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Revelations- Chapter Twenty-Three

August 5th, 2010 (09:30 pm)
anxious

I'm feeling: anxious

A/N: This chapter took me by surprise I have to say. I had to split it in two (again) before I was even half done. Yes, this was originally supposed to be half a chapter *headdesk*. Now it's just a massive whole- the biggest chapter yet.

Chapter Twenty-Three: Day One, Take Two

--

Dean Kent was lying on his back, in the middle of a desert, staring at the stars.

While he had been able to fly since he was fifteen and was therefore no stranger to the sky, he had still grown up in the middle of Metropolis, a city whose glow often obscured the stars even when the air was clear of clouds and smog.

It was incredible though, how many there really were, out here, so far from any cities with their light pollution. He didn't even need to leave the ground or look beyond what a normal human being could see to see more than he could count.

He was thinking, and he had plenty to occupy his mind with. The last week had been a particularly intense, stressful and emotional one. It had been quite a shock coming back to his friends in Australia where the presence of the media was virtually non-existent and the general public seemed only mildly interested in the story after a week, having not had the same level of contact Metropolis and much of the Northern Hemisphere had.

Of course, when the campground he'd found his friends at had discovered who he was they had been a great deal more interested. He had lost count of the amount of autographs he'd signed before he'd escaped to help with a house fire in Tasmania. His friends had taken the opportunity to move on while he was away and had since avoided mentioning his last name.

It wasn't particularly easy hiding who he was when his picture was everywhere but Georgia had bought him what she had named the 'standard celebrity-hiding kit' of a baseball cap and sunglasses which didn't even get a second glance with the blazing sun overhead most days.

His friends had taken the whole thing rather well. When he had arrived back on Saturday morning their time Will and Kyle had greeted him as if nothing had changed, Georgia had bombarded him with questions all through breakfast but settled by lunch and treated him the same as she always had. Jackie was the only one treating him oddly but Dean had only known her for a few weeks compared with several years for the others so he wasn't too concerned.

Speaking of his friends, a familiar heartbeat was approaching, or more accurately, stumbling towards him.

"Dean?" Will called, making an awful lot of noise as he tried to locate his friend.

"Over here," Dean called, sitting up just as Will tripped over a nearby rock.

Dean caught him before he could injure himself. "Wow, thanks," Will gasped, slowly sitting down next to his friend once he had recovered. "It's so dark out here."

"You could have bought a torch," Dean reminded him, amused and warmed by the fact that his friend had come to make sure he was okay, even when he now knew he couldn't really be harmed by anything out here.

"Eh, Coulda, shoula, woulda," Will muttered, waving his hand dismissively. "Can't help it now. So… what are you doing?"

"Contemplating my existence," Dean answered, keeping his face straight and his tone perfectly serious.

"Sounds deep," Will commented, sitting beside him, "have you achieved true enlightenment yet?"

"I'm working on it."

Will laughed then asked, "What are you really doing?"

Dean sighed, "I can't really say… I'm thinking about something I heard last week but I shouldn't tell you what- it's not really mine to tell and I promised I wouldn't."

"Oh, want me to leave you to it?" he asked, not sounding offended in the least.

"No," Dean sighed again, "it's fine, so long as you don't mind being a little confused by what I say, I can't tell you the whole story but I wouldn't mind talking to someone."

Will shrugged and lay back down. "I'm fine with that, I'll just lie here and, if you feel the need, confuse away."

They lay in comfortable silence for about half an hour, just watching the stars turn over head before something occurred to Dean. "Ella doesn't have low self-esteem or anything," he remarked out loud.

He'd thought Will had drifted off but his friend surprised him slightly, asking, "Your sister? The one who was in hospital?"

"Yeah, the taller blonde one."

Will shrugged. "She seemed pretty confident to me when I meet her… last year was it? Not shy or anything."

"She hasn't changed much," Dean told him, "not like that I mean. She's still confident, until last week but we've all been stressed this past week…" he muttered. "She's never acted oddly towards Mom or Dad but she said-" he stopped again and frowned at the sky.

"Would it help if I put my iPod on?" Will asked, "Then you could talk without worrying I'd hear and break your promise."

"Technically she only said not to tell Mom or Dad," Dean sighed, recalling with some guilt how Jason and Sophie had reacted when he'd told them. He knew Ella had meant not to tell anyone, she'd probably never trust him again after that.

But still… Dean had been so completely stunned by the sort of feelings she'd expressed. Ashamed of being half Kryptonian? It had always been something Dean himself had been rather proud of and he'd just assumed his siblings felt the same. Jason and Lucy at least he remembered at one time or other stating it directly.

He'd always thought of himself as someone who kept secrets, probably why Ella told him in the first place. In fact he wouldn't be surprised if he knew more about each member of the family than anyone else. Lucy was the one who told everyone anything and Sophie could keep a secret- until she needed something to hold over you.

He sat up suddenly and screwed his eyes shut, pressing the heels of his hands firmly on top as he tried to clear his mind. Ella's revelation had completely thrown him and he'd just had to tell someone else so he didn't have to deal with it himself. That was understandable, right?

"You okay?" Will asked, sitting up as well and looking at him with some concern.

"Yeah," Dean nodded, opening his eyes and running his fingers through his hair. "I'm just… thinking."

"You need some time away or anything?" he asked, his emphasis on 'away' and his glace towards the sky indicating what he meant.

"No, I'll be okay."

"You're not going to stay with us though are you?" Will asked, he sounded a bit saddened but not surprised.

"Probably not," Dean admitted, "I came back down because Dad just wanted everyone to try and get back to living as normally as possible as fast as we can. But… this attack on us, Ella was lucky but I'm worried this is just getting started. Like it was just a warning."

"You know you're only eighteen, right?" Will asked, turning to look at him through the dark, "You don't have to shoulder everyone's problems."

"I turn nineteen in a month," Dean reminded him.

"Well, excuse me," Will laughed, "that makes all the difference. I suppose it's not that bad though, we only have about three weeks left until we were planning to go home anyway."

"Yeah, and it's not like I can't come back any time I want now," Dean agreed, "I'll stay for a bit longer though, I don't want Dad to think he somehow ruined this for me."

"So… can you see where your Dad's from from here?" Will asked, changing the subject.

"You can't see it anymore," Dean told him, "but it's over there." He pointed to a spot just above the horizon. "See those three stars sort of in a line?"

"I think so," Will muttered, leaning closer to Dean so he could properly see where his friend was pointing.

"It was just to the left of there."

"Cool."

"Yeah." Dean smiled but it didn't quite reach his eyes. He thought it was utterly amazing that half of him came from so far away and he was proud to help carry the legacy of his father's birthplace.

Now he just had to make Ella see that as well.

--

Lucy and Ella Kent were hardly the first famous students to attend Vanderworth Academy. The first to be so suddenly skyrocketed to fame perhaps and certainly the first human-alien hybrids. But it wasn't as if the school had never dealt with the press before.

In fact, not two years before Lucy and Ella had arrived, they'd even had a prince on the roll. A prestigious and wealthy private school often attracted those with matching wealth and prestige. However a few were like Ella, part of the scholarship program that helped intelligent students attend a better school than they might have otherwise been able to afford.

Vanderworth Academy had made the news before and probably would again but for now the school gates remained free of the hoards of news vans that had swarmed in front of them the previous week. Replaced by menacing looking security officers who wasted no time in moving along the occasional news van or paparazzo that showed up.

They didn't see much anyway, the two students they were there to photograph were already inside, and not planning on leaving the walls of the school until the final bell rang that afternoon and they were whisked back to their apartment by their father.

However they weren't exactly spared from curious stares inside either.

Ella seemed to shrink under the constant attention of their schoolmates as they walked through the halls but her sister Lucy was almost the complete opposite.

"This is so cool," she commented as they walked to their lockers. "It's like we're famous."

"We are famous," Ella snapped back, glaring at anyone who stared at them for even a few moments.

"I know." Lucy grinned, waving at two of her friends across the hall from her drama class. "I can't wait for drama today, I bet Mrs Mac can help me with this. Remember Fiona Samson two years ago, her Mom won a reality show or something and she used that to meet some people who got her a recurring role in a sitcom and now-"

"Do I have Chemistry first or third today?" Ella asked out loud, clearly not listening to her sister. Lucy didn't really mind, Ella was like Sophie, too brainy to be interested in exiting jobs like singing or acting.

"I have Chem first, so you have it second. I wish I had drama first."

"Dad said today should be as normal as possible," Ella reminded her, frowning disapprovingly like Lucy imagined her Mom would when she told her that she wanted to use this burst of fame to get her first acting job.

"Pancakes on Monday is normal?" Lucy replied with a grin, hoping the joke would distract her sister.

"Whatever, hey-" she broke off and frowned at something behind her sister. "Catch you in Stats," she muttered, ducking her head and setting off as fast as she could, without being too fast and drawing more attention to herself.

Lucy frowned and turned to see what had scared her off. "Oh," she said unenthusiastically as she found her (former?) best friend, Sasha. "It's you."

"Hey," Sasha muttered, somewhat nervous as Lucy continued her emotionless stare. "Um… look, I'm sorry about last week, okay? I was kinda hurt you didn't tell me about you Dad because I really wouldn't have told anyone but then-" she shrugged awkwardly "- you know, Ella happened and I get why you didn't tell me."

Lucy felt her mouth twitch. Sasha never could hold a grudge and she was already forgiven but half of her wanted to stretch it out a little longer just to teach her friend a lesson.

But with everything that had been happening she wanted someone she could trust on her side. "Apology accepted," she said, closing her locker firmly. "I know you were hurt but I really couldn't tell anyone."

"I know that now," Sasha admitted, walking with Lucy to their first class, like they had almost every day before last week, "I just didn't understand it before."

"It is kinda a lot to get used to," Lucy told her. "There are a lot of things I'm looking forward to being totally honest with you about now."

"How do you mean?" Sasha asked with interest.

"You know how you mentioned once I was never free on Thursdays and I said it was just a co-incidence?"

"Yeah…" Sasha replied slowly, nodding.

"Well, Thursdays are sort of like our after-school Kryptonian lessons," Lucy told her, the words at both strange to finally be able to say out loud and huge relief to admit openly.

"Kryptonian, cause your Dad's from Krypton, right?" Lucy nodded and Sash continued, "So... like, you learn how to speak it?" She sounded curious and Lucy was glad she didn't seem mad.

"Yeah, the language is a bit of it, but he teaches us about customs and the history of the place and all that," she explained, almost continuing with how they visited the Fortress sometimes to see the buildings but her parents had talked to them over the weekend about not saying too much without discussing it with them first and Lucy thought it best not to say too much. "I have some of my exercise books with Kryptonian writing and the traditional fairy tales they had and all that if you wanted to see," she offered, trying to show her friend she was willing to share her whole life with her now that she could.

"That would be really cool," Sasha said, sounding really enthusiastic and Lucy was so relieved they were back to normal. "Isn't it weird though?" she asked suddenly, "having, like, an extra class once a week?"

"Not really." Lucy shrugged, "I never really thought about it at all, by the time I was born, Jason and Sophie were having them every week so it's just normal in our family, although their ones were on Wednesdays," she remembered. "It's no different from Alexia going to Greek school on Saturdays though is it?"

"I guess not," Sasha said, opening her mouth to say something else but instead she seemed to remember something important because her heart rate almost doubled and she let out a small, "Oh!"

"What?" Lucy asked, looking around the now almost empty halls, trying to see what Sasha was surprised about.

"No," Sasha said, grabbing her arm and pulling her in the opposite direction to their class. "I just remembered why I was sent to get you. Mrs Mac wanted to see you, all these people called over the last week and she told them you were really into drama and wanted to act someday and some of them sent talent scouts over."

"What?" Lucy stopped suddenly, Sasha almost pulling a muscle as she was stopped just as suddenly, unable to overcome her friend's massive strength. "Talent scouts."

"From Hollywood," Sasha added, grinning at her.

Lucy felt her jaw drop. It was like her dreams coming true but at the same time she was afraid of what would happen if she followed her friend to their drama teacher's office. She had told Ella she was expecting offers but now right now.

It all seemed to be happening so fast. Hell, they were barely home from the hospital, she had thought if anyone wanted to offer her a job they'd wait a bit until the family was no longer looking over their backs every five seconds for kryptonite wielding maniacs.

"Lucy?" Sasha asked, looking at her in confusion. "Come on, they want to talk to you. Screw Chemistry, you don't need that on the A-list."

"Yeah," Lucy replied, shaking herself out of her shock. It wasn't like she was going to be cast in a movie and go to Hollywood today. Her parents would at least make her wait another year before doing anything serious, then she could follow Dean and drop out a year early. It was just meeting some people, like how her sister worked at law firms in the holidays, she could just make it so she had a job waiting when she was ready.

Besides, Dad had liked her idea about getting a PR agent, and god knows they needed one. One of the people in Mrs Mac's office was bound to be or know a good one.

"Yeah," she repeated, trying to sound more confident this time, "Let's go."

--

"What's this?" Ella asked suspiciously eyeing the cup being held out by her best friend as she sat down beside her for their Advanced Math class with Mr Astor.

"Hot chocolate," Kim told her with a smile, "I thought it might be safer if I got it for you this time."

Ella nodded, not smiling back but accepting the drink from her friend. "Thanks."

"By the way," Kim started, the smile on her face turning into a smirk, "I know the "serious" news outlets are being harsh and all that- but have you been watching E! or any of the gossip shows?"

"Mom and Dad wouldn't let us turn the TV on all weekend," Ella told her, "because every single story was about us anyway."

"Oh," Kim sounded disappointed but shrugged it off, "I guess that makes sense. I was going to ask what you thought of the whole 'Clois' thing but-"

"The what?" Ella asked, frowning.

"Clois," Kim told her, giggling at the word, "Clark and Lois- it's like Brangelina but weirder because it's your parents."

Ella couldn't help joining in her friend's amusement, giggling as she wondered what her parents would think of the nickname. Then again- "I think couple names are the last things on my parent's minds right now," she sighed, taking another sip of her hot chocolate and enjoying the warmth it spread through her.

Mr Astor, their elderly math teacher hobbled into the room as the final bell rang, followed by several rushed-looking students who weren't keen on getting a late slip against their name.

Theodore Gregg was among them and Ella felt her face warm as she caught his eye for a moment before looking back down quickly, remembering Kim's suggestive tone as she told her how concerned their pencil-wielding classmate had been about her stabbing.

Unfortunately, Theo slid into the seat on the other side her, as no one else seemed to be keen of getting too close to her.

She didn't have an opportunity to wonder about it though, as Mr Astor had called order and Ella tried to concentrate on the ordinariness of the math class and forget that she was now an international target for anyone with a grudge against her Dad.

She could hear a few whispers throughout the room but she keep her hearing close and under control, Mr Astor was hard of hearing and his classes were often times to catch up on the latest news. It didn't mean it was about her or her family, but if it was she didn't want to know.

"Pity Michael Jackson can't die again," Kim commented as they started the set exercises, "I was just thinking- that might have taken some of the heat."

Ella snorted, appreciating her friend's attempt to make her laugh but not really feeling too amused. "You think Michael Jackson is on the same level of fame as Superman?"

Kim shrugged. "Hey, the news coverage of his death went for weeks, I'm just saying it might ease the load."

"That was a slow news month," Ella muttered, trying harder to ignore the eyes she could feel on her back.

She didn't even want to think how long the media storm surrounding her family was going to last, it had already been a week and it seemed it was only just getting started, although, it had been a particularly eventful week. As the thought went through her head she found her hand once again drawn to the scar on her hip.

"They honestly didn't think you'd make it." Dean's words from the hospital came back to her suddenly. "You have no idea how messed up Dad was."

She knew how badly the attack had affected her parents, her Mom tried not to show it but over the weekend she and their Dad been finding an excuse to be wherever Ella was and somehow managing to get Lucy and Chris to be in the same room as well.

Chris had been having nightmares, she knew, and he was the only one who hadn't been seriously hurt. She'd almost been killed and she'd slept like a log the past few nights since the attack. It didn't make a lot of sense but Ella was starting to think most things in her life didn't right now.

No one had been acting like themselves in the past week, least of all her Dad who hadn't left the apartment the whole weekend and refused to turn on the TV while the kids were around. He'd even asked them not to go on the internet so they didn't have to listen to all the things people were saying about them. Ella hadn't wanted to anyway but she knew for a fact Lucy hadn't listened.

It had been a complete miracle that he'd actually let them go back to school today. She had been certain he wouldn't let them leave the house, let alone his sight, but something (or someone) had obviously convinced him otherwise.

"Hey," Kim called softly and Ella looked up to find her friend's face full of concern. "You okay?"

"Yeah," she said, shaking her head and trying to push her thoughts to the back of her mind. "Just, you know…" she waved her hand in a circle, trying to encompass the whole world in one gesture.

Kim shook her head. "Ella, I can honestly say I have no idea what this must be like for you. Now help me with this problem."

Ella was glad for the obvious attempt at distracting her and leaned over her friend's book and sighed. "Kim, how on earth did you get into this class when you can't do a simple log equation? That's like primary school stuff."

"I can do that," Kim moaned, "it's how it fits into the rest of the equation, I don't get."

"Okay, look at it like this…"

Ella generally didn't like helping Kim so much in class but today she threw herself into it, carefully explaining how to solve the equation and trying to see where her friend was going wrong, immersing herself in equations and numbers until she'd almost forgotten her earlier thoughts.

It was five minutes before the end-of-period bell that the tension in the class was finally broken. "So," Ethan Field said suddenly and loudly from behind their seats, making the whole class turn towards him, "is there some sort of rule forbidding us to talk about Ella's Dad now or something?"

"Is there a problem Mr Field?" Mr Astor asked, looking up from helping two students at the front of the class.

"Oh, come on, we should be allowed to talk about the fact that her Dad's Superman and she's some kind of half-alien freak or-"

"Mr Field!" Mr Astor snapped, looking angrier than Ella had ever seen him, "you do not use language like that in my classroom. Miss Kent is very brave coming back to school today after what's been happening to her family, especially given she was seriously injured last week."

"Oh, come on," Ethan laughed, "she was in hospital for like, what, a day? We're supposed to believe that was something serious? If you ask me-"

"No one did!" A sharp voice interrupted Ethan's words and everyone turned to see who it was.

Even Theo seemed surprised at his sudden outburst and for a moment it looked like he would back off as the whole class, including Mr Astor, turned to stare at him. Then his face turned from mild shock to hardened determination and he turned around to face Ethan, continuing before Mr Astor could call for order again.

"Don't you dare call Ella a freak again, you know damn well what her family's been going through and don't pretend like her Dad did anything wrong by trying to protect his family. Besides, he's saved all our asses at one time or another, stop being so ungrateful you jerk!"

Everyone was looking at the usually quiet boy in shock now, he still looked determined and wasn't backing down under Ethan's glare but his face was flushed and only Ella could hear his heart pounding in his chest.

The were a few more moments of silence then Kim spoke. "Yeah, Ethan, leave her alone, Superman's done so much for this planet- who cares if he wasn't born here?"

There was a murmur of agreement among several of the students but just as many were staring at Ella in a way that made her feel sick. Like she was no longer their classmate but a strange creature they'd never seen before.

"Detention." Mr Astor's voice cut sharply through the air and all attention returned to him, but Ella couldn't help glancing back towards a very frightened looking Theo as he slowly slid back into his chair. "Mr Field," he said, turning his eyes on Ethan, "Thursday, after school."

Ethan shot an angry look at Ella, as if it was all somehow her fault then turned back to the teacher. The muscles in his jaw twitched but even he didn't want to mess directly with a teacher, even the oldest one in the school.

The bell rang, the sudden, loud sound making the entire on-edge classroom jump as one and effectively dispelling the tension, most of the students started packing. "What about Gregg?" Ethan asked, still glaring at Mr Astor.

The elderly teacher turned towards Theo and shrugged. "Sorry, the bell's rung, he's not in my class anymore- nothing I can do," he explained with fake regret, even winking at the boy and smiling as he turned away.

Ella couldn't help smiling at that but it vanished as she heard Ethan hiss, "Freak," as he left. She didn't know if he knew she'd hear but it didn't really matter. She sat for a few moments, waiting for everyone else to leave so she didn't have to talk to them about what had happened.

Even Kim was putting her books away a lot faster than usual which confused Ella until she muttered, "Meet you outside," and nodded to something behind her.

Ella turned to see Theo putting away his books so slowly one might have mistaken him for being older than Mr Astor.

The teacher had left quickly as well, but unless the school's timetable had changed while she'd been away he did have senior Stats on the other side of the school so she couldn't blame him. Soon it was just Theo and Ella.

Theo finished packing his books away and zipped up his bag. He stood awkwardly for a moment then glanced at Ella quickly, before returning to stare at his bag again.

"Thanks," Ella said after a moment, the word not seeming quite enough. She usually wasn't one to like being rescued by others but the feeling of having someone else stand up for you was a nice one. Especially over something as big as this. "That was really cool of you… defending me like that," she continued.

Theo didn't look at her right away and Ella was a tad concerned when her hearing got away from her again and she could hear his heart still going alarmingly fast. "That's alright," he replied finally, blushing slightly, "also… I just wanted to, you know, apologize for what happened in math last week," he stammered, sounding embarrassed. "Not because you got hurt or anything- but because I actually was being a bit of a jerk."

Ella was surprised but Theo seemed genuine in his apology. Maybe what Kim told her at the hospital did have an element of truth. "That's okay," she told him, "I kinda understand. I mean, I already know everything but I guess if I didn't I'd be interested. I… umm, might not poke them repeatedly with a pencil though."

"Yeah," Theo laughed nervously, "No…I'm pretty sure I could have done it in a more polite way." He smiled and Ella noticed that he wasn't actually that bad looking. There was another awkward silence for a few moments.

Ella started to say something to break it but Theo did at the exact same time. "You go," Ella suggested, when they both froze.

"Ummm, okay…" If it was possible he seemed even more nervous now, shuffling awkwardly and glancing around to make sure no one could hear. "I know you probably won't believe me but I was going to say this before… before Monday," he started. "Do you think… maybe… perhaps once things have calmed down for you… like, we could maybe… go out?"

Ella blinked at him, not sure what to say. Kim had warned her but it was still a bit of a surprise. "Ummm…"

"No, you know what," Theo said suddenly, "it's cool, I mean you have a lot on your plate and your Dad probably doesn't want you getting hurt any more although my Mom did say we could just go to our house or my parents own a restaurant so really, it would be kinda safe 'cause we could get a private table or even have a special sitting when it's closed but it's cool," he told her.

Ella blinked again, this time just rather stunned at the amount of words he'd managed to fit into one breath. She was also rather surprised that her first reaction was to say yes. She did like Theo, she didn't know him that well but now she kind of wanted to, especially after his chivalrous display riding to her rescue. Screw feminism, it really wasn't that bad, it was a rather nice feeling actually, maybe she got that from her Mom? However, his timing on asking her out wasn't exactly the best, she really wished he'd asked just a week earlier.

"I'm glad you're alright, and I hope no one like, tries to stab you again or anything," Theo stammered, "sorry." He turned to move away.

"Wait," Ella said suddenly, "I didn't say no." Theo turned back hopefully. "But… I can't say yes just now either."

"Okay, now I am a little confused," Theo said, frowning at her.

"Sorry," Ella apologised. "You might have noticed things are a bit stressed and crazy right now, for me and my family."

"Yeah, a bit."

"But maybe, if you wanna wait a bit. Once things calm down, maybe we could…go out."

"Yeah, yeah, I'll, umm, call you," he told her, smiling now and looking a lot more relaxed. "Uh, I've got French now, catch you later."

Ella couldn't help smiling at him as he left. It wasn't much, but it was something. Kim had been her friend for years. Theo didn't really know her like that but even though he knew she was part-alien he still wanted to go out with her, he knew she wasn't entirely human, he knew her father came from a different planet and he didn't care.

Well, she thought, her smile disappearing as she packed the rest of her stuff away, maybe he didn't think she was anything odd but it was clear some of her peers did think she was a freak. She half-hoped someone had said something similar to Dean, not that she wanted her brother hurt in any way but it might help him see her point.

"What were you two talking about?"

"Holy crap," Ella yelped, jumping almost a foot in the air as she whirled around to find her sister standing behind her. "Knock much?"

"It's a classroom," Lucy told her, "the door was open and Theodore Gregg just walked out after having a conversation with you during which his heart was pounding at a thousand miles an hour."

"For your information, he just asked me out," she told her sister, still shaken that someone had snuck up on her so easily. What if it had been another kryptonite wielding manic? She quickly pushed away her previous train of though, half-afraid her sister would be able to tell what it was about just by looking at her.

"You're not actually thinking of it are you?" Lucy asked, her voice implying she thought the idea was ridiculous.

"I don't know." Ella shrugged, her sister's tone making her feel a little defensive about it and not willing to outright admit she'd practically said yes already. "He's a nice enough guy."

"You're kidding right?" Lucy frowned at her.

"Why?" Ella asked, she had to admit after last week she wasn't to keen to go out in public without her Dad or maybe her older siblings but once everything calmed down maybe a date with someone like Theo would be nice.

"Hello?" Lucy asked in a high voice, raising her eyebrows and giving her a shocked look. "You become famous and suddenly he wants to go out with you?"

"He said he was thinking of asking me before," Ella replied, straightening up to her full height so she had one advantage over her twin, even if it was only half-an-inch.

"And you believed him?" Lucy asked in disbelief, not backing down.

"Well what were you just talking to Sasha for?" Ella asked, trying to turn the tables on her sister. "You guys made up? Did she figure she couldn't get any more money from the press without you so she'd better apologize?"

"What?" Lucy actually took a step back at the accusation, her mouth dropping open. "Ella- I've been friends with Sasha since I was nine, you've known this guy for what, a week?"

"He's been in my class for four years," Ella replied, her grip on her books so tight she heard the spine crack on one of them, she hoped it wasn't a library book. "Look, Lucy, just go to Hollywood already or something, okay? Stay out of my life- unlike some people I know when to keep my mouth shut, if anyone's responsible for all that information getting out it's you and your desperate-to-be-popular big mouth!"

Lucy stepped back again and just started at her sister, her expression unreadable. For the first time in her life Ella kind of wished they did have the fictional twin-powers everyone seemed to expect twins to have. She tried to see what her sister was thinking but Lucy wasn't just another teenager with a Hollywood fantasy, she truly was a good actress and her face revealed absolutely nothing about what she was thinking of Ella's accusations.

Any other day Ella would have apologised right away for her outburst, she hated it when she was fighting with anyone in her family. It made the atmosphere negative and unpleasant, even when she thought she was right she would often apologise to clear the air.

This time was different. This time she was sick and tired of Lucy and the way she was suddenly strutting around the school like she owned it, thinking her actions never had consequences.

Well, Ella had been in hospital, she had almost died. And that may have been a fluke but now information was appearing in the media that would make it easier for it to happen again, to any member of the family. Their parents were probably working damage-control right now but it was too late for a lot of things, things Ella knew Lucy had told almost everyone on the first day after the secret was out. Yes, she had agreed to go out with Theo, but she was smart enough to know what questions not to answer and what information not to give up.

"You just don't think do you?" she asked, finally breaking the silence, feeling an odd sense of satisfaction when Lucy's mask slipped for a moment and her confusion and hurt showed through.

She didn't stay to see anything else.

--

"You're giving me my own story?" Clark frowned at Perry.

"It's not like it's the first time," the older man reminded him, "and this time it'll be fantastic for sales because everyone else knows too."

"Well," Clark sighed, looking uneasy about the prospect of going out again, "I do want to know what those people were doing with loaded rocket launchers."

"I think we all do," Lois agreed, "we've been trying to avoid the news but from what I can gather the police are keeping tight-lipped over the whole thing."

"If they're going to talk to anyone it's you," Perry told Clark, "even if they don't want it out just yet, we can get the info and scoop everyone else when the time comes."

"Okay," Clark replied distractedly, accepting the assignment. Lois fought to keep her face blank as she watched her husband's eyes unfocus for a moment and his attention leave as he checked on the kids for the fifth time that minute. "Yeah," he sighed, coming back to the building, his actions unmissed by his boss as well, "I'll go talk to Henderson, I'll see if I can get anything more on those arsonists as well."

"Take the window, if you want," Perry suggested, tapping the pre-air conditioning windows of his office that still opened outwards. "Every time you go into the bullpen I lose work because they act like they've never seen you before."

Clark forced a smile. "Sorry, Chief," he apologized, "I'll have to work on another disguise," he joked weakly.

"You think that was a good idea?" Perry asked, turning back to Lois, once he was certain Clark had left.

Lois nodded. "He needs to do something other than sit at home and worry. We've already sent the kids to school and told them we should be trying to get back to normal, why not us too?"

"What about you?" Perry leaned back and looked at her with concern. "How are you holding up?"

Lois shrugged. "I'm dealing," she said.

"Lois," Perry sighed.

"You sound like my mother," Lois told him, folding her arms defensively.

"Yeah, well, your mother's not here to ask you these things anymore," Perry told her bluntly, "you may think you're good, Lane, and you are, but you know you still have nothing on me, I'm going to make you talk, whether we go the easy way or the hard way."

Lois could hear the genuine note of concern in the old man's voice and she had no doubt he'd carry through on his promise as well. He was like her father in that, they both had strange ways of showing they cared.

"I don't know, Chief," she admitted finally. "How do you think I'm holding up? Everyone thinks I'm a liar because I never told anyone my husband was also a superhero, my daughter was put in hospital and almost killed but I still sent her back to school today because I still have a desperate belief that they could all still have a normal life, my son just got engaged but now his future father-in-law thinks he's a monster and my husband's on the verge on a mental breakdown and all I can think to do is drag him back to work and hope like hell the criminals of the world restrain themselves for just one day so we can start to get our heads above water."

She got up and started pacing as she continued. "We're going to have to move of course, and god knows what looking for a new apartment now is going to be like. Jason Sophie and Dean have basically been forced to follow in Superman's footsteps, we used to tell them it was their choice but what do you think people would do to them if they refused to use their abilities to save lives? For that matter, now Lucy, Ella and Chris' futures are laid out and they're not even finished with school, Chris is only seven for god's sake!"

She took another breath, Perry watching calmly from behind his desk. "And it's not just everyone else either. Lucy thinks this whole thing is her ticket to Hollywood, she doesn't seem to understand she just can't right now, something is up with Ella but I don't know what and I can't ask her straight out because I know that won't get me anywhere. Chris has been having nightmares every night and has yet to disobey anything I've said since Monday…" She tried to continue but found herself unable to express the rest of her feelings in words.

"In short, Perry?" she asked, her voice cracking as she all but fell back into the seat, "All Clark ever wanted to do was protect his family and now our lives have been turned upside down and half the criminal world wants to kill our children. I feel utterly helpless but I can't act that way because everyone else needs me to be strong. How the hell do you think I'm holding up, Chief?"

Perry waited for her to calm down, not saying a word as she closed her eyes and tried to slow her breathing, counting to ten like Clark had taught her to do.

"A bit better after getting that out," he replied finally and Lois hated that he was right.

"Only a bit," she relented, which was the truth, it had certainly helped somewhat but Lois wasn't sure, with the current state of her world, she'd ever be unstressed again.

"I saw Superman on the news this morning at that car accident," Perry said after Lois had calmed down. "The emergency services seemed to support him. Even the Planet couldn't get them to talk about him or what he said."

"That's one good thing," Lois admitted, "that some people haven't forgotten everything he's actually done as Superman."

"Yeah," Perry agreed, "and it's good the people he worked with in one job are still happy with him at least, the journalists of the world haven't exactly embraced him."

"They feel embarrassed for being fooled," Lois sighed, "especially given he's one of them." At least those feelings she understood completely. Her anger and embarrassment at finding out Clark's true identity was hard to forget, even after so long.

"Not just embarrassed, cheated. I got a call from the Pulitzer committee yesterday."

"They want to take his award," Lois said dully, nodding, not really surprised by the news.

"Can you blame them?" Perry asked, "You and I both know Clark is a damned good journalist and deserves every award he's been given but all they can see right now is how much of an advantage he had over everyone else."

"What does the Planet think?" Lois asked, trying not to let her emotions get the better of her. "Do they want us to say that Intergang was brought down by Superman instead? Not Lois Lane and Clark Kent?"

Perry's face darkened and the frown lines on his face deepened. "If you're asking about the Planet then the Pulitzer's the least of your worries. I sent Kent away partly because I wanted you to be the one to break this news, not me."

Lois was wise enough to know exactly where he was going with this but she asked anyway, hoping that it just might be one of the very few times she wasn't right. "What are you saying, Chief?"

"You know what news sells, Lois?" Perry asked, running his fingers through what little white hair he still had. "The type of news the Inquisitor's running. Things people want to know about, not only what you're willing to tell them. Right now Clark Kent sells our papers just because he works for us but it's been a week and that won't last much longer. People are going to start going to where the real news is, the things they want to know about you and your family. It kills me to say this but the time might be fast approaching when the interest in news like this-" he tapped the Inquisitor on his desk "- is higher than the interest in where Superman has his day job."

"You can't fire him," Lois told Perry firmly.

The Editor shrugged. "It's not my decision, Lois," he said softly, "you know as well as I do that this business is brutal. The second you two get in the way of the stories that sell instead of providing them…" He sat down heavily in his chair. "Unless you're willing to just let the facts roll without protest-"

Lois interrupted him by merely raising an eyebrow.

Perry nodded. "Yeah, we both know that won't happen." He sighed, picking up the Inquisitor again. "I might be retiring for real soon if this is the type of stuff they want me to print. Maybe it'll get out anyway but I don't want any part in it."

Lois frowned, leaning forward to take the paper from the Chief. She had been so distracted by the conversation she hadn't properly seen the headlines yet. Hell, they'd been so busy trying to protect the kids and not get too tied up in all the rumours flying about that she hadn't seen any newspapers since Ella had been released from hospital.

The front page of the Inquisitor hit her like a kick in the stomach though.

Only New Kryptonite Harmful To Kent Children the headline proudly proclaimed, detailing what New Kryptonite was exactly and how it had already been used in lieu of the normal stuff to hurt her daughter.

"When did this happen?" she asked, looking up in shock.

"Just today," Perry replied, looking confused, "I thought you'd already seen it."

"No." Lois shook her head. "We've been trying to keep the papers out of the apartment to protect the kids. This means who ever Andy Summers was talking to is still in contact with my family. We didn't tell anyone that the normal kryptonite was harmless to the kids until Ella's attack and then I thought it was just the police and our friends. I need to take a closer look at Andy's cousins."

"Do you really think that's the best start?" Perry asked, the question surprising her.

"Where else?" she asked, "Obviously I need to talk to Andy again but if I can get to his source first we can stop them leaking anymore potentially harmful information."

"I was thinking about this over the weekend," Perry told her, "I was surprised he wanted to run that article about the kids powers and lack there-of but then again, I didn't hire Summers for his high moral values or his sparkling wit but I did hire him for his quick thinking and long list of trustworthy and valuable sources. We both know you don't keep sources by ratting them out to the first unhappy mother that comes along."

"You think what he told Erin about it being his cousin was a lie?" Lois asked, a sick feeling rising in her gut. Could she have been that stupid?

"I don't know." Perry shrugged. "Erin and him are friends but I still wouldn't put it past him to have prepared the story beforehand in case he was asked."

"I need to go talk to him," She told her Editor, not waiting for his response as she got up and strode out into the bullpen.

Andy's desk was empty but Erin Jones was sitting at her computer, typing rapidly and chewing on a pen.

Lois ignored the eyes that followed her to the desk and calmly took the pen out of Erin's mouth, causing the other woman to jump and whirl around in surprise.

"Lois?"

"Where is he?" Lois asked, nodding towards Andy's desk.

"He went out," Erin told her, not needing to ask why she wanted to know, "sometime this morning, I haven't seen him since."

"Was he responsible for this?" Lois asked, holding the Inquisitor up.

Erin shrugged, looking frustrated. "I don't know, Lois!" More than a few people had stopped to watch them now. "Look, I don't like what he did- trying to sell stuff that could hurt you family to the tabloids, and so I haven't talked to him since. I'm sorry. If you want, when he gets back I'll make up and try and find out."

Lois was rather taken aback by the generous offer. Her confusion must have shown because Erin continued, "I know I was a little short with you before but-" she shrugged "- If Ella got hurt because of something Andy said, I'm more than willing to help you stop it happening again. I'm not a mother myself but you'd have to be completely heartless to think someone's a fair target just because of who their father is."

The general murmur of agreement gave Lois some hope, although from the looks on some faces she knew it would take a while before Clark himself was forgiven for making them look like blind idiots.

"Thank you," Lois replied.

A sharp knock on the glass of Perry's office made most of the bullpen jump back to work, the Chief scowling out at the like a disapproving parent. Lois could hardly blame them though; they were the one paper for whom this was more than just another news story. She couldn't blame Perry either- he still had a paper to get out.

"I have work to do," Erin said, turning back to her computer, "I'll do what I can to help you, but I'm not promising anything."

"Thank you," Lois said again. As she walked back to her desk she couldn't wondering if Mad-Dog Lane got blown away with Clark's secret too. It wasn't often she was asking other journalists for help and thanking them repeatedly to stay on their good side. She wasn't used to being on the other side of the news cycle. Sure she'd dealt with her fair share of press before, being Superman's official press agent tended to do that, but it was a whole new game now.

Her computer seemed to take forever to open and Lois was tempted to kick it several times but the IT department probably wouldn't be too happy to have to replace it- again.

The New Kryptonite story was the first thing that hit her when she opened up the Inquisitor's website but she pushed down her anger and fear for her children, gritted her teeth and got to work, calling on all her experience and training to keep herself objective and not storm the offices of the Inquisitor as she searched for any other information that seemed unusually well sourced, something only their friends would know.

It took time, and a lot of trawling through insignificant and readily available news, but after a while she had a list almost half a page long. Some of it was serious, like the kryptonite information and the list of the kids powers, and some of it not so much, like how Richard had come to visit Jason and they had made up, or how Jason referred to Eric White as his brother even though they shared no blood.

She took a moment to look over the list and didn't like what she saw. Jason seemed to come up a lot and she didn't know if it was just because he was the most interesting of her children news-wise, or because the person selling the information had better access to him.

A horrible thought occurred to her and she almost pushed it out of her mind but had to remind herself how much was at stake. Especially if Andy's 'cousin' really was just a red herring, she still couldn't believe she had underestimated him, Perry didn't hire idiots, people with questionable morals perhaps, but not idiots. She couldn't believe she'd fallen for his 'cousin who went to school with her children' story, no wonder he'd been so confident his source was safe. Perhaps Perry had hired one idiot after all.

And now… I told her a year ago Jason had said of his girlfriend turned fiancée. He just hadn't told them that. A year was a long time, and Jason could have told Evelyn a lot of information in that time. Had she said anything before it would have been obvious who it was but now… now she was free to hide amongst the huge amounts of news sources giving up all they knew about the Kents.

No jumping to conclusions, Lane, she warned herself before she could get too carried away. Evelyn was a nice girl and Jason was a good judge of character, they also lived in New York, of course in the internet age it was just as easy to contact a Metropolis paper than an NY one. But until all the evidence pointed to or completely away from someone she'd make no accusations nor rule anyone out.

"Call for you on line three, Lois," someone yelled above the hum of the bullpen.

Lois ignored them, everyone wanted to talk to her now, and the people she wanted to talk to had her new cell number.

"Lois, it's your neighbour, it's sounds important," the voice called again and Lois realised it was Erin. She decided to take it, the Taylors had been so apologetic over their initial reactions and she didn't think they'd bother her unless it was reasonably important.

"Got it," Lois called, sighing as she picked up her phone. She hoped it was the right choice, if it wasn't important she didn't have time to waste. "Hello?"

"Lois?" As soon as she heard the worry and urgency in Christina Taylor's voice she knew why Erin hadn't just fielded the call herself.

"Tina? What's wrong?" she asked, her heart hammering in her chest as she imagined what could be going on? Another attack? She knew Clark wouldn't be able to handle if the kids got hurt again. She certainly knew she couldn't, she was the one who'd convinced him they'd be okay at school.

"It's Clark," Christina answered, "he's gone, I don't know where, he was really upset."

"Wait, what happened?" Lois asked, half-relieved the kids were okay but now incredibly worried about her husband.

"He came here and I was talking to him about your window," Christina explained, "then I mentioned the Inquisitor and he looked at it then…" she trailed off and Lois could almost hear her shrug. "He got really quiet and said… he said something about not being able to do it anymore and to tell you he was sorry."

"Then what?" Lois asked, putting on her jacket and punching in Clark's number on her cell phone.

"Then he left, he just said to tell you he was sorry but he couldn't do it anymore and he left."

--

Reviews are love!

Comments

Posted by: love_is_my_goal (love_is_my_goal)
Posted at: August 5th, 2010 01:58 pm (UTC)

Wow! What a loaded chapter! In a good way of course. I definitely sympathize with Ella here. I can't wait to read the next chapter!

Posted by: Grace (repmetsyrrah)
Posted at: August 8th, 2010 05:26 am (UTC)
SR; Clois; Need a Hero

Thanks! I'm glad people are coming to like Ella now and understand how she feels, means I'm going something right.

Next chapter is already half-written, so shouldn't take too long at all.

Posted by: januaried (januaried)
Posted at: August 5th, 2010 06:39 pm (UTC)

Wow, huge and great chapter! What a cliffie, LOL. Can't wait to see Lois knock some sense back into Clark. :D

Posted by: Grace (repmetsyrrah)
Posted at: August 8th, 2010 05:28 am (UTC)
SR; Clark; S Glasses

Thanks! I'm glad people liked the end, I re-wrote it several times to get it just right.

Posted by: Obsessed fangirl (babettew54)
Posted at: August 7th, 2010 02:17 am (UTC)
SR - Clark look of love

I know I haven't posted a review in a while, but I am reading and I thoroughly enjoyed this (1/2) chapter!! Even though it was sizeable, I wanted more!!

You are going to make me fall for Ms. Ella, aren't you? That is your intention, I see that now, and you're succeeding. Theo/Ella was very nice indeed.

Love, love, loved getting Lois' feelings out there. We needed to hear how she's dealing with everything.

Clark, Clark ... where did he go? I just read the teaser and hummm, investigating... I like it!

Good job, hon! :D

Posted by: Grace (repmetsyrrah)
Posted at: August 8th, 2010 05:38 am (UTC)
SR; Lois; Planet Globe

That's okay, I do love reviews but so long as you're reading an enjoying I'm happy!

Lol, you saw right through my evil plan :P I was initially surprised at how much people disliked Ella after her first talk with Dean bought her feeling out (one reviewer was even glad she was the one who got stabbed), but now people seem to be swinging the other way. I'm glad though, means I'm doing something right.

Glad you liked the Theo/Ella as well, that wasn't in the plan but I wanted him to apologise for the pencil thing then Ella liked him too much and I had to give them more :P

I loved writing the scene with Lois, she's been so strong for everyone in the past week since the secret came out that she needed to have a release for it all without the family being there.

Hehe, I think the answer's quite obvious, esp. after the next chap, but the talk with Henderson does happen before he goes back home and talks to the neighbour. I'm not saying any more :P

Thanks for commenting, I'm glad you liked it!

Posted by: Obsessed fangirl (babettew54)
Posted at: August 9th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)
SR - Clark look of love

(one reviewer was even glad she was the one who got stabbed),

I wanted to respond to this earlier, because this remark really threw me.

Really??! Someone actually said that? How terrible for you to read something like that. I found Ella fascinating, yes she was a bit of a pain, and it was surprising she would feel that way, but I wanted to know more about her, and I certainly didn't want to see her get hurt. *shakes head at people sometimes*

How are you Grace? I hope you're getting plenty of rest.

Posted by: Grace (repmetsyrrah)
Posted at: August 10th, 2010 09:53 am (UTC)
SR; Martha; Clark; Kent Family

Yeah, it's a reviewer who's never been shy about expressing her opinions of the characters in my story though, which I do find somewhat refreshing. She says she does love the fic though, but not some of the people in it.

It was rather surprising but I wasn't hurt, I guess it was actually rather flattering that I had created a character not everyone liked- kinda like a real person. Particularly since Ella's a teenager and how unrealistic would it be if she was an angel who loved everything about herself? :P

I'm a country girl though, we're pretty think-skinned :P and anyway, I don't take it personally when people have issues with my fic or characters. If it's constructive criticism, it's helpful, if it's just nasty (thankfully very few) then it's their problem not mine (not like I forced them to read it :P), if it's just their opinion on one character, like this, then I actually like hearing what people think, even if it's negative.

*hugs* I'm alright, thanks. I haven't been getting as much sleep as I need but I'm taking a serious look at my diet right now, I think that may be where the problem lies.

Posted by: Obsessed fangirl (babettew54)
Posted at: August 10th, 2010 02:41 pm (UTC)
SR - Clark dorky smile

I guess I need to grow a thick-skin!!? I mean, if I want to enter the cut-throat world of publishing, I'd better toughen up, huh!? *oh, boy*!!

I do miss everyone, blogging about this and that, but I really need to stay focused on my book. I'm past the 'critical' section now as the end is coming. I'm sticking to about 150 pages, 40-45,000 words or so should do the trick. It'll come out to be a 'small-ish' paperback, nothing ginormous by any standards.

Take care and eat right, because I don't. Since I started full-on with this thing, I'm not eating right or resting the way I should, but I'm trying to do better. I don't want to get sick or anything! *hugs*

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