Clark/Chloe, full cast
Season 5, "Reckoning"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
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"How could you let this happen?"
Almost the moment he'd stepped into the Fortress, Clark's artificial calm had disintegrated. He'd placed the battered bodies of his father and fiancee onto an ice slab with loving care. Then he'd looked up at the vast structure, inhabited by an entity that he knew possessed immense power, and a sudden, unreasoning rage had come over him.
Unable to lay the blame on anyone else, he blamed Jor-El.
The AI answered as calmly as ever. "Human life is fragile, my son. There was nothing I could have done to prevent this."
"Maybe so. But there has to be something you can do to fix this!" Clark looked down at the inert bodies, and a terrible pain swept over him. They had both been so happy, so alive, at the victory party, and now they would never move again, never take a breath, never smile or hug him or clap him on the shoulder...
He shuddered violently, and Lana's fingers closed over his comfortingly. Blindly, he clutched her hand, grateful for her presence. Lana, he thought. Oh, Lana. I couldn't get through this without you.
Jor-El sounded as impassive as ever. "Your powers on Earth may seem extraordinary, Kal-El. But we are not gods."
Clark stared at the two bodies, the empty shells of two people he'd loved desperately, and another wave of pain shook him. "This is not their destiny," he said at last. "It's not."
He had no idea why he was so certain of that, but certain he was. They weren't meant to die in a meaningless wreck on a back country road. His father was meant to continue to guide him as he moved toward adulthood, and Chloe-- Chloe was meant to stand by his side for the rest of his life, supporting him and loving him. He knew that, with more conviction than he'd ever known anything.
He paused a moment, brushing the tears from his cheeks, and spoke more strongly.
"There has to be a way to fix this. There has to be. Please."
Jor-El hesitated a long moment. "There is one trial you have yet to experience," he said, speaking more slowly than the AI was wont to speak. A crystal rose slowly out of the console and hovered in the air, glowing, as Jor-El's sonorous voice rolled on. "But you must heed my warning. The tide of fate is impossible to stop. Even if you are able to change events, the universe will find a balance."
Inscrutable as ever, Clark thought. He stared upward for a long moment. The ice rose high above, far over his head, and he had the sudden terrible impression he might be getting in far over his head metaphorically, too.
"Are you saying that if I use this crystal for-- whatever it's used for-- and manage to save them somehow, someone else will die in their place?" he asked at last.
The idea repelled him. The loss of the two people he depended on most hurt like hell, but he knew he couldn't trade their lives for someone else's. He couldn't. It was the wrong thing to do, and neither Jonathan Kent nor Chloe Sullivan would have wanted to live at the expense of another person.
"I do not know," the AI responded. "I am no more able to see such things than you are, Kal-El. What I do know is that the universe always finds a balance. Whether that balance will involve death or not, I cannot say."
Clark stared at the crystal. "I can't gamble with people's lives," he said at last, slowly but forcefully.
Some selfish part of him just wanted to grab the crystal and use it, however it worked, to save Chloe and his human father, no matter the cost, no matter who else might be hurt. He remembered his earlier angry words: I'm not letting them die, damn it.
But if it was a choice between their lives and someone else... he really had no choice.
No, he couldn't take the crystal. Not if saving the ones he loved involved risking someone else's life in the process. No matter how much he'd loved Chloe and Jonathan-- he just couldn't.
"No," he said at last, more strongly. He clenched his fists at his sides, ignoring the temptation to reach out and grab the crystal. "If someone else might get hurt, then no. Chloe and my dad wouldn't want someone to die for them."
"Clark." He heard Lana whisper behind him. "You're just going to let them die, when you could save them?"
He answered grimly. "You're the one who pointed out they're already dead."
"Yes, but this-- whatever-- is giving you a chance to fix that. You have to take the opportunity. You can't just let this happen."
He didn't look back at her. He couldn't seem to look away from the crystal. "I have to let this happen," he said softly. "I don't have a choice."
"You do have a choice," she insisted. "It-- he-- whatever that is, it's giving you a choice."
He blew out his breath in a long sigh. He couldn't let his mother or Lana or someone else he loved be sacrificed for Jonathan and Chloe. For that matter, he couldn't let a stranger be sacrificed. As much as he wanted them back, as much as he was convinced that this wasn't their true destiny... it wasn't a risk he could accept.
"I can't do it," he said with grim finality. "I can't take the chance of anyone else dying in their places."
His words seem to hang in the air. There was a long silence, so long that Clark thought perhaps Jor-El had gone offline, but at last the AI spoke.
"Very good, my son," he said, sounding pleased. "You have passed the trial."
The crystal began to glow even more brightly than before, and Clark stared at it, almost mesmerized. He wanted to give into temptation and take it, to take the help it represented, so badly. But he'd already made his decision, so he kept his hands at his sides.
Jor-El continued speaking. "As I said before, there is a natural balance, and you are clearly destined to experience a great loss. No matter what you do, you will be unable to avoid that fate. Nothing can change that. But now that you have refused to sacrifice one life for another, now that you have put the welfare of others above your own desires and emotions... that loss will not involve death."
Clark stared at the crystal. "So you're saying no one has to die for them to be saved?"
"Yes, my son. I can now assure you that no one else will die, or even be hurt, if you take the crystal. I cannot guarantee that you will manage to save them, but you can at least try." His deep voice grew more solemn than ever. "But be warned that if you go back in time and manage to save them both, you yourself will still suffer a terrible loss."
That, he could handle. He'd give up anything, sacrifice anything that was his to sacrifice, for the chance to get Chloe and his father back.
Something the AI had said caught his attention. "Back in time? This thing is going to send me back in time?"
"Yes. You will relive these events from their start. No one will be aware of the time loop except you."
"So no one else will remember any of this."
"That is correct."
Behind him, there was a sudden movement, and then Lana was standing next to him. "Let me remember it too," she said earnestly, her big, dark green eyes turned up toward the ceiling. "Maybe I can help Clark somehow."
Gratitude flooded Clark, and he smiled at her. "Yes," he said to the Fortress. "If you let her remember, she could help me."
There was a pause. "Are you certain you want this, my son?"
Clark looked down at his best friend with grateful affection. "Yes."
"Then it will be so."
Clark took one last look at the lifeless bodies laid out on the ice slab, and pain coiled in his heart. Then he forced his gaze away from them, and looked at the hope the crystal represented instead. With the help of Jor-El and Lana, he could do something about this. He could fix everything that had gone wrong.
He put an arm around Lana, holding her firmly against him.
And then he grasped the crystal.
Read Chapter 12 here.