Season 7, MHE to "Bizarro"
Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Screencap by SVfan.
Now that you're gone
I feel like myself again
Grieving the things I can't repair...
- Evanescence, "Lacrymosa"
Lacrimosa dies illa
qua resurget ex favilla
judicandus homo reus
(That day of tears and mourning
when from the ashes shall arise
all humanity to be judged)
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, "Lacrimosa"
He didn't like to see her cry.
Clark Kent shifted uncomfortably as a silver stream of tears trickled down his best friend's face. Chloe Sullivan was seated in front of her laptop, watching a video of herself with her friend Lana Lang. Chloe was indulging in a little grief, because she'd just learned that Lana had been killed in an explosion.
Clark was grieving, too. He'd been in love with Lana Lang, and the news that she'd been killed had hit him pretty hard.
Although, oddly, not as hard as the news that Chloe had died.
He thought about that. When he'd heard Lana was dead, his reaction had been one of anger more than grief. He'd been furious. He'd wanted to hurt someone.
But when he'd been told Chloe was dead... well, it had felt completely different.
He closed his eyes, remembering that moment all too vividly, remembering the nurse's sympathetic voice: Miss Sullivan didn't make it. He'd stared at the nurse disbelievingly for a moment, then turned and blindly staggered away, into the hallway.
He'd stumbled away with no clear idea of where he was headed, grief and anguish rioting inside him. He'd tried to fight back his pain, to keep himself under control, but the world had started to spin, and he'd totally lost focus.
It was like the rock he stood on had suddenly been ripped out from beneath his feet, leaving him lost and alone and reeling.
As he stood in the hospital hallway, shaking, his surroundings had pressed in on him, a riot of loud noise and bright lights that he couldn't make any sense of. He couldn't process the overload from his ears and eyes, couldn't seem to make his brain work. Noise and light pounded at him, pummeling him, as his grief and confusion overwhelmed him.
And then, slowly, through the noise, he'd heard Chloe's voice, calling his name. The world had steadied, the loud noises and too-bright lights had faded into normalcy.
And suddenly everything had made sense again.
He opened his eyes and studied her, reminding himself that she wasn't dead. She was perfectly healthy, her body having somehow miraculously resurrected itself. But just thinking about that terrible moment when he'd thought she was dead made him shudder in remembered anguish.
So yeah, he knew all about grief. Hell, he was Smallville's resident expert on the subject. But that didn't mean he liked standing here helplessly while she cried, uttering soft, heartrending little sobs that cut into him like kryptonite blades.
"Chloe?" he said at last, tentatively.
"I'm sorry." She brushed at her tears with her hands. "It's really hard to concentrate when Lana was here one moment, and then the next..."
Miss Sullivan didn't make it. Suddenly he remembered those words again, and knew exactly how she felt. When he'd been told she was dead, he hadn't been able to concentrate, either. He hadn't been able to focus on anything beyond his own pain and sorrow.
For a few moments, his whole world had been grief.
She looked away from the laptop, up at him. His remembered sorrow must have been written on his face, because she suddenly seemed to remember that he'd loved Lana, too.
"I'm so sorry, Clark," she whispered. She stood up, walked to him, and put her arms tightly around his shoulders, offering comfort.
His arms went around her automatically, and he blinked hard. He had to struggle not to bury his face in her shoulder and wail. Because maybe Lana's death hadn't affected him quite the way Chloe's had, but that didn't mean he hadn't loved her.
It had been a hell of a bad day, anyway. There was a psychotic phantom on the loose, the girl he'd loved for years was dead, and the girl he depended on most had died and been locked away in a morgue drawer...
He clamped down firmly on his rioting emotions, keeping them inside. They didn't both need to be bawling right now. They had things to do. But he couldn't step away from her, couldn't stop himself from clinging to her tightly as she pressed her face into his jacket. Long moments ticked by.
He didn't ever want to leave the warm circle of her arms, but at last he managed to pull away. There was a homicidal version of him on the loose, and he needed to take care of it. He didn't have time to indulge in his own grief, or even to let her indulge in hers.
"There's a lot more people in danger right now," he said, looking into her eyes. Her body was still pressed up against his, and it occurred to him her mouth was only a few inches from his. To his dismay, he felt his body begin to react. He let go of her and stepped back.
She looked up at him and gave a sad little smile.
"Yeah," she agreed. "Denial should be our friend right now." She brushed her tears away, and her voice changed, shifting to the brisk, businesslike tones of the investigative reporter that he knew so well. "So let's get to work."
Bright morning sunshine filtered through the lacy curtains of the Kent farmhouse. Clark sat on the couch, listening to a radio report about the murder of Lana Lang. He heard Chloe's voice, but didn't look up.
She walked toward him. "I know you want to be alone right now," she said, her voice gentle. "But I thought I'd come by and try to get more than two words out of you."
He still didn't look at her, not even when she reached down, switched off the radio, and stood right in front of him. "Thanks, Chlo," he said roughly, studying his glass of orange juice as if it alone could console him. "But I think I'll take a rain check on that."
She walked around the coffee table, moving a little closer to him. "Well, I guess you deserve a little peace and quiet, after sending the evil Bobbsey Twin to the sunny side of Mars."
He sighed. He was relieved that the phantom Chloe had dubbed "Bizarro Clark" was no longer a threat, but the whole incident nagged at him in a way he couldn't quite articulate. "Who's to say he's more evil than I am?"
He heard a soft laugh. "Well, unless you have a second identity I don't know about..."
Pain and shame squeezed tightly in his chest. "Chloe, listen. When I heard about Lana, I went to find Lex. And I... I wasn't going to let him leave there alive."
He risked a glance at her, and saw her looking back at him steadily, with no condemnation in her eyes. "I think that's a pretty normal grief reaction, Clark."
He wasn't sure it had been grief. That was part of what he couldn't explain, part of what he couldn't quite understand. He'd been thinking about everything that had happened since yesterday, and he still couldn't quite make sense of his own feelings.
What he'd felt when he'd heard Chloe was dead had undeniably been grief. He didn't doubt that. It had been like having his legs kicked out from under him, painful and disorienting. He'd never felt so lost and alone in his life.
But what he'd felt when he heard Lana was dead had been less... noble, somehow. It had felt selfish and petty and ugly. And it certainly hadn't brought out his better impulses.
The truth was, his relationship with Lana rarely seemed to bring out his better impulses.
He thought about it, and realized tht when he'd heard Lana was dead, he hadn't feel the vast emptiness he'd felt when Chloe "died." Lana's passing didn't leave a huge hole in his life, not really. All he'd felt when she died... was anger.
He sighed. "The irony," he said slowly, "is that for the first time, I think I really understood Lex." He struggled to explain his thoughts. "Loving someone is hard. It's difficult. But hate is... it's easy, Chlo."
In that moment, he'd understood Lex a lot better than he wanted to. In that moment, he hadn't been sure which of them was worse. He'd wanted to hurt Lex, wanted to kill Lex, and it made him wonder if he really loved Lana at all, or if he was just possessive of her, as if she were a thing rather than a person. As if she were just a toy he didn't want to share with Lex.
Loving someone is hard. It's difficult. Except, he thought, maybe it wasn't all that hard, after all. It didn't seem like loving someone should be all that complicated.
Maybe, he reflected, if he really loved Lana... it wouldn't have been so damn difficult.
Chloe sat down next to him. Her eyes were filled with concern and sympathy. "Maybe you need to feel this right now," she suggested. "Anger is a natural human emotion."
"But that's just it." He gave another heavy sigh. "When that phantom was trying to kill me, and I found myself staring into my own eyes... I saw the monster I could become if I wanted to. It was a reminder that I am not human."
She snorted. "Yeah. Tell that to all the people you've saved over the years, Clark. You're one of us now, Clark. You're part of humanity. And the fact that you happen to be from a galaxy far, far away... well, it just adds character."
At her passionate defense of him, he felt a slight smile quirk the corners of his mouth. He lifted his head and looked at her, seeing the steady friendship in her eyes, the unwavering friendship of seven years.
"And you know," she said, a little more softly, "I'm here, Clark. No matter which side of nature or nurture is winning out. I'm here for you."
He gazed back at her, unblinking. "That goes both ways, Chlo."
Her steady gaze flickered, and she looked away. "Thanks," she said, her tone suddenly wary.
"Look, Chloe, whatever happened in that dam... you wound up in a morgue."
Her voice was terse and sharp. "It was nothing."
He wasn't used to her shutting him out so abruptly, and he tried again. "I'm just saying that when you're ready..."
"Thanks." She spoke with the curt finality of a slamming door, and started to stand up. He caught her arm gently, pulling her back down on the couch.
"Hey," he said, putting an arm around her shoulders and pulling her toward him. "Don't do that. Don't push me away."
She felt stiff against him. "I just don't want to talk about it."
"I guess I can understand that. It was pretty scary. You scared the hell out of me, Chlo."
She lifted her head and looked at him dubiously. "You didn't seem all that scared."
He remembered the way the world had reeled around him in the hallway, the way he'd felt himself cut off from everything, drowning in noise and light and grief, and he gave a short, humorless laugh. "Believe me. I was scared."
"Oh," she said, very softly. "You didn't act all that relieved when you found me."
Suddenly he realized she hadn't understood the extent of his freakout. And no wonder, because once he'd heard her voice, he'd calmed down. At that point he'd known she was all right.
But she clearly didn't realize how much she mattered to him, and how badly her "death" had shaken him.
He looked down into her soft, sorrowful eyes, and suddenly all he wanted was to let her know exactly what she meant to him.
Read Chapter 2 here.