Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Never Let Me Go, Chapter 12

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 CW and DC Comics, not to me

I stepped over Clark and crossed my arms, putting myself between him and Fine, fruitless though that was. I could hear Clark gasping in pain behind me, and a quick glance over my shoulder showed me that the leg of his jeans was soaked with blood.

Damn it, I had to get him out of here. As soon as he was out of this red light, and into normal sunlight, I was pretty sure his powers would return to normal, and he'd heal instantly, like he always did. But if I couldn't get past Fine and all his newly acquired goons, then Clark might bleed to death.

I reminded myself that since Clark was the only one who could affect the Fortress, Fine wasn't going to let Clark die until he released Zod. Fine had been created by Kryptonians, he knew Kryptonian anatomy, and he'd probably aimed carefully at a place that would weaken Clark, and hurt him, but not cause him to bleed to death.

Focus, Sullivan, I told myself. He's trying to freak you out. Don't let him distract you.

The metal-barred door clanging heavily shut behind Fine. I slipped my hand into my pocket. If he were a true Kryptonian, he could look right through my clothes and see what I was holding in my hand. But I was pretty sure he didn't have x-ray vision.

Even if he didn't, though, I didn't have a chance in the world of taking him by surprise, and I knew it. No human in the world could move quickly enough to surprise him.

Even so, I flipped open the little blade-- surprisingly difficult to do one-handed-- and glared at him, trying to keep his attention focused on my face, rather than what my hand was doing in my pocket.

"Leave Clark alone," I snapped.

Fine smiled nastily, taking a menacing step nearer to me. "I won't hurt him any more. I have no real reason to hurt him further. Don't worry, Ms. Sullivan-- or should I say Ms. Lane?"

Nothing Fine could have said could possibly have shocked me more. I felt my mouth fall open. "What do you know about that?"

"I know a great deal about every aspect of Kal-El's life. When the two of you became involved, I did quite a bit of research on you. I know all about your... interesting... history."

I'm not Lois Lane. I'm not. I'm Chloe Sullivan.

I pushed back the thoughts buzzing around in my brain. Fine was just trying to distract me again. I couldn't let him get away with it, because I couldn't afford distraction. If I was very, very lucky, I might get one shot at stabbing him. If I screwed up, I'd never get a second chance.

I'd deal with the whole crazy Lois-in-another-timeline thing later. Assuming I had a later. Right now I had to face down Psychobot.

"Great," I answered dryly. "Glad one of us does."

He showed his teeth in that unpleasant smile. "How unfortunate you won't live to discover the real truth of your identity."

All of a sudden he held his hands up, and his fingers transformed into wicked-looking knives. I heard Clark give a hoarse yell behind me, but I really didn't need his warning to get moving. Ten scary-looking knives pointed at me gave me plenty of impetus to move.

I wanted to back away, but instead I yanked the little knife out of my pocket, lunged forward, and slammed the blade at Fine's chest.

He moved one of his arms slightly, deflecting my blow. His arm slamming against mine didn't hurt, rather to my surprise, but the little knife fell out of my too-loose grip and skittered across the metal floor.

Fine grinned at me, looking like he was having the time of his life.

"Did you really think I didn't know what you were planning? I know all about you, Ms. Lane. I have catalogued all the toys you carry, and all the weapons you keep in your car. I knew precisely what you had in your pocket, believe me."

For some reason, being called Ms. Lane annoyed me worse than the easy way he'd disarmed me. "Don't call me that," I snarled.

He held up a hand. The silvery, razor-sharp metal of his fingers glinted ominously, looking almost bloody in the weak red light. "Kal-El," he said. "If you don't agree to release Zod, right now, your girlfriend is going to suffer. A great deal."

"Don't." I glanced back, and saw Clark struggling to his feet. He stood there, swaying, looking pale and deathly ill, but determined. "Don't hurt her. I'll do whatever you want. I swear"

Geez. What a wuss. Fine aimed a knife at me, and he crumbled like a stale cookie. Well, okay, it was five knives, and Clark knew better than anyone what Fine was capable of. But still. The whole world could be destroyed, and Clark was worried about me.

"Excellent decision," Fine said. He lowered his hands and turned toward the door.

And Clark tackled him.

It was a stupid, moronic thing to do. It was also very brave. And Clark is all those things-- stupid and moronic and brave. Even without his powers, he doesn't give up easily, or back down from a fight.

The violent impact of two hundred and twenty-five pounds of solid muscle and bone would have knocked anyone else Fine's size over, but it didn't have any discernible effect on the robot. Fine just shook him off, shoved him away, and sliced casually at his gut with one of those knife fingers.

Clark fell to the ground again, whimpering in pain, as fresh blood bloomed all over his t-shirt, looking almost black in the red light.

Rage exploded in my chest. Clark was mine, damn it-- my lifemate and my friend and the man I'd loved since middle school. And I wasn't going to stand idly by and watch this son of a bitch slice him to pieces.

In a furious, instinctive reaction, I clenched both fists together and slammed Fine over the head with them.

And he staggered and went to his knees.

Impossible, I thought, but I didn't have time to stop and think about it right now. I kicked Fine in the head, hard, and he fell over as if it were Clark doing the kicking.

All of a sudden I realized that was what was going on. When Clark and I had bonded, my EM field had altered. Evidently that had been the first step in a transformation. Now, over half a day later, I'd begun to develop his powers.

I remembered Clark's voice saying, Your body doesn't work that way. But it was obvious he'd been wrong. Because I was beating the shit out of Fine, and that simply wasn't possible for a human.

I didn't stop to analyze the matter, and I didn't let up. I just kept on kicking Fine as hard as I could. It should have hurt my feet, should have broken my toes to pieces, but it didn't. Apparently I'd developed Clark's invulnerability, too.

Cool, I thought, and slammed my foot into the place where Fine's ribs ought to be.

Fine struggled to his feet, grabbed me, and threw me hard. I collided with the wall, headfirst, but it didn't really hurt. Ordinarily slamming into a steel wall at that speed would crush my skull. Today I barely noticed it.

I stood up and faced him. If I was really superpowered, I could beat up on him all day long, but I didn't have a clue how to take him out permanently. The best outcome would be the two of us throwing each other back and forth across the cell. Which would become tedious after a while.

Besides, he could always grab Clark and use him as a hostage, which would put an abrupt end to the hostilities. Because I couldn't risk Clark getting hurt any worse than he already had been.

Fine faced me, his eyes wide in a very human expression of surprise. "The two of you have bonded," he said.

"Weren't expecting that, were you?" I grinned and went for him, as fast as I could. I was shocked to realize I was moving in superspeed. It was a bizarre feeling-- I could feel myself moving quickly, yet my mind seemed to have moved into an entirely different gear. When Clark had carried me in superspeed, everything had always been a blur. Today it was clear as HDTV, and my brain had no trouble processing everything that I saw.

Fine dodged, but not quickly enough. I grabbed him by the shoulder, slammed my fist into his head, and sent him reeling across the room.

He straightened up, and I could almost see the thought in his eyes: No more Mr. Nice Guy. He held out his hand, and it transformed into one long, brutally sharp sword, several feet long.

It looked like we were going to discover if I was in fact entirely invulnerable.

He lunged toward me and slashed at my throat.

And the sword bounced right off my skin.

Cool, I thought again. God, this is cool. And yeah, it would have been a whole lot cooler if I hadn't been fighting for Clark's life while he bled to death on the floor. I really didn't have the time to admire the coolness of it all, or to figure out exactly what I could do.

Maybe later I'd get a chance to try out all my nice new powers. But right now I needed to take out Fine, and I needed to do it now.

I wondered where the hell my little pocketknife was. I looked around, and saw it on the floor. It looked tiny and pathetic, and I seriously doubted it could do Fine any real damage, even with superstrength behind it. It just wasn't long enough, or sharp enough.

I looked at Fine's outstretched sword/hand. Now that was a blade. Nice and sharp and long. I really needed something like that.

Which gave me an idea.

I grabbed Fine's arm before he knew what was happening, twisted it backward, and slammed the long, vicious blade right into his own chest.

Sparks flew, electricity flared, and there was a terrible, high-pitched noise of electronic feedback. Fine staggered, and his shapechanging outer layer suddenly began to dissolve and merge and flow, like plastic melting in an oven.

And then there was a flash of light... and he disappeared.

I stood there for a moment, breathing hard, barely able to comprehend that I'd done it. I'd taken out Fine, just as Clark had at the Fortress. Fine had disappeared in a flash of light then, too. Maybe he wasn't truly dead-- but he was definitely gone for now.

I spun around, dropped to my knees next to Clark, and yanked up his t-shirt.

His eyes were clenched shut, his mouth drawn tight in a grimace of pain. The cut on his stomach was shallow, thank God. It was bleeding profusely, but I couldn't see his intestines bulging out or anything, so Fine's sword/hand hadn't sliced through the muscle.

I was sure it hurt like hell, though. I stroked his hair, trying to comfort him. "Clark," I said softly. "We have to get you out of here."

His eyelashes fluttered open, and he looked at me through eyes clouded with pain. "Chlo," he whispered. "You seriously kick ass."

"It wasn't me," I said. "It looks like I got your abilities after all." I suddenly realized my hand was glowing where I was touching him. Cool, I thought again.

"I don't think so, Chlo." He tried to sit up, then winced. "You didn't have... powers... earlier."

"So maybe it took a while for my cells to charge up or something." I shrugged. "I've got them now. Did you see me use superspeed? Was that not wicked cool?"

"Chloe." He managed to struggle to a sitting position, his hand on his stomach like he was afraid his guts might spill out. "I think it's the... red sunlight, Chlo. It stripped me of my powers... but your body is a little different, and it... gave you powers."

I stared at him, feeling a bone-deep disappointment. "So are you telling me I'll lose these abilities as soon as I go back out into normal light?"

"I think... so, yeah. And it's just as well. These abilities aren't good for humans, Chlo. My dad had them just... a few hours, and he wound up with heart problems."

"Damn," I said softly. "I kind of liked being super."

He lifted his other hand, not without effort, and stroked my cheek. "You're always super, Chlo."

I bit my lip. If I was going to lose my newly discovered powers when I left this room, I didn't really want to leave. But I had to, because I had to get Clark outside. Otherwise he just might bleed to death.

I stood up. "Come on," I said, and helped him get to his feet.

I could have picked him up pretty easily-- after knocking Fine across the room like a bowling pin, I knew that two hundred and twenty-five pounds would be absolutely nothing to lift-- but I was afraid of hurting him, and he was really too big for me to carry. It would just be too awkward, and I'd probably do him some serious damage. So he leaned on me heavily. Ordinarily he would have flattened me, but today I could have lifted a truck.

It felt nice to be that strong. I felt a little quiver of disappointment at the idea that it was only temporary. I'd never been envious of Clark's abilities, exactly, but I don't think there's a human on earth who wouldn't like to be, well, superhuman.

Fine had locked the door behind him when he entered. I considered it for a moment, then reached out with my hand and gave it a little push.

It went flying, and hit the opposite wall with a clang.

Yeah, that was definitely very cool.

But then I heard a familiar voice down the hall. "Whoa, cuz. What the hell did you have for breakfast, spinach?"

I saw Lois coming up the hall, my dad and uncle behind her. Joy flooded me, and I would have gone running to them and flung my arms around Dad, but for the heavy weight of Clark. "You guys are okay! I thought they had you in a cell or something. How'd you get out?"

"All the guards just walked off a while ago," Lois said. "And Dad and Uncle Gabe just sort of came back online. They'd been acting kind of like zombies, but all of a sudden they went right back to normal."

"The pheromonal control... wore off when Red got killed," Clark speculated.

I thought wryly that apparently Fine hadn't really thought this through very well, or he would have realized he was going to lose control of the organization when Red died. Then again, you couldn't really expect a robot to understand pheromones.

Lois looked surprised. "So the Pheromone Queen is dead? Well, that makes sense, I guess, or at least as much sense as anything ever makes around this part of Kansas. Anyway, it looks like the place is totally empty. We spent the last half hour trying to jimmy the lock. Dad finally managed it."


All of a sudden Fine's words echoed in my mind. I know all about you, Ms. Lane.

A shiver went through me. I looked at the two men standing behind Lois, and wondered which one was my real father.

But I didn't have time to worry about it now. "Let's get Clark outside," I said.

Lois looked him over, biting her lip. "Maybe we better call an ambulance."

"It's not... as bad as it looks," Clark managed.

"It looks pretty damn bad," Lois answered.

Oh, hell. Suddenly I realized yet more more of Clark's secret was about to be exposed. There was no possible way I could make up a believable story when Clark's injuries suddenly disappeared in the sunlight. Now not only Lois would realize he was different, but Dad and Sam would know, too.

Then again, he and I were bound together for life, so maybe it was just as well. Sooner or later they probably would have figured it out. Anyway, they were his family now.

I followed Lois down the hall, and Sam and Gabe helped me support Clark. Lois opened a door, exposing a hall with windows, and all of a sudden normal light came pouring in. It hurt my eyes, after being in the dim red light for so long. I flinched, then suddenly realized how heavy Clark was.

I fell to my knees.

"Sorry," he said, and got right back to his feet, pulling me up. I realized with dismay I wasn't superstrong any more. Clark had been right-- in the yellow light of the sun, SuperChloe had just faded away.

"Son," my dad-- Gabe, I mean-- said, "we need to get you to a hospital."

"Actually..." Clark pulled up his t-shirt, exposing his perfectly unscathed stomach. There was still blood everywhere, but the skin beneath wasn't even scarred. He smiled wryly. "I'm feeling a lot better now."

All three of them blinked at him, but no one said anything. At last Lois spoke for all of them.

"Holy shit."

Read Chapter 13 here.


Opal said...

I think if I had been Lois, I would have said the exact same thing. I love this series, it's wonderful!

SelfAppointedCritic said...

Elly, Elly, Elly, how on earth do you do it!?! Amazing update; I absolutely loved SuperChloe! You're such a brilliant (JUST BRILLIANT) writer Elly. Just when I was about to despair over the situation, you pulled SuperChloe out of the wings. Very nicely done. If I haven't said it enough, you are my absolute favorite fanfic writer.