Title:Renewed Strength

Author: veggie5

Spoilers: Season 9 Pandora

Disclaimer: I own diddly squat. Actually, I don't even own that! The characters obviously don't belong to me. And since this is based on the ep, Pandora, I don't own the script to that either. Like I said, I own nothing.

Summary: This is pretty much Clark's POV of the beginning scene just before the Clark/Lois reunion.

Author's Note: I definitely do not take credit for the idea of Clark thinking that Lois' appearance is a dream. I was inspired after reading Krys' fic, "Living Dream". Let it be said that I haven't written a fic in over 5 years. So, I'm a bit nervous about de-lurking myself. Also, this is my first Smallville fic EVER. But this season has been so amazing for Clois that it finally kick-started my writing muse. So, please be gentle and bear with me if I'm a bit rusty. (additional note: Clark's thoughts are in italics.)

He sat there, alone in the corner, keeping to himself. Each day that passed, was like another nail in the coffin that he built for himself, for the world. The hours had turned to days, the days into weeks and the weeks into months. He wasn't even sure how long he had been trapped in this prison. Time now seemed to just pass him by. He looked around, surrounded by despair. Everything was just another reminder of all the mistakes he had made, the mistakes that not only affected him, but the entire human race.

How can I help them, if I can't even help myself? He thought miserably to himself. I failed them. I failed them all.

It was almost a daily routine for him. He would replay the past year over and over again in his mind, going over every minute detail of his actions. He had been so foolish. Taking on all the troubles of the world on his own shoulders, he had attempted to defeat Zod on his own. But there had been too many of them. Their powers were getting stronger and stronger as the sun slowly transformed to a sickening blood red. His own powers weakening, draining, slipping away until they were just… gone.

If only I hadn't turned my back on my friends. If only I had asked for help. If only…

His eyes stung at that thought. But the tears didn't come. They never came. Not anymore. He briefly closed his eyes and allowed his mind to wander in darkness. He found comfort in that darkness, even if it was only temporary. Because as always, she would be there. Even if it was only in his mind.

It was always the same vision. He would be sitting there, in the exact same corner and suddenly he would feel her presence. Slowly lifting his head, he would see her appear between the crowds of people. Just standing there, staring straight at him as if she could see right through him, as if he didn't exist. It was her eyes that he would always focus on. They were void of any emotion. Cold. Empty. Lacking that twinkle, that sparkle that always made her so alluring, so full of life. He wondered how he hadn't noticed how she swiftly and silently had taken a hold of his heart and became the one constant in his life that he could depend on. How come it took me so long to see what was right in front of me? He mentally curse himself for figuring it out too late.

The first few times it happened, he would call out her name. But she never responded. He would try to get up to reach out to her. But he couldn't move an inch. It was as if an invisible force wouldn't allow him to move, as if he had absolutely no control over his own body. He would try again. Calling her name out more desperately, pleading with her to acknowledge him, even to the point where he no longer recognized his own voice.

Then, there were the times when he was able to move, to get to his feet. But whenever he ran to her, it felt as if she was impossible to reach. The more he ran, the further away she would be. Until the vision of her would vanish. And then he would remember. She was dead. It was all just a vision his mind had conjured up to torment him, to make him suffer over and over again. He buried his head in his hands in shame. The shame that overwhelmed him when his thoughts would turn to her. Of all the things he regretted doing, and there were millions to choose from, the one regret that would forever be on his mind was that he never told her just how much she meant to him. How she *was* special to him and that he needed her like he needed breath. How he lov-

His thoughts were interrupted by a commotion. He looked up to see one of the Kandorians callously toss a woman to the ground. "Filthy human", the Kandorian spat out before leaving her lifeless body. Though there was nothing actually out of the ordinary about the situation itself, he had this uneasy feeling gnawing at the back of his mind to take notice. He narrowed his eyes and took in the woman's appearance, if only to ease his mind. It was only when his eyes travelled across her face that he let out a breath that he didn't even realize he was holding. He shook his head in confusion. This isn't right. This isn't how my visions start…But taking in her appearance, lying there, surrounded by dust and rats, he couldn't help but think how beautiful she was. Taking deep breaths to try to calm himself down he continued to stare at her. Not daring to move a muscle in hopes to prolong her presence. Too scared that the ghostly vision would disappear, he did nothing but drink in the sight of her.

Time seemed to pass by achingly slowly, until he noticed her eyes fluttering open. He noticed how her eyes were slowly taking in her surroundings, unlike the hollowness that he was used to seeing in his visions. This is definitely different from all my other visions of her. Fascinated by the changes in events of his usual visions, he looked on. Waiting curiously to see how things would play out in his mind this time. Slowly, but surely, she moved to get up when she noticed two children huddled together, trembling in fear. Gingerly, she began to approach them. "Hey…" she started, until the children's mother cut her off and hurriedly took them aside.

He suddenly sat up straight. That wasn't what he expected at all. Never before, had his visions of her ever spoken a word. Never had his visions of her attempted to interact with any of the people surrounding her.

She stood to her feet and started walking towards him. Suddenly, he could feel his pulse racing and breathing was becoming more and more difficult as he gasped for air. But instead of stopping in front of him, she continued to walk right by. The only problem was that he could've sworn he felt a slight wave of air brush over him as she passed by. He shivered slightly as a chill crawled up his spine. He could sense something was definitely not right with this vision. And for the first time since this vision of her appeared, he gradually got up and followed her, still maintaining a safe distance until he could figure out what was going on.

Inching closer towards her, he watched her as she looked on helplessly as the female Kandorian burned the mark of Zod on the defenceless man. Eyes filled with fear, the Kandorian glared at her. "Okay, easy. I was just hoping for…"

How come the Kandorian can see my vision as well? How is this even possible? Her voice continued to fill the air but he could no longer register what she was even saying. His eyes widened in shock and it seemed as if his world was spiralling around him. She's actually here. She's not a vision. She's… alive… His thoughts trailed off as he was brought back to reality from the Kandorian's stoic voice.

Tauntingly, the Kandorian responded. "You want food? What do you have to trade?"

A slight smirk was rising up in the corner of the Kandorian's mouth and he wished with all his might that he could slap that look off of the Kandorian's face. He could see the pain, confusion and fear written all over her face. It broke his heart to see her like this. He didn't understand it – her being alive and standing right in front of him. But now that he knew she was alive, he would rather die a thousand painful deaths before he would let anything happen to her. Without giving it another thought, he pulled off his father's watch from his left wrist. And somehow finding a renewed strength that he hadn't possessed in a very long time, one that seemed to be brought on solely by her mere presence, he thrust the watch in front of the Kandorian's face and spoke for the first time in months.

~End