Saturday, April 14, 2007

Growing Into Her

Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

Manip by Khyla. Used with permission of the artist.

Clark/Chloe futurefic
9200 words
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.

My dad said there are two types of girls -- the ones you grow out of and the ones you grow into. I really hope I'm the latter. - Chloe Sullivan

Clark Kent's whole world had crashed down around him on the day Lana Lang died. He'd loved Lana for years, ever since they were both in kindergarten, really. And yeah, the only real relationship they'd had had only lasted for a couple of months, and it had been marred by arguments and secrets on both sides, as well as a whole lot of lies. But that didn't change the fact that Lana was perfect in his eyes. He loved her. He'd always loved her.

He would always love her.

He wasn't sure he could have gotten through the funeral at all if it hadn't been for his friend Chloe. Chloe had been his best friend for years, ever since eighth grade, and she was more important to him than anyone in the universe besides Lana. She sat next to him at the funeral. She didn't touch his hand, or put her arm around him, which was just as well, because that probably would have made him break down. But she sat shoulder to shoulder with him, her presence a comfort to him. He'd gone through an awful lot of bad things with Chloe by his side.

The minister droned on about eternal life, and then a few friends and family members got up and told a few anecdotes about Lana. Lana's aunt had asked him to speak, but he'd declined, because he knew he couldn't do it without breaking down. Chloe had made the same decision, and she didn't move from his side during the entire service. He sat in the pew stoically, refusing to cry, but tears ran freely down Chloe's face, because she'd been Lana's best friend, and she was almost as grief-stricken as he was.

After the funeral, he'd found himself unable to face the crowd that gathered to eat food and talk about Lana in hushed voices. He didn't want to talk about her. He just wanted to be alone with his thoughts. He'd walked away and stood in a distant room of the church, alone and silent, staring at the cinderblock wall. Chloe had found him, and put her arms around him without any words at all.

He'd bowed his head and wept against her shoulder, while she held him.

In the days that followed the funeral, Clark retreated to his loft, his usual refuge from the troubles of the world. Lana's aunt Nell had given him a box of photos and other personal stuff, but Clark didn't sort through it, didn't even glance through it. He couldn't. And he didn't need to look at photos of Lana, anyway. He could still see her beautiful, smiling face whenever he closed his eyes.

Chloe knew him too well to leave him alone in his loft for very long, and she wouldn't let him fall into the patterns of mopey despondency he was prone to. She gave him two days to mope, then poked and prodded and irritated the hell out of him, dragging him out of the solitude of his loft, forcing him to see movies and help her do research for articles and go out to eat. And most importantly, forcing him to talk.

"Look," she said over dinner one night, her voice gentle, "I know this is hard, Clark. But you need to move forward somehow."

"It's only been a month," he answered. He was devouring a large plate of spaghetti, because he was a twenty-year-old guy, and no matter how miserable he was, he didn't stop eating for long. "I don't want to move forward, Chlo. Without her my life is meaningless."

"That," she said, punctuating her words with jabs of her fork, "is total crap."

He'd been taking a bite of garlic bread, and he glared at her over the bread with annoyance. "No, it's not."

"Yes, it is." She frowned at him. "Do you really think Lana would want you to just curl up on your sofa in the loft and quit living?"

"Well..."

"Of course she wouldn't." She waved the fork at him threateningly. "You're capable of an awful lot, Clark. You have big things to accomplish. I know you're grieving-- and I understand that, believe me. But that doesn't give you a free pass to never accomplish anything for the rest of your life." The fork made a series of ominous jabs in his direction. "And don't ever tell me your life is meaningless again."

"Hey," he said mildly, almost smiling. "You're scaring me with that fork."

She frowned, but he could see a flicker of humor in her eyes. "Get it together, Kent. Or next time I'll be waving a fork made out of meteor rocks."

He'd been a little annoyed, but he recognized that Chloe had a point, so when he got home he went up to his loft, sighed, and started looking through the box Nell had given him, figuring it was time to face it.

There were lots of photos of Lana in the box. Some he'd seen before, but a lot he hadn't. He went through the photos, smiling a little at the memories they sparked. His smile widened when he came across one of Lana and Chloe, their arms around each other, grinning like maniacs.

He knew Lana had lived with the Sullivans for over a year, and the girls had grown very close. He'd always had the uncomfortable feeling that maybe Lana wasn't quite as grateful to Chloe as she should have been for that, that maybe the friendship had been a little more on Chloe's side than Lana's. But they looked like happy sisters in this photo, so he figured he'd been wrong. Lana had obviously loved Chloe as much as Chloe loved her. It was just that Lana wasn't quite as demonstrative as Chloe. She simply tended to keep her feelings inside a little more.

He looked at Chloe's wide smile, and couldn't help smiling more widely himself. Chloe had never been able to keep her feelings to herself. When she was happy, everyone knew it, and when she was pissed, that was pretty obvious too. She'd had a crush on him for years in high school, and everyone in Smallville High had known about it, because her emotions were always reflected in her eyes.

Eventually she'd grown out of her crush on him-- and that was fortunate for her, because his heart had been buried with Lana. He and Chloe spent a lot of time together now, a couple of hours every day, not to mention an hour or so on the phone. But he knew she wasn't harboring any sort of romantic feelings for him, because he hadn't seen the slightest flicker of anything beyond friendship in her eyes.

But then again, he thought uncomfortably, it was always possible she'd learned to conceal her emotions a little better.

He pushed the thought away impatiently, because it was foolish. Chloe had never been able to hide anything from him. The simple truth of the matter was that Chloe didn't love him, and he didn't love Chloe. They were just good friends. Yeah, they'd become pretty much inseparable lately, but that was just because they'd been drawn together by their mutual grief over Lana. That was all. Chloe was his rock, his refuge in times of trouble, his bridge over troubled water... but they were nevertheless just friends.

He looked at Chloe's smile one more time, then realized he was grinning broadly. He hastily put the photo down and turned his attention back to Lana's effects.

There was a lot of other personal stuff in the box. He came across the ribbons Lana had won for her riding. Surely Nell hadn't meant to give him those. Most likely she'd just been so distressed she'd been unable to bring herself to sort through Lana's things. But eventually she'd want it back, so he decided he'd store that stuff away and keep it until Nell could bring herself to face it. He also came across post cards Lana had sent Nell while she was in France, along with various little mementos. His smile faded.

A life, he thought grimly. A whole life, reduced to a few mementos in a box.

He was almost to the bottom of the box now. He found a little book with a burgundy leather cover, imprinted with the name Lana Lang in gold. It looked a lot like a diary Lois Lane had once given him for his birthday, and he guessed Lois had given Lana one too. He sat there and held it in his hands for a long time, wondering if it was still blank, like his, or if she'd written in it.

He finally surrendered to temptation and took a peek at the first page, seeing her curly, girlish handwriting. The diary wasn't blank.

He shouldn't read this, he thought. He totally should not read this. People had a right to their privacy, even after they were dead.

But the idea of reading words Lana had written, words that might bring him closer to her somehow, was irresistible.

He flipped the book open and started reading.

Read Chapter 2 here.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

you're soooo evil!!!!! :)..u just left it there!!????...i'm dying to know what's in that diary!

yet another winner here!...seriously, is there no award you could get for your stories?? thanks for the new story!

nelliewu said...

i can't wait to know what the 1st entry is that Clark reads. and i'm curious about how the Fever letter will play a part in this story, if it does.

Justine said...

Lana being dead was a great start ;) I'm not one for futurefics but this one looks intrigueing :D Can't wait for more!

Blondie said...

My god!! That was such a mean spot to leave it!! I people call me a mean cliffie leaver! Uhhh!

songkat said...

Ooooooh, I like it, I like it, I like it! Can't wait for the next installment!

sally said...

The Fever letter is going to be in her journal right?

SelfAppointedCritic said...

*cough, hack*...too..much...Lana love; must..have..Chlark..infusion to..recover...

Just teasing Elly, I couldn't resist. That was a GREAT beginning and a spectacularly EVIL cliff. Please don't torture us too long!
(And thanks for sharing with us)

Anonymous said...

I am SERIOUSLY looking forward to reading more of this!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for leaving us hanging :). Can't wait to read more!

Anonymous said...

Thats a "to close to the edge spot to leave us at!!" Keep up the fantastic work and.....update this one soon please!!

Anonymous said...

taking a short break and thought i'd read some of your fic today.

found this one and not to be mean, but i kinda like the fact that she's done....geez, couldn't even say her name.

like the part about the fork thing =)! i was smiling when i was reading that.

even happier when i saw there's an update for this. off to read it now.

awesome start,
joanna

blackheart_me said...

Elly yay! i'm finally in another section! Thou I think i'm going to go slower cuz im almost getting to the bottm of the page and it makes me nervous :(.
Also love how it's beginning and I love this line: "She gave him two days to mope, then poked and prodded and irritated the hell out of him, dragging him out of the solitude of his loft, forcing him to see movies and help her do research for articles and go out to eat. And most importantly, forcing him to talk." Trust Chloe to be that protective :) I love how he's sorting through Lana's stuff...I really respect Lana in this fic :P AH nosy nosy Clark...althou I gotta admit if Nell gave it to him it was for a reason right? aww Lovin' it already ;]