By CC Malo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: January 2006
Summary: Clark wants desperately to tell his secret to his friends. He can trust Lana with it, can't he?
Beneath a sky so blue it could break your heart, a boy who was not yet a man, but nearly a man, ran with long strides, his adolescent frame stretching for tomorrow's promise.
Pebbles sprayed from beneath his pounding feet, shooting upward, the only evidence that he was still touching the ground, although he really wasn't so sure that he was. He ran like the wind. Chasing, catching it, then laughing triumphantly as he overtook it and saplings bowed and fresh spring leaves fluttered in his wake.
Wait'll Pete sees this. I gotta show him how fast I can run.
Don't tell. Don't tell him.
Pete's my best friend. I can trust him.
He opened his arms wide to catch the morning as he ran, feet flying, now across the open plain, and he lifted his face to the Kansas sun. And for a blissful second, frozen forever, he felt as though he was the freest guy in the world.
He wasn't sure how far he'd run, but then, suddenly, he slid to an abrupt stop, startled by the edge of the cliff that sliced up from Cutter's Ravine. He felt like going farther, like he could fly across the gulch, fly forever and skim the tops of the trees on the far side and then climb to touch the clouds. But he halted, pulled back to reality by a whiff of smoke spiraling upward, caused by the friction of his shoes skidding on the dry grass.
Holy … cow!
His heart racing, he quickly blew a powerful blast of air on the spot, cooling it, as it dawned on him that the small flame might have become more, and then the next thing, the whole state would be burning!
It was a warning. Be careful.
Thoughtful, he stood with his hands on his hips, looking out across the land, seeing farther than he knew he should be able to see.
It's a secret. Don't tell. Don't tell.
Moments later, Clark Kent was jogging up the steps of Smallville High and then walking down the crowded, noisy hall toward his locker, greeting classmates, the memory of nearly burning down Kansas forgotten, at least temporarily.
At the far end of the hall, he spotted Lana Lang, standing in the middle of a small group of kids. She was most definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, the hottest girl in senior year, and just maybe his girlfriend.
At least they'd dated a bit. But she dated other guys too, and he was never too certain where he stood with her. Smiling, he saw her toss her long hair and was awe-struck at how it shimmered in the sunlight which streamed through the large window where she stood.
She was the prettiest girl in Smallville, maybe anywhere in Kansas for that matter, he decided, trying to suppress his hormones and think pure 4-H thoughts as he avoided dwelling on how tightly her pink sweater clung so amazingly to her breasts.
As he joined her, she was laughing at something Pete Ross said and he knew a twinge of jealousy. He'd been hoping to find her alone this morning, before class. The senior prom was coming up next month and he'd been trying to get up the nerve to ask her. Maybe Pete had already asked her?
Wait'll I show her. If she only knew what I can do. He wanted to show off, to impress her.
Don't let anyone know your secret. They'll come for you. Take you away. Don't tell, son.
Seconds later, discordant ringing signaled the start of classes, and the group scattered on their separate ways: he to English, Pete to Economics, and Lana to cheerleading.
He couldn't believe she was actually going to get a credit for that.
Lunch! A collective sigh of relief and then an energy surge as the inmates of Smallville high, imprisoned on uncomfortable chairs for an hour, hit the halls in search of friends, lockers, food, cigarettes, music, fast games, slow games, and fresh air.
Clark was in search of Lana.
He found her by her locker which was located in a prime bit of school real estate, off the main hall at the back of the school by the gym. Private yet accessible. With her was Rachel Harris, like Lana and Pete, another of the gang that Clark had known forever, since they were kids. Rachel wasn't looking too happy, not her usual positive self as she listened to Lana.
"I'm going to have the most awesome pink dress — really narrow straps studded with rhinestones…"
"Hi, Lana, Rach."
"What's up? Rachel, you okay?"
His question proved to be too much. Rachel, who Clark had always thought was nearly as sensible as his mother and probably had never cried in her life, lost it. Her eyes welled up and her lips quivered, making her look a bit like a chipmunk in distress.
"Clark," Lana said, touching his arm. "Let's…"
"Rach!" Clark's voice was soft, concerned for his friend. "What's wrong?"
"My sister… Allison's pregnant!" Rachel blurted out.
"What?" Now interested, Lana turned to face Rachel. "But she's not even sixteen. Who's the daddy?"
"I don't know. I mean, I think I do but she won't tell me … he, he…" Rachel gulped, distress painfully evident in her grey eyes. "He says, he says he's not the father." Rachel lost her battle for self-control and now the tears streamed down her face.
"Wow!" Lana said.
Suddenly, a gaggle of giggling grade niners erupted into the far end of the hall. As they got closer, Lana reached out and hugged Rachel, while Clark, feeling overwhelmed, patted her awkwardly on her shoulder.
"Please, keep it secret. Don't tell, please, don't tell anyone."
Lana hugged her friend again, reassuring her. "No, no I'd never tell."
"Clark?" Rachel asked. "Swear?"
"I swear, Rach."
Much, much later, at some point between nighttime and early daylight, Clark awoke, eager for whatever the day would bring. It was too early, way too early, for even his early-rising dad to be up, and so Clark quickly pulled on his sweats, then drifted downstairs, something he'd just discovered he could do this spring, and slipped out into the darkness.
Outside, a strong wind had sprung up, blasting through the tall aspens beside the farmhouse and twisting their boughs so that they danced frantically in the moonlight. Challenging him, testing his power, his strength. Like a sprinter in his blocks, he crouched, then leapt forward running, racing against his destiny. And he ran, ran until the exhilaration hit him, like a drug, and he sprung upward, trying to touch the stars in the indigo night.
And then, noticing the brightening sky, he slowed. His cover was fast disappearing and he didn't want anyone to see him. His dad and mom knew he did this, understood why he needed to do it, but they were fearful too. What if someone sees you? They'll start asking questions.
Like I'm not asking all those questions and more, he thought, scuffing the earth with the toe of his runner as, earthbound, he walked back to the farmhouse. Time to pretend he was normal.
The Secret. Too dangerous if people knew.
He hated the secrecy. He wanted to tell Lana. Had to tell her if they ever were going to have a relationship. And he wanted that. Wanted to be with someone who knew his secret. And who would love him anyway.
Honesty — that's what his mom and dad had always taught him, what they'd always lived by. Even when the truth was hard. Deep inside, he knew they were right. Truth mattered.
So he had to tell her.
Don't tell, don't tell. An owl whooshed past him, huge wings inches from his face, yellow saucer eyes staring, warning him.
But I have to. She has to know what I am.
I know I can trust her to keep my secret.
So yet another endless day, staring out the window, counting down 'til June and graduation, while his manic biology teacher went over the top on the possibilities of human cloning. No way, Clark thought, as he half listened while gazing out the window beside his desk at a plane soaring high overhead.
The bell rang, and Clark and his classmates swarmed out of the classroom, sprung for a few moments to actually lead a life in the halls. Who knew what could happen? And it was a looong way from Biology to Spanish Lit.
And there she was.
Sitting on the floor in front of her locker with a group of her girlfriends, none of them apparently planning on going to their next class. Maybe it was cheerleading.
He caught their chatter, knowing now that he was hearing what no one else could possibly hear, something he found alarming. Giggling, they were talking about the guys they might go to the prom with and what they were going to wear.
Clark listened for a moment, mentally defending himself to his absent mother who he was drop dead certain knew whenever he broke her weird behavioural code, arguing that it was okay to eavesdrop if your name was part of the conversation. Listening to the girls, he wondered which was more important to them — who they were hoping to go with or what they were going to wear. Shamelessly, he eavesdropped, hoping to hear Lana talk about him. And she did — as well as Pete Ross, and a couple of other guys, one a new guy in Smallville with a cool car and a father with lots of money.
Lana was giving the latter the most airtime, and Clark was disappointed. Well, okay then, but he'd just come down this particular hall. Maybe if he'd got here earlier, it would have been different.
And then Lana's giggle. "Have you heard about Allison Harris?"
Clark felt his gut wrench, repulsed nearly as much by the chatter which followed Lana's announcement as the announcement itself. He stood, staring ahead, seeing nothing, seeing more than he'd ever wanted to see.
Don't tell, don't tell. Rachel's tearful request rang in his ears, and the memory of the pain he'd seen in her eyes yesterday made him catch his breath.
He turned around and walked down a different hall toward his next class. He was the first one there.
It took forever for the day to end, but it did. After grabbing his stuff from his locker, he walked out of school debating whether to get on the school bus or run home. He didn't much want to talk to anyone.
Then he saw Lana, surrounded as usual by admiring guys.
"Hi, Clark." She smiled invitingly.
Just then Rachel strode over, eyes intense. "How could you!" She glared at both of them.
Coolly, Lana looked at Rachel. "What?"
"Rachel, you know I'd never do that." As she spoke, she looked pointedly at Clark, but said nothing.
Rachel looked at Clark, her eyes showing her hurt. "Clark?" Her voice was uncertain.
"No, Rach." His eyes met hers. "I haven't told anyone."
"It's no big deal." Turning away from Rachel, Lana shrugged, her mouth grimacing, and Clark wondered how he had ever thought her beautiful.
And then something happened that Clark had never experienced. He caught Rachel's accelerated heartbeat and he looked at her carefully, watching her try to control her tears, and he silently applauded her when she did. Saying nothing, she turned and walked away.
Lana spoke. "Well, it's not, Clark. It's so nothing."
"It was a secret, Lana. You promised."
She touched his chest enticingly. "Clarkie, I've been thinking…"
He interrupted her. "Excuse me, Lana."
Jogging, he quickly caught up with Rachel who had avoided getting on the yellow bus and was now walking very quickly towards the centre of town.
"Hey, Rach! Wait up." He fell in step beside her but she didn't slow down. Nor did she speak, and for a few moments they walked in silence.
Then Clark asked, "Rachel, will you come to the prom with me?" No answer. He touched her arm, and she turned to face him. "That is, if you don't already have a date."
She sniffled, and blinked her eyes, gaining mastery over her tear ducts, and took a deep breath. "I'd like to, Clark."
They walked in silence again, and then she spoke. "Secrets are important. I shouldn't have told anyone."
"Don't blame yourself, Rach. I guess you needed to talk."
"I guess." Silence again. "Guess now everyone else will too."
"Not everyone. Not your friends."
She sighed. "We're not kids anymore, Clark. Maybe it's time for us to grow up, and to figure out who we can trust, and to understand what we are."
"I know, Rach."
He walked her home, talking, teasing her gently, and then listening to her. For some reason he couldn't explain, he knew a sense of calm he hadn't felt all spring.