Wednesday, April 25, 2007
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.
The music is "Crashed," by Daughtry.
Well I was moving at the speed of sound
Head spinning, couldn't find my way around, and
Didn't know that I was going down.
Clark Kent barely swerved in time. He was flashing down the dirt road that bisected the Kent farm and led to their barn, blurring along in superspeed, when he suddenly realized his best friend Chloe Sullivan had stepped right out in front of him. Ordinarily it would have been no big deal, since when he was in superspeed, humans moved so slowly they were virtually standing still. It was like a human trying to avoid a snail... not a real test of coordination.
But he hadn't been paying attention, had just been zooming along with his mind elsewhere, and he was already almost on top of her when he noticed her.
He was a big guy, six foot three and two hundred twenty pounds of muscle and bone. But add to his size the fact that he had skin like steel and was traveling well over the speed of sound, and he knew an impact with him would kill her just as dead as being hit by a speeding truck.
He gave a yell of shock and swerved, going straight through the wall of the barn and sprawling onto the floor in an awkward heap.
As he dropped out of superspeed, he heard her startled yell, echoing his own. She hesitated for a second, obviously trying to figure out what had happened, then ran to him and fell to her knees beside him, her hand stroking his hair in a gesture of affectionate concern.
"Clark! Are you all right?"
"I'm fine," he snarled, not bothering with any additional words. He'd come within inches of smashing into her, and his heart was still pounding. He couldn't think of the last time he'd almost plowed into something, let alone someone.
Let alone his best friend, who trusted him not to turn her into road kill.
He couldn't think of the last time he'd stumbled and fallen, or gone through a wall, either. He was pretty sure he hadn't done anything this klutzy since he was ten. He was humiliated and distressed and seriously freaked out, and he didn't want her to make over him like a toddler who'd skinned his knee. Rolling over, he sat up and came to his feet, brushing straw and bits of shattered barn wall off his t-shirt and jeans.
He glared down at her, narrowing his eyes like the near collision was somehow her fault, and didn't try to keep the annoyance out of his tone. "What are you doing here?"
Chloe knew him well enough not to take his display of temper personally. She stood up too, looking steadily back at him. "I wanted to talk about some stuff."
He wasn't surprised, because she'd been through a lot of stuff in the past few days. She'd found her mom, a meteor freak who'd been brought out of her catatonic state by drugs, only to lose her again. Along the way Chloe had been mind-controlled by her mom, and she'd attacked him with green kryptonite. He was pretty sure she didn't remember that part, much to his relief. Because it hadn't been her fault, and Chloe didn't need one more thing to feel guilty about right now. She already had an awful lot on her mind.
And obviously he did too, or he wouldn't have been speeding along without paying attention to where the hell he was going. Guilt rose in him again. He was supposed to be protecting her, damn it, not almost killing her.
"Okay," he said, aware that he still sounded aggravated. "Go ahead. Talk."
She didn't allow his tone to intimidate her. She looked straight up into his eyes.
"I wanted to know what you told my mom about me, Clark."
Where I've been, well it's all a blur
What I was looking for, I'm not sure
Too late and didn't see it coming.
"Tell me about my daughter."
Seated on the sofa next to Moira Sullivan, Clark smiled. He could do that. He was Smallville's resident expert on all things Chloe Sullivan. "What do you want to know?"
Moira looked at him. Her eyes were oddly vague, and he wondered with a trickle of unease if she was sliding back into her catatonic state so soon. She'd told him the medicine Lex gave her would only keep her out of catatonia for twenty-four hours. He hoped like hell Chloe would get back in time to speak to her before she faded out entirely.
They'd brought Moira back to the Metropolis apartment of Ollie Queen, a friend of his, and Chloe had gone out to get some food for them all, while he stayed with Moira to protect her and to contact Ollie. Ollie was a billionaire, with resources that a Kansas farmboy, even an alien one, couldn't dream of, and he'd be able to keep Moira safe on a more long-term basis.
"I've known her since high school," he answered. "She was the editor of the school newspaper when she was a freshman. And she was composing hard-hitting journalistic opuses even back then. She figured out what the meteor rocks were doing to people, and tried to tell everyone about it. But they didn't listen."
"They never do." Moira blinked at him, as if struggling to focus. "You and she... worked together?"
"Yeah." The corners of his mouth curved up in an involuntary smile as memories washed through him. "I wrote for the Torch all through high school."
He'd enjoyed his days of student journalism, even though most of his work for the Torch had consisted of writing boring stories about new gym mats and the like, and every so often he wondered what it would be like to write for the Daily Planet, the way Chloe did. But that was stupid, because he wasn't going to become a journalist. That was Chloe's schtick, not his.
"Is that when the two of you started dating?"
"Dating?" He stared at her, startled, and only slowly became aware that his mouth was hanging open. He shut it with a snap. "Uh... we're not dating," he said. "We're just friends."
She gazed at him for a long moment. Despite the growing vagueness, he was almost certain he saw a flicker of amused cynicism in her eyes. "Really," she said, managing to imbue the single word with quite a lot of disbelief.
"Really." A defensive flood of words suddenly came tumbling out of his mouth. "Actually, Chlo's dating a photographer at the Daily Planet named Jimmy Olsen. They've been going together for about six months, I think. They get along really well. Really, really well, I mean. I think she really likes him, and he thinks she's great. And even if she weren't dating Jimmy, we're just friends. I mean, we've always been friends. Yeah, we went to the spring formal together freshman year, and yeah, we hang out together a lot, but that really doesn't mean what you think it means. Because we're just not..."
Moira simply looked at him, one dark eyebrow raised, and he stumbled to a halt, feeling stupid and confused and defensive. A phrase rose to his mind from high school English class: Methinks the man doth protest too much.
It was clearly time to shut the hell up. Definitely. Or maybe he should just change the subject a little. Yeah, that was a good idea. Because his cheeks were turning red for some reason, and suddenly he felt very uncomfortable with the subject of him and Chloe dating. Because, well, they weren't.
"Anyway," he said, clearing his throat. "She started working at the Daily Planet last year, and she's already had a whole bunch of bylines. She's even had two on the front page, believe it or not." He couldn't suppress his proud smile. "How many people do you think get two bylines on the front page of the Planet before they're twenty?"
"None," he said. "I looked it up. She's the youngest person ever to get a byline on the Planet's front page."
Moira smiled, and beyond the vagueness he saw pride shining in her eyes. "She wanted to be a journalist even when she was little," she said softly. "I remember her first articles for her elementary school newspaper. She wrote about alien abductions, Nessie, local ghost stories, that sort of thing."
Clark hadn't met Chloe till middle school, and he tried to imagine a small version of his friend writing a "hard-hitting journalistic opus" on Nessie. It wasn't hard to envision. In his mind, Chloe and journalism were inextricably mixed together. He could no more imagine her without journalism than he could imagine himself without the need to save people.
Moira looked at him, and he became aware he was smiling as he thought about little Chloe, writing industriously away. "If you want to read those articles," she said, "I'm sure Gabe still has them stashed away somewhere."
He really wanted to read those articles, but he didn't want to admit it. He shrugged, pushing away his smile and doing his best to look indifferent. He didn't want to give Moira the wrong impression about his feelings for Chloe again.
"What else do you want to know about her?" he asked.
"Tell me what kind of person she is."
"She's awesome," he answered promptly. "She's a workaholic, and she spends way more time at the Planet than she really ought to. She still keeps her grades up, though, even though she's carrying a pretty heavy schedule at Met U right now. And she's all about exposing the truth. That's why she wants to be a journalist, so she can get the truth out to the people."
"That sounds like it could be dangerous."
"Sometimes she gets herself in trouble," he admitted. She'd come so close to getting shot by an angry source earlier in the year that he still got chills when he thought about it. "But you don't have to worry about her, because she's got me. I won't let anything happen to her. Not ever. I promise."
At the resolute, protective note in his voice Moira lifted an eyebrow again and smiled.
"You're in love with her," she said softly.
Read Chapter 2 here.
Posted by Meg at 9:19 PM