Sequel to 'Scarlet'
Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me. They are the property of DC Comics, Time Warner, etc.
"I don't want to be here."
"No one does, Clark. We just end up here. Everyone."
"What exactly is this place?"
"It's where the harsh reality of living confronts you. Where dreams come to die. Where there are no seasons, no time, no laughter. This is the truth behind the illusions."
Clark looked around him. What had been a black nothingness now swirled in faded shades of purple, black, gray and tan. There seemed to be faces drifting in and out of the mists. He still felt terribly cold.
"What do you want from me?"
"You want to talk?"
"Yes. I want someone to understand me. You're different. You're a freak, by their standards. I've seen what you can do. You have no secrets here. And that's fine. I'm obviously strange and unusual myself. I thought you could relate to me."
He knew his secrets. Hell, this Obsidian guy probably knew everyone's business- "I do. And that is a curse. Never escaping from people's desires and whims and lies....the terrible lies that they live under, that they tell to control and ruin-"
"Why are you so negative? Not everything is dark."
"Really? Let me show you my soul..."
And Clark was sucked into a place he could never quite describe or really perceive but could certainly feel. Deceit and anger and a pervasive sense of dread. An eternity of nightmares. His skin was freezing and he heard Obsidian's voice-
"I won't hurt you."
--And he was lying on warm soil, still surrounded by the swirling darkness. Obsidian's body lay behind him, his hand stroking his back.
"Please let me go home. I can't deal with this."
"You can. You're so strong."
And without struggle, Clark found himself in a deep kiss, a tongue exploring his mouth. He didn't want to kiss back but he found himself falling into the strong arms, the pleading golden brown eyes searing into his.
"I am so lonely."
"I am too. But I can't handle this place..."
"It's too dark for you."
"But you've danced with darkness before, Clark. He was consumed by it. Lex's understanding of all this rivaled even mine."
"But I helped him fight it, Obsidian. And he succeeded."
Did he, Clark? Did he?
Small points of light began to appear all around the space. Obsidian began to recede from Clark, who tentatively reached for the gloved hand.
For the first time, Clark saw the handsome face smile.
"I won't keep you, Clark. Please remember."
A whisper on the wind...Remember.
Clark was awake, in his bed. The sun was out and the city throbbed below his window.
Obsidian was gone.
Alan had left for work early. He had been so tense lately; the new programming, Todd's disappearance.
Molly poured herself some coffee and sat at the table, her eyes glancing over the rack of family pictures.
Jennie-Lynn, smiling as always.
Todd. His gaze pointed downward.
Todd. The son she wished were her natural born.
She'd watched him since he was eighteen. A hero for a few years, then a wayward drifter. She'd tried her best to cheer him up. She'd created illusions of friends and college parties. Straight A's and good dreams.
A few years back he'd fallen into a dark depression; at first they thought drugs or drink. Later they found he was tapping deeper and deeper into his innate Shadow powers. He was addicted to the darkness.
Alan had brought him back from that; he'd found him in Metropolis living at a place called Club Zero. Todd was strung out on his powers, feeding off the disaffected youth of the City of Tomorrow. He had not wanted to come home.
It took much of Alan's willpower, along with some pleading from Jennie before Todd would relent. After that, things seemed easier. For a time.
For a time.
Jennie moved west with her husband. Todd couldn't seem to find a job he cared about. Maybe she and Alan were too preoccupied with the network. Maybe he just fell through the cracks.
Now they were right back where they started.
Molly put her head in her hands. They had to find him, help him.
The Shade knew he was in the Shadowlands but even he lacked the power to force him back into reality. He suggested Todd was more powerful than ever.
"Morning, Clark. Congrats on another great show, son."
"I didn't come to talk about 'Kaleidoscope', Mr. Scott. I came to talk about your son."
Alan dropped his coffee, silently damning his loss of willpower... "Todd...do you know him, Clark?"
"I think I met him last night in a dream."
Alan froze in place. If Todd was trapping people through dreams again, then things might be much worse than he feared. He motioned to Clark to sit down. "Did he hurt you?"
"No. He told me he was lonely. I won't lie, I was afraid. But somehow I knew he didn't mean to hurt me."
"Todd's a complicated person."
"No joke. I've seen a lot of interesting things, Mr. Scott, but I've never had my dreams hijacked by some sort of Shadow-person. Is he even human?"
"Yes...he can be. He has powers that allow him to literally become a shadow. He can read minds and emotions. Recently he's developed power over a nether-region known as the Shadowlands. A kind of separate dimension."
"Mr. Scott...I know he's your son but what am I supposed to do about this. I'm freaked out. What does he want with me?"
Alan reached over and squeezed Clark's shoulder, trying to reassure him. "Todd's not evil, Clark. He's very confused and...well...unstable. But I promise he won't hurt you."
"How can you promise that? It seems to me you don't know your own son or what he's capable of."
Alan winced. "I deserve that, I do. I wasn't there to protect Todd as a boy and I am paying for it now."
"You didn't raise him?"
"Clark, it's a long story. I didn't discover I had children until they were eighteen years old. Their mother was presumed dead. I had mourned and moved on. Then this miracle. I was so proud of both of them. Jennie-Lynn and Todd. My children. Talented children, smart children. Everything Molly & I could have wanted. But you know, Clark, life rarely goes as planned."
"Your daughter seems fine."
"She had a different childhood. She and Todd were split up at birth. She was raised in privilege and with love. Todd...he was...he was raised by an alcoholic who could become violent."
"He was abused?"
"Yes. Viciously. Daily."
Clark felt awful. He'd known someone like this before. He took a deep breath.
"What can I do to help, Alan?"
Alan looked towards the window.
"Talk to him. Try to draw him out of the shadows. Be honest with him. Don't let him repeat his love for the shadows. Confront him with the light. Be his friend, if you can."
"I can try. But I'm not even sure he'll be back."
"All we can do is hope, son. You don't know how much I appreciate your help. If there's any chance that you can save him, Clark, please....please, help us."
A DARK, LONELY PLACE...
There was a place he'd forgotten but tried to remember. Please. Let me know here. She had red hair like his. No, not like his. Mine? It was blonde and then there was here and she smiled and everything was good. It was warm. Hot even. And he liked it and there was light all around. There was candy and cake and they danced in circles around the green tree. No. There was no candy. She had green hair or maybe black. Jennie. Green hair. Loves me. Blonde man was gone and he cried. A fire. The present? Perhaps the past. Often it was hard. No one loves me. Hard to remember which dreams were his. Mine, indeed. Lex had been different. Lex was his friend. My confidant. He came upstairs at Zero when it was too bright and always made me laugh and brought truth and licorice. He was good. They were bad. Stop. I want to hold on. Lose Jim Rice and everything before Metropolis; let me forget.
Let me forget how he slammed my head through the wall and spit on me and strangled me and killed me but I couldn't die. Lex did. Memories. He wanted to hold onto then. There. Before his father killed him and I could do nothing to stop it. I wanted to, needed to, so badly want to reach out and choke the life out of Lionel.
But there was too much sunlight and I was stuck on the wall. Moth, meet flame.
Better to forget after that. He wanted to remember. Life. Only friend dead and love destroyed. Watching Clark in his room, I want to hold him, want to tell him everything will be all right but it won't. I had promised to protect Lex and look what happened. Happened. Dead. They all die. Will I die? Hope so. So cold and ugly here. I am cold. I am ugly. And they won't stop watching. The little eyes like rock candy and the arms that cling to me. Demons or lies or whatever. Clark looks so sad but I scare him and he's can't handle me and I can't believe and everything I know is gone. I tried to go back. I tried the treadmill. Flash. They mocked me. They were afraid. Dad's friends. Think I am evil. Am I? Want to bleed, want to cry but no fluid left. Nothing. Nothing moist. Frozen and windswept and bleached out and fucked. But this is my life and it's hilariously pathetic and I remember her now, my mother. Rose/Thorn/Psycho whore. I remember she stabbed herself and the blood ran down the pavement like Lex's ran from his mouth. And bubbles. Amazing. There were bubbles. And I tried to breathe through his lungs but shadows don't have oxygen so he died. And I climbed in the box and talked to the maggots and they laughed at me so I sent them to hell.
I hope he isn't in hell. The Phantom Stranger wouldn't tell me. The Devil himself denied me information.
And Clark is still afraid. And I miss Jennie and Molly and Dad because they tried. Tried in vain. Tried to go back. They don't understand I am just raw and bad and dark. Hard like licorice rock candy and gone. Gone. They kept trying, keep trying, reading my mind and giving me medicine and soothing me with fantasies. There is no fantasy. I am forever. I am the darkness, unrepentant and alone. I don't want to be. I want it. I want to see the sun. Sweat under it. Lie on a beach. I think I remember what those were like. He's like the sun, a living solar battery.
But would he burn me?