Chapter 20 [Present Day-Faerie Realms]
The Faerie Empress gazed out on the audience with interest. David's flashback held everyone's attention firmly. The change in him has them enraptured. Words cannot describe what happened to him then.
"That was something else," Dave muttered, shaking his head. "But for some reason, I know there's more to the story."
"But it was the end of the battle," Adam pointed out.
Emma shook her head. "I'm picking up vibrations from the Child. Something else happened."
Cybelle cleared her throat. "There is more if Dave wishes to hear it. There is a question I wish to ask if I may, Milady?"
The Empress nodded.
"For those of you from Smallville, what do you remember from those initial days after the meteor shower?" the high priestess posed.
"We buried my parents," Lana replied sadly.
"I was adopted by my parents," Clark added. "I don't think we'd remember much since we were three years old."
"And, Lex?" Cybelle inquired.
"I know we did those things, but it seems so fuzzy. I suppose you know?" the businessman wondered.
"The story indeed continues. As the scene shifts to Smallville, the witch's gambit is revealed and two adversaries shall meet. Prepare yourselves, everyone," the Empress revealed, waving her hand and continuing the tale.
Chapter 21 [McKenzie Household-1988]
At that moment, the phone rang.
"Who could it be at this hour?" April wondered. Picking up the receiver, she answered it, "Hello?"
"Yes. Is this the McKenzie residence?" an unfamiliar male voice inquired.
"It is. This is April McKenzie. Who am I speaking with?"
"You probably don't remember me. My name is Lex Luthor. We met a few years ago," Lex replied. "At Janet Dubois' funeral."
She nodded. "You were the red haired boy, right? Yes, I vaguely remember you. Weren't you there with your mother?"
"That's right. I was hoping to talk to David Dubois if I could," he requested. "I'm sorry to bother you. I've tried every friend of his that I could remember. Since there was no answer at the Alvarezes, you were next."
"That's okay. He'süwell indisposed at the moment, Lex. What is it?" she wondered. "If there's a message, I'll give it to him."
"Okay. Did you hear about the meteor strikes in the Midwest?" Lex asked.
"Yes, they were on the news andü the town. It's your town, isn't it?" she realized. Lord, help us. Why now? "Were any of his friends injured?"
"I was in the hospital until an hour ago. Worse, the Langs were killed in town two days ago. It's like a war zone. We were wondering ifühe would come for the funeral. The arrangements have already been made," he offered.
"Wha is it?" the Child queried, stirring from the couch.
April looked at the others and then at the Dark One. "It's Lex Luthor from Smallville. He needs to talk to you. Just don't break anything, please."
He snarled while taking the line. "Lex, Ah'm havin' a real bad day. What's goin' on there?"
"We just had a disaster here. You remember Lewis and Laura Lang? They were killed."
The Child screamed, recalling the couple from years before. "Figgers. Damn 'er! This ends now!" Seeing the news pictures on the television screen, he shuddered angrily.
The others with him turned white at the scene of destruction from the meteors.
"Dave, don't go," Ricardo told him.
"Ah ain't Big Bro! Ah don't care! Mah friends need mah help!" The Child turned back to the phone and agreed, "Ah'm comin'. Jus' make sure we ain't bothered."
He's slipping even more. I'd best make sure he flies by himself. "There'll be a limo outside your door in a few minutes and a private jet waiting for you at Bradley Airport. My father can eat this one for all I care," Lex agreed.
"Yeah. Keep that scum ass 'way from me. Marütha, Jonaüthan, they okay?" the Child inquired.
"They're fine. Look, I'll let them know you're coming. Just hang in there," Lex concluded, hanging up.
The Child set the phone down. "This sucks. Well, gotta go."
"Go where? Dave, you can't go anywhere!" Garth protested.
"Fuck that! Ah ain't stayin' here! Ya'll want space, fine! Ah'm goin' where Ah can help mah friends. That bitch has done 'nough to ya'll an' me! Ah'm makin' sure mah friends git in the ground real proper. Ah owe 'em!" the Child countered.
"Just be careful, all right?" Caroline requested, embracing him. "If the witch is behind this, it could get ugly."
"Bring it on," he growled, seeing the limo pull up in front of the house. Heading to the Subaru, he took out his bow and quiver. "See ya."
The driver held the door open for him and nervously waited for him to get in the backseat.
Charles tapped the driver on the arm before the latter got back in the front. "Nothing happens to him. You hear me? Nothing."
"Mr. Luthor will do his best," the driver promised before getting in the car and driving off, leaving the others wondering what would happen next.
Chapter 22 [Smallville-Next morning]
Dave opened his eyes and looked around in wonder at his surroundings. "How did I get here?" Around him, he could make out the seats and amenities of a private jet's cabin. "What is this?"
At that moment, a slender blonde haired woman in a business suit ran up. "Mr. Dubois, are you all right?"
"Who are you? Where am I?" he asked.
"My name's Marcia and this is a LuthorCorp jet. You might wish to strap in because we're about to land," she advised, taking a seat and securing her seat belt.
"Land?" he probed. "Land where?" He felt the wheels hit the ground and the aircraft slow down.
"Welcome back to Smallville, Mr. Dubois," she announced as the plane came to a stop.
This place again? I wish I knew what happened here. For some reason, I feel as if I should know. "Thanks, I guess." Seeing his bow and quiver beside him, he shouldered them almost without thinking about it and descended the stairs onto the tarmac. Looking around, he saw a well-built blond man coming toward him. "Jonathan Kent?"
"That's right. Welcome back. I just wish it were under better circumstances," the farmer explained. Seeing the confusion on the other's face, he continued, "Lex Luthor said that he had talked to you about coming."
"He did?" Dave scratched his head. "Sorry, it's been a long couple of days between my professor being killed and my friend's kidnapping."
"Sorry to hear that. We've had it rough here too," Jonathan remarked, shaking hands with his guest.
"Is everyone okay?" Dave inquired.
Lex, you said you talked with him about the situation. Jonathan shook his head. "How about you come back to the farm? Martha's getting breakfast ready."
"Sounds good," Dave agreed, feeling his stomach rumbling a bit. "Didn't she make pancakes the last time? I think she made blueberry ones, if I remember right."
"You're absolutely right," his host declared, guiding him back toward the truck. "Come on. We'll fill you in over breakfast. Besides, there's someone you need to meet too."
Martha Kent stood in front of the stove, flipping pancakes in her skillet. She had already set the table and made coffee for her husband and their guest. Almost done. Now if I can just get through this before they get back. Seeing that the hotcakes were ready, she stacked them on a plate and brought them over to the table. According to Ricardo Alvarez, David hasn't eaten anything for at least two days. He liked this the last time. She shook her head as she recalled her phone conversation with Ricardo from an hour earlier. David's been through so much. I just hope that the funeral doesn't upset him.
At that moment, she felt a sharp tug on her pant leg. Looking down, she saw a little pair of eyes staring at her shyly from under a mass of dark black hair. "Hi, Clark." She smiled warmly and kissed him on the cheek. For years, she thought that they would never have children. Then Clark's ship crashed in Chandler's Field just three days earlier. Thank you, Lord. I'll always be grateful for this little one. "Can you sit there for me?" she asked, hoisting him into a high chair.
He managed a little smile and did so.
At that moment, Jonathan and Dave came through the front door. The latter set his bags down and looked around at the familiar setting.
"Hi, Mrs. Kent, you look well," Dave complimented, managing a smile as he did so.
She hugged him. "Are you all right?"
"Not really but I'll make it," he replied. "That does smell good. Would you mind if I wash up before we eat?"
"Of course. Bathroom's at the top of the stairs and to the left," she agreed. After the young man had gone upstairs, she asked her husband, "My word, Jonathan. What happened to him?"
"I figured that the Alvarezes would have told you. But you know, he acting as if he doesn't know why he's here."
She shook her head. "Lex Luthor said he talked with David personally. Let's allow him to get his feet back under him. He looks as though he's been through a war zone."
"As have we, Martha," Jonathan agreed. "Still, I think we can all relax a bit before I take him over to the Luthors." He walked over to Clark and asked, "Hey there, guy! How are you?"
Clark smiled even more at seeing the farmer.
"That's what I like to see," Jonathan concurred. Seeing Dave come back down the stairs, he asked, "Ready for some world class breakfast?"
"Absolutely! Thank you," Dave accepted, joining them at the table. "This is a pleasant surprise, I have to say."
"What do you mean?" she wondered.
He shrugged while sipping on his coffee. "I figured I fell asleep on April McKenzie's couch. Waking up on the plane was a complete surprise. At least though, I'm among friends." He looked over at Clark. "Speaking of friends, who do we have here?"
The little boy averted his eyes shyly.
Martha smiled warmly. "This is Clark. We just adopted him."
"I guess congratulations are in order," Dave replied.
"Thank you," Jonathan expressed. "We're happy to have a son at last."
"You two will be great parents. I know it," the guest told them. "How's everyone in town?"
She looked at him. "You honestly don't know? David, Lex said that he told you about why you were here."
"Mrs. Kent, until I hit the turf, I thought I was in Amherst, Mass. I'm not complaining, mind you. You both were so good to me back in '81. I wish I could do the same for you. I was figuring on seeing Lex and maybe the Langs ifüthat's okay," Dave proposed. Upon seeing his hosts looking at each other, he asked, "What is it? Is something wrong with them?"
"You haven't seen the news or anything over the past two days, have you? Did you look out the window as you landed?" she inquired.
"The window shades were shut to allow me to sleep, I'd imagine. What is it?" he queried. "Look, I'll be frank. I don't remember much about the past three days. During that time, my graduate school advisor and his wife died, I've been attacked twice, and Karen broke up with me. Worst of all, I can't recall any of it." He shuddered, feeling the familiar tentacles of numbness creeping through his head.
"Karen broke up with you?" she gasped. "You two were so happy together. David, I'm sorry."
"Manure happens, right?" Dave supposed, taking a bite from his pancakes. "Okay, what's going on? Why am I here?"
Jonathan took a deep breath and stated, "Two days ago, a hail of meteors fell in and around Smallville. Several people were hurt and there were a few deaths."
"And Lewis and Laura are at the Medical Center? Can I see them?" Dave cut in.
The farmer looked at his wife and shut his eyes.
Martha cleared her throat and continued, "Theyüwere crushed by a meteor."
Dave dropped his fork and looked at them. "They're dead?" Crap, what else can happen? "I want to pay my respects if I can."
"Absolutely. And that gets us to the reason for you being here. David, I know you only met them once, but would you be willing to say something at the funeral? They'd like that."
Without hesitation, Dave accepted, "You bet. But I don't have a suit or anything with me. All I have are a few things and my gear. Sorry."
"That's all right, son, we'll manage somehow. Lex can arrange something, I'm sure," Jonathan assured him, rubbing him on the arm. "We'll stop by Nell Potter's shop on the way in. You can meet their little girl."
Recalling a Christmas card from two years earlier, he noted, "Lana right? They sent me a picture with them and her for her second Christmas. Beautiful little girl."
"Yes, she is," Martha agreed. "After breakfast, we'll go and see Nell. Then we'll bring you over to the Luthors'."
At the mention of the manor, Dave shuddered again. "Is Lionel there? Sorry but if he's there, I want no part of that place."
"We can call and find out from Nell's," Jonathan told him. "Let's dig in and then we can go."
[Nell's Flower shop-an hour later]
Jonathan stopped the truck in front of the flower shop and let Dave take in the devastation. Around them, several bright black patches stood out against the lighter colored asphalt. Some buildings were boarded up. People walked around, staring at the sky.
"This is where it happened?" Dave asked, getting out and looking around.
"One of the places. This kind of destruction can be seen all over the county," the farmer explained.
The graduate student surveyed the street. There was something very wrong there. One big patched area sent up a psychic smoke signal to him. What in? He started to follow the "trail".
"David, what is it?" Jonathan inquired.
"Something was here," Dave pointed out, stopping dead in the middle of the street and touching the pavement. As he did so, a powerful jolt jarred him. "No. It can't be."
"What? It can't be what?" Jonathan wondered as he kept a lookout for oncoming cars.
Dave snarled and looked down the street at the Talon's neon sign. As he did, the telltale numbness crept over his head again. If she's still stuck behind the field in Rowenshire then how could she have been here as well? Damn it. He looked up at his host. "This is where they died, wasn't it?"
"Against the far curb actually. Uh, David, can we get out of the street?" he asked.
Dave nodded and walked into the flower shop followed by Jonathan. "It's nice to see this place is still the same," the former remarked.
Behind the counter, a slender brunette woman raised her head. "Can I help you? Oh, Jonathan, good morning. Who's the young man with you? He seems familiar."
"Hi, Nell. This is David Dubois from Massachusetts," Jonathan replied, introducing them. "David, this is Nell Potter, Laura's sister."
"It's good to see you again, Nell," Dave greeted, shaking hands with the shop owner.
"Likewise," she concurred. Even if I don't like the idea of him being here, he was Laura and Lewis' friend. Maybe we can have him do his bit and then he'll leave. There's definitely something about him that gives me the creeps. "We do appreciate you coming out here on short notice."
"I wish it were under better circumstances," Dave replied, eyeing the different flowers around him. "Your sister and brother-in-law were good people."
"Thank you," she expressed. "Between dealing with their passing and caring for my niece, I haven't had time to deal with things."
As if on cue, a little voice sniffled in the back. "Auntie?"
"I'm here, Sweetie," Nell called, picking up Lana and bringing her into the room. "I was just talking with Mr. Kent and his friend. Do you want to say hello?"
Lana looked sadly at the two men and sniffled. Her dark eyes were bloodshot from crying. "Hühello."
Dave winced, feeling a sharp pain between his eyes. The feeling in the street returned. Steeling himself, he looked deep into Lana's eyes and saw pain and worse.
He saw himself.
"David?" Jonathan wondered.
"Is there a place I can make a local call? I need to talk to Lex now," he insisted.
"Please, David, don't scare her," Nell admonished, glaring at him as she handed him the receiver. "She's been through enough."
"Including a certain ghost, I'd imagine. A glowing spiteful lady," Dave retorted.
"You know the glowy lady?" the little girl inquired, her eyes bulging. Somehow his words undid Pauline's spell. "Don't hurt me!"
Dave dropped the phone and spasmed violently. "No. You hear me? Never. She won't touch you again."
"How could you know?" Nell insisted. "She's been like this since the meteors hit."
"Because I was her," Dave retorted, breathing heavily and feeling his eyes watering as his scalp went numb again. "I'm still her. I know the pain she's feeling. I watched my grandfather and grandmother die because of that damn ghost!" He stumbled, somehow fighting his pain to reach the toddler's side. "I promise you, Lana, we'll end this together one day. Until then, please don't be afraid of me. I'm here and I know."
Lana looked at and around him as if she were scanning him. Then she reached out with her stubby arms. "Help me!"
Dave hugged her tightly. "She can't hurt you anymore. You're safe. If you want to cry, it's okay. Let it out."
Lana bawled, burying her head in his chest.
"That's okay, Lana. Let it out. Let it all out," he soothed, rocking her as gently as he could. "Call Lex Luthor. He needs to know about this."
"He knows this thing too?" Jonathan asked in disbelief.
"She killed his mother." Seeing Nell's reaction, he asked, "She died of cancer right? That's how the ghost operates. Slow and painful."
The florist dialed the mansion number and spoke for a minute before hanging up. "He'll be here in ten minutes."
"I wish the green lady would come back," Lana muttered.
"Lana, stop that," Nell corrected.
"I know what I saw!"
Dave shook Nell off before asking Lana, "Green lady? Was she wearing green?"
"Yeah. Green dress. She was beautiful like a princess with lots of stuff on her face."
"Lana, people just don't appear like that," Nell told her.
"Actually, they can," Dave countered. "Lana, what was her name? Did she tell you her name? It's okay."
"Pauline," the girl sobbed.
Dave gaped, recognizing the description of a priestess and knowing there was only one of them with that name. Pauline Samuelsohn? She was here?
At that moment, they heard the screeching of tires outside. Barely a few seconds later, Lex rushed into the shop.
"Dave, you made it," the billionaire told him. "What's wrong though? A suit is easy to rent."
"Stick the suit, Lex. We have a bigger problem here. As in a ghost-witch problem," the student told him.
Lex shook his head, immediately recognizing what he was getting at. "I thought you took care of her!"
"Pauline trapped her, all right? At least we thought she did," Dave hissed.
The lights flickered in the shop and the sky outside turned dark.
"Nell, get Lana out of here," Dave directed.
"What is it?" Jonathan asked.
"A party crasher," the student growled, even as the red curtain dropped across his vision. "Come out!"
"Ye can't stop me, my boy," the witch's ghost challenged as she appeared. "Tell them. Tell them who ye are."
"IüAh'm mahself! Go on an' git!" The Child snarled darkly. "Ya'll ain't gittin' 'er! Ya'll done 'nough!"
"Nay. I'll go but they'll see ye for what ye are, my dark child. Soon, I'll make her your sister in pain," the ghost vowed while fading away.
"Ya'll stay 'way from 'er! Ya'll hear me! Ah'll kill ya mahself!" the Dark One roared. Seeing the others, he continued, "Wha? Ya'll knew we were comin'!"
Lex looked at Jonathan and Nell anxiously. This side knows why I called him. Dave doesn't. I've got to get him out of here. "Jonathan, can I take him for a drive? We need to talk."
"Wha?" the Child inquired.
"Come on, we need to talk to someone," Lex insisted. "We're going to Metropolis. We're going to talk about things. It's okay."
"We'll have everything ready back here," Jonathan promised.
The Child nodded and told Lana, "Big Bro prom'sed to protect ya'll, Short Stuff. Ah'm stickin' with it. Bad lady won't touch ya'll 'gain."
Lana nodded nervously. "'Kay. Thanküyou."
"No sweat," the Child replied, giving her a brief smile before stalking out.
"What's with him?" Nell inquired.
"The ghost's curse. He's living with it and has since our fathers stumbled on her land. Trust me, watch Lana. That witch won't quit, especially tomorrow." With that, Lex left for the car and drove off with the Child toward the big city.
Onto Part 5
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