Title: When In NeedSeries: Adept SeriesSequel to: When Bonds WeakenFandoms: Smallville/NCIS/FringeRating: TDisclaimer: Don't own anythingSummary: With Lionel Luthor dying in the hospital, Chloe is in desperate need of a replacement bonder before she goes insane and has another bond forced on her. Things have a way of working out though, considering a candidate, whom she hadn't even considered real, finds her when she needs him the most.
"I can't believe you're just going to continue examining the body." Peter leaned against a nearby tree and made a face at her. "We're trapped."
"Exactly." She was elbow-deep inside of said body, trying to find anything else that might be of help for her to figure out exactly what type of shapeshifter they were dealing with.
Peter shook his head at her, looking a little green as he eye the way she "desecrated the remains" as he'd called it earlier. The man finally turned his gaze away from her resolutely. "I just think that you should be more worried by the fact that we're trapped and our cellphones don't work-or affected by the fact that you've got your hand shoved in that guy's guts."
"His stomach, not his guts." She turned to look at him. "He was torn open, ripped apart. We already found one clue in him, and I'm sure there has to be more, somewhere."
Peter palmed his face. "This is not the way I planned on spending my evening."
"You'll probably be spending the night too, if we don't figure out what this dome is or how to bring it down." Chloe motioned with her chin towards her huge backpack. "Make yourself useful. I brought a tent with me. Put it up."
Peter removed his hand from his face. "Why did you bring a tent?"
She raised an eyebrow. "This wouldn't be the first time that I have gotten trapped somewhere. Why do you think I lug that thing around? It's to make sure I have everything I need to survive comfortably while I'm stuck."
Peter moved towards the backpack and unhooked the material case tied to the back of it. "This looks like it'll be a very small tent."
"It is." She returned her attention to the dead body. "If you can start a campfire that would be nice too. Nights out here get chilly."
"Anything else, your highness?"
She paused and thought it over. "No. I think that's it. I have anything else we might need in my backpack so you don't have to do anything else."
He chuckled darkly. "I'm beginning to see why you work alone."
She sent him a curious look. "How so?"
He blinked as he stared at her. "You know what? Forget I said anything." He then went ahead to try and assemble the very small tent they would be sharing if this went the way Chloe predicted it would and they ended up having to spend the night here.
That left Chloe more time to examine the body without any interruption, and she did so, her fingers feeling deep within the body as she searched for anything the killer might've left lodged deep inside the victim. And her fingers found it, coming across a sharp object hidden behind a lung. She carefully extricated her arm and stared at the object in her hand, an eyebrow raising as she realized what exactly she was holding. "There is a house. One enters it blind and comes out seeing. What is it?"
Peter looked up from the tent he was trying to assemble. "I remember that. It was from the ancient civilization of Sumer, right? It was one of the earliest examples of a riddle."
Chloe looked up at him in shock, not having expected him to answer or to even know what she'd been talking about.
"If I remember correctly, the answer was: a school." Peter turned his attention back on the tent as he began stringing up the top to one of the stronger branches of the tree above him. "What prompted ancient riddles?"
Chloe watched him for a moment as he fastened the top and went to work attaching the bottom of the tent to the ground. "This. I found it inside of the victim."
Peter turned towards her once more and frowned as he came closer, eyeing the blood-covered thing. "A ring?"
"A school ring, actually. And from the engraving on the front, I assume it belongs to Nagual Academy." She looked up at Peter. "It's a real uppercrust school for girls."
"First a press-on nail and now a ring from a girl's school?" Peter raised an eyebrow. "Are you telling me that a teenaged girl did this?"
Chloe put the pin in an evidence bag and turned her gaze to the body. "If you have any better explanation for how this got behind his lung I'd love to hear it."
Peter opened his mouth.
Movement up ahead showed Tony and Ziva hurrying towards them. The others must've heard about her case and her father had sent those two to keep an eye on her.
Chloe hurried to her feet and threw dust on the dome, revealing to the others how the dust crackled on fire for seconds, and stopping the two before they could get too close.
Tony and Ziva's mouths were moving but Chloe couldn't hear a thing.
"There's some sort of sound-proofing on this dome." Peter returned to securing the bottom of the tent to the ground. "I noticed it earlier when a flock of birds flew overhead and yet I didn't hear a sound."
Chloe hurriedly grabbed a couple of the evidence bags and went to the barrier, holding them up for the two to see. She mouthed "Nagual Academy" as she held up the bag with the bloody ring.
Tony looked confused.
Ziva, though, nodded to Chloe and mouthed the question on if she was alright.
Chloe gave the woman a thumbs up.
Ziva smiled and nodded once more before grabbing Tony and heading back the way they'd come.
Tony stumbled as he was half-dragged and sent Chloe a wave.
She waved back and then turned to return to the body.
Peter had to admit, even if only to himself, that he was fascinated. Sure, watching that girl stick her hand inside the body as if it was nothing was gross, but this whole situation was, well, it was creepy as hell but he was curious as well. Chloe was so nonchalant about the whole thing that it was obvious that this was a day to day thing for her, and he realized that if he became her bonder things like this might become the normal routine for him. That was both terrifying and exhilarating. And the best thing was that it would only be temporary, which meant that he didn't have to worry about his entire life becoming a zoo-and yet he'd still get to stick his nose further into this strange and fascinating world of hers.
He was almost tempted to accept her proposal, and the realization shocked him.
Starting the fire was the best way to keep him busy and yet look at Chloe without being obvious, the guy watching the shadows play over her body as she strained her gaze visibly in the darkening light. Once he was finished with the fire he went to her backpack and checked inside. Sure enough the prepper had a battery-operated lamp in there, and he smiled in amusement as he stared at it. When she said she came prepared she really did. He turned it on and took it to where she was. He knelt down besides her and lifted the lamp so that the light would be cast on the remains at a perfect angle.
She looked up, eyes wide, almost as if shocked that he was still there, as if she'd forgotten he'd been around, and while a part of him wanted to be insulted at that the huge smile she gave him kept any negative feelings at bay. In fact, as he stared down at the girl smiling up at him, half-bathed in shadows and yet eyes shining with the light, her smile so large and honest, he found himself gulping back a completely different sort of feeling, and it completely took him off guard.
She didn't verbalize her gratitude, merely returned to what she'd been doing, and he found he was relieved. He kept the light over her and watched her in fascination as she continued her investigation, although he found his gaze sliding from what she was doing and concentrating on her face more times than not.
Movement outside the barrier caught his attention and Peter noticed that the two agents from before were back, the female watching with a small smirk and the male watching with brotherly concern. "Your friends are back."
Chloe looked up at that, clearly having been completely consumed with what she was doing; he could tell why she needed someone to look after her. "Ziva, Tony." She got to her feet and left him, going to where they were and stopping in front of the barrier. "What did you find?"
Tony turned to Ziva.
Ziva, who was staring at Chloe's lips, began speaking, although her words weren't getting through to them due to the sound barrier.
Chloe tilted her head and nodded. "I expected as much." She placed her hands to her hips. "One of those girls is a murderer, I'm sure of that, but I found some herbs inside of the victim as well that-get a subpeona ready for me when I get out of there. I need to go and check the whole institution, but especially the church and garden."
Ziva nodded and mouthed something.
"Don't worry. Go on." Chloe sounded embarrassed.
Tony mouthed something.
Chloe grumbled. "Will you just go already?"
Ziva snorted and grabbed Tony, pulling him away with her.
"I'm surprised my father hasn't come as yet." Chloe turned to face Peter, a small smirk on her face. "He obviously knows I'm safe in here though, and I have been asking him to give me space, especially when I'm on a case."
Peter stared at the girl bathed under the moonlight and cleared his throat as he gazed away. "So, what was that all about? The church and garden?"
"Oh! Right! I never vocalized what I was thinking!" Chloe slapped her face, embarrassment clear. "I think they're going to find some material that is going to help me prove that this wasn't just some random killing, or even a crime of passion. It was an initiation, a sacrifice."
Peter's eyes widened. "A sacrifice?"
"The herbs I found inside the body are common Aztec herbs which the priests would use on the intended sacrificial victims. They served to disorient and give hallucinations to the victim, and kept them more sedate. They are also, though, herbs that some people put in their food, and wouldn't show up in a toxicology report." She placed her hands on her hips, grin broad. "I think that this guy was the girl's sacrificial initiation."
"Into what?" Peter was, once again, fully fascinated.
"What do you know of the Nagual?"
"I'm thinking you're not talking about the school." He frowned.
She nodded. "According to Mesoamerican folklore, a Nagual is a person who can magically transform into an animal. The most common transformation recorded are into a donkey, turkey, or a dog, but there were other animals a person could become, such as a jaguar or a puma."
Peter's eyes widened. "You think the school is teaching these girls to become Naguals, and that successful transformation, as well as killing, are a part of a ritual they perform to prove that they are ready to graduate from the institution."
She stared at him in shock, in clear bewilderment, before that blinding smile was back and she nodded rapidly. "Yes. That's what I'm saying!"
"And you plan on going to confront these things?" He couldn't believe it, remembering her order to get her a subpeona. "They'll change and tear you apart!"
She merely gave him a sly little smile and shook her head. "I'm hungry. You hungry? I packed sandwiches. Let's go eat."
Peter watched her, unable to understand the girl at all, and yet a small smile tilted his lips as he took in a deep breath and followed after her.
"And then I met the sheik and he-." Peter's smile was contagious as he told his newest story.
Chloe sat by the campfire feeling like she was off on a vacation and not working. Peter's voice was, surprisingly enough, very soothing. His different misadventures made for perfect fire-side tales and had her in stitches as she laughed and wiped at her eyes in amusement. He'd been hesitant at first, obviously not used to sharing parts of his life, but he'd slowly opened up to his topic. During his latest story he'd even started using a very impressive accent while recounting what the sheik had said.
She opened her mouth to comment on the sheik's naughty sense of humor, when suddenly a shock of pain jolted through her body and Chloe doubled over as she grabbed at her chest. Her heart raced manically, the world spun, and the blonde would've fallen face-first into the fire had Peter not grabbed her and yanked her to safety.
Images of being in a hospital room, of doctors and nurses rushing towards her, danced in front of her. She had no doubt that she was seeing through Lionel Luthor's eyes, that he was dying, and with him the remainder of their all-too-fragile bond was disintegrating.
The barrier boomed, jerking Chloe out of her visions, for her to see a creature with glowing red eyes in the darkness trying to get in.
Another boom, another set of glowing eyes.
And then another.
"What's going on?" Peter held her close and pulled her into his arms as he stood, his eyes on the creatures accumulating around the barrier, desperate to get in. "Are those things connected to the shadows?"
The barrier was the only thing that was keeping her from being taken by one of those things, it was the only thing protecting her from having another bond forcefully thrust onto her by some monster. She wondered, through the pain, if that was why it'd appeared in the first place. Maybe something or someone had known that Lionel Luthor would die and was protecting her in its own way by making her inaccessible to the creatures that could sense her bond dissolving to nothing.
A scream tore from her lips at the scratching pain from within, and the creatures outside the boundary reacted to that sound, growing more desperate as they clawed and attacked the boundary with all their might.
Peter backed away, his eyes narrowed.
Chloe hid her face in his chest and sobbed as her blood seemed to boil.
"Chloe?" He looked down at her. "Jesus! You're burning up!"
Chloe could only cry, but as the tears slid down her cheeks they evaporated with the heat.
"It's the bond, isn't it?" Peter was, as always, exceptionally bright. "Lionel's dying, isn't he?"
She managed a shake of her head as she clutched tightly to his shirt and grit her teeth through her scream.
"Will you die?" His voice was urgent.
She couldn't answer, stars dancing before her vision as she fought to stay conscious while images of Lionel's suffering joined with her own. The images interchanged with her own vision that she grew disoriented and confused as to which was actually her vision and which were his.
Suddenly lips descended onto hers, and the shock bolted her out of her disorientation. Her eyes were wide on Peter as he finally pulled away and looked down at her.
"Temporary, right?" He whispered, gaze intense. "This will save your life and you'll pay my debt. But it'll be temporary, right?"
She nodded quickly.
He took in a deep breath. "What do I do?"
She gritted through the pain. "The tent."
Peter licked his lips, surprisingly enough nervous, before he nodded and began moving them towards the tent. He slipped inside through the flap and then rested her on the sleeping bag on the ground before he turned back and closed the flap. He hesitated with his back to her and his hands on the zipper before he took in a deep breath and turned towards her as he yanked off his jacket and then his shirt. "I'll be gentle," he promised. "This won't be like what you went through the last time."
The fact that he'd not only remembered that but was worrying about it made Chloe smile through the pain. "It already is." She reached her trembling arms out towards him.
Peter stared down at her before he followed her down.
She slept peacefully, her head rested on the crook of his arm and her arm curled around his chest.
Peter had had all sorts of sex during his life, but damn it, he'd never had sex with a glowing girl before. She'd been almost on fire as he'd made love to her, the man trying to be as tender as he could considering the horror she'd had to go through, and while there were moments of fear and uncertainty in her eyes, he liked to feel that he'd managed to soothe them.
A sigh escaped his lips as he looked up at the tent's ceiling. The sounds of the creatures had died down to nothing once the bond had been sealed, and it'd been hours since he'd heard anything but the wind. A part of him had still doubted her story until the moment those things came for her, and he realized that if he didn't do it, one of those things would, and it would be his fault that this girl was bound to some monster. He'd made the decision to take a leap of faith and to, for once, be the knight in shining armor who saved the damsel in distress. It wasn't a role he was used to, but he hadn't found any other way out of this.
Anyway, he'd have his debts paid, so that didn't mean that he wasn't getting something out of this arrangement. He'd be free from any repercussions of his time in debt, and he'd stick around and help the girl until she found someone more suitable, someone who knew what he was getting into and who wanted this full-time. It was hard for Peter to imagine a guy who'd want that, though. Chloe's life seemed like an endless parade of the weird and the dangerous, and the girl herself was one meltdown away from total insanity. It would take a very strong man indeed to take her on permanently, to even want to do so.
Right now, even though he knew his deal was only temporary, Peter was doing his best not to doubt himself.
Chloe whimpered in her sleep and tightened her grip around him. She rubbed her cheek above his beating heart before settling once more.
Instinctively he tightened his grip around her and then frowned at himself, annoyed with his own reactions.
Get a grip, Bishop. She isn't a lover. She's someone you're going to have to babysit-like you had to do with your father.
The reminder was sobering.
Peter raised his right hand and stared at the golden red tattoo around his ring-finger, wondering just what the hell he was doing and what he'd gotten himself into.
He turned his gaze to stare at the girl's sleeping face. He didn't do the right thing most of the time but this time it felt… he felt like this was something he was supposed to do.
He'd do this. He'd stay, he'd help her through her fits, and he'd help her find someone to replace him.
Peter nodded and failed to notice the way his hand caressed her hair.
Yeah. It wouldn't be easy to find someone reckless yet dependable enough to pull this off, but if anyone could help her find someone, it would be Peter.
Suddenly the flap unzipped and opened. Those two agents from before (Chloe had called them Ziva and Tony) stuck their heads into, the female's expression both happy and relieved, and the male a mixture between relieved and big-brother protective.
"Lionel Luthor died last night." Ziva raised an eyebrow at them and then smiled. "When we realized that, and that the barrier was down, we were worried about her." With that she slipped out of the tent. "Gotta stop Gibbs from coming here to check up on her."
Tony remained, eyebrow raised. "So, a word of forewarning: her father is terrifying." He then grinned. "Welcome to the family, little brother!" He opened his mouth to say more but only managed to let out a squeak when Ziva's hand shot in, grabbed him by his shirt collar, and yanked him out.
Chloe made a kitten-like sound in complaint to the noise.
Peter snorted in amusement at her.
Seriously. What had he gotten himself into?