My apologies for the year plus wait you've all had (in fact, all my fics have been sitting for more than a year by now). As some of you may know, I have things going on. Family things, work things, life things. I started out hoping I'd make time for fic and kind of beating myself up internally for not doing it. Then I kind of let that go and realized I'd get back to it when I actually could, as in having the time and the inclination.
I probably could have made the time easier, though, if I felt more inclination. The fact is I feel like I gave a lot of time and energy to SV fic and, after a while, it felt like a wasted effort. The show was over, it ended poorly (for me and, I'd argue, for most), I wish it had been better and I have written a good number of fics outlining what I thought were either better endings or challenging possibilities. I felt like I've said a lot of what I had to say and explored every plot bunny I wanted to.
During the show's run, I had readers. After the show ended, most people moved onto other fandoms, as is perfectly natural, and I was left with 4-5 people commenting and maybe five times that lurking. I'm so grateful to those of you that stayed around and invested in whichever fic, but it also feels strange to spend so much time on something maybe only a dozen or so people want or enjoy. I've gotten all I can out of fic, as far as the learning experience of writing it, and I'd love to take this and run with it in something original, fic training wheels off!
That being said, I'm going to finish what I started and, after archiving some oldies, I feel I needed this break to renew my enthusiasm for it and getting psyched about graduating.
I'm hopeful you don't feel too bad about me having taken this time. I've been rereading and archiving fic for ao3 (I'm apeygirl there) and kind of getting psyched up to finish my say as far as Smallville goes.
I feel like I will be done with Smallville after this and maybe done with fic altogether. I might do an event here or there, but I really would like to try to play in worlds of my own making after the new year!
Until then... here's the first entry in my fic graduation log...
As far as showers went, it was a small affair. Just Dinah, Bart, Martha, Clark, and a cake that was too big for just five people.
“Are we expecting a few more dozen?” Chloe eyed the massive cake with the giant blue bear on it.
“Just who’s here. Bart kept waffling between vanilla and chocolate until he went for both, which I’m fine with,” Clark said, helping her out of her coat before staring hard at her. “But maybe you aren’t. You look a little too surprised. I warned you this was coming.”
“I knew something was up with Dinah. I just wasn’t sure…” She leaned closer. “Clark, I told you before. This isn’t something we should be partying about.”
“And I don’t agree with that,” Clark whispered. “Look, you need supplies and… this is the traditional way to get them,” he smiled, “with cake and stupid party games.” He nodded at his mother, Bart, and Dinah, fooling with an iPod. “They’ve been planning this for a while, you know. They want you to feel… normal.”
“You say that like it’s possible,” she hissed, then pasted on a smile as Martha moved to her.
“So we have a few presents,” Martha grinned, “but you don’t get them without a little work.”
Chloe forced a laugh. “I thought the swollen feet and aching back were enough work.”
“Nothing that strenuous.” Martha led her to a chair. “We just thought we’d prepare you for all the headaches with some games. Bart’s up first.”
Bart held up an iPod. “This contains all the classics, songs you will be forced to listen to twenty times a day or more if this kid is anything like… any other kid,” he finished awkwardly.
Chloe looked around at the others, saw their forced smiles and their refusal to acknowledge the elephant in the room.
“So you get five seconds of song,” Bart went on brightly. “If you guess the song, you get a present.”
“Well, that’s silly,” Dinah scoffed. “Why put all the pressure on Chloe? I mean, she’s going to be getting these presents, anyway.”
“Because it’s fun,” Bart hissed. “Why are you always crapping on my best ideas?”
“Look, I get the concept, but the gameplay needs work. I think we should all guess and, whoever guesses gets to pick which present she gets, including Chloe…”
Martha pointed at Dinah. “I like that. I’m probably going to win if you’ve got any of Clark’s. He tortured me with Barney and that one song from Schoolhouse Rock… I can feel the headache already.”
“I liked The Big Comfy Couch,” Dinah said.
“With the creepy clown girl?” Bart shook his head. “Insanity. Fine. Change my game. You’re just lucky I’m not playing because I’d win. Also, Fred Rogers was a living saint and his show is more of an enduring classic than all your shows, so suck it.”
“Mr. Rogers?” Dinah shook her head. “That show was way too slow for me. I’d think it’d be glacial for you.”
“I found him soothing and dependable.”
“You probably needed calming down, knowing you.” Dinah chuckled. “What was your kid crack, Chloe?”
“I think I started off with Sesame Street. But I graduated to Reading Rainbow pretty quickly,” Chloe said as Clark snorted.
“Knew it,” he said, tossing her a smile. “If this kid’s anything like you, I’ll never see him throw a ball.”
She smiled back, thinking this was just a little bit nice. It was a bit like that feeling she’d had, arguing with Clark in the cab a few months back. It was the first time she’d thought of this baby as somebody—just a boy with tastes of his own, a love for sports or books or zombie killing video games. It felt like the worst kind of denial, to fool herself that this kid might be like any other, but there were moments when she could let in the idea of this nameless, faceless boy with something like eagerness, like she couldn’t wait to meet him.
“I liked Lambchop,” Martha offered as Clark started humming what sounded like “Conjunction Junction” under his breath. “Why did you start that?” Martha sighed. “It took 20 years to get that song out of my head the first time.”
“I liked Captain Planet.” They all turned to see Oliver in the doorway, Victor just behind. “Look, we can’t stay long. Just wanted to drop these off.” Oliver pulled a large box from behind him. “I didn’t wrap it or anything. The lady at Lacy’s told me this was the number one stroller this year. I mean, I think it looks like half an egg, but it’s got all those safety ratings and all, so what do I know?”
“Thanks,” Chloe said, losing that bit of relaxation she’d almost had. Oliver and Victor’s presence didn’t help, with how tense they seemed, even as Victor pulled a bag in. “It’s a Diaper Genie. I was told it’s a staple by the lady at…uh…”
“Lacy’s,” Chloe finished for him. “Thanks. There’s plenty of cake, as you can see. If you want to…”
“No, they can’t stay,” Bart cut in. “They obviously have more important…”
“Oh, this is just silly.” Martha stood and moved to Victor and Oliver. “Just stay for the party. I know you’ve all been at odds, but maybe this is just the thing to…”
“Trust me, Mrs. K, they need to go,” Bart said mutinously, “if any of us are going to have a little fun.”
“These two like to ruin that kind of thing,” Dinah added with a roll of her eyes.
“Look, we aren’t trying to ruin anything.” Victor gripped Oliver’s shoulder. “We were just dropping some presents.”
“Yes. You can all continue with,” Oliver grunted, “whatever this is.”
“It’s a God damned baby shower, Ollie!” Dinah moved to push the both of them out the door. “I’m sorry not all of us want to do things your way!”
“You mean like dealing with reality?” Oliver hissed to her.
“You want Chloe to treat this with nothing but obvious fear and disgust?”
“That’s not what we’re doing,” Victor said tiredly, putting his hands up.
“Maybe with you three and your gung-ho, party hat attitude,” Oliver sighed, “she needs someone to balance that out.”
“Maybe she’s in the room,” Martha said just as Chloe was about to open her mouth and point out that very thing.
Oliver turned away from Dinah, giving Martha an apologetic look as he moved to Chloe. “For the record, I wasn’t against you having what you might need. I just thought it would be better if we were practical about it. I just don’t think this is a situation that requires a party.”
Chloe had thought the same thing herself, but something about the tension between everyone had her on edge and maybe a little testy. “Well, we were having a nice time,” she said, pushing her cake away.
“We still can.” Martha patted her shoulder, then stared from Oliver to Victor. “I’m not sure what’s gotten into you two.”
Chloe was glad at least someone was as confused as she was.
Then Martha went on. “I thought we all agreed that this discussion could wait.”
Chloe blinked at her, surprised that Martha-- that everyone but her seemed to be in on this discussion, whatever it was.
“For what?” Oliver threw up his hands. “We have to talk over options at some point.”
“No. We actually don’t,” Dinah said tightly. “This is her kid and the options are whatever she wants them to be!”
“Considering she isn't taking about them or thinking ahead, then we have to!”
“Stop talking about her like she’s incapable. We don’t know what she’s decided. Maybe she’s been deciding all on her own. You don’t know! And you don’t need to know because it’s not your business!”
“This isn’t just any kid. Things that affect the safety of the world are our business or… Or what the hell are we even doing here?” Oliver finished hotly. “If she isn’t going to face the possibilities, then…”
“Oliver, I am warning you for the last time. I am this close to walking if you keep pushing--”
“No, he’s right,” Chloe cut in softly, suddenly feeling guilty, tears pricking her eyes. Damned hormones! She didn’t want Dinah to finish that sentence. She hated the idea that her pregnancy was something tearing at Oliver and Dinah’s relationship. Was this what had them at odds all this time? How much damage had it done to them, to this entire team? “I haven’t been thinking about the future. I haven’t been… I just keep going day to day, from fear to hope and…”
“There’s room for both, you know,” Martha said, moving to Chloe and shooting Oliver a rather angry look. “This doesn’t have to be all about fear.”
Oliver glanced down. “With all due respect, Mrs. Kent, I’m not just fear-mongering, here. I have a plan.”
“I wouldn’t call it a plan,” Clark said. “I’d call it a theory. And I’m not going to let you test it out on this baby or anywhere near Chloe.”
“It’s all we’ve got,” Victor broke in. “If the odds are that we can…”
“No!” Bart stepped between them. “Look, you are not ruining this party! We’ve been planning this all week. I made cake!”
“Really good cake,” Clark said, moving to stand beside Bart.
“Hey, thanks, Man. I thought the pudding layer was too much at first, but…”
“Dear God, Bart, could you focus?” Dinah moved to stand with them. “You might have decided on fear, but we have decided on hope. That’s right. We’re Team Hope.”
“Stop acting like I’m the enemy, here.” Oliver took a deep breath. “Look, my plan is all about hope. It’s about survival.”
“See, that right there,” Bart began, “not a very hopeful word. Now could you just let us finish our stupid party games? Because we…”
Everyone turned to Chloe as she stood… not quickly or anything. She had to lean on the table and push herself up. And even that didn’t work because she found Clark at her side, pulling her up.
“No,” she said a little more quietly as she waved Clark away. “Whatever this was,” she gestured to the presents and cake, “it’s pretty much over now.” She turned to Oliver and Victor, both looking shifty, but defiant. “You said you have some kind of plan?”
Victor moved to her, nodding. “Clark’s right, though. It’s not a plan. It’s more of a theory.”
“Whatever it is, considering it involves me, I think I deserve to know about it.” She turned away from Clark and to the rest of… Team Hope. “What exactly have you all been discussing?”
Martha moved to her. “Chloe, please don’t think we’re shutting you out. This is… Well, it’s not something we wanted to upset you with in your condition,” she speared Oliver and Victor with a glance, “especially since we all agreed this could wait another week, at least.”
“Since my condition seems to be the crux of the problem, maybe we should have this talk while I still have it,” she sneered, then immediately turned weepy at the look on Martha’s face. “I didn’t mean that.” She sniffled. “I mean, I did. But I didn’t want to be such a bitch about it.”
“Oh, Sweetie!” Martha pulled her in. “Of course you weren’t.”
Dinah rushed to her as well. “I think you just need to put your feet up. Damn it, Bart, get her some more cake!”
“I don’t want cake,” Chloe sobbed, annoyed at her damned hormones ruining her moment of resolve. “I want you all to stop leaving me out.”
“Trust me,” Oliver said. “No one is leaving you…”
“Give me a break! Are you saying there are no secrets here?”
Oliver drew back. “So you figured it out?”
“I’d have had to be an idiot not to.”
“Look, it was just to keep you near. I figured you needed your own space, but we couldn’t let you just move across town! Just be glad Clark didn’t get his way or you’d be living here.”
“Wait a sec…” Chloe narrowed her eyes at him. “What are you talking about?”
Oliver stared at her, looking a bit cagey. “Well… What are you talking about?”
She was talking about Davis, but it looked like Oliver was talking about something else entirely. And she had an inkling what. “Wasn’t that convenient,” she drawled as it finally sunk in, “me looking for a place in my budget and finding one just next door?”
“I think Martha’s right,” Oliver said. “We should talk about this later.”
“Don’t bother putting this off. You know I could find out. I’ve been writing my checks to Murphy Holdings, LLC. If I were to look into their parent company, would it be Queen Industries?”
“Fine. I bought all the surrounding buildings pretty much the minute we settled in here,” Oliver sank into a chair. “I didn’t like the idea of having no control over who’s near us.”
“Especially you, Chloe, especially right now. I know it’s not easy to face, but this kid could come with surprises and none of us wanted you somewhere far away if or when they popped up.”
“You could have said that. You could have talked to me.” She turned to Clark, who looked away. “You once told me I knew everything I needed to know. But do I really?”
Clark met her eyes reluctantly. “I just wanted you safe. I didn’t want you upset in your…”
“Yes, my condition,” Chloe broke in, sneering, “the source of all the hope and fear. You’ve all been planning and plotting and arguing over what to do about poor, pregnant, fragile me.”
Dinah gripped her hand. “Chloe, I think you deserve to know everything. I always have, but don’t let them influence you toward their paranoid…”
“And what about your little party?” Oliver cut in. “Isn’t that influencing her toward closing her eyes to how dangerous this thing could be?”
“This plan is all about that chance,” Oliver said angrily, “that chance that this could be a kid with a normal life.”
Chloe suddenly needed to know. If there was a possibility… “You tell me about this plan.”
Victor stepped forward. “It’s not exactly…”
“This theory, then.”
Victor looked to Oliver, who nodded. He took a deep breath and looked around. “As some of you know, we have been collecting black Kryptonite. We don’t have as large a sample as what was used on Davis, but we are working on melting it together and…”
“And using it without knowing what it will even do,” Clark said mutinously. “Don’t forget that part.”
Oliver glared at him. “You were the one who was ready to use it on Davis and…”
“And I didn’t, in the end. I started to have my doubts about it.”
“Chloe did use it. And it worked.”
“It doesn’t always work cleanly. We got lucky with Davis.”
“That was more than luck. If we have it on hand at the birth…”
“I don’t want it near him,” Clark insisted.
“We are just going to separate the beast part.”
“And what if there is no beast part?” Clark shook his head. “Davis Bloome was created in a lab, not a womb. We don’t know that this will work and I don’t want it near him. Lex was exposed to it years ago and it split him apart like… like Jekyll and Hyde. If he hadn’t been put back together, then…”
“Then our lives would have been easier,” Oliver finished.
“But what about his life?” Clark shook his head. “He’d have lived it as an incomplete person, even if his better half had survived.”
“Clark’s right.” They all turned to the doorway as John Jones strode in. “Human and otherwise, we all need to live with balance. This child… He is not necessarily so black and white. There are qualities from both parents in him. To separate what might be termed as good and bad… Every good human quality is in balance with a necessary evil.”
Oliver rolled his eyes. “Let’s not get philosophical, Jones. This isn’t the time.”
“This is exactly the time. We’re talking about someone’s existence. Every deadly sin has a virtue to balance it. Balance it and not erase it. You take away his anger, leave him with only trust and patience, and he could end up weak and defenseless. This is not a world for that kind of child.”
Martha moved to Jones. “Bad shift?”
He patted her hand on his shoulder. “You don’t want to know.”
“If you need to talk…”
“Not tonight. Maybe later.” John moved to Chloe. “It’s a little tense in here.”
Bart snorted. “If by a little you mean a lot, then sure.”
Jones ignored him, keeping his eyes on Chloe. “I’ve read him before. He was just vague then, instinctual, feeding off only you, reacting to you. He might be close, now, to forming his own ideas, thoughts. I could read him if you just give me the word.”
Chloe wasn’t sure she wanted to. Because she knew something no one else did, save Clark. She’d shown strength beyond her abilities, enough to hurt Clark, even as he claimed it didn’t hurt. Maybe Oliver and Victor were right to feel nothing but fear of this child. Then again, didn’t she need to know? Whatever was going on inside her, she had to stop running from it. She placed his hand on her belly. “Tell me what he’s thinking.”
John nodded and closed his eyes, then squeezed them shut as if in pain.
“What? Tell me!” she cried.
“I can’t…” He stumbled back, clutching his head.
“John!” She turned to Clark. “This has happened before. It’s always with me.”
Jones shook his head. “Not always.”
“Almost always,” Chloe breathed, backing away from him as Emil moved in.
“What’s going on here?” He looked around the room. “So you decided to have the shower?”
“No. Apparently, we decided to have a fight,” Dinah said angrily, “and ruin the shower.”
Emil glanced at John. “Is he alright?”
“Just a headache,” Jones grunted. “I’ll be okay.”
“I wish you’d let me look at you,” Emil sighed, before turning to Chloe. “I… uh… I didn’t actually get you a present yet. I promise I will.”
“I’m sure I have plenty,” Chloe said hurriedly. “Could you just look at John?”
“I’m fine,” Jones insisted. “This isn’t in your wheelhouse. Victor’s working on it. It doesn’t hurt much. It’s just hard to concentrate.”
Chloe gripped Emil’s arm. “It happens around me.”
“Not necessarily,” Jones said, waving Emil off and turning to Chloe. “I told you before. It’s happened other times.”
“You can all just stop,” Chloe shook her head, “stop trying to gloss everything over and make me feel better. There’s more to this kid. Clark…”
Clark moved to her. “Chloe, don’t--”
“Okay, just calm down.” Victor stepped in the middle, facing Chloe. “Look, I know we’re all here discussing the risks, but Jones isn’t lying. This has happened a few other times. I’ve been trying to find the source of interference myself, but every time, it seems to be coming from inside him, like some kind of low-frequency buzz. It could be waves from underground power lines or the path of a satellite.”
“And it doesn’t hurt,” Jones repeated. “Worse comes to worst, I check in via headset.”
“We’re already working on another base,” Victor put in.
“It’s not like I need my powers here, anyway.” John gripped her arm comfortingly. “Chloe, there really is no reason to worry.”
Chloe stared at him, then nodded, though she didn’t relax much. “Well, maybe not about this.” She turned to Clark. “Oliver and Victor aren’t wrong, you know. This is not just any kid.”
“Chloe, please don’t,” Clark said again.
“No. I’m sick of keeping everything inside and just blindly hoping for the best. I hurt Clark,” she burst out, “several times now.”
“You barely even…”
“I pushed him into the wall. I scratched his arm, his back, his…”
“She’s exaggerating. She hardly broke skin.” He turned to Victor. “As for the wall, I might have over-corrected, like I said. I mean, she pushed, but that doesn’t mean…”
“There was another time, my eyes,” Chloe swiped at those eyes now, annoyed to find her damned hormones making her leak again, “they glowed red like… Well, they didn’t glow. They filled just like Davis’ eyes when…”
“You weren’t going to tell us any of this?” Oliver gaped at Chloe.
“It was my idea,” Clark said, stepping in front of Chloe. “She wanted to talk to Emil, but I wouldn’t let her.”
Oliver pointed at Clark. “Keeping these kind of secrets is not what’s best for the team.”
“That’s pretty rich coming from you,” Chloe said, drying up. “But I guess keeping secrets from me is fine.”
“I’m on your side, Chloe,” Oliver insisted. “Nothing has been kept from you that you needed to know.”
“That’s pretty debatable,” Dinah snorted.
“No. She's right.” Dinah rolled her eyes. “It’s not like she’ll shatter into a million pieces. I’ve been saying all along that she needs to know.”
“While you’re sitting here organizing parties to distract her from what she needs to face?” Oliver sneered. “Now, more than ever, we need to consider the options. If she hurt Clark, then whatever is inside her…”
“But it doesn’t mean anything,” Clark said hotly. “You know, I have abilities, too, but I learned to contain them and control them. I’m going to be there to teach him, which is a hell of a lot more than I had, finding my way!”
“But there wouldn’t be anything to contain if we can separate the man from the beast,” Oliver countered.
Emil lifted a hand. “Now, wait a minute. We’ve discussed the Black K, but I didn’t think you two were seriously considering it as a viable option. We don’t know the effects.”
“Thank God someone is speaking sense,” Clark barked. “He deserves to grow up as he is, a chance to decide for himself. And that’s if he’s even dangerous at all!”
“Is this suddenly your decision alone?” Oliver folded his arms and held his ground. “Last I checked, this was a team.”
“If this is a team decision,” Clark sneered, “then it’s a landslide against you and Victor.”
Dinah raised her hand. “No, it’s not.”
Oliver turned to her, sighing. “Finally. Thank you, Dinah. I knew you’d…”
“No. Both of you can shut up. This is not a team decision or being put to any kind of vote. There is only one vote in this and that vote is Chloe’s.” She turned to Chloe, waiting. “And I support you in whatever it is,” she prodded.
“No one is discounting Chloe’s vote,” Victor said tiredly. “Hell, no one’s even taking a vote right now. We’re just laying it out, options.” He turned to Chloe as well. “And it is your decision.”
Everyone was staring at her now. For what seemed like an hour.
Martha broke the silence first. “What do you want, Chloe?”
Chloe stared at all of them, then shook her head. “I want to go home and go to sleep.” She turned away, then just as quickly turned back. “Before I do that, I want to know one more thing. And I want you all to think carefully before you answer.”
There was silence, waiting.
“What’s on the fourth floor?”
They all looked away. Only Clark held her stare, but he wasn’t answering.
“The fact is,” she went on, “there’s another person who might deserve a vote in all of this. Now, I told everything. What about all of you?”
There was still silence.
“Are you trying to think of some excuse? Do you think I haven’t figured it out?”
Dinah sighed. “We have Davis. For the record, I thought you should know from the start.”
“Not enough to tell me, apparently.”
Dinah nodded sadly and sank back toward Martha, who rubbed her arm and glanced apologetically at Chloe.
“We were only keeping him to be sure he was rehabilitated.” Victor, now. “I know he had extenuating circumstances, but his methods of restraining the beast weren’t something we agreed with. Believe me, turning him over to the law would have meant prison and no hope of release or rehab… or worse.”
“Meaning?” Chloe prodded.
“I just think, after certain events,” Oliver clarified, “he might have been turned over to some agency or other. I heard the government is funding tests on meta-humans and whatever company they're using... Well, their testing practices might be less than humane. Things are pretty hush-hush and even my best guys can’t get me intel, but… Look, he’s better off with us. He’s been seeing a therapist.”
“You mean Sarah,” she corrected.
“That’s technically between him and her, but yes.”
Bart piped up. “And I’ve been giving him good meals and DVRing stuff for him and… Look, he’s fine.”
“I didn’t think he wasn’t, really.” She knew for a fact he was… compared to what he could be. She didn’t tell them about the radio, wanting just one thing she could keep from them. “None of that explains why this was kept from me. Was it all just about protecting poor, fragile, pregnant me or was there more?”
“Chloe, what are you asking?”
“I don’t know anymore,” she cried, swiping angrily at her constantly-leaking eyes. “I mean, why are you even bothering with him when I’m the real danger?”
“We don’t think you’re dangerous,” Bart said. “We trust you.” He looked around. “Come on, you guys, this is no reason to let cake go to waste. Complicated pregnancy? Sure. There’s fear, there’s hope. I personally think there’s more hope than fear and that all this drama can wait. Chloe, this wasn’t how today was supposed to go. Don’t let this ruin everything.”
“Look, this is just a disagreement. We’ll work it out. It’s your decision no matter what and you have a whole month to decide.” He moved to Chloe. “You haven’t even opened one present.”
“I’m not in the mood.” Chloe pulled away.
Bart tugged at her arm. “Look, we won’t even make you play games. Just straight up presents and cake from here on out.”
“Bart, I don’t want to,” she said, getting more agitated.
He ignored her protests and pulled her to the pile of boxes and bags. “Oliver and Victor might have spoiled theirs, but there are a few surprises.”
“Some are just for Mama.”
“Just let me go!”
She swore, swore at the time, that she just pulled her arm away. But that’s not how it ended up. Bart landed across the room, denting the aluminum kitchen window and slumping to the floor in a heap.
And she ran.
“Chloe? Bart’s fine. He wanted me to tell you that. Actually, he wanted me to tell you he’s doing elevator bits, but…”
She turned away from her locked bedroom door, but Dinah’s voice carried through it.
“He wrapped you up most of the cake. Wouldn’t let anyone else touch it till he had your portion. He doesn’t blame you. We know you didn’t mean it. Clark was explaining it to us and we think you just felt threatened even if…”
She put her pillow over her head and let the voice muffle until there was silence, before waking up a little choked and pulling the pillow away while another voice came through her door.
“…and we understand the position you’re in is difficult.” It was Oliver now. “I don’t want you to feel pressured in any direction. Like Bart said, there’s more than a month left. I just think you should consider the options before… before things get down to the wire. That’s all.”
She pulled the covers higher and waited for him to leave. He eventually did. She drifted off a little, then, sinking into that recurring dream. It hadn’t been around for some time now, but it flashed through her mind now with her fitful snatches of sleep, distorted now, but with the details still there. Running from Clark. Faceless baby. Running from Clark. Clark calling her name…
He was calling her name. She sat up and stared at the door as the door knob rattled. She knew he could turn it and break the lock if he chose. She knew he wouldn’t, though. And he didn’t.
“It doesn’t mean anything, not about you and not about this baby. You got upset and overreacted. Everything’s fine. Nothing has changed.”
She stood and moved to the door, ready to open it and ask Clark who he was trying to fool here?
“Even Oliver and Victor ag… Well, they mostly agree this doesn’t need to be decided on right this second. No one is afraid of you. No one thinks any less of…”
She placed her hand on the door and he stopped, almost as if he could see her there. He could, she realized, staring at the door and knowing he was staring right through to her.
She imagined his eyes, steady and pleading. “Chloe, Bart was right. There’s way more hope than fear.”
She backed away, back to bed, huddled back under the covers. “Just go, Clark,” she whispered, knowing he would hear.
“I just want you to know…”
“I’ve heard it all,” she said softly. “Everything’s perfect, apparently.”
“I never said… Chloe, I just want you to feel…”
“What I feel?!” She sat up now, shouting at the door. “Between every damned one of you, you control what I eat, where I live, and what I know. Maybe I can have one night to decide what I feel!”
There was silence on the other side, then shuffling.
Everyone else had decided what they feel. Maybe she deserved to figure it out for herself. It was her vote, as Dinah said. Unless and until this kid was eighteen, her vote was the only vote.
God! Even that made her feel like weeping, imagining this faceless boy, packing for college. Weeping because she wasn’t even sure if he could have that. Would he be allowed something like college? High school? Grade school? Maybe he would be locked in that fourth floor, like Davis… or with Davis.
Then again, maybe he should be locked up. She could hear the beeping now.
Of course, that was actual beeping… coming from her nightstand. She pulled out the radio and stared at it for a moment before turning the volume up.
“…pick up. Come on, Chloe.”
“I know something’s going on. I heard commotion downstairs.”
She still didn’t.
“Bart brought up cake, but he wouldn’t answer my questions… or look at me. Just tell me what’s going on.”
She wasn’t sure she wanted to. She’d told him enough. Chances were that he’d be on the same team as Oliver and Victor. Team Fear. Then again, was that any better than Team Hope?
She still didn’t know what team she was on, which was pathetic, considering this was her child. Then again, it wasn’t just her child. She stared at the radio, almost hit the button before his voice came through.
“Don’t make me come down there,” she heard with a slight nervous laugh. “Chloe, I know you’re there.”
She hit it, then. “They know. I told them everything," she said tiredly. "Not about the radios, obviously, or we wouldn't be talking, but everything else.”
“I hurt Bart.”
“He did look like he was limping a little.”
“I didn’t mean to.”
“I know you didn’t. It’s what It does. It lashes out.”
“Everyone keeps knocking on my door, trying to make me feel better and… I can’t do it. Then again, there’s this fail-safe idea they have and I can’t do that, either.”
“What’s the idea?”
“It’s… It’s just too complicated to explain.”
“Then maybe you should explain on the way.”
“The way where?”
She turned. That hadn’t come from the radio. It had come from behind her bedroom door. She tore it open to find Davis there, his face grim.
“How did you get out?”
“Never mind that. We’re leaving,” he said bluntly.
She took a deep breath and nodded. She wasn’t even surprised. And she wasn’t going to argue. She knew it would come down to this, in the end.
Well, that went downhill quickly. :(