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08 January 2009 @ 12:35 am
"Shadows from the Past" (AU Chlex- Suspense/Romance) PG-13: Prologue-Chapter 1  
Summary: Alienated from the world of affections by a mysterious past Chloe is not aware of, she finds her world turned upside down when a tragic event reveals she has been living a lie. A small Kansas town seems to hold the key to the secret behind her nightmares.

Author:
lexie (lillianschild )

Homepage
: http://www.freewebs.com/lillianschild

Forums: http://www.freepowerboards.com/lillianschild

E-mail
: lillianschild@yahoo.co.uk

A/N: This fic helped me won the Murder Mystery Contest organised by DTS in April 2008.

A/N2: the starting point of this fic is loosely inspired on a novel I read a long time ago, whose name- unfortunately-I can´t remember.

Disclaimer: all Superman and Smallville characters belong to DC Comics and Gough & Millar. No Infringement's intended.


 

PROLOGUE

Voices. Raised and angry voices woke her up.

Confused, Chloe Sullivan got out of bed and ran along a long dark corridor towards them. She moved in slow motion as if she were still asleep; her feet heavy with that numbness which seizes our body when it is in repose during slumber. She was disoriented and her heart hammered madly in her chest.

The voices got louder and louder, but the words were still unrecognisable, masked by the heated emotions.

Then, a sudden flash of light blinded her and Chloe was paralysed with terror...

Someone appeared in the shadows. Someone big and imposing was coming her way...

Chloe took one, two, three steps back... and then, there was nothing but blackness, a pitch black which swallowed it all up

A shaky Chloe opened her eyes startled. The chattering of her teeth was the only sound that disrupted the silence of the night. Her lungs were burning and she realised she had been holding her breath. She exhaled and tried to bring the shaking under control. She was covered in sweat and her nightdress clung to her curves like a second skin. She could see the stream of light coming from the bathroom and she calmed down. She always took the precaution of leaving the light in the bathroom on and its door slightly ajar; it was the only way she could sleep. Here eyes roamed the bedroom and couldn´t see anything amiss. She pricked up her ears but she didn´t hear any raised voices. The flat was completely quiet. It was at that moment that she realised she had been dreaming once again; the same recurrent dream.

Chloe swallowed nervously in an attempt to assuage the feeling of loss that had seized her. She closed her eyes to escape from the fear that had made her shrink. Would she ever be able to get rid of that dream?

Some time before, she had sought professional help but doctors had given up; none of them had come up with a solution to put an end to her nightmares. She felt a tremor down her spine, opened her eyes and looked at the alarm clock on her bedside table. It was three o´clock in the morning, but Chloe was certain she wouldn´t be able to get to sleep again, not that night. She tossed the sheet aside, got out of bed, put on her robe and walked out of her room.

The corridor was illuminated by a lamp she always left on on a console table. She had been afraid of the dark ever since childhood and, although she was a grown-up woman now, she hadn´t been able to overcome that weakness yet.

She entered the living-room and switched on her desk lamp. She picked up her notepad and had a look at the information she had jotted down. Her deadline was a week away, but she had the story almost ready on her hard drive. It was an investigative report like the ones she had always loved to write but, for once, it showed the triumph of good. It was a story of courage and determination. Two qualities she admired in a human being.

Chloe remembered the nightmare that had woken her up and shivered again. It hurt her to admit she didn´t have enough courage to face the demons in her dreams, considering she could be so persistent and reckless when doing research for an article in her waking hours.

She turned on her laptop and opened the file she had been working on before going to bed. Her thoroughness and innovative approach to her stories had earned her a reputation in Gotham. Working as a free-lance reporter allowed her to travel frequently and to organise her own timetable. And, above all, it kept her isolated- a fact which she more than welcomed.

The truth of the matter was she found more pleasure in solitude than in the company of anybody else. Chloe sighed. She was aware that her father was worried about her solitary life. Ever since she had been diagnosed with stress, he seemed determined to convince her of the need to socialise more. ´Make new friends. Open up your heart to somebody else, honey. ´ Chloe never argued with him. She knew he meant well but what he didn´t understand was that she wanted the whole package: a husband, a family... someone to love and who could love her in good measure. She didn´t want to live alone, but she only knew how to live in solitude. Opening her heart and trusting other people wasn´t so easy; it was an almost impossible feat for Chloe.

A couple of days before, she had been to her dad´s. He had appeared unusually worried about her well-being, and she had tried to make light of it, saying that with a father like him she had all the love and security she needed. She still remembered the sad look on Gabe´s face on hearing her words.

Chloe sat down on her swivel chair and tried to stop thinking about that conversation. She brought her shaky hands to the key board and resumed her article. Once she was done, she saved the file on the computer and made a back-up copy on a CD, satisfied with the final result. She got up of the chair, stretching and yawning, and ambled to the window surprised to find that it was nearly daybreak. She had been working for close to three hours, but it felt like a mere few minutes.

Suddenly, the phone rang and took her out of her reveries.

¨Hello? ¨

¨Chloe? ¨ said Martha Kent.

Chloe had met her when she entered university and became friends with her son Clark. The Kent widow had been the closest thing to a mother she had ever had. And judging by the tone of Martha´s voice she sounded sad and disconsolate.

¨What´s up, Mrs Kent? ¨asked Chloe.

¨It´s Gabe, sweetie. I´m afraid he´s gone. ¨

¨Gone? Gone where? ¨she echoed before the pregnant silence provided her with an answer she found hard to accept. ¨No, he can´t be, ¨ she added chokingly.

¨I´m so sorry, honey. We believe he died in his sleep in the wee small hours of the morning. The doctor says it was his heart, Chloe. ¨

Early in the morning... her dream... She had woken up overwhelmed by a feeling of fear and loss. Was it a coincidence? Maybe not.

Chloe shut her eyes brimmed with tears. It didn´t matter if it was a coincidence or not because at that moment, for the first time in her life, she was totally, completely alone.

 

 


CHAPTER 1: Coming Home

¨I don´t understand, ¨ said Chloe, putting down the death certificate she had in her hands.

Gabe´s lawyer took off his glasses and wiped the crystals clean with a handkerchief in an attempt to gain some minutes to collect his thoughts.

¨Miss Sullivan, ¨started the lawyer, ¨it doesn´t feel right to be the bearer of this news. ¨

¨I told him several times... you deserved to know the truth, ¨ continued Martha, ¨but he was adamant. He was set in his ways and wouldn´t hear any of it. He believed nothing good would come out of it. ¨

¨So it´s true, isn´t it? ¨asked Chloe in disbelief.

¨Yes, sweetie. She didn´t desert you. She died. ¨

The news had come as a shattering blow. Chloe couldn´t breathe. She felt numb. All her life she had been living a lie.

´Why? Why didn´t he tell me the truth? ¨

¨He just wanted to protect you, honey. ¨

¨Protect me? Letting me think my own mother had left me? All those childhood years I tortured myself thinking what I had done wrong that had driven her away. ¨

¨You were too young, Chloe. He didn´t know how to tell you the truth. ¨

¨A parent´s death is hardly an stigma to be protected from, Martha. ¨

¨Don´t be too rash in judging Gabe, Chloe. He did what he thought was best for you at the time. ¨

Chloe grabbed the certificate again and felt her hands shake. ´Smallville, Kansas´ read the paper. Not Gotham, where she had lived all her life.

¨Smallville, ¨she murmured. ¨Didn´t your family live there before moving to Metropolis? ´ she asked Martha.

¨Yes, we did. ¨

¨Did you know my mum? ¨

¨No, sweetie. I became a friend of your family when you started frequenting Clark. We´d never socialised before. ¨

¨There must be something else. You aren´t telling me the whole truth. ¨

¨I know what your father told me. You were five when she died. Gabe moved to Gotham to get you away from the town. You were traumatised and he didn´t know how to help you. ¨

¨The nightmares, ¨thought Chloe.

¨For months on end you´d wake up in the middle of the night screaming. Little by little the nightmares went away, just as if you´d purged the demon from your soul. Gabe didn´t want to jeopardise the peacefulness you had found. ¨

Peacefulness. If only she knew. The bad dreams had kept haunting her all her adult life.

¨He was over-protective, ¨ said Chloe.

¨He loved you, Chloe, and tried to be the best father he could. ¨

¨I know, ¨she answered, letting the tears stream down her cheeks. ¨What am I supposed to do now? ¨

¨Go on with your life, ¨ said Martha motherly. ¨ Forget about the past, ¨she added, squeezing her hand gently.

¨I can´t. Not when I no longer know who I am. God, how could I ever forget I lived with my mum until I was five? How could I not remember she had passed away and not packed up and left? ¨

¨There must be a reason for that, sweetie, ¨ said Martha.

The lawyer cleared his throat to break the silence that followed Mrs Kent´s words.

¨There´s still the question of the house, ¨ said the counsellor.

¨The house? ¨ frowned Chloe.

¨Here´s the deed. It´s in your name, ¨ he said, handing her the document.

Chloe scanned it and wondered what other secrets she would discover along the way.

¨I´ve never understood why he kept it, ¨interrupted Martha. ¨Once, he told me he couldn´t sell it because it´d been in your mother´s family for generations. It´s the house where you spent the first five years of your life. ¨

Chloe felt a tightening at the pit of her stomach and found it hard to breathe.

¨ Miss Sullivan, the property is debt-free and in perfect conditions. The decision regarding what´s to be done with it is up to you. ¨

¨You don´t need to make up your mind right away, honey, ¨ said Martha. ¨It´s been a trying year for you. Maybe it´s high time you took some well-deserved holidays. Travel to Europe. Visit your cousin Lucy. ¨

No matter how tempting that sounded, Chloe had never been one to run away. Even if she left for a while, the past would still be there. She had to find out the truth. She needed know who she was.

¨I´ll go to Smallville and check out the property myself. I need to know the truth. ¨

¨Honey, do you think it´d be wise? ¨ asked a worried Martha.

¨I don´t know what´s wise, Martha, but I have lots of questions and it´s only in Smallville where I´ll find the answers. ¨

¨Why don´t you hire the services of a PI? ¨suggested the lawyer.

¨No, I have to do this my own way, ¨ insisted Chloe.

¨Why do you always have to be so stubborn? ¨ asked Martha.

¨You´re starting to sound like my dad, ¨smiled Chloe warmly. ¨You won´t tell me to find a good man, get married and have a bunch of kids, will you? ¨

¨I´d never dream of telling you what to do with your life, Chloe. You must know why you´ve decided to lead a solitary life. ¨

Her dad had been eager for her to settle down, find a loving man and raise a family. He had never understood why a thirty-year-old like her had failed to have a long-lasting relationship. She had thought once Clark could be the one guy for her, but then she realised they could never be anything other than friends. He was in love with a girl called Lana when Chloe met him at university and, now that he was working at The Daily Planet, he was clearly infatuated with her own cousin Lois Lane.

There had been several men hovering around the blonde, but she had always found it hard to trust people. There had always been something that held her back, and she had never been able to commit herself to a relationship with any of them. Perhaps there was a reason behind her reticence and reserve; a reason with roots in her past.

¨There´s a blank of five years in my mind, Martha. And I feel that something really important is missing. I don´t know why but I believe I´ll never be happy until I find the answers to all the questions that I have, ¨ responded Chloe, eying the deed she had in her hands. ¨Perhaps they´re waiting for me in Smallville. ¨

¨And if that isn´t the case? ¨asked a worried Mrs Kent.

¨It won´t hurt to try, ¨she said, sounding more confident than she actually felt.

As a matter of fact, she had no idea of what she would find in Kansas. However, she was aware of an invisible force that was pushing her in that direction, and she had never bee one to resist a challenge.

The cornfields stretched on both sides of the road, mature and ready to be harvested. Chloe had always been a city girl but couldn´t deny the beauty of the golden crop and the allure of the clear blue skies of Kansas.

She was driving her red beetle with the folding top on and the window slightly wound down because the early autumn air wasn´t so benign and she didn´t feel like spending her holidays nursing a cold.

´Smallville: World Capital of Meteors´ read the sign by the road. ´Country people sure are quaint, ´she thought. For the first time that month Chloe had no responsibilities. She had finished all the paperwork concerning Gabe´s estate and had submitted her latest article to the newspaper. Nothing stood in her way now. She had all the autumn ahead and, she´d make sure once it was over, she´d have all the answers she had come looking for.

Then, maybe, she would start thinking about the future. She would have given anything not be alone. Granted, she still had Clark, Martha and her cousins Lois and Lucy, but they were not what her heart was crying for. A stab of pain took her unawares and her eyes brimmed with unshed tears. She missed her dad so much. She had felt betrayed by the lies he had told her, but he had been her best friend and confidant. Clark had always tried his best to listen to her, but his mind had been too full of Lana or Lois to pay real attention to her; and now that she needed someone to lean on, she didn´t know who to talk to. Nobody she knew had the answers she was so eager to find.

Chloe tidied her shoulder-length blond hair with her hands and made an effort to dispel the melancholy that had invaded her thoughts. She had already shed too many tears. It was high time she stopped pitying herself.

A sharp bend came into view and she stepped on the brakes to negotiate it. She looked into the real mirror and almost missed a lorry which was overtaking a sports car that was coming her way. She braked once more, but it wasn´t enough; the car skidded and Chloe lost control of the vehicle. She gripped the wheel and made a last desperate manoeuvre to avoid a head-on collision. The beetle went off the road, slamming her left flank against the door before coming to a sudden stop amidst a cloud of dust.

Chloe had a coughing fit and covered her mouth and nose to stop herself from inhaling any more dust. She thanked God for sparing her life. Shaking, she took the key away from the ignition, unfastened her seatbelt and got out of the car to feel the steady ground beneath her feet. Her legs almost gave and she had to lean on the car, her arms on top of the roof, to keep herself from falling.

¨Are you all right? ¨

Chloe jumped on hearing the worried masculine voice. She turned around and looked at the bald man in a long black overcoat and designer clothes who was standing next to a silver Porsche across the road.

¨Yes, ¨she mumbled.

¨That was quite a skid. I´ve jotted down the bastard´s licence plate, ¨ he said, walking towards her and removing his sunglasses. ¨Are you sure you´re OK? ¨he asked, sweeping her body with his blue-grey eyes.

¨Everything´s fine. There´s nothing to worry about, I assure you, ¨answered Chloe, trying to collect herself.

He was tall and extremely handsome. However, it hadn´t been his looks but the way he moved that had caught her attention at first; she had never seen a man exude such an air of confidence in his stride. There was an aura of high-breeding and power around him, but it had taken her a look in his eyes to know there was a lot more to him than met the eye. He seemed genuinely concerned about her and she felt an indescribable sense of well-being wash over her.

She must have been staring at him for a couple of minutes before she came back to her senses. What the hell was she doing? He was definitely a beautiful specimen, but she wasn´t the kind to ogle any man; least of all, one to whom she hadn´t been formally introduced.

¨I´m afraid your car hasn´t come out unscathed, ¨ he said with a smirk, making her wonder if he had read her previous thoughts.

He walked around the vehicle, accidentally brushing against her arm and Chloe felt her body suddenly burn. She inhaled the masculine scent- a mixture of vanilla and fresh laundry. She swallowed the lump in her throat and tried not to pay attention to the butterflies in her stomach. What was going on with her? She had never felt such an instant and deep attraction for a male in her thirty years of life.

Meanwhile, he shot her an intense glance, which revealed he had felt the electricity between them, and then crouched to have a look at her back tyres.

¨They´re both punctured. Where were you heading? ¨ he asked, straightening up.

¨Smallville, ¨she answered, blushing.

He looked at her clothes as if he were evaluating her and wondering what someone like her could want in a mid-western country town.

¨Tourist? ¨

¨No, I´m not a tourist, ¨she said, holding his gaze and ordering her body not to betray what he was making her feel. He wasn´t going to unsettle Chloe Sullivan. ¨I´ve got a house in town. ¨

¨I´ve known Smallville ever since I was eight and I´ve been living here for the last twenty-five years; I´ve never seen you around. I´m absolutely certain I´d remember you, ¨he responded.

Chloe wasn´t offended because she realised he had expressed mere curiosity.

¨I´ve just come into the house. It´s been in the family for generations. ¨

¨Which house? ¨he asked friendly.

¨The Sullivan House. ¨

His blue-grey eyes showed a fleeting change in colour and he put his shades back on.

¨What´s your name? ¨he whispered.

¨Chloe. Chloe Sullivan. Why? Do you know me or my family? ¨

¨I´ll send you a tow truck, ¨ he said grimly, turning around and walking back to his car.

¨Wait!¨ exclaimed the young reporter, surprised at the sudden change in his demeanour and attitude.

He switched on the engine- drowning her voice- engaged first gear and moved off at a breakneck speed. Chloe couldn´t believe what had just happened. It had taken the sound of her name to turn him from a serviceable man into a distant and reserved individual.

She didn´t even know his name. Maybe it was better that way; she didn´t have time to unravel any mysteries other than her mum´s.

Lex Luthor looked at the young woman in the rear mirror and felt guilty at leaving her alone on the road. She was petite but spirited, judging by her reaction when he had driven away all of a sudden. He almost smiled when he saw her stamp her feet on the ground to show her upset. However, he didn´t smile; he couldn´t. He felt suddenly cold, and a childhood memory came rushing back. A memory he wanted forgotten.

Chloe Sullivan, a grown-up woman; an enchanting young woman. What was she doing back in Smallville after so many years? Why hadn´t she stayed away?

He took a bend too fast and heard the tyres screech. He breathed in deeply and changed gear; he remembered the Porsche he had driven off the bridge and decided to slow down. No matter how he felt, he wasn´t willing to die just yet.

Lex tightened the grip on the steering wheel until his knuckles turned white. Smallville wasn´t a big town and they would bump into each other sooner or later. He hoped for her sake and for his own, it´d be later than sooner.

TBC

CHAPTERS 2 & 3


 



 
 
Current Mood: nostalgicnostalgic
 
 
 
Jengreenlady2 on January 8th, 2009 07:24 am (UTC)
Ooooh!
Terrific beginning. This looks like a great mystery. And Lex clearly knows something....

Can't wait for the next chapters. :-)))
lillianschild: glasses turtlenecklillianschild on January 8th, 2009 06:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Ooooh!
Glad to know I´ve already engaged your attention. Yes, he certainly knows something; you´ll just have to wait and see what it is. :)