Categories > TV > Smallville > Despair's Edge

Smoke and Mirrors

by RedK_addict 0 reviews

Two weeks later, Pete pays a visit to the Kents and finds his friend in a bad state. Chloe and Lana find the final piece to the puzzle.

Category: Smallville - Rating: PG - Genres: Angst, Drama - Characters: Clark Kent, Other - Warnings: [!] [?] - Published: 2006-07-03 - Updated: 2006-07-03 - 2280 words

I took a walk around the world to ease my troubled mind
I left my body lyin' somewhere in the sands of time
I watched the world float to the dark side of the moon
I feel there's nothing I can do

If I go crazy, then will you still call me Superman?
If I'm alive and well, will you be there holdin' my hand?
I'll keep you by my side with my superhuman might

You called me strong, you called me weak
But still your secrets I will keep
You took for granted all the times
I never let you down

You stumbled in and bumped your head
If not for me, then you'd be dead
I picked you up and put you
Back on solid ground

--Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down

Two weeks later...

Pete Ross wandered into the Kent barn in search of his best friend. It had been two weeks since they'd seen each other, and, especially with the latest news that Clark had recently tried to kill himself, Pete had been so worried about the teenage alien that he had been unable to focus on much else. Finally, he decided it was time to pay a visit.


Two weeks ago, Pete had been infected with the adrenal parasite, just like Chloe, and had gone nearly out of his mind. He had been the one who had slipped the farmboy a piece of red meteor, and he had been the one who had begged to expose his friend's secret to Chloe. As a result, he felt partly responsible for the current circumstances.

"Clark! You in here, man?"

As far as the dark-skinned boy knew, he had stopped by the Kent farm the night he got out of surgery to apologize for what happened. He knew that Clark intended on going to the Talon the next day to talk to Lana about their ruined date. Two days later, he got a call from the Kents telling him that Clark was in a critical mental state, and that he had just tried to use green meteor rocks to commit suicide. Pete had stayed away, because he had figured that Clark would need some space and time to recover. Now he wished he hadn't.

"Are you up there, Clark?"

When he got no reply, he headed up the stairs, remembering what Mr. and Mrs. Kent had told him.

He's up in the loft. He spends almost all his time up there now. He hasn't been the same since that day at the Talon. Sure, you can go talk to him. It would probably do him a lot of good. Just be careful what you say. His mental and emotional condition is extremely fragile. Saying the wrong thing might set him off.

He stopped and cleared his throat quietly. Why does the barn smell like smoke? Shrugging it off, he went on up the stairs, his previous train of thought continuing.

Chloe and Lana had been visiting Clark quite often in the past couple weeks, and the blonde reporter had apparently set him off with the lead box again just by asking for help with her coat zipper. Since then, Jonathan and Martha had carefully hidden or gotten rid of any meteor rocks on the property, and the girls were especially careful not to mention anything even remotely related to the incident, which considerably shortened their list of available conversation topics. Already they had been sure to avoid girlfriends, dates, meteor freaks, anything related to the Torch or Chloe's Wall of Weird, coffee, and rocks -- especially the meteor rocks.

Pete coughed once and wondered again why the smell of smoke hung so heavy up here. He climbed the last few steps and just stood there taking in the scene before him. Clark sat on the old, beat-up leather couch, feet propped up on the wooden trunk that served as a coffee table, staring into space like nothing mattered anymore. And, as far as he was concerned, that was probably not far from the truth.

He held a cigarette in one hand.

"Clark, man, since when did you start smoking?" Pete asked with a good measure of disbelief.

"Since two weeks ago," came the reply. Empty green eyes shifted their careless gaze his way, then went back to staring at nothing. His voice was raspy and emotionless.

"Do your parents know?"

"Nope." The answer might have been casual, even flippant or cocky, if his entire demeanor didn't scream listless.

"Come on, man, what are doing? Trying to..." He caught himself just in time.

"To what? To kill myself?" Clark looked almost amused, but the empty look never left his eyes. "You can go ahead and say it. I'm not as crazy as my parents seem to think." He took one last drag at the cigarette, then stamped it out in the ashtray that sat on the trunk next to his feet.

"Besides," he went on, "that was two weeks ago. I haven't lost my sanity, Pete. I just needed some time to think. Something happened to me two weeks ago, and I need to figure it out. Until then, this is how I'm dealing with it. My parents wouldn't understand." He leaned back again and draped his arms on the back of the couch.

He had become indifferent to /everything/.

Pete shook his head, fumbling for something to say. "Look, man, I'm not sure I understand why you're doing this, but if you are trying to kill yourself again, you might as well give it up. That stuff isn't going to hurt you. Chloe's got a cousin that's been smoking for three years now, and she's still healthy. Smoking's not even going to put a dent in your health. You're an alien for crying out loud. You're immune to everything!"

"Not trying to kill myself, Pete," Clark assured him. "And I'm not addicted. It's a conscious choice. I told you, this is how I'm dealing with it. I just..." He shook his head and sighed. "I just don't know what's wrong with me. It's like I can't even look at myself in the mirror anymore."

Pete looked hard at his best friend. "I know what's wrong with you," he said at length. "You're messing with your own head, that's what's wrong. Lana thought you were a meteor freak, and now you've convinced yourself that you're some kind of alien monster. That's why you can't look at yourself in the mirror, because you're afraid. You're afraid you'll see a monster staring back at you, right in the eye. Man, that's what comes from not telling people the truth! You've told them part of it, why not tell them the rest?"

Clark shook his head again. "That would just make things worse."

"Clark, sooner or later Chloe's going to remember. She's remembered everything else so far, and so've I. And when she does remember, she's going to tell Lana. They're going to find out. And I have a feeling they're going to understand a lot better than you think."

Clark pursed his lips and remained silent.

Turning around, Pete started back down the stairs, but at the first landing stopped and looked back. "I'd start looking at myself in the mirror before I decide what I look like."

All Clark said was, "Just don't tell my parents about the smoking. I'd rather be able to explain it to them before they get too upset." Pete nodded understandingly. Without another word, he left his alien friend alone with his thoughts once more.

"How did you..."

"Do that?"

"What are you?"

"Let's just say I'm not from around here."

Chloe turned to Pete eagerly. "You knew about this?" she asked excitedly.

Pete just smiled. "He's my brother... from another planet!" he said in reply.

She just shook her head and let her mouth hang open. She had nothing else to say. Clark laughed. "You should see the look on your face right now," he commented.

"Oh my gosh," she said at last. Then a little louder, "This is so cool!" She paused for a moment as a thought came to her. "Can you fly?"

Pete burst out laughing. "Whoa, wait a minute," Clark said quickly. "I may be an alien, but I'm not a cartoon."

She smiled mischievously and climbed up on the loft railing. "If I fall, will you catch me?"

"Go for it."

After leaving the Kent farm, Pete headed back to Smallville High to meet Lana and Chloe at the Torch office. "Well, Chloe. I did just what you told me," he said, flopping into the chair at his desk. "I went to talk to him."

Chloe was setting up the layout for the next issue, and Lana, who had been filling in for Clark the last couple weeks, was at his computer typing up a last-minute article. The blonde editor nodded. "That's good," she said absently, her mind currently on the task of meeting her deadline.

"Then I told Mr. and Mrs. Kent that they should probably go talk to him," he went on, deciding quickly to take the opportunity and momentarily skip a narrative of his conversation with Clark.

The reaction was not what he expected. Both girls instantly stopped what they were doing and stared at each other with terrified expressions on their faces. "You did /what/, Pete?" Lana asked incredulously, turning her terrified stare on him.

"Whoa, let's not hit the panic button just yet," Chloe said quickly, cutting them both off. "As long as he knows it wasn't us that dropped the bomb, we should be okay."

"Is there something else going on that I should know about?" Pete asked, clearly frustrated.

Chloe seemed hesitant. "Well," she began slowly, "Clark didn't want us to tell anyone, but since you went to see him today, you probably already know." She paused and glanced at Lana before continuing. "He... he started smoking a couple weeks ago."

"You mean he already told you?"

Lana nodded. "He also threatened to throw himself into Crater Lake if we ever mentioned it to anyone."

Everyone in Smallville knew that Crater Lake was one of the largest sources of green meteors in the state of Kansas. It was where Sean Kelvin had received his heat-sucking abilities the year before, due to the high meteor rock content and a very bad fall through the ice. It was also a pretty good guess for the three friends that Clark would probably drown if he jumped in.

Chloe went back to her layouts. "Yeah, and every time we come home from spending the day over there, I have to lie to my dad and tell him I've been spending time with my cousin in Metropolis. If he calls Lois anytime soon, we're in big trouble."

Pete nodded. "So, how's the memory thing going?" he asked, deliberately changing the subject.

"Actually," Chloe mused, "it's kind of interesting to find out again that your best friend is an alien." Pete's mouth dropped open in shock and Lana smiled quietly to herself. Chloe giggled at his expression. "That was actually what we were just talking about before you came in. Don't worry; I'm not upset about you guys keeping it a secret. Well, I mean, I am upset that you didn't tell me, but I understand why you didn't. You can't have a couple adrenal junkies like us going around town blabbing something like that!"

"Chloe, that's not funny!" he snapped, looking completely dejected.

The smile fell immediately from her face. "I know, that was... That was totally uncalled for, and I... I completely stepped over the line that time."

He sighed. "I'm sorry, Chloe, it's just that... Well, it was me that slipped him the red meteor rock, 'cause I knew what it would do to him. He trusted me with his secret, and I... I let him down."

Lana swiveled her chair around and Chloe pulled up another one to join the circle. "I think we all played a part in this," Lana said quietly. "We are all four of us to blame for what's happened in the past couple weeks. But if anyone can claim the majority of the responsibility, it's me. You three had no control over your actions."

Chloe sighed and nodded. "I hate to say it, but I can't argue with that," she said. "But, regardless, we're all still going to do everything we can to help Clark get through this. We have to; it's the least we can do."

Chloe glanced back and forth between her two friends for support.

Pete nodded in agreement. "You're right. I've already let him down once. I'm not going to let it happen again."

Lana pursed her lips in thought. "I've already caused enough trouble," she said at last. "I think it's about time I repaired the damage. Clark's always been there for me when I needed him. It's my turn now."

A triumphant smile crept onto Chloe's face, instantly brightening the moods of the other two. Pete actually smiled. "All right," he said, "I think we should go see Clark tomorrow, all of us."

"Great idea!" Chloe exclaimed, jumping to her feet to fetch paper and some pencils. "But first, we need to collaborate our knowledge. Pete, you're going to tell us all that he told you, everything you know. I want to know where he came from, what he can do, what his biological parents were like, how he got here, why the meteor rocks affect him like they do. We need to get organized..."

His smile widened. "That's Chloe, always taking charge!"

"And for once, I'm not sure I mind," Lana replied, laughing.
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