|Title: The ReturnSeries: Taking Chances Series
Pairings: Chloe/Clark Kent, Lana/Jonathan Kent, Lois/Oliver Queen, others
Disclaimer: Don't own
Summary: When Clark comes back from his years training with Jor El he finds everything he knew changed. His father Jonathan married Lana and they have children together, and while that hurts and confuses him, what confuses him more is the fact that when he mistakenly thought their mother was Chloe, he'd definitely been more peed off. Can he get used to the changes since he's returned?
"So, I remember AC getting in trouble protesting things, but when did you get into this sort of thing?" Clark moved around the office, gazing at the pictures and souvenirs and other sorts of things that made this place completely Chloe.
"It happens when you're married to someone who talks to fishes who tell him firsthand how badly pollution has affected their way of life." Chloe leaned back against her desk and rested her hands on her stomach. "At first I'll admit that I just went to his rallies to humor him, to understand him, but in time I came around to his way of seeing things. We only have one earth. We need to make sure that our children, and our grandchildren, can still live on it when their time comes." Something shone in her eyes, it was passion. "Think about how we're damaging our way of life. The majority of our planet is covered in water, and yet every single day more and more of it gets polluted with things like toxic waste – or like that spill in Japan or the BP disaster." She took in a deep breath. "There are parts of the world that are dying of thirst because they can't drink their own water – things have been dumped in it – it's criminal, Clark! While Atlantis' goal is to protect the earth in general, we focus on all things marine. Our motto is-."
His Chloe talked about crime and catching the bad guys. This Chloe was so different. She seemed impassioned about saving the earth, not by capturing evil villains and putting them behind bars, but by raising awareness and championing the environmental causes of the less fortunate. She almost seemed like a stranger.
Clark resented that, could feel his heckles rising defensively. He'd gone through Bizarro/dream situations before, but in each and every one of them, no matter the changes, Chloe had always been the same. She'd been his one slice of home – of familiarity – of belonging. But since he'd come back she'd seemed the most changed of them all.
He didn't like it. Didn't want it. He wanted the Chloe he'd left five years ago – and even as he thought that he knew how monumentally selfish that was.
"I'm not in the right world."
Chloe stopped mid-rant and blinked as she eyed him. "Excuse me?"
He took in a deep breath. "I'm in a Bizarro World, I'm almost sure of it."
Something strange crossed her eyes before she cleared her throat. "Why would you think that?"
He gave her a look. "Lana is not only married to my father - she's the mother of my step-brothers. When we left she was in love with me – promised she'd wait for me."
Chloe hesitated before she spoke. "So because Lana is with your father, you're convinced this is a Bizarro World?"
"Not even just that, but so many things are wrong with this world!" Now that he'd started, Clark couldn't stop as he began to pace her office. "But the worse of it all – the thing that makes me know I'm not in my world – is you."
She froze, hurt flashing over her features.
"You're not my Chloe." She couldn't be. He couldn't have lost Chloe this spectacularly. "My Chloe wouldn't have pushed my father and Lana together. My Chloe wouldn't have left the Daily Planet. My Chloe wouldn't have married Arthur Curry!"
"Why not?" Her voice was soft.
"I can't believe you have to ask!" He turned to face her, battling all his conflicting emotions, which threatened to suffocate him under their intensity. "I was in love with Lana! I thought I was going to marry her! I thought that I would be the father of her children – not my father!"
"I understand that part." She lowered her head. "I meant to ask, why your Chloe wouldn't have married Arthur."
He opened his mouth and then stopped. Why wouldn't his Chloe have married AC? He couldn't find an exact reason for it, he just—he just knew it was wrong and that it shouldn't have happened. "She just wouldn't have."
"That's not a good enough reason to call me Bizarro Chloe." Her voice was soft yet firm. "I get how you could feel the way you do concerning the situation with Lana and your father – but leaving the Daily Planet, and marrying Arthur… those are my choices for my life, and I think I'd know myself better than you'd know me."
He stepped back, feeling slapped. Thing is, before he'd left he'd thought that if there was anyone who he knew as well as he knew himself, it was Chloe. But five years had changed that so that his best friend, his sole confident and his closest companion, was now a stranger with veiled eyes and a tense posture.
What if this wasn't a Bizarro World? What if this was his Chloe?
The thought left him weak and he slid down against the wall to sit on the ground. He hung his head and took in a deep reach as he leaned his elbows on his knees, his heart racing and his breathing growing harsher. What was happening? Why couldn't he breathe? Why did it hurt so much?
It really hurt!
"Clark!" She was in front of him, awkwardly bent so that she knelt in front of him, one hand on his shoulder, and the other cupping his cheek, tilting his gaze up to meet hers. "Clark, you need to relax, you're having a panic attack."
A panic attack? Him?
"Look at me, Clark." Her thumb caressed his cheek as she began to breathe in and out. "Breathe with me, come on, breathe."
Clark concentrated on her lips, on matching her exhale and inhale. He blocked out the noises all around and just concentrated on Chloe. Slowly, very slowly, the suffocating feeling, the frantic drumming of his heart, and all the other emotions that made him want to hurl, subsided. They were still there, deep inside, but they'd lessened so that he could regain control of himself once more.
Chloe seemed to know when he was out of the woods, because she smiled softly at him. "There go you."
The kryptonian stared up at her and once more couldn't stop himself as he reached out and hugged her tightly. He didn't let up, not even when she squeaked and lost her balance at the unexpected move on his part. His strength kept her from falling as he eased her closer so that she sat between his thighs. He held her close, hid his face in her hair, and merely breathed in her scent. Her heartbeat was one that he knew so well, and the sound of it lulled him completely this time, so that the nausea and terror was gone. He knew this scent and this heartbeat.
Finally. Something he recognized.
Chloe awoke to the feel of her sheets. It was a little confusing considering that the last thing she remembered was sitting on the ground, surrounded by Clark's heat as he hugged her as if holding on to life itself. Considering he'd called her a Bizarro version of 'his' Chloe, and then had gone into the first panic attack she'd ever seen him go through, she hadn't expected that progression. And yet she'd sat there and been there for him. It wouldn't make up for all she'd done to make his return that more unpleasant, but she was trying.
She must've managed to fall asleep, and Clark had brought her up here. Maera must've shown him up since she had an extra key (Chloe wasn't sure exactly how Maera had gotten the key – but she'd let her assistant keep it because (a) she'd just sneak another copy, and (b) it was good knowing that if anything happened to her there was someone who could come and check up on her). It was scary being pregnant and alone, but Chloe was too proud to rely on other people, especially when they had so many problems of their own. She'd get through this pregnancy without bothering as many people as possible.
There was a knock on the door.
Maera must be checking up on her. "Since when do you knock?"
There was a clear hesitation before the door opened and Clark stuck his head inside, expression sheepish. "I heard your heartbeat change and figured you must be awake."
"Clark." She sat up straighter in bed, eyes wide in surprise. "I figured that you'd left."
His sheepish expression grew. "I was curious."
It took her a minute to realize what he was curious about. "Oh. My house." She eased off of the bed and was on her feet, wincing slightly at how swollen and sore they were. "You gave yourself the grand tour?"
"Not in its entirety, no." He looked a little uncomfortable. "I just hung around looking at the pictures you have – and other stuff."
She smiled at him, amused. "Have you seen the baby's room?"
He blinked, seemingly surprised at something. "No. I really haven't ventured out of the living room."
She met him, barefoot, and looped her arm around his. "Come, let me show you." He was silent as he let her drag him about, but she didn't care, was just glad that he'd stuck around. They didn't have to walk far, the room was the closest to the Master. She hesitated before she opened the door. "No x-ray vision."
Clark's lips twitched. "Scout's honor."
"You were never a scout – that doesn't count," she informed him before she finally flung the door open. "Welcome to Arthur Junior's room." She smiled as she pulled Clark in after her and kicked the door closed behind them with her heel.
The baby's room was the part of the house she felt proudest about. The accessories were all in reds and yellows (Arthur's colors) and the walls had not only been painted to depict a breathtaking underwater scene filled with marine wildlife and coral, but the ceiling depicted a gorgeous sunset. The crib was large and in the middle of the room. Toys were piled up everywhere (as were pampers) and they had more onesies and booties than they had space to put them.
Clark's eyes widened as he stepped out of Chloe's grip and looked around him, expression awed. "This is gorgeous." He moved and picked up a Nemo plushie. Only then did she realize he was shoeless. He must've seen her No Shoes Allowed sign by the front door.
Chloe eased towards the "pimped out" (as Lois had referred to it) rocking chair Lucy had bought her once the news of her pregnancy had hit. She slowly lowered herself onto it and let out a sigh of relief to be off of her feet. And now, from this seriously comfortable vantage point, she could watch Clark explore her baby's room. Her hands went to her stomach and she rubbed it softly, caressingly, thinking about her son being born and enjoying everything within.
As always, when she thought about AJ's birth, sadness flittered through her soul at the fact that AC wouldn't be alive to see it.
"So, I'm assuming you think he's going to inherit his father's affinity for the water, and not your healing gift." There was something odd in Clark's voice as he picked up a picture, which was of Chloe and AC looking out at the sunset, Chloe's forehead pressed against his chest, and AC's arm around her shoulders.
"My 'gift' isn't natural. Or, well, I wasn't born with it. AC was." She gazed up at the sunset on the roof, which had been based off of the sunset in the picture Clark still stared at. "I figure that it makes sense that his will be dominant."
"You're not worried." That wasn't a question; it was a statement, a very confused statement.
"About what?" Chloe tilted her head.
"About the fact that your son will be born a metahuman." Clark turned to look at her, holding the frame tightly in his hands. "I remember when you found out about your abilities – you nearly had a nervous breakdown."
Oh. Right. Their bomb-waiting-to-explode conversation.
Chloe cleared her throat. "I guess I got over it."
"Got over it." Clark stared at her as if she were the alien in the room.
"I fell in love with Arthur, Clark, I wanted a life with him." She didn't know how best to put it. "I knew that if we had children they'd have powers – and I realized that I was more than okay with it. If they were like their father – I'd be so proud." She smiled at the thought as she rubbed her stomach. "No matter what AJ is, human or superhuman, I'll love him with all my heart and be the best mother I can be."
Clark stared at her with an odd expression on her face before he looked away. "You know, before I left for training, I used to imagine what my life would be like."
Chloe tensed slightly, waiting for him to tell her, once more, how much she'd screwed everything up for him.
"I imagined myself with Lana, obviously." He looked a little tired as he put the frame back on the bookshelf. "But I never imagined us with kids."
Her eyes widened in shock. "Why not?"
He sent her a look that said she should've guessed the answer. "She's human, Chloe. I'm inhuman. Our baby's DNA would be half mine. What if it kicked and broke through her stomach or something?"
That was… grizzly.
"In some sense I'm glad she's with my father." And it seemed to kill him to admit it. "I wouldn't have been able to give her what she obviously wanted – children – I wouldn't have ever felt safe enough to do that. In the end, I knew that she'd grown up without a family and always wanted one with her own – but I was still willing to keep it from her. With dad she can finally be a part of a family."
Chloe didn't know what to say to that.
"I think I envy Oliver and AC." He licked his lips. "Oliver's a human – and AC's abilities wouldn't endanger the mother of his child like mine would. They could have the best of both worlds – could save the world and yet have a home, a family."
"You can have the same thing." She didn't get how he couldn't see that. "There is no way that Jor-El was the only kryptonian who ever came to earth. I'm sure that there are others – who knows how many half kryptonians we might have amongst us? They might be the origin for the metahumans I've met who were never trapped in a meteor shower – like Arthur."
Clark stared at her, his expression betraying his fear to hope. "Do you really think so or are you just trying to cheer me up?"
"I really do think so, in fact, I've been doing research on the subject," she admitted. "I think that kryptonians have not only come to earth before and mixed with our race, but that other races of ITs have as well."
He smiled, probably happy she remembered he preferred Intergalactic Travelers over alien.
"You can be happy and have a family here, Clark, I don't think Jor El would've sent you to a planet where you couldn't truly be a part of it, couldn't have a family of your own." She believed that with all of her heart.
"That might be so, but I'll never risk someone I love to test the theory."
She sighed. "Well, there's always time to run tests and diagnostics."
He raised an eyebrow. "You want to run tests on me?"
"Not on you!" She snorted. "On your semen."
He tripped on air and his eyes widened comically as he caught himself mid-trip and straightened. "What?"
For a second he'd turned back to the bumbling teen she'd known so well, and the thought made her laugh. "How else am I supposed to help? I need something to use – and between the two of us – I prefer your sperm to your blood. That way it's just you ejaculating and not me bleeding you with a Green K needle."
Clark looked like he didn't know whether to go pale or turn crimson. "I don't know if I'm, uh, comfortable, with you, uh, handling my, uh, my, you know, my, uh…." He went completely scarlet. "I just think-wouldn't you find that awkward?" He said that last bit all in one breath.
She was amused, but also determined. She'd messed up Clark's life, and now that he'd shown he still cared enough to come here, to open himself like this to her after everything – she was going to help him. She wouldn't be able to make up for the Lana situation, but she'd make sure that Clark would be able to have a family – would be ready and confident whenever he met the next woman he wanted to live his life with.
"I'd do it for you, Clark." She couldn't be more sincere as she stared at him. "I'd do anything for you, you know that, right?"
He just stared at her in silence, something odd passing over his features. "Anything."
She nodded. "Is there anything else you want me to do?"
That strange expression grew before suddenly he shook his head and went crimson again. "Let's not talk about this for right now. This whole conversation has me all weirded out."
"Okay." She'd let it fall for now, but had a feeling that once Clark had a moment to think it over, he'd come to her. In fact, she knew he would, and when he did, she'd do all in her power to give him the hope of a family. "Come on then, there's the rest of the place to show."
Clark couldn't get the idea out of his head. For years he'd told himself he'd never be able to have a true family of his own, he'd forced himself to get used to the idea, but now that he'd had that conversation with Chloe he couldn't stop thinking about the possibility. What if he could procreate safely with earthling women?
He could have a family – could be like any other man out there.
He sent a sideways glance towards Chloe, who was dozing on the couch, her head leaning against his arm. The movie they'd been watching had ended a long time ago, and the screen was blank, but he hadn't moved because of all of the thoughts in his mind.
Was this his Chloe? Like in every world, she was there for him. No matter what hand she'd played in his father's marriage to Lana, she was still his best friend, still the person who understood him best, whom he'd confided his deepest, darkest secrets and desires to, and who not only supported him, but was doing her best to help him.
She was his Chloe.
He sighed and looked down at her golden head.
What exactly was he going to do?