By Marnie Rowe <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted April 2001
Summary: Nothing in life is easy for our favorite superhero, especially when he's young and in love. But is telling the woman in his life about himself the right thing to do? Or will it be a federal disaster?
Clark ran at human speeds till he was out of sight from any prying eyes, feet drumming a fast tattoo on the beaten path of the campus. His eyes were burning with the unshed tears that he ruthlessly suppressed. He could not see where he was going but let instinct guide him, relying on the extra abilities that he had but could not explain. His mouth worked around the bitter taste that lay in his mouth, it was strong enough to make him nearly gag.
Finally, he was in the dense underbrush of the ravine and felt that he had enough cover. He tensed and launched his body from the ground faster than any eye could track, be it human or electronic. The cautions that his parents had drilled into him were almost stronger than instinct. Or maybe it was that the cautions were born of instinct, the instinct to survive, the instinct to fit in, the instinct to be loved.
Lana… oh Lana, why? How can you do this to me?
The air streamed around his body as he pushed the speeds that he was capable of. Faster and faster he went. His loose clothing boomed with the air that it was catching and tore, flapping behind him rent like his heart. The air became colder and colder, making the unshed tears in his eyes feel like molten lava and then, like a dam breaking, they began to fall, streaming down his face like the air streaming around his body. Clark let the fierce winds pull them from his eyes faster and faster, and then finally, he let himself cry.
He had done what he'd known was not a good idea. He had told Lana the *truth* about himself. The whole truth, and nothing but the truth. She had not taken it well, to say the least. What had he really expected? He knew that he was a freak, that that was why he had to hide it, so that other people would not be scared of him and so that the government would not take him away from his mother and father and lock him in a little room to study him.
Nobody could sustain such extreme emotions for long and Clark was no exception to that rule. He calmed down and began to enjoy the flight. Of all the things that he could do, this was the one thing that made it all bearable. The freedoms, the exhilaration, the joy of flight were some things that he could not put into words. It was overwhelming, the pure sensualism of the air caressing your body and stroking you, the feeling of total control yet being at the mercy of the air currents and weather. It was all just breathtaking.
Clark lay on his back and drifted for a while as he took stock of the wreckage that his clothes were in. He winced. His mother was going to pinch his ear and drag him to the sewing table and make him sew it, he knew. She would not fix something that was something he could have avoided.
Clark rolled up the shirt and tied it round his waist, did a barrel roll and punched the air to give himself a heading as he gained some speed. Peering down, he saw that he was over China and made a quick stop to get his mother some spices that she was running low on.
Back in the air, he emptied his mind and set out to enjoy what the flight back home could bring to him. Clark closed his eyes and lay flat, feeling the way that the air divided around his body. The little sensations coming through at the slower speeds just as good as the bigger sensations at the higher speeds. At slower speeds he could feel how the wind that streamed around him played with his hair giving him a scalp massage. All at once, little fingers of wind teased every strand of hair, making the hair follicles change directions raising a tingling sensation that was echoed all over his body to a lesser extent. He had gone night flying a few times naked… the memory of those flights made him blush.
Clark began to pick up speed, and broke the sound barrier with a sonic boom and felt a whoop of joy exit his lungs. He was going fast enough that the sound was far behind and faint even to his super ears. He angled his body and let the air pressure push him in different directions, filing in his mind how each slight adjustment made a difference at the different speeds. He did loop de loops and barrel rolls. Back flips and dives. Clark dove to the surface of the ocean and skimmed over the tips of the waves, feeling the froth tickling his belly and catching at the tips of his toes.
Swooping back into the air, Clark made a loop and angled his body. Raising his arms back into a point above his head, he punched into the waves, breaking through between crests. Each time he broke through the skin of the water feeling like he was being born all over again. Tiring of the game, he rose back into the air and flew straight and fast to dry himself. Then, feeling drained from all the emotions he had experienced, he turned and headed for home knowing one very important thing: that when life gave you lemons you had better make yourself some lemonade.
Clark touched down in the same grove of trees that he had taken off from in his earlier mental distress. He had made a quick detour to the farm to leave the spices with his mother and a note that he would call later. He had to call later because he realized that he had left the remnants of the shirt at the farm as well. Clark winced as he mentally saw how their curiosity and worry would grow all day. He decided that he had better make a point of going for a clandestine visit, to reassure them rather than sticking with the antiseptic phone lines. That brought Clark back to what he had to tell his parents. He had to tell them about letting Lana Lang in on the big family secret and why he had decided to do it. Lana was his girl friend; they had always been friends, but he had thought that there was even more.
They had known each other since they were toddlers, becoming "bestest" friends in elementary school and junior high and finally, in their senior years at high school, they began to date. At first they had grown slightly apart during their first year together at Kansas U., but then they came together again and everything seemed to click and they had grown closer. Closer than they had ever been at home in Smallville.
The way that she would ask him to help her do things, physically touching him, tracing the muscles of his chest through his shirts, letting her hand glide down to his denim clad bottom when he would eagerly agree… Then there was the wicked glint of amusement in her green eyes when they would be doing something slightly naughty that she would cozen him into, making him feel closer to her, a co-conspirator of sorts.
Some of the pranks were innocent enough on the surface, but on closer inspection they could really be hurtful. So Clark would alter things just enough so no one would be hurt. Thinking that Lana had not had a chance to think things totally through and that she did not really want anyone hurt. But the next day when the prank was discovered Lana would glare at Clark and avoid him for a while like he had made a mistake somehow.
She always came back, though; that was something that he had known. And this time he was not so certain that she would. They had moved into a house with some other students in their second year so that they might have some more privacy to themselves than the dorms allowed them. It had been fantastic. Waking in the morning to be able to see Lana walking around in her nightwear had made him feel that they were living like a man and his wife.
The idea had taken root in his already adoring mind and he had decided to propose marriage to Lana, but he was not going to do that without telling her the whole truth about himself. A marriage was based on trust and truth and commitment; he had given her the commitment, and now he had to give her the truth and trust that she could keep the truth quiet.
So Clark had quietly conferred with the rest of the house inhabitants and arranged for a night alone, with just him and Lana in the house. He had made sure that it was a day that she had a late class and prepared the house perfectly. The dining room table had been set with some fancy china that he had found in a nearby antique store, a set for two, complete with long stemmed glasses and candelabra.
He had flowers strewn all over the house loose and in vases, their delicate perfume wreathing around his head as he moved through the house, making sure that everything was set up and he had made all her favorite things to eat. Cold cucumber soup with lemon pepper for a starter, smoked red salmon and roasted garlic baby potatoes and asparagus for the main course, and then for dessert he had been greatly daring. He had picked things that you could nibble or feed to a lover, things that were a sensual explosion of taste and texture and aroma.
Everything had been perfect, everything had fallen into place just the way that he had seen it in his mind. Lana had come home from her late class and stopped dead at the sight that greeted her. Clark had given her time to appreciate the sight and then emerged from the kitchen carrying the tureen that held the cucumber soup. He set it down on the table and made his way over to her and helped her take her jacket off and hung it up for her. He took her satchel of books and set it down on the bench by the front door and then escorted her to her chair. He pulled her chair out for her to sit and then pushed it in for her, the picture of a gallantry. He murmured into her ear only, "I hope that you are hungry darling."
Lana was totally bemused and picked up the lone red rose that was laying across her plate and held it to her nose as she smiled slightly. Clark served her the cucumber soup and then they made light talk. It was the same with each course; as they finished Clark would get up and serve the next. Then he brought out the dessert tray and suggested that it might be better appreciated in the living room.
Clark had really gone all out with the d‚cor in the living room. He was hoping that if he over stimulated her senses enough that it would not be as much of a shock to Lana to learn that he was a bona fide alien from outer space. The living room had been emptied of all its furniture except for the square coffee table and the walls swagged with yards and yards of satin. Pillows were strewn all over and the lighting was the soft romantic glow of oil lamps that flickered and danced.
They had piled up some pillows and sat down and fed each other the tangy strawberries, dipping them first in the warm chocolate sauce and then licking the drips off from where they fell, giggling at the sound effects that were produced when they did. They popped whole grapes into each others' mouths with fingers and tongues, and even tried tossing them from a distance for a bit, but didn't have much luck. Then they nibbled on tiny squares of baklava and shortbread and dipped bananas and kiwi into the chocolate sauce and fed that to each other as well. Finally, they could not even think of having another bite, lick or even crumb.
A comfortable silence fell as they just cuddled for a while and let their digestive systems work. Then Clark tensed and Lana moved out of the cradle of his arms to look up at him.
"What is it?" she asked.
Clark looked deep into her eyes and Lana thought that she knew what was coming next and she started to panic. She loved Clark, really she did, but she knew for a fact that she was not ready to marry anybody yet. But then he surprised her with what he said.
"Lana, I want to tell you something. It's something really important and I have wanted to tell you for a while now, but before I do, I have to know that you will never ever tell another soul what I am about to tell you."
Lana blinked. That was certainly not what she had been expecting. She nodded her head slowly as she racked her brain for what this was about. Clark sat back, took off his glasses, put them on the table and rubbed the bridge of his nose the way that so many people do who wear glasses. Suddenly, she remembered something.
Right before Clark had started wearing glasses, she had been on the edge of the Kent property line and had seen Clark running blindly…literally blindly. He had been covering his eyes with his arm and they were squeezed shut. She had been concerned and followed as he called for his dad. Jon Kent had come running out, his face white, when he heard the note of terror in his son's voice and asked him what was wrong. Clark's voice had dropped but he would only open his eyes after his father put a lead-painted bucket in front of him with water in it. Lana had kept her eyes open after that and had seen a number of small things that could only be described as odd. But she liked Clark; she liked him a lot, and so she pushed them to the back of her mind.
Clark dropped his hand from the bridge of his nose and brought her back to the present. 'He is going to explain it all to me now,' Lana thought, not sure if she really wanted to know.
"Lana, I want you to know that you are my closest friend and that you are the first and only person that I have even considered telling this secret to. I love you, and I hope that you know that I would never do anything to hurt you."
Lana jumped again when he said that he loved her; she loved him, too, but say it aloud to him…? Yet another thing that she did not think she was ready for. And 'hurt her'? How would he hurt her? Why would he say that?
Clark kept going, plowing through an obviously pre-prepared speech, telling her how his parents had found him in Schuster's field after seeing what they thought was a comet. He told her how he had started to find that things stopped being able to hurt him at a very young age and how he had started to get stronger and stronger and faster and faster. He told her of how he had first found out about each gift that he had.
But none of it was really registering—hearing it and remembering, that much she could do. She was stuck on the first part, the spaceship part. Clark, her babyhood pal, was a creepy crawlie from outer space. He was a little green man, he was everything that she had been terrified of and never told anyone about. All those late night movies that Gramps had let her watch when he was too lazy to put her to bed… There really were other 'things' out there and Clark was one of them!
Her face must have shown some of her inner turmoil because Clark was asking, "Lana? Are you okay? I promised that I would never hurt you and I meant every word… Lana?" He reached for her to draw her to him for a comforting hug like many they had shared over the years and she let out a little scream, jerking back away from him violently. Clark looked like she had kicked him where it hurt, but she was in the grip of a very powerful phobia and could not stop herself.
"Don't touch me, don't you ever touch me again, whatever you are!" The poisonous words shuddered from her shaking frame and Clark moved away from her like he had been physically hit by each word. She regretted the words as soon as they were out of her mouth but still she could not do anything about it.
The way was clear for her to run to her room and she took it, breaking down on the way into shuddering sobs that did not let up. She got into her bed and wrapped herself in her quilt from home and rocked, crying. Vaguely in the background, she heard the door open and close, and then came the sound of running footsteps. She knew that Clark had fled. Finally, she fell asleep, still crying.
Clark walked into the house that he shared with Lana and the other students just as the first tendrils of the predawn were creeping up over the horizon. He was tired, not something that he was used to feeling since his powers had become constant, but it was only a tiredness of the body and not of the soul. It made him feel more human than anything else did so he welcomed the sensation.
Clark wondered why it was only the physical aspect that he was feeling the exhaustion from. He had certainly been through an emotional wringer over the night, so why would he not feel drained and heartsick too?
The bulk of his and Lana's roommates must have all returned together late in the night, Clark guessed from the mess in the front foyer. Shoes and coats and bags were piled haphazardly where they fell mostly out of the way. Clark tidied up as a matter of course. Then he decided that he might as well erase the remnants of his disastrous evening with Lana. His roommates would assume that he had cleaned up when they were asleep, which was the truth. They just would not know how fast he did it.
Clark reflected on his use of his powers while he made his way up the stairs to his room ten minutes later. He had been moving a bit slowly due to his fatigue and because he was trying to be cautious and not make any sound so as not to wake anyone. He did not know where he came from and where he had gotten these abilities, but if you were given a special ability, weren't you supposed to use it? After all, is that not what made you decide what to do with your adult life?
Musicians were gifted with the ability to play or sing or compose, and life would certainly be a lot less without music, wouldn't it? And then there were farmers like his folks. His father could tell you what the land was going to yield in any given year due to the conditions around him and he had a genuine affinity for the earth. Clark himself had the talent for writing, and his natural curiosity made his choice for a career in journalism clear. It was the same curiosity that doctors had for what lay inside bodies and made them work. The professions of the world were endless, and so were talents of the people that inhabited it.
Clark reached his room and lay down on his bed after locking his door. It would not do to have someone wander in and see him floating in his sleep, which was probably a good possibility tonight. Sighing, he pillowed his head on his folded arms and stared at his much-mended ceiling. He floated more when his mind was heavy or if he was really thinking hard about something, and during these last few years, his ceiling had begun to look like a war zone. He kept a tub of spackle and a knife under his bed now so that he could do the spot repairs as needed, and thought that the longer that he stayed in one place lately, the worse things got. Maybe he should become a nomad, constantly on the move. That way nothing or no one would be hurt by him. Or vice versa, if he did not stay too long in one place, there would not be the chance for him to develop emotional attachments either, which probably was not a bad thing. Lana had shown him what to expect if he let anyone get too close, and invulnerability on the outside did not mean that his heart was armored.
'Never again,' he thought to himself. 'I can't do that ever again. I laid out my soul and she just trampled it.' Clark vowed to himself that he was not going to tell another living soul about his differences. It just hurt too much.
His mind went back to the nomad idea. He had been just venting to himself when he first thought of it, but after thinking of Lana again, it made it seem more appealing. He had always wanted to travel and when he finished school in a few months, what better way to get experience than to freelance for numerous newspapers around the world?
It wasn't like he would have to really worry about money. If he did become a world wanderer, transportation and shelter were not really all that important for him, or food, for that matter. He could fly himself wherever he needed to go. As long as he stuck to night flying, he would not be spotted. Weather did not affect him, either, and of late, he noticed that he really did not even need to eat anymore. Everything that he needed he could carry on his back and barely notice it.
The more that Clark thought of it, the more the idea became something that he really wanted to do. It felt… right. There were a few things that he still needed to work out about it but now that he had a plan for the future again, he was falling asleep. He made a mental note to fly home in the evening to talk to his parents and tell them everything that had happened. But then he could not keep his eyes open any longer and fell asleep himself, sure that he was not going to be floating anywhere.