A/N; Once again I'm sorry for the long delay in this story and all of my other ones. I'd hoped to get this one out sooner but I got busy with other matters. I hope you all enjoy it and can forgive me for the delay.
Chapter 21; Recovering
Two days later after the meteorite storm
Joshua leaned his elbows on the wooden fence as Ryan giggled as he tried to keep Evan from falling off of one of Oliver's calmer horses. Well calm until the horse had fallen in love with Evan the day before. And of course Evan kept trying to stroke it on the nose even while riding him which had the horse twisting for attention and almost sending Evan off his back for the fifteenth time. The morning after Clark had called and they'd found out everyone was safe and well Ryan had rushed into the room that Josh was sharing with Bart in a panic because he'd completely forgotten to make sure that Kytes was safe.
Even as Josh assured him that Clark had handled it and that Kytes was safe if not a little scared his poor little brother was in tears for forgetting about his beloved horse and the guilt had set in firmly especially when Clark had advised that they stay out of the way. Clark had had some trouble with aliens and didn't want Josh, Ryan or Evan anywhere near Smallville and Josh had just gotten off of the phone with Clark and then the hospital to see if they needed him in. Ryan wanted to go back to Smallville as soon as possible to check on Jonathan, Martha, Clark, Kytes and Tyson but Evan was just letting Josh and Ryan tell him what was happening. He'd settled down after his major panic attack but he was still being very quiet and shy. He'd jumped and had a minor panic attack just that morning when Ryan accidentally slammed his bedroom door.
Josh had just told Joanne that he planned to drive back to Smallville this evening quite late and she'd agreed to have the staff make them a nice dinner and pack some food for them to restock their supplies back home bearing in mind that the power was out on their street and everything Josh had left in the fridge would have gone off and was probably a lost cause. The state was currently supplying the community with supplies as the water supply was contaminated by broken pipes and sewer system overflows and what food had been in the supermarket had been bought or given away when it's power supply was knocked out.
Bart had already disappeared to go find Arthur knowing that they'd be back in Smallville soon and he'd promised Evan and Ryan that he'd come live with them for a while to help them out but he'd been reluctant to leave them that morning.
Josh watched Ryan and Evan take the horse, Kyle, back to the stable for a brush down. The horse clearly didn't want to be parted with Evan and Josh smiled a little as he watched his two wards playing around while the horse relented and let them take off his saddle and rub him down in parting. He'd have to talk to Oliver about the horse. He could see Kytes and Kyle getting along though and maybe Kytes would let Evan ride Kyle when he saw how much Kyle liked him.
The two boys rushed over and Evan jumped the fence to hug Ryan. "You look serious." Ryan announced.
"I've been on the phone for the last hour." Josh shrugged as he let Evan snuggle up under his arm.
"To Clark?" Evan asked hopefully. "Did he...?" He trailed off with a blush.
"Yes to speaking to Clark and of course he asked after you and Ryan." Josh smiled. Evan blushed even more at being caught but then smiled up at Josh, glad that Josh knew him so well already. He led the boys to a patio table permanently sited under a large wooden canopy. It had popped up since their last visit after Oliver had spent so much time out here with Josh doing work and making phone calls while watching Ryan with the horses. He sat them down on the edge of the table so he could face them.
"Is something wrong?" Ryan frowned and Evan went pale slowly.
Josh moved forwards and rubbed Evan's shoulders. "Nobody is hurt." He assured before Evan could start in on a proper panic. Evan relaxed and his shoulders slumped. "But Clark has lost his powers."
"What?" Ryan asked. "How?"
"Ryan, you've probably heard thoughts about stones from his home planet?" Josh asked and Ryan nodded as Evan looked at him. "They're like archive stones, Evan. Storing the knowledge of his home world and they were sent here hundreds of years ago for someone like Clark to use. People had been hunting for them for years and Clark's been trying to collect them to keep them out of the wrong hands."
"Alright." Evan muttered quietly. "What happened?"
"Clark put all three together for the first time." He explained. "You see the meteor storm wasn't natural. It was a booby trap on one of the stones that Clark didn't have. It called to him but the meteors were already on the way along with an alien space ship."
"More aliens!?" Ryan gasped. "Is Clark really alright?"
"He's fine." Josh assured them both. "When Clark put the stones together though they teleported him to the Arctic. Chloe accidentally followed him. But you see Clark was forced to leave the Arctic to save Chloe from the cold before the sentience of the crystals would have liked but Clark was told that if he didn't return before last night he'd lose his powers."
"He didn't go back?" Evan asked in fear. "But Clark..."
"After the meteor shower two aliens appeared at the medical centre." Josh sighed.
"With Clark's powers?" Ryan frowned.
Josh nodded. "He couldn't just leave town but then that sentience took away his powers. He had to face the aliens as a human."
"He should have..." Evan started.
"He should have called for help!" Ryan finished for Evan. "You could have helped! You could have kicked their arses."
"Language." Josh warned calmly.
"Why didn't he call you?" Evan was close to tears.
"Clark is like that." Josh sighed and hugged Evan. "He thinks that aliens are his responsibility. They came for him so he decided he had to deal with them. Not to mention he wouldn't have wanted to call me away from the two of you."
"But..." Evan was shaking. "But..."
"I'm so going to punch him!" Ryan announced. "The idiot should have called for help!"
"And for a change he'll bruise too." Josh told Ryan before thinking about it properly. "That was not me giving you permission to hit Clark."
Evan choked on a laugh before starting to giggle. "Can we go home, Josh?" Evan asked softly. "I miss Clark."
"We're leaving after dinner tonight." Josh nodded. "But we wont get in till late so you won't see Clark until the morning."
"Do you have to work?" Evan asked as Josh pulled away from holding the rather young boy.
"The hospital is full of emergency support from other hospitals. They've got more staff than they know what to do with." Josh assured them. "But I'm going to go in for an hour or so and talk to my regular patients if that's alright. I can drop you off with Clark or you can just come with me. I won't be there long."
"Alright." Evan nodded but didn't suggest which he'd do.
Josh watched Evan yawn widely as he clutched his pillow to his chest rather adorably. This was why Josh worried about putting Evan with others his physical age or even in the year above with Ryan to watch over him. Evan might look fourteen or fifteen, based on the fact that Ryan was sixteen and Evan looked a year or so younger than him, but he didn't act like it. Evan had the confidence of a young boy even if his intellect grew faster than anybody Josh had ever met. He came close to wanting to hold Josh's hand when they were walking through crowds, looked at the colourful toys in shops because they were designed to attract attention with their colours and Evan hadn't lost interest in them like other teenagers normally did.
And in this case he struggled against tiredness. Young children had to sleep more and couldn't fight it as well as teenagers and adults and of course Evan was defensive about it, always wanting to stay up a little longer than he should or getting argumentative or upset when he was overly tired. And his pillow was only one of a series of security objects he liked to have when he slept.
It was almost midnight and with the power out in Smallville it was darker than normal and extremely quiet. Alot of the roads were damaged too badly to drive on and those that were passable were criss-crossed with baracades to keep cars away from holes and major cracks. Their house was of course just outside of town with fields all around them and they'd gotten off lucky. There was a meteor strike in the next field but one between them and the next farm over but that was the closest. However just passed that house the road had been hit by a strike that had half destroyed the road. The repair crews had put heavy boards over the road to smooth out the tarmac where it had reared up but the road was only necessary access to five houses and it was low priority.
Normally Josh would have prefered to leave the car carefully on the other side of the damage but it was a good ten minute walk to the house from the accessible part of the road and both boys were tired and it was dark and he hadn't known exactly how much damage there was to the road they'd have to walk along. He'd known about the access before arriving only because Clark had driven over to check things out that morning for him.
He unlocked the front door before turning on the maglight from the boot of the car. Having the power out made him nervous for some reason and he really wanted to check every inch of the house over for intruders even though Clark had been there that morning and not seen anything out of place.
"Bed for you, Evan." Josh announced and Evan barely even complained where he was standing at Josh's side, as close as he could get.
Josh led the way up the stairs with Ryan trailing after Evan who was carrying his own bag of things even while clutching his pillow to his chest. He looked close to falling asleep as he walked. Josh dumped his bag in front of his own door and then led Evan into his own room, checking around with the torch quickly. "It's dark." Evan muttered.
"It's night time." Ryan pointed out with a chuckle that just made Evan whine. And probably flush too except it was too dark to see.
"I'll get you into bed and then check out the house. We've got a couple of lanterns downstairs so you can have one instead of your bedside lamp, alright?" Josh offered.
"I'll go grab them." Ryan announced happily.
"Take the torch." Josh ordered and handed it to him. Ryan slipped out leaving them in the dark.
"Josh?" Evan muttered. Josh just grabbed his hand and led him to the bed.
"We'll worry about your stuff tomorrow alright? Just get yourself undressed and into bed." Josh assured him.
"Alright." Evan whispered. Josh pushed some things out from the middle of the floor and put Evan's bag on the table so that Evan wouldn't trip on it if he had to get up. He turned to grab Evan's clothes as his newest little brother stripped down to his boxers and crawled into the bed, pulling the duvet up to his chin with a sigh.
"Are you okay?" Josh asked as he sat himself on the edge of the bed and stroked Evan's hair.
"Just feel more... right?" Evan asked. "It didn't feel right at that mansion."
"You like your bed better?" Josh chuckled.
"And yours." Evan whispered just as Ryan reappeared with a lantern lighting up the room with a soft white light.
"I put the other one in my room." Ryan announced as he put the one he was carrying on the bedside table.
"You want me to check on you before you go to sleep?" Josh offered.
"I'll be alright." Ryan nodded before giving them both a quick hug and slipping out of the room.
"He's not scared." Evan muttered self deprecatingly. "I'm a wimp."
"Evan..." Josh sighed and stroked his hair again. "You can't think like that."
"Why not?" Evan complained. "I'm scared of everything. I have panic attacks all the time."
"Evan. You're not even ten days old." Josh reminded him softly. "I hate thinking about the childhood you lost out on but facts are facts. You didn't run around as a little child getting bruised up and learning not to put your finger into electrical sockets. You didn't go through phases as you grew up where you were scared of the dark or clowns or anything like that. Like Ryan and I did."
"I grew up..." Evan shrugged. "Just really fast. Does that bother you?"
"Not one bit, Evan. I swear." Josh promised. "I see you and that's all I need to see. You're not exactly a normal teenaged boy but neither is Clark. Or Ryan or me. We've all got our differences."
"You really hate that I missed all those years?" Evan asked.
"Yes." Josh admitted simply.
"I'll get my years to learn things." Evan told him. "Because you saved me."
"And I want to be here to watch you grow up." Josh told him. "That's why I've decided to stay here next year."
"You're going to drive to college in Metropolis?" Evan asked, his eyes wide. "Not just because I had a panic attack when you were talking about living there and us living here?"
"It made me seriously think about leaving you here alone but that's not why I decided in the end. I want to be here as much as possible even if I have to drive to the city and back every day." Josh told him. "I want to be here with you. Ryan too."
"Thanks, Josh." Evan told him sleepily. "Is Ryan scared of anything?"
"Why don't you ask him tomorrow?" Josh offered. "I can promise though that just like me his greatest fear is losing someone he cares about."
"I'm scared of that too." Evan told him softly. "But it's nice being scared about that because even when I'm scared of it I know I care about someone and they love me."
"Yes we do." Josh agreed. "Now sleep."
Josh stood but Evan sat up suddenly and looked around. "Josh?" He asked.
Josh looked around and spotted one of the bed's pillows on the floor. He scooped it up and grabbed the hoodie in the process and simply handed them to Evan without comment. Evan didn't mind taking the pillow or a blanket from his bedroom to use as a security blanket but his prefered security blanket stayed in his room because he was so embarassed about it even though Ryan and Josh knew all about it. Josh's hoodie hadn't left Evan's arms at night for more than a week.
Evan settled down again with one arm around his favourite pillow under his head and the other arm clutching Josh's dark red hoodie to his chest under his chin. He was asleep before Josh had switched off the lantern and left the room, leaving the door fully open just in case.
Later that night
Josh came awake quickly as light flashed across his eyelids. Bart's arm tightened around his waist just above the waistband of his boxers and Josh tensed briefly before relaxing and focusing on Evan crossing his room. He hadn't woken when Bart arrived obviously but Bart was good at getting into bed with him without waking him up.
"Evan?" Josh asked as Bart kissed the back of his head in silent greeting.
"Bart's here?" Evan asked softly.
"I'm here." Bart sat up a little. "What's up, Evan?"
"It's..." Evan bit his lip. He still had trouble admitting his problems to anyone but Josh even though he knew that Bart, Clark and even Ryan were well aware of them. "It's dark in my room."
"It's going to be dark in here too, Evan." Josh told him even as he scooted back into Bart and lifted up the blanket. "But we'll be here."
Evan let Bart take the lantern from him and then folded himself down into the bed in front of Evan. Josh laughed as he was embedded in Evan's favourite pillow and his own hoodie and Evan blushed in the lantern light. Josh just rearranged the pillows and tucked his hoodie up behind Evan knowing that Evan would happily forget his security pillow and hoodie with Josh to cuddle with.
"Ready for the light to go off, Evan?" Bart asked.
"Yeah." Evan announced and they were plunged into complete darkness again. With no power and with a cloudy sky and no moon there was absolutely no light. Josh couldn't even see Evan's face right in front of him.
"I'm scared of the dark." Evan told Josh quietly. "I had that nightlight in my room before. You put it there so I wouldn't hurt myself if I got up in the middle of the night but..."
"You didn't realise that it was helping you deal with the dark." Josh nodded. "Want to know a secret?" Josh asked.
"What?" Evan asked.
"Helping you see your way out of the room is only half what the light was there for." Josh told him. "I just didn't tell you that it was there to stop it getting too dark and scaring you."
"You knew I'd be scared of the dark?" Evan asked.
"Most children are." Bart told him. "I was until I ran away from home. You can't see who..." He started only for Josh to nudge him with his foot. Bart stopped talking. There was no need to give substance to any nightmares Evan might have on the subject.
"You know you can always come in here whenever you want at night." Josh reminded him. "Nobody is fearless."
"Especially me." Evan sighed.
"You're one of the bravest people I know, Evan." Josh told him with a kiss to the forehead.
"I am?" Evan gasped in surprise. Josh nodded. "You're not just saying that?"
"You've had only just over a week to deal with everything scary in the world and yet you're not scared of all that much." Josh told him. "You've got a lot to deal with. Remember what we talked about when we were discussing your panic attacks? Are they just because you're scared?"
"And because there's too much for me to take in around me and I'm not used to it all yet and my brain doesn't know how to get my body to deal with it all." Evan nodded proudly at remembering.
"Now go back to sleep." Josh told him. "We're going to the Kent farm tomorrow for breakfast."
"Good." Evan muttered sleepily. "Love you, Josh. Love you, Bart."
"We love you too." Bart announced from his place with his face in the back of Josh's neck.
The next day
Without power there was a bit of a play for hot water in the morning since Josh had forgotten to switch on the gas boiler rather than the Air Source heater that was newly installed. It didn't help that Bart was laughing at a wet and cold Ryan while they waited for the gas to boil enough water but at least they all got hot showers before setting off.
Bart disappeared off to who knew where rather quickly as soon as they'd left the house. Ryan and Evan had been a bit surprised by how little damage they could see. That was until they spotted crater holes in fields and they didn't even have to go through the centre of town which, according the reports, had taken twenty different hits and there wasn't any building that hadn't suffered damage of some kind or another. Their old house in fact had lost all of it's windows from an impact down the street.
They pulled into the Kent farm amongst gasps of horror from the two younger boys. There was a strike in one of the cattle fields and another in the field next to the house that was rented out to a local corn farmer but the barn, stable, tool shed and silo were all untouched. It was the sight of the house that got to the boys even though they'd already seen a picture of it on the news. It was in fact one of twenty-eight houses that took a direct hit.
The boys rushed out of the car and Josh jumped out after them. "Freeze!" He yelled and they both stumbled to a halt. "You two are not going to rush into a half destroyed house without any care what-so-ever! You'll wait for me at the very least or wait for Mr. or Mrs. Kent to take you in."
"What about me?" Clark asked with a rather rogueish grin as he emerged from the house. The boys leapt for him and wrapped him up between the two of them. Clark struggled with their weight for a moment and Josh had to shake off the realisation that for a change he wasn't faking the struggle to hold up two teenaged boys. Clark was as normal as any other human boy now. In fact Josh had the kit with him to take a good look at him.
"Yeah right." Josh laughed as he hefted his pack out of the back of the jeep and walked over. He gave Clark a quick hug and spotted a bruise on his arm. He couldn't help it when he poked it with a grin and then laughed when Clark hissed and glared at him.
"Josh!" Martha greeted warmly from the door way.
"Should you really be up, Mrs. Kent?" Josh frowned even as Ryan and Evan ran over to hug her and then Mr. Kent.
"The hospital released me didn't they?" She asked.
"That wasn't what I asked." Josh frowned.
"I'm fine." She argued.
"Uhuh." Ryan rolled his eyes. "I'll take a look at all three of you."
"Me?" Clark asked in shock. "Mom's the one that's supposed to be on bed rest!"
"Clark!" Martha complained.
"Busted." Josh sniggered. "And yes, Clark, I want to take a look at you but only really out of scientific curiosity."
"I actually wanted to ask you to take a look." Clark nodded.
"Let's go inside. But stay with us, boys." Jonathan offered and led the way in. The kitchen hadn't taken too much damage but the dining room and living room were a mess of wooden planks where the strike had come down through the upper floor over the kitchen then down through the dining room and living room and out of the other side of the house where it sat in the field.
"What are they going to do with that thing?" Ryan asked.
"We've been told to leave it alone." Jonathan told them all. "Some tracking company is coming to take it away and run tests. They believe all the hits are from the asteroid field in our own system but it's rare they can take a look at such a cross-section of rocks."
"Sounds fascinating." Josh laughed. "No glowy green stuff?"
"All over town." Clark sighed. "But not this one at least. But they don't effect me anymore anyway. I'm not allergic to them anymore."
"Oh, don't be so melodramatic." Josh laughed. "You were never allergic to the stuff."
"What?" Clark frowned.
Josh rolled his eyes. "Whatever... it... is that you are you reacted bad to the radiation they gave off." Josh explained, ignoring Clark's face at his description. He turned to Martha as he spotted a set of garden table and chairs. "Examinations first." He announced as he put his bag on the table.
"Martha first." Jonathan announced.
"Which makes you second." Josh warned, interrupting Martha's complaint. "I'm sure you're fine Mrs. Kent, but the hospital released you early and I want to make sure."
"Fine." She sighed and sat herself down. Josh used normaly equipment to check her over quickly before taking her hands in his own. He scanned her completely but she was coming along well.
"You're not suffering any serious problems as a result of being buried under quite a bit of your house but you really should be in bed resting and being demanding of poor Clarky." Josh told her before pointing to the seat next to her for Jonathan to sit down. "Stay seated please, Mrs. Kent."
She huffed even as Clark, Ryan and Evan snickered behind him. Josh sent the three of them a stern look before tuning to listen to Jonathan's heart. There was nothing obvious by sound and he scanned him. "You're just as you were when I last checked you over." Josh announced before taking Mrs. Kent's hands again and flooding her with his power. He completely healed her of all the aches, pains, bruises and cuts, particularly on her upper left arm which had been pinned.
She straightened up and took a deep breath in surprise as she was healed. Josh let go of her and gave a small uncomfortable grunt before sliding back to sit on the floor. "Ouch." He muttered sofly.
"Josh!" Evan gasped in horror.
"I'm fine, Evan." Josh smiled over at him before rolling his left arm. He pulled up the t-shirt but what had been a deep motly bruise on Martha was just a faded yellow one on him. "I'll be good as new tomorrow."
"It worries me when you do that." Martha frowned.
"Would you rather I enforce your bedrest?" He asked.
"Well no but it still doesn't make me happy you taking on my injuries." Martha complained. "But I do now get to insist on you taking it easy."
Josh laughed and raised a hand to Clark. "You might not be superstrong anymore but you're still farm-bred hunk so help me up."
Clark of course went bright red even as he helped Josh up to his feet. "Now, lets take a look at you." Josh nodded but let Clark remain standing as he scanned him.
"What?" Clark asked after he finished.
"As far as I can tell you are exactly the same as before. Just not as..." Josh frowned.
"What?" Clark repeated.
"I don't know. Bright? Energetic?" Josh shrugged. "When I used my powers on you before you almost drew on them actively to heal yourself. That's not there anymore."
"So I'm human?" Clark asked.
"Don't know." Josh shook his head. "Sit."
"Josh!" Clark complained.
"I brought the same testing gear we used at my house." Josh told him. "Don't you think we should make sure if you have to go to the hospital people wont notice anything strange about you?"
"He's got a point." Jonathan frowned. "I assumed that without your powers you'd just be another human."
"My guess now is that you're no more human then you were before. Just without whatever gave you that strength." Josh told him. "And if that's the case maybe I can see what difference there is and work out where your powers come from. Maybe answer a few more questions too."
"Like what?" Clark frowned.
"Why the meteorite stone hurts you for starters." Josh told him. "And how this thingy up in the Arctic took away your powers."
"I don't want you to work out how to get them back." Clark frowned.
"Maybe not now." Josh nodded. "What about in the future one day?"
"Fine." Clark sighed and sat himself down as Josh pulled out his testing gear and microscope.
"One day I need to find a way to sneak you into the MRI at the Medical Centre." Josh hummed and ignored Clark's complaints.
"Come on boys. You can help us clear out some of this mess." Jonathan grabbed Evan and Ryan. Josh grabbed Clark's arm and found the necessary vein and pushed in the needle.
"How is Evan?" Clark asked.
"He's scared of the dark." Josh told him sofly. "With the power out last night he realised and ended up curled up with me." Josh attached the blood vial and watched it fill. "And when we saw your house on the news he had a panic attack."
"You're good with him." Clark sighed.
"I'm steady." Josh nodded to Clark as he pulled out the needle and put a pad on his arm for Clark to hold. He went to work setting up a slide with a little of Clark's blood and then surprised Clark by pulling out a small crystal of green meteorite.
"What do you mean steady and why do you have that?" Clark asked.
"Steady as in he can rely on me to always be there. In a world full of new things he needs that." Josh told him. "You give him that too but he worries about you now that you're suddenly vulnerable like the rest of us. You've suddenly changed something massive in his life that he hasn't had to worry about yet. The storm reminded him that these people in his life are not always necessarily going to be there. That they might get hurt or even die."
Clark leant his arms on the table as Josh focused on the slide through the microscope. "As for the stone that's to test your reaction against it." Josh explained before shifting to the side.
"You know I don't know what I'm looking at." Clark complained as he took Josh's invitation to take a look.
"Your blood in inifinity more efficient then ours." Josh told him. "That's why it can support everything that you are capable of doing." He explained. "But whereas the construction of your blood platelets is just as alien as it always was it's almost like they're sleeping."
"That's why I don't have my powers?" Clark asked.
"As far as I could work out from the previous tests your blood was like a power grid and capacitor all in one. All of your capilleries under your skin soaked up radiation like a solar cell array and stored it in your cells, especially your blood." Josh announced and grabbed a bud and held Clark's head. Clark grumbled but let Josh take some cell samples from the inside of his cheek. "I really hope these are your cells and not Lana's."
"Josh!" Clark went bright red.
"You done the deed yet now that you're not super strong?" Josh teased.
"No." Clark blushed even deeper before getting a thoughtful look.
"You mean you didn't think about it?" Josh laughed. "Man, you're deprived." Josh went about setting up the slide for Clark's cells and was soon showing him. "Even you must see the difference there."
"Maybe." Clark shrugged.
"Everything about you is still alien." Josh nodded. "But I really didn't expect anything different."
"What!?" Clark gasped. "But..."
"But nothing." Jush shook his head. "You didn't morph into something else when the guy took away your powers. You just stopped being able to pick up trains and stuff."
"I've never once picked up a train." Clark complained.
"The point is your body runs like a massive battery storing up radiation. Solar radiation if I had to guess. Enough that provided you get sun once in a while you can operate normally whenever you like." Josh shrugged. "It was easy enough to see just by putting UV radiation into the samples you gave me before. Now, for whatever reason, the parts of your blood that absorbed radiation aren't doing it anymore."
Josh carefully placed the crystal of green meteorite next to the blood slide but nothing happened. "I tested this part the last time without you around for obvious reasons." Josh shrugged. "The rock literally makes your blood boil. Whatever is in your blood absorbs the radiation from the meteorite hundreds of times more effectively then radiation like the sun."
"So my blood gets too much energy?" Clark asked.
"And reacts just like any other liquid." Josh nodded. "The energy makes it boil to release the excess energy. That could easily kill you if allowed to continue. And of course too much energy makes using your abilities almost impossible. You're simply incapable of harnessing the power like you normally do when it's bursting out inside of you like that."
"But couldn't I vent that extra energy?" Clark asked.
"I don't think it's that simple." Josh shook his head. "Your body feeds that power through your blood into your skin, muscles or even your senses to enchance them off the charts. But if your blood is literally boiling with the energy the little feeds into your senses or muscles or whatever wouldn't be able to handle it. Like a dam without a suitable relief gate. The dam would break."
"That's a pretty grusome description." Clark frowned. "But is it permanent?"
"I'd have to know what switched it off to know how to switch it back on again." Josh shrugged. "And I haven't the first clue what could effect your cells like that. To just switch off what is simply a basic function for them."
"Then why does rock from my home world cause this reaction?" Clark asked.
"Well that's simple." Josh shrugged. "War of the Worlds?"
"What?" Clark frowned.
"Surely you've heard of that story. British radio drama?"
"I know what it's about." Clark complained. "Martians invade and in the end get killed by our bacteria."
"That we grew up with and therefore have adjusted to." Josh nodded. "It's the basis of all science fiction colonial problems. Just because we can handle what's on our planet doesn't mean our bodies could even hope to handle something alien. But you were raised on Earth. You've adjusted to using our sun's radiation to fuel yourself whereas if you had grown up on your home planet made of this rock you would have fed off of that instead. You would have grown up with your body learning to handle that power but you didn't and your body doesn't know what to do with the energy."
"So I'm weaker then if I'd been on my own planet?" Clark asked.
"I don't think so." Josh shook his head. "Your body always was using energy at its maximum. Our own radiation gave you plenty but your skin still warms up in the sun meaning you don't absorb it all, you reflect some of it back just like the rest of us. Your body just can't balance the alien radiation. It's possible close contact with a radiation source giving off UV radiation might cripple a Kryptonian like green meteor rock cripples you."
"You really have a weird way of thinking about things." Clark laughed.
Josh laughed and grabbed the two slides as he smelt smoke out in the garden. He packed up his things and followed Clark out to where Ryan and Evan were helping Jonathan and Marth add broken furniture and materials to the bonfire. A barbeque was already running to one side for their lunch. Josh tossed the two slides into the middle of the fire and watched as the glass melted and the samples were vaporised.
"And?" Jonathan asked.
"Same as before. Don't let anyone see a sample of his blood or skin cells." Josh told him. "I have to get to him before another doctor if he's hurt. Even a single glance at his blood or cells will throw up alerts."
They spent the entire rest of the day hauling debris out of the house and either saving it as reusable or throwing it onto the bonfire with the rest of the things. The boys pampered Kytes for over an hour and Martha cooked them burgers for lunch and then more barbeque food with salads and bread for dinner before Evan was starting to get tired. They ended up outside around the dying bonfire in deck chairs having a few drinks and Josh even let Ryan and Evan have a beer each even though it just made Evan even more tired. In the end Evan was curled up in Clark's lap as he drifted off.
"How did your house hold up, Josh?" Jonathan asked.
"Not a scratch." Josh shrugged. "Just the road in took a hit but you can just about get a car past it. The power cables are out not far from our house but since we're going away in a few weeks they've taken down the priority on repairs. The same with the road. There's only two other houses effected by that particular downed cable and the road and one neighbour is away for the summer and the other doesn't really care. Repair crews have more important work to be done. A friend of mine is sending someone in a couple of days to install a generator to the house so we'll have power by the weekend."
"That's good to know." Martha nodded. "And you're all still going on your cruise next friday?"
"Yup." Josh grinned. "I'm really looking forwards to it and so is Ryan and Evan though Ryan's pretending not to be bothered."
"Hey!" Ryan complained.
Josh laughed. "It's a nice two week cruise and it's a good chance to spend some decent time with friends."
"The same friends you stayed with before?" Jonathan asked.
"Yes. As well as our friend in Metropolis we went to and of course Jordan Chase too." Josh nodded. "It should be a good time to relax. I need it I think. Too many weird people and aliens in my life and I start pre-med in September."
"Hey!" Ryan and Clark both complained there and Evan made a half-hearted attempt to join in until he realised he couldn't be bothered. "You look really tired, Evan." Clark laughed.
"It's way past his bedtime and he's been hauling stuff around all day." Josh nodded and watched Evan blush in the dark.
"It's eight." Jonathan frowned.
"Evan's body hasn't gotten used to the hours that most teenagers keep. He needs to sleep more. By eight he's normally fighting sleep and he has a habit of nodding off in the middle of the day." Josh explained.
"It's okay to sleep, Evan." Clark told him and wrapped his arms around. "I'll just be your pillow till you go home." Evan mumbled happily and buried his face in Clark's chest.
"Speaking of..." Josh started. "I can put you all up in the house if you like. I'm sure Ryan will share with Clark and Evan can bunk with me leaving you two his room." He offered Jonathan and Martha.
"Our bedrooms are alright." Martha assured him.
"Except you have no power for your kitchen and I have gas for the kitchen and hot water for showers." Josh pointed out. "Not to mention in a couple of days I'll have electricity too and the weekend after this one we'll be heading out so there's no point in the house staying empty while you repair this one. If you think about it living in a work zone like this can't be all that safe. Clarky might get a splinter."
"Hey!" Clark complained but Ryan was laughing without even trying to pretend otherwise. Clark had gotten a bad splinter earlier and really put up a fuss when Josh was called to pull it out with his medical expertise.
"We'll take you up on your offer I think." Jonathan nodded after a pause and a long look with Martha. "But we could just set up a bed in your living room for ourselves."
"Don't worry about it. Without electricity I don't think Evan will be staying in his room anyway." Josh nodded. "Give me Evan and go pack, Clark." He offered as he pulled Evan out of Clark's lap with a whine from the boy. "We're going home soon, Evan. Don't worry."
"Not worried." Evan muttered and cuddled into his chest.
The Kents all went into the house with torches to pack some clothing for the night and soon they were back out. "I think it's best we hang back and head over once this bonfire has burned itself out." Jonathan offered.
"Or..." Josh grinned and raised a hand as he set Evan on the floor. The boy was waking up now at the mention of leaving. Green light danced up around his hand. "Cremo." He intoned simply and with a flare of light the wood and what remained of the fabric all went up in a blast of flame and became nothing more than ashes left in the pit. Only hot embers were left behind. "Permadesco." He added and steam billowed up as water doused the rest of the heat.
"Now it's cold." Ryan complained.
"It's the middle of summer in Kansas." Josh turned to him. "You'll survive."
"That's remarkable." Martha announced as she stared through the darkness at the fire.
"I haven't quite gotten along to manipulation of matter yet." Josh shrugged. "Then I could have just removed the heat and fire entirely. This seemed better saying it had to be burned at any rate. I'm just not sure what that would do to the oxygen in a room if I was inside."
"That's a good point." Clark nodded.
"Like you even thought of it." Ryan giggled.
"Let's get going then." Jonathan nodded. "I think it's best you take the lead. We haven't driven that way yet and I don't want to find any holes in the road."
"Shotgun!" Ryan laughed and took off for the Jeep only to trip. Clark jerked forwards a step but it was too late as Ryan tumbled over, luckily onto the grass.
"That'll teach you to run around in the dark when Clark can't break the sound barrier and be your knight in shining armour." Josh teased as Clark reached him and pulled Ryan up. Ryan pouted but got his desired seat in the front regardless as Clark jumped into the back with Evan and Clark's bag. In truth Evan was being too clingy to want Clark out of his reach and Josh imagined that Evan would be cuddling up with Clark tonight.
Two weeks later
They'd driven through the night to reach the port, arriving early in the morning, just when he'd hoped to with three sleeping boys in his car. He parked the car in the secure long-term parking area as the boys woke up. He had them pull their bags out of the trunk of the jeep, including his own, while he checked that the documents he'd need to get through ticketing and security were easily accessible. He knew security here was on par or perhaps even better than international airports and he'd had to rely on Oliver's liberal use of money and influence to rush through a passport for Evan, naming him Evan Ackervey after much discussion.
"Where's Arthur and Bart?" Ryan asked as he stretched.
"They should be waiting for us inside along with Oliver." Josh declared.
"Oliver not going to avail himself of first class?" Ryan laughed.
"Brat." Josh laughed and hefted his own bag over his shoulder with his smaller bag accessible. He let Evan grab his hand as they walked through the car park towards the terminal and the boys got their first view of the monolithic cruise ship hanging behind the long terminal. Fifteen decks of balconies rising out from behind the terminal and then five decks of leisure above followed by a funnel and masts.
They headed through into the terminal and it didn't take long to be spotted. Bart and Arthur jumped over with their own bags and hugged the four of them one at a time. Bart laughed and handed Josh his own passport and tickets for safe keeping. Arthur shrugged and did the same. "Where's Oliver?"
"His helicopter dropped him off ten minutes ago." Arthur laughed. "He called but he had to deal with something to do with work last night so he had to fly down. He landed on board directly. He said he'd meet us in the VIP lounge."
"I did notice he upgraded our tickets without asking me first." Josh grumbled. He'd been notified of course as soon as the change was made but hadn't argued with it knowing how Oliver worked. He just wanted to dote on his few friends. They headed for the first class desks and got a funny look from one of the attendants waiting by the short line. He showed them the six boarding passes in his hand and that settled the woman down, particularly the fact the passes had VIP written on them as well as First Class.
After seeing the VIP bit she called someone over to take their bags and soon they were checking their luggage in which would get their bags to their rooms for them after they went through security. They were taken through personal security and then through onto the ship with preferential treatment and to their rooms though their bags hadn't reached their rooms yet.
Their rooms though were rather lush. Bart and Josh had a double room leading off from a private lounge that also joined to another bedroom with three single beds for Ryan, Evan and Jordan. Arthur and Oliver were sharing a suite just like it but with two rooms with double beds just next to their own. In all their rooms took up sizeable space on the deck near the front of the ship and both suites had forward facing balconies as well as side balconies for Josh and Bart's room and for Oliver's on the other side.
They settled in and explored before a knock on their lounge door announced the arrival of their luggage and Josh sent the boys away to unpack properly so their bags could be taken away and stored away for the two weeks. Most of the passengers would change at the half way point when they returned to here but the second week would be in the other direction with completely different ports to visit.
Four weeks later
Josh pulled into his drive and noted Clark's red pickup sitting in the other space. They'd been spending more and more time at the Kent farm in the last couple of weeks after they'd gotten back from their cruise and fallen back into normal routines. Or as normal as they could be for a city still putting itself back together. Lex Luthor had done something political to speed up accessing relief money from Kansas State and the city had put it to good use repairing damage to roads, community facilities like the police station and the medical centre and then the remains had gone into buying supplies for rebuilding barns and houses destroyed or damaged in the meteor storm. People were volunteering to help but Josh had work at the medical centre and Ryan and Evan spent most of their days with Clark, either volunteering under his and the Kents' watchful eyes or at the Kent farm enjoying their summer. That was definitely their proferred place to spend their free time after Josh had gifted Evan with Kyle which he'd bought off of a very willing Oliver. Just as he'd hoped Kytes and Kyle got along brilliantly and never argued about who got which rider and Evan loved the attention both horses paid to him.
Josh had dropped a couple of shifts a week at the medical centre so that he was only working four days a week so that he could study the material for when he started pre-med in the Fall and still have a couple of days each week to remind Evan and Ryan that they were still the biggest priority of his life.
He grabbed his work bag from the back of the car that contained his changes of clothes and even study texts now and slipped around the side of the house where he could hear noise. The Kents had been living in his house up until the end of their cruise when they'd insisted on getting out of the way but Clark knew that Evan felt the most secure in his own house and was least likely to panic. Josh knew that Clark was still very nervous about such episodes but it had only happened around Clark twice and always with Josh there. The second time Josh had prompted Clark into looking after Evan because he knew that Clark needed to understand what to do. Clark was terrified that it might happen without Josh there to come to the resuce but Josh also knew that if necessary Ryan could help Evan though he'd never be as good at reassuring Evan as Clark or Josh could be.
They were playing catch in the back garden and Josh paused at the back porch as Clark threw the ball to Evan who fumbled it and then rushed across the grass after it. Evan's hand-eye coordination still wasn't up to the level of other teenagers his physical age and Josh knew that only practice would help build that up.
"Josh!" Evan grinned as he threw the ball to Ryan rather accurately and then looked at the house and spotted him. Evan scampered over like he did every time Josh got back from work and latched his arms around Josh's neck. Josh hugged him back as always and Evan relaxed completely against him.
"Good day?" Josh asked softly as Clark and Ryan came over. Evan nodded against his shoulder before letting himself be lowered properly back to the floor.
"Clark not wear you out?" Josh teased. The day before Evan had been half asleep by the time Josh had finished work and Josh had kept him awake for dinner before letting him go to sleep. Which had led to Evan waking earlier than normally and crawling into Josh's bed because he hadn't known what to do with himself. Evan shook his head.
"We cooked though!" Evan grinned happily.
"Uh..." Josh looked around nervously.
"By strickly following mom's instructions." Clark grinned. "Lasagne."
"Do you want to eat now?" Evan bounced. "Clark bought us some films to watch! Can we have a film night? Please, Josh?"
"No need to beg." Josh chuckled. "I'll take a quick shower and get some fresh clothes on and you can set up the table. I won't be long. Then we can watch films."
Josh followed the two into the kitchen at the rear of the house. "Clark. I need a word." He whispered very quietly. When they'd been on the cruise Smallville had had a little bit of a nucleur crises and in the process Clark had been shot but luckily his powers had been reset. Whatever had kept his body from absorbing the solar energy had been programmed to cancel itself if Clark was close to death.
Clark twitched but nodded without Ryan and Evan spotting him and Josh headed upstairs. He was just pulling off his t-shirt when Clark knocked on his open door. "Something wrong?" Clark asked after getting over his suprise that Josh didn't seem bothered with Clark seeing him changing. Josh grabbed fresh clothes but didn't strip down fully for Clark's sake.
"I need you to keep a close eye on Evan and anyone that tries to talk to him or observe him." Josh told him softly.
"What?" Clark asked in surprise.
"A couple of men arrived at the hospital earlier and asked me for permission to run a few tests on Evan. They have all of the results from the tests Lex Luthor ran on him before I healed him." Josh frowned. "I've asked Simon to look into it and establish something."
"You refused?" Clark checked.
"Sure." Josh agreed. "They weren't very happy about that. They offered me compensation but I just asked them to leave. They informed me that they'd take the matter up with the right authorities and involve a court."
"Can they do that?" Clark asked in horror.
"If they find the right judge but they'd be working uphill the whole way because I've merely got Evan's best wishes at heart and no court would easily order tests on a teenager when they aren't necessary for his or anyone else's good health." Josh shrugged. "Evan's special circumstances, his true age, just makes it more unlikely that any court would allow tests that could possibly traumatise him."
"This is why you did all those tests right off." Clark guessed.
"Exactly." Josh nodded. "Nobody could claim I wasn't tending to his health. Simon should be able to beat it but in the mean time..."
"I won't let anyone near him." Clark nodded. "Are you going to tell him?"
"Not before I can assure him there's no risk." Josh shook his head. "He'll just panic about being taken away from us and I don't want him stressing about that."
"I'll warn mom and dad." Clark nodded.
"I called the Sherrif too." Josh sighed. "But I don't know the new Sherrif like I did the old one."
"How did they get the information off of Lex?" Clark asked.
"Did you tell him not to give away the information?" Josh asked. "Specifically?"
"Well no..." Clark frowned. "But surely he can't just give away private information like that?"
"A court might agree or they might not. Lex funded the tests at your request after all." Josh shrugged. "Simon has someone investigating and he'll deal with that."
"What about Lex?" Clark asked. "Is this him taking an interest in Evan?"
"I'm not sure." Josh shook his head. "Evan's no more or less than any other human boy now. Only his rapid growth sets him apart. As far as I can tell he doesn't have any mutation from his mother and the way he absorbs information from books is more like eidetic memory than an ability."
"Are you going to get a restraining order against Lex like you did with Ryan?" Clark asked.
"If Evan is with myself or Ryan then he's covered by the restraining order already but Simon is looking into adding Evan to mine as a dependant or something like that." Josh sighed just as Ryan called up to them. Clark nodded and slipped out and Josh went for his shower.
Two days later
Josh put his text book to the side when a shadow settled on him. He looked up at Evan who was bouncing a little as he stood over him with Ryan at his side. They were both dressed as Josh was in board shorts since it was a hot day and they'd joined Clark, Lana, Chloe and Lois at the beach by the lake just outside of the town itself where most of the teenagers in Smallville went during the summer to swim and hang out. Evan had been loving it but he looked a little nervous.
"What's up, Evan?" Josh asked as he sat up properly and put his book away. Evan knew he was trying to study for his upcoming start at college but he also knew that Josh would put that aside for him whenever Evan needed him.
"Ryan wants to go swimming with Clark." Evan looked down at his feet. "Can I sit with you?"
"You know you can." Josh assured and let Evan fold down next to him on the towel.
"Are you sure you don't want to paddle or something, Evan?" Ryan asked. He wanted to go find Clark but didn't want to hurt Evan by abandoning him. Evan shook his head and when Ryan turned his head to find Clark Evan smiled at him. Ryan turned back and sighed when Evan waved him off and Ryan dashed off to play with Clark.
Evan settled down with Josh and grabbed a drink from the cooler and offered Josh one. "Have you given swimming any more thought?" Josh asked Evan. There had been a swimming pool on the cruise ship of course but with the large crowds it had drawn most of the time Evan hadn't wanted to go anywhere near it but Josh was well aware that Evan couldn't swim and that was risky as far as he was concerned. Of course Evan would be safe around water as long as there was a lifeguard around but Evan knew he couldn't swim and that was enough to panic him around large bodies of water.
"I don't want anyone to laugh at me." Evan looked down into his lap.
"I know." Josh smiled softly. He knew there was little point trying to assure Evan that nobody would laugh at him because he knew what some people were like. "But I'm sure we can work out something private if you want."
"Like what?" Evan asked. "I want to learn to swim. Ryan says he loves swimming and you can be a Leviathan and AC has gills and stuff."
"Well I could talk to the school and ask them to allow us access in the evening when it's not in use." Josh offered. "I'm sure they wouldn't complain given the circumstances."
"Do they force you to swim at school?" Evan asked nervously. He had the most panic attacks now when the matter of school came up and Josh was glad that he'd convinced the school to place him with Ryan for all lessons as long as he passed the entrance exams to be bumped up a year to what the school guessed was his age group.
"When I enrolled you I made sure that the Principle was aware of everything." Josh told him softly. "He's very understanding. They won't make you do anything you're not ready for. That includes swimming. You'll do sports with Ryan but you and Ryan will find something else to do when swimming comes up."
"Ryan too?" Evan asked.
"Ryan will always be with you." Josh assured him.
"What if Ryan's sick?" Evan frowned and took a deep breath. Josh shifted and hugged him gently.
"We'll just see but I won't ever make you go to school or anywhere else unless you're comfortable." Josh whispered to him calmingly. "As for swimming maybe we can talk to Oliver and we could spend a couple of weekends at his manor house once I start at college. We can use his pool to teach you the basics and then it'll just be us."
"Thanks, Josh." Evan muttered back. Josh snapped his head up though when the general noise changed sharply from random to concerned. Everyone was rushing for the water and he jumped to his feet and Evan followed him, clutching onto his arm. His eyes swept over the crowd and found Ryan with Lana on the pier and then Clark diving into the water as people swam for the moored platform a hundred metres out into the lake that people used when they wanted to go diving.
He couldn't work out what was happening but he pulled Evan with him to the pier and they'd just reached it when a well built young man emerged out of the water with Lois in his arms. It was Arthur in blue shorts and a rather tight orange wet-suit t-shirt which was the sort of thing he always wore when he was out.
"Lois!" Chloe rushed into the water just as Clark reemerged. Clearly Arthur had beaten him to Lois. Josh made to move but then remembered Evan and turned to hold his shoulder. "Stay here with Lana, yeah?" He asked and Lana turned her attention to them. Evan wasn't as close to Lana as he'd originally been but he still trusted her to watch out for him. Evan knew Josh was needed elsewhere and he simply nodded and moved to Lana who put an arm around his waist.
"Ryan... pack." Josh ordered before turning to jump down onto the beach as Arthur spotted him and carried Lois over to him and set her down on the sand. Josh knelt down quickly and started checking her over. She was breathing but it was laboured from water intake so he quickly rolled her onto her side and that cleared her mouth of water. She hadn't been in the water long and hadn't really inhaled any water. Her body hadn't had the time to panic before Arthur had pulled her out to safety. Josh left her on her side as she started to come around and looked at her forehead carefully without touching it. She'd hit her head on the platform when she'd dived off into the water, knocked herself out. The shock of the head impact had stalled her breathing but that had worked in her favour.
"Clark. Ambulance." Josh declared as Lois started to focus on him. She started coughing and Josh held her still as she cleared it out.
Clark knew better than to argue or question him and he was soon looking around for a phone only for a boy in their year at High School to settle down opposite Josh with his phone to his ear as he spoke. Josh listened with half an ear as he helped Lois sit up enough to breathe easier but didn't let her move as he worked, using his own first aid equipment when Ryan returned from the car with it.
"I'm fine." Lois eventually told him when the other boy handed Josh the phone at his request. He knew that the local paramedics all knew him so he could prepare them for treating Lois.
Josh rattled off information down the phone before handing the phone back to the boy knowing the operator would hold him on the line in case Josh needed to report any changes and he knew it wouldn't be more than five minutes before the ambulance reached them from town.
"You knocked yourself out with a blow to the head." Josh told her simply. "You need a few scans to make sure you haven't done something I can't see. You really don't get a choice in the matter. I'll call your father once we reach the hospital."
"You're going with her?" Clark asked where he stood with Arthur who was watching with a small smile on his lips. Arthur and Josh had met in similar circumstances to this, just with Arthur tangled up in fishing nets.
"Yes." Josh nodded. "Ryan can drive Evan there if Evan wants or they can go back with you."
"I'm going with you." Evan announced from his place with Ryan.
"Go grab our stuff then with Ryan and get the car ready to follow us." Josh nodded. He pondered moving Lois up the beach to the track the ambulance would use but knew it was best to let the Paramedic do his own checks before deciding the best way to move her.
It wasn't long before the ambulance was there and Josh was joining them in the back with Lois to speed things up. He noted Arthur stealing his car keys off of a complaining Ryan and a giggling Evan but eventually Ryan caved and let Arthur drive.
Josh looked up from his books when the doorbell rang. Ryan and Evan were in Ryan's bedroom playing games and when Josh checked the time he noted he'd meed to go make Evan go to bed in about twenty minutes. Evan knew better than to argue with bedtimes but he didn't like being made to go to bed if Ryan was still playing games because he enjoyed watching Ryan play. Ryan, of course, catered to Evan's every need and never played games that Evan couldn't join him in.
Josh wasn't all that surprised when he found Arthur on his porch and he merely opened the door wider to let him inside. Ryan appeared at the top of the stairs and grinned when he spotted Arthur. He dashed away to tell Evan and Josh led Arthur into the kitchen.
"Did you want something?" Josh asked as he switched on the kettle to make Evan his bedtime hot chocolate.
"I'm good." Arthur told him in his deep voice. "Bart didn't tell you I was coming?"
"Nope." Josh shook his head. "Was he supposed to?"
"Not as such." Arthur shrugged. "I told him I was coming here but I told him I'd check in with you. I didn't know you'd be at the lake. Or anyone really." Arthur grinned when he saw the open book on the table. It was Josh's diary-sketch book, though not the private one that was in his bedside table upstairs as always. "I look good!" Arthur grinned. Josh had drawn a picture of Arthur as he'd looked as he emerged from the water of the lake with Lois in his arms. "I should model."
"Funny." Josh closed the book and set it aside. In truth Arthur did look good, especially with his tight-fitting clothes he always wore so he could swim unincumbered. They had a habit of accenting his muscles. Bart was always teasing him about it. "What were you doing there? Just visiting us?"
"Doing what I always do." Arthur shrugged.
"You're a little too far from salt water." Josh pointed out as he started making up the hot chocolate. He moved to the kitchen door to raise his voice. "Five minutes, Evan!" He yelled up to the boys.
"That's why Lex Luthor has his ultra-secret weapon research lab here." Arthur told him. "And that wasn't easy to find out. I had to break into three of his research labs to find out where this one was."
"What kind of weapons research would he be doing here?" Josh frowned.
"The environmentally unfriendly type." Arthur told him.
"Of course it is if you're involved." Josh rolled his eyes.
"It's a weapon to target enemy submarines with ultrasonic waves." Arthur told him. "It kills anything close enough to it."
"And you're here to put him out of business." Josh nodded.
"I didn't come here tonight to ask for your help." Arthur assured him.
"Why now?" Josh pressed.
"His military contract for the weapon is up for review this week. If he shows them he's got progress they'll confirm the contract. If the tests tank then he'll probably lose the contract." Arthur told him. "I already talked to Oliver."
"And you're here to make sure he tanks?" Josh guessed before turning Arthur towards him with his hands on his arms. "Be careful."
"I'm always careful." Arthur reminded him.
"Unless there's a fish in trouble." Josh groaned.
"You're the one that sank that whaler off the coast of Japan." Arthur smirked.
"That's different!" Josh complained. "I was a Leviathan. They had no chance."
"And they won't even see me coming." Arthur smirked.
"Come on. You'd beter come say goodnight to Evan." Josh sighed and picked up Evan's drink as he heard doors upstairs as Evan got himself ready for bed. "You can have the other half of my bed. Just don't be surprised if Evan crawls into the bed with us. He has a habit of it lately."
Two days later
"How are preparations for College going?" Jonathan asked him as Josh handed him a mug of coffee that Martha had given him. It was one of his days off from the medical centre and he'd brought the boys to the farm even though Clark was out somewhere or other. Josh suspected that his new friendship with Arthur had dragged Clark into the situation with the weapons lab but Josh was staying well out of it because of the situation with Lex and Clark's hope not to completely lose the remaining faith he had in the man.
The boys had been helping Jonathan work on the house and they loved it for the most part. Jonathan was definitely a good father figure and of course Ryan and Evan knew that Jonathan would never judge them for their special circumstances.
"Not bad." Josh nodded. "I have some things that need to be taken to my Uncle's apartment in the city that I'll use when it's too late to get back home or on the weekends that I take the boys into the city for whatever reason. To be honest the college stuff is easy."
"But straightening out the rest of your life is another matter." Jonathan guessed.
"Most importantly is making sure Evan and Ryan are well cared for." Josh nodded. "Of course I know that Clark will be here much more than I will and even when he's busy at college the boys will have you and Mrs. Kent to look after them. But I've still got all the legal things to deal with. I need to make sure there's no wiggle room for people like Lex Luthor."
"What happened with the doctors that were asking about Evan?" Jonathan frowned.
"Simon's still following leads but he's gotten a judge to sign off on adding Evan to the restraining order that covers Ryan and I because he's my dependant." Josh nodded. "And Simon has also requested that social services reevaluates my guardianship over Evan."
"What?" Jonathan frowned. "But..."
"It seems bad but I've got nothing to hide." Josh shook his head. "But by accepting extra check ups and making sure that my care of Evan is above reproach there won't be any surprises later."
"I suppose." Jonathan nodded.
"And I've already declared to the courts that if they find me unfit as a guardian for whatever reason that Evan is to go under your custody." Josh shrugged.
"Us?" Jonathan asked.
"Having raised a son already you're hardly the subject of doubt." Josh shook his head. "And you're the partial guardians of Ryan after me and the courts wouldn't see any advantage in separating Evan and Ryan."
"Anything else?" Jonathan asked.
"The rest is all just making sure all my plans are in place and that things will run smoothly no matter how much I have to take on at college." Josh shrugged. "Which reminds me. Evan has a meeting at the school with the Principle, his form tutor and the school counsellor on wednesday. It might run on for a while and Ryan is coming with us and I want Clark to join us as moral support. Also I'd like you and Mrs. Kent to come too. If Evan has any trouble while he's at school then I've listed you and Mrs. Kent as emergency contacts. They'll call you and then me since you can get there quicker than I can."
"Of course." Jonathan nodded. "You know..."
Josh's sudden gasp silenced the man who turned to him. Josh felt the dizziness spread before fading only to leave behind the familiar discomfort that he'd always so dreaded feeling, especially after he'd felt it with his Uncle. He blinked when he realised that Jonathan was holding his upper arms and shaking him a little. Then he realised the man was almost shouting at him.
"I..." Josh shook his head, the normal confusion starting to fade as the sensation centred on a particular person. His link to Arthur, forged from the number of times he'd used his healing ability on him. He shut his eyes, ignoring Jonathan, and searched out his older friend. He was underground at the lake a few miles away from the beach but not quiet under the water. He yanked himself back to alertness and took in a sharp breath.
"Joshua?" Martha's voice made him jump and he turned to look at where she was standing with Evan and Ryan. Evan looked scared and Josh grabbed him and hugged him.
"Stay here with Ryan. I'll be back soon." Josh told him.
"Where are you going?" Evan begged.
"Arthur needs me." Josh told him softly. "I have to go fast."
"Okay." Evan nodded but he was shaking just a little and Ryan spotted it and pulled Evan back and hugged him. Josh didn't really want to leave Evan like this since there was a good chance he'd work himself up but Arthur could be dying for all he knew. As harsh as it sounded Evan wasn't in physical danger but he could still feel how bad Arthur felt.
"I'm sorry, Evan." Josh whispered.
"I know." Evan nodded and watched as Josh pulled magic up inside him and cupped his hands together to hide the glow.
"Abige." Josh hissed sharply and with an explosion of green he was gone. The world filled with green for Josh before it vanished to reveal trees and the beach just beyond them. He knew better than to transport anywhere that somebody might see. Josh looked around just to be sure he was alone and he could sense Arthur down along the lake but off to one side. Where ever the hidden lab was. Josh didn't like how Arthur felt and hoped it wasn't anything too bad.
Josh focused inwards and his Leviathan mind, so rarely permitted freedom, surged into action joyously. Josh felt his body shifting and melting as he made the change from human to mythalogical snake. His Leviathan side writhed its coils against the trees but Josh reigned it in, focusing it on Arthur, and the Leviathan hissed and burst into motion and in seconds he was sliding across sand and into the water. A burst of his coils and a surge of water and he was rapidly shooting through the lake.
There was already so much death here and his Leviathan side could sense it all. There was nothing alive to ask for information but his healing ability was still focusing on Arthur and it didn't take him long to find the piping that didn't naturally belong. He strunk just a little to fit into them properly but had no trouble forcing his way inside and emerged seconds later in a large room full of equipment. Clearly they ran their maintainance on the weapon in this room and used the pipes to take the weapon to and from the lab.
But Josh's eyes were focused on Arthur even as he burst out of the water and onto the metal floor. He knew that security cameras would have already spotted him but he didn't care about annonymity in this form since nobody would ever be able to trace it back to him.
"Water..." Arthur croaked weakly as he stared up at him and Josh hissed in agreement. Arthur had to have been here for six or seven hours already, the very maximum for how long Arthur could survive outside of water, and that was what Josh had felt. Josh could heal the damage of course but there were easier options. Josh twisted his body and screeched and the entire lab shook as the water under the room surged up through the holes in the floor, flooding the equipment. It sent the table Arthur was strapped to flying but Josh caught it with his body before Arthur could be hurt. Arthur's pain was instantly relieved as the water surrounded his body and his gils took over.
Arthur's strength returned as the water brought his advanced healing and strength back up to normal and he ripped open the velcro straps around his arms and legs. Josh let the table drop as he continued to draw water up through the pipes, flooding the research centre room by room, wanting to do enough damage that it would be difficult for anyone to repair the damage.
Josh followed Arthur back out into the lake. "I think that will shut them down but..." Arthur started.
Josh was one step ahead of him and in seconds he was across the lake. Rip currents flowed around him violently, causing a whirlpool on the surface even as it tore a device off its anchors on the lake bed. Josh caught it in his coils and his hard scales made short work of its casing and soon he was obliterating it. Josh hung in the lake for a while after that just to make sure the flooding did as much damage as possible but finally shifted back into his human form under the water so that nobody could later track the Leviathan out of the lake. Arthur grabbed him as he finished changing back and Josh smirked before calling up his magic. He had to really focus to cast the transportation spell without saying the word out loud but he managed it and soon both he and Arthur were reappearing in Josh's back garden along with a sizeable amount of water.