Author's Notes: Let's see. I'm sure this is a complete surprise to you, but I don't own Smallville, any of the characters contained it, or in fact any portion of the Superman franchise. But thank you to those that do, because I enjoy it very much. On the other hand, Becca is in fact my own character, and thus I "own" her. As for this fic, it's my first about Smallville, and as such I would really appreciate any comments or constructive criticism you can offer. Other than that, hope you enjoy! (P.S. There will be more of the characters you know and love in the coming chapters.)
Back home. Her parents had moved away long ago, and it wasn't as if anyone would recognize her. The last time she had been here she had been a fragile 4-year-old. Now she was "sweet" sixteen, though a stranger could hardly tell it through the layer of dust and grime that covered her. Her clothes were plenty to cover her but not worth much for warmth, her hair was a tangled mess that hadn't been cut for years, and her eyes were dull with lack of nutrition. All in all, she wasn't a very pretty sight. Which tended to serve her purposes, because people had sympathy on a young, homeless girl. She'd been exploiting that tendency for the last twelve years.
She sat on the edge of a field, staring past the farm that stood on it toward the center of town. It was the middle of the afternoon, but she still had a couple miles to walk, and at this rate she wouldn't be there before dark. And though this town was not necessarily crime-ridden, she still didn't like arriving anywhere at night. No, better to sleep under the stars and walk into town in the morning. There would be more people around who would mother the poor young girl. And that was all she needed before she moved on. Certainly she would leave, as always, before anyone got too connected to her.
Bang, bang, bang. The rapid succession of percussive noises finally impinged upon her attention. She stood to her feet. If she had a few hours to wait, she might as well see the owners of this farm. From a distance, of course. The nearby trees would create a perfect cover. Stealing toward them, she moved in the general direction of the noise. She wondered what machine was making all the noise.
Finally, she was around the barn and safely ensconced within the trees. From here she could see-wait a second, what was going on? She peered at the blur, and her eyes widened at the steadily rising stack of wood. Just then, she heard a yell from the house. "Clark! That's enough. Come help me with this!"
The blur resolved itself into a normal appearing 16-year-old. She blinked, frowning. This didn't make any sense. He put down the ax that he was still holding, then began to walk toward the house. She took a step forward to keep him in sight, and her clumsiness struck. Her foot caught under a tree root, she fell forward with a cry. She could feel the muscles tear as she fell, and she mentally chastised herself for being so careless. How could she go into town with a sprained ankle? She couldn't.
"Hey, who's there?" Oh no, now he had heard her. She moved back into the trees quietly, and held her breath. Maybe he would decide that it had just been an animal. Instead, his voice came again. "I know you're there… It's okay to come out."
No it wasn't. She contemplated her options and decided to just lay still. She was far enough back that he shouldn't really be able to find her. She hadn't been loud enough to warrant that much persistence. She listened silently to the crunch of his footsteps, and to her dismay they appeared to be getting steadily closer. Just when she was seriously considering plan B, he appeared around the trunk of the tree, looking straight at her. So much for hiding.
"Hello!" he said in surprise. "I don't think I've seen you around."
No really, she thought sarcastically. Out loud she said nothing and just looked up at him, trying to hide her fear. Apparently she wasn't completely successful. "It's okay," he told her in his best comforting voice. "I'm really not dangerous."
Maybe if I don't talk, he'll go away. If he just gets far enough out of sight, I can be out of here and he'll never know any better. "Are you okay? I heard you scream earlier." She continued to stare at him. But contrary to all logical thought, he didn't walk away to get someone. No, instead he called for MORE people. "Mom, Dad!"
"What is it, Clark?" came the same male voice from inside the house.
Clark looked back at her. "Just a sec, I'll get some help." He turned back toward the house. "Uhh.. we've got a visitor!"
At this, she heard more footsteps coming. But she didn't feel like sticking around for this. She began to crawl away. Maybe, if she could just get out of sight…
"Hey, you don't need to do that. I'll help you." He walked over and knelt down next to her. "Do you mind if I pick you up? I can take you inside and we can get you some food and see what you've injured."
The way her eyes widened must have been enough of an answer. "Okay, okay," he responded, standing up. "Over here!"
Here came his parents. Two typical, friendly looking, run-of-the-mill farmers. With their usual sympathy. Usually she would be happy to accept this kind of positive reaction, but when she was injured… she just wanted to find someplace to hide out.
She saw some silent communication passing between the three of them, and then the woman moved toward her. "Hello, dear… What's your name?"
Well, all was lost now. She was going to have to answer. She mustered a whisper and responded quietly, "Becca."
"Well, nice to meet you, Becca! How about we go inside and get you cleaned up… and have a look at that ankle, while we're at it."
The woman was sharp. She had already noticed Becca's special treatment of her ankle. With a sigh, Becca began to lift herself to her feet, keeping her weight off of her ankle. The boy stepped forward to help, but the woman sent him back with a glance and offered her shoulder as support for Becca.
"That's right," she told her encouragingly as Becca began to hobble toward the house with her help. "My name is Martha.. oops, be careful!" she exclaimed as Becca accidentally put her weight on her bad ankle and paled with a whimper. "Clark could carry you if you'd like," she suggested gently.
Becca realized she couldn't win, so she gave in and shrugged in assent. At that, the boy once again appeared and gently lifted her. She closed her eyes and focused all her attention on just letting him carry her. She knew they must think that this was strange but she would let them interpret this however they liked.
The effort was quickly beginning to tire when he finally lowered her gently to the couch. She relaxed slightly, but remained tense. She couldn't let herself get distracted, not while she was here.
Martha was still mothering her. "Relax, dear. Let me get some ice for that ankle of yours."
"I'll do that," Clark volunteered quickly, and she noted that both Clark and his father disappeared into the kitchen. Apparently they wanted to confer about the stranger.
"So how did you end up in our neck of the woods, Becca?" Martha asked gently. Here was the moment of truth, and she couldn't find the words to speak. Just to tie her tongue further, Clark and his father reentered the room at that point. Becca closed her eyes and focused all her attention on remaining calm. "Becca?" she heard the woman asking in an alarmed voice. "Are you okay, dear?"
She nodded slowly and then forced herself to open her eyes. She was feeling distinctly sick to her stomach. Her stomach made some loud digestive noises, effectively changing the subject, much to Becca's relief.
"When was the last time you ate?" Martha asked, and she was clearly noticing again how slender this young vagabond was.
Becca frowned, trying to answer the question, and Martha jumped to her feet before she could. "I'll be right back with something for you to eat!" Becca watched her and saw the look that she gave the two men. They didn't completely trust her yet… or maybe they were afraid of her running. A valid concern, Becca noted to herself.
The father stepped forward now to have his attempt at engaging her in conversation. "Hello, Becca.. my name is Jonathan." Casually, he sat on the back of the couch on the opposite end from Becca. "Where are you from, if you don't mind me asking?"
Hit by a brilliant idea, Becca blurted out, "I need to get home!" and began to get up from the couch. Unfortunately, there was Martha walking up next to her again to gently push her down.
"Calm down, dear. If you'll tell us where home is, we can call your parents while you get some food and rest," she suggested.
Becca could feel a bit of fear rising in her throat. Forcing it down, she tried to remain calm as she said, "That's okay, I can get there myself." She removed the ice from her ankle and said, "My ankle is feeling much better now." Standing to her feet and trying to appear as though she was putting weight on her ankle while not, she told them, "Thanks so much for all your help!" and began to walk toward the door, the only sign of her pain being in the whiteness of her face.
Suddenly she found Clark in front of her. "Why are you so afraid?" he asked, genuinely curious. She started to move around her but he followed her movement. A strangled cry of frustration made its way out of her throat, and she looked up at him.
"Are you in the habit of imprisoning visitors?" she asked with barely concealed frustration.
She heard his father's voice from behind her. "Well, you were trespassing. But no, we don't want to imprison you. How about you come sit down again, have a little something to eat, and tell us what you were doing. Then we can take you home or have your parents come get you."
Stepping out to try to go around Clark once more, the weight that she put on her ankle was too much and she felt it collapse beneath her. She crumpled to the floor and clenched her fists, shaking with the effort of pushing the pain away and keeping herself in control.
She felt a gentle touch on her shoulder, but she shrugged it away violently and stayed curled up on the floor. This was quickly moving from uncomfortable to disastrous. She wished there were some way that she could escape, but apparently she was trapped. And with the way that Clark had tracked her down before, she would have trouble being certain that he was out of sight so that she could really escape. She felt the tears start and cursed her emotions.
Once again she felt the hand on her shoulder, and this time she had not enough concentration or strength to muster any kind of reaction. The hand began to rub her back gently, and she felt herself relaxing. Some of the frustration began to subside, but in its place came a renewed fear of being distracted. She tensed, holding herself in check.
"Relax, it's okay…" said the female voice as the hand continued to gently rub her back.
"No… I have to go home!" she said, arching her back. She got her knees underneath her and then tried to get to her feet, but her ankle didn't even try to hold her weight this time. She clenched her fists and tried again. Suddenly she felt not only weak but dizzy, and the whole world spun dangerously and went black.
She expected to be unconscious, but on some level she was still conscious. She couldn't see or do anything, but she could still hear their voices, as if down a tunnel. They were panicking and moving her. She wondered what her body was doing and hoped that it wasn't betraying her. That was the last thing she needed.
After a few minutes of this, things began to fade back in. Her whole body tingled and sensation returned to her body slowly, as her eyes also began to clear up. She had just regained her vision enough to see that Martha was standing over her tending to her when a wave of nausea overcame her and she vomited all over her.
Immediately she felt horrible. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry…" she whispered. She curled up on her side, feeling miserable. She closed her eyes as she heard them all moving around, trying to clean up the mess that she had made. All she wanted to do was melt into the bed and disappear, but she fought that feeling. That was the last visual image she needed to give herself.
She heard Clark once again, still curious. "What are you so afraid of?"
"I-I just need to get home," Becca insisted.
"Your parents are waiting for you?" he asked, the skepticism in his voice evident.
Instead of answering, she curled up tighter and stared at the wall. After a moment, Clark spoke again. "I'm sorry, that was uncalled for. It's just… I don't know why you feel like you need to lie to us."
"I don't need handouts," she told him, surprising herself even as the words escaped her mouth. Since when did she turn down handouts? Since they involved making herself vulnerable, apparently.
"Well, the least you can do is have a little something to eat and get some rest. If you want to leave in the morning, that's up to you." He appeared in her field of vision, holding out a bowl of soup. "It's still warm, you know. And my mom is a great cook."
From the doorway, Martha responded, "Okay, Clark, what do you want?" in a teasing tone. Becca almost cried to hear their banter. How she wanted-No. She couldn't have this. Not her.
She turned over to face away from them. Maybe if she gave them the cold shoulder enough, they would leave her alone. If she could just stay awake until they all went to bed then she could get out of there before they asked any more prying questions.
She could almost see Clark shrug. "Okay, if you don't want to eat anything, that's fine. I'll leave this right here…" she heard the bowl being set down on the bedside table behind her, "… and let you get some rest." She heard footsteps leaving the room, and she relaxed slightly.
It was nice to have a soft bed in a warm house. It had been a long time since she'd slept out of the wind on a bed thicker than one of leaves. Usually her "rest" occurred in a tree with a sufficiently large branch, and was never very prolonged. Perhaps she could just sleep here for a little while and then leave…