Categories > TV > Smallville > Despair's Edge

The Puzzle

by RedK_addict 0 reviews

Chloe begins to retrieve the memories she lost due to the adrenal parasite. Together, she and Lana begin to put the pieces together. Clark considers a very terrible solution to his problem with Lana.

Category: Smallville - Rating: PG - Genres: Angst, Drama, Romance - Characters: Clark Kent, Other - Warnings: [!!!] [?] - Published: 2006-07-03 - Updated: 2006-07-03 - 3228 words

Chloe Sullivan, the blonde-haired editor of Smallville High's school newspaper, sat on the edge of her bed at Smallville Medical Center, staring at the opposite wall. She was being released today, and as far as she was concerned, it wasn't a moment too soon. She couldn't wait to get back to the Torch and write an exclusive on her own close-and-personal experience with the strange adrenal parasites that had infested some of Smallville's teens. The only obstacle in her way was the memory loss that came with the parasite's extraction.

She sighed in frustration. Her article wasn't the only thing this memory loss was standing in the way of. She had a sinking feeling that she had done something terrible to cause a rift in her friendship with Clark, or Lana... or both. But the problem was that she couldn't remember what it was, and neither Clark nor Lana felt it necessary to enlighten her.

The door to the room opened and she glanced up to see Lana standing in the doorway, looking slightly shaken yet determined. Chloe visibly brightened at the sight of her roommate. "Hey, Lana!" she called out cheerfully. "What are you doing here?"

Lana shrugged and smiled at the perky blonde. "I heard you were getting out today. Figured you could use a ride home." And I'd like to ask you some very disturbing questions about Clark regarding your loss of memory, she thought wryly. Chloe didn't seem to notice her hesitant pause, so she pushed forward. "Um... I was also wondering if you could help me with a problem."

Chloe grinned and grabbed her bag, already packed and ready to go. "Sure, whatever you need." She waited but Lana said nothing more. She turned around to find her roommate staring at the floor in what could only be described as a torn state. "Lana, what is it?"

Shaking herself out of her thoughts, Lana gave a forced smile. "It's... um... oh, it's..." /It's nothing/, is what she was going to say, but it just wouldn't come out. "I'll... I'll tell you in the car."

Chloe gave her an okay-that-was-odd look, wondering if it had something to do with the day of her life she had missed, and followed the brunette out into the hallway in silence. She was suspicious, yes, but she knew she shouldn't push Lana. The blonde reporter was quite sure there was something bothering her, and, whatever it was, it would soon be revealed. I just wish I didn't have to wait anymore. I've been waiting for long enough in that hospital room for someone to spill the beans.

After a good deal of restless running, Clark ended up in his loft, his fortress of solitude as his dad called it. And that's all he wanted at the moment, to be alone. He couldn't face anyone, not now, not after what he'd done. Once again he had hurt the girl he loved, and once again he blamed only himself. It didn't matter that it had been her that had drugged him with red meteor rocks. It didn't matter that it was her that hadn't believed him, that it was her that kept quiet instead of calling for help. No, he held himself completely responsible for what had happened.

If it weren't for me, none of this would've happened, he told himself over and over again. If I were normal like everyone else, I wouldn't have to worry about being affected by the meteor rocks. It's all my fault. It's because I'm different. It's all because I'm an alien.

If it weren't for me and my abilities, everyone would be a lot better off.

He sat on the couch by the window, staring at the lead box in his hand and contemplating his life and its worth.

Mom and Dad wouldn't have to deal with any new abilities anymore. Lana wouldn't have to deal with any more of my secrets, Pete wouldn't have to worry about slipping up to someone, no more late articles from me for Chloe and the Torch, and Lex... well, Lex would just be better off. My friends and family would all be better off without me.

"Oh my gosh, I cannot believe I did this to my hair!" Chloe had the sun visor down in front of her and was examining herself in the mirror, tugging at the streaks of black in her otherwise golden locks. "What, did I go completely Goth or something?" She turned to Lana, who was staring straight ahead at the road in front of her, as if it could tell her how to start the conversation she needed to have with her roommate.

"You've been awful quiet this entire time," Chloe piped up, drawing her attention back into the silent car. "What's on your mind?"

Lana took a deep breath and tried to force a smile, but this time it wouldn't come. For what seemed like eternity, she thought about the best way to say what was on her mind. "Chloe," she began tentatively. "Have you... ever noticed... anything strange about Clark?"

Chloe almost burst out laughing, but stopped when she saw that Lana was being serious. "Lana, this is Clark we're talking about. If you're wanting to uncover his "big secret", I'm sorry to say that I ran out of ideas a long time ago." She glanced over at the brunette in the driver's seat. Lana's eyebrows were scrunched together in deep thought, her eyes trained on the road, her hands gripping the steering wheel so hard her knuckles had turned white. "Lana?"

"Hmm?" Lana shook her head and brought her attention back to Chloe. "Oh, I'm sorry Chloe, it's just... Yesterday, in the Talon, you said that Clark had told you... everything. I was just... just wondering if maybe, by any chance, you might... remember?" As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she wished she hadn't said them. She knew that the whole memory loss thing was a sore spot for Chloe. But for once she didn't seem to mind.

In fact, she actually looked thoughtful, as if what Lana had said had struck a chord in her missing memory, and she was trying desperately to grasp at it. After a long pause, she finally began speaking, slowly at first, but with increasing confidence as the mystery started unfolding itself before her. "Well, first off, I find it rather odd that Clark would open up to me with his big secret just like that, but believe it or not, I think I do remember something..." Lana sat up a little straighter when she heard this, waiting for Chloe to continue. "He was acting really strange, like he didn't care about anything, like... like..."

"Like he had thrown all caution to the wind?" Lana glanced over to see a look of confusion on Chloe's face. "He was acting the exact same way earlier at the Talon," she explained grimly. "Actually, it was kind of my fault..."

"Really?" Chloe was becoming extremely interested in these recent events. "How so?"

Lana was still having trouble just thinking about the incident at the Talon earlier that day. It scared her that someone could undergo such a quick and complete personality change because of a rock. And for all she knew, he was still out there with the red fragment in his shirt pocket. Shaking the thoughts away, she answered, "I'll... I'll tell you later. Do... do you remember anything else?"

"Um... not really. Wait!" Chloe's face was scrunched in thought as she fought to keep a grasp on her fleeting memories. "A... a bat... a wooden bat! Pete hit him with a wooden baseball bat!" she exclaimed suddenly, nearly startling Lana. "It shattered... shattered into a million pieces, and he didn't even flinch... And he... he lit a lantern at the other end of the room just by staring at it..." A slightly embarrassed grin crept onto her face. "Whatever medications they had me on must have really messed up my brain," she said almost sheepishly, shaking her head in wonder at her momentary loss of sanity. "I'm sorry. That was just totally off the chart."

Lana actually shook her head. "No, actually, considering what Clark told me last night, it actually makes some sense. Chloe, I think... I think Clark might be one of the meteor freaks..." Well, now she'd have to talk about it. Chloe watched her expectantly. Taking a deep breath, she continued before she lost all her nerve. "He came by to try and apologize for his actions yesterday. When he lied to me instead of explaining, I got mad and started yelling. Finally, he told me the truth. Or at least part of it."

When Lana didn't continue, Chloe glanced over to see her staring intently at the road in front of her. Unshed tears and an expression of regret filled her brunette room mate's eyes. Snapped out of her study of Lana by a dark blur, she turned around in her seat to see an intersection quickly receding in the distance. "Uh... Lana, that was our... turn," she pointed out distractedly.

Jaw clenched, Lana just shrugged and sighed. "I'm sorry, Chloe. I was just so caught up in my thoughts..." She tried the fake smile again in an attempt to bring a lightness back into the mood. "Well, this gives us an excuse to go to the Kents', doesn't it?"

Chloe gave a forced laugh in response. "Yeah, I guess it does." She didn't want to push Lana, but she really wanted to know what Clark had said. "So... what did Clark tell you?" she asked, hoping the question didn't betray her enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, Lana caught the tone in the reporter's voice, but, surprisingly, wasn't bothered by it. Instead she was steeling herself for the unpleasant memories. She started out slowly, dragging it out as long as she could. "He... told me that... that the red meteor rocks... had some kind of... effect on him. He said that they bring out a dark side of him."

More memories surfaced in Chloe's mind, and she fell silent as she grasped at them, less desperately and frantically this time...

"If I fall, will you catch me?"

"Go for it."

Chloe stood on the loft railing, a little unsteady, but not caring. She glanced over at Clark and smiled. He would catch her. And if he didn't, it was no big deal. At least her last moments wouldn't be dull. She spread her arms out at her sides and leaned back, letting her feet slide off the railing and plunging her body into the air below her.

She heard the sound of a rush of air behind her, and, seconds before she hit the hard barn floor, he was there beneath her. He caught her and held her gently in his arms. Head spinning from the adrenaline rush the fall had given her, she gazed into his eyes. "My own personal superhero," she said quietly. "I always knew there was something different about you, Clark Kent..."

"Chloe, you all right?"

Chloe was jerked out of her memories by the sound of Lana's voice. She quickly nodded her head. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just... had a flashback for a minute there." She was thoughtful for a minute before she spoke again. "Lana, I think Clark's mutated abilities go beyond just breaking bats and lighting lanterns."

"What do you mean?" Lana was getting a little worried. What if he really was a mutant? What if he was dangerous?

Taking a deep breath, Chloe related her flashback to Lana. "We were in his loft. I stood up on the railing and asked if he'd catch me if I fell. He told me to go for it, so I did. Just before I reached the floor, he ran down the stairs and caught me." The girls fell silent as each contemplated this new piece to the puzzle.

Clark turned the lead box over and over in his hands. It would be so simple. Just open the lid, and it would all be over. Of course, if his parents found out, they would stop him. They would be so devastated if something were to happen to him. That was the only thing holding him back.

But they don't understand, he told himself. I just can't do it. I can't keep hurting her like this. The way she looked at me when she asked if I was a meteor freak... She means the world to me, and I just couldn't stand for her to look at me that way again.

He continued turning the box over and over in his hands, as if turning a question in his mind. But his mind was already made up. Now all he needed was the courage to go through with it.

Another memory tugged at Chloe's mind as they drove along the dirt road. This time, instead of grabbing at it, she let it flow through her on its own...

"Wait, what's with the sudden Jekyll and Hyde?" she asked as he pulled on his jacket. One minute they'd been kissing, and the next he'd been pushing her away.

"We can't do this, Chloe, not here," he answered, his eyes shifting around like a nervous animal's.

"What? Don't tell me you're thinking about Lana!"

"This has nothing to do with Lana." His voice sounded irritated, like it should be obvious to her what he was trying to say.

She shook her head of black streaked golden hair. "You don't have any real feelings for me, do you Clark?" she asked in an accusatory tone. "Every time we hang out, it's always to get answers. 'Chloe, why don't you research this,' or 'Chloe, why don't you look up that.' I'm nothing more to you than your own personal search engine and I'm sick of it. I want you, Clark."

He stared at her intently for several seconds before he spoke again. "Chloe, you have the parasite."

"Well, I love the way I feel," she said, smiling and standing up in front of him. "So maybe this is exactly what I need. To spend more time living life and less time reporting it." She leaned up and kissed him, but he pulled away as soon as his brain registered what she was doing.

And then there she was, standing in the doorway and staring at the two with an expression of betrayal in her hazel eyes. "L-Lana, this is not what it looks like!" he stuttered, hands almost shaking as he nervously pulled the zipper on his jacket up higher.

Lana said nothing as she brushed past them to the counter. Chloe, however, did not. "Yes it is, Lana. It's exactly what it looks like. Oh, and guess what?" she taunted. "Clark told me everything. And I mean

The brunette girl turned around, her tear-streaked face piercing right through his heart. He wanted to say something - anything - that would make those tears disappear. "Lana, I can explain," he began. But she didn't listen. Instead she turned her back to him and walked through the door to the back room. Frustrated at himself for letting this happen, and still not sure exactly how it happened, he followed Chloe as she walked confidently out the front door, clearly pleased with herself for the distress she had caused...

Chloe shook herself clear of the memory and stared out at the road. How could I have done that to them? She turned to Lana with only one question on her mind. "It was me, wasn't it?" she asked quietly. "I was the girl you caught him making out with. I was the one who ruined your date."

"Chloe, you weren't yourself," Lana insisted. This was why she hadn't mentioned it in the first place.

After a moment of silence, the blonde girl spoke up again. "Why didn't either of you tell me before?"

"I'm not sure of Clark's reasons for not tell you, but I suspect that they could be similar to mine. As for me, I knew that you'd react this way."

"What way?" Chloe asked defensively.

Lana took a deep breath before continuing. "You're taking the blame for something that wasn't your fault. And now I know it wasn't Clark's fault either. You were both under the influence of something you had no control over. I never blamed you, Chloe, but I knew that you would, and I didn't want you to do that to yourself."

With a sigh of resignation, Chloe turned her head to stare out the window at the passing cornfields. No, it hadn't been her fault, but she still felt bad about what she had said. Lana seemed to remember something else just then. "Chloe, you remember I told you I'd tell you later what happened this morning with Clark?" Chloe nodded and waited patiently for her to continue. "I, uh... Well, I wasn't quite sure if what he told me about the red meteor rocks was just another excuse or not, so I... I kind of... got the stone out of my class ring and... put it in his shirt pocket to... test it."

Chloe's blonde head whipped around as Lana's words got her full attention. "You WHAT! What happened? Are you all right?"

Lana's cheeks took on a slightly red color as she proffered her bruised wrist. "I got away with only this," she said, shrugging as if it was no big deal. "He... he didn't do anything to me, really. He just... Well, he kissed me, and he said some things that... I know he would never say. When I tried to get the rock away from him, he grabbed my wrist, and..." She fell silent with a quiet sigh.

Chloe shook her head in disbelief. "How did you get away from him with only a bruise on your wrist?"

"Angie, the waitress at the Talon, came in right after that, and he left." She pursed her lips in thought. "I wasn't able to get it out of his pocket, so he probably still has it."

"Then we're going to have to find him," Chloe said, nodding.

"Please be careful, Chloe. He might be dangerous. We don't know what else he's capable of."

"I know, don't worry. I'm more concerned about how you're taking all this."

Lana hesitated before answering. "Well, I'm taking it. It's a lot to get your head around. But then again, a lot of things make sense now. If he could live all these years like this, with this big secret, then... I think I could too."

Clark took a deep breath and lifted the lid of the box, revealing the meteor fragment within. The moment it was uncovered, it began to emit a bright green glow. He could feel the radiation from it boring into him, sapping his strength. He dropped to his knees as a wave of dizziness swept over him. With shaking hands, he pulled the rock out of the box and set it on the floor. For a moment he sat there, feeling the pain that seared through every cell of his body, until the vertigo pulled him the rest of the way down. Breathing became difficult. Darkness swam before his eyes. Soon, very soon, it would all be over.

Lana... Lana, I'm so sorry...
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