Season 6, "Progeny"
Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Based on a plot bunny by RichardAK.
And then I crashed into you,
And I went up in flames
Could've been the death of me,
But then you breathed your breath in me.
"I told her a bunch of stuff." Clark turned around and stalked for his loft, Chloe trailing in his wake.
Over the angry clomping noise of his workboots striking the wood planking a little harder than necessary, he heard her soft huff of laughter. "Gee, Clark, that's informative. But I was actually looking for something a little more specific."
He went up the stairs without looking back over his shoulder, but he could hear her much lighter footsteps just behind him. "I told her about you being the youngest person to get a byline on the front page of the Daily Planet," he answered. "I told her you were all about getting truth and justice to the people. And I told her you're a workaholic."
"You make me sound so boring."
They'd reached the top of the stairs, and he turned around and looked down at her curiously. "Boring? I don't think so, Chlo."
"Well, you know..." She rolled her eyes. "You make it sound like I work all the time."
"Uh, you do work all the time."
"Yeah, but there are other things in my life besides work." She sighed. "So did you tell her about Jimmy?"
At the mention of Jimmy, a hot flood of emotion washed over him, tightening his chest and tensing all his muscles. It took him a minute to realize the feeling was jealousy. He suddenly remembered Moira's voice saying, You're in love with her, and an unreasoning anger lit in him.
He wasn't in love with her, damn it, and he wasn't jealous of Jimmy freaking Olsen, either.
"I mentioned him," he said shortly, spinning on his heel and heading for the window.
She walked behind him. He could still hear her footsteps, and her heartbeat. He could always hear her heartbeat whenever she was within ten miles of him. She was the only person whose heartbeat he heard that clearly. Which was a little weird, now that he thought about it. He figured it was just because they'd been close friends all these years, so he was naturally more attuned to her than to anyone else.
Her voice spoke from just behind him. "Did you mention Jimmy works for the Daily Planet too?"
It annoyed him that she thought that was so important. Just because Jimmy had a job, and was doing something with his life, unlike Clark, who was sort of drifting right now. Just because Jimmy was directly involved with Chloe's job, whereas he himself sort of hung around the periphery of her work life. Yeah, he visited her at the Planet all the time, but he wasn't truly involved in what mattered most to her, reporting.
Not that he was bugged by that or anything.
"I might have," he said shortly. He came to a halt at the big window and stared out at the wide stretch of Kent farmland, glowing gold and green in the sunshine. "The truth is, I don't really care all that much about Jimmy Olsen."
"Geez, Clark." At the cold disdain in his tone, she finally started to sound impatient with him. "Get up on the wrong side of the spaceship this morning?"
He didn't care for the snarky reminder that he was an alien, different from everyone. Different from her. It reminded him of the way he'd been zooming along headlong in superspeed, reminded him of the way he'd almost crashed into her. He spun around and glared at her.
"Look," he said tersely. "I almost ran into you just now. If I'd hit you, it would have killed you."
She looked up at him, and the impatience drained from her expression. Her eyes gentled with understanding. "But you didn't. Don't worry about it."
"It was stupid. I'm never that uncoordinated."
"You obviously have stuff on your mind, too." She reached out and put a casual hand on his arm, just beneath the sleeve of his t-shirt. At the touch of her warm palm against his bicep, the nerves in his skin suddenly started to riot. "What are you worrying about, Clark? Me again?"
"Not sure." His hand lifted, with no direction from his brain, and cupped her cheek. He looked down at her very seriously, staring into her eyes. It occurred to him they were the same green-gold as fertile farmland, and they glowed in the sunlight, too. "This whole thing with your mom-- it scared the hell out of me, Chlo."
She smiled wryly. "You mean the way my mom was able to make me do whatever she wanted? Yeah, that was scary, all right."
"No." He imagined it had been frightening for her to know that someone else was controlling her every action, but at least she didn't remember any of it. "I mean, the fact that she apparently can't handle her powers."
She tilted her head as if perplexed, and he went on, awkwardly. "At least she didn't go outright psychopathic like a lot of people who're infected. But she's in a catatonic state, Chlo. She has been for years. Obviously her mind couldn't handle the stress of her abilities."
Understanding dawned in her eyes. "And you're worried the same thing's going to happen to me."
He remembered the blank look on Moira's face when he'd placed her into Ollie's limo. He imagined the same look in Chloe's eyes, imagined her lively, vivid expression replaced by a blank stare, and a chill ran through him. He bowed his head, unable to answer, and stared at the rough wood planks of the floor.
"Clark." She squeezed his bicep gently. "Listen, no one knows much about meteor infection, but I think it's pretty obvious it almost never affects two people the same way. Whatever my power might turn out to be, it probably won't have any resemblance to my mom's."
"How many meteor freaks have we met who are related?" He could hear the strain in his own voice. "For all we know, you'll develop a power just like hers, and react to it just like she did."
"And wind up in a catatonic state?" She shrugged, looking grim but resigned. "We've known this was a possibility since we found out I was infected, Clark. An awful lot of meteor freaks wind up institutionalized."
"I don't want it to happen to you," he said fiercely.
"Believe me," she said, her voice dry, "it's not high on my list of things to look forward to, either."
He raised his head and looked into her eyes, imagining them blank and vague and empty. The desire to protect her from whatever might come rushed through him, and he put his arms around her waist and yanked her against him, really hard.
"Clark," she whispered, rubbing her face against his shoulder. Her arms went around his neck, squeezing him just as tightly. "It's going to be okay."
The fact that she was trying to comfort him took away the last of his self-control, and all of a sudden he found himself kissing her temple, very lightly. She raised her head, looking at him with wide-eyed surprise, and he lowered his head until his mouth was only an inch from hers.
He could feel the soft puff of her breath against his lips, brushing over him like a caress, tempting him to move beyond the boundaries that had always existed between them. Tempting him to kiss her.
And I crashed into you
Like a runaway train
You will consume me,
But I can't walk away
Clark felt his ears growing red. "I'm not in love with Chloe."
Moira lifted that damn eyebrow again, somewhat to his annoyance. "No?"
"No. I told you, she's dating Jimmy Olsen." He stood up and started to pace restlessly. "She doesn't feel that way about me, and I don't feel that way about her. I mean, yeah, sure, I love her as a friend. We've been friends a long time, and she means a lot to me. More than anyone, really. But I don't have romantic feelings for her or anything. Just, you know, friendship feelings."
He became aware he was babbling again, and forced himself to shut the hell up. He stopped pacing and stood with his back to her, his shoulders squared defensively.
"I embarrassed you." She spoke softly. "I didn't mean to."
He turned around and faced her. "You didn't embarrass me," he answered, somewhat less than truthfully. "But you've got it wrong, really. Chloe and I are just friends."
Moira studied him. He could see that disturbing vagueness growing in her eyes, but her gaze was nevertheless intent, as if she was struggling to hold onto her consciousness. "When did you find out she was meteor infected, Clark? Have you always known it?"
He shook his head. "No, because she doesn't have any powers that we can tell. We only found out about a month ago."
"But you haven't walked away from her, even though she's infected."
He felt himself bristle at the very suggestion. "I'd never turn my back on Chloe when she needed me."
She smiled, very slightly. "But you're not in love with her."
No, I'm not in love with her! he almost roared, but swallowed it back. She was obviously no longer quite tuned into reality, and somehow she'd decided he had a thing for Chloe. It wasn't her fault she wasn't quite in focus. And there was no point in arguing about it with her, anyway. After all, he knew he wasn't in love with Chloe. He was quite certain of that. Really.
"I'm... different... too," he said at last.
"I noticed that in the facility. Are you meteor infected?"
"No." He shrugged. "Just different. Chloe's known it for a long time, and she's never turned her back on me. Ever. She'd never walk away from me, either."
Moira smiled softly. "So the two of you are different together."
He hadn't thought of it that way, but he recognized the truth of the words. He and Chloe had always been close, but now they each had secrets to keep. Secrets they couldn't share with anyone except each other. It had brought them closer together than ever.
For the first time, he realized he was closer to Chloe Sullivan than he'd ever been to anybody.
Read Chapter 3 here.