Season 5, after "Fanatic"
Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the WB and DC Comics, not to me.
Read this story from the beginning.
Read the previous chapter.
The dragon loomed above him, and he could smell the sulfurous odor emanating from it. He was so scared he wanted to drop to his knees and cover his head with his arms, like a small child hiding from monsters in the dark. His knees were trembling beneath him, and he thought he might just piss his pants.
Through his terror, he remembered Chloe's words: The part of your brain that it tapped into doesn't work literally. It runs on symbolism. Dreams are full of symbols. You saw something scary come at you while you were in a dream state, and your brain interpreted it as a huge monster, something straight out of a children's book of fairy tales.
It's just a symbol, he told himself, staring straight into its eyes. No matter how scary it looks, it isn't what it appears to be. It's just Sara.
He spoke, gently but firmly.
"Sara. It's me. Clark Kent."
The dragon lowered its head, its mouth gaping wide, showing its dagger-like teeth. Despite himself, he shut his eyes. It might not really be a dragon, but it looked like a dragon. And he couldn't help but remember what it had done to him last time.
"Sara," he whispered. "Please."
For a long moment, nothing happened. He forced his eyes open despite his fear and saw the dragon beginning to shrink. Its onyx scales rippled, transforming into lighter shades, and its teeth and claws faded away. A moment later, Sara Conroy stood there, looking back at him.
"Sara," he said with a gasp of relief, holding out a hand to her. "Thank God."
Sara was a pretty girl with light brown hair and an unassuming, sweet face. She wore the same jeans and pink t-shirt she'd been wearing in real life. She looked very small and fragile, and very much incapable of hurting him. But there was something dangerous in the depths of her blue eyes as she gazed at him.
"You shouldn't have come here, you know," she said softly.
"I didn't plan on coming here. But I couldn't help it. I fell asleep."
She looked at him for a long moment, an avid hunger in her eyes. "I need your dreams, Clark."
He fell back a step, remembering what she'd done to him earlier. Whether in terrifying dragon form or unassuming Sara form, he guessed she could take his dreams from him by force. He'd found the sensation of loss to be horrifying, and he didn't want to go through that again.
"Sara," he said desperately. "Don't do that to me again."
"I can't help it, Clark." She stalked him, that avid light in her eyes. "I have to have your dreams. Your memories. I'm hungry."
"No. You can't. Anyway, you took everything. I don't have anything left."
"There are remnants in your subconscious." She stalked him, her eyes aglow. Literally. He could see crimson glinting in them, a terrifying reflection of the dragon. He stepped backward, grateful to find himself able to move again. "Little crumbs of memory. I could feast on those remnants for days, Clark."
"No." Despite his fear, he struggled to reason with her. "They're my dreams and my memories, Sara. Not yours."
"You had those dreams because of me, Clark. You had the experience you desired most. All because of me."
"Yeah, and now I can't remember it, and I hate not being able to remember it. What you're doing to people... it's cruel, Sara."
"I can't help it," she said softly. "They injected me with drugs, Clark. The drugs enhance my ability. And I'm hungry. So hungry..."
"I know," he said, still backing away. She followed, stalking him. "I understand. I'm not blaming you, not really. We have you away from LuthorCorp now, and we'll make sure it doesn't happen again. All you have to do is wake up."
"I don't want to wake up," she whispered. "I need your dreams. They're mine, Clark. Give them to me."
"No." A sudden anger blossomed inside him, and he stopped his retreat and stood his ground, glaring at her. "You can't have them. And I want all my memories back, damn it. You stole them from me... and I want them."
She shook her head slowly. "I've consumed dozens of dreams in the past week, Clark. But yours were far and away the best. Your dreams fill me like no one else's do." She reached out a hand. "I want the rest, Clark. Everything you have to give."
Her hand touched his shoulder, and he felt that horrible sensation begin, the feeling of having something pulled from him. Something terribly important. Something he couldn't bear to lose.
Last time he'd begged and pleaded, but this time he felt anger. He was trying to help this girl, damn it, and here she was hurting him further.
That pissed him off.
"No," he growled, and dropped his hands onto her shoulders, grabbing her so hard that if they were outside a dream, it would have hurt her badly. "No, damn it. No."
She gasped and struggled, fighting him, but he didn't let her go. He held onto her, his fingers digging into her flesh, and as they struggled together, his memories began to pour back into him in a flashing kaleidoscope of images, dimness of the barn Chloe's mouth on him sunlight making love in tall grass the sound of her laughter...
Memories of getting what he'd always wanted most, deep down, filled the empty space inside him, strengthening him. He felt Sara trying to pull the images away from him again, but he held her more tightly, struggling with her physically as well as mentally.
"Nooooo!" Her voice was a long howl of anguish. "Those are mine!"
"No." He spoke through bared teeth. "They're mine, damn it. And this time... I'm keeping them."
The plain around them began to brighten, as if dawn was breaking, and Sara began fading into the fog. Slowly he became aware of someone shaking his shoulder.
"Clark. Clark. Wake up."
Opening his eyes, he found himself in the barn loft. Dawn was breaking in reality, too. Through the window, he could see banners of dark gold beginning to streak the sky. Chloe was kneeling beside him, staring anxiously
"It's okay, Chlo." He patted her hand. "I'm awake. And... I have my memories back."
She flashed a smile that was every bit as bright as the sunrise would be, very soon. "Sara gave them to you?"
"No," he said. "I took them." He wanted to tell her how much she meant to him, wanted to tell her everything he felt, but right now they had to deal with Sara. He turned his head and looked at her, still asleep on the sofa. He could see her fingers twitching and her head moving.
"I think she's waking up," Chloe said.
"Yeah, I think you're right." He got up and walked across to her, shaking her gently by the shoulder. Being near her no longer caused his stomach to roil, and he guessed that meant her body had metabolized the drug entirely. "Sara. Hey. Wake up."
She opened her eyes and blinked at him, then sat up and looked around. She looked confused and frightened. No wonder, since she'd been abducted and kept in a cell for God only knew how long, and then drugged.
"This is my barn," Clark said gently. "Remember me? Clark Kent?"
She nodded, very slowly. "Yes. I remember you."
"This is my..." He hesitated for a moment. "My girlfriend. Chloe Sullivan. And we're going to make sure you stay safe."
Chloe shot him a snarky look, a look that said plainly, You've already got a girlfriend, doofus. And yeah, that was a problem, all right. But he planned on taking care of it later, so he wouldn't be in the awkward position of having two girlfriends for very long.
Sara stared up at him. "Why would you help me, after everything I did to you?"
"It wasn't your fault, Sara." He spoke gently. "It was the drug."
"Still." She lowered her head as if she were deeply ashamed. "I'm so sorry for what I did to you, Clark."
He remembered her voice in his dream: I've consumed dozens of dreams in the past few nights. "What about the dreams you took from other people?" he asked. "Did you give them back, too?"
"When you fought with me, when you forced me to give back your dreams and memories, I had to give them all back," she said. "I mean, you forced me to give back the memories of everyone who was asleep. But the problem is, I can only enter into people's minds that way if they're in a dream state."
"It was really late," Chloe said. "Weren't they all asleep?"
"Almost everyone was dreaming. But one person was awake. I still have his dreams."
Clark thought of that one person, who was still empty, feeling that terrible void in his soul. "Maybe," he suggested, "you could give that one back tonight."
She shook her head, looking wide-eyed and vulnerable. "I can't do it without the drug, Clark. I swear, I never wanted to take the dreams. I just... I just couldn't help it."
"I know," he said gently. "It wasn't your fault."
"The thing is, even if we managed to get hold of the drug... I probably wouldn't give back that dream voluntarily. I'd just take more from other people. The drug..." She sniffled. "It makes me into something horrible."
He nodded, figuring that was probably true. As the dragon, she'd seemed like a roiling, voracious mass of hunger, incapable of self-control or mercy. Even if he were to steal another dose of the drug, and even if she agreed to be injected with it, he very much doubted that giving back her last dream would be high on her priority list. She'd almost certainly look for more.
"Okay," he told her. "Don't worry. We won't make you take the drug again. Not ever."
Sara looked up at him and smiled.
"Thank you," she said, very softly. "For everything."
Read Chapter 13 here.