Title: The Return
Series: 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?
"Clark." She didn't even look up away from the screen. "Stop acting like I'm about to take your virginity by force."
How could she be so normal about this? She was analyzing a sperm sample for crying out loud!
"You don't have to be here, you know, I'm not going to discover anything right away." Chloe tapped on certain holographic keys and started running various tests on the sample before she turned to face him. "I'll call you when I have some answers." She moved passed him towards her desk and sat down with a sigh, a hand on her stomach as she pulled up her next holographic screen and narrowed her eyes when she noticed the numerous emails that had been sent.
Clark knew that expression. "Problems?"
"Nothing to worry about," she replied, distracted, as she read through them quickly and began responding. "So, are you ready to meet the rest of the gang tonight?"
"I thought Bruce was the only one I'd have to meet." And he wasn't looking forwards to that. Tonight was Lois' dinner, and if it wasn't for the fact that Chloe was going (and Clark had to see Lois with a child to truly believe it) he wouldn't have agreed to go.
"Not at all," she replied, gaze still on the screen. "There's Diana." She slid a gaze towards him finally and a little smile curled her lips.
He suddenly had a feeling this was a matchmaking attempt, and it made him extremely uncomfortable.
"You'll like Diana, she's lovely." Chloe's gaze returned to the screen as she sent her email. "You two have a lot in common."
"Is that so?" He looked around him, not used to Chloe trying to set him up with someone, and not liking it.
"Like you she's… not from around here… if you catch my drift."
He paused and then turned to look at her. "She's an IT?"
Chloe grinned and nodded. "Not from your home… town… but yeah. Definitely."
Okay, so he'd like to meet this person after all. He really didn't know too many other Intergalactic Travelers. That didn't mean he wanted to date her though. He'd just come back from years of training with the Holographic representative of his birth father. He'd learnt to control his powers – to understand his destiny. He'd sacrificed a lot for that – love and family – and he was only now trying to get back into the routine, to reconnect with those he hadn't seen in years. He didn't need the hassle of trying to bond with new people on top of that.
Chloe's phone rang, it was her private line. Clark had learnt to differentiate the different tones during the last few days.
She answered it, gaze on the screen. "You could at least give me five minutes to answer your hundred and one emails, Bruce."
Clark turned to look at her subtly, and hadn't even realized that he'd activated his superhearing until he heard Bruce Wayne's voice loud and clear in his ear.
"Well, someone is a ray of sunshine this morning."
"You realize I'm about to give birth, right?" She wanted to know. "I'm about to pop open."
"Not for another month or so," he chuckled. "And I'd be taking you everywhere on my private jet. You'd be comfortable."
"Yeah, right until my water breaks in midair. There's a reason why commercial airlines won't let a pregnant woman fly passed a certain time in her pregnancy you know." She flipped through what seemed to be pictures, face scrunched up. "Is it really as bad as all this?"
"Worse. You're about to pop open. No way would I send you the bad ones."
She sighed and looked very sick. "When is this again?"
"We'd have to skip tonight."
This time Clark did turn to face her. She wasn't going to bail on Lois' dinner, was she?
"Fine." Chloe shook her head. "You're breaking the news to her, though."
"That's my girl." Bruce's voice was pure approval. "I'll be over around seven for you." And with that he hung up.
Chloe smiled and shook her head as she put down the phone. "Clark, I'm sorry, but I won't be able to come with you tonight like planned. I have to go somewhere with Bruce."
There was something inside of him that churned. It felt like she was choosing Bruce over him, and Clark wasn't used to feeling this way about anything. He resented that the billionaire was getting in the way of his reconnecting with Chloe, but even he knew that he really shouldn't feel this resentful. "Anything interesting going on?"
Like maybe a date?
She sighed and motioned him towards her with her finger. Once he was around she pressed a button and pictures appeared all around them of pollution in lakes and contaminates before pictures of dead animals and skinny, clearly needy children appeared. Then, lastly, pictures of dead women and children popped up on the screen.
"These are, apparently, the least graphic pictures." Chloe let out a sigh as she leaned backwards. "The pollution level in this particular part of Africa has left animals and villagers dead, poisoned. Bruce is attending a charity event that is aiming to not only raise awareness of what is happening, but to get drinkable water to the villagers and their livestock, and also start the process of decontaminating the water."
"So he needs a date to make a charitable donation?" Clark asked.
"No." She raised an eyebrow. "I'm the head of Atlantis, this is basically what this whole place was built to combat. Arthur and I made names for ourselves in the ecological welfare community, and even though he's gone Atlantis is still rising and reaching out further and further. I need to be a part of this. I'm embarrassed I didn't know this was happening, but we're somewhat understaffed and with the pregnancy…" she sighed. "Thankfully Bruce keeps an eye out for me when it comes to charitable events or situations in which Atlantis can make a difference."
This was a part of Chloe that Clark felt alienated from. It wasn't that he didn't understand her mission, in fact it was highly commendable, but it was so different from how things had once been. Chloe and he had bonded over their mutual desire to protect the people, to solve mysteries and bring criminals to justice. Without that in common he was worried how exactly they were going to reconnect and reconstruct their strained bond.
He'd even thought about working at the Daily Planet with her some time back because it would prove him the best source of information of what was going on in the City, as well as a good cover for why he was interested in certain things or found in certain places. But Chloe wasn't working there any longer, and the thought of working with only Jimmy Olsen was a serious turn off.
"What do you think?"
He blinked, realizing that she'd just asked something and was looking at him nervously.
She cleared her throat. "We can't offer a huge pay or anything, but I figured you're here all the time anyway, and not everyone can get along with Maera-."
The intercom came on, and Maera's voice could be heard saying: "I heard that!"
Chloe switched off the intercom and turned back to Clark. "So it wouldn't be too horrible. Right? And if you found something you enjoyed more there will be no weirdness."
Clark stared down at her in dawning understanding. "You're offering me a job, here, at Atlantis."
"Well, we run an awareness magazine, and I know from the Torch days that you definitely have talent when it comes to writing articles… and I know that it isn't what you want but, again, its temporary until you find someone else you really want to do-."
"I don't know how much help I could be," Clark cut into her nervous monologue. "But it sounds like interesting work."
Chloe beamed up at him. "Great."
Clark didn't know why, but he was suddenly the happiest he'd been in a very long time.
Clark liked Diana. He especially liked her after he realized that she'd figured out they were being set up, and she'd bluntly announced that he was cute but not her type and she wasn't interested. He'd basically replied the same to her. They'd been fast friends at the dinner table ever since. He could see himself being friends with Diana outside of Lois' dinner parties (and by god, but Lois was being maternal, it was scary!) and figured he shouldn't have doubted Chloe's assessment that he'd like Diana. Chloe knew him better than anyone else did, he should've realized she'd be right.
"So, Smallville," Lois declared as she took a sip of some sort of alcoholic beverage. "My baby cousin says that you're going to work for her in Atlantis."
Clark turned to the brunette who looked lovely yet deadly in her blue dress. She reminded him of a Bond Girl, and he was almost sure that she and Maera must get along splashingly. "Yeah, she offered me the job today, and while I'm not exactly sure what I'll be doing, I've never really been a part of an eco-empire so it'll be interesting."
"If you find that it doesn't suit you, you can always come and work with us full-time," Oliver declared easily. "All the boys except for Wayne work for Queen Industries in one way or the other."
"I run my own business," Diana supplied when Clark sent her a questioning look.
"Please, like he's going to leave Atlantis once he settles in," Victor snorted in amusement. "You seem to forget just how tight he and Watchtower were before he left for training."
"I don't blame him either," Bart declared. "I'd kill to work side by side all day long with Chloelicious too."
"Lucy is right there." Oliver pointed to his sister-in-law, who sat on Bart's other side.
"Oh, I don't mind." Lucy Lane had grown up, and apparently was still embedded in the criminal work, but was somehow good friends with the League. Clark wasn't sure exactly how that'd happened or how it worked. Or why they trusted her. "I think the fact that he has a crush on her is cute. Especially since we all know he doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell."
"You injure me, Lucia Mi Vida," Bart declared, hand to his heart in mock agony. "I don't know how I'll ever survive this."
"Oh, does that mean you're not going to finish your chicken?" Lucy asked, raising her fork to snatch it from his plate.
In seconds Bart superspeeded away, plate safely in his hands. "Then again, I'm very resilient!"
Lucy, and everyone else, laughed at him.
Clark smiled and turned to tease Chloe when he remembered she wasn't seated next to him. His smile slipped somewhat as he wondered what exactly she was doing at that moment. She was missing out on a good night. He'd have to fill her in on it tomorrow.
Like he'd been doing all night, Clark checked in on her in the only way he could without tipping off everyone. He listened for her heartbeat.
And then he froze.
Unlike the multiple times he'd checked in on her, her heartbeat wasn't calm, it was racing. He fixed his hearing on her heart, concentrated like he'd been taught, on her and only her, and within seconds he could hear her labored breaths, the fear in her tone when she whispered: "Bruce, we need to call for help."
He hadn't even realized he was standing until someone grabbed his arm.
It was Victor, eyes narrowed. "What's wrong with her?"
How had Victor known that Clark's standing up so suddenly his chair fell back had to do with Chloe?
"She's in trouble. Something's happened." Clark could feel desperation and fear welling up in his body.
"So he has the ability to see what's going on around him?" Lucy asked. Apparently she knew most of the people there had abilities, and had figured Clark did as well.
Lois ignored her sister and turned to Oliver. "I'll Watchtower this time. Victor-."
"I'm already on it," Victor declared as he hurried out of the room.
Clark knew he should wait on the team, but he'd already superspeeded before even realizing what he was doing. He'd followed Chloe's racing heartbeat like a beacon, and found himself behind a pillar, watching as a group of masked men had those from the charity hostage at gunpoint.
His gaze found Chloe immediately, and he gulped.
She looked beautiful and fragile, terribly pale as she stood within Bruce Wayne's arms. She clung to him, looking somewhat pained, and leaned into him, obviously seeking comfort… comfort which the billionaire happily supplied as his arms encircled her tightly, protectively. There was a dark glint in his eyes as he stood positioned so that his body shielded most of hers from the stares of their captors, and those dark eyes were clearly assessing the situation and planning a way of not only getting the hostages to safety, but capturing the bad guys.
It was only when Bruce shifted that Clark noticed the bruise on Chloe's cheek. Someone had clearly backhanded her.
Clark hadn't meant for it to happen. He hadn't even known it was happening until after the fact. It was only when the clothes of the men holding them hostage caught on fire and the men began to duck and roll that he realized that beams of red had shot out viciously in retaliation. He took in a deep breath and blew a gust out towards them, managing to blow out the flames like one might a candle. It was all that was needed for Bruce and other men to get involved and turn the tides on their captors.
All throughout the chaos, Chloe's gaze searched around her desperately, and somehow her greens found Clark's blues. And she smiled. She smiled so beautifully despite the bruise on her cheek and the chaos around her.
In seconds Clark grabbed her and was out of there, depositing her safely in her home in the Clocktower. "They hit you." He raised his hand to softly cup her injured cheek.
"I talked back, they don't like that." She leaned into the touch. "How did you know?"
"Your heartbeat was racing in fear."
She stared up at him. "You were listening to my heartbeat?"
He flushed and pulled away. "I, uh, I should go and help… you go to bed!" He then disappeared and reappeared with a confused and amused Lucy Lane. "Take care of her."
"So… psychic and fast." Lucy took in all in stride. "Are you faster than Bart?" She then actually caught a glimpse of her cousin and her eyes widened in horror. "Did someone hit you?" Her tone was murderous.
Assured that Chloe was left in good(ish) hands, Clark superspeeded back.
"How is she?" Those were the first words that Bruce Wayne said to Clark as they dealt with the aftermath of the attack.
He'd kept an open channel to her heartbeat, and it was calm once more, had been for a while now. "Fine. Resting at home with Lucy."
Bruce nodded. "If I had known that the local crime lord would-."
"You shouldn't have brought her," Clark interrupted, unable to stop himself. "She's pregnant, very so. You shouldn't have put her or the baby in danger like this."
Bruce Wayne raised an eyebrow. "She was in the best of comfort, and these events are good for Atlantis, are good-."
"I don't care." Clark didn't like Bruce Wayne, and he knew that a part of it was childish jealousy. He'd always had Chloe, a hundred per cent, and he'd never liked anyone she'd dated or gotten close to. It was wrong, but it was the truth. "I don't think AC would've allowed you to pull what you just did had he been alive, and now that I'm here I won't either."
"Don't you dare insinuate that I don't care about Chloe or her wellbeing." There was a calmness in Bruce's voice that belied the dark burning in his eyes. "You've been gone for five years, I've been here all that time, I care about her."
It was Clark this time who spoke calmly despite the fire burning in the pit of his stomach. "Well, I'm back now, and I'm going to make sure that she's properly cared for from now on and not dragged into dangerous situations."
Bruce laughed. "You obviously don't know Chloe if you think you can keep her from danger."
"I mightn't be able to keep her from it, but I'll protect her from it," he promised softly. "Her and the kid."
"AJ," Bruce corrected. "The 'kid' has a name - AJ."
"I know that."
"Do you?" Bruce narrowed his eyes. "I don't know how things were when you were here, but things change, Clark. That's life. People and situations change. We aren't frozen in time. But you don't seem to get that." He stepped closer. "Maybe you need to accept the fact that she's not the girl you left when you went to train."
He knew Chloe wasn't the same person. It was painfully obvious. Nothing about his life was the same as it'd been when he'd left. He'd been able to somehow accept the other changes, but he hadn't with Chloe. He'd admitted that to himself. But he wasn't trying to make Chloe be the person she'd once been, he was trying to adapt to her new world and circumstances.
"Look," Bruce sighed, all animosity suddenly gone. "She'd be the first one to slap us both up if she could see us now." He really did know Chloe, huh? "I'm just glad that she is okay." He took in a deep breath and held out his hand. "Thank you for coming to help when you did."
"She was in trouble, I'll always come to help." And yet Clark took that hand and shook it, not sure why things weren't hostile between them anymore.
"Good, because she's always getting in trouble and needs a whole league to get her out of it," Bruce chuckled.
Clark still didn't like Bruce Wayne, but he figured he could come to appreciate him, he supposed. If anything, this was someone who cared about Chloe, genuinely, and because of that Clark couldn't ever truly dislike him. Not completely, at least. "She does. She really does."
When he got back, Chloe was sleeping.
"I gave her something to make her sleep, she wanted to go be Watchtower and she was too agitated for her own good," Lucy declared as she rose from the sofa. "She should be fine now." She tilted her head to the side. "Everything alright?"
He nodded, not too sure how happy he was with Lucy Lane knowing about him, but there was nothing he could do about that now.
He nodded once more.
"Good," she sighed in relief. "I've been trying to call him but he isn't answering."
As if summoned, her hair blew with a gust of wind and Bart Allen stood there. "How's Chloelicious? Someone said she got hit?"
"She's fine, sleeping," Lucy answered. "We should go and leave her to rest."
Bart hesitated before he nodded, saluted Clark, picked up Lucy bridal style, and then with a gust of wind was gone.
Clark gazed towards the room before he slipped towards it. He felt odd, sneaking into Chloe's room, but he needed to know that she was okay with his own two eyes.
Sure enough, snoring softly, with a leg looped over a body pillow (which she hugged tightly) was Chloe Sullivan-Curry. She was fast asleep, whatever Lucy had given her had worked wonders. She looked peaceful, except for the mark darkening on her cheek.
He clenched his fist at the sight of it before he slipped out from the room and went to sit on the couch. He answered Lois' call when she rang to let him know that she'd come over to spend the night, and he told her not to bother, he wouldn't leave. He promised Lois he'd tell her if anything else happened, and felt a little clenching in his chest when she whispered how relieved she was that he was back, before she hung up.
Lois knew what Clark did: Chloe didn't have anyone taking care of her – because she wasn't allowing herself to be taken care of – and it wasn't right.
Someone needed to take care of her, and unlike Lois, he didn't have a child and family of his own to worry about. And anyway, Clark wouldn't have it any other way, especially not after tonight.
He was going to take care of Chloe – whether she wanted him to or not.
For the first time since he'd come back, Clark felt like he had a purpose.
END of PART ONE