Saturday, May 16, 2009
Come To Me
Season 8, "Doomsday"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Cap by writrgurl.
He heard her voice above him, and looked up. She stood there at the wrought iron railing, staring down at him, her golden eyes bright with relief and affection. And then he heard the quick clicking of her shoes as she hurried for the stairs.
"You're alive." He could hear the relief in her tone, and more guilt filled him-- guilt that she'd been worried about him, on top of everything else. He hated to be the one to load more emotional weight onto her slender shoulders. He should have been here to help her, to support her--
But no. He couldn't allow himself to start thinking that way. Not now.
She ran down the stairs and headed for him, and he didn't move toward her. But he couldn't quite make himself move away, either.
"Hey," she said softly as she flung herself against his chest. Her arms went around his shoulders, and despite himself he wrapped his arms around her and held her, closing his eyes and rocking her gently. He could hear her breathing harshly, struggling against sobs, and he swallowed hard against his own tears.
"How did you survive the geothermal explosion?" she mumbled against his jacket.
He opened his eyes, unpleasantly recalled to his task here. He forced himself to let her go, putting his big hands on her shoulders and pushing her away, very gently.
"Before Dinah pressed the button, I..." He stared down into her eyes, his hands still on her shoulders, and she stared back, her eyes anxious. He wanted to tell her what had happened, so badly, but he couldn't. He'd promised.
And besides, he knew her well enough to know that she'd try to stop him from pursuing the course he had to take.
"I don't know," he finished instead, lamely. He dropped his hands away from her and looked down at the unfinished concrete floor. "I got away from the blast, but... not fast enough to save anyone else."
He saw the grief in her eyes, and knew she was thinking of her cousin. Another casualty, another person he'd failed to save.
"Chloe," he whispered. "I've searched everywhere. There's no sign of Lois."
She nodded, blinking hard, as if trying to keep back tears, but her face was already wet with them. His heart twisted in his chest, grieving for her losses as well as his own. If only he'd done things differently-- if only he'd known more--
But he hadn't. He'd screwed this situation up in a huge, huge way, and as a result, people were dead.
He couldn't ever let that happen again. He just couldn't.
She shook her head and gave him a brave, wobbly smile. "I saw someone tacking her photo on a missing person's board," she said. The idea that there were missing person's boards in Metropolis, because he hadn't managed to confine that monster, made his chest clutch with pain. "I keep thinking that maybe-- you know, maybe I haven't..."
"Lost her?" He wanted to weep for her, for everything she'd lost in the past few days. But he reminded himself fiercely that she wasn't the only one. He remembered the little girl crying in the street because the monster had killed her mommy. He remembered the other bodies he'd seen, casually disemboweled by a blow of the huge, bone-spiked hands.
All my fault.
He tried to speak again, but couldn't, not with her honest, hopeful eyes staring at him. He turned and walked away. Behind him, he heard her shoes tapping on the floor as she followed.
She always followed him. Always.
But this time she couldn't follow him where he needed to go.
"You were there today, weren't you, Clark?" She was staring at him, and he knew she was referring to the funeral. He'd been seen her look back over her shoulder as she left, searching for him, hoping that he'd come somehow. And she was right. He had come, but he'd stayed far enough away that she wouldn't see him.
He tried to answer again, but couldn't. He remembered the coffin, the yellow roses, the tombstone, and pain rose in his throat, choking him.
He'd stood next to an angel monument, and the irony of it had scalded him. More than one newspaper article had referred to the Red Blue Blur as Metropolis' guardian angel.
But in the end, he hadn't been able to do a damn thing to save his city, or his friends. He'd been useless. Worse than useless.
"Why didn't you come to me?" she whispered. "I needed you, Clark."
He swallowed, hard, struggling to get his voice under control. At last he spoke.
"I'm the reason Jimmy's dead."
He was silent a moment, then turned to face her. But he couldn't quite bring himself to look into her eyes. "Oliver was right. I put humanity on a pedestal. It wasn't a Kryptonian beast that killed Jimmy. It was a human."
Davis hadn't actually been human at all, but he knew she'd understand what he meant-- that it had been Davis' ordinary side, the side that longed to fit in, to be just like everyone else. The side that was like ordinary Clark Kent, who kept pushing his Kryptonian heritage away in order to blend in.
That side of Clark Kent had gotten a hell of a lot of people killed.
She lifted her head and stared right at him. "I was standing right here, Clark." She took a step to the side, standing in front of a Gothic stained glass window. Golden light poured over her blonde hair, lighting it like a halo. "I know full well who killed Jimmy."
He turned away from her too-seeing eyes, her refusal to assign any blame to him, and looked around at the building she now resided in. Jimmy's wedding present to her, the top floor of an old, historic building, the apartment spacious but still undergoing renovation. The huge stained glass windows were beautiful, and yet...
"This place, Chloe... just get rid of it. Just walk away, and don't look back."
Irrationally, he wanted her out of Metropolis. If he couldn't be here to protect her, then he wanted her somewhere far away, somewhere safe.
The problem was that no place was safe.
Which was why he had to do this. As much as it hurt to leave her, he had to.
"You don't get it," she said softly. "Clark... Jimmy is here. He's watching over me."
A sudden spurt of anger filled him. He wanted to be the one watching over her. He'd always be the one to watch over her.
But he couldn't. Not any longer.
"He knew me so well he knew this place would be perfect," she said, flinging her arms wide. "Jimmy wanted me to know that no matter where I was in the city, I could look up here and see this beacon." Her face glowed. "The Watchtower."
Clark thought back on the day he'd shown Jimmy, who'd been looking for an apartment, this space.
I don't know, dude, Jimmy had said dubiously, his freckled nose wrinkling as he looked over the bare concrete floors. There's a hell of a lot of stairs to get up here.
It's got an elevator, Jimmy.
Yeah, but I bet it doesn't work half the time in an old building like this, CK. Anyway, it's kind of a mess, you know? I was thinking someplace newer, a little closer to the Planet...
Trust me, Clark had said. He'd stepped to the window and stared out, over the city, imagining Chloe here. It had felt right. The stained glass windows reminded him of the Daily Planet, where Chloe had once worked, and where he felt certain she'd work again, sooner or later. Chloe might not be a reporter right now, but she still knew everything that went on. This was her city.
He remembered her code name, Watchtower, and imagined Chloe standing here, staring out over the city. He smiled.
Trust me, Jimmy, he'd said again. She'll love it.
He'd been right, apparently. But he didn't want her to be Watchtower any more. He didn't want her involved with superheroes and their dangerous problems, not when he couldn't be there to protect her. He just wanted her to take up a quiet, ordinary life somewhere else.
But he knew there wasn't the slightest chance in the world that was going to happen. This was Chloe Sullivan, after all. She and ordinary had never been on speaking terms.
"Now look," she said, stepping toward him, her expression growing more intent. "After the funeral, Dinah, Oliver and Bart all disappeared. Maybe it's up to us to bring them all back home."
"Home." The word tasted bitter in his mouth, and he shook his head. "I don't have a home."
Her forehead creased in a frown. "I don't like the way that sounds."
He stared into her eyes, struggling to make her understand. "I've always tried to forget I was an alien..." Pain cut through him, and he turned away. "Or a creature. I've always tried to pretend I was human. I was raised to believe it was my Kryptonian part that was dangerous, Chlo, but I was wrong. It's my human side. It's the side that gets attached."
In his mind, a deep voice echoed: You have allowed your emotions for this woman to blind you to what needed doing, my son. And as a result, many are dead.
He pushed the memory away, and continued. "The side that makes decisions based on emotions... that's my enemy. Davis proved that to me."
He could see in her eyes she didn't agree. Of course she didn't. Her eyes lit with anger, and she stalked toward him. "So because of a psychopath, you're going to cut the rest of us out of your life? Clark!" Her voice rose earnestly. "Human emotion is what made you the hero that you are today."
He was touched that after everything that had happened, all his failures, Jimmy's death, she still thought of him as a hero. He wished he could think of himself the same way.
He remembered the ripped-apart bodies on the streets, the puddles of blood, and spoke coldly. "No. Human emotion is what's stopping me from becoming the hero I could be. That's what the world needs now."
Fresh tears spilled out of her eyes. "What are you saying?"
He looked at her steadily, steeling himself for what needd to be done. "Clark Kent is dead." He hesitated a moment, then added, "Goodbye, Chloe."
He wanted to hug her again, to hold her one last time, but he knew if he did, he would never find the strength to leave. He turned his back on her, hearing the soft, irregular breathing that meant she was crying again, and walked away. She took two steps, following him, then hesitated.
As he stepped through the doorway, he felt the now-familiar, slightly disorienting sensation of being transported. Rather than in her apartment, he stood in an enormous structure of blue-white crystal. He looked up at the cold, forbidding crystal overhead, and spoke.
"I'm ready, Jor-El."
Chloe stared as Clark simply faded away. She was used to his rapid comings and goings, but this looked different. He hadn't blurred away; he'd just faded into nothingness.
A new ability? she wondered. Or something else?
It didn't matter, not really. What mattered was that he was gone. He'd left her here, all alone, after everyone she'd lost, everything that had happened. Just like everyone else, he'd left her... and something told her he wouldn't be back for a long, long time.
Pain swelled inside her chest, spilling over as tears. She put her hands protectively over her stomach and let herself cry.
Read Chapter 2 here.