A/N: This fic is my attempt at tieing up and resolving the dreadful 4 ep mid-season 8 story arc: The Arc of Infinate Stupidity. If you know of what I speak, then please read on and I hope you enjoy ;)
This chapter is set post-S8/pre-S9 and hopefully will speak for itself. WARNING: If you are NOT a Clois Shipper, then don't bother reading this. Also if you actually, for some unfathomable reason, like Lana Lang, then you may want to turn away now.
When You Left
The lightning flashed in the silver sky, followed quickly by the rumble of thunder. Clark stood on the farmhouse porch and watched it. Once, he would have stood in his loft and let himself be mesmerized by it, but he didn't go there anymore. The Fortress Key and whatever else he'd needed were back at the Fortress. That was where he stayed now. Shelby nudged at his leg with a little whine and Clark squatted to give him a rub.
"Don't like all this rain, huh boy?"
He straightened again, watching as the rain grew heavier and drew in a deep breath. The scent was so familiar, fresh and clean. He could smell the ozone in the air as the lightning lit up the fields. It should have been cleansing. It should have been a comfort to him, as the farm had always been, but the familiar meant nothing to him now.
With Shelby fed, he had no reason to be here, and with evening approaching he had a full night's work in Metropolis. He gave Shelby a last scratch behind the ear.
"I'll see ya tomorrow…" 'Clarky' the remembered name for his dog whispered through his mind and before the knife in his gut could twist any more, he stepped off the porch and took off.
The rain hung suspended in midair like a speckled curtain as he plunged through it at super-speed. It did him good; he could concentrate on each mini-explosion against his skin. Still, he found himself slowing down as he zipped through Smallville. The lights were on in the apartment above the Talon. He hadn't seen or spoken to Chloe since he'd walked away from her in her new Watchtower, but he still checked on her every now and then. If his purpose was to save and protect people, then that included Chloe.
There were still some people dashing from store to store, or running across the street, to get out of the rain. He wove his way around them too fast for their eyes to see him, outran the single car and leaped onto the roof of the building opposite the Talon.
The rain pelted down, and for a moment he listened only to it – thunderous as it hit the tin roof. It should have been melodious – he'd found it so before – but it wasn't. He shifted his concentration, angling his head slightly until he heard Chloe's voice.
"Not that I'm not glad to see you – because I am, believe me…" She sounded sincere and Clark was surprised to find she wasn't alone. "But, I've been trying to call you for months without getting a reply…"
"I know, Chloe. I'm sorry."
He knew the voice; knew it as well as he knew his own. Lana.
He waited for surprise to turn to pleasure, happiness, curiosity…pain. He waited in vain. His only thought was that it had probably been a good thing he'd chosen this rooftop instead of the Talon's.
"It doesn't matter. I'm just…" Chloe's voice cracked on a choked back sob.
Clark squinted slightly, shifting into x-ray vision as he listened.
"I got your message about Jimmy." Lana wrapped an arm around Chloe's shoulders and steered her to the sofa. "I'm so sorry."
"Thanks for coming, Lana. I could use a friend."
"You say that like…Chloe? What's wrong? Where's Clark?"
He heard Chloe sniff. "That's what I called about. Lana…Clark's gone."
"What? What do you mean?" There was a slight pitch of panic in Lana's voice before Chloe explained.
"No. I mean he left. He left me, the farm, the Daily Planet."
"I…I've been reading the reports of The Blur's saves in every paper."
"He hasn't left Metropolis, he's left us. He's completely withdrawn from society. He won't answer my calls. He said I'd never see him again."
"That's why I called you. He blames himself for Jimmy, and I figure if anyone can lure him out of his cave, it's you."
"I know you can't get too close to each other since the Kryptonite poisoning, but…"
"The meteor rock poisoning, the powers, it's all gone."
Clark blinked the rain out of his eyes and listened a little closer. Lana stood and paced around the coffee table.
"That's why I didn't answer your calls. I couldn't. A few days after I left Smallville, I started getting sick. Really sick."
"Oh my God!" Chloe jumped to her feet. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah. It's okay. I'm fine now. But I was in Alaska when it happened. I've been in a hospital there for months."
"Okay…um…I know there are a million questions I should be asking right now and this should be way down there on the list but…why were you in Alaska?"
Lana let out a small laugh. Clark waited to feel again, but still…there was nothing.
"When I left Smallville I didn't really know where to go. And Clark…he was so sick…I just ran, Chloe. I just ran and when I finally stopped, I found myself in Alaska. I'd run through cities and over mountains before I realized where I was."
"Okay…now…let's go back to the hospital and no powers thing?"
Clark watched Lana start to pace as she told her story.
"…when I woke up a few days later all the powers were gone. The doctors treated me for radiation poisoning and seemed surprised when it actually worked. I have to admit, I was really grateful for the money I still had. I managed to track down Dr Groll, who came to the hospital and covered for me when they were threatening to call in the authorities. But his theory is that, while the suit was designed to metabolize the meteor rock's energy, it wasn't designed to absorb that much in one hit."
"So, he thinks the suit short-circuited?"
"And the krypto-poisoning?"
"Well…I won't know for sure unless I see Clark, but according to Dr Groll, any Kryptonite radiation should have been neutralized with the suit. He said it would have dissipated when the suit malfunctioned and that's probably what made me so sick for a while."
"But you're okay now?"
"I'm fine, Chloe."
"This is great news!" Chloe hugged Lana for a moment, then gripped her shoulders. "We have to tell Clark. Why didn't you come back sooner?"
Clark watched as Lana shook her head and turned away.
"I'm not invulnerable anymore, Chloe. I'm not his equal anymore. I worked so hard for so long to find a solution, a way we could be together. The suit was it. There's no other way."
Not his equal anymore? She had said that, hadn't she? When she got the suit. That she was finally his equal. The memory was clear, though it felt a lifetime ago. But she hadn't been the first person to say similar words to him. For the first time he let himself consider objectively, the way Jor-El had been teaching him. Lex and Lana had one thing in common: they'd both tried to usurp his destiny…and they'd both suffered for it.
"But you can still be together. Lana…Clark will come back for you."
"I don't know if I can. Maybe. I guess we never really had a chance to try it this way…and with Lex out of our lives…"
"Please call him. You have to at least try!"
Clark felt the buzzing in his back pocket. He reached in and pulled out his phone. He didn't know why he still carried it, or why he always checked it when it rang.
Caller ID read Lana Lang.
Clark hit the 'end' button and put it back in his pocket. Refocusing on the Talon, he watched Lana take her phone from her ear.
"Is he checking his voice mail?"
"I don't know. If he is, he isn't answering mine."
"Maybe I should go out to the farm."
Clark withdrew his senses and lifted his face to the still pouring rain.
He knew he should be relieved. Lana was back. She was okay and she was quite possibly no longer lethal to him. Didn't this mean they could try again? He looked inside himself; searched. But he couldn't find it. All he found was an emptiness; a dark hollow.
He didn't save people now because he wanted and needed to; but out of duty…out of penance. Lana's voice brought him nothing but that vague sense of guilt that had always haunted him with Lana - from the first time she'd been endangered just by his presence. But the guilt wasn't painful anymore, it just was. And he understood now that he could never save or protect her enough to erase the damage he'd done to the picket-fence life she should have had. And he found he no longer cared enough to try.
Clark Kent was dead.
He'd died when... The pain hit him; it was worse than Kryptonite, it was worse than anything. This was why he stayed away from them – from Chloe, Oliver – from everyone. It hurt too much.
Clark ran. He ran as fast as he knew how. But not to Metropolis; he ran back to the Fortress. Back to his training. With barely a pause to answer Jor-El's greeting, he threw himself into the training program and drowned out the pain.
A/N: This came out of the fact that TPTB not only created a ridiculous arc, but one that left a huge plot hole that they decided to ignore - probably because they realised how infinately stupid that arc had been and, embarrassed, wanted to pretend it never happened. Personally, I needed a reason that Lana - with her new krypto-poisonous Super-status - would not be called upon to rid the world of the scourge of super-powered Kandorians we see in the 'Pandora' future, when all she'd have to do would be walk into the room and they'd drop. I didn't think "Sorry Chloe, but I'm catching up on Days of Our Lives and apparently this episode is a classic" would suffice. Even Lana couldn't be quite that selfish...I think. ;)
Um...reviews are welcome...pretty please