Little Moments of Truth
This is a piece set after FEVER and Rosetta. Little bits of truth from everyone all around. R rating. May be archived anywhere. I don't own the characters I just use them for my own selfish purposes.
LITTLE MOMENTS OF TRUTH
"Chloe...can we talk?"
She jumped at the sound of Clark's voice. Chloe had been so involved typing up her latest story for the Torch that she hadn't even heard Clark enter the room For such a big guy, with very big feet, Clark sure could walk softly when he wanted to. Turning in her chair, Chloe plastered a smile on her face and replied, "Sure, Clark. What do you want to talk about?"
Clark moved to sit on the edge of the desk, facing Chloe. "Are you mad at me?" he asked.
"Mad?" Chloe echoed, then she winced, for dangling in the air between them was the word Clark left unsaid. Again?. "I'm not mad at you, Clark," she said softly.
"Are you sure?" he persisted. "Because it seems like you've been avoiding me ever since I got sick."
Chloe opened her mouth to deny it, but she couldn't. She had been avoiding Clark. Like the plague. Hearing him whisper Lana's name after her little speech to him had hurt. Like hell. But Chloe knew she wasn't being fair to Clark. He had been sick and unconscious at the time He hadn't heard her pouring out her heart to him. "Can I ask you something, Clark?" Chloe shot back. "And will you be honest?"
Clark nodded. "Ask," he said. "I promise to be honest." And Clark intended to keep his word.
"Okay." Chloe took a deep breath to prepare herself for this. She released it slowly then blurted out, "If I hadn't played the friends card after the tornado...would you still be with me?"
"I don't know," Clark replied, and it was the simple truth. "What I said to you then, about wanting to try again...I meant it. I care about you, Chloe. Alot. What you said surprised me and it hurt a little at first. Until the tornado hit, I was having a great time at the dance. When we almost kissed..I wanted to kiss you. You were my first kiss....remember?"
Chloe giggled. "In your loft," she said, nodding. "You really wanted to kiss me? I mean...at the dance?"
Clark smiled, reaching out to smooth down a wild lock of Chloe's blond hair. "Yes...I really wanted to kiss you. I didn't leave you for Lana," he stated. "I left because a friend was in trouble."
"Thing is..you accepted the friend card awfully quick," Chloe countered, trying to keep accusation out of her tone.
"At that point I figured I had screwed everything up between us," Clark said, rising from the desk to pace a bit. "Both you and Lana had said to me that once you cross the line you can't ever go back. I was scared of losing you as my friend, Chloe. I kinda suck at the boyfriend thing and I'm not doing so well at the friend thing either...lately."
Chloe felt a stab of guilt. She knew that she had been playing both mind and word games with Clark. Saying one thing while meaning another. Lying about things to make him jealous. "I've been a pretty sucky friend myself," she whispered.
Clark stopped pacing. "I want you to know something, Chloe. I know I come to you for help alot, and I don't want you to think that I'm friends with you just to use you for your research skills. Because that's so not true. You mean the world to me, Chloe."
"Thank you, Clark," Chloe replied, and it touched her to realize that Clark's voice was shaking a bit and his eyes looked a bit over bright. She knew he meant it with all his heart. His great big beautiful heart. "You mean the world to me too."
"So...friends?" Clark asked, moving close and opening his arms in hopes of getting a hug.
Chloe ran into Clark's embrace, feeling his warmth and his strength as he held her close. "Friends," she replied. And she was satisfied with that. For now.
He started at the sound of Lana's voice and turned to see her standing at the top of the stairs. "Hey Lana," he replied.
Lana smiled. "Have I come at a bad time?" She gestured to Clark's desk and all the books spread out over the top.
"Not at all," Clark said, rising from his chair. "I actually finished my homework, I've kinda just been doodling. Is everything all right?"
"Yeah...fine," Lana said softly as she crossed the loft to stand before Clark. "I just kinda wanted to check on you."
Clark frowned. "Why?"
Lana sighed and shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. Ever since you got sick and I realized I almost lost you...I can't shake the feeling that I still might. It's hard to explain. I can't even explain it to myself."
"I'm not going anywhere, Lana," Clark stated firmly. "And you won't lose me. We'll always be friends."
"Just friends?" Lana shot back, surprising herself.
Clark took a moment before replying. He wasn't quite sure what Lana was asking, or why. "I'll take what I can get," he said carefully.
Lana understood Clark's caution. "What about Chloe?" she asked. "How do you feel about her? I mean...I know you keep saying that the two of you are just friends...but I know she wants to be more than that, Clark."
"Right now Chloe and I are at the friends stage," Clark declared. "I have feelings for her that might change things between us someday. I don't know." Clark moved to the opening and looked out. "I feel like I don't know much of anything," he confessed.
"Do you want to be more than my friend, Clark?" Lana persisted as she followed him.
Clark sighed, feeling somewhat as if the weight of the world were settling firmly onto his shoulders. "Pete likes to tease me that in my mind, I'm married to you. Sometimes I'd dream about it. About us."
Lana was suprised. "Seriously?" she prompted.
"Yeah...seriously," Clark confirmed. "Thing is...it's just a dream, Lana. A fantasy. My fantasy of you. We don't really know each other very well at all. Pete is always telling me to take off my Lana blinders, and maybe it's time I did that."
"What does that mean?" Lana asked, with a sinking feeling.
Clark forced a smile as he turned to face her. "When I was sick...Chloe came to see me. I don't know what your reasons were for not visiting me...I'm sure they were good ones...but it made me realize something. No matter happens between Chloe and me, she'll always be there for me for the good and the bad stuff. She'll always have faith in me and she will accept me for who I am, even when she doesn't like it much. I don't think you can do that, Lana."
Lana shook her head. "You're wrong, Clark. I can accept you. I do."
"No you don't," he shot back gently. "You did it for Ian and Byron without hesitation, but you won't do it for me. I know it's because of the trust issue. Because you don't think I trust you enough to confide in you about things. But I don't owe you my secrets, Lana...and I don't think you can accept that."
"Clark.." Lana began, then she fell silent and nodded. "Maybe you're right," she allowed. "So...where do we go from here?" she asked.
Clark smiled and this time it was genuine. "We can become friends," he whispered.
Lana smiled back. "Sounds like a plan."
Clark sank the basketball through the hoop and chuckled when he heard Pete curse. "My game," he said, clapping his friend on the shoulder. "Shall we call it quits? Mom left apple pie for us."
Pete stopped cursing and rubbed his stomach. "Did she leave ice cream too?" he asked, hopefully.
"Come on, Pete," Clark teased. "You know my mom always has Vanilla Bean ice cream in the freezer just for you. She's done that since we were seven years old."
"Yeah...I know," Pete allowed. "Glad some things never change."
Clark tensed for Pete's words held a double meaning for them both. Ever since he had told Pete his secret, so much had changed, and that excluded all the stuff that came before. "Big piece or little piece?" Clark asked as they entered the kitchen. Same question every time.
Pete chuckled. "Very big. I'm starving."
"Me too," Clark replied, automatically. It was a lie. Everything was a lie. But he cut two large slices of pie and dumped three scoops of ice cream on each. Put them on the table and watched Pete dig in only to realize neither one of them had washed there hands. Clark moved to do so at once, and it was yet another reminder to him of how he had changed. He seemed to be forgetting the little things. All the things that had been so automatic to him once. Things he had done without thought. Things that were ingrained into him by his parents yet seemed so easy to forget now because they were no longer really a part of him. Sometimes Clark felt like he had to relearn everything. Everything should be different now. He wasn't really human. He had only been pretending for the past 13 years.
"You okay?" Pete asked, rising from his chair to join Clark at the sink to wash his own hands, even though it was after the fact.
Clark jumped, startled to find Pete standing beside him. He grabbed the dish towel to wipe his dripping hands then nodded. "Fine," he replied.
Pete washed his hands then took the towel from Clark. "You're lying, my friend," he said softly. "What's going on, Clark?"
"I'm not sure," Clark said softly. "I just feel...out of place. Like...everything is the same as it was except for me."
"Well..alot has changed for me since learning your secret," Pete allowed. "I can't even imagine what it's like for you, Clark. But know this...one thing will never change. You and I will always be friends. Got it?"
Clark nodded and a smile leaked out. A genuine smile. "Got it," he echoed, and it made things a little bit more bearable. Enough so that he was able to join Pete at the table and enjoy his mother's pie along with a tiny moment of familiarity that would never change.
He started at the sound of his name and turned to find Dr. Bryce smiling at him. The Dr. Bryce who knew a little bit of his secret. A stranger who he now had to trust with what she knew. A stranger who was living with Lex. "Hi, Dr. Bryce," Clark returned.
She smiled. "You can call me Helen, Clark. You make me feel old otherwise."
"Sorry," Clark replied. "Is Lex home?"
"He's on the phone, something business related," Helen stated. "I know he's expecting you though. Mind if I keep you company until he's done?"
Clark shook his head. "That would be..nice," he decided, as he followed her into the Library.
Helen moved to the wet bar. "Would you like a soda?" she asked.
"Sure," Clark replied.
"Dr. Pepper?" Helen guessed then smiled at Clark's look of surprise. "Lex told me it was your favorite and that he keeps a supply on hand." Helen fished one out and handed it to Clark as she spoke. "He also told me that you're the only other person, other than myself, to have the key to this house and an open invitation."
Clark winced. "Does that bother you?" he asked, as he fiddled with the pull tab on the can.
Helen shrugged. "I thought it would, but for some reason it doesn't."
"I don't want to make things uncomfortable for you," Clark stated. "Coming over is just...habit. One I can break."
"Weren't you listening, Clark?" Helen chided gently. "I don't mind you coming over, anymore than I mind you being an important part of Lex's life. I think we both give Lex something that he needs. I'm fine with that."
Clark nodded and took a sip of soda to ease his suddenly dry throat. "I'm glad," he said softly. "I"m glad you're staying for Lex and not.." Broke off before he could finish the thought.
Helen knew what Clark was going to say. Wasn't surprised that Lex had talked to him about her. Helen knew that Lex trusted Clark more than he trusted anyone else, in spite of Clark's secret being between them. "I have to admit that knowing about you helped to convince me to stay, Clark," Helen replied. "I'm beyond curious about what I've learned."
"Curious enough to want to know more?" Clark shot back, his tone a bit cold.
"I'm a researcher, Clark," Helen countered. "How could I not want to know more? It's the scientist in Lex that makes him equally curious about you. But it's the friend in Lex who makes himself pull back when he oversteps the boundaries."
Clark winced. "Sometimes he doesn't pull back," he said honestly. "Sometimes...neither do I."
Helen nodded. "It's human nature, Clark," she began, only to stop when she saw Lex enter the room. Going over to him, Helen kissed Lex then excused herself. "Nice chatting with you, Clark," she called over her shoulder as she headed out the door.
"What were you two chatting about?" Lex asked Clark as they both watched Helen leave.
"Whether or not I make her uncomfortable being here," Clark replied and he was happy that he could give Lex the truth. At least part of it.
Lex smiled and moved to the wet bar to grab a bottle of TY Nant. "She likes you, Clark," he said quietly. "Most people do. You're very...intriguing."
Clark felt a flush stain his cheeks and dropped his head to hide it. Lex had a gift for embarrassing him. "I'm nobody, Lex," he stated. "Just plain and simple Clark Kent."
"There's nothing plain or simple about you, Clark," Lex shot back, his eyes locked on the boy's face. "You're unique in ways that are both obvious and subtle. You try so hard to make believe that what others see is what they get. Problem with that, Clark..is that you don't see yourself the way others do. You see yourself the way you want to be seen, not the way you really are."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Clark asked, feeling a ripple of fear.
Lex smiled. "It means I know you're different, Clark," he said softly. "I know you have a secret and I want to know what it is."
Clark shook his head, forming a lie that somehow wouldn't go past his lips. "Lex..." he began, only to fall silent when Lex raised a hand.
"It's all right, Clark," Lex stated. "We both have secrets and we both have accepted that fact and it hasn't changed the most important fact...that we're friends and always will be."
"I value your friendship, Lex," Clark said, his voice hoarse from emotion. He was terrified in this moment and he decided to be honest about it. "But you scare me sometimes."
Lex wasn't surprised by Clark's confession, rather he was curious. "Scare you.." he echoed. "Why?"
Clark began to pace, feeling the need to be in motion. Standing still made him anxious. "Because of all my friends...you have the capacity to hurt me the most."
"Really?" Lex shot back, then he took a sip of water before drawling, "You mean Lana Lang doesn't have that honor?" It was gentle teasing, yet a bit more than that.
"Lana knows I have a secret too, Lex," Clark said as he stopped pacing and turned to face his friend. This had to be a moment of truth between them. "She wants to know what it is. Sometimes she pushes for it, like she has a right to know."
Lex nodded because he understood what Lana felt. "But she doesn't have a right to your secrets, Clark," he said firmly, speaking for himself as well.
Clark winced. "She thinks I don't trust her," he blurted out.
"Do you?" Lex countered.
"With everything else, yes," Clark confessed.
Lex put down the bottle of water and moved to stand before Clark. "Do you trust me?" he asked bluntly.
Clark held Lex's gaze as he replied, "It's not about trust, Lex. It's survival instinct."
"I know a little something about that," Lex admitted, an almost smile curving his lips. "But you didn't answer my question, Clark. Do you trust me? The secret issue aside."
"I trust you," Clark stated, without hesitation.
Lex believed him. "But I still scare you." It was more a statement of fact than a question.
Clark shrugged and dropped his eyes. "You have the means to indulge your curiosity, Lex. That scares me. If we weren't friends, I think you would do everything in your power to find out my secret."
"And if I did? What would happen?" Lex prompted.
"I don't want to find out," Clark replied, with simple honesty.
Lex pondered Clark's words for a long moment then said, "I value our friendship, Clark. You mean more to me than any secret."
Clark felt a wobbly smile stretch across his face. "I feel the same way, Lex," he replied. "Even though I haven't been a very good friend of late. I'm sorry for that. All the times I've voiced my doubts about you...more than anything I was projecting my own doubts about myself."
"What doubts, Clark?" Lex queried.
"I don't know who I am, Lex," Clark admitted. "And there's alot of darkness inside me. It terrifies me."
Lex could almost feel Clark's fear and when he saw Clark trembling he had to resist the urge to touch him. A part of Lex wanted to wrap Clark up in his protection. To make the world a better place for the beautiful boy who considered him a friend. A boy who saw Lex for who he really was. Not a Luthor and not the person he projected to the rest of the world. Clark was friends with the person Lex wanted to be, willed himself to be...for Clark. Because of Clark. "We all have darkness inside us, Clark," Lex said gently. "For you I think it's a morality compass."
Clark shook his head. "I used to believe that," he whispered.
"Believe it," Lex said firmly. "The darkness will never control you, Clark."
"It already has," Clark whispered, as he turned and headed for the door. "I have to go.
Lex moved to intercept him. "You can't run away from the darkness, Clark. I know...I've tried. But I meant what I said about you. The darkness doesn't stand a chance against the light that shines from within you, Clark."
Clark wanted to believe Lex, but he didn't know what to believe anymore. "I'm not who you think I am, Lex," he said softly.
"I know," Lex replied, stepping aside so that Clark could leave now if he wanted to. But the boy didn't move and Lex felt Clark's surprise. He didn't wait for the inevitable question before giving an answer. "My destiny is to rule the world, Clark. Your destiny is to save it...and me."
"Goodbye, Lex," Clark said, a slight smile curving his lips. Maybe Lex understood better than Clark ever would.
"You okay, sweetheart?" Martha asked as she moved to sit down next to her son at the kitchen table. She had woken up to go to the bathroom and heard a noise from the kitchen. Upon investigating she had discovered Clark at the table with an untouched glass of milk.
"I don't know, mom," Clark replied, honestly. "I'm so messed up." He grimaced then looked at her and apologized. "I'm sorry I woke you. You'd better go back to bed. You're sleeping for two now."
Martha heard wistfulness in her son's voice. As thrilled as she was to be pregnant, Clark would always be her first child. Her gift. Martha wondered if her son might be a bit jealous. "I can sleep later," Martha replied. "Besides which...you didn't wake me. My bladder did." She was pleased when her remark pulled a soft chuckle from Clark. "Why don't you go to bed though, sweetheart. You have school in a few hours."
Clark shook his head. "Can't sleep."
"Want to talk?" Martha offered.
"Not really," Clark replied. "Everything in my head is so mixed up. I don't know what to think or what to feel anymore. I'm not human, mom. Maybe I'm not even supposed to feel."
Martha slid out of her chair and wrapped her arms around her beautiful boy. "You're human in all the ways that matter, Clark. Heart and soul. And nothing can, or will, ever change that."
Clark wanted to believe her. "Sounds good in theory, mom. But for all I know I'm just good at mimicking human behavior. In my heart and soul I might really be a conquerer. I might even like it."
"You're meant to be special, Clark," Martha allowed. "Different. But I know your heart...if anything I think you're meant to help mankind, sweetheart. Not rule it. I think maybe you'll guide us and protect us."
"How am I going to do that, mom...when I can't figure anything out," Clark shot back, pulling out of her embrace. He rose to his feet and began to pace. "I can't even figure out how to be a good friend and half the time when I try to protect someone it seems I just mess it up and make things worse."
Martha stood in front of her son so that he stopped pacing. "You're still a kid, Clark," she said gently. "You'll figure things out in time."
Clark shook his head. "For all we know I'm a hundred years old by Kryptonian standards." It was meant to be a joke for his mother's sake, but it fell flat.
"You're not a little boy anymore, Clark," Martha replied. "But for all that you look grown up...you're still a kid. My kid. I love you for who you are and who you will become. And I have no doubt but that you will become a man who I will be very proud of."
"Thanks, mom," Clark whispered, as he pulled her into a hug. And in the end, as always, she was the one comforting him.
"You okay, son?"
Clark jumped at the sound of his father's voice and went back to throwing hay bales onto the bed of the truck. "Fine, dad," he replied, feeling guilty at the lie.
Jonathan gripped Clark's arm to stop him from tossing any more bales. "I don't believe you," he said gently. "Talk to me, Clark. I'm worried about you."
"I'm invincible, dad," Clark shot back, more sharply than he intended. "Don't waste your time worrying about me. You have a baby on the way. A human child." The moment the words were out of his mouth, Clark wanted to take them back. "I'm sorry," he blurted out, before his father could form a reply. "I didn't mean...I just...I"m sorry." Clark didn't know how to explain himself. Nothing made sense to him any more.
"It's okay, Clark," Jonathan whispered as he gathered his boy into his arms and held on tight. Knew there were no words to help Clark in this moment. So he did the only thing he could. He let Clark know he loved him and prayed that it would be enough.
Clark dropped the box of produce onto the top of the steps at the back entrance, knowing that one of Lex's servants would carry it inside. It was his last delivery of the day and Clark felt worn out. Not physically so much as emotionally. He wanted to go home and lounge in his hammock and pretend like the past year was nothing but a bad dream.
"Mr. Luthor." Clark recognized Lionel Luthor's voice even before he turned around. Lex's father was stepping out of a black, stretch limo. "I'm...I'm just making a delivery," he said, feeling the need to explain his presence.
Lionel nodded. "I know. I've been waiting for you." He gestured to the interior of the car. "Get in, Clark," he said, more an order than a request. "I think it's time we talked."
Clark froze for a long moment, realizing what this had to mean. He didn't want to face this, it was too much truth, but he knew he couldn't avoid the truth any longer. He had be who, and what, he was. And Lionel Luthor was one of the pitfalls on his path to discovery. Nodding his assent Clark stepped into the car, fear firmly in check as they pulled away.