TITLE: Family Ties
CONTINUITY: This is a sequel to "Family Life," an alternate reality futurefic which ignored all Smallville canon later than the middle of season 4 and borrowed some older bits of comic canon.
NOTES: People (especially Heatherly) asked so nicely for a sequel. I'm not even slightly immune to flattery. (Or bribery. I want my bean dip:snerk:) Unbetaread flashfic because I felt like it :D
"Are you sure this is okay?" Kon asked, tugging at the hem of his S-shield t-shirt.

"Absolutely," Clark said with the telltale cheek twitch that meant he was lying through his teeth.

"We are so dead," Kon said to Chloe with a firm nod.

She tried to sound just as confident. "I'm sure it won't be that bad."

"Yes, it will. I mean, you haven't met Batman. You have no idea how secretive he is." Kon stuck his hands in the pocket of his jeans.

"That's the point," Clark said as he herded them toward a table and chairs in the middle of the echoing cave. "Batman needs to meet Chloe and talk to her about her plan, instead of dismissing it all as ridiculous."

Chloe tried to look calm and collected instead of staring around her like a tourist, but what in the world was that giant penny? And that ominous rustling...just how many bats were there in this cave? She looked at Clark. "Did you even ask Robin before bringing us here?"

"Um..." Clark all-but-shuffled his feet.

"I'll take that as a no," she said with a sigh. "Well, if you get me killed, your mother will give you a stern talking-to."

Clark winced. "Oh, I didn't think of that. Maybe we should--"

"What are you doing here?" a deep voice grated from out of the shadows.

All three of them jumped, looking guilty, but Chloe recovered first, laying her file folders down on the table with care and crossing her arms as she peered into the gloom. "Batman, I presume?"

He stepped out of the shadows, well, loomed really, she thought, trying not to lean back as he walked toward her. "Ms. Sullivan," he said. Somehow when he said her name it didn't make her skin crawl the way it did when Lionel said it, and yet, she still wanted to hide under a desk somewhere.

But Chloe was made of strong stuff and she straightened her spine and gave the dark figure a bright smile. "Good morning!" she chirped in the absolute most obnoxious tone she could manage.

Batman turned to look at Clark, who lifted his chin and set his jaw, clearly in Superman mode. Chloe watched with interest--she'd always wondered what happened when an irresistible force met an immovable object.

"Dead," Kon whispered in her ear.

"Not yet," Robin whispered in her other ear.

Chloe and Kon both jumped, turning to glare at Robin, whose lips twitched in what Chloe had learned was a smile for him. She shook her head at him, showing her annoyance, then went back to watching the confrontation.

Batman tried to loom over Superman, but gave it up when it became clear that Superman wasn't impressed. "Why is she here?" Batman asked, sounding as if he wasn't used to asking questions twice.

"She's here because, as a charter member of the Justice League, you need to meet with her concerning the ongoing plans."

"And why have you brought the clone?" The worst part of the question, Chloe felt, was the completely impersonal way Batman said the word. She swallowed, unable to look at Kon.

Superman stepped forward until his chest nearly touched Batman's. "Don't ever call him that again."

Chloe wanted to cheer, but she couldn't move. Batman let the statement sit for a long moment, then turned, his cape swishing dramatically behind him. Although Chloe couldn't see his eyes, she felt him studying her, and felt when his gaze moved on. Kon stiffened beside her and she glanced at him, eyes widening when she saw Robin had moved to Kon's other side, where he looked ready for a fight.

"Robin," Batman said, the simple word holding meanings Chloe could only guess at.

"Batman," Robin replied, not moving an inch from Kon's side.

Everyone else held their breath, then Batman inclined his head very slightly and strode to the table, pulling out a chair and seating himself.

Chloe shrugged and sat down opposite him while everyone else was still boggling. "Shall we?" she asked.

Robin gave her a small nod as he and Kon sat down next to her. Chloe was interested to see that he'd aligned himself with Kon and not Batman. She hoped that wouldn't have repercussions later, but presumably Robin could take care of himself.

Clark hovered for a moment and Chloe had a flashback to school lunchrooms, back in the days when Clark couldn't decide whether to sit next to her, or sit on the other side so he could see Lana better. She coughed into her fist.

Clark finally sat next to Batman. "Well," he said, "as you know, Lionel Luthor has been conducting...experiments that--"

"I'm familiar with his activities," Batman said with a hint of impatience. "If I'd known, I--"

"Batman."

Everyone turned to look at Robin. Chloe blinked and wondered if it would look bad if she slid further away. Suddenly, even having Kon between her and Robin didn't seem enough. She hadn't realized he could look that scary without even doing anything.

Batman and Robin engaged in yet another staring match and Chloe relaxed enough to roll her eyes. "Good grief," she said before she'd thought about it. Everyone looked at her and she tried to appear calm. "Hey, we can do this all day if you like. I'm sure Kon would be thrilled to watch everyone fight over his existence, but that's really not what we came for. And I'm sure you must have better things to do. He's here, he's Superboy, get used to it."

To her deep shock, Batman's lips twitched just like Robin's did when he was almost smiling. "Agreed."

Chloe wasn't entirely sure which parts he'd agreed to, but she decided not to push her luck by asking. "Then let's get down to business," she said.

Batman steepled his fingers and watched her over the top of them. "What do you intend to do?" he asked.

Chloe didn't even pause to think about it. "I intend to make that goddamn bastard Lionel Luthor sorry he was ever born."

There was a pause, everyone holding their breath, and Batman nodded. "A worthy goal."

Chloe grinned at him. "I thought so too."

--end--