Beware the Overmind (Part 8)

Chapter 40

[Smallville High-Five Minutes Later]

Clark and Miranda left the school, eagerly anticipating one of his mother's scrumptious lunches before they helped out with the farm chores.

"You don't have to do this, Miranda," he told her.

"If it gives me more time to spend with my uncle, I'm good with it. Besides, I always help my friends," she replied pleasantly. "Don't worry, Clark. It'll be okay."

"I'm glad you think so, Miranda," a hauntingly familiar voice chided.

No! "Clark, let's get out of here!" she yelled.

In front of them, her father appeared out of thin air, brandishing his katana. "So this is the boy I must kill!"

"Stop this!" she demanded.

"I'll deal with you later," Arighatto snapped. "First though, a change is in order." He allowed his form to shimmer and glow until he stood in his other demonic form clad in ancient Japanese armor with red painted patches on his face. "Now, Boy, die!" He turned his arm to flame and whipped the Kryptonian several times.

"Clark!" Miranda yelled. Seeing Chloe and the others, she yelled, "Stay back! You can't help him!"



[Smallville Center]

Jonathan and Dave drove toward the school, not knowing what approached them.

"Thanks for the hand, Dave. I really appreciate it," Jonathan expressed.

"Just doing my job, Jonathan," Dave replied. "After that first rate breakfast and your hospitality, it's the least I can do."

"It's our pleasure. You're a great guy to have around. I'm sure we'll find more out about you than you could imagine right now," the farmer predicted.

As if on cue, they heard a loud roar from above.

Dave looked up at the sky and saw the dark shape hovering there. At that moment, he felt his scalp go numb. "Strange. Jonathan, look!"

"What in Heaven's name?" Jonathan wondered, staring at the approaching creature.

"We can't outrun it! Somehow, I know it wants me! Help Clark! Make sure he's okay," Dave ordered, opening the door.

"You can't be serious!"

"GO!" Dave bellowed as he leapt out of the truck. He got up and winced, grateful that he had found a patch of soft grass to hit. Still his mind was on other things at the moment. Man, whatever surprises are in there, I'd love to see them now. I wish I could remember them.

The demon swooped down and grabbed him. After banging him against a wooden store front, it burned him with dark fire before dropping him to the ground.

Spasms wracked his body. What's happening to me? I can't feel my head€an'€.

Picture Place. Git ta' Picture Place. The voice was almost a whisper and then it faded.

"Again, this picture place?" he griped. Then the demon's fist hit the storefront, just missing him.

"Where is this place?" Then he looked across the street and saw the boarded up building. "That's it!" he realized, bolting for the old theater.

The demon grabbed him about halfway across and scalded him with fire again.

"Ahhh!" he screamed.

"Dave!" Angie yelled from where Alti detained her and Lana.

"Finish him, my Pet! Throw him in the old dump. That'll give me two ghosts to torture," Alti instructed.

The creature chortled and threw its victim toward the deserted structure.

He saw the window coming up to meet him and tucked his head down to protect it. Shit!

The glass went everywhere as he broke through, landing on the dusty old floor.

"Dave!" Angie yelled again from across the street.

"Stop it, Momma Anne! You're killing him!" Lana demanded.

Alti slapped the girl hard across the face. "That is the idea. Now shut up!" She turned to the scene across the street and smirked. "I'm enjoying this!"



Chapter 41

[Kent Condo, Our Universe]

At that moment, Lana felt something hit her across the face. "What the?"

"I got him!" Martin yelled.

"As did I," Emma agreed.

Pulling the sword, Angie changed into Xena. "Let's go! Francesca?"

"She's not here, Xena, but I am. Let's go!" Gabrielle declared, having completed her own change.

Deirdre nodded, opening the portal. "I am opening two passages, my friends."

"I want Alti!" Lana declared, pulling on her mask. For this and for my parents, we need to end this!

"We'll go with you," Martin and Emma asserted.

"Meantime, Gabrielle, Miranda and I will take Yodoshi," Xena stated. "The rest of you, stay put!"

"And I'll see what I can do to help the Professor against that fire demon," Clark stated before changing into some clothes at super speed before coming back into the room.

"You all know what you have to do. Let's beat these creeps and bring Papa home," Deirdre declared.

"Count on it," Xena hissed, leading them all into the portal.

Looking at the remaining students and Karen, Deirdre told them, "Have faith. We'll be back soon with Papa." With that, she disappeared, leaving the newest students amazed in her wake.


[Parallel Universe, Smallville]

Dave checked himself over, feeling pain shooting through his arms and legs. Trickles of blood ran down them. "This stinks," he muttered. "I wish I could do something."

Ya'll can.

"Who said that?" he asked.

Ah did.

He saw the image from the previous night, floating there. "What?"

"Ah'm yerself. Time to git us back!" the image ordered.

"You're saying that you can help me to regain everything again?" he asked.

"Ah am yer missin' self," it told him. "Touch glowin' thing an' find out."

Dave looked around the area for the item in question. Then on the wall, he saw it. "That?"

"Yeah," it agreed as it faded away. "Do it€."

As he approached it, he saw that the glow was surrounding a plaque of some kind. "That's it."

However, the demon burst in, cutting him off from it.

"You again?" he asked incredulously. "Give me a stinking break!"

It roared again, advancing on him.

At that moment, the mists appeared. From it, a masked figure clad in black streaked out and rammed the creature across the room. "Get away from him!"

"Who?" Dave asked.

Touch glowy thing, the Voice said again.

What he wants, he gets. Dave rushed across the room and reached for the plaque.

The demon, seeing him do this, threw its opponent aside and rushed toward him.

But it was too late-for Dave touched the plaque.

"Ahhh!!!!" he screamed.

"Professor!" Clark yelled. As he watched the process, he gaped. He's really taking the Child back into himself. He's being cursed again!

From the plaque, a plume of fire streamed, burning Dave with its heat and energy as a female voice announced, You who have sacrificed yourself for others. You who seek to right a wrong. Now you are one again. Man and Child. Blessed and Cursed. Do you accept this?

"YES!" he yelled. "It's my responsibility!"

Then go forth, David Dubois, and finish this. Change and accept your entire self.

In that minute, he slipped away, allowing the Child to take control once again.

The demon stiffened, sensing something completely different in its intended victim.

The Dark One snickered, channeling fire into his hands. "Ah'm back!" He screamed the banshee cry again. "This is the sec'nd time ya'll whupped mah place!" He blasted the demon with fire and threw a pulse at it. "SCRAM!"

The demon turned and backed toward the open window.

"End a' th' road, Creep!" the Child snarled, concentrating and finding the glowing sword in his hand. "Well now, lookie here! Bye, Crud Ball!" With one stroke, he thrust it deep into the demon's midsection.

The demon bellowed and fell to the ground where it disintegrated.

Clark took off his mask and advanced. "Are you all right?"

"Now Ah am," the Child remarked. "Ya'll ¥kay?"

"I'll live. That thing burned me," the Kryptonian complained.

"Big Bro told ya, didn't he? See why Ah didn't let ya do it last time?" the Dark One asked. "Ah gotta help Lana w' the mind witch!" With that, he stalked across the street.

He's back, all right. Clark shook his head while putting on his mask again and streaking off toward the scene across the way.



[Smallville High]

Yodoshi savored the moment. In the previous five minutes, he had frozen Miranda in a block of ice and flame-whipped Clark to the point of death. Better yet, the scene was public theater for all.

"Any last words before I kill you and take your soul, Boy?" the demon lord inquired.

"How about you deal with us?" Xena challenged as she, Gabrielle and a masked Miranda appeared from the mists.

"Xena? How did you?" Yodoshi wondered.

"We're full of surprises!" the Warrior Princess hissed. Turning to her companions, she ordered, "Get Clark outta here! Come on, Gabrielle!"

Miranda nodded, pulling the injured teenager back toward the school.

Meantime, the two Amazons maneuvered and weaved, keeping Yodoshi off balance.

"You can't kill me, Xena! Only as a spirit can you kill me!" he asserted.

She swung her sword, allowing it to bite into his arm.

"What?" he asked, not believing that she could have done that.

"Oh yeah, ya see, I can kill gods and immortals," Xena informed him with a touch of both irony and sarcasm in her voice. "Case in point. Say hi to Lucifer!" With another sweep of her sword, she beheaded the demon, killing him instantly.

The corpse collapsed and disintegrated, allowing thousands of bright spots of light to float Heavenward.

"Are those?" Gabrielle asked.

"They're souls that we freed," Xena declared. Turning to the kids behind them, she directed, "Go on! You're free to leave! Trouble's over!"

The kids ran away as fast as they could. Every one of them that is except for Chloe who scribbled notes down on her pad as quickly as she could do it.

"That's finished," the Bard-Queen assumed. "I wonder how the others are doing?"

Xena listened and heard the Child's scream from town. She grinned. "You hear what I hear?"

"He's back," Gabrielle agreed.

"Oh yeah," Xena pronounced. Looking over her shoulder at Miranda and Clark, she asked, "Hey, how's he doing?"

"He should be okay," Miranda told her. "What about her?"

"She'll thaw out in a few minutes," the Warrior Princess assumed. "Come on. A certain dark trouble maker's about to make his presence felt."

Under the mask, Miranda smiled. Uncle Dave's back! With that, she followed the Amazons toward the town center.


Chapter 42

Alti glowered at the scene developing across the street. At last, I'll be rid of him! She urged her pet on. "Go! Kill him!"

"Stop it!" Angie protested.

The shamaness grabbed her by the chin. "You have no idea what I can do to you! I would but you aren't worth my time!" She felt a strange vibration in the air. "What?" Then she felt something hit her from behind.

She turned to see Emma standing there, a glowing spot between her eyes. Beside her, Lana, Martin and Kayla kept watch on her every move. "You? How?"

"Need you ask?" Lana asked, the anger burning in her eyes. "Pick on someone your own size!"

Alti snorted incredulously. "Come on, Little Girl. This time, I'll break you."

"Lana, don't," Martin disagreed.

"Martin, this time, she's mine," the former cheerleader asserted. "Besides, I think the tables are about to turn."

Across the street, something bright shined through the broken window space of the Talon, followed first by the demon's howl and the banshee cry.

"No! He didn't!" Alti protested.

"Your time's up," Lana asserted. "Sounds like the Professor's back in charge." She delivered a spin kick, putting all of her anger behind it and knocking Alti backward.

At that moment, the demon collapsed in the street and died.

The Child snarled angrily as he advanced on the fracas in front of him. "Hey, Mind Witch!"

"Back off! She's mine!" Lana told him while focusing on the air around her. The energy from so many years of the shamaness' poisoning of the town charged the air, assaulting her and her classmates. Soaking it up, she allowed her hands to glow. "You're done!" Uncorking a potent blast, she knocked her adversary out cold.

"Hoo yeah!" the Child complimented. "Tha's good an' ya didn't kill ¥er either. Good work."

Angie looked at him fearfully. "Dave, what happened to you? What did she do to you?"

"Ah'm me. Big Bro's still Big Bro. Here, ya'll can talk to ¥im," the Child concluded, focusing and allowing his psyches to switch places.

Dave took a deep breath and looked around, enjoying his full memories again. "Whew! I'm back." Seeing Angie there, he asked, "Are you okay?"

"I'll live. But you changed into a monster. What are you?" the doctor asked.

"He's not a monster," Lana corrected. "He's unique and special." She rushed over and nearly tackled him in a tight embrace. "Thank God you're back! You know what your disappearing act did to us?"

"What disappearing act? Lana, where's the Overmind?" the medievalist asked.

"Overmind?" that universe's Lana asked.

"It's a long story," Martin noted. "We'll fill you in later, Professor. Right now, we need to get Alti somewhere she won't cause trouble."

"I can do that," Deirdre stated. "But first, welcome back, Papa!" She hugged her father tightly. "By the goddess, you scared us!"

"If you say so," Dave replied with uncertainty. "Angie, I'm sorry this all scared you. Chalk it up to my own unique brand of dark schizophrenia. Thanks to her, there's no cure."

"She would have done that to me too," the AU-Lana realized.

"Yes she would have," Emma agreed. "Deirdre, can you get her out of here?"

"Auntie's waiting to put her into stasis," the priestess agreed, vanishing into the mists with her prisoner.

"Where did she go?" Angie asked incredulously.

"It's a really long story," Martin replied. "Can you keep that trick to yourself?"

"Nobody would believe me anyhow. Lana?" the doctor agreed.

The teenager nodded. "You're really me?"

"Yeah, I guess you can say that," our Earth's Lana affirmed.

"And there's hope for Clark and me?" she asked.

Lana watched her husband land beside her. "Yeah you can say that. He is the greatest guy in the world-any world that is."

At that moment, Xena, Gabrielle and Miranda finally ran onto the scene.

"Look! There he is!" Gabrielle declared.

Xena smiled, feeling Angie's relief welling up inside of her. Enjoy it, Angela. "David!"

"Xena!" he yelled, motioning her over with a wave of his hand.

The warrior turned to Miranda and bade, "Hang on to me. I'm getting us over there quickly."

The teenager put her arms around Xena's waist. "I'm secure!"

Xena jumped and executed a multi-spin maneuver through the air, landing beside the victorious group. "Good to see you."

"Uncle Dave!" Miranda greeted, grabbing and kissing him enthusiastically.

"Miri?" the AU-Lana asked, recognizing her friend even through the mask.

"Yeah, Lana, it's me," Miranda admitted although she was too engrossed with welcoming her uncle back to look that way.

"I'm here, Sunshine," he told her. "Good to see you too." He held her tightly. "I need to talk to Xena privately if I could, okay?"

You mean you want to talk to Auntie. She grinned through her tears of joy. "Yeah, you do that."

"Smart aleck," he teased her. "That okay with you, Xena?"

"Sure," she agreed, doing her best to conceal her roommate's enthusiasm.

"Done," he concurred, covering them with a mist bubble. "I wish I could remember more of what happened."

"Well you scared us. We thought you died," she replied dryly.

"Seriously? Xena, I don't remember much of anything after being in Hall's End until I just changed back," he admitted.

"I'm sure. Well, I know someone who wants to talk with you," she informed him, sheathing her sword. "And I'm not brave enough to keep her waiting any longer." Concentrating, she triggered the change back.

Angie stood there, her eyes brimming with tears and a big smile on her face. "I should have known you'd survive, you big lug! You have no idea how scared we were."

He hugged her tightly, treasuring how good it felt to have her in his arms again.

"Don't let me go," she requested. "Dave, it's good to have you back."

He kissed her passionately, allowing their love to resonate between them, filling the air between them with warm feeling.

"I guess I better let Xena back out before we go back?" she supposed a few minutes later, pulling the sword.

When the warrior was fully there, he expressed, "Thanks, Xena."

"My pleasure, David," she replied warmly.

He waved his hands again, allowing the bubble to dissipate.

"Where'd they come from?" Jonathan wondered. "Dave, what is this?"

The medievalist sighed, "Jonathan, it's a really long story. I'll tell you when we get back to the farm."

"I guess," the farmer replied with uncertainty. "Need a ride back?"

"Go on ahead. I'll meet you there," Dave told him, waving his hands and opening the portal. Looking at his friends, he urged, "Go on. Xena, Emma and I will stay here. I have some business to take care of."

"Hurry back, Professor," Clark advised.

"I'll be there in a little while," Dave agreed.

"We'll be waiting, Uncle Dave," Miranda declared as she vanished into the mists.

"Now, I need to deal with a certain someone at the Luthor mansion," Dave noted.

"Need help?" Xena asked.

"Maybe," he supposed. Turning to the doctor and the AU-Lana, he told them, "Go with Jonathan. I need to deal with a certain someone first."

"Don't hurt him, Dave," Angie requested.

"Oh I won't," he promised, opening another portal. "Come on, Xena, Emma."

The two women followed him into the mists.

Jonathan looked at the two women and shook his head. "That is the strangest thing I've ever seen. Come on; let's see how Clark and Miranda are doing at the school."


Chapter 43 [Luthor Mansion]

Greasy and his two cohorts lounged in the spacious entertainment area, watching a basketball game on the big screen TV. It had been a good day so far in that they shook down a few people for their money.

"Gotta love the pocket change," the leader announced, getting laughs from the others.

"I would love to get back at that drifter guy," Tattoo said, elaborating on their wish to get back at Dave.

"Yeah. I would like to see a farm tonight. What do you think? You think the Kents and that doctor would be happy to see us?" Greasy supposed.

"I'd say no and stay the Hell away," a voice disagreed.

The trio turned to see Dave, Xena and Emma standing behind them. "Where did you come from?"

"We decided to pop in," the psionic quipped grimly.

"Besides my ears were burning," Dave added.

"You wanted him. Go get him!" Greasy ordered.

Tattoo grinned and rushed the medievalist, thinking of doing major damage.

Dave shook his head before punching the guy three times and knocking him to the floor. "Next?"

"Be smart. Give up now," Xena advised dryly, arching her brow.

Unfortunately, the two rushed them.

The two women dealt with them efficiently.

"Nice," Dave complimented, brushing his hands off against each other, "now onto the main event. I got a score to settle with ¥Uncle Lionel'." He led his companions up the stairs and to the library.

Pushing the doors open, he found father and son discussing plans for the town.

"Who would?" the elder man asked before staring at the medievalist. "Lex, it's him."

"Yeah, I told you so, Dad," Lex declared, "although I don't like it when people break into my house."

"And I don't like it when people assault me and my friends. You stay away from Angela Blackwell, Lex," Dave warned, glaring at him. Switching to Lionel, he added, "And you stop trying to trash Smallville."

"You don't tell me what to do, Dubois," Lionel sneered.

"Funny. You always said that to me in the bad old days," Dave replied before focusing and telekinetically pinning both men to the wall. "Now I'm not going to say this again. You stop the crap. If you want to stay here, straighten yourselves out. You could do a lot of good for this town. I will be back from time to time to check on you." Releasing the grip, he allowed them to drop to the floor.

"What are you?" Lex asked.

"Someone unique," Emma asserted. "We all are."

"What would Aunt Lillie think of you now, Lex?" Dave asked the bald billionaire. "She wouldn't have wanted this for you."

"His mother is irrelevant!" Lionel asserted.

"Was I talking to you? Shut up until I do," Dave retorted icily before going back to Lex. "Think of her, Lex, before you go messing with the Kents, Angela and everyone else. She's a good person and raised you to be the same. Don't give in to the cancer cowering at your side there. Be a real man."

"You're the cancer! You freak!" Lionel challenged.

Xena stormed up to him and hissed, "No. You're the freak. You and the others like ya. David's being really nice to you. I'd take him seriously."

"He isn't going to listen to you, Xena," Dave sighed. "Come on; the others are waiting."

The warrior released him, allowing him to fall to the ground like a bag of manure. "Listen to him."

"Lex, remember, what would your mother want. Think about that. Come on; we have one more stop to make at the high school. There's a promise I gave to a certain young lady," Dave concluded as he and the two women left. Once outside of the study, he opened the portal, allowing them to leave.

"Lex, they won't get away with it," Lionel groused. "I'll have them arrested."

The younger man shook his head absently, feeling tears coming to his eyes. "No, Dad, he's right. We can do a lot of good for this town."

"Lex, Son, think about it. These are ants. We are the conquerors and shapers."

"And we are alone!" Lex snapped.

"Son, to be a great man is to be alone," Lionel retorted.

"I'm sick of being great then," the younger man concluded, storming out of the library toward the garage.

Lionel shook his head, sensing the change happening in his son. Curse you, Dubois. You've poisoned my son. I won't forget this and neither will Smallville. I assure you of that.


Chapter 44 [Kent Farm-Several hours later]

Angie, Miranda and Lana sat at the table, still trying to figure out the morning's events. How could Dave be involved in such things? Who were the others with him including their counterparts? Most curious was how Dave did what he did to the demon and the ¥dark schizophrenia' as he put it.

"He seemed so nice," Angie sighed, drinking her tea.

"Yeah," Miranda replied. "That was scary. His friend, the warrior woman, dealt with my step dad pretty brutally."

"There was another fight over at the school?" the doctor asked.

"Yeah. He decided to kill Clark. Fortunately, she showed up with her friend and took care of things," Miranda recounted. "I've never seen anyone out duel him like that. She took his head off with a clean stroke." She made a cutting motion across her neck.

"Wow," Lana commented in shock. "I'm surprised that nobody said anything."

"What can they say?" Miranda inquired. "He turned into a demon and whipped Clark with his fire lash before freezing me in a block of ice. No telling what he would have done to the other kids after he had finished with us."

"I hope Clark's okay," Lana worried.

"It was really weird," Miranda commented. "Right after the two Amazons dealt with my step dad, there was that scream in the sky. After that, Clark got up. He hasn't hacked all afternoon. Whatever's been bugging him has cleared up."

"And it can stay away," Clark concurred, walking into the room.

"You still doing okay?" the doctor asked.

"I feel like a million bucks," he expressed, stretching toward the beam above his head. However, as he did, he floated upward and put his hand right through it.

"Clark! How?" They all asked him.

He looked at his hand. "I have no idea."

"No idea of what?" Dave asked, entering with his parents, Xena and Emma.

"What happened to the ceiling?" Jonathan wondered.

"I just floated up there and put my hand through it," Clark admitted.

Martha and Jonathan looked at each other.

"We all saw him do it," Miranda told them. Looking at her uncle, she supposed, "You don't seem surprised."

"I'm not," Dave replied. "You've had these abilities all along, Clark."

"Why couldn't I do anything?" the teenager asked.

Xena explained, "Alti projected the weakness into your mind. She made you believe that you were sick."

"She could do that?" Martha gasped.

"Oh yeah. It's a specialty of hers," the Warrior Princess continued. She looked at Miranda. "You must be pretty special yourself to deal with Yodoshi for as long as you did."

"I have the best support system in the world," Miranda replied. "And you're looking at it."

"You've been a great friend to us too, Miri," Lana assured her, rubbing her shoulder. "Speaking of being supportive, Clark, I'll keep your secret if you want me to."

"I think we can all do that," Angie agreed.

Xena gave Dave a knowing smirk.

He shrugged. As if there was any doubt that she and the others would do that. "Where do you all go from here?"

The Kents looked at each other with uncertainty for a minute.

Then Lana cut in. "Well we're officially orphans again. At least, Alti left me with a paid off house."

"If you want a roommate, Lana, I'm available," Miranda told her. "We can look out for each other."

"And I can look out for both of you if you'd like," Angie offered. "It gets lonely living by myself." She looked at Dave and told him, "I wish you'd stay but I know you have to leave."

The medievalist looked into her eyes and smiled. "I have my own special lady, Angie."

"Since our version of you is deceased, what do I do?" she wondered.

"Just be yourself, Angie. You'll meet the right person," he assured her.

"You're a special person, Angela. Trust me; I know that as well as anyone," the warrior affirmed.

"Yeah, I guess," Angie sighed. "At least Lana and Miranda will keep me company." She smiled warmly. "We'll have a blast together."

At that moment, a knock came from the door. It was Lex.

"Lex, I told you not to come back," Jonathan declared.

"I know, Mr. Kent. Dave gave me some food for thought earlier. I just apologized to him," the billionaire reported.

"You did?" Dave asked, looking at the others. "Lex, if this is your idea of a joke, it's not funny."

Lex stared at him and then looked back toward the barn. "Dave, how did you get in here? You were out in the barn just a second ago."

Emma nodded. "Dave, he's right!" She ran out of the house with the others following closely behind.

Upon reaching the barn, they stopped and stared in dead silence.

"What is it? Is there something wrong?" another Dave asked them, looking at them expectantly.

"Wait a minute! How can you be both here and there?" Angie wondered.

"Because we are two different people," the medievalist in the loft told her. "They're from another place you might say."

Martha looked at the newcomer with a confused expression on her face. "But if you're our version then you can't be here. You died."

"I guess I did. I was sent back to finish what I needed to do," the AU-Dave explained, giving Angie a warm smile of his own. "If you don't mind me hanging around that is."

"I think we can fit you in," Angie teased.

"Good," he agreed, coming down the stairs. "I'm going to need a place to live though."

"You could always stay here," Martha invited.

"He could but it would be nice to have a man around the house," Miranda supposed. "I'm sure Dr. Blackwell would agree."

"Miri!" Lana chastised as they all saw Angie blush.

"All right, I'm sorry. I admit I would like to get to know you better, Uncle Dave. If that's okay with you," Miranda apologized.

"That's fine by me if it's okay with your two housemates," he replied.

"If it's okay with Dr. Blackwell, then it's okay with me," Lana concurred.

Angie smiled. "I agree with Miranda. Thanks for coming back, Dave."

"I did have one job that needs doing," the AU-Dave declared. "Angela, I'm supposed to tell you that you aren't alone. I hope that I'm the special guy for you."

Her smile grew wider and her eyes glistened. "You came back for me, didn't you?"

"I have to admit that I did. I've watched you and you're a special person. I'm going to need that assistance to deal with my€well€situation," he told her. "I couldn't come back though until Alti was taken care of.  In the meantime, a part of me hung around the Talon, waiting for this opportunity."

"You're the ghost!" Lana realized.

"Actually the ghost is a part of him, Lana," Emma surmised. "Let me guess. Your ghost was about seven feet tall, had a black glow with red eyes and talked with a southern accent, I suppose?"

"How did you know?" Lana asked incredulously.

"That's the Child," Xena informed them and then looked at ¥her' Dave. "Trust me; we have lots of experience dealing with him."

"I promise he won't hurt you," the AU-Dave assured them.

Angie looked at the resurrected man with uncertainty. Should I trust him with that thing inside of him? "Dave, I have to admit that watching you-I mean him-this morning scared me half to death. But looking at you, I know you're a good man and that this can work for us." She looked at Dave. "It can, right?"

"Oh it can," Xena concurred dryly. "I hope you two have as good a relationship as he does with his wife."

"There's a me there too?" Angie inquired.

"Oh yeah, there sure is," Dave concurred. "Angie, give it a chance. It'll be the best one you ever took."

The doctor looked at the resurrected man for a minute and then, grinned. "Yeah, since it would be a pain to send him back, I guess I can deal with him. Come here, Chief." She embraced and kissed him.

"Thank you, Angela," he expressed with gratitude.

"No problem," she replied, allowing her eyes to sparkle into his. She turned to Dave and said, "Thank you for showing me that I'm worth something."

"For everything that my Angie gives me and I try to give her, I'm glad I could do it. You two are dynamite together," the medievalist told her. "Meantime, I wanted to ask what was going to happen with the Talon."

Lex noted, "Unless somebody has a better suggestion, we'll have to tear it down."

Lana shook her head. "You can't! We can renovate it!"

"And do what with it?" the billionaire asked.

"I don't know. Maybe a small caf¹ or something?" AU-Dave suggested. "The Creamery is a nice restaurant but from my vantage point, I saw that there are never enough seats there for the student rush."

"That's definitely true," Miranda agreed.

"Who'd manage it?" Lex wondered.

"I could train after school and on weekends," Lana suggested. "But we still need a day time manager."

"How about our revived friend? He could help you. He's an experienced cashier and besides he knows the Talon inside and out," Emma suggested.

"How about it, Uncle Dave?" Miranda inquired.

AU-Dave looked around at the others and nodded. "Sure, it'll give me an opportunity to get my feet on the ground and familiarize myself with everyone once again."

"Let me know when you're ready and I can recommend some reading for you," Lex agreed.

AU-Dave nodded and expressed, "Thanks again, Dave, for helping us."

"Thank you for helping me to put the puzzle together," the medievalist replied, shaking his hand. "Dave, when you get your thoughts together, Chloe Sullivan would like an interview."

"I saw your rain check. Thanks, Dave," the resurrected man chuckled.

"I would do it but this is your world and story, Big Guy. I'm just passing through." Dave shook his counterpart's hand again. "Take care of them. If you need me, I'm sure you'll find me."

"Oh I think I know where to find you," AU-Dave agreed. "And I think I can help Chloe out. You've already done the work with Principal Reynolds."

"What did you do?" Clark wondered.

"Reynolds had issues with how The Torch was being run. I suggested he give a certain persistent blonde a shot," Dave revealed.

"Investigative reporting just hit Smallville big time," Lana supposed.

"She needs an outlet too," Martha commented.

That's putting it mildly. Emma smiled, knowing what a dynamo Chloe could be. "We do need to be getting back."

"I guess," Dave admitted. "Everyone, thank you again."

"Thank you for giving us all our lives back," Miranda told him.

"You're welcome anytime. Thank Angie for lending you to me for a while. I tried to take care of you," Angie added.

Xena smiled. Angela, she's definitely you all right. "She'll appreciate that. Thanks."

Dave turned to Clark, Lana and Miranda. "You three take care of each other, all right?"

"We will. Thanks, Dave," he replied.

"Thank you for getting us together," Lana added, rubbing Clark on the shoulder for emphasis.

Dave grinned as he exchanged looks with Xena and Emma. "You two are meant for each other. And if you want role models, Clark, look at your parents. Lex, remember, to stick by them."

"Thanks for the thought," Jonathan said, shaking hands with him.

"I definitely will," Lex promised.

Dave looked at his traveling companions and asked, "Ready?" Seeing them nod, he took a deep breath and summoned the mists, forming them into the portal. "Bus is leaving."

"Once again, good luck," Emma wished before disappearing from view.

"See you around," Xena added, heading after the psionic.

"Keep your chins up and thanks again," Dave concluded, heading into the portal and shutting it behind him.

"There they go. Life will never be the same around here," Clark supposed.

"He's always good at shaking things up," Lex pointed out.

"And setting this community on a good path," the farmer supposed.

"Speaking of which, Lana, can you stop by the mansion to sign the papers tomorrow? I'd like to get our partnership going," Lex requested.

"Sure," she agreed, with a surprised look on her face.

"My pleasure," he replied. Looking at his resurrected friend, he added, "Good to have you back, Dave." He embraced the other man. "Keep Angela happy, all right?"

"I'll do my best if she'll let me," AU-Dave vowed.

"As if I'm going to let you get away from me," the doctor retorted, putting her arm around him for emphasis. "No, Chief, you aren't going anywhere for a while."

The others looked on with approval as the two adults kissed. The mood was definitely changed in that town. Better times were on the way for that place. That was for sure.


Chapter 45 [New Sanctuary-Our Universe]

[A/N: Heart sang "You're the Voice" and it's on their Greatest Hits 1985-1995 album]

After the group left to help Dave and their AU counterparts, Karen and the remaining students found a way to get Mutant X, Nick Miles, Ferali, Garth, Steve, Lex and Chloe back there. While everyone hoped for the best, they maintained some skepticism over the news.

When Gabrielle, the two skin walkers, Clark, Lana and Miranda reappeared; they all jabbered the newcomers with questions.

Miranda put her hands up and nodded. "He's alive, everyone! Uncle Dave is alive."

"How is he?" Karen wondered.

"He's back. Professor and Child," Lana informed them.

"I watched him complete the process," Clark added. "Taking on that demon was something else."

"The demon again? I thought the Child killed that thing," Karen supposed.

"An alternate reality has its own parallel version of us all," Adam theorized.

"And we met our counterparts," Lana concurred. "I saved myself from Alti."

"That's got to be a weird experience," Brennan guessed.

"She did all right," Martin agreed.

"At least she's in a secure place now," Kayla noted.

At that point, the portal opened again, allowing Emma and Xena to step through.

"Where is he?" Lex asked.

"He's coming. Give him a minute," Xena mentioned.

Right after them, Dave entered the room and with a deep breath, closed the portal. "Okay. I'm back!" He took another breath and smiled. "You all are a sight for sore eyes."

"Right back at you, Pal," Steve told him.

"You got that right," Garth agreed.

"Don't you ever do that again!" Karen lectured, embracing him.

"This is going to make some story," Chloe surmised.

"Give him a minute, Sullivan," her husband teased, giving her the Smirk.

"I do need a minute actually," Dave concurred. "Where are my girls?"

"Right here, Papa!" Lauren announced as she and her sister nearly gang tackled him.

He grabbed onto them tightly. "You knew I'd come back."

"After you brought Mama back, we knew she'd do the same for you. We kept telling Grandpa Alex that," Lauren assured him.

"With faith like that and the Kent hospitality over there, how could I lose?" Dave supposed.

"As if we would have let that happen," Ferali told him.

Jonathan hugged his wife and smiled warmly at their friend.

"All right, we're all too cramped in here!" Lana announced. "If I get some help getting us all out of here, I've asked Sandra and Trish to set up the Talon for a welcome back bash for the Professor! Let's go!"

Dave put his hands up, calling for attention. "Before we go, I wanted to say something. I want to thank you all. You could have given up on me as dead. However, you didn't. And then, to send someone after me, risking everything, I can't tell you how much that means to me. It's said a man is judged by the quality of his friends. I'm truly lucky. One thing I remember from my time wandering through the alternate Smallville was a song reflecting on pulling enemies together and changing enmities into friendships. From that, we can yell our view with a single unified sound." He took a CD out. "It's called " ¥You're the Voice'". Putting it in his stereo, he added, "Think about what it's saying." Handing it to Adam, he requested, "Can we play this? It's fitting you should have the honors."

"All right," the geneticist agreed, doing so.

The music started and had this to say:

We have a chance to turn the pages over
We can write what we want to write
We gotta make ends meet
Before we get much older

We're all someone's daughter
We're all someone's son
How long before we look at each other
Down the barrel of a gun?

You're the voice-try and understand it
Make a noise and make it clear
We're not going to sit in silence
We're not going to live in fear

It's time-you know we all should stand together
We got the power to be powerful
And believe it, we all could make it better

We're all someone's daughter
We're all someone's son
How long before we look at each other
Down the barrel of a gun?

You're the voice-try and understand it
Make a noise and make it clear
We're not going to sit in silence
We're not going to live in fear

When the CD shut off, Dave asked them, "You see what I mean?"

Adam nodded, wiping a tear from his eye. "If only the world would heed that song's message."

"Amen to that," Emma concurred.

"It definitely describes us, Dave," Mikhail agreed.

"More than that though," Gabrielle stated. "It shows our unity. The Community contains vampires, mutants, new mutants, transgenics, priestesses, gnomes and wizards acting together for a common cause."

"Damn straight," Max piped in.

"On that note, I think it's time for coffee," Lana announced.

Dave opened another portal. "Let's head out." He ushered them all through.

[After the last person left, the Child declared, "Hey, Ah gotta let And€omeda know."

Go for it. We'll be waiting in Smallville. With that, the medievalist stepped through into the portal, disappearing from view.




[10,000 years in the future-Kandor, New Krypton]

Ror-El and Lara watched as the Andromeda crew entered his reception area with sad looks on their faces. Even Rommie and Rahde, normally stoic, couldn't help but be affected by the display. By the Founders, it is true. "What happened, my friends? Did it work?"

"The helmet worked," Harper informed him without his usual spark.

"And the Founders are safe?" Lara inquired, holding her daughter in her arms.

"They are but we lost out," Molly presumed. "I still can't believe he did it."

"He did, all right," Trance agreed, "and without hesitation."

"What happened?" the Chief Minister wondered.

"The Child used the helmet to defeat the Overmind. However, according to Xena, Deirdre and Ferali, there was nothing left of either one after that," Dylan reported.

"Dylan, there is a .000001 percent chance that he survived," Rommie pointed out.

"That's a nice thought, Rommie, but nothing would have survived that," the captain indicated.

"And to think that Tyr once supposed he would run from a fight," Beka sighed.

Just then, Trance felt something strange in the air. "It can't be!" She grinned.

"What is it?" Beka inquired.

At that moment, the Child appeared in their midst. "Howdy!"

Needless to say, the group was struck speechless by this phenomenon.

Finally Dylan asked, "What happened? We thought you were dead!"

"Ah was an' then Ah came back jus' to bug yer butt," the Dark One pointed out. "Lissen, Ah jus' wanna thank ya'll fer comin'. Ah ¥preciate it."

"It was our pleasure," the starship captain accepted. "You should be proud of yourself too. Taking one for the kids like that."

"Not to mention Kandor," Ror-El added. "Please accept our thanks once again for saving the Founders."

"They're great kids," the Child rasped, scratching his head. "Oh yeah, Big Bro wanted ya'll to lissen to a song. It's called ¥Yer the Voice'. We both figgered it'd be good fer ya'll an' the C'mm'nwea'th."

"That's a cool song," Harper agreed. "Rommie, I put it in your archives."

"Yes. I'm accessing it now," the android detailed. "Playing." Linking her archives to Ror-El's speakers, she allowed the MP3 file to resonate its message loud and clear.

"Well put indeed," Trance concluded when the song had finished.

"See why we liked it back on Earth? It's a rallying cry," the engineer piped in.

"It is indeed, Mr. Harper. For there and for us all," Dylan agreed. Turning back to the Child, he expressed, "Thank David for sending the song and thank you for letting us know you're okay."

"Mah pleasure," the Child concluded, disappearing from view.

"An apt rallying cry indeed," Dylan reiterated, staring into space at the other member worlds. "May we live up to its message for a long time."



[Next Evening-Smallville Cemetery]

Dave stood in front of the Langs' stone, considering everything that had happened over the previous week. If it weren't for Laura, we wouldn't be so well off right now. He stooped down and placed a bouquet of flowers next to the marker. "Thank you for standing by me. What I said last night included you as well. From what I'm gathering, you stood by the Child and me. I wanted to let you know that I appreciate that."

From the darkness, a voice told him. And you are a true friend to us as well, Dave. A minute later, Laura and Lewis' spirits appeared in front of him.

Dave smiled. "Good to see you both."

"And it's good to see you back in one piece," Lewis replied.

"With your wife, daughter and son-in-law on the case, there was never any doubt," the medievalist declared.

She looked earnestly at him. "We all did what we could. Still, it was you both who found help. The Child protected the students. And it was you who put the pieces together in time to stop Alti from destroying our counterparts." She grinned warmly at him. "You have no idea how far you've come since the day we all met. Be proud of who you are. We're proud to be your friend."

"And we're all proud to have him as a teacher," Lana added, walking up with Angie. "Hi, Mom and Dad."

"Not to mention as a husband," the oncologist agreed, hugging him from behind. "Once again, it's so good to have you back."

"What happens in that other universe, pray tell?" Dave inquired.

Laura shrugged. "Life goes on. Your counterparts have moved in together with Lana and Miranda. Just as here, the Talon will serve as a town gathering place, sharing that role there with the Coldstone Creamery. Chloe Sullivan is cleaning up the school newspaper."

"How about Clark and me?" her daughter asked sheepishly.

Her mother chuckled, "Yes, my Dear, they have discovered their spark. And you should be commended as well."

"I did what I had to," Lana replied, trying to deflect the credit.

Dave shook his head. "That's not what the Child told me. He's raving about how you kicked Alti's tail with one shot. I also wanted to add that you had the chance to kill her and didn't do it. That is the true sign of a hero, Lana."

"I was only helping you, my town and my friends. Although I do have to admit, saving myself from Alti was a unique experience," the teenager commented. "Thanks though, Professor."

"Don't mention it," the medievalist responded. "You did a great deal."

"Speaking of your friends, I think you need to check on Clark," Lewis assumed. "He's assessing some more pictures at the Indian Caves."

"Not another threat!" Angie worried.

Laura shook her head. "No, not this time. Go though and see what you discover. Thank you again, Dave and Angie, for giving Lana the best guidance." With that, the couple vanished.

"I wonder what Clark's going to find this time," Lana sighed, still mindful of the Overmind.

"One way to find out," he told them, opening a portal. "Let's go." After the two ladies had stepped through, he smiled one last time before joining them, sealing the gateway behind them.




Clark surveyed the cave paintings, examining the pictographs' details and relating them to the group's recent experiences. We were lucky.

Indeed, my Son, Jor-El concurred.

We got rid of the Overmind but I never want to see anything like that again, Clark mused.

Ah but you will. Danger surfaces in many ways, Kal-El. You will be tested many times as will those who stand beside you. This experience, I hope, taught you a lesson. Nobody is invulnerable and we all need to stand as one.

Clark nodded. The Professor said as much when he played that song for us.

Listen to him, Kal-El. I am very proud of you and Lana. Very well done both of you, Jor-El complimented before going silent.

"It's something, isn't it?" his wife asked, approaching with Dave and Angie.

"Yeah, it is," he concurred. "Professor, what do you think?"

Dave shook his head. "It was too close for comfort. Fortunately, I have a great wife and both of you to back me up."

"Don't forget that, Buster," Angie asserted playfully, kissing his cheek.

"You and the Child do the same for us, Professor Dubois. It's the least we can do," Lana pointed out.

"And that's what friendship is all about. Together, we can overcome anything in our path," Clark surmised.

"You got it," the oncologist agreed.

Dave smiled, thinking once again about how lucky he was. He could have died. He could have been stuck as the Child. He could have been lost in that other universe forever. However, thanks to his students, he was standing there in full command of his faculties. I'm definitely a lucky man to be leading such a unified group of diverse friends. Very lucky indeed.

THE END (for now)

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