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Kryptonian Consort 35/?

Kryptonian Consort
Genre: Drama, romance, old school Clois, AU
Rating: NC17 (overall)
Pairing: Clark/Lois, Kal-El/Lois
Spoilers: Season Four on
Feedback: Would make my day
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, or the scripts which are used liberally here, but if I did, oh boy would I have some fun!

Summary: Clark returns from the matrix where he has spent his summer only to meet the girl he decides is his destiny. And nobody better get in his way.

a/n: Banner once again designed by the lovely and talented miss ctbn60

Previously



Chapter Thirty-Five


Lois sighed as she put down the paper.

“Still no jobs?” Clark asked.

She shook her head. “Nothing that’s going to help me save for college tuition.”

Martha put down the bowl she’d been drying.

“Well, sweetheart, I know it’s only minimum wage, but I can offer you a couple of shifts at the Talon. At least until you find something better.”

Lois didn’t want to work at the Talon and serve the high school crowd. But it looked like she had no options.

“Can I think about it?” she asked Martha.

“Of course. But don’t wait too long. Since Jessie proved to be unreliable, I really need to fill those shifts.”

“I’ll let you know by the end of the week.” She turned back to Clark, who had been looking at his college brochures. “Speaking of decisions ...”

“I know,” he sighed. “I really need to think about a college. It’s just, well, since Metropolis is out ...”

“Maybe in terms of the scholarship, honey, but you can still go.”

“I just don’t know if we can afford it,” he said quietly, clearly not wanting to upset his parents with talk about money. The farm was always struggling financially. Despite the fact that Lex had taken care of the mortgage the year before by buying back the deed to the farm from the bank. Jonathan had been trying to pay Lex back ever since, not wanting to be beholden to him. Plus the bills just kept mounting up.

While Lois wanted to save to go back to college, determined to make a go of it second time around, she also wanted to contribute to the family finances in some way. She watched her in-laws struggling to make ends meet and wished she could do more to help. She’d already talked this over with Clark, who’d told her the help she gave his mom in the kitchen was a big help, since it freed up her time to make pies or muffins for the Talon. The little money brought in from the sale of the baked goods gave them more for things they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.

She knew Clark was still struggling with the idea of going away to college and leaving his parents to handle the farm chores alone. His father couldn’t really afford to hire a farm hand, and that meant they might have to sell some land and stock to cover for the jobs Clark couldn’t do. His parents had been adamant that if he went away to college, he could not run home to do the chores.

Clark had mentioned he’d been considering community college, but that wasn’t what she wanted either. Not if Clark wanted to get a degree in journalism. She supposed he could just join a newspaper without a college degree, but he’d have to start at the very bottom and it would just take way longer to become a full-fledged reporter.

“You really need to think carefully about your future, Clark,” Martha said. “Your college application deadlines are coming up soon.”

“I know, Mom. Don’t worry. I am thinking long and hard about this.”

There was a knock on the front door and Lois frowned. Clark jumped up.

“I’ll get it,” he said, going out to the door. Lois heard him speaking to the person at the door, then he came back in with a large Fed-Ex envelope.

“What is it?” Lois asked him.

“It’s from Dr Swann,” he said. “I told you about him, remember?”

“Oh yeah, the scientist. What does he want?”

Clark tore the top off the envelope. But he didn’t have a chance to see the contents as Jonathan called from the living room.

“Hey, you three. You need to see this.”

Clark went into the living room and Lois and Martha followed. Jonathan was watching a news report on the television. The announcer was looking sadly into the camera. A still photograph of the famed scientist was on the screen to her left.

“We have breaking news from New York. Here is our correspondent Tom Flores.”

“We have just confirmed that Dr Virgil Swann passed away this morning. No details are being released. The reclusive billionaire will be remembered as one of the leading philanthropists of his generation.

“Along with starting the Virgil Swann Charitable Foundation, he generously funded a wing at the Natural History Museum.”

Clark looked extremely upset at the news.

“I don’t understand. I just talked to him last week.”

Lois reached out, touching his arm. “I’m so sorry honey,” she said. “I know how much he meant to you.”

Lois had never had the chance to meet the scientist, although Clark had promised he would take her to New York at some time so they could meet. Now, she would never get that chance.

“There was still so much I needed to learn from him about Krypton and Jor-El.”

Martha was sympathetic. “We can at least be thankful for everything he did pass on to you.”

Clark frowned down at the envelope in his hand. He tipped it up and pulled out a note and a blue velvet bag. He unfolded the note. It was on Dr Swann’s own stationery.

“Kal-El, I wish I could continue this journey with you. But now you must seek out your father. If I sheltered you from him for too long, forgive me. Jor-El sent you here on a mission. He is the only one who can help you finish it. I am returning something that is rightfully yours. I know it will lead you to your destiny.”

Lois frowned. “Do you think he knew he was dying?” she asked.

Clark shrugged. “He must have,” he said, staring at the image on the television, his mind clearly on the memory of his meeting with Dr Swann.

He opened the bag and pulled out a small metal octagonal-shaped disk. Lois’ eyes widened as Clark held it up.

“It’s the key from the ship,” he said. “How did he manage to get hold of it?”

Lois looked at the disk as Clark turned it over in his hands. Clark had told her of the fight between Jonathan and Lionel Luthor last spring when Jonathan had taken the disk to the caves to speak to Jor-El. The disk had vanished, but they’d all assumed it had been swallowed up in the wall. It had never occurred to them that someone might have taken it.

“Maybe Dr Swann had one of his people pretending to work for Lionel, and they found the disk.”

“I suppose,” Clark mused, still looking over the disk.

Clark was still looking as if he had lost his best friend when they went to bed that night. Lois held him.

“Honey, maybe you should go talk to Jor-El. I know he’s a bit of a jerk, but maybe there’s a reason Dr Swann sent this to you now, right when he was dying. And Jor-El is the only one who can tell you about Krypton.”

“I don’t trust him. Remember, he’s the one who brainwashed me.”

“I know. But didn’t you also say that you had to find the other stones? I mean, if Lex has a manuscript that leads to one of the stones, there’s a good chance he could get there before you. And what about that stone that Lionel had? It can’t have just vanished off the face of the Earth. Jor-El sent you after them for a reason.”

“And what if he tries to brainwash me again?”

“And what if he doesn’t? Besides, I could go with you. He wouldn’t dare hurt your consort. You know he wouldn’t!”

“I know. And as much as I would love that, Lois, I think maybe it’s best if I go to the caves alone. I don’t want to take any chances.”

“Okay. When will you go?”

“First thing tomorrow.”

Clark reluctantly entered the inner chamber and found the stone table. He still wasn’t sure about this, but Lois had felt it was the only thing to do Now that Dr Swann was gone, the caves were his only link to Krypton. To his birthright.

He held the disk in his hand, staring at the gap in the stone table. The crystal he had retrieved from Lex was still sitting in the indentation as it had been for several months, but there was a small fissure in the stone where it appeared the key would fit. Taking a deep breath, Clark inserted the key.

He shielded his eyes from the sudden blinding light, squinting in the brightness. Then he was caught up in some kind of whirlwind that was reminiscent of the same maelstrom that had taken him to the matrix the year before. Images swirled around him as wave after wave of pure energy hit him.

“What do you want from me?” he yelled, not sure if he would be able to hear with the rushing in his ears. But Jor-El’s voice, when it came, was even in tone.

“I knew you would return, my son.”

“Why?”

“You may be the last survivor of a great civilisation.”

How great could it be when its very inhabitants appeared to shun other civilisations? If they were so great, how could they not save themselves from the cataclysm that had destroyed them? But Clark didn’t ask all that.

“A great civilisation that destroyed itself,” he answered.

“As will yours, if you continue to refuse your mission. The knowledge of our civilisation was encoded in three stones, brought to Earth and hidden at the far reaches of the world. Greed will drive others to hunt the stones. But if the humans should unite them before you, they will not be able to withstand the temptation and will drive the world to famine, war, and the Earth’s ultimate destruction. You must find the other two stones. The fate of the world lies in your hands, Kal-El.”

Great. So if the world ended it was his responsibility?

“I don’t think that’s what he meant, honey,” Lois said as she put down a plate of sandwiches. “I just think that he meant that the stones in the wrong hands could be misused.”

Clark sighed. He’d returned from the caves and reported everything Jor-El had told him to Lois.

“Yeah, but if I don’t unite the stones, then it is my responsibility.”

Lois grinned and shook him, a hand on his shoulder. “Then I guess you just have to make sure that doesn’t happen. At any rate, Jor-El says those stones were meant for you.”

“I wouldn’t know the first place to start looking.” He shook his head.

“Maybe you don’t, but Lex might. I mean, if he has been investigating the manuscript, he’s sure to have found the map by now. Why don’t we go talk to him? He did say you should work on it together.”

“Yeah, but what do I say?”

Lois growled softly at him, giving him a slap upside the head. “What, spaceboy? Do I have to do all the thinking for you?” She grabbed his hand. “Come on, no time like the present.”

As they headed for the door, Mom and Dad came in.

“Hey, where are you two off to?” Dad chuckled.

“To see Lex.” Dad frowned.

“What for?”

“To talk to him about something.”

Mom looked worried. “Clark, you’re being very evasive.”

Clark flinched under his mother’s expression. He could usually wind his dad around his little finger if he really wanted to, but his mother was a different story.

“Mom ...”

“Clark Jerome Kent, you better come clean with us right now.”

Clark swallowed and glanced at Lois. She nodded slightly. Better get it over with, her expression told him.

“I went down to the caves to talk to Jor-El.”

“I thought we agreed you were not to go back down to the caves,” Dad said.

“Dad, I couldn’t just ignore Dr Swann’s message.”

“And he didn’t know Jor-El the way we do.”

Clark sighed. Lois spoke up.

“We talked about this before he went,” she said. “And I know what we’re dealing with, but Clark does need to know about his heritage. Whether we trust him or not. And I know what you’re thinking. How could he go without discussing this with you first. But the thing is, Clark and I will have to learn to make our own decisions together sooner or later. As a couple.”

“Yes, but Jor-El has never had Clark’s best interests at heart,” Dad said.

Clark shook his head. He could understand where his father was coming from, but he did need to know more about his heritage. About where he came from. And while the idea of it made his parents uneasy, it was something he had to do.

“I know that, Dad. But he’s never lied to me, either. And the trials he’s put me through – maybe they’re not all random. Maybe he’s trying to prepare me to find these stones.”

Mom seemed a little more sympathetic. “Are you really sure you want to open all this up again? The last few months, ever since you chose to walk away from Jor-El, it’s like we got the old Clark back.”

Clark took Lois’ hand and she smiled at him.

“Mom,” he said, turning back to her. “As much as I like playing football and trying to be normal, the truth is, I’m not. I’ve already let one of these stones slip through my hands, all because I’ve been reluctant to do what he wanted. But it’s more important than ever now.”

“And you have no idea what will happen once you do bring the stones together, Clark.”

“I can’t just let someone else get their hands on them. Jor-El warned me something bad could happen. I mean, something that holds that much knowledge of Krypton could be dangerous in the wrong hands.”

“So what does Lex have to do with this?”

“If I can get a look at that manuscript he has, I might just be able to get hold of the map.”

“So we’re going over to Lex’s to see if we can persuade him to let us look at the manuscript,” Lois said.

Dad sighed. He still seemed uncertain about it, but Clark couldn’t blame him. The last time his father had gone up against Jor-El, he had ended up in the hospital in a coma for three months.

“All right. But be careful.”

They drove over to the mansion and headed to Lex’s study. As they got to the main doors, they heard Lionel speaking to someone.

“Lex is in Shanghai and if I had to guess I would say that your boyfriend is there with him.” Lois frowned at Clark, who put a finger to his lips. Lana, he mouthed. Lionel went on. “I’m sorry. I thought Jason would have told you what’s happening, considering you are the one born right into the middle of all this. You should know, Miss Lang, how thoroughly Lex and Jason have been studying Isabelle Thoreaux, your rebellious ancestor.”

“Looks like they aren’t the only ones.”

Lois saw Clark squinting and guessed he was x-raying the door.

“Isabelle’s arch rival was a duchess – Gertrude – who was obsessed with finding three mythical stones. She sent ships to the far ends of the known Earth, but all her agents could discover was this map, somewhere in China.”

“What does this treasure map have to do with Isobel?”

“The map never made it into the hands of the duchess. Isabelle stole the document and hid it.”

“We have to get a copy of that map,” Lois whispered to Clark.

“I know,” he whispered back. He shushed her, appearing to be listening intently. He grabbed her hand and sped off.

Lois drove back to the farm, her head reeling as Clark explained what he’d heard.

“Isabelle is using Lana as some sort of vessel.”

“Well, we knew that because of how she got possessed that time,” Lois answered. “But what’s this about Jason?”

“He’s related to the duchess, Gertrude. It sounds like Jason’s mom wants to find the stones for herself.”

“We have to stop them. But how?”

“Do you think your dad can get us to China?” Clark asked.

“I can try,” she told him, pulling into the farm gate.

They went to the loft and Lois called her father.

“China? What the hell do you two want to go to China for?”

“It’s for a school project, for Clark. Please Dad.”

“No, Lois. I’m not commandeering a plane just for you two to go off gallivanting.”

“We wouldn’t be gallivanting, boss. It would be educational.”

“If you’re so keen to go, then ask Clark’s parents. Or pay for the trip yourselves.”

“I can’t. I maxed out my credit cards after that incident at Met U and I haven’t found a job yet.”

“The answer’s no,” her father said.

Lois growled in frustration, hanging up on him. Clark, meanwhile, was looking up information on the ‘net, using his school laptop.

“Lionel said Lex was in Shanghai, right?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“Well, the other two were found in some old ruins, so, it stands to reason that the third one should be located in something fairly old.”

She watched as he typed something into the search engine.

“Yeah, but Clark, China’s an old country. There have to be thousands of ancient relics.”

Just as she thought, the search came up with about a hundred million hits. There was no way they could sift through all that information.

“I know. It’s a long-shot, but ...”

Lois sighed. “If Chloe were here, she’d be able to come up with a way to search for the symbols that match the ones in the caves.”

“Yeah, but Chloe’s in Metropolis.”

Lois nodded. She was supposed to have gone with her cousin for the weekend, but thanks to her credit cards being maxed, she couldn’t afford to.

“Maybe we don’t need her,” Clark mused. “I can speed read, so maybe I can speed through the pages.”

“It would still take a long time,” she countered. “We don’t have the first clue where to start looking. And China’s a big country. Shanghai alone ...”

“Lo, stop being so pessimistic. Besides, maybe we do have at least one clue.”

“Oh?”

“If I remember the map correctly, it looked like there was some kind of temple. If we look up temples ...”

He started the search again, keying in ancient temples.

“Oh great,” Lois sighed as she read the first entry Clark clicked on. “The government destroyed a lot of ancient temples in the Cultural Revolution. That’s just great. How are we supposed to find it now if the temple’s gone?”

“We don’t know that for sure.”

“You know, I think it’s kind of unfair of Jor-El to expect you to find these stones but not give you clues on how to do so.”

“I don’t know. It seems like another one of his trials. Like it’s supposed to be just hard enough to make it worthwhile.”

She could see Clark was speeding through the pages and she sat on the couch, her head in her hands.

“This is not going to work.”

Clark turned from the computer and looked at her, sighing heavily.

“Well, what else can we do?” he asked.

“I bet Lana’s going to China. We could convince her to let us tag along.”

“It’s worth a shot, I guess. Question is, how is she getting there?”

“Maybe we should go talk to Lionel Luthor,” Lois said.

“We can’t trust him.”

“We can’t trust Lex either. I mean, I think he knows a lot more about this whole thing than he’s letting on.”

“Yeah. Come on, let’s go talk to him.”

Lionel didn’t look surprised to see the pair of them.

“Well, Clark Kent and Lois Lane. I was wondering when you two would show up.”

Clark glowered at the older man.

“You make it sound like you were expecting us.”

Lionel snickered.

“Well, I would say you have a vested interest in why my son is in China, wouldn’t you? Or am I wrong and that was not the two of you listening at the door a little while ago?”

“Lionel ...” Lois began.

Lionel held up a hand. “We all know that Lex isn’t in China for some pleasure-seeking, now don’t we? The question is, what would you like to do about it?”

“Lionel ...” Clark growled.

“I would suggest you speak to Miss Lang. After all, she is the one who appears to be the innocent victim in all of this. I have provided her with the use of the Luthorcorp jet. And I imagine she will be eager to leave forthwith.”

Clark still felt uneasy about the fact that Lionel seemed to know more than he was telling, especially about Clark’s own interest in what was going on in China. But he chose to ignore his misgivings. Lionel, it seemed, was thinking more of Lana’s welfare.

They raced to Lana’s apartment above the Talon. She was packing a suitcase.

“Hi,” Clark said, as they entered. “Going somewhere?”

Lana nodded, packing a top into the case. “China.”

“What’s wrong?” Lois asked.

“Nothing. I’m just ... a little freaked, I guess.”

“Why?”

“Look, I really can’t explain it.”

“Does this have anything to do with what happened at Chloe’s birthday?” Clark asked, getting straight to the point.

“How do you know about that? Everyone else says they can’t remember.”

Clark bit his lip. He’d told her that. But she didn’t need to know that he remembered everything. Then he hit on a brainwave.

“Lex told me,” he said. “He mentioned you spoke Latin and ...”

“Oh, yeah, that. Lex told me about that.”

“Lana, I know we’re not the best of friends,” Lois said softly, “but you can talk to us. We just want to help. And something has been bothering you for a while.”

Lana sighed heavily. “You’re right.” She turned her back on them and lifted her blouse. Clark frowned, staring at it.

“This looks like one of the symbols from the cave.”

Lana looked at him, all doe-eyed. “You wouldn’t know what it means, would you, Clark?”

He shook his head. “No, sorry, I don’t.”

She sighed again. “I really wish you did know. Because I’ve had this ever since I came back from France and ...”

“And what?”

“Well, let’s just say that Chloe’s party isn’t the only strange thing that’s been happening lately. Anyway, I think Jason and Lex took off with a map which might be the key to this whole thing.”

Clark frowned. “Why would they do that?”

Lana shook her head. “I don’t know, but Jason said we were going to figure this out together. It turns out he has a rather limited definition of ‘we’.”

“Maybe he’s just trying to protect you,” Lois said gently. “Give him a chance to explain.”

“I don’t give up on someone that easily,” Lana told her. “That’s why I’m going to China. To find out what’s going on and maybe get an explanation from him.”

“We’ll go with you,” Clark said, seeing his opportunity. “At least that way you’ll have some back up if there’s trouble.”

Lana bit her lip, but she agreed.

Lionel had arranged it so they wouldn’t need to worry about going through customs in Shanghai. He’d also arranged for a car to take them to the central city. The three of them sat together in the jet, feeling tense. Lana kept looking at Clark and Lois sitting closely together.

“Are you two really going to get married next summer?” she asked.

“Yup,” Lois answered.

Lana appeared dubious. “Look, I don’t want to rain on your parade, Lois, but Clark doesn’t exactly have the greatest track record.”

“Hey!” Clark said.

“Well, admit it, Clark, you and I have been on an emotional rollercoaster ever since sophomore year.”

“A lot of things can change in two years, Lana,” he said, clutching Lois’ hand as if to illustrate his point. “I really thought you’d be happy for us. I mean, you have Jason now. And despite what’s happened, I still think he’s a good guy.”

Lana nodded. “You know, that’s what I’ve always liked about you Clark. You always see the best in people.”

“He sees the best in me,” Lois smiled.

“I wouldn’t agree with that,” Clark told her softly. “I would say it’s more that you bring out the best in me.”

“We bring out the best in each other,” Lois returned.

“Augh! I’m getting cavities!” Lana groaned, but she said it with a smile to show she meant it as a joke.

Lois turned back to him. “We should be there soon,” she said. “Did you tell your parents where we were?”

“I left them a message,” he said, flushing guiltily. He knew his parents would worry, but he also knew how they felt about his ‘mission’ and he didn’t want to make things worse. Lois looked aghast.

“Clark, how are they ever going to think we’re responsible if you do stuff like this?”

“Lois!”

“Well, she does have a point,” Lana answered.

“Yeah, but I didn’t need it spelled out,” Clark said, miffed.

“Honey, I know your parents weren’t exactly happy about this, but you should have told them. It’s not fair to keep asking them to deal with this stuff if we’re not going to be upfront about it.”

“I know, Lois. You don’t have to keep harping on about it.”

Lois looked wounded. “You don’t have to snap at me,” she said, sounding upset.

Clark sighed, putting an arm around her.

“God, I’m sorry, Lois. I’m just worried. I have no idea what we’re going to find once we get there.”

“We’re in this together,” she said. “Whatever happens, we’ll deal with it together, okay, Smallville?”

“Okay.”

Lana was laughing. “You two are so cute together. Really. Even when you argue. Which I notice you do. A lot. Um, I mean, not in a fighting way, but in a banter-y sort of way. It’s cute.”

Clark was reminded of when he and Lois had first ‘bonded’. She’d called him cute then. He remembered Kal-El had responded by saying Kryptonians were not ‘cute’.

The pilot called advising them to buckle their seat belts and prepare for landing.

The sight that greeted them at Shanghai airport once they landed was an eye-opener. Even Clark felt a little out of his depth as they were driven through the city and dropped off in the main street.

Lois looked at Lana.

“So, how are we going to find whatever it is we’re looking for?”

“Lionel gave me the name of a professor. She works at Shanghai University. He said to take this street until we find a green rooster.”

“Uh, maybe we shouldn’t trust this woman. Especially if Lionel knows her.”

Lana scoffed. “And I’m sure you speak Mandarin.”

“Uh, it’s not all they speak here,” Lois pointed out. “There’s also Cantonese and probably a couple hundred other dialects.” The other two looked at her and she shrugged. “What? My dad was stationed here for a couple of months. Let me tell ya, it’s weird hearing him try to speak the language.”

Lana resumed walking along the street, and they followed. Five minutes later, they stopped outside a small shop. A sign of a green rooster hung above the shop. A woman in leather jacket and black jeans came out of the shop. She’d clearly been keeping an eye out for them.

“Miss Lang, Mr Kent, Miss Lane. I’m glad you three made it here safely. Do you have the map?”

Lois watched as Lana took a folded piece of paper out of her pocket and handed it to the woman. The professor looked it over. She looked as if she was Indiana Jones and she’d just found the Holy Grail.

“Oh,” she said excitedly. “I never really believed this existed. You have no idea how many fortune hunters have searched for this map.”

Clark pointed to an area of the map.

“The temple seems to be located at the fork of a river.”

The woman frowned. “That’s odd. There’s no river there. But these symbols – they match those on the temple walls.”

“So you know where it is?” Lana asked.

“I know the place well,” she answered. “There’s no mistaking that symbol.”

They followed her to her car and sat quietly while she drove out of the city toward the mountains. Several miles from the foothills was a temple which did indeed look ancient. Lois peered at it curiously. The air was damp and it looked like it was going to rain soon.

On the drive, the professor had told them she had done her under-graduate degree at a university in England, which explained her perfect English. She had studied archaeology and ancient civilisations and had been trying to decipher the symbols on the temple for years. But she had never been able to get permission from the government to enter the temple and study the markings up close. Until now.

Lois thought that was pretty coincidental, considering Lex was now involved. It seemed that not just money had changed hands.

“Are you sure it’s the only temple with those kind of markings?” Lois asked, thinking back to their earlier search. It seemed odd that the government would destroy a lot of ancient temples but leave this one alone. Unless they had ulterior motives for doing so. Like they wanted what the symbols signified.

They were inside the main chamber of the temple, looking around. There was a huge statue to her left which Lois assumed was one of their religious icons.

“It’s the only one on this continent. It’s all part of the temple’s mystique. There’s a myth that claimed an all-powerful god came from another world and hid a treasure there. The god left some kind of map to it, but the map was stolen centuries ago by European bandits. As far as we know, they never found the treasure.”

Lois clutched Clark’s arm and continued searching the walls as the professor continued.

“During the cultural revolution, the government destroyed most of the ancient temples. But for some reason, they protected this one.” Lois already knew that, but she didn’t want to give anything away, knowing Lana would want to know how she knew. “Maybe because it’s always been shrouded in superstition. Villagers have refused to cross the threshold, fearful that the god will one day return as he promised.”

Maybe not the original ‘god’, Lois thought, but a ‘god’ for sure, at least, by their terms. A lot of ancient cultures would have seen Clark as a god.

Clark, meanwhile, had an expression as if he had found something. Lana spotted it.

“Clark, did you find something?”

“Just more symbols,” he said, quickly covering up. “Why don’t you two keep looking around? Lois and I will look more in here.”

The professor frowned but nodded. “There’s another chamber in the east wing.”

“What is it?” Lois asked as Clark approached a wall beneath a circular archway. She looked closer. There was a symbol which resembled the El family crest.

“Keep an eye out,” Clark whispered.

Lois stood aside as he pushed on the wall, feeling it give. The wall rolled away to reveal the chamber. The map appeared to be painted on to a coloured shirt.

Behind the shirt was something that Clark thought was a mask. But as soon as he stepped forward to try to get to the shirt, the eyes of the mask lit up green. Clark groaned in pain. Kryptonite.

“Clark? What’s happening?”

Clark grunted, falling to the floor. He felt Lois crouching down, grabbing his arm and trying to pull him away. Suddenly there was the sound of voices and men talking in one of the many Chinese languages.

“Nooo,” Lois cried out.

She was being pulled away from him. Then one of the men pulled Clark up. Too weak to resist, Clark let himself be dragged out of the chamber. As soon as he was a reasonable distance from the Kryptonite, the stones stopped glowing and Clark’s strength returned. He quickly shook the man off, then shoved the other guard away from Lois. He grabbed her hand, his hearing picking up screams.

“Come on. I think Lana’s been caught as well. And I have a suspicion Lex and Jason are here too.”

“Great. Sounds like the gang’s all here.”

Lois ran with him to another chamber beneath the temple. It appeared to be some kind of cell. Just as they reached the doorway, Lana turned. She was wearing some kind of long coat in a silk brocade. Someone called out a warning and Clark was thrown backwards, falling onto Lois.
Lana glared at him.

“You put up a better fight last time,” she said.

Dizzy, Clark could only lay there for a few seconds, trying to catch his breath, while Lana walked away without a backward glance. Recovering, Clark got up.

“Lois?” She was out cold.

Clark growled. It seemed that Lana had once again been taken over by Isabelle. And Lois could have been killed.

Lois stirred, moaning.

“Ow! Did anyone get the number of the truck that hit me?” she asked, rubbing the back of her head.

“Are you okay?” Clark asked, taking her hand.

“Fine. Except for this huge lump on my head. But I’ll live.”

“What the hell are you doing here?” Lex asked.

Clark turned to his friend. Lex was chained to a pipe, along with Jason. They both were bruised and bloody, as if they had been tortured. He looked around and found a pair of bolt cutters.

“You guys all right?” he asked as he cut them down.

“Yeah, peachy,” Jason said.

“You didn’t answer my question. What are the two of you doing here?”

“We came with Lana,” Clark lied. “We figured she might get into trouble.”

“Somehow I think Lana can handle herself right now,” Lex answered.

“If Isabelle gets her hands on that stone, there’s no telling what’s going to happen to Lana.”

“Like you care,” Lois accused, still rubbing her head.

“I care,” Jason shot back.

“Clark, if there’s anything you know that we don’t,” Lex said, “now would be a good time to let us in on it.”

Clark glanced at Lois, who shrugged. He sighed. In for a penny, he thought.

“I think I found something.”

He led them back out to the main chamber. Lex stared at the hidden room in amazement.

“Clark, how did you just stumble on this when my father had this place searched from top to bottom.”

Which meant Lex had known about the temple even before he’d found the manuscript. So why had he taken so long to come looking for it? Unless, of course, he’d been trying to manipulate all the players and get all the pieces in place before he came himself. And that must mean that some of this was partly Lex’s doing. As far as Clark was concerned, that was just another nail in the coffin of their friendship.

“What do you want me to say, Lex?” Clark returned. “It’s obviously been here a long time.”

He kept his distance, standing back and supporting Lois, who was complaining of a pounding headache, thanks to Isabelle. Lex stared at him.

“Don’t you want to look at this?” he asked.

Clark kept looking at the mask, knowing what was behind it. If he moved, it would activate the radiation in the Kryptonite, which would hurt him and expose his secret. Then again, if he didn’t, Lex would get more suspicious than he already was.

Jason was staring at it. “Do you have the map?” he asked Clark, who glanced at Lois, then reluctantly gave him the paper he’d taken from the professor. Jason unfolded it and compared the map with the shirt.

“Well?” Lex asked impatiently.

“Guys, Isabelle was right. It’s not a map. It’s a drawing of the temple through the tree.”

Lex nodded. “That’s why no one could find the stone here.”

Lois grabbed Clark’s arm, pulling him away while the other two men were examining the drawing. Lex was saying from the perspective of the drawing, the background went on for miles.

“What if the stone is located at the base of the tree?” she asked. “I mean, think about it. The artist would be standing about where the tree is. You should go check it out.”

Clark nodded. “You sure you’ll be okay?”

“I’ll be fine. Go!”

Just as Clark made it out of the temple, a high-pitched squealing sounded in his head. It was the same one that had alerted him to the other two stones. He ran toward the sound to find Lana/Isabelle with the stone in her hand. She had clearly learned from last time as she was using a silk handkerchief to hold the stone.

Clark grabbed it, pausing to look at it. Big mistake. Isabelle aimed another of her spells at him, knocking him off his feet. The crystal fell to the muddy ground and Isabelle picked it up again. Damn it, Clark thought. Dumb move.

He ran after her as she re-entered the temple. She stopped and glared at him.

“Nobody has sacrificed as much as I have for these stones.”

“They don’t belong to you,” he said, certain of that fact, since he was the only one who could touch the stone without getting burned.

“And you think they were left for you?” Isabelle sneered. “They were left for nobody. The god of this temple hid them for his return.”

No one was coming for the stones. Clark knew that. No one except him. He had to get the stone away from her.

Isabelle held up her hands, using some sort of telekinesis to make two swords fly into her grip. She chanted something in Latin and Clark saw a purple light hit the blades. Isabelle threw one of the swords at him, catching him in the shoulder. The blade pinned him to the column.

Clark pulled the sword out, holding it up to parry Isabelle’s blows. The two of them fought for a few minutes. Clark managed to narrowly avoid one of Isabelle’s thrusts, shoving her away. Isabelle rose in the air, spinning in a circle and Clark took his chance, moving at superspeed to grab the pocket of her robe, ripping it, and sending the stone to the floor.

Isabelle went to grab it at the same time as Clark and another flash of purple light sent them both hurtling backwards, knocking them out.

Lois heard the commotion and looked at the other two, who were still wondering where Clark had taken off to. She ran to find them and saw Clark trying to sit up, looking dazed.

“Clark? Are you okay?”

Lana, meanwhile, was also sitting up, with Jason’s help, asking how they had got away from the guards. Lex was looking around.

“Where’s the stone?”

Clark was looking up at his friend, puzzled. “I don’t know,” he said.

Lex frowned as if he didn’t believe him, but the stone was definitely gone.

They returned to Smallville a little worse for wear. Clark’s parents were not exactly thrilled at the way they had taken off without warning and for it all to be for nothing.

“At least tell me you managed to get the stone,” Jonathan said. “And that it’s safe in the cave with the other one.”

“Uh,” Clark answered.

“Clark ...”

“Dad, I got knocked out and by the time I came to, it was gone.”

Jonathan sighed. “Well, I hope this experience has at least taught you something. And next time, just ask us instead of rushing off. Especially going to Lionel Luthor.”

“I’m sorry,” Lois said. “That was my idea. I didn’t want to bother you guys with this. Especially with finances being so tight.”

Martha hugged her. “Sweetie, you don’t have to concern yourself with our finances,” she answered.

“But I’m part of this family too, or so you guys keep telling me. And I just want to help.”

“You are part of this family, Lois,” Jonathan said. “But it doesn’t mean we want you to worry yourself sick about our financial problems.”

“Well, anyway, I decided to take you up on that job offer at the Talon. If it’s still open.”

“Of course it is,” Martha told her.

Clark went out to the loft to work on his college applications, but it seemed he still couldn’t figure out what he wanted to do. Lois sat beside him, trying to help, but he just sighed.

“Maybe I shouldn’t go to college,” he said. “Mom and Dad need the money. They can’t afford to send me to college right now.”

“I think we should at least talk to them about it,” Lois soothed.

“Yeah, you’re right. I ...” Clark looked up. “Lana. I didn’t hear you come in.”

“I noticed,” she said coolly. “I guess I came at a bad time.”

“Not at all,” Lois answered. “We were just discussing something. What’s up?”

“I don’t know,” Lana sighed. “There’s just something that doesn’t feel right about all of this. Like I’m just some random piece of the puzzle that I’ll never understand. The only way I think I’ll be able to put all this behind me is to find those stones.”

“I’m sure they’ll end up in the right hands,” Clark told her.

Lana nodded. “Anyway, I just came to say, thanks. It felt good to know you two were there to support me, even if we haven’t been the best of friends lately. And I’m sorry if I’ve been a bit, uh, stand-offish about you being together. I’m really, truly, happy for you.”

“Thanks, Lana. That means a lot,” Lois said quietly.

They watched her leave. Clark sighed, putting his arms around her waist and his chin on her shoulder.

“Have I told you lately how lucky I am to have you as my consort?”

“Rightbackatcha baby,” she grinned.

Clark turned back to his computer, checking his email account. He frowned.

“Look at this. It’s an email from Dr Swann.”

Lois peered over his shoulder. “What does it say?”

“He says he’s been searching for the stones for years, but never found them until a few months ago when he managed to get one of them from ... Edgar Cole. He asked Bridgette Crosby to give it to me.”

“So where is Bridgette?”

“I don’t know. But she was the one who gave Mom the black Kryptonite, remember?”

Lois nodded. “Well, let’s see if we can find her,” she said.

But even that turned up nothing. Lois sighed.

“All her numbers are disconnected and every person I talked to said they didn’t even know her. Something weird is going on.”

“Yeah. And it means the stone has vanished as well. What the heck do we do now?”

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
eternal_moonie
Apr. 27th, 2012 08:05 pm (UTC)
LOVE seeing this one sweetie!!!

*HUGS*
phoenixnz
Apr. 27th, 2012 08:10 pm (UTC)
thanks honey.
ctbn60
Apr. 28th, 2012 02:51 am (UTC)
Love your spin on this one. Everyone is still playing their own game. I can't wait to see I thought lana would have given clark the stone.
phoenixnz
Apr. 28th, 2012 03:03 am (UTC)
At this point, Lana doesn't really know who to trust. She knows Clark and Lois didn't go with her to China to protect her. Plus she's still somewhat influenced by Isabelle who is telling her not to give the stone to anyone.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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