Clark, Martha, Chloe (offscreen Clana)
Season 7, after "Veritas"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
"Mom." He could barely get the words out. "Lana was hurt yesterday, and now she's..." He struggled for a word to describe her state, and finally settled on a wholly inadequate description. "Catatonic."
"Oh, honey." On the other end of the phone, his mom sounded as warm and loving as ever. As motherly as ever. He closed his eyes, imagining her arms around his neck, imagining the scent of baking cookies filling the kitchen where he sat. "I'm sorry. Do you need me to come home?"
"No." His mom had a life in Washington, DC now. She was a senator, and he was trying as hard as he could not to drag her back to Smallville. She had important things to accomplish, and he was grown up enough to live on his own, damn it. He was old enough to cope. "I'm dealing with it."
"Can she... do they think..."
"No," he said in a flat voice, trying to conceal all the emotion writhing inside him. He'd talked to his mom here in the farmhouse kitchen a thousand times over the years, and suddenly he missed her so much he could barely stand it. "It was Brainiac, Mom. No one can fix this but him. And he's gone. We can't find him at all."
"Oh, no. I'm so sorry, baby." She hesitated, as if trying to figure out a way to phrase something delicately. "But you and Lana... you've been having... problems, haven't you?"
Problems was a polite way of putting it. The truth was that he'd gotten to the point where he could barely stand to be in the same room as Lana. He'd been trying to work through it, because he was aware that some of what was bothering him was not truly Lana's fault. The fact that she'd been fooled into sleeping with his doppelganger-- well, she'd been a victim of that situation, just as much as he had.
But the fact that she'd loved the doppelganger better than she loved him was something he just couldn't get past, no matter how hard he tried.
His resentment and distaste for her had gotten so bad that when he'd decided to learn to fly, he'd sent her to her office at Isis, just because he couldn't stand exposing himself to her that way. He wasn't willing to share that part of his life with her.
Hell, he wasn't willing to share any part of his life with her any more.
"Yeah," he admitted, opening his eyes and looking at the empty kitchen. "I was actually about to ask her to move out."
"And ask Chloe to move in?"
"Mom. Of course not."
"Why not? Every time you call lately, all you want to talk about is Chloe."
Clark shifted on the stool he was seated on. "Um, we just spend a lot of time together. She's my best friend."
"She's been your best friend for years. But you've never talked about her this much before."
"Well..." He sighed. "You're right, I guess. Sort of, anyway. Things have kind of been changing between us. I mean, I don't know how she feels, but when I broke up with Lana, I was going to see if Chloe and I could, well, talk about things."
"But now you can't."
"Yeah. Now I can't." He blew out his breath in frustration, sending a neatly stacked pile of bills flying. "Chloe doesn't really know how bad things were between me and Lana, and besides, she and Lana were friends. So now if I talk to her about any of this... well, she's going to think I'm a dog, Mom."
"Yes. I see the problem."
"I feel lower than pondscum for even thinking about Chloe now. I mean, Lana is... well..."
He bowed his head and blinked hard, trying to steady his voice. He was a man now, twenty years old, and he wasn't going to cry with his mother listening. If he did, she'd be on the next plane home, and he couldn't do that to her. She wasn't just his mom anymore. She was Senator Kent, and she had a job to do.
"You've loved Lana for a long time," his mother said gently, "and I know you're upset about what's happened to her. Don't blame yourself because you don't love her that way any more, Clark. You can't help how you feel."
"I just..." His voice shook despite his best efforts, and he swallowed hard. "I ought to be thinking about Lana, Mom. Not about what this means to my life. I'm being selfish."
"No," his mother answered. "You're being human."
"I'm not human."
"You're more human than anyone I know, sweetheart. You've tried really hard to make things work with Lana. I don't think anyone can fault you for lack of effort. But considering everything you've told me about this year-- well, I think it's becoming obvious she isn't the girl you thought she was."
"But now she's..." He struggled for words. "She's frozen inside herself, Mom. And our life together is frozen, too. I can't move on. I can't... I can't..."
"You can't go to Chloe," his mother said softly.
He blinked hard. "I shouldn't even be thinking about Chloe."
"Clark." His mother's voice was calm and reasonable. "How can you help thinking about the woman you love?"
Seen in that light, his disloyalty to Lana seemed a little less horrible, a little less appallingly selfish. He blew out another long breath, and the bills that hadn't already been blown away took flight. "I just don't know what to do, Mom. I'm all mixed up inside."
"If I were you," Martha said in her most reasonable tones, "I wouldn't do anything just yet. You're right. You can't go to Chloe, right after something like this has happened to Lana. I imagine Chloe's upset too. And you may not be quite certain of your feelings right now, anyway. You and Lana have been together a long time, and I'm sure seeing her like this is terribly upsetting."
He nodded, even though he knew his mom couldn't see him. It had been upsetting. He'd closed her eyes, so Brainiac couldn't see his misery, then knelt beside her and cried. He'd actually sobbed.
The problem was that he hadn't been sure if he was crying for her, or for himself. Whether he'd been crying for her pain, or the complications her condition had brought to his life.
He didn't want to be that petty a person. But he'd been about to end a chapter in his life... and now he couldn't turn the page.
For now, his life was frozen.
"Thanks, Mom," he said at last. His mother hadn't produced a solution, but he hadn't expected her to. There was no solution to this problem, no solution but time. What his mom had done was help lift some of the guilt off his shoulders.
Which was what she always did, somehow.
"Are you sure you don't want me to come home?" she asked, sounding worried. "Because I don't have too much to do this week, and if you need me..."
"Mom. I'm fine. Really."
It wasn't true, of course, not really. He was still frozen inside, numb with pain and sorrow, and his life was still in emotional limbo. But the confused knot of feelings tangled inside him had unraveled a little, and he no longer felt like the worst person in the world for thinking of himself as well as Lana.
"All right," Martha said, sounding dubious. "But I don't want you to sit and mope alone in the loft."
"I'd never do that, Mom."
"I'm serious," she said, sounding unexpectedly stern. "Listen to me, Clark. When you find yourself thinking too much, I want you to pick up the phone and give Chloe a call."
"Chloe? But I told you..."
"She's your best friend." Martha's tone shifted back to gentleness. "No matter what else might happen between you, she's the person you count on most. So when you find yourself moping-- I want you to promise me you'll talk to Chloe."
Clark sighed again. "Okay, Mom."
"I love you, baby."
"Yeah, Mom. I love you too."
Clark closed the phone and put it on the counter. He stared at it for a long moment, then picked it up again.
I want you to promise me you'll talk to Chloe.
Good advice, he thought. Because even though his emotional life was frozen right now, and he couldn't move forward with Chloe the way he'd wanted to... Chloe was still his friend. Talking to his mom helped him work through his problems... but talking to Chloe lifted his spirits in a way nothing else did.
He picked up the cell phone and dialed her number. She picked up on the second ring.
"Hi, Clark," she said warmly. "What's up?"
At the sound of her voice, his mouth curved, just a little. His mom had been right. Nothing in the world could make him really happy right now, but talking to Chloe made a terrible situation seem just a little more bearable.
Suddenly he didn't feel quite so frozen inside.