Disclaimer: Smallville belongs to Al Gough & Miles Millar, as well as the CW. Superman is copyright Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster and remains the property of DC Comics. I intend no infringement.

This chapter's most recent update is November 25, 2009.

Chapter 1: Breaking Down Barriers

A lonely sigh resonated through the cool midnight air, its source a distraught Clark Kent. His fingers fiddled with the telescope and he glanced down at it with disinterest. On clear nights like this one, Clark usually peered up into the starlit sky, gazing intently at the space where his planet used to be. But on a usual night, Clark's interest would have been piqued by curiosity rather than grief. Clark wasn't sure he could handle another night pondering why he was the last one left.

"Alone." Clark thought bitterly. "I'm always alone."

The scent of apple pie drifted into the loft, and he closed his eyes to savor it. After a minute of basking in the wonder of his mother's baking, Clark sighed. The fact that he could smell any scent from over a mile away was just another thing that made him...

"Alien." his brain supplied. Clark fidgeted uncomfortably. He certainly couldn't deny how well that word fit.

He had always been unnatural, but until a few years ago he had attributed that uniqueness to a mutation. A mutation meant he was still part of the same species as his friends and family. Discovering that he was not of this world was earth shattering. Learning that his arrival had been the catalyst for his hometown's devastation was even harder to swallow. But there was something worse than the guilt. A feeling of aching loneliness. He was the only survivor, and as such, he feared there was no one who could ever truly understand him.

He'd tried telling his friends. Clark could vividly remember Pete's reaction, especially his eyes. Pete's eyes had conveyed distrust, panic, and most importantly, a deeply reaching fear of the unknown.

It was a look Clark could live without seeing ever again. But he did see it. Even a year after telling Pete his secret, Clark had occasionally caught his friend staring when he thought Clark wasn't looking. Sometimes it was awe, other times it was something else.

He'd meant to tell Chloe. She and Pete had been his best friends for as long as he could remember. But after Pete's entire demeanor had changed, Clark had reconsidered. He wasn't sure he could handle her looking at him that way, and now his opportunity was lost.

After a large spat between he and Chloe, she had started working for the enemy. Determined to find out what Clark was hiding, Chloe had begun investigating him, and handing over the information to Lionel. Well, he sure as hell couldn't tell her now. Not when he was in her cross-hairs.

A heavy sadness settled into his body. He wondered if it was depression. Clark snorted at the absurdity of being a depressed alien. He could almost imagine Chloe laughing at the ridiculousness of it all.

As his thoughts began to cycle, a few small glimmers lit up the sky. At first Clark paid them no heed, but became interested as the glimmers became more frequent. A particularly bright light moved slowly across the sky and Clark decided to follow it.

He ran through the back roads, never taking his eyes off the flickering wonder. It finally faded over a large patch of grass, and Clark stopped.

"Clark?" A voice inquired.

Clark whipped around quickly and began to scan the area, a reflex he had developed from his parents' warnings to hide his abilities. During his analysis he caught a glimpse of Chloe leaning out the Torch window. His heart began to beat faster in panic. Had she seen anything?

"Chloe?" he stammered. "Um, hi."

Chloe smirked. "Hi. I see you've witnessed a part of tonight's star shower." she observed.

Clark began to form a response, but the words stuck in his throat. Chloe picked up on his reluctance to speak, and inserted her own words.

"I know what you're going to ask, Clark. What am I doing here at this time of night?" she said, "My dad is moving next week, so this edition is my last as editor. I gotta make it good, right?"

Clark couldn't help but smile at her friendly banter.

"Speaking of which, you passed in your article before you left school, so why are you here? Come to help me edit? Bring me a coffee, maybe?"

Clark laughed. "If I had known you'd wanted one, Chlo, I would have had it in my hand."

They let the silence permeate the air, not wanting to pollute the conversation with recent betrayal. But they could not pretend like they were the same Clark and Chloe. Things had changed, and the atmosphere suddenly took a turn for the worst.

"Really, though, jokes aside. What are you doing out here, Clark?"

His eyes glistened darkly, and bitterness crept into his voice.

"Depends, Chloe. Is it on the record?"

"Clark, I...you know it's never on the record."

That was too much for him. His muscles tensed and he felt the retort leave his lips before his brain ever registered it.

"Oh really? This conversation isn't being transcribed for Lionel to read?"

"Now come on, Clark. That's just not fair."

"What's not fair about it, the fact that I'm calling you on it, or the fact that I found out? Pick your choice."

"And how exactly did you find out, Clark? Did you spy on me? Because in case you haven't noticed, you have this nasty little habit of having a double standard."

With her acrimonious words stinging Clark like a slap to the cheek, she turned away, furious. But confusion momentarily drowned her rage when she looked back to find Clark gone. She angrily grabbed her coat and shut down her computer. Clark had soured her mood for editing. She could finish the last touches in the morning.

The tap of her shoes resonated through the hallway and the door creaked as Chloe headed outside into the warm, sultry night. She was halfway to her car when she ran into something solid and...red? One of her manicured nails broke on impact and a dull ache began to spread through her hand.

"Clark?" she questioned acidly. "What are you made of, steel?"

"Are you okay?" he asked hurriedly, avoiding her second question.

"I'm fine. I thought you left."

"I was going to, but..."

He sighed.

"Chloe, I think we need to talk."