A/N: I thought this might be the last chapter, but there will be one or two more to tie up a few lose ends and set up for the sequel. The sequel will take place five years or so in the future when Clark has made a few appearances as Superman and Bruce is established at Batman.
1"I really think this joint project will be good for both Wayne Enterprises and Luthor Corps," Lucius Fox said as he finished his presentation.
"I agree. I'll fly to Metropolis and present the idea to Lex myself," Bruce said.
"Bruce, you know I'm happy to have you taking a greater interest in running the company, but is this trip to Metropolis about business. . . or a certain dark haired young lady?"
"Both," Bruce admitted with an unrepentant grin. He also had a third purpose for making the trip. The cave under Wayne Manor was now almost fully converted in his new base of operations for his Crusade. He'd gotten most everything he'd needed through Wayne Enterprises, but decided to buy a few things with cash to avoid any kind of paper trail. Buying those items in Metropolis, rather than Gotham, would make it even harder to trace them to him.
"We'll talk when you get back," Fox said, an indulgent smile on his face. "Enjoy yourself."
As his private jet flew him to Metropolis Bruce allowed himself to once again go over a recent change in plans. He originally intended to present the world an image of being a care-for-nothing-Playboy. Even to the point of letting Fox continue to run Wayne Enterprises. But he'd reconsidered that plan. Devoted businessman, and in another couple years devoted husband, would be just as effective a cover. And with a girlfriend/wife as beautiful as Lana no one would question his preference for leaving social functions early and 'sleeping in' late.
Bruce wasn't worried about Lana covering for him if she needed to. Now he just had to decide exactly when to let her in on his plan to spend his nights fighting crime in Gotham.
SMALLVILLE- - THE TALON
As Lana was drinking coffee and chatting with Chloe and Alicia the tattoo on her back suddenly glowed purple as tattoos appeared on Alicia and Chloe's backs.
Lana/Isabelle spoke first. "We must go. Gertude's heir is too close to the stones."
"This body has power. I can use our magic to boost that power and take us to her," Alicia/Briana said.
Bruce and Lex looked up from the documents Fox had prepared as Genevieve was shown in by Lex's butler.
"If you'll excuse us, Bruce," Lex said.
"No need. What I have to say affects Bruce as well as you, Lex. Let's skip the small talk and get right to the point. I know you each have one of the three Elements. And I'd be willing to bet that with Lionel in jail you'd be able to get your hands on the Element he has hidden away. Wouldn't you, Lex?"
Before either Lex or Bruce could respond Alicia teleported in with Lana and Chloe. Lana immediately stepped forward to face Genevieve. "You will not be allowed to unite the stones and destroy this world."
"You think you can stop me, little girl?"
"Lana?" Lex asked, but was ignored.
"Isabelle," Bruce said, keeping his tone calm and even. "Do you have Lana's memories? Her knowledge?"
"Yes," she answered, not taking her eyes off Genevieve.
"Then you know that at least one of the Elements is out of her reach. She isn't going to be able to bring them together."
"Yes, you have one stashed away, but two are nearby. With them she could find the third."
Lex looked over at Bruce. It seemed his old friend knew more about the Elements than he'd suspected. He stayed silent, listening, watching, and learning what he could. There would be time to talk with Bruce later.
Now Chloe/Madaline spoke. "It is time. We must give then to The One to unite."
"It is the only way to make sure she will never be able to use them," Alicia/Briana agreed, directing a venomous look at Genevieve.
"What will uniting them do to Lana? To these bodies you've possessed?" Bruce demanded.
"This body will not be harmed, nor will the others" Lana/Isabelle promised.
Approaching Lex's study Clark was surprised to hear Alicia's voice, and hurried into the room as the three girls began speaking in Latin. Seconds later each girl held the Element with the engraved symbol that matched the tattoo on her back.
Clark entering the room caught everyone's attention for a few seconds. Then, Lana/Isabelle turned to Alicia/Briana. "Can he be trusted? This one knows he keeps secrets."
"As does this one," Chloe/Madaline said.
"This one knows his secrets, and why he keeps them. He can be trusted," Alicia/Briana said before turning to face Clark.
Genevieve leapt toward the girls, but Bruce and Lex easily caught her.
Lana/Isablle and Chloe/Madaline each handed Clark their Elements. "They must not be united here," Lana cautioned.
"I will take you where you need to go," Alicia/Briana said, keeping hold of her Element.
"Alicia, it's too far," Clark said, knowing she meant the Caves.
"Do not worry, Clark. My magic strengthens her power," Alicia/Briana replied before taking Clark's arm and teleporting them to the secret chamber in the Caves.
"This one's love for you, her desire to protect you and your secret, is strong. Do not betray her trust. . .or ours."
"Who are you?" Clark asked, even as he began putting the Elements into place on the stone table.
"Lana will have the answers you need," was all Alicia/Briana would say as she handed Clark the final Element.
White light flared and then knowledge of Krypton began to flood Clark's mind as he was transported far from Smallville and a fortress of crystals and ice grew up around him.
He wasn't sure how long it had been when he heard a familiar voice. "Clark. . ." Alicia trailed off weakly. Isabelle, Briana and Madaline had been flooding her with their power to protect her from the freezing cold, but their power was now almost drained.
"Let me help her," Clark requested.
"Son, there is much more you need to learn," replied the voice of Jor-El.
"I will. But not all at once. Not right now. I'll come back, as often as I have to. I'll learn what you want to teach me, but let me save her," he bargained. He'd agree to anything to save Alicia.
"Very well. But I will hold you to your promise, my son."
Clark ran to Alicia, and scooped her into his arms. Sheltering her close to his body he took off at super speed, heading back to Smallville.
"Get her out of her, and the next person who lets her into my home is fired," Lex said as he and Bruce handed Genevieve off to his security guards.
"Enough," Lana/Isabelle said softly. Chloe/Madaline gave a weak nod and then the spirits of the long dead witches left the girls bodies. Briana's last thought was her long dead brother, who had sacrificed so much to protect her, Isabelle and the Elements. The tattoos on Chloe and Alicia's backs disappeared, but Lana's remained.
Lana and Chloe would have ended up on the floor, but Lex and Bruce caught them.
Clark entered Lex's study, still holding Alicia, to find Lana and Chloe laying on the couches with Lex and Bruce hovering over them.
"Are they alright?" Clark asked, laying Alicia on a third couch.
"I think so. They're breathing well and have strong, regular heartbeats," Bruce answered.
"Where did she take you?" Lex asked.
"The Caves," Clark answered, knowing Lex would already have guessed that much so there was no point trying to hide it. "Don't ask me anything else, Lex. . . Please. I won't be able to answer without lying. And don't bother going to the Caves. You won't find anything. The Elements are safe."
Lex gave a reluctant nod. Their deal about not lying to each other seemed to be holding, and he didn't want to test it. He wouldn't ask questions that would force Clark to lie to him.
Bruce watched the exchange, interested to see Clark more visibly displaying the power he'd sensed in him. And he hadn't forgotten the witches talking about giving the Elements to The One, and then handing then over to Clark. He'd realized that Lex and Clark had some understanding about Lex not looking too deeply into Clark's past or life, but that deal didn't include him.
A few minutes later the girls started to wake up.
Lana didn't say anything, just nestled her body more securely against Bruce who brushed a light kiss across her forehead. One of the things that had convinced Bruce Lana was right for him were moments like this. She didn't demand a declaration of his feelings that he wasn't able to give. He knew she'd like to hear the words, but seemed content without them as long as he was at her side when she needed him.
Chloe and Lex immediately started a softly voiced argument about whether or not she needed to see a doctor to make sure she was alright. Lex understood, intellectually, that Chloe was fine. But after almost losing her in the safe house only a few months earlier he wasn't ready to take any chances with her health.
"You okay?" Clark asked Alicia.
"Yeah. Are you?"
"I'm fine," Clark assured her. "Just worried about you."
Lana couldn't hear the quiet conversation between Clark and Alicia, but it got her thinking, comparing her current relationship with Bruce to her one time relationship with Clark. Clark had told her, more than once, how much he wanted to be with her. Then he'd left her. He'd said he loved her then seconds later driven away. Bruce and she had never even had 'the talk' and discussed being together as a couple. But she'd felt the passion in his kisses and seen it in his eyes. A part of her actually liked that he didn't show that passion to the world, but kept it carefully hidden. Knowing that she was one of the few people he allowed to see just how intensely he felt things made her feel special. It also let her know how much he trusted her, something Clark had refused to do, despite repeated requests. And she knew, beyond any doubt, that he'd never simply abandon her as Clark had. He might not say he cared about her and wanted to be with her, but he made it clear by his actions. The old cliché was true. Actions spoke louder than words.
Once the girls were feeling more steady each of them shared at least most of what they knew, Clark and Alicia omitting anything that hinted of Clark's powers, and the basic story of what happened was pieced together. The girls had no memory of what happened while the witches were in their bodies.
CyraHakkai: Yeah, Robin. Sorry you'll have to wait a til the first chapter of the sequel for him to show up. I thought of having Bruce and Lana go one a date to the circus and see him before his parents died, just watch him perform with them, but the timeline would be all messed up. . . Glad you liked them getting to talk to each other. I like writing the couples, but wanted to show just what you pointed out, that they are all friends, not just couples. Thank you!
Ballmaster: I think Lex will stay about how he is in the show(earlier seasons). He won't be a Criminal Mastermind, but he still has his dark side and will do things that aren't exactly legal or even ethical.