Author: kayladie

Title: Falling Down

Genre: Angst, Hurt/Comfort

Time: During and After the events of Extinction in Season 3

A/N: This is my first foray into writing fic for Smallville. I only discovered the show about 2 months ago and literally have become obsessed with it (much to the dismay of people who are waiting for updates on my SW stories...oops!) For some insane reason, I decided to make this first attempt in first person AND present tense. What I was thinking, I have no clue...

Anyway, if this goes over well, I might try it again, and maybe something a little longer. But it'd have to be an AU, cause I am such a Clark/Chloe shipper!

Casually, I grab another bale of hay from the back of the truck and toss it into the feeding pen. My father eyes me briefly, that knowing gleam in his expression, before he turns to grab another bale himself. Sure, he's just reassured me about the police finding Van, but in that eerie - although still comforting somehow - way that he knows me, he can tell I've got something else on my mind.

Knowing that it'll be easier to just get it out there rather than let it fester and gnaw at me for another day or two, I blurt out what's been bothering me ever since I talked to Lana and Chloe at the Talon.

"Dad, do you think I'm like Van?"

He smiles at me and already I start to feel a little bit relieved.

"Well, I think you know my answer to that question, son. The real question is, do you think you're like Van?"

And now the sense of relief flows through me like water in a stream, because I know I'm not like Van, and even if I know that he knows it as well, I still need to hear him say it.

I grin back at him quickly before I throw the bale I'm holding into the pen. I stand there with my hands on the rail, my back to my father and say, "It's just I've come into contact with a lot of Kryptonite-infected people and it never ends with us being friends and shaking hands. I gave Lana this whole tolerance speech. I always assumed the worst about them, too."

He walks up and claps me on the shoulder, causing me to look at him a little sheepishly. Really, it's uncanny the way the man reads me so well. Another patented Jonathan Kent grin and he's reassuring me once more.

"For all we know there could be lots of people out there who have been infected who lead perfectly normal lives."

Well, that's certainly thought provoking... Maybe I'm not like Van, but maybe there are other people out there who are more like me - striving to be normal - than I thought. Anything is possible, right?

"They're forced to live with their secret, just like me."

"And they could be using their abilities for good, too. I'm gonna get cleaned up."

My father claps me on the shoulder one more time before he walks back over towards the truck, his grin looking a bit satisfied as he can obviously tell that he's given me a lot to think about. How does he do that anyway? I come to him with one thing on my mind, and he makes me feel better about that and yet, somehow gives me even more to ponder?

Still, it is comforting to be able to talk about things like this with him. Again, I silently thank whatever or whoever it was that guided my ship to Jonathan and Martha Kent's doorstep. I don't say that aloud though, because I know I'll get the old 'we didn't find you, you found us' bit. Sometimes my parents are just too sappy to believe.

I slap my hands together a couple of times to rid them of the hay dust and turn to follow my dad. The sharp crack of a rifle being fired has me whipping back around instantly. In my 'super' mode, it's almost as though the bullet is poking along towards me at a leisurely pace, like it's taking a Sunday stroll.

Oddly enough, especially since I know that Van McNulty is on the loose and I've no doubt been added to his hit list of meteor freaks, my first thought is that it's some careless hunter messing around in the woods near our land. It wouldn't be the first time that me or my dad had to chase people off our property.

A flare of irritation wells up in me and I step forward, my hand coming up to catch the bullet. Then the thing goes straight through my palm.

Through!

What...?

PAIN!

I'm shocked and the whole world kind of tilts strangely, and 'super' mode seems to slow down to an almost stop, but the overwhelming thing running through my head is how much this freaking hurts. I've experienced physical pain, more often than I should have for someone who's supposedly invulnerable, but this immediately pushes anything else I've ever felt into the dust.

I watch as the bullet...green, it's green, which means Kryptonite and my horror swells...wobbles a little from having struck the bones in my hand, and heads straight for my chest. I want to move, I want to duck out of the way, but for once in my life, I'm simply not fast enough. It slams into me, twisting my body, knocking me face first to the ground, and instantly spiking the pain to an entirely new level.

I gasp, sucking dirt into my lungs, and then cry out...and I can't move, can't even turn over. It's never a nice experience when I get around Kryptonite, but this is so much more intense than it's ever been before. It's inside me, and it's as though I can feel it leeching the life right out of me.

Distantly, I hear my father calling my name, first in slight confusion and then again with just a bit of panic. I wonder why it's taking him so long to reach me...it seems as though I flail helplessly on the ground for an eternity before I feel his hands grasping my shoulders, rolling me over.

"Dad!" I gasp. I look up at him, and see the alarm on his face, which causes my own fear to explode. "Dad!" I cry again, and it seems that's all I am capable of at the moment. I'm desperately trying to put everything my mouth is powerless to say into that one word...Help me! Make it stop hurting, PLEASE! Daddy, please

"Clark, I got you!" he says, and it's as if his voice is coming at me through water, muffled and far away. I think I blacked out briefly out there in the field, because I hear his voice screaming "NO!" but the next thing I know is my back hitting the kitchen floor.

As much as I'm grateful for my dad, I'm equally as appreciative of my mom. By the time I become aware again, she is already heating a knife...oh, God, what are they going to do with that!over the flame of the stove. I wonder what the hell went through her mind when her husband dragged her son's unconscious, bleeding body into her kitchen. Whatever it was, whether disbelief, panic, fear, or maybe all three, it doesn't stop her from leaping right in to help my father attempt to save my life.

"How's that coming, sweetheart?" my dad asks and I can hear his voice trembling. I'm not sure if I've ever heard that tone from him before.

"I've got it!" Mom's voice sounds even more panicky than Dad's. I can hear strangled little whimpering noises, and I realize those are coming from me. My chest feels tight and my heart is pounding so hard that I wonder for a moment if it's going to explode. I'm not sure if that's from the pain of the bullet or the fear that's rushing through my veins.

My dad rips open my shirt and I get my first really good look at my shoulder. I can only stare at it, wide-eyed, mesmerized by the pulsing green agony that's throbbing outwards from the wound. I can literally feel the Kryptonite searing through my body, reaching towards my heart.

With a helpless little gasp, my gaze shoots upwards to my father's face, seeking reassurance. I don't find it. He's just as scared as I am, and I'm on the verge of losing it completely. Another whimper escapes my lips and he's saying something, but I can only barely understand his words. My head falls backward sharply, and some detached part of my brain worries for a moment that I've cracked my mother's kitchen floor.

"It's okay, Clark. It's all right, Clark. Hang in there."

My dad steps over me as my mother rushes to my side, holding the knife and something else - I think it's the yellow bowl that she always makes my omelets in - and kneels on my other side. Her hand strokes my face and I look into her eyes, so filled with fear, and I feel a rush of guilt for worrying her so, especially after all I've already put her through.

"Jonathan, he's dying! The poison is spreading so fast," she stammers.

Dying? What, no...no, I'm not...I don't want to die! Another desperate moan feels like it's pulled from me, and suddenly the pain is not my biggest worry. I've never really thought about dying before, but now the realization that my life could be over - I'm only sixteen years old! - slaps me in the face and it's becoming harder to breathe.

My eyes are drawn to the gleam on the knife's blade from the overhead light as my mother hands it to my father. He stares down at me with a grim expression as he holds it in one hand, the blade pointed straight down.

"Okay, Clark, I'm gonna...I'm gonna get it out," he says firmly. All I can do is whimper again.

My mom's hand is stroking my hair as my dad pushes the tip of the knife into the bullet hole. I thought the pain was unbearable before...

I can't help it. I scream as white-hot agony stabs straight through my shoulder and my body jerks convulsively, trying to get away from that hurt. I don't care if Dad is trying to get the bullet out, I can't stand that pain, it's just too much!

"Clark! Clark, you gotta stay still, son," Dad says, and his voice seems more desperate now.

I can't, Dad, I just can't. Please, it just hurts too much, and for the first time the thought of just letting go and making this awful hurt go away drifts into my head. I almost raise one hand to push my father away, to get that knife that's only increasing my suffering right now away, and then I hear my mother speaking, her voice pleading with me.

"Hold on, baby, hold on. Dad's gonna get it," she says and I can hear her tears.

Oh, Mom, I'm trying, I really am, but it's too hard. I want to apologize to her, for giving up, but it's too much, I can't do this, I can't stand it. I can feel the darkness creeping up around the edges of my vision and I want to reach out for it...anything to make this torture stop. I clench my teeth, trying to hold back another scream that I know will terrify them. I don't want their last memory of me to be my wails of anguish. But then I find I don't even have the air to scream.

I try to take a breath, to tell them both that I love them and that I'm glad they're my parents, and that I'm sorry I have to leave them so soon. There are so many things that I want to say, that I should've made sure that they knew, but that breath won't come. My body feels like it's frozen, suddenly heavier than mere flesh and bones, and I...can't...breathe.

"He's not breathing!"

That's mom, sheer terror flowing through the shouted words that only barely penetrate the haze that's washing over me.

I'm sorry, Mom, Dad, so sorry...

I love you both...

Then all I can see is an image of Lana's face and I'm so sorry that I won't get the chance to tell her what I feel either...

And the darkness overwhelms me.


Later that night, I'm sitting in my Fortress of Solitude, staring out at the night sky. It still has the power to bring me comfort somehow, even knowing that my home is not out there anymore. I frown slightly at the thought. No, this farm is my home, even though I wasn't born here. Martha and Jonathan Kent are my family, even if they're not my blood. I wonder sometimes, though, had my parents known exactly what they would be getting into, if they would have made the same decision they had fourteen years ago.

As well as a few other things that I really don't want to think about, the difficult conversation with Lana weighs on my mind. It feels like the entire universe is conspiring to keep us apart sometimes. I want to go and find her right now, tell her everything, sweep her up in my arms and swear to never let her go...but I won't. Because I can't and that sends a little pang of hurt through my chest.

"Clark?"

I turn to see my mom coming up the steps, her approach only a little hesitant, and honestly, I'm a little surprised that it's her. Usually, my father is the one that has these little heart-to-hearts after something particularly distressing happens in my life. I pause at that thought and wonder if I'm becoming so cynical that almost dying has become merely 'distressing'.

"Honey, are you all right?" she asks as she walks over to stand beside me. Her hand reaches up to touch my shoulder and I can't help thinking that it's almost like she's trying to reassure herself that I really am here, that I'm still alive.

I smile at her softly. "I'm fine, Mom."

"I saw Lana come up here earlier. Is she all right?"

"I guess so. We don't seem to be communicating so well these days."

"What about you? Is there anything you want to talk about?"

"Not really. Although I do want to tell you and Dad that I'm sorry."

She looks at me with a frown marring her face. "Clark! What do you have to apologize for? Van McNulty was not well and he was the one who did something wrong."

"But it was my fault-" I start before she interrupts me.

"He was no better than someone who hates people of a different religion or skin color. His prejudices were his fault, not yours. And I'm really getting tired of you taking the weight of the entire world on your shoulders, you know. You're strong, but you're not that strong," she scolds.

I smile a little at her vehemence, because she's jumping to conclusions about what I'd been about to say.

"Mom, I was trying to apologize for putting you and Dad through the ordeal you had to go through this afternoon, not what Van did or felt."

"And just how is that your fault?" she demands.

"Maybe I've gotten a bit arrogant in my powers. I didn't have to try and catch that bullet. I could just as easily have stepped out of the way of it, but I didn't. If I hadn't gotten shot, I could've gotten Van right then and not only would you and Dad not have had to dig a bullet out of me, but Lana wouldn't have had to deal with more heartache after what Jake put her through."

"How do you know you could have gotten Van? He still had Kryptonite bullets on him. You wouldn't have been able to get near him."

A sound of frustration escapes me before I can stop it and I turn to stare back up at the stars. "Well, I should have been able to do something! Anything other than laying on the kitchen floor, bleeding to death!" My voice trembles just a little on that last part and I silently curse to myself.

I flinch and hope she doesn't examine that too closely. But of course she does, because she's my mom, after all.

"Clark?" she asks in a gentle voice. "Are you sure you don't need to talk about what happened?"

I still don't say anything, the vague hope that she won't pursue it flittering through me.

"I know it had to be frightening, sweetheart..." she prompts quietly, but firmly.

I'm embarrassed to feel tears pricking at my eyes and the urge to curl up in her lap and let her stroke my hair as she had when I was scared as a child, washes over me. Seeing as how I'm about a foot taller and outweigh her by more than a hundred pounds, that's pretty much impossible. But I find my hand groping out blindly for hers and she takes it, gives it a squeeze.

"Mom, I-" I choke out, before the tears begin to fill my eyes.

Murmuring soft words that I don't really understand, she tugs me over to the couch and as we sit down, she pulls my head to her chest. I feel her fingers begin to thread through my hair, and for just a moment, I am that child again. I close my eyes, and with a slight shudder, breathe in her comfort. She smells like flour and cinnamon, and there's just a hint of the fancy perfume that Dad and I went together on to buy her for her birthday last year.

We don't say anything further. We don't need to because for just this brief minute, there aren't any meteor mutants, no Krypton, no damned superpowers, no confusing relationships with every other person in my hellish life...

There's just me and my mom, and for now, that's enough.