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Thread: Episode 10 - "Reality?" (PG)

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    NS Senior Member Senior Member sydsvaughn's Avatar
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    04 Mar 2003

    Episode 10 - "Reality?" (PG)

    Title: Reality?
    Written by: SaraC & Imp

    Notes, Disclaimers, etc. in Episode 1



    Clark couldn’t help stealing glances at the young woman sitting next to him. Two years ago she had been little more than an unattainable dream. But somehow they had managed to become friends and then so much more.

    “Clark, keep your eyes on the road.” The teasing tone in Lana’s voice let him know she wasn’t upset with him.

    Clark smiled but did as she asked. A moment later he was glad he did. In a moment straight out of a movie or a TV show, a young man shot out of nowhere and came to a dead stop in the middle of the road forcing Clark to slam on the brakes and swerve to avoid hitting him. He sat stunned for a second before reaction kicked in and he frantically checked to make sure his passenger was all right.

    He reached a hand out to her and was relieved when Lana turned towards him. “I’m alright, Clark. Just a little shaken.”

    Clark was about to say something when the sound of someone beating frantically on his window distracted him. “Help me please, he’s coming for me” could be heard even without his enhanced hearing.

    Rolling down his window he attempted to ask the frantic man what the hell was going on but he was cut off. “Hurry go, before he gets here.”

    The man took a step towards the back of the truck but froze in place when he was hit with what appeared to be a green beam of light. With a resounding thunk the unidentified man slid down the side of the truck, landing in an ungraceful heap.

    Tossing a “stay in the car” to Lana over his shoulder, Clark scrambled out of the truck, shutting the door after him. He scanned the area quickly before bending down to check on the stranger.

    “Get away from him. This is no concern of yours.”

    Clark’s head shot up at the sound of the deep voice. A rather intimidating black man, near his own height and build stood feet from him and he couldn’t help but wonder why he hadn’t noticed him before.

    Shaking the thought off he tried to figure out the best course of action. In the back of his mind he registered the sound of the truck door opening and closing and was unsurprised to note that Lana had not remained in the vehicle. It was enough to distract the other man for a moment and Clark used the opportunity to put on a burst of speed and tackle the man to the ground. With an oomph, the two landed hard. Clark was the first to recover, rising above the man he prepared to knock him unconscious. Before he could strike, the dark stranger shot him with a bolt of what appeared to be green electricity forcing him to fly backward landing heavily at Lana’s feet.

    “Clark!” He ignored Lana’s scream. Standing quickly he prepared to charge the man once again but stopped when the man who’d pleaded for help earlier, threw a glowing green rock in his direction. Clark stood immobile, unable to compel his feet to move. Closing his eyes he waited for the inevitable pain to swamp him.


    He opened his eyes moments later to the sound of Lana attempting to get his attention. “Clark, it’s ok. The kryptonite disappeared.”

    Clark blinked at this bit of information trying to understand. “Disappeared? Kryptonite doesn’t just disappear.”

    Lana nodded in agreement. “I know. But this chunk did. And so have the two guys.”

    Clark looked up to see the road empty except for him and Lana. His senses picked up no sound or movement anywhere around them. He looked at Lana with a puzzled expression hoping she would have an explanation. She merely shrugged as if to say, “I don’t know.”

    Shaking his head he chalked the whole incident up to the weirdness that was Smallville as he turned to Lana. “Come on. We need to get going. We’re going to be late for dinner as it is.”

    The two climbed into the truck in silence and continued their interrupted journey to the Luthor mansion.

    Had he thought to scan the neighboring woods with his x-ray vision, he might have noticed three figures lurking not too far off.


    “Did you have to stun me so hard, John?”

    “Quit complaining Wally. You aren’t the one that had to be tackled by the boy of steel.” The one known as John replied while rubbing his abs.

    The woman standing with them didn’t know whether to laugh or roll her eyes. She chose to do neither and instead said, “Thank you for your help guys. I’ll take it from here.”

    The two men nodded and after confirming she would be ok, left in a flash of light. The woman stood a moment, staring at the empty spot, contemplating her next move.


    “Son, we need to talk.” Lex looked up from his computer at the man striding into his study. He had learned from experience that when his father said those words he had best pay attention. Turning to face the man whose genes he shared he interlaced his fingers and rested his arms on his desk in an attempt to appear casual.

    “What is it this time, Father?”

    “I read your latest report on the factory.” Lex tried not to sigh as he wondered what fault his father was going to find with his work this time.

    The was a long pause before Lionel said, “Good work, Son.”

    Lex was unable to keep the surprise off of his face. It had been far to long since his father had praised him for the job he was doing. Not since the incident 2 years ago when he had increased production and profits by twenty percent when his father had wanted him to trim the workforce by that amount.

    He felt ridiculously pleased by the pride in his elder’s voice. Lionel Luthor was not one to dole out praise without merit. At least not when it came to business. Lex had worked long and hard since he’d taken over the Smallville plant. He had accepted the position without hesitation knowing his father used such situations to test all his potential executives before giving them key positions in LuthorCorp. Many of them failed. Lex was determined not to do so. He wanted to prove to his father that he was capable of running the family business by his side and eventually taking over when Lionel retired.

    Lionel took a seat across from him, “Lex, I know that you believe I’ve done nothing but find fault with your work the last couple of years. But that isn’t the case. I have noticed the good things you’ve done as well. I choose to point out the areas I feel you need improvement in as a way to see how you react to criticism. Many in your position give up, become angry, uncaring. You’ve held your head high, taken the criticism and learned from it. I’ve seen great improvement in you the last couple of years Lex.”

    Lex could feel his heart pounding in his chest as the hope he’d thought he lost began to surge through him. “I think you’ll be ready to join me in Metropolis soon.”

    “Thank you sir.” Lex was proud of the fact his voice came out so steady.

    Lionel smiled. “You’ve earned it son. Now enough of business. Jonathan and Martha are here. Laura and Louis arrived a few minutes ago as well.”

    Lex nodded. The bi monthly Luthor-Kent sometimes-Lang dinners had started not long after his friendship with Clark. Then it had been about the Luthor’s and Kents. The Lanes had started joining them after Clark and Lana had started dating.

    “What about Clark and Lana?”

    “No yet though Martha mentioned they should be here soon.”

    Lex nodded and stood waling around the desk to follow his father from the room.


    Clark and Lana were late.

    True it wasn’t by much but it was enough to concern Lex who was worried something might have happened. He was certain Mr. and Mrs. Kent were thinking the same thing if the looks they kept shooting each other were any indication. Not that Clark wasn’t perfectly capable of taking care of himself. Or Lana for that matter.

    Still, when the two walked through the door he was relieved. The two were his only true friends, really. Sure he had other people he casually referred to as friends, but he didn’t trust any of them the way he trusted Clark and the way he was learning to trust Lana. Well there was Bruce, but the two of them hadn’t been able to spend much time with each other lately. His mind came back to the present as Clark started to speak.

    “Sorry we’re late,” Clark began, “I…”

    “Had to wait on me. I couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted to wear.” Lana gave a convincing bashful look and everyone laughed. Clark silently thanked whoever was listening that his girlfriend was willing and able to help him cover his tracks. He caught Lex’s questioning glance and shot him one that he hoped said, "I’ll tell you later." It must have because Lex nodded and turned to his mother offering her an escort to the dining room.

    Dinner was, as usual, a happy, lively affair. Before becoming friends with Lex, Clark would never have imagined that a billionaire and a farmer could be friends. But watching as Jonathan Kent and Lionel Luthor joked about something he realized that anything was possible. The sound of feminine laughter drew his gaze and he couldn’t stop the smile that graced his face as watched his mother and Laura Lang laugh at some tale that Lillian Luthor was recounting.

    A light touch on his arm drew his attention away from the laughing women. “What are you thinking about?”

    He looked at the young woman who held his heart, “I was just thinking how perfect my life is at this moment.”

    A slight blush graced her cheeks and Clark felt a moment of warmth. The moment was broken as dinner came to an end. Everyone stood from the table and made their way to the living room for after dinner coffee.

    As everyone moved, Lex managed to get Clark alone for a few minutes.

    “What happened?”

    Clark recounted the events of the evening to his friend. When he was through he could see Lex was as puzzled as he about the whole thing.

    “Kryptonite doesn’t just disappear, Clark.”

    “I know.” He’d thought the very same thing.

    “Are you sure it was the meteor rock?”

    Clark sighed. “No. I didn’t feel any pain. I always feel pain with Kryptonite.”

    Lex put a comforting hand on his friend’s shoulder. “The important thing is that you and Lana are ok. We’ll figure out this mystery later.”

    Clark relaxed a little. If anyone could help him solve this it was Lex.

    “Let’s go before our families send out search parties.” Clark laughed along with Lex as he recalled the time years ago when the two of them had snuck off to an unexplored part of the castle, only to get lost. Lionel and several servants had spent at least a half hour searching for them when they’d missed dinner.

    Lex turned and took a few steps before stopping to look back at Clark. “I almost forgot, Julian said he wants a rematch.”

    The tall farm boy couldn’t help but laugh. Julian, in all his 10 year old glory was no taller than Clark’s waist. Yet every time he came home from school he insisted on playing basketball with him. Clark found it amusing and tried to find time to indulge the young boy whom he regarded as a little brother.

    Lex smirked and turned, heading towards the direction of their respective families. Clark started to follow when he was hit with a memory of playing basketball with Lex’s brother.

    Only the brother looked nothing like Julian.

    "Clark, this is Lucas, my brother."

    Clark started. Lucas? Who was Lucas and why was Lex calling him his brother? Before he could process the memory, the scene continued.

    "All right. Let's, uh, let's take you and Lex, for example. If he were raised by your parents and you were raised by Lionel, you wouldn't grow up to be different people?"

    Clark wasn't sure how to respond. "Well, I..."

    "Trust me, you'd be rich and miserable, and he'd be wearing flannel." Lucas' voice was bitter. "But if you were left totally alone, abandoned by your parents, how do you think you'd turn out?"

    He had no idea. "I'm not sure."

    Lucas' smile was both wry and sad. "It's when you find out what you're really made of."

    Suddenly looking embarrassed, Lucas tossed the ball to Clark. "Are we going to stand around and chit-chat all day, or are we going to play some ball?"

    Lucas Luthor. Why was he remembering playing basketball with some stranger claiming to be Lex’s brother? And the conversation … rich and miserable? It made no sense. Lex might be a little restrained at times, but he certainly wasn’t miserable.

    That didn’t make any sense. He knew that Lex and Julian didn’t have another brother. So where would he get a name like Lucas and a stranger’s image from? Deciding it must be some after effect of the encounter from earlier; he shrugged the odd sensation off and headed after Lex.


    The Beanery, Next Day

    Clark headed into the local coffee shop eager to relax after the long day at school. There were times, like today, when he would gladly take on twenty of the meteor enhanced teenagers he had dealt with over the past few years at one time, rather than take a pop quiz in math or be forced to sit through yet another boring lecture on history.

    Still, Clark was happy to be able to complain like a normal teenager. With the weight of his secret hanging around his neck like an albatross, he could have easily fallen into the same “whoa is me” feeling that others with enhanced abilities had fallen into. He was fortunate to be blessed with a strong support system that helped keep him grounded in reality.

    Scanning the area for at least one component of that system, he spied Lex sitting at a table near the back. Making his way towards him Clark took the seat opposite him.

    Lex folded his paper and lay it down at Clark’s approach. “Clark. How was your day?”

    “Pop quiz in math.”

    Lex shot him a sympathetic glance. Clark realized it hadn’t been so long ago that Lex had been subject to the roller coaster ride that was high school—although on a slightly different scale. Then again, some of the horror stories Lex had told him about he prep school he attended could rival any meteor mutant enhanced day in Smallville.

    As was their habit, Lex resumed his perusal of the business section of his paper and Clark reached for the sports section on top of the pile.

    Absently noting he had picked up the metropolitan section of the Daily Planet instead, he began to flip through it, scanning for an article to catch his attention. A second later one did.

    Cousins Compete For Top Student Honor At Daily Planet

    Chloe Sullivan and Lois Lane, maternal cousins, are the two finalists for the Daily Planet’s coveted Senior Internship. Thousand of young journalists ranging from high school seniors to college sophomores vied for the chance to earn a spot on the Daily Planet staff, where they will do more than fetch coffee for the established writers.

    Clark stared at the picture of the two smiling girls. Immediately his eye was drawn to the shorter of the two. Something about the sparkle in her eye and the mega watt smile made him feel as though he knew her. Or should. Flipping through various stored memories he tried to summon up one that included having ever met the young woman.

    “So we’re okay?” She asked hopefully.

    Clark smiled at her before reaching over and placing his palm over hers. It was very much like what Pete had done and a lump appeared in her throat as she carefully laid her other hand on top of his.

    “We’re okay, Chloe.” They looked at each other for a few more seconds before Clark pulled back, remembering what he’d grabbed before leaving the farm.

    “I have something for you.”

    Chloe looked surprised as she watched him pull something out of his pocket. Her breath caught as she found herself staring at a beautiful necklace with a strange looking symbol on it. She couldn’t be sure in this light, but it looked a lot like the symbols she’d seen on several of her visits to the cave.

    Leaning forward, Clark placed the necklace in her hands. “I want you to have this. Sort of a welcome home, I’m glad you’re my friend type gift.”

    Chloe felt the tears close to falling as she took the chain, looking more closely at the pendant, noticing it looked very expensive. “Clark, I can’t accept this, it’s too much-”

    Clark shook his head cutting her off, a look of urgency in his eyes that confused her.

    “No it’s not. I want you to have it. Besides,” he tried for a self-mocking grin, “I think it’d look a lot better on you than me.”

    Chloe smiled knowing there was more behind the gift, but willing to accept it at face value. For the moment.

    “Thank you, Clark. It’s beautiful.”

    He smiled as she fastened the chain around her neck. Somehow, the symbol of everything that scared him about his past looked a lot less sinister resting in the pale hollow of her throat.


    The sound of Lana’s concerned voice snapped him back to reality. She must have approached while he had been lost in the memory. His eyes searched out the necklace he had given her on their first anniversary, relieved to see it resting against her throat.

    The same necklace he had just had a memory of giving to another girl. One who seemed to be as important to him as Lana. A girl he had never met.

    “Sorry, daydreaming.” He gave Lana a half-hearted smile in an attempt to reassure her even though he didn’t feel the least bit calm. Suddenly the sensation of being watched flooded him and instinct told him it had nothing to do with Lana or Lex. Glancing around his eyes came to rest upon a beautiful statuesque brunette. Their gazes locked and for a moment he was lost.

    “Clark.” This time it was Lex who sought his attention. Reflexively he turned towards his friend then quickly turned back to the woman. Much to his disappointment she was nowhere to be found.

    “Are you alright?” The concerned question came from Lex but Lana’s expression clearly showed she wanted an answer as well.

    “I’m fine. I think last night’s encounter may have affected me more than I thought.” Clark waved away whatever they were going to say. “I think I’m just going to go for a walk…clear my head.”

    “Clark, I think you need to go home and get some rest.”

    “I appreciate the concern. But I’ll be fine. I’ll see you guys later.”

    Giving them no chance to convince him otherwise, he turned and left the coffee shop.


    Something was in the air.

    Walking through the woods several miles outside the farm, Clark’s heightened senses picked up on something, though he couldn’t be certain of what. There was stillness in the air, an unnatural calm that usually preceded the feeling that not all was right in the land of Oz.

    He frowned, flashing for a moment to the Beanery and the woman he’d been sure he’d seen observing him from a distance. He had chalked it up to the after effects of his run in with the mystery man from last night but the image would not leave his mind. The disturbing image of Chloe Sullivan he’d gotten after seeing the article in the paper didn’t help the situation. How could he be remembering something like that about someone he’d never met?

    The swirling thoughts and vague out of place memories consumed him as he walked, unaware of everything around him.

    The awareness suddenly slammed into place as he felt himself falling.

    Hitting the ground with a dull thud, he thanked his genetic makeup for feeling no pain. Struggling to his feet, he noticed the walls of earth and rock around him. Obviously, he’d fallen into a hole of some sort.

    It was dark, but that was no obstacle to his X-ray vision. Taking a careful look around, he was surprised to see that it wasn’t exactly a hole, more like a passageway. Curiously, he headed down the tunnel, noting that he was entering what seemed to be caves.

    As he walked, he began to notice something strange about the walls. Stopping, he looked closer. His eyes widened as the images in front of him began to take on meaning he was almost certain he should understand. Concentrating hard, the strange symbols and pictures started dancing before his eyes.

    He staggered as a bolt of white-hot pain lanced through him. The source of the pain seemed to emanate from a brilliant light shining from what looked like an octagon shape in the cave wall. Seconds later, the pain was gone and he opened his eyes to find the caves untouched. No octagonal shape, no blinding light. Just dark, dank earth and the pictures that seemed strangely familiar.

    He doubled over as a voice boomed in his head.

    "Kal-El, it is time."

    The voice held a power that surprised and scared him. Struggling to figure out why the voice invoked an image of a tall, powerful man, he was shocked to discover his mind recognizing the figure as ‘father.’

    Head still ringing, he sank to the ground trying to analyze what was happening to him. Was he finally going crazy? Had his powers corrupted his mind in some way? Why else would he associate his ‘father’ with anyone other than Jonathan Kent? Yes, he knew he’d been ‘adopted’ and that his family origins could be traced to another planet, but he’d never, to his knowledge, seen or heard of anyone resembling his biological father.

    Wait. How did he know the voice in his vision was his biological fathers?

    Another flash took him on a whirlwind journey of images. Lionel and Lex fighting each other in the woods – a glowing knife their prize. A white wolf with expressive eyes bleeding to death in his arms. A strange picture of two serpent-like creatures, entwined together, their red and blue coloring an oddly compelling contrast of opposites.

    "So I've been thinking...anybody who'd be willing to fight him would have to be pretty brave. Clark, did it ever occur to you that the hero of the story...is Segeeth?”

    The words were Lex’s. Clark could clearly hear them being spoken, and knew instinctively they were in relation to the entwined figures on the wall before hand.



    “What the hell is going on?” His voice was confused and angry as he lowered his head to his hands, the flashes coming with increasing frequency. He wanted to scream, yell, shout that this was NOT how it was supposed to be. This was not his life, not the people he knew.

    A sick feeling of dread washed over him as he came to the realization that the visions swirling about in his brain were in fact the truth. At least one version of it.

    “Good you’ve finally started putting some of the pieces together. I think now you are ready to hear the rest.”

    His head whipped up at the melodious voice. He blinked. His first thought was that he was sure as anything that the statuesque brunette from the Beanery had not been there seconds earlier. The second thought was a more appropriate reaction to his current situation.

    “Who are you?”

    The woman smiled as she relaxed against the cave wall. To Clark’s mind, powerfully conflicted with opposing images, her relaxed posture was definitely infuriating.

    “Relax, Clark. My name is Diana. I’m here to help you.” There was a slight catch in her tone as she stressed his name, almost as if she wanted to call him something else.

    “You call what you’re doing to me, to my mind, helping? That kind of help I don’t need.” His voice was panicky as he saw a bright light, felt excruciating pain and heard a deep booming voice commanding him to ‘rule.’

    “You are simply being shown a different path. A path that if chosen can help lead you to your destiny.”

    Clark’s senses went on alert. “What do you know about my destiny? And what are you talking about, ‘different paths?’” He was even more confused and not a little scared. It was obvious this strange woman knew what he was – and that could prove dangerous.

    “It’s a long story.” Sighing, the woman settled onto the ground, motioning for him to join her. Reluctant, but needing answers, Clark carefully lowered himself to the earth, keeping his distance but making sure she was in his direct line of sight.

    “You have been given the opportunity to experience the life you’ve always wanted. A life where your friends know your secret and accept it. A world where your friends themselves are happy, their own fondest wishes and desires a compliment to yours.”

    Clark frowned as his mind remembered Lionel and Lex facing off, a bitter battle of words that shocked him juxtaposed with the teasing, loving conversation he had witnessed many times at regular dinners.

    What scared him more was that the scene of the warring Luthors felt strangely and ominously right to his mind.

    “But how is that possible?” He should have known better than to ask the question, this was Smallville after all, strange things happened every day.

    “I can’t tell you that, you are not ready to know.” Her eyes were dark and mysterious and for a moment, Clark felt a connection to her that was unlike anything he’d known. The feeling lasted for a moment before her eyes cleared and her voice broke his trance. “However, I can offer you a choice.”

    His ears perked up as his heart sank. One thing he’d learned when dealing with the strangers he’d met or come into conflict with in the last few years was that most choices offered to him were not exactly happiness and light.

    “What exactly is this choice I’m supposed to make?” He did not like her smile.

    “It’s simple. You must choose whether to stay in this reality or return to your own.”

    Clark weighed her words carefully. His instinctive reaction was to shout that he wanted to stay in this ‘perfect’ world that a few hours ago had seemed … well … perfect. It certainly was more reassuring than the flashes he’d been getting of the angst filled ‘reality’ he was supposed to inhabit.

    But as her words sank in, more memories began to return. A sense of relief and of a shared burden when he’d told Pete about his origins. The agony of kneeling at Chloe’s grave, thinking she was dead. Seeing Lana bent and broken, trampled by the spooked horse in the barn. Suddenly a glaring omission from his current world became obvious.

    “Wait a moment. Why aren’t Chloe and Pete in this so called ‘perfect’ world of mine?” He frowned, remembering seeing Chloe and Lois’ pictures in the paper earlier, and feeling a sense of recognition. If this was a world, a path he’d chosen, why weren’t Chloe and Pete in it?

    Diana sighed. “The powers used to grant you this world are limited. They can only affect those in Smallville, those people you currently interact with.”

    Clark suddenly got a flash of Pete leaving for Wichita, his expression sad, his face resigned. “Pete’s in Wichita, so you couldn’t bring him into my perfect world?” He didn’t believe it… not from a being that seemed to have the power to create an entirely different reality.

    “No. And just as Chloe is in Metropolis visiting her cousin Lois this weekend, I kept her out as well.” Before he could voice a comment, she held up a hand. “As I said, the power creating this universe is limited. It can only bring a certain number of people at a time into this world. It helps with those in close proximity.”

    Clark was still confused when another logic flaw hit. “Okay, so explain Lana’s parents. If this power conjured them up from the dead, they’re not here, so why couldn’t you conjure up Pete or Chloe?”

    Diana ran a hand through her long black hair and shrugged. “Two current Smallville residents were used and made into the images you wanted… or in this case, Lana wanted. After all, her parents bodies are in close proximity, are they not?”

    Clark nodded, trying to piece things together. “Sort of a limited range power… so it couldn’t conjure residents into Pete and Chloe because their bodies are too far away… unlike Lana’s parents who are buried in the Smallville cemetery.”

    Diana smiled, pleased at his comprehension. “Exactly. Now there is not much time for you to make your choice.”

    Clark frowned. “Wait a minute. How are you going to keep me and everyone in this ‘perfect world’ if this power is so limited and time specific?”

    She shook her head. “If you choose this world, the necessary power will be made available temporarily to make everything stay as it is –with only those already here in it.”

    “You mean my reality would continue here – without Chloe or Pete or anything I remember about my real reality.” His voice was conflicted, his mind already weighing the pros and cons to his decision.

    “Yes. But you will forget everything about your previous life. This reality will become your true one and there will be no looking back.”

    Clark bit his lip, rising, beginning to pace, trying to puzzle out the dilemma now facing him. Seeing his agitation, Diana gracefully stood.

    “It is not a decision you should make lightly. You can have 24 hours to think on things, but an answer must be given by then. It can not wait any longer.”

    “24 hours?” Clark was panicked. 24 hours suddenly seemed far too short a time period. Especially for a decision of this magnitude. “How can I decide something this big in 24 hours?”

    Diana looked resigned. “You must find the answers inside yourself. No one can make this decision for you.” She stopped herself from walking to his side, from trying to comfort him, knowing it was not her right. At least not in this reality.

    “I don’t know what to do.” Clark’s voice was broken as he sank back to the ground, images from both his realities assaulting him. “I’m so confused.”

    “Within the next few hours you will fully remember your reality. The good and bad. You will also be aware of the reality you are currently in. You must weigh them both and choose.”

    “But how-” Before he could finish she stepped back and raised her hands, a greenish-red glow coming from her palms.

    “24 hours, Clark. I will return to the caves for your decision.” With the words, she suddenly disappeared into a glowing ball of light.

    Clark stared at the now vacant spot Diana had been in, the white glow fading until he was left in utter darkness. The cave walls seemed to be crying out to him as memory after memory returned, staggering him with their intensity.

    Struggling to his feet, he knew he needed to get away, get into the fresh air, go somewhere he could think, make sense of the gigantic mess he seemed to have gotten himself into. Reaching the entrance of the caves, he gave into his agitation and put on a burst of speed, trying to outrun his demons.


    Clark stood staring out the barn window. His mind was still in turmoil trying but not quite believing everything Diana had told him. Alternate realities were one thing to read about in science fiction novels or even on TV shows. But to be faced with the very real possibility…

    In the back of his mind, he thought he recalled reading an article stating something about how scientists theorized that there were an infinite number of dimensions, each containing a different possible version of reality, some very similar, some very different.

    Of course, an astrophysicist thinking and some meteor freak proving the theory were entirely different things. Then again, this was Smallville, home to the unexplained and bizarre.

    He clutched his head as more and more memories began to assail him of the life he’d known, a life that heart achingly seemed more and more familiar. Confusion, despair, hope, anger and frustration surged through him as he remembered.

    Chloe’s brilliant smile as she avidly told him about her date with Sean, the football player.

    The excruciating pain of Jor El’s burning mark on his chest.

    Lex’s vacant expression when he’d visited him in Belle Reve, a shell of the powerful man he knew.

    Lana’s soft smile as she’d lain in his arms one glorious afternoon when they’d been picnicking in the woods.

    As the memories came faster he remembered the pain and joy of his friendship with Chloe, Pete, even Lex. His bittersweet relationship with Lana. The thrill of discovering what he could do and the agony of not knowing what to do with it.

    He found himself almost wanting to believe the memories were wrong, that his real life was the happy one he’d been living in recently. A life where Lana smiled at him instead of frowning when he raced off to save someone in trouble. A life where Lex and Lionel argued good naturedly at the dinner table rather than insulting each other over drinks. A life where he respected the easy friendship he shared with Lex, who had kept his secret and worked with him to discover what he was capable of doing with his special powers.

    But it was also a life without Chloe, or Pete and the friendships that were so important to him. Friendships he now remembered he’d fought so hard to keep.

    Chloe’s look of pain as she’d told him she thought he’d understand why she’d agreed in a moment of weakness to team up with Lionel. Pete walking away after informing him that Clark’s secret was a huge responsibility and not one he was sure he wanted to accept. The agony of thinking Chloe was dead, her struggle to reclaim her life under the shadow of Lionel Luthor.

    If he chose this life, his ‘perfect’ life, wouldn’t he be making it easier on Chloe and Pete? In this world, they’d never been exposed to Lionel or Lex, nor to the pain and danger he clearly remembered bringing into their lives. Really, he was doing them a favor, letting them lead their happy lives, far away from Smallville and everything weird that went with it.

    But the pang of remembered experiences, of emotions and actions taken because of their love and support was growing.

    Chloe’s soft, hesitant, but always beautiful smile as she’d looked up to see him in the Torch the week after she’d returned from the dead. Pete’s understanding and friendship during his recollection of his visit to Jor El, the way he made him feel as if things would at least look better in the morning. Chloe smiling and placing the necklace around her neck, telling him she wanted to rebuild their friendship, how important it was to her. Pete’s clarity that allowed them all to realize what Jodi was up to before it was too late. Chloe’s smile when she’d returned from freeing Erin, thanks in part to the research they’d found together at LuthorCorp.

    In this world, would Chloe have found her mother? Would Erin have even left considering Lionel Luthor was not the bastard he was remembering? Did Chloe deserve to have a possible chance to know her mother taken away from her, even though she might never know it existed?

    The thoughts of Erin brought Clark clear, horrifying images of the Lionel Luthor he was now remembering from his real world. Sinking to the couch, he let the memories wash over him, chilling him to the bone.

    Lionel berating Lex in front of Clark, insinuating he would never be worth anything in the Luthor empire. Lex clutching the rolled up blanket, singing softly to it, telling him Julian was sleeping. The horror at finding the “Clark Room” in the mansion, and Lex’s assurances that he would stop investigating Clark’s past. Lex telling him that sons turned out like their fathers and that Clark’s family would inherit the earth.

    How in the world could he possibly think of returning to a world with so much pain and confusion for Lex and Lionel? Yes, Lex had stalled out a bit on his descent into the darkness, had the influences of his family, of Chloe to help him stay on track, but could even that combat the growing menace of that Luthor legacy? Didn’t Lex deserve to live a life where his family was whole and happy? A world where Lionel was the kind of man his son wanted to become? A world where Lex knew his secret and Clark held no fear of him exposing it?

    The questions were gnawing at his soul, the repercussions on his friends, his family, life as he knew it, all resided in his hands.

    It wasn’t fair! No teenager, not even one with superpowers, should have to be responsible for making these decisions! Decisions that could lead to a life filled with uncertainty, questions and pain for those involved. The people he loved and cared about. Why had Diana put this on him, given him a taste of what life could be like only to make him remember and have to choose between reality and a nearly perfect fantasy?

    "You are not finished Kal-El. Your mission is far from over. Go back and finish it."

    The booming voice of Jor-El echoed through his head now, flashes of scenes like he’d had in the caves swallowing him with their intensity.

    The pain of Jor-El’s brand on his chest. The scary freedom Kal-El wielded over Metropolis and his life. His mother’s heartbroken expression at losing the baby.

    "Rule them with strength, my son. That is where your greatness lies."

    Now that he could remember, he could clearly feel the agony at not knowing what path to take, of being uncertain of his biological father’s true motives. Was his destiny truly to conquer and rule? Or was it to help and save? By choosing his ‘perfect reality’ was he forsaking the true purpose of his life? Would he even begin to discover what he had literally been put on Earth to do if he chose this world?

    Such confusion and pain awaited him in the other reality. The likelyhood of things ending badly for anyone involved with him seemed so much greater there. At least in this world, he could protect the people he loved. They knew about him, they would help him discover who he was, and perhaps it would be someone unlike the Clark Kent that Jor-El had seemed so certain of. The Clark Kent that had visited the painful past of his planet and now carried the weight of their guilt and failure. Really, looking at it that way, the idea of going back to reality was definitely the worse option.

    "Clark Kent, you are here to be a force for good, not a force of evil."

    Jonathan Kent’s reassuring voice suddenly displaced Jor-El’s, the calm certainty getting through to Clark in a way it hadn’t at the time. Sinking back onto the couch, he closed his eyes, letting the rest of that conversation play out in his mind.

    "How can you be so sure?"

    "Because I am your father. I raised you, and I know you better than anyone."

    Memories of his parents, how strong and supportive they’d been throughout his discovery of Jor-El … how his relationship had strengthened with them both. He could hear the conversations with Jonathan, talking about choices and decisions and their confidence he would make the right ones.

    "You have a choice Clark. I know it’s not an easy one, I know you have doubts, but you’ll make the right decision when the time is right."

    His father’s words, like Jor-El’s before, echoed over and over in his head. The pure confidence in those words, the knowledge that he did have a destiny, Jor-El’s or otherwise and that he had to choose it.

    Could he really not go back to that? Could he risk that other world changing, becoming worse for not having him there, to complete whatever mission he might have been set on?

    Standing up, he walked over to the window, looking out over the rolling fields and woods. The night air was warm and fresh, he could see the light from Lana’s front windows shining brightly so near yet so far. He knew she waited for him there, smiling, happy, accepting.

    Further away, surrounded by trees, the Luthor family enjoyed a dinner, laughing and joking over their two sons' predicaments and the latest charity Lillian had decided to fund.

    In Wichita, Pete most like was enjoying his new girlfriend and his position on the football team.

    Chloe and Lois were more than likely out celebrating their contest, not matter who had won.

    None of them knew of their other lives, of the decision he had to make involving them. They went on with their lives, perfectly happy, unaware of the turmoil that seared his soul.


    Clark looked carefully around to make sure he was alone before entering the caves. The cool darkness embraced him and once more he marveled at the pictures, the stories these drawings held. Stories of a past, present and future that could end a myriad of different ways depending on his decision tonight.

    “So, have you decided?”

    The voice startled him and he whirled around to find Diana leaning against the cave wall. It was eerie how the woman managed to evade all of his super senses. It made him uneasy.

    “First, I need you to answer a few things for me.”

    Diana only nodded and Clark leaned against the opposite wall, trying to pull his thoughts together.

    “If I choose to go back to my reality, what happens to everything I’ve seen and felt here?”

    Diana smiled. “If you chose to return to your reality, you will lose all memory of this one. If you chose to stay, the same principle applies.”

    “You mean I won’t remember anything about my reality? Not even Chloe or Pete or Jor-El?” Clark couldn’t deny a sense of panic he felt at the idea of not remembering, despite how painful some of the memories were.

    Diana nodded. “You will simply exist in your reality of choice and whatever consequences that brings.”

    Clark was silent, conflict again raging through him. He suddenly remembered another concern he’d wanted addressed.

    “And if I chose to return to my reality, what happens to Lex and Lana and the Luthors? Will they have any memory of this experience since you sucked them all into it?”

    His voice was bitter but Diana’s expression remained placid. “They will have no memory of this world or their place in it.”

    Clark bit his lip, turning away, trying to weigh again the repercussions of his choice.

    “Clark, you must choose, there’s no more time.”

    Something shifted inside of him as he once more drew on both of his father’s remembered words.

    "You are not finished Kal-El. Your mission is far from over. Go back and finish it."

    "I know you have doubts, but you’ll make the right decision when the time is right.”

    Clark took a deep breath before turning back to face Diana. Staring the woman straight in the eyes, he spoke.

    “I chose to return to my reality.”

    Diana nodded her head in acceptance. Clark tried to read the expression in her eyes but they remained hooded.

    “Very well, I will return you. I am curious though, what made you choose to return to a world filled with uncertainty and doubt?”

    Clark bit his lip, unsure he could find the words, but wanting to try.

    “Despite everything I remember going through, the pain and anger, the confusion and fear, the fact of the matter is that I was sent to Earth for a purpose. I don’t know yet what that purpose is, but I have a duty, an obligation, and a desire to figure it out.”

    He paused, beginning to pace as his conviction grew with his words.

    “I have a responsibility, to my family, my friends, to myself to discover the destiny laid out for me. Even though I may not have chosen it, it is still mine.”

    As he spoke, he realized he meant the words. Despite his long time desire to live in a perfect world, he could not ignore his strong sense of responsibility. He might not like the fact that certain aspects of his life seemed to be pre-determined, but he was slowly starting to learn that by embracing who he was and what he was capable of, he was gaining the power to take control of his destiny and shape it into the future of his own choosing.

    Turning he again met Diana’s eyes.

    “I have to live the life I began, despite the potential uncertainty. I just can’t leave my world to an uncertain future. I can’t not learn why I was sent to Earth, what my destiny is –what I choose it to be.”

    Diana was silent a moment, then nodded, giving Clark a strange smile. “You have a long road ahead of you, Clark, but you have taken the first steps of a journey that will last a lifetime.”

    The statement left him feeling more confused, but before he could ask what Diana meant, she raised his hands, a greenish-red glow arising from them. The world began to swirl and he felt himself go dizzy. He tried to cry out, wanting to know more, but seconds later, everything went black.


    Lana jerked awake, heart pounding as hazy memories hung at the back of her mind. Images of Clark running faster than was humanly possible, heating a cup of coffee with his eyes, lifting a tractor so Jonathan could look underneath to repair it, ran through her brain.

    Confused, she looked around. Everything seemed normal, the apartment exactly the way she’d left it before falling asleep. Clark’s picture stared at her from the dresser, his sweet smile sparking another dreamy memory.

    Her eyes widened and she shook her head again. Did I just dream that Clark Kent told me he was from another planet?

    The insanity of the thought made her laugh uneasily. Yes, Clark had secrets, yes, strange things happened around him, but from another planet? That was entirely too crazy to be believed.

    Deciding she’d read too much Science Fiction, she pulled herself from the bed, heading towards the shower, shaking off memories that felt all too real. It had only been a dream, albeit a very realistic and strangely happy dream.

    Sighing, she turned on the water, pushing all thoughts of her strange dream to the back of her mind. She had a paper due, a long shift at the Talon and a date to plan with Clark. Within moments, thoughts of aliens and Clark faded from her mind.


    Damn. What a dream.

    Lex woke up with a start, images and thoughts convalescing in his mind. As he struggled to sit up, he was assailed with images of Lionel praising him for a job well done, then sharing a happy dinner with Lionel, Lillian and Julian?

    Shaking his head to clear it, he wondered where the insane thought had come from. Not only were Julian and Lillian dead but words of praise from Lionel would come only when hell froze over.

    So why could he hear his mother’s laughter, see her and Mrs. Kent comparing recipes for pie, see his father and Jonathan Kent chatting amiably about sports and their sons, a look of pride in Lionel’s eyes as he placed an arm around Lex’s shoulder?

    Lex wondered if Lionel had managed to slip something into his water that was making him hallucinate memories. Because there was no way in hell that anything he’d just dreamt could be true.

    He refused to acknowledge the tug deep in his chest that craved the truth of such a memory. Of a life where his mother and brother were alive and he had his father’s love and respect.

    He grimaced, pushing the feeling down, knowing it was weak and unacceptable. Things were the way they were, nothing and no one could change it.

    As he padded to the shower, he wondered why he was suddenly hit with an image of Clark.


    “It was so strange, Mom. I swear I could remember a totally different life, where everything was different.”

    Martha Kent smiled slightly as she set a glass of water down in front of her son. Clark had been strangely agitated all day and she’d finally cornered him in a back booth at the Talon and demanded he tell her what was up—in the ten-minute break she’d allowed herself.

    “What was so different about your life?” She had a suspicion but she knew he needed to be the one to tell her.

    “Everyone knew.” Clark frowned, trying pull at the hazy memories fading from his mind as the hours passed. Mother and son were so immersed in their conversation that neither noticed the petite blonde that approached them with a smile.

    “I told Lana and Lex everything. And they accepted me, no questions, no anger, just acceptance. It was an incredible feeling.”

    The smile disappeared from Chloe’s face as she shrank back, the force of Clark’s words hitting her. Something began to crack inside her, as she wondered why despite everything, all they’d gone through, he still didn’t trust her to tell his secrets to. Yet he obviously trusted Lex and Lana.

    It hurt. But as much as she wanted to run, some twisted emotion inside her knew she needed to stay, to not run without having all the facts. She’d learned bitter lessons from that before.

    Keeping out of sight, but within earshot, she listened.

    “Sounds like this dream world of yours was perfect.” Martha couldn’t blame her son for dreaming about being able to tell everyone his secret and be accepted for it. She only wished that was a dream that could become reality.

    “It was, but for some reason, I couldn’t stay. I remember the caves, I remember knowing I had people, friends who cared, something I needed to accomplish – and that’s when I woke up.” Clark shook his head, trying for more memories but finding even the ones he’d just recounted fading into the ether.

    “You made the right choice, Clark. Dreams are wonderful but reality can be pretty good too if you give it a chance.” Martha couldn’t shake the strange sense that some great crisis had been averted.

    “I know I did, although I’m not sure how I know.” He shrugged, figuring at the moment, it wasn’t important.

    “It wouldn’t have something to do with the pretty brunette you’ve got that date with this weekend now, would it?” Martha smiled as her son’s eyes lit up.

    As Clark and Martha began to talk about Lana, Chloe moved away, careful to keep out of sight. Her mind was whirling with what she’d heard. Clark had a dream of a perfect world. There was nothing strange about that. Obviously, she hadn’t merited a thought in it – and that disturbed her. Even in his perfect dream world, Clark didn’t trust her to the degree he did Lana and Lex.

    It hurt even more as she fingered the friendship necklace he’d given her. A necklace she hadn’t taken off and despite her pain now could still not bring herself to remove.

    Taking a deep breath, she straightened, plastering a smile on her face and approaching with a confident step. Neither Kent needed to know how shaken up she was by their conversation.

    “Hey, Clark. Mrs. Kent.”

    Clark smiled as Chloe approached. He suddenly wondered why he couldn’t find a memory of her in his dream world.

    “Chloe, how are you? How’s your dad?”

    Chloe’s grin dimmed slightly but her voice was relaxed. “Busy as ever, but doing okay.”

    Martha sensed something was up between father and daughter, most likely having to do with the reemergence of Erin into their lives. But for the moment, she chose to play innocent. “Well, why don’t I get you a coffee?”

    “Thanks.” Chloe gave the woman a small smile as she rose and disappeared, before settling herself into the booth across from Clark. Seeing her friend looked preoccupied, not wanting to let him see her own distress, she tried for a light tone.

    “So, what’s go you looking so serious?” She knew it was a long shot, but she needed something, anything to alleviate the worries growing in her mind and heart.

    Clark started, feeling uncomfortable at mentioning his dream to Chloe. He could sense she’d played some part in it, although he couldn’t remember what.


    “Sorry,” he looked sheepish. “I, uh, well, I’m a little nervous about my date with Lana. She was so upset when I stood her up last week—I just don’t want to do that again.”

    And despite her growing friendship with the brunette, Chloe couldn’t help but feel jealousy that once again, with Clark, it was all about Lana. But even as the slight spark flamed, she heard Jason’s voice, saw his smiling eyes, asking her if she wanted ‘something more.’

    Suddenly, she felt a little better.

    “I’m sure things will be fine. Don’t things always seem to work out somehow between the two of you?” She hoped her words didn’t sound bitter, she really hadn’t meant for them to come out that way. But her heart sank a little as Clark’s eyes sharpened.

    “Something on your mind, Chloe?” He knew his words were probably abrupt but he was feeling uncomfortable, hoping Chloe wasn’t still harboring those kinds of feelings for him. He had though she had moved on and he didn’t want to ruin their renewed relationship with romantic entanglements.

    “No,” Chloe tried to lighten the mood, not wanting to argue with him. However, she felt compelled to point out to him he could trust her, so she said. “But you know, if you ever need to tell me anything, I’m here for you. I’m a good listener.”

    “And good at reporting it.” Clark stopped; horrified he’d let that slip. He’d thought he had overcome that bitterness at her knack for ferreting out the truth, no matter what the cost.

    Chloe felt as if she’d been struck. Did he honestly think she would use him that way? Of course, she had nearly done just that, but her loyalty, her friendship to him had stopped her. She thought he knew that. Obviously, she’d thought wrong and despite their growing friendship, the resentment he still felt hurt.

    “Chloe, I didn’t mean-”

    “Just stop, Clark.” She paused, trying to mask her hurt, knowing it would do no good to explode. They’d had this argument before and gotten nowhere.

    Clark felt awful as he watched her finger the necklace, her voice calm but her eyes wounded. He’d done it again. Without meaning to he’d hurt her. Knowing he had to make things right, he reached over and took her hand.

    “I’m sorry. I had a rough night, I wasn’t thinking. I know we’ve still got issues but I’m trying, Chloe. I really am.”

    Not hard enough obviously if these ‘issues’ still bother you so much.

    She ignored the uncharitable thought and said, “I know. I am too,” trying for a smile although she really felt like going home and crying. Still, she put on a brave face. She didn’t want to lose his friendship again, but staring across at him, she wondered if things would ever be the same. Her heart ached as he obviously bought her words, his expression lightening as he let go of her hand.

    “So, do you think I should get Lana flowers?”

    Sighing sadly, she realized that no matter what, some things never changed.


    Clark looked out over the woods and fields behind the farm.

    It had been a strange day, the memories of his dream lingering for a bit then seeming to fade into almost nothingness. His awkward conversation with Chloe had stirred something in his mind, but he couldn’t quite place exactly what.

    Still, there was something different about things around him, inside him. He didn’t know what, if anything had changed, but for the first time in a long time, he had a sense that maybe, just maybe, things were going to turn out okay in his crazy, messed up, twisted life.

    He smiled as he watched the sun rise, enjoying the state of his life at the moment.


    Below the barn window, just out of Clark’s line of view, Diana stood looking up at the boy reflected in the window. As the sun rose higher, she smiled, raising her hands as a reddish blue glow encompassed them.

    “You chose well. I’ll be seeing you … Kal.”

    With that … she disappeared.

    End of Episode 10

  2. #2
    An Accused Heretic Senior Member Kit Merlot's Avatar
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    12 May 2003
    Penn's Woods

    Re: Episode 10 - "Reality?" (PG)

    Wow this was quite a pianful episode.

    I can't believe that Gabe is still angry with Chloe regarding her relationship with Erin, and that Clark said such a deliberately hurtful thing to her. And then he continues to talk about Lana to her!

    I think Chloe needs to back away from her friendship with Clark because I don't think he will ever truly forgive her for her deal with Lionel Luthor.

    "Don't quote me to me!" Detective Danny "Danno" WIlliams, Hawaii Five-0, episode 1.8 Mana'o

    "This could barely fill up Thumbelina!" SALIGIA by westwingwolf

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