Saturday, May 05, 2007

Ever the Same, Chapter 9

Season 5, following my story "Never Let Me Go"
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.

The present

"That's crazy," Chloe said. She struggled against her bonds again, but with no discernible result. Damn it. "You're crazy."

"Not at all," Fine answered. "What is crazy right now is the space-time continuum. As it ruptures, everything is being affected. Every sentient being in the universe is becoming aware of the effect. Even I am not immune to the terrible effects of endless, infinite pasts being created. And you, being both organic and at the center of the effect, were going mad quite rapidly. Therefore, in order for us to have a rational discussion, I had to remove you."

"From space-time? How the hell can you remove someone from space-time?"

"I said I removed you from the space-time continuum, Miss Lane. The term continuum implies a single construct, a manifold in which time and space are interconnected, and all alternate realities are connected as well. But when the continuum ruptured, some small parts of it became... disconnected, for want of a better word."

"Disconnected," Chloe echoed. "So you're saying where we are isn't connected to everything else?"

"Correct, Miss Lane. This is a small shard of space-time. Kryptonians call it a pocket universe."

"And we're safe here."

"No." Fine smiled grimly. "At this point, nothing is safe, Miss Lane. If you don't agree to help me, then everything will be destroyed. Including this pocket universe... and including Kal-El."

Chloe stiffened. "He's already dead," she said bitterly, remembering the terrible sight of his lifeless body on the bloody grass, a gaping wound in his chest, his eyes open and empty. "Thanks to you."

"No. He's not dead, merely lost." Fine stared down at her, his eyes intense and solemn. "And I need you to bring him back."


The future

"Here's the problem in a nutshell," Chloe said. "Space-time was shattered."

Clark found himself extremely distracted by the buzz of their EM fields, not to mention the relentless throbbing of his arousal, but he endeavored to listen to what she was telling him. "Shattered," he repeated, trying not to sound as dubious as he felt.

"Yeah, shattered. I'm not Kryptonian, so I only understand it very vaguely, but there was an explosion near one of those purple crystals. Two explosions, actually. And you and I were at the center of the explosions. The first one put a big crack down the middle of space-time, but the second one totally... broke everything apart somehow."

"Chloe. That's crazy."

"It gets crazier. Trust me."

He struggled to wrap his mind around concepts he hadn't given any thought to in decades. "So are you telling me," he said slowly, "that we both died... but we both lived? In different timelines? Is that what you're saying?"

"Sort of." She shrugged. "That was true for me, I think. You saw me die, and I died. But there was an explosion that split time, and in another timeline I lived. In that timeline you died. I saw you die. But you'd already been... split off."

"Into another timeline."

"Not exactly." She sighed. "At first, yeah, it was just a separate timeline. And because the explosion shattered time backward and forward, because Fine was trying to send you back in time, that moment when Fine tried to kill me happened twice. In fact, I had a weird moment of deja vu, because it actually did happen twice, and the timelines hadn't fully separated yet."

"Chloe. This is nuts."

She ignored his objection and went on. "The second explosion shattered both the timelines, and... well, think about a sheet of ice, Clark. If you drop a rock onto it, cracks spread out in all directions. But little slivers of it just break off, too. They're no longer part of the sheet of ice. They're totally separate."

"So you're trying to tell me..." Despite the sensual humming of his body where her skin touched his, he concentrated, trying to understand what she was telling him. "This isn't really part of space-time. Is that what you're saying?"

"Exactly." She smiled at him like she was a teacher and he was her star student. "At least, it's not part of the space-time continuum. It's a little piece of space-time that got cut off from everything else."

"But that would mean..." His mind boggled at the implications, and his voice trailed off.

"Yes," she agreed. "You got stuck in this little pocket of reality all by yourself, and you didn't realize it, so you created the reality you expected. I'm not sure how that works, exactly, but this reality was empty except for you, and you somehow created everything around you. This is kind of a little bubble, separate from everything else. Fine called it a pocket universe. It's not connected to the rest of space-time at all."

"That's crazy, Chlo. I have a life here." Not much of one, he added silently. "I've been working for the Daily Planet for all these years. All the people I know, all the stories I've written-- there was no way it's all in my fucking head."

She sighed. "I'm not a Kryptonian, Clark. I know it sounds bizarre. But when this little shard of reality was created... you were the only person in it."

He blinked and thought about that, and couldn't quite wrap his mind around it. "I've been here forty freaking years," he said at last, his voice soft but intense.

"Time is meaningless here, Clark. I know it felt like forty years, but I don't think it was. Not exactly." She looked at him very seriously. "I know this is hard to accept, Clark. But none of this is real."

"You're telling me that everything I've known for the past forty years is an illusion?"

She stroked his hair, very gently.

"Not an illusion, exactly," she said. "But not real, either, except maybe in this one little pocket of reality."

"Forty years," he whispered, thinking of all the stories he'd written, all the people he'd known. "Forty years. And none of it mattered."

"I'm sorry." She brushed a kiss over his forehead. "But I don't think you were happy here anyway. Were you?"

"No." He spoke roughly. "I could never be happy without you, Chlo."

She nodded. "I feel the same way," she said softly.

He swallowed and lifted his head, looking into her eyes. "So what happens now?"

"Now that I've found you, it's time for you to come back to reality. Shared reality, I mean."


She stared at him imploringly. "Please, Clark. Come with me. You have to come back."

Despite the desperate plea in her voice, he hesitated, glancing around at his apartment. Maybe it wasn't much of a life, but it was still the life he'd known for forty years. Well, what felt like forty years, anyway. "Why can't you just stay here with me?" he asked.

"I told you already, Clark. This isn't real, no matter how real it feels to you. You and I are the only reality here. Anyway..." She sighed. "If we don't go back, pretty soon there won't be anything left. Not even this little pocket of reality."

He tilted his head, confused. "I don't understand."

She sighed, looking down at the floor as if trying to find the right words. Then she lifted her head and looked straight into his eyes, her chin lifted at a resolute angle.

"We have to go back, Clark. We have to. Because you and I... we're the only people who can fix space-time."

Read Chapter 10 here.


RichardAK said...

Another great chapter Elly.

SelfAppointedCritic said...

Wow, Elly...just..Wow. So much info in such a short chapter! You do have quite the talent for writing time travel don't you? I absolutely loved Brainiac's definition of 'continuum' (truthfully, it made it easier for me to understand). Also loving the fact that he had to ask for help or risk his own existence. HA! Best of all, I'm loving the return of the EM field and Clark's preoccupation with it. Can't blame him after 40 years of despair. You're such an amazing writer Elly, please never stop! And though I hate to go all Ksite-ish on you: PPMS!