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 have to go to the bathroom," Clark said, giving me a significant look. "I'll be back in a minute, okay?"
Lois frowned at him. More than usual, I mean. "Can't you hold it, Smallville? We have a crisis here."
"Relax, Lois. Everything's going to be okay." He glanced at me again, and I understood the wordless message as clearly as if he'd said the words out loud-- he was going to dash back to Smallville and check up on my dad. I nodded at him, very slightly, and he turned and headed out the door.
Lois glared after him. "Maybe you should get him some Depends."
"Maybe you should quit taking out your frustration on Clark," I suggested mildly. "It's not his fault that Dad and Sam have gone missing."
"You sure?" Lois turned on me suddenly, her eyes narrowing. "Something's obviously going on with this mob boss person, and you both seem to know about it. What did Clark do, get mixed up with the mob somehow?"
I forced a laugh. "Come on, Lois. How could Clark get mixed up with the mob?"
"I'm not sure. All I know is, the boy seems to get around a little more than your average farmboy."
"If anything's happened with Redburn, it's my fault," I said, doing my best to look guilty. "I sort of stuck my nose in where it didn't belong."
Lois would certainly believe that, because I stuck my nose in where it didn't belong on a regular basis, and everyone knew it. Besides, it was true, sort of. I'd been the one to drag Clark away from Moira Redburn all those years ago, and ticked her off with some unpleasant comments about her age. Not that it was entirely my fault, because Clark had been high on red kryptonite and acting like an ass. He'd really annoyed the hell out of me, and in turn, I'd annoyed the hell out of Moira Redburn. And Red was not the kind of person you wanted to annoy.
But there was absolutely no way of explaining all that to Lois. At least not without letting her in on Clark's secret. And I'd sworn to protect that with my life.
Lois looked dubious, but before she could question me further, Clark sauntered back in. His hair looked a little windblown-- figured the dumbass wouldn't think of finger-combing it-- but he wasn't sweaty or anything, because he doesn't sweat when he runs. He glanced at me and shook his head slightly. I got the message: Gabe wasn't there. No clues.
Damn it. I could barely restrain a curse. "So where do we go from here?" I asked.
Lois looked grim. "We go kick some ass."
"Typical," Clark said, a little more snidely than I thought was necessary. I mean, Lois had a right to be upset. But Clark and Lois never cut each other any slack. "Whose ass are we going to kick, Lois? Should we just go out on the streets and start beating people up randomly?"
"Go to hell, farmboy. You got a better idea?"
"Yeah. Before we go off half-cocked, let's try to figure out what's actually going on here. How about we go over to the base and see if we can find some clues?"
"I told you, Smallville, I was there. I didn't see any signs of a struggle."
"Three sets of eyes are better than one," I said, hoping to break the children up before they started pulling each other's hair or something. The last thing I needed was for Lois to actually kick Clark. She was glaring at him like she just might, and if she broke her toe on his leg, she might start to wonder just what he was made of. "It wouldn't hurt to take a look. Anyway, we don't have any other leads."
Clark and I were used to investigating together, and we'd gotten pretty good at it over the years. And Clark's vision might see all kinds of things that Lois had missed, but I couldn't very well say so.
Lois looked skeptical. "Fine," she said at last. "Just make sure you bring your cell phone. I'm not sure what's going on here, but if Gabe and Dad have been kidnapped, we might get a ransom call eventually."
"Good thinking," I said, and grabbed my cell off the desk. "Although I'm sure they're fine."
Lois shot me a look that said clearly that she didn't believe my optimistic words. But she didn't argue about it. We headed out the door together, Lois in the lead. Clark took my hand as we walked down the corridor behind her.
When his hand touched mine, I could feel the buzz of our EM fields intersecting, but this time it didn't feel quite so sexual in nature. It was actually sort of comforting, a reminder that Clark and I were bound together for all time. No matter what might happen, Clark would always be there for me.
We would never let each other go again.
Sam's apartment at the base was perfectly neat, almost spartan, with a military attention to cleanliness. There wasn't a speck of dust anywhere, and the carpet showed signs of being recently vacuumed. I thought it was interesting that Sam was compulsively neat, and his daughter was a total slob. I mean, the girl lived in my room for most of a year, and you should have seen the way it looked when she moved out. I found dust bunnies the size of asteroids under the bed, and dozens of empty Coke cans stashed in the closet. Not to mention Nicorette gum stuck on the bedposts.
I stalked around the living room, looking for anything that might seem out of place. Chloe headed for the bedroom, and Lois just stood there, her arms crossed, glaring at me.
"Are you going to help?" I asked, checking out the walls and furniture with X-ray vision. "Or are you just going to stand there all day?"
"I told you. I already checked the place over. I didn't find anything."
"So you figure you might sprain something if you look again?"
"There isn't anything to find," she snapped.
I bit back the angry retort that leaped to my tongue. Lois is hard to get along with at the best of times, but today she was even crankier than usual. I could understand her feelings, because I knew I'd be freaking out if my mom suddenly disappeared.
"It doesn't hurt to look," I answered, as evenly as I could manage. "And it's not like we have any other leads."
She dropped her gaze and stared at the floor. "I know that," she said softly, her tone much more moderate. "I just hate not knowing what's going on."
At the sound of Chloe's voice, I turned around and headed for the bedroom, Lois right behind me. "What's up, Chlo?"
The bedroom was empty, so I turned the corner and went into the bathroom. As I walked in, Chloe looked up , pointing to the counter. "Check this out," she said.
"That's my dad's razor," Lois said. "So what?"
"So the place is perfectly neat, but he left his razor lying on the counter? Does Uncle Sam ever leave anything out?"
"No," Lois admitted. "Never." She took a step forward, looking into the sink. "And he didn't wash the hair down the drain, either. The General always washes out the sink, because he can't stand any kind of mess. I think he's got a little bit of obsessive-compulsive disorder."
"So he was shaving this morning and getting ready when..." I frowned. "He was abducted?"
"There aren't any signs of a struggle," Chloe said, looking around. "It looks like he left voluntarily."
"The General wouldn't go quietly," Lois answered.
"Actually, he might." Chloe glanced at me, and I nodded slightly: Go ahead, tell her. "See, Moira Redburn is a meteor freak."
Lois raised her eyebrows. "So what exactly are her freakish powers?"
"She can control men," I responded. "She has this wild pheromone thing going. Men do pretty much whatever she wants."
"Are you kidding me?"
"No," Chloe said. "Believe us, we've seen her in action."
Lois glanced at me, and a flicker of amusement went through her eyes. "Made Clark do tricks for her, did she?"
"Not exactly," I said, feeling a little defensive. Actually I was immune to Red's charms, since I was Kryptonian, and human pheromones, even turbocharged ones, didn't affect me. But I didn't particularly want Lois to know all that. And besides, even if her "freakish powers" couldn't control me, Red had my number. She knew green kryptonite hurt me, and she'd tried to use red K to addict me. Frankly, the woman scared the hell out of me, and I wanted to stay as far away from her as possible.
But if she really had Gabe and Sam, I was going to have to face her again. The thought actually made my legs weak. I'm not afraid of much, but the thought of facing a ruthless bitch who knew how to hurt me, how to control me, and who wouldn't hesitate to hurt Chloe and her family in order to make me cooperate, terrified me.
I realized I'd been using my eyes so much I hadn't focused on what my other senses were telling me. I drew in a long breath through my nose, and identified a scent I knew well, a sweet, musky fragrance that smelled sexier and more feminine than any hundred-dollar-an-ounce perfume.
"Red was here," I said, looking at Chloe.
Lois rolled her eyes. "Yeah, right. What, are you part canine or something?"
"Or something," I said vaguely. "Trust me. She was here."
"Which explains why Sam left without any sort of argument," Chloe said. She gazed at me thoughtfully. "Do you think you can trail her, Clark?"
Lois snorted with amusement, and I scowled, feeling more defensive than before. "I am not a bloodhound, Chlo."
She frowned at me: Shut up and don't make me argue this in front of Lois, dumbass. "Um," I said. "I can try. But I imagine she got into a car at some point."
"Yeah. You're probably right." She shrugged. "Give it a shot anyway."
I inhaled, then turned around and went toward the door. I could hear Lois and Chloe walking behind me. "I can't smell anything," Lois complained. "I think he's making this up."
"No, it's a guy thing," Chloe said. "I think men can smell these pheromones a lot better than we can."
I wanted to kiss her for being able to make up stuff like that on the spot to protect my secret. The girl is so much better at lying than I am that it isn't funny. One of these days I'm going to have to get her to teach me how to lie convincingly.
Although I have a feeling it's not a learned skill, but an inborn talent.
Anyway, I followed the strongest scent to the front door, then pushed the door open. Out in the open air, the trail was a lot more difficult to follow. If I were a dog, and could put my nose to the ground, I could have probably followed it more readily. But I was damned if I was going to get down on my hands and knees. Lois would laugh her head off.
I made it as far as the curb, then hesitated, sniffing the air. All I could smell was exhaust. "I think they got into a car here, Chlo."
"Damn." She sighed. "Well, it was worth a shot, I guess. Now what?"
"How about Redburn's offices?" Red had kept us in a downtown building last time, an apparently legitimate business that was a cover for her more nefarious activities.
"You think she'd be there?" Chloe asked. "She just escaped from prison. I'd think she'd want to lay low."
Red wasn't exactly the subtle type, but she wasn't dumb, either, and I suspected that going to the location where she'd been arrested was probably a little cocky, even for her.
"Maybe you're right." I frowned at the road. "Looks like this is a dead end, guys. So where do we go from here?"
"I guess we go check my dad's house," Chloe said.
She cut me off with a look: I know you already went there, but maybe you missed something.
I lifted my eyebrows: You think your vision is better than mine?
She rolled her eyes, and I knew she'd gotten the message. All at once it occurred to me we were communicating wordlessly a lot more than we ever had before. I thought about it and decided it had to be a side effect of the bonding.
It wasn't like I heard words in my head or anything, so I wasn't reading her mind, and I was pretty sure she wasn't reading mine. It was just that we were so in tune with one another that we were picking up on each other's nonverbal cues more than ever. Not telepathy. Empathy, maybe. We'd gotten so close we didn't need to talk to communicate.
Which was kind of scary, really.
"I don't see the point in going to my dad's house," Chloe said out loud, presumably for Lois' benefit. "Maybe we should go back to my dorm room and see if we can dig up some other locations where Red does business, and check them out."
"That could take hours," Lois objected.
Chloe glared at her cousin, looking a little miffed. Chloe has a tendency to believe that all problems can be solved with Google, which is in direct opposition to Lois' approach to any problem: Kick it until it surrenders. "You have a better idea, Lo?"
"We need to do something," Lois said impatiently. "We can't just sit around on our asses all day while you try to dig stuff up."
"We can't just go running off half-cocked," Chloe snapped, "and get ourselves abducted. Trust me, Lois, you don't want to be captured by this woman."
"If she captures me," Lois snapped back, "I'll kick her ass. Better than sitting around and Googling the problem to death."
I'd never seen Chloe and Lois go at each other this way before, and the more cowardly part of me wanted to run off and hide. But I understood they were both under stress. "Hey," I said, a little more sharply than usual. "If the two of you could shut up for a minute, maybe we could come up with an idea as a team."
Lois turned her head and glared at me. "A team?"
"We're all in this together, Lois," I said, as gently as I could manage.
Chloe looked at me, then drew in a deep breath, obviously trying to get herself under control. "Clark's right," she said at last. "Squabbling won't help."
"Besides," I said, "you don't want to waste all your bitchiness on Chloe, Lois. There won't be any left for me."
Lois stared at me, then I saw her mouth twitch. "Good point, Smallville."
"The first thing to do," I said, "is to get you two out of here. Red's goons might be watching the place to see if we come to find Sam. We don't want to get captured."
"It might be the only way to find this woman," Lois pointed out.
"It won't do us any good to find her if she takes us prisoner. Trust me, this woman is not going to let just walk in and get Sam and Gabe. So let's go somewhere safer, okay? Then we can talk about what to do next."
Lois looked like she wanted to stand and fight, but at last she nodded, reluctantly.
"Come on, " I said, and put an arm around each of the girls, propelling them toward Chloe's Beetle. "Let's get out of here and try to figure this out."
Read Chapter 9 here.