Title- What X-Ray Vision Can't Show
Rating- T just to be on the safe side
Summary- A selection of missing scenes, alternative episodes, and drabbles, just things that were implied, or which needed to happen but didn't... on-screen anyway. Various characters and pairings, mostly designed to fit seamlessly into canon, a few AUs of one kind or another.
A/N- I grew up with Smallville. It was the first show I ever seriously followed as a teen/young woman. I memorized episodes, collected quotes like it was going out of style, and made lists of my favorite moments so I'd remember the progression of them later.
But I quit watching after the 7th season, feeling it had strayed too far from the Superman mythos I was raised on and loved dearly for me to continue to enjoy it any longer (translation: I wanted to punch Clark and didn't like feeling disappointed in my hero). Then, two months ago, I saw an add for the box set of the complete series, and part of me wondered, "Whatever happened on that show?" A little Google magic and more pop-up adds than I can count later, and I had blown through the final three seasons (completely neglecting my schoolwork in the process).
To my amazement, those final three seasons (particularly the tenth) were some of the best television I have ever watched. The beautifully developed romance between Lois and Clark, the Kandor and Darkseid plots (and to a lesser extent the Doomsday plot), Mrs. Kent as the Red Queen, Mercy's redemption... I have never loved the show as much as I did watching the final seasons, and it inspired me to step back into Smallville fanfic. Yes, you heard me, BACK. I used to write on another account. I won't tell you which, because I just reread some of the fics and they were terrible (in my defense, I was 15 and while my skill as a word-smith was already well-honed, my ability to craft stories? Not so much), and would delete them if I could remember my old password.
With that in mind, I've got a few potential long-term projects in mind for the SV fandom. A crossover with Gilmore Girls (can't you just see Lois Lane and Lorelai Leigh clashing horns?) that I think has some serious potential, a very strange and fun time travel piece which does not feature Lois or Clark going to the past (but does involve the Legion ring and an unsuspecting Jimmy Olsen), and a bizarre Chlex-y piece which is weird because I don't ordinarily ship Chlex... but if I add one more long-term project to my overloaded writing schedule, my brain will explode. Therefore, I'm trying appeasing the plot bunnies with this oneshot collection.
Now, let's conclude this novel-length A/N and move on to my first piece of SV fanfic in over 4 years.
[Title]: Softer Inside
[Characters]: Clark and Lois, themes of Clalicia
[Inspiration]: I adored Alicia, and it always bugged me that after everyone spent a whole episode Alicia-bashing, no one could even manage to apologize for how they treated her, or actually muster enough sincerity to tell Clark they were sorry for her death. I'm sure these kinds of apologies happened, but I'd really like to have actually seen it. This scene takes place after the conversation with the Kents, but before Lois (unwittingly) tells Chloe how to handle knowing The Secret.
"So long, my honey, so long.
Too bad you had to drift away
'Cause I could use some company
Right here on this road, on this road I'm on today."
The repetitive thump of the ball against the slatted wall of the loft, a hypnotic rhythm that seemed muted in the slumbrous dusty atmosphere of the barn, was the only sound besides Clark's own heartbeat in his ears. He was listening close to his own heart, because it was easier than sorting out what was going on inside it.
He felt detached and vague. It was as if he were outside his own body, floating somewhere near the rafters, observing himself dispassionately chucking the ratty old tennis ball against the wall opposite him over and over again. He was grateful for the sensation of separation, to be honest. Just over forty-eight hours ago, he had almost taken a life, and he wasn't quite ready to deal with that yet. Grief, and guilt over Alicia's death, was quite enough on his emotional plate at present. He had no desire to add an examination of his violent reaction towards Tim Westcott to the mix.
Another heartbeat joined his, and a set of purposeful footsteps sounded on the stairs up to the loft.
He didn't have to look up to know it was Lois. Her stride, with those long legs and the natural overflow of energy that drove every motion she made, was unmistakeable. She paused at the top of the stairs.
"Hey, Smallville," she said in the gentlest tone he could ever recall hearing from her.
Clark hurled the tennis ball once more. "Hi, Lois," he said listlessly.
She took his greeting as an invitation to join him. She folded herself down into a sitting position next to him, back resting against the old couch. For a few minutes she didn't say a word, and that drifting part of him that couldn't really bring itself to focus on anything marveled that she actually had the ability to be silent for that long.
Eventually, though, her loquacious nature won out and she inquired, "How you doing?"
"You really loved her, didn't you?"
Oh boy, wasn't that a can of worms all to itself? To be honest, Clark was used to thinking of love as a sort of creeping, subtly ever-present, unfulfilled desire that lurked at the back of your heart and pounced on you at unexpected moments. What he had felt for Alicia- still felt, even with her gone- wasn't like that. That feeling had been full of wild, exhilarating freedom of self and intense physical attraction and bursts of emotional tenderness. Alicia had been a whirlwind, and the emotion she provoked in him every bit as much of one. It wasn't love the way he had felt for Lana, but he couldn't help thinking that in a twisted way, that was a good thing.
"Yeah," he answered truthfully.
A complex look covered Lois's features, and she sighed almost inaudibly. She seemed to search for the right words for a moment.
"Look," she said frankly, "I'm not really good with the whole sympathy, heart-to-heart, talk-about-the-personal-tragedies thing. But I know what it feels like to lose someone you really love. And you know what? It sucks. You feel like your world's been knocked all off its axis. But it does get better, I promise. It takes time, but one day you wake up and you find that it doesn't hurt as much anymore."
Clark nodded, but he still did not turn his head to meet her attentive eyes. "What kills me," he said with deliberation, "is that I was the one person she trusted to believe in her even when the rest of the world wouldn't. And I betrayed that trust when it mattered the most."
Lois's expression was a blend of discomfort and sympathy, with a hint of guilt showing through. "No one would blame you for that, Smallville," she said firmly. "Not even Alicia. She was framed. Tim went out of his way to make sure every sign pointed to Alicia; you had no way of knowing. And I'm sure the fact that you stuck up for her even when everyone you loved was telling you otherwise meant a lot to her."
"But in the end, even I abandoned her," he replied dully, catching the tennis ball flat in his palm with a weighty thump. "She died thinking that the one person that she loved suspected her of murder. How do I forgive myself for that?"
"I don't know," Lois replied. "But for what it's worth, I'm sorry for- for my part in all this. I barely knew the girl, but I still jumped to the conclusion that she'd done it. I do that more than I should... just take half the evidence and start pointing fingers, and it's not exactly my most charming trait. I'm sorry that this time around it hurt you and her."
Something deep down inside him warmed slightly. In the days since he had found Alicia hanging, no one had acknowledged even a shred of regret for making Alicia the town pariah. People had expressed regret at her death, and her mother of course was beside herself, but that was as far as it went. No one but him seemed to carry the weight of guilt for making her final days a hell of suspicion and persecution. Knowing that Lois, at least, felt bad for her role in tearing Alicia down unexpectedly eased some of the weight that had been sitting in his heart.
At last, Clark turned his gaze from the flat swathe of wood he had been staring at, and raised his eyes to meet hers. "Thanks," he said quietly. "And... thank you. For stopping me the other day."
It was Lois's turn to look uncomfortable and turn her face away.
"I've never... I've never lost control like that before," he said.
It was true. He had done heinous things on occasion when red-K had stripped him of any morality or inhibition, but even then he had always felt strong and fully in control of himself. He didn't know how to handle himself when confronted with the almost animalistic rage that had overtaken him when he was face-to-face with Alicia's murderer. Even though he knew it was wrong, even though he knew he would regret killing Tim, in that moment he honestly had not cared. That terrified him, knowing he was capable of that level of violence and fury.
Luckily for him, Lois had been there. She had followed him right into the fray and with words that sounded so much like his father it amazed him, she had brought him back from that precipice he had been poised upon. He was more grateful than she probably knew that she had been there. He wondered if anyone but his parents would have had the presence of mind to be able to call him back.
"I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't... I honestly wanted to kill him," Clark told her. He found himself searching her eyes for something, and wasn't sure if he was hoping for sympathy or condemnation.
She leaned her head against the sofa cushion at her back, and it wasn't pity or disgust that he saw reflected in her hazel eyes, but pure understanding. "Someone you loved and who loved you had just been taken away from you for no good reason. You had a right to be angry." Her voice was an unlikely mixture of steel and empathy.
Clark pictured her suddenly kneeling before a grave, promising the cousin who had been closer than a sister that she would call down vengeance on her murderers, whatever it took.
"But you wanna know something?" she asked.
"I don't think you would have killed him," she said, sincerity in every word. "Even with what he'd done, vengeance isn't your style. You're not that kind of guy."
Her faith in him, at least insofar as she didn't think him capable of murder, was astounding, given that Clark himself wasn't entirely sure he agreed with her. But then, Lois tended to do that: she astounded him. Every time he thought he knew her and where they stood with each other, she threw another twist into their complicated pseudo-freinemy status.
At the moment, he couldn't recall ever seeing Lois Lane like this, gentle and sensitive and empathetic, and suddenly he realized that this was who she really was. The bravado and the feigned arrogance and the prickly exterior were all very real parts of her, but underneath all her fronting, she was much softer than he had given her credit for. It was something he had experienced before, to a lesser degree. When someone was fierce and strong and fearless all the time, it was easy to forget that they were human underneath that.
It was an ironic thought for him, of all people, to be having, but it was true. It was a lesson he had first learned from Whitney Fordman; no matter how well some people hid it, there was always more going on beneath the surface. And it had never been more true than it was in Lois's case. Because she was sarcastic and annoying and utterly unflappable, sometimes he lost sight of the fact that she was more than just what she let the world see of her.
Alicia had been like that, too. She had hid behind her incredible intellect and her big brown eyes and an occasionally frigid exterior, and he felt he was one of the very few people (indeed, maybe the only one) who had had the privilege to see the spunky, funny, unexpectedly sweet girl that had been hidden behind the veneer of the straight-A student and later obscured by her battle with mental illness.
"I just... can't help but wish I'd had the chance to tell her I believed in her." He hadn't really meant to say it out loud, but it was the thought that was running loops in his head every time his thoughts circled back to Alicia, and somehow it had fallen out of his mouth.
"You can't change the past. All you can do is honor her memory." She got to her feet. "I've gotta run, but I just wanted to stop by and make sure you were doing okay before I head back to Metropolis."
He offered her a lopsided smile somewhat less brilliant than his usual Kent grin. "I'll be okay," he said, oddly touched to know she cared despite their dubious state of armistice.
She smiled and nudged his shoulder in a sympathetic variation on her usual punch to the arm. "Don't let guilt drag you down, Smallville," she said, and made her way down the stairs.
Once again, Clark's was the only heart beating in his ears, but he felt more real and connected to himself again than he had before Lois Lane, of all people, had worked her usual brand of magic and put everything back in perspective.
He wondered briefly how she managed to do that.