Season 5, following my story "Here Without You," which followed two other stories and "Void"
Rating: Adult. If you're under eighteen, please go elsewhere now.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the WB and DC Comics, not to me
Clark wasn't kidding about being hungry. We stopped by the campus hamburger joint, and he ordered three triple burgers, devoured them rapidly, and then went back and ordered three more. I stared at him as he came back to the table, a heavily laden tray in his hands.
"What?" he said, dropping into his seat and unwrapping his fourth burger. "I'm starved."
"Yeah, you said that. But I didn't realize you meant it so literally."
"I didn't eat for days, Chlo." He took a giant bite out of the burger. "I know it's hard to believe, but it's true."
"I believe you," I said softly, looking at the sharp jut of his cheekbones, remembering the desperate way he'd made love to me. Strange though it seemed, it was obvious he'd been away from me for a while. And that reminded me of everything he'd told me this morning, before he fell asleep.
"So about what you said to me this morning..." I said, playing with a french fry.
"What'd I say?" he said indistinctly, around another mouthful of burger.
"Geez, don't talk with your mouth full. Were you raised by wolves or something?"
He swallowed the mouthful and grinned at me. "Better not let my mom hear you asking that."
"Better not let your mom see you eating that way," I countered.
"Good point." He lifted an eyebrow. "What did I say? I was pretty damn tired, Chlo."
"You said something really strange," I said slowly. "You said you thought I was the real Lois Lane."
"Oh." He put the hamburger down on the tray, his eyebrows drawing together. "Oh, yeah. I remember."
"Exactly what did you mean by that?"
He sighed. "It's hard to explain, Chloe. I woke up, and most things were the same, but a few things were different. The most obvious thing was that you were gone."
"Right. You told me that already."
"But Lois was gone, too. She wasn't in Smallville."
"Well, that makes sense."
"Right, because she only came to Smallville to find you when we thought you were dead. I thought of that. But when I did an internet search to try to find you, I discovered you were living in Metropolis. At least I thought it was you. The name was the same, but the birthdate was off by a year."
I stared at him. "Are you telling me--"
"I went to Metropolis to talk to you," he said, boring on relentlessly. "And Lois answered the door. But she told me her name was Chloe Sullivan."
His eyes were very intense, and I dropped my gaze and studied the fry I was holding as if it were the most fascinating thing in the world. "And where was I?"
"Uh, dead, I think. Lois-- I mean Chloe-- told me she had a cousin named Lois Lane, who'd died as a baby. I think maybe that was you."
I thought about that for a while. "So in that reality, Lois was living with my dad?"
"Maybe my dad adopted her after I died," I said, trying to make sense of it.
"She said her cousin was named Lois Lane as a baby," he said gently. "She was Chloe Sullivan. I really think she believed that."
The earth tilted on its axis. "I don't understand how that could be possible," I said dizzily. "I mean, if you're trying to suggest that Gabe Sullivan isn't my real dad..."
"I'm not trying to suggest anything, Chlo. I'm just telling you what I found out in the alternate reality."
"But that's just it. It's an alternate reality. Obviously Fine had changed something quite a long ways in the past. Maybe Lois and I were, I don't know, somehow born to different parents."
"By changing the past, he could alter human destiny," Clark said. "But he couldn't alter who anyone truly is, Chloe. This girl-- she was Lois, down to the last detail. I know what Lois looks like, and this was Lois. She had to be born to the same parents she was born to in this reality, or she wouldn't be the same person. The only difference was that she claimed to be you."
I twiddled the fry nervously. "Just because she had my identity doesn't mean I necessarily had hers," I said at last.
"That's true. I'm just guessing. This Chloe had a cousin named Lois Lane who'd died as an infant, and you seemed to be dead in this reality, so I figured you were probably Lois Lane. But you're right, it might not have been you. It's just speculation at this point."
The numbness that had gripped me eased off a bit as my investigative reporter instincts kicked in. "So how do we move this beyond the realm of speculation?"
Clark took another bite of his burger, looking pensive. "I'm not sure we can. We don't have access to that other reality. It's gone. And good riddance, I might add."
I scowled at my fry as if it were deliberately concealing all the secrets of my past. "We can talk to my dad," I said slowly. "He might be able to shed some light on the subject."
"Chloe," Clark said softly. "If you were really born someone else, and your father hasn't ever told you, maybe he has a good reason for keeping it to himself."
"I don't care," I answered. "If I was really born someone else, don't I have the right to know about it?"
He looked at me a long moment, and I got the feeling he was thinking about something else. He'd told me how his parents didn't tell him he was an alien till he was fifteen, and what a big shock it had been to learn that secret. If I was really someone other than Chloe Sullivan, the person I'd believed myself to be all my life, I knew Clark would understand my feelings more than anyone else would.
"Yeah," he said at last. "I guess you do."
"Fine." I stood up, restless and anxious to do something, to get to the bottom of this. "Let's go talk to my dad."
Clark stared up at me, an unhappy expression in his eyes. "I'm not done with my hamburgers."
"Oh, for God's sake, Clark. Wasn't four enough for you?"
He looked at me, then down at the burgers, and I could tell he was seriously torn. I might be his soulmate, but I had the feeling he didn't love me enough to walk away from food right now. I figured it was probably better not to put Clark to the test, so I sighed and sat back down in my seat.
"Fine," I said grumpily. "Finish eating. If my dad's hiding something, he's kept the secret for nineteen years. I guess a couple of minutes more won't hurt."
When Clark had finished scarfing down his hamburgers, I sprang to my feet and headed for the door. He trailed after me.
"Chloe," he said as we walked outside, "have you thought about exactly what you're going to say to your dad?"
My dad. What if Gabe Sullivan wasn't really my dad at all? The thought made my chest hurt. "Sure," I said flippantly, pressing the button on my key fob and unlocking my Beetle. "I'm just going to ask him if he's misplaced any daughters in the past nineteen years."
He settled into the passenger seat. I had the top down, because Clark doesn't fit really well when the top's up. In fact he doesn't fit at all, because he's just too big for my car. Since it appeared I was keeping Clark, I figured I'd have to get a slightly bigger car, sooner or later. Which was a bummer, because I really loved my Bug. "Look, Chlo, you need to stop and think this through a bit before you approach Gabe about it."
I turned the key, and the engine started. "Think what through? It's a simple question. Either he's been lying to me all these years, or he hasn't been."
"Chlo." He dropped his hand onto mine. In the darkness I could see his hand glowing slightly where our skin touched. "Think about it, Chloe. The first thing he's going to ask you is what gave you the idea that you might not be his daughter."
"Well, yeah, and I'm going to tell him..."
I trailed off and glanced at him. His mouth curved in a wry smile.
"You're going to tell him your boyfriend is an alien who discovered this information in an alternate timeline?"
"Um. Well. Maybe not quite like that."
"No. Not quite like that." He sighed. "We have some other things to talk to him about, too. Does Gabe know we're dating?"
"Yeah, I told him a couple of weeks ago."
"We need to come up with some way to let him know our... status... has changed."
I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel, listening to the comforting rumble of the Beetle's engine. "I can't really tell him we're bonded for life because of an alien ritual, either, can I?"
"No." He laughed humorlessly. "I'm sorry, Chloe. Welcome to my world." His deep voice sounded bitter. "Secrets and lies, all the way."
He pulled his hand back, and I reached out and grabbed it. "Hey," I said softly, squeezing his fingers. "Don't go all moody on me again. It's not that bad, really."
"Yeah, it is. It sucks. You'll have to lie to your dad. You're going to have to lie to everyone about me, for the rest of your life."
"And to keep you safe, I'm perfectly willing to do that. I told you once your secret would never leave my lips, and I meant it." I frowned into the darkness beyond the windshield. "You know, if there's any truth to this idea at all, then Uncle Sam's in on it, too."
He nodded, following my train of thought. "Maybe we should wait and try to get them together tomorrow. Is Sam still at the base here?"
"Yeah." I was quiet for a minute, thinking about it. Then I reached down, picked up my cell, and flipped it open. I pressed a button and held the phone to my ear. "Dad?"
"Hey there, sweetheart," my dad's voice said. "How's it going?"
"Fine," I said. "Look, Dad, something's kind of... come up... that I need to talk to you and Uncle Sam about. You think we could get together for lunch tomorrow?"
My dad sounded pleased. We'd always been pretty close, and between a full class load and interning at the Daily Planet, I didn't see him as often as I liked. "I'd love to, sweetie. Sam and I have been talking about getting together in Metropolis anyway. Want me to call him?"
After a few minutes of discussion, we agreed on lunch at a Chinese restaurant my dad liked at noon tomorrow. I flipped the phone closed and saw Clark's head tilted slightly.
"You heard all that, I guess."
"Yeah." He looked at me, and even in the darkness I could see his forehead was slightly wrinkled. "Look, Chlo, even if this does turn out to be true, it doesn't mean Gabe's not your dad."
"Actually, I think that's exactly what it means."
"No." His eyes were very serious. "He raised you. He loves you. I don't know what's going on here, but no matter what, Gabe's your dad, just like Jonathan Kent was my dad."
I looked away, staring into the darkness. "Thanks," I said at last, softly. "I guess you're right."
"Of course I'm right. But don't worry about it tonight, okay? Let's head back to the dorm."
I turned my head and pretended to frown at him. "Ah, now the truth comes out. You wanted to put off talking to my dad because you're hoping for more sex."
He flashed his brilliant, wide grin. "Busted," he said.
Read Chapter 7 here.