Title: A Number of Issues
Sequel to: Little Red And The Big Bad Number
Universe: Numbers Series
Pairing/Characters: Chloe/Lucas, Clark, Lucy, Lois, Martha
Disclaimer: Don't own
Summary: Number Five and Mrs. Kent have arrived and there are some tensions within the group. And not only that, but Chloe's connection to the crests is deepening, and more questions are popping up with no answers in sight.
"So you going to say it or are you going to make me do it?" Lucy wanted to know as she walked down the darkened street towards the 7-Eleven with Lois, who'd taken Chloe's place since the blonde's collapse in the living room. They'd saved the owner, Abed, from a robbery some weeks back and in gratitude he'd agreed to let them know if people were searching for them or if anything came up about the symbol they left with him, in return for protection whenever he needed it. When he'd called earlier and asked them to come over around this time when the shop closed, Lucy and Chloe had been worried and curious as to what he'd needed to tell them.
"What do you mean?" Lois wanted to know, hands in her pockets.
Lucy shook her head. "Don't play dumb."
The older Lane took in a deep breath before finally giving up her innocent act. "This doesn't change anything."
"It changes everything!" Lucy disagreed wholeheartedly. "This is Five we're talking about! And his mom! She loves them more than us!"
Lois frowned at her sister. "No she doesn't."
"Yes, she does." Lucy frowned darkly, folding her arms over her chest. "They're the family she chose, we're the family she's stuck with."
"Don't be such a brat." Lois shook her head. "We're all on the same team you know, and our enemies are the Mogs, not each other. Anyway, I doubt Chloe's going to start playing favorites. Sure, she might have been very close to them but she's very close with us as well. And you don't see Lucas letting then take her away from all of us, do you?"
Lucy frowned at that. "No, I guess not."
"Dunleavy called me Luce." Lucy murmured, hands going to her pockets, head lowered. "That's a pet name."
Lois turned an amused look in her sister's direction. "Annoyed?"
"Of course." She looked anything but, her lips twitching in a smile. "Who gave him the right to give me a pet name? I'll have to beat him up when we get home."
"Of course you will." Lois rolled her eyes, though she had to admit that she was happy and a little relieved to see her sister could be like this.
"Or, you know, I could be really mean and start calling him Lucky instead. Give him a pet name." Lucy mumbled to herself. "Or something other than Lucky. What kind of pet names do you give someone named Lucas any way? I can't call him Lou because thats just retarded, Ca is...too much like caca."
Lois' lips twitched in utter amusement as she listened to Lucy's mind work. "Luscious?"
"Ewwwww." Lucy made up her face. "This is Dunleavy we're talking about!"
"I think he's more than a littl good looking."
Lucy made a face at her. "He's Chloe's Number."
Lois paused, shocked to hear Lucy actually say that out loud. "So you figured that?"
"Of course I did." Lucy appeared utterly insulted at the very question. "I was just wondering, with comments like that and the closeness between you two, if you did."
Lois wondered if Lucy realized that she very much sounded like she was telling Lois to back off.
Considering everything Lucy did every day to try and hinder Chloe and Lucas' relationship from growing romantic...
Then again, maybe Lucy just preferred Chloe with the devil she knew and not the devil she didn't, or in other words, Five.
She apparently had yet to forgive the boy for the 'lady' incident.
Entering the 7-Eleven despite the 'CLOSED' sign, Lois smiled at Abed, the owner of the shop, who was behind the counter gazing at a Hustler until he noticed them...and quickly hid the magazine. "Hey Abe."
"Lois, Lucy." He stood up quickly. "Thank you for being so prompt."
"No prob." Lucy reached the counter and leaned on it, eyeing him. "What's the 911?"
Lois smirked at her sister, who was learning much of her 'slang' from the many men who tried unsuccessfully to rob or assault her.
"Well, it might be nothing, but earlier this evening someone came in asking if I'd seen Chloe, had her picture and everything." Abed replied, frowning. "Of course I denied ever seeing her, but I don't know if he believed me."
Lois and Lucy's eyes narrowed, the older Lane speaking. "What did he look like?"
"Auburn hair, hazel eyes. So tall." Abed motioned with his hand. "Said she was his daughter."
Lucy gasped, bringing a hand to her mouth.
Lois' eyes widened further, unable to believe it.
Had Uncle Gabe made it out alive?
Had he come to Edge City?
Was he looking for them?
Or was this a horrible trap?
"You have security cameras in here, right Abed?" Lucy asked.
"Can we see this evening's taping?" Lois pressed, getting where her sister was going with this.
He nodded. "Of course, let me lock up the shop and I'll take you to the back."
"Clark, we don't have any say in this, we're staying in someone else's home and, if Chloe trusts him, so should we." Martha sighed as she sat on the edge of what would now be her bed, next to her troubled son. "We don't have many options anyway, especially not now that your father..." her eyes teared up and she sniffled as she looked away, gathering courage from their joined hands, before looking at him once more. "We're safer here with another Number."
"He's so...slimy." Clark made a face. "What does Chloe see in him? I know she joked once that she was going to get with another Number and that she wasn't going to be interested in another human, but there has to be another male Number out there, right? Someone nicer than this guy?"
"Clark." Martha chided. "You saw the way Chloe was with him, she cares for him deeply, and if she does you're going to have to respect that and do your best to see what she sees in him. See him through her eyes."
"He made them sleep in their truck and then in seedy motels with registered sex offenders." Clark apparently couldn't let that go. "I don't care that they're defending him, perfectly innocent people defend their abusers all the time. Think of battered wives. Or Stockholm Syndrome."
Martha couldn't help but giggle at that, shaking her head in amusement as she raised her hand to caress her son's cheek. "Chloe would never be a battered wife."
Clark had to agree with that, nodding.
"Honey, you're just jealous."
Clark made a face at her, obviously disagreeing. "Mom, I love Chloe, I love her deeply, and yes, I admit that I've always had this connection and slight crush on her...but I'm not in love with her. She's like a sister, or better yet, she's like a part of me. I feel like to protect myself I need to protect her. I always have."
"I meant you have sibling jealousy." Martha cleared for him. "Chloe has always been yours, even if not romantically. She's always been your best friend, yours to confide in, yours to save. She's always only looked up to you. And now you don't know how to react to the fact that she's showing interest and such in someone else. Especially to someone you don't particularly like or agree with. You don't feel comfortable with the fact that she's begun making a life for herself in which you weren't heavily involved."
Clark frowned. "Why didn't she tell us mom? About her being Lorien by heritage? Or that she was supposed to have something to do with this war?" His face fell slightly. "Didn't she trust us? Didn't she trust me?"
"Of course she did honey." Martha drew Clark close in a deep hug, knowing he needed just as much comforting as she did right now, Chloe had always been his platonic soulmate and she understood that this must be hard for him. "Both you and Chloe are different now, changed, but you can use this to grow even stronger than you were before. You're both a part of the same thing, just like Lucas, and Lucy and Lois. Don't look at this as you losing Chloe, look at this as you gaining the three of them."
"Why do I feel like the father of a bride?" Clark groaned as he pulled away, giving him mother a somewhat amused look.
"I suppose because you're probably feeling something very similar to a father whose daughter is growing up and finding romance." Martha smiled at him. "If it's any consolation, Pa, your daughter's boyfriend seems to really care for her. You saw how he was when she nearly fainted. He actually reached her before you." She smirked. "And one of your Legacies is speed."
"Right. I had noticed that." Clark admitted with a sigh.
"Now I know this isn't going to be easy for any of us, and there are going to be a number of issues we'll have to work through, but it'll work out in the end." Martha promised him. "And if what they think is happening, and the other Numbers are somehow following Chloe here like we did, then..."
Clark sighed. "Things are about to become even more complicated."
There was something very fishy about the Five issue.
Laying above the quilt, eyes on the blonde sleeping wrapped up, Lucas narrowed his eyes as he gazed at her.
If Five was her Number...shouldn't he have, uh, fought more about this situation? Lucas never would have allowed his girl to sleep in a bedroom with someone else, especially not someone of the opposite sex, especially not if she'd fainted or if they'd just recently been reunited. Despite the obvious lack of trust, mutual dislike, and jealousy Five sent his way, Lucas couldn't help but wonder if maybe he hadn't misread this whole thing with Chloe and Five. Now that he thought about it really hard, not once had Chloe ever said that Five was her Number. She'd called him her best friend, said that he was the person she was closest to, and that she loved him. And yet Lucas knew Chloe enough to know that Chloe flung that word around. She loved ice cream. She loved the color green. She loved her (which were actually his) computers. She loved the girl at the little rundown restaurant around the block because she cooked 'the best' stewed beef 'ever'.
Maybe, just maybe, when Chloe had said she 'loved' Five, she hadn't exactly meant romantically.
When Lucas had seen her jump Five in the parking lot she'd kissed the Number's face...yet not his mouth.
Shouldn't there have been major-liplocking if they'd been lovers reunited?
Also, when Lucas had come home she'd left Five and come to him, touched him, worried about him.
His lips tilted in a smirk as he reached out and softly brushed hair out of her face.
Chloe groaned, eyelashes fluttering before her sleepy green eyes opened and focused on him. "Lucas?"
"You know, if you make this whole fainting thing a habit, I'm going to have to change your name from Lil Red to Sleeping Beauty." He warned, sitting up on the bed and giving her a lecherous little grin just to wake her up fully.
Her sense of self-preservation obviously kicked in as hoped, and she jolted up, eyes wide as she gazed down at her body.
"Ouch, you wound me Red." He teased. "When I finally have you, you'll be conscious."
A delicious blush rose her neck as she turned to him. "Clark?"
His good mood took a blow. "With mommy I suppose. Lucy and Lois went to Abed's in your place to see what he wants."
Chloe seemed to be thinking something before she surprised him by lowering back into a laying position on the bed, wrapping up with the quilt to her chin and snuggling against his pillow. "I saw them again, you know."
He leaned hard against the bed head, eyeing her. "I figured."
"And I saw One's, Two's, and Three's crests as well." She frowned, turning slightly to get a better look at him. "Why do I keep seeing those crests? They don't have a Number anymore, shouldn't they be null and void?"
"I always saw you as being more connected to the Crests than the Numbers." Lucas admitted. "I think even without the Numbers around your connection to the crests is present and you're still affecting them." He hugged his knees to his chest. "Maybe that's why they're under guard...or were they not guarded physically by Mogs this time?"
"They were." Chloe confirmed. "The Mogs...they ran and hid."
"Huh?" Lucas turned to her, any lingering thought about Five or her relationship with him momentarily wiped from his mind. "What do you mean they ran and hid?"
"When the crests lit up they ducked and hid, almost as if scared of the light." A troubled expression was on her face. "And Eight was surrounded, about to be killed...but the light burnt the Mogs around her so much they collapsed in pain and gave her time to escape."
"That's something new." Lucas turned fully towards her, face serious.
"Not only that, but this time I know they saw me too, like Clark said he saw me." Chloe's green gaze rose to meet his. "Four and Seven both tried talking to me, but I couldn't hear a word they were saying. It was as if they were on mute. Also, this time their crests levitated a little."
"It's stronger." Lucas realized, eyes widening. "You were touching Five and I while wearing our crests...maybe we acted like antennas or something for the signal and that's why it was more intense."
"Power in Numbers." Chloe whispered to herself before frowning. "But why? Why me? And what exactly am I doing?"
Lucas didn't know, couldn't answer.
And he hated it.
"It doesn't make any sense." Lucy whispered in the dark room, pacing restlessly, refusing to even look in the direction of the monitor, where Uncle Gabe could be seen in the grainy image showing Abed a picture of Chloe. "How did he get out of there without getting caught? Where's Aunt Moira if he's fine? Where has he been all this while? Why has he only shown up right now that Five and his mother arrived in the city?"
"There's too many coincidences." Lois whispered, sitting down in front of the image, staring at him. "Something's not right."
"Damn straight it's not right!" Lucy threw her hands in the air. "But what if somehow this isn't a trap and Uncle Gabe's somewhere in Edge City looking for us?"
"What are the odds of Dolly and Aunt Moira not escaping...but Uncle Gabe does?" Lois whispered.
"Very improbable." Lucy replied, running her hand through her hair. "Either they let him go to use as a way of finding us by tracking his every movement and coming at us the moment we make contact or...or..."
"Or that's not Uncle Gabe. Or they're controlling him." Lois covered her face with her hands. "What do we do?"
"What can we do?" Lucy wanted to know. "We can't just ignore the situation, not only is that Chloe's dad but even if it isn't, that person or thing would be working with the Mogadorians which means they've tracked us to Edge City and we're not safe anymore."
"What do we do?" Lois whispered the question once more, utterly lost and out of her depth.
"I don't know." Lucy's voice shook as she finally sat down next to her sister, just as vulnerable. "I just don't know."