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
We were still several miles from Met U when Lois' cell phone went off, playing the William Tell Overture-- as close as Lois ever got to culture. Not terribly close, in other words. She picked it up quickly. "Hello?"
Clark was seated next to me, having gotten the front seat by virtue of his long legs. I saw him cock his head slightly and knew he was listening to both parts of the conversation. Looking into the rear view mirror, I saw Lois' face relax into a huge grin.
"Hey, there, General," she said, sounding perkier than she'd sounded all day. "What's up?"
She was silent for a moment, then covered the mouthpiece. "Gabe came to pick him up," she informed us.
I shot a look at Clark, and he shook his head slightly: Gabe's car was still in the garage. I wasn't sure how I could pick up on his meaning so clearly, but I understood him just as well as if he'd spoken.
Lois was unaware of our quick exchange of glances. She listened a moment longer, then said, "Sure, General, we're on our way."
She flipped the phone closed and grinned hugely. "So Gabe came to pick Sam up, and the car died on the way to the restaurant. They're out on Route 70, and they need us to come get them."
I bit my lip. I couldn't exactly tell Lois we knew Gabe hadn't picked up Sam, but I couldn't run blindly into a trap, either. "Listen, Lois, why would my dad have picked up Sam? They were supposed to be meeting us at the restaurant, weren't they?"
"I guess they changed their minds." Lois beamed at me. "I'm just glad they're all right."
That was my cousin for you, unanalytical to the last. "We tried calling them both," I said. "Multiple times. Did Sam mention why they weren't picking up?"
"I guess they were out of range or something."
Clark twisted his neck and looked back at her. "In Metropolis?"
"Besides," I pointed out, "Sam left his wallet and keys in the house. You know he wouldn't have left them behind, Lo."
Lois bit her lip. "Okay, what are you guys trying to say?"
"It's a trap, Lois," Clark said in a commendably gentle voice. He was generally incapable of dealing with Lois without snark and sarcasm, but I could tell he was trying very hard to be kind. Just one more reason why I love the man, because he's sensitive to other people's feelings. He's just a sensitive kind of guy. Well, when he's not tossing people through walls or ripping through steel with his bare hands.
"A trap?" She frowned at me in the mirror. "You mean they're using Sam and Gabe as bait?"
"Bingo," I said.
"But he sounded perfectly normal, Chlo. He didn't sound like he was under any sort of nefarious control or anything."
"Even so, I don't think we better go out to Route 70."
"We have to." Lois looked horrified. "It's the only lead we've got, guys. If Dad and Gabe have really been kidnapped, we have to save them."
"It won't do them any good if we barge in blindly and get ourselves captured too," Clark pointed out.
"Look," Lois said, sounding sharper than before, "maybe you guys are scared, but I'm not. I'm a third-degree black belt."
"Judo moves won't do you any good against automatic weapons," Clark said. Some of the gentleness had left his voice, and he sounded pissed. I don't think he liked being accused of being scared-- probably because it was true. I glanced over and saw his fist knotted so hard the knuckles were white. Clark isn't scared of much, but his last encounter with Moira Redburn had almost turned him into an addict, and I knew he was terrified it could happen again.
"Not doing anything could get my dad killed!"
Clark twisted in his seat, his eyes narrowed, his teeth actually showing a little. "Doing something stupid could get him and Gabe killed just as fast!"
"Children," I said, holding out a hand in a peace gesture. "Stop squabbling. What happened to doing this as a team?"
Lois glared at me in the mirror. "I didn't realize the rest of the team was so nutless."
Annoyed, I hit the brakes, threw on the hazard lights, and parked on the side of the road. I turned around and scowled at my cousin.
"You're not the only one who's got reason to be worried here," I snapped, hoping to jolt some sense into that hard skull of hers. "So quit acting like a flaming bitch."
"She's not acting," Clark interjected.
"And you." I whipped around and frowned at him, too. "Why do you let her get under your skin so much? Why can't the pair of you ever act like reasonable people instead of two-year-olds?"
Clark had the grace to look slightly abashed. "She started it."
"I did not!"
"Oh, please. I take it back. You're not as mature as two-year-olds." I glared at them both. "Look, Gabe and Sam are in trouble. We know Moira Redburn is involved, and we know she's got at least Sam under her spell. If we don't do something, they might both be killed. But if we go running in blindly, we might get killed, which won't do them a whole hell of a lot of good. So we need to come up with a strategy. Now. No more squabbling."
Clark looked at me for a long moment, then reached out and took my hand, just for a second. I felt the warm, reassuring buzz of his touch. Then he pulled his hand away.
"I'll go do some reconnaissance," he said, pushing the door open. I saw his hand tremble and knew he was really scared spitless, but Clark's never been one to let personal fear get in the way of doing what needs to be done.
"What, are you kidding?" Lois rolled her eyes. "Route 70 is miles from here, Smallville."
He glanced over at me with a slight, wry smile: I really don't see any way of lying our way out of this one.
And then he climbed out of the car, straightened up... and disappeared.
I looked back at Lois and saw her eyes go wide. "Holy crap," she whispered. "Smallville's a meteor freak."
That was as good an explanation as any. In fact, when I'd first found out about Clark's powers, I'd assumed he was a mutant, too. He looked so perfectly human that "alien" wasn't the first explanation that would jump to anyone's mind.
"He's harmless," I said. "Don't worry about it."
"I just..." She blinked. "I lived with the guy for a year. How'd I miss the fact that he can disappear into thin air?"
Clark hadn't actually disappeared, just jumped into superspeed and run away more quickly than the human eye could follow. But I didn't see any need to clarify that for her. Even if the cat was out of the bag, I was still bound to keep Clark's secrets as much as possible. If he wanted to tell Lois more later, that was up to him.
"He doesn't like people to know about it," I said truthfully.
Before I could say more, Clark was suddenly standing next to the car. He opened the door and dropped down beside me.
"I couldn't get close," he said. "They had Sam and Gabe, all right, but they were surrounded with kryptonite."
"With what?" Lois demanded.
"Meteor rocks." He looked back at her and shrugged. "I'm kind of allergic."
Kind of allergic was a vast understatement. Getting near kryptonite made Clark collapse in terrible agony. Prolonged exposure to the rocks could conceivably kill him. And Red knew all this, which was doubtless why she'd set up a kryptonite perimeter. Otherwise Clark could have just swooped in, grabbed Dad and Sam, and gotten them to safety before her people knew what was going on.
Lois looked outraged. "You let a little sneezing stop you from trying to rescue our dads?"
"It's not that kind of allergy, Lo," I said, hoping to head off another argument. "It hurts him. He really can't go near it."
Lois frowned. "I never heard of anyone being allergic to rocks."
Clark gave a smug smile that was deliberately calculated to annoy. "I'm special."
"You can say that again," Lois muttered under her breath. I don't think she meant it as a compliment, but I let it go.
"So where are they?" I asked, putting the car into drive. I wasn't stupid enough to drive straight into the trap they'd set, but I thought maybe we could figure out a way to sneak up on them. We'd have to get a lot closer first, though, especially since Clark couldn't get too close to them. Lois and I would have to do the next round of reconnaissance ourselves.
"Route 70, just like Sam said. Most of the way to Shadowton."
Shadowton was a suburb just outside the city limits. I pulled out, heading in that direction, while Lois frowned.
"Did your psycho girlfriend teach you how to teleport, Smallville?"
Lois wasn't referring to me, but to a girl named Alicia, with whom Clark had been involved for a short time. Psycho might have been an unkind description, but Alicia had definitely had some issues. But Clark had really had a thing for her in spite of her problems. He winced, but answered in a steady voice.
"I don't teleport, Lois. I know it looks like it, but I just run really fast."
"Yeah, right." She snorted. "You ran all the way from here to Shadowton in like five seconds?"
"More like two. It doesn't even take me five seconds to get from Smallville to Metropolis."
"Oh, please. You're deluded."
"Stop it, Lois," I said. We'd left the city behind, and there were woods on either side of the road-- a rare sight around Metropolis. Doubtless they'd all be bulldozed for houses soon. "I know it sounds crazy, but it's true."
"Are you really that gullible, cuz? Because there's no possible way--"
Lois broke off with a gasp as something streaked out from between the trees. I barely had enough time to realize it was a human, and I reacted instinctively. I cut the steering wheel hard to the right, trying desperately to miss the guy, but I felt a terrible crunch under the left front tire and knew I hadn't succeeded.
And then the Beetle slammed into the ditch, and that was the last I knew.
Read Chapter 10 here.