Title: She's His ManPairing: Chloe/Duke OrsinoFandom: Smallville/She's the ManRating: T+-MDisclaimer: Don't ownSummary: When Chloe is sent to Illyria as a boy for her own safety while Lex tries to find the traitor in his camp, she quickly makes friends with her roommate, Duke Orsino. Bored, she decides to become Illyria's official matchmaker, and has no idea that she's making Duke doubt his sexuality considering he thinks she's a boy and he's growing more and more attracted to her.
"Where are we?" Lionel's voice raised to be heard over the roaring wind.
Chloe didn't answer. She stared up at the sky while she pulled up the neckline of her shirt to shield her mouth/nose, and once she got her bearing, the blonde took off as fast as she could across the sand dunes.
She could hear him hollering her name, could hear him giving pursuit, and he nearly caught her too. At the last minute his footing slipped and Lionel yelled as he tumbled down the steep side of the sand dune.
There wasn't time to savor her victory though. This place wasn't safe and she'd already started the relocking sequence. If she didn't get to the Mirror of El in this dimension before the countdown ended she'd be trapped in here alongside Lionel and the other criminals and monsters housed within the Phantom Zone.
The only thing that helped the situation was that, when Duke and the others had reached the warehouse, Lex Luthor and his men had arrived minutes before and were fighting Lionel's men along with those from Veritas. It meant that everyone was busy fighting each other, and while the flying bullets made things dangerous the small group of teenagers were able to use the two blueprints Duke had nabbed to slip inside and go towards the entrance of the cave. They found the entrance open, obviously Lionel had felt completely at ease and unthreatened.
It made Duke's blood boil, but he bottled all that up and continued down the pathway towards the portal room. No one said anything, no one marveled at the beautiful designs etched into the stone walls. No one dared to utter more than a breath until they passed through the arched entrance to the portal room and found Andrew and Malcolm.
The two didn't notice them at first.
Malcolm was looking at the symbols etched alongside the large obsidian wall, and Andrew was by his side, a rock in his hand.
There was a guard who was face-down on the ground and bleeding. On the table was a gun.
Tess moved to the table and grabbed the gun, checking its amunitions chamber.
The sound caused Malcolm and Andrew to turn around, and the latter nearly threw the rock at them.
Tess looked completely unworried at that and moved to the guard to check his body for extra ammunition.
Olivia rushed to Malcolm and Andrew and hugged them. "I'm so glad you're both okay!"
"You too." Malcolm gave her a little smile before he pulled away and turned to Duke. "You need to see this."
Duke was already making his way towards Malcolm. "How long does she have?"
"I don't know for certain, I mean, I don't exactly speak whatever language this was written in, but from the amount of lights that have gone out..." He looked up. "Half of the time is up."
Duke clenched his fists. "I'm going after her."
"I'm coming with you." Tess stuffed two cartridges of ammunition in her pockets.
Duke nodded and turned to the others. "Guard this place." And with that he stepped through the obsidian.
Chloe had seen the shadows approaching through the sandstorm and had hidden beneath a large rock which stuck out from the dunes. She knew it wasn't exactly the safest place to hide given the fact that the dunes could shift and send the large thing crashing down on her, but it was the only place she had to hide in and she didn't want to meet up with whatever it was that was out there.
"The Mirror of El was activated." The voice was low, scratchy, hardly heard over the roaring wind.
"It hasn't been touched for years," another voice declared. "Do we know if anyone crossed through?"
"We found a man. He says that he was brought here by a blonde haired girl who could work the Mirror."
There was a growl. "Kara Zor-El."
"No," the other person replied. "He says that this is a Terran girl."
"Someone from earth?" The second voice seemed surprised. "An earthling managed to use the Mirror of El?"
There was a pause. "Where is she?"
"We are searching for her, but the sandstorm has hidden her trail from us."
Chloe let out a breath of relief, but the next words caused that relief to vanish in seconds.
"Find her, Nam-Ek, and bring her to me the second you do." The voice lowered. "Don't disappoint me."
"I will bring her to you, General." And with that the men departed.
Chloe remained where she was, eyes wide, realizing that maybe getting crushed by the boulder wasn't the worse thing that could happen to her in this place.
"CHLOE!" Duke yelled out but his voice was drowned by the sound of the howling wind. He coughed as he swallowed sand and raised his shirt up to protect his face from the storm. "CHLOE!"
"I don't know if that's the smartest thing to do." Tess looked around her.
"I know it isn't smart." Duke let out a sigh. "But she doesn't know we're here looking for her. How else are we going to find her?"
Tess seemed to reluctantly agree with him because she gave a slight nod and didn't comment further.
"CHLOE!" Duke suddenly froze, his eyes wide. "Do you see that?"
Tess was already pointing her gun at the shadows moving through the sandstrom, way too quick to be human. "We need to run. Now."
She waited for the shadows and the voices to fade in the sand storm. Minutes passed and she tried to tell herself that she could do this, that she could get to the Mirror of El despite the fact that she was being searched for by the criminals she'd read had been exiled here by the El family and the Ruling Counsel for their heinous crimes.
When Chloe had cracked the code and started reading the Kryptonian tablets she'd been entranced. There was just so much information, so much to learn, about the planet Krypton and its inhabitants, many of whom had come at various times to earth. She'd read all about Krypton, about its inhabitants, its legends and its advanced technology. She'd read about the Ruling Counsel. But what she'd read most about was Jor-El, the scientist she'd later discover was the father of her best friend, Clark Kent. She learnt about the intrigues of Krypton, of Brainiac, of how Jor-El could see the destruction of his kind drawing near and how he and his wife had decided on a plan to save their son by entrusting the child to a descendant of Hiram Kent, whom Jor-El had met many years previously when he'd come to earth.
Once she'd discovered that Clark was the Traveler Lionel was searching for, she'd become even more engrossed in the tablets, desperate, and had finished them all before destroying them so Lionel wouldn't learn what she had. Because of those tablets she knew about the Phantom Zone, about the Mirror of El, and many other things she'd never trust Lionel Luthor with the knowledge of. Chloe didn't think she'd ever trust anyone but Clark with this knowledge, and that was why, when Lionel had taken her to the Mirror of El, she'd used what she'd read to take them to the Phantom Zone.
Now though, she could very well have trapped herself inside this prison, and along with her any chance of Clark ever discovering the truth about himself and many other things that could help him.
And she'd never see Duke again.
Chloe closed her eyes against the possibility. How had she fallen in love with him so quickly? So utterly?
She wished that she had kissed him one last time before running after Malcolm.
"Did we lose them?"
Chloe's eyes opened wide at the sound of that breathless voice.
"I don't know."
Chloe crawled out enough from under the ledge to stare in shock as Duke and Tess stood not ten feet in front of her. "What are you doing here?"
They turned towards her, Tess pointing a gun, and then their eyes widened.
Shadows shifted in the distance behind them.
Chloe's eyes widened. "Get in!" And with that she shifted under the ledge once more.
Within seconds Duke and Tess crawled in after her and Chloe didn't have a moment to try and adjust to this new development before Duke had somehow managed to reach for her in the cramped space, cup the back of her head, and bring her to him in a deep kiss. Chloe closed her eyes and kissed him back as desperately, unable to believe that he was there, that he was with her.
"What do you mean you lost them?" That sounded like Nam-Ek.
"The sandstorm is stronger than usual. The footprints keep disappearing." This was a female voice.
"The General wants that girl, Aethyr, she can be the key to us getting out of here and getting our revenge on those who condemned us." Nam-Ek let out a snarl. "The Terran male is no use to us. He has no knowledge of how to work the Mirror of El."
"Can you be sure he's not holding out?" Aethyr wanted to know.
"We've cut off both his pinkies and his story hasn't changed." Nam-ek sounded annoyed. "It's the girl we want."
Chloe felt Duke's grip tighten on her, but no one said a word, not until long after those shadows had disappeared into the sand storm. The three teenagers stared at each other, a bit in shock.
It was Tess who finally broke the silence. "Where are we?"
"It's called the Phantom Zone." Chloe ran her hand down her face. "It is a timeless prison dimension wormhole. Many of the galaxy's worst criminals from the 28 galaxies were imprisoned and confined to this zone. Many of these criminals here are mass murderers on a grand scale, and some of them were stripped of their physical bodies and turned into non-corporeal phantom wraiths, like the shadows which I'm sure you've seen."
Tess nodded slowly. "So cross dressing was definitely not your biggest secret."
Chloe let out a laugh. "You could say that."
"Why would you come here?" That was Duke's voice, soft and monotone. "Chloe, why would you bring yourself here?"
"I brought Lionel here. I couldn't think of a better prison for him." She turned to Duke with a sigh. "Plus, there's someone here that I'm looking for, or who I'm hoping will find me now that news of someone able to cross over is apparently being told far and wide."
"Why would you want to meet someone from this prison?" That was Duke.
"Because she's not a prisoner, she's been trapped here waiting for someone to save her." And she was the only one that Chloe could think of who'd be able to help Clark understand more about himself and how to become the person that Chloe knew he could be.
"We can't waste time looking for someone." Tess' eyes narrowed. "That mirror door you opened is on countdown. If we don't get back through it-."
"I know. I did that on purpose." Chloe sighed. "I know where the one in this dimension is, and if we want to get out we have to get there." She let out a deep breath. "I'm hoping that the person I'm looking for will realize that and go there."
"I don't think she will be the only one there." Duke frowned. "You heard those voices. Those things are after you. Means that they'll probably be at the mirror as well."
She knew. "We don't have a choice, though. We still have to go."
Tess sighed and cocked her gun. "Let's do this."
"Where are they?" Olivia paced back and forth in front of the obsidian wall. "They should be back by now!"
Malcolm chewed on his nail as he watched the countdown. "They'll make it.
Andrew gazed at their reflections in the black. "Will they?"
Sebastian placed a hand on Andrew's shoulder. "They will."
The storm was getting worse. Chloe searched for the markers that the Kryptonian tablets had spoke off, and every gaze up at the sky helped her navigate towards the Mirror of El. She wasn't athletic but she had adrenaline on her side, and she was somehow able to keep running without being tired. The sand kept getting in her eyes and made it painful to keep them open, but she needed to see where they were going, needed to keep gazing upwards to make sure that they were going in the right direction.
It was on one of her gazes upwards that she lost her footing and with a cry began to tumble head-first down the dune. She tossed and turned and tumbled and it seemed like forever before she hit down below. She was disoriented and must've hit a rock during her fall because her forehead was throbbing and bleeding. That was probably why she didn't see the shadows until they'd surrounded her and one had sliced a long cut down her arm.
A scream escaped her lips as she tried to pull back, to escape, but they were all around her, closing in.
Up above her she could hear Duke and Tess yelling as they tried to make it down towards her, but they all knew they wouldn't make it in time.
Chloe turned her gaze on the wraiths as they encircled her tightly.
Suddenly a bright light erupted and the phantom wraiths shrieked, the light seeming to hurt them.
Chloe brought her hand to her eyes to shield herself from the brightness as the light drew closer, and she realized that someone was holding up the light source, and the closer the bundled-up person drew, the stronger the light grew.
The phantoms, appearing to be burnt from the light, finally gave one last shriek before they raced away, disappearing far away into the sandstorm, driven away.
Bringing her hand from her face, Chloe grinned at the figure who now stood in front of her. "I see you got my message."
The person yanked off the cloth covering her face to reveal a beautiful young woman. She was was blonde, tanned skin, and had blue eyes. "You're the Terran who opened the Mirror."
"And you're Raya, Jor-El's assistant." Chloe smiled as she eyed the slightly older girl. "We need to get you out of here before the countdown ends."
"Why are you here?" Raya's eyes narrowed. "Where is Jor-El? Why isn't he here? Why didn't he come for me sooner? What happened to Krypton?"
Chloe took in a deep breath. "It was destroyed, along with everyone in it. Jor-El included."
Raya's skin paled. "No." She looked about to collapse, eyes filling with tears. "No!"
"Kal-El survived," Chloe whispered. "The ship you helped Jor-El build took him to earth safely. He's grown up amongst my people, and he's a dear friend of mine."
Raya's eyes widened and she let out a stuttered, relieved breath as she wiped at the tears that'd filled her eyes at the news of the death of her people. "Kal-El lives."
Tess and Duke finally made it down towards them.
Duke raced to Chloe and hugged her tightly before he pulled away when she flinched due to the cut down her arm. "They hurt you."
"I'm fine, thanks to Raya." She gave him a little smile.
Tess eyed Raya up and down. "She the one you were looking for?" At Chloe's nod, the redhead sniffed. "Can we go now?"
"You're heading towards the Mirror of El." Raya wasn't asking. "I know of a shortcut. Follow me." And with that she hurried off.
Chloe, Duke and Tess shared a little look before they hurried after her.
Malcolm watched the lit countdown. "They're not going to make it."
"Don't say that!" Olivia's eyes widened as she turned towards him.
"The countdown's nearly over!" Malcolm turned to her, his face distraught. "We have to accept the fact that they might not make it back in time. We don't know what's on the other side. We don't know what they're facing."
"He's right." Andrew ran his hand down his face. "They mightn't make it."
"They'll make it." Sebastian took in a deep breath as he turned to Malcolm. "Is there anything that you can do to buy them some time?"
"Me?" Malcolm let out a little choking sound. "What could I do? It's not like I actually know what these symbols mean! And it's not like I can punch in things at random and see what works!" He slammed his fist sideways into a random piece of cave wall.
Suddenly all the lights around the archway lit up.
Everyone's eyes widened and they backed away slowly.
"What did you just do?" Olivia gave a little cry.
Malcolm stared at the obsidian as it began to ripple. "I have no idea."
"What was that?" Tess stopped and looked up as the sky rumbled violently and streaks of angry color lit up above.
Raya's eyes widened in horror as she clutched the crystal which now rested safely around her neck. "No."
"Is that what I think it is?" Chloe turned to Raya.
"Do you think it's the self-destruct feature of the Mirror of El in Terra being activated?" Raya turned to Chloe as Tess and Duke turned pale. "If so, that is exactly what you think it is."
"Crap." Chloe shook her head. "We have to get to the Mirror, now!"
"Stop whatever you just did!" Sebastian yelled over Malcolm's shoulder.
"This is all your fault!" Malcolm reminded him angrily as he started to press anything, but the ominous wailing sound coming from the Mirror wouldn't stop. "If you hadn't-!"
"This isn't the time to argue amongst ourselves!" Andrew reminded them. "We have to figure out what's happening and how to stop it!"
"Guys?" Olivia's eyes widened.
"Don't blame me!" Sebastian glared at Malcolm. "I wasn't the one who hit whatever you hit!"
"It was just supposed to be cave wall!" Malcolm growled at him. "And I did it because you-!"
"Stop fighting!" Andrew grabbed them both by their shoulders and separated them when they drew too close to each other.
"Guys!" Olivia's voice choked.
"I'm not fighting!" Sebastian glared at Andrew. "And stop defending him!"
"He can defend me all he wants!" Malcolm snapped. "Because this isn't my fault!"
Andrew brought his hands to his face. "Will you two just-."
"GUYS!" Olivia's shriek caused all three to turn to see what she was looking at, and they froze.
The obsidian had changed, shifting into a transparent wall, and on the other side was a cave filled with moving, living, terrifying shadows.