Season 8, spoilers for "Doomsday"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Sequel to Off the Record.
"Oh, what an astonishing surprise. You're moping again."
Seated on his tattered red sofa, Clark Kent jerked his head around at the flash of light in the dimness of the loft and blinked at the tall, lanky middle-aged guy standing at the top of the stairs. He frowned, because the guy looked vaguely familiar, and yet he was pretty sure they'd never met before. "Do I know you?"
"Oh, that's right, I took your memories. Here." The guy snapped his fingers, and Clark blinked at the smaller flash of light that seemed to emanate from his fingers.
"Q," he said slowly.
"Everyone's favorite letter of the alphabet." The guy smirked. "I gotta give it to you, kid, at least your taste in clothes has improved. Nice suit."
He wore an exact replica of the funereal dark suit Clark wore, and a sunny smile that hinted at danger. Clark squinted at him with more than a bit of suspicion.
"Last time you were here," he said cautiously, "you, uh..."
"Rewrote your whole life?" Q gave a short laugh. "And what a snoozer that turned out to be. It's like you're cursed or something, kid. Somehow any plotline involving you turns out to be focused around Wanacakes."
Clark tried very hard not to bare his teeth. He wasn't sure if he was successful or not. "My life is not a plotline."
"True," Q admitted. "Calling it a plotline would be giving it way too much credit. It's just a big mess."
"Well, don't be grumpy about it. It's true. Look at the way things just ended. You didn't even get a decent fight in with the bone-spiked guy. The two of you just kind of looked at each other. Boooorrring. I was really rooting for him to beat the crap out of you."
"Oh, thanks so much."
"Ah, well..." Q spread his hands and grinned benevolently. "We can't have everything. But seriously, I hardly got two minutes of enjoyment out of this past year."
Clark sighed. "Me neither."
"I did my best, kid. I gave you the lovely Lois Lane, practically climbing all over you."
"Yeah." Clark frowned. "That was so totally not the highlight of my year."
"Oh, come on, there's nothing like a little sexual harassment to make your first year on the job fly by. You gotta love the cufflinks innuendo, right? I wrote that one myself."
Clark scowled. "I thought you told me you set things up, not that you write every word people around me say."
"Well, I do scribe the odd joke here and there. See, the problem is that no one in Smallville has a sense of humor."
"Yeah, and he got written off." Q shook his head sadly. "Now all the humor I get to see involves Lois dressing up in black pleather. Which is actually not a bad thing, by the way. No complaints here. She's got quite an impressive pair of..."
Clark waved a hand, cutting him off. "Last time you were here, I seem to remember you said you were going to make me fall in love with Lois."
"I tried, kiddo. I totally tried. But apparently you're a tough case."
"Looks like they don't make omnipotence like they used to."
"Kid, do you remember what happened last time you smarted off to me?"
"I withdraw the observation."
"Bright boy. Anyway, you and I both know you were in fact falling for Lois before Wanacakes came back to town..."
"Could you possibly stop calling her that?"
"Whatever. Anyway, the point is that you and Lois almost kissed. And that was a hell of an epic moment, let me tell you."
"Um... I've kissed girls before, Q. It doesn't mean I was falling for her. I was kind of lonely, and she was, you know, female. And willing. Really willing."
"True. I guess it wasn't quite as epic as I thought it was going to be. And the epicness was kind of undercut by the fact that you decided to go make earthquakes with Lana a day or two later..."
"It was more like a week."
"Still. You were being kind of a manslut, don't you think?"
Clark shrugged, but he was aware of his cheeks heating just a bit. "Look, the Lana thing is over. Totally over."
"True, but it took a massive intervention by me to get rid of it. The whole green K thing... so freaking contrived, but at least I didn't have to look at the two of you rolling around in bed any more. There's nothing more boring than sex."
"I tend to disagree with that."
"Yeah, well, you're twenty-one. I'm like a million times that. But come on, farmboy. Deep down, you know that being with Lana would bore you senseless inside of a month. Anyway, she's not the one you really want. I did you a favor."
Clark sighed, and lowered his head.
"Back to the moping," Q drawled. "Fabulous. That's always a ratings winner."
"Could you possibly just get the hell out of my loft?"
"Oh, no. I'm going to rewrite things again."
Clark's head jerked up. "No," he said, frantically. "No, no, no..."
"Yes, yes, yes," Q mocked. "Don't worry, kid, I'll fix your life right up. And I'll do better by you this time, all because you haven't even made one snarky remark about my hairline. This time, I'll give you the girl you want."
Clark blinked at him cautiously. "And that would be..."
"Oh, come on." Q rolled his eyes. "Who did you just give that lovely, impassioned speech about how human emotions are stopping you from being a hero? Who was it you were just cradling in your arms, and about two inches away from kissing?"
"I was not thinking about kissing Chloe."
"You were thinking about doing a lot more than kissing her, kiddo. Better not let the network censors see some of the stuff you were thinking."
Clark glared at him. "Could you please stay out of my head?"
"I try to, kid, I try to. It echoes in there."
Clark growled. "Leave me the hell alone!"
"You really need to work on your tone when talking to gods. We like respect. Courtesy." He paused and considered the matter. "Human sacrifice works, too."
Clark buried his head in his hands. "Look," he grumbled. "I've just come off a year you would not imagine..."
"If I hadn't been watching it, I definitely couldn't imagine it. It was pretty damn bad, and not just for you. Pity the poor viewers-- namely, me."
"Okay, whatever. So you know that things haven't gone really well. I'm kind of trying to sit here and think things through..."
"Which is a euphemistic way of saying you're moping."
"And you won't shut the fuck up, which is really unbelievably irritating. So why don't you just go back to wherever you came from, turn on your celestial television, and watch me mope?"
"Because it's boring, kid. Every time you mope, I snooze. It's just not working for me. I hate to say it, but I think it's time for another reboot."
"Noooooo," Clark moaned. "Please."
"Quit complaining. This time I'm going to arrange things so you like them better. No more Lois-love, okay? I did my best, but the two of you have so little chemistry that it's really painful to watch. Sort of like two twelve-year-olds teasing each other about cooties, only not as riveting. So... no more Lois."
"Thank you, O mighty one. If you'll just stop her from drooling over me, I'll worship you forever."
"You got it, kid. Can I count on a nice human sacrifice?"
"What if I just burn all my flannel shirts on an altar?"
"Deal. Okay, moving on. So you get the girl you really want-- which is not Lana, by the way, in case that wasn't clear to your pitiful little brain by this point."
"Believe it or not, I'd actually kind of figured that out."
"Good boy. You're stupid, but you do learn. Slowly. Okay, so you get Chloe, the woman you've always wanted. But the problem is... she's preggers."
Clark jerked his head up. "What??!"
"There's gotta be conflict, kiddo. Stress. Tension. No one wants to watch a whole year of you and Chloe nuzzling. Well, okay, there are a few crazed and delusional fans in the Continuum who think that'd be great..."
"Honestly? I think I'd be okay with it, too."
"You say that a lot. I'm getting the impression you have the attention span of a two-year-old."
"Watch the insults, pipsqueak. O Mighty One really works better for me."
"Got it. Okay, so you're saying I get Chloe, but she's pregnant with another man's child...? Is the father Jimmy, or Davis?"
"That's for you to find out, farmboy."
"Look... Chloe's not that kind of a girl, okay?"
"She is now. I control the pen, I control the plotline. It doesn't have to be in character to be canon, you know. A month or two ago, Chloe got busy with... well, someone. Might have been you, for all I know."
"Yeah, except I don't remember that."
"Might have been offscreen."
"Are you telling me I might have made love to Chloe and not remember it??"
"Offscreenville sucks, doesn't it? But don't worry, if I decide to go that way I'll definitely throw in a flashback. Now, about the Daily Planet thing..."
"Hey, wait, I like my job."
"Yeah, but it's just not working out with Lois as your partner. It's not quite as iconic as I figured it would be, somehow. What if I get Chloe back into journalism and make her your partner?"
"Um, okay. I totally don't have a problem with that. When exactly did you turn into a benevolent god?"
"Don't get used to it. Now, the thing is that we're going to have to change Chloe's name to Lois..."
"Don't blame me," Q said, shrugging. "It's totally out of my hands. DC doesn't like the idea of you winding up with a girl with the wrong name, even if she is cute, smart and obviously your soulmate."
"I don't know who or what DC might be..."
"Just another one of the alphabet gods."
"Okay. Well, see, the problem is we've already got a Lois."
"Don't worry about it. She's lost in time. I'll see that she stays there."
Clark winced. "Chloe won't like that."
"It's okay. I'll make sure she gets matched up with someone whose suits are even more droolworthy than yours. There's a dark billionaire in Gotham who's a loner right now, but in about thirty years he'll be looking for the love of a good woman. Sound okay?"
"Um... yeah, I guess. But I have to say it worries me that you're being so nice about all this. I still feel like you're going to expect me to perform a human sacrifice. Or roast up Shelby."
"Are you kidding? Shelby is the best thing about your life. I like dogs better than humans, anyway. They're smarter, and they smell better." He considered the matter. "If you're going to serve me up anyone, I think Ollie would be a great choice. He's really been pissing me off lately."
"No human sacrifice, Q."
Q pouted. "People are always messing with my fun. Okay, fine. So here's the next year in a nutshell. You and Chloe fall for each other, but she has this deep, dark secret... a baby who may or may not be yours. Also, you have to deal with Zod..."
"Zod? I put him back in the Phantom Zone two years ago."
"You really should put better locks on that thing. Trust me, Zod's on his way."
"Well... okay. Forewarned is forearmed, I guess."
"Except it isn't. Just like last time, you won't remember any of this."
"So things'll just change, and I won't remember any of it?"
"That's the way it works, kid. I'm going to get out of here now, and you're going to man up and head off to see Chloe again. She's still grieving for Jimmy--"
"Okay, that totally was not my plot twist. That's another one you can blame DC for."
"Sounds like a really bad god."
"Worse than Lucifer, kid. Definitely one to avoid. Anyway, you and Chloe are going to work through your grief together, the way it ought to be. And things'll be great for a little while, until it all goes to hell, the way it always does."
"Oh, joy. I can hardly wait."
"I told you, it's all about conflict." Q flashed his evil grin. "Good luck, kid. You're going to need it."
He snapped his fingers, and in a flash of white light, he was gone.
Clark blinked into his loft. He had the oddest impression someone had been here, but there was no one here except him. He was all alone. Same as always, he thought with a touch of bitterness.
It occurred to him that he didn't have to be alone. He ought to be with Chloe. Despite all the crap he'd spouted earlier, he really didn't want to shut her out. He wanted to be with her.
Things would be a lot better if he were with her.
He stood up with the intention of heading for her new apartment in Metropolis, but then hesitated. He wanted to see Chloe. He really did. And he was going to. Right after... well...
He found himself heading for the farmhouse instead, drawn as if by a magnet.
It was weird, really weird... but he had the sudden, irresistible desire to burn all his old flannel shirts.