, aware that he was overreacting but not caring much. "I hate this, Chlo. I hate being without my powers. I wish I had my heat vision back."

"Maybe it's just me," Chloe Sullivan Kent said, with commendable patience, "but I'm thinking the inability to toast bread with your eyes isn't that big a deal."

"I've been toasting bread that way for almost fifteen years. I just don't know how to use the fucking toaster."

At his uncharacteristic expletive, Chloe looked up at him. She wore an emerald-green robe, and her long blonde hair fell over the green terrycloth in a golden cascade. Her dark eyebrows arched like question marks. "What's really bugging you, Clark?"

He looked away from her straightforward hazel eyes. "Everything," he said in a low voice.

"That's a pretty broad statement," she answered, echoing what she told him when she was editing one of his articles for him. Her mantra was always the same: Make it specific. "Could you narrow it down, do you think?"

He walked over to the expansive window and gazed out. He missed Metropolis, so badly that his chest ached. He missed the familiar tall buildings and the bustling streets that he loved. When he'd lost his superpowers in a battle with Darkseid, he'd run away to Gotham City. Chloe had found him there, living in an alley, and encouraged him to take up training with Bruce Wayne, so that he could begin again as a hero.

He'd intended to go home, but Bruce had suggested he start training right away, so they'd become temporary residents of Gotham. He and Chloe both wrote for the Daily Planet in Metropolis, but he'd decided to take leave while he trained. Their editor Perry was willing to let Chloe stay here for a while, as long as she continued turning out stories on a regular basis.

While he trained with Bruce, he and Chloe were staying in an enormous Gotham hotel owned by Wayne Enterprises. The suite of rooms they'd been provided with were extravagant but sterile, nothing like their home, a high-ceilinged, funky apartment cluttered with books and CDs and newspaper clippings. And from here all he could see were dingy, drab buildings, and the smoggy gray sky that always seemed to hang ominously over Gotham.

He didn't like Gotham. It was dark and depressing and violent, and he couldn't separate it in his mind from the loss of his powers. He wanted to go home.

"Bruce keeps wiping the floor with me," he said softly. He kept looking out the window, because it was so much easier than looking at her. "He's kicked my ass every single day for the past two weeks."

Her bare feet padded toward him, and then she placed a comforting hand on his shoulder again. "Bruce has years of hand-to-hand fighting experience, Clark. You've only been doing this for a couple of weeks. Of course he's better at it than you."

"I just don't think I have any talent for it." He let some of the fears out, because talking to Chloe always helped him deal with his problems. They'd been married for eight years, and they'd been the best of friends for years before that. "I've had superstrength and superspeed since I was a kid, and I can't get over thinking that I ought to be able to move faster than I can, or hit harder. It screws up my reflexes."

"You'll develop new reflexes."

"How do you know? I'm thirty, Chlo. That's kind of old to be learning new tricks. Maybe I should just give this up as a stupid idea and just resign myself to being a plain old journalist."

"And maybe you should give it longer than two weeks before you give up. It's not like you to be a quitter, Clark."

He lowered his head and stared at the expensive, bland carpeting. "It's not like me to be without my powers, either," he said softly. "I don't feel like myself. I'm not Superman anymore. I'm just plain old Clark Kent, OrdinaryMan. And it sucks."

"Look..." She sounded slightly impatient. "Your powers aren't coming back. And you yourself said you didn't want to be just a journalist. If you want to be a hero, Clark, you have to put the work in. That means letting Bruce wipe the floor with you until you learn to defend yourself."

He rounded on her suddenly. "And how many people are going to die in Metropolis while I learn?" he demanded. "How long is it going to take? Six months? A year? By the time I can put on a new costume, how many people will have died that I should have saved?"

"What do you want to do, Clark?" Her voice was beginning to sound shrill. "Just put on a costume and go out on the streets, without any training in self-defense? A costume doesn't make a hero, and you know it. You'll get yourself killed, and you might get someone else killed, too."

"I know that, damn it!" He glared into her eyes. "But Metropolis is my city. I should be there, saving people who need saving. I can't do a damn thing for anyone, and it's making me crazy."

She swallowed, pushing back her irritation with a visible effort, then reached up a hand and cupped his cheek. "You have to be patient, Clark. I know you're not used to having to work for things, especially physical things. But without your powers, you're not going to become a black belt overnight. It takes a lot of time and effort to learn this stuff."

He closed his eyes and reached up blindly, putting his hand over hers and squeezing gently. She went on, "Anyway, Nightwing and Wonder Woman and some others are keeping their eyes on Metropolis until you can get back to your old beat. So quit worrying so hard. Your city is in good hands."

He opened his eyes and stared at her. "It's my responsibility," he whispered. "I should be there."

"You can't be, Clark." She gazed into his eyes and spoke with gentle affection. "Right now, you need to be here. This is your job-- hero-in-training. So suck it up and do what you need to do."

He gazed at her for a long moment, then lowered his head and kissed her. He meant it as a gentle expression of affection, but the overpowering physical need he always felt for Chloe hit him. Seconds later the kiss had grown deeper, and his arms slid around her in a desperate embrace.

He whispered her name against her lips, then untied the sash of her robe and shoved it off her. It fell to the floor in a puddle of emerald terrycloth, and he discovered that beneath it she was entirely nude. He uttered a long groan of need, but she tried to pull away from him.

"Clark." She sounded scandalized. "We're in front of a window."

"No one can see in when it's light outside," he said reasonably. "There's a lot more privacy here than when you made love to me in that alley."

"I wish you'd quit bringing that up." Her cheeks flushed. "I hadn't seen you in a while. I was desperate."

"Now I'm desperate." He pulled her back against him. Her breasts felt smooth and hot against the bare skin of his chest, and lust rolled over him in a wave. He went partway to his knees and began kissing her rigid, swollen nipple. She whimpered.

"Clark."

"God, you taste good," he muttered. She'd just come out of the shower, and she smelled like the vanilla soap she always used, the same soap she'd used since she was a teenager. It was the scent he associated with her, a fragrance that made him think of love and comfort and reassurance.
And friendship. After all these years, Chloe was still his best friend.

He drew her nipple into his mouth and sucked on it hard, and her hands dug into his hair. He wanted to do this for hours, but he could feel his already sore legs starting to ache. Now that he'd lost his powers, he was no longer capable of holding awkward positions for hours on end, so he dropped to the floor and pulled her into his lap.

His hand moved up, cupping her breast and teasing her nipple, and he lowered his head and kissed her again, a long, violent kiss that plainly said everything he felt for her. All of a sudden the sweat pants he wore felt too tight, so he reached down and shoved blindly at them, getting them and his boxers out of the way. His erection sprang free, and she reached down and wrapped a hand around him. He moaned.

"You still feel like steel," she whispered, stroking her hand up and down. "You feel so good, Clark."

Her hand felt good, too, so good that he couldn't seem to find an answer. He wrote for a living, but right now there were no words in his head at all, just need and desire and sheer physical want. He dropped his head back, and she kissed his throat, then shoved gently at his chest. He went over without argument, falling back onto the beige carpet. She straddled him, his cock still in her hand, and guided him into her body.

She was already hot and wet, and a little sound of pleasure escaped him. He'd hardly made love to her since he'd started training with Bruce, because every night he came back to the hotel sore and tired, every muscle in his body aching. He hadn't realized how much he'd missed it. How much he'd missed her.

The desire to be closer to her, to be as much a part of her as possible, compelled him to move against her. His hips flexed and he slid more deeply into her, his spine arching in helpless response.

"Chloe," he whispered. "Oh, Chlo..."

She bent forward and began brushing kisses over his throat. "I love you," she whispered.

His throat suddenly went tight, because he still couldn't quite believe he deserved her love. She'd married Superman, the superhuman hero of Metropolis, and now she was married to Clark Kent, unremarkable reporter and Kansas farmboy. An ordinary guy wasn't what she'd signed up for, and he couldn't help but worry she didn't love him quite the way she had before.

"I love you too," he answered softly. "But I don't deserve you, Chlo. I'm not good enough..."

"Of course you are." She lifted her head and kissed him full on the lips. "No matter what powers you have or don't have, no matter what you do, no matter what you call yourself... you're the man I love."

The simple adoration in her voice struck straight to his soul. He'd felt like half a man since he'd lost his powers, but suddenly he felt that maybe he wasn't as insignificant, as irrelevant, as he secretly feared he was.

He couldn't save the people of Metropolis right now, but at least he was important to Chloe.

He groaned and thrust more deeply into her, wanting to be part of her forever. They brushed kisses over each other's skin and whispered soft words of love, and their bodies moved together for a long time, in a smooth, gentle motion, as if they were one person, as if they shared one mind and soul and body.

Pleasure built inside him slowly but surely, becoming almost painfully intense. At last he couldn't stand it any longer, and his hips jerked as he moved in her harder and faster. She whimpered, her body squeezing his, and he opened his eyes and watched through heavy lids as she threw back her head. Her eyes clenched shut and her face contorted with pleasure, and she called out his name as she climaxed.

Watching her coming was so powerfully erotic that he couldn't hold back any longer. He thrust into her harder, ecstasy exploding inside him. Something inside him shattered into a million pieces... and somehow emerged whole.

Afterward, she lay on top of him, pressing kisses against his chest. He thought he'd be happy to lie there with her forever, but after a few minutes he opened his eyes and frowned at a peculiar sensation in his left arm.

"Hey," he said. "I'm not sure, but I think you're putting my arm to sleep."

She rolled off, sprawling on the carpet next to him, and grinned. "There's something you've never said to me before."

He shook his arm, bewildered by the odd prickling. "That feels really weird."

"It's something you're going to have to get used to. Like a lot of other things, I guess."

"Yeah." He turned his head, so that their noses were only an inch or so apart, and looked into her eyes. "Look, Chlo, I'm really sorry I freaked out on you earlier."

"It's okay. You're going through an awful lot right now, Clark. And that's what I'm here for, to help."

He inclined his head another inch, so that their noses bumped, and rubbed his nose against hers. "I just don't know if this is ever going to feel normal."

"It will," she said softly. "One day you'll wake up, and your first thought won't be about everything you've lost. It'll be about everything you still have."

"I hope you're right."

"I'm always right." She grinned. "I thought we established that a long time ago."

He returned her grin, then glanced at the clock on the mantel. "Oh, hell, I'm going to be late. Bruce is going to kick the shit out of me. More so than usual, I mean."

"You'd better get going," she said. "The last thing you want is to piss Bruce off. I have a story to type up for Perry, anyway. We both have work to do."

We both have work to do. The words echoed in his head as he got to his feet, pulled up his pants, and headed for the bedroom of their suite to find some clothes. Just another day in the life of Clark Kent, OrdinaryMan, he thought wryly.

But as he pulled on some loose clothing, he found himself smiling a little. Because Chloe was right. He had work to do. And even though it frustrated the hell out of him that was so difficult to learn, and that it was going to take so damn long, he knew it was important, because that work would eventually lead to him being able to protect the city that depended on him.

He might never be the hero he'd been before, but he was okay with that. What mattered was that he'd be able to save people. That was all he'd ever wanted to do, and he was pretty sure it was the reason he'd been sent to Earth. With his powers or without, he wanted to save people. He needed to save people. There were simply too many people on this planet in danger for him to give up hero work.

He kissed Chloe goodbye and headed out the door for another day of having his ass whipped.

The summer heat was already oppressive, even though it wasn't yet eight o'clock, and he felt sweat beginning to drip down his back. He stood on the sidewalk and hailed a taxi. One pulled up to the curb, and as he stepped toward it, the gray smog parted overhead, and the sun broke through. For just a moment, the sun glinting on the glass buildings reminded him of Metropolis, and home. He dropped into the back set of the taxi, smiling.

Soon, he thought. Someday soon we'll go back to Metropolis. Someday soon I'll be able to put on a new costume and help people. Soon.

The thought made him feel whole again.

-The End-
Read the sequel, On Your Own.

5 comments:

SelfAppointedCritic said...

*Yay!* You spoil me truly Elly! I was hoping for a sequel and here it is! Happily bouncing off to read....

Elly said...

Yes, I blame you *frowns sternly at SelfAppointed*. I never had any intention of continuing this, but you put the plot bunny into my head...

Amber said...

Awesome sequel to "Exiled" (Which I also Loved!) Elly!!!!! It was Very Emotional, but Really Hot and Very Loving too!!!!! Awesome Job as usual!!!!! And as Always I could really feel Clark's emotions, and Chloe's too!!!! And their love for one another!!!!! Keep up the Awesome work Elly, and Take Care!
Your Faithful Fan,
Amber

SelfAppointedCritic said...

Sorry Elly!(hangs head yet can't quite hide her grin...)But look at how fantastic it turned out! Once again, you developed both characters beautifully, and both of their attitudes are so dead on. Mopey Clark and Ever-supportive Chloe? Plus, getting trained by Bruce--complete with a daily ass-kicking? PURE GOLD. Truly, what a perfect sequel to Exile! I tell you Elly, you write Chlark stories so exquisitely--they always reflect such a deep level of tenderness between them, I'll never tire of it. Not to mention the fact there's always a unique "Elly-Element" found in all your stories. In this case, I must give you huge props for Clark's first experience with his arm falling asleep. So funny! Its the little details like this that make enjoyment of your writing all that much more rewarding. Thanks so much for all your hard work!

BloodSugar said...

Lovely.
More powerless Clark and awesome hard Chlark sex.
Lovely. <3