[A/N: Okay, so I admit it: joedan84 beat me to (posting) this concept with her cute little ficlet, "Splinters and Broken Hinges." But, truth be told, I had this in the works anyway, and it's mostly why I started this story in the first place. And joedan84 didn't have THIS bully. Ha! So I'm glad I'm finally posting this. To anyone spotting tense problems: I know they're there. It's a tough spot for me. Also, this one's kind of short after such a long delay, but I have to finish my homework, and I didn't have much more to say. Plus, I like the ending. The story's not over yet; the next chapter will get into the consequences of these actions, but not yet. Thanks to all my reviewers - you guys are my best friends! deanine: I'm being consistent! LaCasta: you rock! ScoobyGal55: but you ARE famous!! Please, can I have some more?]

Chapter 4 - Whooping Whitney

Freak meteor showers and alien toddlers aside, Smallville Elementary was your normal small-town school. It had its pretty, young teachers and devoted class mothers. There were rowdy boys and giggling girls.

And then, there was Smallville Elementary's very own bully.

He wasn't the in the highest grade, nor was he the tallest or strongest boy on the playground. But since his growth spurt right after the meteor shower, he had gone from teeny to tyrant. It was unmistakable: the way the 4th grader strutted about in his oversized Metropolis Sharks jersey and torn grunge-era jeans, he had gained the utmost respect of every boy and girl in the school.

If the young patrons of Smallville had one unspoken rule, it was this: Revere Whitney Fordman.

Despite all this, our young hero doesn't exactly fear for his life. He's not exactly defiant, no; what first grader would be with a boy three years his senior? But a deep, distant, primal instinct tells him that there's no real danger. For him, anyway. He's seen boys and girls alike, bruised and battered, heading home early and blaming Whitney all the way.

Clark ponders this as Miss Suggett explains words that begin with 'ph'. What, exactly, was so intimidating about this particular boy? He has asked his mother this one day, shortly after returning from watching Greg's beating, the third time this month. Martha had sent a soft smirk his way, mumbled something about being a "future womanizer", and explained cautiously. She said that some people needed to put other people down to feel good about themselves, simply because they could. At the flash of realization in her strong little boy's eyes, she quickly amended her statement, explaining that Clark could, and should, make a difference by being as nice as he could to people.

The reverie is interrupted by Pete, who leans in and whispers, "I bet Whitney Fordman can't even read. What an idiot!" Clark quickly realizes then that someone so mean to his peers can't be appreciated by them. What a sad existence.

The young class is released for recess after their reading lesson, and Pete grabs his Power Rangers and heads out close on Clark's heels.

"Clark! Wait up, man! Not so fast!!" Clark obeys, and Pete shoots ahead of his friend to the equipment shed, shooting a smirk over his shoulder. "I have to tell you about the new 'Power Rangers' episode! See, there's this new guy, Tommy, and-"

The raven-haired boy stops abruptly behind him. "Pete? What is it?" he asks, puzzled.

"Wuh. . .wuh. . ." Clark cranes his neck up and spots him.


"What are you doing, you little twerp?" spits out the bully menacingly.

Pete manages to mumble a response. "Nothing, sir. R-really."

"Huh. I don't believe you." He reaches down and pulls Pete up by the collar. The action figures drop to the ground with a clink of plastic. Whitney drops the boy like he's a particularly stinky poo and reaches for the toys.

"What are these, Ross? Dolls? Man, I knew you were a sissy, but to be playing with the Pink Ranger? That's low, man."

"I. . .Kimberly's only there 'cause she's pretty. . ." pants Pete, obviously in pain.

The fourth grader gasps, appalled. "'Pretty'? What smack are you talkin', Ross? Girls have cooties, we all know that!" Clark has the decency to duck his head in embarrassment. "They're gonna be taking over the playground soon enough. We can't have ninnies like you and Kent running all over the place when that happens! It looks like I have no choice but to beat the baby outta you, Ross. It's for your own good, remember that!" He draws his fist back, and Pete cowers in his shadow in utter fear.

Clark's jaw drops. He's going to hit Pete. As much as Clark doesn't want that to happen, his parents have told him enough to not get involved in this kind of thing.

"Can you imagine," his mother said once after hearing more of the bully's exploits, "if someone much stronger than Whitney stepped up to the plate? Especially if he was, say, three whole years younger. Someone's sure to become curious. I would, wouldn't you?"

He didn't want anyone to think of him any less than normal, even if he had to be a wimp in Whitney's eyes. Retaliation was not an option.

Clark was brought out of it by the sound of Pete's sobs. The black eye was already forming, and blood dripped mercilessly from his nose. Whitney reared, ready to give the final blow, when something in Clark snapped, noisily and fast. Before he knew what he was doing, he had shot in front of his friend, blocked Whitney's fist with his own, and calculated the trajectory to the door of the nearby equipment shed.

There was nothing left to do but shove.

Splinters flew every which way, and the two friends turned sharply to avoid them. The wooden door that had been there for thirty years - even surviving the meteor shower - had been reduced to mere toothpicks and kindling. Whitney lay in the middle of the mess, covered in dust and mud. He tried to sit up, but just fell back again, floppy blonde hair covering his face. Pete turned to his savior, eyes as wide as saucers.

"Umm. . .Clark?"


"Should I even ask?"

"Probably not."


The whistle blew, calling the children back in. Whitney stared, befuddled, at the retreating backs of the two first graders. He heard Pete inquire, half-proudly, half-frightened:

"Hey, Clark. Ever think of becoming a Power Ranger?"