Description: Clark contemplates where his relationship with Chloe is headed, and gets a surprise of his own. Mini-sequel to "Pieces", so possible spoilers for that, and the rest is now my own Season Five AU.
Troth: 1 : loyal or pledged faithfulness : 2 : one's pledged word
Clark's favorite time of day on the farm, bar none, was the early evening. The sunlight, as thick and golden as honey poured through the window of Clark's barn loft, making the room and everything in it glow. Everything was in a peaceful state of readiness for the night, the animals taken care of, his dinner, prepared ahead of time by his mother and frozen, waited inside. In short, all was right in Clark's world. For now. He sat on the couch, holding the small box in his hands, turning it over and over. Also being turned over were the events of the last few weeks, in his mind. All he had ever known about himself and his world had completely changed. The only constant had been Chloe. And while that had not been a surprise, everything else that had come about since the day he'd opened up to Chloe about his feelings had been.
Finding the little box again had been one of those surprises. Clark has been sorting out his belongings in the loft, trying to pare down some of his collected memorabilia when he spotted it in his desk drawer. He did not need to open it to know what was inside. A bracelet, simple in design, a Kiwatchee heirloom left to him by a girl that touched his life so deeply in such a short amount of time. Clark sighed, and opened the box, thinking of Kyla. It had been years, since he'd thought of her, years since he'd even contemplated the meaning of the bracelet she'd left behind for him. There had never been a person he was more tempted to give this to; no one that would appreciate the meaning more. With a pang, Clark thought of Alicia, of Lana. He had never even been tempted to give either of them the bracelet. He allowed himself a long moment of regret over Alicia, remembering her sparkle and her vulnerability. Clark never regretted sharing his secret with her, because he knew that she had understood having abilities. In spite of all the bad things, the thing Clark most hated was losing Alicia the way he did. He had failed her in so many ways, even at the last.
Then, there was Lana. Clark placed the lid on the box. I'm not willing to say that I wasted my time caring about her, Clark told himself silently. It was a mistake to let a crush linger on the way it did, but it was not the worst thing he'd ever done. Caring about someone was never wrong. It was the being blind to the truth. That was the crime. Chloe had told him that Lana and Lex had been kind of strained since returning from Geneva. Although they were still very much a couple, Lana had taken some steps towards being independent from Lex, and Clark couldn't help but be proud of her a little. Chloe and Lois had been part of moving party, helping Lana out of Lex's guesthouse and into her new loft condo. The only thing Clark wanted for Lana was her happiness and both Chloe and Lois seemed to think that Lana was going to be okay.
They'd all done some growing up lately. Clark had come out to the barn to do this clearing out as part of an attempt to get his head around what had gone on. He had avoided the Fortress since Zod. Clark didn't want to go there and hear Jor-El again and not be sure it was Jor-El. The crystal that Lara had given him was safely put away, except for one small piece that had broken off after the confrontation with Zod. Also safely put away, the telescope his father had given him when he was a child. It was a symbol of a life he used to have. Clark looked around. His loft space was becoming more spartan, and it felt good. Hearing a car coming down the driveway, Clark stood and walked to the loft window to see who had arrived. A beat-up blue car shuddered to a clanking stop outside the house, and the horn sounded in a familiar three honk pattern.
"I can't believe it." Clark said out loud, grinning. "It's Pete."
"Brother from another Mother…" Pete said, as Clark came out of the barn, grinning widely. "Guess who's visiting Dad for spring break?"
"Seriously?" Clark and Pete shook hands and then hugged. "I thought you said you had mid-terms this week?"
"CK, that was LAST WEEK, man." Pete laughed, shaking his head. "You don't change, do you?" He turned and opened his arms to the car. "Well, what do you think?"
Clark studied the car, folding his arms over his chest. "I think I should hook it to the tractor and pull it to the junkyard. You don't plan on bringing that back to California, do you?" He walked around and kicked the tires. "I don't think you'd make it to Granville in this thing."
"Noo." Pete eyed the car as if that concept had not occurred to him. "Gonna fix it up with Dad and my brothers this summer. Ross family project. Speaking of family, how is Chloe?"
"Right, like you don't e-mail her daily." Clark laughed. "She's good. Should be down this weekend."
Pete nodded. " Cool." Pete put his arm around Clark's shoulder. "Up for no power B-ball?"
"Oh yeah." Clark grinned. This was just what he needed, some time with Pete, no power B-ball and no more brooding.
Chloe, on the other hand, was not having such a great day. Her exploits with Clark over the last month cost her much needed study time, and her mid term grades had reflected that. Now, packing up her dorm room to go to Smallville for spring break, Chloe once again played over her conversation with Gabe about her GPA in her mind. Her father had been disappointed, but he made a point of being happy about her increased responsibilities at the Daily Planet. Poor Dad, Chloe thought. She still had to do a day or two over break at the Planet, and Lana had generously offered the guest room at her condo to Chloe for just that purpose. Initially, Lana had wanted Chloe to move with her into the condo, but Chloe politely refused. There could have been no way to have Clark come there to hang out, with Lex being there just as frequently. So, the two girls made an agreement to have their own visits, guy free, when school was out.
Pete had called from the road, so Chloe knew he was going to be in Smallville when she got there. There was so much to tell him, and she was glad that Pete knew Clark's secret. It made sharing adventures like they just had easier, more real. There were some things that she hadn't even told Clark, dreams about Lara, and Krypton. Since the minute the crystal had been separated from her, Chloe had lost the connection between herself and Clark's dead parents. She also could sense Clark's presence, and he hers. That was a great gift, Chloe thought, because it actually worked over fair distances. However, her dreams had been taken over by all things Krypton. Chloe assumed it was an after effect of all the information she had crammed in there in the Fortress while they were trying to find a way to defeat Zod. But her dreams were of being prepared for some kind of important event on Krypton, being dressed in a gown of unknown material, but of such absolute perfection that Chloe wanted it to be there when she woke up, just to study it. The dreams always ended standing before a huge set of pale, watery doors, her stomach in knots and a feeling of dread that made her queasy. And, hovering around her, Lara, always gentle and reassuring.
That can't be all bad, Chloe thought, bursting through the glass doors of her dormitory building and into the spring sunshine. Maybe being back in Smallville would help banish these dreams. Hanging out with Pete could only bring back good memories of the times she, Clark and Pete had had during school. Chloe grinned, and dropped her suitcase in the trunk. She turned, and saw a man standing before her, an elderly Native American man. He held out a hand to her, and then dropped out of sight. He had spoken, and Chloe could barely register the words, because she did not speak the language. Frowning pensively, Chloe shrugged and jumped into her car, chalking the incident off as yet another weird incident in the daily life of Chloe Sullivan.
"Anidawehi adavnto…." Angel heart….
Clark and Pete played basketball until the sun dipped low on the horizon. With a wave and promise to get together the next day, Pete and his junkmobile clunked down the driveway. Clark waved, and turned back to the barn. Getting back to the loft, Clark saw the little box on the table. He picked it up, and put it back in his desk drawer. Knowing what the bracelet represented, Clark knew who he wanted to have it. It would mean a lifelong commitment, and Clark wasn't sure that nineteen was the right age to make those kinds of promises, to anyone. But if he was going to make a commitment, he'd want it to be with Chloe.
He headed back into the house, whistling for Shelby. The dog had gone off chasing rabbits in the near field, and he came galloping out of the new corn after hearing Clark's whistle. They made their way in, to dinner and a quiet night of doing nothing when the phone rang. Pressing the buttons on the microwave with one hand Clark answered the phone without looking.
"Hey, Chloe, you on the road?" Clark asked, He had turned to pick up the mail, ready to sift through it.
"Hey yourself." Chloe smiled back, "I'm on my way to Lois'. I'll be in really late, but how about breakfast at the Talon – you, me and the prodigal Pete?"
"Sounds good." Clark found what he was looking for and with a smile, ripped into the large padded envelope from Gotham City, ignoring the creamy envelope that fell out f the bigger one. He took out a small, square, dark blue box, and opened it. "Chloe, are you okay?"
"I had a 'Braveheart' moment as I left campus earlier. An old Native American man held his hand out to me and said something to me that I couldn't understand." Chloe said. "I thought maybe with your connections at the reservation, we could go out there and see if we could figure it out."
"Okay. I'll call out to Dr. Willowbrook and see when he can meet us. You really think this is something to worry about?" Clark asked, taking a white gold necklace from the box and studying it. The jeweler in Gotham City that Bruce had recommended had done a fantastic job. Chloe was going to love it.
"I don't know, but I'm the expert of weird and this was downright eerie." Chloe said. "I'll see you later, Clark. I'm making the exit for Smallville now."
"Be careful, Chloe." Clark replied, and then, half thinking, "Love you."
"Really?" Chloe never got tired of hearing that, and she giggled. "I love you too, Mr. Kent. See you in the morning."
"Yup." Clark said, smiling. "Morning, Talon, you, me and Pete." They hung up, and Clark studied the necklace further. The piece of broken crystal had been shaped into a small teardrop, capped with white gold and then set again with a deep blue stone Clark guessed was iolite. He spotted the note and opened it. Bruce's heavy, dark, educated writing, all of five lines dominated the page.
Glad you called. My jeweler did the work, and I think Chloe will love it. The gemologist told me that he'd never seen a stone like this – no kidding, right? Anyway, will be in Metropolis this Friday, hoping to see Lois, but she won't take my calls. Maybe you, Chloe and I can catch a concert at the band shell instead.
Call you from Metro –
Clark put the note down and looked at the necklace again. He gently touched the glowing stone and thought of the bracelet in the garage. In the morning, he would see if the two stones recognized each other. But in his heart, Clark needed no further confirmation.
Chloe arrived at Lois' just before the Talon closed, grabbed a half-caf, half-fat latte and trudged up the stairs, dragging her duffel bag. Lois' apartment was dark, except for the television and Chloe could just make out her cousin's outline on the sofa. She was watching "Sleepless in Seattle" Oh boy, Chloe thought, not good.
"Okay, the Central Kansas Power Authority will be thrilled that you're trying to save electricity, cousin, but it won't help with hour long hot showers." Chloe reached for the light switch.
"Leave it." Lois sniffled from the couch. "I don't want you to see me like this. Go get a coffee downstairs."
"I already did." Chloe flipped the light on, and Lois shrieked, covering her face with a throw pillow. "Okay, this is the cap to an extremely odd day for me. What is going on?"
Lois peeked over the pillow, and then tossed it aside. It was obvious she had been crying, but Chloe wasn't sure over what, until the phone rang. Lois jumped, looked at the caller id, and dropped the phone like it was burning hot. "Don't touch that phone, Sullivan, not unless you want me to kick your ass."
Chloe rolled her eyes and picked up the phone. The caller id blinked "Gotham City – Unknown" and then went dark. "Gotham City? Lois, was that Bruce?"
Lois held her hand out for the phone, her face a study in annoyed impatience, pressed the button to talk, and then set it down. "He's been calling ever since the whole incident with Dr. Fine. I told Captain Trust Fund that I wasn't interested, you know? He's too, too…" Lois raised her eyebrows and waved her hand, inviting Chloe to help her find the right word. Chloe shrugged, shaking her head.
"Nice, rich, gorgeous, smart, mysterious, adventurous, sexy?" Chloe smiled. "If I wasn't with Clark, I'd want to date Bruce myself."
Lois clapped her hands, and pointed at Chloe. "That's it. He's too much like Smallville. You know, help old ladies across the street,return wrong change, let other people park in the closer spot, send just the right flowers.." Lois looked over at the peach-cream roses on the table. "Totally not my type."
"Uh-huh." Chloe nodded, amused. "So just tell him. He's a big boy, I think he'll understand." She dropped her bag and then sipped her coffee.
"I did." Lois rolled her eyes expressively. "He just stood there, with this blank look on his face. I hate that. Then he asked me if I wanted to go to that Aerosmith concert in Metropolis this weekend. He knows I love them." She turned back toward the t.v. and stared at it purposefully. "We're just completely different."
"I see." Chloe sat beside Lois, and put her arm around her cousin. "I don't think you and Bruce are that different, Lois."
"Different enough." Lois answered, cramming a handful of popcorn in her mouth to avoid talking anymore.
Chloe sighed, and sat back on the couch, helping herself to some popcorn. Tomorrow just had to be normal again, it just had to.
The long corridor glowed, illuminated from within the walls themselves. The air around her was cold and clean, pure and scented with a sweet and not unfamiliar fragrance. Chloe found herself walking with a small group of women toward a set of shimmering doors that rippled and danced like the surface of a lake. Chloe looked to her left. Lara smiled, and touched Chloe's cheek, speaking in words that Chloe could barely understand, and the women around her also spoke as they led her to the great doors. Chloe looked down at her dress, ice blue, the skirt spilling down to the floor, the sleeves elegantly capping the tops of her hands. Their footfalls made no noise at all, there was just music, simple and otherworldly playing in the distance. The jewelry that she had been adorned with glowed in soft color, apparently cousins to the crystal Lara had given her before the confrontation with Zod. Even dreaming, Chloe felt the urge to explore, to know and understand what was going on, and with effort, she forced a question out.
"Wait, where are we going?" Chloe asked, and Lara smiled, her face full of warm and motherly pride. The Kryptonian women around her, all clad in similar gowns of red, gold, deep green and cerulean blue, whispered amongst themselves for a moment and then went back to their soft chant. Continuing to glide toward the rippling, glistening doors, the women all began to pull silken hoods over their glorious hair, which veil-like covered their eyes. Chloe reached for one, but could not find it. Her gown did not have one. She turned to Lara for an explanation, but the mother of Kal-El simply draped her own veil over her head and face, taking Chloe's hand reassuringly.
"I could not be happier, Chloe, even if you were my own child." Lara replied, herself resplendent in a white gown, gesturing to the doors. "I'll be with you the whole time…"
"Chloee…Chloee." Lois was shaking her awake. "Smallville is downstairs. He said you're supposed to be meeting him and some old friend for breakfast." Lois was dressed and ready for work.
"What time is it?" Chloe sat up, and rubbed her eyes. She was on Lois' sofa. It was the first day of Spring Break. Chloe laughed at herself, and got up.
"Nearly eight." Lois smoothed her jacket. "I'll tell Smallville you'll be down in a half hour, okay?"
"Great, thanks, Lois." Chloe darted off to the bathroom to get ready. Hopefully today, they'd start getting answers. The Krypton dream though, Chloe thought as the water hit her face, was not the best way to start the day.
An hour and half later, Chloe and Clark were on their way to the Kiwatchee reservation. Chloe had stocked up on coffee, filling a large travel mug for the road. Pete had declined going with them, pleading a commitment with his father to start working on the car. Clark had not said much, and Chloe wondered what was on his mind. Finally, they both sighed at the same time, and tension broken, started to laugh.
"I was wondering what you were thinking." Clark said, reaching over to hold Chloe's hand.
Chloe smiled and looked at him. "Me too, I mean, I was wondering what YOU were thinking."
Clark smiled. "I was thinking about how great it will be to see Dr. Willowbrook again. It's been awhile. Now, your turn."
"Um." Chloe bit her lip. Clark was going to know immediately that she was lying to him, but Chloe was not ready to tell Clark about the Krypton dreams, not yet. "Just hoping that I can find out what that little old man said to me yesterday."
Clark eyed her suspiciously, but after a moment, seemed to accept what she had offered him by way of explanation. He nodded and said nothing more. "Here we are." Clark turned the truck onto a dirt road, and into what looked like a very small town. Tiny, dark haired children darted about like hummingbirds, playfully chased by faithful dogs into the fields surrounding the town. They were joyful, simple, and Chloe envied them a little. Clark pulled to a stop in front of a very plain, cinderblock building and got out.
"Come on, Chloe." He smiled at her, and she got out, swallowing the sense of dread she felt looking at the little tribal center. Somehow, this place, her dream and the crystal she had once been the home of were all connected.