When Lionel and Lex arrived at the Luthor castle around one o’clock the next morning, he was surprised to see the butler awake and waiting to talk to Lex, looking nervous and anxious, but the older Luthor really didn’t care about whatever could trouble the help. He walked to his room and went to the bathroom, running the water in the sink and washing his face, the images of Lex at the Smallville 33.1 facility burnt in the back of his eyes.
He’d seen his son take the first step into becoming his right hand, into becoming the strong man who didn’t allow things like pity and misguided compassion to keep him from doing what he must to ensure the protection of mankind against the creatures the meteor rocks had made an alarming amount of the people they’d infected. And for the first time, Lionel could say that he was truly proud of his son, he just wished that Chloe’s life hadn’t had to be sacrificed to bring this about.
But he’d finally brought his son into the fold, and he knew that Lex was deep down inside, just like him, and that now that he knew of the truth, had seen it with his own eyes, he wouldn’t be able to step back and pretend that this wasn’t happening or that the world wasn’t infested by these creatures, who could try to take over if they weren’t contained and neutralized.
Failure made this victory bitter. Lionel had failed to keep Chloe and the Luthor heir safe. He’d grown over-confident in his ability to control experiment #998279, but now he knew that the serum wasn’t as strong as he’d been led to believe--or the creatures were beginning to adapt, grow immune to it. He’d talked to his scientists and ordered them to double the dosage of the mind-controlling serum, silencing their fears of the dosage causing the patients to go into cardiac arrest. If the creatures were dead then it’d be easier to examine their remains without them screaming and trying to escape as they cut them open…as how procedures were being done now due to the fact that anesthesia seemed to for some reason lessen the strength of their power….but if one worked with the body right after death…
Lionel looked up when he heard Lex’s car speeding out of the parking, and he frowned, wondering where Lex could be going at this ungodly hour of the morning.
(A little before)
Clark awoke sore, and for a moment he couldn’t figure out why, and then his gaze landed on a sleeping Chloe and Dinah. The young man sighed and leaned forwards in the chair he’d fallen asleep in while watching over them, and kept his blue eyes on the female closest to him. There were tear skid marks down her cheeks, proving that she’d been awake not too long ago and that she’d been crying, and Clark closed his eyes, sighing, looking away. It killed him that he could no longer offer the sort of comfort he used to, and it also killed him because he knew that Lex Luthor had taken that place in her life.
Running his hands over his face, Clark bowed his head and couldn’t help but wonder if this was ‘karma’ at work, wondered if this was what Chloe had felt whenever she’d thought of him and Lana together in the other timeline. He felt like such an idiot for going to her for counseling for every little problem he’d had with Lana, even their sexual problems. He’d been such an inconsiderate fool! Had it torn at Chloe to think of him and Lana sharing a bed, as it did him to think of Chloe and Lex sleeping together, having conceived a child together--loved each other?
Had every time she’d given him a brave smile, taken in a deep breath, and given him advice like any best friend would--had she died little and little inside as he was now that he was seeing Chloe drifting further and further away from him? He remembered the look on her face when he’d told her that he’d asked Lana to marry him, both times she’d looked like she’d been kicked in the gut, and then she’d masked the look with curiosity and mere shock, asking how Lana had responded, and then Clark compared that to the way bile had risen in his throat when he’d watched Lex go down on one knee.
Groaning, Clark stood and sat on the edge of the bed, looking down at Chloe’s face, sadness etched in her every feature even in sleep. The Kryptonian reached over and ran his fingers down her cheek, softly pulling away a brown strand of hair from her face. His heart broke for her, broke for himself, broke because of the pain everyone was going through right now, even Lex, despite how much he hated the other man for the darkness he knew was in him, Lex loved Chloe, and Clark knew the agony the loss of Chloe could make one feel, and he couldn’t help but feel bad because he knew how Lex must be feeling right now.
Dinah’s cellular began to ring, and the brunette groaned, waking up. Not wanting to be caught there, Clark superspeeded out of the room before she could open her eyes, not stopping once he was out of the room and out of the farmhouse. He let his feet take him through cities, states, countries and continents until suddenly he was inside of the Fortress, looking at the face of Jor-EL, who’d seemed to be waiting on him.
“Why?” He wasn’t even sure what he was asking.
The AI watched him solemnly. “It had to be done.”
What had had to be done? The timeline had had to be changed? Chloe’s memories of him had had to be erased? Lex and Chloe had had to get together? She’d had to lose the baby and be killed? She’d had to still become a meteor freak? Clark’d had to suffer for all the heartache he’d selfishly given her during the other timeline?
“During the years she knew you and was by your side, your mortal Chosen has proven herself more than a worthy mate for you, my son.” Jor-EL was silent for a moment as he surveyed Clark. “Did you truly believe that you wouldn’t have to do so as well?”
Clark straightened, eyes narrowing as he looked at the AI, realizing that he was finally going to be getting some answers from him. “What are you talking about?”
“Our House has found her worthy to bare the name of EL, yet it shames me to say that it finds you wanting.” Jor-EL responded with a disappointed shake of his head. “Even when her altering process has ended, union between our house and hers will be unable to take place unless you prove yourself worthy to be her Chosen. That is the way of our people.”
Clark felt blown away as the image of his father spoke. “What are you saying? I’ve saved Chloe more than anyone else! I--.”
“Broke her heart multiple times, caused hurt and suffering every time you overlooked your true mate for the human pet you refused to let go of although it was clear from the start that your destinies had never been joined.” Jor-EL interrupted, voice stern, expression determined. “You brought shame not only on the House of EL and that of the mortal House of Kent, but you also brought it upon the House of Sullivan by the way you treated the daughter of that house, brought shame on your true Chosen, and for this there must be penance and a time of probation.”
Clark sat down on the cold floor, head spinning with this new information.
“A Life Mate, a Chosen, it is not a thing to be taken lightly, Kal-EL, it is a privilege, and when abused that privilege can, and will, be taken from you and given to one more worthy of her than you.”
Clark looked up, horror crossing his eyes. No, no! His father wouldn’t--!
“You must prove yourself worthy to have the privilege returned to you, my son.” Jor-EL informed him, the expression in the AI’s eyes telling him how important this was.
“You’re telling me that if I don’t prove myself worthy of Chloe, she’ll be given to Lex?” Clark asked, unable to believe how archaic this was. Chloe was a modern woman, very independent, and he knew that she would resent any control over her actions--and how would Jor-EL be able to control her choices anyway?
“Unlike you, the son of the House of Luthor has shown himself worthy of being the Chosen of your mortal, but while she has chosen him, that union is doomed to perish. He is of darkness and she is of light, and while shadows merge together for a time, they fade away and do not belong one with the other.” Jor-EL looked away. “Your Chosen is being modified to be as closely Kryptonian biologically as humanly possible so she may physically ready when the transition ends and the joining of the Houses of EL and Sullivan can take place.”
Clark gasped in horror. “I won’t let you put a finger on--.”
“She will not have the powers we possess under the Earth’s yellow sun, but her body will be stronger, and if you prove yourself to be a worthy mate, and she accepts you as her Chosen despite your past discrepancies, she will be able to carry your child to term and not die at the birth.”
Clark froze. “What are you saying? If I’d stayed with Lana in the past timeline she would never have been able to have children?”
“No.” Jor-EL made a face at the thought. “Remember, my son, that while we look outwardly like earthlings, we are of a different species. Certain modifications had to be made, and once your Chosen is subjected to the last process, she will be compatible fertility-wise with our kind.”
He clenched his fists. “I don’t care about children--you won’t do anything else to Chloe. She’s gone through enough already!”
“Whether she submits herself to the third process will be her decision.” His father announced cryptically, his image wavering and he seemed in slight pain before he turned his gaze on Clark. “It is time for you to begin your trial, Kal-EL.”
“What do you mean?” Clark asked.
“It is time to prove to the Houses that you can protect your Chosen.”
“How is this possible?” Lex Luthor’s voice broke as he stood in the doorway of Clark Kent’s bedroom, looking at the sleeping figure of Chloe Sullivan, also known as Lois Lane, as she mumbled something in her sleep and turned in the bed, hugging a pillow to her heart and smiling serenely.
Dinah gulped back the desire to cry as she saw the agony in his eyes. She’d cried enough, there would be no more of that. When Lex had called her phone at one in the morning after finally arriving at the castle, she’d told him straight out that Chloe was alive. He’d been furious at first, unable to believe what she told him, and then he’d paused, hung up on her, and the next thing Dinah had known she’d heard frantic knocking from the Kent’s front door.
Clark had disappeared long before Lex’s call had awaken her, and Dinah really didn’t want to awaken the Kents, who’d been wonderful to them, so she’d gone and opened the door, not surprised to see Lex standing there in the darkness, a haggard, nearly desperate look in his eyes. She hadn’t even said hello, they hadn’t exchanged one word, she’d just motioned for him to be quiet and follow her.
And that was how they’d reached Clark’s bedroom and were watching as Chloe once more turned in the bed and pushed the pillow away from her, causing it to fall on the ground with a soft thud.
Dinah turned to look at Lex and realized he was trembling. “Lex?”
“Is she really there?” He whispered, broken, unable to tear his gaze from the sleeping woman.
“How?” Lex croaked out. “How is it possible? She was dead, Dinah, you and I both saw her--saw the wound in her stomach--saw her in the morgue, dead and pale and--.”
“She’s alive now, Lex,” Dinah whispered softly, knowing that it was Chloe’s call whether to tell the billionaire the details or not. “That’s all that matters.”
“Yes. It is.” He whispered, gaze resting longingly on Chloe like a man denied water and now allowed to stand near a river and told to drink his fill. Lex suddenly paused and finally tore his gaze from his beloved and turned to look at Dinah. “The baby…?”
She hated to be the one to bare the news, but she shook her head and saw something die inside of him. “I’m so sorry, Lex.”
He closed his eyes before taking in a deep breath and opening them again, running his hand through his auburn locks. “It doesn’t matter--it doesn’t--she’s here, she’s alive.” Lex walked into the room and sat down on the edge of the bed, reaching for Chloe but hesitating before his hand could come down on hers, as if frightened that when he touched her she’d fade away.
Dinah knew that this was a private moment, but she couldn’t pull herself away from the sight of Lex Luthor, hesitating for the first time in his life, fear an open emotion playing visibly in every feature of his face as he reached for Chloe only to pull back, doing this time and time again until she shifted towards him in his sleep, her hand brushing his and she complained softly, grumbling in her sleep and curling up on her side in the fetal position.
Lex froze, looking at the hand she’d touched, as if finally allowing himself to believe that she wasn’t a ghost, wasn’t a figment of his grieved imagination. Dinah knew the moment he finally allowed himself to hope, to believe, it was the moment he gathered Chloe’s sleeping body in his arms, buried his face in the curve of her neck, and broke down into tears.
Somehow, Dinah found the strength to back out of the room and give them the privacy they needed. Closing the door behind her, she leaned against it and looked up at the ceiling and wiped at a stray tear, a small smile touching her lips.
Lana Lang groaned, turning in bed as the telephone rang. This was why she’d fought Pete teeth and nails on installing the phone in the apartment they lived in above the Talon, but her fiancé had insisted that it was necessary to have the phone by the bedside table, and that when they lived in a place frequently hit by natural disasters and unnatural disasters, their being able to be warned on time was essential to their survival.
Honestly, Lana didn’t know how she was supposed to get up early each morning to open the shop if she didn’t get a good night’s sleep…not that she was complaining about the little extra activities Pete and her had been entertaining themselves with until late last night, inaugurating the new bed they’d bought since the last one had collapsed under them a couple of nights ago thanks to their rigorous ‘nightly rituals’, but this was ridiculous. She needed her sleep!
“Tell them to bugger off.” Lana mumbled sleepily into her pillow, curling it around her head to try and mute the loud, annoying ring of the old-fashioned phone she’d bought because she’d thought it was so cute and retro, but at the time it was anything but cute and Lana was suddenly understanding those women she’d seen in movies pounding the telephone to death with their high heels.
“Whoever this is, it better be good.” Pete’s sleepy voice groaned into the receiver. “Ron? Jesus, it’s two in the morning, what the hell do you have to say that--what?” He jolted up into a sitting position in the bed. “When--? How much time do we have?”
Lana forced her eyes open and turned towards Pete, frowning when she realized how pale he was. “Baby? What’s wrong?”
“Thanks Ron.” Pete shot out of the bed, hurrying to pull on a shit and pants. “Babe, call your aunt Nell and tell her to get into her storm cellar now!”
All sleep gone in seconds, Lana reached over and grabbed the discarded phone, dialing her aunt’s number by heart, placing the receiver to her ear, panic rising in her throat. “What is it? What’s going on? Is it a tornado warning?” Ron was Pete’s friend who worked at the weather station so it would make sense.
“No,” Pete quickly grabbed his cellular to call his parents. “Another meteor shower is about to hit Smallville.”
The phone fell from Lana’s fingers as her eyes widened, images of the last meteor shower, of seeing her parents being killed right before her eyes, flashed through her mind. “Dear God. We have to warn the Kents."
Chloe awoke because she was wet, uncomfortable, and suffocating.
Eyes flying open, Chloe gasped as she realized that someone was sitting on the edge of the bed, hugging her to him, and crying. For a moment she was disoriented and a little scared, but then the familiar and soothing scent of his skin teased her nostrils and she closed her eyes, throwing her arms around him. “Lex!”
“Chloe…” His voice was anguished as he squeezed her harder against him, crying uncontrollably into her hair. “Chloe…Chloe…”
She didn’t know when he’d arrived, or even what time in the morning it was, but all she knew was that she was alone in the room with Lex and that he was hugging her. He wasn’t disgusted with her, he wasn’t rejecting her, he was embracing her, and he was all she needed.
“Don’t ever leave me again.” Lex pleaded against her hair, his voice desperate. “Please! I thought I’d lost you!”
She tried to soothe him, but his words broke the control she’d been keeping on her tears, and they fell like rain as she clung to him as if for dear life. “We lost the baby.” She whispered in defeat. “I’m so sorry, Lex, I knew how much you wanted a child, I--.”
Lex pulled away, his face agonized as his blue eyes searched her green ones. “Chloe, I thought I’d lost you. We can have other children, but I can’t live with you.” His hand rose reverently to cup her cheek, running his thumb softly against her skin. “I don’t know how this happened, and I don’t why, but I don’t give a damn. As long as you’re alive and with me I don’t care how.”
Chloe froze, tensing in his hand. They hadn’t told him. They hadn’t told Lex that she was one of those creatures. No wonder he wasn’t treating her any differently!
“When my father and I got back to the castle Henry told me about Dinah’s message and I got frantic. I didn’t understand what was going on, and then I called her and she said you were alive.” His eyes searched her face, his voice breaking slightly with emotion. “I couldn’t believe her at first, and if it had been anyone but Dinah I would never have believed it, but I came immediately and found you in bed, asleep.” He chuckled, his voice hoarse from having cried. “You always were fond of Sleeping Beauty.”
“Lex…” Chloe pulled away from his touch, hating herself for the hurt expression that crossed his eyes, but she needed to put some distance between them, she wouldn’t be able to stand it if he pulled away from her in disgust once she told him everything. “I died, Lex.”
They both ignored the sound of a telephone ringing incessantly somewhere inside of the house.
“I know.” His voice grew hoarser. “And it’s a miracle--.”
“No, you don’t get it!” She got out of bed and began to pace the room, nervous, glad that Dinah and Clark had let her and Lex have the privacy they’d need to have this conversation. “Lex, it wasn’t a miracle that I’m here in front of you, it’s not! The reason I’m alive again is because of meteor rocks.” She went to look out of the window, hugging herself. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but it isn’t the first time I’ve died--apparently it first happened here in Smallville, when I was two years old.” She turned to look at him, voice cracking. “I died in a cornfield during a meteor shower.”
He was frozen, looking at her in shock. “I don’t--I don’t understand.”
“I’m a meteor freak, Lex! How else do you want me to put it?!” Chloe shrieked, throwing her hands into the air, tears leaving ugly trails down her pale cheeks. “I’m a monster just like the creature that killed me and our baby! I’m abnormal! I’m a freak! I--!” Was being hugged.
“Chloe, don’t say that!” His voice was fierce as he held her closely against him, resting the side of his face against her head. “You are nothing like that monster that tried to take you away from me!”
“Lex?” She whispered, trying to pull away, needing to look in his eyes and see the truth there, needing to know that he truly felt what he was saying. She needed to know that he truly loved her, despite what she was, but he wouldn’t let go of her, holding her tightly against him, his heart racing desperately against her cheek.
Suddenly the door flew open and Dinah appeared, eyes wide, face pale. “Get away from the windows!”
“What?” Chloe asked and turned to her cousin in confusion, screaming when suddenly there was an explosion of light outside of the window and the world shook. The young woman pushed away from Lex and turned to look out of the window in time to see a large, flaming ball fall from the sky and smash the Kent’s barn, causing another explosion to light up the sky and pieces of meteorite to fly in the air. “No.”
“Hurry!” Jonathan Kent’s voice could be heard as the sound of rapid footsteps rushed passed the room. “We have to get to the storm cellar!”
The sound of glass exploding from the direction of Mr. and Mrs. Kent’s room caused the women to scream, and Lex grabbed Chloe’s hands, pulling her after him as they hurried behind Jonathan and Martha, who were leading the way down the stairs, Dinah hot on their tail.
“Where’s Shelby?” Martha asked frantically, looking around for the family’s golden retriever. “Shelby!”
“He’ll be fine, Martha!” Jonathan pulled his wife rapidly behind him towards the kitchen.
“But--But!” Martha kept tugging on her husband’s hand as the sky seemed to fall all around them, the sound of glass breaking upstairs proving that they were getting battered by smaller meteors…but that didn’t mean that they wouldn’t be hit by something larger anytime soon. “Shelby!”
“Where’s Clark?” Chloe asked, realizing that he wasn’t with them.
“He’ll be fine too.” Jonathan Kent announce cryptically as he flung open the door and turning his back on the entrance as a small meteor fell and exploded right in front of him.
“Jonathan!” Martha cried.
“Mr. Kent!” Dinah gasped.
“I’m fine, I’m fine.” Jonathan reassured his wife as she hugged him desperately. His gaze met Lex’s and he motioned the man over. “That is the entrance to the storm cellar over there, we have to get to it before the real shower begins.”
Lex nodded his agreement.
“Real shower?” Dinah squeaked. “You mean it’s going to get worse than this?”
Chloe had remained back, hearing the sound of something whimpering. She frowned, following the sound and going away from the group, bending to her knee, finding the golden retriever hiding under the table. “Shelby.”
“NOW!” Jonathan Kent cried, and darted out of the door with his wife and Dinah following behind.
“Chloe!” Lex turned when he realized she wasn’t there with him. “Come on! We have to go!”
“Come on Shelby…” Chloe tried coaxing the terrified dog. “Come on! We have to get out of here!”
“Leave the dog!” Lex ordered from the doorway. “Chloe! We have to go now!”
“I’m not leaving him! Hold on a second!” She snapped before returning her attention to the dog. “Come on buddy, we can’t stay here!”
Shelby whimpered and cowered further against the wall and further away from her.
“CHLOE! LEX!” Dinah could be heard screaming from outside as there was a loud crash somewhere in the front part of the house. “GET OUT OF THERE!”
“Get IN, Dinah!” Jonathan Kent ordered.
“YOU get in!” Dinah could be heard snapping. “Dammit!”
“Come on Shelby!” Chloe went down on both knees and tried to coax the stubborn old dog out. She had to admit that by focusing her attention on Shelby and getting him out to safety with them, she was managing to keep the hysteria at bay. “We’re going to go to the storm cellar with the others and we’ll be safe.”
“Dinah!” Lex growled as suddenly the woman flew into the doorway, bruised, with her arms slightly burnt, obviously having been hit by some of the smaller falling meteorites. “Why the hell did you come back?”
“Because my family is still in this house.” She told him, face frightened but determined, before she hurried to Chloe’s side and looked under the large, strong oak table and realizing what had kept her cousin from leaving the house. “Shelby…why am I not surprised?” She mumbled to herself. “You difficult old dog! Get your butt out of there!”
“Just leave the dog!” Lex ordered from the doorway. “It’s his problem he has a death wish! We have to go! Now!”
The dog laid down and closed his eyes with a terrified whimper.
“Good work you two.” Chloe growled. “You frightened him.”
“Damned sensitive dog.” Dinah muttered as she crawled halfway under the table and shuffled towards the animal, grabbing his paw and trying to pull him out, but Shelby jerked his paw from her grasp and folded them under him. “Shelby, now is not the time to play hard to get! We need to get out of here!”
“It’s too late.”
Chloe froze and looked back at Lex as those words. “What?”
“Get under the table.” Lex’s back to them, his gaze up at the sky, his stance tense. “Get under the table now!” He turned towards them and rushed by Chloe’s side, leaving the doorway bare and allowing the girls to see the large ball of molten fire hurtling towards them at a heart-stopping speed.
“Oh my God!” Dinah screamed, shuffling down under the table. “Move over Shelby!” She pressed herself against the wall and when the golden retriever sat up and pressed against her, as if seeking reassurance, she hugged him to her, closing her eyes tightly and hiding her face in his fur.
Chloe’s heart thudded painfully in her chest as Lex shoved her under the table and crawled in after her until they were huddling pressed against Dinah and Shelby. The cousins reached for each other’s hand and held tight, squeezing. They could feel the intense heat of the approaching ball of fire, and Chloe closed her eyes tightly, sending prayers to all the holy beings known and unknown to somehow protect them.
The last thing she felt before the large meteor hit, causing the world to turn upside down and her body to burn and pain like nothing she’d ever felt before--was Lex’s arms going around her protectively from behind, and his shifting so that he was shielding her body with his.
“It’s stuck.” Jonathan Kent sighed as he walked down the stairs after trying for the hundredth time to open the storm cellar’s doors and get out. The meteor shower had stopped and all was silent, which didn’t bode with them well. The Kents weren’t worried about themselves, even if they were buried alive they knew that Clark would soon find and free them, but the fact that they couldn’t hear anything from above--not even screaming--it worried them.
The last thing they’d seen before Jonathan had closed the storm cellar’s doors and hurried them down the stairs was a large meteor hurling towards the section of the house where Dinah, Chloe and Lex were in, and then there’d been a loud explosion that’d shaken the earth. After that the explosions had been smaller and soon ended, leaving them with the horrible silence.
“Do you think they’re okay?” Martha whispered, looking up at her husband in fear.
Jonathan turned away from his wife and sighed, unwilling to let her see the doubt and pain in his eyes lest she realize what he believed had happened to the young adults who’d lingered in the house. “I don’t know, Martha, I just don’t know.”
Groaning, Chloe opened her eyes and felt as if she’d been run over by a Mack Truck. She coughed, dust and other unidentifiable particles shooting out of her mouth and she took in greedy gulps of air, feeling extremely weak and yet invigorated, feeling an odd burn in her hands…the hands she’d been grabbing Dinah and Lex with.
Dinah and Lex…
Jolting up in pain, Chloe pushed away the planks of broken wood that’d collapsed over them, and her eyes widened when she realized that they were sitting in the middle of a huge crater, the Kent house completely destroyed, and yet she was wasn’t even bruised…or sore.
The sound of whimpering caused her to turn to her right and quickly tear away at the wood, and the sound of scratching on the other side proved that Shelby was conscious as well, trying to help her as she finally tore away the heavy plank of oak away and the pile gave way, freeing Shelby as the golden retriever dashed out and licked her cheeks in gratitude, wagging his tail, and showing an unconscious Dinah.
“Dinah?” Chloe whimpered, pulling her cousin from under the wreckage and closing her eyes in relief when she immediately found a strong pulse in her neck. She’d only been knocked out.
Chloe then frowned when she realized that Dinah was only bruised as well…and that her hand had the burnt impression of Chloe’s hand.
Chloe’s eyes widened and she looked down at her hands in horror, unable to understand what was going on.
Something red flew passed her in the wind, and Chloe paled when she recognized it to be a patch of Lex’s hair. “Lex?” She cried, looking around and was unable to find him. He’d been shielding her with his body when the explosion had happened so he would have gotten hit the hardest. “LEX!” She screamed, getting desperate as she saw another patch of his hair blowing in the wind.
Hearing Shelby whimpering and scratching at wood, Chloe turned and hurried over the wreckage, going to the section where the dog was and yanking off a piece of broken wood off and crying out when she saw a hand protruding from within, proving that Lex was buried under the pile of debris.
“Don’t worry, Lex, I’m here.” Along with Shelby, Chloe dug through the mess, tugging and pushing the debris free until it crumbled off, revealing the bruised and battered body of Lex Luthor, who--like Dinah--was unconscious, and his hair…his hair was missing in large patches on his head.
“Lex.” Chloe whimpered, dropping to her knees by him and pulling his head onto her lap, thanking all holy when she found a steady pulse as well. She ran her fingers shakily over his head, and a tear escaped as her fingers came away with bigger patches of his hair. It was all dropping off.
Shelby made a noise and nudged his nose against Lex’s arm, and Chloe wiped at the tear and frowned when she saw the mark burnt into his flesh, realizing that her handprint had burnt through his clothes and burnt his skin where she’d held onto him when he’d shielded her with his body.
Gasping, Chloe, eased Lex’s head back to the ground and she stood, looking at her palms again, before twirling and looking around them at the crater. They shouldn’t have survived this, the heat and the explosion should have incinerated them, and yet they only had some bruises?
Did I do this? Her gaze widened. Did my meteor power--did it save us?
Shelby barked and took off.
Is that why my handprints are burnt into their skin? Did my power activate and saved me--and spread to them since I was touching them? Chloe felt faint, and yet there was also something awake in her, something strong, something she felt shouldn’t be there, but something her body still welcomed and accepted. Can I heal? Is that my real power and not resurrection? Did I come back to life BECAUSE my body healed itself?
“How intriguing.” A strange voice said.
Chloe looked up, frowning when she saw a stranger standing in front of her, wearing odd clothes, an unknown accent in his voice. Something about him made her wary, while something in him recognized him.
“A mere mortal shouldn’t have lived through that, much less be as unscathed as you appear.” He pointed out, narrowing his eyes. “Where is Kal-EL?”
Chloe frowned, taking a step back without even realizing it. “I don’t know who you’re talking about.”
A woman and two other men suddenly appeared right behind the first, as if having appeared out of nowhere. The woman glared at her, and suddenly her irises burnt red and a beam of red light shot out at Chloe, causing her to cry out as it burnt her, and she shifted, lifting her deformed arm, watching in shock as the burnt skin healed slowly before her very eyes as the sun shone down on her.
There was the sound of a slap, and Chloe tore her gaze from her fully healed arm to the group of…what exactly were they? Meteor freaks? The leader man had slapped the woman so hard she’d fallen to the ground. In a blink of an eye the man had moved and the woman screamed as blood shot through the air and her body collapsed on the ground, lifeless, and in a second the man was back in front of the two remaining men.
Chloe screamed, hand flying to her mouth as she stared in shock at the body of the woman, whose throat was cut open and blood flowing free, soaking the earth around her.
“The next one of you who acts without my orders I will make all you suffered through in the Zone seem like paradise! I will not tolerate insurrection!” He hissed out the threat before turning to Chloe and narrowing his eyes, taking a step towards her. “She’s being transitioned. Look at that, the yellow sun of earth has helped her regenerative faculties. This is not just a mere mortal, she has traits of our people, and yet I’ve never seen one of ours regenerate so rapidly or perfectly.”
Tearing her traumatized gaze from the dead woman’s body, Chloe’s heart beat painfully in her chest as she began to suspect that these people were something far worse than vindictive meteor freaks. She turned to run and in the blink of an eye the man was in front of her, she turned and he was once more in front of her, just like what happened in the worst kind of nightmares.
Another scream erupted from her mouth as he grabbed hold of the front of her shirt and raised her up like she weighed nothing, keeping her dangling by the jersey in the air, feet unable to touch the ground. She was terrified and mortified because she was only wearing Clark’s high school jersey, which Martha had given her to sleep in, and her underwear.
“Let go of me!” She struggled in vain, terrified when he narrowed his eyes like the woman had done to her before burning and momentarily disfiguring her arm, but instead of a beam of red light appearing from his eyes, the man looked her up and done slowly, as if he was examining her.
“You’ve survived through 2/3s of the process.” He announced in surprise. “You are meant for Kal-EL.”
“Look, I don’t know who this Kal-EL is!” She snapped, hysteria turning slowly into terror and strangely enough, anger. “I don’t know who the hell you and your psycho buddies are either!” She tried kicking him, but couldn’t reach him as he held her dangling in the air.
Chloe screamed when he let go of her, causing her to fall down through the air, only to have him grab her by her throat, his hold restrictive on her breathing. She tried clawing at his hands, crying as her fingers pained her and he tightened his hold on her throat, slowly but surely cutting off her breathing channel.
“Tell me where Kal-EL is.” The man growled, eyes dark and dangerous.
Chloe refused to waste her breath talking, feeling her world spinning dizzily around her. Blood pumped deafeningly in her ears, and she went limp in the man’s arms, praying that he was like a bear and would let go of her if he thought she was dead, or at least unconscious.
“Let go of her.” A deadly voice growled.
Chloe’s mind screamed in terror. No! Clark! You don’t get it! These aren’t normal people!
“Kal-EL.” The one holding her announced, loosening his hold on her, allowing air to enter her lungs once more, and yet she remained limp, pretending to be passed out. “I knew you would come here when you felt your Chosen in danger.”
“How did you get out of the Phantom Zone?” Clark sounded angry, not at all afraid, and he seemed to know these people.
“You ELs all think you’re so smart.” One of the other men spat.
“Your fight is with me. Leave her out of this.”
No, Clark, don’t! These people are--they can do things you can’t even imagine!
“When I’m finished with you, I will return for your little Chosen.” The one holding her announced snidely, throwing her to the ground, and it was all Chloe could do to not cry out as she hit the ground painfully. “She’ll be of use to repopulate our people.”
Clark growled. “I’m not letting you put your hands on her.”
“And how are you going stop me, Kal-EL?” The leader taunted. “There are three of us, and only one of you.”
There was the sound of growling from somewhere behind Clark.
The leader laughed. “Oh, forgive me, three of us, and you and your little earthling pet.”
Shelby snarled and suddenly one of the men screamed.
Chloe peeped open one eye in time to see the closest man to Clark on the ground, screaming and trying to get Shelby off as the usually adoring and loving golden retriever attacked him viciously, teeth digging into the man’s flesh and pulling chunks out. Chloe pressed a hand to her mouth to silence her scream and keep the bile from spewing forth.
She was going to be sick.
The men didn’t even try to help their friend, they just watched the happening with shock.
“Right.” Clark kept his narrowed eyes on them. “Shelby isn’t exactly a normal earthling dog.”
The leader and the man next to him glared and attacked Clark, rushing forwards at him so quick they were a blur of color, and then they were gone…Clark and the two remaining men had disappeared.
Chloe pushed herself out from the ground and looked around her, not able to see them anywhere. She jumped when she felt something nudging her hand, and cried out when she saw Shelby by her side, and realized that that screaming of the man had stopped, and that Shelby’s fur and mouth were covered in blood. Her gaze went to the dead body of the man on the ground and then back at Shelby, terrified, fearing that the dog might attack her next in bloodlust.
But gone was the vicious creature that’d torn out the man’s Adam Apple and left it next to his body. The bloody creature looking up soulfully into her eyes was the dog she’d risked her life to save, and she managed a small smile and rubbed his head.
Shelby wagged his tail, barking, before he paused and turned to look behind him, as if able to hear something Chloe just couldn’t. He then turned and raced away, barking viciously as he did so.
Chloe watched the dog running incredibly fast, hand covered with the blood that’d been on his fur held to her heart. She was terrified for Clark, he was going up against something she was convinced was out of this world--literally.
Suddenly Chloe gasped as images of being in a dark basement with Clark flew past her eyes. She saw herself talking to Clark, telling him he had to go and do what had to be done, and saw his eyes as he looked at her and told her that he didn’t want to leave her, he was frightened that something would happen to her while he was gone, and then suddenly she was kissing Clark, and he was kissing her back, and something electric jolted between them and she’d pulled back.
Chloe blinked, hand on her stomach, feeling that strange something reacting to the images, yet unable to understand what it was, or why it’d warmed inside of her at the memory…wait…memory? That wasn’t a memory…right?