Between seasons 2 and 3
Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Ain't got enough dough to pay the rent
I'm flat broke but I don't care
I strut right by with my tail in the air...
I don't bother chasing mice around
I slink down the alley, looking for a fight
Howling to the moonlight on a hot summer night...
- Stray Cats, "Stray Cat Strut"
The summertime air was thick and humid in Metropolis, and the tall buildings didn't permit any hint of a breeze to cool the streets. As Kal strode down the sidewalk, a full moon riding high in the dark sky overhead, he noticed that everyone he passed was perspiring, sweat beading on their faces and glinting in the light that spilled from the buildings lining the street. He seemed to be the only person in the city who wasn't sweating.
Kal was clad in a black shirt-- three hundred and fifty dollars from the Metropolis Men's Shop-- and a pair of Levi's-- $25.99 at Wal-Mart-- and he'd shoplifted both of them with equal unconcern, using his superspeed to whoosh in and out of the stores before anyone monitoring the security cameras could notice anything.
He grinned widely, thinking of the old flannel shirts he'd once worn. Thank God he didn't have to wear old flannel hand-me-downs that were too tight in the shoulders any more. Now he was just another stray on the streets of Metropolis, with no one to tell him what he had to do or when he had to do it, and he could wear whatever the hell he felt like wearing.
Life was good.
He turned and swaggered into a nightclub called Atlantis, same as he did every night. It was Friday night, and the place was packed. The racket of conversation and pounding music was almost painfully loud, and to Kal's sensitive nostrils, there was a certain reek that announced clearly how hot it was outside. Despite the air conditioning, which was running full blast, everyone in the place smelled like they'd been sweating. A lot.
His nose wrinkled. Ugh. Humans stank.
Doing his best to ignore the smell, he stalked to the bar. The bartender, a curly-haired young guy who had a bit of a crush on him, lit up.
"Hey, Kal. The usual?"
"Yeah." Kal tossed a twenty on the bar, flashing a grin, and the guy responded with a shy grin of his own, ducked his head, and poured Kal a whiskey. Kal lifted it to his lips, dropped his head back, and drank it in a single gulp.
Kal wasn't into guys, which was really too bad, because he was pretty sure Curly would drop his pants for him in a heartbeat. But the idea didn't do much for him, unfortunately. He liked girls.
He wanted a girl.
He sighed and looked the room over. It was filled with a churning, gyrating mass of human flesh, approximately half of which was female. It wasn't like there weren't plenty of girls for him to choose from.
Too bad they all reeked.
He put the glass down on the counter with sudden resolution. He really needed to get past this mental block he had about sex. It was always something. The girls were too ugly or too easy or too cheap or too smelly. He always had an excuse of some sort.
But he'd been here for three weeks now, and it was time for him to get past whatever remnants of his upbringing remained... and get laid.
Fine, he thought to himself. So pick one.
He looked over the crowded room. Most of the girls were already paired up with a guy, but that was no problem. He didn't mind fighting for a girl. In fact, he thought that would probably charge him up and make him even hornier, because he'd recently discovered that he liked to fight.
His gaze moved over the crowd, assessing and discarding each candidate. At last his gaze fell on a pretty girl, with short, too-blonde hair and a wide smile, and he blinked.
Can't be her. Not here.
It just couldn't be. Because she wasn't in Metropolis, but a long distance away, back in a small town he'd left behind. And besides, her hair was a soft golden color, not that brazen, too-platinum shade.
But then she looked in his direction, and her smile faltered, and he realized it was her. It really was.
He stared into her hazel eyes for a long moment, as if the two of them were the only two people in the crowded room, and then he straightened up and stalked toward her. He paused right next to her and looked down at her.
"Chloe," he said. "What the hell did you do to your hair?"
"Clark." She sounded sour, like she'd bitten into a lemon. "Nice to see you, too."
It was nice to see her. It was really nice to see her. He was having a hard time keeping that to himself, keeping back the words that would tell her how much he'd missed her and how glad he was that she was here. He wanted to fling his arms around her and hug her, to smile, to ask how his parents were. But that was so totally not a Kal way to behave.
Kal didn't hug people. Kal didn't smile, except in a nasty, sardonic kind of way. And Kal didn't give a shit about his parents.
He reached out a hand and touched the too-pale hair, wrinkling his nose critically. "I see you did something to piss off the stylist."
She batted his hand away and frowned up at him, annoyed. "What the hell is your problem?"
"Just being honest." He let himself sneer down at her, because it was a safer option than grinning. "Your hair looks like crap, but you smell good, Chloe."
Her eyebrows shot up. "I beg your pardon?"
"It's hot out," he said. "Everyone else here smells like they've run ten miles in the heat. You smell good. Someone must have dropped you right at the door."
"As a matter of fact, someone did." She looked to the side and smiled. "And here he comes now."
Kal frowned as a tall, lanky blond guy walked up. "Hey there," the guy said.
"Hey," Chloe answered, her smile growing brighter. "Gary Oberdorfer, this is Clark Kent. He's a friend of mine from Smallville."
Gary -- Gary Oberdoofus, Kal promptly renamed him in his head-- smiled and offered his hand. "Hi, Clark. Any friend of Chloe's is a friend of mine."
"Yeah, whatever." Kal ignored the guy's outstretched hand, and turned toward Chloe, putting a big, possessive paw on her shoulder. "Thanks for bringing her, dude. I'll take over from here."
He tried to steer Chloe away, but she dug in her heels and resisted. Which was exactly what Chloe always did. Chloe Sullivan was stubborn like water was wet.
"Excuse me," she said tightly. "I'm kind of here on a date, in case you didn't notice."
"Yeah, but now I'm here." Kal grinned down at her, offering his best you-know-you-wanna-screw-me smile. "Come on, Chlo. Let's go catch up and talk about old times."
"Um..." Oberdoofus was beginning to sound annoyed. He reached out and grabbed Kal by the shoulder, trying to spin him around. He had about as good a chance of accomplishing that as he had of spinning around a Mack truck, but he didn't have any way of knowing that. "Hands off my date, pal."
Kal lifted his hand and casually brushed Oberdoofus away. The guy stumbled backward, and only the tightly packed crowd prevented him from sprawling on the floor. Kal turned back to Chloe and rolled his eyes.
"You know," he said, "your date's a real jerk."
"My date's a real jerk?" She was staring at him like she'd never seen him before. "What the hell's wrong with you, Clark?"
"I just want to hang out with you for a while, Chlo. Privately." He put an arm around her waist and pulled her along a little more forcefully, pushing his way through the crowd. Not that he had to do a lot of pushing, really. Most of the guys stepped aside hastily as they saw him coming. "I figured maybe we could make out in the corner."
Her eyes were starting to do that glittery-gold thing that meant she was pissed. "Why the hell do you think I want to make out with you?"
"Don't be stupid," he said, unconcerned by her anger. Clark would have cringed in the face of her temper, but Kal didn't let himself be intimidated by tiny females, no matter how much they glared. "You know you want to jump my bones. Now's your chance."
He paused in a dark, shadowed corner, leaned against the wall, and yanked her right up against him, letting her feel his erection. She gasped and tried to pull back, but he didn't let her. He pushed his hips against her harder, grinding against her a little.
"Excuse me," she said again, her hands on his biceps as she tried to push him away. "You're wrong, Clark. I don't have any interest in you at all."
"Liar." He let his teeth flash in another grin. "Come on, Chlo. Be honest. Why would you want a doofus when you could have me?"
"Why would I want you, of all people?" Her voice was sharp. "After you didn't even tell me about you and Lana, why on earth would I ever want you?"
He grinned and pulled her against him harder.
"Because you've always wanted me," he said.
"I've never wanted you," Chloe answered, but he noticed she wasn't struggling very hard. In fact her thighs had parted, and she was pressed right up against him intimately, and if he wasn't imagining things she was actually rubbing against him a little. "You jerk. You made it very clear who you wanted, and it wasn't me."
He gave her a shut-up-and-screw-me smile. "If I really wanted Lana that much, I would have stuck around Smallville, wouldn't I?"
"I don't think Lana had anything to do with your leaving." She rubbed against him a little harder, and his eyelids drifted shut. "What caused that big crater on your parents' farm, Clark?"
"Kal. Call me Kal."
"Why should I call you Kal?"
"It's my name here."
She rolled her eyes, like he'd said something woefully stupid. "Fine. Whatever. What caused the big crater on the farm, Kal?"
He opened his eyes and smiled at her, very sweetly. "None of your goddamn business."
She scowled. "What the hell is your problem?"
"My problem," he said, almost growling, "is that you're trying to seduce me into telling you why I left. I knew you were an investigative reporter, Chlo, but I didn't realize you'd resort to using sex to get answers. You're really growing up, aren't you?" He flashed a deliberately insulting grin. "Growing up into a slut, that is."
She lifted her hand, her eyes flaring gold, but he caught her wrist before she could strike him.
"Naughty, naughty," he mocked. "First you try to seduce answers out of me, then you try to hit me when I call you on it."
"You tried to seduce me first!"
"Yeah, well, I wasn't trying to get anything out of you except sex."
She sagged against him, just a little, and he released her wrist. "I don't get you," she said, her voice less strident. "I honestly don't understand what's going on here. Clark Kent, hanging out in nightclubs? Dressed all in black? Going for meaningless sex with women he doesn't care about? I mean, seriously, is there a blizzard in Miami right now?"
"I told you," he said, his voice clipped. "I'm not Clark Kent."
She stared at him consideringly for a long moment. "What exactly do you mean by that?"
He couldn't repress a smile. The investigative reporter was back, and this time she was interviewing instead of seducing. "Forget it, Chlo," he said, his voice as menacing as he could make it-- menacing enough to make full-grown men run away from him. "I'm not telling you a damn thing."
She didn't even blink at his tone. It took more than bad attitude to scare Chloe Sullivan. "So you won't tell me what's going on in your head," she drawled, "but you'll have sex with me."
"Yeah. That's about the size of it."
She stared at him. "I've known you all these years," she said at last, looking bewildered, "and I never realized you were such a total asshole."
He flashed his teeth in that nasty, sardonic grin that seemed to come naturally to him now.
"Live and learn, baby."
Kal lowered his head and started to nibble on Chloe's ear. He felt her quiver against him, and he pulled her against him harder. She definitely wasn't objecting to having her ear nibbled.
"Looks like you go for bad boys," he said softly.
She quivered as his breath brushed over her ear. "Maybe," she admitted, and turned her head, so close her nose almost bumped his. "But the big question is, why are you going for me? Just because Lana isn't here?"
"Maybe I'm just glad to see you, Chlo. You ever think of that?"
"Considering our last conversation consisted mostly of me yelling at you, and you totally ignoring me, not really. I mean, the last thing I said to you was have a nice life."
He grinned, and waved a cheerful hand to encompass the club. "And I listened. I'm having a great life."
"Oh, you are not." She rolled her eyes. "This is totally not you, Clark. There is no way you can convince me you're really enjoying this."
"Trust me." He lowered his head and traced her ear with his tongue. "I'm definitely enjoying it."
"Ick." She shoved at him, not very sincerely. "How many girls has that tongue been on in the past month?"
He burst out laughing. "Chloe," he said, his voice warmer and more affectionate than he meant it to be. "I've missed you. Really."
"Yeah, sure. Okay. Just keep your tongue to yourself, okay?"
"How about my hands?" He let his hand trail down her hip, and then up her thigh. He heard her little gasp of surprise, but he didn't stop. He liked to hear her gasp that way.
"Ummmm." She made a little purring sound deep in her throat as his hand slid boldly up between her thighs and stroked intimately over her panties. Her hands tightened in his hair. "Clark. Damn you, Clark."
"Damn me for what? For making you like it?"
"Oh, Clark..." She pressed her face into his shoulder, sounding like she might cry. "I just wanted to forget you ever existed," she whispered. Even through the panties, she was hot and wet, and he was pretty sure she was hot for him, not the Oberdoofus guy. "I thought if I came here... if I just got together with someone else..."
A bolt of jealousy hit him like lightning from a clear blue sky, and he spoke through his teeth. "You were going to sleep with Oberdoofus."
"Gary. His name is Gary."
"I don't care. Forget his name, Chlo. He isn't for you." He moved his hand harder and spoke in a low, savage voice, right in her ear.
She squirmed against his hand, and her eyes drifted shut. She had beautiful, long lashes, like dark fans against the porcelain skin of her cheeks. And it wasn't just her lashes. She was entirely beautiful, with a happy smile and lovely big eyes and a body that made him horny as hell. He wondered how he could have known her all these years and failed to notice how beautiful she was.
The answer, of course, was that he hadn't failed to notice at all. Deep down, he knew he'd noticed a long time ago, and just done his level best to ignore it.
He remembered the first time he'd noticed how pretty she was. It was the day they'd met. He'd been assigned to show her around the school, and he'd been blown away by how pretty she was, and how nice. In his experience, most pretty girls were standoffish. Like Lana, for example. He'd loved her from afar for years, but she'd never really made an effort to get to know him. He was simply too much of a geek for the pretty, popular girls like Lana to look twice at.
But Chloe had smiled at him like he was a movie star, talked with him, and then kissed him, and he'd been totally blown away.
It was really too bad she'd just wanted to be friends.
They'd settled into a close, intense friendship, but he'd noticed again how pretty she was when they went to the spring formal together. She'd had her hair piled in a fancy style, and she'd been wearing a long pink gown, and she'd been so impossibly gorgeous he hadn't been able to stop staring at her. They'd gone to the school and begun to dance together, and he'd stared into her eyes, finding himself drawn irresistibly toward her. He'd bent to kiss her, right on the dance floor.
If they hadn't been interrupted, they might be dating now.
No. He shoved that thought away. He'd left Smallville, and no matter what relationships he might have had there, they'd be over now. Everything in Smallville was irrelevant to him now.
But he couldn't quite push away the idea that if Chloe had been his girlfriend, he might have been able to cope with everything that had happened a little better. If he'd had her to support him, he might still be in Smallville.
He shook his head, dispelling the thoughts of the past, and focused on the present. Chloe's panties were wet, and she shivered with every movement of his hand. She was, he thought, pretty close to coming.
And so was he. He could feel his cock pulsing, hard and eager, in his Levis. And suddenly he knew why he hadn't been able to bring himself to screw anyone, despite all the gorgeous, willing women he'd met. Suddenly he knew what he'd been waiting for all these weeks.
He'd been waiting for her.
Kal moved his hand away from her, eliciting a small moan of dismay, and pulled her against him. She was wearing a short black skirt, and it was easy enough to push it up in front, right out of the way. He tightened his hands on her waist, lifting her so that their bodies were perfectly aligned, fitting against each other the way they'd been designed to fit.
And then he was pressing into her, his cock right up against her wet panties. His jeans were still in the way, but he didn't care all that much. He buried his face in her hair, panting hoarsely.
"Jesus, Chlo. You feel so good."
"Oh, my God." Her head fell back, and her eyelids barely opened. She stared at him from beneath her lashes, looking stunned by what they were doing. "We're in public, Clark. We can't..."
"We could go out in the alley," he muttered, thrusting against her. "But right now I can't... I have to..."
"Oh, God." Her fingers clutched the expensive fabric of his shirt, so hard he thought she might rip it. "Me too. Don't stop, Clark... don't stop..."
He didn't stop. His hips were moving frantically now, and every movement sent a fierce blast of pleasure through him. It didn't feel a damn thing like jerking off. It was so intense, so powerful, that he couldn't breathe, and his heart thundered against his ribs like it wanted to jump right out of his chest.
God, he'd been stupid to wait. He should have found a girl to get off with the minute he hit Metropolis.
Or maybe not. Because he had a feeling doing this with another girl wouldn't have been nearly so intense. It was the fact that it was Chloe rubbing against him that made it so good.
She definitely wasn't trying to seduce information out of him this time. She just wanted him, wanted the pleasure he could give her, and that made his heart pound even faster.
She seemed to have totally forgotten they were in public, and that Oberdoofus was probably somewhere in the room, watching them move together in the shadows with shock and dismay. Although he doubted she cared all that much about Oberdoofus' feelings, anyway. She'd just been planning on using him to get off, the way he'd been thinking of using some random girl.
He was glad he'd found Chloe instead of someone else. The idea of rubbing against some stranger this way didn't really appeal to him. But pressing into Chloe, listening to the little sounds she made deep in her throat, feeling her body sweating, straining against his...
He moaned, a long, drawn-out sound of sheer pleasure, a sound he couldn't seem to hold back, no matter how hard he tried. His hips moved harder, not as a conscious decision but as an involuntary response, and she whimpered and held onto him more tightly.
"Yes, Clark... yes..."
He could feel her shuddering as she came, soft, helpless sounds falling from her lips, and a deep groan rose from his chest. He wanted to unzip his jeans and screw her, but he couldn't bring himself to stop what he was doing, not even for a moment. It felt too good.
Chloe Sullivan was dry humping him in public, in a dark corner of a nightclub, and she smelled delicious and felt better, and he was so hot he couldn't bear it, couldn't hold back his release a second longer. He surrendered to pleasure as his hips moved fast and hard.
"God, Chlo, God, ah, God..."
The pleasure boiled over inside him, and a hard, fast rush of liquid heat burned its way out of his body, so scorchingly hot it ought to hurt. But it definitely didn't hurt. His cock spasmed violently, every spasm pure ecstasy, and he slammed against her hard, sobbing and groaning, trembling like he had a fever.
His orgasm was long and intense, but at last it faded, and he sank back against the wall, lowering her to the floor. She pushed her skirt down and leaned into him, burying her nose in his chest.
There was a long moment of silence. Drums pounded and guitars wailed and hundreds of voices shouted, but he didn't hear any of it. At last she spoke.
"Clark," she whispered. "I've missed you an awful lot."
His arms tightened around her.
"Yeah." He tried to go for a sardonic tone, and failed utterly. "I've missed you too."
Her arms squeezed him, too. It felt warm and familiar to hug her this way. It felt right. "Come back to Smallville with me," she said softly.
"No. I can't go back, Chlo. I can't. But... but..." He lowered his head and drew in her scent, and words he couldn't hold back fell from his lips.
"I want you to stay here in Metropolis with me, Chlo."
Kal opened the door to his apartment and ushered Chloe inside. She hadn't agreed to stay with him permanently, but at least she'd agreed to stay the night. And right now, that was enough for him. His head was full of the memories of the way they'd made out in the dark corner of the nightclub, and he had a lot of creative ideas as to how they could spend the night together.
And maybe in the morning, after a night of hot sex, she'd agree to stick around for a while.
He flipped on a switch, illuminating his apartment. It was a spacious loft in the arty district of Metropolis, and it had come prefurnished with a lot of modern, black-leather-and-chrome furniture. She gazed around with what he assumed was an impressed expression.
He realized his jeans were still wet, and he really needed to change. He walked over to the big closet and threw it open, revealing a long row of jeans, slacks, and shirts, with not a single thread of flannel in sight.
"Clark." Her voice was very small. "How can you afford all this?"
He yanked out another pair of Levi's and turned his head, grinning at her over his shoulder. "Five finger discount," he said.
She gaped at him. "What? You're stealing?"
The clear note of censure in his voice rubbed him the wrong way. His grin shifted to a dangerous snarl as he glared at her. "I don't have a whole lot of other sources of income, Chloe."
She looked as shocked as if he'd confessed to being a mass murderer. "You could get a job. That's what most people do."
"Sure." He rolled his eyes and walked over to the chest of drawers, pulling out a pair of silk boxers. Ordinarily he would have died before letting Chloe see his underwear, but when he was on red K, he was immune to embarrassment. "I'm sixteen, and I can't give any references, or even my real name. Who's gonna hire me? And even if I could get a job, it'd be flipping burgers, and I'm not doing that, damn it. I left my menial labor days behind me in Smallville."
Her eyes were wide with shock. "I guess," she said slowly, "I could understand stealing to eat, Clark. I understand needing to survive. But this..." She waved her hand to encompass his high-ceilinged apartment, with its trendy furniture and great view. "This is more than just survival."
Kal scowled at her. "When I want your permission, I'll let you know."
She stared at him as if really seeing him for the first time. "My God, Clark. What's happened to you?"
He turned, still holding an armful of clothing, and stalked toward her. She eyed him nervously, but didn't back away.
"What's happened to me," he said tersely, "is that I've finally realized that my life in Smallville was lame. Living on a farm in a small town, never having the money for the stuff I want, constantly doing chores-- it sucked, Chloe."
"Since when does honest labor suck?"
"Says the girl who's never done real physical labor in her life. Trust me, it sucks." He paused in front of her and glared right into her eyes. "And maybe I just want to enjoy myself for once in my life. Did you ever think of that? I just want to have some fun."
"Using someone else's money!" She sounded outraged. "Your parents didn't bring you up that way, Clark!"
"My name's not Clark. It's Kal. And I told you, I don't care how my parents brought me up. They're lame. My life on the farm was lame. This life is a whole hell of a lot better."
"Clark." She seemed to be making an effort to calm herself, because her voice dropped to a more moderate tone. "I know you're upset and angry about something. I don't know what happened, but I know you never would have left Smallville if you weren't freaked out about something. But that doesn't mean you can take it out on other people. You can't just steal other people's stuff."
He shrugged and turned away from her. "It's not like banks aren't insured."
"Banks?" She sounded horrified. "You've been robbing banks? My God, Clark, that's a serious crime. What if they catch you? You'll spend the rest of your life in jail."
"They won't catch me." He looked at her over his shoulder, lifting an eyebrow. "Unless you tell someone, anyway. I guess you wouldn't mind being the one to break the story explaining a string of unsolved robberies. It'd probably do great things for your career."
She stared back at him, unblinking. "Clark," she said, her voice very gentle. "I'm not going to turn you in."
A little knot of tension in his chest that he hadn't even been aware of eased, and he realized he'd been deliberately testing her loyalties. "Good to know," he said.
"But they'll catch you eventually. And besides, it's wrong. You have to stop this, Clark. Right now."
He disappeared into the small bathroom, stripped off his jeans and boxers, and started running water. "I'm not stopping, Chlo," he said, pitching his voice so as to be heard over the trickle of water. "I'm perfectly happy with things the way they are."
"Clark." He could barely hear her over the water. "You have to give the money back."
"Give it back?" He blinked into the mirror, seeing his reflection, seeing the ruthless glint in his eyes that had never been there before he'd put on the class ring. "Why the hell would I do that?"
"Because it's the right thing to do."
He snorted. It's the right thing to do sounded very much like something Jonathan Kent would say. "Not gonna happen, Chlo."
"In that case," she said, her voice grim, "I'm not sticking around. Not even for the night."
He grabbed a washcloth and cleaned up a bit, then dried himself off and pulled on fresh clothes. He stalked back out of the bathroom.
"So what?" he demanded. "You think I'm going to change my life for you? You think I'm going to give all this up in exchange for a little pussy?"
She flinched at the crude word. "No," she answered. "I don't. I guess in order to change, you have to want to change."
"That's pretty much the size of it. And I don't want to change. My life is great."
"Yeah," she said, very softly. "I can see that."
She looked at him for a long moment, then turned and walked toward the door.
"Goodbye, Clark," she said.
It was two in the morning, but Kal couldn't sleep. He kept having flashes of her body against his, moving sinuously, her leg twining around his, the way she'd whimpered as she came against him...
He sighed. No wonder he couldn't sleep, with thoughts like that running through his head. It'd be a lot easier to sleep if he'd gotten laid.
The problem was, he wasn't interested in screwing a girl who was going to lecture him. After all, he'd left Smallville to get away from the self-righteous, holier-than-thou lectures. He didn't want Chloe Sullivan, not if she was going to say Jonathan Kent-style crap like It's the right thing to do and Since when does honest labor suck?
He opened his eyes, watching the lights of the city make intricate, ever-changing patterns on his ceiling, and sighed again.
The real problem was that he did want Chloe Sullivan. No matter how much he tried to deny it, he did. He'd really liked what they'd done at Atlantis... and he'd wanted more of her.
He wanted all of her.
He wished he'd been able to figure out some way to get her to stay. But he understood there was absolutely nothing he could have done to make her stay, short of forcing her. She thought was he was doing was wrong, and she wasn't going to have sex with a bank robber.
He understood why she felt that way. Because yeah, what he was doing was wrong by human standards. The thing was, though, he wasn't human. He was superior, sent to this world to rule and conquer. He could damn well do anything he wanted, and didn't have to abide by human moral codes.
But he couldn't very well explain that to Chloe, and he had a feeling that even if he tried, she wouldn't agree with it anyway.
He heard an echo of her voice: Your parents didn't bring you up that way, Clark.
She'd sounded disappointed in him. Ashamed of him. And he knew his parents would sound exactly the same way.
I don't give a fuck, he thought defiantly. He closed his eyes, rolled over, and wrapped his arms around his pillow, burying his face in it, trying to shut out his thoughts.
He wished his arms were around Chloe instead.
Damn it. He wanted Chloe, so intensely it hurt. He wanted to find her, and screw her. He wanted her so badly he couldn't deny it any more, not even to himself.
But he also knew there was only one way he could have her.
He let go of the pillow and rolled over. Slowly, he pulled off his heavy class ring.
The instant he dropped the class ring onto the nightstand, pain and sorrow and loneliness washed over him, so agonizing he could hardly stand it. It felt like every emotion the red K had suppressed for the past month had surged to the surface, drowning him in a flood of lonely grief.
Despair filled him, along with the hopeless sensation of being trapped in a situation he couldn't escape from, and he wished he'd never come to Metropolis. He wanted his old life back.
He wanted his mom and dad. He didn't even know how his mom was doing, if she'd recovered from the miscarriage, if she was able to smile a little now. He didn't know how his dad was coping with it, either. The loss of the baby must have been a terrible blow to both of them, and without the ring to suppress his emotions, he worried about how they were faring.
He ought to be there beside them, helping them. Instead he'd run away, adding still more to their burden.
He'd run away partly because of the way his dad had looked at him, the way he'd closed Clark out, slamming the hospital door right in his face. But Clark was pretty sure his dad hadn't meant it, that he'd just reacted that way out of grief and pain and anger. People sometimes reacted without thinking when they were upset.
God knew Clark was an expert on that.
Despite everything that had happened, he wanted his mom. He wanted to feel her hugging him, stroking his hair, telling him that everything would be all right. That no matter what he'd done wrong, it could somehow be fixed.
But it couldn't be fixed. That was the problem. His actions had led directly to the death of his baby brother or sister, and that was something that he could never, ever fix, no matter what. He could try to atone for it the rest of his life, but atonement wasn't the same as fixing it. In a single moment, he'd destroyed his parents' hopes and dreams, shattered everything they'd ever wanted, and he didn't know how he could ever face them again.
And it wasn't just his parents he missed. He wanted his friends. He wanted to see Pete again. He wanted to hang out with Chloe. He was surprised to realize he wanted to see the two of them a lot more than he wanted to see Lana. He'd thought he was in love with Lana, but he was starting to rethink that, because he didn't miss Lana with the terrible, empty ache he felt when he thought of his two best friends.
He wanted his parents, and his friends, and his life. He wanted to go home and do honest work, instead of wasting his time in an endless cycle of stealing and hanging out at nightclubs. He wanted everything to go back to normal.
But things could never be normal again. He wasn't normal. He'd been born on another planet and sent here to rule Earth, destined to be pushed away from the people he loved.
No matter how hard he tried, he could never be one of them.
He remembered Chloe's voice: I guess in order to change, you have to want to change.
He did want to change. He wanted to be human. But no matter how much he wanted it, it would never happen. He would always be different. Alien.
Tears rolled down his face, and a knot of pain twisted inside his chest, choking him, strangling him. He put an arm over his face, blocking out the lights of the city, trying to hold back his sobs.
He hated Metropolis. He hated his life here. He just wanted to go home.
But he couldn't.
The pain and homesickness and grief hammered at him, as relentless and overwhelming as a tidal wave. The emotions surging inside him were just as agonizing as the pain that had driven him to put on the ring in the first place, and he didn't know how to cope with them.
He didn't want to cope with them. They hurt too much.
He reached out a hand, groping blindly, and his fingers wrapped around the ring. He slid it back on his finger, and a rush of pleasure rolled through him, followed by a comforting numbness.
His tears faded, and he blew out his breath in a long sigh of relief.
He wiped away the tears on his cheeks, his mouth twisting sardonically at his own weakness. God, he was pathetic when he took the ring off.
Obviously he wasn't going to get any sleep tonight, he decided. He rolled over, sat up, and started pulling on his clothes.
He might as well go out and have some more fun.
Kal swaggered down the sidewalk. Even though it was past two, the streets were just as crowded and noisy as they had been earlier. He wasn't the only stray in Metropolis looking for a place to prowl, not by a long shot.
Even in the middle of the night, it was still hot as Hell, and the people he passed still reeked. He wrinkled his nose, remembering how Chloe had smelled, fresh and sweet. But he shoved that memory out of his mind impatiently. He wasn't going to think about Chloe any more. There were plenty of other women in the world, after all.
Even so, he couldn't help but wonder what he'd do if he found her in Atlantis again. He couldn't help but wonder what he'd do if she wrapped her hand around his arm and whispered, Come back to Smallville with me, the way she had last time.
No. He didn't have to wonder. He already knew the answer. Even with the red K ring firmly on his finger, he knew.
If she asked, he'd follow.
He strode into Atlantis, his chin tilted at an arrogant angle, and headed for the bar. He ordered a whisky from Curly, then leaned on the bar and casually looked around.
She wasn't there.
Of course she wasn't there. He'd known she wouldn't be there. He hadn't even been looking for her. Not really.
In a quick, angry motion, he lifted the shotglass, tossed back his whisky, and wiped his mouth. He wasn't wiping away the taste of the whisky so much as he was wiping away the taste of her. Because he didn't need Chloe Sullivan. He didn't need anyone. He was all alone in Metropolis. And he liked it that way, damn it.
It was the way things had to be. The way things ought to be.
This was his life now.
He stood there in Atlantis, a single alien in the midst of hundreds of humans. A throng of people swarmed around him, laughing and dancing and talking at the top of their lungs.
He leaned on the bar and silently watched them, making no effort to join them. He didn't want to join them.
Surrounded by a mass of humanity, he stood alone.