Chloe's coat was soaked through by the time she got to the source of the roaring and screams and fighting. She walked onto Main Street in time to see the Laundromat crumble, then she saw the gray thing tearing through the backdoor. Then she saw Davis being picked up in its massive claws.
"Davis!" She ran, not knowing what she could do against a seven-foot-tall mountain of muscles, not really caring. She was halfway through the Laundromat when lighting flashed in front of her and two screams, human and inhuman, exploded. She slipped, went down, blinded.
Then she heard Eric Summers say, in a hoarse voice, "I'm not healing. Why aren't I…"
"This was never your curse," Davis said, his voice strong and even. "I'm sorry I let it kill you too."
Chloe walked out the back of the Laundromat to see Davis Kent and Eric Summers, lying side by side. Eric's head lolled to the side, blood spilling out of his mouth and into the rain.
Chloe looked away from Eric's corpse, gasped when she saw Davis. His bloody clothes were rent to reveal healing skin, but that wasn't what shocked her. Half of his face and one arm were oversized monstrosities of themselves, gray hulks covered in bony thorns.
"Put a bullet in his heart while he had powers," Davis's voice was gritty and deep, half of it coming from the beast's throat. "Left it in there when I took them back. Killed him. Killed him like all the others…"
The gray spread across his face, bone ripping out of his gums and chin…
Chloe got closer to him as he shook. "Davis? It's me." She took hold of his monstrous hand, careful not to cut herself on the bone spurs, and held it up to her face. Rubbing it along her face, letting him feel her skin. "It's me." She ran her hand over the jagged contours of his face as it retook its color, as if the rain were washing an infection out of him. "What'd they do to you?"
"Who's they?" Davis's voice lost its deep timbre, lost all feeling. It was soft and empty. "God? The Devil? No, no!" He looked at her, something like a smile pulling at his lips as they turned pink again. The bones sunk under his flesh and his red eyes closed, opened brown. "I thought God had abandoned me. I was wrong. He gave me you."
"It's okay," Chloe whispered, petting his scalp, feeling the blood disappear. "It's over now. I know the truth. I know what you've been through. But it's okay. I'm gonna take care of you now."
"I'd like that," Davis said.
Chloe bent over him and kissed him gently, cutting her lip on the last of his fangs before it slipped vindictively back into him. She ruefully wiped her bleeding mouth on the back of her hand, then kissed his forehead. "I love you."
"Love you too."
Lightning flashed. Davis saw Clark, watching them, his eyes as blue as the thunderbolt.
"No!" Davis leapt up, throwing himself in front of Chloe. "No!"
Clark stepped into the light that spilled out of the Laundromat. His hands were in his pockets. They both knew Davis was weak, and Clark had had a lot more time to recover.
"It's true, isn't it? You're Sageeth."
"No. I'm Davis Kent." Davis sagged his shoulders. "I don't wanna fight."
"I've read the prophecy. Destiny says it isn't up to us."
"Do you even have free will? Maybe you just think you do. Maybe you're just an elaborate mass of programming, saying all the right things to put me off-guard, telling me what I want to hear. And then you'll kill me. Because you won't be able to help yourself."
Chloe put a hand on Davis's shoulder, squeezing it as she stood next to him. "I believe in him. And if you want to kill him, you can just go through me."
Clark shook his head. "I wouldn't like that."
They stood there, like they were waiting for the rain to stop.
"You're gonna save the world, huh?" Davis asked.
"That's right," Clark said.
"I think you'd better start sooner rather than later."
Clark looked out into the distance. "Storm's ending." He looked back at Davis, Chloe. "You saved my life. I won't forget that. But I won't forget the prophecy either."
The next time lightning flashed, he was gone.
The storm ended. The rain stopped falling and the thunder lost its voice. When the commandoes came, black boots stomping through puddles, they found Davis and Chloe inside the Laundromat, drying off. Davis, insomnious, had his arm around Chloe. She was fast asleep. He smiled lowly as red laser sights dotted his chest, his face, his eyes.
Giving Chloe's hair one last caress, he lowered her onto the bench and stood up, arms raised. "It's okay. Don't shoot. I'm a good guy."
They led him away, the hem of his jacket slipping out of Chloe's hand.
In laboratories all around the country, Luthorcorp scientists were researching ways to kill him. Lionel was receiving status updates, letting the dust that had been the Starblade sift through his fingers. Clark was turning an engagement ring box over in his hands, never opening it, but knowing how the diamond sparkled in the light.
And Lex, Lex knew he had no reason to worry.
The commandoes put Davis in a paddywagon. The doors closed on him, his eyes red, his smile real.
The next update Lionel was received was simple. "Your men are still alive. Next time, no promises."
He was in and out of the Kent farm before his parents got out of the storm cellar. He left a short note, promising he'd send them more letters. Then he packed. He put his luggage in the back of the pick-up and took a moment to check his route on the roadmaps. He wouldn't even have to go through town.
He drove toward Smallville anyway.
Chloe was walking home when he arrived. He stopped the pick-up by her. In front of it, there was devastation that couldn't be blamed on any storm.
"I'm not asking you to come," he said.
Chloe looked at him.
"But if you want to, there's room."
The police assumed Eric had died in the storm. At his funeral, Holly cried real tears.
They were still combing through the rubble for Chloe and Davis when Lois's phone rang. She blew her nose one last time and sent her tissue to join the pile on the floor, then answered.
"No, it's Chloe. I'm okay."
Lois sat up in bed. "Chloe! Hold on, let me get your dad, he's been worried sick…"
"No! Not yet. I can't face him yet. Later, I promise."
"Where are you?"
"At a gas station. Don't ask which, they're all the same anyway. I'm with Davis. Don't try to find us."
"Are you insane? Of course I'm going to try to find you!"
"Lois, I'm safe. I'm happy. I'm sorry I didn't have time to say goodbye, but we were…" Lois heard Chloe's smile form. "—kinda on a deadline. Listen, everything I've ever done, right or wrong, has been for the truth. And, now I know."
"And you're running away."
"It's the only way I can protect Davis."
"So you're just going to sacrifice yourself for him? This is your life we're talking about!"
"Yeah. My life. Lois, you've been the best big sister anyone could ask you. You taught me that doing the right thing is never a sacrifice. And if anyone deserves to be saved, it's him. You'll hear from me again."
"Wait, Chloe!" Lois grasped for something to say. "You really think it's worth it? Giving up your life, your career, your family…"
"Then, uh…" Lois laid back. "Can I use Chloe Sullivan as my penname?"
Chloe laughed. "What?"
"I just think it would be a damn shame if Chloe Sullivan didn't make it to the Daily Planet somehow."
"Since when do you wanna be a reporter?"
"Yeah. The public needs to know that there are people like Lionel Luthor out there… and like Davis."
"I love him, Lois."
"I know. I'm happy for you. Don't be a stranger, okay?"
"Never could be."
The next thing Lois heard was a dial tone.
An hour later, Clark called. He said he wanted to talk.
Chloe stared at her cell phone as the glowing touchscreen faded, carrying Lois's name and number away. She shoved the phone in her pocket.
Davis had finished paying for the gas. He hugged her from behind, left arm looping around to hold a candy heart in front of her.
"Hey. You said road trips give you a sweet tooth, so…"
She took it. "Thank you…"
She sniffled. He pretended not to notice.
"C'mon, Clyde, let's disappear," she said.
He followed her. "Bonne and Clyde? I was expecting Thelma and Louise."
On the road, he turned on the radio. It played Walking In Memphis. Davis listened for a few moments, body stiff, fingers tight on the steering wheel. Slowly, painfully, his eyes began to moisten, as if they'd grown tired of waiting for the rest of the world to melt, as if poisonous memories had finally reached his heart.
Without much fuss, Chloe changed the station.
They kept driving.
Clark sat down in front of Lois. She'd been waiting at the restaurant for twenty minutes. He wasn't wearing his usual expensive clothes, just jeans and a red shirt. He ran his hands through his hair, over his face, then lowered them to the table. He looked at her. There were vast wells of tears behind his eyes, unable to be accessed.
"I was ten years old when my father pushed me down a flight of stairs."
The revelation of Lionel Luthor's abuses sold millions of papers and led to him being charged with the first of many crimes. Chloe smiled when she saw the article in the Daily Planet.
It would've been a damn shame if Chloe Sullivan never made it to the front page.
Lex sat in his father's office. His office.
Funny, how you could get what you wanted and still not get what you wished for.
He turned the pages of Joseph Willowbrook's book. The Kawatche prophecies were more fascinating than they had any right to be, much more than mere superstition and allegory.
He set them aside for the moment, picking up the report Gina had just brought him. Amazing, to think that Davis Bloom's powers could be transferred with a little Kryptonite and electricity. If worst came to worst, those powers might be the only thing that could stop Naman.
After all, Naman sounded nigh-unstoppable. He could conquer the world, if he wanted to. Anyone willing to try to keep him in check would be a brave man indeed.
Who knew? Maybe Naman wasn't the hero of the story.