Part 41

"You know, running away in the morning when I'm still sleeping it's not really your style," Ollie said when finding Tess in Watchtower the next day in the evening.

"I bet you've waited the whole day to tell me that," she said when not even looking at him. She was busy with her computers. Technically, they were his computers, he thought, he'd paid for them!

"Tess, I don't understand you," he admitted when making his way to her and placing his hand on hers.

She yanked it away and turned her back on him, shifting her attention to another computer screen.

"Good. I've changed. You should try it," the answer in a cold voice came.

"But I still love you. I love you no matter how much you've changed and I want to be with you. I thought that last night…" he started when she suddenly turned around and looked him straight in the eye.

"Last night was a mistake. It shouldn't have happened."

"You don't mean that."

"You need to give up, Ollie, because I won't jump into another relationship with you. I'm sorry, but I just can't risk it."

"I'll make you change your…" he started when she shushed him.

"We need to get Chloe here! Now!" Tess suddenly exclaimed, alarmed by something she read on the screen.

"Tess, what…"

"NOW!" she repeated.

"All right! All right!" Oliver raised his hands in surrender and did what she asked him for.

Clark truly couldn't believe it. It all happened so fast and he still had troubles with adjusting to this new reality. A reality without Chloe. How long till she would be able to come back? Would she ever be able to? He was wondering.

Just the day before, Tess had gotten both him and Chloe to Watchtower, informing them of the organization called Checkmate. An organization Tess had wanted to be a part of once, but she hadn't gotten in. Now she was actually happy of that turn of events.

The organization was dealing with vigilantes and people with special abilities. They were performing their operations in secret. Somehow, they didn't get any information on Clark, but they did find out about Chloe. About her involvement. About her work in Watchtower. Tess had managed to keep her secret profile when being the CEO of the LuthorCorp, but Chloe had had no alibi, no other profession to cover for her work in Wachtower. She, therefore, was on the Checkmate's radar. And she had been captured by them before Clark had managed to get her to Tess in the first place.

Luckily for them, Clark and Oliver with the help of the gang consisted of Bart, AC and Dinah managed to break her out just in the last moment. She had been about to be killed when Clark had taken her directly from the gun point. A gun that had been being fired.

There was nothing much to do really but to make Chloe disappear. To make the Checkmate believe she was dead. Officially, she was. The official story was that the bullet actually had hit the target just before Clark had taken Chloe. Supposedly, he had come to safe her, but he had been too late. In reality - she had disappeared. Died.

Clark could still evoke their painful goodbye. The teary eyes. The sobbing. The hug and the chaste kiss. They hadn't even gotten time to do it properly. It had been all done in a hurry.

And now she was just gone.

"Don't worry, man. At least she's alive. You saved her," Oliver tried to comfort his friend as Clark was just sitting on a couch in Watchtower.

"I may never see her again," he said in a broken voice and hid his face in his hands.

"Chloe's smart. I'm sure she'll find a way to come back when it all dies down," Tess told him when bringing him a glass of water.

"Don't you have something stronger? He needs it," Oliver complained to her.

"Alcohol doesn't affect me," Clark just answered dully and drunk what was offered to him.

"That sucks," Oliver decided.

"The thing is… I did this to her," Clark suddenly said. "It's not that she had to get away that pains me so much. It's the reason for it and it's me."

"Will you stop with the guilt thing?" Ollie just asked in an exasperated voice.

"No! Because it's all my fault!" Clark continued. "It's the love we have for each other. I should've let her go, but I… I just couldn't. I love her too much and now not only she doesn't have any family, now Chloe Sullivan is officially dead and she's just gone. Forced to lead another life in some other place. Alone. I can't imagine a worse fate for a person. And I did this to her!"

"Chloe loves you," Tess said in a harsh voice. "And love is about sacrifice, Clark. You can't help how you feel, you just go with it and yes, you get hurt in the way. It's life. You need to deal with it. You're human now and this is a part of that human life. If you two had decided to keep apart in the past, you would've both been miserable. Thanks to Chloe you've became this wonderful man, a hero. She made you this way, remember that. You need to believe that when the time is right, she'll be back."

"I'll just feel so lost without her," Clark said, again burying his face in his hands. Then he suddenly sat straight up and listened. "There's an accident, I need to go!" And he was gone.

He'd truly wanted to go with Chloe, but it would've been too suspicious. He couldn't just quit his job at the Planet in the same time his fiancée was declared dead and disappeared himself. The second reason was that he couldn't just leave the city unprotected. As much as he loved Chloe, he still had a destiny to fulfill and he knew she would never let him leave with her because of that. She believe in him too much and he was determined to hold on to that believe and have faith himself that there would come a day that she would be able to come back to him. He was sure of one thing: there would never be anyone else but Chloe Sullivan for him.

"What you said to him," Oliver started when standing up and facing Tess, "it was beautiful, but I don't think you believe it yourself." He challenged her.

Tess closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

"I… I don't know what to say to you, Ollie. I don't know what to do anymore. I was so sure of my every decision till recently and now… now I just don't know."

"Why don't you just listen to your heart, Tess?" he asked in a husky voice and gently placed his hand on her cheek.

"I'm afraid," she simply said.

"You need to take risks in your life if you want to be happy," he said. "Please, just follow your heart and you cannot go wrong."

"I did once," she confessed, "and it did go wrong."

"Maybe not. Well, I'm not saying that what I did was right, it was horrible and disgusting and I know that, but… maybe we both needed to grow and find ourselves first and then come back to each other? I was stupid and immature back then, added to that, I was traumatized after what happened to me on that island. We jumped into a relationship too quickly and it backfired. I want to try again and this time, I know who I am and what I want from life, I also want you my side. Tess, please."

She closed her eyes and one strayed tear flowed down her cheek. A tear which Oliver wiped with his thumb.

"Life without love isn't really living, it's just sort of… existing," he added.

She placed her own hand over his and finally met his eyes and smiled at him through the tears.

"Do you promise not to hurt me?" she asked.

"I do you one better. If I ever dare to hurt you, you have my permission to cut off my balls and feed them to me," he said in a very sure voice and she laughed. He smiled when seeing the real joy in her eyes. He always loved to make her laugh. "I'm not joking," he added.

"If you ever hurt me again, I will not only cut off your balls. You need to remember that," she said. They were both tired of heavy emotions and those feelings, so that definitely lightened up the mood.

"Seriously, Tess, I will never hurt you. If you want me to, I can marry you on the spot. That is how sure I am that I want to be with you."

"I'm not ready for marriage, but I'm ready to give us another chance," she admitted and then she finally let him kiss her.

Few weeks later

Once Tess received the package she had no idea that opening it would have such dire consequences. She just touched the thing and it activated basically on its own. It released people not from this Earth. People calling themselves Kandorians.

She was alone in the mansion when it happened, just barely woke up and received the package. She thought it was a gift from Oliver as she remembered he liked to send her various boxes with pretty stuff inside. Last week she'd received a purple dress with an invitation to a ball and they'd had a great time, then ever better night. She was actually happy how her life had turned out. The more time she was spending with Oliver, the more sure she was that he was in it for real and she couldn't truly believe that it was happening to her. That so much happiness could ever come into her life again.

Until now. She knew from experience that everything great ended fast and painfully. This time it wasn't Oliver that hurt her, this time it was the small box she dared open, releasing something catastrophic, she was sure of it. It was the curse of the Luthors and everyone who were around them, like the disease was catching on. Like it didn't matter what they touched and how good their intentions were, they were always the bad ones, the ones to make mistakes.

One of the man that came out of the crystal, that the box contained, introduced himself as Zod and told her to kneel before him. She knew all too well about major Zod from Clark by now as not to be terrified.

She started screaming when the man hit her and then something came and swept her away.

Before she knew it, she was in Watchtower and a very worried Oliver was just getting to her as Clark brought her there.

"My god, Tess, what happened?!" he asked, taking a closer look at her swollen cheek.

So she told them. She was so ashamed of herself. So ashamed of what she had done.

"I just… I just touched it, Clark. I had no idea that just by touching it… I should've called you the second I saw the crystal. It obviously was from Krypton. I'm sorry."

"Tess, stop it. It wasn't your fault. It could've happened to anyone."

"But it happened to me! It's always happening to me!"

"How came it was sent to you?" Clark asked.

"When Lex disappeared in the Arctic, a lot disappeared along with him. When my people come across something of his, it's sent to me. There are still a lot of items missing and this one was found near the place the Fortress was."

"So it basically released the Kandorians," Clark thought out loud. "But how? Were they transported here? Or something else happened?"

"I don't know," Tess said in a broken voice. "And I'm so sorry!"

"Tess, it wasn't your fault," Oliver assured her. "Trust me, it wasn't!" He put his arms around her and she snuggled into his chest gratefully.

"We'll deal with it the way we always deal with things," Clark just said, his voice determined.