Disclaimer: Smallville: Superman the Early Years, and Superman, the comic and all their relevant characters, places and items, are the direct property of Warner Brothers Inc, The CW and DC comics.
A/N:Good Morning all, and yes, it is morning for me, because for some reason my muse hit me just as I was about to go to bed, and decided to keep me up all night by prodding me. I've been struggling to finish this chapter, as its very much a filler one again, but kind of necessary for plot development. Before i continue to ramble on about nothings, I would like to apologise once more for taking a lifetime to update this story, I hope you are all still with me :D
As per usual love, and blessings, and cattle, and goats, and anything else i can think of go to the reviewers for the last chapter; saurina Mark[dot]sv, Hellzz-On-Earth, GoChlollie, 0appletree0, and ica013. Thank you all so much for your reviews, I read all of them while bouncing up and down in my seat, because I'm a bit of a loser like that #DontJudgeMe...
Anyway, Here lies the story,
The very exercise of leadership fosters capacity for it. – Cyril Falls
"So If I'm understanding you right," Bart began, now currently leaning against several cushions from a very comfortable spot on Chloe's couch, as Dinah relayed the past few hours to him, "Victor's dead; AC is probably dead-or worse, Oliver tried to… be dead…"
Dinah made a face at his last comment, but nodded, and said nothing.
"And Chloe is currently chewing out some military underling, because she thinks that the military are going to nuke Metropolis."
Dinah smiled, despite the situation. "You know Bart, for someone who's been unconscious for nearly a day, you're surprisingly sharp."
"Well…" Bart said with mock-humility. "What can I say?"
"Here you go, Bart." Amanda said, handing Bart a bag of chips. "It was the quickest thing I could find. I know you probably want something warm inside you but-"
"Oh this is perfect!" Bart said with a grin tearing into the chips. "You're perfect!"
Amanda blushed, ignoring Friar's narrowing eyes.
Dinah smiled again. There was something about Bart that made everything seem lighter. It was like subconsciously he could tell Watchtower had been swimming in a cloud of angst, and it needed a little foolishness to make things seem brighter. While Dinah couldn't quite forget about AC, and Vic, thanks to Bart, she could see past it.
"So…" Bart said through a mouthful of chips. "What I don't understand is why Chloe doesn't want to nuke the aliens."
Dinah rolled her eyes. "Because they are literally indestructible." She said simply. "It's more likely that the bombs will kill us, and leave the Kandorians with our planet, free from us meddling humans."
Suddenly everyone was distracted by the sound of Chloe broaching on violence. "Listen! If you don't stop messing me around with this clerical bullshit and put me on the phone with your commanding officer, I swear I will come down there and push a nuke down your throat! … Don't you DARE tell me to CALM DOWN!" she hollered into the phone.
Looking up, she noticed that there were a lot of eyes on her. "What?" she snapped. And suddenly everyone found something else to distract themselves with.
Bart let out a low whistle. "It's starting to get to her isn't it?"
Dinah raised an eyebrow. "You think?"----------------------------------------
Moments later, Chloe was hanging up the phone and tossing it on her desk in frustration, before falling into her seat, and burying her face in her hands. Clark watched her from across the desk with a worried look on his face, but knew better than to say anything.
"I can't get through to the General…" she mumbled after a while. "And everyone else is giving me the run around… Dammit! Why doesn't anyone listen to me when the world's ending?"
Clark bit back a smile. "Try to relax Chloe. Isn't there anything you can do from Watchtower to stop the missiles firing?"
"I don't know Clark." She said honestly. "Nuclear Missile launches aren't exactly designed to allow anyone to manipulate them… It may be a little out of my league."
Honestly, she was beginning to feel a little hopeless. Things seemed to be spiralling out of her control, and she couldn't help but wonder how she didn't see this coming. Maybe if she had been more diligent in watching Tess instead of looking for Lois or Oliver or… but no… Even if she had, Chloe was smart enough to know that Tess wasn't exactly going to let Chloe in on all her dirty little secrets. Perhaps she should just say her prayers and hope that there was a heaven to go to.
She glanced at Clark, and saw a very pensive look on his face; the secretive kind that he used to put on before she found out about his secret. "Hey?" she said, getting his attention. "What're you thinking?"
The look immediately disappeared. "I was thinking about our friends." He said gesturing toward the civilians. Chloe could tell he was lying, but allowed him to keep his thoughts to himself… for now at least. "They're not safe here."
Chloe nodded in agreement. Of course they couldn't force them to leave, but Chloe had to admit that she would feel safer if they'd evacuate with the others.
"I could escort them to the evacuation sites?" Clark said with a shrug. When Chloe frowned at him, he replied with a simple "I wanna to feel useful."
Chloe smiled, "I get it." She said.
Friar stared at Chloe with a frown on his face. "… You expect us to just walk away from all this?"
Chloe sighed, she thought that Friar would find some way to contend with her. Mainly because he seemed to disagree with everything. "We can't ensure your safety if you were to stay. Watchtower can't protect you from the Kandorians for long. You're best bet is to leave the city, and allow us to try and contain them as long as we can."
"Contain them?" Magali piped up, incredulously (apparently she could speak english) "How can you and your freak friends contain these people?"
Clark immediately put a hand on Dinah's shoulder to hold her back.
"There is no containing these… things…" Magali continued.
"Well what do you suggest we do?" Dr Abbott said "Sit back, and wait for them to kill everyone?"
Lillian said something to Magali in French, and she seemed to agree with her before saying to the rest of the group. "My sister and I are not a part of this. We don't expect you to understand. You American's always think that you have to save the world… You are too late."
She then sat back in her seat and refused to speak any further. The others seemed to be a little more conflicted.
"Look," Chloe said in reassurance. "This is your decision. While I encourage you to leave while you can, there's no pressure to go, or to stay."
"But you're gonna stay?" Amanda asked, looking up at Chloe from her seat on the floor. "You're gonna fight?"
"You're damn right."
Everyone turned at the voice. Oliver was standing behind them, appearing refreshed. Clean, changed, and with a determined scowl on his face.
Completely shell shocked, Chloe could do little more than gape. She tried to say something, but all that escaped her was a weak and surprised "Oliver…"
"We're gonna fight, because we have to." He said.
Chloe stared at him in astonishment. While she had hoped that he would turn himself around, she hadn't expected it to happen in the space of a few hours. It warmed her heart a little to see him wearing that leader's expression, the posture he wore so well, as leader of the JLA. It gave her a new found confidence in their cause, in what she was asking of her friends. She smiled a small smile to her self and looked away from him, finally feeling that the straws she had been clutching at were coming together.
"Well, I'm not gonna say no to a fight-"
"Mr Friar-" Chloe began
"Now, Ms Chloe." He interrupted. "I know you're gonna tell me something about how worried you are and all. But please. If I can't fight for my country, and for my world, what can I fight for?"
Amanda piped up too. "I'm in too." She said, raising a hand at Friar's protests. "I won't argue with you, so don't you argue with me." She seemed to sense Chloe's agitation with this situation, and reached out to touch Chloe's hand. "Please Chloe. Let us help."
Mrs Goldman and Dr Abbott exchanged glances, before coming to the conclusion that they wouldn't be any help.
"As much as I want to make that man squirm," Mrs Goldman said, "I fear all I'd do is get in the way."
Dr Abbott agreed, saying that he thinks he's seen too much of what the Kandorians can do. "I don't think I have the stomach for any more." He said. "I was an optician…"
Chloe cut Bart a look before the smirk on his face grew into anything more, and he swallowed his giggles. Clark agreed to escort them to the evacuation sites, armed with meteor rock, and soon he left with the others. Only Friar, Amanda, and Barry the bartender remained.
Barry explained his reasons for not leaving a lot later, when it was just him and Chloe.
"I've never really done anything worth remembering." He'd said hours later. "I dropped out of college, and got jobs here and there. I was only working the bar that night by chance you know… But I feel like this-all this- it's fate. I've always wanted something to tell my grandkids one day… Maybe I can tell them how I helped save the world."
It was a pleasant notion, saving the world. But Chloe began to wonder if it was possible this time. After so many times saving the world, you'd think she'd be desensitised to the idea. But this time was different; there was no Clark with all his amazing powers, no random idea that would spring into her head… and there were so many Kandorians.
Her eyes suddenly fell on Oliver who had struck up conversation with Dinah on the other side of watchtower, and she smiled. But perhaps… she thought… Perhaps there was a little hope.
She walked over to him as Dinah walked away. "Hey." She said lamely "Thanks… For you know… what you did back there."
He smiled understanding.
"It felt like you were really back you know." She continued. "Back leading the team, like old days."
His smile faded, and he looked at the ground. "Look Chloe-"
"I guess I'm… I'm really proud of you, Oliver." She said. "I feel like I can hand you back the reigns." She finished with a grin, which Oliver didn't return.
He didn't meet her eyes for a while, and Chloe began to feel that restlessness again. "Chloe… " he began "I want you to know, I am here. You were right, I was being a coward, and… Look I'm by your side, 100%. But you should know, I'm not ready to take back the reigns yet."
Chloe frowned, "What do you mean?"
He sighed, looking for a way to approach this. "I meant what I said earlier." He said finally. "I'm not a hero anymore, I'm not Green Arrow, and I can't lead the team anymore… I've screwed up too many times and… I don't trust myself with it. So if you're looking for a soldier; that I can do, I can stick this out, and fight, but I can't be the leader you need."
Chloe felt her shoulders fall at his statement. "Well then…" she began tiredly, "What am I meant to do, Oliver? Who's gonna be the leader we need?"
Oliver said nothing, but there was a trace of a smile on his face as he looked pointedly at her.
Chloe's eyes widened as she began to understand. "Wait… Me?" She said "You want me to do it?"
"Who better?" he said. "Chloe, you've worked tirelessly to bring us back together, you've held it together when everyone else was falling apart… and let's face it you were always the boss."
Chloe didn't know what to say, and so gaped at him, stupidly, for a few minutes.
"Maybe… someday I'll be ready to pull on my leathers again, Chloe." Oliver said with a shrug "But until then, the team needs you."
Chloe swallowed nervously, suddenly feeling a whole lot heavier. "Do you realise what you've just put on my shoulders, Ollie?" she said. "What if I can't do it either?"
Oliver smiled a little at the nickname, "I think you're capable of a lot more than you realise, Sidekick." He said. "What do you say?"
Chloe sighed. There was so much confidence looking back at her in Oliver's big brown eyes. And while it warmed her heart to see him think of her with such respect, she was still anxious… no not anxious, she was scared. But despite that, she already knew her answer.
"Okay." She said with a shrug. "Okay I'll do it. I'll lead the team."
"Your team" Oliver corrected.
"But Oliver, you have to promise me one thing." She said, holding up a finger at him. "Promise me that you won't do another 180, and leave me in the lurch. Leading the team… It's big… and I'm gonna need your help."
Oliver smiled, he was doing that a lot lately, Chloe noticed. "Of course." He said. "And it's your team."----------------------------------------
It was about ten minutes later that Chloe got the call back from her uncle. Having not spoken to the General since telling him that Lois was missing, Chloe knew it was going to be a strange call. But strange was the least of her problems right now.
"So that's the long and short of it." Chloe said, explaining the situation to her uncle.
"So, these aliens are indestructible?" The General asked.
"I know how it sounds-"
"Oh I'm glad you do, Chloe." The General said, sounding severely annoyed. "Do you realise what you're asking me to do? You're asking me to tell the President of the United States, that a twenty-year-old reporter has told me that we should call off our offensive because she thinks that the only way to stop them is the little green rocks in Smallville-"
"General, I'm not a reporter… And um… I'm twenty-two… And sir, I'm asking you to prevent Nuclear Winter, and the probable loss of all life on earth, because your niece has asked you to." Chloe countered.
There was silence on the general's end for a while, and Chloe took the opportunity to continue. "General, I need you to trust me on this one. I know more about these aliens than you can possibly imagine. The missiles won't work."
There was a long pause on the General's end, before he replied. "Chloe, are you absolutely sure about this?"
"More than anything, Sir."
There was another pause, and Chloe shifted in her seat anxiously. "I can't make any promises Chloe." The general said finally. "But I will try."
A smile split Chloe's face. "Thank you, sir." She said excitedly. "Thank you so much."
There was another pause, and Chloe sensed the General wasn't finished. "Sir?"
"You'll keep looking for our girl won't you?" he said quietly.
Chloe swallowed thickly, fighting the emotion in her throat. "Of course, Sir." She said.----------------------------------------
"How're you feeling?" Oliver asked as he approached Bart.
"Comfortable…" Bart said slowly with a grin. "Which means Emil has me dosed up on the good stuff."
Oliver laughed. "Yeah, that's highly likely." He said. "Sorry aliens branded you."
"Don't forget the ribs." Bart added with a grin. Noticing Oliver's face turn, he frowned "What's wrong?"
"Come on Bossman," Bart said, "I know you better than that. Are you about to go all depressed and angsty on me?"
Oliver rolled his eyes, but couldn't suppress a smile. "How can you be so optimistic right now?"
Bart grinned widely. "Well I heal fast, so I'm looking forward to about eight hours from now, when I can go on an anti-Kandorian rampage. And of course," he said, his eyes glancing over at Chloe. "I have a pretty good view to keep me going till then."
It was strange, normally, Oliver would have hit him upside the head, or rolled his eyes at him, but instead, he found his own eyes straying to Chloe. Her head was bent over her desk, but both Oliver and Bart could see a little line appearing between her eyebrows, as she concentrated, and her eyes become fierce with determination. Oliver smiled to himself at the thought of her, knowing he'd made the right decision. Chloe was unrelenting, loyal, brave and stubborn as a mule (though he'd never compare her to a mule to her face because she was also more terrifying than a thousand Kandorians, when she wanted to be). If anyone was going to bring Zod and his army down, it would be her.
He was so caught up in his thoughts, he didn't realise he'd been staring at her. But Bart did.
"Yo!" he exclaimed suddenly, before wincing a little. It still hurt to talk too much. "What's going on?"
Oliver snapped his head back round to face Bart. "What're you talking about?"
"Have you got a crush on Chloe-licious?"
Oliver frowned "What?" he asked, incredulous.
"You heard me!"
"No! I don't have a crush on Chloe." He said a little tiredly.
"Oh what, she's not good enough for you?"
"No! Of course Chloe is perfectly lovely, but…" Oliver began. "She's… well… she's Chloe… "
"Yeah I know-"
"Look, I don't have a crush on Chloe." Oliver said. "And, crush? Really? What is this seventh grade?"
"Dude, you're the one crushing on –Licious."
"I told you I'm not-"
"Bossman," Bart said, with a look "Who're you talking to? That look you were just giving her? I majored in that look."
Oliver sighed, and gave up. There was no point arguing with Bart, once he was fixated on something. "I'm not the boss anymore." He said quietly, "you take orders from Chloe, okay?"
Bart raised an eyebrow. "When didn't I?"----------------------------------------
"So I just got off the phone with my guy and, he says that if we get the rocks to him within 24 hours, he can get us around 100 units in 48." Dinah said, walking over to Chloe, hours of waiting and waiting had passed, and it seemed, Dinah was the only productive on in the building.
Chloe didn't seem to hear her, she stared ahead, looking over her desk, chewing on her fingernails, and frowning into space. Dinah raised an eyebrow, before shaking her.
"What?" Chloe snapped. "Oh sorry Dinah…"
"Were you listening?"
"100 units in 48 hours right?" Chloe said tiredly. "That's gonna be too late unless we can stop the missiles."
"What's wrong?" Dinah asked "I thought you spoke to your uncle?"
"Yeah, I did." Chloe said, staring back into the space with a frown, "but he hasn't got back to me, and it's already nearly 11:00 pm."
"Chloe, I'm sure it'll be fine-"
"You're sure are you?" Chloe snapped "With everything that's happened in the past 24 hours, how can you possibly be sure?"
Dinah looked stung. "Okay, I was trying to stop you worrying, but… sorry for trying-"
"No, Dinah, I'm sorry." Chloe sighed, running her hands over her face. "I need to stop snapping at you… I just… wait…" thoughts practically flashed across Chloe's face, before she realised something. "Where the hell is Clark?"
Dinah frowned. "Clark? He's-" she began. "Um… I guess he's probably helping with the evacuation or something."
"Or something's gone wrong, and he's in danger." Chloe said. "Dammit… he doesn't have his damn powers… stupid Kandorians…" she mumbled the last bit, and Dinah didn't hear. Chloe searched on her desk for her phone.
"Chloe, Clark is probably one of our smallest problems right now," Dinah said,
"I'm just going to check in- Where the hell is my phone?" she mumbled.
Dinah said something under her breath,
"What's that?" Chloe asked.
"Never mind." Dinah said with a clipped smile. "I hope Clark's fine."
Chloe thought… or maybe imagined that she heard a bite to that comment, but chose to think nothing of it as Dinah walked away. Having finally found her phone, she called Clark.
It took him way too long to pick up, allowing Chloe's mind to envision him torn to pieces by Kryptonian psychopaths. "Hi Chloe." He said rather distantly.
"Oh my God!" she exclaimed. "Where the hell are you? It's nearly 11:oo, the attack could happen any minute."
Clark was silent for a while before replying. "I'm in Smallville."
"What are you doing in Smallville?" Chloe asked. "Have you got some kind of secret weapon in you're Kryptonian treasure chest that can help us?"
"Not exactly." Clark said. "Chloe, I want you to get out of Metropolis as soon as you can."
"What?" Chloe said with a frown. "What are you talking about Clark?"
"I think I've found a way to fix this." Clark said. "You just have to-"
The line went dead. "Clark?" Chloe called out. "Clark?"
"What happened?" Chloe turned to see Oliver approaching.
"I don't know. The like cut out." Chloe said. "But Clark was being real strange. Talking about how he's gonna fix this…" she shook her head, not understanding, and stared at the phone. "Oh, wait, I got a text."
Chloe read the text aloud. "Holding off on the nukes. Couldn't call off the air strikes. Find cover. U. Sam."
"Is that the General?"
Chloe frowned. "Yeah… We may have a problem…"
But before Chloe could elaborate, the whole tower seemed to shake, and the tower went black.
A/N: Sigh... so if I completely screwed this up, I'm really sorry. I just cant function, because my muse won't let me sleep, and it's 6 in the morning now, and I have to go to lectures in about two and a half hours and talk about shoulders... why... because i do... anyway, It would make this whole thing worth it if you guys would let me know what you think
if you enjoyed it, if you didn't please leave a review.