Season 7, MHE to "Persona"
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 from SVFan.
How could she not have known?
Clark Kent lay in the darkness of his bedroom, listening to the soft sound of his girlfriend's breathing. He'd spent a lot of nights next to Lana Lang over the past few months, wishing he could make love to her.
Until now, he'd never spent a night wanting to get away from her.
But now everything had changed. Because he'd been trapped in a column of ice for the past month, while an evil doppelganger had moved into his life with Lana and taken his place.
And Lana hadn't noticed the change.
If he was going to be honest with himself, it was worse than that, actually. She had noticed the change. She'd reveled in the change. The phantom who'd taken his form had apparently been more attentive, more loving, more adoring than he'd ever managed.
It was a hell of a blow to his ego to discover that his bizarre, twisted, evil twin made a better boyfriend than he did.
In the end, Lana had sided with him and killed his double. But Clark hadn't missed the regret in her eyes as she killed the phantom with a chunk of blue kryptonite. And he hadn't missed the hitches in her breathing tonight before she fell asleep, the sound of a woman trying very hard not to cry.
The sound of his girlfriend, crying for the loss of another man.
He threw an arm over his eyes. Damn it. It was one o'clock in the morning, and he obviously wasn't going to get to sleep any time soon, not with his mind whirling in frantic circles, caught in an endless loop of angry, frustrated thoughts.
The truth was, he didn't belong here. He didn't belong here, lying in bed next to Lana, as if nothing had changed.
Because everything had changed.
He remembered the way Lana had greeted him when he'd returned from the Fortress. She'd insisted that everything was just fine between them, that he was somehow confused. She'd deluded herself into thinking that the phantom was Clark, a new, improved Clark, who wanted nothing more to devote his life to her.
The phantom had apparently asked Lana to leave Smallville with him, and Clark had been floored to realize she was perfectly okay with that idea, okay with the idea of them running away together.
Not so that he could learn more about the world, or to try to save people, but just to be with her.
A little voice in his brain said, Chloe wouldn't want that.
He tried to push it away, because Chloe wasn't his girlfriend. She was his best friend, and yes, she'd always encouraged him to save the world, to put others first. But it had to be easier for her, because she wasn't as afraid of losing him as Lana was.
But that wasn't true, not really. He remembered her big, sad eyes as she'd said, I just found out you and Lana are leaving Smallville, Clark. I'm nowhere near okay.
The truth was, she was just as afraid of losing him as Lana was. But because she believed he had a great destiny, because she felt he ought to devote himself to saving people, she was willing to lose him if she had to.
Lana would never be happy with him, not really. The phantom had summed it up for her with painful accuracy: He doesn't love you the way I do.
That's a lie! Clark had objected.
The phantom had spun toward him and snapped, You're lying, Clark-- to yourself. And then he'd turned back toward Lana and said, more gently, You know he'll never commit his life to you the way I will.
And the phantom was right. Clark couldn't deny it, because he'd recognized a hint of the same truth himself earlier this afternoon, when he'd met Dax-Ur, the Kryptonian who'd given up all his powers to be with a woman. He'd asked for the blue kryptonite in order to stop the phantom, and Dax-Ur had asked, What's her name?
In that instant, Clark had suddenly realized he couldn't give everything up for Lana. He didn't even want to.
But Lana, he recognized, would want him to.
Chloe had apparently realized the phantom's behavior was unClarklike, and she'd been wary of Clark himself until he'd proven he wasn't the phantom. He thought of the way Chloe had run to him when she'd realized he was really plain old Clark Kent, and not an evil twin.
She'd flung her arms around his neck, just the way she had when he'd returned from the Phantom Zone, and he'd held her against him, feeling like he'd come home.
He'd hugged Lana half an hour before, but he hadn't felt the same warmth deep inside. He thought about it, and was surprised to realize that hugging Lana didn't give him a feeling of warmth. In fact, hugging Lana left him oddly cold.
But the feel of Chloe's arms around his neck had melted the remnants of the Arctic ice away. He thought about the way she'd smiled when she'd realized who he was, and just the thought of that bright smile made him ache inside.
Suddenly he was very confused, so mixed up that he had no idea how he felt, or what he wanted to do.
It occurred to him that talking to Chloe might help him figure some stuff out. Chloe was good at helping him talk through his problems. It was the middle of the night, but assuming she was asleep, she wouldn't mind talking to him. Chloe was awesome that way.
He got up, pulled on his clothes, and left the room at top speed, leaving Lana asleep, unaware that he was gone.
Just like last time.
He knocked on the door of the Talon apartment four seconds later. Fortunately, Chloe's cousin Lois was out of town, so he didn't have to risk incurring Lois' wrath by coming over at odd hours. He could talk to Chloe as long as he wanted.
Fifteen seconds ticked by, but at last Chloe opened the door, rubbing her eyes. Lana usually wore a glamorous, lacy nightgown to bed, but Chloe just wore a ratty old t-shirt that covered her to midthigh. Her ordinarily sleek hair was rumpled, and there was a line on her cheek where a crease in the pillow had been pressed against her face. She blinked up at him and offered him a sleepy smile.
And all of a sudden, Clark knew exactly how he felt, and exactly what he wanted to do.
He grabbed her and kissed her.
Read Chapter 2 here.