Thursday, March 29, 2007
No One Left to Fight, Chapter 1
Manip by Khyla. Used with permission of the artist.
Season 6, "Combat"
Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
The worst is over now and we can breathe again
I wanna hold you high, you steal my pain away
There’s so much left to learn, and no one left to fight
I wanna hold you high and steal your pain
'Cause I’m broken when I’m open
And I don’t feel like I am strong enough
'Cause I’m broken when I’m lonesome
And I don’t feel right when you’re gone away
"I killed him, Chloe."
Clark Kent spoke in a low voice, but he knew Chloe would hear him. She always did. He stared out into the darkness beyond his loft window, waiting to hear her voice. There was a long silence on the other end of the phone.
"Okay," she said at last. "I'm coming over."
"You don't have to do that. I'm fine."
"Crap." He could hear the familiar impatience in her tone. "You're upset. I can hear it."
"I'm fine. I told you earlier that I was going to kill him."
"But you didn't really mean it. You didn't really want to. Did you?"
Clark closed his eyes, reliving the awful moment when the big Zoner-- Titan-- had fallen on the long bone spike protruding from his own wrist. The unpleasant truth was, Clark had kind of enjoyed beating the hell out of the guy. He'd been walking around with a chip on his shoulder for a while, and violence helped him feel a little better, helped him forget what was bothering him. He'd even thought he might enjoy killing the guy. But when he'd realized the guy was actually dead--
"I didn't have any choice." His voice sounded rough, and he hoped she wouldn't notice. But she probably would, because Chloe Sullivan was an investigative reporter at heart, and she noticed everything. And they'd been friends forever, so she knew him all too well. "He was killing people, Chlo. A lot of people. And he wasn't a phantom, so I couldn't put him into the crystal. I didn't have any choice but to kill him."
"I understand that," she said. He heard the sound of an engine rumbling, and realized she'd already scrambled into her little blue Yaris. That was Chloe all over. When he needed her, she was there. Even if he didn't want to admit he needed her. "But you didn't want to have to kill him. I know you well enough to be certain of that, Clark."
He remembered the way it felt to beat the shit out of the guy, the feeling of fierce satisfaction it had given him. "I kind of liked hitting him, Chlo."
"I'm not surprised by that, actually. You've had kind of an attitude lately. You've been beating up on the meteor infected, too. What's up with that?"
He opened his eyes and blinked into the darkness. "How did you know about that?"
"Clark." Her voice went wry. "I write for the Daily Planet, remember? I've covered a bunch of those stories myself. And I'm not so stupid I can't look at the facts and put things together. A bunch of meteor freaks have been rounded up recently, and I know you're the one who's been rounding them up. But why are you being so violent about it?"
"They're meteor freaks," he said shortly.
"I'm a meteor freak," she replied, her voice soft.
"We don't know that." His tone was sharper than he intended. "You haven't shown any signs of it. Just because Tobias thought you were infected..."
"I'm a meteor freak, Clark. One of these days, my evil powers will manifest, and you'll have to beat the hell out of me, too."
She spoke lightly, but her words echoed his deepest, darkest fear. He closed his eyes, feeling a kind of numb despair.
"That's not funny, Chlo."
"I guess not." She was silent for a moment, and he listened more carefully, activating his superhearing. Now he could hear her engine on the phone as an echo of the sound of her car coming up the road. Smallville was aptly named, and it wasn't far from her apartment on Main Street to the Kent farm. He thought she was about a half mile away, and a sensation of relief spilled through him. He really needed to talk to her. To see her. To have her reassure him that everything would be okay.
Except he'd killed a guy, so everything wouldn't be okay. He wasn't sure he'd ever be able to get past that. And even worse, his best friend was meteor infected, and one of these days he might wind up having to hurt her, too.
He might even have to kill her.
The thought sent a bolt of sheer panic through him. His knees went weak, and he staggered over to his old, ratty couch and collapsed onto it.
"I wish you wouldn't joke about it," he said hoarsely. "It isn't funny."
"I can't help joking about stuff, Clark. Would you rather I sat around and cried, like I did when I first found out? Moping is your way of dealing with stuff, but it isn't mine."
"I don't mope."
"Ha. Better duck. Lightning is going to strike your barn any second now."
"Okay, fine, I mope every now and then. But lately I've been trying to be more... proactive."
She sighed. She was close enough now that he could hear her words clearly without benefit of the phone. He tilted his head, listening to the sound of her voice. Despite the growing sound of the car's engine, her voice came through as clearly as if she were in the barn with him.
"Clark," she said gently, "I applaud your desire to go out and get criminals off the streets. It's a good impulse, really. But the way you're doing it makes me worry. It's not like you to go all Rambo."
"I'm just..." Angry. Frustrated. Boiling over. "Ticked off a little bit, I guess."
"Because of Lana?"
He closed his eyes again. Lana was part of it, sure. She was his ex-girlfriend, and he'd tried to break up her wedding to Lex Luthor at the last moment and get her to choose him-- but she'd decided to marry Lex anyway. It hurt to know she'd chosen Lex over him. He thought he loved her, and losing her was definitely painful.
And yet it wasn't Lana he thought about when he went out to round up those meteor freaks every night, and Lana hadn't really been on his mind when he'd beaten the shit out of Titan, either. He'd been thinking about the possibility of Chloe going psycho on him, the very distinct probability that at some point, he'd have to round her up, hurt her, subdue her... and put her into fucking Belle Reve.
He remembered what Chloe had said when she'd first been identified by Tobias: Every single meteor freak I’ve ever run into has wound up either dead or in Belle Reve.
It was an exaggeration, sure, but unfortunately not much of one. Most meteor freaks went nuts in a big way when their powers manifested, losing their moorings in reality, abandoning their decency and their humanity, and killing wantonly. He knew that better than almost anyone, because he'd encountered an awful lot of meteor infected people in his life.
He didn't want Chloe to be confined in the mental hospital, or maybe get killed, because she'd gone off the deep end due to kryptonite exposure. The thought made his heart clench in pain. He couldn't live without her. She was his closest friend, the person he relied on most, the person he'd been closest to since eighth grade, and the thought of her winding up like so many meteor freaks, deranged and psychopathic and violent...
God, he thought, feeling the rage bubbling up in him again. It was just so fucking unfair that Chloe Sullivan, of all people, should be meteor infected. God, Chloe, I can't watch you lose it. I can't sit here and watch you go crazy. I'm just not strong enough to cope with it.
"Hey." Her voice sounded from the staircase, and he realized she'd pulled up, turned off the car, and come into the barn-- and he'd been so abstracted he hadn't noticed. He turned his head and smiled at her, trying to act normal, when he felt anything but normal.
"Hey yourself," he answered. "You didn't have to come, you know."
"Sure I did." She walked across the loft. She was wearing denim shorts, a summery green tank top, and white sandals, and when she dropped down beside him on the couch, his eyes dropped automatically to the bare stretch of her thigh, because he was a guy. And she definitely wasn't. She had awfully long legs for her height, and they made for a very pleasant view.
He blinked and looked away, because he was supposed to be in love with Lana, which meant he shouldn't be checking out Chloe's legs, even for aesthetic reasons.
"No." His voice still sounded hoarse, but he had the uncomfortable feeling it was more of a reaction to the sight of her legs than anything else. "I'm fine, Chlo."
"You killed a guy. How fine can you be?"
He turned his head back and studied her for a long moment, seeing the concern in her eyes. She knew him so well it was almost scary. His own mother hadn't quite gotten the magnitude of what he'd gone through tonight. She'd assured him that his regret was enough, that what he'd done wasn't that big a deal as long as he was sorry for it. But he didn't feel that way, and he could tell Chloe understood.
"Part of me wanted to kill him," he said, his voice low.
"But most of you didn't want to." She reached out and patted his hand. "Look, Clark, just because you didn't have any choice doesn't mean you have to be happy about it. It's okay to be upset."
He had to fight to stop himself from turning over his hand and wrapping his fingers around hers. "I don't like having to kill people," he answered. "There ought to be a better option."
"Sometimes there isn't one, Clark. Sometimes I guess you're going to have to be judge and jury and executioner, no matter how much it hurts, no matter how hard it is. It's not like you can take a Zoner to the cops and have them put him in jail. He'll just get loose... and kill more people."
The idea of having to deliberately kill someone else terrified him. He closed his eyes and tried to steady his breathing. "I don't want to make those kinds of decisions, Chlo."
"You probably won't have to, at least not often. You took all the meteor freaks to the cops, after all. Even if you were a little too violent about it."
"I couldn't help it." He sucked in a breath and opened his eyes, staring into the gloom of the loft. "I just kept thinking about..."
His voice faded to silence. She studied him for a long moment, her eyes full of concern.
He shook his head wordlessly. She tilted her head to the side.
"About me, Clark?"
He turned his head and looked at her. "I don't want to watch you lose everything that makes you you, Chlo," he said softly. "Every time I come across a meteor freak now, I wonder what they used to be like. I wonder if they were a decent person, once upon a time. I wonder why they got infected, and their friends and family didn't. I wonder if maybe they were someone's best friend, and I... I get pissed."
"There's no point in taking it out on them, Clark. It's not their fault I'm infected. And before you get into the self-flagellation that you're so good at, it's not your fault, either. You didn't ask to be sent here with a bunch of alien rocks. It's not really anyone's fault. It's just..."
"It's totally unfair." His voice rose as anger poured through him again. "Of all the people in the world, Chlo, why does it have to be you?"
"Clark." She spoke softly, in contrast to his loud, angry voice. "I know this is hard on you. It's no walk in the park for me, either. But there's nothing either of us can do about it."
"I won't let it happen." He didn't lower his voice. "I said I'd be your personal bomb squad, and I meant it. Nothing's going to happen to you, damn it."
"Clark." She moved her thumb against the back of his hand, stroking it in a gentle, reassuring caress. "There are some things that even you can't prevent. This might be one of them."
He knew she was right, and that was what was driving him insane-- the knowledge that she might just develop some freakish talent one morning, and suddenly turn murderous. He couldn't quite envision her that way, but he imagined most of the meteor freaks he'd encountered had been decent people, once upon a time. It was the meteor infection that made them violent.
And if it happened to her, there wouldn't be a damn thing he could do about it.
Just the thought of it made his teeth grind together, and he knew that was why he'd been so angry and temperamental lately. Frustration and stress and concern for her wellbeing were seriously getting to him.
"Relax," she said softly, her thumb caressing his hand. "Take it easy, Clark."
All of a sudden he was acutely aware of the touch of her hand against his. His nerves lit up under the soft brush of her thumb, and he felt little sparks shoot through him, sizzling through his veins. Heat settled into his lower body, in a place better left unheated. He yanked his hand away, jumped to his feet, and stalked restlessly across the loft.
She stared at him, looking hurt. "Hey," she said softly. "I haven't developed any powers yet. You don't have to act like I'm not fit to be around decent people."
He spun around, appalled that she'd taken his reaction that way. "It's not that," he said, looking down at her. He'd known her for so long, and he couldn't imagine her changing dramatically. But he knew it was probably going to happen, sooner or later. "I just... I just can't... I keep..."
She got up and went toward him, slowly. She reached out and put a hand on his chest, and he flinched. Her eyes went dark, and she yanked her hand back and crossed her arms defensively across her chest.
"You're creeped out by me," she accused, sounding distinctly perturbed. "I didn't tell Jimmy because I didn't think he could take it, but of all the people in the world, Clark, I thought you were the one person who wouldn't be revolted. Even if something strange happens to me physically, I thought you of all people would understand. But you're acting like I've already turned into something disgusting."
"It's not that, Chlo. I'm not creeped out by you, honest."
"Sure, Clark." She lifted her chin. "All of a sudden you can't stand being touched by me, but you're not creeped out."
"Chloe..." He reached out and caught her by the shoulders. "I can definitely stand being touched by you. Trust me."
In fact he suddenly realized he wanted to be touched by her, quite a lot. Her bare skin felt smooth against his palms, and he let his fingers curl into her just a little, and pulled her against him. Just for a friendly hug, he assured himself.
She remained angry and stiff for a moment longer, then she relaxed against him. She felt warm and soft and curvy in all the right places, and all of a sudden he became aware his body wasn't reacting to this like a friendly hug. His body was reacting like she was the sexiest thing he'd ever held in his arms.
Damn it. That was exactly what he'd been afraid of. He knew he ought to pull away, but he didn't have the strength somehow. He slid his arms around her and pulled her closer.
A lot closer.
Read Chapter 2 here.
Posted by Meg at 9:41 AM