Chloe Sullivan liked working at the Daily Planet. Unlike
the Torch, there wasn't any freak of the week tearing
through her files and without her typical editorial duties to interrupt
her, she was rarely annoyed or bothered. In fact, she was rarely
stressed out due to her actual work at all, totally unlike her
previous summer as a mail and coffee deliver. Chloe figured that
the Luthor rider attached to this job (one she wasn't sure if she
was happy to have) probably paid to keep her time open for
whatever job Lionel wanted from her.
However, every time she sat down at her cubical,
her mind drifted back to the day where she made a deal with the
proverbial devil. It had felt funny and awkward sitting there,
nothing in which to record the meeting; no pens, no tapes, nothing
that proved she was the journalist she so desperately wanted to
become. She had allowed herself to be bought, and now she sat in
her corner of the main floor with her dream realized. But it felt
wrong. She had her job, she had the paper... but she wasn't happy. And she knew exactly why.
Chloe peered over at the desk caddy-corner from her where Grant
McKinnon and Max Taylor were talking over the work of a
investigative reporter. She could see the desk, the excited
voices, and her heart started to beat a little faster. She wasn't
interested in fluff pieces she wrote currently. No, digging and
collecting where Chloe's skills, and delivering the message was
the pay off.
And, although Lionel hadn't realized it yet, the older Luthor
had given her the key to that future. She had to be careful, but
after her investigations with Arther Walsh had reaffirmed what she
had believed during the stand-off at the LuthorCorp plant:
Level Three was the story of her career; whether Lionel Luthor liked
it or not.
Chloe knew he expected her to use his resources to find the
insight into Clark that he couldn't and for her to use those
answers for her Wall. At first, perhaps she did too.
But after her conscious had kicked into high gear, she had
turned her access into an excuse to search out the truth about
Level Three. About what they did, who was in charge, who was a
target. Anything she could get her hands on, all with the claim
that understanding the people whom Clark had stopped could provide
some key insight into Clark himself.
She tapped her fingers on her desk impatiently. The newest
intern hadn't shown up with her mail yet; Craig had hinted that
there were more spottings, including a mention on last nights
police records, of Metropolis' latest urban legend. Supposedly, he
was going to bring her up the file with her mail but he was late,
and she was hungry.
Putting her purse on her shoulder, she flicked off her monitor
and started out to lunch. While her mind wandered back to the
tangles of her small town, her body walked out into the open, sprawling
excess of the city. Right now she was uptown and everything was
shining, expensive. She took one look at the golden glove atop the
building and cracked a smile. That symbol never failed to raise
her spirits a bit; it was a beacon that shown the ideals of truth
and justice in a city that wasn't always so moral.
Her tiny heels clicked along the pavement as she walked, and while in Smallville they would have made distinct noises with each footfall, here her steps were lost with in the myriad of different people surrounding her.
Part of Chloe always marveled at how quickly she fell back into the city-girl role she had once lived. In three
days or less, she was guarded and determined once more, each
action a 'sure thing.' Lately though, she always had lingering
doubts about how much small-town life had finally seeped into her
pores and made her look out of place.
Stopping at a Balducci's, she pulled open the handle of the
door, and quickly slid into a booth at the back. Ruby, the lunch
time waitress, brought her the black coffee wordlessly, flopping a
menu down and walked off. She'd be back in about seven minutes,
even though they both knew what Chloe was going to order.
The blonde stayed lost in thought. The same day she had
'agreed' to help Lionel, she had come back to see her office
trashed once again. It frustrated her to no end but Pete came in
the next morning to help her clean it up; he seemed to feel almost
They had done this before; it was becoming like some sort of
tradition. Chloe had pulled out the clip board and Pete had
tallied through everything in the office that day marking it off
on the official check list she had printed up after the time when
Eric -- no, she paused and corrected herself, Lionel -- had
trashed the properties. It was three o'clock when they went
through the final tallies and she had asked if everything was
still there. Pete had ran his finger down the clip board, talking
in a tired tone.
"Yep, everything's here..." His voice had wavered
slightly and clutched the clipboard a bit to tightly. She had
snatched it from him in annoyance. Pete never had been able to lie
to her very well, and her trailed her finger up and down the check
listed until she noticed the one item that was checked-off but she
The red-meteorite class ring.
Rubbing her temples as Ruby sat her turkey melt in front of
her, she tried to piece the puzzle together -- again. Chloe knew,
based on the incident at the beginning of the year that this variety
of meteorite could effect people too. The person in question, of
course, was Clark. She never told him what she suspected or posted
him on her wall exactly... but she couldn't deny what she had seen
with her own two eyes. It was a theory that Lana reluctantly
contributed to after Chloe had grilled the Talon owner about her
own thrill ride. Chloe still had no idea how many other students
where inadvertently harmed by the red crystal or what it did to
them. But someone had gone to pretty good lengths to find that
ring, someone who had to know she had one.
'Well,' she thought with a small snort. 'That narrows the field
to everyone in Smallville High.' She paused, biting into her
greasy sandwich. 'But since only my desk was torn open it would be
someone who knows me well enough to know where I'd put it.' That had shortened the list considerably, and the name left at the top wasn't one she was exactly thrilled to
Clark, who had some kind of known reaction to the red stone,
had purposefully stolen it from her and had left town. Chloe bit
her lip. Surely he had gathered by now that prolonged exposure caused whatever effects it had on him to worsen.
A dull panic
started to grow in her chest, the one she had been trying to stamp
out for months, and the realization set in fully.
Clark became, well, anti-Clark according to her and Lana's
observations. Not that it made sense, or that it was much of a
mutation compared to what she had seen before, but the dull panic
was growing. Clark normally was a good, helpful guy. A guy who
saved lives, a guy who was practically a model kid, a guy who was
pretty moral and law-abiding. The idea of a Clark who hurt people
and decided his word was law... the thought struck her cold.
'Clark's going to get himself killed.'
Chloe leaned back in her seat with a sigh, the booth creaking
with her movement. Clark could be anywhere, doing any number of
things. And while she wouldn't call herself a friend of Clark's
any longer, she didn't want him die. Chloe had claimed only
months earlier to get to the bottom of Smallville's mysteries and
to try to expose the truth about the meteorites. Her own curiosity
had made her hang on to the ring; it was her fault that he had it.
She had to stop Clark before he hurt himself because of it.
With an abrupt nod, she flipped her money on the table. Grabbing her purse,
she made her way back to the Planet. She pulled out her cell phone. The screen flashed that she had three new messages, but Chloe ignored them, it was most likely Lionel anyway.
It could be Lucy ....but Chloe didn't really want to talk to either of them. Her fingers flew over the familiar
number and she found herself muttering waiting for the pick up.
"Mark!" she exclaimed when he did finally answer.
"Mark, I need you to look up something for me as soon as
possible. I'm looking for a 1970's vintage black motorcycle, the
title should be for Jonathan Kent." She paused outside the Planet
entrance. "No, I don't have any more information because I
think the plates may have been changed... the original was CHN
something; it should of been in Metropolis at least in the last
month... can you just check police reports or tracings or
something with what information you do have?" Licking her
lips she heard him grudgingly agree and she beamed. "Oh,
thank you so much! I owe you," she added before returning to
When she walked in side, people were running everywhere, the
noise of the keyboards and the talking seemed to roar. Control
over the normal chaos was gone. Chloe weaved in and out of the
crowd for minutes before she could get to her desk. Looking over
her cubical wall, she saw a familiar dark head and two hands
moving furiously as the girl navigated through the Planet's
information database. She called the occupant's common nickname a
few times before changing her tone.
"Catherine!" she asked in a harsh whisper. The familiar
face of the oldest intern whipped up to look at her, startled and
then slightly annoyed that the blonde had broken her routine.
"What is it?" the fellow intern asked, her voice
tinged only slightly with harshness.
"What's going on? It's like a zoo in here." Chloe
looked over her cube again as Grant broke into a loud rant at
newly-wedded Ron and winced.
"Hello? Chloe? Are you even listening?" She whipped
around to look back at Catherine, the former Hawaiian intern
looking at her with a heavy glare from her dark brown eyes. Chloe
shook her head and gestured towards the editor.
"McKinnon was....I was distrac..." she paused.
"I'll take that as a, 'No, Cat, I did not check my voice
mail after lunch.'" Chloe grinned sheepishly at the smirking
girl. "What happened," Catherine said, dropping her
voice, "Is that there was a bunch of robberies about an
half-an-hour ago -- at the DeBeer's shops and at the Metropolis Museum.
While the bigger jewelry shops are reporting losses in the
thousands already, the city officials aren't even saying what is
missing from the museum. I'm guessing it has to be a lot if they
don't want to admit how badly their new security system messed up.
My money is that it's on the Wayne exhibit on loan from Gotham and
they just don't want to have to deal with Bruce's lawyers."
Cat's smile was creeping up her face, her eyes glinting in odd
happiness in the fluorescent lighting of the office. Chloe inhaled
deeply, the idea of a super speedy thief sounded more like
something out of Smallville than Metropolis.
"How could one crime ring do all that in broad daylight?
That's impossible." Catherine smiled wildly at her now,
knowing she had Chloe hook, line, and sinker.
"Want to know the really impossible thing about it, Chloe?
The rumor is the robberies took place within seconds of one
another. The timed tapes at the stores lined it up -- supposedly
all you see is a streak. Gems are there, seconds later -- poof!
gone! -- And then, the next one gets hit." Catherine grinned
up at her, please with the work.
"GRANT! SULLIVAN! Back to work!" The stern face
glared at her with steely gray eyes that made her angered and
abashed at the same time. In that instant she was so happy not to
be working with the regular internship just so she didn't have to
listen to McKinnon everyday.
Chloe heard the taps of Catherine's key strokes as she slunk
into her chair. A thick manila file sat on her desk with her mail,
a small blue post-it note from Craig attached to the top in a
scrawling print. Peering around, she flipped through
it for a moment finding police reports, sighting notifications,
photos and other miscellaneous objects. Pulling out a few pieces of paper, she began to read even as her mind wandered elsewhere.
She had seen telekinetic abilities from Justin and while he
could move things quickly, he couldn't move them as fast as these
robberies supposedly happened. And, compared to Smallville, it
wasn't out of the question. She needed to get a hold of those
tapes to see exactly what happened.
Shaking her head, Chloe stuffed the folder into the messenger bag she kept tucked inside her
desk. 'Urban myths and robberies can
wait for a change,' she though and she flicked on her computer,
'I've got a more important mission for the moment.' The Planet's
database came up faithfully and a few seconds later, she was for
information about the red vein of meteorite near Hobb's Pond.
Finding Clark and the mysteries of the red meteorite came first,
then she could focus on the jewel heist.
It was a little after six when she got to her flat, tossing her
bags right inside the door. Her apartment was also uptown and a
bit too sterile for her liking. Lionel had put her up in the small
condo which felt more than a little lonely. It also, based on a
passing comment Clark had made earlier in the year, more than a
little nervous as to how exactly the elder Luthor was keeping tabs
on her. Especially with the false leads she had been feeding him.
Walking over to her iMac, she flipped it on and threw the manila
folder from Craig on her desk. As she waited for her system to
boot-up she pulled her heels off and sat down Indian-style in her
broken computer chair.
Sitting there her mind started another run-through of what she
had accomplished. After researching the class ring company for a
third time, she had tried calling her roommate. Chloe had tried at
home, at the Talon, and finally at Nell's only to never reach the
brunette. Eventually Chloe had slammed the phone down in frustration,
realizing that any direct questions about Clark to Lana would
probably result in evasion or tears; she didn't have time to deal
with either. For a moment she had contemplated calling Pete, but
he would also play the diversionary tactic.
Chloe twirled a lock of hair at the back of her neck around her
index finger, trying to plan her next step. What she needed were facts. Cold, hard facts about Clark's where abouts and what he was doing. She needed them if she was going to call anyone from home.
Her fingers flew over the keys as she logged on, bringing up a
web browser and a few other auto-launched programs. Chloe entered
her files, bringing up her saved Ledger and Torch articles.
Skimming for the information she needed, she maximized the browser
and entered her email program. Several new messages appeared
highlighted, many with a red dot marked as 'urgent' and titles
about the supposed 'super criminal.'
Clicking on them randomly and skimming, she picked up her phone
and dialed the familiar number of her local Chinese take-out.
Craig had emailed her with more stray factoids and Teresa had
reminded her of her article deadline. She was working on her story
for her boss when the delivery boy dropped off her food. She was
eating and proofreading when her doorbell rang again ten minutes
Confused, she went to the door and looked out. A large white
and purple package rested on her doorstep. Pursing her lips, she
picked it up and shut door with her foot. Setting the LuthorCorp
package on her coffee table, she pushed her article and pan fried
noodles to the end.
The white and purple cardboard folded back easily, as did the
bubble wrap, to reveal a cream, watermarked envelope and another
LuthorCorp box. Her kiwi colored nails scrapped against the thick
paper as she tore open the seal and pulled out two sheets of paper
and a card. The eggshell card invited her to a LuthorCorp opening
exhibit that was to come to the recently robbed Metropolis museum
in a few weeks. The second sheet was a small laminated press pass.
And the third was a letter in Lionel's slanted script,
notification that he would be "in touch" and his belief
that should would find his parcel "extremely
Chloe gave a hard look at the invitation. Who in their right
mind would put up an exhibit in a museum so quickly after it had
been robbed? It was understandable that the museum wanted to move
on, to put up something that would give them good press. But for
Lionel Luthor to put a collection of anything in it seemed ludicrous.
Chloe smelled a conspiracy.
The other white and purple box caught her eye; what in the
world was he sending her? She stacked her letters on her table
before tearing into it. Seven small, glossy discs tumbled out of
it and onto the raspberry carpet of her apartment. Lightly
touching them, as if afraid they would crumble under her
fingertips, she picked them up noting tiny silver letters and
digits marked around the inner ring of each disc, labeling them.
Picking the first disc, she put it inside her DVD player and sitting
Indian style on the carpet, she reached back for her pan fried
noodles as it played, showing nothing. Chloe grasped her
chopsticks and glanced down and pick out a piece of chicken (it
was cold) and when she looked up the screen showed a jewelry store
covered in scattered bits of broken glass cases, a woman
screaming, and a distinct lack of jewelry.
Dropping her food, she realized exactly what he had sent her.
Chloe scrambled for her remote and backed the disc up. Watching
intently, her eyes could barely keep up with the motion; glass
would fly as if impacted with a sledge hammer, forming a
glittering explosion that fell over the velvet jewel cases. A dark
spot zigged across the screen as she put the player into slow
motion. Then suddenly the spot just streaked away and the glass
was broken. Her green eyes flicked down to the lower right corner
of the screen; it had been 12:05 PM in Capriani's. Her hands
twitched, she needed to write down the thoughts flying through her
Jumping over her forgotten supper, Chloe raced to her back room
picking up a map of downtown Metropolis and a felt-tip marker. She
swept her arm across the coffee table, knocking the books and
other paper mail on the floor. Scanning the map, she found the
intersection which the Italian jewelry shop had stood and put
circle with the time down with her navy marker.
Half an hour later, she had six more dates circled creating
several sharp zig-zags across the city while only five minutes had
passed. The disc from the museum was spinning around in her DVD
player showed that Catherine's instances were annoyingly spot on.
Bruce Wayne's exhibits of gems, ancient artifacts, and other
family relics were smashed and raided, although it wasn't as
cleared out as it could of been. As if the blur was only looking
for certain objects.
Chloe looked down at her map. What was the pattern, besides the
fact that they were all jewelry stores? Gems were easily traded
and disguised, and even more easily smuggled away as a back up monetary
supply incase said criminal was caught; Chloe had a feeling that
wasn't it or all of it at least. Green eyes flitted over the map
again as her finger trailed along the dark blue line. Her finger
stopped over an un-robbed Tiffany's store, a perfect midpoint of
the line. The store was right in-between the first, southern most
robbery and the last, northern most robbery of the museum. It was
also between the robberies to the farthest east and west. It was
right smack dab in the middle and, it was fine!
'This only makes less and less sense,' she thought. 'It would
be an obvious target but, it's fine. And while there was an
obvious breach of the Intertech security system and the known
rivalry between Wayne Industries and LuthorCorp, it just doesn't
She moved her finger up and down on the map before her eye
caught on what would be the median line between the museum and the
first store. The phone rang and she absently answered it as she
uncapped her marker and started drawing the line down from the museum.
"Chloe? I've got the information about that motorcycle you
wanted," Mark said, slightly hassled. She perked up a bit as
she continued to slow draw her line southwards along Main Street.
"Really? Where is it?" The navy streak ran straight through
the untouched Tiffany shop, sitting like a guide post for her
"It's been spotted all over the city. Quite often around
the Syracuse Projects earlier this summer, which is - supposedly -
right at the heart of Edge's territory." His voice was
picking up with excitement as Chloe finished her marking. Her blue
line ended on an old steel factory at 1403 Elm, a few scant blocks
from the Syracuse. Mark continued on, oblivious to Chloe's
silence. "Right in the middle of..."
"Suicide Slum," she finished for him drawing a big
blue circle around the area, her voice soft with awe and shock.
What was Clark doing there, of all places? And why did Lionel send
her the discs, in the first place? Chloe clicked her phone off,
dazed, and picked up Craig's file. She suddenly felt as if she had
a lot of reading to do.
Chloe was walking down Brubaker Avenue, her eyes shifting
around for possible dangers. It had been a week since Mark had
called her; Chloe knew it wasn't much to go on but she didn't have
many other options. She had spent the past two nights walking
amongst decrypt brick buildings. Neither her apartment nor these
slums were the side of Metropolis that Chloe had grown up in and
neither of them truly showed the side of the city that she loved.
Nevertheless, the downtown district had provided some odd comfort
to her; at the very least she knew this town better than Clark.
She pushed her way into another bar; he had taken Lana to the
Wild Coyote last time, perhaps Clark liked bars. No one looked up,
no one carded, no one cared, and after multiple hours of walking
in high-heeled boots neither did Chloe. Perching herself on a
stool, she ordered a drink, dropping her voice to seem older than
she was. The clear liquid was slapped down in front of her, a
slight swirl between the two different viscosities. She could see
the name 'Ace O'Clubs' in blurred red letters on the napkin below
the glass. Picking it up, she glanced at the liquid.
The random lights of the run down shack were already starting
to agitate her eyes by the time she finished it. The random
effects made her dizzy; she wondered if looking in the technos and
clubs would be more useful. She would certainly be able to check
those without looking like a barfly all the time.
She peered up through her spiked bangs, to see the barkeep
staring at her. His hair line was receding and his eyes were beady
- two things she was beginning to stereotype bartenders having
already. His smile was a bit encouraging despite the gold capped
"Anything can I do for ya, honey?" he asked, with a
leer. Chloe looked through her clutch purse. Shoving the mace to
one side, she pulled out her wallet and nodded, withdrawing a
picture of Clark as she did so.
"Dij..Have ya seen him?" she asked her words
slurring. The old man gave her a hard look as he rubbed down the
countertop and refilled her glass.
"What's it to you, missy." It was not a question.
Chloe mind wracked itself for answers, coming up short.
Shuttering, she paused for a moment.
"He's my ...cou-cousin. Yeah. My cousin." She lowered
her voice conspiratorially. "I think he might be gettin'
himsleph into trouble." The bartender's look dissolved into a
hearty chuckle at her last statement.
"He comes in on occasion on weekends to see some the
locals -- Saturdays. Does that help, sweetie?" he asked
glancing down her top before his dark eyes met hers. She nodded
and slipped off the stool with a wobble. She tried to put down
money but he shook his head. "Keep it." His voice was
short and clipped, and Chloe thought she detected a hint of fear.
"I'll just put it on your....cousin's...tab."
She nodded, her head spinning. She pressed up against the door;
the humid air seemed to cling on her skin and the climbing temperature
made her dizziness increase. Chloe made her way into the subway
and onto her train back towards the west side. Ignoring the looks
of the man that shared her car, she clutched her stomach and bent
over wanting her head to clear. 'I've got a lead,' she thought as
she curled up on a chair, her body going limp far to quickly.
'It's not much, but it's a lead.'
The sun was shining in her face when Chloe woke up, and Dominic
Senatori was sitting in a chair across the room from her, reading.
Groaning, she sat up and pushed covers that she didn't remember
crawling under, off. Looking down, she was wearing large, teal,
button-up pajama top that was definitely not hers.
The man sitting in her room, the one she knew by a few brief
meetings and the few times he had shown up to hassle Lex or the
Kents, immediately got up and started talking to her, his voice
soft but his tone that of mock servitude.
"Good morning, Ms. Sullivan. Is there something I can get
you? Some water, perhaps? How was your rest?"
Chloe rubbed her temples. She still felt sick and dizzy, two
things she definitely wasn't going to tell him. And there was no
way she would drink anything he touched. The room was slightly
blurry past the foot of the bed and she thought asking him a
simple question wouldn't hurt.
"Wh...where am I?" Her voice crackled with disuse.
The worm-like man perched himself on the corner of her bed, his
hand resting atop her calf with only a sheet in-between. She
flinched a bit, but he didn't seem to care.
"You seemed to have managed to get yourself in a bit of
trouble. I've made sure you got home safely. We wouldn't want
anything happening to our newest associate. As for an actual,
physical location, Mr. Luthor and I thought it best if you spent
some time in your normal surroundings."
Panic and fear leapt up in her throat as she recognized her
room and saw most of her belongings from her condo unpacked in it.
A spot of trouble...the drink. Images of the bar and the strong,
leering man and tip to Clark. Clark! She had gotten tabs on Clark
They were tracking her; they had to be. But what else did they
"How...you were following me?!" she blurted out
quickly as the forty year-old grinned unsettlingly.
"You really shouldn't be nervous, Ms. Sullivan." His
voice barely concealed venom at her name. "I'm sure we have nothing to hide from each other, now do we?" Chloe blinked a
few times, the blue walls of her room in Smallville coming into
sharp focus and let her mouth twitch into a small wistful grin.
"...of course not, Mr. Senatori." Letting the look
drop off her features she looked around again. Lionel had to know
that she was straying if he had drug her down to Smallville again.
"So..." she started, letting the word drop on her lips
for a moment as Dominic raised an eyebrow, "what time is
"Time for me to be leaving, young lady. With your
permission? I'm afraid I'm rather late delivering a report to Mr.
Luthor." He stood, brushing his perfect Aramani down as if
her home was to good for him. She gave him a sardonic look,
knowing that her father's job with Lex made ten times as much even
if it lacked the prestige.
"Of course," she said, ignoring his subtle look over
her legs. "Let me let you out." She wobbled down the
steps after throwing him a wan smile as if she didn't care what he
was going to tell his boss. Her stomach curled for the first time;
no, it was their boss. Dominic paused at the landing
looking around for a moment and she stopped as well, hand creeping
the door open.
"Your father has a lovely home here, Ms. Sullivan. You
know, I believe LuthorCorp still owns the mortgage on it. Small
world, isn't it?" He pulled a coat from the hall closet,
looking unnatural in July for doing so. Chloe felt her blood run
cold, understanding the implications.
"Yes." She swallowed thickly, feeling her stomach
flip-flop wildly. "Extremely," she monotoned as she
gestured for him to leave. She watched him out the small window on
the front door, locking it and not turning her back until his 944
was out of sight. Sliding her back against her side of the door,
she came to the floor as hot tears fell from her eyes and down her cheeks.
She was playing Lionel's game now; coming back and seeing her
house had put that back into perspective. She had to find out
about Level Three but the cost was quickly becoming much too high. Was a story
worth being drugged and abducted for? Worth losing her family
for? Worth any of it? Was Clark even worthy of all this?
Chloe didn't think so. Her eyes felt gritty and she rubbed at
them haphazardly before glancing at the clock. Half an hour had
slipped by and she looked up the stairs towards her room.
Truthfully she wanted to lock herself away, but she knew it
wouldn't change her situation.
'I should get help,' she thought with slight conviction. Chloe
shook her head; previously she had always gone to Clark for help.
As friends and with his hero complex, it had been an easy choice.
Clark was always trying to be on top of what ever trouble was
going down in the small town and when she needed his help, he was
there. 'Well, not anymore.'
Her next thought automatically jumped to Lex -- last summer he
had come in to help get the Intercorp CEO kicked out of his
company on a prior personal vendetta. The rift between Luthor
father and son was widely known and usable, sad as it was to say.
But Lex was still lost at sea -- she couldn't think of Lex as dead.
Either way, he couldn't do anything.
Pulling herself up, she thought of her father. He'd do anything
to help her and she knew it. Her father loved her, but she couldn't
get him tangled up in this. He was basically running LexCorp right
now and he had too much to think about. The last thing he needed
was to hear how much she had screwed up.
As she walked across the room, her body veered from side to
side. The drug, whatever it was, was still lingering in her
system. Reaching the coffee pot, she thought of her last helping
hand: Pete. Pete had helped last summer as well, but then again
she wasn't the one caught up in the drama. That was back when
Clark and Pete still shared things with her. Add on Pete's 'I told
you so's' due to her dealing with Luthors not to mention his
possible snubbing... no. No, she was in this alone.
The door to the kitchen squeaked open loudly as she raised the
mug of hot brown liquid to her lips. The sound of a heavy bag
dropped to the ground with a sickening crunch made Chloe turn her
head to see a dazed but happy Lana staring at her as if she'd
grown a second head.
"What?" she asked with probably more attitude than necessary
as Lana grinned wildly and walked over to hug her.
"I'm just so glad you are okay!" the other girl
exclaimed drawing back to examin her more thoroughly. "You
were asleep for three days at least, and you had a fever -- that
Dominic guy wouldn't leave your side -- what's the matter?"
Lana looked at Chloe's pale and drawn face. "Are you okay? Do
you feel bad again? Maybe you should go lay down," she
inquired as she raised the back of her hand to Chloe's warm forehead.
"At least three days?" Chloe cursed under breath,
angry at herself and at Dominic. The timing was too convenient and
Dominic was obviously keeping her under unknown to Lana. She had
missed her potential run-in with Clark and Dominic knew it. He had
made sure that she was out of Metropolis. A grim frown set on her
face as she processed her options. Swigging down her coffee, she
stormed up the stairs Lana chasing after her.
"What a minute! What's going on? Where are you
going?" Lana ran right into her bedroom and watched her throw
many of her freshly unpacked clothes back into her suitcase. The
dizziness had left her, replaced with anger and fear. No, she
wasn't going to be kept from her goals now; not when she was so
close to finding Clark again. Even Level Three could wait, where
ever Clark was Dominic Senatori knew. The thought frightened her.
"Metropolis," she answered in a short clipped tone,
throwing her make-up bag in the suitcase as well. Dominic wouldn't
run into Clark at a bar; it would be a club or something far more
upscale than Suicide Slum. Lionel Luthor obviously didn't like
having his employees frequent those parts. The excitement was
starting to rush though her again; this was big. The ties between
Clark and the robberies and now Dominic were too close to be
anything but linked. Lana's small, cold hands on her wrist stopped
her in her tracks.
"You need to slow down Chloe, you're going to get
hurt." She paused at Lana's words; the other girl was simply
talking about her 'illness' but the truth of her words was still
there. Biting her tongue, she fixed her roommate a cool glance.
"I have to go Lana, I've got a job to do." Throwing
off her night shirt, she pulled on a pair of jeans and a loose
T-Shirt for the upcoming three hour journey. It was the truth and
a lie; Chloe still felt guilty about it. She did have a job to do
even if it wasn't the one that she wanted Lana to automatically
assume it was. Sighing in defeat, Lana sat down on the edge of her
"Is there anything I can do to even help, Chloe?"
"No," Chloe said pointedly then sighed, relaxing. Now
was not the time or place, she chided herself. She wasn't going to
take her anger with Dominic out on Lana. Thinking, she said again,
"no...just look after my Dad for me, okay?" Lana nodded
slowly and picked up one of Chloe's bags. She reached down and
grabbed the other taking it down to her car which had been in
storage all summer.
"Keep in touch Chloe. Pete and I..." Lana trailed off
looking off in the distance. "We, we worry about you out
there." 'And Clark' was the unspoken tag line, but Chloe
didn't mind. If they knew half as much as she did right now, their
fear for Clark would dwarf any concern for her entirely.
"I will," she said with a small smile. "You keep
safe too; call me if anything happens." her green eyes gave
Lana a pointed look. "Anything at all." Flipping on her
sunglasses she hopped into the familiar feel of her car and
cranked her engine. Lana nodded and stood on the porch until she
was out of sight in Chloe's rear view mirror. In five minutes, she
had past the city limits and pressed down on the accelerator closer to the floor.
Metropolis was normally a three hour drive. She glanced down at
her clock and grinned slightly. Chloe was going to make it in two.
It was nearly 11 o'clock and Chloe Sullivan, complete with a
cramp in her back, had decided that hiding out in a Bug was
nothing like hiding out in her old Falcon. Her new car was cute,
but not so useful for staking out the LuthorCorp parking lots
It had been three in the afternoon when she finally made it back to her condo. She thrown open the doors expecting to see a mess, but instead found herself staring at her apartment, exactly as she left it. Despite her best efforts, she couldn't tell if her things had been sorted through or not, despite her gut feeling that they had. It was disconcerting.
Chloe had hopped on her iMac, but it also seemed untouched.
Apparently, the mysterious urban punk had been making pranks every
night in the ritzier areas of town. Craig had sent her several
huge files, including his own copy of the map with big circles
around the triangle of Suicide Slum, the Metro Museum, and
LuthorCorp. His brief email mentioned property damage for fun
seemed to be the mystery man's latest kick -- a string of papers
including the Inquisitor and the Planet had been vandalized.
He mentioned with an oddly perceptive tone that most of
LuthorCorp's handling were just fine. She smiled at Craig's
work; he sure was thorough.
'Very, very interesting,' she thought printing it out as she
logged on to the LuthorCorp mainframe. She browsed around looking
for any mention of Dominic or herself, but found none. 'That's to
be expected,' she thought digging a little deeper and finding the
location of the files on several Smallville residents (including
Clark and herself) and Dominic Senatori.
All of that excitement had lead her to where she was sitting
now, crouched in the back of her car waiting for the security
guard to move just a little bit so she could run inside. Dressed
in a light blue jumpsuit complete with a badge, she just needed to
sneak in as a janitor and get inside one of the upper level secretary's
offices. Heather, a fellow LuthorCorp employee, had helped her acquire
the outfit a month ago and Chloe was grateful. A 'D. Egan' in room
1508 was her goal right now, if the security man would move out of
the way. She pressed the indiglow button on her watch, 11:30.
Glancing up again she saw the watchman leave his post and she
hesitated for a few moments until she scrambled out of the car.
Her sneakers were silent after being broken in during last
year's PE class and she managed to make it over to the stairs with
out a sound. Sliding her identification card, she waited as the
light turned green and tried to shield the LED's glow with her
body. Opening the door, she snuck inside the dimly lighted
stairwell. Closing the door proved to be a hassle, especially as the night man made his way closer.
Easing it closed with a hiss, she turned to take the stairs three
at a time.
The few exit and level signs were back-lit with a red neon
color that had made her quite dizzy by the fifth floor, but she
was on some sort of runner's high. Chloe pressed on after pausing
to put her navy do rag on to seem more homely-little-matenence-crew-member
than flippy-haired-girl up-to-no-good.
By the time she reached the top offices, her legs were hurting
as she snuck in the exit door. It clicked open and creaked
slightly as she slipped in. Chloe looked around, the new hallways
were almost pure black with a few random soft blue neon lights on
which backlit the mirrored windows. Creeping down the hallways,
she counted off the room numbers on her way to the office.
Chloe stopped at 1508, amazed at the lack of protection on the
wooden door. A simple card swipe that she re-designated once
inside let her into the informational nexus she had been craving.
Ducking into the room, she slid up next to one of the filing cabinets
and pulled out a tiny maglight from her pocket. After clicking on
the flashlight, she snuck onto the computer and entered the
database putting in "D.'s" information name before
hacking further into the system. An inkling in her head said she
was probably costing the poor woman her job, but, the rest of her
overrode her conscience saying that her family and her friends
were more important.
Information about Clark first flitted up on the screen; many of
it supplied by her Torch articles, Lex's automotive team, and
other lies she had fed Lionel Luthor. Skimming past what she
obviously knew was a lie, she looked for recent news and theories
since he had left Smallville. Finding nothing of major
significance, she typed in the next name on her list.
Dominic Senatori's profile came up fewer hits than she would of
liked. Originally from London, he had a sister named Gemma and was
hired by Lionel when Lex was nine, shortly after the meteor
shower. He was also the son of a successful business man over
there; James Senatori had owned on of Britian's largest gemstone
companies before Lillian Luthor had bought him out. He was
also now the majority stock holder for LexCorp. Chloe pursed her
lips; while her father had not sold out, the other managers had in
addition to all the stock market shares.
That was how Lex lost his company; Lionel had used his
puppet. And now his puppet had huge amounts of capital at his
resources and the position in LuthorCorp to use his monetary
muscle. Scrolling down further, the name of Morgan Edge came up
and that finalized it. Dominic had his fingers in to many
things to not have some sort of hidden agenda. She inserted her
blue zip disc into the lady's machine and started copying the
files over, perusing the database as it saved.
Backing up, she searched for the crime lord who supposedly ran
the major crime district of Suicide Slum. An image of an oddly
striking man with dark hair appeared next to his profile and Chloe
couldn't believe how young the man looked. Shaking her head, she
scrolled down the page; the theories and connections between Edge
and the criminal activity of Metropolis were compiled neatly and
tripled the length of his report. Hitting Ctrl+S again, she
scurried over to the actual filing cabinets with her flash light
and started to search for Edge and Senatori to no avail. The
computer stopped whirring and she shut the drawer softly before
hurrying over to pocket the disc. Chloe checked her watch - it was
almost 12 AM and it had taken her a good twenty minutes to get
into the room. She needed to leave now if she could even hope to
get to her car without running into the security guard.
She left the room as quietly as she had entered, her zip disc
now feeling oddly heavy in her pocket. Jogging down the hallway,
and turned and ran into someone. Stumbling back, she glared at the
body half angry and half afraid before her features softened.
"Daddy?" she whispered, confused at the familiar eyes
peering at her with shock. Her father looked tired and haggard; it
worried her. Gabe grabbed her by the arm and hauled her up; he
didn't let go.
"What are you doing here?" he hissed leading her back
to the stairwells. Chloe had to hurry to keep up with his pace,
her mind searching for an answer. Mumbling out an answer, she
could tell in a glance that he really didn't believe that she was
researching a story for the Planet. Pursing her lips she
threw the question right back at him. Her father had hated Lionel
ever since the impromptu closing of the plant, it was a major part
of his full support of Lex. And with the further evidence of the
buy-out, surely he couldn't be here for any good reason.
"Don't worry about it," he told her his voice oddly
It was silent the rest between them of the way out of the
corporate building and in her car as her father took her not to
her condo, but to her's cousin's. Stepping out of the passenger's
side, she felt bad for not waiting for him back home.
"I love you, Dad," she murmured looking at him
through worried eyes. His face relaxed and he smiled at her; it
made a familiar warm feeling spread though her. Leaning over, he
reached up towards her face as he were seeing that she was a
teenager and not a five year old any longer.
"Love you too, kiddo," he replied before sitting
upright. "You should go upstairs and get some sleep; Lucy
should be expecting you." She nodded and watched him drive
off in her car. He was out of sight before she started her way
into her cousin's apartment building.
The next night, she entered one of the up-town techno's; Lucy
was pulling her inside by her wrist and babbling. Chloe had never
been there when it had been Club Zero, but she didn't think it
could look that different even if the name had changed. The room
was blue lit and light, surprisingly so in fact. Chloe thought the
combination of the lights and the square metallic furniture must of been
half of Atlantis' gimmick. Reaching up with her plum tipped nails,
she pulled a piece of streaked hair behind her ears only to have
Lucy swat at her hand.
"Don't do that!" the darker haired girl scolded, her
curly hair bouncing. Chloe shrugged as her college-aged cousin
lead her back to the bar.
Lucy ordered and Chloe watched before turning around to look at the
dancing masses. She felt out of place in the paradise of the
rich and powerful. People-watching was almost disgusting as even
on a weeknight the crowd was alive and gorgeous; Chloe scoffed.
If she had felt plain next to Lana, she felt down right ugly here.
Lucy handed her a tall drink, a few cubes of blue ice sitting
at the bottom of her glass re-iterating the cool, indifferent mood
of the club. Sipping it slowly, she tried to forget about her
life. 'Too many questions and not enough answers,' Chloe thought as
she let Lucy drag her out onto the dance floor.
"Loosen up, Chlo'!" her cousin said beginning to sway
with the music. "You are so tense, seriously. Just relax a
little bit, please?" The worried hazel eyes pleaded with her
and Chloe relented. Nodding she closed her eyes before starting to
Lifting her arms up over her head, she tried to forget about
her troubles -- about the fight brewing between her and her
father, about the huge mess of Dominic Senatori and Lionel Luthor,
about that Clark was stilling missing (and probably a thief). The drum beat was pounding as she swiveled
her hips and felt the crowd swallow her. There were no mobs, no drugging, no deals
with the devil; just music. Looking upwards she saw abstract
patterns of blue neon bulbs on the ceiling and ran her hands
through her hair, completely disregarding what Lucy had said.
She didn't know what time it was when she felt a large, warm
hand grasp her hip during some nameless song. At first, she didn't
care; she was tired but exhilarated. Lucy had been right, she had
needed a break from life. Her feet hurt from her stiletto boots
and her see-through-top was sticking her her back
but she felt free. In the crowd she was nameless, faceless, and no
one cared about the twisted directions her life was turning in.
The crowd was full of hands and arms and grasping during the
night. It was something she had at first put up with and then
enjoyed; it never lasted too long. However, as the song changed
the hand stayed put rubbing small circles on an exposed part of
her back with it's thumb. Chloe sighed before turning around to
tell the person off; it wasn't high on her list to tell people off
tonight. Looking around, her voice died on her lips.
"Hello Chloe," he said drawling the last syllable out
slowly, smugly. His hair was longer, curlier, she noted and he
looked...scruffy. There were a multitude of other changes, but
what she noticed was his eyes; normal grape green had become visible
blood-shot. It was just creepy,
and she gulped.
"Clark," she breathed, her eyes flitting down for a
second as the cold metal ring touched her skin. Questions hovered on her tongue but she paused
as he smirked and told her to call him "Kal". The ring
was digging into her back, a cold reminder of what she had to do.
She groaned inwardly; seduction was not her forte.
"So, Kal," she said dropping her voice a bit and
peering up at him from under her eyelashes, "This is where
you've been hiding." Chloe stared swaying her hips a bit to
the music as he smirked down at her. Clark's presence seemed
physically stronger as he drew her closer; she
was oddly disappointed that he didn't smell familiar. She knew
logically that he wouldn't smell of hay or line-dried clothes
any longer, but it still seemed wrong. He smelled spicy and something
else she couldn't put a finger on; but it was addictive. And while
she liked it, Chloe really missed the comfort of Clark smelling --
no being -- Clark.
"You were looking for me?" She tossed her head back
to see what his reaction would be. His hand held her up as he dipped her further backward, making her arch. Her hips
dipped and moved against him, she closed her eyes as his other hand
slid up her hip along her side to rest right
below her bra. Inwardly, she
was shaking but she just grinned widely at him and placed one hand
on his bicep and rocked to the beat.
"Maybe was, and maybe I wasn't." He moved his foot,
his left leg slipping in-between hers as she answered. "What's it to you?" she tacked on,
her head thrown back deliberately. Chloe opened her eyes to
a tight black shirt and his hungry leer. He grinned ferally at her as
he rocked his hips slowly; she swallowed a ragged breath.
Chloe breathed out slowly and looked at him through her lashes again.
Clark's lips dipped to her neck, nipping and kissing up to her ear
before whispering his reply.
"Depends what you have in mind." His mouth latched on
to the spot where her jaw and neck met, sucking slightly. She placed her fingers on his collar, rubbing the black
silk in-between her finger tips. Standing on tip-toe, she pressed
fully against him, looking him in the eye with a small smirk as
they stood still within the crowd.
"So..." she started, shivering slightly as his arms
held her in place, "do you wanna get out of here?" Chloe
tilted her head to one side, she could feel his hot breath against
her cheek again before he smiled at her, all attitude.
Chloe was amazed at how the crowd parted as he lead her toward
the front door. Several girls glared at her, jealousy in their eyes. When they finally got to the door, the
fresh air felt cool as he lead her over to the bike. She raised an eyebrow as he patted
lightly on the seat behind him. Climbing on, she squeezed up
against him as he asked her where to go.
"1303 Conners Avenue," she answered after a pause --
hoping that Lucy wouldn't mind her hijacking her apartment for a
few more hours. Going to her condo on Clarie Street was out of the
question; her belief about Lionel bugging it was more fact than fiction. And since Clark was seemingly working for
Edge or Dominic, he was under surveillance as well. Plus, she
highly doubted that Lucy was going to come home tonight.
The bike roared to life and Chloe gripped him tightly as Clark
started racing through downtown traffic. She had squinted her eyes
shut and clung as the older motorcycle ripped through the city.
Ten minutes later, they stumbled into Lucy's
dark apartment, landing on the couch. She had nervously led him
through the lobby and up the elevator to Lucy's room. Her head was
chanting her goal like a mantra -- get the ring, get the ring,
get the ring. Chloe slipped her extra key into the lock; Clark grabbed her ass causing her to jump. Pushing open the door
she let him in, and slammed it shut with her foot as Clark started
his previous ministrations on her neck.
Gasping, she pulled him over towards the sofa - tripping slightly
over the coffee table along the way. Clark landed on it first, the couch giving
a slight groan under his unexpected weight. She willed herself to separate the physical sensations
from her purpose as Clark pulled her back to him. Her eyes adjusted to the dark, the small light
from the hallway making Clark slightly illuminated. Chloe straddled
his lap and kissed him
again, letting his tongue enter her mouth. One of his large hands
ground her hips into the sensitive bulge in his jeans; She
'No, no, no! This isn't right!' her mind yelled at her
as Clark massaged her nipple through her bra. His
lips left burning trails up her neck and she rocked against him instinctually; he
kissed her on the lips again. It was slow, wet, and
drugging, as if it was continually erasing her mission from her mind.
her taught shirt off of her body with a smirk and tossed it across
the room. Leaning forward she started nibbling on his lower neck,
rewarded with a pleasured sigh. Using her fingers to undo the
first two buttons of his shirt, she felt his hand slide up to
unhook her bra; the metal of the ring was still surprisingly cool
and it jolted her back to reality.
Grabbing two fist-full of black silk, she pulled. The remaining
buttons scattered around the room; Clark just laughed at her. She bit back a gasp as the
red markings along his chest. Confused
about the markings, Chloe slowly pulled the fabric off of him; she
dropped errant, open-mouthed kisses as she worked. Clark lifted
her up, dipping his head
towards her breasts as she worked the shirt slowly off of him. As she pulled the sleeve off,
she felt the bulky, warm stone under her hand. Chloe pulled the ring off with the
His knuckle had given off an audible pop and his right hand had
pinned her hip painfully as they both stilled. Clark's eyes were
rapidly becoming less blood shot as he slowly looked at her.
Chloe just breathed, nervous and at a lost at what she was going to do now that the ring was in
her possession again.
"Chloe." His voice was soft, and tender; this time
when he let the 'e' drag it gave her hope. Chloe saw his
shoulder's sag as he inhaled slowly. "Please." he
added, just as softy, his eyes pleading with her and she knew what
he was asking for.
"I..I can't give it to you again, Clark." She shook
her head, and she shivered as the air
conditioning kicked on in the apartment. His eyes turned hard as
he asked again. Chloe shook her head again. "No." It was clipped and short; Clark
just grumbled in frustration and leaned into
"You don't understand Chloe," he started, looking
anywhere but at her. His was voice tinged with annoyance. "I
don't want to hurt you to get it. But I will if I have
to." Chloe grabbed his chin with one hand an turned it, forcing him to look at her.
"No, Clark," she told, looking at
him eye to eye. "you wouldn't." Gulping, she continued,
"You aren't that type of person. You don't hurt people, not
like that. Not over a stupid trinket." Clark titled his head
up, blinking rapidly. Chloe fell forward and slid unto his chest, resting her head
against it. When he spoke again, his voice crackled slightly, and
it sounded echoed in his rib cage.
"You don't know what type of person I am, Chloe. Just give
me back the ring, okay? I don't want to be me anymore." His
demands were loosing their urgency, and she wrapped her arms
around him in a loose hug.
"I know more than you think, Clark, okay?" She bit
her lip, his body shifted under her. Chloe looked up to see his
eyes no longer red but glimmering with unshed tears. "But,
you don't need it, okay?" She sniffled and hugged him
tighter. "You don't need it."
Chloe opened her eyes to see Clark watching her form a
chair near the bed. His hair was damp; he had changed into a gray
T-shirt and fresh jeans from somewhere. He smelled more like
himself again; it was comforting. Clark's features looked softer
now, not quiet as hard or sharp as they had appeared in the
club earlier that night. Instead, he appeared more calm and at
ease than she had seen him in almost a year; he almost looked
"Hi," she said softly, a smile tugging at the corner
of her lips as she tucked an errant curl behind his ear. The light
from her guest room window announced that dawn was coming soon;
the soft light filtered in and reflected off damp paths on his
"Hey," Clark answered catching her hand and holding
it for a few moments and trying to grin at her. "I take it
you like the new style?" he teased lightly, cautiously. She
nodded briefly before yawning.
"It looks good." Her eyelids felt heavy and she laid
back in the bed. Wriggling her toes, she realized Clark must had carried
her in earlier and taken her boots off.
"Chloe?" he asked, softly. Leaning up on her elbow, she questioned his name back at
him. "It's just.. I've been thinking..." Clark ran a
hand through his hair before starting over again. "This isn't
your apartment, Chloe," calmly, with a slight tinge of authority.
"No," she answered. "It's not. It's my cousin's.
I ...uh. I thought we'd be safer here." She looked at his
questioning gaze and flopped back onto the pillows with a heavy
sigh. "It's complicated, Clark." Clark furrowed his
"Explain it to me, then. Why did you find me? You said
you didn't care." He got up and started walking the room. Watching him fidget, she
collected her thoughts.
If she was ever going to lay it all out, it had to be now.
"Clark, I just..I...f.. after I put some of the pieces
together. I just... I couldn't sit back and let you get in over
your head. I.. uh," she gulped looking away from him before rephrasing
herself. "Back in May, Lionel Luthor offered me a job at the Planet."
She paused as he stopped pacing and leaned over the bed.
"You accepted it?" he questioned, his voice slightly
wary. She nodded turning back to him.
"At first it wasn't anything; I thought I sneak out
information on Level Three behind his back. It was...later, after
he fixed up the Torch, that he asked me to research certain
members of the community; including you. I
made up whatever lie seemed to satisfy his curiosity,
although I'm sure he's figured that out." She paused,
her voice softening. "Anyway, I wasn't really
that worried about you until I realized what that thing did. I was...
afraid that you were going to
get hurt or also involved with him and I couldn't just let that happen."
She started pulling a loose thread on the
quilt, and he sat down on the bed and drew her into a tight hug,
lightly pressing his lips to her forehead. Chloe leaned into his
embrace and shut her eyes for a few peaceful, comforting seconds.
"I'm so sorry, Chloe," he whispered against her
forehead. "I should of...of been there." His eyes were determined,
"I should of kept him away from you; I knew he was looking
into me long before May." His frustration and disgust was
evident in his sigh. Chloe tried to slip back out of his grasp, shaking her head.
"No, Clark! There was no way for you to assume that; plus,
you can't stop me from making decisions in my life. You
can't stop everything." He stared at her, frustration obvious in
his eyes. "You can't stop Lionel Luthor. You'll drive
yourself crazy if you try to - believe me, I know." Chloe
swallowed thickly. "I chose this, okay? I'll willing let you take the blame for
a lot of other things, but not this. It's my mistake, I'm the one
who has to live with it. I'm the one who has to protect the people
I care about from him, now."
"And what about the people I care about Chloe?" His
anger was growing as did the pitch of his voice. Chloe flinched as
Clark seemed to become yet another person with his conviction.
"Am I supposed to just let him mess with the people I love?
He did it to my parents, he's done it to you; am I supposed to sit
back and let him? Am
I supposed to let him and his lackies mess up whatever they choose
in my life? Is that what you want me to do?!" His hand
clenched into a fist. "I'm sorry Chloe, but no." His anger dropped off
abruptly as he exhaled. "No, if I would of been there for you
like I should of been, it wouldn't of been a choice at all. I
thought when my mom quit that would be the end of his investigation,
but no." Clark shook his head, and muttered under his breath.
"Of course not."
"The only way you can stop him is if you go back home,
Clark. At least for now." Licking her lips she continued,
"He knows you're here, he probably even knows what you've
been doing all summer. And he probably knows that I've found
you." Chloe shrugged and pulled herself out of bed. Walking over to her dresser, she pulled
out a pair jeans and a tight-fitting navy shirt to change into. He
couldn't stay here, and she was going to move him by force if need
be. It was only a matter of time before Lionel set whatever trap
he had laid for them in motion. Her mind, still sleep-adleled,
started running through the information she had.
"What do you mean?" he asked, obverting his eyes as
she pulled her skirt off and pulled her clean clothes on. Groaning
in frustration, she looked at him as she hopped into the pair of
blue jeans that were almost too small.
"I mean, I'm pretty sure he had my condo bugged and has
sorted through my stuff, Clark. I've been spending the last two
nights over here and Lionel Luthor is smart enough to know that
I've figured out something either regarding him or you."
Pausing her tirade, she went over to the mirror and grimaced. Sleeping with
colored streaks and heavy mascara wasn't a good thing. Grabbing a
brush she tried to work out the remaining color and knots from her
hair, picking up her conversation once more. "Either way,
Clark, he's going to be looking for the both of us and he'll find
someway to give retribution." In the mirror she saw Clark
rise off the bed to stand behind her, placing his hands on her
"He'll kill you, or do something to make you wish he
had." His voice was soft but it was enough to chill her.
Pausing in mid-brush stroke, she looked at him through the
reflection and nodded slowly.
"I know." Her voice was small, quiet as she thought
back to Dominic's threat. Only yesterday, she had to save Clark;
she had to try to fix it. But now that her plans had been carried
out, she was lost. Clark nodded his head as if he was reaffirming some private vow.
"Do you even have a plan, Chloe? Other than 'Get the hell
out of Dodge'?" Clark queried, trying to make light of the situation.
Clark didn't wait for her answer. He left her side for a moment before handing Chloe her
black boots and a leather jacket from Lucy's closet. "Get
what other stuff you need - you're right. We should at least leave
here, if not Metropolis completely." Trying to slide on the
boots on she hobbled out of the bedroom to the front room after
"No, Clark, you need to get out of here. I have to
go back to my condo, it could buy you more time." Clark fixed
her with a hard look as he straightened up Lucy's living room.
"I mean it Clark, whatever he's planning... Damnit!" she
swore when he ignored her, throwing her other boot down on the
carpet. "Go HOME, Clark," she seethed. "I've done
just fine without you all summer; I don't need you to play
hero for me. I am a big girl, I can take care of myself. And it's
not Lionel whom I have to watch out for, it's Dominic Senatori -
your boss." Clark looked at her, exasperated.
"So, being dragged back to Smallville by LuthorCorp employees
is what you want to call doing 'just fine?'" Clark raised an
amused eyebrow at her disbelief. "C'mon, Chloe. We're both
smarter than that. You found me for a reason, you helped me. Let
me at least try to help you." Pouting, she crossed her arms.
He had a point.
"Dominic is planning something, I think." she offered
him, rubbing her temples in defeat. "I want to know what it
is and stop it if need be." Bending down, Chloe retrieved her
other boot and slipped it on as she rested on the edge of Lucy's
couch. It was hard to think that it had only been a few hours
since she had 'saved' Clark. "How long have you known?"
she asked him in a whisper, trying grasp control over the situation.
Clark paused mid-way through slipping a tan jacket on.
"What do you mean?" he asked, his eyebrows scrunching
together. Peering at him through her raspberry bangs, she sighed.
"How long have you known about me? Working for
Lionel?" Her tone gained volume and worry for a moment. If he
had known prior to this night, why did he come with her? What if
this was all a trap? Chloe shook her head harshly against her
paranoia as Clark smirked at her breifly.
"Oh, that. Dominic left about a week ago to deal
with a new 'problem' and went back to Smallville. I find out today
that you are under Lionel's payroll... And, you can't expect me to
work with you for two years and not pick up on your technique for
putting things together, can you?" He offered her a small
grin, her small purse, and a big hand to help her up to her feet.
Glancing around, she noticed Lucy's spotless apartment except
for one tiny detail. Chloe dropped her hand to the coffee table,
palming the red meteorite ring and glanced at Clark.
"I should probably keep an eye on this for you," she
explained, stuffing it in the front pocket of her jeans. Clark
nodded and opened the door, hustling her out into the hall. They
quickly walked down to the other end of the hallway and into the
elevator. Pressing "L" for lobby, she looked over at
Clark. "You didn't run into Lu--my cousin... did you?"
"No, but..." he said earnest and concerned. "The
less contact you have with her right now, the better for us and
her." Chloe absently ran her hand through her hair, trying to
shake some of her nervousness. Her hair felt gritty and she wanted
a shower, both of those she verbalized to Clark who shrugged
good-naturedly. "You smell fine, Chloe," he added as
they walked across the titled lobby and out onto the street.
The air was fresh and clean, the pavement was damp. Chloe
didn't remember hearing any rain the previous night but she
supposed it could have happened.
Clark's bike, on the other hand, was notably dry by the time they
had paced over to it. He got on first, then helped her.
"God, I hate this thing," she murmured and Chloe
could almost feel Clark's smile. "You know," she added,
her voice becoming slightly apologetic, "maybe we should get
an alternative vehicle for the moment. I kinda had this bike
tracked with my friend at the DMV." Clark glanced over his
shoulder at her. "What?" she exclaimed as
he started the motorcycle. "I told you, once I found out what
was going on, that I was determined to try to keep you out of
Traffic was unusually clear as Clark pulled out onto the street
and ended the conversation. Scooting up as close as she dared,
Chloe clung to him as he took the corners way to fast even without
the red meteorite on his finger.
Clark pulled up to a stop in the garage of her condominium and
Chloe jumped off the bike as soon as she was able to do so. Clark
had teased her slightly about handling telekinetics better than
motorcycles and she had given him a look.
"I handle big, dumb farm boys with hero complexes and
allergic reactions to meteorites far better as well, but I don't
hear you complaining about that." she muttered under
her breathe as she started the
up-stairs hike to her condo.
"Very funny," he had replied, and
she smiled. The air between them was still tense and worried;
nothing was okay and she didn't expect it to be for a very long
time. But the banter, no matter how inane was somehow calming.
Walking up to #16, she reached
into her purse and pulled out the key; fitting it into her lock
with a click. Chloe pressed the door open with a harsh squeak.
Reaching in she flicked on the lights to show everything to be as
normal as she left it.
Turning to Clark, she shrugged silently, walking further into
the room and over to her stereo system; in a few moments she had
cranked it up full blast. Clark leaned in the door way smirking at
her as Pat Benetar started screaming across the room.
"Well?" she ventured, looking at him. What else did
he think she could do? He shrugged and glanced around the room.
His dark eyebrows knit together for a few seconds before he
pointed her to the clock and two lamps. He mouthed 'bugged' to her
and it was time for Chloe to knit her eyebrows together in
Pacing over she took the simple plate clock off the wall and
turned it over; a thin wire ran up through the battery pack. With
a frustrated snarl, she pulled it free and dropped it on the
floor. Soon another wire and a tiny camera joined it on the floor
and under Chloe's boot. She stomped on them liberally, as if she
was really grinding Lionel Luthor into her floorboards. The music
in her apartment shut off abruptly and she turned to see Clark by
"Gonna pick up the phone?" She smiled at him somewhat
sheepishly before picking up her hard-line.
"Chloe? Is that you?" The voice on the other end was
"What's the matter, Lana? Of course it's me." She sat
down at the end of the couch, absently pulling her jacket tighter
around herself. Clark looked at her curiously, waiting for her to
explain what was going on. "Although I can't real-"
"Oh, God Chloe I've been looking all over for you! You
know how you said to look after your dad for you?" Chloe
accented into the phone feeling her stomach drop and Lana's
hysteria become her own. "He didn't come home Wednesday
night, Chloe. I've called the police and I've tried your cell and
your work number; and then you weren't there or at your Aunt
Elle's..." Lana mumbled on but Chloe let her hand fall to her
side and clicked it off.
"What's going on?"
"My dad's missing." she said, disbelieving.
"Are you enjoying yourself, Miss Sullivan?" Chloe
quickly turned around to look at the billionaire and forced a tiny
smile upon her lips. "I see you did receive my parcel
yesterday; good." Self-consciously, she smoothed down the
dress that had undoubtly cost thousands. If she hadn't of stopped
by her condo (for the fiftieth time in three days) on the search
for her father, she would of never found it. The
simple black dress, accented with the over layer of black lace,
was beautiful; everything thing from the length, to the strapless
bodice, to the flared skirt fitted perfectly despite never going
to a fitting. The truth was with the fruitless searching she had
done with Clark for the past few days, she didn't have time to worry about
"Yes," she added, bowing her head a little bit.
"Thank you, you didn't have to--" Lionel smirked at her,
shaking his hand at her rambling. Nodding to one of the caterers,
he passed her a drink. Chloe eyed it warily before taking a sip.
"I'm glad it's satisfactory," he continued. "I
trust that your little escape last Wednesday turned up
satisfactory results as well?" Chloe paused in alarm, then
finished swallowing her drink, nodding briefly. Lionel placed one
hand on her back, leading her towards a group of men talking in a
His stride was much longer than her own and she had to hurry to
keep up his pace. Weaving in and out of the socialite couples, he
lead her over to the group; many of them she had seen before.
Lionel introduced her to Morgan Edge, whose face recognized from
the file, Harvey Stitch, and Dabney Donovan, a scientist she
hadn't heard of.
"And I believe you already know Mr. Senatori, don't you
Miss Sullivan?" he asked her as she shook each man's hand in
turn. As she looked over Edge's shoulder and saw Clark, his hair
slicked back to an almost unrecognizable amount. He winked at her
conspiratorially as he scanned the crowd and she tried not to grin least
she give them both away.
"I'm glad to see you are up on your feet again, Miss
Sullivan." Dominic's attitude was still superior but she saw
Clark scoot in a little closer to eavesdrop. She tried to force a
tiny smirk off her face as Lionel reiterated how
"concerned" Dominic had been about her health.
"Thank you," she said, not really believing it.
"It was just a matter of getting my priorities back in order,
I'm afraid." She watched as Morgan Edge, turned around and
pulled Clark into the circle. The crime lord introduced Clark as 'Kal'
and Chloe was happy to see the smug expression on Clark's face; if
she didn't know the ring caused his behavior problems, she would
of thought he was naturally that full of himself.
Lionel shook his hand and sent a subtle glance her way which
she smirked back at. When Clark's hand went towards
her's, she with drew looking him the eyes for a second before
lifting her drink to her mouth. "We've already met," she
told Edge coolly, ignoring the farm boy. After twenty minutes, she excused herself to use the restroom.
Walking out the main hallway, she slipped past the restrooms
and further into the museum. She had been walking for five minutes
before she found a personnel elevator. Slipping inside, Chloe
pressed the button to go down to the basement. After a few shaky
moments, the doors opened with a loud hiss and she stepped out onto
the cement floor. Reaching in her purse, she pulled out her mini
maglite and twisted it on; she scanned several rows of boxes with
a black 'Wayne' stamped on the sides of them. She had walked back
to the main corridor when she heard the hiss and groan of the
elevator. Chloe pressed up against a heavy wooden crate and
clicked her light off, her foot banging against it slightly.
Peering around it, she jumped when the box knocked back.
"Chloee?" Clark called out and she breathed a sight
of relief before tapping on the wooden create again and scanning
for a logo on it. Her knuckles wrapped on the box five times in
quick succession as she thought 'Shave and a hair-cut...'
The box bumped back twice; 'two bits,' her mind filled in.
"Clark! I'm over here; I need some help!" Turning her
flashlight on to see Clark jogging towards her, confused. "I
think someone is stuck in here!" she exclaimed as he ran up
beside her and knocked on the box similarly after glaring at it
oddly, in return getting two thuds back. Chloe looked up at him,
"How do we get it open, without hurting whomever's inside?
Hitting it isn't going to work, I don't think." Instead of
answering Clark just looked at the package which started to sizzle
under his gaze, a stead black line opening up one edge of the
package. Chloe shook her head waiting for him to finish. "Any
other things you're neglecting to tell me?"
"In good time, Chloe, in good time," he replied with
a big grin. "I was supposed to trail you, make sure you
didn't cause any 'trouble.'" Clark pulled the sides away
quickly, throwing them on the floor and Chloe's snappy comeback
died on her lips as she rushed over and ripped the gag out of the
"Daddy! What happened? Are you okay?" Gabe slowly
stood up, obviously stiff before nodding to her and wrapping her
in a bear hug. Chloe returned it, closing her eyes gratefully; he was still wearing the shirt and jeans from
Wednesday. "How in the world did you get in there?"
"Dominic trailed your car; he had confronted me on
Wednesday about selling my shares of LexCorp to him, mentioning
what a lovely daughter I had." Chloe glanced over
Clark, sharing a worried look. "So," Gabe continued
leaning on Chloe, "I went to the main offices to see what
Lionel Luthor was doing to my daughter and of all things, I happen
to run into her." Chloe looked down guiltily.
"After I dropped you off
at Lucy's; I got hijacked on the side of the road; I
think they were looking for you." Gabe's look at Chloe was
measured with fear and love and she snuggled in closer as they
walked towards the elevator. "Dominic reconized me and
tried to force me to sell again; and of course, I'm not going to.
So that when it started, that's they decided to try and break me.
Supposedly, according to one of the men who was guarding me for a
while I only had until Friday because that's when everything was
"going down" and the "shooting" was going to
happen." Chloe blinked, swallowing thickly.
"Shooting who?" Clark asked, pressing the up button
on the elevator. Gabe looked at the boy as if he just had realized
he was there.
"Lionel Luthor," the elder Sullivan answered stepping
onto the elevator's platform and resting against the back wall,
his tone as if it were the name was most obvious in the world.
"Even before the buyouts, Dominic was of questionable
loyalty. While he seemingly did anything Lionel said, he often
cause problems at our plant trying to get Lex thrown out and for
him to take over. Lionel was about to do it, but...he covets the
company and now that Lex is missing, Lionel's the only
thing in the way." Gabe shrugged. The elevator came to a stop
and Clark turned to them both.
"Chloe, I want you and your dad to get out of here; go to
Lucy's, go to Smallville, just get out before anyone realizes your
missing." Chloe shook her head emphatically, her French twist
becoming looser with every swish. "I mean it Chloe," he
said placing one warm hand on her shoulder, his face filled with
worry and concern. "I don't want you getting hurt...either
of you," he amended looking over her shoulder at Gabe. Her
father had come up beside her then and she relented, both of them
turning to run hand in hand towards the exit at the end of the
hallway. Her mind remembered a similar day when she had run out of
the plant like this with her father knowing that Clark was still
The outside air was cold and windy, as she stepped out the side
entrance. Lifting her arm in the air as she stepped out unto Main
street, she hailed a taxi down. Opening the door she let her
father, who looked pale and exhausted under the street lights,
step inside first. The driver asked him where he was going and her
father mumbled out her Uncle's house number in the suburb across
town. Chloe slammed the door shut. The cab took off with her dad inside,
and she ran back into the
building. She had come too far and suffered through too much this
summer to simply sit out the end.
Inside, the party looked just as she'd left it -- filled with
annoying socialites. Scanning the crowd for Clark, Lionel caught
her eye and gave her a look. Chloe nodded slightly and started
walking towards his little group - Dominic already was gone. Her
green eyes searched for Clark, but she couldn't pick him out in
However, as she took her place in Lionel's gaggle of cronies,
she spotted Dominic fifty feet way. As she opened her mouth to
point him out to anyone near buy she saw the muzzle of the gun aim
towards her and time froze.
Chloe didn't know whether she was simply in his shot or if he
considered her a possible threat, but it was obvious that he had
no qualms with picking her off in his little coup d'etat of Luthor
Corporation. After all the freaks she'd faced and all the times
she had gotten away, Chloe thought that if anyone should have
knocked her off it should have been one of her hormonally challenged
boyfriends - not some crusty old English guy. She stumbled
backwards slightly, but it didn't matter; Chloe saw him pull the
trigger multiple times.
Prior to the night, she had never saw Clark run, really
run. Sure, in PE he was fast enough but sort of klutzy. Her eyes
had barely registered that Clark was behind Dominic before he was
gone Clark seemingly disappeared taking the would-be hit man with
him. She bumped into Lionel; her mind starting to work.
"Get down!" she cried, pulling them both to the
ground. Lionel glared at her for an instant before a man behind
them started screaming, blood oozing out of his thigh where the
bullet meant for her had lodged itself. Suddenly a forced her flat
on the wood floor, a large hand covering her head. Chloe heard
three more terrified screams and winced. She couldn't help but
give him a look when he finally helped pull her to her feet.
"Clark." She paused for a moment, studying her hands.
"You didn't have to do that. You didn't have to.." Clark
pulled her over to the side, his voice dropping as she spoke to
"Chloe... what else did you think I could of done?"
She started to speak but he cut her off. "And don't say I
should have helped someone else. I couldn't just let you... not
when I could stop it."
His green eyes shone with sincerity and she sniffled slightly before he drew into his arms. Chloe
reached her arm up the warm, solid frame of Clark's chest, and
pulled him close to her. For good or ill, Clark had made his
choices. So, too, had she.