This is the longest story I've ever written, I've been working on it since March and I'm so pleased to finally post it! Many thank yous go to my beta hbthomas, who is the best beta-reader ever and so far has helped me out a lot with this story. Thank you!
Summary: AU of the Pilot, contains Chlark, TC.
Disclaimer: I don't own, you don't sue, you just read the fic and leave a comment or two. ;)
Fate is a funny thing. Unpredictable, unfavourable to most, and some even say deliberately awkward.
Choice has no place in fate. Fate is the be-all and end-all, the journey may be different, but ultimately we all end where we are supposed to end, be that in glory, honour, or self-realisation.
The trials we overcome make us better people, there is no doubt of that. Hardship builds character, what doesn't kill us only makes us stronger, suffering ignites compassion and so on. But sometimes people find the trials they face too difficult - it is easier to just give up. These people emerge from hardship weaker rather than stronger. It is a test of character, a rite of passage if you will. Some of these rites are harder than others, as you are about to find out.
God only asks of us what he knows we can deal with. He just asked Clark Kent for a lot, lot more.
Smallville, October 1989
The many individual screams streamed together into one shocking cacophony of fear as blazing trails of smoke plummeted seemingly from nowhere.
The noise was enough to jolt even the sturdiest of hearts, without the added shuddering in the normally solid ground as what seemed to be miniature suns fell to the earth. With the general chaos and destruction that accompanied the meteor shower, it was impossible not to be terrified.
The meteors plunged into the small town with horrifying speed and effect; homes and places of business went up in flaming ruins, cars leaped into the air, the metal twisting and turning as if some invisible force were toying with them, roads boiled and became puddles of molten tar.
At the very heart of the town, a small, dark haired girl, complete with a pink fairy princess costume, watched as her parents died before her eyes, the flaming meteor reducing the family car to nothing but a smoking exhaust pipe on the road.
Nearly ten miles away, at the very edge of town, a lean man with immaculately long hair and a beard scowled as the men he was negotiating with refused to sign their Creamed Corn Factory over to him. He didn't notice his only son slip away.
Only ten metres away, a boy whose hair glinted red in the sun ran for his life, gasping the sparse air into his lungs to fuel his legs. He could hear the wall of dirt coming for him, closing in as he wheezed precious oxygen into his asthmatic lungs.
A mere ten feet behind him, a half-naked teenager closed his eyes against the billowing dust that foreshadowed the blast that would put him into a deep coma for twelve years.
Back near the town centre, amidst all the chaos, one confused little boy stood, innocently unafraid.
He'd spotted the overturned red truck by the roadside, its exhaust still smoking and the wheels feebly turning in midair in hopeless protest. At only three years old and having spent most of his short life inside a space craft, the boy had no concept of how odd the scene looked as he knelt, tilting his head curiously at the couple inside.
"Are you seeing what I'm seeing…?" The man said to his wife, never taking his eyes off the boy.
The woman moaned and turned her head to her husband, her mouth dropping open when she saw past him to the boy.
They worked quickly with the boy's help to get out of the truck, wary that the tank would explode, and the woman wrapped the little boy in a spare blanket from the back and into her arms.
She glanced up to see her husband clearing them a path, a frown on his tanned face as he tossed a few stones aside. She lagged behind, partly because of the extra weight she was carrying but mainly because she didn't want to remind her husband that the little boy was still there. She knew it was silly, but she felt the longer she could keep the boy away from him the more chance she'd have of keeping him.
Wordlessly, they crested the top of a small hill, pausing at the highest point to look down into the shallow, burnt and broken valley. There were so many rocks strewn about the place that at first neither noticed the rather unusually shaped and coloured 'rock' imbedded in the dip.
Then the man's eyes picked out its alien nature, and he gasped and stumbled backwards a few steps, eyes wide with something between fear and disbelief.
"My God…" He whispered, and his wife soon spotted the object of his attention.
"Daniel, what is it?" She asked, staring at the craft and stepping closer, eyes narrowed to get a better look.
"If I believed in this kind of thing I'd say it's a spaceship, Rose." He said in a low voice, now a good few feet behind his wife.
At that Rose glanced back over her shoulder at him, a slight teasing smile on her face despite the seriousness of the situation.
"Then since you don't believe in 'this kind of thing' what do you say it is?"
Daniel shook his head, licking his lips in a nervous habit before saying slowly, "I say it's a spaceship. No doubt about it."
Rose's smile faded and she looked down at the little boy, who hadn't said a word since he'd met the couple. He sensed her gaze and his eyes moved from Daniel's face to hers, a small frown wrinkling his forehead as if he was trying to understand what was taking place. Rose hefted him as he started to slide and said, smiling for his benefit, "Then I guess this makes you a special little guy." She paused for a long moment, debating whether to say what she really wanted to or not. The 'special little guy' reached up and toyed with her long blonde hair. "That makes two special people in my life." She finally said, with a pointed look at her husband, who couldn't help but frown.
"Rose…" He started, in a voice that suggested they'd talked about this many times before and he was beginning to lose patience with the topic.
"No, Daniel. You know how much I want this. He needs a home, I need a child to love. It's that simple." She cut him off, standing a little straighter as she caught and held his gaze.
The staring contest seemed to last forever in Rose's mind, her dark eyes watered and she immediately wanted to look away, but she knew she had to do this if she wanted to keep this child. She supposed it was much like staring a dog in the eyes, the first to look away was the loser, the weaker of the two. Rose had looked away on far too many occasions in her lifetime.
Eventually Daniel dropped his gaze to the spacecraft, studying its contours, and said in a defeated voice, "I don't think 'simple' ever came into the equation."
End of Prologue