|The Legs We Stand On
Author: iluvaqt PM
Post S8E22 "Doomsday". Chloe decides it's time to start over. Chruce.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Chloe S. & Bruce W./Batman - Chapters: 18 - Words: 102,319 - Reviews: 116 - Favs: 130 - Follows: 80 - Updated: 12-21-09 - Published: 08-23-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5326025
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I don't own Smallville or any of its characters. DC Comics owns everything else.
Setting: Post Doomsday. AU. A bit of Batman, a little DC: Trinity, and anything else that takes my fancy along the way. As usual no fandom is really safe.
Clark had just walked away from her. Again. The pain and disappointment she'd felt knowing he'd left her for Lana all those years ago, was nothing compared to what she felt now.
Long past her lovestruck teenage-crush, she'd grown to accept the way he saw her. They were friends, best friends. It was all he could offer her and in time, she realized it was what they were good at. People went through life searching for the kind of bond they shared. It was more important than intimate love. It was a life-long partnership. They could confide in each other, rely on one another. He'd become her rock and she'd tried to support him in every way she could.
Watching him walk away and trying to grasp the finality in his words, she felt as though her gut at been ripped from her body. Her legs felt unsteady and she wrapped her arms around her middle, hoping that if she held on tightly enough, she wouldn't feel so irrevocably wounded.
It felt like time had stopped. She hadn't put a clock up yet and if it hadn't been for her cell phone ringing she very well could have stood there frozen for hours. She felt numb, she didn't feel the cold, she didn't feel hungry, she didn't feel the tears coursing down her cheeks, she felt hollow, empty.
There was no one left. Jimmy was gone. Lois was missing, there was no trace of her. Clark had left her and she knew better than to hope this time that he was coming back. Oliver, Bart, Dinah, they'd vanished after the funeral and none of them were answering comms or their cells. She knew Oliver blamed her for a lot. Probably as much as she blamed herself. They were alike in so many ways Oliver and herself. Both sacrificing so much for their friends, often acting rashly in grief, working long hours alone - workaholics, and they both kept so many secrets from the ones that cared about them, some for their protection, others because of shame.
If only she hadn't hidden Davis for as long as she had, maybe if she'd confided in Clark or Oliver sooner Jimmy would still be alive. So many people wouldn't have suffered. Lois would be calling her and complaining that they hadn't gone out for coffee again and instead of brushing her off with some poor excuse she'd grab her keys and beat her cousin there. Chloe shook her head and bit down on her lower lip. She couldn't stop trembling and she felt exhaustion taking over. It was then that she heard the soft hurried footsteps.
The warm embrace and soothing voice of Martha Kent, washed over her like a healing balm. She let the fresh tears fall freely, as the older woman clutched her tightly and whispered words of comfort in her ear.
"I left as soon as I could. I'm so sorry I couldn't get here sooner."
Chloe lifted her hand and rubbed at her wet cheeks. Martha offered her a tissue and guided her to the stairs where they both sat down. "This place still doesn't have much furniture, I wanted to move some stuff from the Talon but with everything that happened and Jimmy's funeral..."
Martha took her hands in hers. "I have a hotel room two blocks from the Isis building. I'd like you to come stay with me." Martha made a point of looking into Chloe's eyes. She wasn't asking, she was insisting. It was a mother's prerogative. Martha had been a surrogate mother to Chloe since she'd breezed into Clark's life all those years ago. "I'll make your favorite pear and rhubarb pie," Martha added with a smile.
Chloe sniffed and did her best to return the smile. Martha rubbed her back encouragingly then stood.
"I cleared my schedule for the week. Tomorrow we'll see what we can do about making this place a home," Martha said affirmatively.
Chloe felt her heart stop. The pain of Clark's words echoed in her mind. "Get rid of it, Chloe." How could he say something like that? It was Jimmy's last gift to her. Something they were going to share. Everywhere she looked she could picture how they'd spend their time here. Snuggling on the couch by the main window, sitting in the moonlight eating Ben & Jerry's, just talking. Sleeping in the bedroom upstairs, the one with the bared red wood rafters and slate tiled floor. Singing 70s classics in the polished limestone bathroom. It'd make for great acoustics.
Martha watched as Chloe glanced around the wide space of the domed apartment. "It'll hurt for a long time, but he would want you to keep it. He was so excited about showing you."
Chloe looked up surprised. "You knew about it?"
Martha smiled. "My father helped him with the paperwork. There was a little bit of a mix up with Heritage listings and the old owner tried to mark it up. Jimmy does look very innocent."
Chloe didn't even bother to correct her phrasing. She could still feel him. Could still feel his weight in her arms. Clark thought he put humanity on a pedestal, what about the one she'd had him on? Clark hadn't destroyed Doomsday, he'd tunneled him underground and Dinah's explosion had trapped him there. What was the difference between Earth's core and the Phantom zone? If only she'd had the sense to let Clark send Davis to the Phantom Zone when he'd had the chance. He was a grown man, he'd live with the guilt. All their hands were a little dirty but now anyway, why should he stay clean? Chloe sighed inwardly, she could wish all she wanted but there was no going back. She knew she only had herself to blame really. She wanted so badly to save Davis from himself that she'd refused to see that there wasn't a human worth redeeming there. He was a murderer. He'd made her think Jimmy was delusional. Her heart hurt even more knowing how much she'd truly lost. She had had a man who'd loved her, freakishness, screwed priorities, secrets and all. Now he was gone. There really wasn't anyone left. If Martha hadn't been standing in front of her now, looking down at her with loving concern she wasn't sure what she'd do. Probably something drastic, impulsive and dangerous. Clark had made his decision, and as usual she was just there for the ride. And in this case, just the aftershock.
"Let's go out and get a coffee. Then how about we take a walk in the park. See the sights. It's been awhile since I've last visited Metropolis. What do you think?"
Chloe nodded and stood stiffly. "Sounds like a plan," she replied, offering the best hopeful smile she could muster.
Martha found her a jacket and scarf and they were at the door before Chloe realized that Martha had not once mentioned Clark. She knew how close they were, was she avoiding him on purpose. Did she know about his leaving? Chloe couldn't resist asking the question as her thoughts started to run away with her.
"Clark was here before. He left," she cried bitterly. Martha hugged her tightly and Chloe felt moisture on her forehead.
"I saw him briefly. He came to see me after... the night Jimmy died. He said he'd given the agent authority to lease the farm and that he was leaving. He wouldn't tell me what was really bothering him. I know my son, Chloe. And the man that came to see me, he wasn't my Clark. Clark will come home. I think he just needs time. With Lois missing, what happened to Jimmy, you know how Clark blames himself. He'll come home," Martha said her voice heavy with emotion.
Chloe nodded numbly. She wished she had Martha's faith but Clark had used up his quota of do-overs. She couldn't be his sidekick or back-pocket girl anymore. She'd told him she'd stopped waiting for him to fly back to her a long time ago. It was time she meant it.
Spending a few days with Martha helped her figure out what she needed to do. For so long she'd devoted herself to helping others. Though not all of them had done it intentionally or by choice, everyone she'd ever cared for had left her. Her mother, her dad, Jimmy, Lois, Lana, now Clark. Through the planning for the funeral and the police investigation, she'd had no time to process her grief but after the burial it had hit her like an express train and there had been no one there to catch her. Seeing Clark had given her hope but in one swift moment, he'd crushed her further.
Before she'd left for Washington, Martha had asked her what she'd been most happy doing. In the past she would have said working with Clark but he'd made his intentions clear. Her most recent choice had been Oliver and his team but that seemed dead in the water too. But the more she thought about it, the more she came to see that neither of them had really made her happy. She felt vital, a valuable team member, she had got a sense of satisfaction whenever they successfully shut down another of Lex's labs but she never really felt happy. In truth, she hadn't been happy since her days under Pauline Kahn or working at the Torch. And honestly, it was saying a lot if high school were your happiest memories. Her life choices needed serious work.
"Work is a welcome distraction while you let time heal the pain. There will be days that seem like it's hard to even breathe, but it'll get easier," she promised.
The sunlight on her back reminded her that it was a new day and she had set herself goals. She was a can-do girl, always had been. Chloe Sullivan had left her dreams on the shelf for long enough, but first there was a small task of finding her family.
Oliver would be the easiest to track down. His business ensured he could never stay gone for long, so she called his home in Star City and left a message. She'd hoped to talk to him but she was relieved when the machine picked up. Oliver had a temper and he held grudges. He blamed her and she knew mending their friendship was going to be the hardest. But they'd been through a lot together and despite what he thought of her decisions, he would hear her out. She knew she could expect that much.
"I know you're probably tired of hearing this but I did what I thought was right for everyone. You know all about making sacrifices. I thought I was the only one at risk and it was my decision to make. I was naive, I trusted Davis and I thought he understood why I was helping him. I made a mistake. I know you blame me, maybe you blame yourself too. You can't protect everyone, Oliver but I'm glad that you try. I'm really... look, I suck at messages. I just wanted to say that I don't want to give up on us."
She wanted to say more but she didn't want to sound like a sap. Besides it was a phone message. He might delete it the second he heard her voice. Chloe sighed and hung up the phone. Grabbing her small suitcase, she picked up her coat and headed for the spiral staircase. Next stop Los Cabos.