In which you are a strawman and I attempt to answer you...
What the hell have you been doing for the last year and a half?
Working, writing things that aren't fic (well, except this one thing which is kind of fic, but not. I'll explain below). I've been writing light entertainment journalism for a magazine and, when I can, I write recaps, reviews or rants over at Legendary Women's medium collection. I also published a novel under my new pen name which you can find here:
Wait a sec... Magic crystals, best friends to lovers... That sounds an awful lot like Under The Influence.
That's because it is. I took that fic because it wasn't my most popular and was so short and simple and easy to take out of Smallville and thought I would finally try self-publishing but with something short and not too complicated just to get an idea of the process. Of course, it was way more work than I imagined. I basically took a 15K and -- between adding more plot, more characters and changing the main characters' personality and dynamic -- turned it into a 50K novella. I'm fairly proud of it, but I do want to get into some more ambitious works.
So is Under The Influence gone forever?
Well, from this blog and anywhere else it was posted, yes. But if you enjoyed it before and want a copy of that messy old thing, feel free to message or email me and I can sort you out. But I would rather you read the new version. It's much better. If you'd like a free copy of that, I can send you an ARC in exchange for an honest review on Goodreads or Amazon.
Okay, fine. I guess I get it. You were always whining about how you want to write for real. But what about the fic?
It just became a chore and one I had to bribe myself into. I did start posting my old stuff on Ao3, hoping the engagement and the reminder that I could be a finisher might motivate me, but all I felt was tired of Smallville. For some time now, between family illnesses, drama, and even death, it's gotten harder and harder to feel good about writing fix-it fic for a show that, by the end, I didn't even enjoy.
Besides that, the fandom has been dead for some time. Most people have moved on to other shows and fandoms. No one seemed to be on tenterhooks for my fic and that's okay. But it's also not much of a motivator for me to write it.
Is that all? You don't want to?
That's only part of it and it's actually a small part. I had started writing on it again late last summer after things calmed down in my family and the grief didn't feel so fresh. I thought I'd allow myself X amount of work on my own stuff in exchange for writing chapters, finishing each fic slowly with a very complicated chore writing/fun writing system. I made a chart and started doing write-ins with old SV pals and everything.
Then the news cam about about Allison Mack.
Oh, yeah. The cult thing. But wasn't that always something most of us knew, but didn't want to think about with her and Kristin Kreuk?
I knew years ago they were in this shady pyramid scheme under this BS guru, but I thought of her kind of the same way I thought about Elizabeth Moss, who's in Scientology. I felt bad for where she was and how little awareness she had, but I didn't think she was a bad person. I just hoped that one day that douchebag would get arrested for something and both she and Kristin would wise up and leave.
Then I heard the more licentious rumors some time in 2016 (that she was romantically involved with the leader and part of his harem) and was really grossed out. But the only person saying it was this one guy with a blog. He was kind of an alt-right jerk and I figured he was some guy who had an axe to grind. How could he know all the stuff he was saying anyway? It felt easy to dismiss at the time.
Then the Daily Mail stuff hit and it was much worse than what I'd heard before and much harder to ignore when it was everywhere. But this was The Daily Mail and their only source was that one guy, still, so I thought AM or KK might speak out and separate the fact from the fiction (the fact that neither of them have to this day pisses me off).
But now that victims are speaking out to legitimate news outlets, it's hard to call these rumors or alleged. The fact that she continues to tweet and post supposedly inspirational quotes with no statement, ignoring her fans'pleas for answers, makes me so angry. I never hit an unfollow button so hard.
Do you hate her?
Kind of. I feel like being a fan of her and Chloe and continuing to watch Smallville when it stopped being fun was a huge waste of my time, but that last was my fault.
I do feel sorry for whatever is broken in her that makes her both a victim and an abuser, but it doesn't excuse her.
So that's it? You're never going to finish your fic?
I can't say that for sure. Right now it's too hard for me to separate the actress from the character. Unless Mack leaves this organization and makes amends for her part in victimizing other women, I will continue to have negative feelings about her and Chloe. I just plain don't want to write fic under that kind of cloud. It wouldn't be any good, anyway.
Will this bitterness cause you to remove all your old fics?
No. They'll stand as they are, WIPs included. I do have one or two old fics where the plot is removed far enough from SV that, in the far flung future, I might take it down in order to use the premise, some scenes, and some elements. But I will give fair warning if that were to happen.
What are you doing now?
I have moved on to writing original works and have started drafting one on Wattpad. Also trying it out on Ao3, but not sure how well it will do there, but here are links if you're interested.
I might share chapter links as I go. I don't know. I'm not sure anyone even visits this blog. I don't know if anyone's even reading this now!
Anyway, yeah. My imaginary Q&A with you has ended. Carry on.
I'm back, trying to hurtle this fic toward the finish with a combination of scribbled notes and determination.
“I don’t know what to take,” Chloe said, staring at an empty bag.
“How about a change of clothes?” Davis suggested, pacing behind her. “You can’t risk much more and we don’t have much time.”
“I just… I knew this was coming on some level.” She turned to him, squeezing her eyes shut, feeling those ever-present tears trying to leak out. Maybe that recurring dream wasn't just a regurgitation of her current mental state, but a warning, an instruction. “I guess I just thought I’d have more time to…”
“Chloe, there is no time,” he said gently, taking her by the shoulders. “Leaving right now is our best chance. The less you take, the better.”
She stared at him, trying to dry up. “I still don’t understand. How did you get out?”
“I have a plan,” Davis said steadily. “I’ve been ready, just in case it came down to this."
"That doesn't answer my..."
"Don’t you want a chance at a normal life?” he broke in.
Chloe looked around her little place, that blue nook with the white shelves where his crib and bassinet might have been. This place had been her idea of a normal life, in a way, a little hideaway for the two of them, but safely tucked in next door to her own personal band of heroes. It didn’t seem that way now, with this place being owned by Oliver and almost orchestrated to draw her in. Then again, as much as she was angry at how much she’d been manipulated up till now, she also understood it. They wanted to be sure she was safe, and the world safe from what was inside her.
She had been pretty much the number one item on their agenda. This baby was fought over, feared or hoped for, everyone falling on one side. Did she want to stay here as this source of contention for people who should be focused on more than this?
She still didn’t know where she fell. Did she fear him or love him? She hadn’t even seen his face, but she really needed to decide soon as she’d be the one who he'd be depending on. She had to be something solid for him. And she couldn’t do that with all this distraction, these well meaning heroes, all looking at him with either fear or hope.
No kid could have a normal life under that kind of scrutiny.
She stared at Davis, coming back to his question. Don’t you want a chance at a normal life? She had to choose now. She stared down at her hand, resting on her belly, thought of the wonder she felt the first time he kicked. Maybe everything else was just a distraction from that. Maybe she'd chosen hope before she even knew it.
“A normal life.” She nodded, sniffling. “I think he deserves that.”
Davis let go, staring at her as he backed away. “Well, him… you… This is your chance.”
She swiped at her eyes. “So change of clothes for me. But what about him? There are all these shower gifts next door and…”
“And we don’t have a shot at getting those without them realizing,” Davis cut in quickly. “We’ll get whatever… whatever’s needed.” He turned to her again. “There is really nothing you need to take with you. It’s better if you don’t so they don’t know you’ve gone right away, so...”
“So they can’t find us,” she finished miserably, bundling up her phone and charger.
“So they can’t find us,” she finished miserably, bundling up her phone and charger.
He nodded and stilled her hand. “Even your phone… they can track it.”
She placed it down, staring at the cord as she dropped it on her nightstand. “I’m running away from everyone I know. Again.”
“Chloe, this is our responsibility. We need to take care of it.”
“Him,” she corrected, cradling her stomach. She’d had some pronoun issues for some time now, but she was deciding now. What was she leaving for if it wasn’t for a him, the chance of him having something close to a normal life, protecting him from the world even as she protected the world from what he might become? She packed one change, locked up, and followed Davis into the night again.
He stopped at an all-night gas station, even though they had a nearly full tank, said they needed coffee for the road ahead.
“I got you a half-caff,” he said, holding one out as he took the wheel again. “I figured you could have a little, in case you need to drive.”
“I hope I remember how,” she said as she took it. “It’s been all cabs and walks for a while now. Still, I don’t get why we had time for this but not ATMs. I told you, I have money if we can hit a few before we’re out of state…”
“I just don’t think we should leave a trail, if your friends are as good at tracking as you say.”
“You might have a point.” Victor could get every stop in less than a minute and she didn’t have the means to erase her tracks, considering she’d taken nothing but a change of clothes.. “Still, we’ll need money.”
“We’ll figure that out when we get there.” He nodded to her coffee. “Drink up. Like I said, I might need you to take the wheel. We have a good 200 miles to go before we can afford to stop.”
She took a long sip. It was much sweeter than she usually took it, and with a funny taste. She wondered if he loaded it with Equal or Splenda or some other awful thing, but it was still coffee, even at half-caff, and she needed it. “Are you sure you have enough gas money to get us to New Jersey?”
“And what’s in New Jersey?”
“But what kind of house? A row home? A duplex? Urban or suburban?” She took another sip and sat back, trying to arrange the seatbelt over her damned stomach, and trying to imagine something for this kid, something safe.
“It’s rural," he finally said. "It’s a farm house. Lots of space.”
She blinked rapidly, feeling one of her silly cries coming on again. “A farm house?” Like Clark’s? Like the very one he’d been trying to convince her to move into all this time? What a sick twist, for her to end up on a farm without him, with Davis. Then again, Davis was the father of this child. Shouldn’t he be the one raising it with her? Whatever Clark wanted, with his little gift bag, this child could be dangerous to him. Even if there was little between her and Davis, these days, this kid was their responsibility,
“Where I’m taking you… it’s away from everything and everyone. It’s the perfect solution.”
She took another long gulp, trying to gulp down her tears and just focus on what was ahead. Yet, she still couldn’t figure one thing out. “How did you arrange all this?”
“I do have some connections on the outside.” He chuckled weakly. “As a reporter, you might understand that I can’t reveal my sources.”
“I’m not asking who. I’m asking how.” She looked around the van they were in right now, even as her head swam. Maybe she was just tired, but she swore the interior lights were leaving trails as she turned her head to the window. “The vehicle, the place, the gas money?”
“Like I said, I’ve been prepared for months.”
“No, you didn’t. You never said months. You only found out about him a month ago.” She narrowed her eyes at him as he stared resolutely ahead. “Davis,” she prodded.
“Chloe, what does it matter when I found out?”
“It didn’t seem like you knew when I found you up there. Did someone tell you?”
He nodded, eyes on the road.
“Why did you pretend not to know?”
He took a deep breath. “I never told you how it felt,” he said, “when the beast took over. I know I described it as blacking out, but it was more than that. First it rips its way to the surface and you feel it in your organs before it starts poking out of your skin. When I blacked out, it was usually from the pain. No one should feel pain like that.”
She stared at him, even as he sort of blurred in the lights of the passing cars. “Why are you telling me this?” Her voice sounded strange, far away and slow. She shook her head and the lights on the dash made trails with every move.
“No one should live like that. It's not a life,” he said, as if she hadn’t spoken, his voice also taking on that deep, slow cadence.
She stared down at her coffee cup, then let it drop to the floor. “What did you do to me?” Of course, she knew what he must have done, why he just had to stop and make her a coffee that was too damned sweet. She just couldn’t figure out why, not when she had gone with him willingly. "What are you doing, Davis?"
“I’m making things right,” he said.
They moved off the exit. From her past experience, which wasn’t much more than a long-ago road trip with Lana to New York, they should be on the 70 overnight and then some before New Jersey.
“There is no farm in New Jersey,” she slurred. It wasn't even a question by now. She was annoyed it had taken her this long to catch on. Then again, she hadn’t been all there, even before he drugged her coffee, so frightened and frantic to do something, anything, and tonight. So stupid. She grappled for the door handle weakly. It was locked. Just as well. She wasn’t about to tumble out of a moving van, anyway. Her head lolled against the window as the exit signs blurred into airport signs. “Where are you taking me?”
“To fix it. To free you.”
“What about him?”
“There is no him. Only it. And it needs to be destroyed.” The blackness descended and his voice faded in and out. “...no other way...better off, Chloe… Don’t worry… You’ll see...”
She didn’t like it. She kept telling herself she didn’t have to. It wasn’t her concern. She could just keep going on. He'd agreed to let her run her end of Luthorcorp's holdings as she saw fit, be her brother and not her boss. And she agreed that she didn't need to know what his end consisted of. She was his sister, not his keeper.
Things between them had settled into something resembling a routine. He'd been in Metropolis for a week now. They had dinner together most nights, just talking about all the things they didn't know before now, things they had in common silly things like how they both hated blueberries and black olives, and less silly things like how they both spent their childhoods in differing states of neglect and the vague feeling their parents despised them for one reason or another. He said they were making up for lost time, that they could, at some point, have the kind of sibling relationship approaching normal. She doubted that.
"It's still a secret, you know. No one knows I'm a Luthor and no one knows you're alive."
"It's what we have," he'd said. "It could be worse."
"It could also be better. Why not come back to life, let people know who I am, just be done with all this..."
"The public eye was never good to me, anyway. I have more freedom this way, less distraction."
His phone rang, then -- the one she didn’t have the number to. He didn’t say how long he’d be gone as he packed, but it was apparently “All according to plan. Just a little earlier than expected.”
That was fine by her. She didn’t want to know.
“As unsavory as all this seems to you, this is actually in her best interest,” he’d said.
And maybe that was true or it would be, in the end. It wasn’t as if she could even call herself a friend to Chloe Sullivan. Still, there had always been an odd sort of respect between them, though. It felt like a violation of that respect, being a part, however small,of deciding for a grown woman whether she was allowed to have custody of her own child.
Of course, maybe she wanted it out of her hands. As much as Chloe played her cards close at work, Tess had been watching, and she never accepted all the congratulations and baby questions with anything but brief, perfunctory answers. Hell, some of the girls had felt Chloe out about a work shower and she’d outright refused, according to Karen. Maybe she wanted her freedom.
“She will be protected, in the end, as will the rest of us. If all goes well, she’ll have her future and her freedom. Save your pity for me. I’m the one who has all the work ahead.” He'd smiled, then, as if there was room for that sort of thing.
She did have some pity for him, for what he'd chosen. It was frustrating to witness, his need to control everything. It wasn’t as if he even enjoyed it. It had only made him progressively more miserable and her by extension. So why was she letting this go on?
At first, she’d been on the verge of leaving. Now she was too afraid to leave Lex to his own devices, leave him with no one to question his decisions. She was on the verge of something else, here, edgy and restless, unable to sit still and watch this unfold from her little fortress of plausible deniability.
He kept going on about Clark and his team taking on more than they can handle. She had to ask him -- what made him so uniquely qualified? According to Lex, they have telepaths and speed freaks and androids and … Hell, she probably still don’t know all of what Clark could do.
“They can’t do what needs to be done. They can’t make the hard decisions. I can. That, as you put it, is what makes me so uniquely qualified.”
It wasn’t comforting. She gave up on sleep and ended up at The Planet at four o’clock on a Sunday morning. Granted, she was usually there a bit early on Sunday, not trusting that those rubes downstairs wouldn’t print the Sunday paper half-upside-down, but nothing like this. The coffee cart guy wasn’t even here yet. There was only Clark and… Clark?
She stepped off the elevator, trying to figure out how to even speak to him now. Should she play it casual? Joke about how he was not getting overtime? Because he really couldn’t know that she suspected what had him here, rifling through Chloe’s nearly empty desk.
In the end, she just asked. “What are you doing?”
He startled, which was surprising, considering she knew of his enhanced hearing. Hadn’t he heard her coming? Or was he just that distracted?
“I’m just… I’m picking up a few things for Chloe,” he finished awkwardly.
She had to adjust her assessment. He wasn’t just distracted. He was distraught, nearly frantic as he pulled out her drawers, logged onto her computer.
“Are you okay?” she found herself asking.
“I will be,” he said, turning to her. “Look, I’ll be out of your hair in a second. I just… I need to know…”
He didn’t finish, but she knew. She knew what he needed to know and, even though she didn’t have it to give, considering her plausible deniability, she had a shot at getting it. Because he wasn’t okay and he wouldn’t be if he didn’t find her before… God, she didn’t even know what was going to happen. But how could it be good if she felt this terrible imagining it?
She knew now, what she was on the verge of. It wasn’t leaving. If she were honest with herself, something she was trying lately since no one else would be, she didn’t want to leave this city and this work. It was the closest she’d felt to belonging, thriving, making something of herself. She also didn’t want to destroy Lex. He was her only family, at least that she knew personally. She didn’t want to hurt him, but she also didn’t want him to destroy Choe and, by extension, whatever it was about Clark that made him that ridiculously bright-eyed hero. They didn’t deserve to be controlled.
It was the same instinct that had her trying to save the environment in a labcoat. The same instinct that had her getting between what she thought was her mom and dad when he’d had a few. She’d never wanted to see anyone hurt, not really, not if she could stop it. How did the lines get so blurred these last years? Was this who she'd become? How did she let herself get to the point of standing by and letting this kind of thing happen?
“I don’t know where she is,” she said quickly before she could stop herself, “but I have a good chance of finding out.”
Clark turned to her, eyes glazed and barely listening. “What?”
“Where she is,” Tess repeated.
Clark seemed to collect himself. “If you mean, Chloe, where she is is on maternity leave.” He stared at the desk, pushed the drawers closed, then stood. “I’m not sure if I’ll be in tomorrow. You might have to find someone to cover…”
“Damn it, Clark!” She gripped his silly blue jacket and pulled him toward her office. He let her, almost limp and defeated, but only up to a point before he jerked them both a stop.
“Tess, I don’t have time to play whatever game you’re…”
“Here’s the game -- she’s missing and I’m your best shot at finding her. You take it or leave it.”
He stared at her from the doorway, eyes narrowed. “Cameras?”
“The feed’s off. I usually turn it on myself, but I didn’t think there’d be a need today.”
“You say you can find out? How would that be?” Clark stepped in. “Are you talking to him?”
“You know about him? I thought no one…”
“Where did he take her.”
“You have to understand. I didn’t want any of this, but then he told me everything and…”
“Did he tell you where he took her?” Clark cut in, angrily. “Because that’s all I need to know.”
“I don’t know for sure. When he’s away, he usually blocks his number. But I can’t keep letting him…”
“Away? I don’t get it.” Clark shook his head. “We did find a charger in his quarters, but how would he get a cell?”
“Quarters? You’ve been in the penthouse?”
“I wouldn’t call it a penthouse. So you’ve known where he is all this time? You have been playing games. Damn it, we were trying to do the right thing, even for him!”
“You, of all people, should know how it is dealing with him. He makes everything sound so reasonable, but then you step back and you realize how insane it is. But what can you do? He has all the control, he always does.”
“Damn it, Tess, there’s no time to argue. What did Davis tell you?”
“Davis? He didn’t tell me anything.”
“He’s gone and so is she and, this time, I know it can’t be her choice. It just can’t. Not after... “ He moved to her, taking her by the shoulders. “You need to tell me what you know about Davis.”
“I don’t know anything about Davis. I… I know you had him, but that’s about it.”
“Another game?” He released her. “Was this all a trick to make me spill...”
“No, it wasn’t,” she said impatiently. “But I might have some idea what Davis is doing, considering who he’s mixed up with. He left last night, too.”
She moved to her desk. “Sit down, Clark.”
“There’s no time to…”
“Well, make time. We’re not going to get anywhere unless we do the one thing we’ve been avoiding since we met.” She sat down and rubbed at her temples. “We’re going to be honest with each other.”
She saw light, even behind her eyelids. At first, she cringed away from it, then she remembered the van and the coffee. Wherever she was, she had to wake up, had to get moving, had to get out. She started moving even as she struggled to open her eyes and heard a loud, piercing beep, repeating itself even as she stilled and flopped back on the… bed.
She was on a bed, there was beeping, and something was pinching her wrist. She opened her eyes with some effort and closed them immediately at the harsh glow, but she knew the antiseptic smell well enough from her life up till now and the feel of the scratchy linens beneath her. It was comforting, considering what she thought was happening.
She heard a door creak. “Chloe?”
She knew that voice, too. “Make the beeping stop,” she groaned.
“I’m sorry. You must have pulled at your I.V. Try not to move.”
“Don’t want to,” she breathed, then cracked an eye as Emil came into focus, thankfully blocking the light. “I can pretty much promise you never to go anywhere again.”
He leaned over her, and light assaulted her again. “No, keep your eyes open,” he said as she cringed away. “Pupils still dilated,” he said dully.
“I was drugged,” she said, forcing herself to hold still “He put something in my coffee.”
“A little too much of something,” he said with a frown as he put the light away, finally.
The light of the room seemed less harsh now and she kept her eyes open, staring at the ceiling. But it wasn’t a real ceiling. There was darkness beyond the fluorescent light, what looked like metal beams high above instead of the plain white of Met Gen or the 80s popcorn ceilings of Smallville Medical Center. “What hospital are we in?” She started to sit up, but he gently pressed her back.
“Try to relax,” he said softly. “We need to check his movement.”
She took several deep breaths before she spoke again as she felt him moving her blankets. “I know everyone’s probably angry. I just thought… I mean, I wasn’t thinking. I was panicking. I didn’t even stop to think. I must have felt like... at least it was me doing something,” she said blearily, “even it was the wrong thing.”
“Could you move your arms, please?”
She hadn’t even realized she’d been holding her belly with both hands, but she removed them now as he pulled up her gown, relaxed at his presence and the familiar squish of the gel, the light click and whirr of the ultrasound machine. “I feel so stupid right now, leaving everyone and everything like this again.”
“Everything looks okay. There doesn’t seem to be any distress and he’s moving normally.”
She opened her eyes, staring at him and the screen. “I thought you’d be angry with me. I’m sure they are, aren’t they?”
“You’re just a little dehydrated, but that’s normal for what you were given.”
“Aren’t they?” she repeated, feeling uneasy now. She started to sit up, but he pressed her down again.
“Chloe,” he wiped off the gel and pulled her gown back down. “You need to relax. Just take deep breaths with me.”
“I will if you stop avoiding me.” She looked around, finally adjusting to the light. The room wasn’t a room, more like part of a series of standing structures in something bigger. “This isn’t a hospital.”
“No, it isn’t. It’s technically a flight hangar, but we have all the equipment we need here.”
“Did Oliver set up a new…” She trailed off as she stared at him, call it pregnancy brain or the lingering effect of the drugs, but she was once again too damned slow to catch on.. “No. He’s not here. Neither are the rest of them. I’m such an idiot. Here I am, thinking I was rescued, but this was where he was taking me all along.”
“If it helps, just so you stop beating yourself up, this was always going to happen.” He smiled rather sadly. “It was better that you left voluntarily, obviously, so they have less of a reason to suspect anything.”
“They will suspect something, you know. They will find me, even... wherever this is.” Or he will.
“Do you really want to be found? Isn't this for the best, for everyone?”
She wasn’t going to answer that, not until she got some answers of her own. “You played it so well. No one suspected. How could anyone? So helpful, so nice,” she hissed, “so devious.”
“You seem to be under some mistaken idea that I mean you harm. Nothing could be further from the truth, believe me.” His eyes were steady on hers. She could almost believe him, or at least believe that he believed what he was saying.
“I remember I was so impressed,” she went on, getting angrier now, “when Oliver told me you volunteered your time. But that’s not true, is it? You’ve been on the clock all this time, just not for Oliver. For who?”
He sighed and stared down at her stomach. “Like I said before, it’s best you don’t upset yourself.”
“For who?” she demanded.
“This didn’t necessarily have to happen,” he said, still not answering her. “I wanted you to carry to term in a familiar environment with familiar faces. Even after the birth, I was content to monitor the situation as your physician and, later, his. As long as your pregnancy seemed to be progressing normally, then… Well, things are different now. After what you said and did, we had to act.”
She felt a frisson of shame, remembering Bart and how she pushed him away, remembering those moments with Clark. It hadn’t come out until tonight… or was it last night? She couldn’t tell in this place. She looked around, saw the blacked out windows high up on the walls. “You couldn’t afford to rent out something like this,” she said, still refusing to play along. “And Davis couldn’t have run this show from the fourth floor. Who are you working for? Is it the government?”
“Chloe, you need to understand my position.”
“I can’t if you won’t tell me what it is or who it’s under,” she sneered.
“You have been displaying traits associated with the beast. Did you really want to be there, putting everyone around you in danger?”
She swiped at her eyes, annoyed to find them leaking. “You know, I might have been open to hearing this before I’d been coerced, drugged, and abducted.”
He took a chair, avoiding her eyes. “And I might have discussed this with you if you’d been more transparent about what you’d been experiencing.”
She tried to dry up, tried to hold onto her anger even as the guilt kept forcing its way in. “Don’t try to put this on me. You lied to all of us. How the hell did you hide this? For God’s sake, we’ve got a mind reader and you still…” She stopped, the anger taking over again. “John only had a headache when you were in the building. That pen. That lucky pen of yours. What was it, really?”
“It wasn’t anything harmful, just some simple interference.”
“Some very specific interference. You let John go on in pain and let me believe I was causing it.”
“It wasn’t anything harmful,” he repeated. “I have a great deal of respect for Jones and all he can do. I just don’t want him using it on me.”
“How did you do it?”
Emil stood. “It’s obvious you’re upset. If you can get some rest…”
“No. You won’t tell me who you’re working for, then at least tell me that. In my line of work, answers are about the only that make me feel relaxed.”
He took his chair again with a sort of resigned sigh. “I operated on him when he was injured. He was powerless, but I knew that might not always be the case."
"So you've been deceiving us almost since the start?"
"I've been keeping an eye on things."
She stared out the windows into the hangar. There were men and women milling around, now that she looked, some in lab coats, some in jumpsuits. “It’s the government, isn’t it? This looks all too official.”
“I was chosen to spearhead the research due to my qualifications and connections.”
“You mean your connections to the people you were lying to all this time?”
“Chloe, I wish you would trust me. I have fulfilled my duties to the team time and again. I am not hurting anyone. If anything, my connection to this project has protected them from further interference. But they can’t be allowed to play with things beyond their knowledge. Black kryptonite…”
“They weren’t playing with anything,” she cut in, feeling the need to defend them. “Oliver… I mean, he only talked about it. It didn’t… It didn’t mean he was going to…”
“Black Kryptonite, the Orb,” Emil broke in, “These are alien technologies that shouldn't be in the hands of…”
“They are Kryptonian technologies. And Clark is...”
“Clark is none too eager to study his heritage, as you might know best. These things are better in the hands of people with the will and means to explore them.”
He made it sound almost logical.
“Any experiments with these substances should be kept to controlled circumstances. Even with him,” he moved a hand to her belly and she batted it away. “Chloe, there would be tests before anything was attempted, many tests with his blood before...”
“He hasn’t even been born and you’re already talking about bleeding him like a lab rat?”
“That isn’t what I…”
“You remind me of someone, you know. I knew a guy who thought he should have control over everything because of some mistaken idea that his mind is superior or something.”
“Chloe, stop fighting me and listen! I’m not the one in charge,” he said, standing and toppling his chair. “But I am the one who’s been intervening on your behalf. Do you think this has been easy for me? He wanted to take you the minute he found out what you might be carrying.”
“I held things off for you, for the possibility that this child would be… well, just another child. Between your sudden abilities and the team discussing drastic options, I knew you needed to be taken to a controlled environment sooner rather than later.”
She stared at him. “That doesn’t make me feel better, you know. This ends the same way. You’re just going to take him and…”
“No. I’m going to give you options. Clear ones. Believe me when I say that I am the only one who thinks you deserve to decide.”
She stared out the windows at the passing lab coats. “Where’s Davis?”
“I told him to give you space for now.”
“Well, did you give him these options?”
Emil sighed. “Davis made it clear he only has one opinion on this child, obviously colored by his traumatic experiences.”
“Yeah. I think I know where Davis stands.” Even with all the fear and the doubt associated with this child, she’d never really been able to imagine destroying him. She hadn’t even met him yet. “Do you agree with him? Is that the reason for this controlled environment? A safe place to snuff him out?” She swiped at her eyes angrily, hating that it was all she could do -- just lay here and cry and argue pathetically.
“I don’t agree with that. Even with your complications, he has been developing in a way that is completely natural. These changes in you could be more about protecting him than his being truly dangerous. I'm open to the idea of waiting and seeing. If he is raised safely, without incident, he could spend years in a state that’s… well, almost normal.”
She sniffled, barely daring to hope. “Am I supposed to believe you’ll let him have a life that’s anything close to normal?”
“You’re supposed to know your options.”
“Unless one of them is letting me decide what I damned well want, then I don’t care.”
“There are two ways out of this. And I respect you enough to let you decide which one you take.”
“The fact that you can even use words like respect is…”
“He may need you in his infancy,” Emil went on over her. “If you decide to raise him, you’ll be provided for. If you want to write, you’ll have the time and resources and connections, if not your own name. If you want to do nothing but see to his care, your every need will be taken care of, still. You’ll be placed and provided with a new identity.”
“With you and your team somewhere near, I presume.”
He nodded. “Your other option is to have it taken out of your hands.”
Her hands moved to her belly before she could stop them. “And what does that mean?”
“You will wake up somewhere safe, somewhere you can be found, but with no memory of the last forty-eight hours.”
“And no baby,” she supplied dully.
“You will be delivered of the child and back to your life and friends.”
“You’d just let me leave?”
“Your friends will assume Davis abducted you and then left with the child.”
“But that won’t be the case,” she supplied. “What will happen to him?”
‘Davis will be provided with a new…”
“My son, Emil,” she clarified, losing all patience with his deflections. “What will happen to him?”
“He will be cared for.”
“By people willing to comply with his care as I see fit.”
“And if I tried to find him…”
“There’s always the possibility that you won’t look, that you’d take your name, the life you have, your freedom and your career, if that’s what you want. If you want a say in how he’s raised, then you know what you need to choose. I want you to understand that I'm not threatening you. I am giving you two very reasonable, viable choices.”
“My child or my freedom? How is that a reasonable choice?”
“If you were to take the first option, which I have been advocating for, it doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be free. You’ll be relocated and given a new name. You will be near a facility and able to raise this child in a way that’s nearly normal. But we don't know how this child's abilities will manifest. He needs to be near someone to…”
“Control him?” she cut in. “Experiment on him?”
“We'll only take blood samples occasionally, only other tests if absolutely necessary.” Emil shrugged and gave her a slight smile. “You can tell him it's just a visit to the doctor.”
Suddenly, she imagined herself, looking down at some trusting little face and lying baldly, lying so often that it got easy. It didn’t seem like something she could do. Then again, could she imagine waking up in some unnamed location and picking up her life as if there had been no baby? She’d search for him and she’d either end up finding him and being taken out of the equation or not finding him at all, spending her life wondering how he was, who he was, if he was suffering.
“You don’t have to decide today. We have time if you just keep resting, keep calm. But I feel strongly that you should be the one to choose.”
She stared at Emil, at the almost earnest look on his face. “You say that like you’re doing me a favor, like this is fair. If this was fair, I would be able to choose any damned thing I wanted for him. Your choices… he’s a science experiment, either way.”
The door opened. “Okay, you’ve had your pitch.”
She stared at the figure there, eyes widening, heart racing, she could hear it on the monitor, beeping like mad. It couldn’t be!
Emil tried to push him out the door. “I told you to stay out. This is just going to upset her.”
“It’s also going to put an end to your nonsense. She’s obviously going to refuse to choose,” Lex said impatiently, eyes moving from Emil to her. “So we’ll choose for her.”
She just kept staring at Lex, pulling at the wires, hoisting herself out of the bed, panic taking over as she picked up the fallen chair. “You stay away from me!”
“Sedate her,” she heard Emil call out before a large man and woman crowded through the door.
The room went red as they approached and she dropped the chair and pushed at them. One of them went through the window, but she couldn’t see the woman… until she felt something behind her, felt a slight prick at her neck as the room went from red to black.