Series: Adept Series
Pairing: Chloe/Peter Bishop
Disclaimer: Don't own
Summary: Peter Bishop is only Chloe's temporary bonder, and he's more than okay with that, but that doesn't mean he's just going to let anyone
replace him. And then he finds out that there's someone else who could take over his responsibilities. Who cares if the President likes him? The newcomer needs to gain Peter's
approval. And then there's Adept issues to deal with as well. (Peter POV)
"Couldn't this have waited until tomorrow? When there's actual sunlight and not these crappy flashlights?" Jared wanted to know, a flashlight in one hand, his gun drawn in the other.
"Maybe we can phone in the hatched Sumerian Fire Slugs and ask them to hold off until daybreak," Peter mumbled. He too sported a gun and flashlight, and stood on Chloe's other side as he scanned the ridiculously dark foliage all around them. "I'm sure they'll be up for a quick coffee date to get our schedules in order."
"Are you always this much of a smart ass?" Jared laughed as he spared a glance over at Peter.
"Are you always this much of a complainer?" Peter wanted to know as he also met Jared's glance over Chloe's head. It was only then that he realized that sometime during their walk from his car that Chloe had put in earbuds and was completely ignoring them. He reached out with the hand he was holding the flashlight with and curled a finger around one earphone, yanking it out with a snort of amusement. "Are we being too noisy for you, Your Highness?"
She glanced up at him with a sheepish smile, and her only answer was to steal the earbud from him and slip it back into her ear.
Peter watched as she walked on ahead of them, a lopsided grin on his face.
"Dude, you are so whipped," Jared chuckled as he shook his head.
Sending him a little look, Peter rolled his eyes and continued on as well.
Chloe froze in the front and turned around to face them. "Do you feel that?"
"Feel what?" Peter asked as he and Jared shared a look before shining their lights and pointing their guns at the darkness around them to find nothing at all. "I don't feel—." Peter turned back to where Chloe had been standing not two seconds before, to find her suddenly gone. "Chloe?"
"Where the hell did she go?" Jared asked in utter shock.
"Chloe?" Peter took a couple of hurried steps forwards before shining his light everywhere, forgetting that they were supposed to be stalking their prey. "CHLOE!" Panic clutched at his chest. Was she having some sort of attack? He'd feel it if it was the bond - and they'd recently renewed it. It couldn't be that - and she wouldn't stay hidden this long on her own. That meant that something had grabbed her while his back had been turned.
"Those slug things couldn't have taken her that quickly or quietly, right?" Jared asked as he continued to shine his light in the darkness around them.
He didn't know the answer to that. "Do you have Ziva's number?" When Jared nodded, Peter raised his gun. "Call her. Tell her what's happened. Now." And with that he dove into the shrubs. "CHLOE?!"
Three hours had passed since Chloe had disappeared, and not only couldn't they find one trace of her, but there wasn't any trace of those two missing Sumerian Fire Slugs either. Peter must've walked the whole park three times over but he hadn't found a trace of her, and he couldn't forgive himself, or even understand how it'd happened. The dogs weren't picking up a smell at all. They'd followed the scent right to the place where Chloe had been before she'd disappeared, and then they'd stopped in their tracks and begun to howl and complain. No matter how much prodding they got from their handlers, the hounds wouldn't move.
It took Peter far too long to suddenly understand what might've happened, and while his first instinct was to go to Gibbs there was no way that he was going to approach the subject with the already agitated man. That was why he reached for Ziva and pulled her aside.
Ziva, for her part, merely blinked once he was done. "You believe she teleported?"
"We know she's able to do it, and not control it either," Peter reminded her in a low voice. "She did it to me when her bond with Lionel was dying."
"Yes, but we believed it was because the bond was dying," Ziva repeated slowly. "Why would she be teleporting right now?"
"I don't know," Peter whispered. "We… the bond was strong tonight."
A small smirk touched Ziva's lips, as she no doubt knew why the bond had been strong. "How long was she with you during her teleportation trips?"
"Never more than ten minutes," Peter replied after a moment's thought. "No, wait, I'm lying. Once she was with me for a whole twenty minutes. Never an hour though - much less three."
"Wait a moment," Ziva whispered before she left Peter, only to return with Tony, whom she'd obviously filled in since her first words back were: "Tony has watched every time-travel and teleportation movie or series ever. If there's an expert on the subject, it's him."
"I wouldn't say expert, but yes, I have seen my fair share of movies or series dealing with the topic." Tony straightened the lapels of his jacket, looking far too excited about this whole thing. "So you think little Shortstop went all Jumper on us?"
Not getting the reference, Peter merely raised an eyebrow and waited for Tony to continue.
Clearing his throat, Tony pressed on. "Is there any factor in common between tonight and the other nights that this happened?"
Thinking over everything, Peter shook his head. "Not that I can tell at least."
"Maybe it is not her, maybe it is this place." Ziva motioned around her, a shrewd expression on her face. "There is no sign of the Sumerian Fire Snails."
"Slugs," Peter quickly corrected as he turned to look at her. "What are you saying?"
"They just disappeared, like she did," Ziva pointed out.
"So you think they were teleported somewhere else, like she was?" Peter wanted to know.
"We have to consider every possibility," she responded.
"Yes but—," Peter hissed a soft curse under his breath as he turned his gaze, and the beam of his flashlight fell on his finger. The golden red design around his finger burned bronze, as if about to catch on fire. While Peter was used to it getting heated every time they strengthened their bond, it had never burned this hot before. He was almost scared he'd see his skin beginning to melt off from just how hot it was.
"Is it supposed to be doing that?" Tony wanted to know as he shone his light on Peter's glowing finger.
Dropping his flashlight, Peter gripped his wrist and grunted as he clenched his teeth in an effort to quiet his pain. And yet the pain was second to the panic growing in the pit of his stomach as he realized that not only was the design brighter and hotter than ever, but it was growing thinner and thinner with every passing second. Whatever was happening it was eating at the bond between him and Chloe, and if it continued to do so their bond would be completely gone.
The thought filled him with fear.
If their bond completely disappeared, not only would Chloe be lost only the gods knew where, but she'd be without their bond to protect her. Azazel could come for her - any other demon, monster, or monstrous man could force a bond on her. They'd hurt her to get it too.
Peter still found it hard to think about how Chloe's first bond had been forced on her. Every time he was reminded of it he felt simultaneously sick and vicious. She'd been too young to go through something so horrible, and had had to live with the horrifying consequences ever since - he'd never let something like that happen to her ever again. He's promised himself that, it was why he was so picky with the requirements for his replacement. She needed only the best. She needed someone who could understand that at times she was scared to be touched, someone who would coax her through her panic attacks - someone who would know when to push and when to hang back.
"We need to find her." Peter glanced up from the fading design and found the same look of sick worry on Tony and Ziva's faces. They knew exactly what that meant. "Now."
"What's going on?" Jared asked as he joined them. His eyes fell on Peter's finger and they widened. "Jesusfuck! You're on fire!"
"It'll pass," Peter hissed, and prayed that that was true. Already the fade was becoming highly noticeable. Some part of the design were gone completely. "It will." He didn't realize he was holding his breath until the burning heat began to subside and the design stopped glowing. A sigh of relief escaped his lips loudly at the realization that while the design was horribly faded and 80 per cent of it was completely gone... it was still there.
That meant that no matter how weak it might be, their bond was still there, and it would protect her.
Peter's gaze rose from his hand and noticed Gibbs readying to go on yet another round of the park, despite having searched multiple times already.
"What's going on here?" Jared wanted to know. "What's really going on?"
Leaving the others to answer, Peter picked up his flashlight and went to join Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs' side. "Could you use some company, sir?"
Chloe's father, who'd punched the last man to tell him to take a break (it was one of his CIA buddies) turned to look at Peter in silence. He eyed the younger male over and merely gave a curt nod before starting off.
Taking in a deep breath, Peter checked his gun's magazine, readied his flashlight, and hurried after.
Four more hours had passed without any sort of idea of what had happened to Chloe, and Peter was slowly going insane. He and Gibbs must've gone over that park over twenty times. The sun had come up a long time ago and had found them still trekking silently through the dense foliage searching for any sight of her.
While Peter knew that Chloe could very well have teleported somewhere else, according to her, every single time she'd teleported to him she'd returned to the place she'd been before, so she had to come back here.
Still, though, to be clear, he'd gotten in contact with friends who still lived in the cities he'd been in when she'd teleported to him, and gave them her description to keep an eye out for her.
It wasn't their numbers that called him later though, it was one he didn't recognize and didn't answer because of it. It was only on the third attempt that he finally answered, curtly. "Who is this and what do you want?"
"I've found her," Jared Booth informed him.
Peter's eyes widened and he stopped immediately, turning the phone on to speaker. "You found her? Where? Is she okay?"
Immediately Gibbs turned around to face him and grabbed the phone from Peter's hand. "Where is she, Booth?"
"St. Elizabeths Hospital," Jared replied with the same tone as if he were answering to a yelling drill sergeant. "Special Agents David and DiNozzo explained that she could very well be in an unfit state at the moment so I reached out to some friends that I have in the mental health field here on a whim. One of them came back saying that a blonde had just appeared inside one of the solitary confinement cells in a state of disarray. She's being tended to as we speak."
Gibbs and Peter shared a look before hurrying back towards the parking area.
Chloe sat on the sofa, arms around her knees as she rocked back and forth. Not only was she completely unresponsive, but she looked different than she had mere hours ago. There was some hard goo which had crusted in her hair, minor burns which had been bandaged, and she wore a hospital gown that the attendants at St Elizabeths' swore was not one that they issued. She was surrounded by patients the psychiatric hospital's staff assured him were all non-aggressive, and Peter gulped back mixed feelings as he watched her. He didn't hear one word the doctors were telling them, he left that to Gibbs and Jared. Instead he slipped into the room, ignoring the calls for him as he crossed the room and went to bend on his knees in front of her.
"Chloe?" He asked softly. "It's me, Peter."
Her eyes suddenly focused on him. "Peter?"
"Yeah." He nodded.
"Can I see your ring finger please?" She asked softly, terror definitely in her voice.
He raised his finger to show the very faded, yet still there design, and when her hands reached to cup his, his eyes widened as he realized that her ring finger was completely bare. The mark wasn't faint, wasn't faded, it just wasn't there. Peter glanced down at his own finger. The outline was faint, it was faded, but it was there.
Immediately his gaze rose back to meet her green orbs. "Who are you, and where is she?"
Relief spread across her face as she launched herself at him, hugging him tightly. "She said you'd have the same ring design around your finger, and that you'd know I wasn't her!" She pulled away and looked into his eyes while leaving her hands on his shoulders. "She said not to talk to anyone but you because you're the only one who can't be copied."
What in the world was she talking about? That made no sense whatsoever! "Where is Chloe? Why do you look like her?"
"Because I am her," the lookalike responded. "Just not the her from here… wherever 'here' is."
It took Peter two seconds to get what she was trying to say. "You expect me to believe that you're from an alternate reality?" His eyes narrowed. "One in which our Chloe is trapped inside." He leaned closer. "Talk."
Alt!Chloe opened her mouth to do so, only to immediately shut it when Gibbs and Jared arrived after finishing up with the paperwork. Her eyes widened when Gibbs broke character and gathered her in his arms, pulling her to her feet in his fierce hug. Her hands remained at her sides, her fingers splayed. A clear 'what the hell is happening?' look was plastered all over her face.
"Are you okay?" Gibbs asked as he finally pulled away and cupped her face, visibly searching her over for more wounds. "Who did this to you?"
In a second Alt!Chloe pulled away and backed off enough that she was out of touch. She hugged her arms over her chest and angled her body away from him in a very clear 'don't touch me, I don't like it' sort of way.
This clearly hurt Gibbs, which was understandable given the fact that he didn't realize this wasn't his daughter, but to his credit he quickly hid his hurt.
Distrust and unease were visible in Alt!Chloe's eyes as she gave both Gibbs and Jared very openly wary looks.
Clearing his throat, Gibbs turned to Peter. "You and Booth should get her home. I'll return to the scene and I will find out what happened." With one last look in his daughter's direction, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs left.
Alt!Chloe refused to speak after that, probably due to the fact that Jared was there. Her silence remained fixed in the car, but that was probably due to the fact that she kept shifting from one side of the car to the other while in the back seat, staring out of each window at the city in visible awe. It was as if she'd never seen Washington DC before.
Jared was quiet as well during the whole way, but the little looks he gave, both to his phone and to the rearview mirror, proved that his mind was working overtime on something.
Given everything, Peter was grateful for the silence as it allowed him to think. Was the thing in the back of his car really a Chloe from an alternate reality? One, maybe, in which the Sumerian Fire Slugs weren't extinct? And if so, what had caused the slugs, and then Chloe, to slip through realities? And why had this Chloe come back and not theirs? Where was she? Why had their bond faded so much so quickly? Was it the different realities - or because she was in danger?
Or what if this was a whole big lie and the thing in the backseat was playing them all?
They were questions that haunted Peter as they arrived at Gibbs' place and let themselves in. Alt!Chloe followed behind, eyeing everything curiously as she kept three steps behind them at all times, even when Peter showed her upstairs to her bedroom. The silence remained as she examined every inch of the room, her eyes growing larger and larger as she did so.
Jared's phone rung so he excused himself to answer.
As soon as his footsteps faded into the distance, Alt!Chloe turned to face Peter with a very confused look on her face. "I live here?" When he nodded her confusion visibly grew. "Why?"
"Because you're making up for the time you missed with your dad," Peter responded. He'd never actually asked Chloe that question, but he'd been able to figure out the answer fairly easily.
Her eyes widened, and when she spoke her voice was soft, hopeful. "Dad's alive in this reality?"
"Of course he is." Peter frowned at her. "He was at the hospital with us to make sure you were fine."
"No he wasn't." Alt!Chloe frowned. "The only person with you guys was that seriously overly friendly guy. The guy who was clearly some sort of government agent - just like that other guy with us." She took in a deep breath. "My father's Gabriel Sullivan."
It was at that moment that Peter realized that this version of Chloe had never discovered the truth of her parentage. He contemplated telling her the truth, but to be honest she wasn't the Chloe he cared about so he didn't bother. "Why is Chloe over in your reality and why are you here in ours?" He moved closer. "And how do we rectify that?"
She took in a deep breath. "I don't really know how to rectify it, as you put it. I came to Washington DC, my Washington DC - which looks so very different to yours - because we were tracking someone who has been collecting some seriously dangerous occult items in the black market. Ollie's contact believed that he was after a very rare tome filled with mystic informational - he called it The Grimoire Adeptus."
Peter's stomach clenched, and it was all he could do to not show just how rattled he truly was. He wasn't sure he believed Alt!Chloe's story, but just the fact that she'd mentioned the Adept put him on high alert.
"The thing is, though, by the time we finally found him, Lex was already in the middle of some ritual, and—."
"Lex?" Peter wondered why that named sounded familiar.
"Yeah, he's the guy we were tracking," Alt!Chloe explained with a nod. "Lex Luthor."
Luthor. Lex Luthor. Son of Lionel Goddamn Luthor.
It was only after he'd grabbed Alt!Chloe and slammed her back hard into the wall that Peter even realized that he'd moved. "How do I get her back?"
Clearly winded, Alt!Chloe looked up at him in growing fear. "I told you, I don't know!"
"How did you get here?" He snarled at her.
"We tried to interrupt the ritual, but Lex had gotten far enough that she appeared!" Alt!Chloe responded quickly, voice high-pitched and clearly nervous. "One minute she wasn't there and then the next she was. We looked at each other in confusion, and then he grabbed her hand and looked at the design on her finger and said it was temporary. I don't know what he meant with that! He started to chant something, she was screaming for him to stop, and then her finger was burning bright like lava."
A dark sickness begun to grow in Peter's stomach. "He couldn't have been able to finish the binding process, my design is still on my finger." That was the only thing keeping him sane right now. "So what happened?"
"We were attacked by these things she called Sumerian Fire Beetles, she said she'd been tracking them. They killed some of Lex's men before we managed to put them down." Alt!Chloe motioned to her bandaged burns as proof of this part if the story. "Then before Lex could start up again, we were ambushed by some other people, they looked government, kind of like the guy at the hospital and the one in the house with us," Alt!Chloe replied immediately. "They took us to their base of operations and stripped us of everything, giving us the hospital gowns to wear instead. They interrogated us for hours, asking us questions on the beetle thing, about whatever Lex was doing, and about something they called an 'Unsanctioned Incursion'. Obviously, Ollie and I had no idea about anything they were talking about."
Peter's eyes narrowed.
"When we weren't being interrogated, most of us were kept in a large holding cell, except for Lex - he never came out of interrogation." Alt Chloe cleared her throat. "One of the guys, a think he was one of the heads of that department, was saying something about timelines needed to be corrected, but I started feeling the pull, not her. She must've realized what was happening before me because she told me to wait for you, that Peter - the man wearing the same design on his finger that she did - would come, and that you were the only one I could trust because no even a shapeshifter could replicate the color or design... or just how faded and nearly gone hers was." Alt!Chloe gulped and stared into his eyes. "She said that if there was anyone who could pull her back, it was you."
This all sounded so insane, and yet looking into her eyes… Peter somehow knew it was the truth. He finally let her go and backed away as he ran a hand over his head.
"Alternate realities exist too?" Jared's voice shocked them both as he entered the room once more. "My god, I'm joining this team! That's it! Where do I sign?"
Alt!Chloe eyed him, clearly unimpressed.
Jared turned to Peter. "So, how would we even begin to work towards getting 'the Chloes' to switch back to their original timelines?"
"I don't know," Peter admitted as a dark and nervous feeling welled in his stomach. He let out a deep sigh and ran his hand down his face. "But I know someone who might."