Saturday, April 19, 2008

Land of Confusion, Chapter 3

Season 6, following my story "Wherever You Will Go"
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Read Chapter 2 here.

She was asleep. He could hear the steady, even sound of her breathing, the only noise in the stillness of the rural night. He rolled out of their makeshift bed and stood up, staring down at her.

They'd bedded down on a pile of straw in a barn, as they did all too often, but even in the crude surroundings, she looked flawlessly beautiful. There was a look of peace on her face that wasn't often there during the day, and her long dark hair fanned out around her.

Beneath the tattered blanket, he couldn't see the slight bulge of her stomach, but he knew it was there, and it only made him more beautiful in his eyes. He couldn't wait to see her belly rounded in late pregnancy.

He only wished he could give her and their child a better life. But this was their life now-- a life of running from what passed for the government, a life of sleeping in barns and fields and sheds, a life of scavenging for food.

Chloe deserved so much better, and so did their unborn child.

Everyone deserved better, really. The country had been shaken down to its foundations by the recent upheaval, and at least a quarter of the population was homeless, drifting aimlessly, just as he and Chloe did. Most of the rest of the country had few of the services people had always taken for granted.

With the lack of electricity, and the subsequent lack of refrigeration, people were never sure if they'd be able to find food, let alone cook it properly. Water was a problem, too. And the scarcity of resources, along with inadequate law enforcement, led to violence as people battled for what they needed to survive.

The country was a mess. The world was a mess.

And it was his fault.

He sighed and tried to push the guilt away. In his mind, he could hear the words Chloe had said to him over and over again: Clark, you and guilt go together like peanut butter and jelly.

He knew indulging in guilt didn't do any good. Furthermore, he knew the disaster that had befallen the world wasn't truly his fault. He hadn't asked Zod to take over. In fact, he'd tried his damnedest to prevent it.

Even so, there was little doubt that if he hadn't come to Earth, none of this would ever have happened. Political intrigue from his home planet had followed him here, and ripped the world he loved apart.

So in a way, this was all his fault, and he couldn't stop himself from feeling guilty. He couldn't stop himself from feeling responsible for the people who needed help so badly.

He had to do what he could to help. He had to.

He remembered the words Chloe had uttered a week ago: Maybe we can come up with some way to help. If we went back to Metropolis, then...

Her words had sparked a plan.

He rapidly pulled on a faded pair of Levis and his workboots. And then, just as he had every night for the past week, he reached into his small bag of belongings, drew out a blue t-shirt, and pulled it on over his head.

"Okay," her voice said behind him. "Let's see it."

He jolted. He'd been so lost in his thoughts that he hadn't heard the telltale change in her breathing. He twisted his head around, looking guiltily over his shoulder.

"Uh," he stammered. "Uh... I'm sorry I woke you up, Chlo."

"Don't worry about it. I intended to wake up. I've been wondering what you've been up to every night."

His cheeks flushed so hot that he was grateful for the cover of darkness. "I just can't sleep," he said, lying awkwardly. Given the semi-telepathic bond that existed between them, he knew lying to her was useless, but he gave it a shot anyway. "I have too much on my mind... so I go out for walks..."

"Sure. And I've got some land in Florida I'd like to sell you. Waterfront on all five sides. Turn around, Clark."

Knowing he was well and truly caught, he blew out his breath in a sigh, and then turned around. She stared for a long moment, her eyes wide with surprise.

"Nice," she said at last. "I like it."

He glanced down at his blue t-shirt, where he'd affixed the crimson and gold symbol of the House of El. "I just... well..."

"Please," she said dryly. "Do not insult my intelligence by telling me you put that shirt on just to go for a walk."

"No. The symbol..." He lowered his head and spoke very softly, trying to articulate something that was clear in his head, but difficult to put words to. "On Krypton, Zod was the enemy of the House of El. Everything that's happened because of Zod... everything she did to me, and to you, and to everyone..." He sighed. "She tore everything apart, and... well, I decided to wear this sigil..."

"I get it," she said gently. "It's an anti-Zod symbol, right?"

He nodded, grateful for her understanding. "You could say that, I guess. I just... I just want to make up for some of what I did, Chlo. Zod forced me to work for her... but I never wanted to be on her side. All I want to do, all I've ever wanted to do... is help people."

She nodded, and he knew she understood his fumbling explanation, and why he was wearing the symbol of his Kryptonian family. "You've been going to Metropolis every night, haven't you?"

He paused for a long moment, and then words broke from him.

"For the past week," he answered. "I can't help it. I... I can hear them, Chlo. Even from so far away, I can hear them calling for help. There are so many people in need there. So many people in danger. Someone has to help them."

She studied him for a long moment, then rose to her feet and walked to him.

"I don't mind the idea of you helping them," she said, placing a hand on the center of his chest, on top of the sigil. "I expected it, really. But what I don't like is that you're trying to keep me from helping. I want to help them, too."

He frowned down at her. "I'm invulnerable. You're not. And besides... you're pregnant."

"So I'm supposed to stay behind and hide while you risk your life every night?"

He scowled darkly. "What do you want me to do, Chlo? Do you really want me to take you along? How can I help people if I'm worrying about you and our baby all the time?"

She opened her mouth, but he spoke right over her, his voice rising with anger. "I can get in and out of a bad situation before anyone ever sees me. You can't. And Lex's soldiers are everywhere in Metropolis, Chlo. Everywhere. If you go into the city, they'll catch you, and they might just kill you before I can rescue you. We both know Lex wants us dead."

"They might catch you too, Clark. They're carrying kryptonite."

"I'm very careful, Chlo. I keep my ears and eyes open, trust me. I don't want to die, either." He sighed, and lowered his voice consciously. "Look, Chlo... the thing is, I'm fast and invulnerable, and I can do a lot of good in a few hours."

"But I'm only human."

He wasn't sure what he could say that wouldn't sound insulting, so he only shrugged a shoulder. She lowered her head, pressing her face into his chest, and he wrapped his arms around her lovingly, feeling the light buzz of their EM fields intersecting.

"I'm sorry," she said, very softly. "It's frustrating to not be able to help. But you're right. I don't have any special powers, and I'd just be a liability to you."

He held her against his chest, grateful that she understood. But then, Chloe always understood.

"You don't mind that I'm doing this?" he said against her hair. "You aren't upset with me?"

He heard her wry laughter.

"Clark," she said, "if you hadn't been doing it, I would have been upset with you."

Warmth swelled inside him at her approval. He let go of her and stepped away from her.

"I'll be back before dawn," he promised.

"Yeah, yeah. Get lost." She smiled, although he saw the solemnity deep in her eyes, and waved at him. "Go on, Clark. Go."

He smiled back at her, telling her everything he felt for her without words.

And then he spun and blurred toward Metropolis.

Read Chapter 4 here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

oh wow elly loving this so much . i really hope everything will work out for chlark and everyone else . i feel like lois will soon be on there side. keep them coming.