“Mr. Kent? Mrs. Kent?” A faint voice could be heard calling from somewhere above. “Are you guys okay?”
Jonathan shot up from where he’d been sitting on the ground next to his wife. “Lois!” The spouses shared a look of utter relief as they hurried to the stairs to be able to hear her better.
“Are you okay, dear?” Martha called up.
“Yeah, I’m fine, but Dinah and Lex are unconscious. They need to get to the hospital.” There was the sound of grunting and something scraping across the doors of the cellar. The young woman was obviously trying to slowly push away whatever it was that’d fallen over their only exit, trapping them inside. “And Clark’s in trouble!”
Jonathan froze, not understanding. “What happened?”
“I don’t know!” Chloe’s voice was strained as the scraping sound continued. “You’re going to think that I hit my head too hard during the explosion--but I think we’ve just been invaded by aliens!”
Husband and wife paled in horror as they turned to look at each other.
Chloe grunted out in pain before there was the sound of something tumbling, and then the cellar doors were pulled open, revealing Chloe, covered in dirt and bruises, barefoot and only wearing Clark’s jersey, backlit by the bright sunlight.
Jonathan reached for his wife’s hand and squeezed it before they ascended the steps and exited the storm cellar, expecting the worst, and yet still not prepared for the total disaster that awaited them above.
The farmer’s heart skipped a beat as he stared in horror at the crater where his house, the house his family had lived in for generations, the house he’d ground up in, lived with his wife in, reared his son in--it was gone, the only evidence that it’d ever existed was broken remains of red-painted wood.
Half of the barn was completely smashed, while the other half was up in flames, even their faithful old truck had been destroyed and deformed in the meteor shower.
All he’d ever worked for his whole life--the only home he’d ever known--it was gone.
Jonathan numbly pulled his wife to him as she broke out into desperate sobs, hiding her face in his chest.
“We have to get them to the hospital.” Chloe’s voice broke him from his traumatized trance and Jonathan turned to where she’d disappeared to, kneeling between the still bodies of her cousin and fiancée. “I tried healing them myself but I can’t control my powers, they won’t activate when I try to force them.”
It was obvious that she’d dragged Dinah and Lex out of the crater, their clothes torn and barely there, and dragged them to the safety of some grass, laying them side by side.
Martha pushed away from Jonathan and wiped at her eyes, heading towards Chloe and the others, eyes filling with more tears as she knelt next to them and searched for a pulse, the relief that flashed through her eyes proving that she’d found one on both of them. “They need medical help immediately.”
Spurred by something to do, a problem to solve, Jonathan pushed away the mourning for a later time, and looked at the burning remains of his truck, eliminating that immediately.
His gaze them rested on the tractor, which, amazingly enough, seemed untouched. An idea brewed in his head as he headed towards a long, wide panel of wood that’d once been one of the walls of their house.
“Martha, Lois, help me. Gather up the longest, widest pieces of wood you can find. We’re going to make a rough sled out of it and us it to drag Dinah and Lex behind us in the tractor.
The women shared a look, nodded, and got up to do as told.
Jonathan busied himself with the job ahead, trying to keep his thoughts off of his son, telling himself that Clark had been training for years now, and that he was ready.
Clark dodged the kicks and punches being thrown his way by the two rogue Kryptonians. He didn’t know how they’d managed to escape the Phantom Zone, he’d thought he’d made sure what happened in the last timeline never happened again, and yet here he was battling some of the strongest villains whose souls had been trapped in the prison dimension.
He was just relieved that the strongest, General Zod, was still apparently trapped within the Zone, or he knew that he’d have a very hard time fight him and other Zoners.
Grabbing the second in command when he superspeeded towards him, obviously planning on ramming himself into him, Clark twisted around, using all of his strength to throw him away, the force of it sending the man miles away.
Clark grunted when he was kicked from behind, right between his shoulder blade, and as he hit the ground he rolled, barely missing being burnt by the leader’s, Dir-Ha’s, heat vision.
“Give up, Kal-EL!” Dir-Ha, who had once been one of Zod’s most faithful allies (but had obviously found a way to escape the Zone and had done so without informing his ally) announced as they continued to attack each other, fighting in superspeed.
They moved so rapidly that Clark doubted that if anyone even looked in their direction they’d be able to see even a faint blur of color.
“Your father was only able to defeat me by trickery and deception!” Dir-Ha sneered, twirling, the soul of his shoe connecting with Clark’s face, sending him colliding down into the ground below. “You are NO match for me!”
The force of the collision of Clark’s body to the ground below caused a small crater to appear, but Clark emerged out through the flying dirt and rammed into Dir-Ha, sending him flying back into a light-post, bending it, the shape of his body etched into the cement pole.
Clark screamed as heat burnt his back, and he turned, dodging the heat beams shooting out of Beq-Li, Dir-Ha’s right hand man, eyes.
“Missed me?” Beq-Li sneered before charging Clark.
“Not really.” Clark dodged the attack easily, despite the burning pain in his back, trying to figure out how to defeat them without killing their hosts’ bodies, and yet as Dir-Ha grabbed him from behind, trying to tear his arms out of their sockets, he began to fear that there wasn’t going to be any other way.
But he didn’t want to kill them, he needed to draw them to the Kawatche Caves, draw them to where he had the Crystal of EL hidden.
He needed to send those bastards back to the Zone.
“Have you been able to get into contact with your aunt Nell?” Pete’s voice broke Lana out of her traumatized state as she continued to survey the almost total damage caused to the Talon. She and her fiancé had been safe inside of the basement, which Pete had had packed with enough supplies, radio equipments and other things that could have kept them living comfortably should an Apocalypse happen--but when one was living in Smallville, and Apocalypse really didn’t seem so strange a worry.
“Ye-Yes, I got her on her cellular a couple of minutes ago.” Lana nodded, looking at him, managing a weak smile. “She’s fine, got into the storm cellar on time.” Lana’s smile suddenly disappeared. “She said that she’d been trapped there, but the Kents passed by and stopped to see if she was okay, and rescued her.”
“How are the Kents?” Pete asked, frowning.
Lana bit down on her bottom lip. “Nell said that there’s a huge crater where their house use to be. She said everything is completely destroyed--even her own house is. She said that they were trying to get to town by tractor, but that she stayed at the home. She said that they were pulling a makeshift sled with unconscious people.”
“Dear God.” Pete exclaimed, running his hand over his shortly cut hair. “What about Clark? Is he okay?”
“I don’t know.” Lana’s voice choked. “I just don’t know.”
Chloe felt self-conscious because not only was she only wearing a torn and tattered jersey, but she was supposed to dead. Thankfully, everyone in the Smallville Clinic was busy with their own injuries and didn’t pay any attention to her. The doctors that’d pronounced her dead only a couple of hours ago, walked passed her, one even accidentally running into her, without recognizing her.
She’d also overheard one of to nurses explaining to an impatient patient that they’d lost all of their files and backup, so she would have to fill out some sort of form.
That’d filled Chloe’s heart with some relief. That meant that the proof that Chloe Sullivan had died was all gone.
Despite the despair and chaos, the name Luthor still held power, and Lex and Dinah were shuffled into one of the last available rooms as the doctors examined them immediately.
While she waited with Mr. and Mrs. Kent, praying to all holy that Lex and Dinah would be okay, there was a commotion as the paramedics entered the room, pulling a cot with a bloody, unconscious Lionel Luthor strapped onto it.
“What happened here?” A doctor rushed towards them.
“The Luthor Castle received a direct hit!” The paramedic quickly gave him the details of those in the castle being buried alive, and the only one who was alive--although barely, was the owner of the castle.
Chloe watched the doctor and a couple of nurses hurry Lionel away to surgery, a mixture of conflicting feelings within her. She was angry because of the things she knew he’d done to innocent human beings, fear because she realized what would happen to her if he discovered that she was alive and how she was alive, and sadness as she remembered growing up under Lionel’s constant care and guidance.
“He’s going into cardiac arrest!” Was the last thing she heard the doctor cry as they rapidly disappeared with Lionel.
“The family of Alexander Luthor and Dinah Sullivan?” A nurse called.
Chloe, Martha and Jonathan stood, and Chloe hurried towards the nurse. “I’m Dinah’s cousin, and Lex’s fiancé.”
The nurse looked her over, raising an eyebrow at the fact that she was only wearing a jersey that reached her mid-thigh. “Both patients are remarkably well, just suffered a minor concussion. They were moved to the special Luthor Ward wing, you can go see them.” She gave Chloe the directions to this ward and then left.
Mr. Kent placed a hand on Chloe’s shoulder. “Let’s go.”
She turned to look at him in torn confusion. “What about Clark?” She knew that they believed her that someone had attacked their son--so why weren’t they more worried?
Jonathan and Martha shared a look that said a million words before the husband turned to Chloe. “Clark will be fine.”
In the Fortress of Solitude, Jor-EL felt it when the souls of the prisoners he’d released from the Phantom Zone were returned therein. His son had not only protected his Chosen, but had protected the bodies of those possessed, and that spoke degrees about the man he was becoming. The fact that he cared even for those he didn’t know—that he hadn’t even wanted to kill his enemies who were bent on doing just that to him--yes, his son was slowly beginning to redeem himself and the House of EL. Slowly becoming the man Jor-EL had always wished he would.
And if he redeemed himself to his Chosen, if in time she accepted him as her true Chosen, their children would assure that the Line of EL would never go extinct.
The AI frowned though, realizing that it would take a lot more for Kal-EL to fully redeem the shame he’d inflicted on their Houses, and he wondered if his son--who’d been raised so human--would be able to be patient and not destroy the small progress he’d made so far by pushing too fast, too far, and ended up pushing his Chosen away forever.
Chloe… Kal-EL’s thoughts had immediately turned to his Chosen now that the danger was over, and he was most probably heading to where he’d seen her last. Chloe… The Kryptonian Bond cried out, desperate, as it’d been doing ever since the timelines had been changed. Chloe…
It’d been crying out for her since Kal-EL had existed, and yet in this timeline, year after year, each cry had gone by unanswered and ignored, as Kal-EL’s Chosen seemed deaf to it.
Kal-EL had gone ignored…just like he was being ignored now.
Chloe…Kal-EL’s inner being, his side of the bond, continued to call. Chloe…
Jor-EL sighed, closing his eyes and shaking his head in disappointment.
The AI jerked, eyes flying open.
Clark…Chloe’s bond whispered, responding for the first time since Kal-EL’s bond had first tried desperately to connect with hers nearly twenty years ago when he had been a mere child.
Clark…She was opening up to him.
In the middle of the Fortress of Solitude, Jor-El smiled. There was some hope for his son after all.
Lex Luthor groaned as he opened his eyes, feeling warmth in his hand. When his gaze focused, he found Chloe sitting by the side of his bed, holding his hand, smiling tearfully at him.
“Hey.” His voice was hoarse.
“Hey.” She whispered, wiping at a tear that skidded down her cheek before leaning over him and pressing a kiss to his forehead, some of her stray tears dropping to his face. “I was so worried about you.”
“What…happened?” He forced the words out of his sore throat.
“The Kent’s house was hit by the biggest of the meteor rocks.” Chloe bit down on her lip before sighing and continuing. “Everything was destroyed, the only thing there now is a huge crater.”
Lex blinked, unable to understand how that was true and they were still alive. He then looked up at Chloe, remembering that the last thing he’d seen before the meteor had hit and everything going black was Chloe glowing…
“You saved us.”
“I think so.” She nodded slowly. “I think my power activated to save me, and since I was touching you and Dinah it spread to you two as well.” She paused. “Lex, we should have been incinerated, but you and Dinah only had a minor concussion and I was just bruised.” She paused. “I don’t think my power is resurrection, I think my power is to heal.”
He managed a small smile at her. It made sense. He knew that Chloe was different from all of those other creatures and monsters. Chloe was a unique being, and no matter what those meteor rocks tried to do to her, she wouldn’t become a monster like them. No. Her power could only heal, could only help, and that was because Chloe was an anomaly, a rarity, she was light in human form.
And she needed to be protected from the corruptive influences of those of her same species. If they realized that one of their own had the power over life--Chloe would never be safe--not while there was one meteor freak out there.
“Lex?” Chloe whispered, looking down at him in worry. “Are you okay?”
He looked up at her, smiling truer now that he knew what he had to do, now that he knew how to protect her. “I’m perfect.” He then frowned. “How’s Dinah?”
“She’s fine, the painkillers have her sleeping though.” Chloe smiled back at him. “She awoke some minutes back long enough to tell me that she hated dogs.”
Lex chuckled despite the fact that it hurt him in his chest to do so, that was something Dinah would say. He found his eyes closing as the pain killers began to take effect, and before he succumbed to the darkness of sleep, he thought he heard Chloe saying something about his hair--and something about his father--but it was distorted and he was asleep long before she could finish her sentence.
Clark followed the sound of her heartbeat, his worry darkening when it brought him to the Smallville Clinic. Was she okay? The last thing he’d seen was her limp in Dir-Ha’s grip, and if it hadn’t been for the fact that he could hear her heartbeat he’d have been frightened that she was dead.
He turned at the sound of his mother’s voice, pulling back a bit when she barreled into him, hugging him, so that she didn’t break something by colliding against him.
“Son.” Jonathan Kent, his mortal father, smiled in relief.
“What happened?” Martha asked, pulling away enough to look at her son’s face in worry when he hissed in pain. “Are you hurt?”
“I’m fine, mother.” Clark pulled away completely, his back a mass of sore, burnt skin, but it didn’t matter. What mattered was Chloe. “Where is she? Is she okay?”
Martha looked torn.
“She’s with Lex and Dinah.” Jonathan responded. “They’re in the Luthor Ward Wing--.”
And suddenly Clark had superspeeded away, not caring that he’d done so in the middle of a crowded hospital. He needed to see Chloe, needed to know that she was okay.
“What?” Chloe felt as if she’d been slapped as she looked up at the doctor.
“There was nothing we could do.” He sighed. “When we realized that his son was in the same hospital, we came to let his family know.”
She shook and collapsed into the chair, glad that Lex and Dinah were completely drugged and sleeping, glad that Lex hadn’t heard this. “Lionel’s dead?”
“He went into cardiac arrest and there was nothing we could do. He was dead before we could get him onto the surgical table.” The doctor looked down at his shoes. “I am very sorry, miss--.”
“Lane.” She answered mechanically. “Lois Lane.”
“Miss Lane.” The doctor looked at his beeper when it beeped. “As you know, Ms. Lane, we’re in a crisis, and I--.”
“Yes, yes, I understand.” She waved him away, not even looking at him, unable to believe that Lionel Luthor was dead.
The news was going to kill Lex! While father and son had never had a close relationship, she knew how much Lex had desired his father’s love and approval.
And he’d died without ever giving it.
Body trembling, Chloe felt numb…empty…dead. Something crucial was missing inside of her, and she couldn’t understand it, couldn’t--.
Something suddenly appeared in the doorway.
Chloe looked up through her eyelashes, tears blurring her sight slightly, and despite it all she still knew who was there. “Clark.” In an instant she was on her feet and had thrown herself into his arms, not understanding why the emptiness was replaced by immediate warmth when his arms went around her and he pulled her closed, resting his cheek on the crown of her head.
“I was so worried…” They both whispered at the same time before letting the rest of the sentence drift into silence.
Chloe breathed in Clark’s scent and tried to understand why being in his arms like this seemed so familiar, so natural, so right--as if he’d held her before when she knew that he hadn’t. Not like this--not like she was the most precious thing in the world and he’d been terrified of losing her.
It didn’t make any sense--they’d just met, they were total strangers--and yet something she hadn’t known existed within her came alive every time he touched her, looked at her, and for the first time since she’d first laid eyes on Clark Kent, she was just too tired to fight it. She needed comfort, needed Clark to hold her, and she knew she’d tell herself off later for allowing this weakness, but for now she just didn’t care.
Chloe cried, and Clark held her to him like a child, whispering softly that everything was going to be all right, that Dinah and Lex were fine, that he was fine, that he wouldn’t let anything bad happen to her again. She tightened her hold on him and believed him, believed for some weird, unexplainable reason, that Clark wouldn’t let anything happen to her.
For a second she finally let her guard down and just accepted him.
“It’ll be fine.” Clark’s voice was soothing as he softly caressed her hair. “Everything will be fine. I promise.”
Chloe slowly calmed, reacting to his tone of his voice and the caress of her hair, feeling lulled to sleep like a baby by exhaustion and the intense feeling of safety.
Neither noticed the second their hearts skipped a beat and then began beating in perfect harmony.