Title: When Bonds Weaken
Sequel to: Girl Talk
Universe: Adept Series
Characters: Chloe Sullivan, Spencer Reid, Leroy Jethro Gibbs
Fandoms: Smallville/NCIS/Criminal Minds
Disclaimer: Don't own
Summary: With Lionel Luthor possibly dying in a hospital, Chloe's already weakened bond is growing weaker...and she's beginning to suffer the consequences.
Storming into the small back room she liked to call her office, Chloe threw her credentials down on the table before slumping into her chair in dark annoyance. She'd known that when she'd received the summons to the pentagon that something was up, but she hadn't expected this, hadn't been ready for it. She still wasn't ready for it, and she thought the whole affaire incredibly uncomfortable and unfair. She'd done a fairly good job up until now, and she felt a little miffed that she was being treated this way by the higher ups. Not even the President had been on her side, in fact, it'd been his and the Vice President's idea. If a couple of months ago the Secretary of Defense had come up with this plan she would have understood because around that time he thought her a quack job who'd somehow managed to fool almost all the Cabinet and the President himself. Then, the Secretary of Defense's children had been exchanged with changelings, and Chloe had not only saved them, but also the children of the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Commerce, Energy, Homeland Security and Attorney General. Apparently someone had been trying to get to State Secrets through the children's parents...but so far Chloe didn't have any leads as to who or why.
She had a gut-wrenching feeling that it somehow tied into Coyote's warning though.
Well, ever since the changeling incident Chloe had won over the Secretary of Defense and the whole Cabinet...or so she'd thought.
This verdict obviously said otherwise.
She didn't need this.
Especially not now.
Not after everything that was happening around her.
Lionel Luthor had had a terrible 'accident' which was seeming less and less like an accident, and was 'struggling for his life' in the hospital. Chloe would have been more wary about believing in the words of the article if it wasn't for the fact that it was one of Lois'. The woman she'd once thought her cousin, and whom she'd had to cut all contact with due to her need to keep hidden, had apparently become a reporter at the Daily Planet, and Chloe subscribed to the Kansas newspaper if only to see her progress. The brunette was the Daily Planet's rising star, and sometimes Chloe resented her deeply for living the life the blonde had thirsted for so hungrily for years-for having the life being an Adept had ripped from Chloe.
But then the blonde would remind herself that there was no use crying over spilt milk, and forced herself to continue on.
According to Lois' article, Lionel had been in a terrible vehicle accident and not only were many of his bones broken, but he was in a coma as well.
Chloe hadn't needed to read the article to know that, of course.
The bond weakening between them, and the side effects she was suffering because of it, were all she'd needed to know that Lionel Luthor was dangerously close to losing his life.
...and she her sanity.
It-it was already beginning to manifest itself, the insanity.
Chloe had yet to tell her team, they were all so cheerful and hopeful, and deviantly intrigued in being the ones who could boast of having introduced her to her bonder.
Gibbs was silent and didn't voice approval or disapproval. He only rested a hand on her hair in a soft caress, lending her his strength and encouraging her, reminding her that she wasn't alone. He was there.
Leroy Jethro Gibbs was completely different from what Gabe Sullivan had been. It'd been so hard for Chloe to get used to him at first. Where Gabe gave space and encouraged independence Gibbs was overprotective and always knew where she was or what she was doing (or, well, he tried). She doubted that if she'd grown up with Gibbs as her dad that he would have ever let things progress to the situation she was in now, knew that if she'd grown up Chloe Gibbs she never would have become the Adept.
And she felt bad for thinking that.
It wasn't Gabe's fault.
It was hers...
...and yet she couldn't help but resent him slightly.
And it made her feel like a shitty daughter.
And a shitty person.
She resented everyone in her past, apparently.
Shaking her head with a sigh, Chloe pushed up from her seat, and then froze, hands palms down on a table that wasn't hers.
The small, windowless room she used to escape from everything and everyone at work had been replaced by a large office with expensive furniture and a majestic view of the sea.
The doors flew open and a man stopped in mid-walk, before shaking his head and entering, closing the door behind him. "Why am I not surprised?"
Chloe frowned at the handsome man, narrowing her eyes at him. "Great. You again."
He snorted in dark amusement. "You know sweetheart, I find that priceless considering you keep stalking me."
"I am not stalking you." She rolled her eyes, straightening up and folding her arms over her chest, hip jutted out to the side. "You're my hallucination. That's different."
"If you take the pains of somehow breaking into my home and workplace no matter what country I move to-which I might add is creepy yet impressive-I think you know very well that I'm not a hallucination." He replied, shooing her away from his seat.
"I'm in Washington D.C. right now, in my office." Her gaze went around the office as she sat down, purposely provoking him. "This is not my office."
"Honey, we aren't even in America, much less D.C." He leaned his hip against the desk. "Now what mental institution did you escape from so I can take you back?"
That hit a nerve, dammit, and before Chloe even knew it she'd stood and grabbed him by the front of his shirt, giving him a little shake as she snarled into his face. "I am not insane! Not yet! Don't you ever tell me that again! You might be a hallucination, but you don't get to say that!"
In seconds he'd twirled them around, and after a quick side-sweep of his hand he'd knocked things off of the desk only to push her back against it, trapping the blonde against the desk and his body.
"Do I feel like a hallucination, sweetheart?" He pressed harder against her, trapping her hands over her head.
Chloe struggled, trying to remember Ziva's instructions about what to do in this sort of situation, but her mind was infuriatingly blank right now.
This was the only time in which she needed her mind going into overdrive and working at a million miles a second...and yet instead of geeking out as it was known to do, her mind was terribly silent.
"Now that I have you, lemme check for some I.D. so I can know who to have security check for from now on." He smirked into her face, holding both of her wrists with one of his hands while the other slowly trailed down to the I.D. clipped to her pocket. He pulled it out, eyed it, and then the smile melted from his face. "NCIS?" His gaze went to hers, narrowing. "You work at NCIS?"
Suddenly there was a knock on the door, and both Chloe and he turned their heads to look at it.
And then she was back in her own office, back against her own desk, eyeing her own door.
Sitting up, bringing a hand to her head, Chloe tried to breathe.
The hallucinations were getting worse.
Taking in a deep breath, the blonde jumped off of her desk and fixed her suit before turning towards the door. "Come in?"
The door crept open and a dirty-blonde head stuck into the room. "Wow, this place is small."
Chloe's eyes widened in surprise. "Reid?"
Dr. Spencer Reid, a member of the Behavior Analysis Unit, and her friend and psychiatrist, smiled boyishly as he entered her office. "Hey, thought I'd stop by and say hey while I was here."
"I can't believe you're here! In person!" She rushed over and hugged the young genius tightly, smiling. "What are you doing here?"
"Director Vance didn't tell you?" He asked, pulling away and pulling a strand of hair behind his ear. "After...the loss...NCIS has suffered recently, and with your situation, Director Vance decided that it would be good for your father's team to have a psychological evaluation. He's asked me to come once a quarter for a mandatory session with them, since he thinks that since I know about...the more confidential matters of your tasks...that they'd be able to fully open up to me and not have to hedge around the supernatural bits."
Chloe frowned. "He didn't mention anything about it to me." The blonde sighed and ran her hand over her hair. "He obviously hasn't been informed of the President's decision though."
"Huh?" Reid frowned, head tilted cutely. "What decision?"
"I just came from the pentagon...and the whole Cabinet was there. Apparently I was getting a review and no one gave me the heads up." The blonde sat down, shaking her head. "While my work has been satisfactory, they want significant changes...changes I'm not happy about."
"Like what?" Reid sat down on the squeaky chair across from her.
"Well, for one, they say that I can't be the head of the Supernatural Division if there's only one person who's a part of that Division...me." The blonde groaned. "They want to assign a team to me, they say that Tony, Ziva, McGee and them can't be expected to work their normal cases and mine as well. I need a team specially trained by me to work under me and deal purely with the paranormal or out of the ordinary investigations."
"I don't see the problem." Reid admitted, crossing his legs curiously. "I actually think that's a really good idea."
"Reid!" Chloe groaned. "You know how I'm like with people! I'm awkward and uneasy...and dad's not going to like this one bit. He likes the fact that he can keep an eye on me on missions."
"Yes, but Agent Gibbs isn't the President, and if the President himself wants you to have a team..." Reid paused. "I understand awkwardness Chloe, you know I do, but this is truly for the best. I'm sure that the President has handpicked some of the finest for you to work along with."
"He's actually giving me the choice to pick whom I want on this team, but he and the Vice President have a large list of candidates they want me to go over." Chloe shook her head. "They'll be sending the list over later this evening."
Reid nodded, gaze going around the tiny office. "You'll need a bigger office."
She sighed, leaning her forehead down against the surface of the desk. "This was my little haven."
He sighed, gaze returning to her. "So how is...that...going, by the way?"
"Terrible." Chloe whimpered, not even bothering to lift her head and look at him. "Ziva's had no personality, Tony's had too much personality, McGee's walked out on the date when I told him I had no interest in seeing Avatar, Abby's asked me how open I was to the idea of whipping him while he was tied up, and Ducky's was another Palmer." She closed her eyes tightly, a headache coming onto her. "Director Vance's was more of a security detail than a date-and how awkward is it for your boss to be setting you up with guys anyway?"
Reid flinched, obviously trying to imagine Special Agent Hotchner playing matchmaker. "You have my deepest sympathies."
"Thank you." Chloe groaned. "Thankfully dad isn't trying to set me up with anyone. I think I'd die if he tried."
"Special Agent Gibbs didn't really talk to me during our session, and Director Vance had to pull all sorts of protocol on him to get him to even sit through it, but from what I could get from him your father doesn't seem the matchmaking type. If anything, he's going to examine the candidates and sort through them to see which are 'worthy' of you." Reid replied before letting a slightly awkward smile tilt his lips. "No offense, but your bonder is going to have to be fearless, because Special Agent Gibbs is intimidating."
"Oh, he is, and deep down inside he loves it." The headache grew worse. "You know Booth has his whole team on this as well? Or, at least, the ones who are privy to the whole supernatural aspect of my missions? Hodgins, by the way, adores me. I'm the proof to all of his conspiracy theories."
"You know, I had Agent Booth checked out. I'm not so sure, based on his own masochistic choices in relationships if he should be a good council romantically, but otherwise he seems like a nice man." Reid declared.
Chloe brought a hand to the top of her throbbing head. "He had you checked out too."
"Really?" Reid squeaked.
"Yep." Suddenly her skull seemed to crack under the weight of the pain, and Chloe screamed as she slumped down from the chair and held her head, curled on the floor.
"Chloe?" Reid rushed to her side, not sure what to do. "What's wrong?"
His voice was morphed and demonic, his visage wavering like a mirage might, symbols and caligraphy circling him and every other thing in the room. They pounded at her head, demanding attention, refusing to be ignored.
The blonde cried, pushing herself and yanking open one of the drawers to the desk. Feeling around inside her hand came into contact with a felt marker and she tore off the cover, beginning to write what she saw on the floor next to her. As the equation and unreadable dialect were written she continued to shuffle away, giving herself more moving space, more writing space. Flashes of lights and colors were nearly blinding, but she just rubbed at her eyes and continued on, hands shaking, the back of her palm coming away from her face coated in blood. Apparently she was hemorrhaging blood through her tear ducts.
Reid was calling for help on her office phone, but his voice had now gone from deeply demonic to mousey-squeaky and annoying.
"Chloe...Chloe!" He reached for her but stopped himself, instead trying to keep his voice soothing as he knelt in front of her. "What is this, Chloe? What are you writing?"
She couldn't even answer him if she wanted to, the urge, the need to get this down too potent.
She couldn't even acknowledge that he was speaking.
The only time she stopped writing was to wipe the blood from her eyes so she could see better.
The blonde pushed things out of the way, tore them from the floor, all so she could have more space to write down the words and equations beating against her skull.
And then...and then she woke up her bed at home, wondering if it'd all been just a really bad dream.
Closing her eyes momentarily at that voice, Chloe sighed and turned on her side to see Reid. "So that wasn't a nightmare."
He shook his head, leaning forwards. "Everyone was called into a meeting about the urgency to find you a bonder. Special Agent Gibbs didn't attend. He's been here next to you all night and finally went down, said he'd be in the basement and when you woke up to tell you to go look for him. He probably opened more here than he did during our session...helped me get a better understanding of him." Reid gave a little smile. "He really does love you."
"Yeah," her smile turned tender. "I know."
"What exactly happened to you back there, Chloe?" Reid wanted to know, leaning forwards.
"My link to Lionel has always been weak, and now that he could be dying the bond is so weak that I have moments where I lose all control, like today." Chloe sighed, sitting up. "It's like the information in my mind is all accessed at once and my software can't run all of those programs at the same time so everything starts to crash."
Reid hesitated before reaching for something on the side table, passing it to her. "Do you have any idea what it is?"
Opening the manilla envelope, Chloe sorted through the blown up pictures of what she'd written on the floor. "No. Not really."
"It doesn't seem like any language I've ever seen, not even the dead ones, although one or two symbols bare close resemblance to some Aramaic." Reid replied, making up his face.
"It's not though." Chloe shook her head. "I know Aramaic, Sumerian, Latin, Babylonian, Assyrian...and a bunch of other dead languages thanks to this noggin of mine. This language is none of them. It has a mixture or some similarities to all of them...though I could say the same with ancient greek and quite few of the older languages."
"I have a theory." The young doctor declared, clearing his throat. "What if this is the language?"
"The language?" The blonde raised an eyebrow, confused.
"Yes, the first language." Reid slipped his chair closer. "Bare with me as this is only a theory, but according to biblical data there used to be a universal language until circa 3500 B.C."
She tilted her head to the side, eyes narrowed slightly. "You're referring to the story of the Tower of Babel."
He nodded. "The inhabitants of the earth all spoke the same language supposedly, and after the flood they wanted to build a tower so that if another flood came they'd be safe. But according to text, God wasn't too happy with them, and struck them down, causing everyone to sudden speak different languages, thus halting the construction of the tower. Then those who spoke the same languages left together to start different colonies and then supposedly began the different countries." He got up and sat by her side, gazing down at the drawings. "As the Adept you would have information dating back from the beginning, wouldn't you? So maybe this is something from the Mother Language, the one that all the others came from."
Chloe brought a hand to her forehead. "Maybe...I don't know." She gave a frustrated sigh. "I hate this! I know what this means, but I just don't know! Coyote swore that things would be different once I downloaded the information from the skulls into my brain, but it's only crammed more things into my own and overloaded my system. If-if things don't get better my hard drive is going to crash so spectacularly that it's going to be unreadable."
Reid sent her a worried look. "Have you seen Coyote recently? You...he might have some answers for you."
"He's gone underground, believe me, I've looked for him." The young woman sighed, passing the photos back to Reid and hugging herself. "My hallucinations are getting worse, Reid, and I'm scared how bad they'll get if Lionel dies."
"It's not going to get to that." The young man promised her, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder. "I will coordinate with your friends and have them first send their candidates to me and I will both psychologically evaluate them and only those who pass my evaluations will be set your way. Centuries ago arranged marriages in which parents or guardians or even villagers or a professional matchmaker have taken place which were very successful thanks to the arrangers doing so on compatibility. If old ladies in the medieval days could handle it, I'm sure I can."
Chloe smiled softly, reaching out to press a grateful kiss to his cheek. "Thank you, for everything."
He blushed happily. "You're very welcome."
The sound of Reid's phone ringing interrupted them, and the young man cleared his throat, excusing himself as he stood and answered the phone, leaving the room.
Gazing around the silent room for a moment, the blonde took in a deep breath and threw off her sheets, feet making contact with the cold floor. She slipped into some slippers and made her way out of her room and down the stairs, heading to where she knew her father would be. And there he was, in the basement, working on the S.S. Kelly, as she referred to the boats he made whenever he was extremely stressed or in a moment of deep emotion. He was concentrated on his work, running sandpaper over the wood, each stroke sure and confident.
"You're awake, I see." He mumbled, finishing one last sweep of his hand before straightening up and turning to look at her. "You gave us a scare."
"Sorry." She smiled sadly, taking each step slowly before making her way towards him. "You know I don't mean to do stuff like that."
Her father stared down at her before sighing and reaching out, encircling her within his protecting arms and pressing a kiss to the crown of her head. "It's not your fault."
Chloe's gaze slid to the name Kelly inscribed on the side of the half finished boat, and forced herself to look away, tightening her hold on her father.
They held each other, silently drawing comfort from the other, father and daughter, both knowing great change was soon to come upon them...and neither sure they were ready for it.