Title: Future Tense
Author: Marcy (DHCgirl)
Summary: Post-Devoted. (Summary in chapter 1)
Disclaimer: No infringement is intended, no profit is made.
Distribution: Prologue, Krtyptonsite, DTS, My Site; anyone else, just drop me a note.
Notes: So this is my first attempt at a multi-chapter fic - I'm normally a one shot kinda gal. I HATE not knowing where a story is going, start to finish. Also, darker than I normally go. So this is going to be a little adventure for me. A wonderland tour, if you will. I'll try my best not to muck it up. I've decided to go unbeta'd - I'll keep the headaches to myself.
Feedback: Hopefully in my future...
Under the soft, white beam of the flashlight, the cave's scratchy runes hummed iridescent. In Clark's steady hand the light trawled along the wall. As it met each symbol, his future laid exposed. Pulsing before him.
"What are we looking for?"
Lana slowly stepped beside him. He watched as she took a deep, steadying breath, squaring her shoulders. Her hand reached up and slipped gently over his own. He allowed her to guide it towards the darkness to their right.
She had stopped on one of the glyphs; a wavy black symbol that reminded Clark of the ocean.
He looked down to find her transfixed. "You know these caves, Clark. Better than anyone." Her voice sounded hollow. Distant.
"I need your help," she interrupted, quickly. Her gaze snapped to his own and he saw something flash in her eyes. Fear. Unease. Another deep breath and she had dimmed it, a steely resolution taking its place.
She left his side and walked in front of the light. He watched as she brought a shaky hand to the hem of her shirt. Slowly, she began to hitch it up, revealing the small of her back.
Clark frowned. "You got a tattoo?"
Lana's laugh was sharp and laced with bitterness. "Not exactly." She ran her fingers across the crest of the inky marking. On their second trip they dug harder. "I can't give you any real answers. I don't have any. Not by a long shot. But when I was in Paris something happened. Something got inside of me, stole twelve hours of my life and left me with this."
Clark wore his confusion for her to see. Blatant as a neon sign. He reached out, tentatively, to touch her skin. Inches away, he paused, his eyes seeking permission. Lana nodded.
"Whatever is responsible for this wants me back here, Clark. I can feel it." She shot another quick look at the cave wall before continuing. "It's like I'm--"
"Connected," Clark finished. The word hung above them, like the decorations that adorned the craggy walls. Lana looked down at her own decoration, which stood raw under the stripping light. She let go and the fabric dropped like a curtain.
Silent now, she took the time to smooth out her blouse. Once. Twice. "Do you know what it means?"
The question fell dead.
"Lana," Clark paused, searching for the right words. The right apology. "I'm sorry. I can't help you." It didn't seem like enough - it never did. In the absence of anything more to offer her, he began to turn away.
"Please, Clark," Lana pleaded, pulling him back to her. "If it's something bad...If it's..." Her eyes shifted wildly, wet with fear. "I need to know."
Clark tensed, guilt snaking up his spine and setting him rigid . He looked around the cave and the chalky drawings, glaring at them in contempt. They seemed to smirk back, mocking him. As if they were delighted with their ability to flaunt his strangeness, and set him apart from the world.
Their mere existence robbed him of any delusion of normality. Of a future that included choice.
And now they'd swallowed her, too.
His thoughts were interrupted by a dull roar, like thunder in the distance. Beside him the atmosphere began to shift, flecks of dirt and gravel cylconing by his feet. The air became electric, white hot bolts snapping like firecrackers.
And then the world tore open.
Clark stepped back, pushing Lana roughly behind him. The two watched as the fiery halo of light swirled wildly, sparking white and red as it grew. A phosphorescent whirlpool. Clark shielded his eyes as it became blinding.
The portal groaned and heaved. And just when Clark thought it would consume them both, it did the opposite. It spit someone out.
She hit the cave floor hard, skidding across the dirt before collapsing in a heap, face down, her limbs limp and twisted like a rag doll's.
"Oh my god," Lana gasped. She rushed to the woman's side, dropping to her knees. Her hands moved idly in the air as she struggled with what to do next.
Clark stood, dumbfounded . "Where did she come from?" He sent his flashlight on a dizzy hunt for an explanation. The figure was gone. The cave had returned to shadows.
On the ground Lana had landed tentatively on a course of action, placing two firm hands on the woman's shoulders. "Hello?" She shook her gently. "Are you okay?"
"Lana?" Clark offered her his flashlight. She shook her head and produced a small penlight from her back pocket.
Clark nodded, satisfied, and made his way to the spot from which the woman had come. He searched for an opening. The wall had no holes. No cracks.
"It's solid," he concluded, finally.
He stepped back, suddenly aware of his position. When he did he found himself staring at the two-headed figure that would rule his future . A destiny marked by betrayal. He brought his hand back to the wall and traced a path across his story. Each image was a vision of isolation. Maybe he was meant for loneliness, he thought soberly.
Clark stopped. His fingers lingered on a long crisscrossed box with a diamond center. A reprieve from the cold?
"Clark, I think you need to see this."
He reluctantly pulled himself away and jogged over to Lana, kneeling down beside her. As she continued to examine the object in her hands, he took his first good look at the unconscious woman on floor. He watched as her chest slowly rose and fell and took it as a good sign.
But still he was struck by her helplessness. He reached out, instinctively, to sweep the hair from her face.
Lana caught his arm .
"I..." Her words trailed off. She shook her head in disbelief before handing him the small, oaktag card. She motioned for him to read it.
It was a press pass, the Daily Planet logo stretching boldly across the top. Below it a picture stared up at him. A wry, familiar smile.
And below that, a name.
Lois Lane Kent.