Shrine

by DarkEmerald


Thanks to sv_fanfic_workshop for great beta help. Feedback is my friend!


Shrine
By DarkEmerald
90s4d1iss001@sneakemail.com

Disclaimers: Not mine. Just borrowing them for a couple of pages. Spoilers: Shimmer
Category: Vignette, minor character POV Rating: PG
Note: Tavia, Yahtzee, and Jetsam: SUCH great beta help! Thanks.

SHRINE

Maybe they knew each other in in a former life, she thinks, setting down the scissors to pick up the next magazine. That would explain the way he notices her and remembers her name despite the social gulf that separates them. "You have to know your place," her mother always says--mother, whose imitation pearls and plain gray sweater-set and drawn, tired face attest to a lifetime of servile dignity. Amy knows exactly what her place is.

She just dreams that it might not matter.

He's so courteous to her, it must mean something. The warm voice that says "Thank you, Amy" when she has done some small service seems to say more. It feels so--kind. So close.

He treats women of his own class like high-priced whores, or at least in the way she imagines he would treat a high-priced whore: the same way he treats his cars. Not tenderly. Just look at that Miss Hardwick. Of course, she is a whore. A rich, upper-class, silk-covered tramp who no more deserves him than...

Amy takes up the scissors again, begins clipping another article fiercely. This one is from People Magazine. "Lex Inspects," the headline reads, and "Playboy son of billionaire attends gala opening of new Luthor wing of Metropolis Museum."

And his face floats in the glamorous, paparazzi-flash photograph above his always-dark, always-elegant clothing, like the face of an angel.

Kind of an annoyed angel, really.

Amy giggles, slowing her scissors to snip away the arm, the hand upraised to fend off camera flashes. There. Without the gesture, he looks calmer. She excises the other characters in the scene--first, a bare-shouldered woman with long hair and a glittering handbag, not Miss Hardwick but another undeserving tramp just like her. Snip, and she's gone. Much less messy than whiskey on silk, so much less likely to annoy him.

Next goes the faceless crowd hovering behind him, the nobodies basking in his silvery glow. She separates him from his hangers-on and groupies. Just like that. She trims carefully, slowly, around him--around Mr. Luthor--Lex--she feels strange and daring just thinking his name--leaving a narrow dark outline that accentuates the pale perfection of his head.

Wait. She blinks, frowns a little, puzzled. There's a face, a profile, little more than a shadow, as a slice of glossy paper falls away. She picks up the fragment, examines it, disbelieving.

Clark?

Something surges in her chest--anger, fear, despair, jealousy--something, anyway, that hurts. No. How could that--that farmboy--have been in Metropolis, in the same crowd with--?

She looks again, scrabbles at the snippets, fits the magazine puzzle back together with trembling fingers. Sees for the first time the whole picture and not just its glowing focal point. Makes out the large hand resting--protectively?--on that designer-clad shoulder. Imagines that the half-turned face of her high-school classmate, the big boy gawky enough to make her feel almost normal, is irate, worried, perhaps about to speak a terse word to someone encroaching from Mr. Luthor's right.

The thing in her chest tightens its grip. Clark is.... No. She swallows a sob back down into the impossibly tight place above her heart, behind the shield of hard bone.

She takes the pieces of glossy photograph apart again and snips all of the irrelevant sections into tiny pieces. It cheers her a little. Confetti of whore, fractions of groupies, slivers of wannabes, shreds of...what? Friend? Bodyguard? Shreds of someone close to him.

Never mind. She brushes the bits of paper aside, applies glue carefully to the back of his reformed image, caresses his face gently, smoothly, to the cardboard backing. Feels the heavy, gold-faced watch that is too big for her slide up her arm as she presses the image to the hot, hurting place in her chest and waits for the glue to dry. Waits vainly for his image to make the pain subside.

She sighs and rises to place the image with the others in her secret cabinet, causing the slivered, discarded images to drift to the floor. She knows that she and no one else will have to clean them up.

She knows her place.



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