Diversions & Digressions | fanfiction by mara

Family Life

Family Life

by Mara

Summary: “I’m fine, Clark. Just wondering how long you’ve had a twin brother.”

Author’s Chapter Notes:

This is Medie’s fault to begin with. (Big surprise there.) Anyway,
months ago, she told me I *had* to write this. I finally finished it as a
surprise for Medie Appreciation Day. Thanks to DebC for reassuring me about my
Chloe voice and pointing out a missing scene.

<> CONTINUITY: This is an alternate reality futurefic, in which Chloe never
officially learned about Clark’s superpowers. Basically, I’m ignoring anything
later than the middle of season 4. I’ve also used some comic canon, but nothing
recent.

Chloe blinked. Then she blinked again. Then she rubbed her eyes and wondered if
she’d had enough coffee that morning. Maybe one more cup might help?

Nope, still the same sight.

“Uh…Chloe? You okay there?” Clark sounded worried.

“I’m fine, Clark. Just wondering how long you’ve had a twin brother. I mean, all
those years growing up, you’d think I’d have noticed. I know I was busy with the
Wall of Weird, but really, it’s been 10 years since we graduated, couldn’t you
have ment–”

“Chloe!”

She stopped, barely hiding her smile. “Yes?”

“He’s not my twin brother. Conner’s my c–cousin.” With an ecstatic smile, Clark
put an arm around the shoulder of a teenager who didn’t really look like an
exactly identical twin, but could certainly be Clark’s slightly shorter
fraternal twin. The nose was different, but still…

Conner didn’t look nearly as thrilled by Clark, but he managed a respectable
grin. “Hi, nice to meet you.”

“Your cousin.” Chloe wondered for the thousandth time if Clark thought she was a
moron. “Right. Well, it’s nice to meet you too. Are you just visiting Smallville
for the summer?”

“Uh…”

Clark shot Conner a look she couldn’t decipher. “He’s going to be staying with
my parents for a while. Maybe going to high school here in the fall.”

Chloe thought about challenging this shoddy cover story and asking about the
heretofore unknown aunt and uncle, since she used to love making Clark stammer
and blush while he tried to lie believably, but that had gotten old at least
fifteen years ago. Besides, this new kid didn’t deserve it until he’d been
around for a while. “Uh-huh. Well, Conner, welcome to Smallville, home of the
weird.”

“The weird?” Now Conner looked worried.

“Clark hasn’t told you?” She shook her head in dismay. “How could you not
prepare him for the strangeness? That’s just mean.”

“C’mon Chloe, gimme a break.”

Clark shot her a look she knew of old, and she relented. “Okay, but when he runs
into his first green glowing cow and you haven’t warned him, it’s not *my*
fault.” She shook her head.

“Fair enough.”

Chloe smiled at the adorably bewildered Conner and wondered if he was some kind
of meteor mutant that Clark had adopted. “Conner, in any case, welcome to town.”

“Thank you,” he said with an adorable smile, “and my friends call me Con.”

Clark looked at Conner, who smiled blandly back. What was *that* all about?

“Right. Con. But let’s talk about cheerful things instead of Smallville. So,
Clark, how’s work at the Daily Planet? And then I’ll tell how I’ve got it so
much worse at the Gotham Post.”

Conner sat back in his seat and let them banter.

She’d give him a little time to settle in. She owed that much to Clark, at
least.

* * * * *

Chloe let it go for all of two days–which she was fairly sure was a new
personal best–but at the end of those 48 hours, she was hunched over her
laptop, using every shady computer contact she had to investigate this Conner
Kent.

It took a lot less time than she expected and her coffee was still warm when she
picked it up and sipped thoughtfully. There wasn’t much, which wasn’t entirely
impossible, except that Conner only seemed to be four years old. Well, his
history was only four years old, at least. There was his driver’s license from
this year, and a library card that hadn’t been used much, as well as some not-
very-secured records of the foster care system in Metropolis.

Conner didn’t seem to have a birth certificate she could find, or standardized
test scores, or *anything* older than four years.

And why had the Kents apparently allowed him to languish in foster care? That
was probably the weirdest part of the whole thing. Chloe tried to imagine
Jonathan and Martha Kent allowing their nephew–heck, even their fourth cousin
twice removed–to stay in foster care for longer than it took them to find a
lawyer, but there even her prodigious imagination failed.

Chloe stared into the bottom of her mug and decided she needed to get home and
use the computers at the Post. Maybe she could find something from there.

* * * * *

Knowing that if she officially showed back up at work before her vacation was
over, she’d be dragooned into covering something like the mayor’s press
conference on education reform, Chloe snuck in when only the night shift was
there and found an empty office to work in.

After an hour of searching, she’d found little more than she’d turned up from
Smallville, and it was beginning to make her head hurt. Chloe leaned back in the
chair and frowned at the screen, freezing at the sound of a voice behind her.

“Who are you working for?” the voice asked in a soft growl.

She blinked. “I work for the Gotham Post. How about you?”

“Don’t try to be funny,” the voice said, circling to stand off to her left.

She turned her head, careful not to make any sudden moves, but couldn’t help the
small gasp. “Robin?”

The slender young man in the cape and green and red outfit didn’t look amused by
her reaction. Actually, considering that he was almost as short as her and was
walking around in green tights, he mostly looked really really dangerous. “Who
are you working for?”

“Honest,” she said, “I don’t know what you’re asking.”

His face grew more still. “Your investigation is going into very deep waters. I
know about your history with Luthor, but I’d advise you to stay out of this
fight. You’re way out of your league on this one.”

She scowled at him. “Look, if you’ve been investigating *me*, you must know that
I don’t like being threatened.”

“I’m not threatening you. I’m warning you: Stop what you’re doing or you will be
in danger.” With a last long look, he turned and strode out the door into the
hallway.

Chloe burst out of her chair and ran after him, but by the time she came through
the doorway, the hall was already empty. Hands on her hips, she glared around
her, but realized the futility of chasing him.

Stomping back into the office, she sat in the cushy swivel chair and rocked
back. “I hate when–Luthor?” She stared at the opposite wall without seeing the
dog calendar hanging there. “Luthor? What the hell do the Luthors have to do
with this? And why does Batman’s sidekick care?”

Chloe slumped down and her lips quirked up in a grin. Well, even if she never
did figure out who Conner was, she’d just gotten the best affirmation *ever*
that Clark was Superman.

Although other than that, she thought with a frown, Robin thought she knew a
heck of a lot more than she actually did. Which was flattering, if not precisely
helpful.

Tapping her fingers on the desk, Chloe pondered what she *did* know:

One, Conner Kent was somehow related to, or at least associated with, Clark
Kent, and therefore Superman.

Two, Robin (and probably Batman) was not pleased with her investigating Conner.

Three, somehow Conner led back to either Lex or Lionel Luthor. Or–she thought
with annoyance–Robin could be using her known animosity to the Luthors to lead
her off the track. But she didn’t have so many leads that she could ignore this
one.

Four, they had some kind of tap on the Gotham Post computers and possibly on her
laptop. Chloe glared at the computer and tried to decide if she was confident
enough in her hacking skills to try and find that tap and defeat it. No, she
wasn’t. But were they watching her, or had she just stumbled into something they
were already doing?

Five, the Kents were in on this, whatever it was. After all, she’d always been
certain they knew about Clark’s weird abilities. And it was highly unlikely
Clark’s lousy lying could convince his parents they’d somehow forgotten a
nephew.

Six, someone had wiped all records about Conner before four years ago, so that
period was presumably the important time. What happened to Conner four years
ago?

Logging off, Chloe swept out of the Gotham Post’s offices. Whatever the answers
were, she wasn’t going to find them sitting around Gotham, not unless she wanted
to sit on rooftops and hope that Batman would show up and tell her.

She only hoped the airline was logging her frequent flyer miles correctly.

* * * * *

Following people in Gotham was easy, since the city was abundantly supplied with
crowds, alleys, shadows, and other accoutrements of the stalker. Chloe frowned
as she squinted into the standard-issue Smallville bright sunlight. Obviously
this was going to require some additional effort.

Slumped down in her rented car a few hours later, Chloe kept her eyes glued to
the binoculars and hoped nobody she knew would drive down this road, the most
deserted one she could find overlooking the side of town nearest the Kent’s
farm. It could have been worse, she supposed–she could be trying this in a town
she *didn’t* know like the back of her hand.

And well, if they went somewhere too far away, she could always run into them
accidentally. Smallville was, after all, a small town.

Chloe sighed in boredom as Clark and Conner strolled down Main Street, peering
idly in windows. “C’mon, Clark, don’t you have something better to do?” she
muttered. “Leave the kid alone for a while.”

Clark and Conner both stopped short in front of a window and looked at each
other. Frowning, Chloe refocused the binoculars. Surely they weren’t that
impressed by Mrs. Jenning’s yarn store? Clark said something to Conner, who
shook his head, then both of them oh-so-casually looked around.

Although she was amused to note that Conner had just as little ability to be
subtle as Clark, she was less amused when both of them seemed to stare directly
at her for an instant. She dropped the binoculars in shock. What the–?

Picking them up again, she took a minute to find them. They were once again
strolling idly. As she watched, she chewed on her bottom lip. Did Superman have
super hearing and super vision? And even if he did, why had Conner reacted at
exactly the same moment? Was he also a…whatever Clark was?

It certainly would explain a lot. Except for where he came from and why he
didn’t seem to exist more than four years ago. And what the hell the Luthors had
to do with it all.

Chloe leaned her chin on the car door and continued to watch.

In fact, she watched for two hours, until they finally went back to the farm.
Once they got started on chores, she decided that Jonathan would keep them busy
for a while and it was probably safe for her to take a break.

Driving back to the motel room she’d rented in Wichita (in the hopes she could
keep her presence secret for at least a little while), Chloe tried to decide if
she was wasting her time or not. Well, she still had a week of vacation time
left, so she could waste at least another day while she tried to come up with a
new plan.

Pulling into the motel parking lot, Chloe noticed a white van pulling in behind
her. That made her nervous, so she started to turn the car around, but before
she could, the van rammed the back of her car. Head flung forward onto the
steering wheel, she saw stars and heard voices. She tried to get out of the car,
but before she could, someone else was opening the car door. That was the last
thing she remembered.

* * * * *

The light was entirely too bright, Chloe thought as she struggled to open her
eyes. And why was someone operating a jackhammer so close to her head? And while
she was at it, she really didn’t appreciate the dead skunk in her mouth.

Chloe groaned as she recognized the telltale signs of being kidnapped and
drugged. It got tiring. Who was it this time? She tossed a mental coin. “I
didn’t think your lot went in for kidnapping, Robin.”

In the confused silence, she concentrated on focusing her eyes, and the blur
resolved into…a man who was definitely not a costumed superhero.

“Never mind,” she said faintly as the hulking man with the scar on his left
cheek twirled a gun around his forefinger.

“Don’t go anywhere,” he said with an annoying smirk, disappearing through a door
to her right.

Tugging on her arms, she found that, as she’d suspected, she was tied to a chair
with heavyweight rope. She wasn’t going anywhere any time soon.

Well, if it wasn’t Robin and Tall, Dark, and Scary who’d kidnapped her…She
looked around the room, which appeared to be an unused laboratory, with stone
counters and fume hoods and things. Now really, who did she know that had lots
of laboratory space in which to imprison reporters?

When the door opened again, Chloe wasn’t surprised to see Lionel Luthor in all
his hairy glory. Irked, certainly. Disgusted, definitely.

“Oh, it’s you,” she said with all the casual disdain she could muster.

His laugh was just as slimy as she remembered and she had to repress a shudder
as he walked closer. “It’s nice to see you, Miss Sullivan. It’s been some time
since we last met.”

“Puh-leaze.” She rolled her eyes. “Do you fool anyone with that act anymore?”

He stood just off to the side, so that to watch him she’d have to crane her
neck. “You might be surprised what people are willing to believe in order to get
what they want.”

She refused to turn, staring straight ahead at an empty counter, trying to count
the gray specks in the black stone. “No, I don’t think I’d be surprised.”

“Well, I *was* surprised–not pleasantly, I might add–to find that once again
you were snooping in my business.” Out of the corner of her eye, she could see
his head tilt as he studied her. “Others advised me to leave you to it, but I’ve
found that to be an ineffective method of dealing with you. I prefer to
be…more direct.”

She couldn’t help one nervous swallow. Whatever she’d stumbled onto, it was big.
If only she could think of a way to convince him to tell her more. “I don’t know
what you’re talking about.”

“Come now,” he said with another smooth laugh, “we know each other far too well
for such dissembling, don’t we? Why don’t you just tell me how you found out?”

Chloe shook her head in disbelief. It was flattering to know that everyone had
such a high opinion of her brains, but they could pick a nicer way to show it.
“Go fuck yourself.”

His greasy smile disappeared, replaced by a look of cold calculation. “You’ll
tell me what you know soon enough. And when I have my son back…” He glared at
her and stalked out of the room.

Chloe blinked. His son? How did Lex come into this? Her head spun and not just
from whatever had knocked her out. This was getting weirder by the moment.

The scarred man who’d waved a gun at her came back, accompanied by another
anonymous thug. Without speaking, they untied her and dragged her down the
corridor. She mentally sent a prayer to whoever might be listening as they threw
her into the room. The thud of the door was followed by the click of a solenoid.

She sat down hard on her butt, blinked twice, and looked up at the doorway. A
grin slid across her face. “No no, don’t throw me in the briar patch with the
electronic door,” she whispered as she limped over to examine the keypad on the
inside of the doorway. Of course, it had millions of combinations, so there was
no chance she’d find the right one by accident.

They’d taken her purse, but hadn’t searched her pockets. Chloe grinned as she
pulled a slim piece of metal out of her back pocket. About a year before, she’d
taken to carrying this easily missed item, in the expectation that at some point
in her journalistic career it might come in handy. Apparently today was that
day.

She wedged a fingernail into an almost invisible crack in the surface and opened
the tiny container of screwdrivers and other such useful implements. Attacking
the panel with glee, Chloe made a mental note to send a thank you note to
everyone she’d pestered into teaching her electronics, lockpicking, and other
such useful arts.

Half an hour later, she wasn’t quite as amused, but she was making progress. She
just hoped she could finish before they came back to get her, because she
doubted she’d enjoy whatever came next. Lionel obviously thought she knew
something and somehow it seemed unlikely he’d developed anything approaching
scruples in recent years.

Mumbling under her breath to herself, she grinned as she finally figured it out.
She manipulated several wires and listened in satisfaction as the door unlocked
itself. Flinging the door open, she was surprised to see two figures standing in
front of her, nearly identical mouths hanging open. One was in spandex with a
cape, the other in jeans and a t-shirt. Both had an S-symbol on their chests.

Chloe skidded to a halt before running Clark and Conner down. “What took you so
long? Never mind, let’s go catch Lionel. I owe him.”

Clark recovered first from his surprise. “No, we’ve done what we came here to
do. Let’s go.”

“Thank you for coming to save me, but I–”

“We didn’t come here to save you,” Conner said. “We didn’t even know you were
here until a few minutes ago.” He grabbed her arm and tugged her down the
hallway.

She tried to resist, but found he was substantially stronger than he looked. No
big surprise there. “But Lionel is–”

The lights flickered as alarms started to blare. Clark and Conner both winced in
pain, then looked at each other. An instant later, Clark picked Chloe up before
she could argue.

Her mouth opened then closed as she suddenly found that all three of them were
floating in midair, then flying down the corridor at high speed. “Whoo hoo!” she
yelled as the walls flashed by.

Conner pulled slightly ahead and Chloe covered her head as he smashed into a
door and shards and splinters flew around them.

* * * * *

The air rushing by was so loud that even if she’d yelled questions at Clark, she
doubted she could understand the answers, so she had to settle for hanging on
and hoping they’d land soon.

In answer to her hopes, Clark and Conner settled down in an abandoned field that
had once grown corn. Clark put Chloe carefully on the ground and stepped back,
arms crossed, obviously waiting for the explosion.

Chloe brushed debris from their escape off her arms. “Well? What do you have to
say for yourself, Superman? And you? Who are you…Superboy?”

Clark covered his mouth to hide a grin as Conner choked. “Just call me Kon. With
a K. That really *is* what my friends call me.”

“Hello, Kon. Nice to see you again. Now I assume I’m going to get my
explanation?”

Clark and Kon both looked up at the sky and Chloe snorted. “Oh, don’t think
you’re going to get out of this so easi–” She ground to a halt as a small sleek
airplane slid to the ground not far from them.

A hatch opened and several figures appeared, jumping or flying out. A blonde
teen in bike shorts and a halter-top flew straight up and hovered above the
plane, obviously keeping watch. A yellow blur sped around a few times before
slowing to become a red-haired teen in spandex. He sped close to them long
enough to wave cheerily and shout “Hi, Kon!” and dashed off again. Another young
woman, this one with a bow and quiver on her back, jumped out, waved, and leaned
against the plane’s side. Wisps of smoke floated by her shoulder and Chloe
decided she didn’t really want to know about that.

The last figure leaped out with catlike grace, cape billowing, and Chloe wasn’t
surprised to see Robin striding toward them. His face was as expressionless and
calm as it had been in Gotham, but as soon as he was close enough, Kon grabbed
him, pulling him into a rough hug. Chloe saw his face change for just an instant
and her annoyance with Robin faded when she saw that moment of concern and fear
for a friend.

Robin stepped back, all business again. Without a word, he looked at Chloe.

“Hi!” she said cheerfully.

He looked at Clark and Kon. The former shrugged. “We couldn’t leave her with
Lionel, T–Robin.”

Robin looked like he was tempted to disagree. “No, I suppose not.”

Chloe couldn’t wait any longer. “Why did Lionel call you his son?” she said to
Kon.

He flinched and Clark and Robin both leaned forward as if to shield him.

“Oh my god!” she said as the pieces fell into place. “You’re a clone! That’s why
I couldn’t find anything more than a few years old. Lionel cloned you from
Clark.”

Kon stared at the ground. “Not exactly.”

“Ew. Don’t tell me he cloned you from Clark and himself. ‘Cause that’s just
gross.”

Clark looked a little green about the gills at the idea as well. “No, not
himself.”

“Lex?” Chloe’s breath caught in her throat. “He used Lex’s DNA, didn’t he? He
was making himself a new son with superpowers.”

None of them answered, which was answer enough.

Chloe thought about it. “That’s awful. That…explains a lot.”

“Yeah,” Clark said. “I figured you’d make that connection eventually.”

“It *was* about four years ago, wasn’t it?”

Clark nodded, his round face unusually haggard. “When Lex found out…well, it
was the final blow to his sanity. Somehow he decided it was *my* fault.”

“Clark–” She put a hand on his arm.

“I know it wasn’t my fault, but I’ve tried so hard…”

“Superman, you know Lex Luthor can’t be trusted,” Robin said, arms crossed and
looking as if it wasn’t the first time he’d had to say that. Beside him, Kon
stared up at the sky, and Robin turned, his voice rough. “I didn’t say that
*you* couldn’t be trusted.”

“But he’s kind of my dad, isn’t he? I have half his genes.”

Chloe snorted. “If your other half is Clark’s genes, I don’t think you have
anything to worry about. He’s the biggest do-gooder for miles around, with or
without superpowers. If you even got half of that, I think you’ll be okay.”

Kon brightened. “You think?”

She nodded firmly. “I know.” She brushed hair back out of her face as the
speeding teen in spandex took a few turns around their group, stirring up the
air.

Robin turned to face him. “And we’re all with you.” Chloe couldn’t see Robin’s
face, but Kon’s was full of emotion.

She and Clark stepped away, the latter coughing politely to cover their retreat.

“So…Superman.” She eyed the costume, glad to get a chance to see it up close.
It was interesting. “Does Lois know?”

Clark flushed. “She found out recently.”

“Hmm.”

“Chloe, I wanted to tell you. I did.” For a few moments, he looked so young
again, just like the teenager she remembered tripping over his own feet whenever
Lana looked in his direction.

“It’s okay, Clark. I knew.”

“You knew?” He actually looked surprised, the dork.

“Yes, Clark. I’ve known you were different in some way since 8th grade, and I’ve
known you were Superman since…” she stopped to count on her fingers, “since
the third time Superman saved Lois Lane from certain death.”

“Oh.”

“You’ve *got* to tell me what Lois said.”

“Later,” Robin said from behind her. “We need to get back to business. What’s
the status of your mission?”

Kon looked much happier. “Success, man. We’ve got everything you need to know to
build a…” Looking at Chloe, he grinned. “A Superboy. Or at least repair one.”

“And?”

Clark nodded. “Luthercorp are going to find that every speck of data on the two
of us has disappeared from their computers. Your virus worked. You?”

“With Kid Flash’s help, Arrowette and I wiped the laptop and home computer of
every scientist involved. Wonder Girl and Secret tell me the government’s data
is gone as well.” There was the tiniest tilt in the corner of Robin’s mouth.
“The only thing left is their memories. And I think we’ve given them enough to
think about for a while.”

Clark and Kon looked satisfied and Chloe frowned. “Who’s handling the PR
aspect?”

They all looked at her like she’d spoken Greek. “What?” Clark asked.

“C’mon,” Chloe said, “you’re a reporter, Clark. In a few hours, Lionel Luthor is
going to be on the phone with the owners of every major newspaper and TV station
in the country, in between phone calls to the vast number of Senators and
Representatives he owns. You’re going to have the entire US military after you
and that’s just to start with.”

She put her hands on her hips and glared. “You need to fight back or the image
of every hero will be tarnished.”

“If he could do that, then why hasn’t he done it before?” Kon asked.

“Because you’ve never hit him this badly before.” She paused, uncertain whether
to go on, but they needed to understand. “I saw his face when he thought I could
tell him where to find you, Kon. This is different. He…he won’t stop.”

Kon’s mouth tightened and Chloe could see individual muscles in his arms clench
and release.

Clark nodded reluctantly. “She’s right. I remember how he was with Lex. This is
going to be worse than we thought.”

“I won’t go back,” Kon said. Were his eyes glowing red?

“No, you won’t,” Clark said.

The man and the boy faced each other silently and Kon slowly relaxed. “Okay,” he
said. “What now?”

“Now,” Chloe said with relish, “we fight back *my* way. We take this as public
as we can.” She eyed clean-cut Kon, with the all-American face and the spit curl
on his forehead. “Oh yeah, Lionel’s toast. He just doesn’t know it yet.”

Robin stared at her. “Can you take down Lionel Luthor?”

“I’ve been waiting for an opportunity for years,” she said. “And with this
ammunition, we can do it.”

“She’ll have our backing,” Clark said, and Robin nodded slowly.

“Whose backing?” Chloe asked.

“Heroes like Superman, Batman, and the Flash. We’re the newly formed Justice
League of America,” Clark–no, Superman said.

“Justice League of America?” she said, nodding. “That’s catchy. I can work with
that.”

–end–

Final author’s note: I know the show had a Bart Allen/Flash character, but that
made absolutely no sense, so in my own mind, that Flash was *obviously* Wally
West and my speedster cameo is the true Bart Allen. So there. And on a separate
note, I first encountered the idea of the JLA needing a PR person in
MyklarCure’s JLAin’t series, available on ff.net and the Cat Tales site.
Granted, I’ve gone about it entirely differently, but I suspect I was influenced
by that storyline.

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