A/N: Do I really need to say I don't own Smallville? Fine. Smallville and all characters depicted therein along with all associated copyrighted material are solely the property of the WB, the CW, Warner Bros., DC Comics, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
SMALLVILLE: FOR THE LOVE OF CHLOE SULLIVAN
Book 1: Rota Fati – The Wheel of Fate
Chapter 1: Destiny
The wheel of fate has already been set in motion. Even you cannot alter destiny. – Jor-El; from Solitude
This should not be. But, it is. So much of what had happened should not have. It did anyway. And, now, it has come to this. These same incessant thoughts plagued him, tempted him, taunted him. What could he have done differently? How might he have acted? Or not acted? Could he have prevented this? Could he have prevented any of it? Could any of them have? Or are some things just fated to happen no matter what we do? No matter how we try to change them.
His father (actually just a remnant of a father he never knew) once told him that even he could not alter destiny. But, what if he was wrong? What if we could do things differently? What if we do have the power to prevent what we do not want to see happen and the power to seize upon the things we do? What if it is not that we can't, it is simply that we don't? That we are, in fact, willing accomplices to our own downfall? That Fate laughs at us, mocks us, taunts us with the other paths we were perfectly capable of choosing as we blindly make our way down the wrong road to failure? Could the world really be so cold? Could Fate really be that cruel? He really wasn't sure which possibility was the worse of the two.
He looked up to a clear blue sky, save for a couple of tiny pockets of white cloud. The sun, high in the sky, burst naked, brazen over the midday scene. He looked down to the soft, green grass gleefully rising up to meet the bright rays of warmth spilling everywhere. Not a solitary patch of unadorned earth could be seen. It was actually quite a gorgeous day. Ever since the day, early in junior year of high school, on which he found out the yellow Sun of the Earth was the source of all his fantastic abilities, days like these gave him such delight. But, today—today he hated the sun and the sky and the grass. It was as if an ungrateful world were completely indifferent to what was happening right now.
Today, one could easily forget that moonless, starless night lit up only by frequent bolts of lightning which accompanied a torrential downpour. That terrible night that stole three precious, heroic lives, irrevocably changing forever every other life those three had touched. One could easily forget all that because today was a perfect day, and there in lay the problem. The rain ought to be still falling hard and merciless like on the day that Whitney Fordman's father was laid to rest, or the way the snow fell coldly all around the day that he had buried Jonathan Kent, the only father he ever knew and loved, the only one who ever loved him. No. Not today. Not even a brief, sharp, overly cool breeze to let us know the earth was in mourning on this so damned perfect day. Today, even Mother Nature herself cruelly mocked her heroes and all their selfless efforts to help and save those in need of it.
A voice that at first seemed so distant that it could only have been heard with his super-hearing pierced and overcame his pensiveness, "…Pater et Filius et Spiritus Sanctus."
From all around the black-clad chorus of mourners and payers of respect gave the customary response, "Amen."
Clark Kent focused his attention on the face of the Catholic priest at the head of the crowd, then the simple white robe and white stole he wore, finally the ornate casket that was barely an arm's length from the clergyman as he completed the service and bid the faithful to depart. One last time, Clark honed his super-hearing in on each of the voices that quietly put an end to the sacred silence. Simultaneously, he quickly scanned the crowd, searching, hoping, but to no avail.
A lovely, feminine, yet dignified voice startled Clark out of his intense concentration, "Still expecting to find them? Sorry."
Clark didn't even turn to look as he responded, "It's all right. I just forgot you were there, for a moment."
"I'll try not to take that personally."
Now, Clark turned in the direction of the voice. He paused for a moment to let his eyes take in the features of the beautiful female companion at his side. She effortlessly stood nearly as tall as he did, something very few women could do. Long, flowing hair as black as his own framed a gently smiling face that was virtually without a single flaw. Matching with precision the exact hue of those raven locks was the dress she wore for this solemn occasion, which hinted at the near-perfect body of improbable proportions underneath while not at all drawing undue or unwanted attention to it. Obviously impossible that she could be the result of a pairing of mere mortal, human beings, whether brought together by random chance or by meticulous and deliberate choice, she was an all-together stunning vision that seemed all-together out of place amidst this sorrow.
"No, Diana, I wasn't expecting to find them…here," he answered. As his gaze shifted back to the lonely casket, he added, "I guess I was just hoping for a miracle."
Diana Prince, whom most of the world knew as Wonder Woman, reached for Clark's hand, took it in her own, and gently squeezed, saying, "Don't give up hoping, Kal. Right now, we could use all the help we can get."
Clark nodded in acknowledgement and gave her hand a gentle squeeze of his own before letting go and beginning to make his way through the middle of the dispersing crowd. Diana's eyes followed his dark-clothed figure as it approached the graveside and lowered itself close to the ground, crouching. He placed his hand on the surface of the casket and hoped that somehow, somewhere, his friend heard him, "I am so very sorry, my friend. I'm sorry I wasn't there to save you. I'm sorry I failed you." Clark paused and breathed before continuing, "I know how much you loved them—both of them. So did I. I haven't forgotten." His face became a solid mask of dedicated resolve as he spoke next, "And, I swear to you…this time I will find them, and I will protect them to my dying breath, if I have to. I will not fail you, again. Any of you. Not this time."
As he stood up again to his full, imposing height, Clark didn't need to see to know that Diana had taken her place once again at his side. He had heard her approach. Diana commented, "It's so simple…humble. Not at all what I expected, even then. I thought that he'd go with an ostentatious tomb, some kind of grand monument. Doesn't his family have a private cemetery on the grounds of his estate? They can certainly afford it. And, look around. No dignitaries, no prelates, no reporters or cameras; even the paparazzi couldn't get in."
"He'd grown…unpretentious…later in life. I'm sure that was due to her influence. This is the way he wanted it: Just a small, private ceremony with family and friends. Except that the only family he really loved isn't here…" His face tightened into a grimace.
Diana looked at him with genuine concern and reassured him, "We are going to find them, Kal. It's why we came back. Don't worry."
"I'm not," he reassured her back. His expression softened as he added, "And, technically, there is at least one reporter here and a dignitary, if not in an official capacity."
Diana's gentle smile graced her face once more as she said, "And it's time for both of them to go. We've stayed here long enough. We have a mission to accomplish." Diana turned away and took a couple of steps slowly, but Clark hadn't moved except to look down at the finely carved granite tombstone, reading the inscription yet again, as if he still couldn't believe his eyes, even after all this time.
'Right now, we could use all the help we can get.' That's for sure. Well, you certainly know now better than any of us, old friend, whether or not God is really up there. And if He is, well, we can sure use His help, too. Clark raised his eyes heavenward for just a moment and offered a brief, desperate, heartfelt prayer under his breath.
"Kal?" her voice was sympathetic but insistent.
"Coming," Clark tore his eyes away and followed Diana up the rolling slope toward the distant cemetery exit. The tombstone's inscription, which Clark had been studying so intently a moment before, read thus:
REQUIESCAT IN PACE
OLIVER JONAS QUEEN
January 20, 1980 – April 14, 2029
Beloved Husband, Father, Hero
For strong is his right hand that bendeth the bow, his arrows that he shooteth are sharp,
and shall not miss, when they begin to be shot into the ends of the world.
4 Ezra 16:13
A/N: And, cue the Smallville opening title sequence. A couple things: (1) I know the Fourth Book of Ezra is apocryphal, but that verse was too good not to use. (2) You can probably guess where this story is going next by the way this chapter ended and from the title of the next chapter, but just to be fair - WARNING: Character death ahead...