by Juanita Dark
Title: Rain King
The rain is here and you, my dear,
Are still my friend
Up In Arms ~ Foo Fighters
Metropolis loomed like progress without borders - civilisation unchecked; and it appealed to the farmboy in him to think of it as in need of a weed whacking. His inner humanitarian, however, remained stoically silent, as the child in him was always in awe. Chloe had ascended to that heavenly height, cloud nine.
The shine on her modestly stylish boots remained, even on the splash-touched sidewalks - and she wasn't afraid to walk. Even on a rainy day, the world was warm when Chloe snuggled against the crook of his arm. At night she felt at home there, in the dark, and in the rain when he held their only umbrella. She blushed when he pulled her closer to keep her from getting wet. She said it was because he had the broadest shoulders known to man. Her tug and compliment at the sleeve of his coat made him feel self-conscious; he took it to mean he needed a new one.
It really was her world. Her city. She never got disarmed by the sheer urban volume, claustrophobic because of the crowds, taken aback by the sheer level of arrogance, sheer level of noise. She never felt displaced by the faces of strangers or alarmed by the corners of poverty. All it would take was a newspaper stand, or a new headline to have her rushing away from him and into the rain, juggling the contents of her pockets to find the change she needed. (She looks at him sideways when she reads - it reminds him of home).
He couldn't imagine living here - just as he couldn't imagine Chloe leaving him forever.
Weekends were nice; the world didn't stop turning but the craze of modern life - even in Metropolis became a little less business and a little more of Chloe's bohemia. If she wore a city dress when he saw her and not a jacket or a suit, he was the one that stuck out like a sore thumb and he'd close his eyes and see her again in her gold-trimmed gown - pink but not too pink - sparkles in her hair, slightly erased by memory but in his mind, radiant. And patient. Because looking back, he was gone.
He had never flown before. At least he didn't remember it. He hadn't thought when he had rushed into the storm to save Lana - she was another piece of him being torn out of his arms; like Jonathan, like Martha, like the plant, like Chloe. If the world had known his secret, then the world would know the truth and all the things that he thought were his he didn't own at all. Wrenched and smashed and twisted then lifted like debris and blown on the wind. He had never flown before but the wind lifted him up into the air; threw him to the centre of chaos.
A petrified wail, blown to him above the screams of the wind, he heard his name as his body twirled crazily on a spiral to the sky.
The city walls closed in on him and he had to lie to Chloe. Again.
Her hair was dusty and light, like duck feathers in the wind and she had paled again because she loved him. And he had paled because he lied. They exchanged a nervous laugh. Suddenly clumsy he spilled coffee on his arm. She, fearing him flayed, held a serviette there to get it dry. Not to worry, he was pretty thick-skinned.
The waitress beside them both looked sceptical.
"All that organic spinach down on the farm, right Popeye?" Chloe whispered over spiced tea.
"It's fine," he offered.
"He certainly is," the waitress replied - low by Chloe's ear, where she thought he couldn't hear.
And Chloe's eyes dazzled him with mischief.
They collide by accident, as he drifts in a blizzard of everything. It's dented and scarred and splintered; Lana lies unconscious within, blood spidering her cheek. He rattles, something breaks free and snaps on the metal like it might be bone. How bad would it be for her to see him like this? He could break his word to Whitney; he could have her death on his hands. He calls her name and the hole in him that bears her name wavers and widens a little. Not to let this be. Her name on his lips and she doesn't move. He screams. A moment of anger lifts him. The world revolves again but he spins counter to the storm. Loses his grip on the truck and watches it fly away from him.
Out of his hands.
She fell asleep against his chest. He reasoned that she used more of her energy on brainpower alone than moving from place to place. Her hair sprouted cowlicks in her sleep and she talked backwards softly, one hand unconsciously closed around his arm. She would wake once she'd drooled on him and swear she was really embarrassed. He couldn't admit that he had liked her there. It made him contented and strange. What would her cousin think? Her cousin, of course, was a sophisticate - and he, he was a refugee from Chloe's hayseed high school. A social alien.
Her cousin - dark hair, dark eyes - hovered wordlessly by the kitchen for a moment, before she came to rest by the coffee table, naming the couch his, with a steaming mug of decaf.
He finds it in him. With it he defies this science - the winds buffet but do not break him - he flies without wings. Lost and spinning.
The name comes raw, unbidden, ripped from his chest: a "La-na!" above the wind, clawed free of his heart to the world above. The red behind his eyes takes form - that thing that could destroy them all - spins suddenly out of control taking his body with it. Slowly at first - but gaining momentum - turning in the opposite direction.
He is his own hurricane.
A counter-storm. A flight of fury.
And nature has to die.
So soon, the world is raining stars; and everything returns to earth. The red truck is his meteor that gravity brings to ground. Inside he still burns. The propulsion fuels him forward because he wills it. His exhilaration is confusion, his confusion is sex. Earth's new satellite finds Lana in the air and slackens her descent. When he lands, his home is an underworld.
She is safe now, deaf to the shrieking metal when he pulls off the door. But -- her pulse is strong.
And what will they find when they come there? A broken girl, salvaged amongst the wreckage. The second miracle of Lana Lang.
Blood by her hairline but the cuts aren't deep. The start of bruises plump her left eye. Another day, another concussion.
She tells him later that she thought she saw him when she went up in the storm. And he says he couldn't have been there.
The storm picked her up and dropped her down.
"Wishful thinking," she says, looking away.
They spotted a rainbow close to sundown, on their second day of walking in the rain. Humorously he wondered if they'd find the pot of gold at its end. Practical, Chloe said she was sure it ended in a bank vault somewhere. Disagreeing he replied, the gold was in the sun when it had emerged from the clouds in time to make her smile. She smiled wider at that and didn't flinch from the open affection in his gaze. And he saw the gold reflected in her hair, on her face, in his hands, as he kissed her without even trying.
The umbrella then a redundancy, they strolled the rest of the way to the train station arm in arm. The sky a copper-azure, the gold-tinted streets a sham of yellow stones.
Outside the Talon, the rain traps him. Too well lit to run. He misses his ride but remembers the heat of the pick-up like it were yesterday - barely a flicker to his skin - how it doesn't scare him. His fears are for everyone else.
Lightning flashes above the town.
After a while, Lana joins him outside.
"Nell's picking me up," she says, but a quaver chills her voice - still fragile as her wounds.
"Do you want a lift?"
For once he declines. Watching the rain swell the gutters and tumble discarded paper cups in its wake, he mumbles something about enjoying nature. Then considers aloud if it is stupid to like storms after all the damage they do.
"That's what I like about you, Clark..."
He turns to question that.
"You're unquantifiable. A man of mystery."
Her rise in spirits means a lot to him but he wonders what her words means to her - but Nell - ever punctual - arrives with her ebullient car horn and a protective veil of pleasantry that exudes the instant suspicion he often sees reserved for Lex. Lana goes. Yet at the car door she shouts over the weather.
"Say 'Hi' to Chloe for me."
Goodbye, she waves, like the day she conceded Whitney to the Marines. The day of the storm.
Rain trickles down his boot, as he slides his jacket over his head deciding to take the long walk home. He loved her. Something in him, about her, just won't die. She's smiles, and wiles, and darkness and thunder in the dark. But the sun is between him and Chloe, and Lana? Lana, just this once, is water under the bridge.
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