Summary: Someone comes looking for Kal Jacobs (Smallville!Clark) and he is more than ready to go home. Not before giving his local counterpart some romantic advice.
AN: To make a distinction I'm referring Smallville!Clark as Kal and JusticeLeague!Clark as Clark after they meet.
~ooO Going Home Ooo~
Kal rolled out of bed reaching out for his prepaid cell phone. He flipped it open and pressed it against one ear.
"What is it?" His voice was alert, sleep fog fading rapidly from his mind.
Only the League would call him in the middle of the night, and only for a very good reason.
"The alarm at the Kawatche caves went off two minutes ago."
"The inner one."
Adrenaline –or to be more precise its near equivalent– surged in his veins. The Justice League had wired the site to keep intruders out and set up a secondary system to notify them if anything happened inside without the external system being set off.
"I'm on my way."
He was dressed and off running in a flash.
Less than a minute later he came to a stop outside the cave entrance. Superman, Batman, and J'onn were already there. He reluctantly allowed Superman to take the lead to the primary chamber. What he saw when he entered the large cavern filled him with hope.
There was a swirling mass of white energy in the middle of the room, within the pentacle of beacon crystals they had set up. From the roiling mass of light a blonde male wearing wrap-around shades dressed in sleeveless tight fitting green leather emerged raising an expensive looking composite recurve bow. He did a quick survey of his environment, met Kal's eyes and proceeded to raise his bow, firing five crystal tipped bolts into the ceiling of the cavern. The action had an immediate effect on the portal that almost immediately settled down into a more stable looking vortex, a vertical pool of swirling silver-white liquid.
Two seconds later a second figure emerged, a petite curvy female with blonde hair shaped into a sleek bob. She was dressed in butter cream leather pants, boots, tight fitting vest-top, and a full-sleeved bolero open-style jacket. Her eyes were obscured like the man, only her shades were tinted purple and resembled protective lab gear. She dropped the metallic briefcase and pulled out a hand-held electronic device from the webbing around her waist and thighs containing weapons and other tools. Slim fingers manipulated the touch-screen expertly before she produced a laser pointer, tagging various spots in the cavern. Points that her companion then fired crystal-tipped bolts into with pinpoint accuracy.
The portal behind them went still, rippling only minutely. The vacuum created wind had died away leaving only hushed silence. The Justice League members noted the pleased eager expression of their alter-dimensional guest. He clearly recognized the intruders. Unfortunately the AI decided to act unilaterally.
Eyes widened and before the JL members could react the tiny blonde woman reacted slamming her open palm against one rough surface, scraping skin and drawing blood.
"AI initiate the Lara protocols." Her voice was smooth and husky.
"You are not authorized to access the personal files—"
"Authorization Epsilon Omega Three Seven Five, Daughter of Ur, Bonded of El."
The AI responded in almost stunned tones. "Authorization recognized. DNA verification required for complete file access."
The blonde strode up towards the rocky wall and ran her bleeding palm over the surface in a wide arc. The crystals in the granite glimmered then morphed, growing rapidly to form a slick smooth dove-grey surface back lit by blue light. Recognizable Kryptonian glyphs and letters glowed on the surface and vanished and reshaped as she touched the expanse at various points, manipulating the newly grown interface to access specific files, certain databases. Her fingers almost danced as she worked her magic.
Superman's comm. went off. "Superman, we just had a cyber security breach. Someone in North America, in Kansas, broke through the firewalls and accessed several files tagged as alternate-dimensional travel." Flash was on monitor duty this week.
Superman stared at the young blonde woman who had succeeded in hacking into a system less than five minutes after arriving in a foreign world. A system that even Lex Luthor and Cadmus had failed to breach so… effortlessly. He tapped his earpiece and spoke quietly. "Ignore the breach. Make a note of how it occurred and how to prevent it from happening again."
The Coast City hero was surprised but compliant. "Understood Supes."
The green-clad male standing next to her looked up at them and smirked. "Don't take it personally. WatchTower is brilliant at what she does."
Superman glanced at his friends. They were just as confused as he was. WatchTower?
"It's her code name," Kal explained as he walked towards the edge. "I was very surprised when I found out your space station was named WatchTower." And then he stepped off the edge and landed lightly on the main floor of the cave before striding over to the grinning leather-clad pair. "What took you so long?" he complained teasingly.
She placed her hands on her hips and cocked her head to one side. "Arrow and I spent seven weeks tracking you down," she countered. "You took your sweet time setting up a beacon."
Kal frowned slightly. "It's been less than two weeks for me. Three days since the beacon and anchor was set up."
"There's probably some time differential. Let's just get moving. There's no guarantee Emil and Cyborg can keep the portal stable on that end without Tower." Arrow pointed out bluntly.
WatchTower shook her head. "I need to review the protocols. Just to be sure it's safe."
Both males glanced at each other but did not say anything as the tiny blonde turned to the crystal interface and began pulling up more files, scanning fragments, copying some data and ignoring others.
"Your mother's protocols were dormant before I activated them," Tower murmured absently.
"Yeah. The Kawatche caves were never excavated in this world."
"A pity. Never thought I'd be grateful to Lex for that," she whispered tracing out a glyph, leaving a glowing energy trail that shimmered into a holographic image of Lara Lor-Van. "There is very little record of personal Kryptonian relics. The Fortress is incomplete… the crystals have not been put together."
"The Teagues died a few years before the Queens in this world. Lionel was too interested in material power and influence to pursue the goals of Veritas. Doctor Swann died just after the local Clark Kent was starting high school."
Tower sighed. "How sad! What happened to Virgil's research? On Numan and Seegath?"
"Mothballed by his daughter." Tower made a disapproving clicking sound. Kal ignored it and continued, "I've left enough details for my counterpart to investigate. If he cares to."
She traced out an intricate glyph and pulled back the zip tab at her right cuff. The material parted and was pushed back up her forearm to reveal she wore a wide silver cuff set with silver-blue stones. The metal was etched with Kryptonian glyphs, intricately patterned with no indication of a hinge or opening. She rested her forearm and open palm flat against the glowing wall. A web of seemingly random lines (consisting of really tiny characters) erupted on the surface, starting around her palm and forearm. The stones set in the wrist-cuff glowed internally emitting a soft white and yellow light.
"Records duplication initiated, Bonded of El," the AI announced.
Kal studied the glowing glyphs on the slick surface and frowned. "You're downloading the Lara files?" He sounded disapproving.
Tower ignored it. "There is no guarantee your counterpart has someone who can access them. Even so, he does deserve the chance to learn about his familial heritage."
"They will not be secure," Kal pointed out. "And the information is… sensitive."
"Biology often is Clark," she replied teasingly. "I'd like to think the local Clark Kent is old enough to handle it better than you did." Kal blushed hotly. "The League databases say Kara exists in this world. She probably was old enough to have been taught before she was sent away. Between her and the AIs hopefully there won't be too many gaps." She lifted her hand from the surface and stepped back and to the side.
The League members saw a beam of blue-white light shoot out of the crystalline surface, narrowing into one mid-air point that seemed to solidify and grow into a very familiar form and shape.
"A record crystal," Superman whispered.
Unable to resist the possibility of more knowledge about his Kryptonian heritage he flew down and landed about ten feet away from the pair.
WatchTower was small blonde and beautiful. She glowed from within with unexpected vivacity; hope, light, trust, and love, shining in her oval face. She looked almost fragile, child-like, dressed in tight fitting leather dyed pale cream and seemingly dominated by the taller darker male dressed in black and grey standing next to her. But when Superman took a closer look he could see very clearly that she was a strong vibrant force in her own right. There was a knowing Old Look in bright green eyes revealed when she pushed the purple tinted protective goggles-shades on top of her head. Then she reached out and touched his counterpart.
The expectant air of energy became a ringing gong as her fingers entangled with his. A faint blue aura formed around their hands, where their skin touched. They ignored everyone around as they kissed. Hungrily. Passionately.
Superman could not look away. It was not like looking at an inevitable crash. It was like looking at a sunset or sunrise from space, the bloom of a star going nova, of something powerful and potentially destructive yet so beautiful and compelling to watch. When they finally separated Superman could see the ever present tension and nervous energy in Kal had been greatly reduced. She turned to look at the League members with a bright cheery expression though she never released her grip on Kal. His expression was gentle, his eyes never left her face as he made brief introductions to each of the League members.
"WatchTower, Green Arrow. Meet Superman, Batman, and the Martian Man hunter."
She did not say anything but examined each of them in turn, her eyes lingering on the motifs on each uniform top. Her eyes softened slightly upon falling on the stylized yellow and red S shield on blue background.
"A very colourful uniform," she commented neutrally.
Kal scowled. "And don't even think of making me wear an identical one," he warned her.
She looked up with a broad grin. "Don't worry about that! Your one is better designed and much more durable."
Superman frowned at the diss. "Excuse me, Kal didn't mention anything about a uniform."
Her expression did not dim. "He wouldn't. It is not as colourful but still… quite eye catching." Her glee faded. "You'd better change before going back. Crossing realities is not forgiving on clothes."
Kal made a face but accepted the metal briefcase the alter-Green Arrow was holding out. He vanished in a blur and reappeared seconds later dressed in skin tight leather pants and top dyed midnight blue and matching boots. Around his waist he wore a broad silvery grey belt and the stylized S-shield was outlined in silver and black on his chest. Unlike the red-cape Superman wore, he wore a calf-length sleeve-less maroon-red leather coat open down the front. The entire effect was muted, subtle. If needed he could easily blend into the shadows or pass as a civilian.
Superman frowned and tried to use his x-ray vision and was shocked to find out he couldn't see through.
Kal smirked. "The suit is a special trinium weave with a small nanite colony that can repair, reinforce, and even form plate armour reactively."
"I wasn't going to let him or any of the boys go out without heavy-duty protection." Tower explained in no-nonsense tones. "Not after Bizzaro and Doomsday and Zod."
Arrow and Kal visibly winced but held their tongues.
Superman looked stunned. J'onn and Batman interested.
"Nanites?" the Gotham Dark Knight looked both intrigued and wary. "Isn't that–"
"If you're worried about Brainiac… don't. Cyborg and I made damn sure the nanites burn out if anyone attempts to infiltrate or hijack them." She shivered reflexively. "As part of the safety protocol, all the colonies are purged and recycled every three months."
By the hard set expressions on Arrow and Kal's face there was definitely a story behind her aversion/fear of Brainiac. Superman tried to determine the best way to get information from her. He was a trained reporter and open-ended questions would give him more to work with. Hopefully.
"Why did the AI call you Daughter of Ur, Bonded of El? How do you have access to Kryptonian databases?" he asked.
Tower looked surprised. She glanced at the male standing beside her. "You didn't tell him?" she chastised him softly.
Kal's expression was mulish. "I told him you are kah-lo-wyn. He doesn't know Anything." That clearly disturbed Tower. "Timelines are skewed. Events are more accelerated in ours. In this world Chloe Sullivan is dead."
To the locals surprise Tower only blinked and absorbed the news of her counterpart's death calmly before responding. "She is dead dead? In a grave dead?"
Kal's lips tightened. "Yes. Lex never went to Smallville. She never went to Smallville. She died before… before she awakened."
"Before she was exposed to kryptonite," she corrected mildly. Seeing the confused expressions she explained. "I'm a kryptonite-mutant but unlike the others I have some natural defences against the insanity-causing side-effects. I'm a Daughter of Ur, a descendant of Dax Ur, a Kryptonian who visited Earth a few centuries ago."
Batman's eyes narrowed. "You sound like you don't believe this dimension's Chloe Sullivan is dead. Why?"
Tower turned to the Dark Knight before answering. "Because it's my power." She held up her hands that began to emit a white light. "I heal. Myself and others. It is very hard to kill me. Even when I'm killed I wake up completely healed after some time, depending on the extent of the damage." She ignored the soft gasps and looked up at Kal squeezing his hand tighter. "The generally accepted theory is that I am effectively immortal." She smiled faintly before adding, "I haven't aged visibly in years and my cell telomeres don't have the expected damage for someone my age."
Superman's brain stuttered. His greatest fear was living forever and alone while his friends and loved ones died around him. Only Diana was immune to old age but even she could be killed by a powerful enemy.
Kal's expression was very gentle. "We didn't realize her power or its extent until she died for the first time. We had to fake medical records to explain away her resurrection." He choked on a sob. "Trust me it was a huge shock to see her wake up when I was trying to compose her eulogy."
She lifted the hand she held and brushed the back of it with her lips. "You won't have to. Ever," she vowed softly and fiercely.
Batman looked sceptical. "So you cling to each other because you are both immortal?"
Chloe Sullivan stared at him with wide green eyes before she burst into laughter. "And you're just as abrasive and self-centred as you are in mine." Her smile turned malicious. "Pretty little unloved rich boy with too much money, a closed heart, and too little compassion." She ignored the shocked looks. "Stop being so egocentric Bruce. Everyone contributes in their own way. Besides, in my eyes Clark, Kal, is worth a million of you." She looked towards J'onn with a more genuine smile. "I'm sorry about your race but you might not be the only one. We found a few cryogenics units in our dimension's Antarctica. You might want to look there yourself as soon as possible."
Kal blinked. "When did this happen?"
"Few days after you vanished. AC came up with the leads and took a team to investigate."
The Martian Man-hunter inclined his head. "I will look for the facility myself."
Superman felt a stab of something. Envy. He did not envy J'onn's new hope but he wished he had something more personal for himself.
"What is kah-lo-wyn?" he asked Chloe Sullivan directly.
Chloe blinked looking confused before understanding his question. "It's an old Kryptonian term that has many meanings based on the type of relationship and parties involved." She paused with an indecisive expression before coming to some conclusion and continuing. "It was discontinued in modern Krypton due to the emotional connotations when society became enamoured with sterile science and cold logic. Bond matches were made based on DNA compatibility, contract marriages for heirs with the most desired traits." She raised the broad hand she held and brushed her lips against the back, squeezing the fingers, meeting crystal blue eyes smiling. "When Kryptonians bond – marry – for love sometimes a deeper connection forms, between the two minds, the two souls." She held up her right hand, the one with the silver and blue wrist cuff. "It is uncertain what exactly determines such compatibility but it's most likely a blend of several factors – DNA, biology, neural chemistry, common values, shared history. Even modern Kryptonians could not deny when it exists the bond formed is unbreakable."
"It's not love – love comes much later. It's need satisfied, stability provided, focus anchored…" Kal's eyes were distant. "The moment I met Chloe I knew she would be very important to me; too important to risk in a teenage romance that could go sour. I clung to that friendship and denied everything else for a long time. I could survive having Chloe just as a friend but if I ever lost her I was certain I'd go off the rails."
"Such bonds do not have to be romantic. It can be purely platonic or even fraternal. Just being around each other is enough." Chloe explained softly. "I loved Clark Kent forever. Ever since I first met him. But he wasn't willing or ready to feel the same so I accepted it and became his friend. When he formed romantic attachments to others I accepted it because being around him was enough. He loved others but in the end he always returned to me. No other female can be what he needs, what I am," she stressed.
"You are kah-lo-wyn," Superman murmured. "Pair bond, confidant, advisor, partner. Everything he needs and wants."
She inclined her head. "Yes."
"And Lois cannot be that?"
Chloe frowned. "Perhaps she could. But has she ever indicated she feels the same? Or that she even wants to?" she asked in her direct fashion. "I don't know how intimate your relationship is but even when I was a child I could sense how Clark felt. I knew when he needed me, when he was in trouble. When we became lovers we meshed, our auras visibly and our minds mentally. After we formally bonded it takes a deliberate effort to Not mesh when we touch. If you are even slightly compatible, both parties willing and accepting, it would happen when you have sex." She eyed him hesitantly before continuing. "Accepting is difficult because you can't pick and choose. It's all or nothing."
Superman paled and closed his eyes under the emotional blow. He'd suspected something along those lines for a long time now. Lois cared but there was always a watchful reserve in her. Especially since he'd been brainwashed by Darkseid. She had forgiven and supported him, and trusted him with her life and safety… But he knew better than anyone you could care for someone without loving them.
Resolutely he opened his eyes and stared into anxious green eyes looking up at him, with unhidden concern for him, a near stranger. The one meant for him. But she was not his. She was his. His Chloe Sullivan, his possible kah-lo-wyn was dead. He glanced at Kal who was observing his reactions calmly. Resolutely he turned his eyes towards the tiny blonde and reached out, stopping before made contact with her. "May I?" he asked.
She smiled gently at him and reached out to grip his hand.
Superman gasped at the shock, the tingling sensation where their skin made contact, in his flesh, in his veins, in his bones. He could sense/see the aura interaction she was talking about. Her energy felt cool and soothing, carefully restrained to flow 'over' and not 'into' him. Then she broke contact, loosening the grip before stepping back, towards her own lover who pulled her against him with a warning look towards Superman.
The League founder forced himself to keep his grip relaxed, to not crack or shatter the record crystal she had tucked into his hand. Instead he smiled wistfully, concentrating on the memory of the sensation. Warm, soothing and reassuring, like an eternal embrace that could easily turn heated and passionate. If that was the constant experience between a bonded couple he could easily see why Kal was so certain he would be rescued. It was also something he had never experienced with Lois.
She must have sensed something, read his expression, because she smiled at him from within the embrace of her Clark Kent, her Superman.
"Chloe Sullivan might be dead but it doesn't mean there isn't someone out there for you. There is never a guarantee, only the possibility," she stressed.
Superman inclined his head. "At this point I am more than willing to grasp at straws."
"Biology and DNA are pretty important factors if you are seeking a kah-lo-wyn match. Love might conquer all but it doesn't make living day-to-day very pleasant or comfortable. Look for other Kryptonian hybrids, those descended from Dax Ur, Shen Qi, or Gheb Ra. There could be others. Dax Ur took a native wife from the Kawatche tribe. Ask Joseph Willowbrook about the legends."
Kal shifted minutely and added to Chloe's advice. "He might have a Kryptonian High House bonding bracelet." He gripped Chloe's right forearm and turned it so the markings were clearly visible. "It is the equivalent to a wedding ring and is typically worn by the spouse from the less influential House. After the bonding the bracelet is reprogrammed and DNA locked to display old allegiances and new House loyalties. It can interface with most computer systems and is an access key to restricted databases. It's why the AI recognized and granted Chloe access to the Lara files. Do not use it unless you are absolutely certain. There is no such thing as divorce. You live separate lives or take a second spouse with permission."
Superman's eyes widened as he nodded in silence.
"Gheb Ra settled in Ancient Egypt but it is uncertain if he had a family. Shen Qi is depicted as the Dragon Lord of certain Chinese legends but we never found any descendants. It might not be the romantic love you are looking for but it will help stabilize and anchor you." Her expression was very earnest. "Romantic love is nice but having a strong shoulder you can lean on is more important. Someone who will listen and accept you as you are. Someone who understands that you belong to the world but at the end of the day you will return to him or her; seeking peace, a home and comfort."
Superman nodded wordlessly. There was nothing he could really say to that. Oh he had plenty of questions but he could clearly see the point they were trying to make… they could provide him options but it was up to him to act and make his choices. And there were no guarantees, just as life had no guarantees.
The couple must have seen it in his face because they smiled in unison.
"We have to go now," he said.
"Thank you for looking after him," she said.
Superman smiled wryly. "He looked after himself," he corrected.
"And you helped," she corrected him without a qualm. "Without your support it would have taken him much longer to collect the materials and build a suitable mechanism to anchor the dimensional bridge."
Superman watched as the trio retreated towards the shimmering wall of 'water' and vanished through it. He watched the portal collapse into a single pinpoint and vanish when J'onn disengaged the mechanism.
He was vaguely aware of Batman moving to stand beside him.
"What are you going to do?" the Dark Knight asked gruffly.
Superman turned to meet his friend's eyes. "I'm going to take a chance and follow their advice… look for other Kryptonian hybrids."
Batman frowned. "You're being foolish," he cautioned.
Superman laughed. "Life is risk. It's time I took a few chances and stopped clinging to what is familiar and known."
"Do not be so pessimistic Batman," J'onn murmured. "I'm sure Kal-El will consider the cons and all that could go wrong before making the right choice."
Superman grinned. "I think so too. Need any help scanning Antarctica for that facility?"
The Martian Man Hunter inclined his head. "It would be greatly appreciated."
Batman wanted to argue but held his tongue. The intruders had left but not without making plenty of waves. However this was not League business. If Clark and J'onn wanted to risk their hearts and secrets it was their choice. But deep inside Bruce wondered if Chloe Sullivan was right… if there was someone else out there for Clark. And if so was there someone for Batman and Bruce Wayne? Someone who could see all sides of him and accept him all the same?
Mentally he sighed and made a note to plant a tracer on Clark. He was not going to stand by and watch his friend wander into potential trouble without guarding his back.
It wasn't until all three of them were safe back in their own dimension, quickly examined and cleared by Emil and Victor, that Clark relaxed enough to give Chloe a fierce hug.
"I've missed you," he mumbled into the crook of her neck.
She stroked his dark hair, making soft reassuring sounds. "And I you," she admitted.
Finally he pulled away and sat down on a crate, dragging her with him, enjoying the feel of her sitting in his lap, cuddling. They sat there like that in silence, enjoying the feel of being in each others arms after being apart for so long.
She was the one who finally broke the silence. "He seems lonely," she said.
"He is," Clark murmured. "He has respect admiration and influence. And he is alone. Only other members of the League would even come close to understanding the pressure he's under." He hesitated before adding, "But I think only Batman comprehends the isolation. But it's his choice. Clark, that Clark, he wants love. And a family."
Chloe frowned. "He's with Lois."
"But you don't think she can understand him."
"Perhaps she could, but I don't think she wants to." Chloe's eyes widened in shock. "She puts him on a pedestal almost enshrined. Sure he falls but she expects him to get right back up there. She doesn't ask him to hold her hand and join her in the regular world."
Chloe opened her mouth then shut it. Their Lois had the same tendency for hero-worship and impractical expectations. Lois wanted it all or nothing, no in-between. "He needs someone."
"Yeah, but he's hung up on Lois." Like I was hung up on Lana, was the unvoiced but unmistakable implication.
Chloe winced. "Both are rather volatile and high-maintenance."
"You and Lois got into quite a few shouting matches."
"That's the polite way of saying we got along like cats and dogs."
"You do have a volatile chemistry with Lois," Chloe allowed.
Clark snorted. "I know that Lois is like a keg of TNT and I'm a kid comparing to him."
"Hey! That's my cousin you're slighting!"
Clark gave her a pointed look. "Do you disagree with me?" he wanted to know.
"No," she admitted.
They were both silent for a while, enjoying the feel of each other.
Then Clark spoke. "I'm so sorry his Chloe is dead."
Chloe shrugged slightly. "You don't know if they would have hooked up like us," she pointed out.
"Maybe, but even if they didn't I think they would have been friends. A good and trustworthy friend is someone to be valued and cherished." Clark murmured.
Chloe blinked back her tears. It was true. She and Clark started off as friends.
"I just hope he finds that special someone," Clark whispered.
Chloe tightened her grip on her Clark. "I'm sure he will. He knows what to look for in a good match now. He seems ready to break up with Lois and look for someone new."
"I wish him best of luck in finding her."
There had to be other Kryptonian descendants in that world, women who would be a better match for him. Chloe loved her cousin but it didn't mean she was that Clark's best match. If she was then he would not be so curious to ask questions about Chloe and Clark.
"I'm certain he will."
And Chloe was. He was not her Clark but he was a Clark Kent raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent. Martha and Jonathan were strong hard-working people who would not have raised a quitter.
Clark Jerome Kent, Superman of the Justice League would find his someone and make a match. Just like Clark had with Chloe.
Chloe only hoped the Fortress would have the chance to deliver her gift to the new couple when it happened.
AN: I have an idea for a possible sequel to come. How will JLverse Clark find his own equivalent for Chloe? But first my other exchanges, Big Bangs and WIPs
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