Title: Best Laid Plans (1/11)
Fandom: The Magnificent 7, Smallville, Supernatural
Characters: Sam and Dean Winchester; Chloe Sullivan; The Seven: Chris Larabee, Buck Wilmington, Vin Tanner, Ezra Standish, Nathan Jackson, Josiah Sanchez, JD Dunne; OMC – Mathew Tanner; Eventually - Sam/Chloe
Disclaimer: The characters you know and love all belong to their respective creators. Mathew Tanner is mine
Chapter Summary: Chloe travels to Four Corners; Mathew finds that laying claim to the ownership of Four Corners for the Tanner family won't be as easy as he'd hoped.
A/N: This is the sequel to Ghost Town, which should be read first or this will make no sense.
Best Laid Plans: Chapter 1
Woodward and Bernstein had uncovered the Watergate scandal by following the money. Chloe felt that if she could just do that to with Luthorcorp, she would find Lex's latest version of 33.1. The paper trail of the latest Luthorcorp land deals led to Albuquerque. She was sure Lex was planning some new version of those illegal laboratories under the guise of land development in the southwest. Unfortunately it had turned out that the company's latest acquisitions were legitimate, at least as far as she could tell. But then she'd been stonewalled at every turn.
Frustrated, she decided it was time for coffee and a major regrouping. Chloe was unwilling to return to Metropolis empty handed when she was sure there was something illegal going on. She just needed to find a way in.
Grabbing a local newspaper, she settled in with her coffee at the Starbucks around the corner form her hotel. It wasn't until Chloe started in on the State section that she felt her reporter's instinct twitching. There was an article about Alex Saunders and his legal woes in southern New Mexico. She read with growing interest about his land deal for the town of Four Corners.
An explosion at the site a few days before had been ruled accidental but it had refocused attention on the town and its bid for historical preservation. Chloe snickered as she read about the haunting but ultimately it was Alex Saunders who captured her attention. Gathering up her things, she headed back to her hotel room. The name Saunders had been mentioned in several of the documents she'd uncovered in connection with her recent investigation into Luthorcorp.
She was determined to find out everything she could about the Four Corners situation. Chloe smiled as she headed back to the hotel. This might be the break she'd been looking for.
Travis Witt knocked on the door frame as he entered Mathew Tanner's office. "Got a minute?"
Mathew looked up from his desk at his law associate and nodded. "What's up? Did you find anything?"
Travis shook his head and dropped a file in front of Mathew as he seated himself into one of the guest chairs. " Saunders's covered his tracks and everything about his purchase looks legitimate." Travis sighed. "Unfortunately, I think we're at a dead end."
Frowning, Matt opened the file and stared at the documents that claimed the Tanner family was the rightful owner's of Four Corners. "Did you get back the authenticity report?"
"Yes, and they are legitimate land deeds from when you ancestor bought the town. But it doesn't matter, Travis reminded his friend. "Unless we can prove that Saunders' current claim is falsified."
Mathew frowned. It had all seemed to come together when Sam Winchester had found the deeds in the old Clarion Newspaper office. Travis had warned him that it wouldn't be as easy as presenting the papers to the proper authorities and asking for the ownership to be transferred to the Tanner family.
"We have a week before we're due to present our case for preservation. If I'm going to walk into court and accuse the man of stealing my family's land, I'm going to need proof of his illegal activities."
"I know!" Travis huffed his frustration. They'd been having this conversation for days ever since Matt showed up with his miracle papers and they weren't any closer to a solution. "What we really need is some kind of forensic accountant or maybe just a really good hacker."
"Hacker? I don't want to gather information about Alex Saunders' illegal activities by performing more illegal activities."
"Boy Scout, this is a dirty fight. Time to play a little fast and loose with the rules."
"Let me think about it?" Mathew had hoped to come out of this fight unsullied. Now, it seemed that wasn't going to happen.
"Fine. Go commune with the town and get your answers," Travis teased as he stood to leave. "I'll compile a list of people who might be able to help us once you come to your senses."
Mathew laughed. "I don't exactly commune with the town."
"Talk to your ancestors; have a séance. Don't care. Just come back ready to give me the green light. We're running out of time," he said as he exited the office.
Mathew ran his hands through his hair in frustration. He chuckled as he realized he needed a hair cut. Focus, he scolded himself. Travis was right, he needed an outside perspective.
He gathered his things and walked to the receptionist desk. "Annie, I'm heading out to Four Corners. Anybody needs me they can find me there."
"Off to consult with the great beyond."
"You have been spending too much time with Travis," he chided.
Annie smiled. "It is peaceful out there. I hope inspiration hits."
"Thanks," he said as he headed to the elevator. He wondered what Travis and Annie would say if he told them he was off to consult his moral compass, and oh, by the way, they're ghosts.
Mathew pulled his car up the path and parked in front of the graveyard. Four Corners was deserted. Once the explosion had been confirmed to be the result of faulty wiring the fervor over the town being haunted had died down. It seemed the gawkers as well as the media were no longer interested in the town and Mathew was grateful for their absence.
He was just exiting his car when his cell phone rang. He fished it out of his pocket and looked at the unfamiliar number.
"Hey Mathew, Sam Winchester here."
"Sam, didn't expect I'd ever hear from you guys again." Mathew smiled. He'd had lunch with the brothers the day after the 'exorcism' and found that he and Sam had a lot in common. They'd exchanged numbers and Mathew had joked that the younger Winchester should call him if he ever finished his law degree. He could use someone with his research skills.
"Kind of surprised myself, but I wanted to call and see how you were doing." Mathew could hear the concern in Sam's voice. "We know how much those guys meant to you and we just wanted to make sure that you were okay."
Mathew had to stop himself from laughing as he looked up the hill to see the six waiting for him. "I'm doing better than I thought. Thanks for asking," he said.
As the silence stretched on, Mathew realized that this was the epiphany he was looking for. "Sam, I was wondering," he paused. This was crazy; the last thing he needed was the Winchesters back in town to find out they'd been punked by ghosts and their lawyer.
"You need something?"
What the hell thought Mathew. "I'd pay you of course and you wouldn't have to come back just – you know- email what you find."
"I don't understand?"
"I need to find proof that Alex Saunders obtained his ownership of Four Corners illegally. Unfortunately, Saunders covered his tracks too well– " he let the thought trail off hoping Sam would pick up on his request.
A burst of laughter came over the phone. "You want to pay me to hack Saunders' company files and see what I can find."
Mathew winced. "Yeah, I guess I do."
"Dean wants to know how much?"
Now it was Mathew's turn to laugh. "So does that mean we have a deal?"
"I'll see what I can find out and call you back."
"Thanks Sam," he said as he hung up.
"Making deals with the devil?" Chris growled.
Mathew jumped and whirled to face the ghost. "Damn it Chris, I hate it when you sneak up on me like that."
The others had moved closer and were laughing at Tanner's expense. "Boy looks like he's seen a ghost," Buck chuckled.
"More like six," Nathan laughed and elbowed Buck.
"Very funny guys." Still he couldn't help but smile even as Chris continued to glare his disapproval about the phone call.
"Thought you were gonna stay away for a while?" JD asked.
"I was, but we have a bit of a problem and it might require some illegalities on my part," Mathew admitted.
"So you thought asking the Winchesters to do it was a good idea?" Chris fumed.
"That wasn't my intention. Sam called me and the opportunity presented itself."
"Now Chris, you know our boy here won't do anything illegal on his own, too much Tanner in him," Josiah said as he winked at Mathew.
"As we are no longer in any danger from the Winchesters, I see nothing wrong in using them to further our cause and protecting Mathew from any connection to those activities," Ezra agreed.
"Fine, but what's this all about," Chris said as he waved the others into silence. Mathew held back a sigh of relief and proceeded to tell them all about the problems with the deeds.
Chloe parked in front of the sawhorses that still barricaded the main street of Four Corners. She'd been informed by Annie that Mathew Tanner was gone for the day. When she'd pressed, the secretary had admitted he'd gone out to look at the old town.
Chloe figured she should see what all the fuss was about and decided to drive the fifteen miles to check out the supposed ghost town. The sun was just setting as she arrived casting a bright glow over the town that she found quite pretty.
She walked down the wooden sidewalks impressed by the state of the buildings. Someone had kept the town in pristine condition. As she reached the last building, Chloe noticed a graveyard that sat on a small rise, just outside of the town.
Seven men were gathered there, obviously in deep discussion, but what really caught her attention was their old style western dress. Chloe moved deeper into the long shadows cast by the setting sun as she realized what she was seeing. The seventh man had on jeans and a modern sports jacket: Mathew Tanner. She recognized him from the pictures she'd found during her research into Four Corners.
It seemed the local lawyer was perpetrating a haunting hoax and she had stumbled onto their latest meeting. With conserved motion she drew her camera out of her bag and hoped that there was enough light to capture the scene. This wasn't the story she had been chasing, but it was definitely a story worth writing.
Chloe debated confronting Tanner here with his cohorts, but ultimately decided that the odds were not in her favor. She had no idea what men who would resort to this type of deception would do to a reporter with this kind of evidence. She needed to download the pictures to a safe place and then confront Tanner in the morning with the photos.