Friday, October 12, 2007
Saying Goodbye, Chapter 1
Season 7, MHE for "Kara"
Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
"What do you mean, you're leaving?"
Clark Kent fidgeted nervously at his best friend's sharp voice, feeling like he used to when he was ten and his mom caught him superspeeding in public. He didn't quite dare look at her, so he stared at the floor instead.
"It's time for me to take my training at the Fortress," he said, doing his best to sound logical and reasonable. "Remember? I said I'd go do it when I'd taken care of all the Zoners. They're all gone, so it's time."
"Yeah." Her voice lost some of its sharp edge. "I do remember that. And I guess you're right. It is time. I only wonder if you're doing it because it's the right thing to do, or because you're running away from your life."
He'd told Chloe's cousin Lois he was leaving first, because they weren't really close, and it was easier to tell her. He remembered with a pang that she'd said almost the same thing: Where are you running away to, Smallville?
"Look," he said, a little more defensively, "I need to do this. I've been putting off this training for a while, but I have these responsibilities, and..."
"Yeah, you have responsibilities," she agreed, and he could hear the sharp edge in her voice again. "Like taking care of a brand-new cousin with superpowers, who doesn't have a clue how to handle them."
He winced at the mention of his cousin Kara, who'd been trapped in a ship since the first meteor shower. The recent destruction of Reeves Dam had awakened her, and she'd emerged with abilities even more impressive than his.
"She'll learn," he said, trying to sound more confident.
"Yeah, but Clark... remember Eric Summers? Remember how he acted when he suddenly got powers?"
"Of course I remember. But Eric was a human."
"Doesn't matter. I have a feeling that suddenly discovering you have superpowers, that you're incredibly strong and fast and invulnerable, can be intoxicating, whether you're human or Kryptonian."
He hesitated, processing that. "Are you saying you think Kara could be dangerous?"
"Not exactly. She seems like a nice girl. I'm just saying I think she needs guidance from someone who's been through all this before."
He shrugged uncomfortably. "I have to stick around for a little while, because there's a crystal missing from her ship, and she thinks it's important. So the two of us have to find it. But as soon as we do... I have to go, Chloe. I have to."
She reached out and touched his arm, and he finally lifted his gaze and made eye contact. He saw understanding in her eyes.
"Because of Lana?" she asked.
He tried not to wince. He'd seen her crying over Lana's death, and knew that she was grieving almost as much as he himself was. "That's part of it," he admitted. "Plus my mom left, and..." He pulled away from her touch and stalked restlessly across the loft. "I don't know, Chloe. My life just seems... empty. I feel like I need to do something with it."
"That's a good impulse," she said gently. "Everyone needs some purpose in their life, and I'm guessing planting corn and feeding cows isn't going to be enough for you. But Kara's family, Clark. Don't you think you owe her some help and support?"
He paused by the window of his loft and stared out into the daylight, finally acknowledging the truth he'd been trying to avoid.
"I owe you some help and support, too," he said roughly.
The truth of the matter was, he was a little ashamed of himself, ashamed that he'd been willing to run away and leave his best friend to face her strange new meteor powers alone. He'd told her just a few days ago that he was there for her, and then he'd decided to leave her alone.
He was a jerk.
But she didn't sound angry. "No, Clark. You don't owe me anything."
"Yeah, I do." He realized this was why he'd found it so much easier to tell Lois he was leaving. He didn't owe Lois a thing, but he'd promised Chloe, given her his word... "I told you I'd be your personal bomb squad. I can't be your bomb squad if I'm up North."
"Don't worry about it," she said briskly. "You can't let humans hold you back from your training, Clark, no matter how much they mean to you. Your training is too important to let any of us stand in the way of it. But Kara... she's not human, and she really needs your help. No one else on Earth can help her, because no one else can really understand her."
He lowered his head, feeling like pondscum. He'd made the decision to leave before he'd met Kara, but even after he'd met her, he'd wanted to escape to the quiet solitude of the Arctic so badly he hadn't let himself admit he needed to stay.
"I just wanted to run away," he said softly. "I didn't feel like I could cope with things, so I... I wanted to run."
Her hand came down on his shoulder. "I know," she answered. "It's your normal reaction when you're scared and upset. It's not a big surprise, believe me. And the thing is, leaving for training isn't a bad idea, Clark. It's something you need to do. But you need to go for the right reasons, not just because you're depressed and lonely and freaking out."
He nodded, taking comfort from the warm pressure of her hand on his shoulder. "You're right. I can't go yet." He glanced back at her, seeing her soft hazel eyes looking at him steadily, and a pang of sorrow made his heart twist in his chest. "But sooner or later, Chlo, I'm going to have to go. One day, I'm going to have to say goodbye."
"I know." Her hand squeezed his shoulder. "And when you're ready, I promise I won't try to stop you. But right now... I just don't think you're quite ready."
He lifted his head, looking over the fields that he loved, and then back down at the smiling face of the woman who'd been his best friend since middle school.
"No," he agreed softly. "I'm not ready yet."
Read Chapter 2 here.