Pete sat across from Clark at one of the many bistro tables in the back of the Talon. They sipped their coffee and Clark munched on Fritos. Pete finished off his java and licked his plump lips, "Clark...do you ever wonder what it would be like to feel pain?"
Clark looked up, his mouth full; he chomped down on his greasy chips and swallowed. "Uh" he cleared his throat, "What?"
"Have you ever wondered what pain feels like?" Pete reiterated
He pulled his drink to his lips, "I've felt pain...Kryptonite, remember." He took a sip and put his cup down.
"Yeah I know, but not pain from a rock, pain from a fist...physical contact." Pete was on the edge of his seat leaning over the table.
"Umm, I don't know Pete, I've never really thought about it." Clark was confused. Pete had seemed excited about something all day and he couldn't figure it out. Was he excited about a fight? Was he going to fight someone? Why was he asking him such a strange question? "What are you getting at?" he asked trying to get some kind of answer to Pete's behavior.
"Clark you always say how you'd give anything to be normal, right?"
"Yeah I guess."
"Well what's more normal, or better yet human, than feeling pain?" he said while standing from his seat. He practically pulled Clark from his seat, almost spilling his unfinished coffee. "Come on, I'll be able to explain better outside."
"Okay, okay." Clark grabbed one last handful of the yellowish corn chips and dutifully followed him out the doors.
-The Alley Behind The Talon-
The alley was lit from the multicolored lights that shone through the back windows of the Talon. The ground shined from the morning rainfall. Garbage dumpsters and empty cardboard boxes lined the buildings of the alleyway. Pete jogged from the main street slowly followed by Clark. "Pete what's going on with you? What are we doing back here?" he said when he caught up to him.
"Clark" Pete's toned changed from excite to serious, "I want you to hit me as hard as you can."
"What?" he stood there staring at his friend. He's on drugs or something...I could kill him.
"I want you to hit me as hard as you can." Pete walked closer to Clark.
"Pete...are you high, on drugs, insane?" Clark said almost jokingly
"I've never been more sane in my life!" his excitement started to return, "Clark, its human nature to fight and fighting causes pain. See most people think pain is a bad thing but I don't. No I think pain is a release and you, my man, need a release!" he said poking Clark's chest through his golden tan jacket.
Clark stood, mystified. Even though the idea of fighting on purpose sounded crazy, there was a voice in his mind screaming at him to do it. To loose control, to let go, to be free from his indestructibility...be free to feel. "I could hurt you. Besides, it won't work on me...I can't just push a button and turn off my body."
Pete's smile grew large, showing his pearly white canines. "I knew you'd say that." He walked to one of the buildings and reached into a box. "So..." he shuffled through the box and pulled something from it. "...I came prepared." He walked to Clark and held out his hand. A small lead box sat on his palm. "It's your choice man, but do you really want to live your life without feeling real, pure pain."
Clark looked at the box, then Pete, then the box again. He took it from Pete's outstretched hand and held it in his own. "I don't know about this Pete...Kryptonite can kill me, this is too dangerous."
"Again...I knew you'd say that." He stepped forward and grabbed the lead container from Clark. "It's a small, small piece. I figure just enough but not too much." He opened the lid and reveled a piece of Kryptonite; it was larger than a pebble and smaller than a stone. The nugget glowed brightly when it was exposed to its prey. Clark instantly felt weaker; it was strange, he could still stand and function. Normally when he was in the presence of his tiny enemy he felt as though he could die at any moment. But this, this was different, he felt vulnerable but in a good way, if that was even possible. Pete, glad that it hadn't affected Clark the way it usually would, stepped forward with the box in his hand. "Well, what do you say?" he took the nugget in his fingers and held it out.
Clark wearily reached out and took it from his friend. Pain wasn't shooting through his veins making him cringe with every movement. It was more of a soft tremble, vibrating its way from his fingertips through his body. He grinned at Pete, "Do it" he put the piece in the fifth pocket on his jeans.
"Do what?" Pete said sarcastically.
"Hit me as hard as you can." He smiled.
"Where do you want it? In the face?" Pete asked. He began hopping in place, psyching himself up.
Clark took off his jacket and threw it to the ground beside them. "Surprise me!" he said almost laughing. He was excited and, a little, scared about this new venture.
Pete instantly jumped forward and punched him directly in the face. Clark's head flung back and he instinctively grabbed his nose. He let out a small groan and thought, God that hurt! But a good hurt! He liked it...he liked it a lot. He put his hands down and looked back at Pete. "Is that all you got?" he laughed.
Pete laughed and went to punch him again; Clark dodged to the right and gripped Pete's arm and threw him to the ground. Pete got up and as he turned around his face came in contact with Clark's clenched fist. He fumbled back a few steps, grabbed his face and hunched over moaning. Clark became worried, "Pete...are you okay? I'm sorry, did I hurt you?" He went to Pete's side.
Pete grinned, "That's the point Clark!" he shoved his fist into Clark's gut and quickly followed with another. Clark gasped as the wind was knocked from his pipes. He caught his breath and tackled his opponent to the ground. The wrestled on the damp cement, throwing punches and kicking when they got the chance. All the while with smiles on their faces and laughter coming from their now bleeding lips.
Inside the Talon Lana was finishing her closing routines. Chloe had decided to help her today so they could make a last showing of the latest Brad Pitt movie. Lana was filling the napkin holders and Chloe was sweeping her dirt pile into the old green dustpan. Chloe emptied the pan into the trash and went into the back room to put away her cleaning equipment. While in the room she heard faint sounds from outside. It sounded to her like a fight; the shuffling of feet, thumping of punches, and the ever present grunting. "Lana!" she yelled while walking towards the back door, which led to the alley. "Lana, come here! I think there's a fight going on outside!"
Lana came through the swinging door and quickly caught up to Chloe. "A fight? Should we call the police?"
Chloe rolled her eyes, "Oh come on Lana. It's a fight not a riot." She laughed and opened the back door. The two girls stepped onto the concrete stairs and froze in astonishment. They saw something they never imagined to see. Pete was standing over Clark, holding him up by his collar and punching him in the face. Pete was smiling, his once pearly white teeth were stained red and he had several bloody cuts on his face. Under his grip was Clark; blood dripped freely from his nose and bottom lip. A river of crimson trailed down his face from above his left eye. Chloe was the first to speak and stop Pete from hurting her long time love anymore. "Pete! Stop it!" she ran down the steps, followed by a shell shocked Lana. "What the hell are you doing?" she demanded. Pete looked at Chloe like a deer caught in the headlights. He let go of Clark's collar and Clark fell back to the ground then quickly scrambled to his feet. Clark stood, holding his stomach; he coughed a few times then looked at Pete. Chloe became frustrated that they were laughing. "Hello!" she yelled while throwing her arms in the air to gain their attention.
The boys straightened up and stopped laughing; Clark stepped forward and spoke, "Umm, we we're..." he coughed some more then spat some blood on the ground. Lana shuddered at the sight and Chloe only glared at him. He composed himself again, "It's not what you think."
Lana stood next to Chloe with her arms crossed, "Not what we think? You two were beating each other up! What...how...WHY?" she was just as confused and frustrated as her friend.
"Well...we were just...uh, Pete." He turned to Pete to explain for him.
Pete went to Clark's side and put his arm around his shoulders. "Listen we were just messing around...nothing big." Clark laughed along with him.
The girls exchanged looks, "So you were just beating each other for fun...that's insane." Lana said.
"Actually Lana it's not that bad, it's exhilarating." Clark said with his smile, which wasn't so charming this time do to his blood smeared and dripping from his face. "You two should try it." Pete's head perked up and he nodded in agreement. The girls laughed and Chloe whispered 'Boys'.
-Few Days Later-
The splintery wooden door of the storm cellar swung open and the handcrafted staircase creaked as several pairs of feet clamored down them. Bright light shined down from the earth above, swirls of dust whirled through the beams as they cast dark shadows along the walls. Wooden shelves filled with jars that were pickling and canned food were pushed together against the walls to provide space. The small cellar was cramped with bodies, masculine chiseled bodies. The adrenaline and testosterone levels were peaked. Twenty or so boys huddled in groups talking and grunting noisily.
A voice stormed above the chatter and silence the crowd. "Welcome to fight club!" The crowd cleared from the voice and left him in the center of a circle of dirt. He was short, but not too short, his build was of average size, his dark muscles glistening under the dim lights. He was confident in his position; he was the referee, the ringleader, the head honcho. He called the shots and they listened to him. Pete stood in the center of the cellar, surrounded by eager boys. "The first rule of fight club is you don't talk about fight club." he walked the circle, raising his voice, looking in their eager eyes. The silence was accompanied by a few coughs and shuffling feet. "The second rule of fight club is you don't talk about fight club! The third rule is when someone says stop, or goes limp, the fight is over. The fourth rule is only two guys to a fight. The fifth rule is one fight at a time. The sixth rule is no shirts, no shoes. The seventh rule is fights go on as long as they have to. The eighth and final rule is if this is your first night you have to fight."
With that said Pete stepped to the sidelines and the first 'newbie' of the night came forward. He wore black pants and nothing else, sleek, black, expensive pants. He was tan and built, his muscles flexed when he walked with grace into the circle. The dim lights cast a shadow over his eyes making him appear devilish; his ears stuck out from his head like horns, his round head smoothed to perfection. Lex circled the crowd looking for a suitable opponent. He found his match standing in the shadows behind the boys. They matched in height but Lex's choice had a larger physique, his muscles tight against his light blue shirt. He pulled his shirt over his blonde locks and reveled his farmer's tan. Jonathan and Lex exchanged sneers and circled each other.
Lex was about to make his move when a malicious laughter rose up and sent chills down his spine. The laughter died and a raspy voice filled its place. "I believe you can take this man." He said referring to Jonathan, "But your own father, that would be the day!" The crowd parted for him like the Red Sea parted for Moses. He exuded pride and pomposity as he made his way to the match. He unbuttoned his crisp designer shirt and threw it down onto the dirt-ridden ground. "Well Lex, are you up to it? Or will you crack under the pressure." Lionel's laughter rose again and he turned to Jonathan. "I'm sure you won't mind." He turned back to Lex; "I'd like the chance to show my son real power and strength." Jonathan snickered and returned to his spot in the darkness. He wanted to fight Lex but this proved to be far more interesting.
Lex obliged to his fathers wishes and they glared evilly at one another. Their eyes piercing the others, not breaking sight. It was as if time slowed down, the crowd cheered as Lionel pounced and socked his son across the jaw. Lex's lips waved as his saliva splattered from his mouth; Lionel swung again, hitting him in the same spot. "All those years of partying have made you soft and weak Lex!" Lionel yelled over the cheers. He knew how to work Lex; if he continued to break him down mentally then soon he'd be fragile enough to break physically. Lionel grabbed his arms before he gained his bearings and kneed him in the chest. Lex gasped for air and Lionel snapped his jaw shut again with his fist. With another knee to the chest Lex fell to the dirt. "Your mother always wanted a daughter." He leaned down to Lex, "I believe she got her wish."
Enraged, Lex caught his breath and in one swift movement he gripped a chunk of Lionel's flowing brown tresses. He stood and yanked his father's head back. Lionel gritted his teeth; he was not about to show his pain. "Dad, the hair length isn't your way of compensating for a shortcoming elsewhere is it?" He sneered back. With both hands holding Lionel's hair he pushed his father's head down and slammed it into his knee. Pulling him back up he held tight to the greasy gel covered hair.
The crowd hollered obscenities and directions at them. But Lex and Lionel heard only the blunt sound of flesh hitting flesh. They took turns leading; Lionel would get a few rounds of punches and verbal jabs in and then the table would turn and Lex would give his. After long each had their share of battle wounds. Lex's nose was a bloody mess, slightly crooked. Lionel's right eye was black and swollen, chunks of his hair missing, with his nose freely bleeding. The Luthor's pushed through their ailments and fought with full force, neither giving up until the other was down for the count. Lex had managed to trip his father and was now on top of him throwing one after another. Lionel took each blow without so much as a whimper coming from his split lips until he finally gave in and hollered, "Stttoopp!"
Lex stopped his swings; he leaned down, "Who's weak now?!" He stood up laughing then he put his hand out down to his father.
Lionel gripped it and he pulled him up. They gave each other a short, manly, hug with rough pats on the back and Lionel said, "I may have underestimated you, son." with his vicious smile.
Fight club wasn't about winning or losing. It wasn't about words. When the fight was over, nothing was solved, but nothing mattered. Who they were in fight club was not who they were in the rest of the world. They weren't alive anywhere like they were here; it was the ultimate adrenaline rush. Afterwards, they all felt saved, saved from the monotony of their lives. Work. Eat. Sleep. Being forced to slave all day so someone else can reap the benefits of their blood, sweat and tears. They came to fight club for the fight, nothing more, nothing less.
The crowded cellar was an oven; body heat radiated from the sweating men. The air was filled with a stench, a concoction of sweat, saliva, and blood. Blood caked dirt was scattered across the ring, the shelves that lined the walls had red droplets splattered on them. Pete returned to his post in the center, "Nice job gentlemen!" he did his usual routine of pacing the circle while addressing the crowd. "Now...who wants to step up to the plate?"
After a moment of silence another voice spoke out, "I'll will!" He towered over most as he came through the bodies. His midnight black hair casually draped across his forehead, his stature was of Herculean, godlike proportions. His perfectly tanned physique gleamed with a thin layer of sweat. Beads slid down the contours of his abdomen like water gliding down a window during rainfall. He entered the ring and stood tall. His shoulders and biceps were carved flawlessly. His breathtaking hazel eyes scanned the pack of men. The onlookers seemed weary of him, some took a step back, praying the brawny man before them wouldn't challenge them.
Pete approached him, "Well Clark?" He knew Clark chose cautiously. Even though the Kryptonite weakened him, he was still a very strong kid. He controlled what strength he had but when in the heat of the fight there's no telling what could happen. He always chose an opponent who was capable and of similar might. "Who will it be?" he asked.
Clark turned to Pete and smiled, "I think you'll do."
Pete laughed, "Whoa, did you guys hear that?" he shouted to the crowd, "He's challenged the one and only Pete 'The Boss' Ross!" he said gesturing to himself. The crowd hollered. "If that's what you want Clark...I suppose I can go easy on ya." He smirked. The best friends glared at one anther with sadistic grins as they took their stances. For Pete, this was his moment to shine. All of his life he'd been the person behind Clark, always in his shadow. But now, today, he had the chance to be the one who casts the shadow. To feel the power and strength that Clark felt daily.
Clark made the first move by tackling Pete to the ground like a linebacker and quickly followed the tackle with a hard punch to the face. Almost immediately after Pete retaliated with a fist to his jaw and shoved him back. Clark stood and stumbled back. Pete got up; blood ran from his nose over his mouth and dripped to the ground. He charged at Clark but was abruptly stopped with a kick to the chest. He fell to his knees gasping for air and soon enough another fist was slamming him onto his back. Pete caught his breath and kicked the back of Clark's leg causing him to fall to his knees. He jumped onto Clark's back and the two tumbled to the ground. Pete took control and began whaling on Clark. Hit after hit after hit. He was so engrossed in the moment that he wasn't aware of where he was hitting.
With the adrenaline rush of a lifetime surging through his body, Clark hardly felt the blows crushing into his face. Masochism wasn't something he normally would partake in but since he and Pete started fight club it became routine. Most of the men joined to feel the power of it all. But Clark had power; he had the feeling of physical supremacy in his everyday life. To have his impervious skin broken, to be unprotected, susceptible to harm, that's where he got his thrill and the thrill was his addiction.
Pete pulled him up and impaled his knee into Clark's gut. He fell back to the ground holding his arms to his chest and spat up blood from the impact. Seconds later another knee slammed into his face knocking him to the dirt once again. Clark rolled to his side covering his face with his hands. Scarlet blood seeped between his fingers and rolled down his hands. His moans were drown out by the thunderous cheers of the crowd. Pete stood over him with a victorious grin spread across his bloody face. Without warning Clark kicked Pete in the groin with full force. Pete let out a squeal and dropped to his knees, clutching his unmentionables. Clark stood up, his head spun, the cellar walls tilted back and forth in unison with the crowd. He wobbled, his bare feet shuffling the unsettled dirt beneath them. He watched as Pete struggled to his feet, still protecting 'Pete Jr.'.
They kept distance between them as they circled each other once more. Pete charged at Clark and hurtled into the air. With one leg extended forward he slammed his foot into his chest causing him to crash into the crowd. They pushed him back to his feet then caught him when he began to fall backwards. His surroundings twirled and his chest burned. He could see Pete coming towards him in a blur. He shook his head and tried to blink his eyes into focus. He felt a bone-crushing hit across his jaw and then nothing. For Pete, time slowed and he stood in awe as Clark's head jerked away from his fist. His indestructible friend fell to the cold ground below. The dirt beneath him bounced up as he hit the rock-hard floor. Pete felt like a lumberjack cutting down his first oak tree. He threw his arms into the air victoriously. The fight wasn't supposed to be about the win but Pete couldn't help but feel triumphant. Even with Kryptonite, Clark was still a forced to be reckoned with and reckon with him he did.
After a moment of basking in his glory, Pete returned to his role as leader and addressed the group. "Alright guys! See you next week." The small dirty cellar became filled with commotion; they gathered their belongings and filed up the stairs. Pete turned his attention to the knocked out Clark. He was a mess, blood and cuts covered his once flawless face. Dirt clung to his sweat-ridden upper body. Ghastly bruises began to surface. Pete knelt beside him, "Clark" he shook him slightly, "Clark." Getting no response he pushed him onto his back. Knowing Clark kept the small nugget of Kryptonite in his pocket, Pete struggled to get his fingers in the small fifth pocket and retrieve the rock. He pulled the glowing piece out and went to one of the shelves that lined the walls. He reached behind a row of glass jars and found the small lead box. After placing it in the protective box he returned to Clark's side. His bruises and cuts disappeared, "Clark" he shook him again.
Clark's head rolled and he opened his eyes. His vision cleared and he saw Pete hovering above him. Pete stood with an outstretched hand; Clark smiled as he was pulled to his feet. Both looked like they had just finished filming a Rocky movie; crimson drenched their faces and dripped down their bodies as it mixed with their perspiration. "Man, I got you good this time." Pete said with a laugh. He winced when his face tightened from laughing and pulled on his cuts.
Clark laughed, "Yeah, well you don't look so hot yourself." He put his arm around Pete and ushered him towards the stairs. "Lets go get cleaned up for dinner. I'm starved." Pete nodded in agreement and they ascended the steps.
Clark stopped and Pete turned around, "What? What's wrong?"
Clark smiled, "You know, I let you win!" Pete shook his head and they laughed their way to the surface.
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