Till You're Tested

by Pablo

Thanks to Yvette and zahra for the beta.

They say life's all about finding your strengths and using them. Or at least learning to cope without having them.

If you'd asked him, only a matter of months ago what his were, Clark probably would have had trouble telling you them exactly. Now it's a little different, now he knows his strengths. It's a little hard not to when you're this strong, this fast.

Yeah, Clark knows them well, almost as well as he knows his weaknesses, but does that make him any stronger? Any more of a man than he was only a year ago? That's when he laughs to himself, thinks how ironic it is that he used to worry about fitting in, about being one of the crowd. He can't get over the fact that when he thought that maybe, just maybe, things were starting to work out, "this" happened.

It's got nothing to do with his newly acquired abilities. Nothing to do with his "super-strength" or his "super-speed". It's all to do with him and isn't it even more ironic that just when Clark was thinking he might actually start fitting in, being normal, "this" happened?


Walking on the way to school, bus missed. Again. But Clark wants to spend this time thinking, doesn't bother getting to school before the bus arrives. Decides for a change that he'll take this slowly, take this time and use it.

Isn't sure it was such a good idea when he lets out another sigh. He's always considered himself level-headed, but the way he's going, the level of self pity that seems to be building and building inside of him seems to be getting worse.

Thinking about things only means you have to face up to them, to test your inner strength and he can't help but shake his head at the irony of it all.

He's always worried about being strong. Has worried that he needs to keep his strength up, not just physically but emotionally, because when you're a teenager; the wounds that leave the deepest scars are never the physical ones. Those always heal but the stigma of being an outsider will always stay.

He's never really been that much of an outsider, no more than most //Not like him.// but Clark's never really been that popular either. Except for his brief stint recently, he's always shied away from sport. In a small town that's enough to be branded an outsider, to be labelled a queer.

//And the irony just keeps on coming.//

Clark was pretty sure he'd settled in though. Freshman year of school and everyone at least gives off the impression of maturity. Well, that's not entirely true, but at least if you keep your head down you can avoid the obvious situations.

Then things changed. Clark's best guess was that it was something to do with him maturing. Not really the sort of thing you can just openly discuss with the guidance councillor. //Yeah, I'm going through a few changes. What, Puberty? No, X-Ray vision.//

But he's learned to hide that as well. To be strong. Strength of will the one thing keeping him from running faster when all the other kids can see, keeps him from showing his true strength.

No, Clark no longer worries about being strong enough physically. Now his strength is required in other ways. More adult ways and isn't it so much harder to control those urges? To control the way he feels when he sees him, to control the way his stomach seemed to be doing somersaults when he opened up that card and read those nine words.

//Forever in your debt. The maniac in the porsche//

A true test of his strength and Clark's not sure if he's strong enough to pass this one. Not sure if he wants to, because when he sees Lex, things just seem to be ... right? He can't really think of any other way to describe it than that.

Things feel right.

It's so different from when he sees Lana, for so long he's wanted her to acknowledge him, to be able to just walk up and talk to her. Now however he realises that's not what he wants.

What he really wants when he walks up to Lana is to feel just like that. To feel the same way that he does when he sees Lex. To not know whether he wants to talk or to throw up. To not be able to speak because his tongue feels so big in his mouth and he's not sure if the words he wants to say even closely resemble English. To feel just like that, slightly nauseous but without a doubt, even for a moment that he's in love.


And now he's no longer walking. Book bag hanging limply off his shoulder and he's come to a dead stop. All thoughts of walking to school lost, because he's only thinking about one thing now, even more so than before. Love.

Clark doesn't know whether that makes him strong or weak, but saying it out loud to himself has made it so much more different.

//Is it love?//

He's not really sure but now he's starting to get that feeling bubbling away inside him, the one that makes him have to sit down for fear of falling on his ass. So he's pretty sure that, yeah maybe it is love? He's never put that sort of label on things before and actually thought that he might mean it.

On the way to school and by the side of the road, Clark has to stop. Just stand there, leaning forward, hands resting along his thighs because he's worried that he may fall over. Hard, backwards onto the gravel road. He can't care less if he just lies there waiting for the next car to come along because he realises now that he does have that strength, that willpower to finally admit to himself how he feels.

A few deep breaths and he thinks he has it under control. Doesn't need a mirror to know that he's got a grin from ear to ear. One of those ones where it almost hurts because you're smiling so much but there's no way you'll stop because you know that it's all worth it.

He starts walking again, reaches his hand in his pocket and removes the violet coloured card from where he keeps it. Card moulded from where he's kept it since that day, removes it whenever he changes his pants but it always goes straight back there. Right hand pocket, slightly worn from where he's had to fold it to fit it in. He keeps it hidden there, his parents both think he threw it out that day. The day he had to give the truck back to him, the day he couldn't accept that first gift.

Almost three thousand dollars per word but each of those crisply written letters is worth so much more than $25000 of machinery. Worth more, because they were from him. Not from his bank, or a car dealer, each of those words were from Lex.

They think the card's gone, just like the truck, but Clark keeps it there. He puts his hand in his pocket and when he feels the card against his fingers he feels stronger, feels more able to cope with those in-between times when he's not with Lex. The time that seems to drag on for so long and to be so filled of nothing because all they're really doing is breaking up the time that he's with him. Driving him crazy because all he can do then is think of him, run his fingers along the card and let his mind drift.

Clark starts walking again and keeps grinning. Curses himself as an idiot in his head because it took him this long to realise how he felt, realised consciously because when he plays back the last few days in his mind, it's been pretty fucking obvious that he felt just like this.

the end

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