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Thunder over Smallville: Book One

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Thunder over Smallville". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Sequel to An Echo of Thunder and Story #2 in the Thunder over Smallville series. Xander Harris arrives in Smallville to start his new life. How will the presence of a Thunder God affect life in this not-so-sleepy Kansas town?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Smallville > Xander-Centered
DC Universe > General
anotherlostsoulFR1551240,4331691326687,51114 Nov 0615 Feb 08No

Chapter 48 – Metamorphosis III

Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, the larger DC comics universe that I am drawing elements from, 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…

Author’s Note: It’s been one of those weeks and I’d like to apologize for the fact that this is a little later than I really meant for it to be. I also hope that I caught everything (or most of it) that needed to be edited, but I make no promises since I’ve been sick the last couple days. There’ll be another chapter early next week.

-== Chapter Forty-Eight – Metamorphosis III ==-

Clark smiled nervously as he explained to the deputy what had happened as he pulled Whitney from the burning wreckage of his pick-up truck. It was the truth, mostly. He just left out a few particular details, like ripping off the door, moving really fast and shielding the unconscious quarterback from the blast with his body. Still, talking to police officers in half-truths and lying by omission like this made him nervous and it showed. Luckily for him, the deputies seemed to attribute his nerves to the fact that he just wasn’t used to talking to police officers.

The sound of car doors opening and slamming shut almost frantically jerked Clark’s attention away from the deputy for a moment and he turned to see who had arrived. He was surprised to see Midori’s tiny figure hurrying toward him as Chloe and Willow quickly approached his dad and Xander. Even at this distance he could see the look of concern on the girl’s face and he suddenly realized that Xander was right. He needed to give his feelings for Midori a chance. Otherwise he might spend the rest of his life wondering what might have been.

“Mr. Kent?” the deputy’s questioning voice pulled his attention back to the task at hand. The young man barely looked much older than Xander or Clark himself and he wore an amused smile at the Kryptonian’s sudden, obvious distraction.

“I’m sorry,” the last scion of the House of El answered with an apologetic look, “what was your question?”

“I said I think I’ve got all the information we need, Mr. Kent,” the deputy repeated, his amusement quite clear in his voice. “You seem to be making a habit of rescuing people from car accidents, maybe you should consider a career in law enforcement or emergency services.”

“I’ll keep that in mind, officer,” Clark’s amusement, born of the irony of that suggestion, came through clearly in his voice. He watched with a smile as the deputy looked mildly puzzled at his reaction before turning and walking away.

“Hey Clark,” Midori’s voice was soft as she spoke, but her worry came through quite clearly. “What happened? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” he reassured quickly, “a few bruises from the explosion, but even those have mostly faded already. The important thing is that I got Whitney out safely beforehand.”

A genuine, relieved smile spread over her face, “The man of steel strikes again… not that I’m complaining. I guess it’s just a good thing that you and Xander are so hard to hurt, since you two have a habit of getting hit with things that would kill anybody else.”

He grinned at the nickname, “Yeah, I guess it’s really not such a bad thing to be able to do. I could do without the bruises though.” The two teens drifted a little closer together as they turned and made their way back toward the others.

“Well, based on what you said about what Aphrodite told you about your powers, it sounds like just a matter of time before even the bruises are a thing of the past,” the Green Lantern pointed out quietly.

An awkward silence fell between them for a moment as Clark made up his mind and abruptly stopped a short distance from their destination, turning to face the girl. “Midori,” he began quietly, hoping to not attract too much attention, “I’ve been thinking about yesterday and the way I acted and I’m sorry.” He paused long enough to swallow before hurrying on, hoping he wouldn’t lose his nerve. “I like you a lot and I don’t want to be left wondering how things might’ve gone between us. I want to try and see if we can make this work…”

She stared at him for a moment as if considering his words before suddenly stepping toward him with a wicked grin. Wordlessly, she reached up and put her hand on the back of his neck, pulling him down into a passionate kiss, not caring who might be watching.

* * * * *

“Xander! Mr. Kent!” Chloe called out as she and Willow closed the last few feet between them and the two men. “What happened? Is everyone okay?”

“Whitney was involved in a car accident,” Jonathan responded quickly. “Clark pulled him free of the wreck just before the truck exploded. They rushed Whitney to the hospital because he lost consciousness during the accident, but his vitals were stable, so hopefully he’ll be fine.”

“So he didn’t see Clark do anything… super?” Willow asked, dropping her voice conspiratorially.

“No, but something else did,” Xander replied quietly, drawing surprised looks from both the girls and his dad. “There was something watching from the treetops over there,” he gave the area in question a pointed glance. “And I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t human and that it caused the crash.”

“What did it look like?” Chloe asked quickly, reaching out with her telepathic senses to scour the copse of trees for signs of life.

“I couldn’t see it, it blended in to the trees entirely too well,” the Aesir admitted with a frown.

“Then how do you know there was something there?” his adopted father asked in a stern voice. “And what makes you think it caused the crash?”

“Because I heard it and it sounded angry when Clark saved Whitney,” he shuddered slightly. “And I don’t think anything human could have made those sounds.”

“What did it sound like?” Willow asked, concerned by Xander’s reaction.

“Ms. French,” the Thunder God said, meeting Willow’s eyes meaningfully.

“Oh,” the redhead’s eyes went wide at the revelation.

“Ms. French?” the blonde repeated questioningly, not making the connection to the stories that Xander had told about his last year in Sunnydale.

“The giant preying mantis that tried to eat him last year,” Willow explained before offering the Aesir a reassuring smile. “On the Brightside, at least you’re off the menu this time… it only eats virgins, which you definitely aren’t after you did it with Athena yesterday.” At that moment, Willow’s face blushed a brilliant red as her mind caught up to her mouth and her eyes snapped to Jonathan’s face. “Oops…”

The Kent patriarch closed his eyes, took a deep breath and then opened them wordlessly before ignoring Willow’s comment and turning to Xander. “Are you sure this… thing was watching?”

There was no hesitation in his response, “Positive. We need to find it before it tries to hurt someone else.”

Jonathan looked thoughtful for a long moment before nodding his agreement. “Just be careful, all of you.” He looked around for a moment before adding, “And try to stay out of the Sheriff’s way. Ethan’s no fool, if you and Clark keep turning up in his deputies’ reports playing hero, he’ll start getting suspicious.” The older man froze as his eyes fell on Clark and Midori kissing and he sighed loudly before walking off to join Martha, who was talking to Ethan.

“I’m sorry about that, Xan,” Willow apologized quickly. “I didn’t mean to just blurt that out like that…”

“It’s not a big deal, Will,” he answered absently, turning to see what had prompted his dad’s frustrated sigh. “He just needs time to reconcile the idea that I’m married to Athena to the reality of it.” His eyes fell on Clark and Midori, boldly kissing one another without an apparent care in the world. “Huh,” he half-snorted in surprise, “I guess those two worked their issues out.”

Following his eyes to find Clark and Midori engaged in a serious public display of affection, she stifled a momentary pang of jealousy. “Ya think?” she asked wryly. In the last twenty-four hours she’d lost both of her first crushes to other women, but she refused to give in to petty jealousy over it. She wanted her friends to be happy, even if it might hurt her to see it for a while. Or at least that’s what she kept telling herself.

Forcing herself to turn back to Xander, the Olympian quickly changed the subject, “Whatever you heard out there is long gone now, so do you have any suggestions on how we go about finding it?”

The hint of pain in Chloe’s voice as she spoke wasn’t lost on Xander and for a moment he struggled to find a way to ease her hurt before deciding that this was neither the time nor the place for that talk. “Not really. The last time, the creature imitated a substitute teacher and went after male students. It didn’t do anything this overt or aggressive. For all I know this could be an entirely different species of bug-demon-monster-thing.”

“We could try talking to Whitney,” Willow suggested with a shrug. “Maybe he saw something and with a description I might be able to find something in Giles’ books.”

“I’ll talk to him,” the blonde volunteered. “His more likely to talk to me then you or Clark and no one things that it’s strange when I ask weird questions, plus I can take a peek inside his head if worse comes to awful.”

“I’ll go with you,” Willow jumped in quickly. “If this thing really is after Whitney, he might make another attempt at the hospital. I’ll be your back-up, just in case.”

“Just be careful,” the Thunder God cautioned. “Costumes, masks, and codenames if you have to take this thing on in a public place and don’t hesitate to call for help if you need it or run like hell.”

“Don’t worry,” Chloe reassured him. “I think we can probably avoid a public spectacle like what happened in LA. And honestly, Willow and I took on Trigon’s avatar… a bug monster should be a cakewalk.”

Xander and Willow both winced at the overconfident words and the redhead looked at her, aghast at the statement. “You know you just jinxed this right?” Willow asked quickly. “If there’s one thing we learned on the Hellmouth it’s to never say stuff like ‘it’s a piece of cake’ or ‘as long as nothing bad happens’ or ‘what could go wrong’…”

“Yeah,” Xander agreed quickly. “It’s like asking Murphy to kick your ass…”

* * * * *

Athena woke to the feeling that she was being watched, a sensation that caused her to sit up abruptly and shoot a harsh glare toward the source of her irritation. Hermes was sitting comfortably in Xander’s desk chair, smirking wickedly at her with a level of self-assurance that surprised her given the beating she’d threatened him with and longed to dole out. Unfortunately, in her current state, she lacked the power to deliver on her promise to hurt him.

“What do you want?” she demanded sourly, fixing him with the full force of her lingering anger.

“Peace, Athena,” the Messenger’s smirk vanished as he raised his hands in a placating gesture. “I would not be here after your warning yesterday if I were not ordered to by Zeus. You know that.”

“Then deliver your message and be done with it, Hermes,” she retorted angrily. “I am still displeased with your treatment of my sister and am quite sure that my husband would adore an opportunity to beat you severely on my behalf.”

The God of Travelers swallowed hard at the threat, fairly certain that it was not idle. “Congratulations on that that by the way,” he offered with a faltering smile. “I’ve no doubt that the two of you will be quite happy together, though Aphrodite is still rather upset that you were angry at her. She only wanted you to be happy.”

Closing her eyes and stifling a sigh, the Goddess of Wisdom found herself fervently wishing she could forgive Aphrodite, and if her machinations hadn’t hurt both Xander and Chloe, she might well have done just that. “Just give me father’s message and be gone, Hermes. ‘Dite hurt people I care about and I have every right to be as angry at her as I am at you.”

The Messenger set his face into a tightly formal expression and rose stiffly from his seat. “By decree of King Zeus and Queen Hera of Olympus, a grand feast will be held five days hence in celebration of the wedding of the Princess Athena to Prince Xander of Asgard. The festivities will begin with the formal presentation of the couple at sunset. All citizens of the allied kingdoms of Olympus and Asgard are welcome,” he met his sister’s eyes with a half-smile, “as are the last son of the House of El, the daughter of Trigon, and the Emerald Guardian.”

The news caused Athena to smile despite her anger at her half-brother. Olympian wedding feasts like this one were rare occasions indeed, often marked by several days of revelry both before and after the event. Zeus and Hera had even been considerate enough in the timing that they would not be rushed by mortal obligations. “I will convey the invitation to my Lord and his companions-at arms,” she replied, formally acknowledging the fact that Hermes could no longer present the invitation to the others directly.

The son of Zeus nodded formally and a flicker of worry crossed his face, vanishing almost immediately behind an impassive mask. “Be careful, Athena,” he said sincerely. “The light of Olympus is lessened greatly by your absence… to lose your wisdom forever would be a blow that few could bear.”

Her anger faltered at the sincerity in Hermes’ voice. He, like Aphrodite, was quite difficult to bear a grudge against, though she’d still feel better when Xander hit him a few times for good measure. “For love, it is a risk worth taking, little brother,” she replied softly, knowing that he would relay the words to Aphrodite. It was her subtle way of telling them both that she would forgive them, just not yet.

Hermes nodded and vanished without another word as the sound of a vehicle turning onto the Kent farm reached her ears. She smiled at the realization that her husband and his family had returned before wincing at the clock. It was past mid-day and she’d slept for far too long. The limitations of being mortal were certainly going to take some getting used to.

The Goddess of Wisdom swiftly gathered up the clothing she’d worn the previous day and dressed. She found herself regretting how hastily she’d been forced to act in order to make her arrival before Xander announced their marriage, but only because it had left her having to return to Olympus so quickly. Unfortunately, it had been unavoidable as, thanks to Aphrodite’s meddling, she’d been caught largely unprepared. Still, everything had worked out for the best so far, so she couldn’t particularly complain.

She had only just managed to slip her sandals back on when she heard the door downstairs open and a scattering of female voices told her that her sister, Midori, and Willow were here as well. She smiled broadly at that, marveling at the way her husband could so readily accept the help of strong women, something that Thor had had serious difficulties with most of the time. Admittedly, Thor hadn’t particularly been one for accepting any help at all when it came right down to it, female or otherwise, which had certainly contributed to his downfall. At least, Xander wasn’t too proud to seek help when he needed it.

Opening the door of the bedroom she shared with Xander, the Olympian walked downstairs to join the others. The immediate looks of surprise her appearance elicited from the girls brought an amused grin to her face. Apparently, Xander hadn’t told them about the concessions Jonathan and Martha had made in regards to their marriage.

“Good morning,” Athena greeted without hesitating, “or perhaps good afternoon would be more appropriate given the time…”

“Athena,” Willow declared with a squeak of surprise, “you’re still here!”

“So it would seem,” she agreed gravely, taking the opportunity to gently tease the redhead. “Your powers of observation are truly amazing.” She smiled to take the sting out of her words. “Jonathan and Martha were kind enough to agree to allow Xander and I an opportunity to make our marriage work. While I am here on Earth, I get to remain here with him, so that we may live as husband and wife.”

“So you’ll be here from now on then?” Chloe asked, sounding shocked at the Kents’ fairly progressive decision.

“I would that I could,” the dark-haired Olympian said wistfully, “but I cannot stay on Earth for more than seven days before returning to Olympus for an equal period.”

“How come?” Midori asked with a frown, voicing the question that was on all three of the girls’ minds.

“In order to be here, I had to separate my spirit from the sacred flames of my divinity,” the Goddess explained. “The longer those fires burn apart from me, the weaker they become. After the seventh day, they could go out at any moment, so I must always return to Olympus and rekindle them within myself before they expire. And for each moment that they were separated from me, they must burn an equal time within me before I can set them aside once more.”

“What would happen if the fire went out?” Chloe asked softly, fearing the answer.

Athena swallowed before speaking, seeming reluctant to answer the question. “My divinity would be lost to the void of oblivion forever. Without it, I would quickly grow weak and finally follow it into the void, ceasing to exist.”

The three girls stared at her in horror. “That doesn’t make sense!” her sister argued sharply. “Mother lost her divinity and she still lives! Why would losing yours mean death?”

“Mother was cast out of Olympus, Chloe,” she replied gently. “She was expelled from the pantheon but retains most of her divinity. If I were to only lose a portion of my divinity I, too, could survive, but to lose it all forever would diminish me to the point of death. That is why no other Gods or Goddesses of Olympus or Asgard are likely to risk what I have to be here.”

* * * * *

Xander stood frozen, statue-like, on the porch outside of the kitchen door and silently cursed the fact that his sharper-than-human hearing had allowed him to hear Athena’s words. She was risking far too much to be with him here, more than even he had realized. Even as he stood there, considering what he could do to convince her of the utter folly of what he was doing, he felt her presence through their bond. She knew he was standing here, knew that he had heard everything, and radiated a calm acceptance of the risks she took. Changing her mind was going to be difficult, if not impossible at this point.

Stifling a sigh, he opened the door and entered the kitchen, fixing the dark-haired Goddess with a stern look. “I am not worth this, Athena,” he said flatly. “If anything were to happen to you because of this, I could never forgive myself…”

“*You are worth the risk,*” she disagreed firmly, switching to ancient Greek to insure some measure of privacy in the argument she feared they were about to have. “*I love you, Xander, though I know that you do not yet feel the same about me. Please, my Lord, I beg of you: do not ask me to sacrifice my time here with you. I… I know that you could grow to love me… let me have this chance to earn that love.*”

The Aesir stood there stunned by her words for a long moment. He could feel the truth of them resonating through the bond between them. ‘She loves me,’ he thought, his mind floundering in shock as he struggled to comprehend the words. ‘By Odin, she really loves me… how is that even possible? I’m nothing compared to her and yet she’s willing to risk oblivion to be here in hopes that I might fall in love with her too… How do you respond to such a revelation?’ he wondered at the question and words failed him completely.

He became aware of the four sets of eyes that were fixed on him expectantly as he stood there unspeaking. His own gaze never shifted from the blue-green of his wife’s eyes. He could see her strength in her eyes, the depth of her feelings for him was written there clearly. So, too, was her fear that he would send her away. He felt a sharp pang in his heart at the thought of how that might hurt her and knew that the battle was lost. Already he cared for her too much to hurt her like that. He didn’t know if he loved her yet, or even know if he was sure what it really meant to love someone, but he definitely felt something. Something deep and powerful, something he knew he couldn’t express in mere words.

He was moving before he gave it a conscious thought, crossing the distance that separated him from his wife in purposeful strides. Without hesitation, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her passionately, saying more in that single act then he could have in ten thousand words. He could practically feel Willow, Midori, and Chloe gaping at him in surprise at the suddenness of it, but that didn’t matter right now.

Finally, the kiss ended and Xander pulled back slightly before speaking. “*I don’t know if this is what love feels like, my Lady,* he admitted softly in the same tongue she’d used, “*but I do not wish to be parted from you. Are you sure that this is what you want? That being with me is worth the risk?*”

“*I could not be more certain, my Lord,*” she whispered in response.

* * * * *

Chloe stared at the emotional display between her sister and Xander and couldn’t help the burning tears that were welling up in her eyes. She’d known how Athena felt about Xander and that Xander cared about his wife, but not how deep his feelings for the goddess had run. She thought she would have more time, time to get used to the idea of them loving one another, time to get over Xander. She had been wrong, however. He was already starting to fall in love with her sister and seeing it, feeling it, hurt.

At the same time, thought, she wanted to be happy for them. Xander was her friend and she knew that Athena could make him happy. Likewise, she cared about her sister. Even though she’d only known the dark-haired Olympian for a few hours really, her sister had been willing to share her husband’s affections, putting Xander and Chloe’s happiness ahead of even her own. How could you not want someone like that to be happy? Xander and Athena both deserved to be happy and seemed to be on the path to exactly that. She should be ecstatic for them.

Instead, she hovered on the verge of tears. Was that selfish of her? Was she wrong to want the kind of closeness they seemed to have found? She didn’t think so…

She couldn’t help but smile through her tears as she heard Xander’s words after he kissed Athena and listened to her sister’s response. It all seemed strangely romantic. Some part of her knew that she should also probably mention to them that she could speak and understand the ancient Greek that they seemed intent on using to have private conversations in public, but somehow now didn’t seem the time for it. Instead, she just softly cleared her throat and feebly wiped at the tears on her face, reminding the couple that they weren’t actually alone.

“Uh, Willow and I should go talk to Whitney,” she stammered, trying to avoid the questioning glance from Xander.

“Yeah,” Midori quickly saw that leaving Xander and Athena alone for a while might be a good idea. “I’ll go see if Clark is busy or could use some company…”

“Oh! Wait!” Athena said quickly, pulling the scrambling teens to a quick halt. “Zeus and Hera have declared a great feast in Olympus to celebrate our wedding… they extended invitations to all of you.” She glanced from Midori to Willow and back. “It’s the first time in the history of Olympus that mortals have ever been invited to such an event… Please say you’ll come…”

“When is it?” Xander asked with a surprised look.

“It begins at sunset five days from now… so Friday?” Athena replied with a smile. “Once it begins, there’s no telling when it will end, but no one would think less of anyone for leaving after a day or two since you all have school and other mortal obligations…”

“A day or two?” Willow repeated in stunned shock, “It’ll last for days?

The Goddess of Wisdom smiled and nodded. “It’s not often that we have such an occasion to celebrate. There are precious few Olympian gods who are still unwed.” Her smile turned slightly wicked. “Besides, who do you think taught the Greeks and Romans how to party? Bacchus was the original party animal.”

Chloe almost chuckled at the frown that clouded Xander’s face. “We probably shouldn’t mention that part to mom and dad. I doubt they’d approve.”

* * * * *

Willow watched Chloe surreptitiously as the blonde eased her car out of the driveway of the Kent farm and turned it toward town. It didn’t take an empath to see that the blonde wasn’t entirely okay, despite her protests to the contrary. Seeing what had passed between Xander and Athena in Mrs. Kent’s kitchen had been uncomfortable for the redhead, but she’d venture it was downright painful for Chloe. Especially since the blonde Olympian had seemed to actually understand what the newlyweds had said, unlike Midori and her.

No longer able to restrain herself, Willow opened her mouth to speak, thinking to offer the young woman that she cared so much for some measure of comfort. “Chloe…”

“Willow,” the other girl cut her off abruptly, but not unkindly, “please don’t. I’m happy for Xander and Athena, really, and I’m fine.”

The Titan’s daughter frowned, realizing that Chloe was using her empathic or telepathic abilities to anticipate what was about to be said. Two could play at that particular game, since somebody clearly needed to reach out and stop the girl from walling herself off completely. Without a word, Willow reached out and laid her hand gently on Chloe’s shoulder, letting the Olympian’s emotions roll over her.

“You’re not fine, Chloe,” Willow declared authoritatively before the blonde could protest. “You’re upset, hurt, confused and angry at yourself for believing that Xander might like you. You really do want to feel happy for Xander and Athena, though, just like you want to be happy for Clark and Midori, but right now you just feel alone and betrayed.” The redhead kept her face soft and comforting as she spoke, not allowing her amusement at the waves of shock rolling off of her friend to show. “You’re also shocked at how eerily accurate that assessment was, but you’re not the only empath in the car.”

Silence fell over the car as Willow withdrew her hand. “I know you don’t want to talk about it, Chloe,” she said softly. “And I can respect that. Right now it’s all too new and the pain’s too fresh, but lying to yourself is a bad idea. So is using your abilities to try and stop conversations like this one before they start. We’re your friends and we’re here for you, to try and help you through times like these, don’t push us away and keep us out.”

The blonde sighed loudly, “It just seems like everyone I care about ends up hurting me, even when they don’t necessarily mean to. Maybe it’d be easier if I just stopped letting people get close to me.”

“I doubt it’d be easier,” the Sunnydale native countered. “It’s just trading one problem for another. A lifetime is an awfully long time to spend alone.”

The silence that descended over them this time was less tense and more thoughtful. Finally, Chloe spoke up again, changing the subject. “So you’re an empath too, huh?”

“Yeah,” Willow acknowledged wryly. “I have to touch someone to use it though, so yours is probably more useful.”

“I don’t’ know, it seems like yours is more focused,” the Olympian countered. “All I really get are broad surface impressions unless I do something invasive… which probably wouldn’t be comfortable for anyone involved.”

The Titan’s daughter shrugged. “So telepathy, telekinesis, empathy, flight,” she rattled off the powers she’d seen the blonde demonstrate so far, “and you speak ancient Greek now… I miss anything?”

“That pretty much covers most of it,” Chloe agreed with a nod, “in a general sense anyway, since my telepathic abilities go way beyond just mind-reading.” She hesitated for a moment before just leaving it at that. “What about you?”

“My abilities are a little less simple to define,” Willow admitted. “I can fly, teleport, move things, create shields and throw bursts of my power… and do magick really, really well.” She shrugged. “Most of my powers are actually spells that have been adapted specifically to the innate magick of Trigon’s daughters over the millennia and with enough time, practice and study I can do the same for other spells as well… or at least I think I can.”

“Sounds pretty cool,” the Olympian commented with a grin, “but where does the empathy fit into the equation?”

“That part I don’t really know for sure,” the redhead replied. “My powers are fuelled by my emotions though… so maybe it’s supposed to let me tap into and channel other people’s feelings to boost my own abilities? Or it’s Trigon’s idea of an Achilles’ heel.”

“How so?” the blonde asked.

“If I lose control of my emotions, my powers go all wonky,” Willow explained, “anything could happen and most of it would be bad.” Now it was her turn to change the subject. “Are you going to use that leather outfit you were wearing yesterday for your costume?”

“Yeah,” she answered with a slight blush, “though it’s a little more… form fitting then I’d normally be comfortable with.”

“That’s good though,” the Titan’s daughter said without really thinking about her words, “You look really hot in it…” Her eyes widened abruptly and her face went as red as her hair when she realized what she’d just said. “And, uh, you know, no one will associate this white-leather clad goddess with the Chloe Sullivan they think they know…” she finished feeling mortified and looking askance at the Olympian. The ghost of a smile at the unintentional flattery seemed to play briefly over the girl’s face and Willow relaxed a bit. “Seems like it might be hard to get in or out of costume in a hurry though, what with it being so tight and leather and all…” she ventured.

“It’s not exactly normal leather by a long shot,” Chloe said with a second, more pronounced smile. “It sort of seems to change itself to fit what I need at the time…which is good, because otherwise it’d be a real pain since there aren’t any buttons or zippers or things.”

“It changes itself,” the other girl repeated in surprise. “Changes how?”

“Well, when I wanted to take it off last night, it just sort of opened up along the seams where you’d expect there to be a zipper or something and it loosened so that it wasn’t skin tight anymore. The boots, gloves, armbands, and belt all seemed to just vanish completely, melting away into the top and pants,” the Olympian explained. “Then, this morning, I decided to see if I could wear it under my clothes, in case I needed to change into costume quickly. I put it on and it changed completely, turning into the outfit that I’m wearing now.”

“Really?” the surprise in Willow’s voice deepened further into shock. “Wow, it’s a whole wardrobe in one outfit. That’s amazing.”

“So, what about you? Have you figured out what you’re going to use as a costume?” the blonde asked by way of reply.

“Uh, yeah, sort of,” the Titan’s daughter answered with a slight hesitation as her thoughts flitted momentarily back to her nightmare that morning. “I’m going to use my powers to duplicate the outfit Raven wore and use Raven as my codename.”

“Any particular reason?” Chloe’s voice suddenly seemed tense as she asked the question, as though the idea bothered her.

“She wasn’t always the person you saw, Chloe,” the redhead said quickly. “She taught me a lot, including the truth about what my father wants from me and what will happen to me if I fail to stop him from using me. There was a good person underneath what she became. Even Trigon didn’t entirely destroy that.”

It had taken Willow a couple of hours of meditation to reach the conclusions she was now using to justify her choice, but she sincerely believed she was right. When Chloe nodded thoughtfully and relaxed, Willow knew she wasn’t just fooling herself. Her friend would have argued the point if she thought it was a bad choice.

Silence reigned in the vehicle as it turned into the hospital parking lot, but it was an introspective kind of silence. It wasn’t until they’d come to a stop in the visitor’s lot that the Olympian finally spoke again, “I don’t think we’re going to need our costumes or codenames, but if we do… I was thinking of using Oracle as mine.” She shot a half-grin at Willow. “Ready, Raven?”

She answered it by raising a questioning eyebrow, “Shouldn’t you already know the answer to that question, Oracle?”
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