Disclaimer: I do not own Smallville or Supernatural...or Hallowed Ground.
Ages of main characters in this story:
Lois Lane - 18
Chloe Sullivan - 14
Dean Winchester - 22
This is a FRIENDSHIP fic.
Chloe was having a nightmare again.
Sending her young cousin a sideways glance, Lois reached over and shook her shoulder while returning her gaze towards the road. "Wake up hon, it's only a nightmare."
Chloe's eyes half-opened before they closed once more and she fell right back to sleep.
Sighing, Lois shook her head and tried a different radio station, wondering what sort of music would promote better dreams when heard by a sleeping teenager. Her lil cousin hadn't been sleeping well at all, her every sleeping moment a continuous nightmare. Lois herself had taken to sleeping as little as possible, only as much as needed. They'd all hoped that this road trip way from everyone and everything that could remind the blonde of the traumatizing experience she'd lived through would be a good change for her, but so far Lois couldn't see that Chloe was doing any better. She lied to uncle Gabe every time she could sneak him a phone call during Chloe's few sleeping hours before the nightmares set in, but Lois was getting more and more worried. The brunette didn't want the fourteen year old to be put on meds, but she was fearing that if things didn't start getting better that was exactly what would happen.
Then again, Lois knew that she couldn't have ever gone through what the girl had and not be scarred.
"No..." Chloe whimpered, apparently having returned to her nightmare. "No...No...Please!"
"Chloe." Lois reached over once more, keeping her gaze on the road, easing off of it and parking her car, putting on her emergency lights so no one would run into them.
Not that there'd been traffic in either direction for miles now, but it was better to be overly prepared than caught off-guard.
"No! Stop! Please! No! PLEASE!" Chloe was screaming, tears racing down her pale cheeks, fighting with her memories. "Don't do this! You're hurting me!"
"Chloe!" Unhooking her seatbelt, Lois leaned over and grabbed at Chloe's hands, which were flailing around in front of her as she tried to defend herself. "Chloe wake up! It's a nightmare! You're safe!"
Screaming, Chloe's eyes flew open as she shot forwards in the leaned back seat, clawing at her shirt. "Its still in me!"
"It's not in you honey." Lois fought hard not to cry, to be strong. "It was just a nightmare."
"No, I felt it! It's there! It's still there!" Chloe had ripped a couple of buttons off her shirt in her terrified haste, her urgency dying down slightly when her hands came into contact with the two intersecting scars over her heart. "It-it was a nightmare-of course it was a nightmare." Her hands were trembling as they traced the slightly raised, still healing scars that would forever mar her chest. "It wasn't real-I-it's not-I'm not-it was a nightmare."
Lois hated herself for being weak as a tear made its way down her cheek as she pulled her stammering, shivering baby cousin into her arms. "You're okay. You're safe."
Now that she was awake Chloe didn't cry, she never did, it was only when she was asleep caught up in the horrors of her memories that she screamed and cried and begged for help, for it to stop, for compassion, for her life. The fourteen year old was lifeless in Lois' hold, not refusing the comfort the older woman offered, yet seeming unable to reach out for her as well. She was always like this after a nightmare, or an episode, numb and silent, withdrawn. It filled Lois with fury to see the shell of a girl her cheeky, lively, vivacious cousin had become.
"Sorry." Chloe whispered, broken. "I've been no fun this whole trip."
"Don't be silly," Lois held tighter her to her. "I'm grateful you came with me."
"This was supposed to be your big graduation trip, you've been looking forwards to this all year, and now you're babysitting me because everyone's afraid I'm not strong enough to handle this." Chloe whispered, voice hoarse from having screamed so much in her sleep. "I'm really sorry."
"I wanted you to come with me before all of this happen, you know that's true because I invited you." Lois took in a deep breath as she pressed a kiss to the girl's forehead. "We're going to have a good time and you are not going to let this ruin yourself because even if you don't believe it right now, you're stronger than this."
The girl remained silent, but at least she moved her hand and grabbed hold of the hem of Lois' shirt, breaking the routine of her immobility during these episodes.
Lois counted it as progress, slowly pulling away. "It'll soon be morning, why don't we have breakfast at the next town and actually plan our next stop? I'm sure The World's Biggest something is somewhere around here."
"The World's Biggest Yarn Ball really wasn't as a big as I'd thought it would be." Chloe was trying, thank the gods she was trying.
Lois smiled at the brave girl, returning to lean against her own seat. "I agree."
"Maybe there's a Worlds Biggest Crystal Ball or something." Chloe shrugged.
Hmmm, Lois would have to look into that one. "Imagine the sun hitting that baby."
Chloe leaned against her own seat, breathing in and out, a hand softly covering her scarred heart. "What's the name of the next town?"
"Hope." Lois replied, fastening her seatbelt once more.
"Hope." Chloe whispered, gazing ahead of them as Lois pulled back onto the empty road.
"Hope." Lois echoed, knowing that that was exactly what they needed right now.
Maybe this was a good sign.
This could be the turning point.
That was a presumptuous name if there ever was one.
What genius stood in the middle of what appeared to be yet another shithole town in the middle of Nowhere USA and decided to name it that?
Then again, it could just be his bad mood talking.
Taking another swig of his beer, Dean didn't even have it in him to flirt with the older yet not unattractive waitress in the town's diner.
Sammy had bolted out them.
He'd packed his bags and when given the choice between life with or without them in it, he hadn't even hesitated. The eighteen year old had knocked shoulders angrily with his father on his way out and there hadn't been a phone call from him despite two weeks having passed. Of course dad had gone all hard-ass and acted as if he didn't care, but Dean hadn't been able to do the same, and that was why he was glad when his father had gone to help Caleb with a job and left Dean on his own.
He needed this time to himself, to adjust to having lost his brother to Stanford.
It was why he'd been touring all the backwater towns, looking for a job, or at least just something to pass the time and keep his mind off of the family shit.
A preppy blonde emerged from the bathroom, fitting just his type, and yet he didn't even have it in him to return her flirtatious smile.
With his back to the wall, he drank his beer and ignored the locals, who were somewhat creepy. Apparently there weren't too many newcomers who passed this way, and the people just kept staring at him and the blonde, though he could feel that they didn't quite like the blonde very much for some reason. Hell, maybe they knew her, but the way she dressed and held herself said city slicker...not a local.
The bell above the door rang as it opened, and he gazed up to see two young girls walk into the diner.
They definitely weren't locals either.
One, the eldest, was brunette with dark eyes which could be hazel or brown, had dark lipstick on and dark clothes. She wore jeans and a dark brown hoodie unzipped at the front to reveal a tight green spaghetti shirt and dogtag necklace. Combat boots and attitude. She cased the joint with one view, taking everyone in quickly, seeming to be scanning everyone as if they posed some sort of threat. Her stance was protective, defensive, and her body tense, as if ready to strike should the need come.
It intrigued him.
Was she a hunter?
Did she know about a hunt nearby?
And yet, she looked too young to be a hunter who had a job on her own without an older mentor.
The brunette brought her hand down on her companion's shoulder and whispered something to her.
Dean's hazel gaze shifted to the companion and his frown grew as he took in the even younger girl. She was maybe thirteen, had blonde hair that was up in a messy bun, and green eyes that were way too old and horribly haunted for a kid her age. She was pale, with dark bags under her eyes, and she seemed to be a lifeless doll, staring around her without much emotion on her face before answering the older girl with a smile that was obviously forced and for the other girl's benefit.
In their own way, they were each trying to protect the other.
It reminded him of how he and Sammy used to be.
The townspeople made no move to hide how fascinated they were the second the girls entered the diner, some of them even turning in their seats to stare at them.
Dean frowned, watching.
Something just seemed off.
"So...anything catch your interest?" Lois asked as she gazed at the menu the extremely friendly waitress had passed them.
"You mean other than the fact that everyone's staring at us as if we're some sort of alien life form that came down in a spaceship instead of your beat-up mustang?" Chloe wanted to know, not looking up from her menu either. "I'm not really hungry."
"Yeah, well, you're not getting away with not eating so find something." Lois replied, reaching out and grabbing a packet of sugar, flicking it against the table in a nervous tick she needed to get over.
To be truthful, the townspeople were kinda freaky.
Ever since they'd driven into Hope as the morning's rays touched the sky, people had stopped walking or doing whatever they were doing to just watch them as they drove through trying to look for a place to have breakfast. And even now people watched them from outside, and some inside were still ignoring their own food so they could look at them.
Chloe brought her hand over her heart once more in what seemed like an unconscious gesture, a slight wince taking over her features.
"It's hurting again?" Lois put down her menu, worried.
"It's fine, the doctor says that it's ghost pains-like my mind tricking me into believe that it's happening again and thus my nerve ends react and I feel pain when I really shouldn't." Chloe sighed, refusing to meet her gaze. "It's like my nightmares. They're not really happening-but my mind screws with my body and makes it believe it is." She chuckled in derision. "At least it's not a panic attack-not that I'd have anything to vomit even if it were."
There was nothing she could say to that, so Lois returned her gaze to her menu, although her mind was on her cousin as always.
"Well, what will you two ladies like to order?" The waitress asked, a cheery smile on her face.
Lois cleared her throat. "I'll have the pancakes and eggs with beacon, and a coffee, black."
The waitress smiled brightly at her, before shaking her head as if to remind herself that Chloe was there as well, turning to her. "And you?"
"Cheese omelet with toast and a coffee as well, milk...please." Chloe folded her menu back and gave it back to the woman with a forced smile.
The woman nodded before turning to smile at Lois and take her menu as well, heading towards the kitchen to relay their orders.
Suddenly a blonde propped herself down on the seat next to Chloe, all in pink and bubbly. "Hi, I'm Sarah Austen."
Chloe eyed her curiously. "Chloe Sullivan."
Lois sighed. "Lois Lane."
A couple of the people began to whisper once her name was uttered.
"So did car trouble land you here in Hope?" Sarah asked, inquisitive and eager.
Without the slight irritating peppiness she reminded Lois of what Chloe used to be like before...well...before.
"Nope." Lois shook her head, gazing around the the diner once more before returning to the woman sitting next to her cousin. "We're just touring our great country."
"This place isn't really a tourist trap." Sarah stated the obvious, pulling a strand of hair behind her ear. "Unless you're here because of the legend."
"Legend?" Chloe looked up from the knife she'd been tapping against the table. "What legend?"
For the first time in a very long time Lois caught a glimpse of her little cousin, the real one, not the hollow shell she'd been for far too long.
"It's why I'm here." Sarah turned more towards Chloe, smiling brightly, realizing the genuine interest in those green eyes. "You see, I'm a reporter and I'm here covering the legend for my paper."
Chloe's eyes widened further, staring at the woman as if she were an angel. "I want to be a reporter, when I graduate."
"No way! That's awesome!" Sarah grinned widely, reaching into her purse and pulling out what was her state's version of the Inquisitor, the front page swearing that a terrorist pretzel had nearly killed the president.
"And here I thought that stuff was made up." Lois eyed the front.
Chloe's enthusiasm died a little at the realization of what sort of newspaper Sarah worked at, and yet it didn't die down completely, and that was all that mattered. "What's this local legend you were saying earlier?"
"Okay, this is going to rock your socks off." Sarah turned even more towards Chloe, hands moving animatedly as she spoke. "Hope was founded in the late 1800's by a preacher named Jonas Hathaway. He was a real old fire and brimstone fanatic."
The waitress brought them their food, completely ignoring Sarah as she left.
Sarah ignored her. "Hathaway had incredible luck with his crops and even in times of draught the town never ran dry. Some claimed that it was because the town was built on hallowed ground." She smirked. "And then he began having trouble with crows eating his crops so he put up scarecrows to keep them away. That worked for a while until the crows got smart, and then Hathaway began to poison them."
Lois waited for the story to get good.
Sarah leaned forwards, lowering her voice only a little, though not enough for the whole diner not to hear her. "Hathaway believed the crows were sent by the devil to destroy the town's livelihood."
Lois flinched at the "d" word.
"Is this a very pious town then?" Chloe interrupted.
"Huh?" Sarah turned towards her.
"If the devil is going to send demons in the form of crows, or even just control crows, he'd have to have a very good reason for it, wouldn't he?" The blonde was tapping the knife against the table again in her own nervous tell, face serious. "And I don't see him taking time out of torturing and whatever he does, to do that, if Hope wasn't important somehow. Or just plain annoying."
Sarah suddenly grinned. "I like you!"
Lois reached for her utensils, eyeing her cousin. "Eat."
Chloe rolled her eyes but did as told, though her gaze never left Sarah. "So what happened next?"
"He gathered up the people of Hope in the church and preached about how Satan's spawn had come to destroy their harvest, to destroy their livelihood, and it was up to them to cast them out. He preached that sacrifices had to be made to the Lord to protect them. He was desperate. So he began to sacrifice the town's sinners to appease his god." Sarah was obviously enjoying this storytelling. "He would dress his victims up like scarecrows and nail them up in his fields. Alive."
"That's disgusting." Lois swallowed, making a face.
"It makes sense though." Chloe mumbled, swallowing her own bite. "If they were screaming they'd scare the crows away and keep the crops safe...and in the end...that was what he really wanted. A scarecrow that served its purpose."
"Exactly." Sarah reached out and ruffled Chloe's hair affectionately. "One night though, Hathaway has a vision, and it tells him that the world is coming to an end."
"Oh, this never ends well." Lois muttered, returning to attention to her breakfast.
"Hathaway has his followers build this shelter underneath his fields, and wait for the world to end." Sarah continued. "After a while the congregation decide to send up a kid to see if the world has really ended. And this kid runs all the way to Liberty, the next town. All she's supposed to do is see if there's anyone still alive...but instead she tells the people of Liberty everything. So the men of Liberty go to Hathaway's farm and then the drag him out of the shelter. And then they nailed him up on a post in the field...just like he had done to his victims." Sarah's smile was twisted. "And then they burned him alive."
Lois drank her coffee, shaking her head.
"Rumor has it that nothing grows on the spot where they buried his ashes." Sarah's voice lowered dramatically. "Some people think the fire freed Hathaway's spirit from his flesh, allowing him to reside in the field just...waiting." She then leaned back, shrugging. "Anyway, I figure I'll go down to Hathaway's farm and take some pictures and see if I get any weird vibes."
"Can we come?" Chloe asked immediately.
Lois choked on her coffee.
"You really wanna come?" Sarah smiled.
"Yeah." Chloe nodded, her smile a little more genuine. "It sounds much more interesting than the World's Largest Ball of Yarn." She turned to Lois, begging. "Please? Can we go? Please?"
Lois stared at her cousin, and considering she hadn't seen her this animated in a very long time she couldn't help but give a half-smile and nod. "Sure, why not? But you have to finish everything on your plate first."
"Deal." Chloe smiled a little wider, turning to Sarah. "Do you really believe his spirit might be there or are you like those astrologists who don't believe their own press?"
Sarah paused, considering the question. "I'm undecided, honestly, but I'm attracted to the odd and unexplainable so I enjoy trying to find out."
Chloe nodded, seeming to apparently accept that answer.
Lois ate her breakfast in silence, just listening to Chloe and Sarah talk more about Hathaway and the legend, and she couldn't help but sigh. After what had happened she had thought that her cousin's taste for the paranormal and odd would have died, but thankfully the attack hadn't killed that part of her.
She wondered if she could find anymore paranormal-oriented tourist attractions on their road trip.
Dean frowned as he watched the peppy blonde leave to go get her car. He hadn't heard about this legend of Crazy Preacher Hathaway before, and considering he'd finished reading the newspaper and hadn't heard of any suspicious deaths it could mean that it was all just baloney, but the hunter in him wouldn't let him take the risk of it being real and three girls getting hurt. He'd have to check the place out himself and see if there was anything to the legends. The problem was that he didn't know where it was, and that meant he'd have to weasel his way into this outing with the girls or look like a stalker following them from the diner to some remote location.
He stood and headed towards the door as the waitress informed the dark haired girl that her bill had been 'taken care off', refusing the money she was holding up.
Shaking his head, getting creeped and even more suspicious by the minute, Dean exited the diner and took in a deep breath before putting on his best smile as he walked up to where the girl was sitting in her pink car, checking her makeup. "Hello."
Her eyes widened when she saw him, and she smiled. "Hey handsome."
"I couldn't help but overhearing your conversation in there," he maintained eye-contact, smiling. "I have to say, usually that sort of paranormal shit doesn't float my boat but you made it sound really interesting...I'd love to read your article on the Hathaway farm whenever it comes out."
"That's so sweet!" She giggled. "I'm Sarah."
"Would you like to come with us? We're going there right now." Sarah offered, just as he'd hoped she would. "We could use some male protection."
"I'd love to." He let his smirk go naughty.
She bit her bottom lip, responding to it.
The door opened and closed behind behind him and two voices could be heard talking to each other in hisses.
"Who paid for our meal?" It was the younger girl.
"I don't know but that was creepy." The older one mumbled.
"What's creepy is that they're still staring at us from the window...and across the street too."
"Hey guys!" Sarah waved them closer. "This is Dean, he'll be coming with us. Dean, these are Lois and Chloe."
"Hello." He turned his smile on them, knowing how to charm women.
Lois didn't smile back, if anything she frowned at him. "How do we know you're not a psycho killer waiting to get us to a remote location and kill us?"
"Lois!" Sarah gasped in horror. "She doesn't mean that!"
"Oh, she does." Lois responded.
Dean's smile went more genuine as he recognize the mama-bear protectiveness emanating from her every pore as she kept herself a step ahead of Chloe, and slightly in front of her, her body language protective to its core.
He could understand that protectiveness.
And respect it.
"I'm not." He responded.
She must have read something from him because she stood down from the fight her body-langauge had assured him she was all too ready to engage in should the need arise. "Fine. But we're taking our car."
"And I'm taking mine." Dean nodded, his gaze going to Chloe, who was mute by her cousin's side. "Hey."
Those green eyes hurt to have upon him.
What exactly had happened to this kid?
"Hey." She whispered back.
"Well, let's get this party started!" Sarah was peppy as ever.
The other three stared at each other before nodding and heading to their respective vehicles.