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Thread: Episode 7 - "Cernunnos" (PG)

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    Episode 7 - "Cernunnos" (PG)

    Title: Cernunnos
    Written by: SaraC

    Notes, disclaimers, etc. in Episode 1!

    Cernunnos is the Celtic God symbolizing the power of nature

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    “I think it’s going to storm.”

    “You always were a brilliant student, Natalie.” Nick Peterson smiled as the woman sitting next to him burst into delighted laughter. His-24-year old fiancée’s beauty never ceased to take his breath away. He still couldn’t believe that this vivacious woman could and would be willing to marry him. Despite the myriad number of objections from her family, the fact he was 37 years old and her college professor only a few short months ago high among them, she had readily agreed to run off to Las Vegas and elope with him.

    “Well, I got you didn’t I?” Natalie Fox smiled at her fiancée. She knew there were times their nearly 13 year age difference bothered him, but thankfully, he was getting more and more secure with the idea that she could love him. It really wasn’t difficult considering he had one of the brightest minds she’d ever known.

    And of course the fact that he was in extremely good shape, and did not look a day over 30 didn’t hurt either. Yes, it might be clichéd to fall in love with your professor, but she’d done it and had no regrets.

    She just wished her family felt the same. Being the youngest daughter of one of the wealthiest families in Metropolis had its advantages and disadvantages. Certainly their protectiveness of her was welcome most times, but their need to control her life was not. She loved her family dearly, but there were times when she wished she wasn’t a part of the Fox clan. Times when she wished to be part of a family where the announcement of her engagement would not send the people who purported to love her into fits of outrage. Times when she wished she’d been born in someplace non-descript, someplace like the town they were passing through right now.

    “Wonder how large Smallville really is.” Nick grinned as Natalie shrugged, motioning to the sign they’d just passed.

    “Well, the population is 45,001 according to the billboard we just passed.”

    Nick nodded, glancing in the rearview mirror, seeing a pair of headlights suddenly appear behind him. The sky was getting darker, the wind picking up, and for some reason, he suddenly felt uneasy. Looking ahead, he noticed nothing but cornfields around them. Not much in the way of civilization if something should go wrong.

    “What’s worrying you? My family?” Natalie bit her lip as he shook his head. She knew him well enough to know when he was worried and his face expressed that he was concerned about something. She couldn’t help but wonder if it truly was her family that had him on edge. She wouldn’t blame him. Her parents had reasoned, bribed, even threatened him in their traditional way, but to her relief Nick had never backed down. It only made her love him even more.

    “No, I just don’t like the isolation out here. Remind me again why we decided to take the back roads to Vegas?”

    “Because we didn’t want my parents to figure out where we’d gone.”

    Nodding, Nick eased his foot of the accelerator as rain suddenly began pouring down around them.

    Natalie could feel his tension and reached over to squeeze his arm gently. “Do you need to pull over? It’s raining pretty hard.”

    “It’s the idiot behind us I’m worried about.” Nick’s eyes widened as he saw the headlights growing closer at an alarmingly rapid pace. “Maybe I’ll just pull over-”

    Before he could even steer the car towards the side of the road, he felt the impact of something hit them from behind. Natalie’s scream echoed in his ears as their car was forced off the road and into a flat, rocky field. Struggling to remain in control of the car’s skid … he felt the sickening jolt as the car hit what he could only assume was some type of boulder and rolled once before coming to land, remarkably, right side up.
    Struggling to orient himself, feeling the weight of the car roof pressing down nearly on top of him his gaze flew to Natalie. She was bleeding from a cut on her forehead but her eyes
    were open although slightly dazed.

    “Natalie! Are you okay?”

    She groaned, realizing everything ached but so far, nothing seemed to be broken or seriously hurt. “I’m okay.” Managing to move her head carefully, her eyes widened as she took in the sight around them. “What happened?”

    Nick shook his head, struggling with the door handle. His knee was most likely sprained and he could already feel the sting of the cuts and bruises on his body. When the door wouldn’t budge, he somehow managed to extract himself through the shattered window, wincing as the glass shards clung and dug into his skin. Finally free, he worked his way around to the other side of the car barely able to see through the pouring rain and helped Natalie out, careful as he noted her wince as she tried to stand.

    “We’ve got to get help-”

    “You’re not going anywhere but with us, Lady.”

    They whirled around to see two burly men, one with a shotgun facing them.

    “Who—who are you?” Natalie was proud her voice didn’t shake too much.

    “We’re the people who are going to see to it you are returned safely to your family. Eventually.”

    Nick felt fear run through him. He knew Natalie had always been a target, she’d candidly told him about her security precautions over the years. He only wished he’d listened a bit better.

    “My parents aren’t happy with me right now. They’ve pretty much disowned me. They won’t pay you.” It was a slight exaggeration, but Natalie hoped it would buy some time.

    “Oh, they’ll pay. They already have, they just don’t know that they’ve only paid the deposit, we still have to collect the rest.”

    Natalie swallowed hard, trying to wrap her mind around the fact that it sounded as though her family had hired someone to take her from Nick. It made her angry and not a little scared.

    “What are you going to do with us?” Nick didn’t like the look in the other man’s eye, clearly visible in the slowly decreasing patter of the rain. A bolt of lighting suddenly lit up the night sky, causing all of them to jump.

    “She’s coming with us – you – well, we have no use for you. You’re expendable.”

    Natalie was terrified, moving closer to Nick, trying hard not to be sick at the thought of what was going to happen to the man she loved. “Don’t hurt him, please.”

    “Awww, pleading for your sugar daddy, ain’t that grand.” One of the men moved forward, dragging a protesting Natalie away while the other continued holding the gun on Nick.
    “She’s feisty, but we can take care of that.”

    Nick cried out in horror as the burly man hit Natalie on the side of the head, watching helplessly as she slid to the ground, unconscious. Anger and rage at the violent action tore through him and with a battle cry worthy of the gods themselves; he launched himself at their attackers.

    The battle was sadly short and painful. Unable to match their strength, already injured from the crash, Nick knew he wasn’t going to make it. The last sight he saw before the bigger man’s fist connected with his face was Natalie’s slumped form, illuminated by the lightning.

    “Come on, storms getting worse, we’ve got to go.”

    The two men dragged Natalie off with them, leaving Nick’s unconscious body in the middle of the field. So intent on their getaway were both, neither noticed the strange green glow that began to shine from strange rock forms in the field as the dark storm clouds turned black. Neither man saw the bolt of lightning that struck straight into the ground, inches from where Nick lay unconscious. And neither man saw the strange green glow that encompassed the body.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    “Damn, the weather channel had nothing on this!”

    Clark grinned as he watched another couple straggle into the Talon. The day had started out sunny and bright, typical for early October in Kansas, but a storm had quickly moved in, a torrential downpour and heavy winds setting in by mid afternoon. He’d headed straight to the Talon after school, not surprised to find it crowded. When bad weather hit, it was always great for the Talon’s business.

    “Is it snowing?” Lana’s voice broke into his reverie and he turned to look out the front doors. His eyes widened as he noticed a film of white covering the ground.

    “Must be some freak storm.” Clark, followed closely by Lana, walked over and pushed open the door, only to be forced back inside by a blast of icy arctic air.

    “Freaky. But then again, this is the meteor capital of the world.”

    Chloe’s voice brought them both around to face the blonde, who was peering out the doors in fascination. “My dad just called, he can’t get out of the plant. Apparently there’s already 4 inches on the ground.”

    Clark frowned. Something wasn’t right. This was too freaky, even for Smallville.

    “Clark!” His mother’s voice distracted him and apologizing to the girls he walked over to the counter. “Your father called, he’s going to try and make it here on foot. He’s over at Fordmans.”

    Clark nodded. “You want me to make sure he gets here okay?”

    Martha smiled at her son. “Just keep an ear out for him, okay?” She knew her son would be listening, knew Jonathan would call for him if something happened. It was one of the built in perks she’d found to her son’s special abilities.

    “Okay, I didn’t think this town could get any freakier.”

    Most everyone in the room turned at the brash voice, staring at the snow-dusted man that had just swept through the doors. Blinking at the lights, Lucas Luthor looked around him with little surprise. The Talon never changed, although he’d heard Martha Kent was doing a much better job managing it than his brother had, even part time.

    “Lucas Luthor. What brings you to town?” Clark was wary as he approached the youngest Luthor. He was fully aware of what the man had put Lex through on his last visit and despite their still uncertain friendship, Clark was not going to let Lucas cause trouble for an already overworked and stressed Lex.

    “Hey, Clark. Good to see you didn’t forget me.” Lucas couldn’t help but smile at the pretty brunette that stood behind Clark. He might be in town to visit Lex, but that wouldn’t stop him from having some fun.

    “So the prodigal son returns again. You know you don’t look anything like Lionel.”

    Chloe smiled in satisfaction as Lucas whirled around at her words. She’d recognized him immediately, as had Clark. She’d also felt an instinctive protectiveness of Lex as she watched him approach. She didn’t know much about the brothers’ relationship, but she knew Lucas could push Lex’s buttons as good as Lionel. She had to wonder why he was suddenly here, having been in “hiding” under Lex’s protection since his last visit. Something told her it had everything to do with Lionel’s incarceration.

    “Chloe Sullivan. Hear you were the one that helped Lex put away Dad. I guess I owe you one.” Lucas gave the gorgeous blonde a knockout smile, the brunette forgotten. He’d read a lot about Chloe in the weeks after his father’s conviction and he was fascinated by everything he’d learned. The not so little fact that his brother trusted the girl, enough to risk everything by keeping her hidden, only added to the allure. While his primary reason for coming to Smallville was to visit Lex, he had to admit that some part of him had been hoping he would get the chance to meet the young woman who had helped take down a legend.

    “You don’t owe me anything. Have you seen Lex yet?”

    Lucas shook his head. “I was headed for the mansion when the snow hit. I can’t see and the roads are a mess. Figured I’d stop and wait it out.”

    “Let me get you some coffee, Lucas.”

    He turned to smile at Mrs. Kent, remembering how friendly she’d been, despite his background, the last time he’d met her. He remembered wistfully thinking how nice it would have been to have her as a mother instead of his own twisted childhood.

    “I’d appreciate that. It looks like we’re going to be here a while.”

    Walking over to the counter, he tried not to notice the way eyes followed him. He was
    used to it, but it still felt a little unnerving sometimes.

    “He’s up to something.”

    Chloe and Clark turned to look at Lana. She was watching the younger Luthor with a curious expression.

    “And where did that brilliant deduction come from Sherlock,” Chloe’s teasing tone held a note of sarcasm as Lana shot her a rueful grin.

    “I needn’t point out, he’s a Luthor, so it stands to reason that he’s got some ulterior motive.”

    Clark nodded and Chloe tried not to show her frustration at the remark. She knew how Lana and Clark felt about Lex, considering him a friend but still not quite trusting him, but it still annoyed her to hear Lex lumped in with his father and brother. Lex Luthor was an entity of his own – good and bad.

    She was about to make an acerbic reply when the doors flew open again to admit a bruised, limping man. He looked to be in his mid 30’s fit and tan with a few wrinkle lines around his eyes. But the bloody cut on his forehead and the bruises on his cheeks sent an immediately concerned Chloe, Lana, Clark and Mrs. Kent to his side.

    “Sir, are you all right?” Clark caught the man’s body as his leg buckled, helping him over to the counter, shooting his mother a worried look.

    “Sit down, let me get the first aid kit.” Martha took charge, reaching under the counter and going into nurse mode. The man remained silent, trying to catch his breath, obviously in some pain.

    “They took her.” The words were garbled and broken, but Clark heard them. Lana and Chloe’s wide-eyed expressions alerted him they had too. Even Lucas, sitting two stools over, was watching the man curiously.

    “Took who?” Chloe sensed something wrong and moved closer.

    “Natalie. Took Natalie. She’s gone.” The stark agony in the man’s voice coincided with a howling gust of wind that blew against the Talon doors, rattling them on their hinges. Startled at the noise, many of the patrons looked out the window to find hail and rain now mixed with the snow falling steadily, the sky almost totally black.

    “Who’s Natalie? Who took her? Sir, you have to be more specific.” Lana’s cool voice broke the weather induced silence and it appeared the stranger was finally coherent enough to understand.

    “Natalie is my fiancée. She was kidnapped after our car was forced off the road.” The tone was calmer; the words clear, but the agony in them evident to all who heard.

    “Where?” Clark needed the details if he were going to help. Exchanging a look with his
    mother, he waited for the man to reply.

    “Some field, about two miles outside town. Less than a mile, I’d guess, past the Smallville town sign. They left me there, in the middle of the storm.”

    “You walked two miles in your condition?” Martha’s voice was horrified as she pulled out a bottle of aspirin. Shock had obviously set in but she could tell from looking at the man that he would soon be a mass of aches and pains.

    “Had to get help. We have to find her. I can’t lose her!”

    Chloe bit her lip, feeling her own heart ache at the pain and loss in the man’s voice. It was obvious he truly loved his fiancée and she made a mental pledge to do whatever it took to help him.

    “Well, I’m sure they haven’t gotten far, not in this weather.” She kept her voice level, sensing the man needed calm. When he looked up, his eyes a bit clearer, he nodded.

    “I barely made it here, although it wasn’t snowing so badly until I arrived in town.” The man looked confused, as if remembering something, Clark noted, but it passed quickly. “I didn’t see the police station, and my cell is dead.”

    “It’s a few blocks away, but I’m guessing they’re snowed in as well. I’m sorry, Mr.--.”

    “Nick. Nick Peterson.”

    “Mr. Peterson, I’m Chloe Sullivan. This is Martha Kent, her son Clark and Lana Lang.” She motioned as each person nodded. “Now let’s get you warmed up and we’ll start making some inquiries.” Chloe took charge without question, walking back to her table and booting up her laptop as she carried it back to where Nick sat.

    “Clark, come help me find some warmer clothing for Mr. Peterson.”

    Clark turned, following his mother to the back office, stopping as she turned and checked to make sure they were alone.

    “You want to go check out the field, don’t you?”

    Clark nodded. “The weather won’t hurt me--and if there’s any trace of them-”

    “Okay. But you can’t just rush off in the middle of a storm.” She held up a hand as Clark began to protest. “What do we tell everyone? Just stick around a little longer, see if things let up, then we can come up with an excuse to get you out. Okay?”

    Knowing his mother spoke the truth, but wanting to get out and search, Clark nodded, hoping the weather broke before it was too late.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    “Now, let’s start by getting the basics on your fiancée, Mr. Peterson. Her name is Natalie …”

    “It’s Nick. And her last name is Fox. Natalie Sara Fox.”

    Lucas, who had been observing quietly from his position nearby, suddenly became alert. “As in the Fox family of Metropolis?”

    Nick looked over at the younger man and nodded wryly. “She’s the youngest daughter. And not in great favor with them right now for running away to marry her much older professor.”

    Chloe bit her lip, not wanting to say anything as she watched the agony appear in Nick’s eyes. Age had never really been a concern to her in a relationship. Not that she’d ever really had much of one – unless you counted her one less than stellar encounter with an older Jimmy Olsen – but she didn’t want to dwell on that.

    “So, you two were eloping?” Lana tried not to sound shocked as she looked at the picture Chloe had pulled up on the computer screen. Natalie was beautiful and actually looked to be only a few years older than herself and Chloe.

    “Her parents forbid us to marry. Natalie stood up to them but when things got ugly, we left.” Nick looked slightly depressed at the memory. “Not that I wanted to take her from her family, I can’t blame them for being upset, especially with our age difference--”

    “She’s 24, that’s not such a big age difference, Nick.”

    Lana’s calm voice had the others looking at her and she shrugged. Jason was at least six years older than she was and it had never bothered her, as she knew it had some of their acquaintances in Paris.

    “She convinced me of that, despite my worries about being an old man.” Nick’s voice took on a soft tone as he remembered. “She caught my eye the first day of spring quarter two years ago. I was lecturing on astrophysics and she hung on every word. Made a point to come up to me after class and ask questions that I didn’t think someone that age capable of.”

    Chloe bit her lip as Nick got lost in the memories, her fingers flying across the keyboard, hoping to find something that might help. So far though, nothing had turned up. The sound of voices around her suddenly startled her.

    “Hey, it’s letting up!”

    “Look at that! Clear skies and the sun is trying to come out!”

    Surprised, the group moved towards the door, noticing the weather was completely different, the snow coating the ground lit up brilliantly by the heat of the sun. And with the pushing open of the door, the area was hit with warmth strangely out of place, even for
    fall in Smallville.

    “Something isn’t right in this town.” Lucas’ voice echoed what she’d been thinking and she turned to find the younger Luthor at her back, staring intently outside.

    “This is Smallville, something’s always wrong here.” Lana’s resigned voice interrupted them as they continued to marvel at the weather until a sad sigh refocused them on the man slumped over the counter.

    “I’m going to try the police station see if I can at least get an officer out here to take your statement,” Clark volunteered. “Maybe they can start a search.”

    “I should go with you-”

    “No, you’re hurt. Stay here, I’ll be back with help. I promise.” Giving the man a small smile, he bolted out the door, leaving several faces staring curiously after him.

    Sensing the misery building in their newest acquaintance, Lana returned to Nick’s side and tried to offer some reassurance. “She’s going to be fine. The kidnappers can’t have gotten far-”

    Nick looked up, his eyes pained. “They’ll take her out of here as soon as it’s clear enough. I know it – she’ll be gone before we get near her.” His voice was morose, slightly hysterical as he rose and staggered towards the door.

    Lucas caught him before he could push open the doors, feeling him sag against him. “You can’t go out there yet, the snow plows haven’t been through and there’s no sidewalks cleared-”

    “I have to do something!” Nick nearly shouted the words, tears forming in his eyes as the others looked on in confusion. Everyone jumped as a crackle of thunder suddenly boomed around the building and with wide eyes, Chloe turned back to the doors to see a deluge of rain hail, and more snow pounding the pavement in front of them.

    “This isn’t right.” Chloe’s voice was resigned as they all moved back towards the counter.

    She noticed Lucas wore a contemplative expression and despite her worries over what he was there for, she felt the need to say something. Not to mention he seemed to know the Fox family, maybe he could help. Besides, she would admit to always being curious about the prodigal Luthor son.

    “So, Lucas, do you know the Fox family?”

    Lucas shook his head, noting all eyes were focused on him now. “Not really, I’ve heard of them, and not always good things-”

    “Some of which are probably true,” Nick muttered, his voice hard and bitter. Sensing the
    need to change topics for the moment, Chloe tried a different tactic.

    “So, Lucas, are you going to tell Lex you’re stuck here?”

    Lucas grinned at Chloe’s words, glad for the change of subject. He was beginning to feel uncomfortably sorry for the miserable looking man sitting two seats away. “I’m one for surprises. When it clears enough, I’ll drop in on him. Surprise is a key element when dealing with my brother.”

    Chloe couldn’t help her grin, despite the imagined ire of Lex at being suddenly confronted with his younger brother. She was about to reply when the doors opened and a wet, bedraggled figure stumbled in.

    “Jason!” Chloe recognized him first and immediately went over to him, seeing him smile as he shook off the rain. That smile, she noted, dimmed a bit at seeing Lana’s slightly ill at ease expression.

    “I figured I could make it home from the store before the weather hit again, but it’s insane out there.” Jason was pleased his voice sounded normal, relieved to find it hurt less and less each time he ran into Lana. He was managing to move on in spite of the fact he still didn’t know where he wanted to move on to.

    “Well, you could use some coffee to warm you up. I’ll get you some.” Lana offered a slightly uneasy smile glad when he nodded. It was strange running into him around town but she’d found it was getting easier as time passed. Chloe had explained to her that he wasn’t sure what to do or where to go and she’d decided to accept it, accept his presence, until he figured it out.

    The door opened again as she moved towards the brewing coffee pots and a thoroughly drenched Clark Kent stumbled in.

    “Clark! That was quick, what did the police say?” Chloe noted Nick’s eyes immediately sparked with hope as they focused on the younger man.

    Clark looked uncomfortable for a moment, Chloe noted, but quickly recovered. “Sheriff Adams said all her deputies were stuck in various places, but as soon as she gets some help she will come get his statement and start looking.”

    Chloe knew he wasn’t telling them something, but figured it could wait. Right now, they had other things to worry about—especially if the police were not going to help.

    Clark walked over to where Nick sat, his expression glum again, and noticed Jason watching the scene quietly, wondering when he had arrived. Although his jealousy had decreased significantly as he’d spent more time being ‘friends’ with Lana, his heart still raced and he could still feel a spark of envy as he watched Lana return with a mug of coffee, smiling hesitantly as she handed it to Jason. He was confident Lana did not regret her decision but he couldn’t help wondering how long she might take to realize what she needed, before she could open up to him again.

    Jason smiled gratefully, taking the coffee as he nodded to the man who pulled out the seat next to him. There was something familiar about him, but he couldn’t place what.

    “I’m Lucas Luthor.” Lucas held out a hand, watching as the other man eyed him warily before taking it.

    “Jason Teague. And I guess you’re the prodigal Luthor son.” The words had a slight tinge of bitterness that surprised Lucas. Not because Jason had apparently heard of him but because of the hint of camaraderie that lingered in the tone.

    “That would be me. Returning home to see what’s in store for me in my brother’s kingdom.”

    Chloe’s eyebrows raised, surprised that Lucas knew the parable of the prodigal son. Sometimes, she could still be amazed.

    “Excuse me, you’re Jason Teague, of the Metropolis Teagues?”

    Nick’s voice broke the moment and Jason looked over at the bedraggled man curiously. “That’s my family, yes.”

    Nick moved closer, something strange in his eyes. “Your father was the lawyer the Fox’s hired to pry into my past, hoping to find something to take Natalie away from me.”

    The growing anger in the voice startled Jason as well as those around him. Although, he thought bitterly, with his family, it figured.

    “Jason isn’t working for his family, Nick.” Chloe jumped in sensing the building tension. She moved between them, surprised to find Lucas shifting a little to help. She filed the
    information away for later.

    Nick, suddenly realizing he’d advanced, wilted just as quickly, even as his eyes still shot fire. Outside, the wind howled and the rain beat down, climbing in volume and speed.
    “Sorry, I just – I’m scared.” He sank back onto the stool, placing his head in his hands and wondering again if Natalie would ever be able to forgive him for putting them in this situation. If he hadn’t given into her pleas to elope—

    “I don’t know Natalie, but I’m sure she wouldn’t want you beating yourself up over this.”

    He looked up as the Chloe eyed him with determination. Something in her look reminded him a bit of Natalie and he took a sliver of hope from that. “You’re probably right, but I’ve done it for years. Natalie’s still trying to get me out of the habit of blaming everything on myself, or our age difference.”

    “Age is nothing if love is true,” offered Mrs. Kent sagely, inserting herself into the group, handing Nick a steaming mug of coffee and offering her son a towel. She caught his gaze and he nodded slightly. She tilted her head in reply before turning back to the counter.
    Nick remained quiet, his agony still evident as he sipped the coffee. Noting that Lucas and Jason were talking, Chloe moved back over to her computer. Settling onto the stool, she noted her email icon was flashing. Clicking on the blinking mailbox, she found herself facing an email from an unknown sender. However, the subject line caught her attention, making her eyes widen.

    “Who’s Jane Smith?”

    She jumped sky high at Clark’s words wondering how she could have missed his presence over her shoulder. Quickly turning while pushing the screen down, she gave him a small smile. “Just something for a story I’m working on, nothing important.”

    Clark knew she wasn’t telling him something, but he wasn’t going to push. He had too much else to worry about now—but he’d make a point to ask Chloe about it later. He had a suspicion she’d been delving into the files they’d recovered from Doctor Carlton and he wasn’t all too sure that was of the good.

    “Okay, I’m gonna go see if I can’t get more information out of Nick.” Something was odd about this entire situation and he was going to find out what. It didn’t help that he’d immediately been rendered weak by the meteor rocks in the empty field he’d just visited. Fortunately he was standing far enough away to keep the effects to a minimum.
    However the knowledge of meteor rocks in the field combined with the strangely volatile weather and the visitor sitting at the Talon counter was too coincidental not to be connected.

    Chloe breathed a sigh of relief as Clark walked off, before turning and exiting her email. As much as she wanted to read the message, she decided it would be more prudent to do so when there weren’t so many people around.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    “You know, you really should talk to Lex. Something tells me the two of you have a lot in common.”

    Jason looked at Lucas as if he were crazy. “I met the man a few times, I really didn’t see we had much to talk about.”

    Lucas shrugged. “From what I gleaned from your family situation, I figured you’re not the favored son either. Lex knows what standing up to a powerful father is like.” He knew if Lex heard him just now, he would be surprised at the roundabout praise. Despite their differences and their past, he did admire his older half-brother.

    Jason shook his head. “I don’t know.”

    Lucas nodded in understanding. “Talk to him if you get a chance.”

    Jason nodded, looking out the windows and sighing. It was dreary, but the worst seemed to be over for the moment. “I hate to run, but while there’s a break, I should go.” He stood, laying a few bills on the counter.

    “Actually, I should try and make it to the mansion as well—you need a lift?” Lucas wasn’t sure why he offered; normally he didn’t care too much for others. But he felt something, perhaps camaraderie with the man and the least he could do was offer a ride.

    Jason though a moment, then nodded. “If it’s not out of your way, I won’t say no to avoiding walking in this weather.”

    Paying his own bill, Lucas rose. Walking over to where Chloe still sat at the counter, fingers flying over the keyboard, he smiled.

    “Chloe, its time for me to give my brother an ulcer. I have to say it was a pleasure to meet you.”

    Chloe whirled around, quickly closing out her screen. Despite what she knew of him she had to admit Lucas Luthor had a smile to die for. Seeing Jason, also smiling behind him, she felt her heart kick into overdrive. Two gorgeous men, smiling at her. Would wonders never cease?

    “Tell Lex I said hi. And try not to annoy him too much. He’s got a lot on his mind.”

    Lucas raised a brow, hearing something that sounded like more than just friendly concern in her voice, but keeping quiet. It was something to think about.

    “Will do. Good luck with your search for the missing fiancée.” He smiled grimly before turning back. “Jason, you ready?”

    Jason nodded, offering Chloe another smile. “I’ll see you around, Chloe.”

    Chloe smiled and shrugged. “You know where to find me. And that offer to come explore the Wall of Weird still stands.” She felt her heart do a small flip at the grin her words received.

    “I might take you up on that soon.” In the back of his mind it occurred to him that he was actually flirting with the blonde. He felt something shift in him as he realized that maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t be as hard to move on as he’d thought.

    He was still smiling as he followed Lucas out the door, Chloe’s eyes on them the whole way.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    “That’s really all I can tell you about the men. They didn’t wear masks, so I’m guessing they’re not totally professional.” Nick looked worried as he spoke, something that did not go unnoticed by Clark or Lana, who were sitting with him at a table near the back corner of the Talon.

    The weather was still miserable, but the hail and snow had died off, leaving only a heavy rain.

    “So, tell me more about where you were forced off the road.” Clark figured since he couldn’t tell anyone he’d already been to the crash site, the best thing to do was to get Nick talking about what had happened. Maybe he could clarify a few things in his mind and get Lana and Chloe on the same track without wondering how he’d gotten there.

    “I told you, it was right past the town sign. It was a flat field, no corn or anything. Just grass and rocks. It was storming so I couldn’t really orient myself except for what the lightening flashes revealed.”

    Clark’s inner radar went on alert at hearing ‘rocks.’ Things were slowly becoming a bit clearer, giving him a farfetched theory he wasn’t ready to admit to yet – not until he could gather the evidence.

    “So, Nick,” Lana continued, still hesitant to use his given name although he’d insisted. “Is there anything else you can think of, anything that might tell you where they’ve taken her?”

    Nick grimaced in frustration. He knew they were trying to help, but really, they were teenagers, what could they do that the police weren’t already doing? Still, considering he felt so helpless, he wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

    “They made some comment about her family already paying and paying more, so it’s possible her father hired someone to stop us from eloping, but they got greedy and decided to hold onto Natalie for more.” He bit his lip, hating how mercenary it made Natalie’s family sound, but he remembered the anger in Gilbert Fox’s eyes as he’d informed him quite clearly that he and Natalie were getting married, no matter what the family felt.

    “You two must really love each other.” Lana’s voice was wistful and she tried to harden it as she caught Clark glancing at her strangely. Still, despite the horror, she found herself sympathizing with Nick. Ages aside, it had to be hell knowing everyone important to the woman you loved, hated you. She wondered at the courage Natalie and Nick seemed to have, the depth of their love, to defy everything.

    Looking over at Clark, she wondered if it came to it, if she could do the same.

    “Natalie is the light of my life.” Nick sank back in the seat, his eyes growing unfocused, his voice soft. Outside, the rain tapered off and the sun began to peek through the clouds.
    “After that first class, she was always in my office. Talking physics, asking questions, showing an interest that flattered me to no end. She was bright, beautiful, talented and seemed to be focused on me. An addicting quality to one of my age.”

    Clark resisted making a comment that 13 years was not all that different and that Nick did not seem that old.

    “I knew I’d fallen for her midway through the semester and I tried to distance myself.” There was bitterness now in his voice, agony as he relived the struggle to stay away from the woman he loved. Outside, the wind began to howl, the rain increasing, flakes of snow mixing in.

    “She wouldn’t have it. When she finished the class, she had one semester until graduation. She came straight to me and informed me that we were going out to dinner the night she graduated.”

    Nick’s voice, Lana noted, was softer now, filled with amazement and hope. She barely heard the oohs and ahhs from around her as the patrons looked out the windows --- seeing a brilliant rainbow through the now slowing rain.

    Clark, however, had noticed, and his gaze was now flickering curiously between Nick and the Talon’s front windows.

    “So, what happened?” Lana was curious and Clark had to admit, he was too. Nick smiled.

    “The night she graduated, after dinner with her family, she showed up on my doorstep.” His grin widened and the love that filled his eyes warmed both Clark and Lana. “We’ve been together ever since, despite her family’s outrage.”

    The smile disappeared and both Clark and Lana heard the pain seeping back in.

    “She’s going to be fine. The police will find her, trust me.” Lana kept her voice soft, even as Nick began to get agitated again.

    “I’m sure they’re doing what they can, but I need to be out there! I have to do something, anything, to find her!”

    He was growing hysterical now and Lana looked in confusion at Clark, unsure what to say.

    “Damn, there it goes again!”

    Clark and Lana looked up at the exclamation, finding the snow, rain and hail had started up again, although the wind wasn’t as strong. It had, Clark thought to himself, almost a moaning quality – as if it sensed the turmoil and pain that Nick was in—

    He stopped at the thought. His earlier suspicions suddenly surfaced again and he tried once more to put the pieces together. It almost made a strange sort of convoluted sense.

    “Nick, the field you crashed in—you said it was bare but rocky. Did you happen to notice if the rocks had a strange color to them? Green perhaps?”

    Lana raised an eyebrow at Clark’s question.

    Nick frowned.

    “No. I was disoriented from the crash and worried about getting Natalie out. Then, they beat me up pretty good and the last thing on my mind was noticing my surroundings. It was just wet, and dark, except for what the lightening lit up.”

    Clark nodded, ideas beginning to take shape in his head. He caught Lana’s curious gaze and motioned for her to follow his lead.

    “Nick, I’m going to get you another cup of coffee, and see if Chloe and her contacts have found anything out.”

    Nick nodded, not holding much hope but pleased in some way that this small group was doing what they could to help. Even if it was only listening to him talk.

    When they’d reached Chloe, Clark tapped her on the shoulder. “Chloe, in all your meteor research, have you ever seen anything weather related?”

    Chloe, startled by Clark’s voice, whirled around to see a curious looking Lana and a musing Clark next to her. His question suddenly registered.

    “Not that I can remember, but what are you looking for?”

    Clark bit his lip, looking unsure. “I’m wondering if someone could possibly gain the power to control the weather from exposure to the rocks.”

    Chloe’s eyebrows rose to her forehead. Lana, listening quietly, suddenly caught on, her eyes filled with surprise.

    “You think Nick’s controlling this weather?” Even hearing the words sounded strange to her, not to mention Chloe, who was trying to wrap her mind around the idea.

    “Well, Storm can do it in the X-Men and they never explain how,” she trailed off, looking intrigued. “I suppose it’s possible. We’ve all seen stranger things.”

    “It’s just – I’ve noticed whenever Nick’s upset, the weather gets really bad,” Clark began, as Lana jumped in.

    “Then when he’s remembering the good times, or talking about his love for Natalie, it clears up –as far fetched as it sounds, you might be onto something, Clark.”

    Chloe perked up, suddenly turning back to the computer. A few clicks later and she motioned them over. “That field they crashed in, apparently LuthorCorp excavated it a few years ago … for meteor rock fragments.”

    Clark nodded. “I figured that was the field when he mentioned it. And if there was lightening involved--” He trailed off, realizing no one knew about the ‘power transference’ he’d discovered thanks to Eric a few years ago.

    “You think the lightening did something in combination with whatever rocks might still be there – giving him the power to control the weather.” Chloe’s voice was calm, although her eyes were wide.

    “Well, it is Smallville.”

    Lana’s resigned voice had them nodding. Chloe bit her lip, thinking. “Okay, say this theory is right – how are we going to fix things? If somehow we find Natalie and Nick gets happy – the theory is the weather clears, and things go back to normal. But what if they have a fight? Get angry? If Nick has no clue of this,” she stopped confusing herself.

    “We can’t worry about that now. I think we’ve got to find Natalie, and get the worst of this weather over with before something more serious happens.” Clark’s voice was determined as Chloe and Lana nodded.

    “You’ve got a point. Okay – I’m going to check a few more sources, and I might have something to go on.” She held up a hand at their looks. “Don’t ask, I can’t tell. Just go try and see what you can find out about your theory. But don’t let Nick know.”

    Getting nods, and matching slightly confused expressions from them, she watched as they walked off. Sighing, she turned back to the computer, trying to focus on the task at hand, instead of the intriguing email she’d received earlier and was dying to read. Although a weather ‘meteor freak’ was certainly intriguing enough. Hadn’t there been an “X-Files” episode based on the same principle? Pondering the thought, she began to type.

    She barely noticed as outside the storm built in fury again – while in the booth near the back of the Talon, a tear slipped down Nick Peterson’s face.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
    Story continues in next post

  2. #2
    NS Senior Member Senior Member sydsvaughn's Avatar
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    04 Mar 2003
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    Re: Episode 7 - "Cernunnos" (PG)

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    “It figures the one time I come for a visit, the weather goes to hell.”

    Jason nodded at Lucas’ words. “I know. I’ve been here less than a month and this town gets weirder by the moment.”

    Lucas looked at Jason curiously. “So, if you don’t mind me asking, what brought you to Hicksville here? You’d figure with your family connections, you’d go someplace a bit bigger.”

    Jason grimaced. “I was in Paris. That’s where I met Lana.” His voice choked a moment and things suddenly became clearer to Lucas.

    “You came here for Lana.”

    Jason nodded, recovering, surprised to realize again that it hurt a little less each time he said it. “Yeah, we broke up a few weeks ago.”

    “And yet you haven’t left?” Lucas was truly curious as he struggled to navigate the twist in the snow-covered road. He wasn’t normally nervous about driving but coupled with the hail and rain, he’d be glad to get off the road as soon as possible.

    “I’m not sure where to go.” Jason was surprised at his honesty, especially to a relative stranger. Not to mention a Luthor. But seeing as Lucas seemed interested, he found himself continuing. “I don’t want to go back to Metropolis. My family was upset enough when I decided not to become a lawyer and go find myself all over the world. Not to mention my leaving Paris on the spur of the moment to follow Lana home.”

    Lucas nodded. “You don’t want to be in your family’s sphere, but you can’t avoid it.”

    Jason nodded as Lucas continued. “I’ve been keeping out of trouble, mainly on Lex’s orders, since I first met him a few years ago.” He paused, remembering the occasion far too well. “We had some trouble with my father and at the end, Lex decided I should lay low and avoid contact with Lionel. Surprisingly, I did.”

    Jason nodded, curious himself now. “So what brought you back to Smallville and out of hiding?”

    “My father’s conviction. I figured that with him behind bars, Lex couldn’t object to me paying a visit, seeing where things stood.”

    It was becoming clearer to Jason now. “You want to know where you fit into the LuthorCorp plan now that Lex is in charge.”

    Lucas should have been started at his perception, but he wasn’t. “I don’t know if I want anything to do with it, but I want to be kept informed. It’s half my legacy as well.”
    Jason nodded, but remained silent.

    They drove on, pace slowing as the storm increased in intensity again. Lucas sighed as the blizzard like conditions nearly eliminated his vision altogether.

    “Okay, the mansion is just down the road. We can’t make it much further so if you don’t mind, we can sit it out at the mansion. I’ll drop you off later.”

    Jason wasn’t sure he wanted to stay for a long period at the Luthor mansion, having heard plenty of stories about it and the family that owned it in his short time here. However, he had to admit, he was curious and he was actually finding he liked Lucas. Plus Lucas’ earlier words about his having something in common with Lex stuck.

    “Okay.”

    Nodding Lucas made the turn into the mansion, breathing a sigh of relief as he pulled up to the gates. His usual optimism returned as he pictured the look on Lex’s face as not one but two uninvited guests invaded his sanctuary

    Yes, he was going to have some fun.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    “Yes!”

    Chloe jumped off the stool as she closed out her email, hurrying quickly to the table where Lana, Clark and Nick still sat.

    “Guys, I think I have an idea where they might be keeping Natalie!”

    Nick immediately sat up, looking almost desperately at Chloe. “What?”

    Sliding into the booth, she leaned in, keeping her voice quiet. “My friend who works for the power company called me a little while ago.” She waved off the questions she could see coming as to why and how she’d call Greg. She didn’t have time for that now. “Seems there’s been reports of lights going on and off in the old Sildel place on Braun Road. Someone called the electric company, worried about power issues-”

    “But the Sildel place has been deserted for years.” Clark’s voice was quiet and matter of fact.

    “It’s also about four miles from the field you were attacked in-” Lana offered, filling in more pieces.

    “Then what are we waiting for, let’s go!” Nick was already out of his seat before Clark stopped him.

    “We really should call the police-”

    “And tell them what, Clark?” Chloe’s voice was calm, but she could see Nick’s point. “They’ll laugh us off as they always do.”

    Clark bit his lip, knowing she was right. Still, he didn’t like the fact of charging off on what could be a dangerous wild goose chase, in the middle of such weather. Although, if his theory was true, if they kept Nick calm, they might be able to use the weather to their advantage.

    “Okay. But Nick, you’ve got to calm down. We can’t rush into this.” He hoped the words would do enough to stop the snow and rain he could see building again out of the corner of his eye.

    “You have to keep calm, Nick. We’ll get to her.” Lana too used a soothing tone, looking out the window, not surprised to see the rain tapering off as looking back, she found Nick’s shoulder’s slumping.

    “Okay, you’re right. But can we go?” Nick knew it was dangerous, realized he was dragging three teenagers into a potentially hazardous situation, but he was going, and he needed them to get him there. He was desperate enough now not to care.

    “I’m driving.” Chloe was already moving towards the door, grabbing her laptop on the way.
    She only hoped Nick would remain in control enough to give them clear driving weather. It was already going to be rough going with the snow on the ground.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    “Hey, Bro.”

    Lex Luthor whirled around at the familiar voice, his eyebrow rising as his younger half-brother strode into his study, followed by a rather sheepish looking Jason Teague.

    “Lucas, Mr. Teague, what brings you out in this weather?” He kept his voice calm, even though he had to wonder what was up. Lucas arriving out of the blue never meant anything good.

    “Actually, I was going to drop Jason off but the weather got so bad, I figured we’d wait out the storm here.” Lucas hid his smile as he watched Lex try not to look uncomfortable. He knew he’d invaded his brother’s privacy and he couldn’t help but feel a brotherly satisfaction at being able to get under Lex’s skin. They might not be close, but he knew which buttons to push. After all, they were both Luthors.

    “Well Mr. Teague, make yourself at home.” He nodded towards the couch and the small bar as an embarrassed looking Jason nodded. “Lucas, might I have a word?”

    Lucas rolled his eyes, following Lex out into the hallway. “You know, you could have been a little more welcoming to Jason-”

    “Why are you here, Lucas?” Lex knew his brother had an ulterior motive, always had, always would, he just needed to figure it out and get him out of there. He had too much else to deal with to worry about Lucas as a lose cannon.

    “Gee, good to see you too brother dear,” Lucas offered with a cheeky grin. He sighed as Lex’s annoyed expression remained. “What, a brother can’t come home to see how the family’s doing with the patriarch behind bars for murder?”

    Lex sighed, hearing the frustration in Lucas’ voice and conceding that the younger man had a point. He hadn’t kept in touch with Lucas, but he should have figured the trial and publicity would have caught his attention, wherever he’d been lurking. After all, Lionel was his father too – and he didn’t know him half as well as Lex. Which could be a very, very good thing.

    “Lionel,” he deliberately used the first name, “is behind bars, where he should be. I’m handling things at LuthorCorp, and managing just fine. Yes, it’s a lot of work, but I’ve trained for it since almost birth. I’m doing fine, in case you were wondering.” He wasn’t sure where the last part came from, neither was Lucas, judging from the raised eyebrow.

    “I never doubted that, Lex.” Lucas was feeing slightly uncomfortable now, not sure what to say now that he was here. Usually, words were not a problem for him. He liked to think they were his trade, able to get him in and out of trouble with a flare unique to himself. However, confronted with stable, rational, perhaps slightly delusional at times, Lex, he felt
    suddenly out of place.

    Lex watched the expressions cross Lucas’ face, surprised to see a hint of uneasiness. It wasn’t one he’d seen before and it intrigued him. Not to mention the fact that the man standing here was really the only living flesh-and-blood relative he wanted to acknowledge. And while he wasn’t ready to completely embrace the prodigal brother his recent experiences had gotten him wondering more about family, about those he could trust.

    “So, are you here to ask me for a job at LuthorCorp?” Lex wasn’t sure what caused the abrupt words, nor that he meant them, but the surprise on Lucas’ face amused him.

    “Right. Like I want to put on a suit and tie myself down into the staid business world you’ve embraced Lex.”

    Lex figured there was an insult in there somewhere, but he chose to ignore it for the moment. “Well, it’s better than running around and gambling away all your money.”

    His brother had a point. Lucas sighed, relaxing back against the wall. Lex had called him on something he’d been thinking of more and more lately. It disturbed him and more than likely had been behind this impromptu visit.

    “I don’t think I’m quite ready to give that up yet, Lex.” He carefully chose his words,
    unsure if they were right. “I just don’t think I could do what you’re doing. I couldn’t run this stuff, I barely have any interest in half of it.”

    Lex nodded, none of this surprising. He remained silent, sensing Lucas was thinking before he spoke again.

    “But I’m curious. I wonder about LuthorCorp, about Lionel, about the brother I barely know.”

    Lex remained silent, watching him intently.

    “I guess, I just wanted to stop in, say hello, see what possible futures might hold for me.” Lucas felt really stupid, annoyed at his loss of words, wondering if Lex thought him the idiot he sounded.

    “There will always be a job for you at LuthorCorp, if and when you’re ever ready for it.”

    Lex surprised himself and his brother with the words. But as he thought about them, he realized he meant them.

    “You’re serious?” Lucas wasn’t sure what to make of the offer, still a little dazed at hearing it.

    “You’re nowhere near ready to run anything Lucas, as you said, you’ve still got that wanderlust, it’s in your eyes.” Lex kept his voice even, holding up a hand as Lucas tried to speak. “But you’re a Luthor, like it or not. When and if the time comes and you decide you want to take a role in LuthorCorp, you will have it. I just can’t guarantee what.”

    Lucas saw that Lex was in earnest and his estimation of his brother went up a notch.

    “And if I never want it?”

    Lex sighed and shrugged. “You’re still entitled to some of the profits, especially holding shares in LuthorCorp.”

    Lucas frowned. “You think this is all about money?”

    Lex kept his gaze on Lucas’ eyes. “Isn’t it?”

    Lucas couldn’t deny that at some point the idea of financial compensation had crossed his mind. But now, for some reason, it seemed insulting.

    “I don’t need the money, Lex.” Well not exactly true but Lex didn’t need to know that.

    “It’s yours regardless, Lionel’s orders on that stand.” Lex sighed at Lucas’ mutinous expression. “Lucas, whatever part of you came for the money, accept it, move on.”

    Lucas wanted to say something else, but figured at the moment it was best to agree. “Fine. But at least tell me I can spend it in style.”

    Lex grimaced but his expression quickly evened out. “You should be able to keep a higher profile with Dad in jail, but watch your back.”

    Lucas sobered at the intensity in Lex’s words. “He’s still dangerous, Lucas. Don’t underestimate the power of Lionel Luthor. Even when currently residing in a jail cell.”

    Lucas shivered slightly. Still, he wasn’t going to argue with someone who knew full well the capabilities of their father. Lucas suspected he had been the lucky one growing up away from it.

    “Warning taken.” He shook off the somber mood, his familiar grin returning. “Now, why don’t you think about making a job offer to the man sitting in your office.”

    Lex blinked. “You want me to offer Jason a job?”

    Lucas rolled his eyes. “The man’s in the same position you are. He can’t go back to his family, he doesn’t want to become his father...” He trailed off sensing Lex’s interest. While Jason hadn’t specifically told him this, he’d put the pieces together well enough to realize that in wanting to not become like their fathers, Jason and Lex shared a distinctive bond.

    “What makes you think he’d accept?” Lex had to admit he was curious, especially about how Lucas seemed to know so much from such a short acquaintance.

    “Think about it. If nothing else it’ll get his mind off Lana.”

    Lex sighed. He’d heard about the breakup, of all people, from Mrs. Kent. While he wasn’t privy to all the details, he assumed it was in part motivated by the still unresolved feelings between Lana and Clark. It really hadn’t surprised him, Clark and Lana had too much between them for Jason to disrupt.

    “Fine.” He ignored Lucas’ smile as he led the way back to the study. Both men stopped as they heard the wind rattling the old windows of the mansion.

    “Damn freaky weather. This town is strange.”

    Lex could only nod as he ushered his brother back into the study.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    “Well, I see lights.”

    Chloe’s matter of fact words earned her a hiss from the three people around her.

    Thankfully, or perhaps due to the fact that Nick was more concerned than angry at the moment, the weather had decreased to a light shower of rain as they’d made their way to the old farm. Now if only they could keep it that way.

    “Okay, I’m going to move closer, check it out. You guys stay here.” Clark ignored the protests, moving forward slowly. Honing his super hearing, he was not surprised to hear two voices, both gruff, both male, coming from inside the house.

    Their conversation left no doubt as to who was inside.

    Sneaking up to the window, he managed to peer in, gasping as he saw the young woman tied up, gagged, and lying on the sofa. Her face was bruised, her lip bloody and there were bruises all over her arms and legs. Thankfully however, she was conscious, and from what he could tell from her eyes, she was spitting mad.

    Taking a deep breath, he worked his way back to the three anxious people near the road. “They’re there, Natalie too, she’s tied up, but she’s okay.” He quickly added the last in as the wind began to howl, as Nick looked angry.

    “If they hurt her--”

    “They’re not going to get the chance. I’m calling the police.” Lana’s voice brooked no argument as she turned and opened her phone. Only to curse as she realized that thanks to the weather, she had no signal.

    “Damn!”

    Nick, sensing what had happened, took a deep breath. “We’ve got to get her out. We’ve got to do it now.”

    Clark knew the man was right, although he had no clue how they were going to do this. He knew he very well could rush in and get Natalie before anyone was aware, but that wasn’t prudent, and would reveal his less than human origins.

    “A distraction.”

    Chloe’s voice startled them. “We create a distraction, get them out of the house. Then Clark, you and Nick go in and get Natalie, sneak her out the back.”

    “No. It puts you two alone and in danger.” Clark was adamant and Nick had to agree. The last thing he wanted to do was get these kids hurt.

    “I’ll get her. You guys distract them.” His voice was calm and steady as he looked at the three teens.

    “You’re sure? You’re still weak,” Lana began, but Nick cut her off.

    “I’m strong when it involves Natalie. Nothing is going to stop me from getting her out of there.” He saw their incredulous expressions and smiled softly. “I nearly lost her before I could tell her how much she means to me. I won’t go through that again. Time is too precious.”

    Lana swallowed, looking covertly over at Clark, musing on the words. Time was always a problem, and as she well knew, you never knew when it would run out. Did she really want to waste it?

    Clark too was sneaking glances at Lana, wondering at the words and her expression.

    It was Chloe, rolling her eyes at the looks, knowing full well what was going on, who broke the moment.

    “Okay, enough talking. Here’s the plan.” Getting their attention, she continued. “I’ve got flares in the car,” she stopped at their looks. “What, I’ve learned a lot about safety since … everything happened.” She noted Clark and Lana nodding, Nick looked confused.

    “So, we set them off, make some noise, get their attention-”

    “The car stalled in the storm, we couldn’t drive – saw the lights,” Lana contributed as Nick nodded.

    “Give me five minutes to get around back. There is a back door, right Clark.”

    The younger man nodded. “You’ll have to bust the lock though.”

    Nick grinned wryly. “Not like I haven’t done it before.” He ignored their confused looks. “Okay, just be careful.”

    Nodding, the three watched as Nick slipped into the woods. Clark looked at his watch. “Okay, clocks running, let’s go get the car set up.”

    Taking a deep breath, the three headed back to set the plan in motion.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    The plan went exactly as it should have. At first. Chloe, Clark and Lana had gotten the men out of the house, using Clark’s bulk to stand up to their angry words and deliberate attempts to keep them from using the phone. Clark, using his hearing, had heard Nick break in, the joyous whispers as he and Natalie reunited, and breathed a sigh of relief, determined now to get out and go.

    All was going well up to the point when Nick tripped over a candlestick lying on the floor.

    Suddenly all hell broke lose as the two kidnappers looked at each other in horror, before bolting back into the house.

    “Come on!” Chloe was charging after them before anyone could stop her, Clark and Lana not far behind.

    Clark immediately took in the situation, Nick fighting hard against one of the attackers, the other holding a struggling Natalie. Moving forward, he signaled for Chloe and Lana to go for Natalie while he threw himself at the man battling Nick.

    As Clark, the burly man and Nick fought; Chloe and Lana watched the second man drag Natalie from the room.

    “Quick!” Lana was already moving after the man, Chloe not far behind as they chased him into the backyard.

    “Hey! Let her go!” Chloe yelled the words as she burst through the door, noting the rain was pounding down, hail and snow again swirling angrily around them. For once, she was glad Nick was enraged. The weather could only help them.

    “Come closer and I’ll kill her.” The man pulled out a gun, aiming at Natalie’s forehead. Chloe and Lana paused, unsure what to do.

    “She’s your insurance, you’re not going to hurt her.” Chloe wasn’t sure it would work, but if it bought time, it was worth it.

    “We’ve already got one payment, I can live without the other.”

    It all happened in a horrifying moment, choreographed by the violent weather. Chloe and Lana lunged forward as they heard the gun cock, freezing as suddenly something burst past them, the wind howling, barely masking the sound of a gunshot.

    “Natalie!”

    Nick’s scream mingled with a gust of wind so strong it seemed to knock everyone off his or her feet. Somehow, Clark was lying on top of the attacker, Natalie a crumpled heap on the ground, a pool of blood around her waist.

    Nick was at her side in an instant. “God, Natalie, please. Honey, you can’t die. She can’t die!” He screamed the words to the heavens, rocking her still body. The weather matched his mood, ice, snow, sleet hail, rain, nearly every weather phenomenon combined to roar along with Nick.

    Chloe managed to look up, wind buffeted, soaked and freezing, to see a strange green glow surrounding Nick and the now prone Natalie. She gasped as a bolt of lighting suddenly it up the area, sending what seemed to be a charge through the two bodies.

    As suddenly as it started, the weather stopped. Complete and total silence reigned; no sign nor trace of precipitation fell.

    “Nn-ick?”

    Lana, struggling to her feet, swallowed hard as saw the joyful expression on Nick’s face as he pulled the young woman in his arms to him. “You’re alive! You’re okay! Oh honey, I thought I lost you.”

    “I’m okay. You’ll never lose me. I love you.”

    Clark looked up as a ray of sunlight suddenly appeared through the clouds, bathing the two softly whispering lovers in a golden glow.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    “You’re not going to believe it, but the sun’s out.”

    Lex and Jason looked over at Lucas, who had just returned to the study after heading out to find something to snack on.

    “It was snowing a moment ago,” Lex stated in confusion, wandering out into the hallway and towards the window at the end of the hall. His eyes widened at the brilliant sunlight that shone through.

    “I told you this town was strange.”

    Lex only nodded at Lucas’ words. The silence was suddenly broken by the ringing of a cell phone. All three men looked down but it was Lucas who answered.

    “Be right back.” With that, he disappeared down the hall, leaving Lex and Jason staring out the window.

    “I don’t know why I want to hang around this town, considering it gets stranger every day.”

    Lex smiled slightly at the words. “It grows on you. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s the place, the people, what have you, but it gets harder and harder to leave.”

    Jason nodded but remained silent.

    Lex looked over, deciding that it couldn’t hurt to pry a little. After all, Lucas had gotten him curious. “So, if you don’t mind me asking, why are you sticking around?”

    Jason sighed, ran a hand through his hair, and shrugged. “Don’t know. I don’t really want to go home, face my father, see his disappointment in me and my life choices,” he trailed off, seeing something that looked remarkably like sympathy come and go quickly in Lex’s eyes.

    “Living up to a father’s ideals is never easy. Especially when you don’t really approve of them yourself.” Lex was surprised to hear himself admit something so personal, to a relative stranger.

    “I can’t go back, Lex. Not now. Not until I’ve proven to him that I can do something, be something other than what he wants me to be. I won’t become the unfeeling, cold monster he has. I deserve better.”

    Lex sensed there was much more he wasn’t being told, but from what he’d researched and what he knew about the elder Teague, he had a suspicion that Jason’s father might in some cases rival his own.

    “What do you want to do? Career wise I mean.”

    Jason looked at Lex in surprise. “I really don’t know. I’ve always been good with people, they talk to me and I can talk to them. I thought about some kind of sales, maybe public relations. But I don’t know.”

    Lex stroked a finger over his chin, a sign he was thinking. It would require a bit of work and some creative juggling but it might help the young man and in the process, get him to reveal his secrets to Lex. Secrets he found himself strangely curious to know.

    “You have a resume?”

    Jason nodded, his eyes widening. “Yeah, it’s a little rusty, but I can update it.”

    Lex nodded. “Send it to me. I might be able to help you out.”

    Jason looked abashed. “Lex, I can’t let you do that.” He stopped, something else occurring to him. “And if you think that’s why I let Lucas bring me here-”

    “Jason. I don’t know you that well, but what I’ve seen speaks in your favor. Not to mention I know how it feels to want to disregard everything you’ve been taught from birth.” He watched as understanding dawned in Jason’s eyes. “Send me a resume. I’m not promising anything, but there might be something I can do at LuthorCorp.”

    Jason swallowed. He’d done his research too and while he was impressed that Lex seemed to see something in him, he wasn’t sure he wanted to work for LuthorCorp. It had it’s own reputation and issues that rivaled his with his father. But, he couldn’t deny, the idea excited him – and not just for the satisfaction he would get from seeing his father’s face at the news.

    “Jason?”

    “Okay, Lex.”

    The two men nodded as Lucas rejoined them. The younger Luthor smiled to himself, sensing things had been worked out between the two.

    “Well, it seems the sun is staying around this time, and I’ve got an old acquaintance in Metropolis I need to catch up with tonight.” He smiled as Lex rolled his eyes. “So, if you’re ready, I’ll drop you off on my way, Jason.”

    “Thanks, Lucas, I appreciate that.”

    The three men walked towards the door, talking lightly. Reaching it, Jason turned and shook Lex’s hand. “Thanks again, Lex.”

    “I’ll talk to you soon, Jason.”

    Lex watched as the man waded through the snow over to Lucas’ car. When he was out of earshot, he turned to his brother.

    “You aren’t going to hug me or anything, are you?”

    Lucas laughed. “No, I prefer hugging warm, curvy blondes. It’s toO bad I’m not going to be staying longer, cuz if I were I might just go see what the lovely Ms. Sullivan is up to-”

    “Don’t mess with her, Lucas.”

    Lucas’ eyebrows rose at his brother’s tone. He hid his grin. So that’s how things were.

    “Why, is there someone I should know about in her life? Didn’t seem like it to me earlier.”

    Lex bristled, unsure at why the thought of Lucas and Chloe together should disturb him.
    Probably because he knew Lucas would hurt Chloe in the end. She needed someone more dependable, and definitely more stable than Lucas.

    Lucas watched Lex’s reaction, his inner grin widening. The poor bastard didn’t even realize—
    “Lucas?”

    Allowing the smirk to appear, he waved to Lex as he walked towards the car. “See you later, Bro.”

    Lex remained silent, watching until the car disappeared from sight. Looking up, he marveled
    at the bright sunlight that was already beginning to melt the piles of snow on the ground.
    Shrugging, he chalked it up to another of Smallville’s oddities and headed back inside.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    “I can’t thank you enough for all your help.”

    Natalie’s soft voice made everyone smile. The young woman was curled up on Nick’s lap, the two looking blissfully in love. They’d been inseparable since they’d piled into Chloe’s car for the return to the Talon. Luckily, the kidnappers bullet had just grazed Natalie’s arm, and a stop at the hospital had taken care of the bleeding.

    Now, the two were sitting with Clark, Lana and Chloe, discussing the rescue and what happened next.

    “So, you’re still headed for Vegas?”

    Nick and Natalie exchanged a glance. “Yeah. I called my parents. Told them how their plan to get me away from you had backfired and how we nearly got killed. They’re still not happy, but they agreed to let us get married.” Natalie smiled at brushed a piece of hair off Nick’s face. “Daddy even said he might let you into the house when we get back.”

    Nick groaned. “Let’s not think about that just yet.”

    Lana sat watching the two, marveling at how things had turned out. She couldn’t help but shoot a glance at Clark, who was alternating between watching Natalie and Nick and staring at her. She wondered if he were thinking the same thing.

    “Well, let us know how it turns out, okay?” Chloe smiled at the couple as she rose from the booth. “I hate to break up the party, but I’ve got to go pick up something a the Torch office before heading over to get Dad at the plant. Apparently his car didn’t like the weather either.” She motioned to Clark as she picked up her purse. “Clark, walk me out?”

    Clark nodded, following Chloe to the door. When they reached it, she turned to him with a frown. “You think that lightening strike took back whatever the meteor rocks did to Nick?”

    Clark sighed. “The weather stayed fine, despite the anger and worry Nick felt at listening to Natalie’s conversation with her parents. If he had some power, I think it’s safe to say it’s gone.”

    “You think.” Chloe nodded, biting her lip, wanting to say that with the way things usually worked out in Smallville, nothing was certain. But she didn’t want to think about that now.
    She had more important matters to take care of.

    “Okay.” With that, she breezed out the door, leaving Clark pondering her words. He too wondered if they’d imagined the whole thing and it had simply been a string of bad weather and nothing more. Then again, this was Smallville and anything was possible.

    “You think it’s over?”

    Lana’s voice made him jump and he turned to face her. “I hope so. But I guess you never know.” He turned back to look at a snuggling Nick and Natalie. “At least they got another chance. Despite everything, they’re still willing to try and make their relationship work.”
    Lana bit her lip, getting the impression that Clark too was thinking along the same lines she was. “They love each other, and that’s a powerful incentive.”

    Clark nodded, unsure what to say, feeling Lana was building up to something. “But love isn’t always enough.”

    Lana nodded. “But the possibility of what you might lose if you never try, well, that might make it worth it.”

    Clark made a sudden decision, wondering if he’d regret it but unable to stop the words that came from his mouth. “Lana, would you go out with me?”

    Lana felt her heart race, looking into his eyes sensing the sincerity in his words. She bit her lip, knowing it was a big step. She wasn’t much closer to figuring out who she was, much less if she wanted a relationship. But after watching Nick and Natalie, hearing their story, seeing them now, she wondered if she and Clark deserved a try as well. It might not work, it might fall apart again, but maybe, just maybe, in spite of the risk it was worth another try.

    “Okay.”

    The two smiled at each other, uncertain what to say, instead settling for turning back to the window and watching the sunlight sparkle across the quickly melting snow.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

    Taking a deep breath, she focused on the words. As she read, her face paled and her hands began to shake. As the sun slowly moved behind a cloud, a gray darkness replaced the golden light, sending a feeling of cold through the cramped office.

    It went unnoticed as Chloe continued to stare at the screen, body shaking, now pale as a ghost, face locked in an expression of utter shock.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
    End of Episode 7

  3. #3
    Happy-ending addict Senior Member lexie's Avatar
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    Re: Episode 7 - "Cernunnos" (PG)

    I really enjoyed this episode and particularly Lucas´ introduction and his insightful comments. He´s certainly as observant as it´s expected of a Luthor. I wonder if he´ll hang around and flirt a little bit with Chloe just to enjoy himself at Lex´s expense.

    The remarks about the irrelevance of age difference in a relationship made me think immediately of Chloe and Lex- not that it´s an abyss between them but certain people might find it objectionable.

    The final paragraph was really disturbing but well... I´ve got the advantage. I´ve already read some of the coming episodes and I think I know what this is about.

    Off to read the following instalment.

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  4. #4
    An Accused Heretic Senior Member Kit Merlot's Avatar
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    Re: Episode 7 - "Cernunnos" (PG)

    I like the addition of Lucas to the story and how he immediately clued into there being more to Chloe and Lex's relationship then just a friendship.

    The Clana/Lana is quite bearable because you've actually made Lana human

    And I love watching Chloe as the natural born detective she is calling the shots to the investigation and subsequent rescue.
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