Season 3, sequel to "Whisper"
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the WB and DC comics, not to me
I put on a burst of superspeed, so that the cars appeared to be frozen, and weaved my way across the road. I don't like using superspeed in a crowded area of the city, because people do sometimes notice when I appear to pop in and out of existence, but I didn’t think I had a lot of choice. I got near the car, right behind the passenger door, and let myself drop into more or less normal speed again, pacing the car, which was only going about fifteen miles an hour.
All of a sudden the Beetle accelerated hard. I looked up and saw that we were approaching a red light, and there was a cop car in the other lane. I figured Chloe was going to try to run the light and get the cop’s attention. Not a bad plan, if Chameleon Guy didn’t panic and try to use her as a hostage.
Or if the damn gun didn’t go off.
The little car shot out into the intersection, and Chloe swerved hard to avoid hitting a pedestrian. I felt a jolt of panic, imagining the gun firing, whether deliberately or accidentally, and blowing her head off. Not a pleasant image.
I went into superspeed again, grabbed the passenger side door handle, and threw the door open. I have this bad habit of pulling car doors off their hinges when I’m in a hurry—although it’s not totally my fault; car manufacturers really need to make those doors less flimsy-- but I was careful not to do that now. It would be hard to pass off as an accident, and besides, Chloe would never forgive me if I messed up her car.
Sure enough, the gun went off just as I opened the door, whether by accident or design, I don’t know. I thrust my hand between the gun and Chloe, catching the bullet in my palm. If I hadn’t gotten there in time, it would have gone right through Chloe’s skull.
The knowledge kind of pissed me off.
Conveniently, Chameleon Guy wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. As fragile as humans are, I’ve never understood why some of them won’t wear seatbelts. I mean, come on, humans break like eggshells when they’re thrown from cars, so wearing a seatbelt just seems like common sense to me. But Chameleon Guy obviously had a one-digit IQ, which really didn’t surprise me much. Criminal masterminds don’t usually spend their time robbing convenience stores.
Anyway, I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and tossed him out of the car, as gently as possible, making sure he was headed for the sidewalk, where he wouldn’t wind up under a car’s wheels. Although considering how scared Chloe looked, I have to admit I was tempted to toss him under a truck. I hoped the cop would think he'd been thrown against the door, popping it open and causing him to fall out, when Chloe swerved.
Chameleon Guy appeared to be frozen in midair, along with everything else. I dove for the nearest cover, which was a parked car, and let myself drop out of superspeed. Chloe’s car shot through the intersection safely, Chameleon Guy landed hard on the sidewalk, and the cop car immediately threw on its lights and whizzed after Chloe’s car, which pulled over in a parking zone and came to a halt.
I stood up, still more or less concealed by the parked car and the crowded sidewalk, and watched. A few people were blinking at me, as if they'd glimpsed something that they couldn't quite figure out, but no one was pointing toward me and screaming, so I figured no one had seen anything really incriminating.
But people were beginning to swarm around Chameleon Guy, and their voices rose excitedly, to an almost painful level. The voices, along with the noises of the city, threatened to drown me again. I pushed the noise away impatiently and focused on the steady sound of Chloe’s heartbeat, which was slowing down now that the immediate danger was past.
I was intrigued to note that the chromatophores in Chameleon Guy’s skin were apparently under his conscious control. The instant he slammed into the sidewalk and was knocked unconscious, his skin tone reverted to normal, and he appeared to be just a regular human, albeit a nude one. You don’t see a naked guy lying on the sidewalks of Metropolis every day.
Or maybe you do, for all I know. Who knows what big city people think is normal?
Chloe was talking to the police officer earnestly, showing him the pictures from her digital camera. A minute later, the cop took her camera, then went across the road and snapped handcuffs on Chameleon Guy.
Chloe got back in her car, and I saw her drop her head onto the steering wheel, her shoulders shaking. Well, she’d been through a lot in the past few minutes. She was probably seriously stressed. She’d almost been killed, after all.
Besides, I realized, she still thought I was bleeding my life out back at the HastyMart.
I had absolutely no way of explaining to her or the cop how I’d covered the five miles between here and the HastyMart so fast, but I figured I’d come up with some reasonable story. I couldn’t let Chloe go on thinking I might be dead.
I went across the street, dropping the bullet I’d caught into a drainage grate, and tapped on her window. She looked up, and I saw her face was streaked with tears. Suddenly she threw the door open, practically knocking me into traffic.
She flung herself at me, wrapping her arms around my neck and burying her face in my shoulder. Chloe’s not exactly what you’d call a ladylike crier. She sobbed loudly against my shoulder, and I put my arms around her and held her tightly against my chest.
I mean, what else could I do? She was crying. I couldn’t just let her cry, could I?
Anyway, I was awfully glad to see her all in one piece, and it was a huge relief to feel her body, still warm, vital, and totally alive, in my arms. The knowledge that the gun had gone off, and that the bullet would certainly have killed her if I hadn’t been there to catch it, still had me seriously freaked out. I may be bullet-proof, but Chloe’s not.
I lifted my hand and stroked her hair, trying to calm her down. Her hair felt soft under my hand, almost like silk, and I felt some of the tension drain out of me. I hadn’t realized how scared I’d been for her till that moment.
“I thought you were dead!” she said at last, looking up at me accusingly. Like I’d asked the guy to shoot at me or something.
I took my hand from her hair and started brushing away the tears that streaked her face. “He missed. Obviously he’s a pretty lousy shot.”
“But the way you yelled and fell over…”
I shrugged, feeling my cheeks heat a bit. “I had a migraine, remember? The noise from the gun really hurt my head.”
Her hazel eyes narrowed suspiciously. “You look okay now.”
I gazed down at her. “I had more important things to worry about than a headache.”
She looked back up at me, and our gazes kind of locked. I know that sounds stupid, but I don’t know how else to describe it. For a moment, it was like there was no one else in the city, just us. In the same way that all the sounds of the city had faded when I heard her heartbeat, it was like everything else just faded out when I looked into her eyes.
I put my hand against her cheek and lowered my head till our lips were only millimeters apart.
Chloe jumped, yanked away from me, and turned to face the police officer, who looked slightly flushed and embarrassed, as if he thought we’d been about to kiss or something.
Which of course we hadn’t been.
Read Chapter 6 here.