Fandom: Beyond Smallville
Main Characters: Chloe Sullivan, Whitney Fordman, Bruce Wayne
Chloe Sullivan's life extended beyond Smallville, Kansas. She had always been meant for something so much more.
The harsh light beat down on her arms. Her skin prickled still. Five days under the hot tropical sun. Chloe Sullivan trudged, waded more like, through the thick mud that came up to her thighs. She held her backpack over her head the way the guide suggested. Alright, he didn't suggest it. She saw him do it. If he had barked the suggestion to her she would not have known anyway. His English, if she could call it that, was a combination of sounds that Chloe had to piece together for two hours to make some sense of. And so when the guide hefted his own ratted knapsack over his head, Chloe did the same for hers as well. She didn't want to ruin her expensive camera. At a green age, she had gone through hellish months with Lionel Luthor just to be able to afford it. She prized the equipment above all others because of what it symbolized—an unwavering desire for truth and an unyielding quest for ambition.
To be fair, she learned from that old man something she still held close to her heart so dearly. When she was younger, she used to feel alienated because of her drive. Repeatedly she had asked herself if there really was nothing important to her. Did she not have the same values as her friends? Lionel Luthor, in a strike of grace and kindness, had told her that it was completely alright to be focused. She was going to have a future, he assured her, while the young men and women from her school who had no priority other than pep rallies and concerts would be stuck in the community forever.
True enough, Chloe found the ticket out of Smallville when she entered Metropolis University. Everything just picked up from there. Lionel was right.
Smallville would stone her if it heard that thought. It was an image that still made her lips quirk in amusement.
No sooner was she out of Smallville that she wanted out of Metropolis too. The city wasn't far enough. After the secret exploded, of the way she exchanged her best friend for a byline, and everyone whispered of Paris and the city of Troy, of Faust and his soul, of a kingdom for a horse, Chloe managed to raise her chin and wonder how the farm folk could suddenly come up with intellectual metaphors just to illustrate the extent of her betrayal. Maybe people had the capability to be literary when the insult was required.
Metropolis University, she had believed, was a gift. Yet there were the few familiar faces that haunted her. An acceptance to Columbia, for a radical and experimental journalism curriculum, was a blessing. Field journalism, they had called it. After two years in the classroom learning theory and writing based on the Code of Ethics and the grandfathers of the industry, the class was set free to investigate on the field, compile all relevant information in two months, and if situation called for it, abolish the theories learned.
Mystery called, but Chloe did not wish to answer. She kept herself on track and fell in love with one topic. Gone was the need to run back to Smallville and uncover the weird borne by the rocks. Chloe's heart now bled at a collage of the Kansas youth who perished in the war. She stepped closer and searched for a familiar face.
Whitney Fordman straddled the tank, frozen laughing, his arm raised in an immortalized cheer.
Her documentary, Chloe decided right then, with her green eyes reflecting the happy photograph of a man dead at eighteen, would be a compilation of video clips of these young Americans in enemy territory. She decided to be apolitical, because wasn't that how journalists were supposed to be? The was not about two powerful old men but about numerous armed yet powerless young men and women.
Chloe did not know she would become that idealistic. She loved herself for it.
"We near the camp," the guide yelled, the rising intonation of his native accent still evident. "You raise hands."
Chloe, still holding the bag up, arched an eyebrow. "Sure."
Her muscles were aching by the time they started up an incline that led to some patches of gray cloth. Against the green the patches could have been overlooked. The color was meant to deceive. Chloe was proud to be observant enough to notice the difference.
They were about halfway up the incline when she saw her guide stiffen. The usually quick native stopped in his tracks and looked down at her. Chloe let out a quick breath. He was going to let them rest now when they were so close? She was about to ask the guide what seemed to be wrong when he held up a hand, exposing his white palm. It was pretty universal as a signal for silence. Chloe spied a smooth boulder off to the side and turned towards it. That same split second, a shot rang out and the guide let out a gurgle, then fell facedown, tumbling down the incline. Chloe made the mistake of turning rather than getting down.
She heard the camp above them rise in activity. There were blurted out commands and stomping feet. Chloe saw a thin line of natives with shotguns trained up at the camp, and by translation at her. She stood between the two lines of fire set by the natives and her countrymen. Even before she could wonder if a government-issue bullet would be the one that would kill her, Chloe felt the sharp hot pain explode in her stomach.
She fell to her knees and clutched at the wound. Vaguely, she realized that her camera would either be trampled by the soldier stampede or be rendered completely useless if it rolled down into the thigh-high mud. Either way, she was no longer going to be able to use it. Belatedly, she realized she wasn't going to be alive to use it anymore.
Chloe was nothing if not stubborn. She allowed herself to fall to her side and pulled herself, using only her knees and one arm, to the side. With the last of her strength, she crawled to the other side of the boulder. The fighting raged on behind the flimsy barrier she had chosen.
The shots and blasts were not the music she had planned for on her deathbed. In war, no one could be choosy. She was in a tenth world country anyway, she thought bitterly. Sure, it was supposedly third world, but she was going to die here so it dropped several more notches in her opinion. Chloe wondered if her body would even reach the US, or if the victors of this short scuffle would find it and bury it with the casualties.
Chloe closed her eyes and sighed. She was dying. She should leave the endless questions out. Would that still be true to her nature though? Did she want to die on duty forgetting the only trait that made her so good, she believed at least, in this job? Ugh. Sometimes it sucked to be Chloe Sullivan.
Her eyes fluttered and she squinted at the bright light. There was a figure in front of her. It was positively glowing. She didn't speak. If it was her guardian angel come to take her to heaven, she did not want to start their association with a question. Once she started with the obvious, 'Who are you?' she was sure to follow it up with a dozen other questions. Oh yeah, she knew herself.
The light dimmed a little as he knelt in front of her. Chloe smiled and prepared for this nice angel to pick her up and fly her to heaven.
Wow. Her guardian angel looked a little bit like Whitney Fordman.
Wait a minute. Her guardian angel was Whitney Fordman!
Her eyes widened. Did that mean that the entire time Whitney was alive, she did not have a guardian angel? Well that answered her question as to why she kept making bad decisions, falling for the wrong guys, and getting kicked in the proverbial ass?
"Surprised to see me?" Whitney asked, grinning.
"Damn right I am!" she snapped. She shouldn't be cursing. She was going to be judged in a few seconds...
"I'll explain everything later." Whitney slipped his hand inside her shirt and placed it on her stomach.
"Hey! Angel or not, I can still sue you for harassment. I know my rights!"
"Still haven't changed, Sullivan?" Chloe felt the warmth spread through her wound. "I'm thinking this won't be the most peaceful relationship."
"We're in a relationship?" she repeated, her voice a little louder now. Chloe felt leaps and bounds better now.
"Thinking of it in a guardian angel-charge light, then yes, we're in a relationship."
When Whitney took his hand out of her shirt, Chloe sat up and frowned at her surroundings. She was in a bedroom. Did she eat some sort of wild fruit that made her hallucinate everything? She doubted it, given how much of a stickler for whatever her guide was. She must not speak ill of the dead. Chloe turned to Whitney and opened her mouth.
"You're in the States. We're in a hotel in Gotham City. I figured you wouldn't want to land in Kansas yet. You're fine, not a scratch on your body. And no, this is not a hallucination."
Chloe's lips parted in surprise.
"And no, I can't read minds."
Chloe's jaw dropped.
"I just know you that well. I've been watching you, you know."
Her eyebrows furrowed, then she glared and growled.
"Never in a bathroom."
Chloe pushed him on the shoulder, lightly but with a sprinkle of malice.
"You'll be difficult, won't you?" he said then, worriedly. "I do have more charges out there. You'll need to behave so I can check on them."
Chloe opened her mouth.
"I'll answer your questions later. Right now, I'm hungry." Whitney walked over to the small refrigerator and pulled the door open. He took out a chocolate bar, tossed it at her, took another one and ripped off the cover. "Oh and you'll be paying for this with your Amex," he added. "My job doesn't actually pay real money."
Chloe blinked at the former (could she say late?) high school jock and watched as he ate the Snickers in two large bites. He couldn't just use her credit card, could he? "Are you allowed to do this?" Why did her voice come out in a screech?
Whitney sighed and sat in front of the vanity. Chloe now saw double of Whitney, and she had to admit he was still as pretty as he was when they were younger. "Technically, no. I was not even supposed to watch you. I'm a whitelighter now. After I got killed in the war, they asked me to be some sort of guardian angel for witches. But I couldn't help it. I was curious about Smallville."
Forget the credit card. He was talking about something way more interesting. "Then why were you watching me?"
"Tried to look into Lana and the guys on the team. Boring. Looked into your life and you were far more captivating." Chloe did not want to blush, but she never got what she wanted before so what's new. "You were traveling around the world. I was touched by your choice of a documentary. Then you got shot. I had to do it."
"So," Chloe clarified, "you weren't supposed to know anything about me." Whitney nodded. "You weren't supposed to save me and do the freaky mojo thing and heal the shot?"
"You should be dead," he agreed.
"Are you going to get punished?"
"Not if we keep it a secret," Whitney answered.
He chuckled. "No way, man!" Then he sobered. "Shit."
"Can you still curse?"
"Damn," he muttered. Then Whitney winced. "I'm so fried."
Chloe walked over to Whitney and patted him on the back. "I'm sorry I got you in trouble. I wish I can help."
"I'm going to have to explain myself." He turned to her, a brilliant plan forming in his mind. "I know a way you can help."
He vanished in a sprinkling of blue light, then just as quickly reappeared with a stack of index cards, which he handed to her.
"That was so cool," she murmured.
Whitney nodded. "Write down some arguments for me. Something I can flip through when I explain why I saved you when I wasn't supposed to let any mortal know that I was still alive."
"I can do that!" Chloe shooed him off the chair and proceeded to lay the index cards on the dresser. She opened the drawer and took out the hotel pencil. "I was meant to do good..."