Friday, October 23, 2009

Let Me Look in Your Eyes

Clark/Chloe
Season 9 (my version)
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Screencap from Home of the Nutty.

I guess growing isn't hard to do
Just stand against the wall
Once I was just two feet high
Today I'm six feet tall

But knowing who to listen to
Is something else again
Words just whistle round my head
Like seasons in the wind

All across the water the clouds are sailing
They won't let me look at the sky
All I want to do is try and find myself
Come and let me look in your eyes
-John Denver, "Come and Let Me Look in Your Eyes"

"I need help."

Clark Kent looked wild-eyed, almost frantic, as he brushed past Chloe Sullivan and he strode into her apartment. She gestured to the couch, but shook his head and began to stalk back and forth, his long black coat swirling behind him.

"Clark," she said, very gently. "Whatever it is, it'll be okay."

"No," he said, still stalking in a way that, combined with his ebony outfit, made her think of a panther. "I hurt someone, Chloe. I hurt the hell out of him."

She stood quietly, watching him. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, he was a criminal. He was robbing a bank. And I hit him. But I hit him way too hard, Chlo. He's in the hospital. He's... he's lucky to be alive."

She tilted her head on one side. "This isn't the first time, is it?"

He came to an abrupt halt and glared at her. "What do you mean?"

"I do read the papers, Clark. I know you've injured at least three other people pretty badly. The D.A. and the press are in an uproar about it."

He stared into her eyes for a long moment, then looked away from her forthright gaze and began stalking again. "They were all criminals," he muttered. "It's okay to use force on criminals."

"It is not okay to put them in hospital beds," she retorted. "And you know it. But until today, you haven't even shown any remorse. I'm worried about you, Clark. Anyone can make a mistake. But you're making the same mistake, over and over again, and you haven't even been a little bit upset about it till now."

"I just..." He waved his hands in the air. "I have to stop crime. If the only way to do it is to use force on criminals--"

"But it isn't, Clark. You don't have to hit them that hard. You know how to tap someone on the head and knock them unconscious. For that matter, you could just pick them up and blur them to the police station. Why are you beating the hell out of them instead?"

He came to a halt again and stood there staring at her, looking lost and bewildered.

"I don't know," he whispered.

"Clark..." He looked so much like a confused little boy that her heart went out to him, and she spoke gently. "Ever since you started wearing the black outfit, you've been different. Colder. It's like you're not you any more."

"Of course I'm me," he said, but without any great conviction.

She took a step toward him. "Clark," she said, "how recently have you been to the Fortress?"

"Last week," he answered. "I'm supposed to go every three days, but I missed last time because of that big explosion downtown..."

"So you missed your last visit to the Fortress," she said, very carefully, "and now you're feeling remorse."

He blinked at her. "So?"

She sighed. "Clark, I think it's the Fortress that's making you behave this way."

"I don't understand."

"Of course you do. You've told me before how the Fortress brainwashed you that one summer. How it turned you into Kal-El."

"But that isn't what's going on." He spread his hands out. "I'm still me, Chlo. I'm still Clark Kent."

"You are and you aren't," she answered. "You mostly react like Clark Kent, but in certain situations, with certain people, you're not acting like yourself."

He frowned at her, then nodded. "I see. So that's what this is about. You're jealous."

She cocked an eyebrow. "Excuse me?"

"You're jealous because I'm spending more time with Lois than with you."

"This has nothing to do with you and Lois," she answered, but she heard the acid in her own voice, and knew that she was lying.

"Sure it does. You want to blame the Fortress for the fact that Lois and I have gotten so close."

"Clark..." She shrugged, acknowledging the point. "Okay, maybe I do. But tell me this. Why are you and Lois so close all of a sudden?"

He scowled, folding his arms defensively over his chest. "We just are. She's my best friend."

She tried not to wince, and failed miserably. "Yes, but when exactly did this happen?" she persisted. "When you went away to the Fortress, you and Lois were friends, but not really close ones. But when you came back, all of a sudden you were spending all your time with her. " Her voice lowered. "It's like you forgot I exist."

"I did not. I come to you for help when I need it."

"We used to be friends, Clark. You and I. We were best friends. And now I never see you except for work. You come to me for your hacking needs. That's it. And that is not how things used to be."

"There you go." He threw up his hands. "You're jealous. That's why you're saying these crazy things about the Fortress..."

"No. Clark. Listen to me. You're not the same person you were before. The Fortress is... is influencing you somehow."

He snorted scornfully. "How could it do that?"

"I don't know!" She flung up her own hands, exasperated. "If it can give you new powers you've never had before, don't you suppose it can change the patterns of your thoughts if it wants to? Clark, you need to stop going to the Fortress. I know Jor-El has convinced you he's a good guy now, and that you need to take your training, but what he's doing to you-- well, it's not training, Clark. It's manipulation."

"Sure," he said, rolling his eyes. "Jor-El wanted me to be close to Lois instead of you. Like Jor-El cares who I'm friends with."

"Something," she said, very clearly and distinctly, "is changing the way you think, Clark. Not just with regards to Lois and me, but with regards to your approach to crimefighting, too. Remember why you came to see me? You were upset about hitting that guy."

His gaze instantly slid away from hers. He looked hunted and guilty. "Yeah," he muttered. "I don't know why I did that, Chlo. You're right; I could have just tapped him, but I just... well, he was just a criminal, not really a person at all..."

"Not really a person at all?" She boggled at him. "Clark, listen to yourself. Since when have you thought of criminals as subhuman? I'm serious about this. Something is wrong with you. Something is really wrong."

He stood there in thought for a long moment, his brow furrowed.

"Yes," he admitted at last. "You could be right."

"So promise me you won't go back to the Fortress," she said, holding out an imploring hand. "Whatever it's doing to you-- just let it wear off, and don't go back. Don't ever go back."

He considered that, then shook his head, very slowly. "I have to go back," he said. "I have to find out what Jor-El's done to me, and why."

"Clark. Please. If he knows you've caught on, he could brainwash you entirely. Turn you into Kal-El again. Please, please, don't risk it."

"No." He narrowed his eyes, looking stubborn. "I need to confront Jor-El. I need to know."

She closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them and looked at him.

"Then take me with you," she said.

*****

They stood shoulder to shoulder in the Fortress. She was bundled up in a parka, gloves, and a scarf, but she still shuddered with the cold. He looked entirely unaffected. She knew he could have worn swim trunks into the Arctic Circle and not have noticed the cold. Right now, she deeply envied that ability.

"My son." Jor-El's disembodied voice sounded pleased. "I am glad to see you. You are several days late, and I was concerned that your dedication to your training might have... wavered."

"I'm not here for my training." Clark's voice was as cold as the Arctic air. "I want to know exactly what you're doing to me. Have you been influencing my thinking, Jor-El?"

There was a brief pause. "I have been training you, my son."

"No." Clark glared upward. "I hit a guy today. Hit him hard."

"There is nothing wrong with violence toward criminals," Jor-El intoned.

"Nothing wrong?" Chloe stepped forward, inserting herself into the conversation for the first time. She was aware that the Fortress could easily kill her-- it had tried, the very first time she'd come here-- but she couldn't quietly accept those words. "Jor-El, he could have killed that man."

"The world is a better place without criminals in it," Jor-El said in a sanctimonious tone.

"No. Criminals have rights in our society, Jor-El. Clark can't just go around killing people without due process-- he can't be judge, jury and executioner--"

"He can, and he will, by the end of his training. Who better to make these decisions than a being of superior intellect?"

Clark frowned. "Are you telling me you want me to kill people?"

"If you catch them in the act of a crime, then certainly. That is the logical thing to do, my son. It is your purpose on this planet."

Clark shook his head as if trying to clear it. "So that's what my training is about," he said, very slowly. "You want me to... to replace the legal system?"

"The various human legal systems are archaic and primitive and riddled with loopholes," Jor-El said. "None of them effectively deal with crime. Once your training is completed, you will be much more efficient, my son. The Earth will be better for it."

"And if I make a mistake?" he said slowly. "If I kill an innocent man?"

"You will, of course, make the occasional error," Jor-El replied. "But as long as your actions serve the greater good, it is of no consequence, my son. After all, they are only humans, and a single human life is of no particular value."

Clark glanced at Chloe, and she saw the dawning horror in his eyes. He looked as if he'd just awakened from a nightmare to find himself enmeshed in something even more frightening.

"Jor-El," he said, and she noticed he didn't call the AI Father. "This is not what I want. I want to save people, not to kill them."

"This is your destiny, my son. This is why I sent you to this planet. By killing the criminals, you save the rest of the populace."

"I don't have the right to make those choices!" Clark's voice grew almost shrill. "That's not the man I want to be! That's not the man my parents brought me up to be!"

"Your parents?" Jor-El sounded annoyed. "They were mere humans, my son, not your true parents..."

"They were my parents!" Clark's voice rose as he shouted up at the crystal high above. "They would have been ashamed of me for putting those people in the hospital. And they would have been right!"

"I was afraid of this." Jor-El sounded irritable. "This is why I separated you from your friend, because she reinforces these unfortunate ideas that your parents inculcated you with..."

"Wait." Chloe spoke quietly, in contrast to Clark's raised voice. "What do you mean, you separated us?"

"During Kal-El's first visit here for training, I made sure that his connection to you was broken, and replaced with a more superficial one."

"Lois," Clark said.

"She does not value life as strongly as this one," Jor-El said. "Her ethics are less absolute, her thinking less critical. She admires you as the Blur for your power, and will accept almost anything you do without question."

"Whereas Chloe thinks I should actually be held accountable for my actions."

"I would prefer that you have no close human relationships at all, but that is unfortunately not feasible, after all your years on the planet. So I chose a more appropriate partner for you, one that would not question your behavior or your training."

Clark glared upward. "So you brainwashed me into thinking I was close friends with Lois, and that my interest in Chloe was only professional."

"Brainwashing is a most unscientific and inaccurate term..."

"It sounds pretty damn accurate to me!"

Jor-El uttered a sound that strongly resembled a sigh. "It is unfortunate that you missed your last session, and are now shaking off your conditioning. I will need to start over almost at the beginning..."

A blue light began to pulse around Clark. He tried to move, but jerked to a halt and stood frozen, trapped. His eyes were fixed, wide and imploring, on Chloe, and she could read his thoughts as clearly as if he'd uttered them.

Help me. Chloe, please help me.

She spun and ran full-tilt toward the crystal console that controlled the Fortress. But before she could get there, a bitterly cold wind began to blow, driving her to her knees.

"I am sorry, Chloe Sullivan," the AI said, sounding less than sincere. "But it is not as easy as I supposed to keep you out of Kal-El's life entirely. And whenever you insert yourself into his affairs, you cause trouble. I am afraid you will have to be terminated."

The icy wind buffeted her, but she struggled toward the console on her hands and knees. It was only a few more feet... only two more feet... one more foot...

She was barely aware of reaching the console. Only sheer determination kept her conscious. Shuddering, her teeth chattering violently, she reached up to the console and began yanking out crystals, one by one, and throwing them aside. As she yanked out the fifth crystal, the blue light glowing around Clark suddenly faded. He looked around wildly.

"Chloe?"

"Over... here," she managed to chatter.

He whooshed over to her, swept her up in his arms, and stared into her eyes for a long moment.

And then they left the Fortress behind in a rush of wind and a swirl of snow.

*****

"I'm sorry," he said the next day, for about the hundredth time. "So sorry, Chlo."

"I know you are." She patted his shoulder. "Don't worry about it."

"It all seemed perfectly logical at the time. Like dream logic, you know? Lois was somehow my best friend, and the fact that I'd never been all that friendly with her before didn't seem to matter all that much. And you and I were just business associates, and I didn't really remember all the things we've shared together. It's like Jor-El switched the wires in my brain, and I didn't even notice."

"It's not your fault."

"Yes, it is. I should have noticed things weren't right, Chloe. I shouldn't have let him manipulate me that way..."

"Clark," she interrupted more firmly, giving him another comforting pat. "If he can make you hear people's thoughts, then he was able to exert a lot of power over you. It's not surprising he was able to change your thought patterns that way. Just be glad the effect wasn't permanent."

"I'm glad it's wearing off now that Jor-El's deactivated. I feel a lot more like myself again. Thank God I missed going to the Fortress that one time, or my brain would be pea soup by now."

She laughed softly, and refrained from the obvious comeback that it already was. She was too happy to tease him right now. "It's good to have you back, Clark. The real you, I mean."

"Yeah. I'm glad to be back. I didn't like the person I was under Jor-El's influence. I don't want to hurt people. And I don't want to turn my back on my best friend, either."

She smiled. "I'm glad we worked it out."

He lowered his head and stared into her eyes as if he could see all the secrets of the universe there. "You saved me," he said softly.

"It's all part of being your sidekick," she said with a shrug.

He smiled. "What about this? Is this part of being my sidekick?"

His big hands trailed down her back, and she cuddled up closer to him on the bed they'd spent the past three hours in, pressing her naked body against his. She smiled and kissed him, for perhaps the three hundredth time that day.

"This is the best part of being your sidekick," she said.

-The End-

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well written it explains the shift we got suddenly this season to Clois. I can totally see the Jor-El of Smallville doing this to his son. Also I love how Chloe caught on.

Anonymous said...

You have this amazing gift of finding plausible explanations for, and fixing, the writers' butchering of the characters.

Thank you for making things right. I can only imagine how good SV would be if you were on the writing staff.

Sarah

chloista4ever said...

Awesome! a way to explain clois in shitville great work Elly.

BkWurm1 said...

Great surprise ending. Leaves me a little chilled as to how well your scenerio fits what has been happening on Smallville since "Clark Kent is dead" I always knew that Jor-el's AI was nutso, but it's depressing that the Producers on Smallville are too.

MonicaOP said...

Beautiful, really something that will explain the travesty that is Season 9, and in such a great way!! I always love how logical you are when you write this stories.. you always make sense!!!

Also.. oh the ending.. loved the ending with all my heart!!! Hugs!!!

Mariko said...

I really hope Clark is brainwashed because there's just no explanation otherwise for the sudden obsession with Lois and destruction of a 9 year friendship. I hate this season so much. I liked how they ended up in bed together. Clark and Chloe belong together.

Anonymous said...

It's a so good story. I don't like evil Jor-El from Smallville first seasons. But maybe he returned.

This story is so good written, very touching and emotive. It put the kryptonian father-son conflict to other level too.

Jor-El description of Clois it's so good!

I am so glad Chloe saved him again. She is our hero from past seasons.

Also I like so much the happy ending and it's more good because it's so unexpected. In the story there are any clue that they are more than friends. With the ending we realize for what reason Chloe are jealous and know he changed.

RedGigant

inked said...

Chloe takes the true sidekick role she deserves ;)

Was scared Jor-El would win, destroy Chloe and delete her from Clark's memories... I'm happy it went the other way.

Loved how you described Clois, the best summation out there imo.

Iolanthealias said...

Wow - an extremely logical explanation for the lightswitching that's been going on in Season Nine! Thanks for making it make sense.

Plus a great story about the ethics of Superman. What if Superman did feel that way? Frightening.

wwg said...

Wow. That explains s9's reboot perfectly! You have a real give with words, Elly. You also understand the characters much better than the writers.

Thank you for sharing! :)

Elizabeth said...

Can we put you on the writing team ASAP?? PLEASE!!! Because your stories make a hell of a lot more sense than what these "writers" are giving us this season. I loved loved loved the way you explained away Clark's douchiness and his closeness to Nois. Thank you so much for sharing your stories with us. =)

DeeDee said...

At last, a reasonable explanation for the crapfest Season 9 has been thus far!

Makes complete sense that the AI-Jor-El would try to separate Clark from Chloe, who is his real tie to humanity. Yay to Chloe for figuring it all out, and for Clark to standing up to the tyrannical AI.

And I love, love, LOVE the ending! ;-)

Excellent work, Elly!