Chapter 4: Xander
AN1: Everyone who's reviewed my story is great. There are not enough adjectives ending in -ushy to describe how fantastic all this positivity is making me feel. If it weren't for everybody making me feel so good about this story and my ability to write it, it wouldn't be half so far along as it is now.
Thanks to everybody.
AN2: I just got home from watching Terminator: Salvation, so when I saw the comments posted by Greywizard and Rob, I immediately thought of John Conner (Christian Bale) saying "the penny has dropped; repeat, the penny has dropped!" And now I've got this weird double image of Christian Bale as both John and Bruce. Maybe a little Toth-like double-mint twins action is in order if I ever do a Batman/Terminator cross.
Normal Guy by AlexTheGray
Sunnydale. Tony Harris.
"And your mother..."
Oh. Oh God.
Chapter 4: Xander
The room was silent. All eyes were on him, every head turned in his direction. Diana was slack-jawed in the corner, Dick stood gaping like a goldfish, and Wally had gone completely still. All bad signs. J'onn's face seemed devoid of any feeling, and it was always hard to tell what Bruce was thinking under that cowl, but from what could be seen they were intense thoughts.
But Clark wasn't paying any attention to them. The kid - Alex, his name was Alex - was pale, so pale, almost sick looking. There was old sweat and new sweat collected on his cheeks and forehead, dark circles under his eyes, and more lines etched into his face than a young man his age should have. The look in his eyes was like a deer caught before the headlights of a mac truck. Clark couldn't have looked at him more deeply if he'd been using his x-ray vision, which he tried to do, unsuccessfully.
Alex's Adam's apple bobbed as if doing calisthenics as he gulped. He repeated the motion several times before he managed to get out a somewhat rusty, "What?"
Clark's mouth opened, but no sound came out. He worked his jaw a while, feeling like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz before his hinges had been oiled.
He felt his lungs expand faster and faster, with greater gulps of air. Out of the corner of his eye he could see a dark cloud that seemed to be closing in from the sides until all he could see was the dark haired boy on the infirmary bed.
He felt his eyes role up into the back of his head, and then all he saw was darkness.
Who knew? Kryptonian really could feint.
Xander obliged for the black man in the black leather coat.
This was incredible! He was being examined by J'onn J'onnz. The Martian Manhunter. He'd had this guy's trading card since he was eleven, had written a report on him for his ninth grade social studies class; he'd stood in line at a police precinct in LA for a chance to see him in person.
So, while he was prepared to say 'awww,' no matter who the guy was, Xander was not, he repeated, not going to turn his head and cough. Being a superhero could get you a lot of things, but that wasn't one of them.
When a q-tip was shoved at the inside of his cheek instead of the tongue depressor he'd been expecting, he didn't know quite what sound to make, so he settled for an uncertain "Agnyah?"
This was monumentally weird. And not the usual Hellmouthy kind of weird; he was more than used to that. No, waking up surrounded by members of the Justice League was not something to be found in Sunnydale, no matter how many times he'd daydreamed it. Batman and the masked vigilante formerly known as Robin standing at his bedside, J'onn J'onnz looking over his monitors, Wonder Woman standing in the corner in all her Amazonian glory, and the Flash giggling by his pillow.
Willow was never going to believe this.
Especially the part where he apparently had super powers. Where Superman, the Man of Steel, knew his mother. Where he had super powers because...
His eyes moved to the other bed in the room, now occupied by a certain red and blue covered Kryptonian. This was beyond the freaky; this was so out of Xander's past experiences with the strange and kooky that his mind was stuck on repeating how out of his world this was, and he was running out of adjectives.
What was he gonna do? This was the Last Son of Krypton, and here he was, laying in an infirmary bed after finding out...
After finding out what? That Superman, the Superman, was his... that they were...
"We should have the test results in a few moments," came the voice of J'onn, startling Xander out of his daze.
What did he mean they'd have the results? Weren't these things supposed to take time? Sure Xander hadn't had much time to watch TV in the last few years, but he remembered that the tech guys on crime shows always took way longer than this. Didn't they? Couldn't the Justice League have the decency to be slow like on TV?
A firm but gentle hand came down on his shoulder, making him nearly jump off the bed. He turned to find Wonder Woman standing over him. He also found that his chest was heaving and he was panting like he'd just run a marathon (which he apparently could do without the panting and sweating, leaving him bereft a simile or two).
"Do we need to get you a paper bag?" asked the Amazon. Good gods, she was tall, and beautiful, and strong. If she were evil, she'd probably be his type. But then, depending on the answers to the bets he'd made with Jesse in junior high, she very well may be his step-mother.
He felt his stomach flip uncertainly. He wondered vaguely if everyone else could actually see him changing colors, going from the startling flush-red he knew he was to the pasty green he felt coming on. Maybe they would think he had some kind of Kryptonite poisoning.
The sound of the printer made him tense even more, if that was even possible. He had to get out of there. Whatever this was, it was a mistake. He was Alexander Lavelle Harris, always had been, and for better or worse, always would be. He couldn't be... couldn't be...
He had to get out of that room.
He shifted slightly under the weight of the Wonder gals hand, setting his foot cautiously on the floor...
And with a lurch, he was gone.
Clark slowly came back to consciousness, the constant beep-beep of various monitors and other medical equipment infiltrating his foggy mind. He shook his head groggily, sending his hair into his eyes.
When he managed to win the fight against gravity (harder than you would think for a superhero) and open his eyes, the room seemed to tilt wildly before righting itself. J'onn stood at the counter, flipping through a file, and Diana was sitting in an uncomfortable plastic chair, laconically attacking her nails with a file. Dick and Wally were mysteriously absent from the room.
"Congratulations." Bruce's gravelly voice came from his side, startling him up into a stiff seated position. "It's a boy."
It took Clark a minute for his befuddled brain to sort through the words, numerous and complex as they were, but finally he caught on. His head whipped in the other direction, a tiny gust of misplaced air puffing out at the quick movement.
The bed was empty. The starched white sheets were scrunched on one corner and the rest was distinctly devoid of a certain Hawaiian shirt clad teenager.
His head whipped back around, and he fixed Batman with a very un-Clark-like glower, full of a fierce and panicky determination he hadn't known he had.
"Where is he?" he ground out. Everyone in the room went still, eyes locked on the irate Kryptonian.
Bruce splayed his hands across his knees in an uncharacteristic show of nerves. "Dick and Wally are looking for him." His tongue darted out to moisten his lips as Clark's knuckled popped with the force with which he held the sheet beneath him. "Scanners show that he's still within Watchtower perimeters." The sound that came out of Clark's mouth could only be described as a growl. The very idea that his... that the kid would just walk out onto the face of the moon was... it was definitely making Clark cranky.
"He's most likely found a quiet space to be by himself," J'onn said, cutting into Bruce's ill-advised attempt to soothe Clark. "He seemed to be dealing with the situation in much the same way you did, only with more running and less fainting. You might try looking yourself, in a place that you would go, depending on how deep the similarities go."
Clark sat staring at J'onn for a moment, his growing anger having been swiftly dissipated by the mild Martian. Then his brain again kicked him into motion, and he rose from the bed, only tripping on his cape a little.
Clark found him at one of the many porthole-shaped windows lining the hallways, looking out at the extraterrestrial view. The surface of the moon spread out and out until it ended in a curving horizon. The Earth sat like a huge, blue sun rising out of that horizon.
Alex had his arms wrapped around himself, his shoulders hunched as if seeking shelter from a stiff wind. His bright red shirt was wrinkled and still slightly damp from sweat, his shorts were dirty, and he had no shoes.
Clark reached out his hand, instinctively seeking to offer comfort, but he hesitated with his hand just scant inches above the boy's shoulder.
He couldn't offer this boy, this young man, comfort. He hadn't earned the right. Hadn't been there, hadn't seen him when...
Hadn't been there for so many things.
He let his hand fall down to his side, and looked out the window over his son's shoulder.
"It's funny," he said after a few minutes of quiet contemplation. The slightest turn of Alex's head let him know that he had his attention, and that he hadn't surprised him. He could probably chalk it up to the kid's newly enhanced senses.
"I used to look out at the stars when I was your age," he continued. "Now here we are, looking at the Earth."
He cleared his throat and shifted uneasily on his feet at the silence after that. Okay, not so funny. But he was running on fried batteries here. The funny police could cut him some slack.
"Look, I, uh, I know this is kind of strange," he said. He didn't even have to look in the reflection of the glass to see if the kid was rolling his eyes, he could feel it like the sun on his face. "But whatever's, uh, happening, with you, I can help you with it. And this, this thing, this me knowing your mother, and being your... well, um... That we can work on. I-If you want, Alex."
And with that he waited. Waited for some ranting, some denial, some 'you aren't my father, the man who raised me' hoopla. It was the kind of thing he'd said when he was a teenager. Back when Jor-El had just suddenly bulldozed his way into his life. And he suddenly realized exactly how Jor-El would have felt if he had been more than an AI replica of his father. Because that was the position he was in now. History was repeating itself, only this time he was in Jor-El's shoes, and this boy was in Clark's.
And so he waited. But all he got was silence. And then..
"Huh?" was the ever so intelligent response.
"My friends," his son said, turning away from the window to finally face his father. "They call me Xander."
It took Clark a minute, but when he finally recognized the statement for the olive branch that it was, he couldn't help the smile that split his face.
AN3: (Written in mid second scene) Gah! This is killing me. This is writer's block on a monumental scale, and I am simply not strong enough to conquer it. I spent the last week rewriting one sentence. Must... fight... the block!
AN4: Thank the muses for taking pity on me. I finally finished this chapter. Pronouns hate me, and I'm feeling like this story should be called "Panic and Flee" because that's all the main characters seem to want to do. Though I strangely like a fainty Clark. Anyway, it's late, so I'll finish my disjointed rambling and post this puppy.
Thanks for reading; please review.