Pardon My Passing

Chapter 1

Call Me Chloe

The rain was pounding on the windows making the small farmhouse almost shake. The wind was brutally slamming against the shudders making them bang every few moments after they came in contact with the house. Lighting flashes illuminated the landscape of the farm and the large barn near the house. A loud crash signified the thunder that could be heard for miles.

The sound of the storm raging outside was music to his ears. Clark Kent was a superman. He was nearly invincible, moved at the speed of light, had laser vision, incredible hearing, and tremendous strength but none of that helped him now. He hadn't been able to help her when that bomb blew up her safe house. He could do nothing but watch as her casket was lowered into the ground along with her father's. Now, he could do nothing but mourn the death of a friend; one of his best friends.

They had never been able to recover a body for Chloe Sullivan or her father, Gabe, all that was left was ash and a wrecked house. It had been nearly two months since the bomb exploded but that didn't stop the tears from coming on nights he was alone. The case had quickly reached a dead end and, with the help of a heaping donation from Lionel Luther, had been declared unsolved. That's all his friend's death was to those FBI agents: a cold case.

It was close to two in the morning as Clark sat in the corner of his bedroom crying. It was a new sensation to him. Mourning the loss of someone he loved. He had had plenty of heartache, for sure, but no one had ever up and died on him before. His pain just grew at the thought of Lex in the hospital again. God, what had he been thinking? The doctors thought he might have purposely drunken the poison this time. Luckily, one of Lex's private guards had found him collapsed in his study and had the paramedics there in less than ten minutes. Lex was alive, barely, but still, alive. He had been in and out of consciousness and was still unable to form complete sentences for nearly a week. His body seemed to react even more badly to the poison this time.

Clark had been to visit a few times. Tonight was the last and his reason for crying. Clark had walked into the Luther Mansion, where Lex was, now, receiving home care, and proceeded to the master bedroom. Lex was deep in sleep so Clark sat in a chair placed near the king-sized bed where Lex lay. After a few moments, Lex started mumbling in his sleep. Clark leaned forward and listened closely.

"Chl...Chloe...I pro...I protect you..." Those were the only audible words that Clark could make out through the rest of the gibberish but it was enough to make him stunned. He had put so much energy into not thinking about Chloe that it scared him to even hear her name fearing that it might completely break down the barrier he had put up between his loss and the rest of his mind. He left as soon as possible not bothering to answer his mother, Martha, when she asked what was wrong after he stormed in the kitchen. He had just slammed his bedroom door shut and broken down. His parents had left him alone knowing he had to make his own peace. The only time he had been disturbed was when Martha had knocked on the door telling him she was leaving plate of dinner outside [the door] for him.

Clark somehow found himself on his bed and was falling asleep. All night he tossed in turned restless in the most brutal way. He woke in the early hours of the morning with the sheets tangled around his legs and covered in sweat. He tossed the covers aside and looked at himself in the mirror. His eyes betrayed no signs of his activities from the previous night and morning. No redness, not puffy at all, and not bloodshot. He dressed and went down the stairs. He found his mother sitting at the table with an unknown woman drinking coffee. They seemed to be involved in polite conversation but Martha looked relieved when she saw Clark.

The other looked up at him. She had light brown hair, hazel eyes, and an all around beautiful face. She eyed him curiously then walked up to him and held her hand out.

"I'm Lois Lane, Chloe Sullivan's cousin." Clark grasped her hand and shook it.

"Clark Kent, Chloe's best friend." She nodded distractedly like she had already known that for ages.

"I'm here to look into her murder and she mentioned your name more than a few times when we talked. I was hoping you might be able to tell me about the details of her life; I didn't know her that well." Lois rushed through the explanation and getting right to the point.

"Anyway I can help." Clark smiled.

She nodded again, "That's what I was hoping you would say."

"I'll just get started on breakfast." Martha said getting up from the table, "Jonathan should be home from town soon. You two can talk in the barn if you don't want to be interrupted." She gave a Clark a look that told him to be careful before smiling.

"Thanks, mom." Clark replied leading Lois to the loft. They settled on the couch and she took out a notebook.

"Let's get down to business. Did Chloe have any enemies?" She started her pencil already writing on the page.

"Well, Lionel Luther was probably her biggest one and even she and I had a falling out a while ago." He shifted in his seat.

"You were her enemy?"

"No, but we weren't as close as before."

"Sex?"

Clark blushed bright red, "No, she offered to investigate me for Lionel Luther for a column in the Daily Planet."

"Huh, I always wondered how she got that column so young; not that she wasn't good, just inexperienced."

"Yeah."

"What about Lionel's son? Lex, I believe."

"I thought Lex and Chloe were alright with each other. They weren't friends or enemies."

"Thought?" Lois asked catching his mistake.

"I was visiting Lex and he was talking about her in his sleep. It sounded like he promised to protect her."

"Really?" She sounded interested now.

"Yeah, he doesn't talk much right now but you could stop by the mansion." She nodded writing furiously.

She looked up momentarily, "Why doesn't he talk?"

"He, uh, had an accident. He was poisoned. When it happened he couldn't say much, now, well, no one knows why he won't talk. They doctors say his, um, vocal cords are 'undamaged.'"

"Well, what about friends?"

"Um, there's me, Lana, Pete, and Lex, I guess. But Pete moved away, Lana's in Paris, Lex was poisoned, and I hadn't spoken to her or Lex much for a few weeks before-" He cut himself off feeling the, now, familiar guilt rising up. Lana had been back only for the funeral as had Pete. They had both left again by the end of the day leaving him all alone.

"That's not much of a start. What happened for her and Gabe to go into the safe house anyway?"

"She testified against Lionel Luther in court and he was sent to jail. I testified, too, but she was in deeper than me. I think she had started digging into his past. She thought he had killed his parents or had someone else do it for him."

"That's a better start. Let's go see Lex, now, and talk more later." Lois said standing up, "I don't know where the mansion is so you'll have to show me."

&&&&&&

Lex Luther was sitting up in bed staring at the wall and thinking about Chloe. He had to know if his plan had worked; he had to know if she was safe. He had been notified about the bomb in the safe house after his slight incident. The people watching her were supposed to notify him as soon as she was alive, awake, or dead and they had yet to attempt to make contact with him. No one else knew about the private guard he had set up for Chloe.

His bedroom door flew open and Clark Kent entered with a woman. They walked towards his bed then settled themselves in chairs next to it. His eyes followed them across the room.

"Lex," Clark started, "this is Lois Lane, Chloe's cousin. She wants to talk about Chloe." Lex's eyes widened in approval and he nodded his head once.

"Mr. Luther, I'm studying Chloe's death. No bodies where recovered so, I think something is amiss."

Lex nodded once, again. Then opened his mouth praying the words would come out right, "I was supposed to...protect Chloe." That was an improvement, a complete sentence to another person.

"Clark already to me that. Were you protecting her from your father?" He nodded. "Do you know about the bombing?" Another nod. "Do you think he did it?" Same reaction. "Did Chloe trust you?" He hesitated this time but eventually nodded. "Good. Did you have people looking after her that day?" After his affirmative answer she sat back.

"Lex, do you miss her?" Clark asked tentatively.

Lex looked him straight in the eye feeling more alive than he had in months, "I will when I know she's dead."

Clark seemed mildly dazed by the answer but Lois seemed to expect it and agree.

&&&&&&

The two younger people had left after a few more questions about her enemies. Lex thought it should be fairly obvious by now who had had the house bombed. He had been expecting something like that and he had a plan.

Lex's crew contained five trustworthy men that had round the clock surveillance of Chloe and were trained for quite a few different scenarios. They were supposed to go to the house early and check for bombs. If none were found, they would narrow the suspects down to Gabe or an FBI agent. They were told to protect Chloe at all costs. Lex didn't know why he cared so much about the young blonde. They had never been close but there was something about her. Maybe her willingness to fight against his father or her quirky reporter attitude or her smile that could light up an entire ballroom. Maybe he just didn't want to see his father destroy someone like that. Maybe he couldn't deal with that again.

&&&&&&

The light streaming in through the window seemed almost blinding. It hurt to open her eyes and she felt like she couldn't move. Her body was sluggish; too tired to even make an effort to move. She let her eyes open again closing them just as quickly as before when she realized the light was gone. Someone had closed the blinds. She slowly lifted her eyelids letting her eyes adjust to the darkened room.

"Hello, it's nice to finally see you awake. You've been in a coma for close to two months." The speaker was a tall, black man with a large mustache standing next to the window. He was close to six feet tall and was wearing an Armani suit. His voice was deep and friendly.

She looked around the room. It was beige all around including the walls, carpet, and the sheets on the bed. There was an IV next to her queen-sized bed. The walls were bare of any pictures but there was a television situated on a stand on the opposite wall from her. She was pleased to find a small table next to her bed with her laptop on it.

"Where am I?" She asked finding her voice was hoarse.

"Well, Lex calls it the Shelter. It's his own personal safe house." The man answered with a laugh.

"Lex?"

"Yes, Mr. Luther hired my men and me to watch over and take you here if anything went wrong."

"Who are you?"

"He was right; you are a reporter to the bone. My name is Alan Roberts."

"What happened?"

"A bomb went off in the safe house provided by the FBI. You and your father were in the building. It's amazing that you're even alive." He answered with no lack of awe in his voice.

"What about my dad?" She asked worried.

"He didn't make it."

She felt her eyes water suddenly needing to be alone. Her daddy was gone. First, her mother left, now, her father died.

Alan stood up and walked towards the door, "I'll just leave you to make your peace, Miss Sullivan."

"Call me Chloe." She smiled to him through the tears that had started spilling down her cheeks.

"Duly noted...Chloe." With one last grin he exited the room and left her to her thoughts.