Title: Number Nine
Sequel to: Numberless
Universe: Numbers Series
Characters/Pairings: Chloe/Lucas, Lois, Lucy
Disclaimer: Don't Own
Summary: When the girls reach Edge City they separate to try and find the hidden safe house located in one of the most dangerous cities in the country. No surprise Chloe finds trouble. What *is* surprising is she finds another Number.
An old, beat-up pickup truck had been hidden at the bottom of the mountain, and with Lois behind the wheel, the girls had finally returned to civilization. They had a good drive ahead of them, especially since they were taking as many back roads as possible as to avoid detection by any Mogadorian scouts that might be still searching for them. Thankfully there had been money put aside for such a time as this, so they were able to pay for the gas and food without any trouble. They really didn't stop, one of the girls always driving while the other two rested. Not only did they save money motel-wise, but they were making very good time.
Surprisingly enough, despite being the youngest and not having a driver's license, Lucy was the best driver of the three, and preferred to be behind the wheel, although Lois forced her to give it up and rest despite her protests. Sometimes the girls were too tired to go on and would pull aside and rest, though Chloe noticed the Lane sister's reluctance to do so in a place that was inhabited. They always pulled out at a Park or something remote like that to spend the night, obviously feeling more comfortable and safe in the wilds than in civilization.
The blonde never commented on it, finding it useful since during the times they were able to stop for a while she trained. It wasn't like before, with her half-hearted, resentful attempts. No. Now it was personal and real. She dedicated herself to following Lucy or Lois' orders to the best of her ability, refrained from complaining, and tried to ignore the pain as much as she could. She pushed herself harder than she ever had in her life, and while there was respect and approval in Lucy's eyes, Lois' were worried. That was probably why Chloe slowly began asking Lucy to train her more. The girl was brutal, vicious, and didn't care if she hurt Chloe during training because as she put it, the Mogadorians wouldn't go easy on her either. And Chloe could understand and appreciate that. She didn't want for her trainers to go easy on her. Even though she was painful and covered in bruises and scratches, Chloe didn't complain.
And after a while, Lucy stopped giving her that look that said she was waiting for the complaints and whining to begin.
Chloe realized that this was helping Lucy too, keeping the youngest of the girls' mind off of all that she had lost and of how powerless she'd been to stop any of it. Lucy seemed to find a calling in toughening Chloe, though never going too far, seeming to know just how far se could push the blonde before it was her breaking point, and always pulling back just in time. The sparring admittedly helped the girls' relationship, as Lucy seemed to let go of all of her resentment and instead dedicated herself to improving her cousin.
Sometimes it seemed as if Lucy was scared.
The youngest of the girls was tough as nails, even tougher than Lois because Lois lacked the utter viciousness that Lucy embodied, but Lucy was scared. It was obvious to Chloe and she was sure Lois noticed it as well, which was why the eldest Lane never stepped in even when her tense body betrayed the fact that she wanted to. Lucy had lost the little she'd ever had in her life in one day, and the brunette had realized that her cousin and sister might be the only one she had left. No matter how many times they tried calling Uncle Sam he never answered, so either something had happened to him or he 'just didn't care', as Lucy had snapped one night.
Chloe doubted Uncle Sam wouldn't care if his daughters called him, and knew that as Lois did, that it was one way for Lucy to deny the fact that her father obviously was gone as well.
The Mogadorians were closing in all around them, and in the end, the three girls only had each other.
And that was what scared Lucy.
That was why she insisted Lois spar to keep in top condition, and why she was a demon when it came to Chloe's training.
They only had each other.
And Lucy looked as if she'd be damned if she lost someone else.
Never did the girls talk about what they were going to do if they got to this new secret location and found it empty...if they found all the evidence to back up their worst fears.
They didn't want to think about it.
That was probably another reason why Chloe threw herself into the training...so that she didn't have time to think about it. And when they were driving she was too tired and painful to think...or doing the driving and thus the one who had to keep her mind on the road and making sure that they were being trailed. So thankfully there were a lot of ways of keeping her father and his situation off of her mind, otherwise she'd go insane with guilt and worry.
"We'll be in Edge City tomorrow." Lois cleared her throat from behind the wheel, disrupting the silence that'd fallen in the truck deep into the night after Lucy had reluctantly fallen asleep. "That'll be it, the day we've been waiting for and dreading."
Chloe accommodated Lucy's head on her shoulder, from where the youngest girl had fallen asleep and ended up. "I thought we decided not to talk about it until we're there."
Lois nodded, pulling a strand of dark hair behind her ear. "But I can't get it out of my mind. What if-what if we're alone?" She closed her eyes for a second before opening them and returning her attention to the road. "Dad had sensors all over the Mountain Hideaway, and even though he was retired he still had contacts and such, means. He-he, Aunt Moira, and their friend Malcolm Spellman, they're the ones who know the most about Lorien and the Garde. Malcolm disappeared a while back, and ever since then dad and Aunt Moira have been even more alert and on guard."
"You think your father was taken before Moira and dad were." Chloe deduced softly, reaching for the necklace that hung around her throat. Lucy had given her the chain of the necklace she'd found in the cave, and Chloe had gratefully accepted it, fixing Five's Crest, and her father's wedding band onto it, wearing them both always as a reminder as to why she was fighting. They also brought her comfort in times of fear and stress.
"I know he was." Lois ran a shaky hand over her face, taking in a deep breath. "It's probably how they found out about the Mountain Hideaway."
"So they have all three Lorien Information Brokers." Chloe whispered, clutching Five's Crest and her father's wedding band tightly.
"Dad and Aunt Moira will never talk, they'll die first." Lois was very sure of this. "I don't know about Malcolm though. And they're going to realize that Uncle Gabe only has basic knowledge...and know his only use is leverage with you."
Chloe looked out of the side window at that, heart hurting her. "I shouldn't have let him come with me. I should-he should have stayed in Smallville. He-he would have been safe if he'd stayed behind."
"It's not your fault, Chloe, just like it isn't Lucy's and my fault that our father was taken either." Lois answered, surprisingly calm. "This is a war that none of us should be in, but we're a part of it whether we like it or not-and it's not only us. All over the place the Gardes, their Cepans, humans who have been drawn into this war like Sam Goode...they are in similar situations like us, and we owe it to them to not lose our heads and do what we must to help save this world."
Chloe turned to look at Lois' profile. "How can you and Lucy be so brave and strong about this?"
"Oh, we're terrified." Lois laughed shakily, sending her cousin a sheepish smile. "We've just been taught to push back our emotions and think with our head. Whereas you've been raised to follow your heart and react with your emotions." She cleared her throat and looked back at the road. "You have no idea how much I want to cry, but I just can't. This isn't the time to cry. This is the time to be strong and continue forwards, always forwards."
"You also want to be strong for Lucy."
"Hell yeah." Lois admitted, sending her sleeping sister a quick glance. "She might act all tough and like she doesn't care, but she does, and I need to be strong for her because if she sees a crack in my fearless mask hers is going to start cracking as well."
"I wish I could be like you two." Chloe verbalized her every-day thought, lowering her gaze. "Compared to you two I'm just weak and emotional."
"Are you kidding?" Lois exclaimed vehemently. "Chloe! Don't you dare change!"
Surprised by that outburst, the blonde gazed wide-eyed at her cousin. "But-."
"You don't get it, do you?" Lois sighed. "You can't, I mean, you didn't know us before. But Lucy? You're doing so much good for her right now."
"I don't...understand." Chloe frowned, confused. "If there's anyone helping anyone it's her helping me."
"Well, yes, training-wise, but that's not what I'm talking about." Lois shook her head. "You don't understand because you weren't raised by your mother. Lucy and I were trained to be Super Soldiers, you said so yourself. We didn't have childhoods, we were taught emotions made us weak, and that the only thing that's important is winning the war...no matter what. For us, the Numbers are just that, the ticket to us winning."
Chloe frowned. "But they're people with lives and-."
"Yes, you can see it that way but we couldn't, not until a little while ago at least." Lois shrugged. "It's probably why Lucy had such a hard time with you and Five's Crest. We were taught as much about the Numbers as Aunt Moira trusted us to know, and while admittedly it wasn't much...well... For us Numbers were elevated citizens, superior warriors whose only real purpose were to fight the Mogadorians and save earth, and then find a mate so they could try and save their race."
That just sounded so clinical.
"But then you come, you who are not Five's Mate but wear his crest, and you bring humanity to the Numbers that we were uncomfortable accepting." Lois admitted. "Your stories about you and Five-Clark's-relationship...it confuses us. You two obviously love each other, even though he isn't your Number...and you make him sound more human than...well...us." Lois gave a self-loathing chuckle. "And you're all about emotions and talking and you actually stand up to Aunt Moira, even if she uses her Legacy against you anyway. You stand up to her. It would never cross Lucy's or my mind to do that. It's just not how we were trained to be."
Chloe adjusted the arm around Lucy's body, caressing the youngest girl's hair.
"Lucy and I don't talk much, not really, especially not to say how we feel about something...but...you make us want to...and that made us extremely uncomfortable...and Lucy prickly." Lois chuckled darkly, shaking her head. "But Chloe, you're doing us good to have around. I think-you kinda remind us we're actually human."
Chloe felt tears prickle her eyes, unable to believe what she was hearing.
"I mean, look at my baby sister." Lois whispered, voice choking. "She's always been Aunt Moira's perfect little soldier, and yet ever since the moment you've arrived she's done nothing but derail."
"Derail?" Chloe blinked, not liking the sound of that.
"She's acting on emotions." Lois explained patiently. "She started by showing her anger, confusion and resentment towards you...towards how you were such fucking up with her conception of life and how it was supposed to be lived, and all those in it. It's why Aunt Moira didn't want you two training much and made you and I train more together, she could see you were affecting Lucy and she didn't like it."
Chloe was shocked silent.
She'd always thought that Lucy was just in that rebellious, resentful teenaged stage.
"And she's worried for you now, it's so obvious it's shocking. That's why I haven't stepped in when she gets a little overzealous with your training." Lois admitted. "She's worried because she knows you're the weak one-and I don't mean to be insulting, I'm just stating an obvious fact."
"I know." Chloe nodded, not at all insulted.
"And...well...I wouldn't ever dare tell these things to someone else." Lois whispered softly, sending her cousin a shy smile. "I'm not supposed to worry, to think, I'm just supposed to do as I'm told."
"Well, there's no one around to tell you what to do anymore." Chloe whispered back, reaching out and placing her hand on Lois' arm, giving it a soft rub.
Lois nodded. "That terrifies me."
And Chloe realized just how much it took for Lois to admit to that.
She squeezed her cousin's arm. "We're going to be alright."
"Of course we are." Lois gave a valiant smile back. "We have no other option."
With those words between them, the cousins fell into silence once more, both wondering what tomorrow, and Edge City, would bring.