Title: Power Lost, Power Found
Author: Dannyblue
Email: dannyblue2@yahoo.com

Rating: PG-13, for potential violence.
Category: Drama/Action
Summary: Sequel to "Things Change". A crossover, in spirit, with THE HIGHLANDER.
Spoilers: This is set some time is season 2 of SMALLVILLE. General spoilers for THE HIGHLANDER.

Disclaimer: I do not own SMALLVILLE, or THE HIGHLANDER. Other people, who are not me, do.
Distribution: Just ask.
Feedback: Please and thank you.


PART ONE


Chloe ducked, and just managed not to get hit in the shoulder. In the dim light of the room, she saw the silhouette of the sandbag pass by, just inches from her head. Taking a quick step to the left, she struck out. Her forearm hit the bag with a thwack, and it veered off to the side.

Quickly, she reset herself. Body turned to the side, feet in a T formation for balance, arms raised in a defensive position.

The next blow caught her from behind, square in the back. She let out a startled yelp as the impact knocked her forward, stole the air from her longs. There was nothing she could do to stop her fall, so she didn't try. She went with it, letting momentum take over. She tucked her chin in, elbows bent, palms flat. When she hit the floor, she rolled. Her body flowed over and up as graceful as silk. In an instant, she was back on her feet.

Chloe spun around in time to see theĀ  sandbag still gliding towards her. She threw out a punch, and could feel the power of her entire body in her arm. Her fist hit the canvas with a solid thunk, driving the bag back and away.

Her harsh, labored breaths almost drowned out the sound of the next attack. It was a faint, soft as a whisper. Low. Close.

From somewhere, she found the energy to jump, pulling her knees to nearly chest level. And just in time. The barrel passed beneath her feet, rolling under and away with incredible speed.

Tired and off balance, Chloe landed hard...and wrong. As her ankle twisted beneath her, she let out a gasp of startled pain. As she staggered, she focused all of her attention on staying on her feet...and was completely unprepared.

The sandbag slammed into her left side. The force of it, much harder than the last hit, lifted her off her feet.

Time stood still as she flew threw the air. It was kind of peaceful, actually. She feltĀ  light, weightless. The only sound she could hear was the air whistling past her head. The world, dim and shadowy, passed by in a blur. It seemed like it could go on forever...

Until she slammed into the wall.

She'd had the wind knocked out of her before, but never like this. It was like someone used a vacuum to suck her lungs dry. Then gravity reached up and pulled her down the wall. She landed on some well-placed bales of hay, which was good. But hay? Not as soft as people might think. At least, not when you crashed into it.

"Chloe!" a panicky voice exclaimed. "Oh, my God!"

As she started to tumble off of the bale of hay, she was caught by a pair of strong hands.


"Chloe! Are you okay?" The voice was frantic now. "Are you alright?"

Hands as frantic as the voice tried to...do something. Sit her up, or lay her down, or check her out. It was a little disconcerting. Especially since, in all the confusion, she wasn't all that sure where her arms and legs were.


"God, I'm so sorry!" the voice continued. He sounded so upset, she almost felt bad for him. Even though his 'helping hands' were making her seasick.

Then, a miracle happened. A single, shallow breath squeaked its way into her lungs. It was followed by another. Then another. And, finally...


"Clark," Chloe wheezed, trying to shrug his hands away. "Clark." Wheeze. "Sto-stop. Stop!"

Clark froze. His hands stilled. And Chloe used one precious breath to sigh in relief.

"Chloe, are you okay?" Clark asked.

Chloe studied her best friend's concerned face. He was kneeling in front of her, his hands wrapped around her forearms. And she could see the first sparks of guilt shining in his eyes.

"I'm so sorry," he continued. "I didn't mean to push that last sandbag so hard. I really didn't!"

Still too winded to want to speak, Chloe nodded, and hoped he'd interpret the gesture as, It's alright. I understand. It wasn't your fault.

But this was Clark, who wasn't good at reading subtle signals like body language, and facial expressions, and junk like that. So, she forced her labored lungs to produce sound.

"I'm...okay," she panted. "Just...need a minute."

But, when Clark started packing for a guilt trip, a minute was a lot to ask of him.

"How do you feel?" he demanded. "Is anything"--he gulped--"broken?"

Chloe rolled her eyes. During their first training session, she fell. There was no tucking and rolling that time. Nope, she crashed to the ground, landing in a graceless, painful heap. And she managed to break her pinkie in the process.

After a month of training with...After the training she'd already gone through, Chloe was used to getting hurt. It was part of the Immortal package. But Clark, who wasn't even really at fault, acted like he'd committed a capital offense. For a solid week, even after the pinkie healed, he couldn't go ten minutes without saying, 'I'm sorry, Chloe.' At first, it was kind of cute. Then, it started to get on her nerves. She'd decided to never again tell him if she broke anything while they were training. Then, she found out about one of his other...talents.

"I twisted my ankle," Chloe said now. She rotated her foot, and winced when she felt a twinge. "But that was before the bag hit me. Other than that, I think I'm all in one piece."

Clark frowned, obviously not satisfied with her self-diagnosis. Eyes narrowed, gaze suddenly intense, he looked her over. Starting at the top of her head, he slowly worked his way down.

Chloe tried not to squirm in discomfort. Added to all of the other weirdness in her life was the fact that her best friend was a human...well, alien x-ray machine. Knowing he could look through her clothes pretty whenever was bad enough. But he could look inside her, could see her bones, and muscle tissue, and internal organs...

"You're shivering!" Clark exclaimed, alarmed. "Are you going into shock?"

"No. Just thinking thoughts it's way better not to think."

Clark gave her a confused frown, then went back to his examination. "Well, I don't think anything's broken."

"And, even if it was, it wouldn't be for long," Chloe reminded him. That was the part he always seemed to forget. "I wouldn't mind lying down though."

"Oh. Okay. Sure!" Looking eager to be helpful, Clark jumped to his feel. He started to bend toward her. "I..."

"...will not carry me. I can make it on my own steam."

Easier said than done. Thanks to her twisted ankle, Chloe had to lean on Clark to keep from falling down.

As they made their way across the barn, they had to walk around the three sandbags that hung from the ceiling. Clark and Mr. Kent had rigged up this pretty cool system. They'd explained it to her, but she'd been too busy punching a bag to pay attention. Basically, the bags were attached to these roller thingies, like the kind on sliding closet doors. The rollers were placed in this channels that allowed the bags to slide wherever you pushed them. And, when the training sessions were over, the bags could be taken down and stashed in a corner somewhere.

It was really the best alternative. After all, she couldn't spar with Clark. The first time she hit him, she'd break her hand, and send him on another major guilt trip. But she had to keep her limited fighting skills sharp. The bags were good for punching, kicking, ducking and dodging. They worked like a charm. Well, as long as the guy swinging them didn't accidentally push one too hard and send her flying across the barn.

Finally, they made up the stairs to Clark's loft. With a grateful groan, Chloe sat down on the sofa.

"Do you want anything?" Clark asked, hovering over her like a worried mother hen. "Something to drink? Ice for your ankle?"

"Nope. This is good for now." She rested her head against the sofa back. "Ask me again in a minute, 'kay?" With a deep sigh, she closed her eyes and tried to forget the aches and pains. "At least there's no blood this time."
_________________________

Clark hurried back into the barn, an ice pack in one hand, a bottle of water in the other. He climbed the stairs as quietly as he could, just in case Chloe had fallen asleep. Instead, he found her sitting up, her right foot on the coffee table.

"You know what would be nice?" she said. "If the Immortal healing thing kicked in before all the pain and unsightly swelling."

Clark winced in sympathy. Her ankle was almost twice its normal size. "That looks pretty bad."

"Bad, but not broken," Chloe assured him. "So you don't have to buy me a fruit basket, or promise me your first born. Although, the box of candy was nice. Always like apologies when they come with chocolate." She gave him a good-natured grin.

Chagrined, Clark ducked his head. Okay, he'd gone overboard when she broke her pinkie. But he'd felt so bad. Kind of like he felt now, after knocking her into a wall.

Biting his lip to keep from apologizing again, he sat on the coffee table next to her foot. Gently, he eased the ice pack onto her ankle. "This should help take the swelling down."

"Thanks."

They both stared at her ankle, as if they expected it to miraculously shrink from the cold. When that didn't happen, neither could contain a sigh.

"Oh, well." Chloe shrugged. "I guess training's over for today."

"About that," Clark began. Nervously, he cleared his throat. "I've been thinking."

"Uh oh."

Clark gave her a baleful glare. "I've been thinking it's time we found you a real trainer. Someone who knows what they're doing, unlike either one of us. I mean, we're pretty much stumbling around in the dark here."

Chloe shook her head. "I'm still not too eager to meet another Immortal. Yeah, they might be one of the good guys, a gentle soul who, out of the kindness of their heart, is willing to mentor a fledgling like me. They also might be a headhunter who'll have their sword drawn and at my throat before I could say 'howdy'."

Despite her light tone, Clark saw the pain in her eyes. Pain, grief, guilt, fear, and a lot of other things. When she got that look, it wasn't hard to guess who she was thinking about.

Merrick.

"The teacher doesn't have to be an Immortal," Clark said into the heavy silence. "All you need is someone who knows martial arts, right? Someone who can teach you all the techniques and technical"--he waved his hand helplessly--"stuff. Someone you can actually spar with."

"True, but the nearest karate school is an hour away," Chloe reminded him. "That's an hour there, at least an hour for the class, and an hour back. I'd probably need to go two, three times a week. And, hey, I'd like to have a life."

"Well," Clark began, drawing out the word. "There might be another alternative."

There must have been something in the tone of his voice. The look Chloe gave him was filled with suspicion. "What alternative?"

Clark took a deep breath, and forced himself to blurt it out. "Lex."



(TO BE CONTINUED)