Seven Years Ago…
Chloe was pulled out of a very deep sleep when the theme song to the Six Million Dollar Man rang out in the still hotel room. The sound was muffled but definitely the ringtone that Bart had jokingly assigned for Victor on Chloe's phone. Her internal clock was telling her that it was barely four in the morning so she turned her head, ignoring the ringing in favor of just a few more hours of sleep. Whatever it was could wait until the sun was actually up.
The ringing stopped and she stretched, her body aching in all the right places as she let out a contented sigh. Her hand slid over the mattress, her fingers searching for the smooth warmth of Neal's body. When she found only cool crisp sheets she opened her eyes confused. Neal's side of the bed was empty.
"Neal?" Chloe called out. She was greeted with silence.
"He's gone," A voice said from the other side of the room and Chloe shot up in the bed and spun around, clutching the sheet to her chest.
"Kate?" Chloe squinted, beyond surprised to find the other woman leaning casually against the dresser opposite the bed. "What are you doing here?" Chloe pulled the sheet tighter around her as she scanned the room looking for her clothes. "Where's Neal?"
"Long gone by now I'm sure," Kate pushed off the dresser and smiled down at Chloe.
"What does that mean?" Chloe frowned, wrapping herself fully in the sheet as she climbed off the bed. She bent to grab her underwear off the floor and looked around for her bra.
"It means he did what he came here to do and now he's gone," Kate shrugged. "You know how he is, he doesn't like to stick around once a job is over."
"What job?" Chloe asked uneasily.
"You," Kate said simply. She leaned down and picked up Chloe's bra, holding it out to her with a smirk on her face.
"Me?" Chloe asked, snatching the bra from Kate before turning and walking into the bathroom to get dressed. "I don't understand."
"When he told me all those years ago that one day you would be worth something, I didn't realize he meant it so literally." Kate called and Chloe's hands were shaking as she pulled her bra and underwear on.
She dressed herself in her clothes from the day before and took a deep breath before walking back out into the room so she could face Kate on more equal footing this time. "And how much am I worth exactly?" she was proud that her voice wasn't shaking, thought she feared her legs would give out any minute.
"A small fortune if the legend is true," Kate said. "Lex knows who has the music box and he's willing to share that information with us in exchange for…well…you."
"I don't understand," Chloe closed her eyes, none of this made any sense.
"Neither do I," Kate shrugged. "I just did what Neal told me to do."
"And what exactly did Neal tell you to do?" Chloe whispered, dreading the answer.
"He told me to go to Lex and propose a trade while he…" Kate looked at the rumpled bed and then back at Chloe, "Distracted you."
"No," Chloe shook her head, the champagne and canapés from the night before threatening to claw their way back up her throat. "No, he wouldn't do that." Chloe collapsed down onto the edge of the mattress.
"He would," Kate tilted her head, looking down at Chloe with pity. "He's a thief and a con-man. It's what he does. Hell, it's who he is. He'd hand over his own mother if he thought it would help him take in a big score."
"I don't believe you," Chloe whispered.
"You really don't do you?" Kate asked tilting her head sideways. "You actually…trusted him. Oh honey." Kate reached out to put a comforting hand on her shoulder and Chloe jerked away from her.
Standing up suddenly, Chloe started digging through the stuff on the floor looking for her phone. If she called Neal, if she could just talk to him, straighten this out it would be ok.
"Is it true? What he said you can do?" Kate asked nonchalantly. "That you're some kind of freak who can heal people?"
"How do you—" Chloe froze and turned around, her heart lodging itself firmly in her throat.
"Oh God," Kate shook her head. "When Neal told me to say that to Lex, I thought it was just something he'd made up. I mean everyone knows how obsessed Lex is with the weird and unexplained." Kate shook her head. "But it's true?"
Chloe nodded numbly. "And now Lex knows," she whispered as Victor's ringtone start up again.
"You should probably get that," Kate nodded in the vague direction of a pile of sheets where the ringing was coming from before walking to the door.
By the time Chloe managed to extricate her phone the ringing had stopped. Her screen proclaimed she had 19 missed calls. All from Victor. All in the past hour. "Shit," Chloe said, fumbling slightly with the phone as she called him back.
"What the hell are you doing at The Palace?" he asked annoyed, barely letting the phone ring once before picking it up. Chloe was taken aback for a second at the urgency in his voice and her own words died on her tongue. "Never mind, it doesn't matter, you need to leave. An hour ago the DDS put out a warrant for your arrest." Victor told her.
Chloe paled. "On what charges?" she asked him, already knowing the answer.
"17 counts of illegally hacking into secure government websites, theft of top secret information, suspected aiding of terrorist organizations—the list goes on and on."
"Shit," Chloe whispered, putting all the pieces together. She'd always suspected that Lex had been behind the DDS' sudden interest and just as sudden disinterest in her the year before. He'd always gotten someone else to do his dirty work for him and if he could get the DDS to publically arrest her, then her disappearance wouldn't be questioned.
"Chloe!" Victor snapped. "Are you still there?"
"Yeah I'm here," Chloe took a deep breath.
"Look, you need to get out of there now." Victor said again.
"No one knows I'm here," Chloe said dumbly. She hadn't even told Lois where she was going. She assumed Victor only knew because he'd tracked her phone, and the only reason he could do that was because she'd told him how. The DDS didn't have the technology to find her though. Of that she was relatively assured. Unless Neal had told Lex—she stopped herself, she couldn't believe that, not now.
"They do," Victor said. "I don't know how they do but they do. They requested back-up from the local PD to meet them at the hotel. They'll be there in five minutes, maybe less depending on response time. What can I do Chloe?" Victor asked her. "Tell me what you want me to do."
Chloe stopped, took a deep breath, and gathered her thoughts. "Nothing," she finally told him.
"What?" Victor asked confused.
"You do nothing," Chloe told him. "I'm serious Victor. I've got to do this on my own. I can't have anything that might trace back to you or Oliver."
"How am I supposed to just sit back and do nothing?" Victor asked.
"I'll be fine ok. I can take care of myself. I'll try and contact you when it's safe." She hung up the phone before he could protest and immediately dialed Oliver's number. It went straight to voice-mail just like she thought it would at 4 in the morning.
"Oliver, Victor's probably already calling you but I need you to trust me. Leave this alone. Let me take care of it on my own. If they get to you through me, if anything happened to any of you because of me, I'd never forgive myself and you know it. I'm more than capable of handling this situation so just let me do it my way. I'll be in touch." She hung up the phone, hoping that Oliver would trust her enough to let her do this on her own terms.
She checked her watch and sighed. She had less than two minutes based on normal Metropolis PD response time. She forced herself take a deep breath, grabbed her bag and shoved only what she needed into it before stepped out of the hotel room.
She took the back stairs just to be safe and threw open the door when she got to the ground floor only to find herself face to face with Maxwell the concierge. "Miss Bonnet," he smiled up at her, unsurprised to see her sneaking out the back. "There were some gentlemen at the front desk looking for you." Chloe's heart dropped and all she could hear was her own breathing. "I sent them around the side, as not to disturb the other guests."
Chloe felt a genuine smile light up her face and she couldn't help but reach out and grab the older man's face with both hands, dropping a sloppy kiss on his lips.
"You are magnificent you know that?" Chloe asked him and he coughed, slightly uncomfortably. Maxwell had always taken care of Chloe, ever since she and Neal started coming here.
"Just doing my job," he replied. "I believe you'll find a clear exit through the kitchen."
"Thank you," Chloe said sincerely before she turned and headed in that direction. "Maxwell," Chloe stopped and turned. "Have you seen Neal?"
"Mr. Dermott left the hotel about an hour ago," Maxwell told her.
"Did he…he didn't happen to leave a message? Say where he was going?" Chloe asked hopefully.
"No ma'am," Maxwell shook his head. "Is there a message you like me to relay to him when he returns?"
Chloe swallowed hard, thinking it over. She didn't want to believe that Neal would turn on her, but as much as she tried to deny it, there was a part of her that had to admit maybe it wasn't totally out of the realm of possibility. And as much as she wanted to trust him, she just couldn't take that big of a chance right now. Not with so much on the line.
"No," Chloe shook her head. "No message."
Chloe offered him one last smile before slipping down the back hallway and off toward the kitchen. First thing first, she needed to get out of town, fast. Ideally she needed to get out of the country. But for that she needed papers. Under normal circumstances she could handle that on her own, but these were hardly normal circumstances and without Victor and Oliver or access to the Watchtower she was dead in the water. Mozzie could get her the papers no problem but she couldn't be sure he wouldn't tell Neal.
A thought occurred to Chloe and she pulled her phone out, hesitating only a second before dialing a new number. She stood in the parking garage and looked around. No way she could take her car. Her license plate would get flagged in two seconds flat. She cringed as she dug around her bag for her tablet and figured it wouldn't make much of a difference to add grand theft auto to her laundry list of crimes at this point.
"Hello?" a confused female voice asked as Chloe surveyed the possible vehicles laid out in front of her and decided the Prius was her best option. She turned on the tablet and started typing.
"Alex, remember that favor you owe me?" Chloe asked as she deftly hacked into the car's security system and cloned the remote entry signal, feeding it back out to the car. The door locks popped up and Chloe smiled. "I'm gonna need to cash that in." Chloe slid behind the wheel of the Prius and crossed her fingers quickly before punching the start button, sighing in relief when the car roared to life.
"What do you need?" Alex asked.
"Papers. An ID, passport, the whole deal. I need them quick and I need them flawless." Chloe explained backing out of the parking garage slowly.
"When and where do you need them delivered?" Alex asked.
Chloe thought about that. The smartest thing to do was to take one of the many alias' she had on her, drive straight to the airport and get the first flight out to anywhere. The DDS would eventually be able to trace it, but at least it would get her out of the city, out from under their noses and give her a few hours breathing room. But she couldn't do that. There were things at the Talon apartment that she couldn't risk the DDS getting their hands on. Things that could jeopardize Oliver and the guys.
"I'll be at the Kansas City International Airport in four hours," Chloe told her. "I want the papers along with a ticket on the first International Flight out waiting at the information desk."
"Sure thing," Alex said, acting as if this request was just an ordinary day for her.
"And Alex," Chloe said, biting her lip. "If Neal calls you…if he asks you—"
"I don't know anything," Alex said so Chloe didn't have to. "Look, I don't know what's going on between you and Neal and I really don't want to know but if I know Neal like I think I do, he's not just gonna leave it at that."
"I know," Chloe sighed and hung up the phone. Never for a second did she doubt that those papers would be waiting for her, just as she asked.
The drive from Metropolis to Smallville felt like it took a lot longer than normal. Then again Chloe was very careful to keep herself right at the speed limit. The last thing she needed was to get pulled over for speeding. She parked the stolen Prius around the back of the Talon and let herself in through the alleyway door.
It took less than five minutes to grab what she needed, stuff a bag with some underwear and clean clothes and stash the incriminating evidence under a floor panel in the freezer at the Talon, a hiding place Chloe created about a month after she moved in. She was on her way out when she heard a chair squeak across the Talon floor.
"Hello?" a voice called out through the darkness and Chloe relaxed slightly when she realized it was Jimmy. She stepped out of the shadow of the doorway and he stood up.
"Jimmy, what are you doing here?" Chloe asked, pushing past him toward the door, hoping that he would get the hint she really didn't have time to talk.
"I needed to see you," Jimmy said, stepping in her way, blocking her path.
"Now's not really a good time," Chloe tried to step past him but he moved with her.
"Who was that guy last night?" Jimmy asked.
Chloe rolled her eyes. "I really don't have time for this," Chloe told him faking left. Jimmy fell for it and she stepped quickly to the right and around him. He reached out and grabbed her elbow, spinning her back around to face him.
"Wait, I'm sorry that's not—it's just seeing you, with him last night-you were wrong. I don't miss the relationship. I miss you."
"We've been over this Jimmy," Chloe sighed in frustration.
"Marry me," Jimmy said suddenly.
"What?" Chloe took a startled step back.
"Marry me," Jimmy said again. "I realized last night I couldn't imagine my life without you in it, I don't want a life without you in it. I know we had our problems and there are things we need to work through but when we were good, we were really good. I want to try again. I love you Chloe." Jimmy let go of her arm and dropped down to one knee and all Chloe could do was stare down at him. It was like a train wreck, she just couldn't look away. "Marry me."
The doors to the Talon burst open and a flood of black clad SWAT guys swarmed into the room, surrounding Jimmy and Chloe in seconds. Jimmy jumped to his feet in surprise, moving to stand in front of Chloe as if that would somehow shield her.
"Hands in the air!" one of the men screamed and Chloe and Jimmy complied instantly as a familiar face pushed her way through the crowd until she was standing right in front of them.
"Chloe Sullivan," she smiled and Chloe swallowed hard.
"Agent Weber," Chloe nodded at the other woman. She couldn't help but remember the last time they met, the pain torture that Weber put Chloe through to get to the truth.
"You're under arrest," Weber stepped forward, a sick smile on her face as she grabbed Chloe's wrists and yanked them painfully behind her back. "You have the right to remain silent."
It had been two days since Chloe had been shoved into a windowless 5x5 foot cell, in an undisclosed location and left there. Among her many alleged crimes were multiple counts of terrorism which automatically deprived her of most of her rights. She had no right to a phone call, she had no right to an attorney, she basically had no rights at all. Theoretically they could leave her in that room to rot and be totally well within their rights. She was actually starting to worry about the very real possibility of that happening when the door opened and light flooded her vision for the first time in 48 hours.
Chloe blinked rapidly, the light stinging her eyes as she was grabbed by the arm and dragged from the cell. Her vision slowly started to adjust to the brightness and she was herded along a hallway and into another room. This one was bigger than the last but not by much. There was a long table in the middle with a chair on either side. It didn't take a genius to figure out it was an interrogation room. The guard shoved her down into one of the chairs then shackled her wrists to the bar on the table before leaving her in the room on her own.
After three more hours the door opened again and Agent Weber walked in with a file in her hands. She didn't look at Chloe, didn't acknowledge her in any way, just pulled out the chair opposite her, sat down and opened the file.
When it didn't look like Weber was going to be talking anytime soon Chloe took the initiative.
"I'm not a terrorist," Chloe said. Her voice cracked a bit, her throat dry and scratchy from lack of water.
Weber looked up, almost surprised to see Chloe sitting there and leaned back in her seat. "You're not?" she asked crossing her arms over her chest. "Because I've got mountains of evidence that says you are."
Chloe licked her lips and glanced at the file, unsure of what evidence exactly Weber had and not wanting to tip her hand. "You don't understand."
"So make me understand," Weber said.
Chloe opened her mouth then closed it again. Because she couldn't explain. Whatever Weber had on Chloe or thought she had on Chloe there was no way she was going to turn on Oliver or Bart or Victor or any of them. "I can't," Chloe said and Weber huffed as if Chloe had just confirmed something she suspected all along.
"I didn't think you could," Weber shook her head. "I've got enough evidence here to lock you away for several lifetimes and throw away the key."
"So do it then," Chloe snapped, her irritation finally getting the best of her.
"Oh believe me I'd love to, but my bosses seem to think that you're something special and that you could actually be useful," Weber said. "Tell me about the meteor rocks."
Chloe swallowed hard. "I don't…I don't know what you're talking about." Weber narrowed her eyes at Chloe but she didn't budge.
"Fine, I'll tell you about the meteor rocks." Weber said. "They came down in the Smallville meteor shower of 1989. The whole town's lousy with them. Supposedly, prolonged exposure can alter a person's DNA, give them…abilities."
"Sounds like science fiction novel," Chloe tried to laugh but Weber already knew too much.
"Does, doesn't it?" Weber said reaching into the file and pulling out a piece of paper before sliding it across the table to Chloe. "So does dying and coming back to life."
Chloe looked down and she could have sworn her heart stopped beating for a second. It was a copy of her death certificate, her first one, the one she thought she'd destroyed. "You got rid of the original but the Coroner faxed a copy of it to the police so they could notify your next of kin."
"That was just a misunderstanding," Chloe stuttered.
"I've talked to the paramedics who pulled you out of the damn, I've talked to the ER doctor and the Coroner and the Coroner's assistant. They all say the same thing. You were dead. Your body was cold. And yet here you are." Weber said. "What was it like? Waking up naked on a steel slab, locked in a morgue drawer?"
Chloe closed her eyes as the memories of that day enveloped her. Gasping for breath, terrified out of her mind as her fingers scraped the steel walls of the small room, desperately trying to get out. When she opened her eyes, Weber was smiling at her in triumph.
"There are more of you out there, freaks with these powers and from what we've seen, most of them are not using those powers for good," Weber said.
"What do you want from me?" Chloe asked, knowing she'd been defeated.
"Help us," Weber said. "Help us learn more about this, learn more about how it works, what these rocks do and how to stop these guys before they hurt anyone else."
"And what do I get?" Chloe asked.
"A reduced sentence," Weber said as though the words were actually painful. It was obvious this deal was not her idea. "We'd move you to another facility. You'd get a bed, yard time. All you'd have to do is submit to a few tests, agree to help us, tell us what we want to know."
Chloe felt her insides go cold. A facility. Tests. She'd been waiting for this since the moment she got here but the realization still cut like a knife.
"How long have you been working for Lex?" Chloe asked Weber, sliding back in her chair. Weber stiffened.
"I do not work for Lex," Weber growled.
"Right," Chloe snorted. "You just slip him the occasional criminal for his little facility so he can play Dr. Frankenstein."
"His work is important," Weber protested. "There are people out there, bad people with powers we'd never have been able to combat if it hadn't been for Lex. He's saving lives."
"Is that what you tell yourself so you can sleep at night?" Chloe tilted her head as Weber's jaw clenched. "Have you ever been there?" Chloe asked. "To one of his facilities? Because I have. He tortures people. He experiments on them. I barely made it out alive the first time, I doubt I'd be as lucky the second time. So thanks but no thanks."
"I'm sorry?" Weber asked.
"I'm declining the deal," Chloe held out her hands. She swallowed as Weber stared at her. She knew that declining the deal would likely mean she'd spend the rest of her life in that 5x5 cell but she had no other choice. Going to Lex's wasn't an option. There was a chance if she was there that Oliver and the guys could find her and get her out. But she couldn't guarantee they'd get to her before Lex used whatever means necessary to get information out of her that he could never have.
"I don't think you understand," Weber said. "Declining the deal isn't really an option. You're going to the facility. You're going to help us. You're going to tell us what we need to know, whether you want to or not." Weber stood up and walked over to Chloe leaning down to whisper in her ear. "And I'm going to sleep just fine at night knowing you're exactly where you should be."
"You can't trust him you know," Chloe said just as Weber reached for the door. "The only thing Lex cares about, the only thing Lex has ever cared about is himself. He's helping you for the moment but the second, the second, you are no longer useful to him, he's going to leave you to clean up his mess."
Instead of getting upset or indignant Weber just laughed. Chloe sat frozen, confused as Weber continued to laugh until she had to stop to take a breath. "You. You really want to lecture me about trust?"
"What's so funny about that?" Chloe asked.
"Neal Caffery." Weber said and Chloe swallowed hard. Suddenly all the thoughts she'd been forcing herself not to think for the past three days suddenly came crashing back. She shook her head, unwilling and unable to deal with them at the moment. "Who do you think gave us what we needed to arrest you?" Weber said smugly. "I'm not an idiot Ms. Sullivan. I see Lex for who he really is. But you couldn't even see the truth in Neal when he was lying to your face."
One Month Later:
Chloe grunted. Her jaw clenched, her back arched, and her muscles tightened painfully as over 50,000 volts of electricity surged through her body. The current stopped and she collapsed back onto the hard steel gurney.
"I know what you're going to say. He's a con man," Chloe panted as her head tilted to the side. "And a leopard doesn't change his spots. But it was different with me. He was different with me. You know?"
Ray, standing stiffly in his lab coat, hand hovering over the controls, simply offered her an annoyed glance over his shoulder before writing something on his clipboard. "Andrew knows what I'm talking about." Chloe turned her head to the man standing on the other side of her.
"Maybe he just wanted you to think it was different with you," Andrew said before looking at Ray. "Another 10,000 maybe." Ray nodded, adjusting a dial, and then flipped a switch.
Chloe screamed out in pain this time, unable to help herself. Her teeth grinded together and when the current stopped there were a few seconds before she actually managed to catch her breath. Her vision was blurry so she blinked the tears away as something hot and wet slid across her lips. She reached out with her tongue, tasting the sharp tang of iron, and figured her nose must be bleeding. Again.
Andrew reached out with a handkerchief and wiped the blood away.
"I can't believe that," Chloe said after a few false starts, unable to make her tongue work at first. "I can't believe the whole time our relationship was just one long con."
"Maybe you just don't want to believe it," Andrew said offhandedly. "I think we're done here for today." Ray jotted a few more notes down then began to undo Chloe's restraints.
"How much longer are we going to do this before you believe that it's gone?" Chloe asked as Andrew helped her sit up. "There's no more power. I couldn't heal anything or anyone if I wanted to." She slid off the edge of the gurney, her bare feet unstable on the cold tile floor. She tried to stand on her own but her knees gave out the second she put even the slightest weight on them.
"How much longer are we going to do this before you realize your boyfriend played you?" Andrew asked as he held her upright and they made their way down the corridor. The first time they'd done the electric shock, the pain was so intense she'd almost gone insane from it. She had to force herself to focus on something else, anything else, to keep her mind off of it. But she couldn't think about Oliver or Bart or Victor or Clark out of fear she'd blurt something out. So she thought about Neal. And she'd been thinking about Neal almost every second of every day since.
She wasn't any closer to coming to a conclusion about him either. Just when she had herself convinced that he would never turn on her like that, she'd remember something he said or did or a look and a tiny bit of doubt would creep up, worm it's way into her brain and she'd be right back where she stared.
"You've gotta give me something here Chloe," Andrew told her as he sat her down on the edge of her bed. "Tess is starting to get impatient."
"Wait," Chloe shook her head, trying to clear the fog a little bit. "Who's Tess?"
"The new boss," Andrew said. "She took over after Lex went missing. And you don't have the history with her that you had with Lex. Which means she has no reason to keep you around if you don't start showing some results."
"Careful Andrew, you're gonna make me think you actually care." Chloe closed her eyes and leaned back against the pillows. She knew the drill, the headache would come in a minute, it always did after the electric shock.
He snorted and walked to the door. "I'm just good at pretending," he smirked and turned around. "Kinda like your boyfriend."
Chloe wished she had the energy to flip him off but she just didn't.
The woman's voice outside her door startled Chloe out of her sleep. "You've had her here for two months now and you have nothing to show for it?"
Chloe pulled herself to her feet and crept closer to the door to better hear what was being said. "We've tried everything. Nothing strange showed up in her blood tests. Her MRI's, CAT scan's, everything was clear. I think she's telling the truth. I think, if she ever actually had this power, it's gone now." Andrew countered.
"You told me she could heal him," the woman said. "You told me, if I found him, she could heal him."
"Because that's what I was told. By Lex." Andrew said shortly. "So don't even try and pin this on me Tess. I'm just doing my job here."
Chloe sighed, so this was the infamous Tess, Lex's replacement. "Has she given us anything? Anything on the Green Arrow or his leather clad friends?" Tess asked.
"Nothing," Andrew sighed.
"If she hasn't given them up by now, we're not going to get anything out of her. And her cousin is causing me more trouble than she's worth." Tess paused. "Miss Sullivan is no longer useful to me. Terminate the project."
"Yes ma'am." Andrew said and Chloe felt something twist in her chest at the casual way he agreed to the command. She knew their back and forth banter wasn't exactly the beginning of a beautiful friendship. She knew he was just doing his job and she was a part of that job. And a part of her knew, deep down that this day might come, that there was a chance he'd be given the order to kill her. She just hoped there might be a second's hesitation on his part.
Chloe padded quickly back to the bed and grabbed the mattress, shoving it to the floor. Her fingers tore at the box spring desperately until she managed to pierce the fabric, ripping a gash just big enough to get her hand in. She grabbed onto the first piece of wood her fingers touched and pulled, trying to free it but not having much luck.
Her heart sped up when she heard Tess' heels clicking down the hall. She looked down at her bare feet and cringed, already dreading the pain that was sure to follow but knowing there was no other option. She kicked out as hard as she could, her heel connecting with the wood frame of the box spring. The pain radiated all the way up her leg but she just gritted her teeth and kicked again. She felt the wood splinter at the same time something in her ankle popped and she bit her lip to keep from crying out.
Outside, Andrew punched the code into the door lock and tears welled up in her eyes as Chloe set her foot down on the ground. Reaching back into the hole, she grabbed the piece of wood and pulled as hard as she could, freeing it from the box spring frame.
She limped painfully over to the door and slid behind it just as it opened and Andrew stepped into the room. All she could see was his shadow cast from the light in the hallway. His gun was out and drawn and Chloe clapped a hand over her mouth to quiet the sound of her breathing.
He shifted his weight from one foot to the other and the light from the hallway illuminated the bed, reveling the displaced mattress and torn up box spring. "Son of a—" He started to turn around, scanning the darkness for any hint of Chloe just as the jagged edge of the piece of wood connected with his head.
He caught a glimpse of Chloe as he crumpled to the ground and she could have sworn he was glaring at her. She tossed the bloody piece of wood to the side and reached down, pulling Andrew's gun from his slack fingers before stepping over him and heading for the door.
She limped away as fast as she could on her ankle, going down corridor after corridor, hoping at some point she'd come to an exit. She stopped when she saw a half open door and she chanced a peek inside. When she saw the bank of computers against the back wall she smiled. If she could get to one of those she could figure out where she was and how to get out of there and finally get back home.
She hesitated when she saw someone sitting in front of one of the monitors, until she realized it was Ray and lifted Andrew's gun without a second thought. He had earphones in so it was easy to sneak up on him and remembering the look on his face as he flipped the switch on the electric shock machine made it really easy to press the barrel of the gun at the bottom of his skull.
"Don't fucking move," Chloe spit out spinning his chair around to face her. His eyes widened and Chloe smiled for the first time in months. She found a box of wires and used them to tie him to the chair before shoving him to the side and sitting down in front of the computer.
The second her fingers hit the keys, her entire body sighed in relief. She took a breath and gathered her thoughts. She needed to figure out where she was and how to get out of there. She wondered if she should try to get a message to Oliver. And figured it would probably be a good idea to see if she could get into their records and get rid of any mention of her stay there and check to see exactly how much they knew and what they were trying to do here. She heard footsteps coming up behind her and her hand shot out for Andrew's gun but she was already too late.
"Don't even think about it," Andrew said as he cocked what must have been his backup weapon. Chloe closed her eyes waiting for the bullet but it never came.
"What did you do?" He asked instead, shoving her chair violently to the side as he started typing. "What did you do?"
"I didn't do anything," Chloe said confused before chancing a look at the monitors. On one of the monitors was a blueprint of the compound along with map showing her current GPS location. On another, file after file was opening, being scanned and any mention of Chloe found was immediately deleted. "I didn't…" Chloe whispered in shock as she registered the blaring alarm that was going off.
"Attention: Unauthorized access to internal archives has been detected. 75% of core systems have been compromised. Security protocol 137 recommends emergency manual shutdown. Warning. Emergency manual shutdown has been disabled." A slightly feminine computerized voice relayed calmly. "Attention: Unauthorized access to internal archives has been detected. 75% of core systems have been compromised. Security protocol 137 recommends emergency manual shutdown. Warning. Emergency manual shutdown has been disabled."
"Fix this," Andrew screamed, untying the guy from the chair and pushing him in front of the computers.
"I didn't do this," Chloe shook her head trying to figure out what was happening. She really hadn't actually done anything. She'd thought about it but before she'd even gotten the chance Andrew stopped her.
"Shit," the guy in the lab coat said as he typed furiously. "She sent out some kind of signal."
"How?" Andrew looked between Ray and Chloe. "I thought you said the whole system was self contained. I can't even check my e-mail and you're telling me she sent out a signal?"
"It was self contained," the guy said his confusion turning toward hysteria.
"What kind of signal?" Andrew asked nervously.
"I don't know, it's encrypted." Ray glared at her over his shoulder.
"Stop it, stop the signal." Andrew said.
"Well then break the encryption," Andrew growled.
"I'm trying." Ray sighed. "I've never seen anything like this before."
"She couldn't have been in here for more than five minutes." Andrew ran his fingers through his hair, pulling at the ends in frustration before turning on Chloe. "What did you do?" Andrew growled at her and Chloe shook her head.
"I don't…" she looked down at her hands and then back up that monitor and suddenly she could see it. She could see everything. She could see every keystroke Ray was making and could predict every key stroke he would make. She could see lines of code scrolling rapidly down the screen and as she looked more closely she could see the program she'd made. She had no idea how she'd made it or when but she just knew by looking at it that she had.
Then she looked at Andrew and it only took her a second to realize what he saw. He saw her confusion, her uncertainty and his lips quirked up into a smile. "You don't know do you?" He laughed and pulled out his phone. "Miss Mercer, I've got good news and bad news. The bad news is, I'm pretty sure the Bakersfield Compound has been compromised." Andrew pulled the phone away from his ear as Tess screamed at him. Even Chloe winced at the tone in her voice. "Well, the good news is, I think I've just found a use for Chloe Sullivan. She can help you find Lex Luthor."
Chloe looked between Andrew's smug expression and Ray's heated glare and shook her head 'no' but it was too late. She should have just run, she should have gotten as far away from this place as she possibly could. And now it was too late.
"I can have her in Black Creek by tomorrow morning." Andrew said before hanging up the phone. Chloe opened her mouth to protest, to beg, but she never got the chance as he lifted the gun in his hand and brought it down hard on the side of her head, knocking her unconscious immediately.
Chloe walked out of the bathroom at the Isis foundation, loving the feeling of being back in her own clothes again. She ran her fingers through her still wet hair and stood there, taking a second to just breath. "Coffee?" Oliver asked from behind her and she smiled, taking the mug from his out stretched hands gratefully.
"Thanks," Chloe took a sip eagerly. "Where did everyone go?"
"Dinah's got work in the morning so I let her take the Jet back to Seattle. AC hitched a ride with her and Bart was hungry so Vic took him out for a 2 am burrito. They thought you might need some time alone." Oliver said. "Do you? Need some time alone? Cause I can take you back to the Talon-"
"No," Chloe shook her head. "I'm not really ready to go back there just yet. And I've been alone for the past three months, I could do with the company." She walked over to the couch and sat down, cradling the cup of coffee to her chest. "You think Clark's gonna be ok?"
"If anyone can help Clark its John," Oliver sat down next to her. "He's gonna be ok." Chloe nodded and absently sipped her coffee. "Are you gonna be ok?" When she didn't answer he looked over and saw tears welling up in her eyes. "Chlo?"
"I'm so sorry," Chloe whispered, the tears falling down her cheeks.
"No, I have to—I didn't know," Chloe said. "I would never do anything that would put any of you in danger."
"I know that Chloe," Oliver told her.
"I tried to fight them I really did. You have to understand Oliver, I had no idea what was happened to me and I was scared and I just needed to buy some time. I needed to figure things out," Chloe said, the words coming out of her mouth faster and faster. "So I told them I would help them find Lex. I never had any intention of actually doing it. I went along with them because I thought it might help me understand. I thought it was just another test but then I recognized your number and I stopped. I didn't tell them anymore." Chloe took a breath. "But they used the serum on me, the same stuff they used on you and I couldn't help it."
"Hey," Oliver put an arm over her shoulder and pulled her against his shoulder. "I know Chloe, I know ok." He dropped a kiss to her forehead. "I don't blame you, no one blames you. This whole situation is so messed up. We never should have put you in this position in the first place."
"What are you talking about?" Chloe looked up at him confused. "You didn't do anything Oliver."
"It's my secret Chloe, not yours," Oliver said. "And you shouldn't have to carry it."
"I don't mind," Chloe said and Oliver tried to protest but she wouldn't let him. "No, Oliver, I made my choice, a long time ago and I have never ever regretted it. I saw what it did to Clark, carrying his secret alone for all those years. I know what it did to me," she whispered thinking about the constant state of fear she lived in every single day after finding out about her meteor power. "Carrying your secret is a small price to pay considering what you do for me—for everyone. You're a hero Oliver, you're my hero. Thanks. For finding me. For saving me."
"Anytime Sidekick," Oliver assured her. "Besides, Bart was going insane without you which was driving everyone else insane so really finding you was the only option."
Chloe barked out a laugh as she shoved him away and set her coffee on the table. "Oh God, this place is a mess." Chloe wiped her eyes, changing the subject as she finally got a look at her office. There were files spilling out of her file cabinet, which judging from the state of the locks had been not so subtly broken into. Her desk was covered in papers and pictures and empty take out containers.
"Hey we did all this for you," Oliver pointed out.
"And I'm very grateful," Chloe assured him. "But did you have to trash the place?" She picked up an empty burrito wrapper and dropped it into the already overflowing trash can. Oliver followed her lead, picking the stuff up off the floor and Chloe grabbed a stack of photos.
"Oliver," She said softly, staring down at the picture on the top of the stack for a full minute before she managed to convince herself of what she was actually seeing.
It was a picture of Neal. She had no idea when it was taken. His three piece suit was impeccable; sunglasses perched perfectly on his nose, not a hair out of place. He was standing by the fountain in Dorset Park and it looked like he was waiting for someone.
"Where did you get this?" Chloe asked confused as she flipped to the next picture. Another one of Neal, then another, and another.
"AC took them," Oliver looked over her shoulder.
"Why?" Chloe glanced at Oliver before going back to the pictures, flipping through them until she saw the answer for herself. She stared at the picture of Neal standing face to face with Lex, willing herself to look away but she couldn't.
"Jimmy swore the guys who took you were from the DDS but we couldn't find any record of you anywhere. Victor was sure Lex had to be behind it so he had AC follow him, hoping he would lead us to you. Do you know that guy? We couldn't find anything on him."
"I thought I did," Chloe whispered as she flipped to the next picture. In this one Neal was handing Lex a small silver disc that looked a lot like the Kryptonian key she'd given him almost five years ago for safe keeping. "Excuse me," Chloe said dropping the pictures to the ground before she ran to the bathroom, throwing up the pizza Oliver forced her to eat a few hours earlier.
The door opened behind her and the faucet turned on. Oliver laid a wet washcloth on her neck before brushing the hair off of her forehead. "What's going on? Who is that guy?"
She sat up and Oliver handed her the washcloth so she could wipe her mouth. Before she could stop herself the whole story came spilling out. How they met, how they got to know each other. She faltered a bit when she got to their last night together but eventually she got it out. Then she told him about the next morning, waking up to find Kate in her hotel room and Neal long gone.
"Can you just…take me home?" Chloe looked up at him sadly. "I think I want to go home now."
"Sure," Oliver smiled and helped her up.
Chloe stared at her computer screen, her eyes were dry and her head was pounding and she was so incredibly tired but somehow her new super brain was still seeing and processing everything that flashed across the screen. When she got home she'd logged onto the Daily Planet intending to check the archives and see what she'd missed in the world the past three months. After just five minutes she was totally caught up on current events.
She's not sure what made her decide to hack into Lex's mansion's security feed but she was already in before she could think about it, this new power was good for something at least. She went back about a month before her arrest, and started watching, hoping she could find anything that might explain what Neal had been doing with Lex, or why he'd given Lex the key.
At around 2:45 she was on the verge of falling asleep when someone familiar walked into Lex's office. Chloe sat up straight and turned the volume up on her computer.
Lex stood up from behind his desk and walked around to greet the brunette. "Kate Moreau, I presume?"
"Mr. Luther, I'm glad you finally agreed to meet with me." Kate shook his hand and he motioned for her to sit down.
"Well you've been quite persistent," Lex sat back down behind the desk and closed his computer, giving her his full attention.
"I'll cut right to the chase." Kate said. "You have something I want and I have something you want. I propose a trade."
"I'm sorry," Lex leaned forward and smiled. "What could you possibly have that I want?"
"Chloe Sullivan," Kate said simply but Lex's poker face didn't give much away, just the hint of a smirk on his lips.
"And what makes you think, if I wanted Chloe Sullivan, that I couldn't just go out and get her myself?" Lex asked.
"Because it would raise way too many questions," Kate said. "Especially with the history the two of you have. And I just assumed that someone with the ability to heal people is something that would interest you. Was I wrong?"
Lex's mask slipped, just for a split second but Kate caught it and smiled. He'd always believed that Chloe had some sort of meteor power, but to have it confirmed, and not just confirmed but for Kate to explicitly state what that power was suddenly shifted the power in their negotiations. And Kate knew that.
"And what do I have that you want?" Lex asked.
"A music box," Kate said. "Well information on a music box."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Lex said brushing her off and Kate pulled something out of her jacket pocket, setting it carefully on the edge of Lex's desk. It was the small cherub that Chloe had given to Neal. "Where did you get that?"
"From someone who got it from you," Kate said. "Well I say got. I mean stole."
"That's was in my vault," Lex said.
"Was being the operative word. And so was this," Kate pulled a small picture of the Kryptonian key out of the same pocket and slid it across the desk toward Lex. He picked it up, glancing down at it cautiously, his fingers tightening just slightly on the paper in his hands.
"The last time I checked," Lex slid the picture back. "It still is."
"Yeah, that one's a fake," Kate shrugged. "Has been for a little over three years now."
"And you know this how?" Lex asked.
"Because I got that picture from the guy who stole it from you," Kate said. "Does the name Neal Caffery mean anything to you?"
"I've heard of him," Lex said. "He's a forger," the word sounded heavy on his tongue as he looked back down at the picture.
"A world class forger," Kate said. "He's also a con-man and a grifter. Do me a favor, call…whoever it is you call in situations like this and have them e-mail you a copy of Special Agent Peter Burke's FBI file."
Lex stared at Kate for a second before picking up the phone and requesting the file. His email dinged less than a minute later and he clicked on the link, his jaw clenching as the picture loaded and it was not the face he expected to see.
"It was Caffery the whole time," Lex laughed humorlessly. "He made up the thing about the ring to get the disk." Kate just nodded, confirming his suspicions.
"But he's willing to give it back," Kate said. "Along with delivering Chloe Sullivan on a silver platter. In exchange, all we want is to know where the music box is."
"How are you going to get me Chloe without raising any questions?" Lex asked.
"If she were to be arrested by the DDS, you'd have access to her correct?" Kate asked.
"Once she's in DDS custody I can have her…transferred," Lex said. "But, contrary to popular belief, I can't just make them arrest her. They actually do need some form of evidence of wrong doing and Chloe is very good at covering her tracks."
"If I can get you the internal logs from her computer, the one she uses to hack secure government sites, would we have a deal?"she asked.
Lex smiled, a real smile this time and nodded. "We just might. Once I have the logs, It'll take a day, maybe two to get everything in place and Chloe's got eyes and ears everywhere. If she gets wind of this, she goes to ground and disappears."
"And that's where Neal comes in," Kate said. "He'll distract her while you get things together on your end."
"How does he plan on doing that?" Lex asked.
"You've seen him, how do you think?" Kate smirked. "Once Chloe's taken care of, we exchange the disk for the location of the music box."
"Deal," Lex said holding out his hand. Kate shook it with a smile and stood up. She grabbed the cherub and slid it back in her pocket, leaving the picture with Lex as she turned to leave.
"I'll be in touch," Kate called over her shoulder.
Chloe replayed the video five times and was cueing it up for a sixth when she heard something downstairs in the Talon. Her blood went cold and she suddenly regretted turning down Oliver's offer to sleep on her couch. She grabbed the poker from the fireplace kit and walked to the door. She tiptoed down the stairs, the poker held tightly above her head ready to strike.
There was more movement as a figure stepped into the light and Chloe dropped the poker to her side, suddenly exhausted. "Jimmy?"
He spun around surprised and just stared at her for a second before taking the steps two at a time until he was standing in front of her. He reached out and pulled her into a crushing hug. "Lois said you were back but I didn't believe her."
Chloe vaguely remembered asking Oliver to call Lois and let her cousin know she was home and safe and would see her in the morning. She never imagined Lois would call Jimmy.
"You're ok?" Jimmy asked when he pulled away. "I mean you look ok."
"I'm fine," Chloe took a step back.
"I looked for you…everywhere," Jimmy told her. "What—"
Chloe held up a hand, "I'm not really ready to talk about it just yet."
"Fair enough," Jimmy slipped his hands in his pockets. "Coffee?"
Chloe thought about it. The chances of her actually going to sleep were slim to none already. "Sure."
An hour later they were on their third cup of coffee as Jimmy filled Chloe in on what she'd missed the past few months. Hearing about Lois and Jimmy's adventures in reporting had been nice, it meant she didn't have to think about other things.
It also reminded her how easy it had been with Jimmy and suddenly without warning she realized she missed him. She missed having him in her life.
"Look, about what happened before you left." Jimmy said when he caught her staring at him.
"I was wondering when you were going to bring up the diamond sized elephant in the room," Chloe smiled.
"I jumped the gun in proposing to you, and I've had a lot of time to think about it. And, obviously, we're not in the same place. Let's just pretend it didn't happen." Jimmy shook his head.
"So, you're rescinding the offer?" Chloe asked him, her tone strange.
"No, I just—" he sighed. "I don't want an answer. I don't want things to change between us."
"Yes." Chloe blurted out suddenly.
"Great. Things will go back to the way they were." Jimmy relaxed back in his seat.
Chloe laughed, reaching out to grab his hand. "No, Jimmy. Yes." She saw his eyes widen and suddenly he got it. "All that time alone in a cell, I realized that what I wanted in the past kept me from seeing what I have right now. And that's you. You're perfect." And in a way he was. Jimmy Olsen was just Jimmy Olsen. There was no hidden agenda with him, no con, no game. What you see is what you get. And right now that's exactly what Chloe needed.
"I am so far from perfect." Jimmy admitted freely and openly and Chloe smiled at his candor.
"Which is perfect for me." Chloe said. She'd had perfect, or what she thought was perfect anyway and all it had done was break her heart. She thought of Neal and felt her chest tighten and then looked over at Jimmy's wide, open, smiling face and the tightness eased, just a bit.