Chapter 15 – Talking to Chloe
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, or any of the Mythology that I am about to mangle to suit my own twisted purposes. Frankly, if you recognize it, I don’t own it. This work may not be sold or used for profit in any way shape or form for that very reason. Please don’t sue me because I don’t have anything worth taking…
-== Chapter Fifteen – Talking to Chloe ==-
Xander stared at Clark for several long moments, doing a credible imitation of a fish as he tried to comprehend the bombshell his cousin just dropped on him. His aunt and uncle meant to adopt him, to make him a permanent, legal member of their family rather then merely a ward. It wasn’t a turn of events he’d ever even considered a remote possibility. His best hope had been that the Kents wouldn’t see him as too much of a burden but for them to accept him this way had just been too much to ask for.
Almost instantly his self-doubt quashed the idea, after all, they’d done that before the demons attacked, before they knew the truth about him and his life. There was simply no way they’d follow through on it now that the ugliness of his life had come to light. It was miracle enough that he wasn’t on his way back to L.A., being adopted and becoming a Kent was an overly optimistic pipe dream.
Clark watched as emotions played over the older teen’s face. First there was the shock and awe he expected, followed quickly by an almost elated grin. Before the young Kryptonian could say anything however, he watched in dismay as the elation was rapidly replaced by uncertainty. As he watched Xander convince himself that Clark’s parents would have changed their minds, he wondered if Xander would ever overcome the damage Uncle Tony and Aunt Jessica had done. Xander seemed convinced that he was going to be abandoned at every turn…
“They won’t change their minds, Xander,” he reassured his soon to be brother. “As far as my parents and I are concerned, you’re already part of our family, this is just a formality.”
“But after yesterday…” the Aesir started to protest.
“They’ll be even more adamant about it,” Clark insisted. “They didn’t even mention it to me until after you went off to the barn to learn to fly.” Clark smiled reassuringly. “They won’t change their mind.”
Xander smiled at his cousin, wishing he could believe that. Unfortunately, he just wasn’t willing to take the risk of being disappointed and hurt if Clark was wrong. He’d been let down far too often growing up to let his guard down now, no matter how much he wanted to believe it. However, he also didn’t want to disabuse his cousin of his faith in Jonathan and Martha, so rather than belabor the point, he merely nodded his acquiescence before changing the subject.
“So are you okay?” the Thunder God asked.
The alien teen looked deeply thoughtful before answering, “No… I’m really not, but I will be.”
The Aesir nodded again, really meaning it this time, “Yeah, you will be.” He stood up slowly as he spoke, realizing that Clark would still need some time alone to finish sorting this through. “I’ll let your mom and dad know that you’re alright. You take as long as you need before you head back… but remember, we’re here for you if you need us.” Mjolnir appeared in his hand as he continued, “You’re not alone in this Clark.”
Clark nodded before asking, “How do you deal with being so different and make it seem so easy?”
The words stopped him dead for a moment as he considered how to answer. Finally he shrugged, “It’s not easy but I’m not alone. You just have to take life a day at a time and do as much good as you can along the way. The rest comes in time.”
He watched as his cousin mulled over the answer for a few minutes, before finally nodding. Xander smiled and willed himself slowly into the air, giving Clark ample time to ask another question if he needed to. Once he was certain Clark didn’t need anything else, he blurred off toward the farm.
Clark stared after his cousin for a long while, wondering how come he’d been so lucky as to have a friend like Xander. He silently thanked whatever God was responsible for guiding him to a family like his.
* * * * *
As Xander approached Smallville, he slowed down and began to take a real look at the town from above. The town sprawled out lazily along the roadways, bustling with early morning activity. As he flew across one of the more residential areas, he drew up short, spotting Chloe’s battered looking Volvo wagon parked in a driveway. He stopped midair, considering the situation.
Reaching a decision, he pulled his cell phone from his pocket. A quick glance revealed he had a decent signal despite being several hundred feet above ground, so he pressed one of his speed-dials and waited. A few moments later his Aunt’s voice answered.
“Hi Aunt Martha, it’s Xander,” he said watching what he presumed was Chloe’s house as he spoke. “No, everything’s fine…Clark and I had a nice long chat and he’s going be okay. He just needs some time alone to finish thinking things through.” He could hear the relief, tempered by concern in her voice. “I’m sure he’ll be fine, he’s in one of the state parks, about halfway to Metropolis.”
He listened for a few more moments as an older man, which he figured was Chloe’s dad, exited the house, got in his vehicle and drove off. “Actually, I’m floating a few hundred feet above Chloe’s house, I’m going go ahead and have the talk with her before I go to my session with the counselor today.” He grinned at his aunt’s response, “Well you asked! It’s perfectly safe, I can jump this high if I really tried, and even if I did fall, it wouldn’t hurt me. I’ll be careful, Aunt Martha. No one will see me land or take off here or at the school.” He smiled at her next words. “I love you too, Aunt Martha. I’ll see you later on.” It still felt weird to have people who cared for him like real parents for once in his life.
A moment later, he was standing at the door to the Sullivan residence, his hand raised to knock on the door and Mjolnir hanging safely around his neck.
* * * * *
“Chloe? Honey, have you seen my access badge?” Gabe Sullivan called out from the upstairs as he was getting ready for work.
“It’s on the table by the front door, with your keys,” Chloe called back with a smile. On the job, her father was one of the most organized men she’d ever known, it was a shame he made up for it by being so disorganized at home.
Chloe, meanwhile, was rather engrossed in a front page story from the morning edition of the Daily Planet. A freak weather incident had blown a large hole in the 20th story windows of the Wolfram and Hart building in Metropolis, without damaging anything else. Most of the debris had even been blown into the unoccupied conference room. So far there was no scientific explanation for what had happened.
The sound of her father coming down the stairs tore her away from the paper and she looked up to see him staring at her. “Are you sure you’re okay being by yourself today, Chloe?” he asked, his concern for his only child quite clear in his voice. “You know, I can take off in you need me…it’s perfectly normal to be shaken up after what happened last night…”
“For the last time dad,” Chloe insisted with a smile, “I’m fine and the creep in question is in custody. There’s nothing to worry about, now get going before you’re late for the staff meeting.”
“Alright,” the man conceded with a grin. “Just be careful, I don’t know how I’d live with myself if anything happened to you.” He scooped up his keys and badge before hurrying out the door. He never noticed Chloe staring worriedly after him.
Her dad had been working his way up through middle management at the LuthorCorp fertilizer plant in Smallville since it opened. Over the years, they’d endured several tense moments as the corporation reorganized plant operations and shuffled around their upper management personnel at the plant. Every time a staff meeting like this was called, it ended with people losing their jobs as the size of the plant management team was trimmed down. Some part of Chloe was afraid that one day her father would be among the ones to lose out. She only hoped it wasn’t today that her fears came true.
Once she heard her dad drive off, she busied herself with gathering up her things and preparing to head to the Torch for the day. She was quickly coming up on the printing deadline for her inaugural issue of the paper as editor-in-chief. The first issue of the paper was traditional available to the students on their first day of school each year, a date that was looming ever closer. Since the paper certainly wasn’t going to get itself ready for the printers, she had work to do. She only hoped that the damage to the Torch office and the subsequent repairs the school board would have to undertake wouldn’t make her miss her deadline.
A few moments later, she was grabbing her car keys from her purse as she pulled open the front door to find Xander Harris on her doorstep. He had one hand pulled back to knock on the door and a surprised look on his face.
“Xander!” she exclaimed, shocked to see him here. For what seemed like the first time, the reporter really looked at the young man and she had to admit that she liked what she saw. Xander may have been a bit shorter than Clark, but he was definitely well-built and very good-looking. He was wearing a deep green t-shirt and a pair of blue jeans. She also noticed a chain with an ornate looking hammer medallion made of an odd, blue metal hanging around his neck. The shirt fit tight across his torso, revealing a well-muscled and very toned upper body that most athletes would have been proud of. She wondered briefly why he always seemed to wear baggier clothes that seemed to hide his physique, since this was the first time she had seen him wear anything form-fitting.
“Hey Chloe,” he said with a smile. “Did I catch you at a bad time?” When she hesitated for a moment he added, “I wanted to check on you and see how things went with the sheriff last night? I also thought you might want me to make with the explanation I promised last night.”
That clinched it. There were some things that would be worth risking having to work some late hours to meet her deadline…like Xander’s story. “No,” she answered with a bright smile. “The Torch can wait, come on in.”
“Nice place,” he commented, looking around as he came in. It reminded him a lot of Willow’s house back in Smallville, only it looked a little more lived in. Not surprising though, considering how often the Rosenberg’s were off on the road at conferences and seminars. “Just one thing, never invite anyone in after sunset. Vampires can’t enter a home without an invitation,” he smiled at her. “In Sunnydale, we’d usually just step aside and let someone come in if they could, it was safer that way. I know we don’t have a vampire problem in Smallville, but I’d hate for anything to happen to you…”
“I’ll keep that in mind then, no invitations after dark,” she said with a smile of her own. “You want to have a seat?”
“Uh,” he considered for a moment. “Actually, I was hoping we could go somewhere so I could show you some of my powers. Preferably somewhere outdoors, since that would be easiest.”
“Oh…okay,” Chloe looked thoughtful for a few moments. “There’s the old Quarry out by Saunders Gorge, but it’s over near Granville…about a half hour drive, or…”
“Perfect,” he said with a grin. A glance out into Chloe’s backyard revealed that it was surrounded by a tall privacy fence. “If you trust me…that is?”
The blonde eyed him curiously for a long moment, trying to figure out what he planned to do. He had saved her life after all, why wouldn’t she trust him? “Of course I do,” she said, her smile never wavering. “I can drive us if you want…”
“Actually, let’s step out in your backyard,” he suggested cryptically.
Her curiosity was killing her as she led the suddenly mysterious teen out the back door and into the enclosed yard. She watched as he took a couple steps away from her and slipped the necklace she’d noticed over his head.
“Do you know anything about Norse Mythology, Chloe?” he asked as he dropped the necklace into the palm of his right hand and turned to face her. When she shook her head no, he continued. “One of the Norse Gods, the Aesir as they were called, was a being named Thor. All of the Aesir were warriors, like the Vikings who worshipped them, but Thor was one of the most renowned warriors of all. He was strong, stronger than any of the other Aesir,” he recounted as Chloe listened, intrigued. “His weapon was a magickal war hammer called Mjolnir, which he used to slay his foes. He was also the God of Thunder. The Vikings believed that every flash of lighting or roar of thunder was a sign of Thor smiting his enemies.”
Chloe eyed Xander, puzzled by the amused grin on his face and the impromptu mythology lesson. Before she could ask, her eyes widened and her jaw dropped open as the hammer necklace grew slowly into a full-sized war hammer before her very eyes. She watched in awe as sparks of electricity danced over the weapon like a miniature lightning storm while Xander held it out so she could see it clearly.
“Is that?” she asked, making the obvious connection.
“Mjolnir,” he confirmed. “The great hammer forged by the dwarves for the God of Thunder himself.” Lowering the hammer to his side, he held his left hand out to Chloe, “Do you still trust me?”
She didn’t hesitate, despite her awestruck silence. She stepped forward and took his hand, allowing him to pull her close. He scooped the petite blonde up in his arms and said softly, “You might want to hold on tight.”
She wrapped her arms around him, all the while wondering what Xander was going to do. A moment later she gasped as the ground seemed to fall away beneath them and they rose quickly into the air. Chloe had never been afraid of heights before, but finding herself suddenly several hundred feet in the air drew a startled yelp from her and caused her to tighten her grip on Xander.
“Don’t worry,” the Aesir said calmly. “I won’t let you fall.”
As they sailed silently toward the quarry she had mentioned, Chloe’s mind raced. Xander could fly. He had a hammer that supposedly belonged to an actual God. How could any of this be possible? Was Xander even human? Did it really even matter if he wasn’t? Her thoughts seemed to chase each other around in her head going almost nowhere. The only answer she came up with before they settled gently onto the ground in the bottom of Saunders Gorge was that what Xander was
wasn’t as important as what he did
. The teen was a hero, a genuine, selfless hero, willing to risk his own life for others.
“I hope I didn’t scare you too much?” he asked as he gently set her back down on her feet. “I didn’t want to mention it, but that was the first time I tried carrying someone as I flew, I hope it wasn’t too bad.”
“It wasn’t,” she admitted softly, reluctant to step back from Xander as she looked up at him. “So are you him? Thor, I mean…”
“No,” the Thunder God responded quickly before grimacing slightly. “Well, mostly no at any rate…but also kind of yes in some ways.” He sighed. “It’s a little complicated.”
She raised an eyebrow questioningly and finally stepped back as Xander sighed again. “Let me start at the beginning, it’ll make this a little easier to understand…hopefully. Thor was the favored son of Odin, the King of the Aesir. Loki was Odin’s foster brother, Thor’s Uncle, and the God of Tricksters. He was also a Giant, not one of the Aesir,” he paused for a moment considering. “Of course, Thor’s mother was called a Giant as well but she was actually Zeus’s sister and one of the Olympians…but that’s so not the point.” He shot Chloe a pained, apologetic grin before continuing. “In about the sixth century, Loki tricked Thor into trying to kill Odin and usurp his throne. They failed and Loki fled because the penalty for such an act was death. Thor didn’t. He admitted what he’d done and accepted his fate honorably.”
“Thor was banished to Midgard, that’s Earth, to live out his life and die as a mortal man. All of his powers, his immortality… everything that made him the God of Thunder was bound up in his hammer and cast to earth,” the Aesir explained, “where it would wait for one of Thor’s mortal descendants to prove worthy of reclaiming what Thor had lost.”
“A few weeks before my parents died, I was on the beach in Sunnydale after the sun went down and was attacked by vampires. I was stupidly unprepared and should have died because of it. I found a stick lying on the beach and grabbed it to use it as a weapon. When I hit a vampire with it, it turned into Mjolnir and changed me. It made me one of the Aesir and I was able to use my new strength and the hammer to slay all three vampires.”
“So you have all of the powers of an actual God?” Chloe asked after a moment, still trying to come to grips with what she was being told.
“Not yet,” he answered honestly. “I have all the powers of a teenaged Aesir. The rest of Thor’s powers will develop over time.”
“What all can you do then?” the reporter asked.
“I can free lift a locomotive easily and control the weather,” he began. “My eyesight and hearing are better than normal, but not as good as when I was possessed by that primal spirit last year. I heal really fast and only magick, demons, or someone with divine blood can hurt me. With the hammer’s help, I can fly but eventually I won’t need the hammer to do that…just not yet.”
“How do you know about all of this?” she asked, her inner skeptic making one of its infrequent appearances. “I mean, the story could just be an elaborate myth built around a magickal hammer…”
“The moment that I found the hammer, I was approached by a Valkyrie…a Norse demigoddess responsible for carrying the souls of those who die in battle to Valhalla. She explained the story of Thor’s exile and the hammer to me and started training me to use my newfound powers,” he answered. “She died helping me against the fire giant that killed my mom and dad. Afterwards, I was transported to Odin’s hall in Asgard and spoke to Odin himself, which sort of confirmed everything.”
“Wait…she died? I thought that Gods and Goddesses were immortal?” Chloe asked abruptly.
“They’re immortal, yes, but they aren’t invulnerable. It takes a lot to kill one of the Aesir and is virtually impossible for a normal human, but it can be done,” he answered sadly. “And, like me, the Valkyries were all born human, which makes us more vulnerable than those who were born Aesir.”
Both teens fell silent for a few minutes in the wake of his words as Chloe considered what he was telling her. “So, if all of the mythological Gods like the Aesir… and you mentioned the Olympians, that’s the Greek Gods right?” she looked at Xander for confirmation. When he nodded, she continued, “If they’re all real, how come they don’t appear to people anymore? I mean, if the myths we read in school were any indication, the Greek Gods were constantly appearing to mortals and interfering in their lives…why did they stop?”
“I don’t really know,” Xander admitted after a second of consideration. “I never thought to ask…but so far, the ones I’ve dealt with have only revealed themselves when I was alone. Maybe they can’t appear to normal humans anymore…or maybe it’s got something to do with belief. Who knows?”
Chloe nodded thoughtfully, “How do you know the Olympians are real if you’ve only dealt with the Valkyrie and Odin?”
“Well, the Valkyrie mentioned them specifically. And Hermes showed up in the Kents’ barn yesterday with a message for me from Zeus and Hera,” he said with a smile. “He also gave me a lesson in history, the point of which was that Thor was the son of Odin and one of Zeus’s sisters. So, I have a family full of Greek Gods who treat me like a cousin because I’m Thor’s descendant and heir.”
“That’s a pretty dysfunctional family to be part of…” Chloe commented with a sympathetic grimace.
“Funny, that’s what Hermes said too,” the Aesir said with a grin. “Of course, the Harris family was never all that functional to begin with, so I should fit right in.”
“What really happened to your mom and dad, Xander?” Chloe asked after a moment’s pause. “The story in the paper wasn’t even close to the whole story was it?”
Xander swallowed. “The story in the paper was a cover up, fabricated by the thing that was responsible for their deaths. I found out that the mayor of Sunnydale was actually one of Loki’s children, a being called Jormungandr or the Midgard Serpent.” He took a deep breath, “He’d sworn vengeance on the Aesir after his father was destroyed for his crimes and was cursed by Odin, trapped in a human form that limits his powers pretty severely. I tried to make a deal with him, call a truce, because if he came after me I wouldn’t have been strong enough to handle him, but it was a bad idea.”
“We entered into a magickal contract, so that we’d be unable to attack each other and I thought that would be the end of it, life would go on as usual in Sunnydale. He wanted me gone though, so he went after my friends and family.” Xander paused, a haunted look on his face. “He sent an attack after my best-friend and parents at the same time. I saved Willow before I realized where the fire giant he’d summoned was going…I was too late to save my mom and dad.”
Chloe could see the pain on Xander’s face and hear it in his voice as he answered. “I’m sorry,” she said softly, moving close to him again and placing her hand on his arm. “I shouldn’t have brought it up…”
“No, you should hear the truth,” he countered after a few moments, his voice sounding limp, almost emotionless as he finally spoke again. “Being my friend is dangerous. Yesterday a group of immortal demons showed up on the farm to kill me and my family. One of them almost killed my Uncle…”
“Is that what you were avoiding last night?” she asked.
“No,” he said with a half-grin. “Uncle Jonathan was pretty pissed off at me for flying to Metropolis and threatening to do nasty things to those responsible if they ever tried to hurt the people I care about again.”
Suddenly, it all fell into place like an epiphany. The weird red stains she’d noticed yesterday at the Kent farm, the fact that Xander wasn’t there, the bizarre incident at the Wolfram and Hart building in Metropolis… it was all linked together. “You blew that hole in the Wolfram and Hart building didn’t you?”
“How’d you know about that?” he asked, shocked.
“There was an article about it in the Daily Planet this morning. They’re calling it a meteorological fluke,” she grinned. “It wasn’t the headline, but it made the front page.”
“Huh,” Xander said still surprised by it. “Must’ve been a slow news day…” he shrugged it off. “But seriously Chloe, you should stay away from me…you’ll probably live a much longer, safer life if you do.”
“Safer and more boring you mean,” she countered. “Xander, being someone’s friend is never entirely safe, but being yours seems like it’ll be worth the risks.” She gave him a soft reassuring smile.
Xander couldn’t help but smile back as he looked down at Chloe. Suddenly the air seemed to subtly change around them, as Xander realized how close together they were standing. It would be so easy to just lean over and kiss her, and for a long, agonizing moment, that’s exactly what he desperately wanted to do. If only he hadn’t seen just how Chloe obviously felt about his cousin on his very first day in Smallville he wouldn’t have hesitated, wouldn’t have held back. Instead, he let the moment slip past.
Still smiling, he stepped back slightly. A part of him crowed triumphantly as he saw a shadow of disappointment flicker over Chloe’s face in response. Maybe she wasn’t as hung up on his cousin as he thought…
Chloe smiled awkwardly, trying to hide her disappointment as Xander stepped back. For just a moment she’d really thought he was going to kiss her and she’d been strangely taken with the idea. The more rational part of her brain assured her that things like that only happened in cheesy romantic movies, not real life. Yet at the same time, her heart told her they had both felt it. Xander had wanted to kiss her as much as she wanted him to, so why had he held back. Was he afraid? Or was would it have been too much, too soon?
“So, uh, what’s up with you and Clark?” he asked, trying to sound casual but failing miserably.
She blushed furiously as she suddenly understood. Clark may have missed all the signs of her infatuation, but Xander hadn’t. “Nothing,” she said far too quickly, drawing a skeptical ‘oh really’ look from the Thunder God. It was her turn to sigh as she explained, “Clark has only ever had eyes for one girl: Lana Lang.” Her voice was surprisingly free of the bitterness that thought usually inspired in her.
“How come he’s never mentioned her?” Xander sounded surprised.
“Maybe it’s because Lana’s been dating the star quarterback for the Smallville High football team for the last couple of years? Or because he can’t even manage to talk to her without turning into a total freak show?” She shrugged. “Every time he tries, he gets so wrapped up in what he’s planning to say that he turns into this clumsy, uncoordinated disaster just waiting to happen.”
“Really? Clark does?” The Aesir was completely stunned by that revelation. Knowing what he now knew about his cousin, that didn’t make much sense. A clumsy, uncoordinated Clark could easily stagger through a wall or hurt someone…unless there was a meteor rock involved somehow.
“Yeah, not that it stops him from trying though,” she answered with a sigh. “I’ve pretty much given up on Clark ever noticing me.”
“No, you haven’t,” the Thunder God said sadly. “I could tell how you felt about him that first day in the coffee shop.”
Chloe’s stomach dropped in surprise, “Was it really that obvious?”
“Not to Clark apparently,” he said with a wry chuckle. “Don’t worry though. Your secret is safe with me.”
“Thanks,” she said softly.
“Now, how about I give you a little demonstration of what I can do?” Xander said with a smile, changing the subject.
* * * * *
Aphrodite glared daggers at her cousin despite the fact that he was totally unaware of her presence. It took what little self-control she could muster to keep from stomping over to him and kicking the stubbornly noble, irritatingly honorable god-ling square in the shin for ruining an almost perfect moment. All it would have taken was one kiss and Kal-El would have been a non-issue, but instead he had to bring up his competition and miss the opportunity.
“’Dite, you really shouldn’t frown like that, it’s not like he can actually see it after all,” a feminine voice chided as another woman appeared next to her.
Feeling particularly immature after having her plan ruined by Xander’s nice-guy tendencies, the Goddess of Love promptly turned and stuck her tongue out at her sister Goddess, before asking, “What brings you to Earth, Athena?”
“Do you really need to ask?” the Goddess of Wisdom and War countered. “I take it your little project isn’t going as well as you’d like?”
“It’s just a minor set-back. Our cousin managed to just pass up a perfect opportunity to kiss her senseless,” Aphrodite complained, “but overall, it’s going very well.”
Athena nodded, smiling as she watched the young Thunder God showing off his abilities. “She’ll be perfect for him, once she over her crush on the Kryptonian.”
“Are you going to talk to Xander?” the Goddess of Love asked gently. “Or don't you think he could handle it yet?”
“I spent all morning arguing with Zeus and Hera, but I’m forbidden from talking to him directly until he comes to Olympus,” she replied sadly. “I’ve waited this long though, what difference will a few more months or even years make?”
Aphrodite nodded her understanding. In a life that had already spanned eons, what meaning did time really have?