He can't remember exactly the first time it was that he realised he wasn't like everyone else. It was probably so far back that it's beyond his ability to recall, but he knows instinctively how he would have felt. Clark has plenty of childhood memories stored up, to remind him of just how not normal he is.
He remembers playing with Pete when he was six, as much as his father warned him against running around with other kids, he still did. He was a child after all and children need that outlet. Being boys, it used to get pretty rough. One time, playing tag, Clark tapped Pete on the shoulder so hard that he slammed into the ground, and went home crying. Pete's mother wouldn't let him out of the house for 2 days.
Clark just stood there, eyes full of confusion, not understanding why he'd hurt Pete when all he was doing was having fun, just like his friend had taught him.
He couldn't understand why others got hurt when he didn't, most of the time he didn't even get sick, except for the times in Greg's treehouse. It just wasn't fair.
He asked his Mom about it, and she told him that he was different and not like Pete, not like any of the others. She wiped the dirt from his face and told him it was really important that he never tell anyone how different he was,that if anyone found out, they would take him away from her, because he was special and most people don't understand people that are different and special.
But he didn't want to be special or different, especially when it meant he had to sit by and watch while the people he loved got hurt, sometimes because of him.
He always got picked on at school. Well, kids are cruel and someone who's adopted? Definitely not the norm in Smallville. It made it all the worse, him not being allowed to play with most of them, made him more of an outsider than he already was, and they branded him as unusual, a freak. His parents spent so much time concerned about his secret getting out or what would happen if one of the other kids got hurt, but the one who really got hurt, of course, was Clark.
And nothing's changed, has it?
Finding out that the meteor shower was what brought him to Smallville, that he was the one responsible for causing such mass destruction, certainly doesn't help. He feels so much guilt and responsibility and it's way too much for one teenager to handle. No matter how many times he hears it, how many people tell him it's not his fault, he knows deep down that if it weren't for him, these terrible things would never have happened.
There would be no krypto-mutants.
No Shawn preying on Chloe and his Mom after starring in his version of the Smallville Icecapades.
No Tina, robbing banks, kissing him and pushing him through windows, all actions executed with the faces of his friends.
The torch office would never have been destroyed, and Chloe's life not put in danger, thanks to Smallville High's own 'firestarter'.
There would have been no friends who turned into bugboys and stalked the object of his affections either.
Lana? Well, Lana wouldn't be an orphan. He wouldn't have to look at that glossy page, her heartbroken face staring out at him from the Wall of Weird, crying so much her face is distorted.
And Lex? Well he knows that without him, Lex would be less of an outsider than he is now. Although he knows Lex views his hairlessness as a gift now, something that defines who he is. He may be an outsider, but Clark thinks Lex is content being that way. There are many things he wishes he could learn from Lex, that knack for not caring what others think, not wanting to be plastic like so many others and wearing his uniqueness with pride, among them.
//It's all your fault, Clark.//
He's repeated those words so many times in his head that it's become like a mantra to him. Anytime he forgets who he is and lets the guilt go, he hears Lana in his head repeating those words over and over, and it brings him crashing back down to reality.
So much guilt to try and live with that it's really a wonder that he can sleep at night.
But it wasn't the guilt that drove him to do it in the first place.
No, not guilt. Something more akin to curiosity and that desire to test himself, see what would happen if he really were able to feel like a normal person.
He'd discovered that the rocks could make him weak, hurt him and make him sick. But he didn't realise they could do so much more than that, until he went off on his own with the box Lex had given him. When he held it open and let Lana's necklace affect him the way he knew it would, he came to that realisation that there was a whole lot more to his reaction than just nausea, when he could see his body changing right before his eyes.
They could make him feel human, make him hurt, make him normal. And through the pain he could achieve absolution for what he views as his sins. Knowing that HE could control this, that it was within his power to do it made him feel high, exhilarated and freer than he's ever felt in his life.
He wasn't prepared to let go of that feeling, he couldn't, but he knew he had to return the necklace to Lana, knew how important it was to her, and the last thing he needed was more guilt. So, after he returned it, he went searching for his own rock that he could keep for whenever he needed it, whenever he craved that pain. Returning to the factory where Greg had seen his untimely end, he took one and stored it in the box that Lex had given him.
It's an addiction really, the rocks are his drug, and when he's 'under the influence' he's truly content. Through the pain he can punish himself for everything his existence causes. It makes him feel more alive than he ever thought possible.
When he feels the fatigue, the agony, spread through his body, he feels like he can be just Clark, the normal one, the one who feels like he could almost be human.
The one who could play football if he wanted, have a hundred social events marked out on his calendar, date the girl of his dreams and live happily ever after in Smallville.
Not the one who could easily hurt someone just by playing a game or the one who spends night after night alone looking through telescopes, because he can't get close to anyone; it's not allowed. The one whose destiny is decided for him, and the one who dreams of heat and sweat and of someone decidedly not Lana, someone he identifies with, someone in many ways as much of an outsider as Clark is. Someone undeniably male.
And THAT is most definitely not normal and most definitely not allowed.
So this is why he uses the rock like it's his reason for living. The pain makes him feel so very alive. It allows him to believe those dreams, those well thought out fantasies of being someone he's not.
Someone who's normal and as fragile as glass. Someone uncomplicated and breakable and so very human.
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